SFP

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  • Burke

    Seriously? “Poor me, I wanted to be special, but all I got in the power lottery was ‘helping people'”? I dislike this guy more than ever.

  • Richard Griffith

    I am guessing his family has similar values to those he presents. If only someone could have taught him the gift of giving.

  • Miri

    Alison views the primary purpose of having superpowers as being able to help other people out. Viewing the power to help others as a waste/reason to feel suicidal probably doesn’t make too much sense to her. I don’t know if thinking back to being a 13 year old to whom everything came easy and who couldn’t understand why other people couldn’t do what she could, or to being a 16 year old who didn’t really pay any attention to her teammates as people because they had a mission and she needed to stay focused to achieve it, or to how it felt when she found out her power wasn’t significant enough for her to have been wiped out before growing into it, or to how it feels realising you can’t fix everything with one significant knock in the right place, could help – in terms of arrogance and ego she used to match him. But she’s been working on growing up and forming proper networks with other people to solve the big problems collaboratively. He’s still sulking because he’ll never be the famous one, or the one getting credit for things.

  • (While waiting for comments to be approved) Gosh, the SFP commenters will have a field day with this one. /popcorn

    • Lostman

      Oh yes we are. 🙂

  • ClockworkDawn

    Honesty! Honesty is good!

  • Weatherheight

    Damns. He got Damsel’s power.

    I did not see that coming.

    Sweeeeeet!

    • Izo

      Who’s Damsel? I’m not familiar with that character.

      • Weatherheight

        Wild Cards Book 12, Turn of the Cards (I think).

        Amy “Damsel” Mears – Her Wild Card power is to dramatically augment anyone to whom she has a romantic or other strong emotional attachment. To establish the link, she must be touching the person but the effective range of the link is… considerable. She is affiliated with Sergeant First Class Paul “Dive Bomb” Chung, whose power is telekinetic flight and resistance to damage while in flight (think Cannonball from The New Mutants).

        Both are sent into Tehran as part of a team of Wild Cards to rescue the hostages of the Irani Revolution of 1980 (J. Robert “The Mechanic” Belew, Harvey “Librarian” Melmoth, Jay “Popinjay” Ackroyd, Joann “Lady Black” Jefferson, and a young Billy “Carnifex” Ray). Things go reasonably well until the Irani Revolutionary Guard gets their act together, splits the team, and quickly begin to kill the various team members. Dive Bomb dies first (I think – ripped to shreds by anti aircraft guns at close range), then Damsel gets torn limb from limb by a mob [having no defensive powers of her own], and finally Librarian gets shot and bleeds out (again, I think – been years since I read the book). The remaining team members flee before they get killed as well.

        The implication in the book is that her power works on both Nats and Wild Cards. It’s also implied that it can affect more than more person at a time, but the explanation of her ability includes a statement of, essentially, “We aren’t sure so we’re not going to risk on that.”

  • 3-I

    Oh, hey, look. He’s still a narcissistic prick.

  • Joshthulhu

    …Suddenly some things about this guy make a lot of sense.

  • Jacob Johnston

    Come on man. You’re a support class. Sure no one likes playing them but everyone loves having them around!

  • screechfox

    On the one hand, wow, that’s interesting.

    On the other hand, wow, that’s some emotional whiplash. Very stoic and annoyed, ‘I don’t need to give you a reason’, to ‘this sucks and also life sucks.’ I mean, 1 point for character development, Max, but this doesn’t make you a nicer person.

  • Johan

    The f-? He’s mad that his power is to help people? What? That’s a super cool power!!

  • Dean

    I’m getting the impression that Max didn’t have a very happy childhood.

    • Tylikcat

      Huh. I’m kind of interested in how you model this. Being fourteen and wanting power strikes me as… pretty common in our society, especially considering how impotent teenagers often are. Are you positing that having a unhappy childhood makes one more or less likely to be an entitled asshole? I’m really not sure that holds up…

      (Not data, but just a remark – one of my favorite books has the line “That my uncle was cruel to me and my household taught me compassion.”* Which is a quote that has gotten me through a few hard points dealing with my family – though honestly, the example is somewhat fraught! But it’s always a complicated mix of the circumstance, the individual, and I like the believe, the choices the individual makes.)

      * Bonus points for anyone who names the reference.

      • Izo

        Good point, Tylikcat.

        PS – curious about where the quote comes from.

        • Tylikcat

          As it does seem possible to pull it up on a search (and one of those points back to an old post of mine, oops):

          It’s from Cyteen by CJ Cherryh.

      • I had to look the quote up, but also a favourite. The interesting thing is we see it in action in the story, and it works better second time around. (Also an interesting example of teenagers in positions of extreme power).

  • Ben Posin

    Yeesh, what a failure of imagination. Sure, you don’t get to do the cool stuff directly. But wow, if you have the power to enhance bio-dynamic folks, or maybe even turn others into useful bio-dynamics, you’re pretty much the high school quarterback and the prom queen rolled into one. Even if you’re a purely selfish bastard…riches, power, fame, popularity, influence, access, you name it it’s yours. I guess I can understand a 14 year old not quite getting that at first and being bitter, but c’mon, way to cry sour grapes when you’re living in your own freaking vineyard.

  • Seven Circle

    He’s an Amplifier!?! And he’s sad about it… wow, that is some bone deep greed. He’s upset because he’s a helper. Any group would have loved to have him, he would have been the star, but he can’t see that because he doesn’t believe in the common good or cooperation.

  • The Improbable Man

    I understand his disappointment, but to have reached this age and still have not decided to go and use it seems incredibly selfish.

    On the other hand, if he had joined the Guardians, you know he would have been the first one targeted by villains once they found out. He’s totally vulnerable, but would effectively contribute more than anyone else. So the risks for him, personally, are massive.

    However, if he only used it to help people like Paladin advance the world’s technologies or whatever, as opposed to fighting crime, he would be able to contribute immensely with much less risk.

    That’s all hypothetical though, it’s clearly not about the risk not being worth it for him. He’s given his real reason: he thinks helping other people is a waste. So, yeah, he’s probably just selfish.

    • Santiago Tórtora

      Depending on how Max’s powers work (range, duration, etc) his existence could be kept secret (just use his power on his teammates before a mission)

      Of course, Max would absolutely hate that.

  • d4t4

    Now I’m really curious what Al’s plan was from a few pages earlier…who did she ask him to “second trigger”? Feral? Certainly not herself…

    • Santiago Tórtora

      Maybe she wants to give Menace the power of introspection.

    • danima

      My impression was that she asked him to join the Valkyries and help everyone involved, which is basically his worst-case scenario.

      (Also, unless there’s a Max-Moonshadow link, I think the power progressions are happening on their own. Still wouldn’t hurt to have him pushing them in the right direction.)

    • The Articulator

      😀

      I’m so glad, and to be fair, not hugely surprised, to find someone else here who’s read Worm. It makes talking about the superhero genre so much easier.

      • Katie RL

        Me too! It really does.

  • phantomreader42

    So, Patrick’s been investigating suspicious deaths of biodynamics with odd powers. And he’s also probably been watching Allison because he cares about her and is still a bit of a supervillain at heart so he doesn’t really know how NOT to be creepy. So now what’s he thinking when one of his surveillance targets from the other project pops up dating Allison?

  • Santiago Tórtora

    That power is awesome. Sure, it requires some teamwork to make it work, but that’s no different from Paladin needing expensive materials to make her power work.

    If Max were a little more evil and ruthless, such that he would see other dynamorphs as resources to fuel his powers instead of as individuals towards whom he feels envy, he wouldn’t be crying right now.

    It is very interesting how this comic deals with mundane not-even-evil attitudes.

  • robertskitch

    Kind of sounds like the best power in that you can choose who you want to make more powerful, which kind of means that you can choose what your power is?

  • bryan rasmussen

    actually, considering his power and Allison’s incredible level of power, why was he so interested in being with her. Given what we’ve seen so far I don’t believe he was attracted to her because she was doing her job as a fireperson and saved his life.

    • Tdoodle

      Given how confident he was that his immense wealth would impress her, I bet he would have developed an inferiority (ugh) “beta male” complex REAL quick.

    • Richard Griffith

      He is a person of power. Ultimate ego thing. All people should be attracted to him because of who he is. It would be pretty much inconceivable for him to be rejected by someone.

    • Mechwarrior

      Yeah, I’m pretty sure he was attracted to Alison because boobs.

  • Beroli

    “All I had was a useless waste of a power! Help other people? I’d rather die!” He’s assuming that of course that’s the way everyone sees the world, including the person who already made it clear she finds it disgusting; if he has more of a reason than lack of empathy, that reason is sunk far enough into his psyche that he thinks of it as part of everyone’s baseline.

    I think I see Alison exploding again in the near future. And I wonder if Patrick sent her the file because he thought she might be able to persuade Max to help her, or for an object lesson: see, this is why trusting people doesn’t work and manipulating them is necessary.

    • Sengachi

      Literally no consideration for how his power could help anyone but himself. Why would a power’s usefulness be decided by anything but how it directly benefits him?

      • Izo

        When you think about ‘powers you wish you had’ – what power do you usually wish you had? Invisibility? Flight? Superstrength? Invulnerability? Immortality? Healing? Mind powers?

        I’m thinking ‘Ability to Make others more powerful’ was not even on the list. 🙂

        I mean it IS an awesome power if Max actually thought about it, but he seems not to have done so. Yes, Max is selfish, but we can’t all be as good and trusting as Alison (or Ando from Heroes – If Ando didn’t have a friend like Hiro, would he have ever used his powers like he wound up doing?). Also…. Max not using his power might be one of the reasons he hasnt been killed by the conspiracy (or from a supervillain like Cleaver or Patrick or others).

        • bryan rasmussen

          well we don’t live in a world with powers so the powers that we might wish for are likely to be different than a world in which powers actually exist.

  • Bauke

    He’s Support, but he wants to Tank.

    Unfortunately his personality clashed with his powers.

    • David

      No, he wants to DPS. Tank role is just as selfless as Support, if not more, haha

      • Izo

        Tanks seem to get more appreciation though from outside observers. Support gets appreciation too, sure… but mainly from the tanks.

  • 12th

    “Don’t you understand what it’s like to be a heterosexual cisgendered white male who belongs to the 1% highest income bracket living in a major industrialized nation with a marketable skill in aviation?! Don’t you understand I just wanted to be special?”

    I think Max is about to learn what a mic drop *really* sounds like. Al was just warming up before.

    • martynW

      Spend some time around Hollywood or Silicon Valley. You wouldn’t believe how many people at the top of the heap whine about their lives.

      I can understand someone being messed up by this at 14, but geeze, grow up already.

  • Kt Squiggles

    So, not redeemed. Just more of the same. I don’t like this guy and I sort of want to be done with him but I appreciate the storytelling.

  • Sakurasleaf

    What a self-centered jerk

  • critically_damped

    Well that explains a lot, And excuses nothing.

  • Kifre

    Well of course not, Allison…you’ e always been the one overshadowing everyone else.

  • What a waste. Of a life, of a power, of just power in general, of oxygen. Take your pick, they all apply.

  • BGB

    Well, now we know what is power is. And why he isn’t using it.

  • Tylikcat

    Not what I was expecting. But I find this darkly hilarious.

    I am not without sympathy for the fourteen year old who is utterly convinced that they should be one of the elect and it’s just not working out for them. I mean, fourteen. That’s gotta suck. (Though even by twenty one hopes – though expects might be to strong a term – that one might be able to look back at the hardships from that time of one’s life and reflect on them with newfound maturity.*)

    But the gender implications here, especially considering Max’s disposition, are pretty funny. His power makes him the perfect Helpmate. In fact, I kind of want that to be his superhero name. Think of this in a more classic superhero mould, and give this powerset to a woman – the story line would be all about whose girlfriend she became and how she finds some degree of autonomy and fulfillment making some guy more powerful while all the most powerful capes fight over possessing her.

    Right?

    So here you ave Max, who starts out with the idea that he absolutely is entitled to have a power. (Which, okay, at fourteen, I totally get. I am reminded of a quote from Peter Beagle, though the age there was fifteen…) And then, lo and behold, he has one. But is it about how he is special and unique and individual and powerful?

    No, he is Helpmate

    I am dying. I mean, poor guy, but get over yourself already.

    * Thirteen and fifteen were far more exciting years for me. Fourteen was… uh… actually, fourteen was my one year of high school and taking care of my mom and sibs while my mom was on chemo (I totally did not know where to score her any weed…) and keeping my dad from forcibly moving back into the house (via cast iron frying pan). I actually liked high school, but then, I was inordinately lucky when it came to my high school… Anyhow, I’m a lot older than twenty 🙂

    • Shjade

      All I can think is “No one ever wants to play Support.”

      Man, I’d love to have this kind of ability (okay, depending on how it has to be used – if I have to be 5 feet away from them at all times that could be awkward). Get to save the world AND avoid the drawbacks of being a public figure by doing it all behind the scenes?

      Nice.

      • Flipz

        The counterpart mental image of a boost power transmitted via cuddles is so adorable that it made my morning, thank you. 🙂

    • Lostman

      You thought you were special, and it turn out your not. I have to feel for Max a little here; with people like Alison running the world, it’s hard not to imagination people who got snake eyes on there powers to bummed out. Factor that someone specially with a strong scene of individualism who want to special, that a very hard blow to the ego. Yes he a jerk, but most people are without realizing it.

      Remember, Alison has a lot of reputation from her superhero career. She has a very powerful ability, and respect because of it. Alison know she shouldn’t because all she can do is punch large holes into things. Not very useful to fix real world problems.

      Now what would really make me angry at Alison if she wants me to buff up the members of her Para-military group.

      • M. Alan Thomas II

        It’s not “You thought you were special, and it turn out your not,” it’s “You thought you were special, and it turns out you are, but not in the precise manner you wanted to be, so you’re going to be all whingy about it because you can’t see how much better you have it than most people.”

        I mean, seriously, you call actually having a useful superpower “not special”?

      • Campor

        That’s the thing though, he IS special. He has a power, and it’s a power that’s incredibly powerful. I don’t feel sorry for the dude because the only reason he’s bitchy about his power is that it’s more useful for helping others than making him a one man army.

      • Tylikcat

        I have some sympathy for fourteen year old Max. Twenty(ish) year old Max seems to have developed really bad coping strategies. Like, he makes Patrick shine by comparison.* The combination of those coping strategies and a play for sympathy is really unfortunate.

        * Ooh! Patrick’s dastardly plan is revealed!

    • SirKaid

      The worst part? “My power is that every team I’m on is better” is one of the strongest powers period. He was just too self-absorbed and unimaginative to realize that he hit the superpower lottery and that every team on the planet would be beating down the door to recruit him.

      • Hiram

        On the other hand that makes you the team cleric, and we all know what to do when the enemy team has a cleric.

        I mean he’s still a self-absorbed baby, but it’s not like his power is anti-aids or something. On the OTHER other hand I’m SUPER interested in the implication that there could be hundreds of thousands of supers out there with ‘invisible’ powers they never learned about. I’m also interested to learn that there’s a single genetic marker for superpowers that can be tested for.

        • Seer of Trope

          You have to kill Mercy first, or else she gets Play of the Game.

