SFP

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  • AveryAves

    “Oh, she’s drinking. Guess that makes sense.

    OH WAIT SHIT Alison is superman and drinking is a bad idea I near forgot”

    Moral downspiral for an extremely powerful person…not great. Needa get like…a friend in here…very soon.

  • zellgato

    at least she’s accepted that aspect of her.
    instead of accidently doing it without realizing like she has in the past.

    now she can either build on it and accept it, or fully focus on that aspect and change it.

    depending on what she wants.

  • Lostman

    I have so many questions, the foremost being: Is that a thing in America? A burger/liquor store, are those common?

    • bta

      I believe American stores offer you a free burger for every purchase.

  • Jonathon Side

    “At least you’re honest.”

    Oh come on, Max. You could totally have chosen not to go. You made the choice to use your power. It was all your choice to do what she wanted.

    Just like the choices your gardeners make.

    • Arkone Axon

      No, because the gardeners could choose to walk away. They can choose to find employment elsewhere. If Max’s parents (you know ,the people who ACTUALLY hired those gardeners and not their son who keeps getting blamed for it) are such harsh taskmasters, then the gardeners can always go elsewhere. Even if Alison is 100% correct and they’re being paid below minimum wage and all… they can still walk away (and Alison’s stance requires Max’s parents to be cartoonish-ly villainous. You don’t treat people like crap when those people work in your home and have keys to the place).

      To make the analogy appropriate, you need guns and chains. The “choice” Max was offered was that of a slave. “You don’t HAVE to do what I want you to. You also don’t HAVE to spent the next few minutes being savagely beaten until you either do what I want or you die. Which will make me sad, because… well, you’re property, not a person. You’re a THING to be used according to MY will, not your own.”

      • Steele

        Illegal immigrants don’t have much in the way of choice. Sure, they -could- walk off the job, but the result would be not being able to feed their families, and possibly being arrested and deported back to whatever hellhole they came from. Or at the very least, they’d have a super-hard time finding any better work without proper ID and papers. They’re essentially indentured slaves.

        Though you are correct that this is on Max’s parents, not Max himself.

        • evillordzog

          Are the people who benefit from a crime as culpable as those who commit it?

      • Jonathon Side

        They can choose to walk away, which is choosing not to get paid, potentially choosing not to be able to feed their families (Max implied they had some), pay bills, pay rent… If they’re working under those conditions to begin with, I doubt they have a lot of other options for employment that they can easily draw on.

        So it’s really not a choice at all. Just like Max. Not the same KIND of no-choice, no, but Max is not honest about their options, yet he’s snarking about Allison being honest.

        So he’s a hypocrite.

    • Izo

      “Oh come on, Max. You could totally have chosen not to go. You made the choice to use your power. It was all your choice to do what she wanted.”
      Yeah Max, you could have chosen to have Alison break your arm, then you could have chosen to have Alison kill you by dumping you in the Atlantic Ocean.

      And just so you know, this is me being sarcastic to what you posted.

      “Just like the choices your gardeners make.”
      Sure! Because Max does give the gardeners the choice of ‘work for me or I will hurt or kill you.’

      Oh wait, no he doesn’t. He offers them a job for money at a flat rate for the day. They decide whether or not to accept the job. If they accept the job, they have to finish the job. If they don’t finish the job, they don’t get paid. If they finish the job, they get paid.

      Seriously where is the moral compass that you think ‘Payment for work done’ is in the same universe as ‘I will kill you if you do not do what I say?’ What sort of screwed up employment contract do you have with your employer or employees if death and physical pain are conditions to a breach of contractual obligations?

      • Jonathon Side

        “Oh come on, Max. You could totally have chosen not to go. You made the choice to use your power. It was all your choice to do what she wanted.”

        Just so you know, this was me being sarcastic at Max.

        • Izo

          I sometimes have a hard time telling when someone is sarcastic. Danger of text. I also have a hard time showing others when I’m being sarcastic.

    • Personthing

      No it wasn’t. The gardeners were given the choice “do what I say or I’ll NOT give you money”, while Max was given the choice “do what I say or I beat you up”.The equivalent situation sitation would be Alison finding Max being assaulted by someone and telling him that she won’t save him if he doesn’t help her.

      Of course, personally I think she’s perfectly justified into forcing him to help, as if he can help countless of people by expending basically zero resources he’s morally obligated to do so.

      • Jonathon Side

        Yeeeeah, I wasn’t actually trying to say that the specific situations were exactly the same. Just the lack of good options in both case, and Max is a hypocrite for snarking about ‘at least you’re honest’.

    • Stephanie Gertsch

      I don’t think it’s an exact equivalent, but there can be some physical terror for the gardeners as well. Not as bad as “You will be tortured unless you obey.” More along the lines of “Your kids will go hungry if you don’t obey,” or “You’ll miss rent and be homeless if you don’t obey.” That can also be very scary.

      • Jonathon Side

        That’s part of what I was getting at. They really don’t have much of a choice. If they did, I doubt they’d choose to be working so late.

    • Eric the .5b

      Every choice has a worse outcome by some measure.

    • Aroel

      For what it’s worth, just because Max is wrong doesn’t mean he was being dishonest. It’s totally possible he’s lived in a bubble and never considered before that illegal immigrants might not be able to find work elsewhere. It might be as far as he knows, he’s not a hypocrite. We don’t know. That’s what bugged me about Allison’s response during her date, she didn’t try explaining this to him.

      • Jonathon Side

        ‘As far as he knows, he’s not’ – no one ever thinks of themselves as a bad guy.

        And I dunno that I would have tried to explain it either. I doubt he’d listen.

        • Loranna

          Granted, Max may well have brushed such an explanation off.

          After all, he brought Alison to his house to have a romantic dinner, not to get into a debate about his parents’ hiring practices.

          ^_^

          Loranna

  • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

    AL: Ugh, I hate fast-food.
    PAT: No you don’t.

    The sweet, sweet taste of consequences: high of glucose.

    Also I suspect the twist of breaking her lifelong avoidance of alcohol will prove ever sourer when turns out she metabolizes ethanol way too fast to even get tipsy. I don’t think they’ll have her become drunk and level a city *right after* having made that first unforgivable mistake, her redemption needs to be focused on one thing for brevity sake.

    And since we’re throwing our guesses about Feral or Alison’s dad, mine is Cleaver, that she’d save from the slow agony of his condition. Don’t know if that was proposed by anyone? But even that one’s kind of weird with what she’s saying to Max– anything personal to her, he wouldn’t really care about to call it “the right thing” were he ever in the mood.

    • Tylikcat

      I think helping Cleaver would be a de-buffing. Probably? I mean, it’s one of the reasons that I think Max + cancer isn’t a great plan, at least not without something else in the mix.

  • d4t4

    A Spike Lee joint

  • tygertyger

    Wow. I’ll bet Max doesn’t even see the irony.

  • Weatherheight

    AUUUGH!!!
    KHANNNNNNNN!!!
    STELLLAAAAAA!!!

    ::sounds of something fairly large and definite equine kicking the crap out of what sounds a bit like barn walls::

    These screams of frustration brought to you by Strong Female Protagonist.
    Strong Female Protagonist – satisfying gluttons for punishment since 2012.
    You know you love it…

  • Weatherheight

    This balanced breakfast brought to you by Big Beau’s – where it’s never to early to treat your body like a septic tank.

  • Manuel Simone

    “Because I’m stronger than you” Yeah, Max, she’s honest but also arrogant. Even if she indeed is stronger than anyone else, she also likes to point at this and even brags herself a little which means arrogance. Another thing I don’t like at Alison (arrogant people are not my favorites). Also, I’m very curious to see what Max’s fireworks REALLY do, hope I’ll get to see as soon as possible.

    • Brent

      I disagree that there is any arrogance in her statement at all. She IS obviously stronger than him and that is the reason that she is in a position to make this “choice” for him.

      Indeed IMO, she is decidedly not bragging because its plain that her position of strength over him doesn’t make her happy at all. It is precisely that strength combined with his unwillingness to help that persuades her that her actions were necessary and it is clearly not what she wants. If she did, she wouldn’t have bothered trying to persuade him using other means. She would have gone straight to bullying.

      Whether she is right or wrong about the necessity of that violence or the importance of what it achieved is another matter of course.

  • Zac Caslar

    FERAL!
    Happy emancipation day, girl!
    And thus is the most selfish, cowardly wretched used to aid one of most selfless, courageous people in SFP.
    It’s the right thing done the wrong way and I’m goddamn pleased.

  • Ashley

    oh haha she needs a strong drink after making that hard moral decision. a drink when she hasn’t before because it’s apparently irresponsible for her to do with her power. ugh

    that burger looks good tho

    • Stephanie

      They’re most likely for Feral.

  • Danygalw

    Please don’t drink alcohol, Allison.

    …what was she doing? Who was it? What happened? What is motivating our protagonist?? I really, really want to know.

  • Tim Hundley

    Simply beautiful. No false apologies, no pretense. Gone are the days where Alison can think to herself, “I would never do that”. Is this the Super Hero’s Burden? Can a superhuman be super enough to do whatever is necessary to save the world, while still being human enough to recognize the cost?
    I am still eager to see how this all plays out, but I know that the coming pages are going to be hard to read.

    • Eric Meyer

      This is no Hero’s burden. This is the Villain’s burden. The knowledge that you have it in your power to do what’s right, regardless of what others allow you to do. The knowledge that nobody can stop you from helping the world, that none can stand in the path of your progress, and that you MUST do these horrible, terrible things for the good of everyone else, even though they will damn you.

      She literally just made herself a Villain.

      That’s not to say that she’s not still the protagonist (as the comic title says) or that she’s no longer a good, moral person. However, she has decided, here, that coercion and breaking the law, threats of exposure and bodily violence are the more expedient and/or only way to do what she knows is right. She’s no longer going to be reactionary, ,as a Hero, but will now start to cause incidents in the name of her moral quest, and it will be up to others to stop her, by violence; or debate, if their moral arguments can stand up to or surpass hers.

      This is why Superman is such an interesting Hero to me- not the fact that he has all those powers, but that he has such a strong sense of ethics that he’s managed to stay a Hero with those powers for so long. Great power might give great responsibility, but to whom? To you? To society, with its rules and laws created by those in positions of power? To society as it has evolved morally, through the experiences of the masses? If you have unmatchable power, I feel it is just a matter of time before the limitations put on you by outside forces lose their strength, and you have to start doing what YOU feel is Good and Right, regardless of what others believe.

      • Seer of Trope

        “She literally just made herself a Villain.”

        She’s becoming more like Patrick.

      • evillordzog

        If anything, from an objective viewpoint Ali has positioned herself as an antihero.

        Unlike classic D&D, where because orcs are intrinsically evil their wholesale slaughter is an act of good, morality is significantly relative to the actor and observer.

        The classic example is Batman & the Joker: regardless of the endlessly growing number of people the Joker kills, Batman continues to capture & return him to the exact same conditions from which he escapes to kill again.

        As the entire conceit of the superhero genre is of the vigilante placing
        themselves above the law of the land in order to defend it — due
        either to the perceived or actual ineptitude of the duly appointed
        enforcers. With the duly appointed guardians of the law clearly incapable of handling the Joker, does this make Batman responsible for doing what they can’t or won’t. IE, executing the Joker? Does not doing it make him at some point culpable for those deaths? Does it make him complicit in them?

        Is Batman’s moral qualm/integrity — a combo of “I shall shatter the law as I see fit only this far an no further” and “surely he can be cured” — worth more than all the lives destroyed and ended by the Joker? Because that’s the decision he’s making every time he feeds the Joker into Arkham’s revolving door instead of just snapping the clown’s neck and entombing him in a cylinder of plexiglass as an object moral lesson to brood over.

        Compare this to Wonder Woman, a loving and entirely moral character who is a hero literally on a mission from God, who’ll bend over backwards to redeem someone but is also quite capable of coercing or killing them should the need arise (Maxwell Lord being an excellent case in point).

        • Arkone Axon

          I should note that the Batman/Joker conundrum is based on the same logical fallacy used by the villains when claiming victimhood: the fallacy of thinking that they’re the only “real” people involved in the situation. Why should BATMAN be the one to kill the Joker? He keeps doing the job of a good samaritan and officially authorized special deputy of the GCPD. He captures and detains the Joker (and other criminals) and turns them over to the legal system.

          That’s where things go wrong. Arkham Asylum fails to hold the Joker. The courts fail to rule that someone as clearly aware of his surroundings and actions as the Joker is not legally insane (for the purposes of the insanity defense, at any rate). Nobody ELSE is dealing with the Joker. They’re putting it all on Batman… which is wrong. Batman’s doing his job. (and seeing as how the Joker WANTS the Batman to cross that line…)

    • Eric the .5b

      Congratulating someone for doing what you coerced and tortured them into doing seems like a pretty big pretense to me.

  • Zechariah Val Judy

    I can’t remember if Alison can get drunk.

  • Cori J.

    This will end well.

  • Spectacles

    Oh boy. Invincible you may be, Alison, but what about your liver?

  • Karmik

    Oh Alison, Wild Turkey? At least drink yourself stupid with something nice.

    Seriously though in for a penny in for a pound I guess? Old Alison is dead, long live Queen Green? Turns out you can solve plenty of problems by punching them if you discard everything you thought you were and aim your fists at the right people.

    I wonder if the last little bit of time has had a very opposite effect on her than she expected. She spent a bunch of time around other Biodynamics at the convention and discovered that she doesn’t share near as much in common with their struggle as she thought. Their fears and problems are not her own. Heck the everyday struggles of a normal human aren’t really her’s either if she falls far enough down this cynicism hole shes in. Who wants to be the guy to try and tell her she has to pay for things?

    There’s been tons of discussion last few updates about morality but at the end of the day a rabbit can’t force its moral framework on a hawk. The hawk will eat when its hungry and the rabbit is gonna have to just hide as best it can. She’s outside the discussion, she does what she wants because she wants to and no one anywhere can make her do otherwise.

    THAT is a scary reality to live in.

    • bta

      “In place of a Dark Lord, YOU WOULD HAVE A GREEN!”

  • Anon18

    This story arc is amazing, keep it up!

  • Mouser

    In the dark of night, when she asks herself “Did I do the right thing?” The answer is easy; no.

    She becomes a full Villian when she stops asking.

    • Izo

      Although whether she even bothers to ask herself or not, it doesn’t matter much to her victims. They’re still victims who might be victimized again in the future by her if she has a whim to do so.

    • Insanenoodlyguy

      The more important question might be “was it worth it?”

  • Santiago Tórtora

    And we still don’t know what it is that Allison made Max do!

    How are we supposed to pontificate about morality and micromanage Allison from another Universe if we don’t know what she is doing?

  • Brent

    This is a very interesting analog to the usual “moment of becoming” in superhero stories. In a lot of these tales, there is often that moment where the protagonist (Iron Man, Spiderman) realizes that they have a kind of obligation to use their power to right some wrong. Its usually a thrilling moment where the character “becomes” the hero and accepts that this is who they really are for the first time. They have found themselves and their purpose and in the movies, is typically accompanied by some soaring music.

    This plays decidedly differently in Allison’s case and its pretty fascinating. We still don’t know the underlying details about what brought her to this moment but, as much as she accepts it as necessary, she is clearly unhappy with it. She has even decided to forego sobriety (which has the potential to end extremely poorly). The swelling musical score is not what one imagines accompanying this scene.

    • Stephanie Gertsch

      It’s more like the final scene to “Unbreakable.” sometimes finding out your place in the world isn’t an entirely positive experience.

      • Izo

        Upvoting because Unbreakable was a great movie, and Samuel L Jackson’s best role was as Mr. Glass. Which is saying a lot, considering this is Samuel L Jackson we’re talking about, who basically has mostly great roles in movies.

  • Hawthorne

    *stares at burger*

    Al: Get in my stomach.

    *punches burger in the buns*

    Al: GET in my STOMACH. It’s the right thing to do!

  • thebombzen

    It looks like Allison is finally realizing how shitty it was for her to do that.

    • Weatherheight

      My feeling is that she knew it was shitty the whole time. I also feel that she felt it would be totally worth it.

      I’m seeing doubt about whether or not it was worth it.
      Which is another way of saying your point, essentially. 😀

    • Izo

      And that realization and 25 cents will get you a quarter. 🙂

    • Stephanie

      I think it’s close to the opposite–if she’s getting Feral’s burger and bourbon, it means she thinks she really has fixed the world by doing this. Whether that’s true, I guess we’ll see! Probably not because then the comic would be over.

  • Julian Arce

    Next time I’m on the States I have to find one of this strange liquors

  • Ellie K

    Bet that “because I’m stronger than you” is gonna bite Al in the butt later. Now does she mean emotional/moral strength or physical strength?

    • Eric the .5b

      Pretty much physical. It’s not like she had to resist anyone overpowering and torturing her.

  • Background Character

    I wonder how long it will be before Max gets some biodynamic security on his staff to go defeat Alison

  • SomeGuy411

    Brutal as her actions were, she did just turn his own philosophy on him. I hope Max at least learns something from the experience, so some good can come from this mess.

    • Arkone Axon

      I am completely and totally opposed to the idiotic nonsense that is “Objectivism.” But… no she didn’t. Objectivism is about being an uncaring jerk and feeling smug about it. It is not about using violence to force people to do what you want them to. That’s actually something Objectivism (thankfully! It’s the only thing that doesn’t make it completely vile) specifically denounces. Objectivists go on and on about individual freedoms… and when you use violence and coersion, you’re taking away someone’s freedom. Which is literally the worst thing you can do, according to Objectivism.

      (Again: I think Objectivism is stupid, and I’m well aware that Rand’s inspiration came from a child murdering moron. But all he learned here was “that young woman I thought was nice turned out to be a scary monster and I now need to do something to protect myself when she comes back.”)

      • Stephanie

        Yep! To be even more precise, Objectivism isn’t about being uncaring per se. Objectivists are supposed to reach the greatest heights of love and joy by acknowledging happiness as a morally worthy endgame and making full use of the virtues of the human mind etc etc etc. But then also you nonchalantly let people die if they can’t keep up, or even if they’re just unlucky enough to live in a dystopia and not be famous enough to get approached by the guy making a secret rich person hideout in the Rockies. So a more accurate term would be “uncompassionate,” I think.

  • Kifre

    I’m going to just dump all the thoughts into one post…

    1)Though, yes, drinking IS one way to deal with the well deserved cognitive dissonance you’re experiencing right now, maybe don’t start with the Wild Turkey. Though, I’m going to bet that her conflict is more based on the impact to whomever she had amped up than on her action towards Max.

    2) Since Ali is apparently a Telekenetic, maybe it will inhibit her ability to focus and in effect short out her power? Which hopefully doesn’t slide the comic into Jessica Jones level of constant inebriation….

    3) I guess the point of the last arc wasn’t “is Alison right” but to show that when challenged she does resort to the Mega Girl “right makes might” (and vice versa) mentality. And to show that when it comes to “we got this” it really means “everyone will work to effectuate the plans Allison decides are good” without any sort of consensus or authority beyond “Ali decided and Ali is stronger”.

    • Stephanie

      The booze is probably for Feral–see the top comment.

  • Stephanie

    But what did they dooooo

    aahhh I want to know so badly

    • Izo

      No! We don’t ever get to know.

      They’re going to tease us more than the Walking Dead teases us about who Negan killed.

    • Eric the .5b

      No reassuring-proof-that-it-was-all-worth-it for you, not yet!

      (Probably when she talks to Feral. She’s going to have to tell Feral some version of what she accomplished in order to get her out of the hospital, after all. Unless we cut to her flying away from the hospital in tears…)

      • Stephanie

        I’m personally betting that it will do a lot of good, but not as much as Alison hoped it would.

        But mostly I just want to know what the plan was regardless of how well it works. I love reading about plans for applying small pressures to enact global-scale changes.

  • Walter

    Thoughts:

    0: Gah! Creative team is teasing us. Just tell us what they did!

    1: The timing on this is a bit weird. Like, it felt like we left mid afternoon, arrived at a night dark enough that we could just see silhouettes, then got back in the evening? Not trying to nitpick the artist/creators, just curious whether this is the next morning or the same evening.

    2: Max relented before his arm broke. Good on him.

    3: I’m always mad at Alison for a different reason than the main commentariat. Like, at the end of the Moonshadow arc everyone was up in arms that she let Mary get away and I’m like “give the gopro to the police! You can’t trust random people to do the right thing!” Simiarly:

    4: Like, doing this was morally wrong, but maybe the result justified it. BUT, whatever your feelings on what she’s done, can we all agree that she should have told him about Patrick’s conspiracy theories? Like, if they are real, they will kill Max. She could warn him and try and get him to go into hiding (He would probably refuse, but that’s no excuse for not trying). She could try and set a trap.

    She could…drink herself into a stupor. Nuts.

    • bta

      It’s unclear what she told him. You’d think he would freak out over how she came about that information, and I can’t imagine she answered with “my ex is the world’s greatest supervillain, he knows everything. He gave me the knowledge of your greatest secret as a make-up gift, after I told him what a little shit he was and threw a mug in his face.”

      Scratch that, this new Allison might be capable of saying just that.

      • Walter

        I guess if you squint at it you can say that she might have told him off camera, but it feels like an important enough narrative beat that they’d have shown it.

        Mostly I’m just worried that the next time Alison shows up at his house everyone will be all “He was so young, so tragic the way he fell on all those bullets.”, and she’ll be like “Doh!” and blame herself.

  • Pol Subanajouy

    Don’t worry. It tastes bitter to me too, Al.

  • Frustrated Reader

    Reminder that you’re supposed to feel bad for Alison because this was just a hard choice and she’ll probably say something to the effect of “I acted so shitty before and I just…I can’t right now” and then suddenly everything she did will be rectified because she’ll have a tear and sulk in the rain or something.

    • Stephanie

      When has anything like that ever happened? And why do you think we’re supposed to feel bad for her?

  • peregon

    The first Renegade trigger is always the hardest, Alli Shepard.

  • Michael Smith

    Very smart! To not show us what’s going on just yet. And I like that we get to see Max’s reaction. Yeah, he’s a pissed off little brat whose ego is bruised and he’s annoyed. He’s not shattered, not suffering from the PTSD of a violent rape, not destroyed emotionally. Just the same egocentric prick he was before except he just got pushed around a little. He’ll live! He’ll yell at the gardeners a little and be just fine. Allison is far more destroyed. That looks about right.
    We don’t know yet, but I bet she did exactly what she had to and it was worth the cost. Like adults sometimes have to choose to do.

    • Arkone Axon

      …You… you do realize he’s trying to put up a brave front against the unkillable superbeing that just tortured him and threatened to murder him, right? We’ve never seen him yell at the gardeners, or even speak to them. You have literally no evidence to support the idea that he is cruel to them, let alone that he’ll vent on them for what is supposedly a “minor upset.”

      As for doing what she had to… that’s a claim you hear a lot. In penitentiary. “I caught her in bed with another man. I HAD to kill her! I didn’t have a choice!”

    • Insanenoodlyguy

      Or he’s still in shock.

  • Natanji

    “Because I’m stronger than you”. Welp. You’ve changed so much, Alison…

    She tried before to find legitimization for doing the things she did, but ended up having it questioned over and over again and just… broke down over it. Now I finally get that she really *did* understand her Prof’s explanations of moral relativity… and took them to heart.

    Alison has been a hero and thought she always did the right thing(tm) for noble reasons, but they have slipped from her fingers one by one. In a way she has just found acceptance that she is a person with power who can change the world as she wants it to be, and not much in the way of stopping her.

  • Ellie K

    Some guy did an anaylsis of the chapter so far on their blog: http://thewebcomicsreview.tumblr.com/post/151370386290/thealphapenguin-said-to-thewebcomicsreviewhave

    It’s pretty good imo

    I really want to see what the Big Reveal is, the suspense is killing me. Also i just realised the double meaning behind calling the chapters “issues”. That’s really clever, I’m mentally kicking myself for missing that lmao

  • Mad Mat

    Ah B&B. Seems like an appropriate ending for one of those nights when you’ve gone and given in to your frustrations.

  • Someone looks haunted. Good.

    And that’s a somewhat ominous breakfast of champions.

  • Katherine XII

    On the one hand, the suspense is killing me. The outcome of Allison’s little stunt here will define her and her story in a way that eclipses pretty much all prior considerations, but we -still- haven’t gotten to see -what- she did all this for.

    On the other hand, this bitter and exhausted conclusion feels sort of right. No fireworks, no immediate dramatic payoffs, just a wounded egoist and a despairing altruist parting ways as the sun rises.

    This page feels like skidding to a stop against sandpaper, but given the recent events of the story maybe sandpaper is exactly the right texture to convey.

    • Izo

      Except, as an ending, the moral is ‘might makes right and if you want something from someone weaker than you, take it – they can’t stop you. Do whatever you want if you have the power to back it up, regardless of others free will.’

      Again,…. the rape analogy is just too obvious. Although so is analogy for theft. Reminds me of this part of Guardians of the Galaxy. Except no Starlord to keep them in line.

      https://youtu.be/F-msXuUUxno?t=95

      • Thewizardguy

        Hardly. This is Allison’s descent, her negative actions to a greater good. None of these actions are being depicted as ‘right’, none of them are being depicted as the right solution, and she clearly hates herself for doing it.

      • Lysiuj

        If I may, I think you need to stop talking about the moral to the story, because I doubt there is one. I mean, when have you known this comic to have morals? (Narrative morals, obviously, not morality).
        If you’re not satisfied with how the comic progresses that’s one thing, but just because Allison doesn’t face as harsh of a punishment/consequences as you want that doesn’t necessarily mean an endorsement of her actions, any more than Tara chastising her will be a statement that she was wrong. Brennan really isn’t the type to shove messages in our faces.

        • Izo

          “If I may, I think you need to stop talking about the moral to the story, because I doubt there is one.”
          Uh…. no? I won’t stop talking about morality in the story? And yes, it’s pretty apparent that the comic does open discussion about morality.

          “I mean, when have you known this comic to have morals? (Narrative morals, obviously, not morality).”
          Pretty much since Alison’s breakdown on national TV? So.. since the beginning of the comic.

          “just because Allison doesn’t face as harsh of a punishment/consequences as you want that doesn’t necessarily mean an endorsement of her actions”

          Er, I didn’t say it’s an endorsement, but it does send a bad message if she isn’t punished for her actions. The message being ‘this is a good thing to do.’

          “any more than Tara chastising her will be a statement that she was wrong. Brennan really isn’t the type to shove messages in our faces.”

          Didn’t say he’s shoving messages in our face, but there is a discussion, based on the story he’s telling, and I’m going to debate it for what I believe is right, vs what I believe is wrong.

          • Lysiuj

            I specifically pointed out that I meant “moral”, as in the moral of the tale, not “morals”, as in morality. Meaning, a suggestion that you stop looking for a clear cut answer, delivered by the author, of what is right and wrong, because there’s not likely to be one. [If I didn’t want discussions of the moral issues the comic raises, I probably wouldn’t be here 😉 ]
            Now, I don’t know if I can convince you of this, but I just want to emphasize – just because a character isn’t punished for a certain action doesn’t mean the author necessarily think’s they’re right, and doesn’t necessarily convey to the readers that they’re right.

  • ClockworkDawn

    The breakfast of former champions.

  • palmvos

    That’s… a lousy breakfast.
    and still we don’t know The Plan. I’m beginning to think we won’t ever. I’m not a drinker myself- but isn’t that a bit much Bourbon for one person under any circumstances? or is it like wine- takes more than one bottle to make someone fairly drunk.
    and for those who would say she deserves this bitter breakfast (and more). I agree, but we don’t always get what we deserve (and thank goodness at times). so weep for them both.
    and now for the speculation. what would Alison be like drunk? would her powers be affected? where would they put her if she got really bad- as i suspect the drunk tank isn’t going to hold her long?

    • Weatherheight

      For a normal person, drinking the full bottle at one go would be lethal if
      a) they didn’t throw up fairly quickly (which is really, really likely – alcohol overdose is awfully rare)
      b) they drank it really, really fast (say, chugging the bottle in ten minutes or so).
      c) they drank on an empty or near empty stomach.

