Sidekick Girl

Saving the City: Sans-Spandex

Hey, guys, comic is going to be late today. My family has known for the last few days that our elderly cat is very ill, but we decided this evening when we're going to take her to the vet, and I haven't been able to concentrate.I'll have it up sometime this afternoon. -E
Nothing funny, late for work!

Heavy thooooughts

19 responses to “Visitation III”

  1. Black Rose says:

    Will Val questioning her own value to the system???

    • Kaian says:

      But the system that is used isn’t her ideal. It is about image first and foremost and any defending of people a distant second. That her boss knows she is good at what she does is one of the first signs that some of them believe in what the agency is for. Let Val have a real costume (Thinking maskless batgirl) With tools and she would become a major if not the major hero of the city.
      But I doubt they would give her the chance because she does not have the most common super power.

  2. Ragingagnostic says:

    No system that exists is ideal. But the methods some of these people take at circumventing it are deeply flawed and wind up in innocent victims and jail times. Val may have thought the system took too long in shutting down Icehole. But this man’s incarceration and Icehole’s eventual arrest should give her pause at following their routes.

    I saw “Captain America: Civil War” and was rather impressed at the actions of the so-called villain. He didn’t try killing the Avengers because he’d seen more powerful people try and fail. So he decided to destroy it from the inside out. This was actually a really good plan.

    However, he needn’t have bothered with it because that accord that Tony Stark wanted them all to sign was already tearing the group apart internally. Also, his vengeance did succeed but not for long. Tony Stark already started recruiting new members to fill the holes left by the fugitive Avengers. Captain America and the people he rescued will be renegades for a while. But they’ll come together to face a future threat–a natural cataclysm like a volcano, a massive meteor heading for the planet, another alien invasion threat, etc. After that, they’ll likely receive amnesty and/or pardon from grateful nations. They may rejoin the Avengers or, more likely, form a new group altogether.

    That criminal may have destroyed the Avengers. But, instead of one superhero team, he created two. That’s the trouble with vengeance. It never takes the long view. It succeeds but only very briefly and the consequences are usually devastating.

    Val may have doubts. But she should think very long and very hard about what it is she wants from the agency and what she’s willing to do to get it.

  3. Freezer says:

    If Val wasn’t already questioning the system, I’d ask what took so long?

  4. xero says:

    Like all systems it would work great if it could be run without people

    • David Johnston says:

      Ehn….not so sure. Some systems are structurally flawed even without the flaws of the individuals working within them. The nepotism that led to Illumina getting more than the sidekick position her decorative but not functional nature should have given her was an example people subverting how the system is supposed to work. But the fact that Val and Declan couldn’t be heroes because of their appearances is not the system being subverted. It is the system working as intended.

  5. Twitch says:

    Oh, the fine lines between legal, acceptable, ethical, and virtuous. Every action has a justifiable reason/motivation behind it, in the eyes of the actor.

    Unfortunately, I don’t have any GOOD answers for Val’s questions (or many of reallife’s counter parts.) People build worldviews with different ratios of logic and emotion. Even twins will have differences in what they value. When values are too contrasting, no amount of dialogue or behavioral rules can smooth things out.

    • Ragingagnostic says:

      I’ve read that no one operates from logic. If we did, we’d be Vulcans or robots. We operate from emotional reasons and use logic to back up our decisions. There are always the sociopaths or other types who have no emotional mindsets, I suppose. But who wants to be like them?

      • Twitch says:

        Careful, you’ve falling into generalization. Sociopaths HAVE emotions, strong ones too. It’s empathy/thinking-about-others they have trouble remembering. Sociopaths feel glad, bad, sad, and mad to the point that they can self-justify what typical people view as extreme actions.

      • Storel says:

        @Ragingagnostic: Exactly. Humans are not rational animals, we are rationalizing animals. (Sorry I can’t remember who originally said that.)

  6. The passing critic says:

    The sad thing is the Agency could very easily be improved(Though perhaps not perfected) with some relatively minor tweaks.I wonder if we are going to get to see a more in depth view of the origins of the villain and hero agencys?