        • Flipz

          If WoW and tabletop games are any indication, the team cleric is the most powerful member of the team–if someone’s screwing around and putting themselves and the team at risk, they get bottom heal/buff priority over the people who *are* doing their jobs. Once the rest of the team realizes they can’t win without you, you very quickly end up being the one ultimately calling the shots, because at the end of the day if you can’t or won’t support an op, the team can’t do it.

    • M. Alan Thomas II

      Which quote, “Great heroes need great sorrows and burdens, or half their greatness goes unnoticed. It is all part of the fairy tale.”?

      “Real magic can never be made by offering someone else’s liver. You must tear out your own, and not expect to get it back.”?

      “We are not always what we seem, and hardly ever what we dream.”?

      What I’m saying is, Max really needs to read The Last Unicorn.

      • Izo

        I loved that book.

    • M. Alan Thomas II

      Having looked further down the comments, I’ve realized that this page could be read as him having either a power-boosting ability or a power-granting ability. I will admit that my response to this varies by which of those it is.

    • Markus

      One thing I’m uncertain about is whether or not all 14 year olds born or conceived in the same timing window as Max and Al have powers. They’re kinda purposefully ambiguous about that.

      • Arthur Frayn

        A small percent of the generation in utero during the world storm of Summer 1991 were affected. It is more accurate to call the effects “anomalies” than “powers,” as evidenced by the non-heroic average people who look different at Brad’s convention. The number in the US is thousands out of millions.

    • Amulya

      There is a larger, perhaps more cultural reason Max doesen’t value his own power. Remember Lisa/Paladin’s speech about how we celebrate lightbulb people and not so much for battery people? HE is literally very useful, so much so that he would be priority target #1 for being Support – but he wouldn’t be valued because the culture does not celebrate the supports/battery people, who do indeed run the world as Lisa said. Max is just such a narcissist.

      • Tylikcat

        I *love* this analysis. Especially since Max is kind of the living embodiment of a battery who wants to be a lightbulb.

    • MarvalAlice

      Actually I have only seen this kind of power on male heroes, usually people don’t think about gender dynamics when making powers sets. though the idea of feeling like this kind of power is a wasted opportunity is common, it’s usually portrayed as an issue of priorities “you asked for the power to help people, but your disappointed that you gt the ultimate help people power. was this about being a hero or a glory hound?” that kind of thing.

  • Regret

    What a selfish asshole.

  • Oooh, that’s poetic justice at work! A self-important, self-absorbed quasi sociopath gets the power to help OTHERS.

    Shows how very immature he still is. He could still be his own selfish self and monetize the hell out of that power, but he prefers to mope and commiserate because he can’t fly or shoot lasers.

    • Izo

      1) He’s not a sociopath. He hasnt done ANYTHING remotely sociopathic. You shouldnt throw around that word so incorrectly just because he’s unlikable to you.

      2) I agree with everything else you said in the second paragraph 🙂 Showed a bit of a lack of imagination that he didn’t figure out a way to monetize it, although maybe he didn’t because he simply doesnt need the money to begin with. Although he could have monetized it for ‘favors’ instead.

  • I can see being disappointed by something like this, especially at 14. Carrying that kind of jealousy into adulthood is pretty bonkers. I do feel bad for that 14 year old kid. This adult needs to take a long introspective look at why he wanted to be biodynamic in the first place. He also needs some therapy, because it really does not seem like he handled that emotional turmoil well. Then BOY HOWDY, should he consider using the ACTUAL SUPERPOWERS that he has to do some good.

  • DaktariD

    First of his class in Narcissism School.

  • Mechwarrior

    Ah, he’s a power booster.

    • Izo

      He’s Hiro’s friend, Ando.

      • Mechwarrior

        Except he somehow manages to be even more annoying.

        • Izo

          He doesnt have a Hiro. 🙂

      • Mechwarrior

        Also, unlike Heroes, SFP has a coherent plot.

        • Izo

          Heroes had a coherent plot.

          ….

          ….

          ….

          For the first season. 🙂

  • Dave Van Domelen

    I dub thee Irony Lad.

  • Tdoodle

    … I’m really glad for the sake of this universe that Max and Al’s powers weren’t switched.

    • bta

      Allison would probably be happier if that was the case, she’d have real leverage to encourage other biodynamics to improve the world. While Max would probably throw the biggest pity party with Hector/Pintsize once capes become obsolete.

      Unless Mary/Moonshadow finds a way to murder him earlier, because he’d probably be even more insufferable than teenage Allison ever was.

    • cphoenix

      I’d take that tradeoff. Max with Al’s powers might not even be a supervillian – he just doesn’t have enough imagination to be really dangerous.

      Al with Max’s powers would be AWESOME. Being able to make all the superheroes more powerful? Being not just a force for good, but a force multiplier for good? What a PERFECT power for her, and how much good she could do with it!

      • Loranna

        The thing is, though, how would amplifying, say, Furnace’s powers, or Moonshadow’s, overcome the basic problem Alison faces? Her concern is that force doesn’t actually solve anything.

        The biggest use for such a power in actively improving the world, is in amplifying someone like Lisa – or Patrick. In which case, Alison would literally just become an accessory to whatever Big Project or Grand Scheme was going on. She wouldn’t be contributing anything of her own. She, in short, would not be a Protagonist anymore.

        Loranna

        • Shweta Narayan

          Except that she’s not a protagonist *while* she’s mega girl, in this comic. She’s a protagonist when she decides to try and make positive change *without* using her powers.

          Of course, if she was only able to amplify others, she might not have been able to just say “I quit”, IDK.

          • Loranna

            I’d quibble that she’s a protagonist when it’s her efforts that are actively making change, whether she’s Mega Girl or Alison Green – in short, when she’s expressing agency. Working as an amplifier for someone else . . . does not quite strike me as agency; it’s not Alison’s efforts making a change, it’s the other person’s.

            It’s not even like, as a loyal supporter of another, Alison’s putting her own abilities and agency into play to realize that other person’s dreams. She’d literally be like an accessory, a Headband Of Intellect +4 to Lisa, for example.

            That may be how Max is seeing how his powers work. I don’t know; we don’t have enough yet to know just what he can and can’t do.

            Loranna

        • Izo

          Excellent point. Plus amplifying powers like Patricks? What if it made Patrick not only able to read minds… but control minds. What a horror story for the entire world that would be!

      • Arthur Frayn

        The problem with Alison being the force multiplier is she would still have the basic problem of how to make people want to do good.

        • Regret

          Exactly, a force multiplier is worthless if the force has proven to be ineffective.

          • Izo

            Well… it’s not worthless for ‘villains’ or destructive intent.

            I can also see where it could be useful for good. For example, might not be worthless if there’s a biodynamic who’s a healer, and you augment that person’s power to be able to bring people back from the dead, or maybe to eradicate certain diseases off the face of the planet. Maybe if he augmented Feral, she’d not only be able to heal herself, but heal others.

            Or, and please no one take this as any sort of comparison with real life (since I do not think being gay or trans or whatever is something that needs ‘fixing’ – this is about the webcomic’s reality, not real life), augmenting someone who can fix biological anomalies like disease or genetic disorders, maybe they’d also be able to help people like the girl in the tank or the girl who was just gaseous material or the ones in the support group who no longer look human, so they can be human again (or better yet, look human but still have their biodynamic powers, or at least have control over their powers better, like the biodynamic who kept changing from male to female and back again – they’d maybe be able to control when they change instead of it being tied into their emotional state).

    • Spectacles

      I was just thinking that. Imagine Max’s level of entitlement… but literally invincible.

      • M. Alan Thomas II

        He’d probably try to observe the basic libertarian law about not threatening or harming another or their property without realizing how threatening other people find him just because of his power or how coercive he could be without intending it. And/or he’d be whining about how everyone should understand that he’s harmless and Not All Supermen &c. (without changing his behaviors because that misperception is Not His Fault, right?).

        Y’know, just as he doesn’t understand how coercive the circumstances of his gardeners’ employment is but finds Al threatening when she’s said nothing of the sort.

      • Shweta Narayan

        mega boy would still be punching things n killing bystanders I guess.

        but the real danger to the universe is that we’d have no comic 😀

        • Izo

          Or maybe he wouldnt use his powers for anything abusive, but also not bother helping people or fighting crime. Maybe he’d have just wasted his powers with Alison’s powers just like he’s wasting his power-boosting powers.

          In which case some people like Professor Cohen’s partner (and probably a lot of other collateral damage casualties) would not be dead. Just playing devil’s advocate here. I think Alison is awesome as I’ve stated many many many times.

      • Furnace, with Megagirl’s powers, does not bear thinking about.

        • Izo

          Furnace with Megagirl’s powers would be as scary as Patrick with Megagirl’s powers. Both are authoritarian and to at least some extent (more with Patrick but I see it with Furnace too), they’re both ends justify the means types.

          • Tylikcat

            But who the hell would Patrick be without Patrick’s powers? I think his whole personality has been shaped by being a telepath.

          • Izo

            What you’re saying is definitely POSSIBLE (and maybe even probable, given that we don’t know how biodynamism affects the mind in addition to the body). That Patrick is only like he is because of the telepathy, and maybe it’s driven him into being nuts. But Patrick seems rather sociopathic, although I’m not sure if being able to read EVERYONE’S thought might not just cause a sociopathic response. I was under the impression that being a sociopath is more of a genetic thing than a purely behavioral one.

            Again, though, if it’s genetic and biodynamism affects you on the genetic level, you might be onto something.

  • Balthazar

    It could be worse, you could be getting paid below minimum wage to cut ferns.

    • jandesf

      BUUUUUUUUURN

  • AmberWriter

    Saw the first panel and was so ready for a complex character bait and switch, but then…. nope. Still struggling to sympathize.

  • CrimsonCarnivoreOnAClayCourt

    Rambling, unsorted thoughts:

    Have we heard Max’s last name? Because now I want him to sing Homer Simpson’s “Max Power” song.

    …well, I can’t say I like Max exactly, but I do understand him a lot better now. It takes skill to do that with a character, kudos.

    Conventional superheroes are all about being the star of the show, the final tipping point. Max is a hardcore individualist saddled with a support power. That has to sting, even with something absurdly broken as power buffing. And while it’s been said by plenty of others, what the hell is his home life like? Why does he want freedom this badly?

    What’s that expression on Alison’s face? Contempt mixed with pity/struggling to sympathize?

    I initially thought Max was going to be a sort of gender-flipped Poison Ivy. Now he’s Warren Worthington the 3rd with extra bratitude and an insane power.

    • Izo

      Even though he has a good deal of faults, I have to agree that Max is a lot more fleshed out and three-dimensional a character than a lot of people who hate him are making him out to be.

  • Steele

    A lot of people are laying a lot of hate on this guy, but I feel there’s a bit more to it than JUST being a selfish prick. I mean that’s probably 90% of it, but I’m now wondering if the fire he was caught in was accidentally started by a low-level Pyro who’s powers Max accidentally amplified (because let’s face it, he probably didn’t train in the usage of his powers very well)

    He’ll also probably become ecstatic if and when his amplification powers mutate into DRAINING powers.

    At the very least, “Max” is now a Meaningful Name as he can “max out” another super’s powers!

    • Izo

      Oh if he could increase OR decrease other supers powers, then his powers would be quite useful. He’d basically be like Rainmaker from PS238… who is quite powerful even though it’s not immediately apparent about how powerful he really is via intelligent use of his powers.

  • papino134

    maybe his power emplified someone’s power so much that it killed him

  • martynW

    Heh. A real libertarian would be renting himself out. “Got a tough mission? Take me along! Rates reasonable!” Of course, since he isn’t invulnerable, any fight would get tricky real fast when the Bad Guy realized who the battery booster is.

    • M. Alan Thomas II

      Why would he rent himself out when he’s already rich? The marginal return on more money at his wealth level vs the risk of serious injury or death is simply not good enough.

      “Libertarian” does not mean “irrationally greedy.”

  • ∫Clémens×ds

    Now onto the other concerning thing.
    This capacity? To make non-biodynamic people biodynamic? Highly contentious in my eyes. If he can change the genetic make-up of people who don’t even have the gene, who’s to say only this specific subset of people born at that specific time are concerned? What’s the in-universe reason for why he can’t give, and then sell, powers to anybody?

    And then Dr. Rosenblum comment, that the Storm was the most democratic force in history, is completely derailed.
    Even assuming it only applies to, say, people born at that time who have the gene but a dormant allele (making it up as we go!), the simple fact that Max, not the best judge we got on this webcomic, and his bias, will come and decide who gets something and who doesn’t, also entirely breaks that development. I am really, really worried where we’re headed if an anomaly is now something some people can choose other people have or don’t.
    Right back to where we started.

    But that’s not even touching on the fact that we’ve already addressed, expansively, about how superpowers have huge, life altering drawbacks. Even I, and you know me, I think Alison is Objectively the Worst, cannot believe she would consider putting people through that. Or do we need to shove Cleaver in her face again. I *sincerely* hope that’s not her plan.

    • StClair

      I’m pretty sure he can’t bestow power, only enhance what is already there.

      • phantomreader42

        That doesn’t rule out the possibility that someone else got that power though.

  • Richard Griffith

    Giving others superpowers on the fly is a great combat power, they have no way to adapt or learn how to control the new power.
    “I bless you with super sensitive hearing/touch/smell/light sensitivity all of the above”
    “I bless you with the ability to turn to jello.”
    “I bless you with left side limbs that are twice as big as right side limbs”

    • M. Alan Thomas II

      I think you two (Jon and Rchard) are having the problem where one thinks that Max’s ability is to AUGMENT powers and one thinks his ability is to GRANT powers.

      The page could be read either way.

    • Jon

      I mean, if he gets to control what they get sure, but it sounds like its more of a buff to existing powers.

      “I make the fire you are burning me to death with 66.6% hotter! Also OW!”

  • Duke Araja

    The only way I could possibly see my way toward sympathy for Max is if he was used for years afterwards by people in authority for his power (superhero name Catalyst), annihilating any sense of agency. They made him into nothing more than a crowbar (superhero name Fulcrum) to make the people who truly mattered matter more.

    He obviously suffers from a lack of empathy for others and perspective for himself, but in a world where so much value is placed on the celebrity-level biodynamics, it’s not entirely unsurprising that the self-worth of somebody like Max would get bound up in the superficial.

    • Shweta Narayan

      But if they’d done that, it seems impossible that Al wouldn’t have heard of him.

  • Loranna

    This, exactly this.

    Imagine 14 year old Max joining the Guardians, and taking orders from 16 year old Mega Girl. She’d be continually complaining about needing to babysit him just so Moonshadow’s and Pintsize’s powers could almost pull their weight, all while browbeating everyone for not focusing on the mission enough.

    We don’t even know how much of a boost Max can give people, especially at age 14. What if all he could manage was bump people up one or two notches – say, give Original Moonshadow better invisibility, but not her current range of photokinesis. The Guardians wouldn’t have been able to better protect him with his help than without. Sure, he’d be helping, but would it really matter, when he still can’t adequately defend himself, nor add a more direct contribution to the team?

    I admit, Max is being selfish still, and very emotionally immature. But, if he DID put any rational thought into his situation, I can see why he’d still feel like he had no place helping others with his powers? What would have been in it for him? Nothing worth the frustrations and the risks that would have come with the job.

    Of course, nowadays, with biodynamics like Lisa putting their talents toward improving the world over fighting crime . . . well, uh, you know, I’m still not sure making Lisa a better inventor is necessarily a GOOD idea, plus do we really want Max near old suits of power armor?

