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  1. (quote from you in quotation marks)
    “The thing that gets me riled up is the refusal of Superman and Batman to see, in the case of Lord, that some times there is no perfect solution, and the only thing you can do is the best you can. But no, they demonized her, and she let them. And that’s just bad characterization.”

    Hm. Myself, I find the situation with Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman irritating for a slightly different reason (although perhaps I’m just reading your comment incorrectly, and you’re unhappy for the same reasons as I). What bothers me is the hypocrisy displayed by Batman and Superman upon discovering Wonder Woman killed Max Lord.

    Let’s recap slightly: upon discovering Lord was doing his best to drive Superman murderously insane, Wonder Woman tried to persuade Lord to stop. He didn’t just refuse to do so, he practically insisted the only way to stop him was with his death. Indeed, he seemed almost to be hinting strongly at her to kill him.

    So Wonder Woman killed him — quickly, cleanly, and mercifully. That made Batman and Superman very upset with her — but let’s stop and look at the positions they’re in, that they feel they have such a moral high ground in regards to her.

    First Batman, who recently created and programmed a particularly powerful type of robot. A villain managed to subvert the programming, then create a small army of the robots — and now these robots are murdering hundreds of innocents. Yet Batman seems to feel no culpability for his enabling of all these deaths?

    Next Superman: while hallucinating due to Lord’s influence, Superman believed someone dear to him was murdered. In the hallucination he lost his equanimity and killed the murderer, and in the process, in “real life,” he mistook Batman for the murderer and nearly killed Batman too — it was Wonder Woman, in fact, who stopped him and rescued Batman. So while it may be true Superman has never actually, physically killed anyone, he would have but for Wonder Woman’s timely intervention — and in his head, he has indeed murdered.

    Let me emphasize this: for all Superman’s lip service to never killing, when he himself was personally affected, he was more than willing to slaughter someone in a murderous rage. He didn’t know he was in a hallucination — he thought he was truly murdering the killer. But he still apparently feels he can look down on Wonder Woman for killing?

    Indeed, I’d have to say that of the two of them, I’d prefer Wonder Woman’s attitude towards killing over Superman’s. Wonder Woman faced the issue calmly, considered all the factors, tried to persuade the killer otherwise, and when that didn’t succeed she made the logical decision and implemented it smoothly, swiftly, and cleanly.

    Supes, on the other hand, forced everyone else (no matter their desires or motivation) to follow his chosen path: no killing no matter what. Once it was he who was hurt by a murder, though, he chose to apply an entirely different set of rules to the situation. Further, he over-reacted emotionally, slaughtering the murderer in an insane rage that endangered everyone around him.

    So in some ways Batman and Superman are quite correct, and Wonder Woman is indeed different than they. Unlike them, she takes responsibility, and actually feels remorse, when her actions cause a death.

  2. I blame you, for bringing up excellent points for me to expound off of, and learn something in the process! :D

    In the case of differing conventions and differing authors…yes, to a certain extent, I can see where there’s important variances. But I think there’s more to it than that.

    The fact that folks like Mercy Thompson and Dresden are breaking into graphics novels is showing that there’s lots of crossover elements between heroic fantasy and superheroic fantasy. Butcher himself has said that he likens Dresden to being the mage equivalent of Spider-Man.

    Moreover, In the most recent ‘Homecoming’ Mercy GN, she does her best to avoid killing or fighting when she doesn’t have to, but doesn’t shirk the way of the gun when necessary. Which, honestly, is often the way it is in the real world. There’s some people you can save, rehabilitate, give a second chance. And there are some that are rabid dogs that you just have to put down. And let’s face it: in this way, Mercy is almost smarter than Batman. How many lives would have been saved, how much heartache and suffering would have been avoided if Batman just killed the Joker? The only reason the Joker is even still alive is because Comicbooks are endless serial story-telling, and he’s a compelling character that makes an interesting foil for the Dark Knight. But as some heroines show us, sometimes killing is necessary, and can be done without a cost to the soul of the involved hero. Or at the very least, with a cost you are willing to pay. This is something that I like to think Diana/WW understood.

