SFP

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  • Lostman

    wait… CHRIS IS DEAD! damn, I thought he was going to live.

    • Pol Subanajouy

      Yeah, he was floating face down in the water back on page 150 of this issue. Kinda an ironic death all things considered.

    • Caravelle

      Is Chris Furnace ? Because as far as I know all we know is that Alison and Moonshadow think he’s dead, for presumably good reason (they didn’t see him leave the exploding dam). I don’t think it’s confirmed beyond that.

      • Oakreef

        we saw his body floating face down down a river

        • Caravelle

          Oh, I hadn’t realized that was him ! I thought it was a random bystander
          victim. But it does make sense in-story, and with the hair color and
          all. So thanks !

          I’m a bit disappointed actually, I’d hoped they were making
          the point that even in a national park, if you break a dam you’re going
          to kill some people. That whole “civilian population=negative” thing
          was mighty convenient.

      • Nightsbridge

        He was seen floating dead in the water later.

  • Dafydd Carmichael

    Oof. That’s bad times.

  • blashimov

    D:

  • Tauls

    The thing about Alison is that she has been treated something like a god, and to a certain extent believed it. During her entire carreer as a hero she was the one sent in first, if someone needed backup she was who they would send. Megagirl was the solution. The reason she was the one to confront Menace they had enough time to talk, and for him to get out was because she never needed backup, or if she did there was no one to provide it.

    When it comes to a situation that can be resolved with force, Alison was the solution.

    She isn’t very useful for anything else, powerwise at least. Menace however was her polar opposite, physically he was no better than any other human. However his powers allowed him to be everything she wasn’t. If the two of them fight one of them will loose, no middle ground. No one will go to prison and then break out, one of them will be totally broken.

    So the only black mark as a superhero Alison has is Menace her polar opposite. That’s actually pretty acceptable for a god. Now however she’s dealing with human shit, which isn’t nearly so balck and white.

    Now she’s getting hit with all of her weaknesses from sources that aren’t gods made of flesh like Patrick. Instead she’s getting it from disease, and someone who was inferior to her. She already knew it, but now she’s feeling emotionally that she isn’t as superior as she once was. She isn’t the solution anymore, and that’s what is killing her.

    P.s. Also her roommate is an ass, never share a room if you can help it.

  • ∫Clémens×ds

    Alison’s inner monologue: “Oh jeez, I totally didn’t pay attention to what she was saying back there. Again! Totally the old habits kicking back. Man, that girl is so boring, no wonder she started killing people to get noticed. Quick, what do I answer Lisa to keep face? I know, let’s make it all about meeeeeeeeeeeee

    I jest. But really, what with Alison realizing that unrequited friendship is something that is depressingly common, and that all her goodwill will never translate into tangible, visible, satisfying change (only slow and non-validating one), I just want to say to her: welcome among us.

    • Happyroach

      Actually, we’ve established that she CAN have visible, tangible, change; the question for her, and the world, is, how does she keep from going down that path?

      Honestly, with the very limited support network that Alison has been provided, I’m beginning to suspect that the Powers that Be don’t want her t find that route- they want her to to either retreat from the world, or start puling off heads. Which implies that they have something to stop her with, should she decide to SERIOUSLY remake the world.

  • Lostman

    we all want a places at the table.

    we all want a places to be safe.

    we all want the freedom to be ourselves.

    Why is this so hard to do?

    • Graeme Sutton

      Because the universe doesn’t care.

  • zarawesome

    Welcome to adulthood, it sucks in here.

    • Pol Subanajouy

      Feels bad, yo.

    • Shjade

      Slightly more going on here than adulthood. Most adults don’t have to deal with confronting a friend who, as it turns out, is a serial killer midway through other more normal crises. That’s a bit much.

  • Red Admiral

    Yikes. That’s the lowest feeling, right there, the feeling that there is no point in you, no reason for you to exist. Hopefully this will, in the long run, help her move on, but right now she needs a hug and some reassurance.

    • Nexxo

      Alison is just learning to (re)define herself as a real person rather than a superhero celebrity. Bumpy road ahead, but the journey is worth it.

  • Steele

    Aaaand there we have it. Alison’s first TRUE moment of vulnerability. I’m half surprised she managed to keep from mentioning Patrick (at least more directly) during her breakdown. I also wonder if her feelings of meaninglessness are going to translate to an awareness of her own mortality (even if a bullet can’t hurt her, I’m sure she’ll still get old and pass away naturally at some point). Man, she won’t like THAT one bit!

