sfp 6 87 for web

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  • bryan rasmussen

    oh god I was right, she’s going to augment feral. And the side effect of this will be feral will be able to lay on the operating table 100% of the time! There will an assembly line of surgeons cutting her forever!

    Or maybe she’s augmenting Patrick, because then Patrick will totally be able to find the conspiracy in less time.

    • Lostman

      No, I think your spot on when with the former as far I can tell.

      • bryan rasmussen

        yeah I’m pretty sure it’s feral also because he was all well she’s doing this for a reason.

        So Allison is thinking by augmenting Feral she can heal faster and not be in as much pain, and it is totally justified forcing this scumbag to do it because he disrespected Feral, the greatest hero I know. Which I mean, really, I would probably do the same thing, except that I would think hey there will a big downside later.

      • David Claughton

        My guess is she’s going to augment Feral’s healing power so that it is (temporarily) capable of healing everyone in the hospital without any need for organ transplants at all …

    • Tsapki

      I was under the impression that the surgery on Feral only stopped to replace equipment and let the surgeons rest, rather than the limits of her regeneration.

    • ∫Clémens×ds

      She’s going to augment Brad. He’ll know sprout bat wings and will be able to fly too!

      (Alison forced Max to perform because flying gets lonely)

      • Lostman

        This is a bad idea, a very bad idea. That blow up in Alison face, and puts Max in the cross hairs of others.

        Meaning that this could be another “Alison fault”… again.

  • Thunderstorm Kid

    Both with tears in their eyes

  • Crow

    Aw, the little tears are supposed to make her more sympathetic because she just resorted to torture. That’s so cute <3. (Kappa)

    • Lostman

      This better be worth it, because if not. She only has herself to blame…

    • Miri

      That or indicate how frustrated she is that he didn’t do this – voluntarily – years ago…

  • Spectacles

    So now regardless of what ends have been accomplished, the means used to achieve them still stands.

    Last panel: everyone is crying, no one is happy, no one is right.

  • …huh. What’s all this, then?

    • Lostman

      I’m so lost right now, what is going now.

  • MrSing

    No Alison, no. You don’t get to cry.

    • Lysiuj

      I’d be worried if she didn’t cry.

    • masterofbones

      Everyone is allowed to have whatever emotions they want. But our judgment should not be swayed by what someone else is feeling.

  • ∫Clémens×ds

    Oh. Oh!

    Max can materialize the Dragon Balls! And with that I’m sure, summon the dragon Shenron to make a reality altering wish once every year. The kind so powerful as to ask to destroy Want from the world, inflict eternal peace or even Bulma’s panties!

    I take back everything I sad this is totally worth tyrannical coercion, broken arms and dead orphans for your trouble

  • Lostman

    Alison… WHAT ARE YOU DOING!!!

    • Wormlore

      She’s just proving her teacher right.
      (Remember when he basically said that well-meaning people like her make for perfect tyrants.)
      No big deal.

  • Lostman

    Oh… that seems like a out line of a body, this has wrong all over it. Just wrong all over…

  • Lostman

    What ever she doing… it scares me.

  • Lostman

    Who are they is the question.

    • The Improbable Man

      Whoever it is, they are not woken up by the sound of a man screaming.

  • Lysiuj

    Can we all just give Molly a big round of applause for moderating upwards of 1500 comments on the last page.
    (and for the beautiful artwork as always, of course)

    • Captain-Quazi

      I love her use of light in this, as well as the subtle emotion in Alison and Max

      • And the outdoor scenes in silhouette are really good as well.

        Molly absolutely nailed this one.

  • Orzahn

    What if she is augmenting a healer in the hospital her father is at? Although I think we’re going to see someone else we haven’t met before for whatever reason. Her crying makes me think that whatever is going on where they are at is a sad, sad affair.

    • ∫Clémens×ds

      …I’m guessing there aren’t early twenties-something oncologists? If we still understand Max’s power as only enhancing biodynamics, that’s the age range they’re in these days.
      Plus would you really become a doctor assigned to *one* hospital if your power is to magically heal people instead of travelling literally everywhere

  • Ben Posin

    It isn’t obvious to me based on previous dialogue that he can grant normal folks powers, opposed to “just” supercharging those who have it. Is there somewhere this is made clear I missed?

  • Stephanie Gertsch

    In the last picture I wonder if Max is experiencing a catharthis by finally using his powers as well. Those glowy things are very pretty,

    That and how Allison tortures him only in the totally dark panel are my favorite parts about this page.

    • Weatherheight

      Great balls of oatmeal cookies, I totally didn’t get that!
      Nice eye on catching dark acts being done in dark places.

  • Jenna

    Those look like angry tears to me, rather than penitent tears.

  • SpoonyViking

    Could that be Feral?

  • TheKarpuk

    This is something I don’t see very often in super hero stories. Someone who was young, incredibly powerful, and idealistic would probably make some deeply problematic choices.

  • rpenner

    No, _he’s_ doing this. Something that’s been in his power to do for a long time.
    It was always going to happen, whether it was destiny, fate, or somebody’s plan…
    On board an alien spaceship:
    Alien reading blinking light: “Captain, at the gathering, finally the initiator has begun to act!”
    Captain steepling his extra-long fingers: “Excellent. Prepare phase three.”
    Genre-savvy alien breaking fourth wall: “Dun dun duunh!”

  • JanetBird

    I’m trying to be horrified at what’s going on, but for the moment all I can think is that the last panel is just breathtaking…

    Okay, I’m back. Um, this is just bad, Alison, so bad. I don’t even understand what’s happening and there’s no way it’s not gonna backfire on you! And I still want to know what you called your doctor about.

  • DeColumna Vanessa

    This scares me. She’s acting a lot like Truck from selkiecomic.com. This isn’t okay. I understand why she’s doing this, but she’s legitimately torturing this guy now. Yes, he’s a jerk, and yes, it wasnt much to ask, but even horrible people are still people.

  • C.L. Inky

    This is actually pretty cool. She attacks him, threatens to kill him, kidnaps him, then when he won’t cooperate, she tortures him (or inflicts pain on him to get him to bow to her wishes; that might not be torture). She now has no way of deal with the fallout of this set of actions, short of authorial intervention. Forget asking if any of this is right or wrong for a moment. What is she going to do if Max tells someone? Or if the boosted people in question ask how they got boosted? Is she going to kill Max? If the government got a super after her, Max might be able to up them enough to take her down, so he’s obviously a weak link. What’s public opinion going to look like? Forget the government doing it, what happens when angry mobs show up at her parents’ house. Or start harassing the supers she knows who aren’t as powerful as her. Is she going to kill all the mobs? What about people she works with, like Lisa or her fellow firefighters? Will they want to keep working with her? Short of her killing Max and cleverly hiding the body, or the writer making a decision to just not let it happen,.there ought to be a shitstorm after this, and I am curious to see it.

    • Psile

      Moral objections aside, Max is going to keep his mouth shut. He has two reasons to do this. One, he is clearly terrified of having his powers revealed and any attempt to use official means to target Allison would require him to reveal his powers. Two, he is certainly probably terrified of Allison at this point and she has handily shattered his previous illusion of being invulnerable because he has money. The only way Max says anything is if his vindictiveness overcomes these fears, which is not impossible but also not the default action. Finally, it depends on what she is forcing him to do. If his actions have clear and life saving consequences for others than public opinion might be more along the lines of “well why the hell didn’t this whiny baby do this in the first place?” It would at least be split, I think. Finally, ultimately Allison is looking at some assault and kidnapping charges. She hasn’t killed anyone or anything, so sentencing lenience is possible particularly when you consider the cost involved in keeping contained. Essentially throwing her in jail is a multi-million/billion dollar charge, and unlike with cleaver she isn’t really a public menace just because she did one morally ambiguous, though completely illegal, thing.

      • Weatherheight

        I think you’re giving too much credit to Max’s judgement. He’s shown it is somewhat lacking in manifold ways. If, however, this becomes a transformative experience for Our Max, everything you’ve said holds well.

        So eager to find out where this goes.

      • notquiteotaku

        Also, keep in mind that his mother used her political connections to hide his powers. She could be in for a world of shit if word gets out that she was hiding an unregistered biodynamic and could even lead to her doing time in prison. Even if Max is angry enough to out himself to make Allison pay for this, he might still choose to keep quiet to protect his mom.

      • Dean

        When have we EVER seen Alison face legal consequences for anything?

    • Kifre

      I know this isn’t what you were asking, ’cause I think that most people would call this torture without resorting to a legal definition…BUT I am actually really excited about the potential developments in international law as a result of super powers being a thing! So: most places torture is defined in treaties/law, the elements include: 1) Intentional infliction of pain, 2) for an impermissible purpose (obtain confession, punishment, coercion etc.), 3) is not arising from a lawful sanction, and 4)is instigated by, with the consent of or for an official or government or someone acting in official capacity. And it makes sense that that’s there because those laws were intended to protect against government abuses of power.

      So, unless Allison retains some official capacity (which she might!) it’s probably not technically torture. Still assault, abuse, coercion, what have you…but not torture.

      • Weatherheight

        don’t forget unlawful restraint and kidnapping (possibly across state lines – instant felony).

      • Izo

        It is torture.

    • Izo

      I wouldnt put it pasr alison to kill max to ensure he doesnt say anything. Monsters kill. Although she might just not care since no one can stop her even if he does tell. Ahe has no personal responsibility of risk to herself for her actions

      • Psile

        Um, woah. This is a really extreme assumption, in my opinion. We have no idea what she is making Max do, and what the consequences are. Calling her a monster is a bit premature. Lots of people who have accomplished great things for great people have also done bad things. People are complicated, and just because she is forcing Patrick to do something after having exhausted literally every other diplomatic option does not mean that she is suddenly going to just kill people all over the place.

        • Izo

          “Um, woah. This is a really extreme assumption, in my opinion.”
          It feels extreme to me as well, but Alison doing THIS seemed extreme to me, and if you had said she was going to do it before she re-visited Max, I’d have defended her and said she wouldnt do that. But she did. So now I’m not going to assume Alison has any depths to which she wouldn’t sink if she’s doing what SHE thinks ‘is for the greater good.’ Monsters don’t always need to think they’re monsters to be monsters. I’m sure there are plenty of people who mug, rape, and hurt other people who delude themselves into thinking that they’re good people because they think any good things they do in their lives somehow outweigh and erase the bad things. They might not even think about it at all.

          “Calling her a monster is a bit premature.”
          It was premature up until the point where she slammed his head into the table and threatened to drop him in the Atlantic Ocean to die. By the time she was twisting his arm and about to break the joint of the arm, then the wrist, we’d gone past the notion that calling her actions monstrous was premature, imho.

          “Lots of people who have accomplished great things for great people have also done bad things.”

          Yes, I’m pretty certain that the way Hitler got the German people to go along with exterminating six million jews was also to promise to make Germany a great power. Sorry if that sounds strongly worded, but whether you are doing great things or evil things, it’s subjective, and it doesn’t erase the evil thing done to get there. You can’t build a house with a crappy foundation, or everything will collapse. Hoping that it won’t while people are inside is just asking for trouble. Not telling anyone that the foundation is crappy is criminal.

          “People are complicated, and just because she is forcing Max to do something after having exhausted literally every other diplomatic option”
          She did not use every diplomatic option. She spent a few minutes explaining her plan, which was apparently not well thought out enough to make Max think it was a good one, then another 5 minutes insulting Max and belittling him, and telling him he should do her plan, with him repeating no. That’s not diplomatic. That’s a child saying ‘C’mon do it! Do it! Please do it! You’re stupid if you don’t do it. Fine, you’re stupid! Now I”m gonna hit you until you do it.’

          “does not mean that she is suddenly going to just kill people all over the place.”
          It makes it a lot more likely that she’d be willing to though. Slippery slope.

    • Eric the .5b

      At the very least, if this gets public, Project Valkyrie is *toast* unless everyone else involved can disown her and kick her out so fast her head spins. As is, potentially, her entire social life aside from Patrick and her family.

  • LUAP

    I thought his anomaly was that he enhanced the powers of the already super, not create ones from ordinary people.

    • Zac Caslar

      You’ll notice that a bit of speculation with zero supporting evidence is rapidly becoming equally viable an explanation as the actual informed stated explanation.

      This is not good.

  • ∫Clémens×ds

    Oh and by the by, if Alison could *not* rest her hands on Max while he performs on that second to last panel, that would be just– well, you can hardly make things substantially better in this scenario, but, you know

    • Izo

      Less rapey?

  • Richard Hughes

    What’s Feral’s real name again?

    • Kifre

      Tara, I think?

      • Weatherheight

        I’m not sure it’s ever been mentioned – I went on a search and didn’t find it.
        That said, if it is Tara – Good eye!
        If not yet decided, Tara is pretty good.

  • phantomreader42

    So…..most powers tend to have a downside

    Is that actually the case here? The downside, if any, is usually “can’t turn it off” (Patrick can’t stop reading minds, Allison can’t be vulnerable, Feral rejects sedatives so she feels the pain even as she’s healing, Furnace doesn’t have full control, Moonshadow had that problem where she’d occasionally just blend into the background even if she WANTED to be noticed, Lisa’s boosted intelligence is always-on but that doesn’t seem to actually hurt her). Dynamorphs in general have that problem (and Brad is probably unusually sensitive to sound). Daniel/Cleaver’s power would be a lot less troublesome (and might in fact be pure upside) if it didn’t also apply to his cancer, which is less an issue with the power and more a problem with it applying where it’s not wanted.
    For powers that aren’t continuously active, I don’t recall seeing much in the way of downsides. But then that category is mostly Hector and that teleporter who only showed up a few times. And it looks like Max is added to that group now.

    • Santiago Tórtora

      What about Patrick? Is his lack of introspection normal, or was that caused by his power?

  • Jack Lostthenames Warren

    Holy shit, this is all kinds of gorgeous!!

  • Anna

    Nothing good happens after 2 AM.

  • Axel_Celosar

    So… Alison is basically going full Justice Lord. You never go full Justice Lord.

  • Thamuzz

    Well this got dark.
    Probability she’s forcing him to boost Feral?

    • Arklyte

      Boost to what? What’ll happen? Why would she suddenly change her mind and go back to arguing with Feral again?

  • Soqoma


    • Tylikcat

      Fuck, yes this.

  • Jagged

    Now I hope she fails.

  • Psile

    Except in order to do that, Max would have to reveal that he has powers which he won’t do. His own isolationism and unwillingness to participate in society backfire when he needs those societal constructs like police and courts.

    • Weatherheight

      Unless he gets pissed enough. 😀

  • ∫Clémens×ds

    Yes I do not actually believe SFP will henceforth veer into Manga Entertainment copyrighted property Dragon Ball, this is not actually serious

    • Izo

      Ok because a hero who i thought of as a good role model until now becoming a monstrous cretin thug is one thing but dragonball z would be really too much 🙂

  • ∫Clémens×ds


  • ∫Clémens×ds

    Secretly I possess another account by the name of Clementius, us, i which I *only* use to insult each and everyone of you all the while revering Alison’s every decision with, but none of my comments pass through

    • Tylikcat

      All these things that I had thought were integral to your character…

  • lily_k

    Well… this is an interesting parallel to these two’s first meeting. All right, I’m not sure “parallel” is the word I’m looking for, but all the same, here we have Alison, carrying a helpless Max again. Hmm… Seems a fair bit less heroic this time around, though.

  • ∫Clémens×ds

    I, hm, hold on.
    I’m waiting for the grand reveal to share my thoughts but something that strikes me as quite odd is that Alison “giving up” into a table-slam came, like, really easily. Couldn’t she have tried to bargain a little more? Seriously, her first argument was “you should do it because it’s morally right” and the second was “you should do it because your reasons for not are whiny”.

    I give her hell but I would be very surprised if the answer to why she didn’t at least try to apologize better to him, offer him anything he wanted, try to explain a little better without being condescending (and remember: Max’s main reason out was one of pettiness against her specifically) is because she’s a terrible negotiator. I hope at the very least time was of the essence or something, *anything* that explains the means, because no matter the end, it’s always, always, always judged relative to the means.

    • Stephanie

      Yeah, I agree she’s not a great negotiator, especially when she’s frustrated. And I think it’s also possible that she had already decided that she was prepared to take her “axiom of a tyrant” to its full extent, and as a result maybe went into this expecting that it would end in violence, and unconsciously rushed through the “speech check” phase that she believed to be necessary to attempt, but ultimately futile.

      Even though I think coercion is acceptable–and even, in extreme cases, a moral obligation–in order to save many lives, I also think Alison handled this whole thing in a rushed and graceless way, and that there are nonviolent avenues she didn’t explore. But if it turns out time was of the essence, I’ll forgive her for her haste.

      • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

        I don’t think the webcomic will go there. It would be so cheap. “Oh no, Alison stepped over the line, now she can never take it b~ oh wait turns out it was necessary for reasons all is well”
        I don’t trust the webcomic to make this mistake. I think Alison is unforgivable and we’ll explore the terrible consequences coming her way. And this is a huge, huge, huge mistake: everything she believes in, every argument she could make, has absolutely no value anymore after this.

        It’s either that or the webcomic advocates fascism, and, well, I certainly hope not

        • Zac Caslar

          I think you’re going to be bitterly disappointed.
          Allison’s not going to be an unambiguous monster any more than she’s ever going to be the pure-hearted champion of light some people are demanding.
          Wait and see, eh?

        • Tylikcat

          “…everything she believes in, every argument she could make, has absolutely no value anymore after this.”

          Um, what? How does this work, exactly?

          I am not arguing that what she is doing is justifiable. (I have faith that it is understandable, because I have faith in our creative team, but that’s really besides the point.) But, okay, she’s doing it. It’s horrible. And chances are, she’s not going to be able to fix it. Mitigate it, possibly? But what’s done is done, and no take backs.

          Have you not known anyone who has done something they are deeply ashamed of? Maybe the question is “…known and loved anyone who has…”? A lot of the tropes in fiction around these things are terrible, because often people will kill themselves or nobly sacrifice themselves (or just get in the way of this or that) so no one has to deal with long term consequences. But generally speaking, in the real world, everyone who is still alive (since the horrible things can involve killing people) wakes up the next morning, and life goes on. And people still have to go on making the same kinds of ethical choices that they did before they did whatever it was that they thought sacrificed all their principles. They can get caught up in the idea that somehow that past has eaten their entire future*, and a lot of people do. If it’s your friend, or your lover, or your sister, or brother, is “Welp, that’s it, screwed the pooch, game over,” what you’d want to say to them?

          Maybe I’m missing the point. I enjoy a good philosophical discussion as much as the next person, but I stopped really caring about the abstracts as such in my teens – they make an interesting lens through which to view things, but where I am, people are building a world entirely out of imperfect pieces. If you’re alive, life goes on. No other choices.

          * And the past tends to echo.

      • Dean

        Alison has never needed to learn to negotiate, is the thing. As a teenager, when she was learning how the world worked, she was taught that if you punch a problem hard enough, it will go away. She’s still learning that this worldview doesn’t always apply outside of giant robot fights.

  • chaosvii

    Agreed, there’s recognizing your limits, and then there’s building a fence just short of your comfort zone. It may be different for everyone, but announcing it as if it were a lamentable fate that is so impossible therefore what’s the point is seriously grating.

    Part of the reason Alison is heroic is that this obstacle, as insurmountable as it may seem, is one that she actually tackles with the full sincerity of achieving additional empathy with others, It’s not an all or nothing deal, little gains add up after all, and learning really tough stuff is often painfully slow but worth every bit of worry that it might not work out. Because whenever she becomes less of that terrible friend that Brad observed and more of that caring individual that comforted more than just her family, more than just a criminal named Daniel, more than just a nerdface named Hector, the glory is truly her own. Just as her infamy is truly her own. Both of these faces of Alison matter. Her compassion and her cruelty both shape her as she continues to grow.

  • ∫Clémens×ds

    Maybe the downside of Max’s power (and actual reason as to why he didn’t want to) is that invoking the glowing balls inevitably smells like cut onions and this is really embarassing

  • Jubal DiGriz

    Oh, I agree it’s obvious Alison is using coercion. But there’s definitely an element of non-consent here. I wonder if that incident at the party was a kind of foreshadowing?

  • ∫Clémens×ds

    I feel like the sentiment expressed there was “you get no sympathy from us for feeling torn apart over forcing people to do a thing you wanted them to do”

    • Stephanie

      It’s not like she did it for selfish reasons. If Max doesn’t do this, a lot of people die.

      • Katrika

        We don’t… know that? We don’t know what she’s doing. We don’t know if she’ll make things worse. Like, PROBABLY Allison thinks what she’s doing will save a life. PROBABLY more than one life. Thus she can make that decision. But where are you getting ‘thousands of people’ from? If Allison could cure her dad but had to force someone to heal him, for example, I think she would even if taking advantage of someone’s power is wrong. You’re assuming Allison has perfect judgement and is doing this clearly and rationally in a cost:benefit analysis. I’m assuming Allison is a person with feelings and biases and is doing something she THINKS is right but her judgement is possibly off (as to will this help), and she can risk severely messing up whoever Max is helping.

        It’s likely she’s doing this without the consent of whoever she’s trying to help, too, so that’s a lack of consent on two levels. Will the results be amazingly good? Possibly! But it feels like you’re arguing her actions to get there are right, and they’re not. And giving Max a ton of fresh trauma that will stick with him for life in order to cure her dad, as a hypothetical, isn’t actually a straight cost-benefit analysis that ends with more benefit than cost, even if I could understand someone doing that for someone they love.

        (I don’t actually think Max can cure her dad. But he’s an example of someone she loves intensely that she WOULD move the earth for if she could!)

      • Izo

        One can argue that she did it for exceedingly selfish reasons. She did it because she wants to make a difference, and she can’t seem to make a difference by convincing people to do what she considers ‘the right thing.’ She gave up her morals and her principles because the path she was on for her goal was just too hard, and she’s so much more used to being able to use violence to get her ends.

        • Stephanie

          She wants to make a difference for the world at large so that everyone will be better off. That’s far from selfish.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            You know what, I’m going to go on a limb and posit that that’s something that applies to most of the people who have been responsible to the largest number of death and scale of destruction in the world, that they tried to make a difference for the world at large so that everyone will be better off.

          • Izo

            The road to hell is paved with good intentions. She’s doing this to make herself feel good about helping others, or she would have left, then tried to find something or someone which would motivate Max in a positive way to choose to help that didn’t involve violence and threats like she is some two-bit thug. She wanted it to be about HER having figured a way to make him help.

            And not to go back to the standard Hitler comparison, but Hitler’s public reason for going to war was because the Germans had been suffering because of the Treaty of Versailles, and his public reason for exterminating the Jewish people was because they dirtied the purity of Aryan blood, and ‘everyone would be better off.’

            A man who robs a bank because he’s poor with a child and kills three tellers in the process can say he robbed the bank with the best of intentions to take care of he child, but he still killed three people and robbed a bank. His intentions are worthless in comparison.

            Alison has no clue about what would make everyone better off. She has opinions, and you know what they say about opinions and how everyone has them, compared to something else everyone has…

    • Tylikcat

      Though it’s worth keeping in mind that there are a whole passel of tropes about crying in women being insincere, intentional and manipulative.

      I think someone can be pretty upset with what Al is doing without deciding that she’s insincere.

      • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

        I don’t think it was anyone’s assumption, given the Alison we know.
        Plus the fact that Max isn’t looking at her, that the room seem to be quite dark, and that she doesn’t know we’re looking.

        • Tylikcat

          Well, both disingenuous and crocodile tears were mentioned (though the latter is a specifically contra-factual context) so I think bringing up the trope is warranted.

  • Tylikcat

    Well, Alison is the promixate cause.

    I am not trying to undermine Alison’s culpability, but I’m pretty sure she has a lot at stake at a pretty deeply personal level to do this. I don’t think it’s right, but I bet it makes sense.

    • Weatherheight

      Based on my current scenario in my head, her actions are understandable, reasonably justified, and still very, very despairing.

    • Izo

      I just can’t bring myself to care. Tears of happiness or tears of shame – theyre hollow coming from Alison after what she did

  • ∫Clémens×ds

    Wouldn’t that be the icing on the cake. Next page: a flashback on the hours and hours Alison spent painstakingly convincing these people to get amped up only to table-slam Max after five minutes of berating him for not being convinced by her terrible negociation

  • Rumble in the Tumble

    She lied.

    • Stephanie

      That’s one possibility, but I don’t think we actually know that yet. The person appears to be lying down and we didn’t see them react to Max screaming.

  • Jensaarai

    What is Max looking at in the last panel?

    • Weatherheight

      Anything but Alison?

    • Arklyte

      Someone lying on the bed or sofa?

  • Dawn Smashington

    I don’t think it will be. The writer had a professor try to teach Al this exact lesson; that you don’t impose your moral imperative onto other people. We can see in the final panel Al knows that what she’s doing is very, very wrong.

    What she does with that knowledge remains to be seen, but I wonder if at some point soon we’re going to see Al in prison; not because anybody could force her there, but because she knows she deserves it and turns herself in.

    • Izo

      What you said is the main reason I havent just deleted my bookmark in frustration.

      Ps – sounds sort of hancock-ish

      • Weatherheight

        The Will Smith character/
        Or the tubby Englishman?

        ::runs for cover before Izo throws a tomato at him for his obviously silly reply::

    • ChooseYourFight

      The question I have is, which lesson will she learn? That to force others to pick the stone that benefits everyone is wrong… or that she has the power to make that choice for them, and as such, a moral imperative to do so regardless of how many arms/necks get broken in the process? In that final panel, is she ashamed, remorseful… or just frustrated that it took her this long to decide?

      Quick reminder, this Issue and the last one in particular have been ROUGH for her. Life has gone out of its way to smash her every hope and dream with a length of pipe and even now that she thinks she knows a way to make the world a better place, it’s hard every step of the way. Even if she hates what she is doing, maybe she’s finally just given up playing the hero. Maybe she’s now looking to get the proper results and damn the cost to herself or others.

      • Happyroach

        I think the lesson she learned from the professor was that persuasion and expecting people to do the right thing, doesn’t work- people are fundamentally selfish at heart.

        I mean, that WAS what he was teaching, right?

        In fact, I think the takeaway lesson from the last couple chapters is that trying persuasion and working with people doesn’t work.Given that, why bother playing the hero?

  • chaosvii

    “I’d say ‘another human being’ but I’m not good at lying to myself”
    Have I ever mentioned you’re adorable when you make amusing hyperbole as a super srsly srs condemnation of humans that act outside your standards for how people should behave?
    It’s just so refreshing to see someone dehumanize someone else in defense of human decency 😛

    Caustic glibness aside, of course Alison has not earned the pity or compassion of anyone, because those feelings are extended to others from their owners, not earned by those that evoke such emotions. Feeling indignation in the sight of atrocious behavior is normal. Oh but hey guess what?! Feeling both indignation and compassion in varying amounts is also normal in the sight of atrocious behavior.
    They do not “deserve” your feelings, you are not “required” to feel as others do about their foibles and their idiocy, it does not “behoove” you to feel anything except what you initially feel.
    But even so, speaking as if your feelings make you an expert into the mental intricacies of a not-human named Alison is in fact, lying to yourself.
    No matter how much Alison evokes scorn and condemnation within us, feeling those things don’t make us criminal psychologists with a degree in “terrible creatures that suck because wow have you seen these shitstains?!” All they do is make us highly motivated to express our thoughts, be they accurate or otherwise.

    I do not condemn anything you’ve said, but I do note that there are presumptions here that can be avoided.

    • Izo

      “Have I ever mentioned you’re adorable when you make amusing hyperbole as a super srsly srs condemnation of humans that act outside your standards for how people should behave?”
      Adorableness is one of my many superpowers.

      “It’s just so refreshing to see someone dehumanize someone else in defense of human decency :P”
      One of the common themes against Alison has been that she doesnt understand what it is to be human anymore. Something that, before this arc, I tended to argue AGAINST when you or Loranna or others brought it up, and now realize I was wrong about.

      “But even so, speaking as if your feelings make you an expert into the mental intricacies of a not-human named Alison is in fact, lying to yourself.”
      Um… I’ve read this sentence a few time and I’m going to need this one explained a bit more, thanks. I’m speaking based on the idea that Alison is NOT someone who acts in any way which is restrained by the limitations of any other human beings. She never has to worry about personal consequences against herself. The only way anyone can ever hurt her is by hurting OTHERS, or giving her bad publicity, or possibly making her feel guilty (which is a pretty pathetic equivalency given what she’s doing now). And in the event of hurting others, it means that she’ll just kill you for that, and feel morally righteous about it.

      Normal humans don’t do many of the things they think of doing because there’s a fear of PERSONAL consequence to themselves as well as others. There can also be upbringing, morality, etc, but even the basis of morality tends to deal with personal consequence, whether legal, physical, or spiritual. Alison is incapable of ever experiencing this fear, and I used to think she was. But her actions have proved otherwise.

      “No matter how much Alison evokes scorn and condemnation within us, feeling those things don’t make us criminal psychologists”

      A layperson can have an opinion just as readily as a professional, and sometimes just as accurately.

      “I do not condemn anything you’ve said, but I do note that there are presumptions here that can be avoided.”

      Well there will invariably be presumptions made,because I’m not a mind reader with insight into what Molly and Brennan are planning for the storyline, and as of yet my team of bargain basement ninjas which I hired last week have not been able to breach their security to steal the script for the conclusion of this story arch. So I have to make educated guesses based on what I’m seeing.

  • Stephanie Gertsch

    Good point. How did Allison think this was going to even work… Are we still missing key information about how Max is going to “save countless lives?” A lot about this scenario doesn’t add up so far.

  • Stephanie Gertsch

    That’s true. It’s canon that all the supers know what it’s like to be normal, but I think a lot of people are forgetting that.

  • Weatherheight

    and following up on that line of thinking…
    even if things do turn out well, people tend to react badly to being lied to. Whether the moral calculus works to Alison’s favor sufficiently to counterweight that problem remains to be seen.

  • Sendaz

    The best part will be when she bumps into Patrick next week and he asks ‘So hey, did that cheque I sent you cover the bribe alright to get Max to do his thing for you?’

    • Newbie

      As hilarious as that would be, the cheque said it was for Valkyrie : (

    • Izo

      That would actually make all this horrific stuff happening right now sort of funny, at least for a moment.

  • Weatherheight

    And that helps explain why he’s been so reserved in using it.
    He pretty much can’t hide it when he uses it.
    Missed that too. 🙁

  • Ophidiophile

    I bet he would have been much more cooperative (and even appreciative) if she’d given him a check for $25,000,000.

  • Stephanie Gertsch

    I thought they flew to the top of a convenient building, and he’s going to send the shinies out into the world..where they will automatically be able to find a whole bunch of supers?

  • Weatherheight

    ::turning on black humor mode::
    a) Alison will bash in Max’s face prior to the recipient waking.
    b) Alison wil gouge the eyes out of the recipient prior to them seeing Max.
    c) Since we’re approaching Halloween IRL, Max gets a delightful Ghost costume made out of a hospital sheet.
    ::turning off black humor mode::

    Again, hyperbole – at the very least, the recipient of Max’s boost is likely to see his face. I feel confident Alison meant “Nobody but the person you’re going to boost will see your face.” Which is quite doable.

  • SJ

    We didn’t see her get permission, but we also don’t know that she didn’t. There’s a lot we don’t know about how she prepared for this.

    It’s not even remotely plausible to think that she got permission. Either she lied to Max about keeping his powers secret, or she is enhancing her target(s) without their permission.

    Those are basically the only two options. I mean, what, we’re supposed to believe that she got her target(s) to agree to having their powers augmented, without explaining how? With a procedure that’s never been tested? That she couldn’t possibly know wouldn’t hurt, or even kill them? And they just went along with it because, why? Because she’s Mega Girl?

    And let’s just stipulate, for the sake of keeping the conversation moving, that she, somehow, managed to do exactly that. I refuse to believe that she got her target(s) to agree to being a witness to her torturing a guy to make it all happen.

    If the next page does not include a panel of a room full of people staring back at Alison with horrified expressions on their faces, I’M going to be horrified!

    • Santiago Tórtora

      She didn’t lie about keeping the powers secret. In fact she specifically pointed out that the cat is out of the bag already.

  • Zorae42

    I can’t believe so many people are calling this torture. Torture is defined as inflicting “severe pain”. She put slight pressure on his arm (which hurts quite a bit, but doesn’t really qualify as severe). She didn’t break it. It probably stopped hurting almost immediately. The way you people define torture would make all parents that spank their children horrible monsters. That’s really all she did here; she spanked a petulant child.

    Yes she’s stepped over the line (although just a toe imo), but she isn’t torturing people.

    • ChooseYourFight

      ‘Slight pressure’ on the arm from someone with super strength doesn’t sound like torture to you? Her idea of moderate pressure would pop your head like a grape.

      • Tylikcat

        It doesn’t take that much pressure to inflict a lot of pain on a joint if you know what you’re doing – it’s all about the right mechanical advantage.

