Sunday, May 29, 2011

The third world villain, or How I Learned to Stop Assassinating And Love the Shadow Cloak

As fun as it is to do a radical story with a bunch of nearly-forgotten Marvel comics characters (the best ideas are for a completely forgotten one, basically), just wait until you see what we make when playtime's over.

Here's Joe Devil-Slayer:

Considering some of the things that DS has pulled out of thin air, including an "Anti-Matter Mace", yeah, I think that there must be something more than what-meets-the-eye when it comes to the Shadow Cloak. It would be interesting to explore DS powering up to pull something that could prove more of a threat than mere steel. Not too crazy about him pulling tons of firearms out of there, but, as in all comics, some things one writer tosses out there can be ignored by another.

Considering Payne's powers were taught to him by an infernal cult and he does spend his time killing earthbound demons, he might view himself as tainted. I think trying to find a good use to them and helping other heroes transcend their own personal demons would help him cleanse himself of that feeling that just doesn't wash off in the shower - seeing evil manifest is tough enough on the human psyche, but to know that he'd been crafted as a weapon in its service is another thing altogether! The thing that tickles the back of my mind however, is that there might be more of these assassins out there in the world.

Speaking of which, how curious is the Marvel Universe, with 90 percent of its Superheroes operating within the borders of the U.S. (or out in space). For decades, there have been globe-trekking adventures to exotic locales where one clue leads to another and the heroes stomp on the bad guys then jet home to sleep comfortably in their beds.

Imagine that those threats, those defeated villains were just the tip of the iceberg. If human nature, super-powers and third-world poverty were to be combined, there would be a virtual horde of super-villains out there.

The obvious ones would be those bent on world-domination, nihilism, etc. - those inevitably warrant attention and a global beat-down; but what of those who use their powers to establish themselves as cult-leaders, warlords, regional crime-lords, narco-bosses - all while keeping an outward appearance of normality.

Those who use not only fear, but nationalism, bribery, economy, anti-Western hatred, etc. could find it easy to establish themselves into a trenched position that guarantees them protection at least a part of the population.

In the case of Vera Gemini, this could mean that the local populace, the police, perhaps even government officials could be used to protect her without lifting a finger - money buys loyalty, fear ensures silence, bravery guarantees death.

In that light, the U.S.A., U.K. and some of the other western nations ARE a beacon of light in a very dark world - a place where the heroes have drawn a line in the sand and fight the good fight against the evil that threatens to overwhelm and enslave humanity. Without making too much of a political statement about Russia and China, this could be illustrated in future stories in a prolonged war against Vera Gemini.

I read up on DS's background in Central America and this would easily fit right in there, possibly dealing with the hopes and fears of immigrants from San Pedro (?) fleeing an oppressive warlord to America through Vera Gemini's domain...that's a sub-plot that could lead to a return to that country.

As with Batman Inc., I like the idea of globalization of Super-heroes. I'm not the most worldly of people and I find it hard not to fall back on stereotypes sometimes, but I think characters like the Black Panther, Luke Cage, Misty Knight, and Captain Marvel II broke a lot of ground for minority superheroes. Latin American superheroes have been under-represented in Marvel. Perhaps this might be because anyone who shows a bit of bravery are either inevitably killed, corrupted by evil or cowed into submission when their secret identities are learned?

I was thinking of establishing a new character who would ally himself with the MOotD whenever they venture to the border. I envision a young man who is surrounded by death in an oppressive town full of gang members and squalor. Someone who has lost almost everything, like Bruce Wayne has, but decidedly not a billionaire. Looking to avenge his family, his town, his people, he prays during the Day of Death for a hero to save them. The spirits of the restless dead say there are none other among the living who will avenge them. They grant the young man a portion of their power in the form of a death's head mask...

Anyway, I think my wife is calling. I figure that's enough for now. :)

- Joe

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