    Loranna

  • Richard Griffith

    Max needs to be introduced to the person in the tank at the conference, gaseous form is not so good. At least he is still essentially human.

  • Loranna

    I’d prefer this version of Aquaman to be talking to Max right now over Alision. He has a far better singing voice, I’m sure, plus he seems a touch more forgiving than Alison.

    Loranna

    • Izo

      Is it a bad thing that this is my favorite version of Aquaman?

  • Loranna

    I’m reminded of the old MMO, City Of Heroes, and the Defender archetype, which was specifically the class designed around supporting your teammates, and which got powerful buffs and debuffs as their primary powerset.

    And their -secondary- powerset . . . was a blaster set of powers. Because once you’ve buffed your teammates, or debuffed your enemies, you still need SOMETHING to do, to contribute to the team. Unless you’re specifically the empath/healer, in which case you’re throwing out heals all the time – unless your team isn’t in need of healing, in which case, once again, you need -something- to do, so . . . blast some bad guys?

    Max is like a Defender without his secondary powerset. He can’t actually do much on his own.

    Now, mind you, he -could- have done what Moonshadow and Feral did, and learn martial skills to compensate for his lack of an offensive power. Heck, his family has the money to have paid for extra training and some equipment, over and above what the government might have provided. Then he could have been a badass normal who also happened to make his teammates stronger, sort of a superpowered take on Captain America’s ability to inspire. But, when looking up at Mega Girl and Furnace, and seeing such amazing power dangled in front of him, power he could never himself possess?

    I guess I can see why he got it into his head that being the normal guy who just makes all the others outshine him even moreso was a bum deal, even with badass normal skills.

    Loranna

  • Ian Osmond

    So… Max isn’t just an entitled selfish prick, he’s actually Super Entitled Selfish Prick.

    I get the psychology behind it. Even sympathize with him a little. But, yeah.

  • Tylikcat

    I think it’s pretty easy to see that this is a potentially problematic power. I mean, seriously, as I alluded to above, the classic comic way of handling this would be to give it to a woman, and then she’d be fought over as the perfect prize in the form of the bride (for which there is a lot of literary precedence) and somehow she’d find a way to be happy (and at least somewhat autonomous, though the bar might not be high) and find true love, etc. etc. (If it’s her story. Otherwise, she’ll just be fought over for a while, and then fridged.) Hell, it’s pretty much SOP to give women these complicated low key powers that are super valuable to other people, but that also leave them vulnerable, while making the men tanks. (Paranormal Romance, I am looking at you.) But part of what that plays into is the idea of male power and female vulnerability.

    So we get it – this leaves Max pretty vulnerable. And in our society, this is supposed to be an untenable position for a man. Especially for a man who is absolutely stuck on the idea that he is entitled to be first and best in everything.

    *Excuse me while I stop laughing, and pick myself up off the chair. And also buy his family gardening staff a round of drinks.*

    *And then another round of drinks – sorry, we’re just having too much fun here…*

    It’s a tricky sort of power. It probably takes insight and finesse to figure out how to use it to its full extent, especially if the person doesn’t want to just be a pawn. Aw, poor kid.

    • M. Alan Thomas II

      I think that we’re dealing with two different responses to this comic depending on whether the ability description is read as power-granting or power-boosting. I think ∫Clémens×ds and Tylikcat may be approaching this from different assumptions about the nature of the power.

    • ∫Clémens×ds

      Gotta give props to Brennan to come up with such a good thematic consistency to it all. Remember how the two met? I hope this is not the conclusion of this delightful inversion of gender tropes and dynamics of the superhero genre.
      Let’s see, how do these stories usually end? The woman is ostensibly the narrative reward of the protagonist for vanquishing the dramatic conflict, so maybe… this is the cleverest set up toward Alison managing to give Max the drive to make a better person out of himself so that Max becomes Alison’s “reward” after The Darkness That Lurks in the Hearts of Men is conquered, in a way that doesn’t fall into the trappings of the terrible “woman fixes broken man” trope?

      • Izo

        Should we really be viewing a person as a ‘reward’ as if they’re simply a tool to be used by another, without any agency of their own? Isnt that Max’s big peeve in the first place, and doesn’t that make it as if it’s okay to view him as ‘less than human’ because of his opinions that differ from hers?

        I don’t think Alison is going to do that, btw. She’ll try to influence him to use his powers for a higher purpose, but I don’t think she’d ever see him as her ‘reward.’ At least I hope not.

        • ∫Clémens×ds

          The comment you were responding to was tongue and cheek.

    • “Hell, it’s pretty much SOP to give women these complicated low key
      powers that are super valuable to other people, but that also leave them
      vulnerable, while making the men tanks. (Paranormal Romance, I am
      looking at you.)”

      I love this analysis! It also spills over into urban fantasy, even into series where the woman is the protagonist, though UF’s boundary with Paranormal Romance are pretty amorphous.

  • Lysiuj

    “Once I thought you were a big pompous buffoon. Then I realised that inside, you were just a pitiful child. But now I realise that outside that child is a big pompous buffoon!”

  • moriati

    So – does he have no choice over which stone he presents, it can only be the one that helps others?

    • Exactly. If what he’s saying is true, and amplifying powers is literally all he can do… then he’s physically human, with all that implies. Unless he can operate his strength at a safe distance, he’d be running the risk of easily dying in any fight, super or otherwise. And I could see a smart supervillain gunning straight for him. (That’s what you do in fights, right? Take out the healers and the support.)

      • Crow

        But a lot of the active registered heroes we’ve seen aren’t resistant in any way. Sure, Cleaver and Mega Girl (Al when she was registered) are Tier 1 Resistant, but Pintsize, Moonshadow, Brad (did Brad ever get a secret name?), Menace (Patrick), Johnny Teleporterman, Sentinel… By your definition, they would all be physically human as well. Put him in some power armor that Sentinel designed and he’ll be safer than a lot of the members (former members) of the Guardians. Or, better yet, don’t, because I can’t stand him.

        • Newbie

          Ok, I see your point, but would anyone have judged Moonshadow if she didn’t become a superhero? It’s not like her powers are specifically adapted for it. And any person with enough money could hire Paladin to make armor and become iron man, but most people wouldn’t. It takes a specific kind of person to be willing to place themselves in combat and Max is clearly not one of them.

          Even when describing the kids with more impressive powers Max doesn’t show any signs of wanting to use those powers to fight, he places emphasis on the freedom. He wants to be incredible for the sake of expanding his horizons. Its kind of like when you’re a kid and want to be able to fly or turn invisible. You don’t necessarily think about going out and physically fighting someone (and when you do, its always a generic “bad guy” who always loses and can’t seriously hurt you), you just want to fly around and be awesome, or maybe use it practically in the scope of your own life to get places faster or avoid your mom when she’s mad.

          I mean, he’s still entitled and kind of a prick for other reasons, but I can’t really judge him for choosing not to join a hero team, or for being jealous of people with stronger powers than him. In a world of Allisons it’d be easy to fall into seeing yourself as inferior. When your power essentially regulates your value to a tool to make other people even more awesome than you than they already seemed, I can see how it’d be even easier.

        • But the others (possibly sans Brad) do have abilities that can keep them safe in combat. He doesn’t. Granted, I do agree. He’s the type of person who doesn’t belong on a team, period.

  • StClair

    No one? Dang.
    Toad Words, by Ursula Vernon / T. Kingfisher. (Also posted here.)

  • ladle

    Ok, I can understand why he’s the way he is, especially if you bring in upbringing in the picture.

    But damn that’s a useful power, and depending on how it works, he wouldn’t even need to be on the field, he could just use it and then stay away while someone kicks ass. Max, even if you’re not thinking like Allison, think like a business man. That is a commodity.

    I kinda want Allison to go “No, but… etc.” To basically explain her side of the situation.

  • Stephanie Gertsch

    I like that we’re getting another nuanced superhero backstory. Those are some of my favorite parts in the comic. And it’s subversive, of course.

    I wonder whether that power would be better or worse than Rogue’s. On the plus side, you can touch people without hurting them. On the other hand, a lot of super villains would want to keep you around as their pet. Icky.

    On the next page, I think Allison is about to launch into a, “I don’t know what it’s like to be you, but you don’t know what it’s like to be me either” speech. She’s humble enough acknowledge his story but also tough enough to tell him how small-minded he is.

  • This Guy

    I respect Max’s agency and continue to support his decision to not help

    • I do as well. Especially since it may be that he doesn’t have any extra durability, strength, speed… anything. All he can do is have something taken from him.

      • Mechwarrior

        No, all he can do is give something to other people. Alison’s not getting an automatic boost in his presence, nothing’s being taken.

        He’s whining because after wishing for superpowers, his aren’t cool enough. He can still have a normal human life and has all the privileges of being a wealthy white male on top of that, a stark contrast to the biodynamics we’ve been previously been introduced to whose powers gave them abnormal body types and sizes, inconsistent genders, and otherwise make it hard just to just live a normal life. But he thinks that he’s the one who’s got the real problem.

    • Crow

      I wrote a longer comment on this topic before, but here’s the question I would pose:

      How would you tell someone that you could have saved their friend’s, or partner’s, or child’s life but you still chose not to?

  • Seer of Trope

    It’s interesting because while his reason is pathetic, if he had started helping out in physical combat, he would have had the highest probability to die or get injured.

    On the other hand, if he instead helped out with the mental biodynamics, he would have had the most boring job.

    Either way, he would have been the helpless one amongst others.

    • M. Alan Thomas II

      He’d have the highest injury rate because objective #1 would always be to take him out first. Not just because it’s easy, but because he’s the lynchpin of the entire team and the fight cannot be won until he’s taken out. He’s like the quarterback: Vulnerable, needing lots of people to protect him, and absolutely necessary. That he doesn’t understand how to turn that to his advantage is . . . slightly puzzling, actually.

      There’s the possibility that his ability is to GRANT powers rather than AMPLIFY them. That would make the page make slightly more sense.

    • Thechynd

      Or worse, he’d become one of the biggest kidnapping targets in the world for supervillains who want their own powers boosted and are more than happy to resort to extreme torture if he tries to refuse. Alison had never even heard of him, but if people did know what he could do then he’d likely have to spend his entire life being monitored and guarded. For a person who values freedom and independence as much as he does that really could make it seem like he’d have been better off without any powers at all.

      • Regret

        As a villain I would chop off his arms and legs and strap his torso to my back.
        Maybe some kind of IV feed to keep him alive.

  • Mitchell Lord

    …That…

    Is Karma.

  • Dartangn

    …and another person opposed to Allison turns out to be a gigantic moron.

  • Beroli

    And most interestingly to patrick, why was he not killed with the rest
    of the kids who had globally significant powers. Was a line draw just
    beyond what max is capable of, or did he manage to slip under the radar.

    Or…does whoever’s killing off people with globally significant powers check more than their powers before classifying someone as “not a threat, no need to kill”? Such that Max is alive because, though he has powers that would have gotten Alison killed, they’re confident he’ll never use them? If it’s that, it might hint at a reason other than being not powerful enough to be dangerous for them to leave Alison and Patrick alone, too.

  • Izo

    Sounds more like Ando from Heroes than a Blue Lantern 🙂

  • Anonymous

    I think most people are looking at this the wrong way.

    Alison could easily berate Max for being pathetic/petty/petulant/selfish and deliver
    some sick burns, but that’s small consolation to the lives
    that will be lost if she doesn’t play her cards right here. She cannot afford to burn this bridge if she has any goal other than simply being morally superior to him in some (nebulous, inconsequential) way.

    Right now, even if Alison has zero empathy towards him, Max is putty in her hands. He’s dropped the attitude, shown actual vulnerability, and most importantly, has told Alison what he actually wants.

    All she needs to win him over right now is to offer the hope of it actually happening. Tell him Paladin is on the verge of creating a genuine artificial intelligence, and if Max can turbo-charge her Innate abilities to tinker stuff together, that moves the Singularity right up to their doorstep. With a friendly AI, reverse-engineering all their anomalies and superpowers might very well become feasible, and in return, you can offer Max the first pick of the platter.

    Max gets to learn how disappointing the superpowers he wanted are on his own terms, and in the meantime, she’s delivered the one-punch solution to the world’s problems she wanted all along. 🙂

    ….Which makes it a shame that this whole situation is probably just a move engineered by Patrick to draw the Biodynamic Illuminati Hit Squad into taking action. Everything going up in flames has been foreshadowed from the beginning of the issue, after all:

    http://strongfemaleprotagonist.com/issue-6/cover-4/

    RIP, “Booster” Max? 🙁

    • This Guy

      Appealing to Max’s self-interest would be an excellent tool, and if she convinced him to help her in that way, that would be fine. It would be addressing the problem Gurwara has posed to her.

      I am not optimistic. I suspect the next page will involve her berating him over how good he has it compared to the dynamorphic characters that have taken up so much of the issue.

      At rock-bottom, this will somehow convince him anyway.

    • Crow

      But what you’re suggesting is that Alison compromise her beliefs for the end goal, and I don’t think we’ve ever seen her do that. Sure, if Patrick were the one in the room, manipulating Max in a vulnerable state would be a given. What we have instead is Alison, who doesn’t understand how to compel people to do what she wants and has never had someone be “putty in her hands” before.

      And while I don’t think it was your intention, I’m reading a little bit of “this woman shouldn’t be too emotional or too angry, because she needs this man and she better not upset him”. Yes, you run the risk of not getting what you asked for, but you walk away with your head held high and your morals intact instead of bowing down to someone so they grace you with their help.

      • BGB

        You touched on something interesting: maybe the reason Patrick sent Al the file on Max is because he knows that he is the only one manipulative enough to convince Max to help? Patrick already offered Allison a bunch of money, probably as a means to manipulate her. Now, next time they meet, Patrick can tell Allison that if she really wants Valkyrie to succeed, the easiest way would be for “someone” to convince Max to power them up. Accepting any help from Patrick at all would put her in an ethical quagmire. Patrick wants to keep manipulating her.

      • bryan rasmussen

        she doesn’t really need this power, but it sure would be a cool help. so she shouldn’t upset this imbecile because that’s called pragmatism.

  • The Distinguished Anarchist

    Wow. I’m a little surprised at the downright violent dismissal of Max’s entire perspective based one one single panel and about four lines of dialogue.

    Right now the only thing we explicitly know is that, aside from his ability to “make other kids more powerful”, Max is a completely ordinary person.

    Now combine that with the fact that we have no idea how his powers work. The best case scenario is that he can bestow some kind of permanent enhancement to an existing power, which would instantly make him the most sought after person ever.

    Now imagine if that enhancement is only temporary? Or only lasts as long as he wills it? Or what if he needs line of sight to the person he is altering? Now imagine the worst case scenario: he needs to stay physically connected to the person he is enhancing.

    Can you imagine this otherwise completely ordinary normal person hanging off of Alison’s back while she is trying to take down Cleaver? Or any conceivable other situation? He would fucking die.

    • That was my thought. Selfishness aside, if that’s his only power, then… he may well be useless without a team. He’s just a squishy human in a world of superpowers, and unless someone got him a bulletproof vest or something of that nature, then… yeah, he would be a sitting duck. I could see why he’d be so disappointed, and I can also see why Al is just… completely fucking blind to it, because she doesn’t run any kind of risk of her own life, does she? I mean, has there been anything established that can hurt her besides herself?