      • Zorae42

        Yes, her idea of moderate pressure. Not her idea of what non-super heroes consider normal pressure.

        Alison can open doors without them flying off their hinges, she can type on computers without breaking the keyboard, and she even slammed Max’s face into a table last strip without breaking it or the table. She’s lived with super strength for a long time. She clearly knows the correct amount of strength needed when dealing with non-super heroes.

        • ChooseYourFight

          This assumes, of course, she really is using just slight pressure in this instance. And not simply making it sound the part both to emasculate him further into compliance and to clearly indicate that yes, the dial can go much MUCH higher, so comply already Max before I have to rip off your body parts and beat you with them.

          • Newbie

            Yeah, my assumption was that the emphasis on “slight” was to remind him that she can do it a LOT harder if she wanted to.

    • Newbie

      She has super strength. Allison claims that it’s only a slight pressure, but we don’t know how much that is for normal people, all we know is that we can hear Max screaming.

      I don’t know how much force you condone with spanking (I find that the morality of spanking in general varies widely across age and ethnicity boundaries), but if it was later revealed that she left bruises on his arm, or nearly dislocated it, would you brush it off? Do you require broken bones to define it as torture? I mean, waterboarding is usually called torture, it doesn’t break any bones.

      This is of course, ignoring the fact that Max isn’t Allison’s child, and that non-consensually spanking people who aren’t your child is something the law frowns upon.

      • Zorae42

        We also know Max is a privileged rich kid, so his pain threshold may be lower than normal. And certain holds, which Alison would most likely have learned in her combat training (she even uses some in the previous comic), can be pretty darn painful without causing any real damage.

        We get a pretty good view of his forearms in the next two panels (which is most likely where she was holding him if she was putting pressure on his shoulder). But there aren’t any marks or even redness on them, which seems like she most likely didn’t leave bruises on his arm. And I doubt she would have had to go as far as nearly dislocating it.

        Would you call getting punched hard in the arm torture? It leaves a bruise. Heck, one time I got rather drunk and stumbled across some uneven sidewalk. So my friends insisted on holding my upper arms from then on to help stabilize me, even though I protested saying I didn’t need it. And the next morning I had big bruises on them. Oh dear, my friends left bruises on me against my consent, they must be torturers.

        Waterboarding causes you to experience the sensation of drowning, and has the potential to cause damage to your lungs, brain, and even can, in fact, cause broken bones due to how hard the victim struggles against the restraints. Not to mention it causes lasting psychological damage due to to literally feeling like you’re dying…

        That is no where near the same category as applying slight pressure to someone’s shoulder joint.

        Like I said, she definitely crossed the line. I didn’t say what she did was legal. But she isn’t committing torture.

        • Arkone Axon

          Your friends could actually be charged if you wanted to be a jerk about it… and then they’d be protected under the Good Samaritan defense.

          By contrast… yes, what she did here is indeed torture. The exact definition:

          “the action or practice of inflicting severe pain on someone as a punishment or to force them to do or say something, or for the pleasure of the person inflicting the pain.”

          She is inflicting pain on him to force him to do something. And it can be argued that she has taken enjoyment from doing so to him. Especially given her mocking him by throwing his own words back at him. But even if she were taking no enjoyment whatsoever, it would still be forcing him to do something by means of inflicting pain… it is torture.

        • Newbie

          Alright, you make a good point on the waterboarding thing. It wasn’t a good example, just the first thing that came to mind.

          As to getting punched in the arm, is it repeated? Is the person doing it using it to force me to do something? Then, yes, I would consider it torture. By contrast, your friends were not trying to hurt you. Personally I factor intent in quite a bit when defining torture. They were trying to help you, you struggled and got a bit hurt. Now, if they were punching you in the arm repeatedly to make you stop struggling, then we’d have a debate.

          Also, really? You’d go for the the lower arm to hurt the shoulder? Granted, I don’t have any real experience in this area, but I would have figured someone with her strength would go for the upper arm.
          …but going back there’s no real evidence she went for his shoulder anyways, so I suppose we have no idea which part of his arm she was holding. The better debate would be that there’s nothing on his wrists, but I can’t quite tell from the dialog if she actually hurt his wrist or decided to stick with his arm after thinking a moment.

  • Weatherheight

    I’m picking Feral for three reasons
    1) It’s punishing behavior towards Max, given his disrespect to Feral’s choices, to force him to help the person who he specifically called out as being a sham.
    2) If his power can somehow help Feral lead a more normal life, that’s a win for Alison while reinforcing point #1.
    3) Given Alison has grown more.. passionate since the new of her father, so far Feral is the only person we’ve been shown who has a “short logic leap” power that might help Alison’s father (Lisa/Paladin being the next reasonable candidate).

    In addition, Alison has a dossier on Max – dossiers typically include not only facts but also reasonable speculations based on those facts. And Alison has more than one dossier given her by Patrick – who, I’m pretty sure, is doing this out of the most mixed of motivations.

    I feel framing this in the “Feral gets to make more organ donations” point of view isn’t the nominal way to view this situation.
    Contrariwise, every point you’ve said has resonance. You may be on to something here and I’m way off in the rocky side of the field.

  • Weatherheight

    3 pm Central on the Friday it was posted and we’re already at 200 posts.
    Yeah, we’re hooked and Brennan and Molly are having fun reeling us in. 😀

  • Santiago Tórtora

    Even before she got her powers, she was a bit of a prick. She did good at school and sports, and resented her soccer teammates for holding her back.

    • Izo

      Correct, and her father had to explain to her that not everyone is going to be as good as her at certain things, and she was being mean by making an assumption that they were bad, rather than that she was really good at it.

  • Izo

    It would be better if she didnt do it at all. I dont think that a rapist who cries while forcing himself on the woman is any better than one who is stone faced during the criminal act. It sure doesnt make a difference to the woman being violated.

    • Lysiuj

      This is where I feel the comparisons to rape fall flat. Rape is only ever done for the personal gratification and power of the rapist. Here, regardless of whether you think Allison is right or wrong, she’s doing it because she thinks it’s neccesary to save lives, therefore she sees it as the right thing to do even though she feels like shit about it.

      • Tylikcat

        Actually, rape has a long history of use as a weapon in war, and often in a group context where individual participation was not altogether voluntary. (A lot has been written about this, at least regarding twentieth century examples where we have a lot of documentation.) Not to say that’s a great analogy either.

  • Sal

    For once, I just wanna see a necessary evil actually be necessary and arguably justified.

  • SJ

    Nope, sorry. She is a horrible monster. It doesn’t matter what the situation is. It doesn’t even matter if her plan works; the only thing that matters is that Alison has crossed the Rubicon. She now knows that she’s willing to torture to get what she wants, which just makes it easier for her to do it again, the next time she gets a wild hair up her ass about the “greater good.” First time’s always the hardest, as they say.

    The only way she doesn’t become a monster is if she gets metaphorically slapped in the face by her failure. This needs to bite her in the ass, hard. If I believed in such things, I would say that she needs to fail, and fail spectacularly, in order to save her soul.

  • Sarah

    I’m going to guess now and say Max isn’t about boosting other supers, but “weaker” people. Or he can do something like cure cancer. Thus he can save ‘countless, countless lives’, including Alison’s father. It also explains why she is so emotionally invested and more upset the guy doesn’t want to help at no cost to him, and ready to go further and eviler.
    Then what she’s doing isn’t “worth it” for us, but maybe it is for her.

  • Santiago Tórtora

    Libertarians like to say “taxation is theft” because the government forces people to use their wealth in the service of the State. Being wealthy in the real world is a little like having superpowers in the comic.

  • Santiago Tórtora

    I think Feral powers would just make cancer worse. The whole problem with cancerous tissue is that it grows and regenerates in inconvenient ways.

    • Tylikcat

      I didn’t see this when I replied – yes, exactly. I don’t know about worse, exactly, since Feral’s regeneration seems to be very well regulated, but I just don’t see it as being cancer applicable from what we know of it.

    • Weatherheight

      Straight up power amplification? I agree.
      But separate out the stuff from her blood that already fights cancer and introduce it to Ali’s dad? That might very well work.

      • Santiago Tórtora

        You mean her mutant immune system that will efficiently destroy any tissue that is not-Feral?

        Especially augmented, that sounds really dangerous. The doctors probably did lots of clinical trials with regular-Feral’s blood and tissues before they did the organ transplants, but Max’s augmentation is a new power, which would require new tests.

        I don’t think Allison would torture someone for something so dubious.

  • Zorae42

    I just went back and looked at strongfemaleprotagonist.com/issue-6/page-80-2/ again and realized something. The folder Patrick sent her says “Personal Information on Prospective Businesses Associates”.

    “Associates” as in plural. If Max is one of the people in the file, who else is in there? Maybe this is somebody new from his file.

    • Weatherheight

      I noticed that too. 😀

    • Sendaz

      Which still makes me wonder if Patrick didn’t sort of set her up with a carrot too tempting for her not to use the stick to obtain.

  • The Improbable Man

    It’s supposed to be “hear, hear”: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hear,_hear

    Since “hear” sounds exactly the same as “here”, though, and most people don’t know the origin of the saying, it tends to get spelled wrong.

  • Mouser

    This isn’t “filled with despair” – this is “I’m going to force my will upon others. They’ll thank me when it’s all over.”

  • palmvos

    my reason for picking feral goes back to Alison’s reclassification. what if Ferals power is telekinetic based too? everybody else i see speculating that its a feral boost is stuck on the idea that the power is localized to just feral. if its an unconscious telekinetic talent that gives outrageous healing…. might it start to be an area effect? ie no need for her to donate at all… she just walks on by.
    ::starts playing these boots were made for walking::

    also its that countless lives thing – what other power enhanced could do that?

    the other thing is- if we go back to the page where she got the file- before she took off for max’s place she called her bio-doctor and asked two questions- one ‘theoretical’ and one practical. (my moneys on the theoretical part of the questions being a little white lie…..)

    I was thinking that part of the reason that we STILL do not know The Plan (seriously how do i do that TM thing) is to give our poor mod a break as I’m sure that page will engender some posts….

  • FlashNeko

    People have been saying that Alison needs this to fail. For karma to come back and bite her for taking the forceful option because she is now “unquestionably a monster”.

    But consider how all her attempts at peaceful resolutions (or at least those where she tries to engage by way of the currently acceptable societal norms) so far have resulted in her repeatedly being openly mocked, emotionally torn down, rejected, thrown out of a place she once called home, having to watch someone she loves slowly and painfully withering away to nothing, having to watch someone she only just recently connected to and started to bond with as a friend be suffering the same fate, basically be told to stand to the side and shut up like a good little girl who can’t do anything by a well meaning ex-teammate who didn’t realize the implications of what he was saying, told the same by an arrogant self-absorbed scholar benefiting from institutionalized educational patriarchy, and causing her to be caught in an endlessly repeated loop of failure.

    Sorry that ended up being such a run on sentence but Alison’s been put through a lot so far.

    I get, through what frankly feels like a little over-the-top use of rape imagery, we’re supposed to be thinking “This is Wrong”.

    But what happens if it’s Wrong and it’s now the only time where what she wants to do to change the overall world for the better actually works?

    Where is the line between just quietly sitting there, trying to make the world a better place by example (by “being one of the good ones”) and when you actually HAVE do something a little forceful and uncomfortable to those who benefit from the current status quo?

    Are you really a monster then? Or just someone who’s reached the limits of what “fair play” can accomplish and those limits do not allow for any meaningful change?

    Disclaimer: I’m not coming down one way or the other yet until this scene has completed and we fully see what Alison wants to do with Max’s abilities. All I’m saying is, this has the potential to be not as morally clear-cut as some are making it out to be and sometimes the only difference between a terrorist and a freedom fighter is who their actions are benefiting.

    • Arkone Axon

      Actually ,she’s found exceedingly effective solutions that do not require crossing the line. Her Valkyrie organization (is that the name for the group that’s protecting the abuse victims?), for instance. She was not mocked or cast out for abiding by the rules. If anything, it’s her violent actions that have caused her far more distress. Remember that playground? “I’d fix it if I knew how!”

      • Izo

        “Remember that playground? “I’d fix it if I knew how!””

        And to think, now she knows how to fix it. Break into an construction worker’s or architect’s home, drag him out and threaten to kill him if he doesn’t fix the playground. Maybe almost break his arm until he realizes she’s not kidding.

        It’s his own fault for having knowledge of how to do something and not volunteering to do it, after all.

    • ChooseYourFight

      Amen to that. She has suffered plenty. About time we see her break. Maybe the people should have been throwing her those ticker tape parades for not murdering thousands daily after all…

      Of course, to actually accomplish this long-term, she will have to tie up one loose end after this… if Max outs what she did and/or uses his money and influence- not to mentioned his powers -, he could seriously damage her efforts moving forward. But then, what’s one meaningless rich boy’s life when compared to the Greater Good?

    • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

      I know what it’s like to live in a paper world, to be good at hurting people, to think everybody should just shut up and do what you say.
      And then I remember that deep down, people are good, everybody’s trying, and nobody deserves respect just for being powerful.

      • FlashNeko

        Yeah, I liked that scene too.

        The problem is that almost everything since then has pretty much proven what she expressed there to be wrong. At least on the first two points.

  • palmvos

    its extra credit! which i need really badly!

  • Steele

    Iirc, Brendan doesn’t read comments until an arc is done. I forget why, something about not wanting to be tempted to veer the plot off-course in order to address concerns in the comment section. It’s something that happens in Order of the Stick a lot: there’s an update, and a 2 – page thread starts up discussing how the plot and game elements interact (it’s a Dungeons and Dragons based comic with lots of meta humor), and so the author spends the first half of the next page explaining/hand waving/justifying all the stuff from the previous page. It’s exhausting, I imagine.

    • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

      That’s… a lot of comments. And I mean, a lot of comments ._.

      • palmvos

        1. order of the stick uses an actual forum system instead of Discus which has bigger avatars, signatures, and so forth- so fewer comments a page and less obvious threading.
        2. each page gets its own thread on the forum and the pages are published random semi monthly. (i.e. 1 or 2 a month generally) (note- asking when the next page will be or discussing the timeliness of the updates… is a banable offence there)
        3. i have seen a thread go so far of topic there… that it came back to discussing the comic page it was formed for. The Giant was even surprised.

  • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

    I rather think the webcomic wanted to move along and there are only so many panels you can fill with arguing in three pages– If we don’t get a better explanation than this, and hopefully we will and this will all make sense and we’ll be all relieved, I’m more inclined to believe a three hour long, heartfelt, pleading, begging, calculating, tears in the eyes negociation was cut short for time rather than “cut short because Alison knew better than to even try”.

    And I’m supposed to be the one to diss on Alison. What happened to the world?!

    • SJ

      … If we don’t get a better explanation than this, and hopefully we will and this will all make sense and we’ll be all relieved…

      I may well just be speaking for myself, but I can assure you, there is no way that this storyline plays out where we’re all going to be relieved.

  • Tux

    “Hear, hear” is a call to have others listen to what one is saying (in effect, agreement with what they’re saying); that is the correct way to spell it. “Here, here” doesn’t exist as such, although “there, there” does (which is an expression used to comfort people).

    At least, this is how I’ve always understood it as a native speaker. Interested to hear differing perspectives.

  • Weatherheight

    This made me laugh.

  • Weatherheight

    Oooo! Someone asking for Pedantry!

    “Hear, Hear!” is the imperative case, asking those present to hearken to the sentiment just expressed as a means of showing approval for that statement.

    “Here, Here!” Is most often used as a way of getting the beer salesman at the baseball park going up and down the steps carrying his wares to stop and make a sale to the caller. However, in this case, Pol seems to be confirming that he was one of those who posted and is expressing his gratitude for being recognized.

    ::sit down and looks smug as only a pedantic grey donkey can do while still demonstrating perfect cuteness::

    • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

      Oh so it was a neat homophonous coincidence.

      And seriously no reaction I mean do you not even realize the work it takes to think through how to absolutely maximize the number of h’s

  • Walter

    I’m extremely relieved by how this played out. Alison was signing a blank moral check here, but I think she judged correctly that all you’d need to do to get this guy to play along is literally twist his arm a bit. Some ice and he’ll be fine. Any poster here with siblings has probably done worse growing up.

    All that said, I’m still super worried by the trend of events. You could make the case that Alison has decided that utilitarianism is the way to go, but if that’s the case why’d she shred the big check? That only makes sense from a deontological framework, if you are going by greatest good it is utterly contemptible.

    I feel like she isn’t being guided by moral reasoning at all, and is letting her gut take over. Doing things that ‘feel right’. And so far that seems to be going great, but there is immense potential for disaster here. No one can stop Alison, and no one can argue with a gut feeling.

