6059 in-depth character profiles from comics, games, movies

FAQ – Tags on writeups.org


Game system: DC Heroes Role-Playing Game

Context

The entries in writeups.org (WORG) are slowly receiving tags. This page is a guide to the tags that are live on the site.

Tags on WORG are a controlled vocabulary , and are assigned by the editor.

They’re another way to explore the site. You can use them to, say, find Swedish characters, super-scientists, or horror-themed characters.

In this document, the tags are presented in clusters. It’s just a way not to present them all as one big pile. The clusters are a loose theme, not a taxonomic quality.

More context

Keep in mind that WORG *also* has categories and subcategories. These are readily visible in the search engine.

Between tags and categories, it’s possible to explore the site along many different dimensions.

However, tags aren’t currently integrated with our search engine. We’re slowly heading toward a site revision that integrates a paid search solution. But we need to save more moolah first.

Deployment

The tags are deployed by cluster, or by subcluster.

This is to reduce the amount of time during which clicking on a tag only gives you a partial listing.

After about two weeks of tests using the approach above, it doesn’t work well enough. I think I’m going to tag by profile rather than by tags cluster.

This approach is more accurate. *But* it also means it’ll take at least a year for any tag to return a comprehensive list. Which I wanted to avoid. But, well. Life. Don’t talk to me about life.


Index

  1. “Type” tags..
  2. “Powers” tags.
  3. “Expertise” tags.
  4. “Genre” tags.
  5. “Silo” tags.
  6. “Identity” tags.
  7. “Era” tags.
  8. “Arcs” tags.
  9. “Writer” tags.


Cluster #1 — Type tags

Notes

I guess it could be called “kinds of people who get involved in crises”. But, again, clusters are just a way to break the list into smaller lists.

If your scenario requires an assassin or a police detective or a kaiju  or whatever, these tags may serve your needs.

They’re mostly orthogonal with our “role” categories. You could be a hero and a ninja, or a villain and a ninja, or an organisation of ninja. You could be any ninja you want, I really don’t mind, I’m not your ninja dad.

“Alternate Reality Echo” is a variant version of an established character, from another timeline . Say, the Batman of 2050 or Batman (Thomas Wayne). Some expies  are also included.


Cluster #2 — Power type

Notes

A given character can of course bear multiple tags. Snowbird (Narya) is a shape-changing (demi) goddess with animal powers. Eh. “Bear” tags.

A brick  is primarily defined by their strength and durability, and these must be notable. At least Class 40.

Chi  is, like all tags, broad. Unusual abilities derived from martial training, meditation, concentration, etc. will fall under that heading.

As always, a gadgeteer  is somebody who can build gadgets, not somebody who merely uses gadgets.

Immortal doesn’t require literal immortality. But it denotes that you can appear in stories set over an abnormal number of eras.

Psionic  is broadly defined. If the character is chiefly defined by powers like telepathy, telekinesis and other mental things then they likely qualify. Even if the quasi-scientific fluff associated with “psionics” in a stricter sense is absent.

Mutant is defined in the Marvel sense, as a “next step” in the pop version of evolution. Homo Superior. But this also covers various non-Marvel characters such as Captain Comet (Adam Blake) or Odd John. As always, mutant ≠ mutate .

God usually means characters such as Thor, Hercules, Athena, Isis, Anansi, Manitou and other members of superhuman tribes who were worshipped at some point.

Alien means space alien, obvs. And otherdimensional  non-humans. And nonhuman folks living in Earth (no offence guys – some of my best friends are reptoids).

More notes

There are power tags that could exist, but don’t. This is because it’s simple enough to find relevant characters using the text search engine, using the name of the DC Heroes Powers.

Typical examples would be “Regeneration”, “Lightning”, “Teleportation” or “Illusion”.

There’ll be false positives. But it’s a reasonable compromise compared to tagging every possible power.


Cluster #3 — Expertise

This tag only appears if the person can be considered world-class, or close to it, in the stated domain. It is for leading authorities.

“World-class” depends on the setting. It has a very different meaning in a bleakly realistic story and in a Golden Age super-hero comic book. The tagged characters are masters *within the limits of their genre*.

“Marksman” means any kind of ranged weapons. So it could mean a master archer or a master sniper or a master forks-flinger.

“Melee” is any melee weapon. Rapiers, big hammers, nunchaku, etc.. Or any ninja weapon you want. I don’t mind. I’m still not your ninja dad.

“Intruder” primarily means “thief”, but there are intrusion experts who aren’t thieves. They could be spies, reporters, etc..


