SFP

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Molly and Brennan

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  • Kid Chaos

    Sayonara, suckers! 😎

  • Lostman

    What just happen?

    • Kid Chaos

      Sita’s biodynamic as well! She can turn intangible, but she has to leave her clothes behind (kind of like that teleporter chick from “Darker Than Black”). 😎

      • Freemage

        Kitty Pryde of the X-Men would be the closest parallel. Her power affects her uniform, of course, because Marvel invented “unstable molecules” back in the earliest Fantastic Four days to keep characters with certain power-sets from running around in their birthday suits.

        • Weatherheight

          Kitty’s power has affected her normal clothes from the get-go (her very first use of her powers happened in her bedroom while wearing her street clothes – they came with her).

          However, some Marvel characters can use their powers without screwing up their duds, some can’t. Unstable Moleculesβ„’ do have the added benefit of being much, much more resilient than plebeian, bourgeois molecules.

          BTW, this is the discovery that should be making Reed Richards exceptionally wealthy and causing the garment industry to be looking into serious industrial sabotage.

          • Kid Chaos

            Yeah, it’s too bad that Reed Richards Is Useless. 😜

          • Weatherheight

            I love those characters, but good grief, Reed challenges my Willing Suspension of Disbeliefβ„’ so often.

            Thanks to the editorial staff at Marvel for Moon Girl, who intellectually embarrasses Reed Richards six times before she gets out of bed each morning and fails even more spectacularly on this trope.

    • Karmik

      From the motion lines it looks like she fell straight through the ground into a tunnel below where she was standing. Or maybe she can teleport? At least it appears she can opt to not go through the floor.

  • Dave M

    Prof Gurwara, is that you there in the turban? Probably not, but I’m probably going to point at any mature character with a cane and shout “Gurwara!”.

    • Kid Chaos

      You’re bound to get lucky sooner or later. 😜

      • Weatherheight

        I’m a big fan of the “Throw out Theories, One is Bound to Stick!” method of forum participation.

        • Kid Chaos

          I thought that was the standard. πŸ˜‰

    • I compared the him to the professor and:

      The nose is the same
      The jaw line is the same
      Can’t compare eyes
      Turban makes it hard to check shape of top half

      I think that you’re onto something.

      • Dave M

        And the professor did tell of him and his friend fleeing a city that had erupted into sectarian violence (and his friend being of a religious minority who was no longer safe there). Making the theory Tenuous, but plausible. In fact, just the sort of mind game the professor himself would play! (Dramatic chord)

        Hmmm (stares at Francisco’s avatar), do you use a cane mayhaps?
        (Points at Francisco) “Guwara! Guwara!” πŸ™‚

      • Weatherheight

        Heh. That could just be artistic homogeneity.
        There’s a comparison shot of Ikari Shinji and Nadia out there somewhere..
        This one’s pretty close, though…
        http://www.thesecretofbluewater.com/nadia-nadieva-Nadia&Shinji.gif

      • Weatherheight

        First – I like this idea, so therefore it probably won’t be true. πŸ˜›

        My guess is this is probably a result of artistic homogeneity – this isn’t the best shot, but Gainax produced both Neon Genesis Evangelion (Ikari Shinji -a shonen – on the right) and Nadia Secret of Blue Water (Nadia – a shojo – on the left). For more fun, follow the link for the picture back and look at all the character designs – it’s kind of nuts.

        https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/ababa6625299d439f386275feedcf4f60237d46b6c1bb1731509d78b5d3ba80f.gif

  • Kid Chaos

    “I’m a god, right? RIGHT??? Oh, crap…” πŸ’€

  • Vigil

    “Oh, what’s the harm of people thinking biodynamics are gods or devils?”, people cried on the last page.
    It’s not like there have ever been murders or wars in the name of gods or to destroy people thought to be devils, right?

    • Giacomo Bandini

      I have not read anyone writing about the harm of thinking biodynamics as divine beings. What has been argued is the accuracy of that definition. And the obious fact that that definition will cause social unrest is unrelevant about that.

    • It’s not like there haven’t been, and continue to be on a daily basis, wars and atrocities in the belief one set of perfectly normal people are superior to another set of perfectly normal people

      • Vigil

        Sure – but by adding a divine element to it you add an extra philosophical “should” to those beliefs, one which will appeal to a different set of people and widen your circle of discrimination.

        • Philip Bourque

          You realise that was the point? You use religion to appeal to the masses, so they support you, so you can take control of that piece of land you want or those resources or whatever selfish things you want. A better set of questions for this particular case would be “who has this kid’s ear and what are their goals?”

          • Timothy McLean

            It is. That doesn’t mean that it should be.

          • Vigil

            I’m well aware of the efficacy of using religion as a motivation to war – my argument was that for precisely this reason, it’s not really a situation where you can ethically stand about philosophising about “well maybe biodynamism is an expression of godhood, who’s to say otherwise?”

          • Zorae42

            It’s the same danger present in being ruled by a tyrant.

            If the tyrant/religious leader is benevolent, then everyone is fine and you can get really good things done with the power. The problem is that power corrupts and people are bad at resisting temptation.

            The problem isn’t with religion, it’s with people.

          • Vigil

            I would just as firmly oppose anyone telling this kid that due to being the long-lost descendant of some king, he had the “Divine right to rule” (oh wait, bad example as it also involves religion. Whatever.)

          • Weatherheight

            the upshot of that is that people can really screw up a faith system.
            Faith Systems are made up of and influenced by people, so this is internally consistent.

            People are screw-ups.

          • Kid Chaos

            “We have met the enemy, and he is us.” 😨
            –Walt Kelly’s Pogo

            https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/b5ad5ba1b2591035be9842f44cb2ef6a4b11541cb8fb0eae5be0d888fafc412b.jpg

          • Weatherheight

            Oh this is just upsetting…
            I remember reading this in my local newspaper when it was originally published.
            I miss Walt Kelly.

        • Nazi Germany actively rejected the locally dominant religions (Catholicism and Protestantism) and still managed to carry pretty much the entire population along.

          • AshlaBoga

            Yeah, a lot of religious wars are based on ignoring significant aspects of their own religious texts.

    • Walter

      Imagine a world where there were murders or wars.

      • Vigil

        Does their continued existence (and historically, we’re at a massive low in both cases) mean we shouldn’t try to minimise them?

        • Walter

          No? Is this some kind of a trick question?

      • zarawesome

        It’s not hard if you try.

        • Lisa Izo

          I see what you did there.

      • Markus

        “Wars already exist, so allowing more excuses for wars isn’t bad” -You, basically

        • Walter

          Look, imagine that a sect of people appeared who hated redheads, and one day there was an eclipse, and so they decided to purge the fire haired evils who stole the sun.

          The OP “let’s make sure there are no eclipses then.”

          As if, by squashing biodynamic faiths, we’d spare ourselves the scourge of man’s inhumanity to man. But our own experience gives the lie to this bargain. Evil will always take the concession and then invent another cause.

          You can’t appease warmongers by not giving them an excuse. It’s all in their heads, and they’ll come up with one whatever you do.

          We can’t know what their standard would have on it if Ramesh wasn’t here, but he’s not the one doing the shooting. If they didn’t have a miracle to seize on as an excuse for their extremism they’d come up with another reason. Hate is good at that.

    • Arkone Axon

      Generally speaking the problem was always people “borrowing” their deities’ authority. The Old Testament is replete with examples of Hebrew leaders getting yelled at and punished for not doing what G-d actually told them to. “Don’t oppress your own people. Don’t send your loyal warrior off on a suicide mission so you can bang his widow. Don’t tell them that they can sin all week as long as they give Me an offering on the Sabbath. What part of this is unclear to you?”

      The same thing applies on a lesser scale. It doesn’t matter if the person at the top is benevolent, wise, and just, if you’re dealing with their corrupt and cruel underling acting without the knowledge or permission of their boss. (The two worst words in any language: “Plausible Deniability.” Translation: someone’s doing stuff they don’t want their boss to know about.Either it’s something the boss wouldn’t approve of, or it’s something the boss WOULD approve of but should still know about just in case. Either way, it’s not good)

    • Jshadow

      This might be the 1st time I’ll see a HINDU killing somebody in name of religion.

      • Tylikcat

        Let me refer you to the history of the twentieth century…

        • Particularly the history of Partition – about 800,000 Muslim deaths,

        • Or why Modi was a controversial choice for prime minister.

      • I can guarantee you it is not the first time. Or even the millionth.

      • I can’t think of any major religion where people have not committed violence in its name.

        • Dave M

          Can’t think of an example of Buddhists or Taoists (Daoists if you prefer) committing violence in the name of their religion (Except in Journey to the west, and that’s ok, they’re killing monsters and demons).

          Just took careful aim and shot down my own argument didn’t I? Damn, I hate it when that happens. πŸ™‚

          • When it it to Buddhism I was thinking of, for example, what is happening to the Rohingya people in Myanmar.

          • Lostman

            Isn’t the 969 movement operating there?

          • Jshadow

            Right Buddhism. I keep mixing it and Hinduism. =/

          • Tylikcat

            The example of violence against the Rohingya people above is one of the best from the current moment. But it’s hardly the only one. For a somewhat more abstract one, you might look into how the Kingdom of Bhutan treats their Nepali minority…

            (As it happens I’m a member of a Chan Buddhist order,* and it irritates the fuck out of me how much Buddhism is romanticized in the west.** I try to keep something of a list of Buddhist behaving badly. My order, BTW, has done some pretty sketchy stuff, though the example that really stands out for me was almost a thousand years ago, involving supporting a particular Chinese dynasty in the wars that brought it into power. This got them a ton of land, money, and influence… and that dynasty went on to shit on other Buddhists – awesome! And really, this is not uncommon for the politicking between groups. I really like my Chan brothers and sisters, but, um, I’m all for looking history straight in the face.)

