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  • Zac Caslar

    Justice versus vengeance time.
    Sort of like the modern American prison system: the 4th (8th, ty llennhoff) Amendment outlaws torture, but we’re rather comfortable knowing our overcrowded and ruthlessly incorporated prisons are Hells unto themselves.
    It’s torment by neglect; a passive-aggressive relishing of the infliction of suffering.

  • Ryan

    Panel 5… looks like the doc might have a personal stake in this.

    • Leslie Williams

      My thoughts exactly

    • Keith

      You mean like 25% of women directly, and essentially all women indirectly?

      • Ryan

        Pretty much, yeah.

      • scottfree

        Maybe Allison’s going to get told that most women have been threatened, directly or indirectly, and that’s something she’s never really been subjected to or had a reference for, since having become invulnerable when she was a child.

  • Jack Lostthenames Warren

    Ooooooh, I feel an ethics debate coming on!

  • dbmag9

    Remember Sonar’s speech about what superhero teams got involved with once most supervillains were out of commission: a lot of what was essentially butchering non-biodynamic criminals, some serious and probably some less so. It might be that from the perspective of someone who’s been following biodynamic activity for the last few years (as opposed to Allison, who managed to avoid most of it) the only unusual thing about the Invisible Slasher is that they target traditionally privileged individuals who the law hasn’t declared guilty.

    • In this case, I think it might also be scale. A biodyne who kills individuals for a reason is really.. not a big deal next to ones that indiscriminately slaughter groups.

      • Ryan

        Or ones that unleash giant killer robots on major metropolitan areas.

  • David Nuttall

    I am not so concerned with the ladies’ discussion as the fact that Doc is already replacing the blade on the saw.

  • Some guy

    Haha, first panel looks like she’s getting little girl pigtails.

  • Pol Subanajouy

    Whoops, would you look at that, the plot thickened on us.

    • Mystery girl

      I guess we’ve been stirring it too much.

      • RobNiner

        I thought that happened if you didn’t stir it enough?

  • KatherineMW

    I’m not sure that’s a full summation of the situation. Moonshadow’s certainly after vengeance (hence carving the words on the military guys), but the gains from her approach can also be seen as justice rather than injustice (the rapists don’t go free, which they otherwise would have) and protection (the rapists, being dead, will not rape anyone else).

    I don’t agree with Moonshadow’s actions, but it can’t simply be parsed as “justice vs. vengeance” because justice (in the normative sense, not the in sense of the legal/judicial system carrying out processes) wasn’t occurring.

    • Mechwarrior

      What about the judge she killed?

      • Ryan

        You mean the judge physically and sexually abused his wife and daughters?

        • is that who that was? I’ve been trying to figure out who that old dude wsa. Im more observant usually, i swear.

          • motorfirebox

            It was never explicitly stated, but the conclusion has a big neon sign on it that reads “jump on me!”

          • Enepttastic

            No, there’s nothing in-comic linking that judge to THAT case.

          • Ryan

            Not explicitly, but he says he’s in a sour mood due to a trial he’s presiding over, so there really isn’t any other conclusion we can draw.

          • Enepttastic

            You do realize that doesn’t support your conclusion at all? The judge’s choice of words refer to a current trial, not a previous one. Chronologically(since there’s no evidence that the Slasher/Moonshadow attacks are shown otherwise), this puts his death after Kaylee’s rapists’ were killed. That happened TWO DAYS after their trial ended with an acquittal(ref: http://strongfemaleprotagonist.com/issue-5/page-10-5/).

            The only valid link between the judge and Kaylee’s rapists that’s shown in the comic itself is that both parties were rapists. Nothing more.

            There’s nothing wrong with believing the judge was the same one who presided over that case. As of right now, there’s no evidence for or against that argument, but there is absolutely nothing in the comic that validates the belief, period.

        • Mechwarrior

          In his death scene his wife had a black eye. Where was it said that he was sexually abusing anyone?

          • Ryan

            “Why don’t our daughters visit us, Jim?” (Actually, it might be just physical abuse, but still.)