Cluster #4 — Genre

General note

“Genre” is the fuzziest, wobbliest, haziest tags cluster.

It’s about the “voice” of the story.

There are many things you might consider genres that don’t fall into this cluster as defined here. For instance “post-apoc” is considered an era, not a genre. Since the voice can range from the unbridled positivity of the Atomic Knights to the awful grimbleak of The Road.

Ditto for “western”.

When hesitant, we use the definitions for those words found on Wikipedia. Since these are a simple, widely shared, trivially accessed reference text. But honestly it’s more of a “we know it when we see it” thing.

Some major genres are also out of scope for writeups.org. The biggest by far is romance. Lots of stories we cover have romantic elements, and many even have good romance subplots. But they’re subplots, not the crux.

Ditto for… geez, I dunno… aviation stories ? It used to be a big genre, and we do have characters who are from that genre (Lady Spitfire, Captain Midnight, Tanguy & Laverdure…) but I can’t really justify a tag.

There’s no “super-hero” genre. It’s more of a meta-genre. And it’s our bread-and-butter, so 90% of entries would be tagged thus which is useless.

Notes

“Blaxploitation” usually means 1970s movies done for an audience of Black men, where Black characters had leading roles. By extension, it catches comics inspired by this genre, such as Luke Cage and to an extent Black Lightning.

“War” means a story set in a total conflict. The characters thus tagged aren’t necessarily soldiers, but tend to be.

“Fantasy” covers everything from sword-and-sorcery, to high fantasy, to sword-and-sandals, to low fantasy, etc.. If people fight with swords and it’s not a historical or quasi-historical story, it’s prolly tagged “fantasy”.

“Horror” is when the bulk of the story is about such. As of the 2010s, a *lot* of material in other genres has come to include horror elements, but here we mean a story that is primarily horror.

“Action” is meant here as high-action, low-plot, low-worldbuilding, low-characterisation work. Like with horror, the tale has to be mostly action, rather than be a hybrid with strong action elements.

“Steampunk” is defined here broadly, as anything that uses XIXth century aesthetics. And particularly steam-powered mechanical engineering, coal-based heavy industry, Victorian inequality, etc..

“Thriller” is a high-suspense tale that is more complicated than the Action genre, and isn’t horror. *In practice*, that chiefly means detective/mystery stories, crime stories, technothrillers, spy stories, noir, point-and-click…

Pulp fiction is largely defined by its era (1900s to 1940s, give or take) and respectable people thinking that it’s trash. Pulp fiction is exciting, formulaic, written quickly, scandalous and easy to read. It’s also where a lot of classic 20th century genre fiction was born.


Cluster #5 — Silo

Environment

Notes

Outer space and maritime characters tend to primarily interact with each other. So it’s a silo. If there’s a space adventure or an undersea adventure, you can hit these silos to populate it.

DC Comics silos

The “DC Implosion” is a specific, late 1970s era when many recently-launched DC Comics titles were cancelled. Here’s an article about it .

“Dixonforcer” is a made-up term referring to a specific kind of villain and/or mercenary created or used by Chuck Dixon back when he was a prolific DC Comics writer. These are simple, plug-and-play, ready-to-use designs that just work. They’re usually street-level guys.

Marvel silos

“Horrorsplosion” is a made-up term to refer to the wave of early 1970s horror-themed Marvel Comics characters. This took place after the Comics Book Code was relaxed a bit.

Wildstorm silos

Notes

The comics silos are characters and settings that tend to be in their own corner of the narrative universe.

Might be because it’s a specific location, there are specific themes, it was a specific era that didn’t take, there are rights/ownership issues, etc..


Cluster #6 — Identity

(There is some discussion of those in the FAQ.)

Origin

Notes

This is where the *stories* were created.

It helps interested people find the clusters of character profiles from outside the US or UK.

The Canadian material doesn’t encompass stuff created by folks in Canada for US publishers (John Byrne readily comes to mind, as does the post-doctors Bioware video games studio).

“Francophone” material rather than “French” since it also encompasses material from parts of Belgium, of Canada, etc.. Same reasoning for Hispanophone material since there are also stories from Argentina and the like.

“Other international material” is a catch-all for material that’s not from the UK or US, but doesn’t covers enough profiles for us to have a dedicated tag.

Characters that were created for writeups.org have the corresponding tag *if* I know/can remember where the contributor’s from. Unless they have the “Original sample” tag.

Nationality

Notes

This is where the *character* is from, irrespective of who created them where.