      Wild Turkey is 81 proof at the low end and something like 100 proof at the high end (I think), with some variations in the middle ranges that are better tasting / smoother but cost more. This is a pretty plain label, so we can reasonably assume 81 proof (roughly 40% alcohol by volume, if memory serves right on conversion) for the sake of the story (heh. “sake” versus “saké” – sorry. moving on). Given this appears to be a reference to Tara / Feral’s speech at the hospital (others have linked it), I’m guessing this is lubrication for Alison and Tara’s philosophical session and thus to be shared and slowly. Or maybe it’s just for Tara, whom I suspect can take it in stride. Or maybe they’ll both drink and read Shakespeare’s plays out loud (it’s much more fun than you’d think – it’s how my classmates and I made it through our Shakespeare classes in college).

      Wines are usually 10% to 20% alcohol by volume, but, again, there is variation. I’ve found that some wines can quite thoroughly kick my tail with a single bottle drunk over a couple hours, while others I can sip at that same rate all night and just get a solid “happy” going (which brings me back to saké). The rule of thumb I was taught is “one beer in a tall glass is equal to one typical glass of wine is equal to a full shot of alcohol.” I was also taught that all bets are off when you break 100 proof (50% alcohol) so treat all hard alcohol with respect (i haven’t on occasion and the price is always brutal). Also, always eat first, never drink alone, for every drink you’ve had it takes an hour to metabolize it (not true, strictly, but again, rules of thumb), and when you’ve had two drinks you’re not able to operate machinery safely, period (again, rule of thumb – set the bar low to avoid catastrophe).

      That last point was emphasized with “If you call, I’ll come and get you, no questions asked – count on a lecture the next morning, though.” I did once, Dad was as good as his word, and the lecture was unexpectedly shorter than I’d anticipated.

      • palmvos

        thank you…. obviously i never got into the need to call. I now live 1200 miles from my father… so I’b be waiting a while to be picked up!
        I missed the reference to Tara’s goodby. maybe we will see Tara Friday.
        idle stupid curiosity, do you suppose that this continued suspense about the plan has reached a level where one of the happy-Alison-did-this people could be convinced to…. well… ask convincingly what The Plan was? I’m almost prepared to bet we won’t find out what the plan is Friday either..
        I think I hear maniacal laughter from somewhere…..
        ::offers carrot::

  • Spongegirl Circleskirt

    Is “For the Greater Good” really worth it, Allison? What price are you and everyone around you paying?

  • weedgoku

    So, zero resolution? No answers? I can’t even get worked up over this anymore. Congrats.

  • Glokmah

    http://sfp.nsch.co/issue-3/page-59/

    “If you do find the one-punh solution for all the world’s problems, come here with a bottle of bourbon and a big ass hamburger, and we’ll do your thing instead.”

    Whatever Allison did, it’s big. Plus we’re gonna see Feral again!

    • bta

      Oh shit, nice catch.

  • deebles

    This story took a dark turn fast.

  • MrSing

    *Alison looks at the television*
    “Breaking news. Today a biodynamic healer in a hospital managed to cure everyone in a 5 mile radius of any illness. The individual had no explanation for this sudden increase in power and, while glad, reported to be incredibly anxious for losing all control over their power.
    With recent reports of more and more biodynamics finding their powers to grow greater and now, seemingly for one indivdual, even out of control, the world leaders have decided to enact a special program after an emergency meeting.
    Every registered biodynamic will be asked to report to their local authorities and put themselves into quaratine until theirs and our safety can be guaranteed.
    Biodynamics with violent or possibly damaging powers not reporting themselves will be regarded as indivduals that are endangering others and will face prosecustion and arrest.
    Now back to Jim with the weather.”

    • Stephanie Gertsch

      “Now back to Jim with the weather.” LOL

  • Rell

    Is she going to drink the entire bottle herself?

  • Seer of Trope

    “you yourself are a breathing living Ubermensch.”

  • CanuckAmuck

    Feel ashamed Alison? You damn well should.

  • crazy j

    Evan Williams would have been a better choice.

  • HanoverFist

    I never thought I’d say this, but I’m really hoping he sabotages all her plans.

    • Tsapki

      That would likely involve some risk of discovery, and the whole reason for not using is power seems to be remaining unknown with a side of self pity.

      • SJ

        Still not convinced that this incident didn’t completely recalibrate Max’s sense of how important to it is to him to stay hidden.

        Og knows, if I were in his shoes, my priorities would have shifted from “Stay hidden, at all costs,” to “Get revenge, or die trying.”

        • Izo

          You know, I once had a stalker and I had been forced to move a couple of times. Eventually, the police got involved, and he went to jail when he came to my house (the first time I moved, not the second). If the police had not arrested him (or in Alison’s case, COULD not arrest him), I’d probably have shifted from ‘stay hidden’ to ‘get revenge’ too.

      • Stephanie

        More like self-pity with a side of remaining unknown. He didn’t even bring up the actual risks to himself until he saw that Alison was unimpressed with his “wah poor me, I got an amazing power and wasted it because I’m a sulky brat” routine.

        • HanoverFist

          People have a right to remain anonymous and wallow in self-pity if they wish.

          • Stephanie

            At the the cost of countless lives?

          • HanoverFist

            Yes.

      • HanoverFist

        Also fear for his personal safety and autonomy. Both of which have just been stolen from him.

  • Lysiuj

    Bullshit. You forced him to do it, you can’t just wish away any guilt or doubt by saying it’s something he did, or that he deserves credit for it.
    If you think it was justified, then the credit is yours. If you think it was wrong then fucking own it and admit it was a wrong you did, don’t just deflect your blame by creating a false scenario where he has any sort of responsibility for an action he didn’t choose.

    • Karmik

      I think the point she is trying to convey is that Max has two options. He can wallow in anger and hate about having been violently forced to do a thing, ANY thing, against his will. Alternatively, assuming all goes as Alison believes and this single act is the greatest triumph ever, he can own his part in it and when the world is better he can claim his role in it and see it for the good it is. Tainted though it might be by HOW we got there which he can certainly stay angry about, but it isn’t like Alison is going to be raising her hand when people wonder how it came to be. Max can claim full accolades if he chooses and none but himself will be the wiser.

      • Eric the .5b

        Except, he doesn’t want to be public. If he wanted those things, that could have made him do it and take credit. And Alison knows that.

      • Santiago Tórtora

        Could Allison be trying to give him Stockholm Syndrome? Usually victims of Stockholm Syndrome end up rationalizing that the things their kidnapper forced them to do are things they decided to do themselves.

        • Karmik

          I doubt she is trying to do anything like the deliberately. Her point of view seems to be “This was a noble thing whether you think so or not and maybe after some reflection you will recognize that, regardless of the fact that I had to drag you along to do it.”

      • Lysiuj

        Except framing it as something he did is manufacturing an illusion of choice. That is to say, she isn’t saying “I used you against your will, and maybe one day you’ll realize it was the right thing to do.” She’s saying that he himself did something, acting as though he had any agency in the matter, and it feels like she’s doing it in order to lessen her guilt about coercing him.

    • Weatherheight

      Hit a nerve, huh? 😀
      But yeah, I also think you hit the nail on the head here – this is some strong projection / deflection going on here.

  • Psile

    Man, really gonna make us sweat it out to see what was worth all this again, huh? I still think that we need to see what is on the other side of the equation before we judge Allison as a monster or tyrant.

    That aside, her approach to Max is not very bright. Honesty is great and all, but making it clear that she can come along and do whatever she wants whenever she wants will put him in a different mindset. Basically now he’s a trapped rat. The price of revealing his powers might not be too high to pay for getting some backup now. Allison thinks of herself as being at the top of the super powered food chain, but that is not necessarily the case now that Max can power people up. Honestly, it might have never even been the case. By making Max’s position so very clear, she has motivated him to go to extreme measures to change that position. Max is defiant to a fault, and values his ‘freedom’ above the health and welfare of anyone else. She should have given him some kind of reassurance that she would not return, maybe something tangible evidence of her coercion to make him feel like he had some agency even if he really didn’t. Max is all about being free to do what he wants, he has had that violently ripped away from him, and he has significant resources.

    • Ophidiophile

      Max and Allison both know that there is no agency on the planet that can stop her. There’s no point in Allison lying and claiming there is. Give Allison credit for at least sticking to telling the truth.

      As for Max, he may be one of the most vulnerable and insecure people on the planet. Not mentally, but physically. His power is one that people, corporations, and countries would stop at nothing to gain control of, if they knew it existed. And he has no way to protect himself, if they find out he has that power. Neither his family nor Allison would be able to protect him. The only way Max can prevent himself from becoming someone’s slave, is to kill himself. And Allison may have just backed him into that corner.

      • Insanenoodlyguy

        Depends on how good his powers are. He might be able to create that very agent.

        • Ana

          And now he has the motivation to at least try it.

        • Izo

          Do you mean hiring someone who he augments with his powers to become capable of killing, or at least protecting him from, Alison?

          • SJ

            Seems plausible. I mean, we know (granted, Max doesn’t) that Alison’s powers are psionic, rather than physical. If that info ever becomes available to him, then he just needs to find a dynamorph whose anomaly disrupts psionics, and boost them as needed.

    • The Improbable Man

      He’ll find a way to release Cleaver and hire him as a bodyguard. If he tries to hire him as an assassin, it’s not going to work because Alison treated Cleaver like a person.

      That’s my guess, anyway (assuming Cleaver isn’t the one she had him boost in the first place, to cure cancer).

      • Stephanie

        And then Cleaver kills Max for trying to get him to kill Alison, unaware that he’s wiping out any future opportunities to use Max’s power for the greater good? I could see it going down that way.

        • The Improbable Man

          Yes. I don’t think Cleaver is going to sit in that containment unit forever, and I think the fact that he can hurt Alison, and her talks with him, will be important later.

  • CrimsonCarnivoreOnAClayCourt

    Assorted thoughts:

    Seems like Max has adjusted to the situation. About as well as he can, anyway.

    Alison looks so tired in that third panel.

    I don’t know much about New York; are burger/liquor joints a thing there?

    Lordie, that’s a mutant burger. Also, bourbon is a bad sign.

    Next time we see Alison, she’ll be sitting in a giant donut, watching the sun rise and wondering where it went wrong.

    And then Samuel L. Jackson shows up and her life turns into Iron Man 2.

  • Seer of Trope

    “I know you want to fix it so the day stays saved forever. But it might not shake that way, and until it does, the rest of us got helpin’ to do. And guess what? If you do find the one-punch solution to all the world’s problems, come here with a bottle of bourbon and a big-ass hamburger, and we’ll do your thing instead.”

    -Feral

    • Marc Forrester

      Okay, wow. Well spotted! http://sfp.nsch.co/issue-3/page-59

    • Tylikcat

      Good catch.

      I keep thinking about how Patrick was there with her through her whole trip to visit Feral, and how much he knows about her deeply conflicted and fucked up feelings there.

      …and I keep thinking about Feral’s journey, http://sfp.nsch.co/issue-3/page-28/

      • bta

        Though given that this is Patrick, he doesn’t need to be have been there at the time to know how she feels about it.

      • Izo

        A large part of me is hoping that when Feral finds out what Alison did, she’ll throw the bourbon and hamburger in Alison’s face and tell her to never visit her again because what she did was not a one-punch solution to make the world a better place where she didn’t need to do this anymore, it was just another example of the strong hurting the weak, just like when Feral had to beg her to stop outside the hospital.

        • Tylikcat

          I think it might depend on what Alison has done.

          Feral has dealt with a lot of her own demons. And she’s clearly capable of great compassion.

          (My experience with compassion is that it just means you’re that much deeper into “This shit’s complicated,” but maybe that’s just me?)

          • Weatherheight

            Seconded.
            It’s heavy-duty cognitive dissonance the first time you feel compassion for someone whose behavior is a huge violation of your moral code – or it was for me.

        • Stephanie

          Yeah, I do think it’s likely that Feral will end up taking issue with Alison’s methods. Precedent for this story says we have to see both sides of the argument presented, which probably means someone will find out about this and debate the issue with Alison. And since it looks like Alison is about to visit Feral, it makes most sense for Feral to be the one who debates her.

          • Weatherheight

            OOO, and this narrative choice also reinforces that we’re getting Alison’s viewpoint as opposed to the “video-tape-truth” version, because she’s going to explain everything to Tara on camera so, as the reader, we get to see Feral’s reaction without our prejudgments about what happened because we’ll be in exactly the same boat as Tara.
            I hope.

            Okay, if this goes down like this, I’ll change my vote on the “gap” between these pages. 😀

    • MisterTeatime

      Well shit. I completely misread those panels… and I’m kind of glad, because that’s terrifying.

    • Stephanie

      Oh man, great catch. That’s unbelievably exciting. I was only imagining she intended to save somewhere between ten thousand and ten million lives, but it looks like she expects this to be the actual for-real world-fixing solution to everything.

      This only makes me even more anxious to find out what she actually did. I bet it’s going to be ingenious. It probably won’t completely work since then the story would be over, but still.

      • Kifre

        I’m going back on my original speculation that it wasn’t Patrick that she coerced Max to augment. Now I think it was Patrick, and the augmentation provided was a step towards him being able to actually control minds (which he wasn’t able to do before, but had been suggested). With the big flaw in Alison’s axiom* finally clear to her, she sees the only solution is to empower Patrick to control minds, possibly on a large scale. Then there’s no worry about people making the ‘wrong’ decisions and prolonging the suffering inherent to the human condition because they won’t have a choice anymore.

        * and really her character. That first prof of hers was right – she is the ubermench** and she really is missing a vital perspective to completely understand the human condition. She thinks she does, but such is her character flaw that she cannot recognize it.

        **though, not exactly as Nietzsche envisioned, obviously.

        • Stephanie

          I don’t know, it’s cool thematically but I see a couple of reasons to doubt that that’s her plan:

          1. Alison would have to trust Patrick completely before she’d endow him with that kind of power, and I don’t think she trusts him at all. With his power, it would also be incredibly easy for him to undermine her if she tried to control him with threats of violence–and that’s even assuming his newfound mind control somehow didn’t work on Alison herself.

          2. Max–who hates nothing more than people interfering with his personal freedoms–would have had to listen to Alison explain her plan to empower a guy to mind control the world, and then not raise any objections to that on principle.

          • Kifre

            1) I think whether she would have to trust Patrick completely depends a great deal on what exactly was within the file. Something the creators have chosen not to disclose. Also, Alison does at least seem to trust Patrick to run around and cut him many breaks despite having really, really significant amounts of power already. The only time she’s really had a problem with him since taking off the mask has been when he purposefully pushed her away knowing that she had feelings for him. I call hurt pride more than real distrust, y’know?

            2) We already got a super cut down version of their conversation in which Max really did not want to even have to justify himself to Alison so long as he was comfortable saying no. But it also assumes that Alison was upfront and honest with Max about all the details of her plan…which she may not have been. Though, I do acknowledge that it doesn’t seem that she really has a reason to lie to him off the mark.

      • Cyrano111

        I’d wager the burger and bourbon is irony, not celebration. She doesn’t look particularly celebratory – quite the opposite.

      • Walter

        I took the burger/drink to be her coming to terms with the meta-point.

        She’s realized that the secret to using strength to help people is to use it against the weak. Fighting against the strong in the street as Mega Girl never did much of anything. Coercing the helpless to do your bidding can actually get you places.

        This doesn’t make her happy. She wishes that there was a villain she could defeat to help the world, a fight that she could be the underdog in, but ultimately prevail.

        For all her talk about bodyguarding she was at a loss for cash until she threw that mug at Patrick. She could do nothing for the dynomorphs, but by twisting Max’s arm she accomplished something big.

        Fact is, she could spend your lifetime knocking out street criminals and not do a tenth of the good that she can get done in an afternoon of shaking down billionaires and buying mosquito nets. She’s found her calling, and it is bullying. Not the best day ever.

    • martynW

      Thanks for spotting that! I didn’t remember that at all, and just figured Alison was drowning (and feeding) her sorrows.

      Keep in mind that anyone who tries to solve the world’s problems is doomed to failure. The world gets better when enough people try to solve the problems they can reach.

    • This is what the page is referring to, and I’m surprised so many people thought she was buying the bourbon in order to drink it. However, this should really mean that she just solved ALL of the problems. Unfortunately I expect to be disappointed.

      • Insanenoodlyguy

        She THINKS she solved the problems. There’s a huge difference.

    • SJ

      In that case, I’ll go ahead and consider the heel turn complete. If she believes that she’s found the one-punch solution to all the world’s problems, then that means that she’s rationalized her behavior, and feels righteous about it.

      She’s the villain, now.

      • Stephanie

        I think you’re jumping to conclusions by assuming that she “feels righteous” about this. I’m not seeing any triumph in her posture.

        But aside from that, why is the way she feels about it more important than what she actually accomplished? Or tried to accomplish? What if there’s a compelling reason for her to think this is the one-punch solution? What if it’s a reason that would have persuaded you?

        If anything, I think the fact that she did this with the intention of saving the world for real makes her decision more ethical than if she just did it to save a few million lives.

        • Arthur Frayn

          The problem with that reasoning is it seems to call Ozymandias from Watchmen ethical, and therefor approve of his prevention of probable nuclear Armageddon by calculated mass murder. Alan Moore was trying to draw attention to the problem of superhero ethics, and for me at least that problem is not yet resolved. Harry Truman gave the order to atomic bomb Japan to end the war, and I call it an unfortunate necessity, but I have trouble calling it a good thing.

          • Stephanie

            If Ozymandias was ethical by that reasoning, so be it. It’s an ethically ambiguous issue. It’s been a couple years since I read Watchmen so I’m not going to try to make an argument on that either way.

      • Izo

        It’s still possible that Feral will show her that she was wrong for what she did. That the means are sometimes even more important than the ends. That the difference between forcing Max to do something that Alison thought was a good thing, and Feral doing something that Feral thinks is a good thing is that 1) No one is forcing Feral, and 2) Feral is in charge of doing the good thing that Feral wants, she’s not doing a good thing that someone else wants when she doesn’t want to do it.

    • Arthur Frayn
  • Seer of Trope

    Now that I’m reading back, Max is very much like Johnny Temple from Issue 3.

  • I know Alison is not the victim here my any margin. But I still feel bad for her. I hope she’s able to realize that what she did was WAY out of line and is able to rectify it.

    • Izo

      My sympathy for another’s moral dilemmas end when they intentionally hurt another person.

  • Allen

    Wow… just wow. So, Alison has made the transition from angst-y millennial college trying to do good in the world, to d-bag school yard bully. “Your lunch money is mine whenever I want it.” At the end of this day, the “Hero” is not. And at the end the Strong Female Antagonist is going to soothe her bruised psyche with beef and bourbon. Can she even get drunk? Isn’t it a common trope that super types metabolize alcohol too fast to get a buzz?
    Also, has she ever had a boyfriend/lover? Based on her self-indulgent and rather fascistic use of her power in this instance, I feel sorry for him when the inevitable breakup happens.

    • Tylikcat

      She’s stated before that she avoids alcohol for safety reasons, with the implication being that she doesn’t trust herself. There isn’t a particular reason to think her telekinesis based power would affect alcohol metabolism.

      …I don’t think they’re together anymore. O_O

      • Izo

        If she does get affected by alcohol, maybe someone will eventually poison her.

        • Weatherheight

          soooooo darrrrk.., 😀

          • Izo

            It’s an interesting question. We’ve already seen she can shoot herself in the mouth and nothing happens, but we also know that she does need to eat food, which means on some level her body does absorb nutrients and is affected by that. So that also means it might absorb toxins and be likewise affected.

            Not that powers have to make consistent, logical sense in comics….

      • Eric the .5b

        Yeah, I’m pretty sure they’re just “two people who went out for a date and a half”. Or well, perpetrator and victim, now.

    • Axel_Celosar

      Actually, the Burger and Bourban is a reference to an earlier issue when Feral gave the suggestion they bond over that when she no longer has to be operated on.

    • bta

      >Can she even get drunk?

      Never tried it, for safety reasons.

      >Isn’t it a common trope that super types metabolize alcohol too fast to get a buzz?

      Allison’s power is probably some kind of “tactile telekinesis” deal, so her actual metabolism is presumably the same as any other human. Though it’s possible that as a side effect of her invulnerability she also can’t get poisoned or drunk.

      >Also, has she ever had a boyfriend/lover?

      Patrick, I guess? Though he might reject these terms.

      >I feel sorry for him when the inevitable breakup happens.

      Already happened: http://sfp.nsch.co/issue-5/page-114/

      • Allen

        Ok I remember that incident now. Foreshadowing maybe? Yes Patrick is a manipulative pr1ck, but I still contend you don’t want to be the ex-lover and target of her rage, or worse her revenge.
        Oh, I think someone previously brought this up, but if Patrick is the source of her information about Max, is she not thinking about how manipulative she knows he is?

    • Personthing

      This isn’t “your lunch money is mine whenever I want it”, this is “I’ll force you to use some of your lunch money to buy food for the children who can’t afford lunch whenever I want it”, which is kinda more morally ambiguous.

      • Santiago Tórtora

        Maybe she should have just accepted that evil mastermind’s freely given lunch money.

        Seriously, if she was going to go full consequentialist anyway, why did she break Templar’s check?

      • SJ

        This isn’t “your lunch money is mine whenever I want it”, this is “I’ll force you to use some of your lunch money to buy food for the children who can’t afford lunch whenever I want it”, which is kinda more morally ambiguous.

        Really? So, to borrow someone else’s example from upthread, if I punch you in the face, or threaten to break your arm, unless you use your lunch money to buy food for people who can’t afford it, you’re going to tell me that you find that “morally ambiguous”?

        Because, if you tell me that you would, I’m going to have to question your understanding of the word “ambiguity.”

        • Sarah

          More ambiguous than ‘punch or money for myself’. Yes, obviously. Especially if the ‘bully’ doesn’t have that much money themselves and I know the person needing food and suffering for it.

      • Allen

        Sorry, I don’t see anything ambiguous about her behavior OR her attitude. How about “I’ll force you to do something against your will… ’cause F-you, I can, I will, and I want to. Don’t like it? Too fracking bad! You’re gonna do it because I said so, and I have the raw brute strength to make you. ” What is Max supposed to say? Thank you sir may I have another?

  • Zechariah Val Judy

    “The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.” ~ Ayn Rand
    So who’s the Randboy now? 🙂
    (Still hoping heroes will show up to take her into custody. Max may not want to be exposed as having an anomaly, but he also doesn’t want kidnapped, tortured, and coerced again, and she just promised she would if the whim struck her again.)

    • Eric Meyer

      I think that she’d willingly go along with them, and get locked up, but that she’d then stew about it for a while, see the news, see something happening/think about something, and decide that she needs to go do something again. This would lead to her breaking out (possibly easily) and cement her as a villain. She’d possibly even team up with Razor (or whatever his name is) or at least let him out, for some freedom before his biodynamism kills him.

      Unless that’s who she ‘boosted’?

      • Weatherheight

        If you mean Daniel / Cleaver being the one boosted last page, he’s in max security federal prison. I can see Alison getting to visit him (and only just barely), but I can’t see Max having that leeway extended to him.

        In addition, if Max pops his fireworks right next to Daniel in my supers campaign world, Max comes back missing a head – there will be armed guards monitoring the visit, there will be video and audio recordings, and the guards will not hesitate to shoot some unknown Power doing his thing next to Public Enemy Number One. And remember that Max was promised anonymity, and a prison makes that promise… difficult to keep.

        Interesting plotting in the first paragraph, though. Kinda hoping we get to see a little of that along the way now. 😀

    • Izo

      So much for only four hours of his time. Instead a lifetime of worry

    • Stephanie

      Ayn Rand definitely wouldn’t support what Alison just did. She violated someone’s autonomy for altruistic reasons. That’s like a double whammy of things Rand would hate. If Rand were writing this, Ragnar Danneskjold would have swooped in to intercept Max’s stolen fairy dust and used it to pay back everyone’s income taxes.

  • Peter G

    I think this is a dream sequence. The art style has been different since page 80-3 and Alison has been acting out of character. Her words and actions seem to be what Max would expect her to do, if she thought like him.

    • Stephanie

      I think that’s unlikely. From a story perspective, this was a really significant character moment that would be cheapened if it turned out not to be real. From a “not intentionally frustrating the audience” perspective, I don’t think the creators would want to make us waste weeks in heated discussion about something that isn’t really happening in the story. We would feel like the rug had been pulled out when she woke up.

    • Weatherheight

      I’m sure many of us think that would be nice, but this story (and this arc in particular) hasn’t backed away very much at all from hard choices and problematic actions and complicated reasons. To quote the guy in the Allstate ads:
      “Oh, it’s happening, sweetheart.” 😀

  • Lostman

    Here another question: why bourbon?

    • Stephanie

      Check the top comment. It’s what Feral asked her to bring if she ever found the one-punch solution.

      • Lostman

        So is Alison going to drink it, or what?

        • Stephanie

          I assume that either Feral will drink it or they’ll share it.

    • Weatherheight

      Why not bourbon?
      The real question is: Why not good bourbon?

  • SJ

    “Why do you get to decide what other people should do?”
    “Because I’m stronger than you.”
    “And what’s to stop you from coming back and helping me ‘Do the right thing’ again?”
    “Nothing. And if I want to, I will.”

    Tyrant. Bully. Villain. Yup, she pretty much hit the trifecta.

    • shadowtycho

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ubermensch
      Nietzsche was right it seems.
      entertainingly without someone or something to lay down what is right and wrong in absolute terms, Allison gets to deiced her own morality and everyone else gets to live with it.

      • spriteless

        Ha for a second I thought you said decide but then I remembered god is dead.

    • Tsapki

      Moreso this really just seems like she is not stating anything in right or wring, simply in truth. The truth is that she can physically make the decision and enforce it because she is stronger than max. Just like how a husband can beat his wife is she is unable to fight him off. It’s not right, it’s just true.

  • ampg

    God, this is even sadder. And we clearly haven’t hit bottom in this particular story. This chapter has to turn around eventually, right?

  • GreatWyrmGold

    At least Alison’s honest. I still have serious concerns about this storyline that I hope get addressed, but at least she’s honest.

  • Tsapki

    Reality has given Alison one serious beating.

  • Jace

    I did a longer post last time but:

    We kill bad guys to do good. Strong-arming a pick for a few hours to do good and save lives is way less bad

    • SJ

      And “we’re” bad when we do that, too. It might be pragmatic to do it, but it’s still immoral.

    • Izo

      The key word there is ‘bad guys’ – Max is not a ‘bad guy.’

      I’m assuming you mean that society authorizes the killing or imprisonment of people who themselves are dangers to society – murderers, rapists, terrorists, etc. Max is none of those things. He is just unlikable to some people, but in no way criminal or a danger. If anything, his attitude about freedom of choice and liberty makes him less of a danger than most people, even if still unlikable.

  • Donald Simmons

    Booze! Helping people deal with bad decisions since forever!

  • Steele

    So we don’t even get to see who Max boosted? Y’all are teases!

    Also, I wonder if Alison meant what she said about coming back and doing whatever she wants whenever she feels like, or if that was just a thinly veiled threat. She certainly didn’t overtly threaten Max to stay quiet, though if she did that, he’d probably go tell everyone. At least in this case, mister “doesn’t want to stuck his neck out” might stay quiet. Either that, or we’ll see if the gov’t really has developed countermeasures beyond “evacuate the planet”.

  • BGB

    Maybe now Max is starting to understand what was wrong with his world view? That would set a bad precedent for Al.

    • SJ

      What difference does it make whether Max’s world view is “wrong”? To quote the great American philosopher Simon Phoenix, you can’t take away people’s right to be assholes.

  • MisterTeatime

    Augh. Those last panels are giving me really strong memories. Does anyone else remember this- the times when you’ve done something that you know is going to come back and bite you, but the act itself is finished and the consequences haven’t really hit yet, and you have to find something to do in between? You feel like you should make the most of however long you’ve got before the hammer falls, but whatever you decide to do, that mix of horrible guilt and foreboding and the knowledge that it’s too early to pay for what you did but too late to change it is always hanging over you, and nothing you can think of is distracting enough to be fun in the face of that.
    I used to feel like that when I’d procrastinated too long to ever finish a project before the deadline, or when I had a report card that needed signing and I didn’t want my parents to see it.

