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Sometimes fictitious morality is simpler morality, and sometimes it's way more complicated...

here ya go.

30 responses to “Another World XXXIX”

  1. Q? says:

    Hopefully Dark Val will laugh this off, or better, learn from it.

    I imagine none of the ‘good guys’ have dared question her before and this will be a much needed dose of perspective.

  2. I kind of agree with Dark Val, though. What is necessary isn’t always what is right.

    That said, I do like both archetypes. Both the “true hero” and the “anti-hero” are needed; the true hero is the one who believes in the goodness of humanity and believes that bad guys reform, where anti-heroes will do the things a true hero won’t, like kill those who have no intention to reform.

    Of course, in a medium where only Gwen Stacey stays dead, even killing those who have no intention to reform does very little. But only a genre savvy, fourth wall breaking character like She-Hulk would know that!

  3. toma says:

    Dark Val has a point in that she actually offered him a surrender. Honestly, that guy knows her reputation. So it feels less like murder to me and more around the lines of suicide by Dark Val.

    Also, that whole “makes a more dramatic story” thing sounds like she’s breaking the forth wall. Perhaps aware that this is a story?

    • billydaking says:

      “Feels less like murder.” I’m sure that’s how Dark Val justifies it. She then completely showed the sham of that idea with her retort to Val. She meant to kill him, and she planned to kill him. She never planned to let him surrender. She let him answer in rage and cut him off, in more ways than one. The rest is just a technicality.

    • Syncline says:

      BRVal stayed within the letter of the local law and little more. No doubt about it, DarkVal is dark.
      Our Val however, is not too happy with the bullshit answer. The exchange should be short but interesting. I am imagining Val will be doing some intensive healing in a second.

  4. billydaking says:

    “Feels less like murder.” I’m sure that’s how Dark Val justifies it. She then completely showed the sham of that idea with her retort to Val. She meant to kill him, and she planned to kill him. She never planned to let him surrender. She let him answer in rage and cut him off, in more ways than one. The rest is just a technicality.

  5. Gin says:

    I can’t help but agree with Dark Val, even if I don’t like the idea that she planned to kill him from the start.

    This is a guy who slaughtered people just to get at one person. If he had been arrested, he would have spent all that time in prison stewing in anger because he was bested by an “overpowered bitch” and would do his damnedest to get out and go after her again, perhaps using his powers on innocent bystanders just to have more bodies to throw at her (no pun intended) or waiting until her temple was full again and making this exact scenario happen again.

    Why does this guy deserve to live? What possible motivation could he have to reform? And would being in jail and reforming really make everything ok? Those people are still dead. He still killed them in cold blood. The best case scenario I can see in him reforming is him finally feeling regret over his actions and offing himself.

    That’s just my thoughts on the matter, though.

    • Ikiryo says:

      Even if one can’t ever finish atoning for what they did, one can always at least TRY. Jail is about reformation, not just punishment.

      There is killing in the heat of battle and declaring yourself judge jury and executioner. It doesn’t matter what someone did, once they are beaten it’s not the job of the hero to execute them unless they are a clear and PRESENT danger to civilians. In which case they are not really defeated yet.

  6. Dark Rose says:

    Will a fight between the Vals be possible?

  7. The Vicar says:

    Dark Val is right. Absolutely right. (If you look at any mainstream superhero publication and ask “what would have happened if the hero(s) just killed the villains outright after verifying that they were sociopathic murderers?” you would find that the resultant picture is uniformly a dramatically improved one for everyone else in the world — Batman in particular is guilty of indirectly causing the deaths of untold thousands of people by letting insane villains live over and over and over again, the Joker in particular but not exclusively).

    What this really means is: “our” Val has internalized the values system promulgated by the association — the shady, nasty organization which turns a profit by making sure that there are always villains around, and which turned her boyfriend into a villain. She’s so used to their way of “playing the game” that she now thinks it’s a good thing. It’s like, oh, seeing a woman slut-shame another woman.

    • Syncline says:

      The worn-out theory that there are limited numbers of insane people waiting to follow a lunatic criminal martyr has been disproved plenty of times- if anything the more oppressive and violent a government or its authorities get trying to stop crazy people, the faster crazy people line up to raise hell.
      Killing off some crazy charismatic nutjob murderer just cues a string of similar loonies up to avenge a martyr or even GENERATES them. The Batman argument is easily disproven by a good look at the West Bank, Kashmir, or really anywhere people feel like those in power are abusing their authority- but the authorities believe they are fighting the good fight.
      The logic of their actions gets lost in the crazy.