    A second, and smaller thought, is that not all superheroes are against killing. The big three of DC? Sure. Spider-man, Iron Man, Captain America (that really makes me look at him askance: how many Nazis did he kill back in the WW2 that supposedly spawned him?). It’s partly about what kind of story you want to tell. Hell, it’s also partly genre-based, as villians that come back again and again to bedevil the heroes just tends to be the way of most comics (not that it stops writers from bringing back to live dead heroes and villians alike) But I also think there’s a growing trend away from this, as comic writers grow away from the 4-color comic storytelling that this came from. Some superheroes are anti-killing, some kill when needful, some are bloody anti-heroes like the Punisher. There’s a wide variety, and room for all. The thing that gets me riled up is the refusal of Superman and Batman to see, in the case of Lord, that some times there is no perfect solution, and the only thing you can do is the best you can. But no, they demonized her, and she let them. And that’s just bad characterization.

    Mercy Thompson would get up in their faces, and call Bullshit.

  3. Well put, Greg. I’m not sure how I can give you much of a reply past your commentary, in fact. You’re very nicely expanding on my points here, after all! :)

    Re the “blame for self-defense” issue: I think that’s mostly due to a) differing genre conventions (i.e. the monsters of urban fantasy vs. “superheroes don’t kill”) and b) who the authors are. A woman with enough time to develop a coherent, thoughtful story and female protagonist (with whom she might somewhat identify) is of course going to do a better writing job than a passel of guys with a hard deadline of a month or so, an inability to create any real change in the serial story they’re writing within, and no identification with their female protagonist.

  4. Hmm. This post brought up many thoughts in me, some of them not fully formed yet. Let me expound on what I have so far:

    – I’ve already talked once, about the tendency towards ‘mouthiness’ in regards to Dresden and Andrew’s Kate. In this regard, at least, Mercy (and Anna, from Alpha and Omega) show far better judgment. Faced with rude people, or powerful potential enemies, they are nothing but exceedingly polite (Anna vs. Leah, and Mercy vs. the local Vampire clan leader, or the Crow for example), while at the same time, unwilling to let their opponent, as it were, broach their personal boundaries. Firm but unaggressive responses to their opponents, interestingly enough, lead to stalemates, rather than outright battles, and sometimes, even lead to an accord off which something positive can be built. This is an example to be learned from: Dresden does this some of the time, and Kate far less. And they can’t manage to keep their tongue in check a lot of the time, which often causes conflict where it could have been avoided. And conflict leads to massive body count.

    – It’s important to note that you can’t save everyone (physically, or mentally, when you get down to it). As I’ve mentioned before, we learn more from our failures than we do our successes. If bad people are going to do bad things, often people will suffer or die. If people didn’t, then the danger and the urgency to act, to be a hero – or heroine – would not be nearly so compelling or needful.

    That said, the journey of a Hero has to be very careful in how and when these deaths happen. It’s very easy to have the motivationals of a hero end up with WiR syndrome (Women in Refrigeratiors, google it if you haven’t heard of it). Dresden treads close to this at times, probably because of his whole chivalry-defining motif. It is only because women are *not* only victims in his stories, they are also heroes in their own right (Murphy, Luccio, Ms. Gard, among others) that his whole series doesn’t become a wall-banger. And because he does manage to save far more than are victims. Sometimes, he even manages to redeem his opponents, rather than kill them outright.

    Briggs handles the situation differently. Most of the folks that die in her stories are not usually the ones the protagonist has vowed to protect. They tend to be people that were dead before the protagonist ever got involved, or at the very least, people that she could not have expected to have saved, given the situation. Anna and Mercy, while potent people, are not superheroes, and are in fact far weaker than Dresden and Kate in terms of direct power.

    They also are very careful about how and where they kill, and they are far less cavalier about it. When they do, it’s often because there is no alternative, and the author makes that clear, even when they are doing it not in direct self-defense. And unlike with the whole Batman – Superman- Wonder Woman trifecta with the ugly Max Lord scenario, they are not blamed for it. They did what they had to in order to fullfill their role as protectors heroines, not because it was the easy way out.

    More as I have time and processing power.

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