          • Mechwarrior

            Okay, yeah, forgot that line- his physical abusive nature is established. But could Moonshadow have known about it beforehand? Unless she’d been just standing around all invisible and creepy-like waiting for incriminating evidence (and what a charming thought that is), she intended to kill him already.

            Anyway, my point is that she’s not just executing someone because he’s too dangerous to be left walking around (like if Batman ever got a clue about the Joker), she’s angry and using these killings as catharsis, like the way she mutilated the bodies of those soldiers. It’s definitely about revenge for her, not justice.

          • motorfirebox

            Well, it’s already established that she does extensive research on her victims. I think it’s reasonable to assume she knew as much about the judge as she did about the rapists he (probably) set free, or the mercenaries.

            From what we’ve seen, I don’t think it’s easy to separate justice from vengeance. For one thing, there’s a degree to which vengeance is a necessary part of justice. That’s why worse crimes are supposed to result in harsher sentences. It’s the idea that “you inflicted X amount of harm on your victim, so now the state will attempt to inflict a like amount of harm on you”. I’ll be the first to point out that it doesn’t always (or maybe doesn’t usually) work that way, but that’s the idea behind it.

            Moonshadow is absolutely helping certain people take vengeance, and I more than half-suspect that she’s using that as a kind of catharsis for wrongs that have been committed against her. But the thing is, she’s not going after people the system punished. And she’s not going after random people who happened to escape justice. She’s going after a select group of people who the justice system regularly fails to catch and punish. There’s a large degree to which that really has to be about justice—at least in addition to, if not in place of, revenge.

          • Ryan

            Yeah, her motivations may be personal vengeance, but she happens to be filling a systematic gap in our justice system. Justice and vengeance don’t always coincide, not by a long shot, but when they do, there’s a strong temptation to just let it happen. But the problem is that when vengeance is the motive, there’s no guarantee that it will stay aligned with justice long-term.

          • motorfirebox

            Sure, absolutely. Witness the way she nearly killed a bystander just to get away from Alison.

          • Lostman

            The killer in reality has achieved nothing or a least nothing long term; her plan spins around the idea if she kills theses’ people is based on the news will report it but if you think about how many murders happen daily and compare that to the rate the killer is going at shows that the only reason their much covering it as widely because the a superhuman is doing it.

            Let’s add in the fact she nearly killed a guy who just standing in the wrong place at the wrong time. Also if anyone can connect the family at the start of the story to the killer they (family) can be sued or changed with conspiracy to commit murder.

            I’m sorry but revenge makes people single-minded and in worst cases self-destructive.

          • RobNiner

            ‘strokes imaginary moustache’ before seeking revenge, dig two graves.

          • motorfirebox

            I’m not really arguing whether she’s right or wrong, just whether she is pursuing justice or vengeance.

          • Zac Caslar

            I don’t think this is about preventive publicity.
            I think she’s acting out of basic hatred and a need for revenge.
            I can believe not everybody’s got the same drives, but I can honestly attest to wanting someone I hated a great deal dead and that I only lacked the means and motive to make it happen.

            And revenge can be intensely satisfying. Especially when it can be inflicted a few more times. Righteous revenge followed by really crunching your malefactor is one of the purest pleasures of life.

            The “two graves” line is a relevant maxim, but there’s nothing carved in stone that says you’ll forever be wrecked because of what revenge spurs you to do.

          • AlpineBob

            “I can honestly attest to wanting someone I hated a great deal dead”
            Hate? That sounds like motive to me. Means? I bet you had those too. A car? A knife? Heck, even a pencil can do the job with proper application, or so I’ve read.
            So why didn’t you do it? My guess is what held you back is probably fear of consequences…

          • Mechwarrior

            How has it been established that she’s doing extensive research? She’s only had one motive rant (against the soldiers) and from the news report of their deaths it didn’t sound like there was anything terribly secret about what they’d done. It’s not like she’s had someone tied to a chair and told them about how she tracked the secret bribes they made to avoid prison time or something else that you couldn’t expect to find with a search engine.