    “Anything is possible” is actually super chilling if you take it seriously.

    • ChooseYourFight

      ‘Going great’, in this instance, being defined as abduction, coercion, assault, and if she has any sense after this, premeditated murder to prevent Max from being a threat to her and those around her in the future.

      Not that I personally mind. I hope she goes all the way with this. A lot of the problems she has had through the entire run could be resolved very easily if morality simply no longer played a factor. Not well, and she would certainly no longer being a heroic protagonist, but… well, look above and you’ll see if she might be deciding to make that trade.

  • Weatherheight

    or be willing to engage in undocumented and unplanned human experimentation…
    (sooo dark…0

  • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

    I’m more concerned about Alison doing the things that won’t discredit her every future effort and argument than Alison doing the things that Max does or doesn’t deserve

  • Weatherheight

    And in addition, as someone very astutely pointed out in the past, Max very much wants to get away from his current situation (notice all the powers he mentioned were Movement powers?) and his power failed him on that point. His dissatisfaction has a lot of potential bases, and all are likely important.

    • Katrika

      Yup! And whatever trauma and anxieties are driving his actions, Allison just made them all much worse by validating his worst-case-scenarios, that as soon as people know his power he stops being a person with rights to them.

  • Weatherheight

    and it’s always hard to back down once you’ve announced your intentions, even when those intentions may not be what you originally intended.

  • Miri

    I’m really impressed – Ali started off so clearly our protagonist, a force for good, etc. We saw signs of her hot headedness, we saw that she doesn’t always think about the consequences/collateral damage before acting – we saw, after Feral was attacked – that she can lose it and start seeing individuals as acceptable losses. In class, that ‘I won’t let it happen again!’ seemed a bit surprisingly aggressive. Now we see that she is willing to be utterly ruthless. Genuinely wanting to make the world a better place means she hasn’t often stepped over that line on page before – but wow, when she decides.that reasoning isn’t working, does that streak reveal itself! Fascinating character progression

  • Weatherheight

    Always the spotlight, never the star?
    Always the spotlight, never the diva?
    (Stage people, help a burro out!)

    ::a large shepherd’s crook juts into the scene from offstage and swiftly drags a donkey into the wings::

  • Weatherheight

    Maybe Max’s power being used for the first time in a long time (potentially years)?

  • Weatherheight

    Apropos of nothing…

    The Marvel New line released Champions #1 this week. The final pages have a speech by Ms. Marvel (version 4.0, Kamala Khan) that hits on so much of what we’re talking about here. Very nice bit of writing and worth seeking out.

  • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

    Only there’s absolutely no minimal amount of “acceptable terrible necessary things to do to save everyone”. Most of today’s societies and culture value equality, and you just can’t have both. You can’t, there’s no way. Because we all have the same individual rights, saying that one person’s rights can be broken to save five, a hundred, fifty million people means equality is a sham.

  • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

    It’s not that she’s always going to be a monster, it’s that she’s just proven that everything she believed in and fought for she threw away for convenience and now it has absolutely no credibility anymore.

    Next time she monologues someone out of their apathetic nihilism is going to be *awkward*

    • Tylikcat

      Oh, I wish I’d seen this earlier. Hm, yes. But all to the good, I think. I mean, the monologues were getting old, weren’t they?

    • Happyroach

      Well, that IS what she was being taught by that philosophy teacher right? Her belief that people given a chance will do the right thing, was proven completely wrong, and Max confirmed that. So given that, what’s left? Brute strength and coercion.

      You should be celebrating her having a new, practical real-world philosophy, in line with what she was taught.

    • Rumble in the Tumble

      >It’s not that she’s always going to be a monster
      “You see that dock out there? Built it myself, hand crafted each piece, and it’s the best dock in town! But do they call me “McGregor the dock builder”? No! And you see that bridge over there? I built that, took me two months, through rain, sleet and scoarching weather, but do they call me “McGregor the bridge builder”? No! And you see that pier over there, I built that, best pier in the county! But do they call me “McGregor the pier builder”? No!

      But you fuck one sheep…”

  • Preacher John

    That’s Feral in that bed right? Hmm.. I have a feeling that Al is gonna hit “unintended consequences” here.. Tinkerbelling Feral to the maximum may result in her healing factor getting SO good that her skin heals the instant a scalpel cuts it, and the doctors will no longer be able to cut her organs out at all..

  • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

    Furnace got some fame, right? One has to wonder how did Max not realize he was a mask and hair dye away from all the con artistry identity theft he wanted.
    “Oh please please please can you fly?!”
    “I’m saddened to say I can’t, you understand, safety reason, all this fire… but come back to my room and let’s see how I can make up for that by making you fly.”

    • Weatherheight

      “Now, Mr. Furnace, show me on the Thor action figure where the bad man touched you…”

  • Kid Chaos

    Like, wow, man; awesome. 😎

  • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

    I’d explain that one in my mind by going back to the page where they discussed ice cream through the nose or infinite pancakes and the reveal that she lives in a fairy land of pixie dust where it can only make sense that people would naturally choose to do the right thing.

  • CanuckAmuck

    Can’t you wait and see how this plays out?

    You may have missed it in your haste to be judgemental, but that’s what the “If…” part of my post quite obviously means.

  • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

    Disregard my other comment, I got what you meant:
    I didn’t mean that the webcomic cut three hours of intense debate, that we got right into the action at the very last minutes of it; I meant that what we’ve been given was intended to represent such. That we are meant to interpret these few panels as “more than reasonable extent of time spent endlessly arguing”.

    Because the other option is that Alison has no patience in her tyranny and that’s say it’s terrifying if I could be more terrified by Alison than I already am

    • Lostman

      As much the world is messed up as it is… The real evil in Super “Villains” is that their just adding fuel to the fire. Alison most likely knows what she is doing is wrong, but still did it any ways. When she chewed out Patrick, Ali said he was the reason why she didn’t become a “superhero”.

      My question: could she ever been one at all…

      • Dwight Williams

        Ask Romeo Dallaire.

  • SJ

    No assumptions are necessary. It’s a reasonable conclusion, based on the narrative, that Max’s anomaly has never been tested on Alison’s target(s), or else they would have already been augmented. It doesn’t matter whether or not any other subjects were harmed during whatever testing phase Max’s powers were evaluated. Those subjects were not the target(s).

    So, I stand behind my previous comments. It doesn’t matter what was in the file; the contents of the file are inconsequential to my argument. I’m prepared to state, right now, on the record, that it’s canon that Max’s power has never previously been tested against Alison’s target(s). Therefore, there is no way to know how Max’s anomaly will affect her target(s). At best, she’s just guessing: she doesn’t know, and there’s nothing in that file that could possibly tell her. That’s practically self-evident; it would take authorial contrivance of fantastic proportions for that to not turn out to be true. I’m sure that, based on whatever is in the file, that Alison came to the conclusion that the most likely outcome is that nobody would be harmed, but there’s no way that the file could indicate that with any reasonable certainty, and why on earth would anyone trust Alison’s judgment on the matter?

    I’m also willing to bet you the price of a good lunch that whatever testing and evaluation that Max went through when his powers were determined did not factor the sort of physical and mental trauma that Alison has inflicted on him into his anomaly’s effect on either him, or the recipient(s).

  • Zac Caslar

    Individual mileage may have varied, but I’ve seen worse.

  • Zac Caslar

    I love how you’re equating performing CPR on someone unconscious with a shooter spraying a crowd with bullets.
    “Violating random strangers bodily autonomy.”

    • M. Alan Thomas II

      Interesting. Why do you assume the change is going to be CPR-like? Is our unknown recipient in danger of immediate death? Is granting them / charging their powers the only solution? Are they unable to communicate? Has Our Hero checked them for a DNR order (or asked them if it was okay)? If the answer to any of these questions is “no,” that half of the comparison fails. As fr the second half of the comparison, I will admit that assaulting someone is a violation of bodily autonomy, but making the jump between this and that is like taking me saying “Settlers of Catan is a board game” and accusing me of equating it to Chess because Chess is also a board game, when all I’m trying to do is say that it falls within a class of things that, yes, includes more than one item.

      Assuming that I’m not in a medically-induced coma, you can wake me in the absence of a directive to the contrary because medical ethics assumes someone wants to get better in the absence of evidence to the contrary. We have extensive law and ethics on the subject, and large institutions will also employ medical ethicists to help with the hard cases. I don’t think your rhetorical argument here really does the subject justice. But I will say that, in our society, an adult of sound mind has the legal and medical right to refuse all treatment even if they’re going to die, so yeah, our society’s chosen laws and ethics don’t agree with your conclusion.

      But I’m assuming that we’re not dealing with someone in a coma in the comic, so that comparison’s irrelevant anyway. The same goes for minors, religious objectors, unknown food additives (although it would be fair to say that Our Hero probably can’t perfectly predict the result of what she’s just done), or any of your lovely reductio ad absurdum, most of which can be dismissed by pointing to a knowing acceptance of a risk as opposed to having a change forced on them in the middle of the night without their knowledge, much less an informed consent to the procedure and its risks.

  • Beroli

    I don’t think calculus was really involved. She got from saying that line to completely discarding it in five minutes at the outside. I think she just…got too frustrated to stick to it, in a way that she was completely unprepared for–even after their disastrous dinner, she didn’t believe that he would say, and stick to, that he truly feels no obligation to others.

  • Tylikcat


    • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

      Awww okay that mix of an italicized and ellipsisied plea to the heavens and a delightful new profile picture of yours convinced me to come back 💛

  • Santiago Tórtora

    I was thinking maybe Patrick knew someone who would like to be augmented and has a power that could benefit “countless” people. He reads minds, so he can know that without revealing Max’s existence.

  • Zorae42

    Because being threatened is equivalent to literally experiencing the effects of drowning. Okay. Guess we need to arrest every single policeman who ever threatened to throw someone in jail/lock up, as that is definitely distressing and even more fatal.

    Alison is clearly not ill intentioned. She’s doing this for the greater good. Doesn’t necessarily mean she’s right, but she is literally the opposite of ill intentioned.

    • SJ

      There is absolutely nothing clear about Alison’s intentions: believing that her intentions are good requires benefit of the doubt.

      Also, it’s insulting to handwave her actual physical assault as mere “threats.” She literally assaulted him until he did what she wanted him to do: that’s torture by any reasonable definition.

    • Arkone Axon

      Bear in mind that A: the greatest crimes have been committed by those who believed they were saving the world, doing the right thing. And B: Alison is an unkillable, superstrong metahuman with blood on her hands. She has specifically told this young man that she will kill him if he doesn’t do what she wants him to. Now she is continuing to threaten him with pain and injury. Yes, that’s torture. In fact, that’s legally the definition of “Terroristic Threats,” which is a very real and very serious charge that has nothing to do with terrorism and everything to do with prison sentences on the grounds of being a felony (one of several that she’s committing here).

    • ChooseYourFight

      The Greater Good as defined by a super-being who is almost unstoppable in direct combat, has severe anger management issues and fantasies about murder, is under extreme prolonged emotional distress, and has had literally everything in her life go wrong for… what, months now? More?

      Her present definition of Greater Good and yours or mine might not mesh as well as you think right now.

  • SJ

    To be fair, I don’t believe that I’ve ever once indicated what kind of character I want Alison to be, only what kind of character I believe her actions prove her to be.

    I said that she needs to fail, in order to save her soul; I never said that that’s what I was rooting for.

  • Frankie Griffen

    This is our protagonist? I’ve read this entire strip from the start, and I think this is my finish.

    • ChooseYourFight

      Said it twice below, will gladly say it again:

      Villains can be protagonists too.

    • Stephanie

      Why is it a problem for the strip that the protagonist doesn’t act in perfect alignment with your moral principles? Perfect protagonists are boring.

  • Danygalw

    I think she’s a long way from supervillain. But there’s almost nothing that could stop her if she went that way. All that’s holding her back is her own sense of restraint, and there’s not a lot that’s worth eroding that.

    • SJ

      I think she’s a long way from supervillain.

      She’s not nearly as far away as you might think; not by half.

  • Eric the .5b

    Really, looking back on the whole thing, I think you can look at everything she’s been doing since he first turned her down as psyching herself up to assault and coerce him into doing this. That’s why she did such a terrible job at “trying to convince him”—that wasn’t what she was doing, either at a conscious or subconscious level. She was working up her disgust at him and dehumanizing him so that it would be easier to use him as a tool.

  • SJ

    If Max’s ability either
    a) works both directions (power up, power down)
    b) can push someone to their Ultimate Form!™

    This was good for a laugh but, honestly, I keep bumping my head against this. It’s why I don’t think that Feral is one of the targets: the only way Feral being a target makes any sense, is if Max’s anomaly affects the target like Pokemon, instead of like an RPG buff. And, even then, what research could possibly have gone into what any given dynamorph’s “Ultimate Form” would work like?

    I mean, think about it: Max’s mother was connected enough to keep Max out of the program, but not connected enough to keep a file from being created on him. You’re telling me that, if it were known that he could give other dynamorphs an Ultimate Form, that he’d still be alive?

  • SJ

    … Unless, of course, they were too shocked and horrified to react.

    Also, if they were standing on a roof, how did it go from being light enough to see their shadows to being pitch black that quickly?

  • Pythia

    Did anyone else hear Max’s screams as a Wilhelm scream?


  • palmvos

    as far as why not over-buff Alison… because she won’t be stopped by any man-made wall short of the hover dam itself (and i am not going to bet that even that will stop her.)

    As i think about it- remember why feral is able to be the universal donor- her organs once separated from her stop regenerating and become normal if universal organs. that suggests that a portion of her power is not inherent in the flesh itself (otherwise… well lets just say that the consequences will be wild as all those people slowly turn into feral.) The authors don’t say but it is heavily hinted that the organs don’t get rejected as strongly either. to me this is a strong indicator that some if not all of feral’s power is mental… she may be in a sense a mental projection with physical substance.

    • Beroli

      as far as why not over-buff Alison… because she won’t be stopped by
      any man-made wall short of the hover dam itself (and i am not going to
      bet that even that will stop her.)

      And then when she tries to turn around, she launches herself into orbit, if her anomaly’s just been redesigned by Max.

  • Izo

    I was brief before because I was on my smartphone, and texting on a virtual keyboard sucks. Now I will be the opposite of brief 🙂

    The definition you gave is from the United Nations Torture Convention of 1984, which was meant to show that NATIONS can commit torture, not just individuals. It never said ‘only nations can commit torture.’

    “Any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity.”

    The last portion of that sentence is to show that even though it’s a nation, there are individuals still involved in the torture.

    The Inter-Ameican Convention, however, defines torture like this:

    “The use of methods upon a person intended to obliterate the personality of the victim or to diminish his physical or mental capacities, even if they do not cause physical pain or mental anguish”

    You will notice it doesnt require an individual in an ‘official capacity.’

    The legal definition in a criminal element, however, for INDIVIDUALS, is this:

    18 US s. 2340

    (1) “torture” means an act committed by a person acting under the color of law specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering (other than pain or suffering incidental to lawful sanctions) upon another person within his custody or physical control;
    (2) “severe mental pain or suffering” means the prolonged mental harm caused by or resulting from—
    (A) the intentional infliction or threatened infliction of severe physical pain or suffering;
    (B) the administration or application, or threatened administration or application, of mind-altering substances or other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or the personality;
    (C) the threat of imminent death; or
    (D) the threat that another person will imminently be subjected to death, severe physical pain or suffering, or the administration or application of mind-altering substances or other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or personality

    You will again note – it does not require a person to be acting in an official capacity in order to be guilty of torture.

    In fact, killing a person has an elevated level of sentencing if it’s a ‘torture’ murder.

    You have used an exceedingly narrow definition of torture, placing it out of context of the reason for the definition made by the UN. The UN wrote that definition so that nations can’t get away with saying ‘it’s not torture because we’re nations, not individuals.’ The definition basically says ‘no, nations can also be guilty of torture if it’s done in an official capacity.’

  • Izo

    “One, Alison is willing to resort to actual violence here, she’s not making empty threats.”
    Um… that makes it even worse, not better.

    “I don’t see anyone in this scene denying that Max is being coerced.”
    If this is just me reading into what Jubal is saying, I apologize in advance, but…

    I think that Jubal may be referring to a similarity to people who say that, if a woman does respond physiologically to a rape, it is therefore consensual, and how wrong-headed that sort of thinking is. Because it isn’t consensual, regardless of physiological response, when the woman has said no. Especially when the woman says no many times. Double-especially if the woman is struggling to prevent it from happening and physical force is used to follow through with the act.

