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  • Kid Chaos

    I don’t think you’re getting through to her, Alison; better just take off (literally) and deal with Moonshadow later.

  • Yeah, this isn’t going to end well.

    • Lostman

      diplomacy has failed!

      • lizasweetling

        diplomacy? Mary wasn’t actually debating- you can see the streak that indicates her attack every fifth or sixth frame.

        • Lostman

          Will at least Alison was trying to be diplomatic…

        • Diplomacy is the art of saying “nice Doggy” while reaching for a stick.

  • Pol Subanajouy

    I don’t believe that is the real Mary, not for a second.

    • Clare Lane

      Nope. While Allison has ripples about her feet the projection of Mary has none.

      • Rod

        Bingo. And, she’s got Alison so emotionally involved in the conversation (rather than protecting Furnace and getting away) that she doesn’t even seem to notice.

  • Ian Osmond

    Not 100% sure how you’re defining “good person” there, Alison… still, I get both of their points.

  • The world isn’t run by the people best at killing, or else we’d be governed by serial killers, executioners, and war-heroes. Audie Murphy had a mediocre film career, the survivors of the flag-raising on Mount Suribachi all drank themselves to death, and Jimmy Stewart never had a political career, Mr. Smith Goes To Washington notwithstanding. Meanwhile, Eisenhower, whose only recorded personal involvement in a wartime death was when his driver ran over an Algerian civilian in North Africa, Nixon, who spent his war in a supply depot, and Ronnie Reagan, who spent his war making bad training films, rode to post-war power and influence. Clearly, in a functional modern polity, killers aren’t generally to be found in positions of power. People who know how to organize their fellow men, change minds, direct change – these are the old men whose hands find the levers of authority.

    Even in lawless horrors like the old Soviet Union, monsters like Vasily Blokhin were chained dogs, kept on leashes by the actual rulers to do their killing for them, and put down like the dogs they were if they sought to escape their compass. And the Wars of the Roses, fought for decades by warrior-king after warrior-king, was brought to an ignominious end when the last of the warrior-kings was dragged down by a nameless mob, and that medieval soulless bureaucrat, Henry Duke of Richmond, covered the land in a web of fines, obligations, and subtle extortions.

    • motorfirebox

      Well… it depends on who you define as “best at killing”. Audie Murphy, or the guys that gave Audie something to shoot besides squirrels?

    • Dartangn

      The expression’s a bit unhelpful, yes, but the sentiment is accurate. A better phrasing would be ‘the world is run by those best able to leverage force’. And the levels of force that matter don’t involve a single guy with a gun, or a single slasher. They deal with armies and judges and propoganda, etc. And the extant social patterns and systems that rule the world today were certainly placed there by force, benevolent or otherwise.

      Don’t take the phrase too literally, is all I’m saying.

    • Skylar Green

      I think that was Moonshadow’s point. The people who are best at killing aren’t necessarily the ones who are doing the killing, but orchestrating it. Those who control the means by which to kill. Sure, one person might go and murder people but society has controls for that. What happens when society is complicit in those killings? Wars are fought, not by those who enter us into wars, but by those they convince to go and do the warring on their behalf. And note that nobody gets into wars in a clinical sense of “Well it’s War o’Clock, let’s start the killing time. Anyone for some frogurt, by the way? I’m getting frogurt.” It’s always “We can’t allow their evil to go unchecked.” The other side is always evil, things are always cast in the duality of “us versus them” and “we” are always righteous and “they” are always barbaric and so whatever we do is okay because at least we’re not them.

      The death penalty is a thing, of course. Capitol punishment doled out after the fact to deal with “justice.” A crime was committed, you must pay for your crimes. But what if the most directly afflicted parties don’t want the criminal to be sentenced to death? Well, we’ll take that into consideration but you know what? We may just decide to apply it anyway because it involves you but it isn’t about you. It’s about what society wants, what society thinks justice means. To say nothing of the people who shouldn’t have been on death row, those legitimately exonerated. If they were killed for a crime they didn’t commit, how can we say that we are good and right? Well, a crime was committed… *someone* has to pay for it. We hope it’s the right person, we make ourselves believe it’s the right person, but if it’s not, we can’t lose sleep over it because sometimes you hurt an innocent person or two. It’s the price of justice, and as long as we/I don’t have to pay it, everything’s dandy.

      Hell, we bombard ourselves with imagery of righteous violence carried out in the name of justice in so many books and TV shows and movies and video games and comics. Trying to talk someone down from a fight is oftentimes merely a way to forgive the protagonist of any fiction for the violence that they must then deliver upon their enemy. “What could I do? I tried to do things the peaceful way, but these people just don’t operate like that. They’re violent on a subconscious level. They’re evil. They must be beaten into submission because that’s all they understand; they must be killed because if not they’ll simply come back and do this again.”