    • billydaking says:

      I strongly suggest reading Kingdom Come. That comic series pretty much showed what a world becomes with heroes who didn’t follow rules, or any real ideals for a more accurate term, and could only be distinguished from the villains with a score card. Basically, you’re looking at a reality where “heroes” and “villains” essentially duke it out as gangs, with no real care of what happens underfoot. There’s nothing in their actions separating them. And everything becomes chaos.

      The second you kill someone without remorse is the second you begin to become what you snuffed out. When you behave like a sociopath to destroy one, you’ve lost more than the moral high-ground; you’ve made the decision that there’s no cost to taking a human life. I don’t care whether he “deserved it” or not; the action taken wasn’t his, it was yours. You decided that somebody else’s life wasn’t worth living any more, you took it upon yourself to snuff out that life, and then you walked away whistling. When you’re a power like Dark Val, that approach becomes dangerous, and begins to twist you. Ask yourself is Dark Val is somebody who could be called “heroic”. She’s used an alternate reality version of her self as a tool, which she just discarded; she ignores the man who may be her son; she shows zero regard for those fighting for her; she absolutely toyed with a villain and then slaughtered him in a blink of an eye.

      Dark Val is one step of the way of becoming a “villain” herself. She’s pretty much acted like one this entire storyline; she’s just on the good guys’ side. Val probably just knocked her over that thin line.

      • The Vicar says:

        So, wait, your argument is “this is wrong because one work of fiction created by someone who had a particular axe to grind says so”? Well, hey, Frank Miller’s work shows that superheroes are bad and counterproductive, so bang goes your argument!

        Your second paragraph is not only incorrect but has many unstated propositions involved. (Just for a start, you said “kill someone without remorse”, rather than “kill a murderer without remorse”. It is trivially obvious that what you actually WROTE is incorrect. If, to take an example at random, I kill pedophiles without remorse, it doesn’t even come close to “beginning to become what I snuffed out”.)

        The idea that the death penalty is a slippery slope is fallacious. What would be a slippery slope would be for the death penalty to be applied without trials or in cases where the was still doubt — which is, in practice, how it IS applied in the U.S., since the locations which exercise the death penalty tend overwhelmingly to be places with underfunded justice systems and the criminals condemned tend to have poor legal representation.

        But we’re talking about villains in comic books, here. These are people who usually leave heaps of proof of their own guilt, and often actually brag about what they have done. There’s no reasonable doubt. There’s also no reasonable doubt that these people, should they ever be left to their own devices again, will once again kill people. The only real-world analogue to a comic book villain are western-style terrorists — the guys who feel persecuted so they take a gun to a public place and shoot as many people as they can — and even then the real-world folks tend to be more sympathetic than in comic books.

        Dark Val has, so far, been entirely rational. If she suddenly drops that and attacks “the heroes” because she got slapped in the face, then sure, she’s a bad person. But we have no evidence that she’s going to do this. So far? She killed a guy who was killing tens if not hundreds of people and didn’t care who knew about it. The idea that this is a problem is a result of wooly thinking.

  8. Lectrice says:

    You all bring up very good and interesting points…it’s true that superheroes have to fight their supervillains over and over again but for superheroes to kill without impunity…who then will ‘watch the watchmen’?

  9. sidekickgirl says:

    Folks, just a general reminder to keep the conversation limited to morals within the comic universe or fiction in general, and don’t let it cross over into real world politics. It’s a fine line, so just be careful. there’s always the Controversy section of the forum if anyone wants to discuss how comic stuff relates to real society.

  10. The Wyrm Ouroboros says:

    In a superheroic world, there is naturally a set of differences between a hero, a ‘dark hero’ or anti-hero, and a villian. Villians – many villians, anyhow – have no problem with killing. Some do it only in extremis, while some are almost as good as the heroes when it comes to killing, whether because killing lacks artistry or because it’s ‘more fun’ to torment their prey.