    • Stephanie

      I wasn’t making a value judgment that time. I just don’t think this has anything to do with “he did it under coercion so it was acceptable,” like, at all. Nobody in the comic is suggesting that he’s doing this voluntarily, or that he actually really wants to do it, or that he’s secretly enjoying doing it. He is just being forced to do it against his will, full stop.

    • Stephanie

      Sorry, that was supposed to say “consensual,” not “acceptable.” Can’t edit a pending comment. I’ll fix it later.

  • Izo

    Marvel sort of has a history of treating their female characters shockingly badly. Having Ms Marvel get raped and saying she liked it, having Wasp be a victim of domestic violence and we’re supposed to feel some sort of sympathy for Hank because he ‘feels bad afterwards,’ having She-Hulk have to stop a rampaging Hulk by telling him that, essentially she will not have sex with him (keep in mind she’s his COUSIN), having Black Widow labelled in the movie as a monster simply because she can’t conceive children…. etc etc etc

    (not that DC doesn’t also have its fair share of fridging women also, but Marvel just goes that extra mile when it comes to superhuman women)

    • Weatherheight

      And even odder…
      Two of those incidents is followed later on by someone getting called out on it. Carol Danvers ripped into the Avengers for not saving her from Korvak and it’s one of the best scenes from that title and in that time. Janet van Dyne rightly tells Hank he needs help, which Hank never really committed to – he tried a little, but it isn’t like he went and talked to Leonard Sampson for a few years (on panel or off).

      Marvel seems to be getting a little better, but there’s a lot of egregious plotting from back then.

      • Izo

        The Black Widow thing wasn’t ‘back then’ technically. That was recent. 2015.

        Same with Janet van Dyne in Ant Man’s death before the movie even starts, despite her being a founding member of the Avengers in the comics – long before Captain America ever joined. Ant Man – 2015 also.

  • Izo

    One of the major problems I’ve always had with utilitarianism is it quantifies human suffering and pain. I don’t think human suffering and the evils of causing that suffering is quantifiable. Is there some sort of chart somewhere that tells which is more evil? Is a 12 year old orphan girl more worthy of life than a 30 year old loving mother of three? Is your (not you in particular, you in general) 5 year old daughter more important OBJECTIVELY than a scientist working on a cure for AIDS who may very well find the cure? Is saving the life of your mother going to get you more points in the utilitarian scale of morality than saving the life of your sister? If you cut out someone’s kidney and put them in a bathtub full of ice, does that evil get nullified by the good of giving the kidney, free of charge, to a girl who would have died within a week without a kidney transplant?

    It has an almost robotic, soulless mentality to it that makes it a world not worth being in, which is why so often, the most evil tyrants in history resort to using it to justify their actions.

  • Izo

    “Villains can be protagonists too.”

    You know, this is true. I guess what just freaks me out is the perception within the comic and by many that she’s still acting heroic.

  • SJ

    There is a third thing that we can assume: that whomever Max’s anomaly was tested on, and Alison’s target(s) is/are not the same person(s).

    • Weatherheight

      Ooo! Nice!

  • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

    And that’s just the chilling thing, right? Violence is always easier if you got power. It’s always quicker, simpler, and doing it even once is something you can never take back.

    It wasn’t exactly being a tyrant but, did Alison forget that she threw away the cowl because she realized there was a better way to save the world than punching the problems away? Did she forget what that “better” meant and why it mattered?

  • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

    The answer is no it doesn’t violate those people’s right to live. One’s right to live or dozens don’t supersede another. It’s not and can never be a moral framework that works.
    Because if it does then let’s kill a few healthy people to save *a lot* more with their organs.

  • SJ

    Because your right to swing your fist through the air ends at my nose, that’s why. You don’t have the right to kill me to save someone else. You don’t have the right to torture me to save someone else. Or ten someone elses. Or a hundred and ten someone elses. Or a million and ten someone elses. Or fifty million and ten someone elses. And, if you decide to do it, anyway, you are unambiguously the bad guy.

    Since that’s what Alison has decided to do, well… it’s not like anybody can stop her, anyway. But she’s forfeit the moral high ground. As has been pointed out, you can be the villain, and still be the protagonist. Just as long as Alison owns it; she damned sure ain’t the hero any more.

  • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

    I don’t know what “unforgivable in some intrinsic sense” would entail or mean. The way I mean it is “by the authorial voice’s account”.

    If the conclusion of this arc is a resounding “physical coercion and torture are necessary/forgivable sometimes”, I’m going to have some real problems with this webcomic.

    And the dramatic consequences to befall her to not make this statement are going to need to be *dire*

  • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

    …I’m sorry, I don’t know what any of this means and this makes me feel really bad for disappointing you 🙁

  • Happyroach

    I think the last couple days finally managed to change her mind about the “good” and “trying” thing.

  • So much of it is all too appropriately dark.

  • Bo Lindbergh

    Crazy speculation time: Alison will be terribly embarrassed when it turns out that it isn’t a sleeping person under the sheet, but a corpse.

  • They both continue to apply. Even if her act is morally and ethically essential, she still did something unforgiveable.

    • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

      The people arguing with this don’t seem to realize that absolute labels (superhero, villain, monster) aren’t really relevant and certainly don’t matter as much as future confrontations.

      How does she justify looking for a better way to save the world now? How does she look at Mary in the eyes telling her what she’s doing is wrong? How does she maintain the hypocrisy of saying to Daniel that the difference between the two of them is that she kept listening to the voice in her head telling her that people even “deserve better” than everything she strives toward?

      • I’ve been thinking about this issue for a while – actually for a year or so, because there’s a similar scene in the novel I’m trying to hawk around agents. Female protagonist tortures male antagonist for the best of reasons – she doesn’t go much further than Alison, but she does threaten to tug a lot more stuff off…. The only answer is to acknowledge your guilt, but keep on trying to do what’s right, otherwise you’re living in denial.

        There’s none of us are perfect, we all make mistakes, and sometimes we make them deliberately because we don’t see any alternative. That doesn’t mean we instantly leap all the way over to the Dark Side, the person we are continues on, even if our flaws are now apparent to all.

        We should also remember an unthinking dedication to justice can be just as problematical: cf Hanging Judge Jeffries

        In the end, the difference this introduces between Alison and Daniel, is that now they both have something to atone for, and the same opportunity for redemption.

      • Weatherheight

        Labels are always shorthand, and complex issues are usually not well served by shorthand. Sometimes labels impede understanding rather than fostering it.

        Something we’ve been dancing around, but no one has stated so clearly. Thank you.

  • Kifre

    Assault, kidnapping…these are laws that exist and which she is definitely violating.

  • Weatherheight

    Agreed, although speaking as a game master for more than 25 years, there is a certain tension that arises when it comes to characterization versus advancement of the plot.

    Let’s take the example of the main villain of a story arc and a shopkeeper the players meet along the way. At one level, it’s reasonable to assume that the villain should be richly detailed and the shopkeeper is just a sketch, background-wise.
    On another level, the villain is there to be defeated – do the player characters really need to know every detail of his life and how he got there, given he’s there to be defeated? And the odds are good that the shopkeeper will be around a while – but, really, how often do most folks hang out with their mercantile associates?
    In addition, if the town in which the shopkeeper does his business is a small town and is also the base of operations for the party, then giving him more detail is reasonable. If he’s in a city far away and the party is unlikely to ever see him again, putting a lot of effort into his background isn’t good time management, story-wise.
    I’ve made that mistake more than once – one player wanted to spend an hour talking to a merchant because the wares were something the character (and player) was interested in. I cut it off after 25 minutes because (a) the rest of the group was getting annoyed, and (b) the player was assuming this guy was vital to the plot for no other reason than I had bothered to give him a sketched-out personality. Very meta – the GM is having fun with an NPC so therefore the NPC must be important.
    I want to know more about Furnace, too, but I recognize that he’s there to be a tool of the writer (heh.. sorry, sorry), so I’m not too upset that he wasn’t a bigger…. part of the story. 😀

    All that not withstanding, I would love to hear more about practically every character introduced. I mean, how many folks wanted to know more about the characters in the background at Brad’s symposium? That’s a strong testament to the abilities of the creative team.

    • weedgoku

      While I mostly agree with you, I think Furnace in this instance was more important than his cardboard cutout detailing told us he was. We got enough information to make him interesting, but not enough to make him compelling. And that’s kind of the problem. He was just there to be A Bad Guy. Kind of like Feral is now relegated to just being a holy martyr ideal of The Good One. Their actual character doesn’t matter at all because they did a thing. You could replace them with sandbags with cartoon faces and the outcome would be the same, emotionally.

      • Weatherheight

        Oh, I’m totally with you. Furnace interested me, too. But I understand why he was the cutout, so I’m not bothered too much by it. The webcomic format has a lot of strengths but what you’re saying is by far its largest weakness.

  • SJ

    Context does matter in situations like this. Hurting him to make him do a thing is wrong and wicked but so is killing another person and in our society killing can be justified depending on circumstance.

    In our society, there is a system of checks and balances, and a process by which these decisions are subject to oversight and review, so that the decision makers can be held accountable for their actions. Now, we can have a conversation offline, if you like, about whether or not you think that the system works the way it’s supposed to, but we cannot have a conversation in good faith, in which one side is arguing from the premise that the system does not exist.

    Alison Green is not subject to any such system. There is no one in the SFP-verse known to us as readers who has the power or the authority to hold Alison accountable for her actions, if she doesn’t feel like being held accountable. I mean, you can see how fundamentally huge a difference that is, right?

    • Izo

      Excellent point about Alison not being subject to any such system, and therefore the problem with her doing something like this is all the more exacerbated.

  • damocles6

    I think it’s Max’s “pixie dust.”

    • KevlarNinja


  • I hope it’s Feral! I think Feral is the best case for what she’s doing being explainable.

    Other possibilities:
    Alison’s Dad (would also explain the tears, but not saving countless lives)

    Someone capable of stopping Alison (because what if the threat that needs to be stopped is Alison herself).

    • Amulya

      I think it will be Lisa. She has inventions that could “save the world”, and what if supercharging her super-intelligence allows her to expand into other areas besides engineering, thereby giving her a way to exit her contract?

    • Izo

      While I think the last example you gave would be one which I’d consider a good cause, I doubt Alison would do that. I think she’s too self-involved to think that SHE is a threat, despite people constantly pointing out that out to her. She thinks people should be grateful that she is not a threat.

      Despite the fact that right now she’s pretty much proving that she is one.

  • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

    So now you’re worried about trust in the system? That’s basically the one major pill to swallow in your own. “Here in Utilitarianotopia, our citizens are granted equal rights and protections, unless sometimes, whenever the Authority feels like it will solve a bigger problem than having to explain to your loved ones that you were expendable on that one. And obviously that Authority can be trusted with such a power, because the real world has times and times again proven that there are so many political systems to choose from that present absolutely no issue when it comes to corruption and abuse. Remember: you chose this!”

    And your scenario is just both too extreme and laughably cliché for me to take it seriously. It rather sounds like a corny totalitarian argument than anything remotely close to resembling real life political or philosophical dilemma. And you could have had me stuck on much better. The use of necessary force to prevent a dangerous person from killing others is something that fits with difficulty into the framework that –again– most democracies in the world have absolutely adopted and follow today, but it’s not something I’m against, for instance.

  • SJ

    I am never going to understand this point of view that killing someone to save fifty million people makes someone “unambiguously the bad guy.” Being “the good guy” then means sacrificing fifty million lives to preserve one. So, I guess…sucks to be any one of those fifty million people or their loved ones, but at least I’m not “the bad guy”? I get to feel good about my non-maleficence at the expense of fifty million lives? That doesn’t seem that heroic to me.

    That’s because you’re looking at this like it’s a math problem. 5×10^7 > 1, so therefore, it’s morally justified to coerce/torture/kill the 1, for the benefit of the 50M. That’s not how you do the calculus on that. And, even if I were willing to stipulate that that was a morally acceptable conclusion to come to (and I’m not), that doesn’t change the fact that Alison doesn’t have the moral authority to make those decisions autonomously!

    And you still haven’t explained to me why none of the fifty million get a say in this. They are just as dead by your decision whether or not you personally kill them with your own hand.

    Yes, I have. The Fifty Million™ don’t get a “say” in this, because they don’t get to decide whether I have to die so that they can live.The Fifty Million™ don’t get to vote on what my life is worth, and they don’t get to declare Eminent Domain on my life-giving phlebotinum, while still claiming the moral high ground. If they subsequently decide to do it, anyway, there is nothing ambiguous about that.

    Mostly I take issue with “unambiguous,” though. This is absolutely ambiguous…

    There is nothing ambiguous about torture. Torture is wrong, full stop. Evil committed in service of a greater good is still evil. You want to say that this will help the most people, and is therefore the greater good? Okay, fine, maybe it is. You want to say that the ends justifies the means? YMMV, but whatever. But there ain’t a damned thing ambiguous about it.

    • Stephanie

      “The Fifty Million™ don’t get a “say” in this, because they don’t get to decide whether I have to die so that they can live.”

      I’ll flip it around. You don’t get a “say” in this, because you don’t get to decide whether they have to die so you can live.

      “The Fifty Million™ don’t get to vote on what my life is worth”

      You don’t get to decide what their lives are worth.

      >You want to say that the ends justifies the means? YMMV, but whatever. But there ain’t a damned thing ambiguous about it.

      There is nothing ambiguous about whether torture is a bad, harmful thing to do. But as you said: YMMV on the question of whether the ends justify the means. That’s why I don’t care for “unambiguous” with respect to that question.

  • Kifre

    Stephanie: Reading your comments over the last couple of days I get the impression that you read Alison’s comment that Max would be ‘saving countless, countless lives’ as being a direct result of his action. Is that accurate? Because that is not how I would have read it, and certainly not what I would have interpreted Alison to mean….but it would definitely have bearing upon judging the decision from her perspective.

    I have read her comment as imagining Max’s capacity to save lives in a way analogous to donating resources to medical research. The actual lifesaving is done by someone else, and may not even work. Though the donor/Max would have definitely increased the number of lives that can be benefitted, there’s not really a direct connection between the action and the benefit. More importantly, the lack of action is not directly putting anyone at a risk they don’t otherwise face. And since it’s such an apt comparison since both max and money would build capacity for others to save lives….it should make Alison’s decision to use force here and yet shred the check from Patrick problematic and inconsistent even from her point of view.

    • Stephanie

      When we find out exactly what Alison’s plan is, I’ll revisit her decision and pass a more nuanced, informed judgment on it and what it says about her. Right now all we know is that she believes that making Max do this will, in some way, result in saving many lives. So at this point I’m judging her solely on the basis of how she arranged her priorities here–I think it’s right to commit small harms to prevent much worse harm.

      I think that as long as lives will be saved, it doesn’t matter much to me whether there are steps in between “Max does thing” and “lives are saved.” There are definitely cases where an action is several steps removed from the outcome, but still clearly will lead to that outcome. But, if it turns out that the connection between “Max does thing” and “lives saved” is really tenuous/unreliable, I’ll have to take that into account in my judgment of Alison. In that case, I might say she was hasty and reckless, and that someone as powerful as she is has a moral obligation to think through major decisions like this more carefully.

      • Kifre

        So in your theory of this, would Alison be in the right if she things through something and truly believes that it will prevent more harm than it causes and is still wrong? And it makes no matter that she’s the one making the call on her own initiative and totally without mandate?

      • SJ

        I think that as long as lives will be saved, it doesn’t matter much to me whether there are steps in between “Max does thing” and “lives are saved.”

        I’m not so much bothered by it not mattering to you whether there are steps in between “Max does thing” and “lives are saved.” I am rather troubled that it doesn’t appear to matter to you what steps precede “Max does thing.”

        There’s also the matter of your position, as it pertains to this webcomic, only really being defensible if you take every word that comes out of Alison’s mouth as unimpeachable canon. That requires a level of benefit of the doubt that I can’t comprehend why anyone in the world would think that Alison has earned.

  • The other possibility that seems to fit that personal element is her father. But making him biodynamic (assuming Max’s power can work in that way, and we have no evidence to that, Max specifically said ‘other kids’ IIRC) is unlikely to cure his cancer or save countless lives,

    The scary possibility is Patrick. Because if Patrick can pull off his endgame and save the kids who save the world, then enhancing him to increase his chances makes a tremendous amount of sense and will save countless lives.

    But that also leaves us with an enhanced Patrick, and he’s scary enough already.

  • “Sort of the way prions are cool.”

    Sometimes you scare me 😉

    Cool is not the term I would apply to Kuru or BSE!

    • Tylikcat

      I do mean it fairly particularly – prions received a huge amount of attention not because they were actually that deadly – it’s a pretty inefficient – but because the method of transmission was novel and weird. It was almost like a real like ghost story for biochemists. (My former lab did a lot of prion work – all in silicon and we knew what the actual infection stats were, and yet the majority of people in the lab stopped eating beef. Of course, it goes after your brains.)