      • Thechynd

        Cleaver couldn’t get past her bones but he could cut her skin and make her bleed.

  • Kifre

    Wasn’t one of the closed files an innate, though? You can just about read the notes on “Caduceus” that indicate they inadvertently cured a classmate of flu.

  • TheCrimsonKnight

    This really brings up his disbelief of Feral’s organ donations in a different light. He cannot grasp the idea of helping for the sake of helping, much less of self-sacrifice. He wants to be special because he wants to be above others, not because he can help others reach their potential. I could feel worse for him…

  • FlashNeko

    May I ask, in all seriousness, why you feel, of these two, Allison is the one deserving of scorn?

    • Izo

      I think he might feel that way because Alison came over to his house to badger him about why he wasnt using his power to be a hero (invading his privacy about something he clearly wasn’t publicizing, after the argument they had – which admittedly was his fault), he didn’t want to explain why, she pushed on it, he finally explains why, and she seems to be continuing to judge him about it when it’s honestly not her place to judge him at all…

      At least, that’s my guess about why he feels scorn for Alison. I personally give her more of a benefit of the doubt since so far all she’s said was ‘No.’

  • Steele

    2 pages ago, Patrick sent Al a file with Max’s face and name on it. She hurries out the door, calling Dr. Rosenbaum. The next page (or one previous to this) is Al finishing up explaining a plan to Max, and acting confused and indignant when he refuses. So the idea idea hat he has power was just recently hinted…

  • The Articulator

    Has he ever even buffed anyone? We don’t know if it’s a temp buff, permanent, or what form it takes. He could be anything up to Trump 8, depending.

    • Izo

      What’s Trump 8 mean? Or Trump 4 or 5? Just curious.

      (insert political joke as an answer here)

    • Jon

      The ranks aren’t just for power, but also for how much of a problem it would be to take them out. Unless his buffs are permanent (which would be MONDO OP and make him like a 10 who needs to be controlled or killed asap lest a villain group get him) he’s just a squishy normal human. ‘Guy with gun’ can counter him pretty heavy if there are no other supers around.

  • notquiteotaku

    His suspenders already give him a 150% boost, but he could always use more!

  • Jeremy

    Is it just me, or does he come across as a bit self centered?

  • M. Alan Thomas II

    Either that or to augment them. It could be read both ways.

    And how’s she being a dick? By saying that she’s not in a position to know how it feels to him? That’s probably a pretty accurate statement, given how different her personal experience is; there’s plenty of highly-personal experiences that people who have never experienced anything like them can’t imagine the feeling of. It’s where she goes from there that will determine whether her reaction is a good one or not.

    • Rumble in the Tumble

      >And how’s she being a dick?

      I think it’s in the way she looks in the last panel. There’s a difference between
      “… yeah, I have no bloody idea how you’re feeling and I really think that your problems are basically nonexistent, but at least I am sorry for the fact that it hurts you so much you’re still crying about it”
      and
      “lol no you a shitlord stop whining and help people”.
      But yeah, we’ll see where it’s gonna take us next week.

  • Shweta Narayan

    omgggggg didn’t even think of that part *falls over laughing again*

  • Philip Petrunak

    Wow… Just when you thought you couldn’t hate this piece of shit. He’s upset that his power helps him help others? God, this guy is just the worst.

  • Shweta Narayan

    Now that you say that… it seems even weirder to me that he wanted to date her! Isn’t she like… the perfect symbol of everything he can’t do?

  • Katie RL

    Was Battery a reference to the story Worm? I hope so! (if not, also an absolutely fascinating take on the superhero genre.)

    • Izo

      Is Worm some sort of anime? I remember reading a fanfic of Supergirl and Worm. It was pretty good.

  • Lostman

    MMMmmm not yet, other super factions haven’t been formed to start fighting over him for there gains. There nothing more then a frustrating for a individualist of any kind to be forced into something without their control.

  • sadder_fish

    Lucky he’s only able to amplify, and not attenuate, others’ powers…

  • This Guy

    That’s fine. All of the above is true. I don’t think he’s necessarily a laudable person. But he doesn’t have to be, and I continue to support his decision.

  • Lostman

    Furnace’s had hints of a rough life looking after his mom, Max comes from a rich family.

  • Anna

    “God, I have the ability to give good people strength and to better their abilities, what could I ever use that for?”

  • Loranna

    I’m starting to wonder about Patrick’s motives now that you bring that up. It seems to me, it’d be logical to assume that Alison would think to pair Max with Lisa, and we know that Patrick thinks Lisa’s dangerous. So why would he give Alison a way to make Lisa even -more- dangerous?

    . . . Now I’m starting to wonder if there’s side effects to Max’s power that weren’t included in his dossier. Or told to him at the time he was tested. That might even explain why the conspiracy passed up on killing Max – use of his powers to change the world would become self-correcting.

    Loranna

  • Loranna

    I didn’t play many MMOs, but when I did play support in City of Heroes, well . . . let’s just say, on teams with heavily tweaked toons, I rarely felt like my support abilities mattered. Everyone was already nigh-invincible, and by the time I finished throwing out a good debuff, most of the mobs would be lying on the floor. (Buffs would be different, since I could cast those whenever they were ready, but once they were cast, well, what else did I have to do?)

    I suppose I just teamed with too many Alisons back in the day 😛

    As for whether his power is to grant others new powers, the question remains, can he -control- what powers they get? We still don’t know.

    Loranna

  • Jensaarai

    Once the information got out there, I could easily imagine biodynamics the world over hunting this 14-year-old kid down, just to use his power.

    It’s no wonder, really, that he’s chosen not to use it.

  • Ted Gold

    Wow, and would you like some cheese with that whine, sir?

  • Beroli

    Furnace was a violent misogynist. He cared about those people his warped sense of morality said were good guys. Selfishness wasn’t his problem. Max is selfish, utterly selfish and just selfish. I suspect that if you consider only active, rather than passive, ways of hurting other people, he’s never hurt anyone in his life. Freedom is the most important thing we have–whether that’s “the freedom to eat caviar” or “the freedom to starve” is neither here nor there. I don’t think Mega-Max would have gone out and killed people. In fact…I don’t think he would have fought anyone. Ever. He didn’t think of it as being a hero or being a villain, he says it in the comic: He thought of it as “total freedom.” He would, when Menace showed up, have had a brief meeting with Patrick, in which Patrick readily promised not to do anything to interfere with Max’s lifestyle, and then he would have simply stayed out of Menace’s way. “People who I don’t know getting killed are nothing to do with me. Let’s see how high I can jump!”

  • Zac Caslar

    I’m in the “I hope she punches his punk ass into vapor” cart.
    All my contemptuous lack of sympathy for the brat who got an incredibly useful power that, waah waah, he can’t exploit without someone else.

    Go cry into a shotgun barrel, bro.

    • Izo

      Is your argument against Max seriously ‘Your views are unjustified, so go kill yourself?’ That’s troubling.

  • ∫Clémens×ds

    Wait what do you mean you’re saying that like it *isn’t* the most natural cause of death of you womenfolk

  • Sterling Ericsson

    Well, that’s incredibly selfish. That’s like complaining about being cast as the healer, when that means you are literally the core of the party. Everyone relies on you and, without you, no one else could win. Honestly, that makes you the strongest one there. It also means you should go the more tactician route.

    • Arklyte

      Have you ever played as healer or medic in a random group? Have you?! Do you know how it feels?!! =(

      • Sterling Ericsson

        Um, yes, I have. I prefer it. I get to be the one everyone relies on. It’s a lot of responsibility, yes, but also makes you the one in-demand, the one everyone has to work with and, essentially, be nice to.

  • Arthur Frayn

    “But then you become an adult and actually realize that we are social creatures by design…”

    But it’s plain from his rhetoric and posing that he was affected and warped into permanent immaturity by Ayn Rand and other “rugged individualist” libertarian crap literature before being asked or told to be a fuel station to “real” heroes. He hates his fate, and defiantly defies it. (Yes, that’s meant to sound clunky.)

    • llennhoff

      To quote Kung Fu Monkey: “There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged.
      One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession
      with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted,
      socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The
      other, of course, involves orcs.”

      • Izo

        To quote Terminator 2: “There is no fate but what we make.” 🙂

  • Newbie

    Honestly, going back and looking at what he said, I’m not sure he wanted to be a superhero at all. I think he just wanted the powers.

    I mean, as multiple people have pointed out, he could join a team as a cleric figure, maybe take some hand to hand lessons or buy a fancy suit to make it less dangerous, but he didn’t.

  • Newbie

    So obviously we don’t really know enough about his powers to speculate yet, but I like to overthink things so I’m just gonna throw this out there.

    Can he boost his own powers? I mean, what if he’s been trying to boost his own powers to try to develop a secondary one like Allison’s flight, but instead all he’s done is make his boosting powers stronger to the point that he’s unconsciously boosting everyone in the general area. It would explain why Allison and Cleaver are getting stronger.

    …or maybe they just get stronger as they get older.

    But it could be the other thing.

    • Loranna

      If Max bootstraps himself to become the Alisonverse’s Pun Pun, I will laugh SO hard.

      And then, I will cry, for a long, long time.

      Not that I’m trying to coerce the creators or anything. Just saying ^_^

      Loranna

  • Izo

    I doubt he would have ended up like Furnace. Furnace, for all of his faults, did put himself at risk, did save people’s lives, and did want to be in the public spotlight. Max differs from Furnace in that he doesn’t want to put himself at risk just because others ask him to. He’s not as much of a glory hound as Furnace. Or Pintsize. Or anyone in the Guardians, actually. Including even (arguably) Alison in her MegaGirl days (although I think her reasons were a lot more altruistic than just ‘I wanna be a superhero!’ – mostly due to her upbringing by her dad).

  • Izo

    Actually, when I think about it, it’s a sort of horrible power if you have no way to protect yourself. You’d have supervillains having their henchmen capture you and torture you until you use your power to make them even more powerful.

    Although I’m pretty sure that’s not why Max hated the power, but it is a good reason why his power sort of sucks on its own.

  • Wayne VIII

    This honestly sets up Max’s personality perfectly if you think about it. Take a somewhat entitled 14 year old, and show him that there are real superheroes in the world. He would naturally want to have those powers himself, wanting to be the Superman of the story. Now tell him that all he can do is make other people stronger, he would start to resent it. He would start resenting all the people that got the cool powers, while all that he could do was offer a little boost. So he stops helping people, as if to go the opposite path from the powers he hated, trying to distance himself from them. He sees that all of these heroes are doing fine without him, no one is asking for his help, and he determines that if he did try to help then he would be forgotten or laughed at. After a while he’s formed a philosophy about helping others, that people shouldn’t be forced to do it. This is the philosophy that he has going into adulthood, all of which started because a kid didn’t see the value of a support role.

  • Mouser

    This is not a person that helps other people. He’s given a superpower AND wealth, and he’s bitter it’s not the RIGHT power. I doubt he’s been abused – more likely just neglected.

    Yes, he isn’t obligated to help anyone; this will confuse Alison because (I’d say) for her, helping people is a privilege.

    Alison wants to save people, even though she has no power that works in this arena. On a visceral level, I don’t think she can understand him.

  • Trying to resist my sudden desire to go pull Folk of the Air out of the bookshelves. (It’s probably significantly more than 15 years since I read it, but fond memories).

  • Poor Max, forever condemned to be the perfect staff officer.

    (Figured out this was my role in life a while back, softies want to code, but someone has to run the change management and the defect tracking, and without them….)

    • Tylikcat

      Gods, this is so much how I feel about my tendency to gravitate towards management. Except, while there are aspects of management I enjoy, pure management depresses the hell out of me, so I’ve learned to mix it up a bit. (By which I mostly mean technical management / program management, but also major career changes and going back into reseach…)

      (I’m really starting to wonder about science policy. There are a bunch of reasons it’s tempting – including that bit about circling back to my early training – but a friend who just came out of doing NGO work made a case for why she thinks I’ll hate it in the long run, and I don’t know that she’s wrong. Still, it’s not the same as NGO work, I think?)

  • Top 1% is perfectly appropriate short-hand for Max’s entitled and exploitative attitude, whether he is or isn’t. He’s certainly well up there if he has a helicopter for flitting about and the family estate requires several gardeners. Would you prefer ‘born with a silver spoon in his mouth’?

    “heterosexual cisgendered” was perfectly appropriate in an enumeration of Max’s privileges. And can refer to male or female, so male doesn’t make cisgendered redundant. As for it not making him privileged, do you want me to go dig out the hate crime stats for homophobic and transphobic crime? Heterosexual, cis-gendered, white male (and I’m speaking as one) is an enormously privileged postion.

    • Izo

      “Top 1% is perfectly appropriate short-hand for Max’s entitled and exploitative attitude, whether he is or isn’t.”
      I don’t see how he’s exploitative, although he is entitled.

      “He’s certainly well up there if he has a helicopter for flitting about and the family estate requires several gardeners.”
      Renting a helicopter isnt THAT expensive for someone who’s even relatively well off, but I agree that he probably is rich. Most likely at least from a family worth a few million.

      Although my uncle can fly a helicopter and he’s not rich by any means – he took classes for it. It cost him a couple hundred dollars. My mom hires a gardener to deal with the lawn – she’s a retired schoolteacher. Not rich. Not a millionaire. Moot point, since I do agree that Max IS a millionaire at least. I’m just not sure about the 1% part, at least from NYC standards.

      “Would you prefer ‘born with a silver spoon in his mouth’?”
      Actually yes, that would be more accurate of a description. I’m a lot more comfortable with that 🙂

      “”heterosexual cisgendered” was perfectly appropriate in an enumeration of Max’s privileges. And can refer to male or female, so male doesn’t make cisgendered redundant.”

      I was not saying heterosexual and cisgendered is redundant. I said cisgendered and male or cisgendered and female are redundant. I think you’re misreading my post.

      “As for it not making him privileged, do you want me to go dig out the hate crime stats for homophobic and transphobic crime?”
      Yes, I would like you to do that, then compare it to the rate of violence against heterosexual men and heterosexual women. I’d like that very much. 🙂

      “Heterosexual, cis-gendered, white male (and I’m speaking as one) is an enormously privileged postion.”
      I’m speaking as someone who’s only two of those four things, and I don’t think that skin color or sexual preference gives you any privileged advantage – it’s the other aspects of a person that gives you privilege – education, physical ability, wealth, influence. To an extent, attractiveness, although attractiveness can often be subjective, there are studies that do show that CERTAIN physical characteristics, like height, a symmetrical face, a masculine or feminine body type, etc, can give you an advantage in the workplace, especially if that workplace has you in the public eye (like acting or modelling or business). But attractiveness is not dependent on race, and is not a definitive advantage – it’s your opinion, without actual statistical evidence to support that opinion (since recent studies actually show the opposite when it comes to who is more likely to be the subject of violence by police officers). I posted the link elsewhere in the comment forum actually. Definitely doesnt show how they’re ‘enormously privileged.’

      • Pythia

        …Um…

        “On non-lethal uses of force, blacks and Hispanics are more than fifty percent more likely to experience some form of force in interactions with police. Adding controls that account for important context and civilian behavior reduces, but cannot fully explain, these disparities.”

        …the study YOU linked to.