  • Dawn Smashington

    That is a long road to start walking.

    Even worse if she can’t actually get drunk, because I don’t remember her ever actually drinking like this.

  • Sendaz

    Good, Good
    Give in to the Dark Meat Side..
    Let the habanero sauce flow through you.

    ———————

    That said, trying to drown the stresses of the day with Turkey may not be the best thing, chocolates would probably be better.

  • John Pedigo

    Objectivism is great until someone else’s rational self interest conflicts with yours, and they have the power to override yours.

    • Stephanie

      Well, Objectivists would say that you can only pursue your own rational self-interest insofar as you aren’t using force against others. And they probably wouldn’t consider what Alison is doing to be in her rational self-interest in any case.

      You’re right about that being among their desired economic system’s critical flaws, though–it only really works if everyone follows through on being perfectly honest and noncoercive. The one person who decides to take advantage of the system goes unchecked.

      • Santiago Tórtora

        Not any person. It’s usually in the best interest of each Objectivist individual to oppose such person, but Allison is stronger than any individual objectivist. She is a special case.

  • motorfirebox

    I still don’t see that Max has anything to complain about, based on his own philosophy. He was fully capable of choosing not to help Alison. Instead, he decided that the costs of doing so outweighed the benefits.

    • Stephanie

      A real Objectivist would have endured all the torture without screaming until Alison realized she was a nihilist all along and succumbed to catatonia.

  • TheDaviesCR

    Quieter end than I expected, but loving the helplessness of Max, here.

  • Diana

    the making of a supervillain?

    Also I really need a burger joint/liquor store.

  • Daniel Van Patten

    I hope he immediately presses charges.

    • Jbark

      And then…, Allison’s real choice will be unavoidable.

      • Stephanie

        You don’t think this was her real choice?

  • span

    Breaking both her “no coercing people with your super strength” and her “no drinking as a safety measure” rules on the same day. Nice.

    • SJ

      Why stop now?

    • Stephanie

      As another commenter pointed out, she most likely bought the bourbon for Feral. “If you do find the one-punch solution to all the world’s problems, come here with a bottle of bourbon and a big-ass hamburger, and we’ll do your thing instead.”

  • Mechwarrior

    Alison: I’ve been considering the issue and have come to a conclusion: my truth, my justice, my way.

    • Weatherheight

      Clark? Yeah, gonna need your cape and over-pants after all.
      No, no, the really dark blue ones…

  • Daryl McCullough

    Lots of mystery here: First, what, exactly, did she get Max to do? Second, why is Alison acting like this? I can sort of see her talking herself into doing something reprehensible for the greater good–because that’s what superheroes do all the time. But usually, she would be feeling more guilty about it, and would be apologizing to her victim, instead of taunting him.

  • Axel_Celosar

    So this is what the writer meant when it was stated that Alison is “strong in a moral sense, strong of conviction, of virtue.”. Which is in fact a complete lie.

    • SJ

      Well, not a complete lie: she can still claim one out of three. That’s an all-star percentage in Major League Baseball.

    • Stephanie

      She is strong of conviction and virtue. She just doesn’t place her conviction in the same virtue that you would have.

      • SJ

        I’ll buy conviction. Virtue is not really an attribute that is subjective.

  • MinorGryph

    Oh great more bad decisions 🙁

  • tiropat

    Now we wait to see if Alison can use the pixie dust to make power play so overwhelmingly good that the ends justify the means.

  • JeffH

    I may have missed this in the previous comments, but doesn’t it seem like Alison would have been more successful if she had blackmailed him with exposure rather than physically assaulting him?

    “You can do the right thing, anonymously, or I’ll publish your super power anyway.”

    I’m not saying this would put her in a significantly better position ethically, but I think Max would have gone through with it with a lot less resistance.

    • Tylikcat

      Well, it is Alison, mistress of punching problems until they go away.

      There’s another question in here – physical violence is something that most of us respond to strongly. But are other forms of coercion necessarily better, just because they aren’t violent?

      (My personal answer is not necessarily, but YMMV.)

      • palmvos

        the key here is to define coercion. clearly what Alison did to Max was coercion. but is what Max’s family is doing to/with its gardeners coercion? (would the gardeners agree?) did the conflict between the ,literally, gender fluid bio-dynamic and the orcish girl involve coercion? did brad use coercion to resolve it?

        I tend to see most verbal manipulations as attempts at persuasion. it ventures into coercion when the consequences are more direct. (example- if you are on unemployment and you receive a job offer, if the company making the offer reminds you about the rules surrounding unemployment.)

        • Tylikcat

          It can get really involved. I went through a really awful situation while I was at a large software company – way too complex to go into, and while a great deal of money was on the line, that wasn’t the biggest personal driver for me. My peers and I were being fucked with, separately, I was being lied about, the people working for me were being lied about (I could protect them from a lot of the blatant abuse), it… was just awful. It was also awful for most of the people in the division, including some of the people behaving badly towards me.*

          While I was fighting for an abstract point that pretty much none of my friends seemed to understand (justice! and not being intimidated! and fuck them anyway! or something like that, this was a bit ago, and there were kind of a lot of stock options on the line, though I could have accepted a lateral transfer to escape) I was able to document a lot of it, and protect my own people fairly well (and find them other, better, positions, and I swear, that’s the only non depressing thing about the situation, really) but… sometimes people in positions of power can abuse that power a lot. I’m not unhappy, exactly, with the long term resolution to this particular situation (by which I mean, enjoy your exile, you asshole) but looking back, when I look at the cost to my health** and to a lesser extent my future career, I have to wonder if it was worth it. It was about a year and a half long. This kind of stuff happens. It’s not unique. I mean, I was an overpaid software professional at the time, right? Not the world’s most vulnerable position, though again, this shit isn’t uncommon.

          There are a *lot* of more overt forms of violence and coercion that I’d sign right up for rather than go through that again. With a song in my heart.

          * Someone I considered a mentor lied about me. I’m pretty sure he did so to protect his own position, and I’m pretty sure he was feeling quite reasonably threatened (not by me, but by our mutual director.) I was able to document that he was lying, but I didn’t put the whole thing together until later – it took me quite a while to accept that he tried to throw me under the bus. It doesn’t make me not feel stabbed in the back, even when I kind of understand it better? I wouldn’t have done that to one of my people – I mean, I demonstrably didn’t in similar situations. (Gr – don’t fuck with my people! Sometimes, though, I wonder if I was just too naive for that environment.)
          ** And not just mine. A lot of people took serious damage there.

    • Random832

      And if he doesn’t believe her, what then? Going through with it doesn’t accomplish her goal.

    • Eric Meyer

      I think part of the choice was expediency, and part was a sort of self-preservation. His powers are a National Security thing, and so exposing him might have been Treason, which would have gotten the whole US government down on her. This way, on the other hand, is both something a lot less illegal (I’m honestly not sure if there’s even a law on the books in that universe for dealing with a Biodynamic carrying someone against their will- or it might be protected under the guise of ‘required for hero work’) and less likely to get out- after all, as she returned him to where he was with no bodily harm, the only way he could convince people that was she was doing was ‘wrong’ was to reveal the coercion- and thus, his own powers- himself.

  • The Improbable Man

    Okay, I LOVE this comic in so many ways, but I’m getting a little tired of thinking that I’m going to find out what “the plan” is in the next comic for about a month. It reminds me of when I was young and the Spider-Man newspaper strip had JJJ use a computer algorithm to determine who Spider-Man was, and it basically drug out a full week of strips showing the reaction to the reveal before it showed the reader the reveal of who the algorithm determined was Spider-Man (which was, hilariously, JJJ himself).

    I need to know on Friday, Brennan and Molly, or else… I’m going to keep reading your comic until I *do* find out! *angry face*.

    😉

    It does look like the commenters saying, “Alison has accepted that she is a Tyrant” were right.

    • bta

      I wonder if Gurwara will still be laughing if Allison decides to take over the world for real. He may wish he’d presented her with more nuanced alternatives.

      • Stephanie Gertsch

        A teacher guiding students to nuanced alternatives? Nah. Teachers are here to pontificate and make fun of students for not knowing the material they’re trying to learn.

      • Insanenoodlyguy

        I rather imagine he’d be crying. But he’d probably be more apt to think that he accelerated her on an inevitable path rather then being a catalyst to something preventable.

      • palmvos

        no, he tried to show her what she already was heading for. a class like that doesn’t give you something new right away- it starts by helping you see who or what you are.

      • Izo

        Finally, a criticism of Gurwara that I can agree with despite my new view on Alison. 🙂 Because I really really don’t like the guy, but he was right. He was so right.

      • Santiago Tórtora

        Gurwara should become Allison’s evil advisor and left-hand man.

  • JohnTomato

    Wild Turkey 101? That will change your attitude and latitude.

  • SJ

    Breakfast of champions tyrants!

    FIFY

  • Richard Hughes

    This is a reminder to find someone else to handle the comments because this shit gonna be nuts

    • Tylikcat

      Maybe. I’m a little numb.

  • SJ

    FIRST!!!! I’ve never been able to do that before!! Now I get it!!!

    http://memecrunch.com/meme/24A7G/bad-news-barrett/image.png

    • C.L. Inky

      Damn it…and so the dream is lost. Perhaps in another life, I may have claimed the sweetness that is a first post. Alas, ’tis all lost now…

  • SJ

    I wonder if there’s a Craigslist-analog for people wanting revenge on Mega Girl in the SFP-verse?

  • Pyro

    H E L L Y E A H THAT’S A FIIIIIINE BURGER

    • Izo

      I know it’s a ‘Big Beau’s Burger’ but it really does look like a hamburger from Carl’s.

  • SJ

    The comfort food and alcohol helps reassure me that Allison knew *exactly* how horrible that was. It says that she felt she *had* to.

    Well, I’m glad it reassures you because, to me, that makes it worse. To me, what it says is that she knows, deep down in the places where you don’t talk about at parties, that she was wrong. She knows she was wrong, and now she’s drinking to dull the pain of committing an act of evil in service of the “greater good.”

    Once she succeeds, the heel turn will be complete.

  • Weatherheight

    It smells like… irony.

  • Hiram

    *Beep Boop*
    ” The World has been saved! Thanks for reading SFP! Comic over! ”
    *Fade to black*

  • Arkone Axon

    Something to consider, for those few people who still want to insist that Alison was justified and that Max is a jerk and therefore this was okay, and that because Alison feels bad about it she’s clearly the real victim here and not the guy she tortured and terrorized into acting as her tool and disregarding his own free will in favor of hers:

    In the justly well regarded DCAU, the Superman animated series finale involves Superman not only being mind controlled into terrorizing humanity as Darkseid’s puppet, but AFTER that he physically threatens his good friend Doctor Emil Hamilton into performing life saving surgery on Supergirl. After that he immediately realizes he’d gone too far, that Hamilton will never trust him again… then he goes after Darkseid because it’s all he can think of to do.

    Later, in Justice League Unlimited, we behold the existence of Cadmus, which was created specifically to counter the threat of superheroes going rogue. And one of their most important members, the guy who created Galatea and other powerful threats to the JLU, is Doctor Emil Hamilton. Who, when confronted by Superman, reminds him “I know what it’s like to be on the receiving end of your strength.”

    Now consider this. Even if Max doesn’t want to be exposed, his parents ARE deeply protective of him. And they are powerful people, well connected and wealthy. And we know that in order to penetrate her skin requires a subatomic edge. And that she needs food and oxygen. And that she is vulnerable to toxins. In other words: she is NOT completely invulnerable, and she just gave some very powerful people every reason to believe that she is a very, very real threat to their child.

    • Stephanie

      “and that Max is a jerk and therefore this was okay”

      I mean, I can’t speak for anyone else, but I came down pretty hard on the “utilitarian” side of the debate and this was never my argument.

      • Lostman

        Two things

        “and that Max is a jerk and therefore this was okay”
        The other side for most of their counter arguments have brought this up, trying to point out that Max is still human being regardless of his beliefs, and/or behavior.

        The other is that most people who take up the counter argument against Alison come from a country that value individual rights, and freedoms.

        • Stephanie

          All I’m saying here is that at no point did I argue that it becomes acceptable to coerce people if they’re jerks, or that Max “deserves” it, or anything in that vein. I have fully acknowledged Max’s humanity and his right to his autonomy at every step; I just don’t think these things outweigh saving many lives.

          My opinion is that, if coercing one person will result in saving many lives, it’s morally necessary to coerce that person. Max’s personality doesn’t factor into this at all.

          • evillordzog

            We all accept coercion as part of the glue that keeps society together, that it’s alright for governments to levy taxes and punish people who choose not to yield to those demands with fines and imprisonment because it’s “the will f the people” and “for the greater good”. There are many countries where its citizens are forced to enter military service for a short period — just as in SFP’s America where it I recall correctly it seems pretty much every lawabiding biodynamic person who wasn’t Max was required by law to surrender their autonomy of body and action in some form.

            In drafting Max for a few hours in service of the greater good with the threat of sanction for refusal, has Allison done anything her own country hasn’t already explicitly condoned?

    • bta

      Wells of course. Achieving things through force works best when there aren’t bigger fishes out there. Like, say, a nebulous conspiracy that seems to know everything about superheroes.

      Hell, by her own logic, anyone stronger than her should take her out. Her existence is a risk, isn’t potentially protecting countless lives good enough? That’s not even counting the possible chaos that could come if a significant amount of biodynamic decides to follow her example for their own pet cause/unite against her.

    • Santiago Tórtora

      “because Alison feels bad about it she’s clearly the real victim here”

      I can’t speak for anyone else either, but I came down pretty hard on
      the “utilitarian” side of the debate and this was never an argument.

      “Feelings”, both Max’s and Allison’s, simply do not compare in importance to all those lives Allison’s plan is (supposedly) going to save.

      Speaking of fictional tales with morality lessons, consider Huckleberry Finn. He did a terrible thing for a good cause. He felt terrible about it too. He knew the consequences and was like “all right, then, I’ll go to hell”.

      Would you say Huckleberry Finn was a virtuous person? That what he did was not actually terrible should have no weight in calculating his virtue, because when he made that decision, he sincerely believed it was a bad thing he was doing.

      I think Allison is doing something like that. She does not even try to excuse her bad behavior, and that is admirable in its own way.

      • Arkone Axon

        One: someone else DID claim that Alison is the real victim because she feels bad; that’s what I was referencing. Someone else commented that Max isn’t really all THAT upset about this, and since she’s crying that makes her the real victim.

        Two: Huckleberry Finn did not force others to act on his behalf. He chose to do something himself, with his own two hands. He did not attempt to harm another, or coerce them into sharing in his actions. Even if we assume that what he did WAS terrible, even if we assume the barbaric premise that black people are meant to be owned and that he was therefore committing theft of valuable property, his actions were his and his alone. He did not force someone else to wield the shovel.

        Three: Alison is not admirable for admitting that what she’s doing is wrong. She’s still choosing to do it. She doesn’t have the excuse of it being an emergency situation, or a sufficiently critical issue that multiple individuals are in agreement that something needs to be done. She chose to do something, in secret, because she knew it was wrong. She deserves to feel bad… and that’s just the start of what she deserves.

        • Stephanie

          You’re making some assertions here that aren’t supported by the available evidence.

          We don’t know that this wasn’t an emergency situation. Given the apparent scale of what Alison did, it’s highly likely that whatever it was will stop something that kills people continuously, so that any delay would mean more people dying.

          We don’t know that it wasn’t a critical issue that multiple people agreed needed to be addressed. It’s possible that it was something basically everyone knew needed to be addressed, but nobody knew there existed a means to actually do it.

          We don’t know that she did this in secret “because she knew it was wrong.” Max’s ability was already a secret. Doing this in anything but “secret” would have meant revealing that information to another party, which would have needlessly harmed Max more than she actually did. He said himself that he didn’t want people to find out about his ability.

          • SJ

            You’re making some assertions here that aren’t supported by the available evidence.

            We don’t know that this wasn’t an emergency situation. Given the apparent scale of what Alison did, it’s highly likely that whatever it was will stop something that kills people continuously, so that any delay would mean more people dying.

            We don’t know that it wasn’t a critical issue that multiple people agreed needed to be addressed. It’s possible that it was something basically everyone knew needed to be addressed, but nobody knew there existed a means to actually do it…

            Speaking of assertions that aren’t supported by available evidence…

            There is no “apparent scale” of what Alison did. The authors have, literally, revealed nothing about the scale. The scale only becomes “apparent” if you take Alison’s word for it. To believe that this action “will stop something that kills people continuously” is also not supported by available evidence.

            We don’t know that there was a critical issue that multiple people agreed needed to be addressed, and not even Alison has implied any such thing.

            The only thing that we can agree on is that Alison thought that it was an important, life-or-death situation, that required immediate action. And the problem with that, if you’ll allow me to dust off my favorite catchphrase, is that Alison’s mental calculus is not to be trusted. Her risk assessment skills are unreliable (How could they not be? And what kind of death wish do you have to have to trust the risk assessment skills of someone who is literally invulnerable?), her critical thinking skills are unreliable, and her decision-making skills are unreliable. To say nothing of the fact that she’s only, like, twenty years old, and spent her entire adolescence as a child soldier. She has neither the mental framework nor the maturity to be making these kinds of decisions She doesn’t even have enough education to understand how much of these issues she doesn’t understand yet.

            But, damned if she’s going to let that stop her, I guess.

    • Tsapki

      Doesn’t Justice League Unlimited also have an episode where a United Stated General steals some sort of serum that gives him super strength and then attacks the Justice League at a parade because he believes the Justice League and superheroes are a threat to the security of the nation?

      Except, all the heroes he fights are C and B-Listers who mostly have technology, training or enchanted items as their power, since all the really powerful heroes are out dealing with other threats off world. Said General wipes the floor with all of the heroes despite their best efforts and is about to finish them off when some parade-goer’s get in his way. He demands that they move aside because he is there to protect them from the freaks and supers, only for one kids to say “You’re the only one with powers around here.” He makes some sarcastic comment about the blatantly obvious state of becoming the thing he hates and leaves, but not before saying that he is basically right anyway.

      Ah, found the link, for anyone who is curious about it.

      http://dcau.wikia.com/wiki/Patriot_Act

      • Izo

        That was a great episode. Pretty much all of Season 4 of JLU was amazingly good.

  • Al looks very tired. And something else. I don’t know if I would call it “resignation” but there is some kind of heavy negative emotion being suppressed there.

  • Izo

    “Look at Alison, right here, right now. On the previous page. At how clearly she hates herself for doing this.”

    I wish she’d hate herself enough to actually physically punish herself and make herself no longer a threat to the planet at this point. She could fly up until she’s in space, and keep flying away from Earth. Either she’ll die from no air, or be invulnerable to that too, and keep flying off into space so the planet doesn’t need to deal with another threat like she’s clearly become.

    Won’t happen, obviously, but I have less than no sympathy for if she hates herself. She should hate herself. She’s a hateful, bad person now. I see nothing even remotely role-modelish about her, unless the person looking at her as a role model is someone like Vladimir Putin saying ‘Exactly! That’s how you use power to force others to do what you want!’

    And yeah, Molly and Brennan have done a really engaging story. Kudos to them.

    • Fortooate

      “Allison, who forced someone to do something they didn’t want to do for, like, 15 minutes, should kill herself.”

    • Stephanie

      If you feel that way because of what she just did, I don’t understand why you didn’t already feel that way. She has done worse things than this to accomplish less.

      • pidgey

        Talking about worse or better isn’t really the issue here. You can do something really horrible without compromising your moral compass. What Allison did wasn’t beyond the pale because it was actually so incredibly awful, but because she threw her moral compass out the window in order to make it happen.

        Allison at this point is broken, morally speaking. She has hit a point where the things she believes are right to do utterly conflict with each other. Maybe for another person, choosing between personal agency and saving lives wouldn’t be a particularly big deal. I think it wouldn’t for most people, one way or the other, actually. But Allison has so many things pulling her in both directions that when those directions contradict each other, they pull her apart.

        I don’t think that makes her irredeemable, but I don’t see how a person gets redeemed from this point, either. I don’t necessarily blame her for the decision she made, even though it was horrible, but that isn’t the same thing as being okay with a person like that being around. When a person shows themselves capable of breaking the social contract, they can’t just go back to being a normal member of society, not unless something truly extraordinary happens. It’s too easy to break it again after you’ve done it once.

        • Stephanie

          Alison didn’t throw her moral compass out the window, IMO. She previously stated her axiom that people should work together to accomplish the greater good. I consider that to be her moral compass. She enacted it here by compromising a different moral principle that, while it’s also important to her, isn’t the central tenet of her worldview.

          You’re right that two things she believes are right came into conflict, but I don’t think that conflict pulled her apart. I think she resolved that conflict by prioritizing her axiom.

          • Izo

            It was a central enough tenet for her that she got angry at Gurwara when he challenged it.

            (seriously I’m arguing in favor of Gurwara now. wtf)

          • Weatherheight

            “(seriously I’m arguing in favor of Gurwara now. wtf)”

            I’m ashamed to say this made me laugh.

            But only because I’ve been in that very surreal moment of suddenly realizing someone had a valid point that I didn’t get until just that moment.

    • Why do you think she’s so terrible? It really sounds like you’re saying that her forcing Max to help her with whatever it was makes her irredeemable, but of course that’s crazy.

    • Santiago Tórtora

      The whole point of this whole exercise was that Allison found that she could help more people by being evil. She did terrible things to a person for the good of many.

      If she just leaves the planet, that will prevent her from saving more people, which defeats the whole point.

      Not saying she doesn’t “deserve” to leave the planet (though I’m not not saying that, either) just that leaving the planet is inconsistent with her (questionable) moral framework.

      • Izo

        “If she just leaves the planet, that will prevent her from saving more people,”

        If she just leaves the planet, that will prevent her from doing more evil. She didn’t save people anyway, whatever it was that was even done in the first place (which we don’t know still). Max did. Anyone else can also force him – the difference is they’d get punished for it. They’d actually have to have CONSEQUENCES for their actions which affect them, which Alison doesn’t have – at least not ones that affect HER.

        “Not saying she doesn’t “deserve” to leave the planet (though I’m not not saying that, either) just that leaving the planet is inconsistent with her (questionable) moral framework.”
        I agree that it’s inconsistent with her moral framework, but what she did to Max was also inconsistent with her moral framework. That’s the whole reason I’m disheartened by her betraying her ideals in order to get a goal accomplished. She destroyed her moral framework to acquiesce to her more base urges. The ‘little voice’ that she talked to Cleaver about.

        • Santiago Tórtora

          Her framework is not inconsistent just because you disagree with her. She is a tyrant, and tyrants don’t just leave when they do bad things. They stick around specifically because they are convinced nobody else has the strength and the guts to do what must be done.

    • Elaine Lee

      All of you are reacting so strongly to Alison’s actions, when we don’t even know what she wanted done. When we find out, we are going to have to weigh the good of having that problem solved against Alison’s actions. Unless you’re an over-privilaged kid like Max, we all have to do things we don’t want to do every single day. And we all engage in coercion every day, whether through flattery, guilting, bribery, shaming, blackmail, wheedling, nagging, flirting, insinuating, or any of a number of passive-agreesive tactics. Alison could have pretended to have had second thoughts about Max. She could’ve smiled at him with big eyes and asked him pretty please. What she did was direct, effective, and actually took much less time from his life than any other way she could have approached it. Now we wait to see if it was worth it. Meanwhile, it will certainly make Alison feel worse than it did Max.

      • Izo

        “All of you are reacting so strongly to Alison’s actions, when we don’t even know what she wanted done. ”

        I separate a person’s goals from the actions taken to achieve them. I don’t consider the ends to justify the means. If you do not believe that utilitarianism is a good belief structure, then what Alison did can be considered horrible, no matter what the result is. And since a utilitarian mindset has been historically used to justify for some of the worst atrocities on the planet, I can say that utilitarianism is a simplistic and poor belief structure to have with any consistency.

        “Unless you’re an over-privilaged kid like Max, we all have to do things we don’t want to do every single day.”

        I think Alison is faaaaaaaaaaaar more privileged than Max. Which is besides the point anyway, since no matter what your upbringing is, it shouldnt change that another person should not force you to do actions against your will by death threat or by physical violence.

        “And we all engage in coercion every day, whether through flattery, guilting, bribery, shaming, blackmail, wheedling, nagging, flirting, insinuating, or any of a number of passive-agressive tactics. ”

        Most of what you stated are non-violent methods of coercion. The ones that aren’t are ones which a person can be punished for. Alison didn’t try MOST of those by the way. She tried guilting and shaming, as well as insulting. Then went straight to violence when her rather pathetic methods of non-violence coercion failed.

        Not to mention we don’t all engage in VIOLENT methods of coercion. Most people don’t do this at all – because they know there are consequences for those actions which are a lot more severe than non-violent methods. Alison doesnt have consequences like that, so needs to be held to a higher standard.

        “Alison could have pretended to have had second thoughts about Max.”

        She didn’t. And while that would be disreputable, at least it wouldn’t be criminal.

        “She could’ve smiled at him with big eyes and asked him pretty please.”

        She didn’t. She needled him and insulted him.

        “What she did was direct, effective, and actually took much less time from his life than any other way she could have approached it.”

        You know what? If you want something that someone else doesn’t want to do? Take the time to convince them in a way that’s non-violent and non-criminal. And be willing to accept that the answer still might be NO.

        Otherwise, FACE the consequences of your actions. What you’re suggesting is to allow the strong to trample over the weak, and …. you’re going to bring me back to a rape analogy. :/

    • First, obviously Alison considers her ends to justify her means at the moment, even if she hates the means she’s chosen. So she won’t take an action that only makes sense if she considers herself ultimately in the wrong. At the very least she won’t do it until someone shows her that she was ultimately in the wrong.

      Second, action now does not equal essence forever. Alison is not an irredeemably bad and hateful person from now on because she took one indefensible action. At most we can say that she is currently a bad and hateful person. (I’m going to skip the argument over whether her action is defensible because that isn’t the point.)

      Third, even once Alison realizes she’s ultimately in the wrong, erasing her existence is far from the best way to atone for that wrong.

      Fourth, Alison has always been a threat. That was made clear from her speech to Carver. If you didn’t agitate for her to kill herself then, your position now has nothing to do with threat removal, unless you rely on the very characteristic that guarantees Alison won’t remove herself (her present willingness to do wrong in pursuit of right).

      • Izo

        “First, obviously Alison considers her ends to justify her means at the moment, even if she hates the means she’s chosen. So she won’t take an action that only makes sense if she considers herself ultimately in the wrong. At the very least she won’t do it until someone shows her that she was ultimately in the wrong.”

        I agree with what you said here, except I’m hoping someone does show her that the ends do NOT justify the means. Feral’s currently my best hope. Or her father. Or Paladin, who did say something roughly along the lines of how a person’s thoughts during a horrible action matter more than the goals when she talked about what a miserable excuse for a human being Menace must be if he kills and hurts people while being able to read their mind to know that they’re scared, and he still does so anyway.

        “Second, action now does not equal essence forever. Alison is not an irredeemably bad and hateful person from now on because she took one indefensible action. At most we can say that she is currently a bad and hateful person.”

        Arguable point. Certain actions can stain a person’s essence forever. But I’ll concede that, currently she is a bad and hateful person. The thing she said at the end, though, makes me feel that she plans on being this way for the discernible future as well. And with someone with Alison’s power, she need to be held to a higher standard.

        “Third, even once Alison realizes she’s ultimately in the wrong, erasing her existence is far from the best way to atone for that wrong.”

        It is if there’s no way to prevent her from doing it again, and again, and again. A Superman without a Kryptonite weakness is a horrible threat to everyone. A Superman without a Kryptonite weakness that says she can and will do negative things repeatedly, and knows that he (or she) cannot be stopped, which is WHY he (or she) will keep doing it, is an even worse threat to everyone. I wasn’t always thinking like this – but her actions have made me re-evaluate my opinion of the character.

        If she has a kryptonite weakness, I’d be less inclined to put her to the same extreme standards.

        “Fourth, Alison has always been a threat.”

        She’s always been a potential threat. Now she’s an actual threat. Slight difference. Now you can point to something she’s done, intentionally and without mitigating mental factors. It’s worse.

