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Top 10 – Metals

GeekOut Top 10s

Alloy there, fellow Geeks. Last week, you chose for us to do the Top 10 Metals, which is great. Joel and Timlah sat there and started to list out: Slayer. Slipknot. Wait a minute, we can’t do metal music! This is the Top 10 metal in geek, but how does this one even work?

When we were thinking up this week’s list, we needed to be sure that our list followed a few specific criteria. If it was a metal, it had to have something interesting about it. If it was the music genre, it had to be included in some form of geek media, such as a video game, or a movie. With this said, we set to work and we came up with a list of the Top 10 Metals. Put your Devil Horns in the air and let’s rock – err metal!


Top 10

10) Mithril – Lord of the Rings (et al)

troll107

The silver metal created by Tolkein is supposedly a near-perfect material, and a dream for any blacksmith to work with. As malleable as copper, decorative as gold, and at once lighter and stronger than steel. It’s capabilities rarely exceed possible, but together they make for truly mythic artifacts, including the chain shirt worn by Bilbo Baggins. Before Moria was conquered mithril was valuable, now it is supposedly priceless, but honestly I think it’s just gained greater worth as an export.

Like a lot of the Middle-Earth originals, mithril has reached out into the various fantasy worlds as high-level items, rare artifacts and sundry others. D&D, Elder Scrolls, the World of Warcraft, Final Fantasy… but that’s a list in its own right, and a long one. If the Tolkein estate recieves royalties for use of the rare metal by name then they may have money enough to actually produce the stuff, or possibly fund MIT’s wearable tech project (MIThril) for decades.

9) Gold – Common Currency

minecraft-video-games-gold

 

Along with Dollars and Credits, this has to rather fill up the top three slot of most commonly used currencies in fictional worlds. Gold in it’s pure form hasn’t been used as actually handled currency in nearly a century, and even by that point actual coins weren’t exactly common. Nonetheless, if you’re in a fantasy world you can be damn sure you’ll be hoarding gold like a pre-depression banker.

Gold often adds value to items, even if it’s broadly useless for making weapons out of, fantasy logic makes it so much more powerful, or perhaps it has an intrinsic magical property itself. Many games have tried to break away from the gold-standard, and yet it keeps popping back up like a bad penny.

8) Orichalcum

Ingotorichalcum

The origins of this metal are something of a mystery, it may or may not be real.

The term is used to describe a bronze alloy used in Roman currency, more valuable than copper, and used decoratively for cheap jewelery, but the origins are the name are so much more mythical. Most famously it is referred to in Plato’s story of Atlantis, a metal second only to gold in terms of value, and of a coppery/golden hue.

The description appears and reappears throughout history and across various cultures. It is used decoratively to show wealth, but is also said to have lost in value once the orichalcum mines ran dry. It is ascribed some mythical properties that vary based on the script you read, but because of this it has found a way into fantasy culture in many places, despite the fact that the term could refer to any number of alloys found throughout history.

7) Vibranium – Marvel

tumblr_o51zc3Wcrs1tf70vho1_500

Of the many fictional metals that are found in comics, adamantium, Nth metal, prometheum, and badassium to name a few, perhaps the most famous and most interesting is vibranium. Best known for Captain America’s physics-defying shield, the metal possesses one of two properties depending in its source:

Wakanda produces the vibranium we know and love, supposedly able to absorb and instantly dissipate vibrations and therefor resist incredible forces, making it difficult (but not impossible) to forge. The lesser known Antarctic vibranium emits a radiation capable of disintegrating metal, and even negating the mystic abilities of other supermetals, making it better known as anti-metal. For more details, watch this video, or just watch it because it’s interesting. It’s also responsible for the origins of adamantium (which is the main reason it beats Wolverine’s skeleton to the list).

Though it’s broadly defined capabilities remain fairly consistent, the metals work for all intents and purposes like magic and narrative devices as any fictional metal should.