        And, regarding white privilege: I used to have it, and now don’t (what happens when you immigrate from a place with one standard of “white” to another place with a different standard of “white”), and… I can attest that it is a thing, and I can also attest that it is not as big a thing as people claim it is, but it IS A THING and losing it SUCKS. Especially in North America. Same with standards of beauty, I mean look at Snow White, she is the “fairest of them all”, that’s literally a “pretty if you are more white” measuring stick.

        I think you are right in that class, education, physical ability, etc are more “powerful” privileges, but that doesn’t make the other ones non-existent. Sure, I would take gay over poor any day of the week, but then again gay women are more likely to BE poor. Black people in the US are also more likely to BE poor. Housing discrimination also means they’re more likely to live in crappier places than white people with the same income.

        And honestly, there’s a lot of privileges that people don’t think about because they’re so focused on ethnicity/sex/sexuality/etc. Being a native language speaker of English, for example, is a huge privilege (I would, in fact, claim that not having that privilege affects me more every day than not being “white” where I live), same with being science-literate, same with having won a genetic lottery for certain talents. Same with access to good nutrition as a child. Same with internet access at all.

        And since you like sources, this article has a few from different research studies:

        https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2013/08/28/these-seven-charts-show-the-black-white-economic-gap-hasnt-budged-in-50-years/

    • Tylikcat

      To be completely pedantic, do we know he is cisgender? He presents as male. He’s an entitled asshole, but then so is my gay younger brother, so I don’t think that’s a rule out. If treatment guidelines are similar in this universe,* he could have been on hormone blockers since he showed the first signs of puberty – what, eight years ago, maybe? – and then on androgens since then, which would have given him very good passing privilege.

      * I don’t know all the ins and outs – researcher, not clinician – but I’m somewhat conversant with US guidelines, and have a copy of the current guidelines from my own institution from when I sat in on a Grand Rounds in the endocrinology department back in 2013.

      • ∫Clémens×ds

        I’m going to invoke Occam’s razor and reverse Chekov’s Gun and postulate that if something hasn’t been said to us by the text it’s not risky to expect it to be the simplest (or likeliest) possibility.

        Either because it’s the case, or if it isn’t, we’re supposed to think it was to be taken by surprise by the twist.

        • Tylikcat

          I think that it is the height of discourtesy to make assumptions about someone’s gender assigned at birth from someone’s gender presentation. Sure, many people do. That doesn’t mean we should or that it isn’t dreadfully rude.

      • Shweta Narayan

        I think that while we don’t know with 100% certainty, we can pretty confidently assume Max is cis. I think (as a transmasc. nb person) that given the info we have, if he’s trans then their world is a loot more clueful about trans issues in general than ours is.

        In which case I don’t know that the scene at the convention party would have happened the same way.

        So assuming it’s around where we are or maybe a little ahead… he lives so close to Al, I don’t see how she wouldn’t have heard about him if he was an ultra-rich trans boy? To get the necessary medical stuff as a child, he’d need parents who were entirely supportive; and rich parents going against social expectations is always news.

        Also if he was consistently running into people who wouldn’t accept his lived reality, I think he would be less clueless about coerced choices? His opinions re: the landscapers are just so… ignorant. Not merely self-serving.

        I might well be giving him too much credit. Maybe he’s a trans guy who is so into passing that he’s acting just like a cis guy would. It’s certainly possible to care only about the social pressure against oneself & ignore everybody else. But it does seem weird to me for someone who had to assert their identity against immense pressure to be *unaware* of such pressures & how they may affect other people.

    • Tylikcat

      Excuse me – androgens since he reached his legal majority. Brain dead, here.

  • The perfect name for Max’s powerset, and for annoying Max, is ‘Intersectional’ 😉

    • Tylikcat

      Uncle!

    • Izo

      I might be missing the joke. Why would ‘intersectional’ annoy Max?

      (seriously, I don’t get the joke, and would love for you to explain it – thanks)

  • Izo

    I somehow think that someone as manipulative as Patrick probably only RECENTLY learned about Max, or he would have, long ago, had one of his minions kidnap him and bring him to his lair to force Max to work for him – with the benefit of making Patrick not only able to read minds, but actually CONTROL minds – at which point it’s endgame.

  • Buried in the middle of that “Oh woes, poor me, forced to be the shoulders on which greatness stands”, there is: “They can do whatever they want to do. Total freedom”.

    I still want to know how bad his homelife was.

  • Alon Rand

    “We just know he’s from a rich family. Are all rich families in the top 1%?”

    Pretty much, yes. Unless the economic dynamics of this universe are dramatically different from our own (and we more or less know they’re not by design), then he’s likely from an even more rarified tier than merely the top 1%. To qualify for being a member of the “1%” you only need to have an income of about $425k a year. To make so much that you can own your own helicopter, and at least one estate palatial enough to not only have multiple full-time groundskeepers but multiple wings within ~50 miles of a major city, you’re a whole lot more well off than that.

    Besides which, his family is rich enough that Alison sees him as a viable alternative to Templar for major funding of her non-profit endeavors. To be able to give away money on the order of tens of millions without impoverishing yourself in the process, you’ve got to have orders of magnitude more than that available – you’ve almost got to be a literal member of the “billionaire class” – and that’s a LOT richer than merely the top 1%.

    With respect to your PS, “privilege” (which I know is a loaded term for a lot of people, but it works for the purposes of this discussion) comes in a number of forms, and they can and do co-exist and overlap. He’s privileged for being raised rich, yes, absolutely (and yes, probably more so than any other single aspect of his background). But he’s ALSO privileged for being white, for being male, and for being straight. EACH of these things offer their own social advantages independently of each other, and those benefits stack for those that enjoy more than one. While a rich black man certainly enjoys more social advantages than a poor one, he’s still going to get hassled by cops more often for no reason, he’s still going to be viewed with fear and suspicion by a disproportionate number of people in his daily life regardless of his dress and demeanor, and he’s still going to be vastly under-represented in popular media (etc.). A rich woman is still going to be hassled more often (especially by her social and economic peers) for her gender than an equally wealthy man. Same for a rich gay guy (or transgender, etc.) versus a straight one. Wealth insulates a person from the downsides of these other factors to an extent, but it doesn’t nullify them.

    • Izo

      “Pretty much, yes. Unless the economic dynamics of this universe are dramatically different from our own (and we more or less know they’re not by design), then he’s likely from an even more rarified tier than merely the top 1%.”

      Fair enough, Good point. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that he has more than $435,000 a year.

      “Besides which, his family is rich enough that Alison sees him as a viable alternative to Templar for major funding of her non-profit endeavors.”

      I agree with this too. Although I’m not sure how charitable Max will be to Alison. Although I don’t think he’s an ‘evil’ person, I do think he’s not a charitable person. Maybe he is. Who knows. Just don’t see it from what we’ve seen of him so far.

      “He’s privileged for being raised rich, yes, absolutely (and yes, probably more so than any other single aspect of his background). But he’s ALSO privileged for being white, for being male, and for being straight.”

      I’m saying this with all honesty, but without his money and education and clout, I don’t see how his skin color, sexual preference, or gender makes him privileged more than someone else of a different skin color, sexual preference, or gender. Alison is far more privileged than Max is, and she’s female – because of her powers being more useful on their own without having to be dependent on anyone else. Barak Obama would be more privileged than him, and Obama is the President, with more influence and power and historical recognition than Max will ever have.

      “While a rich black man certainly enjoys more social advantages than a poor one, he’s still going to get hassled by cops more often for no reason,”
      Statistically, you’re wrong. What you’re saying is based largely on anecdotal evidence without data to back it up. It does seem that way sometime, but that’s largely because of representation in the media and pop culture.
      http://www.nber.org/papers/w22399?utm_campaign=ntw&utm_medium=email&utm_source=ntw

      “he’s still going to be viewed with fear and suspicion by a disproportionate number of people in his daily life regardless of his dress and demeanor,”

      I think your style of dress and demeanor, for the majority of people, affects how they interact with you. A white person who dresses like a hoodlum or a tough is going to be viewed with suspicion and fear as well.

      Not to mention that so far, arguably speaking, what I’ve been seeing is a lot of people having hatred of Max because he’s ‘white heterosexual male’ (ok they actually say white het cis male but that’s just so redundant). Seems to me that it’s his whiteness and hetness and maleness that’s working against him with the MAJORITY of the people on this comment forum.

      “and he’s still going to be vastly under-represented in popular media (etc.).”
      Actually, since the percentage of black people in the US is only 12-13 percent of the population, they’re technically over-represented in popular media.

      Good post though.

    • Random832

      “Besides which, his family is rich enough that Alison sees him as a viable alternative to Templar for major funding of her non-profit endeavors.” – I’m pretty sure this isn’t about money. She already knew he was rich. That’s pretty clearly not the reason she’s here, or the reason she apologized when she’d done nothing wrong. I think she has some idea that requires his power.

  • Izo

    1) Your opinion on his motivations seems to be just an assumption on your part before the arc is done. From what I’ve seen so far, he doesn’t want to help OR hurt anyone. He wants people to have the right to choose for themselve. He wants to be special, sure. So what? EVERYONE wants to be special, no matter where they are on the political spectrum. It’s called ‘speshul snowflake’ for a reason.

    2) Why should he, or anyone, be forced to help people. Sure, its NICE to help other people, and it means you’re a morally good person, but not helping doesnt mean you’re morally bad. It just means you’re not at the same level of morally good as someone who does help others. It’s not like he’s HURTING people. You can’t force altruism, and altruism shouldn’t be forced anyway, because then you have to worry about who is defining what as ‘altruistic.’ The KKK, nazis, sharia followers, etc have/had horrific concepts of ‘morality.’ Altruism and helping people should come from within, not demanded from an outside source.

    3) Saying that his being a white male makes it worse seems racist and sexist. He’s privileged because his family is rich, not because of his skin color or gender. Oprah Winfrey is far richer, and yet black and female, and can easily be argued to be far more privileged. And not because she’s black or female, but because she’s insanely wealthy and famous. For that matter… Alison is extremely privileged, and again – not because she’s white or female, but because she’s famous and the strongest person to ever live.

    4) Saying cis and male (or cis and female) seem to be redundant to me, since you’ve already specified if the person is male or female as their gender. It’s generally used to make an unnecessary counter prefix to trans-. Regardless of how anyone thinks about if gender is binary or not, if you’ve already identified him as male, saying cis doesnt actually add anything. It’s basically saying ‘male’ and ‘no really, male.’

  • Izo

    Haven’t seen anything villainous about him. It seems like it would run counter to his opinion that everyone should have individual choice. Patrick – he’s a super villain.

  • Izo

    Pretty sure he’s rich because he either comes from a rich family or because he’s a successful businessman, not because of his powers. Or Alison would likely have heard of him by now.

    Not to mention he’s probably be a LOT richer. Or dead.

  • Loranna

    Admittedly, I’m taking the perspective here that having someone with Max’s powers help someone like Lisa or Patrick, ends up with the Max doing nothing but just Using Their Power, then standing back and watching the Lisa or Patrick go to town. To me, that isn’t helping, that’s being a stat boost for someone else.

    I mean, sure, Max could choose when to use his power or not, but if he chooses not to, Lisa or Patrick aren’t going to stop being the mental powerhouses they already are, nor stop their projects. So, I’m having a lot of trouble seeing how someone with Max’s powers would actually have agency if using their powers to empower those who legitimately could make a difference in the world.

    Loranna

  • Loranna

    . . .I thought a speedster was Someone Who Moves Really Fast. And who solves problems by Running/Spinning Their Arms In Circles. 😛

    Loranna

  • Loranna

    You wound me. I’ve been obsessively refreshing this page since Friday just to see what new crazy ideas you all come up with, even when reading the 95 or so new comments that popped up cuts into my precious exercise/video game/writing/remembering to eat time!

    And that ESPECIALLY includes whatever new zaniness you come up with, hun =D

    Also, this is more or less how I imagined Max thinking, in his more rational moments, as he grew older, especially after Alison quit on live TV, and the Guardians started getting beat up by their bad guys a lot more, and the world moved further and further away from classic Superheroes Versus Supervillains. But I may be projecting a bit of introspective insight onto Max that he may not actually have ^_^

    Loranna

    • ∫Clémens×ds

      (Suck it guys, Loranna called me hun, I’ll be blushing until next Friday ♥)
      But yes, I think I did too give him too much credit in my scenario. I thought about it in the abstract, from what we knew it couldn’t have come from specifically this Max that we have.

      All things considered, what I wrote sounds very Patrick to me. Can anyone tell that I miss him?

  • Loranna

    To play devil’s advocate – again 🙂

    The utility you’re describing would, in practice, depend a lot on the circle of biodynamic friends he could make, unless he used his money to convince people to work with or for him. In which case, he could have done that anyway, without the power.

    For that matter, his wealth could do a lot to “buff” certain biodynamics already. Healers could get more funds to hire nurses and other staff, allowing them to focus their attentions on the most difficult and life-threatening cases. Inventors like Lisa can always use more money to fund their experiments and prototypes. Hector could get new toys to shrink and keep on hand in a utility belt, to pull out and save the day like Batman.

    . . .Now that I think about it, maybe Max’s problem isn’t that he lacks imagination on how to use his power. It’s that he figured that he could do most of those things -already-, with his money, and the things wealth couldn’t do that his power could . . .well, might require him to stand next to someone like Alison in the middle of a firefight to use, which carries obvious problems ^_^

    Loranna

  • Loranna

    He mentions being tested positive for the anomaly, and that his anomaly is to enhance other peoples’. So he’s most likely describing his superpower.

    Loranna

  • Loranna

    The horror of becoming Aquaman is inversely proportional to the number of Cthuhulus sleeping in your world’s oceans, or in other words, to the amount of Cosmic Horror your world has.

    ^_^

    Loranna

    • Tylikcat

      …I’m currently doing marine neurobio and biomechanics? Not to mention ecosystem design* – This Would Be The Best.

      …I bet octopodes would make decent lab assistants…

      Okay, wait, I should think of myself at fourteen. So… I would have hung around in Seattle until my mom was done with chemo. But that’s not a problem – port city, plenty of access. Too bad we didn’t live close to the water – that could have totally solved the problem with my dad threatening me! Better than a frying pan any day! (Pacific octopodes are pretty awesome. But his daily route mostly took him over freshwater…)

      I can just imagine negotiating with the biology department. (Whereas, I actually studied Chinese and poli-econ the next time around, and didn’t become a biologist until much later.)

      I bet there is someone along the Californian coast who really deserves to be covered with purple urchins – I could be saving the kelp forests and fighting crime at the same time! Hanging out with the Orca! Preventing overfishing! Fighting invasive species – yeehaw! Oh, I could probably partner with my friend K to launch a program to preserve the coral reefs** – we’ve been wanting to do a joint project for years!

      …so yeah, some of us could really groove on being Aquaperson.

      * Okay, most likely I’m going to move into something pretty damn different and most innately villainous next summer. Though I have so many papers to write…
      ** I’m thinking build / seed a new section in a different area, though I don’t know if me have good enough models to predict a likely location…

  • Izo

    “Privilege is not a card collection of labels that compensate or beat one another!”
    Definition of privilege, a la Meriam Webster:
    : a right or benefit that is given to some people and not to others
    : a special opportunity to do something that makes you proud
    : the advantage that wealthy and powerful people have over other people in a society

    You’ll notice, the words race and gender are not in there. Identity labels of race, gender, and sexual preference have NOTHING to do with whether you are ‘privileged’ in a society – what determines whether you are privileged (which isnt a horrible word btw, despite trying to turn it into one, as if people should be ashamed of being successful) is whether you have a definitive advantage over other people – such as superior education, superior physical skills, higher levels of wealth, superior contacts and friends, and superior amount of power, such as political or social influence. All of these things can be gained independent of your skin color, gender, religion, or sexual preference.