        “That was made clear from her speech to Carver.”
        You mean Cleaver, I’m assuming.

        “If you didn’t agitate for her to kill herself then, your position now has nothing to do with threat removal, unless you rely on the very characteristic that guarantees Alison won’t remove herself (her present willingness to do wrong in pursuit of right).”

        I’ve actually explained, more than a few times, even on this very page, why I don’t consider her past actions to be as bad as what she did with Max, and why I’ve actually been an Alison apologist in the past. I’d rather not repeat them, since it’s on the same page as this one and you’ll probably find my VERY long reasoning for it (I think it was in response to something Stephanie said at least once).

        Good post btw.

        • Loranna

          I’ve been pondering what Alison’s “kryptonite” might be (other than snarky, cavalier philosophy teachers.) Given that her strength is, ultimately, telekinetic in nature, I would think it might be possible to disrupt her power by disrupting her concentration – a direct psychic attack, perhaps, or extreme sensory overload. (I remember some other people discussing this idea too, so props to them for giving me the idea to ponder)

          Possibly Brad could yell loud enough, and at the right frequency, to rattle her brain, or Moonshadow find a way to give Alison fits with strobe-like flashes of light. And Pintsize, as someone else mentioned before, could try shrinking down and dancing IN her head.

          Kind of a pity that the Guardians disbanded, huh? Oh, and one of their members became a dangerous vigilante who is on the run from the government. Though, if Alison is becoming a big enough threat, perhaps the government would be willing to offer Moonshadow a pardon, in exchange for taking Mega Girl down . . .

          Oh, and if none of those former Guardians can currently perform such feats, well, we know of a power-booster who could enhance their abilities.

          Loranna

    • disqus_OGo1yusSeL

      Few things I want to say, here:

      1. I find it very disturbing that you’re response to someone violating your (apparently unusually stringent and by no means universal) moral code is to suggest that they kill themselves. Waaaaaay more disturbing than anything Allison has done. Frankly, everyone exists under varying levels of social (and physical!) constraint as to what actions the can, can’t, and must take. A world in which individuals aren’t subject to any kind of outside constraint is far more similar to Max’s ultra-libertarian paradise than I’m ever going to be comfortable with, and a world in which people who offend anothers’ moral code are required to kill themselves would depopulate very quickly.

      2. What Allison did is, taken entirely out of context, objectively wrong. So is killing another person. However, the law (and most people) recognize that exigent circumstances can justify homicide, or (less seriously) the co-optation of another person’s free will. Imagine the following scenario:

      You are in a room with 5 other people. The room is sealed and filling with water, and the only door is sealed and only accessibly to a person who knows the code. You have reason to believe that one of the people in the room knows the code, but is not willing to save your lives. Are you justified in threatening (or even inflicting) physical harm on that person in order to get them to unseal the door? Maybe you say no, that under no circumstances would you violate someone’s autonomy of person even to save another’s life. I doubt most people would see it that way, and personally, I would contend that in that case you have a duty to act so as to save as many lives as possible.

      In this case, we don’t know exactly what Allison’s plan is. We have no idea what level of certainty she has of it’s success, nor of it’s possible scope. Given her emotional state beforehand, I suspect her decision-making process was likely not…wholly rational, and so her calculus of both may be off, substantially. The point is, we don’t have all the information, so it’s far too early to be making value judgements as to whether her actions were justified or not.

      3. Seriously, stop analogizing this to rape. The comparison has been overused to the point of absurdity, and in this case it isn’t even close. Not every kind of coercion can or should be equated to rape.

  • Izo

    Is there anyone else here who really hopes that Alison has something really terrible happen to her as a direct result of what she did or what she made Max do? Because she just admitted that this was not just 4 hours of his time – it was a lifetime of uncertain potential slavery where she could kill him any time she wanted if he did not, forever in the future, do what she wants. And Max is taking this unreasonably well now. He never even said something like ‘Gurwara was right. You are a tyrant.’ Which, for someone as mind-bogglingly self-absorbed and dumb as Alison is seeming to be in the Max arc, probably hasnt even occurred in her invulnerable little head.

    Nah I’m not frustrated at all at this. Not a bit. 🙂

    Honestly all the defense I used to have about Alison doing bad things, which broke with this arc, I’d have for Max now.

    If Max hired assassins who were ordered to kill each person in Alison’s family and a list of her friends if she every comes near her or if any harm ever comes to Max from ANYTHING (the same minute that she approaches him, with it all behind a screen of anonymity in case Patrick was there to just read his mind and find out who the assassins are, a real Batman vs Superman moment), I’d be like … ‘Well, he’s been backed up against the wall by a superhuman godlike figure threatening to take any sense of autonomy away. Anything goes in his mind at this point. I can’t really blame him for his sense of moral good and evil going out the window now that he’s in an eternal sense of ‘She can do this to me whenver she wants and no one can stop me – I need some way, Any way, to defend myself from her.’

    • Stephanie

      I think it’s extremely probable that something bad will happen to her as a result of this. Not to the point that the creators are clearly stating “utilitarianism is wrong,” I don’t think they’re going to come down on either side like that, but this was a significant event and it wouldn’t make sense for there to be no negative side effects at all.

      • Lostman

        If I’ll take the massage of “Don’t play with forces that you know little about”, we don’t know the cause of this universe powers. Or how Max’s power work.

        • Stephanie

          We also don’t know how much Alison knows about how Max’s power works. She may know quite a lot.

    • Filthy Liar

      Maybe accept that as an individual your rights and (most importantly) responsibilities depend on the existence of other people and don’t be a jerk? Bringing you into this world cost resources, you’ve got an obligation to pay them back. Or, you can kill yourself. You’ve still got freedom.

      • This Guy

        Max committing suicide -would- be an effective way of spiting Alison and preventing her from using him as a resource. And while you’re presenting that as an obviously bad option, that presumes Max is, as everybody assumes, libertarian or objectivist, and not the kind of existentialist that would see suicide as a valid and worthy option.

        • Eric the .5b

          Er, why couldn’t a libertarian see suicide as a valid or worthy option, if it’s the only way to keep someone from turning them into a their performance-enhancing drug to use on anyone they think deserves it?

          • Stephanie

            Well, I don’t know about libertarians, but Ayn Rand’s idealized Objectivist characters always responded to threats of force by simply refusing to comply, which always worked because, e.g., John Galt is just so good at being a human that he can somehow endure literal torture. Also, “the choice to live” is part of Objectivism’s foundational axiom, and Rand’s villains tend to be implied to be motivated by suicidal impulses.

            I believe Objectivists do acknowledge suicide as a valid option in extremely coercive situations, like if you’re in a camp or something. But only as a last resort, after trying every other acceptable avenue for escaping that situation.

          • Izo

            I don’t think that it makes a difference if he’s a libertarian or not where he might consider suicide an option. I just really don’t want to see a webcomic make suicide seem like a good idea for someone who’s been victimized.

        • Izo

          I really, really, really would rather not see the message promoted that ‘if someone bullies, harrasses, hurts, or rapes you, then suicide is your only way to make the fear stop.’

    • TheDaviesCR

      Of course you would. It’s obvious whose rights you are actually concerned with, and unsurprisingly it’s the rich white guy.

      • Izo

        … you know, I’m not rich, white, or a guy, right?

        • Guest

          Probably not (that would require scoping out a bunch of your posts for a bunch of identity markers, and that’s too much effort) but… is that necessary? One CAN participate in those things without being a member of the group in question. I frequently assume the better of a white person (and then facepalm and try to turn the people into numbers to run the reasoning again without that bias) and I’m not white. I also frequently assume that somebody whose first language is English and who has a northern American (so Canada and northern US) English accent or a British accent knows what they’re talking about more than somebody whose first language is not English and who has a thick accent… despite also having a thick accent myself, and hating that other people assume that.

          There’s a lot of gut reactions that seem to be embedded in my brain that I am constantly having to school and mitigate so as to judge circumstances on their own merits, and those gut reactions seem to be shaped by my environment more than by my “identity”. You don’t have to be a rich white guy to find it easier to side with the rich white guy. I think that’s a bit reductive of your position (since you seem to be siding with the non-superstrong non-flying person-in-a-position-of-weakness-being-assaulted here more than with the “rich white guy”) but “I’m not a rich white guy” is not a good counter to “you’re siding with the rich white guy”.

  • Anarquistador

    Ah…she finally figured it out. Morality is worthless without power. And the powerful have no need of morals. Welcome to the Way of Dark Side.

    • Filthy Liar

      That’s not actually what happened here.

      • Anarquistador

        Isn’t it? By brute force, she compelled him to abandon his personal morals and adhere to hers. She proved that morality is worthless without the power to defend it.

    • Stephanie

      I don’t see any indication that she’s abandoning her morals. All she’s done so far is rearrange them, choosing which to prioritize, because it wasn’t possible to hold them all equal to each other when they came into conflict.

      • Anarquistador

        And she’s prioritized hers over his, solely because she’s strong enough to impose them on him.

        • Stephanie

          Because she’s strong enough and lives are at stake. There’s an argument to be made that if it’s within your power to prevent that much harm, you have a responsibility to do it.

          • Sendaz

            Still have to hold off on a final assessment though since while Alison keeps talking about lives saved, the narrator has been just teasing us all the while and we don’t know what she actually accomplished yet.
            I still get the feeling Patrick set her up for this by positioning her with Max as the carrot.
            When/If Patrick finds out who is hunting important dynomorphs, it is likely they will be highly placed in industry or governments and if the dynomorphs want to take the fight to the Big Conspiracy they are going to running afoul of several agencies to do so.
            It’s a bit of a damned if you do/damned if you don’t scenario and Alison is going to feel bad either way.

    • Lostman

      No, she realized that her power is a way to enforce her morals on others.

      • Anarquistador

        Indeed. And because she has power, her morals are the only morals that matter.

  • This Guy

    Continuing to obfuscate the recipient and the possible effects is a good choice. I’m hoping it stays that way; that the story continues to evade who got the boost and the possible effects and all the minor details like whether Alison is actually right in her belief that this will save lives, because what really matters is the choice she made.

    • Weatherheight

      I was thinking about this while driving to dinner, and it’s an interesting narrative choice: eliminate the act being performed as the crux action from the viewpoint of the reader. Perhaps to remove the stigma or esteem associated with the act itself and to focus on the process of making the choice? I don’t care for it at the moment, but there’s such a good hook in that last panel that I can’t see letting go of this particular bucket of oats at the moment.

      But I may kick a few more barn walls as a result of frustration brought on by narratus interruptus.

      • palmvos

        I suspect that it will be difficult to keep us in suspense for long. if this saves ‘countless lives’ its going to strain credulity that no mention is made of it in the news, and certainly some of Alison’s circle (unaware of her agency) might have an interest in the event. Not to mention Alison herself…otherwise it will seem as if the act was a failure- because we didn’t hear anything. if Patrick gets anywhere close to either Alison or Max he WILL take an interest in these events, and will likely want to talk to Alison, maybe at a distance. so while i am contemplating the relative brittleness of various forms of crockery and performing arbitrary tests of same… I believe at least some of our suspense will be lifted. week after next probably..

  • a person

    “Teachings that do not speak of pain have no meaning… Because humankind cannot gain anything without first giving something in return” -Hiromu Arakawa

  • MrSing

    I had a bit of a think on this and I believe I know why I have a problem with this scene.

    Now, the arc isn’t over yet, so this could all be rectified, but I think the delay between doing it right now and later will lessen the effect.

    To put it simply, the situation went too soft on Alison and Max.

    Alison is the easy one. Now though she had to comprimise some of her morals, the deck was stacked in her favor. Max is unlikable, he is priviliged, he exploits his workers, he belittles her friend’s sacrifice, and his reasons for refusing to help (at least, the ones presented) only served to make him seem spiteful.
    Allison herself is tired, frustrated, desparing, basically she’s at a low point. And she wants to do something good, which she apparently needs Max for, but he refuses.
    All of these things are there to lessen the blow of her crimes against Max. They are all things we and she can use to excuse her. How it is just a matter of circumstances that “pushed” her to do it, or how Max “pushed” her to do this.
    If even one of these things were different, it would paint Allison’s action in a severly harsher light.

    As for Max, he both broke too fast under Allison’s torture and yet at the same time weirdly didn’t.
    Let me explain. Max, after initially refusing, quickly crumbles as soon as Allison starts hurting him. Despite it being very clear that his freedom is extremely important to him. But, this isn’t bad per sé. Maybe he just has a low pain tolerance.
    But it once again stacks the deck in Allison’s favor. She only has to hurt him “slightly” to make him comply. What if she had to break his arm? What if he still didn’t want to help after that? Allison’s character is given a free pass to that question. She isn’t forced enough into answering the question of how far she is willing to go. It is just shy of really solidly and meaningfully establishing her new morality.

    Now afterwards, Max is strangely being presented as not having been broken at all. He is not raging, his face isn’t pale, his hands aren’t shaking. He seems more annoyed than anything else. He doesn’t really act like a man who has just been kidnapped and hurt until he did something. But freedom is extremely important to him, how can he have such a subdued reaction to this all? How can he only look mildly annoyed?

    Maybe he is putting up a front. Maybe he watched out of his window as Allison dissapeared before breaking down or showing emotion. But we didn’t get to see that side of Max. We just went straight to McDonalds. Max is still somehow fine, despite this being incredibly unlikely. Once again, the deck is in Allison’s favor.

    Allison has her talk with Max where she admits what she has done is only justified through her strenght, but the whole thing is presented in such a “light” way that it feels distant and theoretical instead of what should have been a very emotional and human moment for the both of them.

    It makes it almost unreal what has happened. Max his reasons and personality were presented in the most unlikable light while Allison’s reasons were presented as noble with a mere dark edge to them. Allison doesn’t have to go far enough to really show what she was willing to do to accomplish her goals, robbing her of a more impactful character growth. And in the end it makes Max seem fine while all that we know of his character indicate that he should not be.

    • Stephanie

      I think it’s too soon to say that the situation went soft on anyone. I suspect that there will be consequences for one or both of them, but that those consequences won’t be immediate.

      • Izo

        I’m grudgingly upvoting you on this, since we don’t yet know the outcome or the consequences that Alison might face or if Max gets to have any sort of closure or revenge or turning the tables on Alison’s negative (and in my opinion evil) action upon him.

    • Eric the .5b

      Regarding Max, it’s easy: on the second date, he became nothing more than a strawman designed for readers to hate. He has no depth or real personality, he’s just alternately obnoxious or pathetic, whichever is least likable. Because he’s only meant to be obnoxious or pathetic, he resists until it hurts, then doesn’t look much affected by it later. That’s why he’s just snarky and not, you know, *bitter* or *afraid* or anything else when dealing with the person who’s happy to berate, abduct, abuse, and exploit him. It’s a weakness of this arc: Max isn’t a person who’s a libertarian or an objectivist, he’s just an archetype of That Asshole Libertarian Commenter, plus Privileged Rich Kid.

      On the other hand, I think it’s interesting to use a strawman as the victim and not yet show what the supposed save-the-world plan she just carried out was. It’s so much easier to approve abusing and violating the rights of someone we despise—look at all the people who’ve expressed active delight at his treatment—but we haven’t actually gotten the comforting reassurance that the abuse was worth it by any measure, “countless lives” or not.

      All we have is a drained-looking young woman who promises to abduct and torture Max again if she needs him. For all that this is the the-world-is-saved meal Feral asked for, I don’t think Feral’s going to see things the same way as Alison.

      • Stephanie

        I honestly read a lot of the snark and general jackassery as his way of expressing bitterness, fear, insecurity, etc. I mean, I still don’t like him, he squandered an amazing power and tried to intentionally let a bunch of people die out of spite. But I don’t think that we’re not supposed to think he has real feelings and vulnerability.

      • Izo

        Strawman has a Point.

        http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/StrawmanHasAPoint

        Reminds me of Carl Anheuser in 2012. Supposedly the villain, but he kept making sense EVERY argument that he was the correct one.

    • Chani

      “Now afterwards, Max is strangely being presented as not having been
      broken at all. He is not raging, his face isn’t pale, his hands aren’t
      shaking.”

      I think you need to read https://medium.com/the-nib/trigger-warning-breakfast-c6cdeec070e6

      • Steele

        I don’t think that counts? Max hasn’t had the opportunity to absorb or deflect or rationalize or anything… he is still a few FEET away from the person who JUST did these awful things to him, and who could break him in so many ways it’s not even funny, and the first thing he does is belligerently complain?

        The comic you posted talks about compliance in order to deflect the terror of the situation. Max is displaying the EXACT opposite.

      • Izo

        That was a really good web link…

    • palmvos

      As far as not looking broken… he isn’t. not yet. When she comes again for the 2nd or 3rd time and he realizes that death is is only out and he lacks the courage to do even that. Then he will be broken. For now he can, as that poem Chani links to, make up a new narrative and hold his anger.

  • VariableNature

    I wish those paragraphs weren’t so “right on”.

  • Stephanie

    I like to think that we’re seeing how everything sucks so that we understand the scale of the problems that need fixing. Everyone is suffering now, but it can get better.

    It’s even already happening. For example, you mentioned how dynamorphs are a stigmatized minority, and that’s true. But at the start of the comic, they didn’t even have Brad’s group for support, and now they do. Brad took action and succeeded in changing things for the better.

    So I’m okay with some things being bleak for now. I’ll only be disappointed if the comic ends with Alison deciding it’s hopeless and giving up her quest to find the best way to help–and I don’t think that’s likely to happen.

    • Lostman

      We hope it gets better.

    • Infinitive

      You know, Stephanie, the way you said that “everyone is suffering” really struck me tonight. Not sure why. Here’s the thing: there’s a whole world religion based on this principle. The world is suffering, and you can’t fix it. Period. Everything you do to try to fix suffering only makes it worse for you, or shifts suffering to another. There can never be a decrease. Only acceptance of the futility of the fight.

      And I think that that’s one of the things that Allison has always struggled with, if we want to have a look at this arc through a Buddhist perspective. She’s always been powerful, capable, and smart. She WANTS to make things better. She gives it her all, and cannot ever accept the idea that every fix is temporary, and no fight is ever really won. That’s why Feral is so important to her: Feral decided to accept that there cannot ever be a decrease in the world’s suffering but, because of her nature, she could take the suffering of a host of people onto herself. That’s why what Feral does is so incredible, and so utterly, completely, and totally unacceptable to Allison.

      Feral is a living symbol of the futility of grand gestures, for even the best solutions are broken and temporary and imperfect–and Allison is all about grand gestures. She knows only strength and relentlessness. Maybe it’s time for her to learn endurance and acceptance, like Brad.

      Or, and I can’t believe I’m saying this, like Max, who has to live every day in fear of discovery, exploitation, torture, and death because of his value as a thing, rather than as a person. Small wonder he turned to Objectivist philosophy.

      • Stephanie

        I personally hope that Alison doesn’t give up on making things better! It doesn’t have to be true that suffering is a constant.

  • Werekat

    Longtime reader, first time poster.

    What really heckles me about this comic is, well, I don’t really have a bone to pick with Allison’s methods. You want to force someone into a corner, fine, just don’t come crying when the trapped rat bites. Depending on your goals, it might even be worth it. Right now I’m in the camp thinking that it’s Feral’s life on the line (if Allison’s analysts didn’t screw up and she doesn’t find a wriggling mass of constantly reproducing organs, which would be poetic, but I don’t wish that on poor Feral). Were I making a choice wherein my friend would be saved from endless torture, I’d certainly take Allison’s road of violence if my “agent” disagreed.

    But “You did the right thing. Against your wishes, but you did it. You deserve the credit for it. I truly hope you find a way to let it bring you joy”… Well. That’s up there with some of the more disgusting attempts to ditch responsibility I’ve ever read, and I have quite a bit of experience in this regard. Well played, writers.

    “You did the right thing.” — by your criteria, Allison. My personal response to this would pretty much be: “Nope, I didn’t. I gave in to a terrorist, which while understandable, is also not right by any means.”

    “Against your wishes, but you did it. You deserve the credit for it.” — so if you made a mistake in your judgement, the responsibility is on the person who you used as a tool. How lovely.

    “I hope you find a way to let it bring you joy.” — Oh, please, Allison. Find solace in being violated for the great justice? Really?

    Honestly, one would have been bad enough. Three? Ugh. I’d have been more comfortable with a cartoonish “pleasure doing business with you, you’ll be seeing more of me if I need it” or something similar. I’ll say it again: well played, authors. It’s been a while since I’ve felt such visceral disgust at a piece of dialogue.

    • Weatherheight

      Welcome to the sandbox! Punch is in the corner, and..
      ::stares blankly a moment::
      Okay, who took the cake?
      ::mutters something about cake and budgets and wanders out the door::
      I’l be right back…

      • palmvos

        ::puts out cookies. peanut butter, oatmeal raisin, and some others::

    • Werekat

      Thank you, Weatherheight, palmvos, Loranna! Very sweet of you! Loranna, soul #125 is free and yours for the taking. ^__^ I also think you’re spot-on in the actual idea being something like “I hope your actions change you a little,” but goodness, for me someone saying that is the point where I stop talking them and start taking steps conductive to having them smash into a wall of their own making. Because there’s no stopping that trainwreck, might as well get it over with. 😛

  • martynW

    “burger and liquor store.” Now THERE’S an idea whose time has come.

  • martynW

    Good question. Would increasing Feral’s powers result in her being able to regenerate almost instantly and much less painfully?

  • Stephanie

    The burger and bourbon is a big development. Check the top comment–this tells us that Alison believes that what she just did was the “one-punch” solution to the world’s problems that she’s been searching for.

  • Rumble in the Tumble

    Mistakes are being made, please don’t disturb.

  • Rumble in the Tumble

    What I can say, some people like to get mad on the internet.
    I’m here since the second chapter, and I’m loving this shit!

  • FlashNeko

    I find it interesting that a lot of the people who are glad handing themselves to a happy ending over how smart they were that they “knew Alison was a Bully/Tyrant/Villain all along” are a lot of the same people who were bending over backwards to defend Furnace and his much more morally questionable actions.

    I think the comments section is kind of unintentionally proving the point that a male protagonist can sin one hundred times and still get an audience to think he deserves to be right but if a female protagonist screws up (or just does something outside accepted superhero norms) even once then she’s just considered irredeemable and ruined forever.

    (The author of this comment would like to apologize for the above bout of bitterness but it’s something he’s seen far too often in fiction and how people react to that fiction so it felt better to openly state it than letting it fester.)

    • Eric the .5b

      Eh. Furnace was a clumsily-handled strawman, but I thought he was quite literally a terrorist after his threat against any woman accusing a man of rape.

      Really, the horrible, dismaying thing about the arc is that she’s doing the same sort of thing Furnace did, just while not being a yokel stereotype and thus showing forethought and awareness of what lines she’s crossing.

    • Stephanie

      I’m glad you said this. For me it’s the “irredeemable” and “villain forever” stuff that particularly bothers me…like, I’m fine with people thinking she made the wrong decision even if I personally agreed with that decision, I’m fine with people saying “she did a horrible terrible thing” even if I think the alternative was worse. But irredeemable?

      The whole story has been about her trying to fumble her way to a more useful code of ethics than she started with, it’s inevitable that she hits some moral pitfalls along the way, but she deviates from the Traditional Superheroing Code of Nonmaleficence–because she wants to help people!–and suddenly she’s irredeemable? Game over, she might as well give up and leave the planet because she’s already tainted and there’s no point in trying to do better?

      This was never the kind of story where the protagonist’s hands must remain clean at all costs or everything falls apart. Alison’s hands were soaked in blood before we even met her. That doesn’t mean she’s ruined. She has always tried and will always try to do better than she did yesterday.

      • Eric the .5b

        “But irredeemable?”

        I dunno. One of the reasons I follow this comic is that I always found Alison sympathetic and likable. Someone I would have agreed with a lot at that age. But, in the last few installments, she’s shown a number of the motivations and attitudes that I hate and fear in people with power over others, whether politicians or abusive parents/partners. Attitudes that in the real world, I’m not sure that people actually ever change.

        For me, it’s a sad realization that she wasn’t the sort of person that I thought she was. Is it even an issue of redemption if it’s how she was all along?

        • Stephanie

          I think it’s a lot more fair to say something like you’re saying, basically “I like her less now that I know she was always capable of this,” vs saying that she was fine before but now committing this sin has stained her hands for all time.

    • I’m angry at Alison, but I don’t hate her. It wouldn’t be a good story if the main character didn’t have to struggle, and didn’t have to fail. She’s invulnerable, so losing a fight is kind of difficult to do. Unless the fight’s with herself… and she just lost it, big time. I don’t think this arc has anything to do with Alison at all. I think the whole reason Max exists is to gray the line, even erase it, between “good” and “bad” and make us question what lies in each. Max is “bad” because he doesn’t want to use his powers to help people. Alison is “good” because she does. But Alison is using her power to force someone to help people… so which is bad and which is good now? White stone, black stone…

      I don’t think we’ve realized the stones are all painted, and they’re all gray underneath.

  • motorfirebox

    I’m withholding judgment on Alison until what she did is revealed. As far as Max and Objectivism goes, I’ve always been deeply suspicious of the Objectivist restriction on violence. For one thing, I don’t think the Maxes of the world would respect that restriction if they had the power to ignore it (e.g. not “terrified of violence and scared shitless of going to jail”). For another, I don’t see a lot of daylight between threatening someone with violence if they don’t do what you say, versus threatening someone with loss of essential livelihood if they don’t do what you say.

  • Charles Moore

    This exactly. But Ali won’t get away clear. Max’s Mom is a powerful congresswoman. The fallout for this will not occur in the public eye. There are all kinds of ways she’ll be able to even the score. Ali’s comeuppance may take the form of oppressive new laws and regulations, or a nighttime visit to her family from the men in black. Rest assured, it will happen.

    Max doesn’t even have to tell his mother. She’ll know as soon as the news breaks about a secret biodynamic and their miraculous power. once she knows, it won’t take much prodding from her to get Max to spill the whole sordid tale.

  • Seer of Trope

    yes yes yes

  • Weatherheight

    Poor little bunnies.

    ::waggles his ears in physiological sympthy::

  • Charles Moore

    “And for myself, my favorite schemes were the ones that flew under the radar until it was too late for anyone to do anything about them”.

    — Patrick http://sfp.nsch.co/issue-3/page-43-2/

  • Weatherheight

    Max’s mother being a Senator is really muddying the waters regarding Max for me. Her position / status / responsibilities affects who she is in powerful ways, and some of that shit’s got to flow downhill onto him. This doesn’t excuse who he is, but it sure makes him more understandable to me (if my assumptions are true).

    “Kicking the cat” as Zig Ziglar (I think) used to say.

  • Eric the .5b

    Especially when they weren’t his gardeners, but people hired for his father by his fathers’ assistants. In other words, he defended his dad’s payment scheme, while she abducted, threatened, and tortured him.

  • Eric the .5b

    I did, too.

  • I’m so pissed at Alison right now. And I STILL don’t like Max. Freedom isn’t just for good people, though…

    In any case, I really really can’t wait for Alison to feel the ramifications of what she’s done. I don’t think she’s going to get out of this without a serious amount of guilt. She deserves it. I hope it hurts – I really, really hope it hurts.

    The next time she stops someone from robbing someone, from abusing someone, from hurting someone JUST BECAUSE THEY COULD…

    I hope she breaks down crying.

    • Stephanie

      I don’t think she did it just because she could. She did it because she could and it would save many lives. She could hurt anyone she meets, but she doesn’t do that just because she can. In this case, it was within her power to save many lives, so she went for it.

      • That is her justification, yes. We still don’t know what she had him do.

    • HanoverFist

      I think the ramifications will involve Valkyrie ending before it starts. Abused women probably won’t feel safe around her knowing she thinks/acts like this.

  • Innis Mirage of Deceit

    Alison did for fifteen minutes what the federal government did to her for five years.

    Yeah, sure, she’s a villain. Whatever. What does that make them?

    • Eric the .5b

      When did the federal government abduct or torture her? The moment she decided she was done…she left.

      • Innis Mirage of Deceit

        She said ‘yes’. Do you really think there weren’t going to be consequences if she said ‘no’?