6) Metal Gear

Metal_Gear

Ah yes, what would a Top 10 Metals be without the infamous Metal Gear. If for nothing but for Snakes constant complaining about said Metal Gear. But what exactly is the Metal Gear and why does it make it into our list?

Simply put, the Metal Gear is a bipedal weapon that was designed to destroy lesser machines and when required, would be able to cause nuclear-like effects on any war they would go into. In goes Solid Snake to go and stop the Metal Gears from doing what they do so well. These behemoths are huge machines capable of being able

5) Guitar Hero

This one is incredibly easy to explain, but for anyone who hasn’t had the fortune of playing Guitar Hero; imagine that you’re wielding a plastic guitar and you get to pretend that you’re on the stage, performing songs from legendary bands such as Slayer, Metallica and much more. Now pretend that you’re trying to give yourself RSI from moving your hand in a rather awkward fashion up and down said plastic guitar. That’s Guitar Hero in a nutshell and I personally love it!

But of course, Guitar Heroes entry is our cheekiest way of getting the metal genre into this list (or is it?). Pick up your axe, pretend that you’re Slash and perform some awesome guitar solos for everyone* to be impressed by. It doesn’t matter if you’re just 3 years old, or if you’re reaching the age of 100, if you can at least pick the guitar up, look at the screen and follow the movements, then you’ll be having a blast, pretending you’re the next metal legend.

*PROTIP: No one will be impressed as they hear the clunking noises!

4) Metal Slug

Metal_Slug_Tank

The Metal Slug series has been running and gunning since 1996, and it was the first arcade game I remember ever playing. I sucked at it, and it only served to further cement how bad I was at platformers of any variety, and to be entirely honest, I was probably better at it then than I would be if I tried now.

Metal Slug has a plot involving deranged military leaders, alien invaders, outlandish monsters and a band of plucky and heavily armed specialist soldiers sent to protect the New World Order from distension. If the plot is important to you, I feel you missed the beauty of these games.

For their time the early sidescrolling shooters had the most incredible animation work, not just the brutal deaths of enemies, the really cheerful gratitude of the prisoners of war, even the tank. The Metal Slug tank was quite possibly the best character in the game. Consistently stylised, filled with personality, and with amazing attention to detail that some animators cannot achieve today.

3) Brutal Legend

Brutal Legend

Eddie Riggs, as well as being a pretty metal name, is a roadie who is voiced by the legendary Jack Black. It’s no surprise that this game made this list; it is literally the most metal video game you could ever play. By metal in this case, we do mean the music genre, of course! Real metal legends even make a guest appearance on this game, such as Ozzy Osbourne and the late Lemmy of Motorhead fame.

Brutal Legend is a game that is entirely about the absurdity of the metal genre’s scene. From people who are massive, or at least think they are, to guys with necks so wide due to all the headbanging that they become an effective unit. This was a game that thought quite outside the box, had a laugh with its audience and knew how to not take itself too seriously, whilst still delivering a fun game. Now excuse me, we’ve seriously got to ask Tim Schafer where he came up with the idea for this one…

2) Automail – Fullmetal Alchemist

Automail Arm

Prostheses are common in Fullmetal Alchemist and it’s no surprise, considering so many people are involved in wars in this series. People go out to war, lose limbs and come back to either get themselves an Automail arm or just remains without a limb. Most people would prefer the former, but the pain involved with fusing man and machine together, along with the expertise and the expense incurred by the installation of automail, it usually is enough to put people off.

But not the protagonist, Edward Elric. When he was just a young child, he lost his arm and leg in a serious accident involving human transmutation, a forbidden act. After losing his arm and leg to save his brothers soul, he ended up going to his closest friends, the Rockbells who are automail mechanics. Automail requires skilled mechanics and also surgeons, as the motorised metallic limb replacements are connected directly to the wielders nervous system. How’s that for unnerving?!