      We have no problem with killing, as long as we like the killer and hate the killed. Those who order death are just as guilty as the ones who make it happen. The separation is a false morality save for those who believe that as long as they’re not holding the gun that they had no part in aiming it.

    • Lostman

      Isn’t what you make, it what you sell; Most these guys you point out who into postilions of power are government bureaucrats!

  • Rod

    Alison, Alison, Alison… so much for the “even bigger picture.” Seriously, violence doesn’t address the problem itself? Ever? In any way?

    Yeah, definitely a college student. *sigh* (Edit, also, no offense to the college students reading, as not all get their perspectives shifted so much that they’ll try to advocate pacifism to a serial killer.)

    • bta

      A serial killer who used to be her friend. Sort of.

  • Rod

    They may not know how to run a nation or state successfully for the betterment of all, but then, if you presume that that’s what they’re actually trying to do, then of course it’ll come across as them being incompetent.

    • Conquest’s Third Law of Politics: “The simplest way to explain the behavior of any bureaucratic organization is to assume that it is controlled by a cabal of its enemies.”

      • Kid Chaos

        06. If violence wasn’t your last resort, you failed to resort to enough of it.
        27. Don’t be afraid to be the first to resort to violence.
        –from “The Seventy Maxims of Maximally Effective Mercenaries” (courtesy of Schlock Mercenary)

  • Rod

    There’s also the possibility that Mary actually *doesn’t* think any of that, but that this speech (in all probability unlike Patrick’s) is just calculated hogwash intended to keep Alison still in one place while trying to analyze and debate it.

    While Alison’s presence has got to be an irritant at least, I’d wager that successfully sneaking up behind her to kill Furnace, then getting away without incident, without even another word said or illusion cast, would count as a “win” right now in Mary’s book.

  • Rod

    I think at this point Mary only has two goals: kill Furnace, and escape unharmed. She’s still in a very good position to do both, although I’m sure if she feels accomplishing both is too challenging, “escape unharmed” becomes the goal of choice, and fortunately (for her) it’s quite doable.

    I mean, I’m sure she’d LOVE to put the hurt on Alison too (even kill her, apparently) but to Mary’s mind it’s not like Alison has a prayer of finding and hurting her either.

    • Walter

      She wants to interrogate Furnace with truth serum in front of cameras, yeah? It seems like if she just wants to kill him she could just shoot him, now or later. She’s an invisible killer, if she wants someone dead dams and bombs and drugs don’t need to enter into it.

      • Rod

        I had gotten the impression that the interrogation had already happened, and that she had already extracted a confession.

        And if it hadn’t… hopefully she wouldn’t actually expect to be able to go through with it now that Alison’s here.

        • Walter

          I think if she had already done that he’d already be dead or let go. Could be wrong, of course, but the impression I have is that Alison barged in before Moonshadow was ready.

          • Gryphonic

            Somehow I doubt letting him go was ever in the cards.

  • motorfirebox

    Mary’s line in the second frame is why I can’t discard her as just a villain.

  • Walter

    Mary tried to cut Alison’s throat earlier. She’s operating in full on confrontation mode. She’s only talking because her knife doesn’t work.

  • Walter

    There is a big difference between “resort to violence” and “massacre”. Alison doesn’t want to hurt Moonshadow. As long as an illusion doesn’t fool her about what she’s doing I don’t think this scene can end with Moonshadow dead.

  • It’s hard to argue a fictional case – there isn’t any such thing as a Superman-type “killer”, so any attributes or limitations or lack thereof are highly dependent. But take a near-approximate case like the Comanche dominance in the Southern Plains and Northern Mexico circa 1760-1870. A small tribe (less than 10k at their peak) pretty much went where they wilt, took what they wanted, and left a trail of death, misery, chaos and instability wherever they went. Hell, I’ve got a book sitting on a shelf somewhere titled The Comanche Empire.

    But the Comanche never ruled anywhere they went. They could smash any polity, European or native, that crossed them, rape away their women, burn their crops, drive off their cattle, and generally swaggered their way across a fifth of the continent for the better part of a century, kicking every ass that presented itself with insufficient respect for their badassedness. There was no way to control them, but it didn’t give them the ability to take social or political or even economic power. They didn’t have the organization, mindset, culture, or stability to make anything of their military prowess. They could burn down authorities, smash sovereignties, but had no capacity for the creation or maintenance of either in and of themselves. Their reign of terror was akin to an act of God, a natural catastrophe, like a plague of locusts. And in the end, the Americans swept into the disordered void they left behind as if it were a providential gift.

    • Walter

      Its sort of hard to assess that argument. I mean, are you saying that if Supers wreak havoc across the world for 110 years they don’t count? That they wouldn’t have “social power”?