  • Giacomo Bandini

    Let’s make a mental experiment.

    Suppose you go to talk to a very rich asshole. The orphanage of your city, or hospitals, or something like that, are closing, a lot of peole will suffer from that,but you have reason to belive that with just one phone call, the rich person could stop this from happening. No money needed, just his name and influence will be enought to stop this from happening.
    But the rich guy refused, because he is worried that his reputation tas a ferocious buisnessman would be somehow tarnished from that, that this could open to more request in the future, because he doesn’t like to be told what to do, eccetera eccetera. because he is an asshole.
    And, at that point, something snaps into you. You are alone in his office, and with a sudden movement you incapacitate him. You bind him to his seat and with menace, you force him to get the password of his computer. With this informations, you do the phone call,(you happen to be a very good voice imitator) and the hospitals or the orphanage are saved. After that, you free the man, with the implicit menace that if he comes after you, you can use the information you got from his computer to damage him.

    So, the question is: are you a monster?
    Are you a bully?
    Are you irredemable?
    Is this act a crime so orrible that invalidates every single past or future good action from your part?

    Well… if you are a monster, you are not the only one. How many of us would potentially do something like that?
    Will i ever do an action of this kind? Probably not, but most reasons are that i’m “terrified of violence and scared shitless to going to jail”. It won’t be a bold moral choice to do. it will simply be the path of least resistence.

    Allison is not a monster, or a villain. But… yes, she is no longer a hero. she is something else now. She is a God. An Ubermensch, who is beyond the conventional morality, who doesn’t follow what other people choose to be good or evil, but who herself decide what is good and what is evil.
    SFP has been a tematical journey. First of a superhero, who realize the futility of being one, and choose to become a social hero. And after that, a social hero who realize the futility of tring to change society following its internal rules, and resort to use her innate superhuman power to force change into things.
    Is this the end of the journey? I don’t think so. Allison will grow out from this again, to a new stage of her personal evolution. I do not know where this evolution will take her.
    What i do know is that i love Allison, and that i do not judge her, differently for many posters here. Let’s think back to Allison speech to Daniel: it’s easy for us little people, to be moral and respectful of other people personal freedom – we are powerless. With no power, we have no responsabilities. But with her greatest power, comes the greatest responsability. She has the weight of the world on her shoulder. Who we are, to judge how she decide to carry on her responsabilities?

    • Axel_Celosar

      To that question I could only ask, What if one day someone does it to Alison? Biodynamics keep on coming, there’s nothing to say one can’t possibly come along that could beat her. Does that person not have the right to stop her then? They would just have as much right to bring her down for good.

      • Stephanie

        Alison isn’t going around killing enormous numbers of people. She coerced one guy for like four hours, we’re nowhere near into “she must die for the sake of humanity” territory. Hell, she was more dangerous to the civilian population as an actual superhero than she has been recently.

    • Eric the .5b

      No, yes, no, and no – but you’re never as much better than your worst act as you’d like to be.

      Going beyond that you’re missing that Alison’s point with that speech was that she was *wrong* to think that the powerful deserve respect for their strength, your last paragraph is basically one of the lines the powerful feed the powerless in order to justify their position. One of the saddest things in the world is how often the powerless *believe* them.

    • crazy j

      If you are willing to go that far, then why not just steal his money while you’re at it. Just point the great equaliser (a pistol) at his head and tell him that if he does not comply and give his money to those poor orphans, then his brains will go there and over there and over there. He is a rich asshole as you so claim and those poor orphans could use the money more then him. As a matter of fact, just kill him and take the money. The world would be better off without another asshole being an asshole, don’t you think?

      • Sarah

        Yet Alison didn’t kill Max (granted, he could be useful for her in the future, but I don’t think she’d have killed him even if she didin’t plan to use him again).

        • Izo

          She didn’t kill him because she might want to use him again in the future, and killing someone means you can’t use him again. Besides, the threat of killing him ends once she actually does kill him – she’s already stated she was going to kill him if he did NOT comply.

  • On a not-completely side tangent… wouldn’t it be interesting if Max’s power allowed Feral’s body’s cast-off pieces to start creating clones. Then we could have a discussion over whether rendering perpetually-regenerating infants down for parts was morally or ethically superior to using Feral as a Promethean donor…

    Ick.

    I think I may have just thrown up in my mouth a little bit, there.

    • Stephanie

      It’s a cool idea to play with, but I think the canon will be something else. It appeared that Max was using his power on a prone body–not just pieces of one–and it’s unlikely to have been Feral since she’s perpetually undergoing surgery, not lying in dark rooms.

  • Skylar Green

    Couldn’t Max just report Alison to his mother? The same politically-connected and powerfully influencing mother who kept her son from any consequences from the public-at-large of being biodynamic? Who apparently has the ability to order around people who would be responsible for not only monitoring but enforcing laws over biodynamic individuals?

    Max is only in chains for as long as Alison is in the room looking directly at him.

  • cphoenix

    Thinking about Alison’s “You did the right thing. I hope you find a way to enjoy it.” (Not quite her words, but how I heard them.)

    This sounds really rape-y. Until now, I’d been thinking of this more as mugging than as rape. And so I was wondering how Alison could say this, rather than just “I know you hated it, but that’s too bad, because Feral isn’t screaming in perpetual agony anymore and I’d do it again to save another Feral.”

    And I think Alison fundamentally doesn’t understand how someone could not want to make the world a better place. It’s so much a part of who she is that she thinks Max just needs the experience and he’ll learn to like it. …Which is what some date-rapists seem to think. “If we actually have sex, you’ll enjoy it.”

    How could they think that? I’m reminded of a story I read, about a woman who got tired of being sent pictures of penises on dating sites, so the started sending men pictures of vaginas as soon as they contacted her. She did it thirty-some times. And EVERY MAN RESPONDED POSITIVELY. Like, “OK, wow, what are you doing this weekend?” positively.

    That story was linked from another story in which a woman sent many pictures of penises to a man who had sent her a penis pic. He didn’t like it at all. She asked him why he thought she would like it, and he told her in apparent seriousness, “You’re supposed to like it; you’re a woman.”

    Just a complete world view disconnect. Alison really seems to think that, in the end, Max can and should learn to like doing good.

    One other thing comes to mind. “You’re not leaving the table until you finish those carrots. I learned to like them, and you can too.” So many of us grow up being treated with coercion. Is it surprising that it’s so much a part of our adult world?

    All that said, if Max were standing next to an agonized Feral and had the power to help her, and refused, and I had the power to make him, I think I probably would. That would be an insane situation, and I would probably let myself go insane enough to just do it and worry about the morality later.

    I don’t have any conclusions here, just trying to explore the topic.

    • Izo

      “Thinking about Alison’s “You did the right thing. I hope you find a way to enjoy it.” (Not quite her words, but how I heard them.)

      This sounds really rape-y. Until now, I’d been thinking of this more as mugging than as rape. And so I was wondering how Alison could say this,”

      THANK YOU for someone else saying this! So much of this has felt rape-y to me. The dialogue (‘It was only a courtesy, sweetheart’, etc), even the positioning of the people involved (Alison having Max’s head to the table and bending over him, etc). I’m wondering if it was meant to be intentional to show the stark contrast to the stated goals of Valkyrie.

      “How could they think that? I’m reminded of a story I read, about a woman who got tired of being sent pictures of penises on dating sites, so the started sending men pictures of vaginas as soon as they contacted her. She did it thirty-some times. And EVERY MAN RESPONDED POSITIVELY. Like, “OK, wow, what are you doing this weekend?” positively.”

      I’m positive that I’ve read that in a blog or something

      “One other thing comes to mind. “You’re not leaving the table until you finish those carrots. I learned to like them, and you can too.” So many of us grow up being treated with coercion. Is it surprising that it’s so much a part of our adult world?”
      I can see the similarity here too, although I’ve never been told by my parents that they’d kill me or break my arm if I didn’t eat them. Just that I’d go to my room without eating anything, or not get to watch TV. 🙂

      “All that said, if Max were standing next to an agonized Feral and had the power to help her, and refused, and I had the power to make him, I think I probably would. That would be an insane situation, and I would probably let myself go insane enough to just do it and worry about the morality later.”

      I think he would also. I don’t think Max lacks sympathy for others. He just doesn’t have the same level of sympathy to theoretical others, especially when there’s some sort of risk to him as well.

    • The Improbable Man

      How could they think that? I’m reminded of a story I read, about a
      woman who got tired of being sent pictures of penises on dating sites,
      so the started sending men pictures of vaginas as soon as they contacted
      her. She did it thirty-some times. And EVERY MAN RESPONDED POSITIVELY.
      Like, “OK, wow, what are you doing this weekend?” positively.

      That story was linked from another story in which a woman sent many pictures
      of penises to a man who had sent her a penis pic. He didn’t like it at
      all. She asked him why he thought she would like it, and he told her in
      apparent seriousness, “You’re supposed to like it; you’re a woman.”

      I like to follow the golden rule: do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Men and women should absolutely be treated equally and with respect, and treating people how you would like to be treated is a great start. However, men and women have biological differences that need to be taken into account: the golden rule alone isn’t enough– sure, most men would love to be sent unsolicited nude pics. That doesn’t mean that women also want this.

      However, as a man that would never, ever even consider sending a dick pic to a woman (both because I’m aware they don’t like them and because I have no real desire to share pictures of my genitalia with anyone), these two paragraphs are somewhat enlightening to me: a man who sends dick pics may actually not be a horrifying sex offender. He may just be ignorant, and genuinely doing something he thought women would like, because he would like the reverse.

      This is another reason why it is so important that we, as a society, educate boys about what is and isn’t acceptable when they are looking for a romantic partner. Growing up to be a man and believing that women like unsolicited *anything* of a sexual nature is not acceptable.

      • masterofbones

        >This is another reason why it is so important that we, as a society,
        educate boys about what is and isn’t acceptable when they are looking
        for a romantic partner. Growing up to be a man and believing that women
        like unsolicited *anything* of a sexual nature is not acceptable.

        Men and women like different things, so clearly we need to fix men. Sounds legit.

      • Aroel

        Actually, some women *do* like dick pics, but just don’t want them unsolicited from strangers they don’t know, because that’s a form of sexual contact and when unwanted and unasked for it feels violating and creepy. Still other women don’t like dick picks at all, whether because they are lesbian, asexual, or don’t like explicit sexual material for whatever reason (I’m in this category, personally). Other women *do* like dick pics and have such loose boundaries they don’t even mind if they’re sent to them by dozens of strangers. However, you can’t just assume that someone would like that sort of thing, because they might be in the previous mentioned categories. Women don’t all think the same.

        Meanwhile, many men would hate to be sent unsolicited female nudes, whether because they are gay, asexual, don’t like explicit sexual material for whatever reason, or because it’s a form of sexual contact that when unwanted feels violating and creepy. Men don’t all think the same.

        We live in a culture that tells men they should want (straight) sex all the time, but plenty of men (if not most?) don’t fit this description. Men in our culture are a lot less likely to receive unwanted sexual contact than women, and when they do they’re told men are supposed to like it, so they might be more naive to the idea that unwanted sexual contact is a violation and a problem. That doesn’t mean all men or even most men are up for it. (And many men who might naively think they’d like it might actually not if they really were sexually harassed by dozens of strangers.) Just as it’s an incorrect assumption that just any women would love dick pics, it’s also an incorrect assumption that just any man would love unsolicited nudes.

        As for the biological differences in sex drives you mentioned, if they’re even there and not just a myth based on how our culture socializes men and women differently, there’s enough of an overlap of the bell curves of both genders that you can’t really make assumptions based on gender. I’m a sort of asexual woman, and sometimes my (female) friends are horny and talking about sex among themselves and making me feel uncomfortable and left out, even though we’re all girls! Meanwhile, I feel a need to stick up for my asexual brothers and point out that many asexual men are out there, as well as men with low sex drives.

        This is not to say we don’t need to educate men (and women) that unsolicited *anything* of a sexual nature is not acceptable. We certainly do! And currently our culture teaches men that they should always want sex and don’t have to think about how their partner feels about it, so we need to have a lot of education aimed at boys and men (though I’ve seen some women adopt this narrative too). However, we don’t have to do this because of biological differences, plenty of women have high sex drives, plenty of men have low ones. And unsolicited *anything* of a sexual nature is not okay for any reason, not even if the receiver happens to have a high sex drive, end of story.

        Just your friendly neighborhood PSA not to essentialize. 🙂

        • The Improbable Man

          My apologies, I did not intend to suggest that all women didn’t like dick pics (however, the word “unsolicited” is very important, here). The central point to my post was that just because you like something, doesn’t mean someone else does, and that you can apply that to unsolicited pictures of genitalia, and teaching people this is important. I singled out “boys” because the topic of women receiving unsolicited dick pics came up, men are the overwhelming source of the problem, I had no idea that some of these men were doing it not because they are sexual predators, but simply because they thought any woman would like it, and it’s best to teach this kind of stuff right when their hormones start kicking in (hence “boy” instead of “man”).

          I want you to know that nearly everything you said was on my mind when I wrote that. I even wrote a paragraph wondering how things might differ for gay and lesbian people, but deleted it for the sake of brevity, as I was specifically responding to a story about hetero men and women. I appreciate you expanding upon it so that I don’t have to. 🙂

  • Ben Posin

    Reading the quote, I think it’s less about what she just did and more about the method she’s embraced. She’s found her solution, courtesy of Prof. Gurwara: we are going to help each other, because Alison is going to make us. Possibly a many punch solution instead of a one punch solution, but it’s a way forward. Alison for Tyrant.

    • HanoverFist

      “Alison for Tyrant”

      Instead of a dark lord you shall have a queen! Not dark, but beautiful and terrible as the dawn! Treacherous as the sea! Stronger than the mountains! All shall love her and despair!

  • Eric the .5b

    Not an Objectivist myself, but it goes back to the next-to-last panel here: http://sfp.nsch.co/issue-6/page-86-2/

    Some people see remarks like Alison’s as a perfect comeback to arguments for personal freedom. Others see Alison’s stance as WHY they argue for personal freedom.

  • Paul Andrew Scottsmith

    The ends don’t always justify the means. Especially when the means force you, bit by bit, to surrender your sense of ethics and morals. A “slippery slope” doesn’t get its name because for being easy to climb back up, and Alison is in a very unique position where no one can check her intent against her actions if she doesn’t want them to. She’s potentially (probably? definitely?) the only one on Earth who can stop herself.

    So the question is: how far is Alison willing to travel down that slope in order to achieve what she sees as a world that doesn’t need to be saved anymore?

    • Stephanie

      I don’t think we should judge Alison for slippery-slope reasons unless she actually goes down the slippery slope.

    • Izo

      I just hope people don’t start accepting what she did. Then the world’s not even worth saving anymore.

      • Sarah

        “People don’t agree with my arbitrary moral rules, therefore they are worthless”

        • Izo

          “People should be able to kill and threaten others without penalty, and we should all be okay with that, and that makes the world a better place?”

          As long as we’re putting insane definitions in other people’s mouths, I can do the same for you.

          By the way, why is it not okay when I did so -accidentally- to another person (at which point I apologized to Stephanie), but it’s apparently fine for others, like you, to speak for me intentionally? I’m intrigued.

          • Sarah

            “I just hope people don’t start accepting what she did. Then the world’s not even worth saving anymore.”.
            Some people on the thread are accepting what she did. Some others (most) are reserving judgement until we know what is exactly at stake. So if we end up accepting her actions as morally justifiable, which is clearly against your personal ethical stands, the world we are part of is longer worth saving? Maybe I misunderstood your statement but it looks like that’s what you said.

          • Izo

            “Some people on the thread are accepting what she did. Some others (most) are reserving judgement until we know what is exactly at stake”

            I’ll expand upon my post. I hope a MAJORITY of people don’t start accepting what she did. Then the worlds not even worth saving anymore.

            “So if we end up accepting her actions as morally justifiable, which is clearly against your personal ethical stands, the world we are part of is longer worth saving?”

            Not issuing death threats and not torturing people is not just my ‘personal ethics.’ It’s the standard for a stable civilization that encourages freedom and liberty and equality. If you think it’s not, then maybe you don’t belong in a nation which encourages the values of freedom, liberty, and equality.

            “Maybe I misunderstood your statement but it looks like that’s what you said.”

            Well you were wrong. I’ll be waiting for an apology. I doubt I’ll get one.

  • Stephanie

    I don’t think she really is compromising her values–at least not her truest, most deeply held values. Her axiom is that people should work together for the greater good, and she enacted that axiom at the expense of a (in her view) lesser principle.

  • Grimjac

    Archive diver, and this is a perfect place and comic to put my overall impression out there. Firstly…awesome comic that does a great job `realistically’ portraying superheroes in modern society.
    That said, the underlying themes of responsibility and authority are very well done. Unlike many, I’ve never found Alison to be particularly sympathetic…she’s essentially the most powerful and least effective whiney baby ever. She’s an egotistical, arrogant hypocrite and has been since the beginning, and this arc is finally shining a spotlight on it.
    The first major `plot’ involved her at a 99% protest rally, where a `friend’ of hers assaults another on the other side of the line. Alison sees nothing wrong with that violent instigation beyond “Don’t hide behind my powers!” If it’s okay for her friend to assault someone, would Alison stand by while a cop or bystander assaulted her friend? I think not…thus revealing her hypocrisy.
    Max is a good example of this, and I suspect the authors brought him in for just this reason. Where does Alison stand on free will? The argument about the illegal landscapers, as well as her axiology class, bring this to the forefront. Alison wants everyone else to do what she thinks is `right’, without considering the possibility those that disagree *also* think they are right. Why is Alison more `right’ than Max?
    In any discussion of `humankind’, you have to differentiate between what’s best for the race, and for the individual. Alison is apparently focused on what’s `best’ for the race as a whole, and ignores the individuals that make up that race.
    People, meanwhile, are concerned with Self first, then the race…because without all the other Selfs out there, there *is* no race. I am more concerned with my Self (which includes those in my immediate circle…family, friends, etc) than I am a group of Lithuanian transgender militant Christians. They, likewise, are more concerned with *their* Self than my trials and tribulations.
    Alison thinks there has to be One Great Truth, completely discounting the opinions, beliefs, and knowledge of every other person on the planet that doesn’t agree with her.
    Another superhero comic I’m fond of…Grrlpower…sums it up quite nicely in a `telecast’ where a (possibly superpowered…Lex Luthor as opposed to Superman) businessman states that greed is the governing impulse to humanity. Everyone *wants* something…food, shelter, security, money, more Twinkies, affordable healthcare, whatever. They’ll do what they can to get it…for some, that means working a crap job for crap wages, for others it means whining until someone else *gives* them what they want.
    Alison’s axiology class, where she stated emphatically, “This isn’t fair!” is a concise summation of her character. Life is *not* fair. It never will be, never can be. Life is chaos, her orderly vision of the world inconveniently impacted by the wishes, desires, and actions of 7 billion other individuals just as certain of their inherent `rightness’ as she is.
    Why is someone’s `trigger’ more important than clear communication between dozens or hundreds or more of other individuals? Because it’s `fair’ to the triggered person? Is it `fair’ to those other people now unable to freely communicate? Why is this one person’s convenience or well-being more important than any other person’s? Alison is ready to harm a hundred people that don’t agree with her, for the sake of the one person who does.
    Alison perfectly exemplifies what the wise sages Pete Townsend and Roger Daltry meant when they warned, “Meet the new boss…same as the old boss…”
    Human history is a tapestry of people doing stupid things and wanting stupid things, and human society has been in a never-ending struggle to provide a framework limiting the repercussions of stupidity on the race as a whole. Take homosexuality, for example…whether you’re for it or against it or just don’t care…it’s an evolutionary dead-end. Biologically, the race depends on heterosexuality…for now, until mechano-wombs become universally available. Any individual realizes this, so the society developed by those individuals think, “Hm. Okay, so…kill the homosexuals!” or imprison them or make them social outcasts, whatever. Compared to the survival of the race as a whole, the damage to one small segment of the population is a good trade-off. A lot of people in that society don’t care because they aren’t homosexual and it doesn’t affect them. Some people realize that homosexuals are people, too, and should be able to live and love how they want. Some people believe homosexuals contribute nothing to the gene pool of humanity, so who cares?
    Now, out of those three segments of people, how do you…or anyone…determine which is `right’? In the cosmic, non-individual sense of the term. Alison can’t , because if she holds *one* person’s view…hers…as cosmically `right’, she has to impose that view on every person that doesn’t agree. Which is what she so adamantly opposes in others.
    I’d advise her to listen to Dr Denis Leary: “Life sucks. Get a friggen helmet!”…and season it with my correlation: help where you can, hurt where you have to.
    In closing…I love this comic.

    • Stephanie

      I’m pretty bothered both by your dismissive complaints about “triggered people,” and that whole paragraph about how gay people “damage” society.

      I don’t even understand what the “triggered” thing has to do with the comic. I…I’m sorry that you don’t enjoy being considerate of people with PTSD? What does that have to do with Alison?

      • Izo

        I’m not sure where he said ‘gay people damage society’ as his/her own belief. I think he/she was using ‘gay people’ as an example of what some people might think and how their view of homosexuals doesn’t take precedence over a homosexual person’s right to exist and be gay.

        • Stephanie

          First, in order for the argument “hurting gay people is acceptable for the sake of everyone else” to even remotely make sense, they have to already be operating under the assumption that gay people’s existence/freedom is inherently harmful to everyone else. It only works as an example of “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few” if you first accept that the “needs of the many” actually include harming gay people.

          People who have no issues with LGBT folks don’t use those “evolutionary dead-end” talking points as if they had any validity whatsoever. It’s a weird and unnecessary example to use.

          (Also, less important, but “homosexual” is not the polite term. LGBT, gay, whatever, but not “homosexual.”)

  • Stephanie

    There’s precedent for my prediction. Even saving that girl from date rape had direct negative consequences for Alison, and I think basically everyone agrees she was doing a good thing there. This is a way bigger deal, especially with the new revelation that (Alison believes) it will change the world in a significant way, and it’s also more ethically ambiguous. So I would be incredibly surprised if everything went smoothly. Conflict drives stories, after all.

    • Izo

      GIven that I would have probably done a similar thing as Alison in the date rape scenario, just not as scarily with the throat dangling him from off the ground thing, and I would NEVER do anything even remotely like Alison in THIS scenario, I sure as heck would hope that your prediction is correct.

      And total agreement about conflict driving stories.

  • Loranna

    Right. Both the rabbit and the hawk care only about keeping their own stomachs filled and not getting killed – or dying of hunger – in the process.

    (May have something of a soft spot for predators, these days, while still feeling for prey.)

    Loranna

  • Kalirren

    I think that’s what Patrick included the $25M check for: to give Ali a carrot to dangle in front of Max’s Randian face. Ali unwisely ripped it up and left herself with the tyrant’s way out.

    • Stephanie

      The check was made out to the Valkyrie Project, though, not to Alison herself. She would have had to embezzle it to do that.

      • Loranna

        Perhaps Patrick thought that Alison could have Max help the other members of Valkyrie? In which case, Alison would in effect be hiring Max on as part of Valkyrie’s staff, which would then be a valid use of the money.

        If that’s the case, though, Patrick would be relying on Alison demonstrating a level of negotiation savvy that’s she’s not exactly known for . . .

        Loranna

        • Kalirren

          Yeah, this. Ali could have tried to pay Max to be part of Valkyrie, no embezzlement required. “You wanted to be a superhero? Now you officially can! You’re getting paid to be the party cleric! You’re part of this team!”

          Not telling her what the check was really for seems like a very Patrick-like mistake to make. “Why would I need to tell you what the check was -for-? Can’t you…oh right, you -can’t- actually read minds.” Remember, he’s in love with Alison. He might instinctively and wrongly attribute to her alone all the things that they could do together.

          If this theory is correct, then the ultimate irony here is that Ali is so obsessed with helping others that she didn’t allow herself to be helped, making things a lot worse ’cause of it.

  • SJ

    I’ve never seen one, but I have seen a drive through liquor store in Texas.

    Why get drunk, if you ain’t gonna drive?

  • Ryan Gauvreau

    Maybe he wanted Alison to take that step, to better convince her to see things his way rather than have to defend his actions.

    • bta

      I think this is right, this whole situation echoes their conversation about Moonshadow: “Who cares about these murders? Can’t you see there are bigger things to worry about? Individual lives are nothing but resources to be used to save the world, so screw these insects and let’s get started with conquering the world.”

  • SJ

    And yet two years later, here you still are.

    Wow, so we’re not supposed to be critical or negative about something that we like, and maybe used to love? We’re not supposed to say anything, unless it’s to co-sign whatever’s going on? And, if we become dissatisfied, the only option is to slink away quietly?

    What paragraph is that located at in the Terms of Service? Oh, wait…

  • shink55

    And this is why it’s so brilliant. These are people trying to solve intransigent problems that have been with humanity as long as humanity has been. This is true science fiction that speaks to the human condition, and a lot of the human condition is pain and suffering. As eternally intransigent problems they by definition don’t get solved, and so we have these super powered characters banging their heads against these problems because they think their powers give them a chance where everyone else has failed. They are discovering why everyone else has failed, and those lessons lead to a lot of misery.

  • Stephanie

    Did Alison really have valid excuses for threatening to murder a crowd of protesters who no longer posed a threat to anyone? I don’t think “being really upset” counts. Certainly not for as much as “intending to save many lives.” If you’re as powerful as Alison is, I think you have a moral responsibility not to succumb to your emotions and endanger people for no good reason.

    I’m also really, really not getting the “unabashed” vibe from Alison here. Far from it.

    • Izo

      She didn’t, but she also seemed like she was in a state of emotional shock at that point. Remember what she had just seen happen seconds before, which happened right after being lambasted by Feral’s friend that Feral was doing this because Alison was ‘too good an influence on her.’ Which happened right after finding out the particulars of what was going to happen to Feral for the rest of her very, very, very long life. There was ALL sorts of emotional turmoil going on in Alison’s head at that point and she was incredibly distraught – then she kills a murderer who had just torched at least three innocent people, and the crowd is getting angry at HER?! Not to mention the murderer probably was known by at least some of the people in the crowd?

      No, she was wrong to threaten the lives of people in the crowd, but at least then, the idea of temporary insanity fit. Here it doesn’t. Here, she wanted something, she was not distraught, she was not in any type of emotional shock. She just wanted something, Max wouldn’t give it to her, so she took it by force and death threats.

      Also, the unabashed vibe I get from Alison comes where she says she would do it again if she wanted to, and the sole reason she is able to be the arbiter of good and bad is because she’s stronger. She literally is excusing for her actions and saying people should listen to what she says simply because she can lift a car over her head.

      Which, if you recall, was the reason she had the nervous breakdown on tv in the first place. Because she realized that people SHOULDNT listen to her just because she can lift a car over her head.

      • SJ

        tl;dr: premeditation makes it worse.

  • Stephanie

    It’s also possible that Patrick wasn’t interested in making Max do this particular thing. He may have had different motives for revealing Max’s power to Alison.

    Hmm, sudden thought, maybe he thinks the creation of a new super capable of fixing the world will draw out that super-capable-of-fixing-the-world-murdering conspiracy. Of course that just brings us back to your original question.

    • Elaine Lee

      Or maybe he’s actually worried about the amount of mental space Alison is giving to fretting about this problem. He must check in on her mental state from time to time, so it could be as simple as that.

    • Izo

      It might just be that Patrick wants Alison to be a terrorist in mindset like he is.

      • Ian Osmond

        That’s what I was thinking — Patrick might want her to be morally compromised in order to get her to be on board.

        • Izo

          Definitely falls in line with what we know about Patrick. He plays the long game.

    • Charles Moore

      I thought about that too, but the super conspiracy guy’s M.O. is to kill biodynamics before they become powerful.

      “Someone knew about us before we knew about ourselves. Maybe they were expecting us. maybe they even created us. Whatever the case, they were powerful enough to find us and start weeding us out.”

      — Patrick http://sfp.nsch.co/issue-1/page-18/

      They were up to no good before anyone knew about supers. Which may mean they already know about Max and don’t consider him a threat…….or that they don’t kill Max because he’s their son.