    On a slightly brighter note, I love that her speech balloons get progressively more wobbly. You can hear her breaking apart. Poor girl!

  • JohnTomato

    The adventure is over time to build your life.

    • Happyroach

      Which actually doesn’t say anything- the primary question remains. She has the power to change the world; how does she do it WITHOUT killing anyone that disagrees with her?

  • The_Rippy_One

    ah, this is a problem. there are very few ways that she can go about explaining what she means that doesn’t result in her explaining why she let the Menace go…and the Menace is the one thing she does not want to talk to her new friend about.

  • Roman Snow

    She’s not invulnerable to internalizing the negative aspects of other peoples’ perceptions of her invulnerability.

  • …and Moonshadow claims her final victim, finally finding a way to hurt the invulnerable Megagirl.

    • Tauls

      Yeah, Moonshadow isn’t done yet

  • Damn. I want to give Alison a hug. 🙁

  • Pol Subanajouy

    Unfortunately, that is a fair assessment of what Mary said to her. Actually, both of her former teammates put that charge on Al of being too ineffective in her new life to matter. (Pintsize/Hector saying, “Almost halfway though college, and we’re all still waiting to see your version of what could be a better superhero!”) Both of them were dissatisfied with changing the world through normal means mind you and they view Al’s methods as inferior and “not mattering.” Hector obviously said his part in the midst of an argument with Al and did not mean to as nearly malicious and contemptuously as Mary but I can’t help but wonder if it threw more wood on the fire.

    Of course I don’t agree with either of them, but that doesn’t change how emotionally beaten up Al is right now. And could we get our girl some heavy duty hugs and reassurance already? I would do it, but there’s this pesky 4th wall in the way.

    • Both of them are right though, she DOESNT matter. She’s not actually going to change the world the “legitimate” way, she’s just playing pretend. She doesnt want the world to change, not really, because that would mean admitting that the traditional way is wrong.

      • Happyroach

        I think t’s more that she doesn’t want to change the world in the obvious way her powers are pointing her. It would be easy to just pop people’s heads off wh she disagrees with…but being a basically moral person, she doesn’t want to become a new Pol Pot.

    • masterofbones

      Too be fair, Pintsize is 100% correct. Going to college is one of the LEAST world-changing thing she could have chosen to do. It is really quite impressive how accurately she zoned into something entirely worthless for world changing (especially for her).

    • StClair

      There’s a little of Patrick and his rant about snowflakes there, too, IMO.
      Even a hypothetical snowflake made of unmelting, unshattering crystal is lost in the multitude.

  • Catherine Kehl

    I just want to say that I’ve been increasingly blown away by the art. Especially its expressive range.

    Keep on kicking ass.

  • Rod

    Her choice of wording in panel 5 is interesting. “I tried to stop her, she confronted me.” That’s not how I would have put that at all; it’s another sign that Al is empathizing with Mary waaaaay too much.

    Oh, and Mary’s “reasons” basically boiled down to “I’m trying to be a superhero! Plus, you’ll never get it because you’re so powerful, nyah!” So I guess it’s kind of understandable that Alison fumbled around trying to answer that question.

    • Nexxo

      I think Mary’s message is: “This is what it means to be a superhero: to do what other people can’t, or won’t”. Making hard choices and doing hard things. She accuses Allison of not understanding this because to Alison with her superpowers, such choices and actions always came easy –no effort, no consequences to fear. What Mary does not appreciate is that for Alison, walking away from her superhero role and being ‘ordinary’ is the hard choice and hard thing to do; she is going through the same journey but in the opposite direction. She is just pissed with Alison for walking away from what Mary so badly wants to be.
      Alison is just learning what it is to be ‘ordinary’: sometimes you’re powerless, and don’t have all the answers to life’s complexities. Sometimes you lose. Sometimes you get hurt. Sometimes you doubt yourself or feel insignificant. And that’s OK; that’s being human and that’s what friends and hugs are for.

  • Walter

    It sucks to see Alison sad, but at the same time I’m sort of glad this is happening? That sounds jerkish, hear me out.

    The pressures of the last day or so have really been a lot. I was sort of worried that she was going to flip out. Talking to someone about it is a delightfully reasonable way to work through the pressures she is under.