          • motorfirebox

            Well, there’s Miles’ history of sexual assault, that was brought to light by the videos that she put up on his laptop after she killed him. It’s possible that Moonshadow just stumbled upon those after she killed him, but that seems pretty unlikely. There’s the mercenaries’ killing of a family of five in Fallujah. Moonshadow knew about that, but it wasn’t mentioned in the news report; therefore, unlike the sexual assault, it likely wasn’t common knowledge.

            Beyond that, there’s the strong implication that the judge abused his children (and certainly abused his wife)—possibly sexually, especially given the behavior of Moonshadow’s other victims.

            Additionally, we haven’t seen any evidence so far that Moonshadow has ever misidentified a target. From a storytelling persepctive, it’d be a pretty bad idea to leave out such a significant detail, so it’s reasonable to assume that she hasn’t made any such mistakes. And from the way Kaylee and her family reacted to meeting the Invisible Slasher, the students weren’t Moonshadow’s first victim—it seems she has been doing this for a while, enlarging by an unknown amount the pool of victims she’s correctly identified as perpetrators of sexual assault that the legal system didn’t catch and/or punish.

            It is possible that Moonshadow has been mistaken, at some point, and that for story reasons as of yet unrevealed this information hasn’t been provided to us readers. But that’s pure speculation, whereas there’s fairly strong positive evidence that Moonshadow does indeed extensively research her victims to make sure they’re guilty before she kills them.

          • Panfried

            Idk, to me killing the judge just felt like the “Asshole Victim” trope being applied to increase moonshadow’s body count while still having a sense of justification. Sure, she could have killed him over his verdict, but him being a wife-beater among other possible implications is there to give moonshadow a better reason to the reader.

          • motorfirebox

            Well, sure, there’s a reason the story doesn’t have Moonshadow kill the judge while he’s out playing with a puppy, even though her in-story justification for killing him would be just as applicable in that situation. But there does appear to be an in-story justification, even if the story focuses more on the trope one.

          • debfa

            This post just serves to highlight how fundamentally flawed the assumptions behind ‘justice’ really are. Vengeance is a stupid, petty emotion that should never have been enshrined into law. People who are unsafe should be removed from society for the safety of others, naturally. But punishment does not rehabilitate; the recidivism rate of convicts is over 90%, and harsh penalties do not deter people mentally ill enough to commit violent crimes. Meanwhile, when we treat crime as an outgrowth of mental illness, we make real progress. As an example, the complete decriminalization of all drugs in Portugal has lowered crime rates and even lowered the rate of drug use. That’s right, even though there’s no risk to buying the drugs usage rates went DOWN. Why? Because Portugal took the money they used to spend on busting vice and invested in counseling programs for addicts. The moral of the story: you make society better by building people up, not tearing them down.

            If anything, all prisons should be replaced with high security psychiatric hospitals – you go in until you’re no longer a danger to yourself and others, and in the meantime we get to learn more about criminal psychology by having the opportunity to directly observe the diseased mind. Killing a couple dozen rapists accomplishes very little. Finding the commonalities between the brains of a couple dozen rapists could lead us to identify and treat people before they ever rape, and is worth infinitely more than small-minded revenge.

            If Moonshadow has to use lethal force to prevent a rape, that’s a debate worth having. But what she’s doing right now isn’t just about subverting the rule of law – it’s about costing us an opportunity to find a cure for the problem of rape itself. The number of people who rape is a tiny fraction of the population (thankfully!), but that also means that each rapist we don’t study makes it that much harder to get statistically significant data samples. The opportunity cost alone makes her a monster, but people blinded by ‘justice’ will defend her because they can’t think deeply enough to consider the future.

          • motorfirebox

            I should note that I’m not necessarily defending the concept of justice as it’s currently applied, and I’m certainly not defending the US’s prison system. But the discussion is about justice as implemented by the US law.

          • debfa

            Oh I understand completely, I didn’t think you were arguing in favor of it at all – I just used it as a jumping off point to make my post, so sorry if I gave you the wrong impression. You just got me thinking and I wanted to add my spin on things. =)

          • Shino

            Jesus, another ableist dude who has no idea what he’s talking about.
            Listen, crime isn’t a ‘mental illness’, mr armchair psychiatrist spewing bullshit that’d drive every psych ever to roll on the floor laughing; Crime comes from, like, ton of factors. Lack of education, poverty and unemployment correlate with crime rate the most.

