Posted September 25, 2016 by T. Glenn Bane
Here at GEEK opera we recently tackled the question, “Who has the greatest helmet?” We looked into comic books, video games, fiction, television, movies, history, and mythology for the answers. Next, we ran to our local hobby shop and asked the question, “Who has the greatest helmet?” It seemed a harmless enough question. The explosion of opinions and speculation that followed bowled us over. After hours of heated debate we had a respectable list and were ready to begin.
First we must understand the basis of what a helmet actually is. According to Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary—Helmet: n. any of various protective head coverings usually made of hard materials to resist impact. To this end, we will compare head coverings that include the top and sides of the head; a simple hard facemask will not count unless it is connected to a more complete foundation. In some cases we will be comparing the helmet component of power armors. In those cases we will only be comparing the helmet’s functions; power armor is a different top 5 list—coming soon. We will also avoid cybernetic and robotic exoskeletons.
The definition of a helmet may seem simple but the significance it has played in the story of heroes and villains, soldiers and kings is legendary. A soldier’s affiliation may be quickly determined by recognizing the helmet they wear. The helmet also signifies a certain level of affluence and training. It is expected that if you are on a medieval battlefield and wearing a helm you are probably a knight or samurai. It seems that whoever wears a helmet generally has sense of their significance. To this end it is a symbol of confidence, authority, and power.
A helmet also signifies combat readiness in fiction. In the new Avengers movies, Captain America has moved away from a mask and adopted a helmet. Why? Because he is a soldier; because he is ready to fight a war for his beliefs; he’ll never quit. Really, does a helmet communicate all of that? You better believe it. Thor (of the comics) usually wears a helmet, not because he needs the protection, he’s Thor Odinson for crying out loud—a god-like being, but rather because it silently communicates that he is a warrior. We could write a book on the iconic value of the helmet, but in the interest of answering the question, “Who has the greatest helmet?” We move on.
There are a lot of helmets in fiction; more than we can responsibly leave up to opinion alone. In the interest of making characters more memorable the helmets have taken on an exceptionally broad range of style and function. A character may be quickly identified by their distinctive head protection; but whose is the best? The most useful? The most powerful? Or simply the most bad-ass? We have developed a means for measuring helmets on a scale from zero to ten and then rated the helmets of several epic characters. The top 5 winners are listed below as well as those of merit if not top honors.
Zero, one, or two points were given for each of the following items. At the end of each section we provided the matrix of each character as well as their final score. The matrix is simply an abbreviated list of the 5 categories with each individual score.
Along with the announcement of the top 5 winners, we also include our Matrix, an accounting of how we scored them in each category. Well with the categories set, let’s count down the top winners from 5 to 1, starting with…
Number 5: Space Marine’s Mark VII Helmet
Table-top games, role-playing Games, video games, Comic Books, novelizations, fan films, and feature movies, models and cosplay have all been on the path of conquest of the Space Marines. Though we will certainly see these overpowered, xenophobic, crusaders of the Imperium in other lists it took high honors in this list. It takes strength to rule the worlds of man, and the space marines are that strength, facing the enemies of mankind on whatever battlefield they may be encountered, locked eternally in battle without end. Well, enough of all of that poetic nonsense; we are here to discuss helmets.
The Mark VII helmet has many features that helped to move Space Marines into the top five of this list. Auto Senses: combat systems, diagnostic computers, and Vox Link. Vox is a thought controlled communications system, keeping the marine constantly in contact with their command base. Further, add Vox booster and communications scrambler for the security of the Space Marine’s command communications.
Is that all? Nosiree, not by a longshot. The right eye of the Mark VII contains a range finder, targeter, and target recognition. The visor of this epic battle helmet displays data, such as: compass, maps, waypoints, X4 magnification, weapon statistics, infrared scanning, and night vision. Deep breath. The Space Marine is given access to full diagnostic information, operating status, environmental information, and biological information about their own physical well-being.
The helmet protects versus sonic attacks and disorientation while enhancing the Space Marine’s natural hearing. The helmet Visor is Auto-reactive
Photochromatic, protecting the Space Marine from flash disorientation and blindness associated with large flashes of light. Whatever you do, don’t forget the voice amplification and breathing options.
All of this and we have not even scratched the surface of its Ceramite construction. The helmet is virtually indestructible. The point is, the Mark VII helmet of the Space Marines has tremendous battlefield ability that allows it to race into the spotlight.
On the downside, the Mark VII stands out in fiction, lending to the distinctiveness of the Space Marine; however, there are a whole lot of these guys running around in the Warhammer 40,000 fiction verse. Countless thousands Marines serve the Emperor of all Mankind, and that is not counting the endless numbers of helmets that have been buried under piles of carnage and wreckage in every corner of space.