            * This is back on the west coast, and unrelated to the zendo I live in. The Chan group has effectively been a lay order since the temples were disbanded and everyone fled early in the last century.
            ** Buddhists doing the “Buddhists are peaceful” superiority dance is distinctly separate sort of irritant, but at least there’s an inverse correlation between that and how much they know about history. Only a small number of folks are enlightened… and the record is a bit mixed on exactly how they behave.

          • Weatherheight

            It’s hard to get better when you can’t see and acknowledge your flaws.

          • Tylikcat

            Yes, but even more, I hate the whole tribal identity model of religious membership. I happen to find sitting on a pillow and staring at a wall a useful practice – and I really like the martial arts my Chan order teaches*, and yay, beatings! and it’s a great community, in the hang out and eat food after practice and watch cheesy martial arts movies. As well as go on retreats and extended sittings and did I mention beating on eachother? (What can I say, I really enjoy good sparring partners. Part of this is living in the zendo right now, where mostly my sparring partners are just my Chen students.)

            What I hate is the idea that because I do that I’m a Buddhist, and that’s the team I belong to, and I’m separate from all other teams, and by the way, we’re the best. I mean, what utter bullshit. Even if I am eventually ordained – which I’m not ruling not, though I’m also kind of too busy to think about just at the moment – this is something I do, not I side a picked or a way of separating myself from other people. It’s not even something I believe, since, at least in my case not believing things is actively part of my practice.

            So… Yes, but the group that I want to be better is everyone. Setting the range at “just my friends”, or “just my order”, or “all Buddhists” would be arbitrary and stupid. And that I like sitting on a pillow and staring at a wall, and all the martial arts, is pretty obviously a personal quirk, and I’m pretty sure other people can work out whether they share it. My serious concerns are a lot broader.

            * even if Chen is still my primary art.

          • Weatherheight

            “the group that I want to be better is everyone”

            Totally on board with this idea. If someone’s life leads them to be less isolated, more in touch with those around them, to act more justly and yet embrace mercy, and to show more compassion, I honestly don’t give a rat’s fuzzy behind how they got there.

            I intend to eep trying to make better the only person I can truly affect – me. I’m going to screw it up, but I intend to keep trying to be better and hope that helps others (which I doubt – I mean, seriously, boy have I been a screw-up. πŸ˜€ ).

          • Tylikcat

            I suppose technically it’s bog standard Mahayana. Maybe with the serial number filed off πŸ™‚

            Yeah, I go bumbling through life, with way too much focus on not being bored (OMG, my sister has so many words…!) But I also try to live a decent life, and be good to the people around me. On balance. Well. Um.

        • Lisa Izo

          Jainism. Taoism. Buddhism.

          • Lisa Izo

            Okay cool. But I also think Jainism is possibly the MOST peaceful religion, because it’s inherently about non-violence as its primary tenet. I think Sam Harris has spoken about this quite a bit, about how the more extremist a Jainist gets, the LESS dangerous they get, and there are some extreme Jainists who won’t even step on grass for concern of breaking a blade of grass πŸ™‚

          • Tylikcat

            I have to say, I don’t know of violent Jains. I also don’t know of recent examples of Jains with political power, which is often where things go most obviously wrong. (And, just as a side note, there is innate sexism in most/all Jain sects – it’s been a while – which always makes me twitch a bit.)

            I mostly figure that people are pretty good at fouling things up, generally in direct proportion to how much power is in play. (Which this is a general observation, there are plenty of exceptions, or exceptions for some given time. The problem comes in designing resilient systems.)

      • Arkone Axon

        …Tell that to Mahatma Ghandi.

  • Smithy

    If he considers her to be his goddess wife, you would think he’d be a bit more annoyed that they tried to riddle her with bullets.

    • TheZorginator1

      If the people you care about can become intangible, threats of physical violence towards them probably become slightly less worrying.

      • Smithy

        There’s the principle of the thing, I wouldn’t want a gun pointed at me or someone I cared about even if I knew very well it wasn’t loaded ^^

        • Ark

          But that’s because you know it could harm them if it were loaded, and accidents happen. Would you be upset if someone pointed a pool noodle at someone you care about?

          • Christian Denney

            Exactly. Even if you knew they were very angry and intended to hit said person AS HARD AS THEY COULD with the pool noodle, with the intent to harm, it is still hard to get *too* worked up about it.

    • 21stCenturyPeon

      AND his XBox is now blown to smithereens.

      • Tylikcat

        Did they get the XBox? That’s a cheering thought.

        • Weatherheight

          PS4 Rules. So much easier to use with hooves.

          • palmvos

            ::offers a carrot::

          • Weatherheight

            ::puts down the controller and enjoys::

          • Arkone Axon

            PC snob here! I haven’t had a console since the PS2.

          • Lisa Izo

            A real god would go oldschool and use an NES or a TurboGrafx 16.

  • MrSing

    Why is she running away? What are they gonna do to her? Arrest her? Put her into cuffs? Shoot her again?

    I mean, It would be annoying to have to turn intangible every five seconds because a Ghatak Force guy is trying to tackle you, but really, what can they do to her?

    • Maybe she doesn’t care to be naked in front of a bunch of (homicidal) strangers?

      • MrSing

        That didn’t seem to be a problem until she fell through the floor. Her clothes somehow stayed on while bullets passed through her.

        • Mechwarrior

          That could have just been a delayed effect.

          • MrSing

            Like in Roadrunner?
            Kinda makes me wish she held up a sing that said “Eeep!” before falling through the floor.

        • Alex Hollins

          Well, only the places shot became intagible, not her whole body. Theres flashing on the exit wounds as well, and holes in the clothes, meaning that the fibers of the clothes caught by the bullets passed through her as well.

    • If her intangibility is consciously triggered, then all they need is someone to shoot her from behind when she isn’t looking. Safer to run.

      • MrSing

        Stand with a wall behind you or in a corner. Problem solved.

        • And just how long can you stay awake? Or be certain of spotting a sniper?

      • bta

        They could have done that the previous page, but apparently our old guy here feel the need to shout before shooting.

        • Weatherheight

          The poor fellow is held hostage by Dramatic Obsessive / Compulsive Disorder.

      • It could be a reflex action.

        • Speed of reaction vs speed of a bullet? I’d prefer not to take that bet, thank you.

          • As I said before, this strip reminds me of Waspsi Square. Specifically, this set of strips (and the strips they are referencing):

            http://wapsisquare.com/comic/dodge-bullets/
            (and the next two pages)

            Ps.
            “Poit” is the onomatopoeic term they use for teleporting.

    • Walter

      Shoot at her and make her fall into the ground? Like, if there wasn’t a cave there she’s falling forever.

      • MrSing

        I think she’s “falling” because she chooses to flee.

    • Mechwarrior

      How long do you think she can stay intangible?

      • MrSing

        Until it is shown it strains her I’m going to assume very long.

    • AshlaBoga

      I suspect she can’t breath while phased. You want to keep holding your breath until they stop trying to stab you?

      • MrSing

        What makes you think that?

        • Weatherheight

          It’s actually a fairly common limitation on the power in the genre.
          The assumption isn’t unreasonable, IMHO.

          • Lisa Izo

            I think the same thing happens with Kitty Pryde when she turns intangible in X-Men

      • Kid Chaos

        Same rules as Kitty Pryde of the X-Men? Except for the whole losing-her-clothes thing; I’m chalking that up to fanservice. 😜

    • Insanenoodlyguy

      Three things to consider as we don’t know the full answer yet.

      1. Limits to her power. She can only stay intangible for so long, or move through so much matter, without negative side effects and/or power failure. For whatever reason, she cannot keep this up all day. Thus she has motivation to amscray once it gets dangerous.

      2. Power opposition. There are implications Venkataraman (presumably the older man on this page) might have a power, if he can “help you remember.” telepath, or brain scrambler of some sort. She might be vulnerable to such attacks even intangible. And if there are two powered people in this organization, who’s to say there aren’t three or more? Somebody else here might be able to trump her power as well, and if she knows that, it’s time to leave before they can take a crack at her.
      3. She’s gotta go super bad and no way they are letting her use their restrooms now.

      • Weatherheight

        I say, smashing!

      • MrSing

        I have to admit, it is awkward to use the restroom when a squad of Spec Ops are staring disaprovingly at you.

  • Giacomo Bandini

    I belive this is the first time SFP showed some nudity. I love how it feels natural to the flow of the story.

  • I must confess to feeling uncomfortable with this short treading the bounds of being culturally appropriative. I’d much prefer it to have been done with Western religious symbology – it’s not as if we don’t have a character looking like an angel and real-world religious extremists willing to resort to violence.

    • D. Schwartz

      How is this not being culturally appropriate?

      • Jon

        Because any time white people use another culture’s images, myths, legends, or basically any other thing in a work of fiction, it’s cultural appropriation and terrible, despite it being something pretty much everyone in history does or has done, for some reason, I guess?

        • Some guy

          Cultural Appropriation is a real thing, but this isn’t an example of it.

