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Post By
Menshevik

Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
Posts: 3,572
In Reply To
America's Captain 
Maintainer

Location: Bayville New Jersey
Member Since: Mon Aug 06, 2012
Posts: 10,061
Subj: Re: All of them (with an addendum)
Posted: Mon Jan 01, 2018 at 07:57:56 pm EST (Viewed 57 times)
Reply Subj: Re: All of them.
Posted: Mon Jan 01, 2018 at 11:12:30 am EST (Viewed 60 times)



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      Heh. You keep wondering about my motives for posting and I keep wondering why you attach such importance to it. I would say that I often have difficulties leaving categorical general assertions (such as "hero x never did this" or "writer x wrote only bad stories") uncontradicted, sometimes even when I agree with the general sentiment. When one or more counter-examples come to my mind, I feel an itch to bring them up.



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    Ah. OK. Now I get you. You're a member of the "never say never" and "never say always" police. If someone says "almost never" or "almost always" it doesn't bug you but if someone say "never" or "always" it triggers you to look for counter-examples. That explains a lot.


Well, sometimes "almost never" and "nearly always" also bothers me. ;\-\) Also, in many cases I don't have to look for counter-examples, they often enough spring to my mind unbidden.

Addendum: I think I may be a bit more empirically-minded than you - what is important for me is what happened in actual stories. You often have very definite ideas as to what a characters proper characterization is or should be, with a temptation to disregard stuff which does not fit this "general pattern" as OOC etc. Looking back I notice that here you've used completely hypothetical examples a few times, one even involving myself (what the Punisher would do if he found himself in a room with me etc.). For instance, you spoke of a hypothetical situation where Wolverine got into a brawl in a bar and then would give the bar's owner money to pay for the damages. That got me thinking of actual examples where Logan was involved in a bar fight, and what first sprang to mind (unbidden) was UXM #183, partly because I misremembered it, thinking that this was an occasion where Logan left money to pay the damages (for me this is one of the exciting things about taking part in such discussions: it was only when I reread the story to double-check that I (re)discovered that it actually was Juggy who paid, not the X-Men).
The second thing that came to mind was UXM #173 where Wolverine and Rogue heavily damage a bar in Tokyo and rough up the staff (and patrons?) in order to gain information without leaving money behind to cover the damages, but since here the staff were either in cahoots with the yakuza (or being blackmailed by them) I supposed it would fall under your "destroying villains' property is allowed" caveat. (Which would also apply to most of the barroom fights "Patch" got into in Madripoor).
So it turns out I couldn't readily recall any occasion where Logan actually paid for property damage he caused (intentionally or unintentionally). I also did not readily remember any occasion where Spider-Man paid anyone for property damages (he usually didn't have enough money anyway), and neither did I for Daredevil, another superhero who operates outside the law and therefore cannot be compelled to pay via legal action in the way the members of the Avengers and Fantastic Four can. Although I have to say that my memories of Daredevil (a title I read quite a bit in the 1970s and 1980s, but hardly ever since) are a bit hazy.
End of the addendum.

But I have to reject the "police" part emphatically. Just because I happen to disagree does not mean I set myself up as a police officer or judge, i.e. assuming I have authority over you.


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    I often run afoul of the "never say never" and "never say always" police because I only care about general trends. If something is almost never true then I treat it as never true. If something is almost always true then I treat it as always true. I simply don't acknowledge exceptions. Only overall patterns are real to me. When I encounter exceptions it will often cause me to drop a book - but despite making that decision, I drop the exception from my memory banks, because as far as I'm concerned it's not real.


Well, I happen to disagree over what you see as "overall patterns" and which sometimes seem to me more like "unfair generalizations".


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    But even so, I think it's not valid to take a character's origin story and treat it as emblematic of how the character behaves post-origin. Many characters were deeply transformed by their origins. Peter Parker was. Stephen Strange was. Tony Stark was. There are also some characters who were deeply transformed by Captain America. These include the Falcon, Hawkeye, Quicksilver, and the Scarlet Witch. Marvel heroes often had turning points, after which they were almost different people.


Then I think one should not use a term like "heroic nature" - it is not something inborn, something immutable, but something they had to learn, frequently through tragic experiences (Stephen Strange's debilitating car accident, the murder of Uncle Ben, etc.). And occasionally other experiences may make them less heroic (vide Tony Stark's alcoholism, Henry Pym hitting his wife and attacking the Avengers etc.) but not without hope of an eventual redemption. (BTW, I don't think Captain America changed Hawkeye, Quicksilver or the Scarlet Witch all that much. They had already gone through their change due to their experiences as villains' minions. Can't comment on the Falcon as I didn't read his origin.)


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      I am also of the opinion that perhaps too many fans and, more problematically, fans-turned-creators tend to look at the past through rose-tinted glasses while conversely refusing to give more recent stories and creators their due credit. (In this particular thread I think you are exaggerating the difference between Silver Age and more recent heroes - not every present-day hero is a Deadpool, and there aren't even that many Silver Age heroes that are as nice, self-effacing and pleasant as Squirrel Girl is in her current series).



