The Globe City Ireggulars

Ordering Icons has me thinking about super-heroes and on the walk from the car to work, I thought of the Globe City Ireggulars:

  • Caliban: I’m thinking along the lines of The Thing + Spider-Man
  • Undead Ophelia: A brutal little girl with issues and grizzly powers over water but without any John Byrne women-can’t-handle-power bullshit.
  • The Fool: Which Fool from which play? No one knows for sure. He is kind of the Batman/Wolverine mystery man/woman of the group
  • Viola a.k.a. Cesario: Because every super-hero group needs a swashbuckling cross-dresser.
  • Puck: I can’t get the image of him from Gaiman’s Sandman issue illustrated by Charles Vess out of my head:

I am that merry wanderer of the night.’? I am that giggling – dangerous – totally – bloody – psychotic – menace – to – life-and-limb, more like it.

G.C.I. fight supervillains like:

  • Faust, the Devil’s Servant


  • Lady M and the Scottish Ghosts (saying her name is BAD LUCK!)

Other villains and guest stars?

What would the arcs (trade paperbacks) be called?

Or saying, “No, that wouldn’t be the group…THIS would be the group,”? is cool.

Notice, I tried to stick to characters who survived their plays and it was really hard not to break that rule for Mercutio by taking Jim’s suggestion that he faked his death (“Everyone was doing it!”).

EDIT: This post and the discussions below have inspired me to get in touch with a great college professor, Prof. Harris.  I wrote a paper for his Shakespeare and  Theory class called, “Its a bird! Its a plane! Its…Shakespeare-man!”  That class was amazing.

60 thoughts on “The Globe City Ireggulars

  1. I would vote for Iago, my favorite of all Shakespearean bad guys. He could definitely be a Doctor Doom-style noble-turned-supervillian. He also is a master manipulator, like a Kingpin.

    Or you could play on his final line “I never will speak a word” and give him some sonic powers.

    As for arcs, I would never start with an origins story, but how those people came together should make an interesting story arc.

    Maybe I am just channeling Coheed and Cambria too much, but having an author like Shakespeare show up as a force of neutrality might be interesting.

    • Iago is also nicely *still alive* at the end of the play. Some time In Durance Vile disfigures his face, and you’re on the road to a Doctor Doom analog, easy. Good call!

  2. Globe City in itself is interesting too. A city of watchers, who can’t/won’t participate; they are there only to bear witness.. and laugh and cry at the appropriate(programmed?) times. Save for the Groundlings: renegades, who reject the comforts of rote, but are free to interact, cajole, terrorize, and affect.

    And I seriously think Cleopatra and Juliet need to be two faces of the same person.

    • Ya know, I totally missed that I accidentally put Globe City but it is a happy mistake. I totally meant to put Globe Theatre.

      Yeah, I like the idea of groundlings in Globe City as revolutionaries. Nice.

      I never read Anthony and Cleopatra. This post is showing the huge gaping holes in my Billy readings.

  3. I’d want to see Lancaster, the youngest son who murdered his brothers to take over his father’s company and use it to serve his own evil purposes. He’d have to have some bionic implants to make up for his deformities, of course.

  4. My first question is, who runs The Globe, whether it is a city or some crucible stage where the forces of (choose your polarities) duke it out? Is it Shakespeare himself behind the scenes, or his patrons? Who are the Groundlings fighting against, the ambivalent witnesses, the patrons, or the Irregulars themselves who are imposing their own order (real or imagined by the Groundlings)?

    I love the idea of all the plays mashed-up in one setting. Think of some of the characters not as heroes or villains per se, but players in the city’s struggles and politics. Like Henry/Hal, who continuously changes to be all things to all people (including different Henrys!); Falstaff, Hero of the Groundlings who brings inadvertant tragedy to the City; Oberon and Titania, who vie both for control of the City and recognition of their Kingdom (and maybe exert an unhealthy influence on the heroic Puck?);and revenants like Mercutio and Banquo, sometimes-heroes, sometimes-assassins, who haunt the audience-citizens even as they oppose the Witch Factions.

    Wow there’s a lot you could do with this.