          • It’s treading the line, using someone else’s deities and beliefs in a way that isn’t in keeping with tradition, and superimposing that on a vision of the religion as intolerant and violent.

          • Lisa Izo

            I don’t really see ‘cultural appropriation’ as a bad thing, but rather that’s literally how culture spreads in the first place. That’s an inherent aspect OF culture. Other cultures adopt aspects of one culture, and the culture spreads and/or adapts/evolves.

            That’s how, for example, music like rock and roll came to be. Or how people in undeveloped countries gained practices that allow for new medicines and sciences and inventions. Or how writing and language spreads throughout history. The best you can hope for is that the spread of culture is done through non-violent means, rather than violent ones.

        • Zorae42

          It’s mostly when white people dress up in another culture’s attire (that carries specific meaning) for fun or “because it’s exotic”. It’s about taking things from other cultures without caring about their significance to that culture and treating them like commodities.

          So this could’ve been appropriation if the author had just picked things from Indian culture/Hinduism willy nilly and threw them into the story solely because they thought it was cool to do so. But here the culture is being shown because it’s where the events are happening and (from the way people who know more about the culture/belief system have been commenting) it seems like this was pretty well researched.

          • Jon

            I agree that it was well done here and much more within the normal cultural context. However I don’t agree with your definition as it goes to how people actually use the term.

            That might be the bailey argument, but the motte as I’ve seen it used is much more of the ‘any use of a story element from another culture, even in the proper context is appropriation’.

            For reference: http://slatestarcodex.com/2014/11/03/all-in-all-another-brick-in-the-motte/

          • Zorae42

            Huh, neat. I don’t think it applies here necessarily, but that was an interesting read.

            Maybe the ‘any use is appropriation’ belief is held some extremists, people who (understandably) are just tired of having their culture stripped from them, or people who have firsthand experience of being discriminated against for a certain aspect of their culture and are (again understandably) upset when they see outsiders adopting it with no repercussions.

            But it seems to me that most people want to have outsiders learn about their culture (unless it’s some private aspect of it I suppose). It lets them spread and strengthen their culture. And as long as you use it with proper context, then that means their culture gets representation and becomes something people are more likely to recognize and not be assholes about it all.

          • The problem is that most writers don’t do the research, they just recycle the cliched view from outside. The clearestexample is with representations of disability: either we get the magical cure at the end, or the disabled person is offed at the end, because god forbid someone might be disabled and happy as they are. It’s why friends of mine were picketing the premiere of “Me Before You” last summer, and why other disabled people did that at performances around the world.

            You can write about other cultures, we can’t stop you, but if you want to do a decent job then you do the research, which is not the same as recycling all the cliches, and then you get someone from within that culture to do a ‘sensitivity read’ (I’ve done several) and you fix the problems they identify. But that’s still rare.

            And there’s a secondary problem, that minority group authors are grossly under-represented, and that when they do try to break through with an authentic voice, they may find it impossible, or be told that their representations are too unrealistic. I’ve had people ask me why characters are disabled if they aren’t going to be cured. And that’s why #OwnVoices is now a movement within literature, trying to give actual minority group members the space to develop their authentic voices, rather than some faux cliche or twee disneyfication.

          • Zorae42

            My god, I still can’t believe that ever got made into a movie when its message could literally put people in risk of suicide. Ugh.

            “I’ve had people ask me why characters are disabled if they aren’t going to be cured”

            That is fucking sickening. They should be ashamed *shudder*. I’m glad there’s a movement within literature specifically helping minorities be heard.

            I wish I knew many good examples of disabled representation to make this a bit less depressing… Umm, Tyrion Lannister is the best character on GoT. Toph from Avatar was amazing. I know they don’t make up for the incredible lack of good representation, but at least we might be doing slightly better than before and there’s hope for the future? Especially if there are movements to try and help specifically with that problem.

          • I might be more inclined to listen to the argument if it actually had a clue what a motte and bailey castle was* – so in fact it’s a perfect example of getting things wrong when attempting to use a culture that isn’t your own.

            * The motte was the artificial raised mound on which the keep was built, while the bailey was the enclosed yard surrounded by a stockade. It’s a form particularly associated with the Norman Conquest. The bailey wasn’t the focal point as claimed in your link, the keep atop the motte was.

          • Jon

            Actually, the analogy is perfectly sound. I just confused which was which because I hadn’t read the original paper in a while. The Bailey is actually the undefended general part and the motte is the specific unassailable fact with nothing to do with actual use.

            Which, by the way, the article I linked pretty clearly states:

            “The writers of the paper compare this to a form of medieval castle, where there would be a field of desirable and economically productive land called a bailey, and a big ugly tower in the middle called the motte. If you were a medieval lord, you would do most of your economic activity in the bailey and get rich. If an enemy approached, you would retreat to the motte and rain down arrows on the enemy until they gave up and went away. Then you would go back to the bailey, which is the place you wanted to be all along.”

            The mistake was mine. And a semantic mistake doesn’t actually change the argument.

            Had you actually read the article, or the originating paper in my link, (noted here: https://philpapers.org/archive/SHATVO-2.pdf ) rather than just going to Wikipedia and then going ‘Aha!’ and turning your brain off, you’d have seen that.

            As an aside, arguing against something because of how someone is arguing it rather than the actual content indicates you don’t actually have an argument that can address the substance, and you’re hoping nobody will notice, and will treat you finding a mistake as a ‘win’ regardless.

            This is like spellchecking a speech, and has about the same argumentative power.

          • First paragraph I agree with, second one not so much.

            There are several problems that make cultural appropriation a concern here. First we have Dhruv positioning himself as an avatar of Vishnu, that’s roughly equivalent to a Western character claiming to be the Second Coming Of Jesus Christ, which quite a few people would find objectionable, and even more if it was thrown into the middle of a Japanese manga that didn’t touch on Western culture anywhere else. (And the Japanese analogy is imperfect as it doesn’t come with quite the same history of steamrollering smaller cultures that Western colonial history does).

            Second we have the reference to the BJP ignoring the views of non-Hindu citizens to rename the country Hindustan. That’s lacking in nuance, BJP are a Hindu-based party, but they’re also the legitimate, real world, government of India and generally not quite as confrontational. In fact we saw the lack of nuanced understanding when people were confusing the Hind part of Hindustan with the religion.

            And third, Hindu death squads! We aren’t given any context to justify their existence. They’re just sprung on us as though they’re a normal part of the religion/culture.

            Part of the problem with representing cultures and minorities that aren’t ours is that we need to do it in a way that’s respectful, but we lack the depth of knowledge to know when we fall short. I make a point of looking at representations of disability in SF/F, because that’s the minority I’m in and the genre I follow. There are precisely two non-disabled authors whose representations of disability I’ve read and thought ‘Yes, you get it’. Most representations are so bad I want to go off and beat my head bloody against a brick wall. Yet their authors will insist there’s nothing wrong with what they’ve written and it’s us who don’t understand disability (and that’s not an exaggeration, I’ve been told this to my face).

            We don’t get to say our representations of other cultures and minorities are non-appropriative, we just have to hope they aren’t, and listen when group members tell us how we screwed up.

          • Zorae42

            My apologies, I’m not too familiar with Indian culture and I was just going by a lack of complaints from most of the other comments. And going off the fact that there didn’t seem to be any offensive tropes commonly associated with Indians/Indian Culture present (although I guess just because something isn’t awful doesn’t mean it’s good). I will say that some of the things you listed seem like they could’ve happened in any country as a result of the emergence of super heroes in the population. Namely the change in government and the presence of people willing to use violence in the name of other people. (at least given the way this story has treated it so far).

            I mean, the US was basically training child soldiers to kill supers that were participating in a revolt against the Government (I guess the equivalent of death squads).

            Those authors sound awful and that is definitely an under-represented (and often poorly represented when they do decide to add some in) minority to be in. And I agree with your last statement 100%.

            A bit off tangent:

            “a Western character claiming to be the Second Coming Of Jesus Christ … thrown into the middle of a Japanese manga that didn’t touch on Western culture anywhere else”

            My God, that sounds amazing. Now I want One Punch Man do this; especially since in that universe obsession basically causes super powers and some people are hella obsessed with religion in this country so that totally seems like it could be a thing.

            Sorry, I know that was meant to be a bad thing and when I think that it sounds cool it’s because I’m not very religious nor is it a religion that people appropriate from; (heck, much of it came into existence through aggressive appropriation of other religions to make Christianity more appealing).

            But man that sounds rad.

          • Tani M

            Hi, long time reader and first time commenter here. I can’t say that I’m well versed in the nuances of cultural appropriation, and even as an Indian myself, I don’t have the right to speak for everyone in my country. But I can say that this particular storyline is very relevant to what is currently happening here, and it’s doing an unsettlingly good job of showing the worst fears of a lot of Indians- that Hindu extremism will take over and our secular country is going to end up like… well, this.
            Scarily enough, I can see this happening. The BJP is currently in power, and all the bigots and cultists have got the validation to do what they please. A violent extremist, misogynist and a terrorist is now the Governor of one of our largest states- a man who openly said he wants India to be a Hindu state! Extremist groups are using the ban on cow slaughter to attack and kill Muslims. Minority groups (scheduled castes and tribes) are being targeted and robbed of their rights. It’s getting worse and worse here, and seeing this comic felt like punch in the gut because this could easily come true (minus the biodynamic, of course).
            And if a biodynamic were to somehow make an appearance, I have no doubt they would be labelled a god and appropriated by the government. There are many myths of gods- even Vishnu- being born as humans so there is precedent. And many of our leaders can’t seem to tell the difference between myths and actual science and history.