    • Pol Subanajouy

      You got a point. Better to cry than to internalize it and lash out at a later date. Especially given Alison’s power.

    • Tauls

      After her ‘ticker tape parade’ speech? Yeah crying is good.

  • Joshua Taylor

    Having an existential crisis meltdown is never fun. I know those feels.

  • Daniel Vogelsong

    It’s a beautiful theme. Menace can’t hear his own thoughts, and didn’t realize it. Pintsize can’t handle doing things small, and became despondant at the thought. Mary feels her invisibility is indicative of an entire subgrouping of people, and has driven her to vigilantism. Furnace can’t react in a cold, calculating manner, and it killed him.
    And now, to a greater and greater extent, Alison is finally experiencing vulnerability

    • Pol Subanajouy

      I really really like this analysis. Gods make crappy people because they can’t grow. They are stuck in their archetype. Al is actively trying to break her own archetype and it’s a bumpy road buy its very nature.

  • MrSing

    Hey Allison, welcome to ‘whose fault is it anyway?’ The show where the morals are made up and the lives don’t matter.

  • kwerboom

    Someone please tell her not everything is her fault and/or her responsibility. I know that as the main superhero of this series that’s all she’s spent her whole career being told, but really right now she needs that weight taken off her. The stress of trying to handle everything one’s self can destroy a person psychologically, emotionally, and physically.

  • Well, dam.

  • Perlite

    Everything is now crashing down and she’s starting to realize how much shiz has happened over a short period of time. Poor Al, she hasn’t really had a chance to take a step back and breath or vent. Everyone assumes she’s ok or that she can recover from anything because she’s “Mega Girl”. They forget that she is still human, despite all the powers.

  • WizardJim

    Her situation is critical. Someone get a big mug of chamomile tea and a box set of parks & rec, stat.

  • Mechwarrior

    Alison’s life has fractal suckiness.

  • Arthur Frayn

    Sadly, sometimes you have to hit rock bottom before you can turn things around. I believe she will rebuild her self-image and discover a way she truly can make a difference.

    • Mechwarrior

      The problem is that whenever Alison’s life hits bedrock it switches drill-bits.

      • Psile

        So this is like my favorite saying for a few hours now.

  • Skylar Green

    Though perhaps it’s selfish to want and need to be relevant and important. The world is filled with people we’ll never know about, who don’t do anything but pay their bills and get a hobby and maybe go on a vacation sometimes. Their journey could possibly be compared to that of famous child actors trying to find a way to fit back into society after living in a bubble. Some keep going in the industry, some completely separate from it and they’re happy just being Dave or Anne.

  • Skylar Green

    Well this is someone who herself is operating on very little sleep and seems to have kept more company of servant robots than other people. Her social skills may not be entirely up to par.

  • Skylar Green

    Part of this breakdown stems back to what Patrick said to Alison even before she quit her superteam. Remember Patrick’s research showed that the only biodynamic individuals who weren’t disappeared or assassinated were the ones who that shadow cabal had determined were not going to be disruptive to the current world order. Maybe Alison partially took that information to heart but as she keeps going on she finds that *she* doesn’t matter. Those who know her as Mega Girl only see her as Mega Girl when that’s not her identity, that was only an operative cover. She was in the world, but not a part of the world. Those who know her as “Heather, formerly known as Mega Girl” seem to manipulate her, use her for their own ends… care not about her own emotional needs, expecting her to help them and accommodate them and that’s all.

    Very few people really see Heather as just Heather. She, as her own human being with all of the benefits and limitations and vulnerabilities that come with that, quite literally doesn’t matter. And when you look at it, really, how much has she actually accomplished in this comic and what’s the result?

    -Learning to fly? She injured herself.
    -Inspiring Feral to use her healing power to help people? Feral was murdered for it.
    -Stood up to herself against an unfair professor? No reconciliation and the professor got canned; making things worse.
    -Protected a girl at a rooftop party? In a roundabout way she’s now homeless because of that.
    -Went to stop Moonshadow from presumably killing Furnace or blowing up a dam? Furnace is still dead, the dam still got destroyed, and a murderer is still on the loose. Alison might as well have stayed home… then at least Mary would be a casualty as well and the killings would have stopped.