    • Falstaff! Dag, I can’t believe I didn’t remember him. He’s my favorite Shakespeare character. Yes, he is the Groundling’s leader.

      I hear ya, John, like in any good super-hero comic book (Astro City, Starman’s Opal City, Batman’s Gotham City, Superman’s Metropolis, Marvel’s NYC, etc) the city becomes its own character.

      I’d want Oberon and Titania as warring crime bosses, perhaps. I dunno.

      • The city could have districts: Antiquity Corners– run by the 6th generation Brutus who is still trying to rebuild the crime empire of Jules Seizer, Fair Verona where grudges mean more than money, Rotten Denmark where the dead of Globe City keep rising as pestering shades, etc etc.

  5. Puck has a posse … the Rude Mechanicals, of course.

    The Fool is no heroic crime-fighter! He occupies the liminal space between good and evil, fucking things up for both. He’s Falstaff, an unwise slave to his desires, but he’s also Bottom the weaver, right? Deeply stupid but essentially innocent. And he’s melancholy Jacques, dispenser of sour wisdom and truth to power. He’s the guy you don’t want to deal with but you have to, the guy who knows stuff, the guy who shows up unwanted and strangely essential.

    • Your take on the Fool is awesome and hell, that is why I’d want him on the team. I love those morally shady mysterious guys as super-heroes, especially on a team.

      “Why do we deal with him?”

      “Because we must, because the Fool get’s things done that no one else in G.C. can.”

      Rude Mechanicals…sweet.

      Thanks, Jason.

  6. Yeah, liminal figures would be important, and perhaps even tolerated or nurtured by Those Above to both mess with people’s plans and provide an outlet for both scorn and (they might imagine) controlled dissent. But Those Above do not really understand the power of these figures, methinks. . . .

    I like Faerie as the underworld, with Oberon and Titania at war with each other as well as, perhaps, the Patrons. Perhaps Prince Escalus is there, desperately trying to keep the factions from tearing the city apart, grudgingly doing the bidding of Those Above while protecting a passive populace from that which entertains them? While trying to work with the Duke of Venice and other authority figures to keep some peace while bowing to edict of “the play’s the thing?”

    • I feel like the writing and/or running of this would require me to bone up on my Shakespeare and literary theory stuff that I haven’t touched since undergrad.

      • If you have a Riverside sitting around, there are synopsis entries before every play that give a decent breakdown of the plot, characters, and some lit crit wank on the piece to follow. If any of that engages your gears, you could move on from there into Geoffrey Bullough’s _Narrative and Dramatic Sources of Shakespeare_ for more detail and inspiration. Your library is certain to have this in the reference collection.

        ~Tybalt, Prince of Cat(alog)s.

  7. The Rude Mechanicals now make me wonder about the Gangs of Globe City. For example, Titania’s Train, the Capulets and Montagues, Don John and his men, etc. The web of both crime and feud could be pretty deep and provide a lot of story arcs.

      • Oooh, I like that as backstory. The Montague/Capulet Feud as the equivalent to the Mutant Massacre in the X-books.

      • That is a delightfully geeky parallel.

        Sidenote: I picked up the Mutant Massacre trade and it really did not hold up after the years. Eek.

  8. Richard the III needs to be a criminal mastermind. That’s a character who has given himself over –tragically — to evil wholly and knowingly.

    “And therefore,–since I cannot prove a lover,
    To entertain these fair well-spoken days,–
    I am determined to prove a villain,
    And hate the idle pleasures of these days.
    Plots have I laid, inductions dangerous…”

    • There could be a group of the flat-out, straight up villains:

      Iago, Richard III, Don John…hm, is there someone from Titus Andronicus who should be on that list?

      • Titus Andronicus features Aaron, one of the worst villains in the Shakespearean catalog. More vicious than Iago, and completely unrepentant. *Still alive* at the end of the play, although half-buried and left to die of thirst and exposure. Truly a monster.

      • I can’t easily think of another play (Shakespeare or otherwise) where characters try so hard to out-evil each other. Good stuff.

      • Yeah, when Professor Harris taught that play, we all found ourselves laughing nervously throughout. It is brutal.