      • Arkone Axon

        Oh dear lord you’re RIGHT. It could be that Patrick specifically wanted Alison to do this horrible and vile thing specifically to draw them out! They’ll try to take her out (with difficulty, since she’s nigh invulnerable and will need some SERIOUSLY potent “kryptonite” to do it), and that will draw them out into the open!

  • Stephanie

    I still don’t understand why “she was really upset at the moment” should be considered a better justification than “a crapload of people will die if she doesn’t do the thing.” I see the first as a dangerous failure to regulate her emotions while surrounded by squishy normals, which is a thing someone as powerful as she is needs to reliably do.

    And she has implied that Professor Cohen’s husband was not the only person she killed accidentally/negligently during her superheroing career–“I’ve saved the world seven times and super-accuracy is not one of my powers,” or whatever the actual quote was. It doesn’t seem like the thing with Max is the first time she’s prioritized the many over the few.

    • Izo

      “I still don’t understand why “she was really upset at the moment” should be considered a better justification than “a crapload of people will die if she doesn’t do the thing.””

      Because a crapload of people WOULDN’T die if she didn’t do what she did to Max. The emotional distraught state at the hospital was something REAL. Something that actually happened. The ‘countless countless people’ dying was, at best, a potential.

      And to get more intense on the subject, she never said ‘if I don’t do this, countless countless people will die.’ She said ‘you could save countless countless lives.’ Not countless countless lives are at stake. Not countless people will die if I don’t do this.’ I could save countless, countless lives also if I became a doctor/oncologist instead of a patent/intellectual property attorney. It doesn’t mean people die as a direct result of my dropping out of medical school and going to law school.

      Artificially inflating the problem that Alison has about the world makes Alison’s dilemma seem more binary, when it’s not. Alison is not the arbiter of what is right and wrong, regardless of if she’s stronger. That’s her being a tyrant. And tyrants need to get toppled.

      “And she has implied that Professor Cohen’s husband was not the only person she killed accidentally/negligently during her superheroing career–“I’ve saved the world seven times and super-accuracy is not one of my powers,” or whatever the actual quote was.”

      Yes, that was the quote. Lets compare this to a real life analogue though.
      A police officer fires his gun at a criminal. An innocent civilian is shot instead, because when the police officer shot the gun, the criminal was not fleeing, and he did not have a clear shot at the criminal or there were civilians in the way.

      You don’t think the police officer will, or should, be brought up on charges then for reckless endangerment of human lives? Super accuracy might not be part of Alison’s powerset but she could try for NORMAL accuracy at least. Taking into account that with great power comes great responsibility, as Spider-Man repeats once per comic book (or so it seems sometimes).

      “It doesn’t seem like the thing with Max is the first time she’s prioritized the many over the few.”
      But she didn’t prioritize the many over the few here. She prioritized her ideas over the one. There is no ‘many’ here. And even if there was, her being stronger should not be the rationale.

      I mean, lets say Max found a way to put Alison’s sister, father, and friends all under a permanent assassin scope if Alison did not do exactly what he told her to do. And said “If you don’t do what I say, one of these people will die. Within a second after you saying no. If you threaten to hurt or kill me, two of these people will die instantly. If you actually hurt or kill me, all of these people will die within a second of my death, and the deaths will be horrific. They will die in pain and agony And they will be told, in their final, dying, gurgling gasps, that they died solely because you did not do something which was inherently good for the world. With any luck, they will die hating you.”

      Then Max orders Alison to deliver food to all the starving people in the world and medical supplies to UNICEF workers in third world countries.

      Does that suddenly make Max a good person in that scenario? No, he’s a monster then. Can he justifiably say “Countless lives are at stake if you don’t do what I say to do” – by your rationale, yes. By mine, no.

      Afterwards, Alison comes back to Max and Max says, “I’m keeping this death watch on all your famiy and loved ones, just in case I need you to do something else that I decide is necessary again. And Alison says, “What gives you the right to decide what’s right and wrong and make me do it?!” And Max responds with “Because I’m smarter than you.”

      From the interpretation that Alison has done something acceptable or good in a utilitarian sense (which I believe is your interpretation), Max is totally justified in this ‘Dark Batman gambit’ as well.

  • SJ

    Why even assume that Patrick wanted him to do it? The only thing that’s safe to assume is that Patrick gave Alison the file because it serves Patrick’s long game for Alison to have had the information. It doesn’t necessarily follow that what his plans for her and her plans for the file are in sync with each other.

  • Stephanie

    Don’t read on if you care about decades-old spoilers: He’s a guy in Atlas Shrugged who studied philosophy in college, but went on to become a legendary pirate who, I kid you not, steals international relief shipments and sells their cargo so he can return all the income tax that all the “producers” in the secret Objectivist utopia ever paid. At one point he delivers a lengthy speech to one of the characters about how the legend of Robin Hood is the root of all evil, then chucks a brick of solid gold at him as a “down payment” on his income tax reparations. It’s a weird book.

    • Lysiuj

      I really feel that not reading Atlas Shrugged is one of the better descisions in my life. This way I get to randomly discover a new batshit detail from it about once every year, and laugh my ass of all over again.

    • Izo

      The only Ayn Rand book I read was Anthem, which was a really good book. What you described does sound like an odd book though.

      • Stephanie

        Atlas Shrugged is generally considered Rand’s magnum opus. It’s basically a thousand pages of Objectivist philosophy presented via story where a corrupt government and their corporate cronies try to destroy the noble, ethical producers by strangling them with red tape, only to be defeated by the smuggest man in history. I’m not ashamed to say that I enjoyed it immensely for a mixture of ironic and non-ironic reasons.

  • SJ

    Not a threat. Just a statement of fact.

    Uh, sometimes statements of fact are threats, too. Like, on this very page.

  • TSED

    I interpreted her justification as her being too mentally exhausted to bother justifying herself to him. It wasn’t the real answer, it was the “shut up go away yes I’m terrible” answer.

    • Izo

      Then that’s almost worse. That’s her being too lazy to actually justify herself, and instead rely on strongarm tactics because she’s either too stupid or too lazy to do things the normal way. And since I don’t think Alison is stupid, this is troubling. She put her own convenience ahead of freedom for others. And followed up by being too lazy to justify herself afterwards because she knows that what she does is wrong – and she doesn’t care that what she did was wrong.

      I’ve mentioned this in another post but it’s sort of like an abusive husband hitting his wife because she didn’t make dinner when he got home. Then after hitting her, she makes dinner for him, and he says he’ll do it again in the future if he wants to, because he’s stronger than she is.

      I could even use this sort of quote “Aw now why did you have to make me hit you like that? You know I don’t like having to hit you!” – doesn’t make the abusive husband more understable at all or more sympathetic – it makes me want to put him in jail even more.

      • TSED

        I disagree. It’s a form of self-loathing. She has betrayed her principles, and a statement like that is a form of concession. “Yes, I am the villain here. I might be able to justify it to you, but I doubt I can really even justify it to myself. I have defeated myself – just go away.”

        If you’ve never been in a mental state like that, you have led a blessed and charmed life, and I am both very jealous and very hopeful you maintain it.

        • Izo

          That…. is another possible interpretation for it.:)

          And yeah, I can honestly say that I’ve never been in a situation where I considered myself the villain. I try to remain true to my ideals even if I can’t achieve my goal. I don’t consider a goal more important than my ideals behind the goal. You can’t build a house with a weak foundation or the house will not stay up. I’ll try to maintain that state. Thanks.

      • Sarah

        Only that in your scene, the dude should have arrived, humilliate himself in order to be allowed to talk to her, beg a thousand times for dinner, and when she refused, then threaten to beat her if she didn’t make it. Only that the dinner isn’t food for himself but the antidote for a poison that’s about to kill many people, and nobody else can prepare.
        What can I say, at least this is not another iteration of the rape analogy.

        • Izo

          “Only that in your scene, the dude should have arrived, humilliate himself in order to be allowed to talk to her, beg a thousand times for dinner, and when she refused, then threaten to beat her if she didn’t make it.”

          Alison was the one asking for a favor. The impetus is on HER to convince him, not on Max. Max is under no obligation to HAVE to help her, just like the wife is under no obligation to HAVE to make dinner for the husband. I’m alarmed that you don’t see that.

          “Only that the dinner isn’t food for himself but the antidote for a poison that’s about to kill many people, and nobody else can prepare.”

          If there’s only one doctor that has ever successfully performed a very difficult operation, he or she is still under no obligation to HAVE to do the operation. Either for free or for any price. And you wouldnt be justified to put a gun to his/her head and force the doctor to do the operation.

          And at least in this scenario, there’s a DEFINITE result.

          “What can I say, at least this is not another iteration of the rape analogy.”

          Snarky much? The rape analogy is about the MENTALITY. This analogy is about the ACTION. What is so difficult for some people to understand about what the word ‘analogy’ means?

          • Sarah

            Or maybe you could accept that people disagree your analogies are good because they don’t capture relevant aspects of the situation.

            People object the rape analogy because it brings a whole lot of really complex issues, and the point of an analogy is to make things simpler and clearer. Plus, there have been plenty of suggestions of better analogies about the MENTALITY that aren’t basically the Godwin’s Law of feminism.

  • moriati

    Not managed to read all the comments – but I’m inclined towards the theory that Max has either accelerated Feral’s power to make donating impossible, or to make it stand-alone – so if she donates a heart that heart then can self-replicate. Her planning influenced by the answers to the 2 questions she asked Dr. Rosenblum on p80.

  • SomeGuy411

    Hm. I actually went and reread the section that was making me think he
    was of the opinion that having power or influence made you superior, to support the argument, and
    it appears I misremembered it. It’s more “you can choose anything, if
    you’re worse off, you didn’t chose to improve”

  • KevlarNinja

    Huh. There many booze slash burger joints in the States? I’d say we don’t have something like that where I live…….but a few towns over there is a liquor store built into the local Home Hardware.

  • JustDucky

    Okay, I’m sick of your “rape analogy” nonsense.

    We are forced all the time , under threat of imprisonment (and the threat of physical violence that goes along with that) to do stuff we don’t want to because it serves the common good. Do you really believe everyone pays taxes out of their own civic mindedness?

    Rape serves no common good. Full stop.

    “He/She made me do something I didn’t want to!!1!” is not automatically analogous to rape. And it is obscenely easy to make the argument that “torture is bad” without a rape analogy. You should try it.

    • Izo

      “Okay, I’m sick of your “rape analogy” nonsense.”

      Nothing nonsensical about it. It’s the same exact mentality. If you want to be willfully ignorant about that, feel free. Have you ever been forced to do something against your core beliefs by someone who threatened to hurt or kill you if you did not comply?

      “We are forced all the time , under threat of imprisonment (and the threat of physical violence that goes along with that) to do stuff we don’t want to because it serves the common good.”

      Uh…
      1) No we are not forced to do things all the time. We are forced to NOT do things all the time. We’re forced to do things exceedingly rarely. There’s a difference.
      2) The government is one of the few things that can force us to do ANYTHING while using force legitimately. That’s actually why Libertarians want government to be as small as possible – because it’s the only thing that can LEGITIMATELY use deadly force to make people do or not do things. It’s why Libertarians tend to be against income tax, and the draft (which hasnt been used in decades because we’ve transitioned to a volunteer army specifically because of this belief), That’s again different than individuals forcing other individuals to do stuff.

      “Do you really believe everyone pays taxes out of their own civic mindedness?”

      Yes, we’re forced to pay taxes. By the government. Not by Vito down the street. If Vito down the street tells you to pay him taxes so that he can keep protecting the neighborhood, that’s not taxes – that’s extortion and a protection racket.

      “Rape serves no common good. Full stop.”

      Kidnapping someone and threatening to kill them and almost breaking their arm serves no common good. Full stop.

      “”He/She made me do something I didn’t want to!!1!” is not automatically analogous to rape.”

      Are you saying rape victims DID want someone to force them to have sex? Because otherwise yes, it’s analogous to rape.

      “And it is obscenely easy to make the argument that “torture is bad” without a rape analogy. You should try it.”

      The mentality for torture, rape, and what Alison is doing are all the same thing – just with different goals. Definition of analogous (comparable in certain respects, typically in a way that makes clearer the nature of the things compared) – looking it up in a dictionary would be helpful. You should try it.

  • Mitchell Lord

    I wonder if the whole point of this arc was to break Allison…I know I criticized this comic a little, but I’m VERY interested now.

    • Philip Petrunak

      I’m kind of hoping it was. Her whole life she’s been doing what society said she should be doing. She’s super strong? become a super hero. She’s a teenager becoming an adult? Go to college.

      She’s known her whole life that she could just walk up to the white house and take over her country. That she could kill every single corrupt banker and war profiteer. So why hasn’t she? Because her whole life she’s been immortal, and no one has challenged her on it. She’s afraid of stepping outside of who society and she thinks she is. Now she’s finally done it.

      Like the first time you say “there is no god” or kill a man in war, or admit you’re gay to a friend. It’s a line that when you cross it, you never forget, and have to figure out just who you really are now.

  • Stephanie

    I don’t understand the argument that, if the hand of God doesn’t reach down to smack Alison on the face for this, then what she did is canonically morally right. People in stories can do bad things and escape punishment for them. Stories reflect real life, and in real life people don’t always get punished.

    It’s up to us to decide whether a person or character’s actions are right; we shouldn’t need the universe to spoonfeed the answer to us by dealing out a karmic backhand. If you think Alison was wrong to coerce Max no matter what, then it shouldn’t make any difference whether she receives an external punishment for it.

    • SJ

      I don’t understand the argument that, if the hand of God doesn’t reach down to smack Alison on the face for this, then what she did is canonically morally right. People in stories can do bad things and escape punishment for them. Stories reflect real life, and in real life people don’t always get punished.

      There’s no narrative in real life. There’s no Creator weaving a story, with the express purpose of relating a specific message in real life.

      In documentaries (usually), and in news reports (usually), you just get the facts, and the viewer can decide on their own what value that information has. In works of fiction, the authors are presenting their case for what the events mean to them, and the only thing we can do as readers is decide for ourselves whether we are buying what they’re selling.

    • Izo

      “I don’t understand the argument that, if the hand of God doesn’t reach down to smack Alison on the face for this, then what she did is canonically morally right.”

      You sort of answered the question there. If the hand of God does not smack Alison in the face for this, it’s saying what she did is right. And just like I don’t want Max to commit suicide because it sends a message that suicide when victimized is the only option, I don’t want a message sent that if you’re strong, you should use your strength to force the weak to do what you want because you think it’s good. It send a bad message.

      “Stories reflect real life, and in real life people don’t always get punished.”

      This story has some differences from real life, unless people actually have superpowers, in which case they’ve been really good in keeping it out of the news..

      “It’s up to us to decide whether a person or character’s actions are right; we shouldn’t need the universe to spoonfeed the answer to us by dealing out a karmic backhand.”

      Since Brennan doesn’t actually read the comments according to Molly until later, and since I’m assuming that Brennan and Molly already have a thought-out storyline not dependent on our comments, this is passive entertainment, not interactive entertainment. Our comments do not affect the outcome, so it’s not up to us.

      “If you think Alison was wrong to coerce Max no matter what, then it shouldn’t make any difference whether she receives an external punishment for it.”

      It does, though. It sends a message. And that’s what stories are for. To send messages about what the authors believe, or at least what the authors are trying to express. I prefer positive messages, since I’m reading the comic.

      • Stephanie

        I think you misunderstood a lot of what I said there.

        “You sort of answered the question there. If the hand of God does not smack Alison in the face for this, it’s saying what she did is right.” I’m not sure how I “answered my own question” by describing the claim I’m arguing against.

        The fact that the story is not identical to real life doesn’t change the fact that “people doing bad things without being punished” happens in real life and is, therefore, a plausible thing to happen in a story. A story could also give all the character’s karma meters that get cashed in on a regular basis with punishments from on high, but it doesn’t have to. It could do a whole lot of unrealistic things that it doesn’t actually do.

        The fact that the audience doesn’t influence the comic doesn’t have anything at all do do with anything I said. As the readers, our job is to absorb and form opinions on the story. We can form our own opinions without the authors spoonfeeding their answers to ancient ethical dilemmas into our waiting mouths.

        There are ways for stories to “send a message” about various actions without going the sledgehammer route of turning the story into an Aesop fable where all sins are met with comeuppance. And also it’s okay for a story to leave an ethical dilemma its characters are grappling with as an open question for the audience.

        Finally, the kind of message you’ve been wishing for in your other comments isn’t what I would describe as a “positive” one. I don’t think “if you coerce someone ever then you’re bad, bad, bad and unworthy of redemption and you should just leave the Earth now” is a positive message. And I personally don’t feel any particular desire for characters to suffer for doing things I disagree with.

        • Izo

          “Finally, the kind of message you’ve been wishing for in your other comments isn’t what I would describe as a “positive” one. I don’t think “if you coerce someone ever then you’re bad, bad, bad and unworthy of redemption and you should just leave the Earth now” is a positive message. And I personally don’t feel any particular desire for characters to suffer for doing things I disagree with.”

          You do realize that I have this sort of penalty for Alison as preferable mainly because there’s no way to actually punish her without her letting herself be punished right? If there was a ray to get rid of powers, I’d say use that instead. If there was a prison which could contain her, I’d say to do that. There aren’t. At least so far as we know.

          • Stephanie

            I guess I just don’t think punishing people is that important.

  • Karmik

    I’m not sure here statement was meant as a threat or anything other than a statement of fact. Nothing can stop her from doing this again if she discovers it needs doing again. Also, as she stated before the fact that she has this information means that it exists somewhere already. Max is compromised already it’s just a matter of time. Heck, I wouldn’t be shocked if someone else came along and did this exact same thing to him independent of Alison and he blames her for it.

    Alison seems just exhausted and defeated here, there’s no grand plan or anything going on in her head. Shes giving Max the same truth Cleaver gave her some time ago, that the only reason the world continues to work the way it does is because she hasn’t chosen to change it, and this is what it looks like when she does.

  • Philip Bourque

    I’d just like to take a moment and talk about why I think amplification is the most dangerous and potentially lethal power out there. Let’s start with a simile: you have a 40 watt light bulb, it is designed to handle only 40 watts. You put 80 watts of current though it. What happens? The bulb glows brightly for a short period of time before it burns out or pops because it can’t handle the wattage. How can this be compared to supers? Assuming that Max’s power doesn’t make a super grow a new power to cope with their new super charged power, it could get very messy, very quickly. Take Patrick for example; his telepathy is always on, it has no off switch, though unless he focuses on a target, he’ll only get some background noise and surface thoughts. Amplified, the volume is turned up and he hears everything. It would be like a crowd shouting in his ear 24/7, crippling to say the least. What about Al? Her telekenetically derived strength means that she would break things by touching them and her ‘invulnerability’ would be blocking out everything; heat, light, air. Can you imagine, asphyxiating because your power is too strong? Feral? At the least no more organs will be taken from her because she’ll heal too quickly for them to be taken out. It might even get to the point where her body destroys the instruments trying to cut her.
    I’ll admit that if no one dies because of super charged super power, I’ll be slightly disappointed. What’s the saying? The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

  • Richard King

    Let’s be clear, here. When Al says that she’s stronger than Max, here, she’s not talking about physically.

    She’s talking about mental toughness.

    She is mentally tough enough to not shirk from doing what has to be done in order to ensure a better world.

    In this case, what needs to be done is to free a man – Max – from his crippling fear of being exposed as an altered human.

    Max’s opposition to using his powers is basically a fear of getting caught, a fear of being made into a target. He also hasn’t been very creative in thinking up ways to employ his powers, so he can’t imagine how he could possibly make enough of a difference to warrant any risk to himself.

    He’s become trapped in this prison of inaction by a bad calculation as to the risk-reward consequences of his particular situation, due primarily to not having enough information, and being indoctrinated by his parents into a risk-averse mindset.

    Worse still, he’s become so set in his thinking that even when prompted to consider another path, he refuses to even entertain such a thing. His response is not “Let me think about it,” it’s a flat refusal.

    Philosophers have suggested in the past that, if you have the power to perform an act that will result in a net increase in good for the world as a whole, then you have a moral responsibility to perform that act, without regard to the possible negative consequences for yourself or others.

    Mega-girl’s power is so great, it comes with a double dose of this responsibility. Not only can she use her power to directly improve the lives of others en masse (as she is trying to do with her victim’s assistance group), but she also has the power to force others to either use their powers for good or stop them from using their powers to harm.

    For most of her life, she has focused solely on stopping others from causing harm – and for that, society would call her a hero.

    She clearly has an idea of exactly how Max’s power can be best employed, and wants to show to him how much of a difference he could make, if he only tried. He refuses. This then puts the burden on her to decide whether or not she should use her own power to over ride Max’s personal decision.

    At this point, it becomes strictly a matter of moral calculus for Mega-Girl:

    Will the benefits of the actions she forces Max to take outweigh the temporary pain she will have to inflict upon the man in order to get him to do it?

    Will the benefits of his actions outweigh the emotional and societal consequences to herself? Will it outweigh the potential consequences to Max and his loved ones?

    What are the negative outcomes here?
    1) Short term, Max will definitely hate her.
    2) Max will temporarily experience pain that will last perhaps as long as a week or two.
    3) When this event is revealed to the world, Mega-Girl’s reputation will take a hit
    4) When the event is revealed to the world, she may face charges for assault and kidnapping (depending on whether Max wants to press charges or not).
    5) Whatever exhaustion comes with the actual use of Max’s power (seems like none)
    6) the expense of four hours of time.
    7) The risk of exposing the existence of Max’s abilities

    What are the positive outcomes?
    We don’t know yet.

    Because of this lack of information, we literally cannot make the same moral calculation that Al has.

    It is possible that someday, Max will look back on this night and think of it as the day that Mega-Girl put him on a path toward saving the entire world, making changes that no other superhero could have effected, even if it was not what he wished.

    It is possible that one day, he might even thank her for twisting his arm that night.

    People like to compare what Al did with the crime of rape, and that’s a mistake. With rape, there are only negative consequences for everyone involved, and the only positive consequence that can be derived is limited solely to the amount of pleasure experienced by the rapist, and thus, rape cannot be considered anything other than an evil act.

    There is a probability approaching zero of a victim ever thanking their rapist for what they did.

    In a world of heroes with diverse powers, the possibilities generated by Max’s powers are endless.

    We know of various powers existing in universe already – from teleportation to self-healing, from super-intelligence to telekinesis, going through the whole gamut from invisibility to pyrokinesis. Patrick mentions people who can ‘talk to’ viruses.

    The people with the innate ability to really change the world were killed as children in universe, supposedly – but what about those that are left?

    What if Max just permenantly amped up the staff of a biodynamic healer hospital?

    Would the good the ten or so dynamic healers be able to do in their lifetimes balance out a twisted arm?

    What kind of monster are you if your answer to that question is “No.”?

    • SJ

      Let’s be clear, here. When Al says that she’s stronger than Max, here, she’s not talking about physically.

      She’s talking about mental toughness.

      She is mentally tough enough to not shirk from doing what has to be done in order to ensure a better world.

      Like hell. It doesn’t take mental toughness to “not shirk from doing what has to be done,” when you know that you have no fear of actual consequences.

      • Richard King

        Oh, there will be consequences. Alison has effectively surrendered any shot at her personal happiness or the happiness of her family. When this comes out, she will end up being vilified as people start to fear and hate her more than they already do – she’s basically willing to become a villain in order to make the world a better place.

        It’s easy to be a hero and make the tough calls when people are supporting you – it’s a LOT harder to do the thing that creates the most good for others when it can end up hurting both you and your loved ones.

        • SJ

          We hope there will be consequences. I don’t believe that Alison has surrendered anything, and I doubt that her family will suffer, either.

          When it comes out? If it comes out, you mean: better than half the people commenting on this page still appear to be convinced that Max is too chicken to say something. Who else is going to tell?

    • Loranna

      “In this case, what needs to be done is to free a man – Max – from his crippling fear of being exposed as an altered human.”

      Uhh. Alison just JUSTIFIED Max’s fear of being exposed, by doing the very thing he’s been worried about all along. If “freeing” Max of his fear was indeed the thing that needed doing here, then Alison’s only made the situation worse.

      ==

      “Philosophers have suggested in the past that, if you have the power to
      perform an act that will result in a net increase in good for the world
      as a whole, then you have a moral responsibility to perform that act,
      without regard to the possible negative consequences for yourself or
      others.”

      That’s not the greatest suggestion I’ve ever heard. It presupposes that you have the ability to perfectly judge the potential consequences of your actions, which is NOT a presumption I would be willing to make of anyone.

      You see a bomb about to go off, and you’re the only person who can defuse it, or carry it someplace away from others, before it goes off? You see someone flailing in a river, calling for help? Yes, I can understand telling someone not to worry about the possible negative consequences to yourself in those sorts of situations. That’s one of the basic ideas of super-hero fiction.

      Alison’s situation? I don’t need to know everything she does to check her moral calculation. Whatever her plan was, it only became doable when she learned of Max’s abilities. Alison was already tired and mentally exhausted when she learned of Max’s abilities. She was not in a good position to make any sort of moral calculation, let alone one which resulted in her strong-arming someone with physical violence, threats of murder, and a promise to do it all again if she ever feels so inclined.

      I fail to see any mental toughness here. Alison gave up. She outright said she gave up. She couldn’t persuade Max, so she gave in to the desire to force the issue; that doesn’t speak of mental toughness to me.

      Loranna

      • Richard King

        She has chosen to willingly be the bad guy – play the villain, if you will – if it genuinely results in a better world.

        She’s risking her standing in society, her position as a role model, her position of privilege – this has a lot of ways to back fire.

        Eventually it will come out that she did this, and then she’ll have to pay the associated price – which will likely be any shot she has at a peaceful and happy life.

        • Loranna

          There’s also another price. She could be wrong about this act resulting in the better world she hopes for, meaning everything else she sacrificed was for nothing.

          What then? Does Alison decide, like Moonshadow did, that she’s okay with making “a few mistakes” if it results in a better world overall? What’s keeping Alison then from continuing to make mistakes, from continually undermining the very overall good she’s aiming to achieve?

          I can understand seeing mental toughness in not letting one’s failures deter you from trying to do better next time, but is such toughness a GOOD thing, given the scope of Alison’s goals and potential to act? And when does such mental toughness cross over into pure, unreasoning refusal to see that the approach is completely wrongheaded from the start?

          Loranna

    • Izo

      “Let’s be clear, here. When Al says that she’s stronger than Max, here, she’s not talking about physically.”

      No, she’s talking physical strength. Not mental toughness. She showed a complete LACK of mental toughness, in fact, while Max showed a great deal of it in saying no in the first place, to a virtual god. Alison, on the other hand, showed a complete lack of mental toughness. He said no a few times, she gave up on her ideals and resorted to physical violence instead of leaving to come up with a BETTER way to try to convince him. Because convincing him was just too hard to do for her limited mental ability while staying true to her ideals.

      “In this case, what needs to be done is to free a man – Max – from his crippling fear of being exposed as an altered human.”

      That is such a load of newspeak. ‘Force a man to do something they don’t want to do’ = ‘free a man from his crippling fear.’

      I won’t use the rape analogy stuff again for this (I so totally could, but it’s getting tiresome at this point), so I’ll instead say that when you mug someone, you aren’t stealing from them, you’re freeing them of the crippling burden of their possessions!

      “Philosophers have suggested in the past that, if you have the power to perform an act that will result in a net increase in good for the world as a whole, then you have a moral responsibility to perform that act, without regard to the possible negative consequences for yourself or others.”

      Utilitarians believe that. Utilitarianism is MASSIVELY problematic and simplistic. Far more philosophers have talked about the huge problems with and dangers of a utilitarian philosophy.

      “People like to compare what Al did with the crime of rape, and that’s a mistake. With rape, there are only negative consequences for everyone involved, and the only positive consequence that can be derived is limited solely to the amount of pleasure experienced by the rapist, and thus, rape cannot be considered anything other than an evil act.”

      I’m going to repeat it again once, because apparently people don’t bother to read the ‘rape analogy’ – they are comparing the MENTALITY of Alison to the MENTALITY of a rapist. Not the actual goal = sex vs whatever Alison is wanting to accomplish. And since rape is about the power to make someone else to something, not about the sex itself, this is an accurate analogy to make.