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    Oh, there are some very inspirational recent heroes. Squirrel Girl certainly. Hawkeye the girl. Ms. Marvel. America Chavez. All-New Wolverine. Ironheart. These characters are very intentionally being written as inspirational. I applaud them.


Yeah, but a lot of old-time fans hate them because they're new (or for something else). One of the things that appalled me the most on these boards when Bendis announced he was leaving Marvel was two fans gleefully calling for Riri to be dismembered and put into a refrigerator...


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      Also, my skepticism is aroused when people say that this or that counter-example doesn't count because it happened "too early" in the series or for whatever reason.



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    The "early in the series" comment is most applicable to the FF. You can't seriously tell me you see no difference between the FF as depicted in the first few issues and the FF as depicted in later issues. Ben in particular is very different.


I never claimed there was no difference, but these things happened. Also, again, the debate was not just about wanton destruction of civilian property, but also about hot-headedness and general stupidity, and there I would say that it took Ben and Johnny years, if not decades to learn to hold their tendency to make rash, often faulty decisions in check. BTW, with "whatever reason" I was thinking e.g. of the somewhat indiscriminate use of "out of character" by some people. Readers will often disagree as to what behaviour they consider in or out of character.


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      The thing is that Marvel's heroes often were portrayed as fallible persons, and doing the right thing is often shown as something they have to learn, becoming a superhero as a redemption story often involving their hubris being punished (the origins of Spider-Man and Doctor Strange are classic case-studies).



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    Exactly! Their origin stories were transformative.



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      Thus I think that if they could get away with it quite a few Marvel heroes would engage in irresponsible behaviour more often, and that things like the negative publicity it would gain them or the danger of suits for damages etc. would be at least as important as questions of the act being ethically right or wrong.



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    Why do you even WANT to think that? Abuse of power is the essence of evil.


But obviously we both probably could come up with examples of Silver Age heroes abusing their powers - for another example see how back then Professor X would habitually wipe bystanders' minds of memories of what happened through the involvement of the X-Men.

Well, but apparently it is condoned by you if it is aimed at someone you dislike:


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      Again, look at Silver Age Spider-Man, who starting early in the Ditko run developed this habit of webbing J. Jonah Jameson to his chair and/or webbing his mouth shut. In-story it is presented as a "funny" prank, but of course taken seriously it is not so harmless (just consider how JJJ must feel experiencing breathing difficulties when his mouth is webbed shut), and it certainly did nothing to de-escalate the feud between Spidey and the head of the Bugle. Early on JJJ had contented himself with negative articles and editorials (which he often enough would retract when it was revealed that they were actually based on false information), but then he progressed to actual criminal acts like funding various Spider-Slayers and the origin of the Scorpion...



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    I never thought of the breathing difficulty angle. I'll have to give you that one. But I doubt the writer thought of it either. Or the artist. Or most readers. As for webbing Jonah to his seat - we're talking about a man who was deliberately targeting Spider-Man for profit. The fact that all Peter did was web the guy to his chair is pretty amazing. (Again, I never thought of the breathing difficulty angle. I don't typically analyze so deeply.)


Yeah, the stories presented in in a way that sympathized with Spidey, so many readers did not see it as a big deal and would probably have excused Spider-Man bullying JJJ even worse. The "for profit" thing is questionable IMO, especially as JJJ hate on Spidey has been shown often enough as resulting from his innermost feelings. Also Peter Parker depended on the Bugle coverage for his own livelihood long enough. But he clearly was abusing his powers here, and this type of thing may not seem as insignificant to the person being bullied. It certainly did nothing to convince JJJ that Spider-Man wasn't a threat or menace.


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      Well, we probably won't agree on the Punisher as I see him as a villain powered by self-righteousness and protected by the authors contrivances ensuring that he never (seriously) hurts an innocent person and only kills guilty ones against all realistic expectations. For others the time when he opened fire on jaywalkers etc. was an exceptional case they like to discount, for me it brought his true nature into sharp relief.



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    I don't know how people see the Punisher as a villain. Agent of chaos, yes. I see him as chaotic good. If he was in the room with you and some criminal shot at you and the only way the Punisher could save you is by taking the bullet himself, he would take the bullet.


He abuses his powers (combat prowess, marksmanship) to set himself up as judge, jury and executioner and to decide who gets to live and who gets to die. It is only thanks to the writers (who ensure that he doesn't kill an innocent person when he targets one) that he hasn't been shown up for what he is. BTW, one has to wonder how many people one could realistically expect to have been turned to crime and the pursuit of revenge because the Punisher killed their beloved relatives (i.e. become darker Inigo Montoyas). No doubt you'll say I'm overthinking things.


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      In the end Juggy wins and leaves unhindered by the two other X-Men. As an added bonus, it is Juggernaut who leaves a big roll of banknotes "for the owner t'fix this place" even though from his POV it clearly was Colossus who had started the fight. Now I wouldn't say he was "actually heroic" in this scene, but apparently there may be a code of honour for many supervillains that leads to similar results as that of superheroes.



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    That was cool. I definitely think it's true that some villains have a sense of honor. Ordinarily I wouldn't have counted the Juggernaut among them. I'm not sure if that scene was really in character for him. But it was cool nonetheless.


Well, that was just the cherry on top. The crucial thing here was how Wolverine behaved.



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