The Emperor of all Mankind is tolerant of a score of 7 out of 10, though intolerant of most other things. Matrix: B2-M1-P1-U2-V1
Number 4: Ant-man
Okay, first out we are measuring the helmet as it is described principally in Marvel Comics. The helmet controls the Pym Particle, granting, Ant-man the ability to shrink and grow. That’s not all, it also grants electronic communication and the ability to control ants and higher orders of insects. It may be a tiny army is size but it is massive in numbers.
By shrink, we are speaking of down the scale of ant at first, but potentially much smaller. Without the ability to regulate the Pym Particle, Ant-man could shrink to the atomic or subatomic level. That means it could potentially breech the barrier into the microverse.
Ant-man may appear small but the whopping 7 out of 10, scored on our rating is not!
Number 3: Darth Vader
From the raspy hiss of its rebreather, to the ominous skull-like appearance of its design, to the impenetrable darkness of its eyes there is no other helmet with the iconic signature of Darth Vader’s own gloomy headpiece. It is both his prison and his eternal hell, but how bad-ass a helmet is it?
The material used in its construction is durasteel, obsidian, and plasteel. The material has been further reinforced using a lost art of Dark Side alchemy. The dark countenance of Vader houses a voice synthesizer, ventilation, HUD, and atmospheric sensors. It seems to have it all.
The downside of the helmet, with the exception of Dark Side alchemy, is that most of its functions are also common to the dash controls of a car: outside ventilation, temperature Control, and HUD; though the helmet does give you the voice of James Earl Jones—cool. The real power of the helmet has always been in its menace factor. The ability to intimidate rebels and Stormtroopers alike is no small thing. The menacing countenance is a public service really. If the obvious skull on the bottle doesn’t provide enough of a warning, you might deserve a good force chok’n.
We rate this iconic helmet 8 out of 10. Matrix: B2-M1-P1-U2-V2
Number 2: Death Dealer’s Horned Helm
What could Death Dealers helm possibly have that others do not? What about a god of death? That’s right, Death Dealer harnesses the power of a death god. The dark divinity overwhelms the wearer, Gath, on the battlefield. The helmet is alive and grants the wearer god-like ability while simultaneously torturing them.
When Gath first approached the helmet, its eyes glowed red and tentacles sprung out and seized him and affixed itself to his face. The only thing that Gath can’t seem to do is remove the helm on his own. For that he needs the help of his true love.
The helm is not only bad-ass but very likely the bar that badassness is measured against. Ever since the character was first created and rendered by Frank Frazetta, Death Dealer has been inspiring awe in artists young and old. Even if an artist is not a fan, they still know who he is and if they know the name of only one of his paintings, it will be Death Dealer.
The Death-god possessed Horned Helm powers in at a commanding 8 out of 10.
Number 1: Doctor Fate’s Helm of Nabu
According to DC character Black Alice…
it is the most powerful magickal artifact the world has ever known.
The helm of Nabu allows the wearer to summon and harness immense mystical power. This power can be used for a nearly endless variety of mystic effects; nothing is out of Fate’s reach: mystic bolts, transmutation, teleportation, dimensional gates, enhanced physical prowess, levitation, super-speed, clairvoyance, precognition—nothing.
The helmet contains an aspect of the soul of Nabu which allows it to choose its wearer or resist the will of an incompatible wearer. Whereas the helm of Nabu possesses a will, it is driven more than instinct than intellect. It does however enhance the intelligence and knowledge of the wearer many fold.
The helm power is both boundless. If the wearer becomes undeserving of the responsibility or is killed, the Helm of Nabu will seek a new wearer to become Doctor Fate. A drawback to the Helm of Nabu, is that the spirit of Nabu may overwhelm the wearer and not be willing to relinquish control.
The power of the helm is its sheer variety of abilities. For these reasons the Helm of Nabu comes in at a hearty 8 out of 10. Matrix: B2-M1-P2-U1-V2
That’s our list of top 5 greatest helmets from fiction. Leave us a comment.
What “Top 5 Greatest” lists would you like to see?
Here is a list of not have helms of merit, that may made the top five but were certainly measured.
Attuma 5, Blue Beetle 6, Bulletman 5, Chief Examiner 4, Cobra Commander 4, Dark Helmet 1, Destro 4, Doctor Doom 6, Firefox helmet 3, Galactus 6, General Kael 4, Guardsman 4, High Evolutionary 5, Iron Man 6, Jackal Guards (Stargate) 6, Judge Dredd 6 , Juggernaut 5, Kang the Conqueror 5, Loki (Marvel Comics) 6, Magneto 4, Moonstone 2, Mystero 4, Nova 5, Paladin 2, Rogue Trooper 3, Sauron 6, Science Patrol 1, Silver Samurai 5, Star Lord 6,White Ranger 4
That’s it everybody; until next time – we’re out!
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