      “There is a probability approaching zero of a victim ever thanking their rapist for what they did.”

      https://medium.com/the-nib/trigger-warning-breakfast-c6cdeec070e6#.1i9i6bn1w

      “What if Max just permenantly amped up the staff of a biodynamic healer hospital?”

      What if someone took Alison’s daughter hostage and told her if she doesn’t fight a war in place of 1000 soldiers, thus saving those soldiers’ lives, the daughter will be killed? Does your stance mean someone SHOULD do that?

      “Would the good the ten or so dynamic healers be able to do in their lifetimes balance out a twisted arm?”

      1) Where are you getting these ten dynamic healers out of nowhere?
      2) Way to minimize what Alison did. Hope you never have anything that someone else wants you to do, since you’re saying they’re justified to force you, and also keep you permanently terrorized by the fear that they can, and will, do it again the next time they want to.

      “What kind of monster are you if your answer to that question is “No.”?”

      What kind of monster are you if your answer is that another person is less of a person, with less rights to individual freedom than you are?

      The answer would be ‘a fascist.’ You’d literally be arguing for fascism.

  • Lostman

    Some of the best things in life are bad for you.

  • Zorae42

    You know, all I can think of when reading this arc is a quote from an episode of Rick and Morty, “Leave it alone. What did it do? Kill a guy and paralyze his friend. Not a bad trade for spider peace”.

    And I know that show is a comedy and that the circumstances were totally different. But I can’t help thinking, “kidnapping an asshole and hurting him a tiny bit? Not a bad trade for saving countless lives”.

  • Izo

    “Do what I say or I will punch you.”

    If one hadn’t been reading this comic, wouldn’t that sound like the same thing an abusive husband would say to his abused wife?

  • Walter

    I can buy that.

    <<<>>>

    Mrs. Max: … my own son?
    Patriarch: This must be hard on you.
    Mrs. Max: I swear, I’ll raise him right. He will never disrupt the world like these other…people.
    Patriarch: Fine, we trust you.

    <<<>>>

    Mrs. Max (On phone): I understand, I’ll take care of it.

  • Elaine Lee

    The rape analogy does not hold up in this case. It’s more the health insurance analogy: “Your money or your life!” In that case, buying 15 minutes worth of health insurance is not a huge burden. Alison will always be a better person than Max, because she carefully weighs everything she does, whereas Max is simply selfish in the name of freedom. Sometimes Alison decides that the guilt and shame she will inevitably feel over compromising one of her beliefs is worth the goal she’s trying to accomplish. This is something all human beings do. Example: I believe that it’s bad to lie, but if I don’t lie, someone else will be horribly injured. In this case, you tell the lie.

  • Izo

    Except I’d have a hard time seeing him as the villain of this story.

    • UnsettlingIdeologies

      Can you tell me more about why Max wouldn’t be a villain? If I understand correctly, the stance you’ve been taking about Alison is that what she has done is completely unjustifiable **regardless of the reasons behind it**. I don’t understand how that same metric wouldn’t apply to Max if he were to do villainous things.

  • 3-I

    Boy, all it takes is attacking one selfish libertarian for you to abandon all hope, huh?

    • Izo

      It doesn’t matter WHAT Max is – he could be a liberal Black Lives Matter activist, a Republican who regularly gives 30 percent of his or her income to charity, an anarchist poor musician, or whatever, and I’d have the same attitude about what Alison did, becuase it’s her mentality and what she did in furtherance of her mentality, and the VICITIMIZATION of an innocent person (selfish or not) that ticks me off and makes me lose hope for the character being redeemable, not the identity of the victim. By saying ‘attacking one selfish libertarian,’ you’re essentially victim blaming.

  • 3-I

    Please do not compare things to rape that are not rape.

  • Izo

    Oh I’m in total agreement that Molly and Brennan’s story structure is phenomenal. I’ve had to read some of the archive over and over, more than once, and then say ‘AH HA! THIS IS WHERE THIS MORAL DILEMMA IS CALLING BACK TO! IT MADE NO SENSE AT THE TIME AND NOW IT DOES!’

    They’re clearly taking a really long-view of the story. It’s quite amazing, really. I’ve only seen a few other comics do something like that – Goblins, OOTS, Grrlpower, Freefall, and SFP seem to be the best at it.

    Although probably the epitome of it was 1/0 by Tailsteak.

  • Izo

    Upvote for mentioning Saul Goodman.

  • Arkone Axon

    Did you seriously just blame the victim?

    • Izo

      I’m honestly not sure if Bryan is being sarcastic or if he’s actually victim-blaming, so I didn’t make a response to his post. Text is difficult sometimes.

    • bryan rasmussen

      no I sarcastically blamed the victim who, let’s be clear, is a big jackass and also not really existing so not likely to be badly hurt by all this so I mean I don’t actually care for Max at all, and if his fictional life were to end with his fictional death I would not mourn him – at best I might say: interesting path for the story to take!

      • Arkone Axon

        So in other words: because you don’t like the victim, that makes it totally okay. And then you add “it’s just fiction so it doesn’t matter,” which is a debate copout.

        Guess what? This completely fictitious character that doesn’t exist so you don’t care about has equally fictitious parents who are clearly very protective of him. And completely fictitious friends and loved ones. And all of them will agree that the completely fictitious protagonist was completely unjustified, and would point out that you’re taking the wrong message home from their fictional morality tale. It’s not “it’s okay to do bad things if people don’t like your victim.” This is NOT a webcomic justifying pogroms, race riots, corrective rapes, jim crow, and other hate crimes. Even if the victim is someone you don’t like.

  • Izo

    The difference is that Feral made a choice to do what shes doing. Max did not. Alison took Max’s choice away. Compassion at someone taking away others’ choice and freedom isnt a very good thing. Its like having compassion for the rapist about what he did to his rape victim or the plantation owner over what they did to their slaves or the warlord and what he does to his subjects. I hope Feral’s compassion is more for the victim (Max) than for the victimizer (Alison).

    • Loranna

      I’m not suggesting having compassion for the act, but rather, compassion for the actor, who felt they needed to, or deserved to, commit such an act.

      Alison, as you’ve argued several times before, has always struggled with the temptations her power brings. She’s been trying, very hard, to find a better solution to forcing people to do things her way. She’s been going about it in a wrong-headed manner, I feel,always looking for a One Big Solution To Everything, unwilling to accept smaller, less perfect solutions for individual problems, but she has been looking. And life has been beating her over the head again and again, because she Just Doesn’t Get It.

      She’s tired, she’s despondent, she’s unable to wrap her head around the reality of her aspirations. She’s not going to get any better unless someone calls her out on what she’s done . . . with the intent of helping her get her act together. She needs someone to reach out to her – someone who can, even after what she did, still feel compassion for her.

      Loranna

      • Izo

        I don’t think it helps to dissuade her to feel compassion for her right now. I think she’s too intertwined into her act, and she will see any compassion towards her as an acceptance of her act.

        She’s sort of like the celebrity who keeps doing bad things because no one that she respects is ever willing to tell her no. The last time she did something that negatively reflected upon her, like the date rape thing, the only people who came down on her with scorn are people whom she frankly didn’t care about anyway. People who are the predetermined ‘jerks’ and antagonists of the comic – people like Furnace. The people who’s opinions she DID respect supported her actions. It sort of helps that in that case, she was in the but just had bad P.R. about it. After the hospital event, no one said anything to her about it. No one friend of hers who she respected told her ‘what the hell were you doing?’ except Feral, and that was right DURING the event. And they let her off scot free because they can’t stop her anyway, as Moonshadow pointed out. Again, I put the hospital situation on a caveat since I think she was in an emotional state of shock at the time and could have come under ‘temporary insanity’ from a legal definition. But the fact is no one that she respects EVER chews her out without that person being far worse than her, so that any chewing out would be hypocritical, or without that person being the registered jerk of the comic. The doctor even seems to encourage this sort of behavior. Paladin probably would chew her out if she knew the truth about her and Patrick, so I’m a LITTLE hopeful there. Feral’s probably the best bet but if she’s okay with it or doesnt despise what Alison has done and let her know it in NO uncertain terms, I’d be feeling really let down from the message being sent, which is ‘Bully those weaker than you if you want something they have – the only people who will say anything bad to you are jerks anyway and don’t matter.’

        Alison has a LOT of people who have compassion for her as it is, despite her actions. But there needs to be some sort of limit beyond which they say ‘No, you went too far Alison, and I can’t be your friend/support what you did/be around you when you’re acting like a monster. Go away until you figure out what you did was wrong and promise to NEVER do it again and make some sort of reparations to your VICTIM, since you know damned well that no one can stop you and you’re being a cretinous bully, just like all those people you used to fight against.”

        • Loranna

          So, say, Alison’s mother (to use a hypothetical) should tell Alison something like “You’re my daughter and I will always love you – but right now? I don’t know who you are anymore, and I don’t want you near my husband, or my other daughter. Or me. I thought we taught you better than this, dear. I’m sorry, we must have failed you somewhere”?

          Or Feral say something to the effect of “Al, you’re the best person I ever knew – but, I can’t see what i saw in you, anymore,” and then (assuming Feral was the one max empowered) reject the power boost?

          Honestly, I think her friends and loved ones should give Alison a wake up call – but I fear that turning Alison away could have the opposite effect than what’s intended. Alison may not be able to tell the difference between condemnation of her actions and condemnation of her, personally, and could take such a reaction as rejection – thus further confirming the idea that she needs to Do It All Alone.

          Not that fear of Alison Missing The Point should deter her friends and loved ones from making said point, mind you. Just, I think it’d be a good idea to weigh Alison’s emotional state, and make it clear that she needs to, but still can, make this right, if she’d just stop trying to solve everything with one punch. 🙁

          And, if she can’t do that, well . . .

          Loranna

  • Weatherheight

    I’m pretty sure that was intentional.
    And wouldn’t that make a depressing plot twist.
    Good eye.

  • 12th

    Not my first comment, but my first substantial one. Most of my comment centers around this question:

    I’m frustrated by this story arc. Should I check out now, and stop reading this webcomic?

    This is mostly a question to the readers of SFP who have been around a while. I only got on board during this issue, somewhere in the middle of her discussion with Daniel. I paged back a little way to catch the discussion with Guwara, which I thought was an amazing if frustrating and harsh example of morality and ethics in a superhero-ish setting. It was enough to keep me coming back.

    But at this point, I don’t know if I want to keep reading. It’s not because the writing or art is poor: the creators know how to pace a story and they have clear fluency for the medium and art of storytelling. I’m just not sure I’m going to be interested in consuming the story they are telling. It’s a matter of taste, not quality.

    I was hoping long time readers might be able to give me a hint of the nuance and tenor of the stories that happen in SFP. I don’t particularly want to read a story about Alison going down the dark path to well-intentioned tyranny, or how her optimism and caring for people is cynically grinded down until she’s a broken shell of a person who has made too many mistakes and is a reprehensible mockery of the heroic person she’s tried to be.

    Yet, for all that’s happening here, and the bits and pieces I’ve seen linked to earlier story arcs, I could easily see that happening. There’s thematic and dialogue foreshadowing this, and it’s just not what I’d care to read.

    The comment section hasn’t always helped either, particularly after the last few pages of calling Alison a villain, monster, and a rapist. These all seem like hyperbolic exaggerations of what has happened so far, although from a metaphorical sense (and only a metaphorical sense) they aren’t wholly inaccurate. I won’t get into the merits of those arguments, since that’s not my point. IMO, it doesn’t make narrative sense to me to send Alison down that path wholeheartedly. If the creators commit to making Alison an irredeemable (if well-intentioned) tyrant, there’s nowhere for this story to go than down. It’s sort of a dead end. Of course, there being no consequences to what happened to Max would also be a largely pointless tale as well.

    But I don’t know what’s going to happen because I’m not familiar enough with how this comic’s internal and narrative logic works. I’m horrified that Alison might continue to succumb to the temptation to force others toward her vision for society. I don’t genuinely believe that will happen, but I don’t know. The creators have built up suspense, all credit to them. All of the label-throwing and vitriolic condemnations from the readers are putting me off from any assurance that this is a complication rather than a tonal shift toward something darker and more cynical. But maybe it was a cynical story all along. And if that’s the case, it’s not a story I care to follow along.

    Alison seems to take a lot of abuse, a lot of semantic and rhetorical ‘negging’ on her opinions and perspective. Maybe that’s to point out that she has a lot to learn about life. That’s fair. She’s young, idealistic, and entering a more complex world of adulthood and consequences.

    But the creators are doing that to drive her toward saying “fuck it, I guess I’ll be a bad person like everyone else”, then that’s an awful story to tell and a disheartening lesson for anyone to absorb. I’d rather check out now.

    (As an aside, in typical superhero fare, what happened to Max would be pretty much par for the course in any other story. From Alison’s perspective, Max is acting like a supervillain. He could do good with his ability, but actively rejects this option. He is blind to the benefits his gifts could provide to others, and is largely ignorant of the social harm his station causes others. She attempted discourse, he rebuffed to the point of pure contrarian resistance. In due superheroic-action course, Alison resorted to force in order to resolve the ‘evil’. If you switched out Alison and Max for some other two mainstream characters in superhero comics, this is a pantomime carried out in thousands of instances over the last century.

    The difference here is that the creators are actively engaging the trope and interrogating it. Which is one of the reasons I really like this webcomic. Essentially my question is whether the creators are engaging these tropes to revitalize the genre conventions or whether it is to dismantle and denigrate the concept of superhero genre. The former will keep me around, I have no interest in the latter.)

    • This Guy

      Honestly? It’s difficult to tell if it’s going to go down the paths you fear because the pace of the plot is quite slow and the update schedule doubles that.

    • Stephanie

      Long-time readers don’t have any more archives to analyze than you do, I’m afraid. I doubt that the story is going down a dark path forever, even if there may be occasional local minima. But only the authors know for sure.

    • Aroel

      The overall impression I got of the comic was that though it wanted to tear the ordinary conventions of the superhero genre to shreds, often very darkly and cynically, it was still idealistic enough to want to rebuild them afterwards. (See Allison disavowing the concept of superheros on live TV, then Pintsize later pointing out that she was starting her own superhero team.) I may be wrong, but that’s the impression I got from the tone of the comic. I wouldn’t want to keep reading if it was going to be totally nihilistic either.

      Unlike some of the other commenters though, I don’t think what Allison did was irredeemable (I’m assuming she was doing what she was doing to save at least one life, if it turns out she kidnapped and coerced Max for pettier reasons I’d change my mind). Wrong, yes. Morally ambiguous, yes. Irredeemable, no, since she did it to save a life/lives. Her body language in this page makes me think she’s processing that she’s become a tyrant to save a life/lives, and she doesn’t like it. I don’t think she actually believes that might makes right, but she said that she did out of self doubt. (Er, Allison, if the actual reason you felt like you had a right to decide Max should do what he did was to save a life, you should have said that instead.) I think what’s going to happen is that instead of turning to villainy, she’s going to regret her actions, take that as a lesson as to why she has to stop herself from becoming a tyrant in the future, and learn that (contrary to what the government and comic books told her) she really has no right to force people to do the right things, perhaps after a What the Hell Hero moment from Feral. That’s just my opinion though.

      I think part of the reason there’s so much vitriol towards Allison is that since we don’t know Allison’s motives, we can’t really know the morality of what she’s doing. I think the comic probably left us in the dark on purpose to highlight the brutality of what, as you said, are mainstream superhero tropes, which look pretty damn brutal when they are applied out of context to a real person instead of a caricatured supervillain. Allison will probably turn out to have an at least understandable motive though, to put her on the same moral playing field as the mainstream superheros the comic’s criticizing, and to make us feel the dissonance of feeling sympathetic to her brutality when it’s placed in context. (My money’s on saving Feral’s life. She probably asked Max to save Feral’s life between panels, but when Max said no she snapped and that’s why she forced him, and we’ll probably find out about this when Alison approaches Feral with a big ass hamburger and a bottle of bourbon and explains to her what happened. Let’s be honest, if we heard Max say no to saving Feral’s life for the reasons he gave, how many of us, rightly or wrongly, would be routing for Allison to do exactly the same thing?)

  • SJ

    “and she clearly hates herself for doing it.”
    She doesnt hate herself enough to say she wouldn’t do it again.

    And there’s the rub, ain’t it?

  • Philip Petrunak

    Remember people, she’s never drunk alcohol before. Because she’s afraid to loose control. She clearly doesn’t give a shit anymore. This is gonna get good.

  • Weatherheight

    Come on, all you Hollow People!
    Spontaneous TS Elliot Final Line Jam Session!

    Not with a bang but with a whimper of battered conscience…

  • Stephanie

    I think you’re still glossing over the part where telling people about Max’s ability would have been a further invasion of his privacy and put his safety at risk. There are multiple good reasons for Alison not to have brought a committee with her to Max’s house–reasons that are not “she secretly believes she is doing the wrong thing, but is inexplicably going to do it anyway.”

    • Arkone Axon

      Actually, bringing people with her would have been all the more helpful in securing his cooperation – because she could have waved the file in front of him and said, “people know about you already. But I know some very good people who can protect you.”

      She’s offered him nothing here. She has not offered him protection from others who might use him. She has not offered him the use of her powers on his behalf, a favor for a favor. She has not offered him anything in exchange. She has taken without giving back, offering as her only justification: “I believe this was for the greater good.”

      I’ve read about that before. In a book by Alberto Bayo, the guy who trained Fidel Castro and Che Gueverra. He specifically states that if someone has something your guerillas require, ask him for it. If he refuses – then he’s an enemy of the people and deserves to have it taken by force.

  • Stephanie

    You can accept a choice you made without being smug about it. I think it’s a leap to say that unless she’s utterly disgusted with herself she must feel “righteous.” Does she look to you like a person who’s feeling righteous?

  • Santiago Tórtora

    Good point. Moving away from fiction for a while, whatever happened to the guys who sank the SF Hydro? Maybe I’m cheating a bit because that happened during a war (moral restraints are relaxed during wars) but isn’t that a clear example of hurting a few to save many? I don’t think they killed themselves afterwards or anything like that.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SF_Hydro

  • Jonathon Side

    I never said in my comment that it was legit, or not fucked up.

  • Jonathon Side

    I didn’t say he deserved it, just that he didn’t have a choice, just like his gardeners probably don’t have as much choice as he wanted Allison to believe. Calling him out for hypocrisy was the entire point, not comparing apples to apples.

  • masterofbones

    So we have someone that chose to try to be a benevolent dictator. Unlike a lot of people here, I’m fine with that in concept. There are a lot of advantages to such a system.

    However, such a system requires a competent dictator if it is going to work, and this plan will likely show us whether she is competent enough. Regardless, she needs to quickly surround herself with competent people who are willing to give advice and are trustworthy. They don’t even need to approve of the dictator thing.

  • FlashNeko

    I just had an utterly horrifying thought.

    What if everyone involved massively underestimated the mental trauma caused by Feral letting herself be effectively tortured for her regenerating organs for long periods of time every single day of the week? Or worse, knew it would happen and still went ahead with it anyway, Hippocratic Oath be damned, because they too made a “the needs of the many” decision.

    What if Alison is getting those things not to share with her… but as an offering for the empty husk of a friend she let put herself in a vegetative state?

    • Eric the .5b

      I don’t see that as terribly likely. It’s not like they’d dredge up Dr. Mengele clones to do the procedures; the people we saw last time seemed to care about Feral and tried to show her kindness. And realistically, with as ethically touchy a situation as the continuous organ donation is, they’d probably have someone check her for responsiveness (and continued permission to continue) at least once during the changeover periods each day.

      • FlashNeko

        Yeah, I’m hoping I’m wrong too but given how much the last few chapters have beaten Alison up for pretty much everything it could, I kinda wouldn’t be surprised if life giving her that one last middle finger was what really caused this breaking point.

  • Noah

    What are you talking about? Someone might do something that they consider morally wrong while still thinking it’s necessary.

    Besides, what does “it doesn’t matter what you tried to accomplish” even mean? Remember what she said to Cleaver about feeling powerless with all the suffering in the world and her frustration? Think about all the shit she’s been through since then. If she’s finally found a way to stop a bunch of it and all it costs is her self-respect then that might be a good deal.

  • Fortooate

    (You’re a bit cavalier with the rape comparison. I don’t mind, but others might, for reference.)

    This is much less like rape and much more like, say, an armed robbery. Robbing someone of their wallet (which frankly would be more of a drag for many people than Max having to use his powers is for him) is a crime. It’s morally wrong. Someone who steals someone’s wallet while threatening to shoot them should go to prison.

    Allison has done a Bad Thing and should go to Prison Jail, but that’s not really possible. And, so we’re told, she’s done some real good by doing this Bad Thing. So, please forgive me if I’m slightly too ambivalent about these unfolding events to demand that Allison commit Space Suicide immediately.

    • Izo

      “(You’re a bit cavalier with the rape comparison. I don’t mind, but others might, for reference.)”

      I have enough reason to be able to use the comparison. I’m not cavalier about it. I’m just accurate about the mentality of a rapist being identical to the mentality Alison is showing.

      “This is much less like rape and much more like, say, an armed robbery.”
      People seem to keep wanting to minimize what Alison is doing because it’s impossible to defend a person with the mentality of a rapist, while the mentality of a robbery is about the end result, not the power involved in the act.

      “Robbing someone of their wallet (which frankly would be more of a drag for many people than Max having to use his powers is for him) is a crime. It’s morally wrong. Someone who steals someone’s wallet while threatening to shoot them should go to prison.”

      Robbing someone for their wallet is about getting the wallet, it’s not about showing the power you have over another person. Alison already showed here, and stated matter-of-factly that the reason she’s able to do this is because she’s stronger than him, and he can’t do anything to STOP her if she wants to do it again. The same can’t be said about a robbery. Not to mention robbing someone isn’t about making them do something – it’s about taking something from them. Again…. the analogy is about the MENTALITY.

      “Allison has done a Bad Thing and should go to Prison Jail, but that’s not really possible.”

      And since she knows this to be true, and since she CAN’T be punished by normal means, she needs to be held to a higher standard. Just like a lawyer or other professional is held to a higher standard than a layperson.

      “And, so we’re told, she’s done some real good by doing this Bad Thing.”

      Heaven help you if someone ever decides that a good thing can be achieved by doing a ‘Bad Thing’ to you.

      “So, please forgive me if I’m slightly too ambivalent about these unfolding events to demand that Allison commit Space Suicide immediately.”

      You’re forgiven. It doesn’t change my mind about Alison needing to be held to a higher standard, both in responsibility and in punishment. With great power comes great responsibility.

  • This Guy

    I’m not sure what the controversy is here.

  • Sarah

    Because getting really nice (as opposed to nice, and then they can go back home) bush sculptures is pretty much the same than saving your friend from endless suffering/peoples’ lives/something we don’t know?

  • Sarah

    What Alison has done is definitely fucked up and I don’t think anyone argues with it. Even she knows it from what we see on the face. She seems to believe having done something fucked up can be justified though. And we don’t have enough information to assess it.
    Max, on the other hand, is enjoying and condoning the fucked up treatment of the gardeners without a iota of remorse.

    • SJ

      What Alison has done is definitely fucked up and I don’t think anyone argues with it.

      Uh-huh…

      From Page 88: @Walter https://disqus.com/home/discussion/strongfemaleprotagonist/page_88_89/

      Look, I’m on board the S.S. This Was Justified. I can Greater Good my way to seeing Alison’s behavior as morally right, depending on what the outcome was.

      From Page 87: @Sterling Ericsson https://disqus.com/home/discussion/strongfemaleprotagonist/page_87_11/

      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.

      From Page 86: @TheDaviesCR https://disqus.com/home/discussion/strongfemaleprotagonist/page_86_74/#comment-2933208460

      Even better than I hoped. Give the piece of shit everything you got, Allison.

      @Potatamoto https://disqus.com/home/discussion/strongfemaleprotagonist/page_86_74/

      Thank God…this was the only place this storyline could go that would make me happy! Yay!

      @Stephanie https://disqus.com/home/discussion/strongfemaleprotagonist/page_86_74/

      I love this. I’m sure it’s going to come back to bite Alison in a big way, but I’m still proud of her and I’m fully on board with her decision.

      I stopped searching about a third of the way through Page 86 because, honestly, 1600+ comments?

      Look, I’m not claiming that there’s a majority, I’m not even claiming that there’s an especially vocal minority, but I am saying that there certainly appears to be a non-insignificant number of people whom would indeed argue that was Alison has done is not fucked up.

      • Sarah

        What those comments tell me are that people *agree* with Alison in her actions, would do the same, or think that’s justified. Not that it is good to every extent (or, not fucked up in any aspect).
        I think the problem is that you’re trying to qualify Alison’s actions in a very simplistic frame (either they’re fully irreproachable or irredeemable), when they are clearly not. As many people have stated, actions can be both ‘fucked up’ (as I interpret the expression, it means something like mentally damaging, a kind of wrongness that elicits an emotional response) but still overall morally good or desirable.

  • Stephanie

    Uh, did I say otherwise? I described how Rand’s characters behave, and then I said that Objectivists–the people–acknowledge suicide as a last resort option, which is true.

  • Stephanie

    “Righteous” has connotations of smugness.

    • SJ

      To whom?

      • Stephanie

        Most people. There’s a huge difference in tone between “that person doesn’t hate herself for what she did” and “that person feels righteous about what she did.”

  • Jac

    … Ahhhhh this is so fucked up. Aaaaa. Aaaaaa. .____.

  • Izo

    Story time!

    There once was a boy who wanted to give a present to his teacher, but the boy’s family wase very poor, and the boy had nothing to give her. .So the boy walked to a beach, several miles away, picked up the nicest pebbles he could find, and walked back several miles to his teacher to give them as a present. He told he where she got them from. The teacher was appreciative, but confused, of the gift. The teacher then said, “You know, you could have just saved yourself the walk and given me some pebbles from right outside your house. The student responded, “The long walk was part of the gift.”

    Moral of the story – the journey and the ideals and meaning for the journey is more important than the goal.

    Moral of the moral – the ends do not justify the means. It’s the means that matter.

    End of story.

    There’s another good webcomic called Erfworld where two of the characters talk about what you’re questioning. The protagonist, Parson Gotti, was summoned from Earth to a world called Erf under the belief that he was summoned to win a war for a kingdom called Gobwin Knob, but actually, several different factions had a part in the spell to summon him. The Thinkamancers want him to defeat a side called Charlescomm. The Croakamancer of Gobwin Knob want him to help Gobwin Knob get four powerful artifacts called the Arkentools. Stanley the Plaid (leader of Gobwin Knob) wants him to help take over all of Erf. Then there are the Hippiemancers of Gobwin Knob, who also had a hand in the spell. They want him to war on Erf to the point where war has negative consequences, instead of being a part of life, so that he would ‘break war’. In effect, they want him to war against war itself so that Erf would finally be able to experience actual peace, or at least making war a lull between peace rather than peace being a lull between wars.

    The Dirtamancer of Gobwin Knob, a character called Sizemore, is a very peaceful guy who likes talking to the head of the Hippiemancers, and they have talk about the Hippiemancer’s plan, and how having only peace on Erf (or anywhere) is impossible. The grand abby (head of the hippiemancers) tells Sizemore:
    “Striving for the impossible’ does not mean ‘toiling in vain.’ It means growth. It means improvement in the direction of your ideals. Not futility. Look, you’ve gained two levels since I saw you last. Does the fact that you can never be level Infinity mena that you can’t keep improving in that direction?”

    Unfortunately, Alison has not grown with what she’s just done – she’s betrayed her ideals, rather than followed them, because she determined that by keeping to her ideals her goal was impossible. But the problem is that her goal is just as impossible if she destroys her ideals, plus she doesn’t have growth.

    https://static.erfworld.com/comic/Book%201/154/141.jpg

  • Izo

    “…do you also think all rapists should kill themselves?”

    Yes. Next question?

    “Also, can you stop it with the rape analogy? It’s just inaccurate. Indentured servitude or slavery is more accurate if you want to be that inflammatory”

    It’s not inaccurate. In fact, it’s extremely accurate. It’s just disconcerting because it means you’ll have to acknowledge that Alison is doing something which is entirely horrible and disgusting to another person.