We only list nations for which we have a significant number of profiles. Since, y’know, there is a fair few countries out there  (video).

When an imaginary place is clearly the equivalent of a real country (e.g., low-fantasy Russia) the character might be tagged as having that nationality.

Nationality (Nordics) covers the usual — Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark, Iceland. One advantage of grouping ’em is that it can also cover all the faux-Viking, faux-Norse, etc. fantasy characters. Let’s also throw in some faux-Ancient-Scot ones.

Nationality (Otherplacian) is used to tag those characters from a country that can’t have its own tag for now due to lack of representation among our profiles.

As with all tags, this is broad. If you happen to be a giant scorpion monster that lives in Mexico, then you get Nationality (Mexican) even though you can’t request the passport.

Ethnicity

Notes

The character’s general features and skin tone, irrespective of nationality, era or anything. If you’re a Japanese-looking girl robot, then “Eastern Asian-ish ancestries” applies. If you’re a half-elf from a Middle-East-themed fantasy land, then “Middle-Eastern/Maghreb ancestries” applies.

(As you may be getting by now, we’d rather have people occasionally go “nah, I don’t think that character should get that tag” than miss a character they might be interested in.)

This one is primarily useful for :

  1. Cosplayers.
  2. People with an interest in minorities representation in genre media.

The “OUEWM” abbreviation isn’t in general use. It’s to cut down on the tag’s display length.

Likewise, I know there’s still a fair bit of debate as to whether we should go with “latinx” or something else. I like “latine”, but I don’t think it has a footprint yet.

“Desi” means people and cultures from the Indian subcontinent (India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, etc.). It keeps the tag shorter.

Folks with mixed heritage get the main applicable tags. Unless they’re so thoroughly mixed that slapping on a simple label feels so silly I end up going for OUEWM.

Queerness

Notes

This tag is primarily for :

  1. Romantic subplots.
  2. People interested in queer representation in genre fiction.

I’m only using the first four letters to keep it short. But it’s the broad version, as with everything in this tags cluster. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, biromantic, transgender, intersexed, non-binary, two-spirits, asexual, etc.. Plus sexual and/or romantic orientations that can only exist in fiction.

It includes characters who are queer-coded but not clearly established as being LGBT+. This because of all the decades during which characters couldn’t be openly stated to be gay, lesbian, etc..

I was gonna include a few transvestite characters, due to historical associations with queerness. But ‘pon further thought I think that it’d just confuse readers using modern definitions.

Disability

For people interested in disability representation in genre fiction.

It covers severe physical handicaps, such as disabled senses or limbs, severe chronic conditions, etc..

A few characters with mental disabilities are covered. But this is very selective, due to the catastrophic history of genre fiction when it comes to psychological and neurological conditions.

Faith/culture

For characters who identify as such for cultural, religious, heritage, etc. reasons. It can get complicated.

Another tag wot’s mostly for folks interested in minorities representation in genre media.

As with nationalities, faith/culture tags only exist where we have enough character profiles to populate them.

These ones too are a broad net. It includes fictional (or so ignorant that one wishes that they were fictional) depictions of those faiths/culture.

“Animist” is a grab-bag for faiths/beliefs/traditions centred on nature and spirits. It’s particularly broad since often, such beliefs are left undetailed and are just the rationale to cast shamanistic spells, druidic spells and the like.

“Jedi” includes Sith and the like.

“Vaudou” likewise catches a broad array of faiths and cultures — Haitian vodou, Santeria, Candomblé, Fon vodun, Créole voodoo, etc. etc..

Age

Children and/or teenagers as protags has played an important role in genre fiction. From the introduction of Robin up toStranger Things and the like. So a tag is useful. The vague cut-off point is 18, but it’s mostly about the character status and maturity.

Older folks are much less of a genre convention. But since we have a tag for the kids why not have one for the olds. Here, the vague cut-off point is 60 or so.


Cluster #7 — Era

Setting

Notes

This is the general era during which the main stories with that character are set.

This is primarily useful when planning a story set in that era.

Only the Golden Age of comics gets its era\setting tag as “1930s/40s”. It’s the most stand-alone one, with a big and clear continuity break at the end.

By the 1960s or 1970s (depending on the medium) geeky ideas about never-ending narratives with continuity start infecting the mainstream. So there no longer are truly distinct era. Everything returns forever.

“Cold War” tags characters who are strongly involved in fighting for/against Communism during the Cold War. Not everything from 1948 to 1991 is tagged thus – it’s about the conflict, not the era.