          • Agreed, but I’d personally hesitate to show someone as an avatar, backed by death squads, in a country and religion not mine. My problem with the strip is largely one of balance, it’s only showing that one ultra-extreme of Hinduism, rather than a nuanced view. I’d guess I’ve probably got a wider understanding of India than most readers, but I’m conscious its a very, very shallow one, and of the depth and complexity of Indian culture that isn’t being discussed.

            If I had written those four pages, I would be justifiably open to charges of cultural appropriation, because it’s neither my culture or religion and I know I don’t know enough to catch nuances that might slip by, plus it’s showing an extreme version of Hinduism without a balancing moderate version. And white Brit writing a negative view of Indian culture? Not a good place to be starting from.

          • Tani M

            I agree with you there. This isn’t a good first impression of India at all. It’s accurate, but only at a certain level. Indian culture itself is pretty… chaotic and confusing. Extremists are a minority. A very loud and powerful minority, but a minority nonetheless. However, the story isn’t finished yet. Sita is an example of a moderate Hindu, and I think we will see more. The authors have been pretty good about depicting different cultures so far.
            A white Brit writing a negative view of Indian culture? Well, the hypothetical white Brit wouldn’t be the first (and won’t be the last). Unlike their forebearers though, they will definitely be reamed out on Twitter.

          • KatherineMW

            The strip also has Sita saying she is very devout, so the fundamentalists are not the only Hindus we see – as Tani notes, the short story’s main character is a non-fundamentalist Hindu.

          • Lisa Izo

            She might mean she’s devout about science, fact, and empirical evidence?

          • Who is presented as the odd-one-out.

          • Lisa Izo

            I’m pretty sure that there’s already been a manga/anime/non-western cartoon which depicted a second coming of Jesus Christ analogy actually. It’s a popular trope in anime and other cartoons actually to have some sort of chosen one who’s a reincarnation of some great figure. Some sort of messianic archetype. The Familiar of Zero…. The Chronicles of Wormwood… Fushigi Yuugi…. Naruto… Shaman King…. The Great Power of Chninkel… even Yu-Gi-Oh arguably can be seen as a messianic christ figure.

          • Tylikcat

            “First we have Dhruv positioning himself as an avatar of Vishnu, that’s roughly equivalent to a Western character claiming to be the Second Coming Of Jesus Christ, which quite a few people would find objectionable, and even more if it was thrown into the middle of a Japanese manga that didn’t touch on Western culture anywhere else.”

            Minor point – Christianity doesn’t have a tradition of avatars of Christ showing up on a semi-regular basis as part of the accepted literature, so that’s not the best comparison? …and I just saw this point was made below (sorry, missed it on the first pass.)

          • I had to think about that, but yes, I see your point. Incarnation seems a larger issue to a Christian, because the second incarnation, the Second Coming, is about as big as it gets. For Hinduism, without that countdown element, incarnating as an avatar is fundamentally different. But from another perspective we may still miss the nuance around it, because we’re programmed to look for the big event. Yet just because avatars are more common occurrences in Hinduism doesn’t mean they aren’t simulataneously Vishnu or another god incarnate, with all that implies. It’s that not having the cultural background to be aware of all the issues I’m talking about, and that necessarily applies to the points I’m raising, not just the story itself.

        • D. Schwartz

          By that standard everytime I as a person of Jewish extraction make kimchi as taught to me by a Korean I’m unforgivably appropriating korean culture.

          That’s not appropriation, that’s integration and adoption and amalgamation.

          • Lisa Izo

            And every time that a korean person eats a bagel πŸ™‚

            Every time an African person eats pizza. Oh noes, cultural appropriation!

            Every time a muslim uses the name Allah (the religion took a LOT of stuff from previous religions, including the name they were using for God, Allah, which I believe came from a Northern Arabian tribe dating back to the 2nd century called the Kaba as the title for a moon god as the chief deity).

            When Marco Polo brought back spices to Europe, cultural appropriation!

            No that’s just how trade works. And how cultures spread. The whole concept of cultural appropriation is sort of dumb in general, ignoring the very nature of how culture works and how, for the most part, it’s not going to just exist in tiny pockets – it’s going to spread if the culture has any popularity or usefulness or ambitious aspects.

      • Mechwarrior

        David isn’t asking if it’s appropriate, he’s talking about cultural appropriation

        • D. Schwartz

          I do get that but I’m trying to draw then out with their words to get then to explain their stance.

    • Walter

      She jus a birb.

    • Trev

      Imagining interesting hypothetical implications for Hinduism = bad cultural appropriation.

      Imagining tired trope of big bad bigot Christians = yeah okay sure.

      Don’t appropriate my culture either. Be logically consistent please.

      Sincerely, A Catholic.

      • Weatherheight

        Heh.

      • I’m Catholic. If the only four pages of western culture shown in a Japanese manga were an IRA bombing, or US ‘Christians’ blowing up an abortion clinic, or some other form of Christian religious intolerance, then I might be reasonably concerned about whether Western culture and Christianity were being reasonably portrayed. And if I expect that for my own religion, then I should expect it for every other.

        • Tsapki

          I think the Yu-Gi-Oh anime shows America in something of a appropriated light. Three of the first American people you meet are a crazy billionaire, a flag-wearing biker looking guy, and a former action movie star. All of whom try to solve their problems by playing a children’s card game.

          • Weatherheight

            Anime has a real love/hate relationship with Americans – Johji Average hasn’t met a lot of Americans in Japan, and our soldiers have not uniformly been upright representatives of the values the Japanese have had explained to them (and the Okinawa natives like us even less).

            On the other hand, Japanese are typically so crowded in their cities and typically lack the disposable income that Americans appear to have (at least, as we are depicted in our media) that they envy our relative prosperity and freedom from the heavy social status restrictions that are only very recently beginning to loosen. Japanese aspire to that freedom and see America as the means to achieve it, and yet…

            Anime is also littered with trope and stereotypes, partially because it’s easy and partially because the language is so contextually based. They are able to infer a lot more from limited information and extrapolate far more than the typical American, who either needs or wishes everything spelled out.

          • Lisa Izo

            Plus Yugi himself is pretty much a messianic Christ archetype.

        • Tylikcat

          Catholicism is such an interesting example for anyone who was raised in western culture – because historically the catholic church was such a huge part of the culture.*

          I’m not claiming the church in its medieval form is identical to current church identity. At the very least it’s a much closer to in-group thing than, say, most WASPs from Connecticut writing about Daoists. (Which can make conflicts more bitter, but they’re pretty unlikely to be exoticized.) And the stories and symbols are woven deeply through our art, literature and cultural consciousness. To the point where it’s kind of frustrating sometimes – I know at times people have interpreted some of my writing in terms of Christian symbolism and argh, that was totally not the mythological basis I was working from and I was being super blatant about it!

          If you’re looking at cultural appropriation more seriously, and not in the overwrought nineteen year old version (which is so often set up as a straw man), you have to look at the power relationships between the groups – who is being taken from, and who is being harmed. Catholics have played a lot of different roles in US society, and what position of power they hold is contextual. My father’s family were factory workers** in Wisconsin. My mother’s family were wealthy socialites descended from the founders of San Diego, and still deeply embedded in a net of connections I don’t entirely understand (though grandma’s second husband was a naval Captain – a huge financial step down!) So it matters if you’re writing, say, about Hispanic families vs. New England politicos (though, I suppose my relatives are Hispanos politicos – there are a bunch of Irish relatives too)… and it matters who the hell is doing the writing.

          * Disclosure: I’m from a Catholic family – okay, I’ve never been 100% certain about my dad, but his older brother is a practicing Catholic and all signs point to my dad just being very lapsed – but I’m also the only person in my family who was never baptised. And the cultural context of my upbringing was complicated because my family is like that. But still, I was raised in the US as an apparently white person. (And I studied the church pretty extensively in my teens.)
          ** And grandpa was a labor union organizer.

          • And a completely different set of nuances in the UK, where Catholicism went from being the dominant state religion, to being legally suppressed, with martyrs, to a slow emancipation, to being a minority regarded as a little bit strange (and that last is within my lifetime).

          • Tylikcat

            It’s not entirely uncomplicated here – there was a lot of fearmongering in the 60’s around JFK’s election. Protestants were historically pretty dominant, and it doesn’t get talked about much.* But… that doesn’t pack the punch that it used to. Far more fun to freak out about Mormons. (Okay, there’s a long history of freaking out about Mormons, I suppose it’s more like that’s waned enough to be comparable to the level of freaking out about Catholics a few generations back.)

            * People often talk about how the white vote got Trump in. You don’t hear nearly as much about how the Protestant vote got Trump in, but it’s so very true.

          • Weatherheight

            One of things that always struck me as noteworthy was the prevalence of movies featuring Catholic or Anglican/Episcopalian themes / characters during the 30’s in 40’s and set in the United States. Catholics and Episcopalians were very common but by no means a majority block, and yet…

            My family history is filled with Lutherans, Methodists, and Baptists, so I was strangely fascinated by those movies, like they were somehow foreign documentaries. Well, and let’s face it, Loretta Young was beyond entrancing.

        • Trev

          Okay. It appears as you explained more that by cultural appropriation in the context of the above pages you more mean stereotypes and cliches. I still think, overall, that is what is done with Christians in general media but Catholics particularly.