      Let’s put it in simple terms. Alison walks into DC, kills pres and all congressfolk and supreme court in a rampage that is televised worldwide, puts on a crown she finds in a dollar store. Do you think people she encounters from that point on A: obey her, or B: defy her? For those who chose B, will their loved ones make the same choice when confronted with their corpses? For case BB, how far do you think it goes? Does the last human on earth die for the principle of insisting that the world is fair?

      Alternatively, Moonshadow continues her work, gathering the support of like minded supers. She steps up her killing to males in positions of power, as well as ladies who speak against her. New rule, any dude who posts on to social media or speaks on tv gets whacked, as well as those who dispute this rule. Attempts by the military to track them down result in dead commando teams and dead superior officers who authorized the hit.

      After a decade of this, are the fortune 500 led by men or women? How bout the police forces? Who are the news anchors? Has Moonshadow changed anything? Did she exercise “social power”? Or did it not count because 111 years later she’ll probably be dead and some other super will be in charge, killing anyone who doesn’t support bald people or something?

      • Well, for one thing, I’m saying that Mary’s goals and her means are not in contact with each other. Her means will simply increase instability and decrease law-and-order – both markers for the sort of endemic personal crime she wants to extinguish through violence. It’s categorically similar to the “policing Baltimore” problem, in that policing like an occupying force without the consent of the governed seems to simply increase disorder and social violence. The “killer super” app is incapable of solving social problems, it can only multiply them, because law and order are an intrinsic base prerequisite for peace and individual security – and vigilantes, powered or otherwise, are by definition illegitimate and outside of the law.

        There was a great deal of theorizing in the later years of the Iraq War at the peak of the Surge, which emphasized expanding areas of order over killing insurgents. Yes, they had to kill and capture a lot of bad actors in order to expand and protect those areas of order, but the violence was essentially reactive in nature, not the primary method, let alone the goal. The purpose was re-establishing a consent of the governed in Anbar and other disordered regions, and the primary method was the establishment of local constabularies and local militias at peace with the central government & enjoying the support of the locals. It all went to hell after the withdrawal, with the central government betraying the consent of the governed through the dismantling of the militias, the prosecution/persecution of the local political elites, and so forth, but you get the idea.

        Mary’s whole plan is “break stuff, kill people, until the survivors prove to be better people”. It’s classic underpants gnome strategizing.

      • I hate to double-tap a comment, but expanding on the “policing Baltimore” conundrum… Furnace’s threat, improbable hotheaded asshole that he is, is essentially “snitches get stitches”. Notice how Mary’s victims are accused criminals with extensive public coverage? She isn’t a Patrick, she needs information to wage her little war on “rape culture”. Once folks figure out how she’s getting her information, the media pipelines are going to be narrowed, shutdown, or hopelessly corrupted. For the same reason that Death Note‘s similar murder-driven utopian scheme was utterly implausible, her crusade will inevitably choke on what she doesn’t know, and worse, what she knows that just ain’t so. Our killer vigilantes will become tools of retribution in the hands of whichever cleverboots captures, corrupts, or just salts their data pipelines.

  • Perlite

    You know Mary, when someone disagrees with you murdering people it’s not all, “Everyone is turning against me!” or “Nobody understands!” She’s Allison. Come hell or high water, she will try to do what she thinks is right.
    PS: Where are Mary’s foot ripples? Something tells me she’s going to cut to the chase and try to make a go at Furnace again.

  • Lostman

    But the thing with Mary, Alison, and Chris is the fact they were over glorified child soldiers.

  • Lostman

    Ok, Alison can derail train but can she make them run on time?

  • For what it’s worth – this formation of a Yezidi women’s battalion in Kurdistan explicitly for the purpose of avenging ISIS mass rape-concubinage is a story today. You could make an equivalency case for the daily scattering of American airstrikes against ISIS being comparable to ineffectual if lethal superhero antics…

  • RobNiner

    She has an excellent point. It’s just a shame her solution was “stab the problem.”

    • Kid Chaos

      37. There is no “overkill.” There is only “open fire” and “I need to reload.” 🙂
      –from “The Seventy Maxims of Maximally Effective Mercenaries” (courtesy of Schlock Mercenary)

  • Perlite

    Actually I think that is the water leaking from the pipe. Note the direction Al’s and Furnace’s ripples go.

  • lizasweetling

    Hypocrisy does not automatically make the inverse stipulation true.

    • Rod

      Nope. But it does provide at least one starting point to investigate logical alternatives (even if that alternative frequently turns out to also be a dead end.)