      Cancer is sort of like a kind of hacking for biologists – it’s all kinds of horrible stuff made out of the stuff that makes life possible. There’s an incredible amount of bio-engineering in there… and an incredible amount of pain and despair.

      • I’ll give you that one, “I’m going to infect you by changing the shape of your proteins” is just utterly bizarre.

  • SJ

    So I have to wonder about the reaction to Allison, all the statements that she’s a “monster”, “unforgivable”, “a villain”, etc. And I have to think about Superman.

    You see, in Superman’s second issue, Superman took on a corrupt lobbyist working for a munitions manufacturer, who’s sponsoring a war between two South American countries. He forced the manufacturer into one of the armies, and then forced the generals of the countries to fist fight each other. And yet, for some reason, we don’t regard Superman as an unforgivable monster.

    Speak for yourself, mate: I’ve been down on the Super-dick for a while, now. #LuthorWasRight

    And then of course there’s Batman, who regularly dangles people off the ledges of buildings, and is lauded for being a hardcore hero. And the Punisher, Wolverine and Magneto who have tortured people and yet are regarded as being at most ambiguous antiheroes doing the necessary thing. Even Victor Von Doom gets a large amount of hero worship from fans who do believe the world would be better under his rule.

    Yeah, but none of those guys labor under the delusions that they’re heroes, whether they are the recipients of hero worship or not. Well… maybe Batman: I’m not really up on his mythology.

    • Dawn Smashington

      I think we’re seeing Al begin to realize she is not and never actually was a hero impervious to committing wrongdoing, and anyone laboring under the impression that she was ever faultless is also laboring under the impression that she SHOULD be faultless. Given the rules that govern Al’s world, which operate as in the real world but with anomalies, it should follow that Al is still human and as such, is deeply flawed. We shouldn’t be surprised to see something like this happen. Give a jerky, hormonal, angsty, privileged just-barely-not-a-teenager superpowers and they’re gonna be super-jerky.

  • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

    But that’s the thing, this is not a nuanced issue. We abandoned– or at the very least transformed it so much it has essentially nothing to do with what it was– the trend for utilitarianism a century ago. This is a clear nope for very painfully obvious reasons. To have the webcomic even shed doubts on the issue –and in its case this is even worse than mere utilitarianism, because it’s utilitarianism in the hands of one person with power, ergo goddamn fascism– would be… inexcusable.

    Also morality in real life and in fiction have absolutely nothing to do with one another and it’s really weird how you confuse the two. Narrative development has always been how fiction creates its meaning whereas real life… I shouldn’t even have to say that, just, what? This doesn’t make any sense. “The end justifies the means” doesn’t apply to narrative, what even

    • Stephanie

      You’re not understanding me. I’m saying that it’s not necessary for the story to make this end badly for Alison in order to avoid implying that what she did is right. Characters in fiction, as in real life, often benefit from doing bad things; it doesn’t mean the author is saying they were right to do those things. If Alison doesn’t suffer as much as you want her to, or if her plan doesn’t go as badly awry as you want it to, that would not mean the authors believe she was justified.

      I’m not going to engage you any further on the topic of utilitarianism vs deontology, since you’ve already decided that there isn’t even a debate. I’d much rather discuss that with people who disagree with me but aren’t pretending that theirs is the only position worth acknowledging.

      • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

        Okay then, let’s only address the use of the narrative medium.

        Say Alison forcing Max to do his thing ends up doing a lot of good. Alison is distraught about the line she crossed, but she manages to get over it. Max is irate but has to keep his mouth shut and they’ll never see each other again. All is well. A net benefit in the world at the cost of her morals and the illegitimate use of violence. End of issue, or at least that arc. Next scene.

        What, then, would have the narrative told us?

  • SuddenFan

    Maybe, but that was the decision of new writers. The original implication was that he’d slowly become more and more animalistic.

  • Arklyte

    Eh, what?

    • Mechwarrior

      Karmala Khan, Marvel Comics character, one of the best they’ve introduced in a long time.

      • Arklyte

        I know whom she is. I was questioning hipster looks and Reed’s power set resulting in great character. Haven’t known she was a muslim though…

    • Izo

      Kamala Khan. The muslim superheroine in Marvel comics that took the ‘Ms. Marvel’ name when Carol Danvers took the name ‘Captain Marvel.’ She’s a polymorph – size alteration, stretchy/elongation, shapechanging, healing factor, and bioluminescence.

      It’s a good series – I heavily recommend it. One of the few good new additions or changes in Marvel lately.

  • Sendaz

    Until Max says that he may have forgotten to mention that that pixie dust is more like faerie fire and this was actually how he caught his apartment building on fire that night they met (he was trying to boost the cleaning staff) and now Alison has to spend the rest of the evening putting out whatever building they are in. 😉

  • Santiago Tórtora

    Personal consequences are alright. It’s only when the end the “hero” is trying to achieve is lost that the moral is lost as well.

    • Izo

      Unless the moral is ‘You can’t always get what you want.’

  • Santiago Tórtora

    The situation is different but has similarities. Many people believe democracy devolves into oligarchy when money control politics, and following the money=superpowers analogy, Allison is like a fusion of Bill Gates and the Koch brothers.

    • GreatWyrmGold

      I’m not convinced the similarities are more relevant than the differences.

  • Santiago Tórtora

    Allison is playing along with that plan, so it can’t be that bad.

    • SJ

      Allison is playing along with that plan, so it can’t be that bad.

      You… have a much, much greater degree of faith in Alison’s risk assessment and critical thinking skills than I do.

  • MrSing

    What do you do if your most effective way to solve problems is violence?
    You swallow your pride and help and listen to people who are better at solving problems in better ways.

    • SJ

      Exactly. You know who else only had the aptitude for violent, aggressive means? Furnace, and I don’t recall any of the people who are currently defending Alison caping up for that guy.

  • Stephanie

    A lot of people in the comments seem to think so. The words “irredeemable” and “villain” have been thrown around a lot. I don’t think I ever said those are the only options–quite the opposite.

    • SJ

      Your counterargument to @frankiegriffen:disqus being disillusioned about the current direction of the comic was literally “Why is it a problem for the strip that the protagonist doesn’t act in perfect alignment with your moral principles? Perfect protagonists are boring.” That is not “quite the opposite.” If that was what you were trying to get across, you may wish to consider a quick edit.

      To say nothing of the fact that you intimated that the reason for Frankie’s disillusionment is because Alison is not perfect, as if they would not be able to enjoy a “shades of gray” character.

  • Stephanie

    Haha, it would be interesting if it were some sort of projective empath.

    • Izo

      After reflection, the idea I jokingly mentioned sounds a lot like a Rick and Morty episode – the Unity episode. Or Futurama’s The Beast with a Billion Backs movie.

  • SJ

    I’m implying that Alison has crossed the Rubicon, and that whatever Max’s faults happen to be are nothing but a bullshit rationalization.

    Now that she’s already done this, and decided that she can still live with herself, it’s only a matter of time before she does it again.

  • Kifre

    Furnace got some characterization in! See this page through issue Issue 5, page 123: http://strongfemaleprotagonist.com/issue-5/page-119/

  • crazy j

    What if Max was black or white but dirt poor? What if he was born a biodynamic but also had multiple sclerosis? We can go endlessly with such speculation, however the facts of what happened remain the same; kidnapped, physically abused, and forced on threat of murder to preform actions not of his choice.

  • SJ

    If someone told me my niece had some horrible infection and the only cure was a blood transfusion from that guy over there but he refuses because “Meh”, my response to that person would be “Blood is coming out of you, either in a donation pouch or on the floor. Make your choice very quickly”

    Are we assuming that “that guy over there” is as wimpy as Max in this scenario? What happens if he pulls out a weapon and says, “Want some, get some, bad enough, take some”?

  • Ganurath

    I’m pretty sure it’s to help her dad, so…

  • I’m sorry, but I can’t agree with you on a couple levels. First, elevating rape to a special crime that is unlike and unrelated to any other crime seems like giving it too much credit. Rape is a crime about power and gratification; it is not as heinous as murder, from which there can never be recovery, nor is it as petty as theft. It is, essentially, on par with robbery or home invasion.

    Is it awful? Absolutely. Does it deserve to be elevated beyond that, though? I am very ambivalent about this.

    The other thing I think that makes this a reasonable comparison is this: from the standpoint of the offender, rape is all about exercising power over a victim that is perceived (by the rapist) as normally being more powerful. While sex is a component, it is generally the least important component in the mind of the rapist.

    From the perspective of the victim, rape is mainly horrible because it renders them powerless. Again: sex is a component, but it is not the overwhelming component.

    When people compare this scene with rape, generally the aspect that is being compared is the use of force and power over someone who is otherwise unable to reciprocate. What Alison is doing in these scenes is not a sexual rape, but it can absolutely be considered a spiritual rape, and that makes it every bit as wrong.

    If Alison has a reason that justifies her behavior in her own mind, that’s great. It does not, however, invalidate the fact that she has violated Max in a very real way and that nothing she does will ever make it right with him.

    • Senri

      I didn’t make this comment to say that rape is some kind of ubercrime. It’s still not what’s happening here. The government is not raping (general for all) you when it makes you pay taxes, someone is not raping you when they beat you in a video game online, and someone who physically assaults, blackmails, and terrorizes another person (which is exactly exactly what Allison is doing here) is not raping them (although in that case they are committing actual awful crimes).

      I mentioned my own experience with a robbery to bring up that even a crime like that can feel like an awful violation. When I look back at that experience, I think about how much worse it must be to experience an actual physical assault – either “just” violent, or with a sexual element. Physical assaults and coercion are awful crimes in their own right even if they lack the visceral element that rape seems to. I’m not sure why crimes like that don’t have the same visceral element, but I think when they’re properly portrayed they have plenty of impact and are awful enough to stand on their own two feet.

      I think that the scenes here have plenty of the aforementioned visceral element all on their own, and making them equivalent to a rape is a cheap writing technique and poor interpretation when what Allison is doing is plenty bad all on its own. When I wrote my comment, I didn’t write it to “elevate” rape, I wanted to say that it is it’s own distinct thing. It is a distinct crime. I think comparing it to something that is not rape actually mischaracterizes it – for instance, I disagree extremely strongly with comparing it to a robbery or a home invasion.

      Allison is committing a crime and I’m not arguing that. If Max never forgives her, that’s completely his right. But she is not raping him, she’s doing something else, something distinctly awful, that I don’t think should be said to be “just like” rape because it’s not rape, and that I don’t think should be described as “as bad as rape” because it’s awful and misleading to rank crimes like that.

      Here’s an article that I think is good that goes further into the whole thing: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/tilly-grove/rape-culture-analogies_b_6413514.html

  • Beroli

    I don’t think him saying “when I say ‘tyrant,’ I mean something bad, to be avoided,” would have done anything positive…

    Now I’m wondering how he would have responded had someone given him Max’s axiom (“freedom is the most important thing we have”). Not significantly more sympathetically, or significantly less effectively, than he did to Alison’s, I’m thinking.

    Now I’m picturing Alison, instead of dragging Max here and torturing him, sending Gurwara an email, “Hi, Professor. I know we didn’t exactly have a positive interaction in class, but do you have any use for a favor from Mega-Girl? Any buildings you want to be on the other side of town? There’s someone who has an axiom I’d really like to see you…discuss…with him.”

  • Beroli

    “The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.”
    –A slight, but common, misquote of a character who, ironically, is far more likely to have Max’s admiration than Alison’s

  • Beroli

    I think she wouldn’t be willing to forcibly stop Feral from doing what she’s doing. Which means that if she accidentally did, incidentally dooming the people Feral is helping, as a result of a plan which was supposed to save countless, countless lives…
    She’d probably be crushed. Meanwhile, Max would be going, “Your methods are awful in every conceivable way, I hate you, but at least I sort of understand you wanting to stop your friend from her sacrifice. Even though I would have been just as unwilling to help you stop her by force, why didn’t you tell me the truth to begin with, instead of all that nonsense about saving countless lives?”

  • Stephanie

    Idk, I think we’d have gotten some foreshadowing if that were the case.

  • Tylikcat

    Oh (as I scroll by) no, I don’t generally torture people for business, either. In fact, I’ve ended up creating a whole ongoing research project out of trying to make better and healthier lives for our slugs while they’re with us because I really don’t approve of torture.* I could make all kinds of jokes about torturing my research students, but last semester my current students decided to make a joke of telling me that I wasn’t actually mean and taunted me with it throughout the the term. (And into the summer, as one was staying in my spare room part time…) To think that they had to compete to become my minions.

    …I do like to start out creating the impression that I might be mean. I’ve noticed that it tends to help me a lot in the long run.

    * OMG, the things people weren’t checking wrt tank chemistry…! And, sadly, not just in our lab. But my protocols are becoming more widely adopted.

  • Marc Forrester

    … and also knew that even if they do comply, that guarantees nothing. Max might just be buying himself a merciful death here, and I imagine that’s front and centre in his mind right now.

    • Weatherheight

      That will tend to focus a persons’ attention, yes.

  • SJ

    Roll that beautiful bean footage!

  • Dawn Smashington

    Okay, I am super happy there’s DnD-type folks here. I love a good story and that’s one of the funnest ways to make one.

    But that’s an interesting scenario in regards to what’s happening here. Admittedly, there is a part of me that would love to see Al go full supervillain, or as full a supervillain as someone with her fiber can be. And because of that fiber I’d expect her to do something along the lines of what your player did; find a way to stop herself.

  • Dawn Smashington

    When she found out about her old professor’s partner having been killed during one of her superhero fights, it seemed she finally humanized the casualties that she couldn’t have previously been unaware of. To say that she has always been a shining example of moral “correctness” is absurd. It’s her increasing awareness of herself and the double-edged sword that is humanity (super-powered or no, Al and all the others are very much human) that’s driven me to come here twice a week for over a year now.

    She’s finding out that this darkness has been in her the entire time; maybe she will accept that this darkness lives in all of us, in different ways.

  • Danygalw

    …I cannot imagine the overall response to Allison’s actions being more *positive* if she were black.

  • Dawn Smashington

    I’m struggling with this question myself; is this justice, or is it revenge? I hadn’t expected her to do anything like this, so when she smashed his face into the table, my first and lasting reaction was “YES.” But then follows all these uncomfortable thoughts and feelings; is using violence and fear on someone ever right? I know that I want to see things like this happen, but am I right for wanting that? I’m not sure there’s a correct answer. And I’m not sure the previous sentence isn’t me just wanting to feel better about being bloodthirsty.

  • Izo

    “If it comes from personal experience like it sounds you have my deepest…well sympathies doesn’t seem right but no one should have to deal with an event like that. Know that nothing I say is aimed at you.”

    No worries, yeah more than a little of what I said comes from personal experience but I try not to get into my personal history too much since I don’t see any reason to give it more focus on my life than it deserves. The sentiment is appreciated though, and yeah – I know it’s not aimed at me personally. 🙂

    “Context does matter in situations like this.”
    Yep. Context is key. But that’s why I’m so much more annoyed at the actions of Alison here than I was after the hospital. The hospital had context to excuse what happened. The date rape attempt had context to excuse what happened, regardless of whether one thinks Alison overreacted in either situation or not. This has a very NEGATIVE context for Alison – she wanted him to do something because she couldn’t do it on her own, someone who had not done her or anyone else any harm, refused to accept his repeated ‘no’s’, and forced him to do it by physical violence and death threats which she is fully capable and apparently willing to follow through on. She can’t use the excuse of shock, or of protecting another person (sorry to anyone who thinks inaction to not save a nebulous ‘countless lives’ is protecting someone else – it’s not or we’d all need to be roaming the streets right now looking for people to save or having jobs as firefighters and police officers or whatever). She has no excuses for her behavior now except the selfish need to feel personal accomplishment. The fact that her personal accomplishment need happens to be altruistic only helps when it’s her OWN time, sacrifice, and efforts that are doing it, not forcing someone else. Otherwise, she could have built that playground by simply finding a person who knew how to build it and telling them she’s twist their head off if they didn’t build a playground.

    “Hurting him to make him do a thing is wrong and wicked but so is killing another person and in our society killing can be justified depending on circumstance.”
    Okay I’m going to give a TINY bit of personal info about me – I have a law degree and I’ve passed the bar in a few states. I’m sure there are at least a few other attorneys or at least law students on this forum as well so they’d be able to confirm what I’m saying). There is a difference, at least legally, between murder and other killings, like during time of war or defense of others. And that second part has very specific rules to define when a killing is lawful or unlawful (ie, murder, manslaughter, etc). That’s why murder is defined as an unlawful premeditated killing of another human being. What Alison was threatening to do was to murder him. What she did to the flamethrower guy was not the same as what she was threatening to do to Max, because there was a defense of others defense involved. You could also say there was emotional shock. Neither fit here.