          I don’t have a opinion either way regarding the above pages especially considering it isn’t meant to portray Hindus in general, but a nationalist party just like if the IRA was introduced late in the chapter of a book I don’t think it would be meaning to portray Catholics in general.

          Garbage like Dan Brown’s DaVinci is, however, slanderous.

          • My main problem with the Da Vinci Code is the rampant disablism – both his main villains are disabled? Seriously? There’s a clear recycling of a damaging trope that portrays disability as sinister. And doubly so with Silas and albinism, which is almost universally portrayed as threatening, to the distress of many people with albinism.

            WRT how the Da Vinci code treats Catholicism, I don’t have a problem with it. Catholicism’s big enough to look out for itself in the West, and it’s not as if there hasn’t been an extensive history of Catholic involvement with death squads and authoritarianism. Or, for that matter, of violent suppression of heresies, in the Albigensian Crusade for example (‘kill them all, God will know his own’), and suppression of non-Christian nations in the Northern Crusades.

    • Tylikcat

      Yeah.

      I mean, I suspect as a practical matter, this is “Oh, hey, we have this short story that hasn’t gone up on the website yet.” And… when I first read the short story, it hit me very differently, and I’m still parsing out all the reasons for that.

      One of them has to do with where we are in the larger story line. The ending we were left with, especially including all the questions it left us about Gurwara left me feeling twitchy about issues of race and culture. I gotta say, I am not here for EvilGurwara, but I am still here. (I am here somewhat in blind faith because I just plain find Gurwara more interesting than I find Alison. Complexity! Shit we don’t know!) I’m really sad that Shweta isn’t, and I respect their reasons for bailing.

      …and in the midst of all of these things, I am going to read this particular story with a very critical eye. While, at the same time, remembering that it was written a while ago, and that our creative team is probably swamped trying to get the book together.

      • You may be right that the coincidence of the Gurwara storyline with this one may affect readings, but I think I’d be having issues with it for other reasons – my involvement with/support for #WeNeedDiverseBooks and #OwnVoices means this is the kind of thing I look at – so the coincidence isn’t triggering thoughts I wouldn’t be having anyway.

        WRT Gurwara, whatever his motivations, he still gave Alison some seriously needed ethics guidance. I don’t know if he’s on Alison’s side, but I’d say his ethics are clearly on the right side. So, I just don’t see Evil Gurwara as things currently stand, I’ll be interested to see what eventually falls out, and I wish Shweta was still here too.

        And if I do find it culturally troubling, part of the reason I made the point is because it’s so rare for SFP to feel off.

        • Tylikcat

          It’s non-theoretical on my part, as I did get the last graphic novel (though I read this story in a noisy and interrupted environment while travelling, and didn’t think about it over much). But it’s an interesting contrast with how I am feeling unsettled now… and yet, at the time, it mostly struck me as a cute bonus story. There’s a lot of context here – and some of it is the larger social discussion, and how the storytelling had evolved when this was written.

    • Alex Hollins

      Its characters who are in that culture, using their culture to explain events. I’d be more upset if they were Hindi an DIDN’T use the correct mythology.

      • The problem is that we have four pages of a foreign culture, and the picture it gives is one of religious intolerance and repression.

        • KatherineMW

          Except that the protagonist of this short story is also part of that culture.

    • Talina M

      This was a requested arc. The authors had a stretch goal,asking what other biodynamics people would like to see.

      • My issue isn’t with showing other cultures, it’s when the only image of that culture shown is of religious intolerance and bringing religious figures into a story in a way that likely lacks nuance.

        • AshlaBoga

          As a part-time writer I chalk that up to ‘conflict drives the plot.’

          The problems in a given society are often more gripping to read about than the more harmonious aspects. I’m sure SFP India has some great stuff, like gods cleaning the river so thousands have clean drinking water, but that’s less enthralling than a guy with delusions of godhood and his phasing out of her clothes friend.

        • Talina M

          I would disagree on the only view of Hinduism being one of religious intolerance. IMHO the manipulation is shown for what it is,lust for power. Not religious enlightenment.

          • How do you know? There’s nothing there to say anyone’s belief isn’t genuine.

    • KatherineMW

      As I see it, the problem with this attitude is that the options it leaves are “only write about white people” and “write minorities as perfect”, and neither erasure nor positive discrimination are good options from the perspective of either social justice or good storytelling.

      If you are going to write about a variety of cultures, then you have to allow them to have flaws. It’s not as though the author has shied away from criticizing American culture, so writing India as a utopia would hardly fit with the tone.

      Appropriation as using Native American art styles for profit, or wearing religiously meaningful costumes for casual dress-up, I get. Those thing have issues. But setting a story in a culture other than your own, and depicting that culture as less than perfect, is not appropriation.

      Although criticism always seems able to go farther when it’s by someone writing about their own culture. SFP’s being downright nice compared to Rushdie.

      • You missed the third option: do the research and get a sensitivity read and make an honest attempt to get it right. IOW act like a professional in any other field of work.

        The answer isn’t erasure, but you need to be aware of the damaging cliches, such as cure narratives, or the magical crip for disabled characters, and avoid them in your plotting. And if you do find yourself resorting to something that’s recognisably over-used cliche, such as a black or hispanic character being a gang member, take a look at why you’re doing that and how you can balance it. And it’s not just how you portray the minority characters, but also how you portray the majority ones – are they being a white saviour, taking on the white man’s burden, and so on.

        It doesn’t just come down to any one author’s work, either. You need to look at how the literary world en masse is portraying minorities. TV Tropes is actually pretty useful for showing this, if there are tropes for ‘Bury your gays’ and ‘Bury your disabled’, then there’s recognisably an issue (the individual points about minority characters within individual tropes are often dreadful, given the crowdsourced nature of the comments, but at the overall trope level it’s pretty good at spotting overused cliches and calling them out).

        If something is an overused cliche, then why is it in your story at all? If it’s an overused cliche that’s disrespectful to minorities, why risk controversy? It’s not as if there’s any shortage of stories to be told, so why horn in on those areas where minority #ownvoices authors are trying to break through?

        • KatherineMW

          The author does appear to have done research (certainly more than the folks upthread who have never even heard of Hindu fundamentalism being a thing, despite it being a major issue in present-day India; and the fact that many people haven’t heard of it as an issues also argues very much against this story being a “cliche”) given how other readers have noted that some of the story elements reflect aspects of the Ramayana. Whether you think the research is sufficient will always be a matter of perspective.

          • This is as far as it goes. It was announced as four pages at the start.

  • Zac Caslar

    Yes if you have to ask if you’re a god you are not a god.

    This is an exception to the Ray Stannis Principle.

    • Zac Caslar

      Also I hope she’s got spare glasses. Goddess speed, Sita.

      • Charles Moore

        That’s damn inconvenient. She really needs to get Lasik.

        • Flimflamberge

          They might have just been part of a disguise, considering how unwanted she is there.

        • Alex Hollins

          might not work. I wonder if she got that tattoo before or after puberty.

          • Sam

            LASIK doesn’t involve any permanent implantation of foreign substances in the body, so her powers shouldn’t be a problem for it. Although her eyes are sometimes white even while she’s corporeal, so maybe she has some sort of side effect relating to them.

    • Charles Moore

      I interpreted that as more of a rhetorical “aren’t I” dripping with menace. But it could easily be uncertainty or self reflection.

      • Timothy McLean

        I mean, his wife did just say “You’re not a god”.

        • Charles Moore

          True, but it doesn’t discount the possibility that he may be fully aware of his role in the god gambit and is going along with it for the perks.

          He may also be emphasizing to his follower that as Ramesh, he can do whatever the @$#! he wants and smiting an insolent follower is well within his purview.

          Or, like you said, Sita has managed to sow a seedsof doubt about what he was told by this Guru Venkataraman character.

          • Timothy McLean

            It’s possible that he doesn’t think he’s a god, but judging by his reaction to the blood test, I’d say it’s unlikely. He probably didn’t critically examine the assumptions inherent in “I’m a god,” or any of his other religious beliefs, but I’ve met plenty of people like that (minus the superpowers and everyone-thinks-I’m-a-god bits).
            Maybe it’s just my personal quirks, but I’ll assume ignorance over scheming any day.

        • Lostman

          I must say, their relationship sucks.

      • Yeah, thats not really the kind of expression he has.

      • Zac Caslar

        Mm.

        Expression is questioning, eyes are open. Menacing would be squinting, mouth pursed, nose wrinkled.

        I read uncertainty.

        • Oracle

          Face unlined. No indication of worry or any other obvious betrayer of doubt (circumflex eyebrows, upturned eyes, slumped shoulders). Not seeing ‘uncertainty’ as a major factor.

          The lines in the nose and the slant of the mouth, coupled with Dhruv’s posture in the last panel, suggest to me a reprimand to the guru for thinking he knows better than the (alleged) god.

          Funny how his repetition of “aren’t I?” can strengthen either interpretation.

    • Roman Snow

      Unless godhood is really just semantic, that is.

      Oh, but please remember to
      http://i.imgur.com/od2ob9l.png

      • Weatherheight

        ::rolls on the floor laughing and waving his hooves in the air::

    • Arkone Axon

      It sounded more like a test/threat to me. With the subtext of “you have been declaring that people who do not acknowledge my divinity are worthy of violence and death. But if I am divine, you are obligated to obey me and accept my divine authority. So… which is it to be?”

