Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Playing Favorites excerpts, pt 49

Every Most Tuesdays I post excerpts from best selling at not selling super blog, Playing Favorites. 

Elijah Snow is a pretty good candidate for heroism because after his team is crushed, his memory is erased, and he finds that the most powerful beings in the world have become more powerful and more evil, he returns to his mission of finding them and stopping them. Just by opposing The Four, Snow is putting himself at risk because it’s the right thing to do, but when he's about to defeat them, he gives them one last chance to renounce their path and do good for the world. When he destroys them, it's very reluctantly. 

Throughout the series he makes sure that many special people are taken care of by the Planetary organization. He engages people of dubious moral character and offers to be friends with them rather than enemies. He loves the world and fights to keep it beautiful and free. His duty has always been to journey to the strange corners of the world and share the wonders he’s seen with others. Maybe he isn’t entirely responsible, taking on The Four again and putting his team at risk, but they're adults and willing to follow him and the very same ideals that bring him into conflict with The Four. That said, as grumpy, disagreeable, and self-righteous as he is, he doesn’t ever back down from doing what he thinks is right. Even when he thinks he’s just a peon field agent, the commits Planetary to generous acts that protect the unique landscape of the world around him. Elijah Snow is a hero, and he’s one of the best.

So Cable and Cloud 9 are both in provisionally. Hell, even Spider-Man and Dickbats are pretty iffy at this point. With that uncertainty in mind, I’d like to bring up Gauntlet.

It’s hard to mention Gauntlet as a hero because while he is selfless and willing to risk his life and while--despite the training accident that killed one of his subordinates--he is responsible, he’s a soldier. Now ‘heroism’ means different things in different contexts. A soldier can be a hero if he lobs a grenade into an enemy position and kills six men who never see it coming. A superhero doesn’t get away with that. Now, The Gauntlet hits every point I’ve made so far, save perhaps means and ends. The Gauntlet should be willing to do whatever it takes to destroy the enemy. If ordered to, he’ll capture of course, but ultimately, soldiers kill people and break things. It sucks, but that’s what they do. Even when he has to contradict his conscience, The Gauntlet does his duty. He’s not without limits. He will contradict his superiors when they are wrong, and if they give illegal orders, I’m sure he’d contest them. That’s why, despite the added complexity of his background, I’m replacing Cloud 9 with The Gauntlet.

The last hero I’d like to talk about is The Sentry’s wife, Lindy, from that time she shot off his face because he’s a monster and just a terrible character. Sure, it didn’t take, but it still takes some testicular fortitude to shoot your husband in the face because he’s both the second-most powerful being on the planet and because he’s totally a monster. I’d like to think that she really had no way of knowing that shooting him wouldn’t just get her ripped in half by The Void for the attempt (heck, at that point, The Void had treated so many people like living phone books that you could say he was on a tear.). While her actions did eventually get her killed by Bullseye-as-Hawkeye, I like to think that she was willing to sacrifice herself for the one slim chance of making the world safer by ridding it of her husband.

Lindy, there are so many things I wanted to tell you.

Now, it’s hard to judge her responsibility, her methodology, and her ends by one incident, but if ‘killing The Sentry’ is her goal, and ‘shooting The Sentry in the face’ is her methodology. I have to admire her dedication to those principles. Hell, I have to admire her just for having those particular principles. The Marvel Universe would have been a better place sooner if someone had picked up on them before the whole Asgard/Siege thing. I can’t say if she was humble or uncompromising. I can only conjecture as to just how petty she was (I doubt she shot him over not getting his underwear into the laundry basket), but I know for sure she was damned iconic. I mean, how many love interests have shot their hero/villain? And how many of them have done it? Really blasted that face right off without preamble or wavering? Lindy did it. She was upset by it, but she set herself apart from the supervillain/hero wife table by a large margin. The closest  thing to what she did in comics was when Silk Spectre II tried to shoot Veidt in Watchmen (and no, she doesn’t get in because she was irritating. See, this is a classic example of the ‘less is more’ school of storytelling.). I know we’ll never hear from Lindy again, and if we do, it’s because Sentry’s super-junk made her a vessel for the power of a thousand overpowered, oversold, too-bulky-to-handle-as-a-character-suns and she’ll be crazy and think that The Avengers are jerks and try to kill them but they’ll tell her Bob is dead and even though she tried to fucking kill him she’ll get all sad and they’ll calm her down and cure her and we’ll never see her again. Despite that terrible comic which hasn't been written yet, the woman is a hero, and she’s one of the best. 

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