    “The difference between what we have here and real life is that in real life when someone forces their will on another like this its nearly always for selfish or just cruel reasons.”

    Very few people do bad things and think to themselves ‘I’m doing this for a cruel reason.’ People are remarkable in that they can rationalize all sorts of horrible things they do in order to try to put a positive spin on it and make themselves look noble. The worse the crime, often the worse the rationalization. This happens both in real life and in fiction, although it’s more disturbing and regularly occurring in real life. A lot of people also have a type of moral myopia. When they do something, it’s justified for whatever reason they make up – when someone else does it, it’s an atrocity.

    Captain Janeway in Voyager destroying another Starfleet ship for violating the prime directive, or Captain Kirk orchastising someone about the prime directive, or Captain Picard letting an entire civilization die (the episode with Worf’s brother) for the prime directive to be upheld, even though Janeway regularly violates it, as does Kirk, as does Picard – when it suits their needs.

    Batman capturing others who are vigilantes…. despite him being a vigilante.

    Dean on Supernatural. Killing monsters – even ones who are going out of their way to NOT be monstrous. The fact that his brother was pretty much becoming the most dangerous monster didn’t matter, and he protects him and makes excuses (because they’re brothers). Sam’s been guilty of this too.

    Laurel on Arrow – Gets angry at Ollie for lying about having a son when the boy’s mother demanded he not tell anyone about him in exchange for being allowed to visit with him. Meanwhile, Laurel has herself lied to people who are supposedly her best friend and loved ones, including hiding her sister’s death from her father and pretending to be said sister and getting Team Arrow to help cover up the death.

    “You just don’t hear about a someone strong arming a doctor into performing a life saving surgery. If you did I’d wager that person goes to jail willingly and with a reduced sentence because I doubt juries like sending someone to prison for saving a life.”

    Exactly my point. If there’s a doctor who’s the only one of three in the world who is skilled and intelligent enough to perform a particular operation, but he or she (or even none of the three) choose not to for whatever reason, we don’t put a gun to their heads and demand they do it or we will kill them.

    “The addition of the supernatural muddies the waters so much in times like this.”

    Which is why I also use examples from popular fiction so often as well 🙂

    “Max has a thing that literally only he can do. The options are he does it or it doesn’t get done.”

    This can be shown in a real life scenario as well – like my doctor example above.

    Great talk, thanks.

  • Izo

    “At least she kinda looks like she knows how awful she’s being.”

    That actually makes it worse, I think. Intentional evil vs ignorant evil.

  • Lostman

    I think this has to a lot with framing, here we are suppose to ask about the questions of the story as with the big two works are more simple minded.

  • A true equality of rights often demands an equality of outcomes, it’s a point we have to keep making in disability rights, in the simplest example, ‘open to all’ isn’t if there’s a step and no wheelchair ramp.

    However, structures that allow harm to others are very vulnerable to devaluing the rights of minority groups. We see this in utilitarianism with Singer’s view on the legitimacy of killing disabled kids. He doesn’t see a disabled life as a valuable life, so allows his own prejudice to create an ethical structure where one group of people have fewer rights than others.

    If you hold that harm may be necessary and acceptable, then your ethical structure lacks checks and balances. If you hold that harm may be necessary, but remains unacceptable, then you have an ethical structure that may permit harm, but has the checks and balances to recognise that there is a cost that cannot be disregarded.

  • Izo

    I understand your reasoning in your scenario. However, unlike Alison, you would at least be arrested and punished for your actions, even though you did so to save your niece’s life. It’s Alison’s inability to face justice for the negative act that she’s doing, regardless of the beneficial outcome to her or someone else, which is the real problem and makes her action even worse – evil even. And not just to the guy – to society itself.

  • Izo

    “Why can’t you tally it up?”

    Because people are not as simple as equations. Whenever I make these extreme examples – rape analogies, genocide, Hitler, etc, it’s in order to try to simplify complex human behavior into a more simpler equation, by showing the extremes when based on a utilitarian logic.

  • Izo

    By a utilitarian logic, killing a few healthy people for their organs DOES make sense. It’s a net win of how many people will be saved vs how many will die. One person’s organs can save the lives of dozens of people.

    That’s one of the many flaws in utilitarian philosophical thinking.

  • Axel_Celosar

    People should probably read this:

    Basically showing how Alison as a character is the biggest hypocrite ever.

  • Izo

    hehe. His comment is still upvote-worthy.

  • Weatherheight

    I would prefer not to handle that cephalopod.

  • Weatherheight

    “that second to last panel,”

    I read it that way the first time, too. 😀

  • Weatherheight

    I like to believe that redemption is always possible, that anyone can choose to become better, can strive daily to make themselves even better yet, and can positively affect the world around them.
    All too often, I am disappointed, mostly in my own actions (the ones I feel I have at most leeway to pass judgement on) but also in those around me.
    Sometimes, it is hard holding on to hope. And while I don’t in any way condone what’s happening here, I can empathize with all the parties involved.
    I hope the day I lose that empathy never comes.

  • Weatherheight

    I’m ashamed to say this made me laugh.

  • Weatherheight

    “How will augmenting Feral’s power help her?”
    Remove the word “help” and replace it with “augment”, if that helps. I just can’t see Max voluntarily doing anything to assist Feral, concretely or speculatively, given his disrespect towards her.

    “How would augmenting her powers lead to a more normal life?”
    Never said it would – If. But right now Feral suffers pain during surgery – if we take her power as “The ability to recover from any bodily disorder” rather than the limited “regeneration”, that could work.

    “Couldnt Feral already help Alison’s dad with donated organs even without Max augmenting her?”
    Possibly, but metastasized cancer is tricky – I don’t think replacing organs would help unless the areas affected are both limited in number and in location. But if her power is “the ability to recover from any bodily disorder”, augmenting might somehow allow her blood (or some subset thereof) to act as perfect chemo.

    I’m also assuming Alison has an extremely personal reason for what she’s doing. I don’t quite see the passion we’re seeing being prompted by nebulous “countless, countless lives”; my experience is that very few people act based on nebulous connections. That’s the primary reason we see those shots of real people in charitable ads – they allow us to connect directly to someone.

    I’m not convinced I’m right – I just don’t see any other viable candidate whose power appears so limited but might not be so limited as we think.

    “I find it odd that Alison would trust everything Patrick says, given who he is and who she knows he is.”
    Ditto, but I’ve seen people in Real Life™ who have made far worse trust choices regarding those to whom they are attracted.

    The other problem is that we’re missing a big chunk of time – We know she called Dr. Rosenblum (whom I believe is her government liaison, personal biodynamic physician/researcher, and one hell of a Power Tool Hairstylist, yes?). What if that call was about confirming the dossiers (which is quite plausible to me)? It seems to me,that given her status in that program, that isn’t beyond the pale she could confirm that and provide theoretical insight into any of those dossiers (this has been niggling at me for weeks and my subconscious finally kicked that up).

    New pages cannot come fast enough for me. 😀

    • Kifre

      I don’t know that Max actively disrespects Feral in such a way that he would refuse to help her…I think that he’s never met her and doesn’t know anything about that speculation. So when she comes up, it wasn’t a conversation about Allison’s friend who is suffering so that others can benefit (and by the way Allison feels responsible for that)…to him it was an opportunity to question the nature of altruism and continue the conversation about incentives and choice in what he thought was a less direct way. Max never expresses disgust or anger about Feral’s sacrifices…he just questions if she isn’t actually getting something out of it.

  • Izo

    Going to be brief again, because my initial post was pretty thorough anyway.

    The point that I’m making is that the law upon which you are relying does not limit torture to nations and people acting within the official capacity of nations. It EXPANDS to include nations in addition to individuals (which was the traditional definition). Traditionally, nations could not be guilty of torture until it was defined that they were – sort of an example of the ‘guns don’t kill people, bullets kill people’ saying.

    I should also mention, as an unrelated side-note, that the UN is pretty much a joke, especially considering its peacekeepers have multiple allegations of rape and torture when they go into different areas to ‘peacekeep’ unless the US has their forces in the area instead. Not to mention their blatant hypocrisy if you look at the selections they’ve made for the Human Rights Council. Russia, China, Cuba, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Pakistan, Congo, Kazakhstan, Ethiopia, and Venezuela – most of the nations on the Human Rights council are the worst malefactors to exist when it comes to human rights and torture.

  • Izo

    Here’s why it IS like rape.

    What is rape, if not coercion?

    Rape is coercion to make someone have sex. Would you want to minimize the crime of rape by just calling it coercion? Of course not – that would diminish the evil-ness of the mentality behind the act.

    So everyone who keep saying how ‘this isn’t like rape because it’s not sex’ seems to be missing the point about the obvious rape analogies here – the basic mentality behind Alison and a garden variety rapist are the same. They want something from another person. That person has said no. They don’t care that the person had said no, so now they will take it by force and violate the person in order to do so.

    The only difference is WHAT they are getting for the coercion. Torture, btw, can also be part of a rape. Torture can be a part of what Alison is doing to Max, which is a pretty clear rape analogy. Rape analogies make people feel uncomfortable because it’s such a disgusting crime, perpetrated by evil, disgusting people, and a saddeningly large number of people have known someone who’s had it happened to them, or it’s happened to them personally. That also makes it an effective analogy, though, in expressing what an evil thing the analogy (in this case, what Alison is doing to Max) is showing.

  • Izo

    “She is only crying for herself. The same would go if she were a man.”
    That’s why I used the example of Hank Pym 🙂

  • Sterling Ericsson

    I still find it hilarious that “forcing a selfish, self-centered person to use their superpowers to save someone’s life” is labelled “being a monster”.

    Sheesh. I would do what Alison is doing 100 out of 100 times. Heck, the person doesn’t even need to be a jerk, though it certainly helps. But it literally hurts him nothing at all to use his powers to save someone’s life. Not even emotionally. And before someone tries to argue about Allison being physically coercive here, you are completely missing the point.

    The people comparing this to rape I feel are marginalizing rape.

    • Allen

      Tho apparently deciding NOT to use his powers has the potential to cause his bones to be broken or severely dislocated, or perhaps be dropped on a deserted island to starve to death. Does Alison wake up every morning having forgotten “The Law of Unintended Consequences?” She is a super powered millennial who does not want to be a super hero; with apparently no impulse control who now uses her super powers to force people to do what she thinks is the right thing to do?? Yeah, this is going to end well…

  • Izo

    ” No, it’s not, because only rape is just like rape.”



    • Senri

      Check out Lindsey Stirling! Her instrumental work is beautiful.

  • Izo

    I still thought of her as a hero even after that, but I’ll admit I was troubled by her letting Moonshadow go.

  • Izo

    Since I’ve never broken my arm, I’ll take your word for it.

  • Izo

    One day I’d like you to GM an online game for me and some people 🙂

  • Rumble in the Tumble

    What SJ said, but also
    It strongly depends on who’s writing him, but all his ‘dangling people off ledges’ is the core part of his “strike fear in the hearts of criminals” stuff – most petty thugs think that he’s some kind of a blood drinking monster that will horribly murder them, so when he threathens to throw you off the roof, you tell him all he wants to hear… because of the implication.
    Self-described crazy antihero, often stopped/punched out by other heroes during cross-overs, since his whole modus operandi is “I’m gonna kill criminals, no matter the situation, period.” All “hero worship” is just brutal revenge fantasy.
    Depending on the writer, an immortal guy who was running around since prehistory/Civil War/whatever. Clearly unhinged loner, staying with X-Men is the first truly heroic thing he did, and even that he does whenever he feels like it. Not a 100% hero material, no. (I don’t remember any especially memorable torture, tho)
    >Magneto, Von Doom
    They don’t get “Hero Worship”, people just like to be contrarian assholes and cheer on the fascist from time to time. Especially in realities much different from ours. Heck, I’m following Cobra Commander on Facebook and I would make a convincing argument for his benevolent rule, but that’s not what I actually believe.

  • David

    I feel like it has to be Tera as well. It plays along with the idea of Alison going batshit crazy before, because of her…and it also plays into the whole, saving a lot of lives thing that she seems to believe so much, by forcing him to use his powers…ie. saving her, for her to continue saving the lives of others.

  • beastlytales

    Wow this page is amazing. Panel size, lighting, word bubble size and placement. And the design of Maxs powers is beautiful and the revelation of his and Alisons faces is brilliant. Alison sounds totally calm while torturing Max but her face clearly sells the fact that she knows she has completely crossed a line here. It’s perfect. If Alison ever heard about another anomaly doing what she is doing right now she would be furious. But here she is. Because she believes that whatever she is getting Max to do is more important than his individual rights, safety or health. Also it totally calls bullshit on her big speach about helping others when she was trying to convince him. All along she had something specific in mind. So much for decency and societal obligations. I feel like there should be an echo of Brads fantasic settling of the argument between Theresa and Kiele – all I hope is that you feel safe and that you want that safety for each other. I bet Prof. Gurwarra is feeling a serious chill down his spine right now…

    At the same time there is going to be such an awkward flight back to his house.

  • beastlytales

    But she was given the file by Patrick who is actively trying to manipulate her. The cheque he gave her proves that. She did call her government doctor about some questions that we weren’t privy too but judging by her clothes it wasn’t very long ago. One of the questions she asked was if it was possible for someone (Max) to have an anomaly and then a hypothetical based off of that anomaly. No way of knowing if any of it is going to have unintended side effects. Alison hasn’t really been on top of her mental game since her fight with Moonshadow.

  • Izo

    Um… there’s an entire website dedicated to the fact that, especially during Silver Age DC, Superman was indeed a jerk and a monster.


    “All these men more or less get a pass from fandom as being “Hard Men Making Hard Choices.””
    Actually, both Batman and Punisher are considered vigilantes and even criminals in their respective universes, and would be arrested if caught. The only reason Batman hasnt been yet is Commissioner Gordon is intentionally looking the other way since Gotham is so corrupt (plus he’d wind up having to arrest his own daughter), and the Punisher HAS been put in prison a few times and has almost every government and quite a few superheroes trying to arrest him. They aren’t considered ‘hard men making hardchoices.’

    Magneto is a flat out terrorist and is one of the world’s most wanted, and he was the #1 villain against the X-Men for a long, long time. He’s a bigot, a murderer, and a villain who, like Alison, thinks he’s the good guy when he’s doing evil. No one except other villains think he’s ‘making the hard choices necessary.’

    Victor von Doom is worshipped in his comic because he’s THE FRIGGING DICTATOR OF LATVERIA. If they don’t worship him, his doombots will disappear them. That’s the whole point of Doom …. and why I’ve compared Alison to Doom. They’re both being evil dictators who think they’re doing the right thing.

    Also his name is DOOM. No one is thinking he’s a hero or a decent person. What would make it more obvious – if his name was Puppykiller von Murderandeatbabies the Third?

    And no one said Alison can do nothing right. We said Alison threatening to murder a guy and torturing him in order to force him to do what he refused to do when asked and insulted is something that is NOT RIGHT. The idea that you think it is right is troubling.

    “The only acceptable thing for her to do evidently, is throw satellites into orbit, or turn the crank on a generator.”

    Both of which would be more useful to society than what she does. Why, does she want to make the world a better place? Or does she just want glory. If she wants to make the world a better place, end world hunger, prevent millions of deaths, then give the world unlimited free energy and turn the crank on the damned generator.

    “Anything where she acts out of the norms of social passivity gets criticism,”
    Pretty sure torture, kidnapping, and murder threats with the clear intent to follow through on them is a little more than ‘outside the norms of social passivity.’

    “and people hoping she gets punished.”
    Yes, foolish me. I think people who torture and kidnap and force others against their will should get punished.

    “I find the contrast interesting.”
    It’s a non-existent contrast, since the police would arrest Batman or Punisher as well. And neither of them are a walking weapon of mass destruction with a hair trigger to violate other people for her own whims. The army (and Batman) even have kryptonite stockpiled to take down Superman. And they did when he got brainwashed by Darkseid. Alison doesn’t even have that excuse.

  • Beroli

    This sounds like the Unpleasable Fanbase fallacy* to me, frankly. I suspect those people who admire Doom, Magneto**, and the Punisher at his worst are an almost complete subset of those who are currently defending/would currently defend Alison and say Max deserves everything he’s getting.

    *The Unpleasable Fanbase fallacy consists of treating a fanbase as a single entity and selectively paying attention to only those who are currently saying something one disagrees with.

