Back Alley Brawler
Out of the survivors, Babs is the one that players will encounter first, just because he's not the gatekeeper to large group content. Back Alley Brawler has been the hero trainer in Galaxy City since the game's launch, the only one with that duty, and as such he's a character who generates a great many warm memories from fans. But he's also a genuinely likable character, a backbone hero with a solid history of heroism that stretches back for quite a way. He's semi-retired now, mostly since he's in his 40s and doesn't have the youth or superhuman longevity of his companions, but he's a solid guy all around.
The case for: Galaxy City isn't going to need a trainer after it gets, well, destroyed. Not only that, but Brawler's gauntlets are among the objects in the teaser image, and he's also another avatar for a departed team member. And that's without mentioning the obvious fact that the guy who's getting too old for this is usually the one who gets no older.
The case against: Really, guys? You'd kill off the only member of the game's signature hero group who offers something approaching ethnic diversity? If you haven't noticed, this is one of those things that I tend to feel kind of strongly about, and killing the only nonwhite member of the Eight would be kind of dumb. And seeing as he's a longtime player favorite, you know there would be a lot of people asking why Statesman is still around while Babs is gone. (I know I would.)
Out of all the survivors, Numina is the only character who didn't come from a developer's imagination. Numina was created as part of a contest to let the fans create one of the game's signature heroes. But Numina is unique in other ways, too: She's the only one of the group who has magical abilities granted by study rather than just handed to her by a magic reflecting pool, and she's also the only one who started the game pretty much dead. She also joined Sister Psyche in the list of people who took over another person's body to avoid dying, but at this point she just sits (well, hovers) as a ghost both angry and vengeful while retaining all of her spellcasting powers.
The case for: Look, I don't mean to diminish any of the characters here, but... has Numina ever actually done anything? I mean, seriously, she's a member of the Surviving Eight, and we know a thing or two about her, but even Sister Psyche has stories revolving around her, albeit ones that focus on her terrible decision-making skills. Killing Numina off would let the development team get away with a kill without actually shaking things up.
The case against: Wait, she's already dead. And yeah, she could get more killed -- dismissed into the ether or whatever -- but considering that she's never been very involved in the game's backstory, I think that would lack anything approaching drama. Not to mention that she was a fan-installed character, and much like Coyote, getting rid of her would be just plain crass.
What you have to understand about Synapse is that he's fast. He's very fast. He's the fastest hero among the Surviving Eight, and that's mostly thanks to Positron because he and Positron were friends, and he wound up getting zapped with electricity, so now he can run all over the place and shoot lightning, and it's really very interesting, and he's always thinking a mile a minute, but since he's an accountant, that doesn't necessarily help him with developing technology, although it does mean he can do your taxes very quickly! Also he really hates Crey because it's the organization that tortured him to make him a superhero, but Crey's members deny any knowledge of it, but it all sort of worked out OK, and basically it's impossible to think of him without thinking of Blurr.
The case for: In the grand scheme of things, Synapse kind of feels like the younger brother to Positron. They've got nearly an identical origin story, but Positron gets to do most of the heroic stuff while Synapse just has a more interesting origin. He's also located in Skyway City, which no one particularly likes, so there's always that to consider.
The case against: Synapse might not have done a whole lot of interest, but he might wind up getting saved simply by virtue of his counterpart in Praetoria. Neuron is both important and interesting, and the passive-aggressive rivalry between him and Anti-Matter caps off the storyline of Praetoria quite effectively. Having that counterpart matters more as long as the original version is still around. Besides, every team needs a guy whose whole schtick is moving really fast. (Unfortunately.)
As near as I can tell, Citadel is a robotic version of Dr. Zoidberg. After exhaustive research (I researched until I was exhausted), I determined that the only interesting thing that Citadel has ever done was almost getting destroyed during the Rikti invasion. But then he turned out OK, albeit almost completely rebuilt... which sort of puts the lie to the whole "surviving" aspect that makes him one of the Eight. He has a task force that basically reads like a template for designing task forces, complete with the epic introduction of "Hello, I have a difficult task for you." So to make myself feel better, I picture him as speaking in Zoidberg's voice and generally failing his way through life.
The case for: You know how there's always one guy you forget is on the team when pressed for knowledge? Like how everyone forgets that the Hulk was one of the original Avengers, or no one ever remembers that the Beast has been on like four different teams, or like how the entire JLA pretends not to know Aquaman. Yeah, Citadel is that guy in spades. Plus, his whole automatic personality schtick doesn't do him any favors in the long run.
The case against: OK, yeah. But really, would anyone notice if he were dead?
So who will be the hero to die? I'm not sure, but I'm having a hard time coming up with a reason for Citadel to live. With that having been said, I hope you've enjoyed the past two columns -- and either way, as always, feedback is welcome to firstname.lastname@example.org or via the comments below. Next week, it's time for us to explore a gang filled with drug addicts remarkably unlike most of the real world's drug addicts.
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.