      *Cue the biodynamic equivalent of a shotgun shell being chambered*

    • MirrorMan

      More of a corollary, actually.

    • Sengachi

      Ray Stannis Principle? I couldn’t find out what this was by either googling it or searching on TV Tropes.

      • Random

        It’s a ghostbusters (1984) reference, although his surname is actually Stantz

      • Zac Caslar

        Random has it. Botched the name. >_<

    • masterofbones

      > if you have to ask if you’re a god you are not a god.

      interesting hypothesis there. Your evidence?

    • RaijinK

      Here’s how I interpret the exchange:
      “If you would consider destroying the asura before she can escape…”
      Translation: It’s so easy to manipulate this kid. We can get him to do our dirty work just by telling him the target is a demonor whatever.

      “She is Lakshmi, my wife. I cannot destroy her.”
      Translation: Yeah, I’m not as dumb as you think. In fact, I’m going to turn your tactic right back on you.

      “What makes you think that, My Lord?”
      Translation: Where’s this delusion taking him now? Gotta rein him in…

      “I do not think it, I know it. I am a God, aren’t I?”
      Translation: What’s up, asshole? Gonna drop the pretense and admit this big fat lie we have going on? Or are you gonna be a good boy and play along?

      “Aren’t I?”
      Translation: In addition, I would like you to acknowledge who’s really in charge here.

      “Of course you are, my Lord. Of course you are.
      Translation: Oh, shit.

      • R Lex Eaton

        Golly, I love dialogue like that. ^^

    • Weatherheight

      Oh my…
      Dan Akroyd cast in Games of Thrones!
      THIS! I don’t even care if it’s good…

    • motorfirebox

      If someone asks if you’re a Stannis, you say STANTZ

  • Azmodan

    Whoever drew that first panel, needs to learn how to fire a gun. You do not hook the stock over your shoulder.

    • Alex Hollins

      yeah, and his hand position isweird too. center guy looks like hes holding an rpg.

  • Cyrano111

    I have some trouble working out what is supposed to have just happened. I think the suggestion is that she can become immaterial, and therefore falls through her clothing and the floor. But that seems not to have happened until *after* she was shot, so – wasn’t she shot?

    If she turned immaterial before that, but was still there while the bullets went through her form, then apparently this is like Wiley Coyote running off the edge of a cliff and floating in midair until he realises it.

    • Freemage

      Given that she stops one floor down, then runs through a wall in that tunnel, I suspect she can control her body’s movement while intangible. That said, everything is happening very quickly–note the papers in the air around her in panels one and two–they barely move, even as her clothing starts to collapse. She might even be able to fly–but opted to go down because nakies over a populated city is likely to be fairly noticeable.

      I would say that the clothing should probably have been pushed into the space occupied by her body while she was still up there–the bullets moving forward as they punched through the fabric would’ve done that. But I also imagine that would HELL to draw, so I’m willing to forgive a little artistic license there.

    • martynW

      It’s possible she deliberately moved through the floor, rather than fell.

  • Chris Hubbard

    It looks like kitty pryde is now wandering the temple starkers.

  • Incendax

    My interpretation:

    Some part of him wonders if she is right, so he makes an intentional decision to save her life. This is a clever solution because if he IS a god, then he is supposed to be more enlightened than the mortals and he can rationalize the feelings he has for her (either as friend or possible lover). If he is NOT a god, then he just saved her life. And I think he made the choice knowing both of those options.

    “Aren’t I?” is probably both doubt AND menace. He wants to save his friend.

    • Weatherheight

      I’m reasonably certain her fading/phasing through the floor is her biodynamic power (I’ll concede I could be wrong).

      I generally assume line of sight is required to affect a target with a power unless it’s stated explicitly that it’s not.

      • Incendax

        It definitely seems like hers. But I’m talking about saving her from a horrible manhunt.

        • Weatherheight

          Oh, then I must apologize – totally misread your meaning.
          Yeah, he’s definitely holding up the “torches and pitchforks” crowd in a very deliberate fashion, isn’t he?
          Nice insight!

  • Dave Van Domelen

    What’s the tattoo look like close up? It changes between panels, but I presume because at this distance it’s just supposed to be “scribble”.

    • Weatherheight

      obviously from the “many squiggly lines” school of art and asian food chain.

  • Weatherheight

    Desolidification – don’t leave home without it.

    • Zorae42

      I’d suggest incorporeability, but that implies she’d take half damage from magical sources and full damage from force spells and we don’t know that.

      • Weatherheight

        Sooo nerdy / geeky / gamer-y…
        +1 Internets!

  • Gary C.

    Many many moons ago, I read “Kalki” by Gore Vidal. This is giving me flashbacks to that, give or take the superpower element…

  • Loranna

    . . . I feel like this is a case of Shooting Superman With A Regular Gun, only in this case, poor Sita’s clothes did not survive the experience unscathed.

    This saddens me. I liked the top she was wearing. It nicely complemented Ramesh’s own color scheme. And now, that top is full of bullet holes, its aesthetic integrity forever marred. Oh, woe are we who live in a world that treats pleasing color arrangements with such thoughtless cruelty! Especially given the distinctly drab fashions favored by the attackers; have they no eye for fashion?! And now, there’s a naked asura running around in the basement!

    See, this is why you don’t shoot Superman, especially if he’s wearing a snazzy suit over his usual spandex. You’ll accomplish nothing more than ruining his outfit and whatever he’s holding . . .

    . . .

    . . . WAIT! I know! Sita was NOT the actual target of those bullets! Her RESEARCH NOTES were! NOW it makes sense!

    . . .

    . . .

    Actually, that makes it even worse. And poor Sita is still stuck running around the basement naked, with both her lovely outfit and her hard work all torn up. No wonder her world seems to be all dull grey now.

    Loranna

    • Weatherheight

      Have I mentioned lately how fond I am of you? Posts like this are the reason…

      And now I, too, am now saddened by the loss of sartorial delight and academic advancement inherent in this response.

      • Loranna

        ::bashful blushing:: That’s so sweet of you to say πŸ™‚

        ::leaves plate of carrots::

        Loranna

        • Weatherheight

          ::having waited a few days for the crowd to clear, stealthily drags the plate of carrots out of center stage and into the wings::

          ::munches happily::

    • palmvos

      I will choose to believe that she has backups somewhere else. given how her powers appear to work I prefer that the backup be in a room somewhere off panel..

      • Tylikcat

        I was about to say – as I always tell my research students, this is why you back up your data!

        • palmvos

          I was a computer lab tech in college. I up-vote this comment in memory of all the work lost because backups were not made.

          • Tylikcat

            I tell everyone that you can buy a multi-TB back-up drive for less than the cost of a single session of therapy, but imagine how distraught you’ll be once you’ve lost years of data?

          • palmvos

            ::leans on cane:: I remember using 1.44 mb 3.5 ‘floppies’ for backup. lots and lots of them. (i also remember 5.25 floppies and have handled a 9″ floppy.)

            one of the most serious backup regimes I ever saw was a lady who on a mac just swapped in a disk. saved it. another disk saved it again. another disk saved it again. and once more for luck!

            I have even saved and loaded things from tape. but I was very young then.

            80 meg hard drive how would i ever fill it. now i have 1.2 terabytes and I’ve still lost stuff.
            I’m lost in computers of gold……

          • Tylikcat

            Weren’t they 8 inches? (But I only remember as the daughter of a CS prof – I used them a handful of times.)

            I have 64 GB micro SD cards, about the size of my pink finger nail, and sometimes I just look at those things and laugh helplessly, especially when I think of the massive magnetic tape drives of old…

          • palmvos

            don’t look now:
            there are 256 gb micro sd cards.
            and I’m sure 512 is not far off.

          • Lisa Izo

            Actually you can buy a 1 TB micro SD card as of 2016.

          • Tylikcat

            This doesn’t surprise me – I knew there were 256 ones available, and I hadn’t been looking (I just happen to have the 64 GB handy, and… well, I can tell such stories about “I had a computer with such and such a hard drive that I used to think was huge…” And now my phone could whip its butt.)

          • Lisa Izo

            The computer they used to go to the moon had less than 640k :). Even the simplest Modern computers are amazing by comparison πŸ™‚

          • Weatherheight

            In my time at Boeing, we had disk drive cartridges half an inch thick, approximately 9″ wide and 12″ long. I once watched someone set one of those on top of a degausser used for wiping classified and proprietary data after said data had been long term archived (note – he was violating data policy by having that disk in there to begin with).
            The person using that degausser was a bit occupied and…
            Yeah, not pretty. That employee broke down and began weeping. Luckily, our IT guru started an hour late each day and stayed late an hour backing up the disks at the end of the day.
            More weeping by said employee – he was a bit embarrassed

          • Tylikcat

            I didn’t know you were at Boeing! PNWer?

          • Weatherheight

            Air Capital flavor, sadly. Always wanted to go Seattle / Renton / Redmond area, but never had the time when I had cash and never had the cash when I had the time.
            Family spent years at VERTOL in Philly and even more years in Wichita. Every member of my direct family spent some time working for them but one brother. Nepotism is not a thing at Boeing, no so. πŸ˜€

          • palmvos

            ::gets off weatherheight’s lawn::

      • Weatherheight

        I choose to believe that she is able to desolidify other objects given sufficient concentration.
        I also choose to believe to her backups are stored in a 6 inch thick steel vault surrounded by 5 feet of high-PSI, low-air-antrained, titanium-alloy-reinforced concrete, surrounded by 10′ of optimally compacted clay, adjacent to and surrounded by a high-security commercial research site.