            Mentally ill people are LESS violent than general population and you’re spewing bullshit that hasn’t been treated seriously since 19th century. Reminder, we have 21st one now.

            Rapists rape for many reasons, one of many is that we’re living in a culture that treats certain kinds of rape (of women that are dressed sexy, that are drunk, that are dating the rapist, and so on) as acceptable, and violent, controlling sexuality as manly.
            I mean, if this was mental illness then how are 90% of rapists men, how do you explain that. Oh wait, you don’t.

            Jesus christ, I’m tired of assholes who call everything they dislike or consider icky a ‘mental illness’ though they have no education in the matter. “Gay people are mentally ill!” “Violent people are mentally ill!” “Transgender people are mentally ill!” and now, “Criminals are mentally ill!” A broken record.

            Being mentally ill myself, I implore all sane people to stop wiping your asses with us, thanks in advance.

          • debfa

            Shino, where to begin…

            First of all, I’m not “a dude.” Second of all, I’ve been professionally diagnosed with a constellation of mental illnesses. In fact later today I’m going to be calling around for a new therapist because I’ve just moved to a new town. Third, I am intimately aware of what it’s like to be hurt by another person – it’s one of the main reasons why I’ve been in treatment since my early teens – and I am not here to make apologies for people who hurt other people. And fourth, I was “a psych” myself, and until my illness became too much to manage I used to work with other survivors in a professional capacity. Unless you have been doing the same for longer than I have, I have seen more suffering than you can even imagine. I am not some strawman for you to belittle and work out your anger issues on, and the way you spoke to me was completely inappropriate.

            We don’t yet fully understand why people rape. It’s not enough to blame the culture, and it’s completely inaccurate to say that 90% of rapists are men. If anything, when I’ve worked with survivors in the past the biggest component seems to be a failure to respect boundaries in interpersonal relationships – the vast majority of rapists are family members or friends, regardless of gender. Yet the conversation keeps getting steered back to the culture war – are skirts too short, are men too entitled – because that’s familiar territory for people with an axe to grind. People like you, incidentally. You are retarding progress on this issue by flying off the handle and speaking from ignorance, because that is not where the answer will be found. This is not something that will be solved by yelling at people you disagree with (what is?), but by collecting more data so that we can solve this riddle:

            “Despite coming from the same background, going to the same schools, living in the same locations, living with the same families, and having the same basic experiences as their peers, why is there is a (thankfully small) percent of men and women who feel entitled, compelled, or unable to prevent their violation of another person’s autonomy, safety, and body?”

            If you want to help, advocate for greater investment in mental health care, and for screening of children in school for risk factors; this will help catch people before they wind up hurting themselves or others, as well as give us more data to work with. You can also become a researcher yourself and be part of the solution that way. But right now? You are only part of the problem.

      • TheGonzoMD .

        If we have a world where superpower peeps exist, but a society that still refuses to deal with it’s social problems, then I can’t feel a great deal of umbrage over one of those super powered peeps trying to do something about it. Moonshadow is a product of society’s failure.

    • Anthony Jackson

      The main reason legal systems oppose summary justice like this is that it usually has a rather high error rate; Moonshadow is eventually going to hit someone who’s innocent.

    • Zac Caslar

      The difference between the two is essentially procedural; “justice” is the socially sanctioned degree of retribution. Vengeance is retribution applied to a personal level of satisfaction.

      The million dollar question becomes what’s worth that kind of punishment. I think rapists and murderers can be considered fair game for vigilante actions, but what about “indirect” evils?