    Alison’s thought process is probably “Nobody loves me, nobody cares, and I actively make everything worse.” A feel good arc would have Clarence show up and make Alison see how much good she’s done and how important she really is and that she needs to keep on going… but real life usually doesn’t work like that. I don’t think Alison will go supervillain or commit suicide or anything but a bout of depression for days or even weeks at a time would be pretty understandable.

  • Catherine Kehl

    There are a bunch of questions in here. I would start by positing that whatever Al is going to school for probably has more to do with the last couple of panels here than changing the world in the sort of senses you refer to above:

    http://sfp.nsch.co/issue-5/page-104/

    To different threads I’ll address, just to keep it brief.

    One has to do with the worthiness of degrees… and while I’d be the first to agree that many people waste large parts of their college education, I note that the degrees you mention are known for their earning potential and prestige. I do think other fields of study can be quite valuable, and that there are other metrics that might be worth considering. (OTOH, a C student in Engineering is going to have a lot more employment potential than a B average English major, generally speaking. And everyone should know that.)

    Changing the world itself is a deeply loaded concept.* Seriously, if you’re just heading out to change the world, without a particular object, that pretty much just points back at you – you want to make your mark. You want the world to know that you’re there. Ego. (And hey, if this gets you to do cool stuff, more power.) Similarly, there’s the distinction of actually changing things, as opposed to being known as important (the standard fame and fortune pack, I believe it is called.) I suppose Lisa’s lightbulbs and batteries address similar concepts – are you interested in the work, or the glory? For that matter, how much of your limited resources will you spend chasing something which is essentially illusory?**

    I suspect a lot of world changing happens because of the external focus – there is this thing, a thing I deeply, lustfully desire to bring into being. Or, on the flip side, a thing I simply can not bear to continue to allow existing, and I don’t mean it in the chest thumping sense but in the getting down and doing the hard work over years sense. And maybe that’s exactly what Alison is doing. We still don’t know how much of this is planned. She did realize that there was something deeply fucked up about being a teenage superhero… and potentially that something really awful had happened to her people. (Maybe. I mean, Patrick. Well.) Hard to say exactly how much long game is going on here, isn’t there

    [BTW, Super Sekret Message – anyone going to SfN? I’m presenting a Theme H poster, and then presenting my “real” research Wednesday – yeah, I know, hell, I wouldn’t stay that late either if our whole group hadn’t gotten stuck with the slot. Don’t know if we’re doing Women’s Invitational Fight Club this year…]

    * And again, this is so hugely a part of my background. Our whole pack of thirteen and fourteen year old college freshman were supposed to be the best and brightest, and change the world, and indeed, that was our duty to society. (And when I got into a fight with the program administration I was told that if I dropped out that was failing and I’d fail at everything else for the rest of my life, which is a hell of a head game when you’re thirteen.)

    ** Well. Okay, some of this is my bias. *My* values put doing the work for reals over having people tell me I’m awesome. Which is not to say I lack vanity or don’t do my share of preening 😛 But you can make your life about that.

    • Rod

      Yeah, I admit, beyond NASA scientist, I just threw in doctor and lawyer to focus more on how certain jobs required degrees, rather than the world-changing potential of those jobs.

      I do agree that “changing the world” is loaded. I immediately thought it was pretty petty when Pintsize criticized Alison for not having done it within two years of college because… heck, what was he expecting? World peace? A cure for cancer? You can’t rush true change. And really, I can’t imagine having that sort of weight put onto one’s shoulders, particularly when it’s someone else’s fairly limited definition of “changing the world,” either in the comic or IRL. In one particular, to expect that just because someone has a 170 IQ that they’re duty-bound to spend their entire life tirelessly studying biology so that they can finally cure cancer by age 50 and the rest of humanity can reap the benefits of their life’s sacrifice seems… pretty selfish of anyone expecting it, honestly… especially if those expecting it aren’t similarly dedicating their life to whatever it is they really want to see happen, beyond just raising up smart youngsters and encouraging them to get with the program.

      Regarding Alison’s game plan–yes, I keep forgetting about those black folders. Alleged black folders. Presuming Alison’s goal involves them, then doing something about them is at least a more concrete goal than a lot of us sometimes have (although I still am quite interested in exactly what college offers that she feels would address them.)

