Heroes & Villains, Volume 2 Design Journal #2: The Top

Continuing with design journals for Heroes & Villains, Volume 2 is the order of the day! And today we hear from our Silver Age guru, Professor Christopher McGlothlin, M.Ed.. All those titles around his name clue us into the fact that he’s someone we can learn a lot from. Usually he drones on about history, but in this design journal he’s talking about comics… Flash villains, the Rogues, and specifically, the Top!


Shout to the Top!

I’m sometimes asked, “How do you writer guys decide which characters you work on in those DC game books?” My usual answer is, of course, a coast-to-coast customized car race to the death: no rules, winners get their pick of characters (and to shake the hand of Mr. President).

The truth is more conventional, and–for better or worse–does not involve us freelancers scoring points for mowing down pedestrians. Fact of the matter is Jon Leitheusser just happens to be really good at his job, and has a great understanding of what each member of the Legion of DC Universe Freelancers is best at. I may still organize the aforementioned freelancer death race, but that will be without official Green Ronin sanction.

Vehicular homicide aside, as the freelancer who just turned 43 and the one best able to handicap a potential Captain Compass vs. Cave Carson fistfight, my character assignments tend toward the old and weird. Truly, it’s one of the best things about being old and weird yourself.

Thanks to Jon’s understanding and the generosity of Seth Johnson, the balance of Flash’s Rogues Gallery fell under my purview. It was–as expected–a wonderful mixture of old and weird. Some of the entries were old characters, and some weird characters. Only the Top was both, so I adore the work I did on his entry above all.

Roscoe Dillon and I are both products of the 1960s, so I call him “old” with the greatest affection. “Old” is the new “cool,” after all. However, one does not get to “old” without a re-invention or three along the way, and the Top is no exception. After beginning comic-book life as a wonderfully gimmick-obsessed John Broome/Carmine Infantino creation, the Top died a comic-book death and (somewhat inexplicably) became a disembodied body-snatcher during the Disco Era. At the start of this millennium, Identity Crisis and Geoff Johns made him into a psychotic menace. Oh, and he died. Again.

I am proud and honored to be the Top’s DC Universe biographer. Chronicling all that re-invention is a fairly basic writer thing; you just include all the relevant details and hope your reader understands you’re hitting the high points in a long career of strangeness. However, getting all the associated game information on a finite page is another, more daunting task. So much to say, so little space… there was ultimately nowhere to go but insane.

Years ago, I’d forced (absolutely forced) myself to buy copies of every Flash story from Showcase #4 to the then-current Wally West series in preparation for writing a Flash sourcebook that, sadly, never got published. H&V2 gave me a great excuse to dive back into those great old stories again, now with an eye towards getting every bizarre detail of the Top’s fictional life down pat. That’s when the madness began to take hold.

Coming up with game statistics for that one gimmick top that tangles people up in streamers was a must. Including the tops that explode was a no-brainer. The gimmick top that’s also a flamethrower… well, c’mon, it’s a top that’s also a flamethrower! By the time I’d worked up statistics for the top that projects a tornado and the top that sprays glue, I knew I’d drifted into obsession.

By the time I was done, I’d written up every single gimmick top Roscoe Dillon had ever used. Every single one. Well, okay, I didn’t do the atomic grenade top (because it’s really a plot device) or the top that would’ve made the Flash really, really old (because Barry Allen faked him out and Dillon never actually got it to work). The rest are all there, each one a 1960s style comic-book caper waiting to happen. If that doesn’t intrigue you–or at least make you smile–then my friend you just aren’t Silver Age.

Which is totally okay. I included the Top’s late-’70s mind-hopping power, and his more recent bout of insanity and vertigo-inducing powers are spelled out in a handy sidebar. So, my Bronze- and Modern-Age loving compadres, we have you covered as well.

Much to my delight, I was able to provide every moment of the Roscoe Dillon saga for your reading and gaming pleasure, and in a space that actually fit into the book. I hope you’ll enjoy the fruits of my madness. Did I mention there’s a top that’s also a flamethrower?

The Top PL10




Immortality: Immortality 6, Recently dead or brain-dead body nearby • 12 points

Spinning: (Enhanced Advantage 11 (Defensive Roll 4, Fascinate (Deception), Improved Initiative 6), Enhanced Defenses 20 (Dodge 10, Parry 10), Enhanced Intellect 3, Senses 1 (Radius Vision), Limited: Must Remain Immobile • 7 points

Concealed Tops: Array (32 points), Removable (-8 points)

  • Streamer Top: Ranged Affliction 8 (Resisted by Dodge; Hindered and Vulnerable, Defenseless and Immobile • 32 points
  • Blacklight Top: Concealment 4 (All Visual), Attack, Cone Area • 1 point
  • Blinding Top: Affliction 10 (Resisted by Fortitude; Visually Impaired, Visually Disabled, Visually Unaware), Cumulative, Perception Area (Visual) • 1 point
  • Bola Tops: Ranged Affliction 10 (Resisted by Dodge; Hindered and Vulnerable, Defenseless and Immobile), Cumulative, Extra Condition, Limited Degree • 1 point
  • Electro-Top: Ranged Damage 10, Resisted by Fortitude • 1 point
  • Flamethrower Top: Ranged Damage 10, Cloud Area • 1 point
  • Gas Top: Ranged Affliction 8 (Resisted by Fortitude; Dazed, Stunned, Incapacitated) Cloud Area 2 (30 feet), Cumulative • 1 point
  • Glue Top: Ranged Affliction 6 (Resisted by Dodge; Hindered and Vulnerable, Defenseless and Immobile), Burst Area, Cumulative, Extra Condition, Sustained Duration, Limited Degree • 1 point
  • Grenade Top: Ranged Damage 10, Burst Area • 1 point
  • Soundwave Top: Ranged Damage 10, Sustained Duration • 1 point
  • Tornado Top: Move Object 10, Cone Area, Sustained Duration, Limited Direction (repulsion) • 1 point


Agile Feint, Defensive Roll 4, Evasion, Fascinate (Deception), Improved Initiative 6, Improvised Tools, Inventor


Acrobatics 6 (+9), Athletics 4 (+6), Close Combat: Unarmed 4 (+8), Deception 4 (+6), Expertise: Criminal 4 (+6), Expertise: Science 6 (+8), Expertise: Tops 8 (+10), Intimidation 4 (+6), Persuasion 3 (+5), Ranged Combat: Tops 8 (+10), Sleight of Hand 4 (+6), Stealth 4 (+7), Technology 7 (+9)


Initiative +27

Concealed Tops +10 Ranged, Damage 10 or others

Unarmed +8 Close, Damage 2


Dodge 14 Fortitude 9

Parry 14 Toughness 6/2*

Will 11

*Without Defensive Roll.

Power Points

Abilities 40 Skills 33

Powers 65 Defenses 16

Advantages 4 TOTAL 158


Motivation–Greed: Money made the Top go round.

Relationship: The Top’s girlfriend was Lisa (the Golden Glider) Snart.


Come back next time and we’ll let Leon Chang loose on the Parasite! Plus for those of you who actually read the last line of articles like this, keep a look out tomorrow for a big announcement regarding the release of Heroes & Villains, Volume 2!