1) Karn/Mirrodin/New Phyrexia – Magic: the Gathering*

In order:

Karn, the Silver Golem was the creation of the mightiest planeswalkers, an automaton imbued with the ability to control all five mana colours in order to destroy the faceless engine of death and corruption Yawgmoth and his home plane Phyrexia, the M:tG equivalent of the Borg, flesh fused with metal bent on consuming everything. With his purpose fulfilled Karn retreated to a plane of his own creation, once known as Argentum, a plane of metal given life, and home to the industrious Myr.

Karn left Argentum under the wardenship of his servant and creation Memnarch as he resumed wandering the multiverse. Memnarch had already become corrupted by the lingering remnants Yawgmoth – Phyrexian oil – and was driven mad by desire for power, and transformed the plane into Mirrodin, a place of strife and pressure designed to yield creatures with the potential to become a planeswalker.

By the time the mightiest of Mirrodins inhabitants had overthrown Memnarch with the aid of Karn, the damage was done, and the invasion of Phyrexia had begun from within. Soon even the mighty Silver Golem could not fight back the tide, and the metal world of quicksilver seas and razorblade grasses was reborn as New Phyrexia, a place of tyranny, conflict, now made more powerful than ever by a bountiful source of all five mana colours.


Honourable Mentions

Flesh and metal normally doesn’t mix too well, as we’ve seen above. But metal and metal is the most metal of all! Now it’s time to look at some more metals, which we think are rather interesting. This is going to be hard…

Quantium – Babylon 5

Bab5_Jump-Gate_opening

This may be nothing, but I may also have stumbled across one of the cleverest cross-sci-fi jokes ever. Let me start from the beginning.

It’s a minor point of interest in Babylon 5 lore that the Jumpgates that allow travel between normal and hyper-space rely heavily on the presence of the fictional metal isotope quantium 40, a radioactive and unstable element that drives the galactic economy and keeps the races connected.

Apparently the name was coined by B5 fan David Strauss during a forum contest run by creator J. Michael Straczynski. It is formed when ordinary metals are subjected to the force of a supernova, pushing them slightly into hyper-space. The most common metal is Potassium 40, more commonly typeset as 40K…

40,000…

Warhammer 40,000…

This could be the weirdest coincidence, and the link to potassium is tenuous and linked only by the wikipedia entry for fictional metals, but B5 is riddled with obscure references and weird jokes just like it. If anyone can lend some validity to this odd joke or bizarre fluke, please let us know.

Chromium

Chromium

Chromium is the hardest metal, I.E the metal most resistant to scratching. That is a pretty cool feature about it so we felt like it needed to be mentioned, really. I mean that and it’s also pretty good against corrosion and if you really want to get technical, I’m sure you’ve held something made of Stainless Steel? You have Chromium to thank for that – It’s the coating which makes it… well stainless!

Oh right, it is also the name of the Open Source browser which is also the source of the Chrome web browser. Chromium comes as standard on Linux – But of course Chrome derives its name from Chromium which in turn is also a browser by Google. Chromium however is looked after by The Chromium Project and has been around a lot longer than Google Chrome has. If you think Chrome has a lot of cool features, you might want to check out Chromium too.


Stop, it’s hammer time! Actually, no it’s not, it’s time for us to put down our smithing gear and to cool down our forges. We’ve tempered enough steel in this week’s Top 10 that I don’t think we’ll need to do this again for quite some time. Buckle up, it’s time for another vote for our next topic, which you can help choose for us by selecting one of the options below and hitting that Vote button!

We considered things which weren’t even quite metal, such as metal benders, but the more we thought about it, the more silly that became. We also considered the Mad Max musical chase scene, where they’re playing loud metal music during a chase… But again, it just didn’t seem to fit. We’re pleased with what we came up with, but now it’s over to you. How do you think we did in this week’s list? Did we miss out any metal that you think should have been mentioned? Have we shown off the most metal of metal? As always, leave your comments below, or over on Facebook, Twitter and Reddit.

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