  • Kid Chaos

    Couldn’t Alison retrace her steps? I’m sure she could dismantle her own barricade quickly enough that Mary couldn’t stop her. 🙂

  • chaosvii

    I like to pull this exchange out of my bag anytime someone regrets slight agreement with a villain.
    Sheena: You’re actually sympathizing with him?
    Radd: No way! He was just… well, like a lot of madmen. Somewhat accurate view of the problem, really insane view of the solution.
    –From the completed webcomic Kid Radd

  • Matt Lopez

    It is an interesting concept to ask. Are we all “against violence” because we just aren’t good enough at it? Are our “non-violent” tendencies there because of self preservation or morality?

    I would love to say “No of course not, my morals are more about the betterment of the world then self preservation.” But it is pretty easy to suss out which came first, my iron clad morals or my desire to stay alive… (hint: I’ve wanted to live since before I could speak)

    • Rod

      Interesting question… I have to admit, spending a lot of time among people, um, very skilled in delivering violence, that such folks DO tend to be far more forgiving of individual-level violent activity–or even serious advocates of it (think duels, etc.)–that it seems the idea has a rather loud ring of truth to it.

  • I think what’s in front of Al is NOT the real Mary. Several people have noticed that her legs aren’t disturbing the water.

    I do think, however, that Mary’s in this room. Alison’s likely not focused enough to realize that her voice might be coming from another direction.

  • Alison’s giving Mary some humanity. Mary has cut both of them out of her definition of human.

  • Rod

    This might all boil down to who can react faster… Alison in creating visual disturbances to pinpoint Mary’s location, or Mary in responding to those with countering illusions.

  • Gryphonic

    I’m now wondering If Mary’s camera is picking up both sides of this conversation. When she decided to interact with Alison directly, was she planning to mute the recording when she posted it to the public, or does she think her dialogue can spin Mega Girl as a bad guy to the viewers? She likely thinks most of them will either see it her way, or be closet rapists/rapist apologists themselves. Although leaving it in will reveal her identity now.

    Afterthought: Mary’s dialogue in panel 2 sounds like part of her wants to become one of the people in charge for a change; understandable in someone who’s felt unfairly overshadowed her whole life. And she doesn’t have the public leverage or insider connections to achieve power in conventional ways, so she’s going with terrorism.

  • Rod

    I’m not sure it matters… not to dismiss the question, but I’ve seen clues to both, in varying degrees depending on the person, with the only consistent takeaway being: that’s how it winds up, those beliefs get paired with those traits, regardless of which came first.

  • Rod

    I suppose it depends on what exactly one is trying to find a solution for. A solution for crime in town, right now? Sure, violence works great for that. That’s why there are agents with badges representing the ability to legitimately exercise violence on others. Is that good enough? Different question, really, and just because other methods might address the long-term, that doesn’t mean the short-term is suddenly unimportant.

    Now, I believe certain societal setups lead to less conflict and harm than others. But I also believe that as long as you have humans, you can never have utopia, so at some point you’ve got to stop trying to “fix” things that aren’t broken (any more than humans themselves fundamentally are) and just deal with the situation in the most expedient way.

    • SpoonyViking

      That, in turn, depends on what you deem an “actually effective” solution. Even if someone somehow managed to magically round up every person in the world who’s committed violence AND is likely to commit it again, without harming any innocent in any way, and dealt with them in such a manner that they would never again commit any more violence, we’d still be left with the status quo that engendered such people in the first place (which means there will be more, probably sooner than later, not to mention other people will still be suffering from a whole host of issues).

      Yes, human beings are flawed and there will always be criminals even if all societies were as close to perfection as possible, but even legitimate violence should always be considered a necessary evil, never an expedient solution (besides, expedient for whom?).

      • Rod

        Expedient for the injured parties and any other innocents at risk, naturally.

        Sorry, but as it does have a legitimate use in certain circumstances, violence simply can’t be slotted as inherently evil… only to be trotted out and used whenever someone of the right class deems it necessary.

        I don’t believe in “necessary evils,” just right actions, wrong actions (which may be evil,) and amoral actions used in a right, wrong or amoral fashion.

  • Graeme Sutton

    If the War of the Roses happened in the comic book world, each of the leaders of the War of the Roses would either have superpowers or have the support of people with superpowers (or more likely both). While it’s true that as far as we know there are no supers who can directly defeat Alison (though if the distribution of powers is truly indiscriminate, then if Alison is the most powerful super in the USA (or North America) then you would expect that there would be one super with equivalent power in europe, another in Latin America, 2 in Africa and 4-5 each in China and India, unless the USA just lucked out in the super power lottery) we’ve seen at least one who could probably killed her with a little luck and skill (Pintsize, maybe Furnace or that telekinetic villain from the flashback too depending on whether she needs to breathe). If this arc is demonstrating anything it’s that you shouldn’t take your invincibility for granted when dealing with capes.