        He made a parallel to Pulp Fiction’s violence, which had just come out at the time.

  9. Villains with chips on their shoulders, from lesser/forgotten/apocryphal works.

    The Queen from Cymbeline and Tamora from Titus Andronicus, biding time like evil spiders with their orbital Battle-Globe.

    The Husband from A Yorkshire Tragedy, a furious murderer affronted by his own existence outside canon. There should be a whole apocrypha team, sort of lame and dubious.

    • Puissance, such a word.

      Yeah, I’m pondering the power levels myself and wondering if dipping into the world-class JLA-level capes is a place we want to go or not.


  10. Tamora is the real villain in Titus.

    Anyway, you’ve got Globe City’s troubled neighbors – Swan City, Rose City (Portland, Oregon?) and Hope City. Perhaps they each have their own pantheon of heroes and villains as well, pulled from the writing of Marlowe, Ford, and Tourneur. Or whoever you especially like. Ford’s Hope City would be a dark, dark place.

  11. Going off of Jim’s suggestions, I think that there are at least three sources of one’s powers: the play(s) they’re from, their relationship to the cityor its patrons (whether minion or antagonist), and the adoration/fear of the Audience. The Prince could be very complicated in this sense because he draws his power (both legal and supernatural) from all three sources, perhaps moreso than many other characters. And the liminal types could draw their power and influence from less-clear sources.

    I like the idea of city districts a lot, and I love the idea, even if it is just in the background, of other cities. I’m not sure about the Mutant Massacre idea, but the notion that the Montagues and Capulets have had their feud resolved (perhaps by the extermination of one family) is compelling, and could boost either Romeo or Juliet into the hero category (or even the revenant).

  12. “We were, fair queen,
    Two lads that thought there was no more behind
    But such a day to-morrow as to-day,
    And to be boy eternal.”

    Who is the Boy Eternal: One of the Princes in the Tower? Puck? Mammilius? All of the above, perhaps. This enigmatic figure speaks with an unguarded tongue, but more often than not bears mute witness to the death of innocents and innocence.

  13. Super-awesome idea, Judd.

    I see Horatio as an occasional ally of the GCI. Like the Watcher, he observes everything in an attempt to broaden “his philosophy.” Sometimes he helps the heroes like Barbara Gordon/Oracle. Sometimes the bad guys can bribe him with knowledge to do what they need.

    I want Portia from the Merchant of Venice to have secret identity as Baltazar, the District Attorney.

    • Horatio was on my list for the original team but I went with Undead Ophelia instead, not wanting two Hamlet-folk. Nice use of him.

  14. I second the idea of cross-dressing characters portraying other characters :-). In fact, all sorts of subterfuges (both dark and comic) are possible with character identities, given the mileu.

    • We are quickly approaching the line between fun concept to play with to meta-textual fooferaw that I don’t dig. I’m not exactly sure where this line is but this is close to it.

      That said, spice meta-textual fooferaw to taste at the table, I reckon.

      I’m not sure if this idea is too brittle for play and might be better for something written.

  15. Yeah, the meta is slowly ramping up.

    That said, this screams shared-world anthology to me. But I tend to mine and brainstorm things more for story than play these days.

  16. Great idea, Judd! This gets me thinking about League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, of course. Which leads me to the idea that the GCI may be working for someone they believe to be the Bard, but is actually someone else… Marlowe? Playing with the idea that many scholars believe that Shakespeare’s plays were actually written by someone else? Or is that too meta?

    (Also, love the Earl of Kent from King Lear – so noble!)

    • Thanks, Rob.

      The line between fun meta and too meta, as I was replying to John up-thread, is really thin and will probably vary from person to person.

      If this is an RPG setting, the table can sort that out.

      If it is a graphic novel or a novel, I reckon that is a decision the write (that’d be me) would have to make.

      And I’m not sure which this is just yet.

  17. This is such a great concept. You could play it like a Shakespeare version of DC/Vertigo’s Fables. Set it on Prospero’s island, or in Venice. Gah, I want to play this so bad. Everyone can gather together for dinner at the end and eat Tamora’s children with her.

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