        Too specific?

        • palmvos

          that is a rather specific belief. may I offer you this rusty iron box to make it so. I warn you a very charming little girl will try to steal it from you….

    • AshlaBoga

      “Oh, woe are we who live in a world that treats pleasing color arrangements with such thoughtless cruelty!” Seems reminiscent of something Kruppe from Malazan might say.

      Take that as a compliment, odd or not, he was a master spymaster.

    • Weatherheight

      I was tired today, and thus I didn’t post with the obvious movie reference

      “No, no, it’s all right, he’s just killing my alligator bags and shooting holes in my suits.
      Man, that’s just MEAN. That’s MEAN, man.”

      My apologies.

  • Talina M

    Not what I expected. Far more delightful.

  • Arkone Axon

    You know, thinking about it… the whole “biodynamic powers are a reflection of their natures,” the more I think about it, the more it seems to apply to ALL the characters, not just the would-be gods.

    Look at the biodynamics we’ve seen thus far. Cleaver was an abused, miserable child who was taught to see himself as garbage, as a disease and a cancer for his abusive parents. He wanted to no longer be hurt by others, and to be able to hurt others back, to repay them in kind… but that anger didn’t make up for the self-loathing instilled in him by those pieces of crap that called themselves his parents.

    That pyrokinetic… he wanted FIREPOWER. He wanted the ability to be bright and flashy and save the day in a dramatic fashion, to be the energy projecting hero. Fireworks and firepower and all sorts of loud, flashy, military-esque and stereotypically masculine things. (Though he also came across as a bit of a strawman, I must say. Unless there was more to him than we actually got to see, and it was cut short by his untimely demise)

    Moonshadow comes across as a very… sleazy person. Sneaky, catty, and vicious. She was very obviously enjoying the murders she was committing – that wasn’t justice, that was a sadistic serial killer trying to justify their work. And we see more of that with her treatment of Alison in general – not just with attempting to slice her throat, but with those catty, spiteful, deliberately hurtful remarks about how Alison isn’t really a woman. The way Alison’s roommates treated her after that was just kicking her while she was down – but it was Moonshadow who knocked her down in the first place, with her cruelty.

    Menace wanted to KNOW. To understand. To expose all the secrets. His power is both powerful and yet subtle. It reflects his personality, his desires. Max… given the behavior of his mother, and the fact that even after being raised by an Ayn Rand priestess he was still able to give a crap about others and be a decent person around them, his powers could very well be a manifestation of his secret rejection of the claptrap his parents spoonfed him, and of his secret yearning to actually BELONG, to be a part of something greater than himself.

    Paladin… Lisa adored and admired knights and armored warriors, and loved machinery. She wanted to be devote her life to machinery and inventions… and her biodynamic powers allowed her to do exactly that. Feral wanted to be able to survive anything, including her own lifestyle choices – she comes from a place where people are intimately familiar with mother nature and being able to survive when you KNOW in a very visceral and instinctual way that everything around you probably wants to eat you is a good thing. Being able to survive car wrecks and plane crashes and worse like a GTA or Saints Row protagonist is even better.

    Which leads us to Alison. Alison was shown in her childhood as seeing herself as superior to others. She ALWAYS looked down on others, as her experiences with the soccer team demonstrated. She has always been an essentially selfish and self absorbed person. Her decision to become a superhero in the first place was born of her desire to gain the approval of her parents and others, not because she personally wanted it. And when she quit, she did so in a very spectacular and SELFISH fashion – not only did she abandon her team and damage them badly (and never once checked in to notice how they were suffering from her absence, in ways that Hector and Bradley both explained to her. At length), but she unmasked herself. On television. Where the fact that Menace and his allies had already given up was the only reason she didn’t go home and find out that her sister had been kidnapped, her parents murdered, her dog skinned, and a few classmates taken for good measure. Superheroes wear masks for a very good reason, and it involves romantic partners and refridgerators.

    The whole storyline has shown her essentially smashing her way through every situation, slowly and clumsily starting to become aware of other people around her as PEOPLE. She still hasn’t gotten to the point where casual violence and threats aren’t her default response.

    • Weatherheight

      Tisianne proffered that same analysis, and look where it got him… πŸ˜€

      It’s a long tradition in the genre that power manifestations nearly always have some connection to the personality to which they’re attached. This isn’t the first time this has been noticed in the comments (Actually, I think you’ve made this same point on a few occasions in the past as well – maybe..? Can’t remember now).

      • Arkone Axon

        No, it wasn’t me. But I did make the connection now between the guy who thinks he’s a deity, and the others and their powers… including Alison, and what it says about her that the powerset she wanted was “be stronger and able to out punch anyone else in the world.”

    • Tsapki

      Regarding Moonshadow, we tend to get the type of serial killers our society disapproves of the least. It’s shown through research many pick their victims on a gradual scale of who they think are most vulnerable/least likely to be missed.

      • Arkone Axon

        EXACTLY! Just like the male serial killers who target prostitutes. There were so many better ways to utilize her powers, if she wanted to make a difference… she was just looking to cut someone with a knife.

    • AshlaBoga

      In Alison’s case it was almost outright stated that her soccer skills were augmented by her latent abilities.

      • Lisa Izo

        Pretty sure it was stated that she was good at soccer even BEFORE she had her powers, and they just started to manifest visibly DURING a soccer game.

    • Lisa Izo

      I’m really impressed by this analysis πŸ™‚

  • RobNiner β™«

    Since I am a god, anything I choose to do becomes right because I choose it to be so.

  • Scott

    Yes but you’re a god who is supposed to follow orders! More specifically, MY orders!

  • Christian LaSala

    First time comment, I love this comic.

    One note that bothering me: top panel, center soldier. He seems to not understand how a stock works. It should be up against his shoulder, not over it. He’s holding the rifle like you’d hold an RPG, which just looks really strange.

    • Mechwarrior

      Apparently he got the gun from Rocket.

    • Burke

      It’s a band of poorly-educated boys under the sway of a charismatic leader. I wouldn’t expect much in the way of proper gun-handling from someone in those circumstances.

  • JohnTomato

    If you have to ask the question…

  • zellgato

    Nifty power indeed.
    Might I suggest, in the future, to sew clothing with your own hair?
    It likely would allow you to avoid naked running at least. and in theory there should be a balance point somewhere on “how much of you offsets how much of not you” as she isn’t’ dying of bacterial lack (of the good stuff etc). In theory there should be a good point where enough of you in the mix should allow for other material to be taken with you. Perhaps encasement or just a mix ratio. Would allow, in theory, clothing, and even light armours or shoes and such.

    • martynW

      The hair idea is a good one. She could test it by seeing if she could carry a lock of her own cut-off hair through a wall.

      If it needs to be attached to her head, I suppose the only other solution is the Lady Godiva one.

      Marvel Comics covered this entire issue for superheroes by invoking clothing made of “unstable molecules,” which for some unexplained reason allowed the clothing to participate in whatever strange changes the superhero went through.

      This particular version of the “shadowcat power” is more realistic. I did notice that she doesn’t phase out of her tattoo, either.

      • zellgato

        Shadowcats was a bit easier it was a biodynamic field. So it took clothes that was close enough would go. She’s lost a cape and long clothing a few times because of that though.

        I hate the unstable molecules but it at least mages vague sense in the comic book way in that they align in whatever fashion the biomatter it touches is.
        Sort of like that material that solidfies from an elec current causing it to align into different patterns depending on the voltage/watts

        Of jer tats don’t fall out, then it doesn’t have to be living matter that encases it for sure.
        She should bleed on some stuff and try to take it with her as well.. Just to be sure that someone can’t stab her if they knick her once. (like busou renkin)

        • martynW

          I remember when they changed Superman’s uniform indestructibility to a “biodynamic field” close to his skin. When I was a kid, it was made from blankets in his spaceship that Mrs. Kent had carefully unraveled thread by thread and rewoven into a suit which conveniently stretched as he grew. Frankly, the biodynamic field was more plausible.

          That said, it pays not to overthink these things. It’s got to be irritating to an artist to have everybody going over this stuff with a magnifying glass.

          “So whaddaya want, a No-Prize?” – Ben Grimm

          • zellgato

            Yup Yup. Grimm always sums things up nicely.

            I do kind of like the weird directions they’ve gone iwth supe’s biodynamic field.
            While the newer veresion of him (who is no longer the current version as they had him be killed) wasn’t popular. I liked what they did with some things about him and his powers. The nova blast thingy was effectively a supped up field that negating shit around and acted like a crazy bomb. I liked that explaination for it.

          • martynW

            I’m not the best person to discuss Superman canon. I’ve basically stopped reading the DC and Marvel lineups. After about the fourteenth “reboot” of a character, it gets a bit old, particularly when most of the reboots are designed to play to some current fashion, often swiped from movies. Some older Superman and Batman graphic novels still have honored space in my collection.

            Lots of really good “indie” comics out there that I read. Dark Horse, Image, and many others on my shelves. Oh, and I don’t count Vertigo as “DC.”

            And as you may have noticed, there are a lot of pretty decent online comics out there, too.