    **”At most ambiguous antiheroes doing the right thing”? Magneto? Are you even serious?

  • Izo

    “Right now, the best person I know is killing herself to make the world a better place.”
    And Feral isn’t doing it for glory or even recognition.
    Maybe she should follow Feral’s example instead of being a brute and thug.

    “The only way I can get her to stop is by making it impossible for things to get any better. Everything perfect for everyone forever. That’s the goal.”

    Pssst. Alison…. I’m pretty sure Max is part of ‘everyone.’ And you’ve made things worse, not better.

  • Izo

    “It might be a philosophical difference.”
    Probably is.

    “I find people, and people’s motivations, pretty interesting.”
    Same here. I just don’t want to glorify the negative actions.

    “And I tend to be interested less in whether people are more good or bad, but in the common humanity than unites them.”
    I think is that philosophical difference. I think if humans do too much bad, and other humans support the bad, it taints the common humanity with a sickly pallor and I’d rather not be united to that.

    “Though at some level, and not one I’m proud of, I do find people different levels of interesting versus boring.”
    I do too, nothing to be ashamed about there. Different people are different.

    I just don’t think people who do evil actions should be seen as saintly, or even as good, and definitely not heroic. A good result (assuming there even is one, and assuming that result isnt just subjectively good – most of the world’s most evil people thought they were subjectively doing something good) does not erase an evil action.

  • Or it’s her father, and some other anomaly can heal diseases with moderate success.

  • SomeGuy411

    The problem, of course, is a highly active immune system can start to attack it’s host (the name of the disorder escapes me at the moment, but you take immunosuppressors for it). You take true superhealing, superjuice it, and then start putting it in normal people, it may start to decide EVERY cell is a foreign body to destroy. Hopefully Feral’s won’t, if that’s the gambit (0% rejection on organ transplants mean that’s actually feasible). Very good thought though.

  • Santiago Tórtora

    She is as much of a monster as Cleaver. Except this monster has been using her monstrous powers for good until mow.

    • GreatWyrmGold

      I wouldn’t call Cleaver a monster right after his first crime, either.

      • Santiago Tórtora

        What does monster mean, anyway?

        I’m not trying to be philosophical or anything. It’s just I usually use and hear the word monster applied to scary people/animals. Cleaver and Mega Girl are very scary.

        • GreatWyrmGold

          There are a few possible definitions that could be applied to Cleaver, but I wouldn’t think of any that apply to Alison (yet).
          I generally require a bit more than “scary” before I call someone a monster.

  • Arkone Axon

    Valkyrie’s literally just gotten started, and it’s already doing extremely well given how recently it was created. We’ve actually seen a large number of members referenced, it’s just that they’re still offpanel rather than making an appearance. Brad stopped her from recruiting more people, but she already has support aplenty.

    Her despair at fixing the playground wasn’t about a fear of being unable to do more than destroy. It was specifically a frustration over being unable to fix the problem – including the greater problems that the playground symbolized. A thing representing both the marriage of her professor to a good man (dead at her hands, an innocent bystander caught in the crossfire, and thusly breaking his husband’s heart), and the greater issue of… ALL the problems that the world faces.

    And in answer to your last question: she had an answer already. She was in college, she was looking for alternatives. And she was finding them… this isn’t just a step backwards, this is a flying leap in the opposite direction.

  • Skyfish

    I kinda hope that’s Feral they are sprinkling fairy dust on. But Alison is taking a huge risk here. I don’t get the impression she knows the details of how Max’s power operates. What if superpowering somebody has negative consequences for them and everybody? what would Allisons next power level even be, a literal nuke? What would Ferals be? to not feel the pain? To be able to generate limbs she never had to begin with? Shapeshifting? Would superpowering Feral prevent the operation on her, ruining her wishes? What about Paladin… would she go insane with too much intelligence if there is such a thing?

  • Mitchell Lord

    …I think I know who she’s helping…

  • GreatWyrmGold

    This isn’t as bad as molesting your child.

    And what previous things are you thinking of?

  • Allen

    So, did Alison save him from a burning building so she could then threaten him with severe bodily harm in order to have him do her bidding? The irony is astounding.
    I wonder if they were Al and Maxine what folks would think…

    • Sendaz

      What? You never had Bake n’ Shake before? 😛

  • Chasmek

    Yeah, somehow you make us want to keep coming back for more… ^_^
    (And I call shenanigans on “I don’t do it for fun!” I’ve seen the glint of joy in your eyes!)

    But regardless of whether SHE knows what she’s doing, untrained people probably have a much stronger emotional response to being put in even a minor lock. They don’t know that their arm isn’t actually about to break. They have no guarantee that the aggressor is in control and wont screw up and cause serious trauma. Heck, I still get nervous about working with totally green students for this exact reason, even when I know exactly when to tap out.

    • Tylikcat

      I totally spar for fun. But I would stop if I thought it was torture for anyone.* And you’re probably in the top five of people I’ve talked about the philosophical underpinnings of sparring, other than the obvious. (If mostly because I don’t talk about that much. It always sounds kind of ridiculous, sometimes even if I say swear a lot. And you know I used to refuse to spar with beginners, right?)

      People do freak – and depending on the lock that can be dangerous, as damage to the joint capsule is no laughing matter. This really sucks when the person was doing something awful, and you’re trying to get them to stop, and now they’re resisting and are about to cause themselves real injury. I mean, people say academia is fraught. I’ll take peer review any day.

      But I think it’s pretty clear that’s not what’s happening here. Alison is both frightening him and hurting him on purpose. She might have the skill not to injure him or not to injure him badly – that would depend on what kind of combat training she’s had but would seem a reasonable extrapolation for a super strong individual dealing with people who aren’t – but I’m pretty sure this isn’t about him freaking out untowardly. She just attacked him, threatened him, abducted him, and then inflicted pain on him to get him to do what she wanted. Considering that Alison can inflict pretty ridiculous amounts of pain, and was clearly doing so on purpose, Max’s prior experience doesn’t really seem to be to the point.

      * Though that first six months of wushu after the spine injury was pretty rough, but I was totally putting myself there. And sometimes I think it might have been harder on Shifu, not intervening and mostly letting me make my own call about when I was okay to train. (I think she told me to sit out once. Maybe twice. I didn’t argue.)

  • donut

    i honestly think the term monster is a tad too strong. If his power can save countless lives than even if Allison’s actions are morally evil she still made the correct choice in the long run. i know the ends justify the means isn’t something to live by but every decision like this should absolutely be made case by case taking the context into account and if i could trade one persons personal freedoms for a thousand peoples lives? id take that any day.

  • Kifre

    “It literally costs him nothing to do this.”

    How do you know? We’ve seen biodynamics that have powers which take a toll on them both mentally or physically. And those are people with far more practice with their powers than Max is likely to have. Then there is the fact that being known to others very much does put Max in a position where he is vulnerable to exploitation by strong people with powers that want to be stronger.

  • donut

    just a interesting thought i don’t think this is Allison throwing away her ideals rather she has learned that, everyone doing what is best for the group and everyone doing as they please aren’t compatible and she choose the former over the latter

  • llennhoff
  • M. Alan Thomas II

    Probably, but it could just be held back for a big reveal of who was visited later on.

    • GreatWyrmGold

      Who she visited being revealed doesn’t imply that preparations would be revealed. And the who could easily be revealed while implying preparations by showing half of a telephone conversation or something like that.

  • crazy j

    It cost him his freedom.

    • Sterling Ericsson

      For like 4 hours. Is someone’s life less important than 4 hours of his time? Possibly even less if he had agreed to go and they flew there via plane (since I don’t know how fast she can go while carrying someone. As fast as a plane might be dangerous for her passenger)

      • crazy j

        Max is not sitting through a sales brief in order to spend a free weekend at a timeshare, he was threatened with murder. That is coercion, pure and simple. It is the same as asking you to donate to UNICEF and if you don’t I’ll blow your brains out with a pistol.

  • Allen

    So… next time… Max says “F-U Alison, I’m not doing this again!” And… Alison breaks his arm to overcome “selfish d-bag-ism.” Is that OK? After all, it only cost him literally a broken arm… a little more expensive than literally nothing, but that’s not too much… is it?

    • Sterling Ericsson

      Personally, I think public shaming of an absolute d-bag would be a better option, but that’s just me.

      • Allen

        Yeah I don’t see him that way. Selfish, self absorbed, maybe. But behind all that bravado and “because I don’t want to…” I think Max is terrified, and now justifiably so. Imagine if Max was not rich, or did not have powerful parents to shield him. Max from the wrong side of the tracks would have been sequestered by the gov’t, giving booster shots to second and third string supers, until some super bad guy stole him to do the exact thing to evil supers, until some bureaucrat decided Max’s powers were too dangerous…

  • SJ

    …Not everything a protag does should be assumed to be championed by the authorial voice.

    Everything a protagonist does, that is not directly repudiated by another character, can reasonably be perceived as being championed by authorial fiat, especially if those actions are only repudiated by a character or characters that are portrayed is being in the wrong themselves.

    That’s exactly what makes this storyline problematic. Alison is a character of Brennan Mulligan’s creation: her words are, ostensibly, his. Since Alison is, in fact, the protagonist, it is entirely reasonable to come to the conclusion that any action that Alison takes that is not publicly decried is an action that the author stands for.

    Or… I don’t know… maybe I just don’t believe enough in the construct of “I write whatever the ‘muse’ tells me to write.”

    • Stephanie

      We haven’t even finished this arc yet, what makes you think no other character is going to make a counterargument? How can you say “this storyline is problematic because if nobody ever calls out Alison then the authors would be saying she was definitely right,” when she just did the thing like three pages ago, and no one but Max has even had an opportunity to call her out yet?

      Let’s at least see what happens before making premature judgments. This story is, again, about ethical dilemmas–it’s not a lecture. It’s always portrayed both sides of an issue. I don’t think we ever got a clear authorial answer on whether Moonshadow’s actions were justified, and I don’t think we’re going to get one on this either. The characters are going to make their own judgments and we’ll have to decide which ones we agree with.

      I also strongly disagree that “her words are his.” Good writers write characters that are self-contained people, not extensions of the writers. I’ve read the comic, so I know that Brennan Mulligan is a good writer. “Muses” have nothing to do with it, you can make the conscious decision to write a character whose principles don’t align with your own.

  • Jon Mitzman

    While I agree that, in theory, there might be some way in which Allison’s actions are justified (we know, for a fact, if he does not do this everyone in the universe will die within the next 20 seconds, and if she does do this they are guaranteed to live long, happy lives). Extreme, unrealistic scenarios are always used to justify torture, even though the people doing the justifying know good and well that is not now, and has never, actually been the case. As such, and given the extreme unlikelihood that there is any reasonable justification, I think any reasonable person is going to have to go with that the ends clearly do not justify the means here.

    Yes, I’m sure Allison does have something in mind with this that she thinks will help a lot of people, but since she isn’t volunteering to be the one being tortured I’m pretty sure it’s not enough to make up for the absolute evil of this act. Best case scenario is probably that she’s being mind controlled.

    On the other hand, people do act in irrational, even evil, ways, without actually being bad people on a general basis.

  • MisterTeatime

    She could tell her targets what she plans to do without telling them how or with whom. Telling the targets “I know a guy who can [do whatever Max is doing] and wants his identity kept secret” would allow for both Max’s privacy and the targets’ informed consent.

  • donut

    probably yeah

  • FlashNeko

    Well I did say ALMOST everything. 😛

  • That’s fair enough. I guess what really bothers me is that people keep trying to say that it’s impossible to compare rape to any other crime or event. While it is true that each rape is unique, it is also true that each crime of any sort is unique. It is necessary to be able to open a dialogue and, more, sometimes it’s necessary to recognize parallels and similarities.

    I’ve been told (by a rape victim) that “men cannot understand rape.” As I may have mentioned, I work in a prison; I flat guarantee that men can and do understand rape, even if it is taboo to talk about it in our society.

    I’ve also been told that women cannot rape men- they can only seduce them. I don’t think I need to point out that a woman physically raping a man with the use of prosthetics is possible and, again, almost never, ever reported.

    The fact that people believe that rape is a special crime that can only be perpetrated upon women and/or can only be perpetrated by men tends to make meaningful dialogue… let’s say “difficult.” If my comparison of rape to home invasion clouded the issue, I apologize; I was simply trying to demonstrate (as I said, based on the information I had) how the feelings engendered by home invasion could be compared to those engendered by rape.

    For the record: I did go and look up the definition after I posted, and it isn’t a perfect metaphor, although the case that I am privy to is, I think, not bad from an analogical standpoint, seeing as it included violation, threat of force, use of force, and denial of aid over the course of sixteen hours.

    I think I’m rambling a bit now; this is a touchy subject for me for a variety of reasons, most of which are private and some of which are not mine to share. I think I’ll drop it, here, as I’m not likely to add anything useful to further discussion.

    • Tylikcat

      Hey, I’m with you on most of that. (In fact, if you check my comment log, you’ll see I was ranting on this subject in this fora in the past couple of pages.) I roundly hate the mythologization of rape as it occurs in our society, on many levels, but especially the ones that are all about reinforcing our cultural myth that men are uniquely strong (and immune to rape – and hence, if raped, have been emasculated) and that women are uniquely vulnerable and always uniquely weak in this way no matter what because women are just like that. Also the whole “scarred for life” bit, which gets perilously close to being “ruined” or some crap.

      And yes, I think we need to talk a lot more about men being raped, both by men and by women. I think we need to tell those stories. I think rape is one of the more important myths that’s used to reinforce some of the really awful bullshit about gender in our society – and it goes in many directions. I’m also really interested to see what kind of data about sexual assault comes out in the next few years – between cultural shifts in what people are willing to talk about, and changes in what data is being collected, we might be seeing some real differences.

      (And from what you’re saying, that particular home invasion sounds awful.)

  • Eric the .5b

    Oh, absolutely. Notice that when he first asked what she’d do if he refused, *she dodged the question*. She had every intention of coercing him if he refused when she went to see him.

  • SomeGuy411

    Let me clarify-I by no means mean that this was in any way right or good. It was objectively horrible.

  • ” What sort of self-consistent ethical framework could say that harm is both necessary and unacceptable?”

    One based on ‘do the least harm’, but that accepts that least harm means sometimes lesser harm to innocents may occasionally be the price.

    There’s a probably apocryphal story about Churchill choosing not to evacuate civilians before the bombing raid on Coventry during WWII, which allegedly had been identified by ULTRA before the attack. The logic being that the civilian casualties (570 dead, over 1000 injured) were a fraction of those we might experience if the Germans realised we had broken the Enigma cypher.

    While that story is probably apocryphal, the allies did go to extraordinary lengths to protect ULTRA’s information, allowing targets such as convoys and U-boats to go unattacked until such time as they could be ‘accidentally’ detected by reconnaissance aircraft. (Neal Stephenson’s ‘Cryptonomicon’ devotes a major section to the fictional activities of a unit involved in this deception)

    A similarly grim calculus applies to the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The deaths from the two bombs were judged to be a fraction of those the allies might experience if forced to carry through on the invasion of Japan (estimates went as high as 4 million Allied casualties, up to 800,000 of those fatal, and 10 million Japanese).

  • Senri

    If you want to discuss a consent issue then it’s easy to say so in just those words. Rape is a violation of consent, but other crimes certainly share that trait.

    And yeah, what Allison has done has been compared to rape. I think it’s a faulty comparison, one that plays into some really unsavory trends, which is why I made my comment in the first place. Before anyone points out that the comic is pushing that comparison, I see that, and I think it’s a bad writing choice, though 95% of the time I think the comic is thoughtful and great.

  • MarvalAlice

    I have seen that before though, and I think it’s a boring way to do it. it’s also very hard to pull off without feeling anvilisious.

  • Picking the second of my examples, the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Dropping atomic weapons on cities cannot be acceptable. But killing 250,000 people to prevent potentially 14 million casualties? It’s a calculus of horror. The statistics tear us away from seeing those people as individuals, but the statistics cannot be ignored. I don’t see an easy alternative to the bombings, but it isn’t a decision you should be able to live easily with, it’s one you should suffer for.

  • Arklyte

    Well, welcome to the world of comicbooks(and everything else) where when money, quantity, ratings and shedules get involved in artistic process, you can forget about any originality or quality. Being original, making high quality product and at the same time not falling out of picture for years and being successfull takes not just talent in a single field… it takes being outright genius in many!
    But yeah, mix up of powerset of one of the most boring and useless characters in Marvel and hipster “culture” are a bad start. So being muslim and a fan of Jane might be her only saving grace for me:(

  • Jack Lostthenames Warren

    “…tax the rich, feed the poor, until there are rich no more…”