    Its always given me the vibe of both sides having to compromise at some point more than theyd like in exchange for more stability,profit and fewer innocents getting killed in the crossfire.Of course the villains agencys more inclined to do what it wants rather than what it should be doing but since its literally an organisation of villains everyone shouldve seen that one coming a mile off.

  7. Tilly the Hun says:

    The system is based heavily on tradition. Change comes slowly, even if it is needed. The problem exists when change is important, vital- but people fear the cost. What if this new change is worse? What if what we think is a good idea now, years down the line no longer is? This fear drives us, and prevents us, from doing what we need to do.

    The people who support the system are no different. Right and wrong is black and white, but unfortunately we are burdened by experiences and memories that shape us, reform us- divide us. While some people value human life so highly that they would never consider killing in self defense, or having an abortion, some people value choice so much that they would never consider imposing boundaries on what is acceptable- be it stopping the media from showing us over and over that sex sells, or putting actual pressure on ending racism, sexism, and fascism. Culture breeds confusion, as what is correct in one country, or even town, is anathema in another.

    As lawmakers try to pander to each group, wanting power and money, the stakes rise. People are segregated, labeled, killed. Voices rise, their chants for mercy or vengeance. No one notices the damage their inability to see past their own choices. Those who seek to do good are hampered by the knowledge that should they lean too far in the other direction- or even seek the middle road- they could lose all standing. The other side is “evil”. To hate their viewpoint and choose the other is to be morally bankrupt and wrong. People are saddened, shake their heads, say their worries and condolences- and then move on. Money is to be made, time is to be spent, the fight is for someone else some other day. Things are going well enough for them so why rock the boat?

    Change comes slow.

  8. billydaking says:

    For Dion and Declan…yes, they were completely wrong.

    By Dion’s own admission, he did not want justice for Kay; he wanted vengeance. Vengeance is nice for drama, but in real life? The attrition rate tends to be high among the innocent, and for innocence in general. It fails to consider exactly how much people are connected to one another, and how one supposedly justifiable act can twist someone into something unrecognizable, even to themselves. The film Blue Ruin is a harsh dramatization of that (speaking of drama).

    The system wasn’t going to give him that. It would attempt to give him justice, which he didn’t want, so he didn’t give the system a chance. Justice is harder. But if it is achieved, something other than death is actually accomplished. It just may not be as emotionally satisfying as you wish. Even if revenge can even begin to fill the hole left behind.

    Declan took his break with his parents and physically expressed his outrage at the “system”–never considering that the system is actually made up of people. It’s very easy to demonize your opposite when you don’t see them as human, and only as those in power, or those with money, or those seemingly in control. Then it’s easy to kill.

    The system is flawed because it is run by humans for humans. And humans, their existence, and their interactions are inherently messy. So the system will always be flawed, always be surprising, always be corrupt, always be awarding. Because that’s reality as it is lived.

    Idealism is for extremists. It abandons humanity for the sake of higher rhetoric, and serves as justification for violence. It paints people and their situations in broad strokes, which solves nothing. It assumes that discrimination in all forms can somehow be ended, never admitting that it’s not an erasable part of humanity. It encourages people to treat others who different as less than human, to rip away their individuality, and to dismiss them as monsters rather than those with a shared life.

    The “system” is easy to blame, because it ignores the people behind it, or regard them as shadowy figures with a single-minded purpose. Just like “the media”, or “the government,” or “the church”, or “the police”, or “the left”, or “the right”. The system is actually the result of people trying to work together, and the result can be changed and improved and repaired, but only if “work together” is the primary principle.

    Dion and Declan were wrong because they embraced that thinking, and created enough death and destruction that they forced friends and families to stand up to them, *regardless* of what the system wanted. Val went after Dion to stop his wake of murder and bring him in alive; Mack had to stand up to Declan when he rejected her, their family, and viewed her friends as the same as villains (“The heroes aren’t any better.”), despite her own love for him. That alone should have told them.

  9. Kaian says:

    Declan’s fall comes from his belief that his peers and the system would turn their backs on him because he was scarred in the process of doing his duty.

    This is the major flaw in the system. Competence/substance, is ignored over appearance. Illumina was not just weak power wise. But did not grasp the laws and intentions of the laws and needed her hand held because of them. Note that in the body swap storyline. Val was very competent with those relatively weak powers. Using the hover effect to break long falls and building a charge with the light powers for flash bombs. Illumina didn’t need a power boost. She needed real training and education. But that was not coming because the only things she needed was a figure and any power at all and she got a hero card.