          • zellgato

            in the early 2000’s i read a TON of The New Teen titans, but I basically read nothing else. I just know about the new superman cause I read some wiki stuff when folks were raging over him.
            For Marvel, I read Power Pack but they gave that series up in general and changed the characteres in other stuff..
            but I’ve stopped reading both companies (and really us comics in general) since its hard to keep up anything. Plus they keep doing weird thigns with the few I do enjoy.

            I like Hack/Slash, that was a good series from a smaller company.
            I used to read a ton of Savage Dragon, Ultra Force, and other ones from that company.. was it wild storm? or vertigo? I can’t remember.

            I do read a lot of online comics though.

        • Weatherheight

          I seem to recall from an interview from years ago with.. John Byrne.. I think? Anyways, the artist’s original conception was that Kitty made things within a limited radius able to pass through each other without incident, rather than just her and what she’s touching – in essence, anything in the area of effect didn’t interact with each other in terms of intrinsic field (or whatever the name of the field is that keeps us from passing through each other).
          Again, as I recall, the artist said Claremont saw the art and made assumptions, which hit print before they could work out the details.
          The Great Lakes Avenger hero Doorman has powers more like what the artist originally intended, IMHO. πŸ˜€

          And that material is awesome – it’s lightweight, shapable, and can be set up to simulate muscular tissue. That’s right, one step closer to mecha!

          • zellgato

            Yeah. they also took that concept for “Mutant X” i think it was called.. the tv show in the 90s that was Xmen, but they lost the rights last second so they instead just made them mutants and snuck in references without pushing the legality.
            that guy controlled his field. either phasing or making himself harder, and later got an upgrade to effect by touch to a certain range/mass

          • Weatherheight

            I kind of like that..might have to try to build that in Champions as a mental exercise.

            I think I remember that show. Something indefinable in the production values of the show always rubbed me the wrong way and I could never put my finger on exactly what it was. The show wasn’t bad, but…

          • zellgato

            The “haze” something about the camera they use I think.. it always gave it a weird… haze. and it had tonal weirdness.

      • Mechwarrior

        Shadowcat is often depicted as having had an issue with accidentally phasing out of her clothing when her powers first manifested.

    • Lisa Izo

      Soo…. like Bayonetta or something?

      • zellgato

        Not really.. that hair is still alive and her power.
        more like the dude with a similiar powe in busou renkin

  • Yeah, nothing screams divinity like wearing sneakers and lugging around an AK 47. He looks like a Saudi Arabian teenager on his Sweet 16

  • In a way, this reminds me of a webcomic that’s currently on a hiatus (has been since 2012). Runewood Abbey has a character who can phase. Also this reminds me of something that happened in a webcomic that I used to read called Wapsi Square.

  • Hiram

    Wasn’t one of the bloodiest civil wars in history the result of some dude flunking a civics exam, having a nervous breakdown and then declaring himself the reincarnation of something or other? I mean, I could be remembering that wrong?

    Well the important point is – “praying to a man in a cape will get you* killed”
    * and a lot of other unrelated people.

  • Ummm – where do the papers that are falling out of her hands in Panel Two come from, since in Panel One she clearly has nothing in her hands?

  • Darkoneko Hellsing

    “damnit I can’t see where I’m going without my glasses”

    • Tylikcat

      The real reason fleeing is non-optional.

  • Shouldn’t Sita’s hair have come undone? Her transport downward left behind even her earrings, so surely whatever band or pin that was holding it in a bun also got left behind.

    • Mechwarrior

      Maybe she just had it wrapped really well.

      • Lisa Izo

        Maybe her power can allow for things that are within a certain distance from her skin, and her clothes were too baggy to be incorporated into being incorporeal (see what I did there?)

  • Oracle

    Shall we see the puppet cut his strings?

  • Mechwarrior

    And since it doesn’t look like anyone else is going to say it:

    Que Benny Hill Theme!

  • Philip Petrunak

    You know, My Hero Academia has a character with a similar power set. He creates a costume from his own hair so when he phases through objects he doesn’t go naked as long as he’s wearing it.

    You’d think she’d have realized that she can do the same thing. I mean, at least with her underwear. She is a scientist after all.

  • Lisa Izo

    NSFW

  • So, let me talk about why this story doesn’t work for me.

    For me, the problem is that the audience is reading a story about Hindu attitudes about the divine from a Western perspective. And even in a Western perspective, I’m not sure how these things are in conflict.

    I see no reason why a person can’t be a biodynamic avatar of Vishnu who was only enlightened as to his true nature when his biodynamism manifested. I’m not clear why it’s an issue that he’s got human DNA in his hair. I mean, of COURSE he does.

    Even in a Christian context, you’ve got the distinction between nature and accidentals. It’s not like the Host goes through any sort of chemical change when it is turned into the Body and Blood of Christ. It’s a spiritual change only. So I can’t see why an avatar would change his DNA upon manifestation. Especially if the mechanism of the manifestation was biodynamism.

    I don’t get why Dhruv ISN’T Ramesh. I’m just not seeing the distinction. I think it’s clear, from the pills on the previous page, that his “followers” are trying to control him. But that doesn’t mean that he isn’t a god — it just means that he hasn’t finished manifesting yet, and won’t until he takes control of the situation.

    If this is a story about Dhruv’s wife helping him finish his apotheosis by forcing him to face the fact that his “followers” are actually controlling him and preventing him from truly manifesting, that’s one thing, and perhaps an interesting story. If it’s a story about a person who is merely a superhero and not a god … well, that seems to me that the person writing the story has a very narrow and culturally-specific notion of what a “god” is.

    Tama, the cat who was the honorary stationmaster of Kishi train station in Wakayama, Japan, is now a kami. If I were an ancient Roman, my grandfather would be one of my Lares (he’d be a damn fine minor family god, I must say, although he’d probably find it weird, since he was an atheist).

    If a cat, or my grandfather, can be a god, why wouldn’t a biodynamic person be one? You’re not REQUIRED to die to undergo apotheosis, although it helps.

    • Tylikcat

      He’s involved with an anti-science militant group. They’re fucked up – and this has nothing to do with his godhood (or her godhood).

      Boo anti-science, though, and boo militancy.* …and boo Sita’s reductionist take on Science, though I kind of think that’s something for her and Dhruv to argue out. (I do think “Fuck you, I’m not a god,” is a pretty reasonable response for someone to take, really. “Fuck you you’re not a god,” is a bit more problematic, though I can see her concern that he’s hanging out with a bad crowd.)

      * And hey, there are exceptions to the militancy.

    • Filthy Liar

      First of all your assuming that she’s his wife rather than someone who manifested powers and was forced into an arranged marriage. She is explicitly not dumb enough to believe she’s a god. It’s not a Western perspective, it’s a question of where you get your powers. They’re not divinely granted, they’re some weird mutation.

      • What you just said is a Western perspective. What does where one gets one’s powers from have to do with whether one is an avatar?

      • Arkone Axon

        You’re assuming that she’s unhappy with being his wife. It’s made abundantly clear here that she cares about him and wants to get him away from this high priest guy.

        She is not explicitly “not dumb.” She is clearly quite intelligent and well educated, but her beliefs are not what make her intelligent, it’s the way she came to them through logical analysis of the facts. Dhruv came to a different set of beliefs through his own logical analysis of the facts. He has his theory, she has hers. Dismissing someone else’s beliefs with “you disagree with me and therefore you’re stupid” says a lot more about your intelligence than it does about theirs.

        • Filthy Liar

          If someone believes that they’re a God you can dismiss them safely, sorry.

          • Again, you’re coming at this from a Western definition of “god”, which I think is unhelpful. There is at least one cat who is a kami. Thousands of Romans were lares and parentes. Hundreds of thousands of Chinese were elevated to godhood.

            You’ve got a very specific notion of what “a god” is, and it’s not particularly relevant to this situation.

          • Filthy Liar

            A dude who painted himself blue is not a God, he’s just a dude.

          • You seem to be assuming that “God” and “god” are synonyms.

          • Arkone Axon

            If you think you can safely dismiss someone possessed of considerably more power (especially of the lethal variety) than yourself because you think their beliefs are stupid and you can mock them, then you get to be the example that wiser, more intelligent, and more sensible people who actually lived enough to breed will point out to their children.

            “You see this? When someone who can squish you wants to be called something, don’t be a smarmy jerk. Or even the people who might have agreed with you will laugh at what’s left of you.”

          • Filthy Liar

            Cool cool, guess we’re just knuckling under to tyrants all day every day here?

          • Arkone Axon

            If you think that addressing someone in a courteous fashion that shows respect for their beliefs is “knuckling under to tyrants,” then yeah, you’re definitely going into the “too dumb to live” category.

            http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/TooDumbToLive

          • Filthy Liar

            He’s got an AK-47 and heavily armed followers who are enforcing his will. Civility is a part of civilization and those are both counter to it, so no, going to die on my feet.

          • Filthy Liar

            As an addendum, lol at shows respect for their beliefs. “I’m warlord Humongous and you’re going to be my slave until you die.” “No you’re an *sshole.” Seriously, it’s cool that you’ve got the spine of a jellyfish but most people aren’t going to respect your beliefs if they’re that you’re divine no matter how many armed guards you’ve got. Also also, it’s really sad that you link tvtropes as if it’s a definitive argument rather than a primer for children.

          • Arkone Axon

            TWO posts about what a tough guy you are, from the safety of a computer screen. And I’m pretty sure the page comments are now closed, which means you were trying to get the last word… either way, you’re just sad.

          • Filthy Liar

            I wasn’t trying to be a tough guy, I was responding to you.