“Post-Apocalypse” is listed here between near and distant futures. But that’s just because it’s the most frequent case. Some distant past eras are post-apoc (say, the DC Universe after Sheeda Harrowings).

First appearance

Notes

This is when the character’s story starts getting written (filmed, programmed, whatever) in the real world.

The *stories* could take place in a different era. As with all those Old West cowboy comics that were published during the 1960s.

“Venerable” is just a tongue-in-cheek, brief way of stating “before the 1930s”. 1930 (The Shadow, Gladiator, etc.) is a reasonable date for when pulps start forming the birth matrix of super-hero comics.

This tag is a bit atypical. Normally, writeups.org isn’t concerned with the real world, behind-the-scene, non-diegetic  elements. But in recent years I’ve started noting the year of first appearance in the “Context” intro to the profiles, so heh.


Cluster #8 – arcs

The are small but coherent series of profiles that happen to exist on WORG. They could be subcategories or tags, but in these cases a tag feels more appropriate.

(FAQs get both a tag and category to facilitate discovery.)

“Original sample” is an original character that was created to serve as a window into a video game world and story.

“Real world” covers persons who existed in the real world, though their stats are often exaggerated so they “scale” to match their fictional equivalents. It doesn’t cover the series of “typical character played by this actor” writeups.


Cluster #9 — Writer

  • BM Bendis.
  • Otto Binder.
  • John Broome.
  • Ed Brubaker.
  • Kurt Busiek.
  • Chris Claremont.
  • Gerry Conway.
  • Peter David.
  • Steve Ditko.
  • Warren Ellis.
  • Steve Englehart.
  • Gardner Fox.
  • Neil Gaiman.
  • Mark Gruenwald.
  • Tony Isabella.
  • Robert Kanigher 😿.
  • Jack Kirby.
  • Stan Lee.
  • Paul Levitz.
  • Frank Miller.
  • Alan Moore.
  • Grant Morrison.
  • Ann Nocenti.
  • Denny O’Neil.
  • John Ostrander.
  • Mars Ravelo.
  • Greg Rucka.
  • Gail Simone.
  • Jim Starlin.
  • Tezuka Osamu.
  • Roy Thomas.
  • Mark Waid.

Notes

These tags emerge kinda at random, when we notice we have or might have a significant number of relevant profiles.

There *is* overlap with writers we really like. But it definitely shouldn’t be seen as an endorsement of the writer.

Likewise, many writers we do like aren’t there. Say, because we still have to go through decades of stories about a character to reach the era when they took over.

Furthermore, this tag isn’t a factual statement, such as “this person created the character”. It’s a “in our mind, this character during this era (if applicable) is strongly associated with this writer”.

In short, this tag cluster is a bit experimental. As of this writing I still ain’t sure I’m going to actually deploy it.


Potential tags

  • Angel.
  • Animal.
  • Ape.
  • Archaeologist.
  • Atlantis-ish.
  • Barbarian.
  • Blobber.
  • Children’s content.
  • Comic relief.
  • Cosmic.
  • Cowboy.
  • Cultist.
  • DiMEGaMec (Distinctive MEGS Gaming Mechanic).
  • Dinosaurs.
  • Dragon.
  • Dystopia.
  • Explorer.
  • Fake reality.
  • Guns & Pouches.
  • Heist.
  • Hidden culture.
  • Hydra or similar.
  • Jungle.
  • K’un-Lun.
  • Legacy.
  • Lightning.
  • Magitech.
  • Manpower.
  • MIT.
  • Mysterious Egypt.
  • Mysterious Orient.
  • Nationality (Otherplacian) – strip some into geographical groups (Other Eastern Europe, Other Latin America, etc.).
  • Something around the notion of jobber/Z-list/habitual loser villain, but I’m not finding a way to make this work because subjectivity.
  • Parent.
  • Princess.
  • Radioactivity.
  • S.H.I.E.L.D. or similar.
  • Setting description.
  • Sidekick.
  • Sports theme.
  • Super-biotech.
  • Super-senses.
  • Super-soldier.
  • Super-vehicle.
  • Weird.
  • Witch.
  • Working class protag.
  • Bonus: Change “DC Universe History” section titles.

This is stuff we’re considering. It’s jotted down here so we have a list to check in the dark, distant future when we’ll be able to add tags.

“Barbarian”, “Princess” and “Witch” are intended as *broad*, loose pop culture archetypes rather than any technical definition.

“Mysterious Egypt” and “Mysterious Orient” marks pulp-era tropes, often found in pop fiction throughout most of the XXth Century.

By Sébastien Andrivet.

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