A Mild-Mannered Reporter: Someone dies at the end, part one

So that doubled experience weekend sort of, um, didn't happen. In my defense, by the time we knew about it, it was Wednesday. That's when you read the column, but not when it's written. So I couldn't do much more other than shake my head and wonder what I was going to talk about when City of Heroes had inadvertently yanked my column topic away at the last moment as if it were a football.

Instead, we're going to look at the rumblings about the first Signature Story arc, which asks us who is going to die at the end. Now, to be fair, "nobody" is a valid answer. But it's heavily implied that one of the members of the Surviving Eight will bite the big one, and that means a big shakeup in the game's status quo. So let's run down the big eight and see which one seems most likely to die, at least in comic book terms. (And yes, it's comic book terms. War Witch is already dead, and that hasn't stopped her from being in-game as a trainer, remember?)

Statesman

If you've somehow missed catching this facemasked jerk up until this point, I am very honestly in awe. Regardless, Statesman is what would happen if Captain America and Superman had a baby, only after exposing him to whichever color of kryptonite it is that makes you annoying. He's essentially the game's mascot, and he's also pretty much the most powerful hero in the game's fiction at the moment, being partially fused with the essence of Zeus. (Player characters may be more powerful than him at the moment, it's somewhat ambiguous.)

The case for: Statesman's mask is one of the three items in the teaser image for the signature arc, which certainly puts him among the potential victims. He's also a big, visible figure, which makes him that much more interesting if he's dead. Plus, in many ways he's a holdover from the original direction of the game, when Emmert was still in charge. There's no doubt a person or two on the team as well as many people off the team who would like to see him offed.

The case against: You know whoever buys it is going to get countless exposition as a great hero who laid down his or her life for the greater good, and Statesman already gets like twenty of those. (So maybe there's some Optimus Prime in there too.) In the game lore, Statesman is also currently serving as one of the three faction heads, with Recluse and Tyrant leading the other two. Removing him destabilizes a perfectly functional balance of power.

Manticore

At first glance, Manticore seems like a pretty direct version of Batman with a bit more grit and a penchant for archery. Closer inspection, however, will reveal that's pretty much the Green Arrow. Regardless, Manticore's always been a fairly interesting member of the Surviving Eight, due in no small part to the fact that he seems to not be a completely arrogant jerk to the rest of the world. This is helped significantly by his lack of any real powers. He also funds the Wyvern organization, which is an impressive bit of backroom dealing to harass Arachnos on their home turf.

The case for: Did we mention that Manticore has absolutely no powers? Seriously, every time you hear about the guy who can't survive being shot in the chest or melt asphalt with his mind, he's your first pick to die in a superhero story. Plus, for all his niftiness as a person, he's not Batman enough to have the usual exemption from logic. By all rights he should be catching some buckshot in the face. Oh, and did I mention that his bow is one of the items on the teaser image?

The case against: For starters, he's married. That might sound silly, but marriage exempts you from a lot in comics -- just look at Hank Pym's omniscient morality license. Plus, he's one of the most genuinely likable members of the eight, so by all rights he's the sort of guy who should be kept around just so the fans have someone to cheer for.

Sister Psyche

As you can tell by the picture to the left, Sister Psyche is a girl. As you can tell from that, she's a telepath with enormous mental powers rather than having any more direct powers. She has thus far used her powers to essentially take over a young woman's body, and then to force a young man to act in a way that she found personally convenient, making him her sidekick in the process. Despite my best efforts, there aren't a whole lot of stories outside of surviving the Rikti in which she does something that's actually heroic. Mother Mayhem may want to start cribbing notes.

The case for: Well, there is the fact that her history reads less like a heroic dossier and more like a powerful psychic who dominates people around her for convenience, like a version of Emma Frost without the subtle wit. And let's face it, when you knew someone had to die you probably placed better than even odds on Sister Psyche winding up in a refrigerator.

There's also the fact that no one likes her task force. Not as much as everyone hates Positron's force, but still.

The case against: She's married to Manticore, so she's got the marriage protection as well. She's also got the advantage that there are a lot of people out there who would get very annoyed about shoving a woman in a refrigerator, possibly intermingled with cries that sound an awful lot like "Stephanie Brown."

Positron

Some members of the eight are kind of jerks, but Positron is genuinely heroic. Capable of generating antimatter, he built a suit to harness and enhance that power, only to be trapped inside of it after the Rikti invasion due to a power overload. He later gave his life to defend Earth once again, but as a result, his powers were back under his control, allowing him to remove his armor once again and live as a normal human being, albeit one without very good hair. Even if he does have what has long been considered the most interminable and loathsome task force in existence.

The case for: Really, the only reason to kill off Positron is residual player animosity. With Matt Miller as the longstanding lead developer, there are people who still blame him for every failing in the game, up to and including the present day. Much as there are players and staff that would like to see Statesman gone, Positron has engendered some hatred.

The case against: Well, it's already happened. Positron has already died once, and it's never as interesting the second time. Not to mention the simple fact that out of the four heroes among the Eight with associated objects, Positron is the one hero not represented. (Brawler's fists, Statesman's mask, Manticore's bow... but not Positron's helm.)

The big guns

If I had to guess, honestly, all of the above four characters are likely to survive. I have a sense that the first arc isn't meant to forever rewrite the landscape of the CoH story, and these four characters are among the core of the heroic cast. They're not the most interesting ones, but that's often the case. So the second half of the column, next week, will address the other four heroes, all of whom seem just a bit more likely to be lost.

As always, feedback is welcome via mail to eliot@massively.com or in the comments. The week after next, we're going to go ahead and investigate another villainous group, as we still have a bit more time before doubled experience crops up once again.

By day a mild-mannered reporter, Eliot Lefebvre unveils his secret identity in Paragon City and the Rogue Isles every Wednesday. Filled with all the news that's fit to analyze and all the muck that's fit to rake, this look at City of Heroes analyzes everything from the game's connection to its four-color roots to the latest changes in the game's mechanics.

This article was originally published on Massively.