      Frex mid-December 2014 former Senator Tom Coburn (R. -OK) blocked a vote on a U.S. Veteran’s suicide prevention bill just before he left office. Legislators can conventionally do stuff like that, they just rarely do because voting no is just less of a controversy magnet.
      Twenty-two vets kill themselves every day.
      If that blockage sunk The Clay Hunt Act permanently or delayed it’s implementation does Coburn “own” any of the deaths that occurred since?
      What about the Housing Market Collapse and subsequent bailout? Five Million Households were evicted from their homes, many of them with bank possession of their titles in legal dispute -in essence there was no settled ownership of those residences and so they shouldn’t legally have been foreclosed, and I emphatically believe that lead to violence, rapes, and deaths by sheer volume.
      Who answers for that?
      If Moonshadow decided she needed a big project who would be to blame? That’s a level of displacement that dwarfs most wars happening in peacetime; the level of suffering generated is/was epic in scale. Justice screams for an agent; where does that agent start? Or is it just the kind of thing that demands a response on the level of a society?
      Individual action created the crisis, and individual action propelled it. But is every person involved culpable for the entirety of the event? If the answer involves getting their throats cut open then it must be yes -and that’s probably justly deserved revenge. Yet no one did anything so specifically evil as murder or rape someone else -so what’s Just? Do our ideas of a crime’s severity require calibration?
      For the record We The People have failed to make punishing those involved a governmental necessity. The scale of damage done has only recently come to light; I hope We change our minds.

  • Name

    An interesting thing about this whole procedure is that it was not necessary during Alison’s childhood. This might be a case of her powers getting “worse”, or it might be, if her powers are somewhat pyschic in nature, be a reflection of the fact that she now sees herself as invulnerable, and she includes her hair in her image of herself.

    • Lucy

      That’s neat; I’ve never thought about her powers being psychicly related to her self-perception.

    • dbmag9

      I think everyone’s powers manifested properly during puberty, at around the same time (when Alison suddenly kicked a football into the stratosphere), but I Brennan and Molly have said somewhere that she had low-levels of invulnerability (so never fell ill) from birth. I guess in the interim between her powers manifesting properly and the government figuring out how to give her a haircut she just had fairly long hair.

  • deebles

    Well, it looks like the haircut is all done now.

    • Matt Lopez

      Or that it requires a replacement mid haircut.

    • MrSokar

      I would say having one spot behind her ear all chopped up is not a done haircut, but it it New York City and I swear it seemed nearly half of the population in their 20s had the half undershave going on in 2013/2014.

  • Mechwarrior

    No, that causes the plot to get lumpy.

    • gray-haired grad

      And nobody wants a lumpy plot.

      • Matt Lopez

        Not only do I love this comic but I love the nerds who read it. Good on you team.

  • Rod

    “So wait, you agree with this person?”

    “I didn’t say that.”

    Well, crap.

    • Matt Lopez

      Stupid complex characters with complex points of view! Now I don’t know what to think!

  • Rod

    Geez! I need to stop thinking about this comic.

    There’s no way this can end well. Even if Allison nabs Moonshadow, gets a video confession out of her, and drops her off at the appropriate superhuman-handling agency, what’s she going to do when they say “Meh”, untie Moonshadow, and walk away?

  • llennhoff

    Actually the 8th amendment outlaws cruel and unusual punishment, not the 4th. The 4th prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures without a warrant. Sorry to nit pick, I agree wholeheartedly that the US prison system is itself a crime.

    • Zac Caslar

      Nah, thanks for catching that. I should have bloody looked it up first.

  • Lostman

    The reason I this up due this page.

    Her actions in the end will do harm than good; the killer may get cot or more likely be killed in turn by another superhero.

    I agree that with “two graves” line wholeheartedly but my question is this; did the killer have to go this route in the first place?

  • AlpineBob

    People are talking about Justice vs Vengeance and I can’t see why there is any confusion.
    Vengeance is personal. Moonshadow doesn’t know any of her victims personally and has no personal stake in this, except that she believes she is doing a social good. So she obviously believes she is a force for Justice.

    However, her motive is besides the point. What she is doing is illegal, so the real question is what will society (police, other supers, whatever), do about it? I have no idea where this is going, but I’m glad to be along for the ride!

    Meanwhile, I’ll be very interested to hear the Doc’s view explicated…

  • Mystery girl

    Depends on what you’re making. 😛