    “Here, go read literally the first thing I googled about what white privilege actually means and stop saying such… gaaaah http://occupywallstreet.net/st…”

    Um… are you really using Occupy Wall Street as an example of what white privilege means? The Occupy Wall Street movement was one of the most backwards, ill-defined protests ever. Most people had no idea what they were even protesting. There were regular news reports from all the different media channels, in which reporters would ask what they were protesting, and most of them had no clue, or it was dumbed down to essenetially ‘Rich people got stuff that we don’t have and we want it.’

    The protest which had mass amount of rape, violence, verbal and physical threats, and vandalism, from a whole lot of people who were unemployed yet somehow managed to own iPhones and fancy clothes while not working, or who were getting paid to protest. That’s where you’re getting the definition. That’s sort of unbelievable :/

    “Also, because again you need a refresher, “cisgender” has nothing to do with sexual preference”

    Perhaps, since you’re being snarky with the ‘refresher’ comment, you should read what I said more carefully. I said cisgender has to do with gender, not sexual preference. Which is why saying cisgender and then either male or female is redundant and poor english. You can either say cisgender, or you can say male or female. It’s only necessary to say both if you’re using a term like transexual, since that implies a change from one gender at birth to another gender either through societal choice or operation (ie, their current gender). Hence you can say ‘transexual male’ or ‘transexual female’ which means someone who is currently male but who was not biologically born as a male, or vice versa. Saying cisgender male or cisgender female means ‘I was born a male/female and I am still a male/female’ – it’s repeating yourself in the same sentence.

    “while it’s very progressive of you to say that male is enough on its own it’s a “broken clock is right twice a day””
    I’m not trying to be progressive or traditional – I’m being logically and grammatically accurate instead of using some sort of label for belief to determine proper english.

    Also the ‘broken clock is right twice a day’ doesnt actually fit as an insult in this analogy.

    “a painfully evident divide between the life experiences of cis males and trans males.”
    Again, here’s no point in saying ‘cis males’ because a ‘cisgender’ means you were always and are still the same gender that you were biologically born as. If it hasnt changed, there’s no point in saying cis AND male. Just say male. Trans is different, because then you’re looking at a ‘biological gender by birth’ (before) and ‘current gender’ (after), in which trans means the transition, and male or female means what gender you currently identify as. What is so difficult to understand?

    “Also you may feel a bit ruffled by my scorn for the express intent of defending cisgendered heterosexual white males”

    Wait….. uh… I wasn’t attacking heterosexual white males. I was attacking people not understanding how words and redundancy actually work. If anything, I was defending heterosexual white males by saying that being heterosexual, white, and male does not equate with being automatically privileged, since privilege comes from your place in society, not from your skin color, sexual preference, or biological gender.

    Also, I’m not ruffled. I’m more than capable of engaging in a reasonable debate, even if the other person is being condescending.

    Did you not understand that?

    “if you deem your defensiveness justified well mine is too.”

    Uh… I wasn’t saying you arent justified to have your own opinion. I’m just pointing out that saying cisgender male is redundant. It’s like saying you’re a big, large person. Or a skinny, thin person human. It’s using unnecessary words to repeat yourself within the same sentence. Also you’re free to have your opinion about if you think white heterosexual males are the bane of society. I’m going to just tell people who say that sort of thing that their view is, by definition, racist and sexist.

    • ∫Clémens×ds

      Okay. Izo.
      I am seriously shocked that you would be bold enough to respond. Something like fifteen people have been independently telling you you were wrong and you what, responded to all of them with the same veneer? And it’s not the first time this happens. Izo, your problem is that you’re not listening. You can’t learn if you’re not listening. I hope someone else will come around and tell you why it’s important to say “cis male” because “trans males” are males too and adding an adjective to just the latter would mean we implicitly consider the former “normal” and that’s offensive and would you look at that I’m starting to do it no stop stop typing now.
      I don’t have time and I don’t trust my patience with you anymore and I *hate* to hear myself like this I sound so arrogant.

      • Shweta Narayan

        I need to stop too, because I read the comments for cool thoughts not gut-punches, but I need to add one last thing ’cause I’m very far from the worst affected:

        Izo, leaving “cis” off as if the rest of us are less real/valid is not just offensive, it’s actively harmful to those of us who aren’t cis. Like ok it only hurts my feelings mostly, so let’s ignore people like me atm – it’s reinforcing a status quo that gets trans women of color *murdered*.

        So. Even if you still don’t get that your position is wrong, please try to understand that it is cruel and contributes to violence.

  • Dean

    Super strength, breathing underwater, and the ability to command sea life? Where do I sign?

  • Dean

    That’s pretty much where I was coming from, but kudos on presenting it so much more clearly.

  • Rumble in the Tumble

    Gee, Iron Man sure is a villain, am I right?

    • Tdoodle

      That depends. Are you referring to when he’s sober, or when he relapses? What iteration of Stark Industries are you looking at? I think he’s quite dangerous.

  • Izo

    “…I… You don’t think men, especially men who were assigned male at birth, *especially* white men, have privilege?”
    Nope. I don’t think skin color or gender makes someone more privileged than someone else. I think societal influences on that person is what determines if they’re privileged. Tell me that you’re more privileged than Michelle Obama with a straight face. Tell me that you’re more privileged than Milo Yiannopoulos (a homosexual man) or Ellen DeGeneres (a homosexual woman) or Herman Cain (a black heterosexual man) or Barak Obama (a black heterosexual man) or Caitlyn Jenner (a transgender woman) or Chaz Bono (a transgender man). Unless you’re a millionaire, famous, with political power and/or celebrity influence, you’re probably NOT more privileged than any of them.

    “I don’t think you understand what privilege means”
    I think that you don’t know what privilege means. Privilege means having a definitive advantage in life. Being white or heterosexual or male does not equate to having an advantage in life. In many cases, it can actually be a detriment. A black transgender woman who’s part native american who was born into a life of luxury with a mother and a father who are influential is going to be far more privileged and have far more doors open for her than a white heterosexual male who was born to a drug-addicted single mother in a trailer park. The former has an advantage (several actually) in life. The latter does not.

    “If your identity doesnt make life harder for you the way that being a racial minority/female/LGBTQ makes life harder, that is privilege.”
    None of that is definitive. It’s opinion. Wealth (and the ability to get wealth), influence, friends, access to education – those thing are definitively going to give you advantages. Your race, your gender, and your sexual preference, on its own, do not.

    Until people can stop trying to pigeonhole and define themselves by their race, gender, sexual identity and ethnicity and just see themselves all as just human, you will forever be trapped in the psychology of being a victim. I could list each minority I fall into, and then use some sort of scoresheet to show how I’m not privileged, but I’d rather base whether I am on things which are tangible – intelligence, education, a loving family, friends. I wasn’t born with money, and I’ve had to work for everything I’ve ever got. But anything that’s been in my way – that I didn’t have the money to afford to go to somewhere like Harvard, being born the daughter of a laundromat worker and piano teacher instead of an industrialist hotel magnate and senator, etc – none of that was because of my race, my gender, or my sexual preference.

    “It doesn’t mean you can’t be screwed over economically, socially, or in other ways.”
    And being white, heterosexual, and male doesn’t mean you won’t be screwed over economically, socially, or in other ways either.

    In fact, singling out white heterosexual males as being particularly deserving of scorn is, if anything you showing that they ARE screwed over socially regardless of their actions. It seems bigoted to make distinctions like that.

    “and “cisgender” is not redundant, because I would still refer to someone as a man if they were trans and identified as male.”
    Because trans means they were first one gender, then transitioned to another gender, so you say trans then the gender they became. Cisgender is the opposite of transgender – it means there was never any transition and they are the same gender they were born as. So there’s no point in saying cisgender AND what their gender is, unlike when you’re specifying transgender.

    Transgender woman = Was formerly a man, and is now a woman. There are two different gender identities in that description, so you use the gender in addition to trans to be specific.

    Cisgender woman = Was formerly a woman, and is now still a woman. There’s just one gender there the entire time. You’re basically repeating yourself to say cisgender woman. Or cisgender man. It’s adding unnecessary words to give the illusion of depth, just as if you say ‘Shaquille O’Neal is a huge, gigantic human person.’

    “Out of curiosity, why does that bother you?”
    Maybe from an OCD standpoint, but more likely it bothers me because proper grammar and English sentence structure was heavily encouraged in my family growing up, given it wasn’t our native language, and using redundant sentences are just generally irritating to me. So I like to point out when someone’s doing that.

  • Izo

    In my opinion, I don’t believe that there is any such thing as white privilege, or cis privilege, or het privilege. There’s nothing definitively privileged about being a certain skin color or gender or having a specific sexual preference. Although stuff like economic advantages DO give that person privilege. I would probably agree with you also about able-bodied being a privilege, but I think it’s more that not being able-bodied (ie, disabled through some sort of physical or mental reason, if you wouldn’t mind my using the non PC term) is more of having a detriment than being able-bodied is an advantage. But at least with that last one, I’m willing to say that someone who is not disabled is, by the very definition, going to have advantages over someone who is, and therefore I can see describing that able-bodied person as definitively ‘privileged’ when compared to the disabled individual. Not because of the society in which they both live, but rather because one can do things that the other may not be able to do.

    • Tdoodle

      That sure is an opinion you have. This is an impressive tangle of thoughts.

    • Shweta Narayan

      We understand your opinion. We’re all trying to explain to you that it’s a factually wrong opinion – specifically because it’s a wrong opinion that actively contributes to great harm.

      Like, we wouldn’t be bothering to try explaining this to you if your opinion was “Ringo Starr was in the Rolling Stones.”

      You might want to consider why you’re so very resistant to explanations and data – why your’re so invested in this particular opinion.

  • Rumble in the Tumble

    So, are healers, like, the drummers of MMOs?

  • Izo

    I disagree. I think he’s privileged because he’s rich and probably from a family with political and social influence. Not because he’s white and heterosexual and male. If Max was Maxine, and was female, Puerto Rican, and homosexual, but had the same attitude and family, she would be just as privileged.

    “still has a lot more to worry about than the white guy when pulled over by police, for example.”
    Actually, statistically speaking, a white male has a higher likelihood of being shot and killed by a police officer (regardless of the race or gender of the officer) than a black male, according to recent academic and government studies. Any worry is in the mind of the individual, not backed up by actual statistics.

    http://www.nber.org/papers/w22399?utm_campaign=ntw&utm_medium=email&utm_source=ntw

  • Izo

    I actually responded to something very similar to what you just wrote above, by both Chris and Tdoodle.

    • Tdoodle

      You did, but what you said didn’t invalidate any of our points. What you did make clear is that you believe financial status is the only way someone can be privileged. That isn’t the case. but I acknowledge this is clearly an impasse for you.

  • Izo

    Actually if he lives in New York City, he probably isn’t in the top 1%. Although I don’t know for sure, since that’s something only the authors know. If they say he is, then he is. But remember, New York has a higher percentage of millionaires than most cities. It’s a lot harder to be in the top 1% in New York. New York has more millionaires per capita than almost any other city in the world – one in 21 residents are millionaires – only beaten in that percentage by Geneva, Zurich, and Monaco. Basically, there’s 508,100 millionaires in New York, so it takes a lot more than being a millionaire (which we don’t know for sure that he is, although he probably is one given the helicopter and his house) to be in the top 1%.

    Top 10 percent, definitely though. He’s not hurting for money, and isnt a person who has to live paycheck to paycheck like the majority of us.

    Although I guess if you mean of the United States itself, or the world, he’s in the top 1 percent. Then again if we’re talking the world, probably most of the US who has anything close to a full time job, even at moderate pay, would be in the top 1 percent.

    • Shweta Narayan

      Guh ok I thought I was done but then this.

      1) This is a fallacy known as “moving the goalposts”. There’s nothing about “the 1%” that specifies “the 1% of NYC”. You just made that up halfway through the discussion in order to ignore most of what’s been said so far.

      Nor is there any onus on us to provide data that one google search would give you. It’s not bad argumentation on our part to assume basic competence with the internet on your part. But ok, statistics.

      Here’s the first link I get for “white privilege statistics”. It’s a conservative site, even. http://www.jbwtucker.com/ultimate-white-privilege-statistics/

      Perhaps consider why you believe it was our job to type “white privilege statistics” into google?

  • Izo

    “1. Privileges can (and do) pile on. A rich white cis het dude is FAR more privileged than a rich black trans gay woman. A homeless het white male is still very often (nearly always?) better off than a black het male who is equally poor.”
    How exactly is a white het male who is poor better off than a black het male who is at the same level of poverty? Seems like a lot of unsubstantiated opinion (you’re allowed to have an opinion, but it’s less persuasive to me than having facts and statistics on your side) without factual evidence to back it up. No offense. I think if you ask both poor people if they feel privileged, NEITHER will think they are.

    Also Caitlyn Jenner is worth $100 million. She’s on the cover of magazines and heralded as a hero (heroine). In fact, as Bruce Jenner, he was able to get $20,000-$40,000 per speech. Now, as a transgendered woman, she can get up to $100,000 per speech. Seems like it’s more of an advantage for her now. More of a privilege. In comparison, Joe Montana is worth approximately $80 million. How exactly is Joe Montana more privileged than Caitlyn Jenner? What can Joe Montana do that Caitlyn Jenner cannot do?

    “2. sexual orientation and gender are independent: saying heterosexual says nothing about biology, and even less about whether you’re female or male or something else.”
    I never said sexual orientation and gender were not independent. I said cisgender is a description of gender, not of sexual orientation, and therefore saying cisgender male is being redundant.

    ” In other words: saying male is not redundant once (or before) you said cis or trans, because both are definitely male but are very differently privileged.”
    No, because transgender means you are currently a different gender than you used to be, which means you need you need the ‘male’ or ‘female’ to describe your current gender, and you need the ‘trans’ to describe that there was a change from your original gender. Cisgender means there was no change, and therefore saying cisgender and male is repeating yourself and unnecessary. You can just say male.

    “Also, not only owning a helicopter but also being able to fly it AND having where to land it with no trouble at all preeeeeetty much puts you in the 1%.”
    1) We don’t know that he owns the helicopter
    2) A helicopter costs $250-500 an hour to rent, and it can cost as little as
    $95,000 for the Bell 47. Even the most popular personal private heilcopter, the Robinson R44, costs about $450,000. Which probably puts him in the millionaire category (not surprisingly) but doesnt necessarily mean 1%, since in New York, 1 in 21 residents are millionaires as of 2016.
    3) Knowing how to fly a helicopter means he took lessons, which costs between $275 and $350 on average. So, at the upper scale, he could have rented a helicopter and already knew how to fly one and not spent more than $1350 (assuming a 2 hour rental).
    4) Also helicopters can land a lot of places. That’s why they’re so useful. They don’t need a landing strip like planes. They just need a roof or a rather small clearing.
    5) There’s no such number as a gazillion :), plus I don’t see where he owns it. And even if he owns it, doesn’t make him a 1 percenter. And even if he’s a 1 percenter somehow, I’m not sure how that makes him bad. His attitude makes him a jerk. Not his wealth.

