Sunday, July 19, 2009

SilverHawks Sunday XI: Odd Cyborg Out

All the SilverHawks have individual quirks--Quicksilver controls Tally Hawk, the twins have a telepathic link, Copper Kidd has his cool frisbees--but they all had the same basic abilities: wings, boot jets, heel talons, shoulder lasers, face masks, etc.

All except Bluegrass. He has no wings, he never uses a mask like the others, he doesn't have shoulder lasers, and I don't recall him ever displaying boot jets or heel talons. Heck, his name doesn't even fit the scheme; while every other SilverHawk has the name of a metal in his or her codename, Bluegrass gets a variety of plant. Of the original SilverHawks characters, only Commander Stargazer shares these different attributes, and that might be due to his status as an earlier model.

Bluegrass, naturally, has individual traits to make up for these differences. I mentioned his weaponized guitar and sound system, Hot Licks, which seems to be a considerably powerful, if overly stylistic, weapon--at least as powerful as the SilverHawks' shoulder lasers. He is the team's pilot, which means he does most of his flying in the Miraj, or in the Hot Seat, the Miraj's detachable cockpit (and I believe it houses or interfaces with the Hot Licks system). He's no slouch, but he's perhaps a little overdependent on external devices for his abilities.

I can't help but wondering why he has these differences. Looking at a list of typical U.S. police rankings, and assuming they have some application to the police force of the distant future in another galaxy, it would seem that Colonel Bluegrass is the highest ranking member of the SilverHawks, likely just under Commander Stargazer. This is in line with Stargazer's comment in the second episode, though somewhat odd given Lieutenant Quicksilver's position as de facto team leader and general protagonist. It's possible that ranks become fluid in the mean streets of the Limbo galaxy and Bluegrass recognizes Quicksilver's natural leadership skills, or that Quicksilver is a field leader despite being a lower rank. Or something else; it's pretty unlikely that there'll be a canonical answer.

Given all that, though, it's possible that only the lower-ranking officers are the ones issued the personal weapons and modes of personal transport. This isn't entirely unreasonable; aside from some adventures that we never (as I recall) see, Stargazer basically has a desk job. Bluegrass sees his share of action, though, and they sent him to Limbo knowing what part he'd be playing on the team, so it's not as though he was being groomed for a desk job himself.

On the other hand, it's possible that the powers that be deemed that Bluegrass's de facto position as heavy weapons specialist (given that he's the pilot and the only one with specialized weaponry) made built-in weapons and flight capability unnecessary. This makes sense at first, but it seems to me like giving a soldier a bazooka and not a pistol. Sure, his guitar is pretty cool, but if he ever happens to not have it for one reason or another, he's kind of out of luck. Whatever organization is behind the SilverHawks must be operating on a pretty thin budget if they can't afford a set of just-in-case lasers for guy who's piloting their most advanced spacecraft. Then again, they're staffing an entire galaxy with a police force of six people and a bird (apparently a five-person increase from the previous assignment), so that might actually be the case. I'm not entirely sure that I'd be willing to entrust my body, my health, and the next few hundred years of my life to an organization that's so eager to cut corners.

There's also the possibility that something about Bluegrass's construction is designed to enhance his piloting abilities or to give him some kind of connection to Hot Licks. This is the most charitable explanation for the SilverHawks' parent organization, but I'm not sure how well-supported it is by the series. It'll be interesting to see if other characters pilot the Miraj or operate Hot Licks ever, since that would give us some idea about the validity of this theory.

The good news is that Bluegrass isn't totally alone in his least, not permanently. Eventually we'll meet wingless Condor, who has his own jetpack. In the meantime, Bluegrass remains our little anomaly.

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