      And on that note… other than Patrick bringing them up, I’ve not seen one hint yet in the comic that those folders have any real relevance to the plot, other than to get Alison to think deeper thoughts. I would have hoped we’d have seen someone in a dark room watching Al’s interactions with Patrick by now, or something similarly ominous. This lack of corroborating evidence really has me starting to question those things… which I hate to do, because it’s a gold mine of story potential, and a payoff I’ve been waiting on for a while. But if they’re fake, hopefully we won’t be strung along for too much longer.

      • Catherine Kehl

        Hey, I was a thirteen year old physics major. I didn’t do anything with biology until well into my thirties.*

        I’m actually a really big supporter of gifted education, but as a variety of special needs education, not in its cold war “Milking the best and the brightest for the good of the country so we can beat the Russians, rar!” sense. For a certain fraction – certainly not everyone – of gifted kids, being mainstreamed for the majority of their education is going to fuck them up (and make them less able to deal with “ordinary people” which is one of the arguments people often use for why gifted kids should be mainstreamed. Bah – yeah because being bored, alienated and hated is *the best*.)

        I think a lot of Pintsize’s criticisms came out of his own angst. I mean, parts of his life are sucking, and Alison’s leaving both started the team breaking apart and started him looking at the problems with the system.

        I’m putting my vote down on the back folders or whatever the fuck being part of a much longer arc – something that we don’t get serious about until much deeper in the series. Patrick’s arc isn’t done. (I’m so glad we’re in narrative arc land, rather than real life.) That golden age style super heroes were kind of fucked was something that could be deduced without having black folders (though probably not if you were a teenager who’d been recruited into a superhero team) and I don’t know if there’s a conspiracy per se. Because conspiracies are really hard, but people often are capable of pretty horrible behavior en masse without , especially when you have reasonably well delineated groups that can characterize each other as scary. (I’m more or less typing as I think, during one of the key note talks – which is really excellent.)

        Though if the black folders are real, a big bad does seem more likely. (Though a big bad who is just a bunch of individual people making individual decisions for their own interests would be really awful. The invisible hand of conspiracy. Ack.)

        * Total aside, I’m at SfN right now, and my lab and another have rented a house together, which is awesome, but we’re in closer contact than usual. All the social hanging out has turned into a long extended “Holy crap, you did what?” Also, apparently almost no one knew how old I actually was (why does no one think I look my age?! I am totally going grey – maybe it’s the rampant immaturity) even though I swear I tell people *all the time.* *sigh* Seriously, kids, yeah, my life has been weird, but I’ve also had a lot more of it than y’all.

  • Anna

    Alison’s hair gets progressively droopier the sadder she is currently feeling

  • Fagballs

    It may be my superficial point of view, but this Megagirl here, this invincible, indestructible Megagirl needs a serious hug.

  • 8balls

    When a goddess shall cry… what hope is there for mortals?

  • There’s a reason John wrote “build”, and not “return to”

    • Lostman

      Yet, how can you build when you were never given the tools to do so.

  • The bodyguard of a CEO can protect the CEO from many things. Lawsuits, not so much.
    I think Alison, at this point, just needs to talk and have somebody listen to her and try to understand her, so Paladin is doing the right thing, in my opinion.

  • Pol Subanajouy

    That’d be the one, I’d surmise.

  • Graeme Sutton

    Bill? Is that you?

  • Arkone Axon

    That’s literally been a huge part of her character development – her realization that she’s been oblivious to so much of what’s going on with the people around her. Note how her discussions with Moonshadow haven’t involved any appeals to their friendship via reminiscing about the fun times they had, or how her sister has resented her for so long.

    She’s basically basically spent her entire life zooming into scenes like Superman. How many times did Supes fly into a friendly scientist’s lab and declare, “I need a lead suit and a spaceship to fight a kryptonite monster in space!” And at no point did Supes ask, “By the way, how’s the family? Oh, I’m not interrupting your experiment, am I? I can wait a few minutes for you to save that document, and perhaps I should have called ahead since text messages travel faster than I usually fly.”

    • Honestly, I could see some versions of Supes doing the latter.

      • Arkone Axon

        Yes… if Justice League Unlimited had kept going, I would have loved to have seen an episode where Superman goes around apologizing for his behavior when Luthor was president. Imagine seeing him sitting in an ice cream parlor with Billy Batson, asking the kid to come back and to give Supes another chance. Not to mention with Hamilton…