  10. billydaking says:

    @David–Declan caused the destruction of “death and destruction”, but it wasn’t from a want of trying. He got lucky it wasn’t worse–in his first surprise attacks, he wound up pulling down some vacant buildings because he had been out of the loop too long and his information was outdated, while at the others the Agency was ready for him, and all he caused were minor injuries. But when Mack pleaded with him to stop because he was putting innocent civilians in danger, he replied that they were in more danger from her trying to help them. Now you could interpret that as “I’m being careful not to hurt innocent people”, but given how self-absorbed he was in his hatred of the Agency and the people who run it, I doubt it.

    Declan was one step away from Timothy McVeigh, and only because his targets that had people in ’em knew he was coming.

  11. Mischa Avros says:

    In line with what billydaking was saying about “the system” being the result of people trying to work together, here’s something that just occurred to me when I was paging back through the archives, and I don’t think I’ve seen anyone comment on it, so I figured I’d just throw this out there.

    We know from Isauro’s backstory that the Villain agency is active internationally. But the Hero Agency has been referred to several times as being a specifically American institution (I believe it was referred to early on as the American Superhero Society at least once). Other countries, like Mexico, seem to use more traditional channels for fighting super crime, like secret black ops task forces (which have the advantage of having other, more morally ambiguous, uses as well). This is backed up by the fact that Isauro admits his training didn’t cover hero/villain cliches at all, whereas Val’s training allows her to spot Esperanza’s ploy right off.

    To me, this begs the following question: Could it be that the origins of the Hero and Villain agencies are not the mirror images one would expect at first glance given the similar ways the agencies are staffed and structured today? If so, this could shed some major light on why they work the way they do.

    Here’s what I’m thinking. What if the Villain agency came first? Suppose it’s basically a worldwide super powered mafia. It could have been founded by the first generation of super criminals that managed to really establish themselves, at the point in their lives when they were looking for a sustainable way to secure their retirement, and decided to pool their ill gotten fortunes to start their own syndicate, recruiting and sponsoring a new generation of criminal up and comers. The inner circle stays hidden and supports a huge network of more or less independent operators, in return for getting a cut of the profits, or free access to discoveries, or being able to call upon those operators at any time to do certain particular jobs. Piss them off, and the authorities get an anonymous tip off, and the wayward operator is toast.

    In most countries, this forced the governments to step up their game, and maybe rethink their policies on hiring and or persecuting people with powers (something that probably contributed to so many people going villain up until that point), hence programs like the one in Mexico. (Although to be fair, Mexican law still doesn’t seem to be well set up to deal with the challenges faced by the “differently abled” hence, again, what happened to Isauro.)

    But perhaps in the United States, super heroes decided to take an extra step and fight fire with fire. They decided that the only way to effectively combat the newly organized Villain threat was for them to organize themselves, go public, and start working with the authorities instead of around them. And so the American Superheroes of the time (probably of Illumina’s parents’ generation or the generation immediately before) created the hero agency. They probably modeled it in large part off of the Villain agency, because it seemed to be a very successful model, and was probably also similar to whatever sort of underground mentor/student system they had already been using.

    However, I’m guessing those early American super heroes also had an even bigger motivation for what they did: they were trying to protect “their people” (read “people with powers and mutations”) from being tracked down and disappeared by secret government agencies, or being lynched by mobs of paranoid civilians, both of which they probably saw happening in other countries around this time.

    This drive to protect and secure a safe future for “their people” might be why the American Hero Agency puts image first. It’s a well documented fact that the most important factors determining how we view strangers is whether or not they are physically attractive, and whether we feel bad for them. If the heroes of this era really saw “winning over a hostile public” as their top priority, then it’s understandable how they could view other concerns, like “respecting different body types” as trivial.

    It all makes sense in a way, if we assume it’s a holdover from a time when the heroes believed they were in more danger from the public than the public was in from the villains.

  12. Eric says:

    Is the Vigilante still out there or did that storyline end and I missed it?

  13. Mischa Avros says:

    The Vigilante is still out there.

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