  • Izo

    That’s actually rather convincing since you used actual statistics 🙂 Although if they’re using New York as the example, rather than the USA or the world, he wouldnt be in the 1 percent.

    Thanks! Good point made.

  • Izo

    Actually I very much do know what cisgender means. I’m not sure other people do who use it though.

    Cisgender means “Denoting or relating to a person whose self-identity conforms with the gender that corresponds to their biological sex; not transgender.”

    What’s the important part of that definition? ‘that corresponds to their biological sex’ – in other words, if you are ‘cisgender’ you just need to say your biological sex.

    Cis- comes from the latin ‘on this side of’ – In other words, it means ‘no transition.’

    What do YOU think cisgender means? Because it doesn’t mean ‘comfortable in skin’ like some people think. That’s a false ‘backronym.’

    • Shweta Narayan

      Given that I’m not cisgender, I suspect that I do in fact know very well what it means, rather better than someone who needs to pull out a dictionary definition (and believes in a simplistic biological sex binary, at that).

      However, you’re right, you do know a v simplified version of the meaning of cis, you just don’t seem to know the meaning of redundant. Either that or you don’t think trans men are men, and are simply factually wrong.

      Redundant means that the word does not convey additional information. However! If we just say “male”, that does not determine whether the referent is cis or trans; therefore, by definition, specifying which is not redundant at all.

      It’s only if you assume that “men” = “cis men”, and that trans men are some kind of anomaly or lesser person, that your categorization becomes “men” and “trans men”. And that categorization is objectively flawed. If you do understand that they’re all men, then the correct categorization is “cis men” and “trans men”.

  • Izo

    That’s true, actually. The story isnt about her adventures as Megagirl. It’s about how she deals with trying to get people to see her as something beyond just Megagirl while still doing something positive for humanity without falling into the many, many trappings of having power.

  • Izo

    I think Syndrome is a lot more like Paladin, actually. Except sympathetically evil (well, sympathetically evil at first, then he just becomes evil evil).

    I don’t think Max has the same attitude as Syndrome though, beyond both think that everyone has a right to be special. Syndrome is just a lot more warped about it.

  • Izo

    Maybe he would be, but I can only base my opinion on what I’ve seen from his attitude so far. And from his attitude so far, he doesnt look like he’s the ‘flaunting power’ type and I doubt he’d be even trying to use his powers to influence others any more than Alison sometimes does (albeit she usually does so unintentionally)

    Your read on him has merit too, and I can see how you might be right and I might be wrong on this.

    • Shweta Narayan

      I don’t disagree with your read here, but I do think Max’s idea of flaunting power is very influenced by his background. He did after all pick Al up in a helicopter, which is flaunting money about as much as someone can from my perspective — but I’m not at all sure he sees it that way, I could see him thinking it was just fun and unexpected.

  • Izo

    That…. is something I never even thought of, and would be a good idea of something that would be a benefit for him, to give him the types of freedom he wants, while also getting him to CHOOSE to use his powers for an altruistic cause of his own volition.

    What rich kid doesn’t want to be Iron Man? 🙂

  • FlashNeko

    Yeah, I never got that level of malice from either her expression or her word choice. She was simply answering honesty with honesty which, when dealing with those who have contemplated suicide, is actually the best way to go.

    She legit DOESN’T understand how someone would feel like ending it all would be preferable to showing even the tiniest bit of altruism. It is far better to let him understand that divide than to… what, coddle him with fake platitudes for being so massively egocentric?

    Also, I’m not sure how far I believe Max genuinely thought about suicide or if he’s being a bit of a Drama King in an attempt to make Alison feel bad for even trying to ask. The aggressive way he keeps trying to change the tone of the conversation so it’s always all about him “being right” lends an air of incensierity to his words.

  • Beroli

    it’s immediately shoved aside the fact that technically, his desire not to help is his choice, and… a respectable one?

    Not a fact. The distress of libertarians about this aside, in lots of places, if you watch someone die when you could have saved them, you’ll be locked up for murder.

    A more defensible opinion than Max is presenting it, sure–I hate the presumption “if you have an ability that benefits other people, you have to use it until you drop” as much as anyone I know who isn’t a libertarian or an objectivist. But if Max was the perfect I-only-have-to-justify-myself-to-myself solipsist you apparently want him to be, he would never have tried to connect with Alison to begin with. Humans (with or without powers) are social creatures. He wants validation for his axiom, that freedom is the most important thing we have, as much as Alison wanted everyone to put down a white stone in her axiology class. The only thing I get from your alternate scenario, is authorial hostility toward Alison and a presumption that Max is right in a way I suspect few people here–the comic writer not among them–believe he is.

    • ∫Clémens×ds

      I disagree. Don’t see much correlation between selfishness and lack of need for validation (au contraire, a Frenchperson might say)
      And it’s not that I wanted this so as to make Max right (I’m the person here who despises him the most, ask anyone about that page where he was the rapiest) it’s that it narrows the narratives possibilities.

      You know just like me how stories work, right? You know one doesn’t spiel such a vast amount of unchecked egocentrism without getting righted right along. His little sob story is so exaggerated it makes it almost a certainty that Alison will land Mighty and Strong on him and unhook his head of his ass right onto the track of using his power. We already know how this ends, I mean. At the very least Alison isn’t impressed.

      And I feel that my proposition would have given her a theoretical obstacle to overcome? The beginning of this issue was about people who justify their selfishness like we all always do, here she is discovering that there are people who are selfish, not because they are brats, not because they’re petty… but because that’s their educated choice. And again here she is, world’s strongest human, facing the dismay that she can’t force people to do good (or if she does, well–)

      I don’t know, I thought this was interesting. You keep thinking I secretly stand with people who don’t like helping others if you wish

      • Beroli

        She has a theoretical obstacle to overcome. Max’s viewpoint is just as selfish and entitled as if he’d said what you want him to have said. The difference is that in the comic he broke down and showed that he’s a(n) (incredibly selfish) person; in your version he asserts his worldview in a way that implies authorial agreement, acknowledges that other people disagree and anticipates Alison disagreeing (when a great deal of the point, here and in what he said about Feral, is that he genuinely doesn’t believe anyone in the world doesn’t share his worldview), and leaves nothing more to be said. You’re not pushing for more complexity, you’re pushing for less. Why, I don’t know, but that, I can observe.

        • ∫Clémens×ds

          Precisely. Doesn’t it make it more difficult for Alison when there’s nothing else to be said rather than when all she has to say is some manner of “get over yourself” the way she does next page? And my point is retroactive, that I recognize, I was always slightly disappointed by how Max is written to be easily hatable. Well, except when he spoke like a rapist and nobody minded.

          And you’ll have to explain to me where you decide you see authorial agreement because I’m up for a scoff.

    • Tylikcat

      “…if you watch someone die when you could have saved them, you’ll be locked up for murder.”

      But you can’t abstract this indefinitely. The situations where people can be compelled on to the battlefield definitely exist, but they are narrow and tightly regulated. It is generally held by medical ethicists that people can not be compelled to donate blood, much less other bodily organs*.

      It’s one thing if Max is present and something is happening right in front of him – but to go out looking for situations that he might be uniquely suited to prevent? That is pretty universally held to be an individual choice and not a social compulsion. (It’s also worth thinking about what counts as a unique set of skills, and at what point social compulsions kick in. This isn’t necessarily a hypothetical question.)

      I have my problems with Max. It’s likely I’ll continue not to like him. But I think it’s important that he gets to make his own choices.

      * FWIW, I’m a regular blood donor, despite occasionally wondering if that’s really for the best.

    • Izo

      “Not a fact. The distress of libertarians about this aside, in lots of places, if you watch someone die when you could have saved them, you’ll be locked up for murder.”

      Only if you made it so other people would not have the ability to try to save them. You’re under no obligation, ever, to risk your life in even a small way to save someone else, unless you do an action to prevent others from trying to save that person.

      For example:

      Example 1: A child is drowning in a lake. Another person is watching this and I’m an olympic swimmer. I don’t try to save him. I’m not guilty of murder, or any crime at all. I’d be a horrible person, but not guilty of any crime.

      Example 2: A child is drowning in a lake. I’m a mediocre swimmer, but I tell the other person watching ‘Go get help! I’ll go save him!’ and the other person runs off to get phone or a police officer. I then stand there and do nothing. Now I’m guilty of a crime, even if it wasnt definite that the other person would have tried to save the child.

      If you’re talking about the Good Samaritan law, it doesn’t work the say it was presented in Seinfeld at all. The Good Samarian laws just provide legal protection for someone who tries to save another person. Like if you see someone choking to death and give him or her the Heimlich maneuver and it breaks three of their ribs, it’s a defense if they sue you for battery. Or in the above example, if a child is drowning, and I jump in to save the child, but I’m too late and the child dies anyway, it’s a defense if I’m accused of manslaughter or reckless endangerment or whatever the DA charges.

  • Beroli

    I suspect he’s old money.

  • Tylikcat

    I don’t have a sense of the developmental psychology of narcissists, at least in the general case. I had sort of a ringside seat for one instance and… I don’t think that’s how it went? But there were a lot of complicating factors, including some pretty serious bipolar and drug abuse. (And okay, for much of it it was more of a nosebleed seat than a ringside seat…) I do not know.

  • Hawthorne

    Lol…I looked at Max silhouetted on the roof, and thought, “Look at those stress tears shooting out of his eyes because he’s scared to jump.” before I realized they were stars.

    Look two inches to the right – stress tears shooting out of his eyes for reals.

  • Matthew Wiltshire

    Yeah. I can’t even begin to understand his problem. It’s like he’s been granted a castle to live in and he’s devastated it’s not gold plated.

  • Izo

    I don’t think you’re going to get hate over that. 🙂 Also the arc isnt over yet. There still might be that twist from Alison’s position.

  • Izo

    Actually, his story reminds me a lot about Paige Guthrie’s story (Husk) in Marvel. She came from a family which had an inordinately large amount of children who were mutants, like Sam Guthrie (aka Cannonball) so she was positive that she’d be a mutant and kept waiting for the day where her mutant powers manifested. And she was STUBBORN about it.

    She tried flying. She wound up falling off the barn and landing in a haystack, so at least she didn’t break her ankle.

    She tried telepathy on both humans and animals. Nothing happened except the turtles looked at her funny.

    She tried telekinesis and couldnt move a single blade of grass.

    She started trying more obscure powers, like controlling her body temperature like iceman. She put herself in a tub of ice water, trying to ‘trigger’ the change and she just got cold and almost caught pneumonia.

    She eventaully had her mutant ability start when she started pulling at her own hair and was yelling to God about wanting to be a mutant and found her skin came off with like… stone or something underneath, and she found her power was being able to shed her skin and have some other type of skin underneath.

    Unlike Max, she found her power to be cool and wonderful (and ignored it was sort of gross). 🙂

  • Christophe2314

    There was also the show Misfits, where one of the main characters doesn’t seem to have a superpowers, right up until the end of the first season when he gets killed. He then wakes up, buried six feet underground, and realizes that he’s immortal.

  • Christophe2314

    Really, Max? You are given a power that makes you the single most desirable asset in the superhero world and you can’t think of one single way to turn that to your advantage? Really?!?

  • Christophe2314

    I dunno, the way I see it, it’s no really a stack. Economic privilege acts as an amplifier for other types of privilege. Or, well, the reverse of that, actually: lack of economic privilege acts as an amplifier for lack of other types of privilege. Simply put, if you’re rich, your other lacking privileges won’t matter that much, but the poorer you get, the more those things can screw you over.

    • Shweta Narayan

      Even *Oprah* has been stopped/treated with suspicion while shopping because of the assumption that “a Black woman couldn’t possibly afford this legally”

      And she’s not alone in that, she’s just the only name I remember w certainty right now.

      Not even economic privilege can protect people in the most targeted marginalized groups.

  • 9Jack9

    This is an interesting set of presumptions on your part, projected onto everyone who responded reflexively (not “instinctively,” we learn to hate douchebags, we don’t hate them from birth like cats hate snakes) to his self centered personality. It’s our fault we have no empathy for someone with no empathy for other humans, just like people who don’t tolerate bigotry are the “real” bigots. Yeah, right.

    Max is not a tiny whining brat, he’s just drawn and written that way. And the same is true of the Republican presidential nominee. And the heavy-handed writing of the great “hubris tragedies” of history, Titanic, Challenger, and global warming – that pretentious writer should be fired. The whole thing should be rebooted with more sympathy for rugged individualism and the heroic selfish.

    • ∫Clémens×ds

      Okay, jeez, calm down. Don’t give lessons about presumptions if you choose to make so many yourself. In retrospect, maybe “legitimate” was more appropriate than “respectable” –by which I mean that “respectable” gives readers too much room to choose to interpret it by “agreeable” too and I shouldn’t have let it slide– but I really don’t see what warrants such negativity. Were where you when nobody was criticizing the first girl in philosophy class to explain why she put down a black stone?

  • Tdoodle

    I think it bears mentioning that the word “actually” shows up 29 times in these comments (30, counting mine) and 16 of them are from Izo. You sure do correct people a lot.

  • Loranna

    If people are expecting the healer to pull them out of hot water after they dove in headfirst, they don’t need a healer. They need a dose of common sense. ^_^

    Loranna

    • Izo

      Leeeroooooooooooooooooooooooooy Jenkins!

  • ∫Clémens×ds

    Fun fact: it’s actually not the dead woman that’s motivating. It’s the fridge.

    It was a good fridge! There was food in there, arranged correctly and everything. Now it’s broken and messy and there’s a dead woman inside. Dead women don’t need to be refrigerated, it’s not edible silly! Truly, a massive waste of a perfectly functional kitchen appliance. No wonder authors use that trope constantly, one can only be infuriated and seeking retribution after that.

  • ∫Clémens×ds

    Where do you come from and how did you get here

  • Tylikcat

    …Max?

  • Tylikcat

    I’m hoping we covered enough of that last chapter – I could really do without Alison being raped, thanks – but depending on how it was handled, she could spend quite a while trying to figure out what the hell happened. And even once she did, dealing with it without going all Moonshadow could be pretty problematic – really, she’d need to quietly gather evidence instead of punching things, and can you even imagine what a rape trial would look like? I mean, people would say she was unrapeable. You can imagine the scenario – they go out, they do stuff, and… then she wakes up around noon at her place. My experience, at least, is stuff that seems pretty straightforward in the abstract, or even when you’re supporting friends through it can be a lot more disorienting and confusing when you’re in the center of it.

    But yes, I agree, Alison, especially being superficially small and cute, might seem like potential arm candy and an appropriate receptacle for his ability.

  • David

    His power is like playing god though.

    “Nearly all men can withstand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”

    -Abraham Lincoln-

    He can only make people more powerful.

    How is he supposed to choose who is worthy of getting more power?

    The better question is, why is he being hated on because he doesn’t want to be the one to choose that?

    The double standard here is absurd. Alison literally quit, and walked away from being a superhero, and you all love her for that. Then we have a dude that doesn’t want to be the one making others more powerful…and Alison gets on him because he “could be saving lives”. No one says anything about Alison being a hypocrite, but just continue to hate all over Max.

    I love the comment section here, haha.