    Most heroes, of course, will react in the same way our good Sidekick Girl is – Killing Is Bad. Intense and interesting stories can be told when such a hero, in order to save an innocent, is forced to kill; Captain America has done so, because the only thing he had was a gun, and the bad guy was about to pull his trigger. And boy oh boy, the fallout from that little event.

    However, ‘more recently’, the writers and the readers have sort of come together in that grey space of ‘Dark Hero/antihero’ – where the good guy doesn’t take crap any more, and you get the Punisher and Wolverine finalizing their foes as much as they can, because unless Death is running a revolving-door waiting room, the Joker isn’t going to kill anyone if he’s dead.

    Each superheroic world plays this differently. (And just because “Dark Val” is aware of story does not mean she’s breaking the 4th wall; we have stories IRL in part because things are more likely to play out in certain patterns. That’s part of what pattern recognition is about.) In SK-Val’s world, things seem significantly more stylized; I don’t recall off the top of my head what the typical body count of a supervillian’s activities are, but it can be projected that the issue in Dark Val’s world was significantly more pressing, so much so that superheroes were granted the authority to make these kinds of decisions on their own.

    Nor can one automatically presume that there is ‘no remorse’; a dark hero is still a hero, and though there may be satisfaction in permanently stopping bad guys, though the dark hero may see the situation as being ‘a war’, the character is still a hero – and somewhere inside, there is regret, remorse, guilt, something that keeps them on the side of the angels.

    In regards to the age-old question of ‘who will watch the watchmen’, in regards to a superpowered world the answer is – and has always been – the watchmen themselves. To put it in a military scale, many ‘street level’ superheroes could be as dangerous as a platoon or even entire company of soldiers. The more power a super has, the higher you have to go, until some supers are as powerful – if not moreso – than entire nuclear arsenals. In order for a non-super group to combat such individuals, that level of weaponry – presuming its consequences are acceptable – would have to be employed. Is nuking Superman worth making that land unusable for centuries, killing whatever life is near him at the time, human and otherwise? In most comics, the answer winds up being ‘no’.

    Put simply (and incompletely), society exists in order to ensure the greatest chance for survival of both the society and the elements that make it up – the people. It is easier to keep the wolves at bay if you have two (or three, or ten) people sleeping in shifts than for one person to do it alone. Once you have those two people, rules for mutual survival, whether explicit or understood, begin to exist; voilá, a society.

    For better or for worse, superhumans (and those with superhuman levels of skill and/or technology, e.g. Batman, Green Arrow, Iron Man, etc.) are part of a society other than the one that surrounds them. Straight-up heroes, by definition, attempt to work within the boundaries of standard society as well as the superpowered one; they police the latter guided by the rules of the former. Bad Guys, whatever their level of power, consider them exempt from some or all of society’s rules, one way or another. The anti-hero/dark hero – such as Dark Val – are ones who recognize (consciously or not) that the rules that apply are the ones of superpowered society – not standard society – and that those brought over from ‘standard society’ by upright ‘law-abiding’ heroes may in the long run wind up damaging both societies more than helping them, whether because standard society does not trust superheroic society (to police themselves and to protect standard society, or because there is nobody from ‘standard society’ who is ‘watching the watchmen’) or because superheroic society is simply doing too much damage and not doing the job.

    The murderous antihero (deadly-force-using vigilante) believes, and is not entirely incorrect, that standard society’s civilized rules of behavior are not enough to keep superpowered bad guys from doing more damage – that the establishments and laws built to keep standard abuses of power from happening (and hoping to cure psychoses) fail when put to the test of superpowered villians. S/he acts at a very basic societal level – if something threatens the society or is actively damaging that society, the proper response is to destroy the threat. In some cases you can ‘destroy’ the threat by taking away their powers, but unless this is followed by intense standard societal rehabilitation – even if rehabilitation occurs – the danger remains that the threat will reappear.

    Death tends to put a certain end to such threats.

    The tale of ‘Kingdom Come’ mashes down the ‘antihero’ button and keeps it pressed, however; it is what happens when antiheroes are the only heroes, and completely fail to consider the fact that they are acting in the midst of a standard society. Story-wise, and to an extent within society, for there to be the ‘shadow’ of a dark hero or antihero there desperately needs to be a shining hero to contrast them against.

    The hero polices the antihero; they both police the villian.