    • Izo

      I love every part of your post. Especially the quote from Abraham Lincoln 🙂

  • MisterTeatime

    The sad* thing is, the true answer to Max’s question is absolutely “yes,” followed by the epic verbal smackdown Alison gave Cleaver back at the end of Issue 2- “I have your ‘total freedom’ and it’s bullshit, it doesn’t do anything for anybody, and I am so goddamn sick of being great at it and celebrated for it when it’s ultimately useless“… but that wouldn’t help anything.
    (Seriously, I’m considering cropping off all but the last three panels of this page and hanging them somewhere with the caption “IRONY – When You Walk Through The Park Blindfolded, Find The Single Remaining Decades-Old Unexploded Land Mine, And Set Your Trampoline On It”)
    *Sad for us, and for Alison, who you can just about see being carefully casual about this in the last panel. Less sad for Max, who has narrowly escaped getting destroyed (again!) because Alison knows wrecking his perspective all at once wouldn’t be productive.

  • Shweta Narayan

    what are you even getting out of reading this comic?

  • phantomreader42

    A good question is does he have much control over this or when he activates it any dynomorph in range gets boosted.

    I was considering the possibility that his power is “leaking”, and this is what’s making the other supers stronger. But if that’s the case, and he landed on the roof of a building full of dynamorphs, then what kind of chaos would arise from that?

  • phantomreader42

    I can imagine all sorts of powers that might benefit the worlds with Max’s help (someone who turn small amounts of dirt into food, maybe), but it’s weird to bring this twist into the story without having introduced anyone who obviously could benefit from Max’s power.

    I think the ones who would benefit most that we’ve seen would be the ones who got killed.

  • Izo

    “Because transgender people and their allies are telling you? You’re far past the point where you can plead ignorance.”
    That’s subjective reasoning though. Not objective. I could say that I’m offended by someone wearing white after labor day, but it doesnt mean other people can’t wear white after labor day.

    It’s a moot point though – I’ve dropped this thread because I don’t want to distress some of the more reasonable people on this forum like Shweta.

    “So does transgender (except when it means non-binary the entre lifetime). If you continue to insist otherwise people are going to be forced to conclude you’re actively transphobic.”

    1) I’m not transphobic. I have no problem with anyone being whatever gender they want to be. My comments have been always about scientific terms and sentence structure. I’ve even spelled out, rather up-front, that I don’t think there’s anything morally wrong with being transgender. I consider transgendered people to be able to do anything that a non-transgendered person can do. They are not lesser than non-transgendered people, and should not be treated differently.

    2) Trans does not mean ‘always been one way.’ The prefix itself means ‘changing thoroughly.’ Transverse. Transfer. Transition. Transmission. Transgender. Having proper knowledge of word origin and sentence structure does not make me a bigot. It does make you intolerant that you would throw out labels like bigot just because I am consistent about what word actually mean. Making it into a threat of ‘if you don’t agree with me, you shall be labelled a bigot’ diminishes your argument.

    Now if you don’t mind, I’m going to stop talking about this on the thread and agree to disagree, and I’d -appreciate- if you dropped it as well.

    Thank you.

  • Izo

    Yeah I know. I’ve decided to just drop the whole thread stance if everyone else will as well and agree to disagree. I don’t like the idea of distressing other people over what’s just an interesting discussion to me. As soon as people started trying to label me a bigot, I think it’s gone way overboard.

    I tend to get very invested in debates and sometimes it might be a good idea to just back off of one or two. I’m not taking what you’re saying the wrong way. It’s good advice. Thanks.

  • Izo

    By asking what transmasc means? I didnt know that asking questions to learn more was claiming authority. Or was it when I said that I enjoyed reading Shweta’s posts and think he or she is very civil? Was that me claiming authority? Was saying that we shouldnt make assumptions about entire groups of other people ‘claiming authority?’

    Which part of what I was saying ‘claiming authority over the rest of us?’

    You know what. Never mind – this is beating a dead horse at this point.

  • Izo

    That’s true and I guess it’s sort of like ‘outing’ a person… except… she did get it from a supervillain who sent it to her, and she didn’t know what was in the file until she opened it – it’s not like she broke into his medical records on her own, and hasnt gone and publicized it to the world.

  • Izo

    “Okay, you invoked authority – “my science background” – let’s see you enumerate that background. ”

    Saying that I have a background in the sciences is invoking authority? No it’s just explaining why I have certain views. I was a double major in physics and biology, with a minor in literature. My ‘opinion’ isnt superceding anything. It’s just the definition that is used objectively.

    For example, I’m polynesian/asian. But I’m pretty sure there are people who know more about the history of asian culture than I do, or about the genetics behind superficial facial characteristics of oriental vs occidentals.

    If I was black, and I was talking to a white doctor about my having sickle cell anemia, I’m pretty sure I’d think his or her opinion had merit, despite the fact that the white doctor can’t get sickle cell anemia.

  • Izo

    Against my better judgment I’ll give some rl info about myself.

    “What exactly is the science background that you allude to?”
    I was a double major in biology and physics (originally I was going to go into medical technology, then was going to be a cardiologist, and went to medical school before I stopped to go into law instead because it was too stressful (at which point I took the bar for 3 states). I work in patents (mainly medical patents) and enjoy it quite a bit, which requires both a science background and law background and a working, sometimes obsessive detail-oriented view of language, given how patent descriptions work.

    I also have a minor in literature and my mother was an english professor, so I’ve had discussions about proper sentence structure pretty much drilled into my head since I was a child.

    Also not sure if this matters since it has nothing to do with the topics at hand, but I later got a one year degree in finance and accounting online.
    But in case we ever are discussing economics, it probably will come up.

  • Izo

    Thank you. Okay, but why would the name annoy Max? Is it because people have defined him as being privileged because of his race and gender? Is there some sort of wordplay at work – some sort of double meaning of intersectional that has to do with his powerset?

  • Izo

    Thank you! I’m always looking for new stuff to read 🙂

    This was the fanfic I was reading btw.

    https://www.fanfiction.net/s/11219388/1/The-Last-Daughter

  • Izo

    The more I think about it, the more I have to change my mind and agree with Shweta, at least on Max flaunting economic power.

  • Izo

    I REALLY have to read Worm beyond what I read about ‘The Last Daughter’ (a Worm/Supergirl fanfic).

  • ∫Clémens×ds

    No of course not and I’m not even criticizing the authors they often (always?) do better things than I propose in retrospect, this is just food for thought.

  • ∫Clémens×ds

    For the same reason the government involves itself in drug consumption. Individual consent is a neat thing too many people think settles every issue.

  • Izo

    Not to mention that, if Peter Parker had never become Spider-Man, Gwen Stacy would never have been killed by the Green Goblin in the 616 universe. Good and bad things can happen when you are a hero.

    PS – Spider-man is pretty much my favorite hero, next to Supergirl (any incarnation of her except Matrix)

  • Izo

    I can totally see a scenario in which Patrick manipulates Max into using his power to augment Patrick’s power, then Patrick pretty much takes over the world via mind control.

  • Izo

    “I don’t think a mass whale orgy will help you with any of that, Aquaman sir.”

  • Izo

    In their defense, they were only 14 when they started. Strategic thinking about wearing armor for the non-invulnerable members might have gone over their heads 🙂

  • ∫Clémens×ds

    Doesn’t the rest of your comment addresses your first sentence? The answer being that what I put forth wasn’t a “better reading of Max” but an alternate one that especially doesn’t gel with the one we’ve had ever since he came up? And that you are among those who got that?

    Plus it makes the Dracula thing not work because you getting that means you know I defend myself of making presumptions, not cry murder with blood on my fangs.

    And really I reread my comment multiple times –and I tend to give up in the wake of multiple people when they tell me an impression they got, and not tell them that they feel wrong– but I really don’t see it. If you do and clear as day, maybe you can help? I insult Max a few millions times sure but not… in a way that says it’s not something I, higher appreciator of Art, do? Even the ever elusive “I blame the authors for that” I have sometimes been much much more close than I was there.

    • chaosvii

      Thank you for indicating that you are interested in why people decipher your words in a light that you don’t intend.
      As far as I can tell, some appear to see your stuff as sincere and therefore oblivious to how it deviates from accepted canon. And others act as if these posts of yours were a way of masking your supposed utter contempt for the narrative or characters through a flowery and ever more elaborate yet fundamentally lazy sassiness towards whatever is the most convenient target to be absurd about. (I may be projecting my own views onto how others see your posts and by extension your thoughts & actions, but that’s what I see so far)

      The two straightforward ways of reducing this and other misunderstandings are:
      1) Stop being as absurd as you can manage for the performance art that you enjoy, and cut down the hyperbole significantly in order to reach a broader audience. (I do not recommend this option, but it is straightforward and it does cut down on this situation)
      2) Directly asking the people why they saw your words that way and even go so far as to tell them why you expected your words to mean what you intended them to convey.
      Not everyone that reads your posts recognizes that you tend to make comment thread openers as if this place was a comedy club. By making it clear that you’re a fan of hyperbole & ironic statements of absurdity there is some common ground for which misunderstandings can be discussed.

      You’re not Dracula in this analogy, you’re the accused serial killer calling Dracula factually incorrect because of a factor that doesn’t make Dracula unable to determine when people are murders (nor affects Dracula’s ability to be wrong about that for other reasons).
      The fact that Dracula is a murderer has no bearing on whether or not Dracula can accurately accuse others of being murderers. Dracula being wrong about you being a murderer has nothing to do with Dracula being a murderer. Dracula happens to be wrong for unrelated reasons, and acting like Dracula is wrong for that particular reason is silly.
      I called you silly for doing that, I did not insist that Dracula made an accurate accusation about you. You are not a serial murderer, and even if you were, it would be silly to pass that sort of defense off when Dracula is in Night Court outlining all the blood evidence which points to you, the accused having done a particular thing that Dracula has also done.
      Are there other ways I can run this analogy into the ground only for it to rise to feed upon the innocent later? Probably! But whatever.

      And finally, you would be completely correct about my first statement and that would be all there is to it if not for the fact I failed to change that mistake into a different thing due to some lack of editing. Anyway, the sentence should have been

      I don’t see why you are conflating a prudent decision based on risk assessment with a dude that rejects the entire notion of Alison’s heroism in the abstract but doesn’t actually show that it would have an emotional cost to it.

      This stuff hinges on how you still haven’t given Max an actual emotional connection to the audience for which being criticized as lightly as the fiendish head of selfishness herself is a plausible thing to expect of this comment section. Even with this more sympathetic portrayal, Max comes off as a character who opposes Alison & happens to have reasons for his behavior which don’t scream asshole.
      Is Max portrayed as in danger of anything in your hypothetical? No, but the girl believed she was risking financial ruin. Bad point of comparison.
      Is Max hypothetically doing this on behalf of his family for the sake of his family? No, that’s what the girl was doing. Bad point of comparison.
      Is Max afraid in your alternative portrayal? Not in a clear way, but the girl was portrayed as afraid. Bad point of comparison as is, but it could probably be fixed by having him try, fail to achieve heroism, and quietly give up the cape because, like Alison, he kinda understands that he’s not doing much of any good for the world by using his power as a weapon. (in his case, weapon booster).
      So with all that in mind: Why are you conflating the two very different situations as things that commenters would not criticize when there is no inconsistent behavior to be decried?

  • Izo

    I actually explain that I don’t mean man=cis-man further below (I’m minimizing repeating myself since the thread has gotten out of control), in a response to Shweta (to explain how what I was saying was not something offensive). I’ve since stopped discussing this particular debate since it was distressing to a few more reasonable people who did not resort to calling me a bigot for simply having a different opinion, and I’ve moved on. I’m only responding to this particular post because you asked in the last paragraph and I already answered it in response to someone else. 🙂

    • Zinc

      Thanks – I’ve already seen it, actually, but only after writing my question. Please see my reply to it below about your usage of “=” 🙂 Sorry for splitting up this discussion to two threads, kind of makes it hard to follow…

  • Izo

    I hope he does not get fridged. I hate the whole tactic of ‘fridging’ in comics, and I don’t think the creators of the comic rely on such lame, lazy cliches anyway 🙂 It seems to cater to more thought-provoking discussions than that.

  • ∫Clémens×ds

    You don’t see the potential problems of proposing a service that grants an ever abstract “more power” to people, either to said people or society?

    • GreatWyrmGold

      1. I said I didn’t see the parallels with drugs.
      2. For every problem I can think of, I can think of a way to avoid it by not being an idiot while distributing powers.

  • Flipz

    Okay. I really want to be sympathetic to Max here since he’s clearly feeling emotional distress, but…this is basically the literal superpower version of my (and I suspect a lot of other people’s) innermost desire: to be *useful* to others. He calls it a waste, but it’s…basically the exact opposite? I mean, sure, it doesn’t give you carte blanche to do whatever you want (like Allison’s power’s basically do; if she wanted, she could probably conquer the world–or exterminate it–pretty much single-handedly), but think about it: you have, right there in front of you, a 100% guarantee that your actions are *helping someone*, making their lives better, even just for those few minutes you’re using your power–and if the power-user you’re helping is in turn helping other people, then that effect starts expanding exponentially. It may not be the flashiest, most exhilarating power ever, but if you can’t derive even the slightest iota of pleasure out of helping another human being, it puts a serious damper on how much I can empathize with you. :-/

    Again, I get it if you feel like it’s not as good as someone else’s talent–envy is a totally understandable human emotion, even with mundane abilities and skills. But *useless*? That’s going a bit far, especially for a power all of us in the real world can only dream of.

  • ∫Clémens×ds

    Say let’s do a fun exercise and replace every mention of “empowering someone else” with “giving them guns, yes guns, this comment thread is now about gun control”. Will Alison’s insistance at least sort of raise one eyebrow of yours if we do?

    • GreatWyrmGold

      In a world where there are only a handful of people with guns, some on each side of the law, an armorer distributing guns (responsibly) is a good thing, not a bad one. And the only negative consequences that come to mind (e.g, a cop’s gun being stolen by crooks) don’t apply to the situation at hand.

    • GreatWyrmGold

      Oh, and I forgot to mention (and can’t edit my post yet), but in this scenario, people without guns are pretty much helpless against a significant proportion of people with.

  • Jbark

    It’s probably for the best that he never used this power. Imagine giving some one who couldn’t control their power an increase that saves their life or the life of the people around them and then threatening to take it away (assuming he can do that).

  • camolot the creator

    What kind of stupid power is heart anyway. And I mean that.
    I see where he’s coming from. What if you were told that you were special, that you had a purpose? Not many people know their purpose in life, but you? You DO. And then, after all that build-up, after all that encouragement and realization that maybe, just maybe, you can do something special…
    You exist to serve others.
    You don’t exist for you, you don’t get to help yourself even a little. You exist to give, and give, and give, and never get anything back. Not even a thank-you. People come to you because you’re just the guy to go to-hey, HE can do that thing, and I’m sure he’s not busy, have HIM do this-and nobody cares about you. Your feelings, your opinions-they all get washed away in a torrent of other people. They lean on you, they ask your advice, they need your help with this or that, and you give and give of yourself, but the second you need anything they’re too busy. Oh, it’s not a good time. Oh, can you ask later. No, I’m too busy right now.

    This doesn’t excuse him, but I see, and I understand. And maybe that’s all he needs: someone to understand.

  • KevlarNinja

    ………..So he’s a human buff ability?