    I do not argue for or against any of these stances; I like my Bright Shinies as much as I do my Tarnished Lurkers. But understanding the roots of what a society means, and the fact that in every world that exists – even ours – ‘story’ is a real and recognizeable pattern, helps to understand what can be done and what should be done.

    • The Wyrm Ouroboros says:

      Coming back to this, and looking at the comic again, I notice that there is a panel – an entire ‘beat’ – where SK-Val is looking at Dark Val with little expression on her face. Most of us seem to have somewhat skipped that, and gone on to the punch, but it is an important thing. Spaces are as important as letters in writing, after all …

      So what everyone seems to have taken away from this interaction is that SK-Val is righteously angry. I think it entirely possible – even probable – that SK-Val finds herself, in that beat frame, realizing the functional truth of what Dark Val has said. The anger only comes after that moment. And we cannot as yet know if it’s anger at Dark Val, or anger at herself for agreeing with Dark at some level – and Dark is right there to lash out at.

    • Kerlyssa says:

      As much as I liked Kingdom Come, the premise was pretty darned thin unless you accepted that the golden agers were mentally unbalanced to begin with, and only the most rigid of structure allowed them to function. Also indicated by how far off track all their kids went…

  11. Dilvias says:

    “It isn’t about justice, Dark. It isn’t about vengeance. It’s about making certain that you never kill anyone ever again.” – Sidekick Girl

    • Kerlyssa says:

      Slippery slope and false equivalence. Police, soldiers and medical providers take actions(and inactions) that result in death all the time. Shooting down someone in the process of massacring a McDonalds, or deciding not to give a liver transplant to a 70 year old alcoholic is not murder, much less mass murder.

  12. Kerlyssa says:

    Yep, because punching people is the way to win a debate. The no-kill policy of superheroes is a weird relic of old censorship laws. While you can go through interesting gymnastics in any given story to justify it, it certainly doesn’t stand on its own as being the obvious choice in response to a superpowerful serial killer. Any justice system in a world where such psychos were common would respond by fast tracking executions- then, of course, you’d get the stories where the heroes ignore said laws and shield the villains. Which is essentially what Val is doing here, throwing a temper tantrum and attacking DarkVal because her(Val’s) right to play god and decide who lives and dies(when psycho breaks out) has been challenged.

    • The Wyrm Ouroboros says:

      Hmm. I keep seeing the term ‘play god’ being applied to Dark Val. If superpowered people are de facto armed and dangerous, and licensed heroic superpowered people are de facto police, then how is killing an armed and dangerous bad guy who has (let’s face it) a near-certain likelihood of killing again, whether during or after escaping from prison, different from a cop putting a bullet in the head of an armed and dangerous mass murderer who has just told him to go f@ck himself?

      Those who keep harping on that ‘aspect’ – and let’s face it, we IRL have people ‘playing god’ all the time, since just getting into and driving a motor vehicle allows you that chance – seem to keep forgetting that it’s clear from what everyone has said that the superheroes in Dark Val’s world are licensed – trusted – to use their judgement on just this sort of thing.

      And it isn’t like this guy didn’t just slaughter half the heroic population of the city.

      • Kerlyssa says:

        I was turning it around, actually, not referring to Dark Val. I was saying Dark Val was no more ‘playing god’ than regular Val was, both were using force in pursuit of their goals, so regular Val did not have any moral highground in that regard.

  13. Daxinarian says:

    The “Villain’s” goal was to kill Dark Val and when her minions attacked him with deadly force and without provocation he was forced to kill them in self defense. Sadly, he was simply one more hero who died at the hands of the homicidal oppressor known as Dark Val. If Dark Val had ever killed someone who was actually innocent then by their own laws he would have been justified in attempting to kill her. The problem with killing “bad guys” is you occasionally get it wrong, and then there is no way to undo your mistake.

  14. Pedant says:

    Whoo, wall of text. Needs some more proof reading, though. “sentance” for one.

  15. mrtt says:

    The Dark is absolutely right.

  16. Gen.Raven says:

    “Didn’t surrender.”

    Except for, you know, when he was about to, and you killed him.

  17. Jayden Crowe says:

    No, I agree with Dark Val tbh. That guy was pretty sick, and letting him live would in fact cause more harm than good.

    It’s the age old batman dilemma. Only reason I don’t say the same for Batman is because his villains are iconic.

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