    An analogy means something that is comparable in certain respects – in this case, the mentality of both what Alison is doing and what a rapist does is DIRECTLY comparable. In fact, Indentured servitude would be far LESS accurate, since an indentured servant is paying back a debt. Slavery is a little more accurate than indentured servitude, but less so than a rape analogy, since someone who is merely enslaving someone else does not necessarily have the mentality that Alison currently has of Max. The two most accurate analogies is torture and rape, and they are equally analogous with what Alison is doing.

    “though, again, FOUR HOURS. I mean come freaking on, the government kidnaps much more than four hours of people’s time CONSTANTLY for reasons far lesser than saving people’s lives, and we’re kind of okay with that”

    I’ve asked others this before, and I’ll ask you now – what difference does the amount of time make? This is one reason I don’t use slavery as the analogy and why I consider it a less accurate analogy (although still useful in some respects for what Alison did). Slavery implies permanence of the event happening, not the mentality. Rape can take far less time than four hours – it doesn’t make it less bad just because THE EVENT took a short amount of time out of your life. The mental and emotional effects are still with the victim forever.

    “(see: mandatory forms that take forever to fill, off the top of my head).”

    Are you seriously comparing paperwork to what Alison did?

    “But she basically just kidnapped a guy and forced him to do some labour only he can do for a little while. That’s not THAT BAD in the grand scheme of things.”

    It intimidates me that your sense of right and wrong lets you think what she did was not bad ‘in the grand scheme of things’ – and is all the more reason to stress the rape analogy of what she did and said. Because otherwise, people try to minimize the severity of what she did by comparing it to taxes and paperwork. Lets say you are fireproof. Someone points a gun at you and says you MUST be a firefighter. If you disagree, they will shoot you. If you keep disagreeing, they will kill you. Apparently, based on what you just said, it’s justifiable to make them become a firefighter. After all firefighting doesn’t take THAT long. Just long enough to go into the building, save people, and put the fire out. Then they can do other stuff. Until the next fire.

    “I mean, has everyone forgotten that AL HAS KILLED PEOPLE DUE TO CARELESSNESS?”

    Killing someone from carelessness is different than threatening to kill them on purpose. And no one’s forgotten that. But it’s not equivalent.

    “You want a moral event horizon, how’s “killing an innocent doctor and probably lots of patients by throwing a robot into a hospital as a 15-year-old” sound?”

    That’s actually not a moral event horizon. That’s recklessness, and it’s different than intentional. A moral event horizon requires the protagonist to be aware that they’re doing something wrong, and doing it anyway. Once she found out what happened, years later, she was an emotional wreck about it.

    • Psile

      A moral even horizon is not a real thing. You don’t just swap from being a good person to a bad person with one single action. To use your analogy of rape, which I don’t think is warranted in this case but let’s go with it, a person doesn’t just wake up from a life of treating people well and thinking well of them and decide they are just going to go and do some unspeakable thing. They have to become that person, the kind of person who is willing to inflict profound suffering on someone else to fulfill their own selfish desires. They commit countless smaller atrocities, whether those are known to others or not, as a build up to such a horrible act. They harass, or stalk, or exploit people via illegal pornography. In order to rape someone you have to be a rapist already. The act is the logical conclusion of the person you have allowed yourself to become. You don’t stand on the precipice of good and evil and take the plunge into evil. You make a thousand tiny decisions every day, many of which could never be prosecuted in any court of law, and through those you become that kind of person.

      And since we’re talking about rape Allison did not ‘rape’ Max in any sense. She was actually in a position where she could literally rape him, given the vast difference in their physical power and the leverage she had over him in terms of blackmail. She didn’t, because obviously. You can’t say what she did is the same because then you’re saying that what she did is the same as her literally physically forcing him to perform sexual acts on her for nothing more than her own pleasure and that if the comic had depicted that literal act it would be the same as what actually happened.

      Someone being forced to do something they don’t want to do is not rape.

  • masterofbones

    You might as well argue that women are getting offended by clearly non-offensive things, and therefore we need to teach *women* to not get offended when sent dick pics. Insisting that men are the ones that should always bend to make women comfortable is what might be described as “benevolent sexism”.

    So there are two possibilities –

    1. The difference is biological. In this case, both men and women should be taught about the differences, and how those differences should influence their behavior around the other gender

    2. The difference is a social construct. In this case, it should be decided whether it is better to react happily or unhappily when receiving explicit images(since apparently we can train men and women to react differently to it), and both genders should be taught to follow that optimal reaction and behave with the assumption that people will have that reaction.

    Notice the thing that stays the same in both situations – BOTH genders are taught this. Teaching only men the distinction just causes its own problems.

    • Lysiuj

      Option the third – the difference is a social construct, in that most men are taught, both actively and in more subtle ways, that they are allowed to do pretty much anything to women, and the solution is to teach them that they’re not. There’s no need to focus equally on women wrt this issue, because we recognize that it’s a problem with the way men behave.

    • Stephanie

      That’s not what benevolent sexism is. Benevolent sexism is treating the opposite sex in a kind but condescending manner, regarding them as pure and helpless creatures.

      I get the impression that your interest is primarily in treating the genders equally, but if you remove gender from the equation I think it’s fairly obvious that “teach people not to send unsolicited sexual images to other people” is a better course of action than “teach people not to be so uptight about being sexually harassed.” If it happens to be mostly men who benefit from an education in how not to sexually harass people, so be it.

    • The Improbable Man

      Regarding #1: What you are doing here is the exact same thing as what “All Lives Matter” supporters are doing. Of course women should be taught about differences as well. However, we’re talking about resolving a problem with unsolicited dick pics, and the issue there lies entirely with the men sending them, so that’s why I didn’t mention anything about what we should be teaching women.

      #2 is a response to a point I didn’t, and would never, make. I did not say that men and women could be trained to react differently to unsolicited pictures of genitalia. I said that men could be taught that most women don’t like them, and that therefore, they shouldn’t be sending unsolicited dick pics. The suggestion that a solution to the problem is to train women to “react happily” to unsolicited dick picks is, to be as diplomatic as possible in my response, not acceptable.

  • Izo

    Al -was- better than those two. I’m not so sure that she still is anymore. If you’d prefer me to say I’d rather hope that Alison (and Patrick) lose their powers, I’d say yeah. I’d like that instead. But I don’t think that will happen either. it would be interesting, though.

    • Stephanie

      I think even if I disagreed with Al’s decision here, I would still consider her a better person than the guy who threatened to murder women for reporting their rapists.

  • Pythia

    …Whose neck did she break?

    • Sam

      Feral, back near the start of chapter 3. I didn’t elaborate on it because, while I don’t condone Allison’s reaction, it definitely wasn’t a case of domestic abuse.

    • Beroli

      Feral.

      (Feral got better. And of course Alison’s reaction would have been a lot less violent had the person who kissed her against her will been less able to take it.)

    • MrSing

      The woman of the hour, at least in the comments: Feral.
      Feral kissed Allison without asking first. Allison responded by throwing her out of a window in a way that would have killed anyone that was a regular human. Even though it has been established that Feral still feels the pain of her injuries in the same way that regular humans do.
      Sure, what Feral did was wrong and Allison had all the right in the world to force her away from herself, but the way she did it and how flippant she was over Feral’s injuries is kinda worrying.
      Feral didn’t seem to mind all that much, which helped to make it seem more “okay”, but I think Feral has always hated herself and probably thought that any injury she sustained, no matter how severe, was justifiable.

  • Izo

    It’s not unfounded. He specifically said he might say no JUST because it was ALISON asking.

    • Stephanie

      It still would have been Alison asking if she had brought more people with her. He just would have gotten ticked at them too.

      Hypothetically, she could have sent in someone with no negative history with Max–someone who wouldn’t even mention her involvement. But even that probably wouldn’t have worked. He never said that spite toward Alison was his sole reason for refusing; he only said that even if he wanted to, which he didn’t, he might have refused it to stick it to her. He didn’t want to do it regardless.

      • SJ

        Except that, unlike Alison, there are unquestionably people in the SFP-verse smart enough* to figure out how to get somebody to do something they don’t want to do, without pivoting to physical violence, threatening to kill them, and actually assaulting them. Like I said before, don’t try to appeal to a man’s better nature, because he might not have one. Appeal to his self-interest, instead. Shit, a used car salesman could have done a better job of closing this deal than Alison.

        * – I won’t go so far as to say that Alison is “stupid,” but she doesn’t appear to be all that smart, and her critical thinking skills are shit.

  • Izo

    The hole can always get deeper.

  • Werekat

    Or at least she believes them to be right at this point in time. She’s acting very impulsively and secretively, and even though she’s had all of one consultation with her “White House damage control system” — i.e. people who know the science behind biodynamics better than she does — it was a quick conversation by the phone. So many things could go wrong here, on both a decision-making level and a technical level.

  • Izo

    Really….

    If you find out that you were the recipient of new eyes because someone in your family kidnapped someone and gouged their eyes out, you wouldn’t be horrified compared to if the eyes were from a donation from someone who died and was an organ donor?

    • UnsettlingIdeologies

      She didn’t gouge out someone’s eyes. Your analogies keep taking this farther than she went, or at least to a different location than she went. If I found out that someone had discovered a cure to a disease I had, and the only reason they made it available to the public was because they had been forced, I’d be okay with that. I’d also think the person who originally wouldn’t give up the cure was a jack weasel.

      Personally freedom doesn’t trump harm to others. It definitely doesn’t trump the possible eternity of suffering that Feral was going to experience. And personal freedom doesn’t give someone the right to let others die.

      Using physical force to compel someone to save others’ lives is regrettable, but I will never hold that one person’s freedom to let others die/suffer should trump those people’s right to live/not suffer.

      • Izo

        “She didn’t gouge out someone’s eyes.”

        … Some people on this forum seem to have a hard concept understanding what an analogy is, don’t they?

        “Your analogies keep taking this farther than she went, or at least to a different location than she went.”

        You said ‘it doesn’t matter whether the people who’s lives she save regret the means by which their lives are saved.’ I just gave you an analagous example of how the recipient might not appreciate being saved in a particular way.

        Lets use a less gruesome example. Someone is poor. You tell them you’ll give them money for food. Instead of taking money out of your own pocket, you find someone else walking by, beat them up, and take their wallet. You then give the wallet to the poor person and say ‘Go have something to eat.’

        You don’t think, to the poor person, there would be a difference between what you did and what would have happened if you gave them your OWN money?

        “Personally freedom doesn’t trump harm to others.”

        Yes it does. At least when the person you’re taking the freedom from wasn’t doing the harm.

        “It definitely doesn’t trump the possible eternity of suffering that Feral was going to experience.”

        Yes it does. Feral is doing what she’s doing as her CHOICE. No one is forcing her. Unless you think someone should be forcing her?

        “And personal freedom doesn’t give someone the right to let others die.”

        To paraphrase Benjamin Franklin, those who will give up essential liberty for a temporary security deserve neither liberty nor security.

        Unless you’re the one who caused the other person dying, and if you have not prevented others from saving the other person, then you’re under no obligation to save them.

        “Using physical force to compel someone to save others’ lives is regrettable,”
        Someone straps you to a table. You struggle. They punch you a few times to make you comply. Then takes some of your blood as a forced blood drive and lets you go. You consider that okay? Oh, and what if they tell you they will be tracking you in case they need you to ‘donate’ again in the future, since you have a rare blood type?

  • Izo

    Why do I sense a Twilight thread starting from this post?

  • Darkoneko Hellsing

    Burgers AND liquor store ? XD hahaha

    (moral quarandries aside, I wonder where exactly she forced him to raise power ?)

  • Christopher Dacombe

    Given that this particular dictatorship is based on using her biodymamic power to strongarm people into doing what she wants, there isn’t going to be a next person ‘down the pike’ because nobody else has her powers. And if she does die at some point, well, at least she’s left the world in a better place than it was. (Assuming this actually happens, obviously.)

    • Mechwarrior

      Nobody else has her powers, but it’s likely that there’s a biodynamic somewhere who’s got a paper to beat her rock.

    • Why would you assume that no one would step in to fill the vacuum if Alison were to die? I think you’re giving common sense far too much credit. While there may not be another biodynamic who is as powerful as Alison, there are certainly others who are almost as powerful. Additionally, there are many kinds of power; one person capable of creating mass lust, for example, could really set the world on its edge.

      Also, what in the last six issues convinces you that Alison is mentally or emotionally capable of making enough correct decisions to actually counter all the wrong-headed decisions someone of her age and experience is almost certain to make?

      I can flat guarantee that not everyone would be willing to go along with a Alison, dictator-for-life government, which means you’re going to have a great deal of conflict. If open conflict is seen as impossible because Alison is too powerful to be opposed by conventional means, then you’d be dealing with terrorism and guerrilla warfare, which are methods that she is singularly unequipped to cope with.

  • Flipz

    That’s what it seems like to me. Allison unmasked herself because
    people were only listening to her because she’s one of the (if not the,
    outright) strongest people on earth, and she recognized her own
    inability to actually have good answers for the world’s problems. Over
    the past few days (and, heck, months) she’s now seen how utterly *not
    helpful* she is, both through the dynamorph support conference and
    through her interactions with Max, not to mention everything else she’s
    gone through lately. She’s exhausted and running on fumes, and that
    letter from Patrick finally pushed her over the edge; she’s given up on
    being a good person, given up on finding non-superpowered answers for
    the world’s problems, and instead just accepted the role she feels the
    world wants her to take: the person who’s right because she’s the
    strongest. She’s given up on being the hero; now she’s playing the
    villain.

  • Giacomo Bandini

    Maybe there is not. That is the point.
    I disagree. Power starts as a circumstance, but it consolidates forpsycological factors. One person is the strongest of a group of other 20, and he intimidates them into becoming his men; that brigandgroup is the strongest of all the others in the region, and it forces the other bands to join them into becoming an army; the army is stronger of any other, and intimidates the other to subjugate into the new kingdom. And so on. At any moment during this process the whole thing can be stopped, if only the other nineteen man choosed to join forces and killed the would be leader. They could do, but, they choose not to, because, well, they fell they need a leader. With Alison, it’s a completely different situation. There is no proof that she can be defeated. Only thories, speculation : i don’t know, get the telecinetical guy with the swords to stop her, and have cleaver stab her. But there are a lot of umpredictable factors that can go wrong, and it needs to relay on the cooperation of other biodynamic – as much a loose cannon as Alison is. So no, Alison power is not a circumstance, it’s a fact of life. A force of nature.

  • Christina

    I understand the actions and the meanings behind them, but I still don’t understand exactly what Max’s power can do and why it was considered a “solution”???

    • Lysiuj

      Nor do any of us, specifically at least. What we know so far, is that Max has some kind of ability to boost or augment the abilities of others, but we don’t know how it works or who Allison used it on.

  • Santiago Tórtora

    Yeah, Allison was more mean, but not necessarily more evil. After all Max is just one person who was tortured but in Hydro eight innocents died.

    The wiki article on necessity says it includes medical necessity, so if she had Max boost Feral then Allison can argue necessity too.

    • Arkone Axon

      I doubt that Feral would agree. Assuming she’s the one who was boosted. In the case of Hydro, they were genuinely engaged in fighting a war in which actual people were dying. Here, we only have Alison saying “okay, time to be a bully.” Even the argument of medical necessity doesn’t apply if the situation isn’t time-critical. Assuming we’re talking about Feral, then Feral is the one choosing to submit to this horrific torture. She can take a break from it at any time (and I’d think that the doctors themselves would insist upon it, possibly telling her, “WE want the weekends off. Here, relax and rest and eat something and look at pictures of the people you saved this week.”). There is no point where the operation situation becomes irreversible.

      Assuming it’s Feral who was boosted, then forcing Max to do this also negates Feral’s agency, not just Max’s. It’s also Feral’s choice that has been taken from her – Alison will have FORCED her to be complicit in torture-compliance and tyranny. I’ve actually had something similar happen to me, someone decided to make me partially responsible for a serious crime without my knowledge or consent. Someone I am no longer associated with in any way, shape, or form.

  • Noah

    You have plenty of things outside of self-respect. A person can swallow their pride and their self-image if it means others they care about are saved.

    I have no idea what you’re saying with your “self-respect=soul” thing because you haven’t explained in any way why those are even remotely comparable. The “soul” (not that I really believe in one) is you in your entirety. Someone without self-respect might not like their soul but they would still have one if there is such a thing.

    I think my main problem here is that throughout history and even throughout my life there have been so many examples of people not feeling righteous about something and doing it anyway purposely. This isn’t some kind of hypothetical scenario, this situation where people lose self-respect but help others has happened before and will happen many times again because that’s how many people work.

    • SJ

      And how many of these people whom allegedly lost their self-respect were sure that they were doing the right thing?

      You say that you have plenty of things outside of self-respect: like what? What do you have outside of self-respect, and what is that stuff even worth if you don’t have self-respect?

  • Stephanie

    What I said he did is exactly what he did. Alison explained to him how he could save many lives, and he decided not to, out of spite. He intentionally chose for the people he could have saved to, instead, die.

    • SJ

      Everybody, in the SFP-verse, and the real one, has the potential to save lives. Opting not to do that is not the equivalent of letting people die, not by any reasonable standard.

  • Stephanie

    No, we have a responsibility to treat people as humans, including the people tied to the trolley tracks. If we decide that it’s more important to preserve the autonomy of Max, the guy whose name and face we know and who is standing in front of us, than it is to preserve the lives of many faceless strangers, who are we really treating as less than human?

  • Stephanie

    I don’t see any reason whatsoever to expect her to start doing that.

    • SJ

      And I don’t see any reason whatsoever to expect her not to. So I guess we’re at an impasse.

      • Stephanie

        Why on earth would Alison want to kill enormous numbers of people? I didn’t realize it was such a short step from “twisting an arm” to “actual mass murder.”

  • Charles Moore

    Oh! Good point. I hadn’t considered that.

  • Stephanie

    Maybe not for you. I’m fine with how the story has handled previous ethical dilemmas.

  • Stephanie

    Remember, she was a child at the beginning. Maybe she could technically have walked away, but would it easily occur to a child to go against what all the adults are telling them? She may not have been forced, but she was manipulated.

  • Stephanie

    I’m not all that concerned with how she feels about Max. Regardless of her opinions on Max, the fact remains that she actually requires more justification than “because I can” to hurt people. She could have twisted his arm at any time, she could have kept twisting it after they got back from their trip, but she only actually twisted it when she was getting him to do something for the purpose of saving many lives.

    • Allen

      She has created a relationship based on power, control and potential (as well as actual) physical pain. “Keep yourself pretty, I’ll be back.” Ok, she didn’t say that. She did say she would be back whenever she wants, to make Max do whatever she says, whether Max agrees or not. Regardless of what Max has the power to do, when does this abusive relationship become wrong?

  • Stephanie

    I’m taking nothing by faith. I’m simply refusing to make assumptions there’s no evidence for. We don’t know how much Alison knows about how Max’s power works, so I’m neither going to say “she definitely knows all about it” or “she doesn’t know what she’s doing.”

  • Stephanie

    >I am rapidly losing faith that, even when Alison is obviously wrong, that the narrative will portray her as being perceived as wrong in-universe.

    She was perceived wrong by many, many people in-universe regarding the date-rape incident. There was a very public backlash.

    Also, of course she was portrayed as sympathetic in the narrative in that case. She saved a woman from date rape. That’s not really ethically ambiguous, at all. The fact that she was portrayed as sympathetic for doing something sympathetic doesn’t mean she will be portrayed that way for doing something ethically ambiguous.

    • SJ

      She was perceived wrong by many, many people in-universe regarding the date-rape incident. There was a very public backlash.

      And how many of those “many, many people in-universe” were depicted by the narrative as not being harsh on Alison? if I spot you Clevin, can you name another one?

      • Stephanie

        You’re moving the goalposts. You said you wanted the narrative to show her as being perceived wrong in-universe. It did. Even when she was saving a woman from date rape, it did.

  • Stephanie

    A similar increase in the abundance of available organs could probably be achieved just by making organ donation opt-out instead of opt-in, so no, probably not. Condemning someone to a lifetime of ceaseless torture is orders of magnitude worse than inconveniencing someone for four hours and causing them momentary pain, so it requires a much worse alternative to justify it.

    Now if torturing Feral for the rest of her life were the only way to save, say, a billion lives (to use an extreme example), then I’d say it was morally necessary.

  • Santiago Tórtora

    I forgot to point out that I cheated a little with that reference. I said “moving away from fiction for a while…” but that non-fictional reference I only found
    through a fictional work in the first place.

    It is discussed by Eliezer Yudkowsky, a philosopher/AI researcher who wrote

    “Rationality: From AI to Zombies” but whose most popular work is a fanfic called “Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality” (I am not kidding).

    Anyway, in that fanfic Harry compares that incident to some evil-ish kind of things Dumbledore did during the war against Voldemort, so if you like works of fiction that contain depictions and discussions of extreme moral dilemmas, you could check that out.

  • Santiago Tórtora

    In real life, in some places when you get your drivers license, there is a box that says something like “mark here if you want to be an organ donor”. In other places it says “mark here if you do NOT want to be an organ donor”.

    Psychologists found that people have an irrational bias towards picking the default choice most of the time, such that in places where it says “mark here if you do NOT…” there are more organ donors.

    Is it moral to subtly bias people’s choices via presenting the option you want them to take as the default? Is that deception? Is it manipulative? Does it matter, if it saves more lives at otherwise zero cost?

    Maybe what Allison did to Max crossed the line. Maybe the line should be drawn at hunting them down and harvesting by force. Maybe the line is somewhere between what Allison did and hunting down people with healthy organs.

  • Sarah

    Well, I believe most people think coercion is justified in *some* circumstances. That’s why the context matters.
    Coercion is not something morally neutral, but it may be justified. And even when it’s not justified, it’s not always equally bad.

    • SJ

      Well, I believe most people think coercion is justified in *some* circumstances.

      While I try to avoid speaking for most people… let’s just say that I find the veracity of that statement to be highly dubious.

      I’m not really here for the equivocation game: I’m not generally swayed by arguments built on the premise of, “Well, this evil is acceptable, because it’s not as bad as this other evil.” But fine, I will stipulate that there are worse atrocities: that doesn’t change the fact that the hero crossed a line. Once the hero crosses the line, they don’t get to call themselves a hero any more.

  • Random832

    If he doesn’t believe she’ll do it, then he will refuse, and then she’s faced with a choice: she either does it (harming him permanently but still not accomplishing her goals, unless she tortures him anyway), or doesn’t (and then has to torture him anyway). Hurting him physically has the advantage that she can do it just a little (to prove she’s willing to do it) without losing her leverage.

  • TheDaviesCR

    When the perpetrator’s income level is high enough, they get away with murder, here in the real world. So please do forgive me if I fail to weep at any of the suffering of this rich “victim”.

  • Izo

    Her acknowledgement is also an excuse for why it’s okay for her to have done it, and why it’s okay for her to do so in the future. A thing can be both an acknowledgement AND an excuse at the same time.

    And whether or not she thinks she is right because of it doesn’t matter. If anything, it makes her worse – which is quite a feat – because she can’t even claim ignorance of her doing an evil act. Intentional acts are worse than ignorant or even reckless acts.

  • Kifre

    You know, I think that’s possible too. Like, the burger and bourbon aren’t for taking to Feral as a sign of victory…but indulging in herself as a sign of defeat.

  • SJ

    Let’s be clear about something: I have been consistently saying, over the last couple of pages, that I believe that Max’s hatred of Alison, and desire to get even will override his desire to keep his powers secret. I was just repeating what has been stated by other commenters: there have definitely been a not-insignificant number of people who have intimated that Max will never go after Alison, because he’d have to out himself as a dynamorph, in order to do so.

    I actually agree with you about that… I just don’t have any faith that Alison will suffer any actual consequences. I want her to suffer consequences; I might even go so far as to say that my continued enjoyment of this series is likely contingent on how serious those consequences are. But, I don’t think that she going to suffer any consequences.

  • Weatherheight

    Okay, third strip directly relates to SFP. Yeah, this will be interesting. 😀

  • Allen

    Not with a bang but with an angry burst of good intentions

  • Izo

    Treatises like The Art of War and Machiavelli’s the Prince were written when the concept of the rule of the people and democratic voting was considered absurd, though. Having the peasants electing their rulers? How insane! Having the peasants being able to oust their rulers? Preposterous! Having the peasants able to BECOME elected as a ruler by fellow peasants? Surely you are mad! Limiting the rule of the rulers? Okay you’ve clearly gone off the deep end!

    Ruling with an iron fist, whether you have a tender heart or not, is anathema to liberty of the people. As nice as a plantation owner might be to his slaves…. he is still the slave owner, and they are still the slaves, and while their predicament might be superior to that of a cruel slavemaster and abused slaves, it is massively inferior to being a free person.

    • Ira

      The Art of War was particularly to guide the military strategists, while choosing a ruler was not part of the times, that particular point also has very little to do with reason I brought this up or the entirety of the read >.>
      My point was that 2 of those scenarios can result in a vast improvement in the quality of life of the people in question, pending the person in charge. You will never please everyone, but “freedom” isn’t always your best scenario either. With any governing body there is a balance between freedom and comfort where the viewpoints will clash between the morals of the few to the benefit of the many.

      Personally, I’d opt for the benefit of the many. Alison is in a unique position. She can become the villain that everyone hates and despises, but nobody can do anything about. In being the “villain” she can improve the lives of the majority while taking all the heat that needs to be taken. No victory comes without sacrifice, as it were, and if you can bear the weight and can be the winds of change, it would be almost selfish not to for the sake of being liked.

  • Izo

    “Your attempt at splitting hairs doesn’t actually hold up under even the slightest bit of scrutiny.”
    The type of scrutiny you are applying is absurd. Every single example you give in the following is ridiculous and illogical.

    “You are forced to apply pressure to your car’s brakes by speed limit laws.”

    That is not being forced to do something. That is being forced to NOT do something. Ie, not speed and endanger others lives in the process. Not to mention, that’s the government making that rule – the government who we put in power, have a set of penalties if they go over their bounds, and agree to follow the rules of.

    “Business owners are forced to buy new equipment/make modifications to existing equipment by laws limiting pollution.”

    Again – government – not an individual. And you will not be beaten up or killed for not doing so. You will be fined. And you agree to it implicity by being part of the society that voted in that particular government. You can, as a business owner, then vote for someone who will not force you to buy new equipment, or have more lax regulations, and you can donate money to those people’s campaigns. OR you can run for office yourself.

    And again, the’re forcing you to NOT do something. Not pollute. There’s a difference. The amount of times the government actually forces people to DO something is very rare. Most laws are about forcing the people to NOT do something.

    “And Max’s family’s employees are forced to work late into the night under threat of starvation and possibly deportation.”

    This is possibly the dumbest comparison possible. They are not forced to work late into the night. They can quit. They can not take the job in the first place. They will just not get paid because they made an agreement to do the entirety of the work in exchange for money.

    In addition, if they do quit, they can work for someone ELSE. Max is not the sole employer of illegal immigrants in the United States.

    In addition (again), no one was threatening them with deportation. Why would they – Max’s family would be fined for hiring illegal immigrants then. They arent being threatened with ANYTHING. If you go to work at McDonalds, and then leave halfway through the day because Lunch Rush was too much, do you expect that they’re going to pay you for the day? Even though you’re a citizen? No. You’ve never had to hire an employee, apparently. You are going to want them to actually fulfill the contract and do the work for which you’re paying them. The only thing you can do if they don’t do the work is not pay them. You can’t beat them. You can’t threaten to kill them. You can’t chain them up and make them keep working. You’re being ridiculous.

    “Then there are literally all other crimes.”

    All crimes are about the government making a person NOT do something… Like, for example, You’re NOT allowed to threaten someone’s life if they don’t want to do something you want them to do. You’re NOT allowed to kidnap someone, even if for a short time. You’re NOT allowed to twist and almost break a person’s arm to force them to comply.

    “Theft is non-consensual gift giving.”
    No it’s not you ….. I want to call you a name but I’m not going to. I’m taking a moment to meditate before continuing this sentence.

    No, theft is not ‘non-consensual gift giving’ like it’s some Orwellian newspeak. Theft is the physical removal of an object that is capable of being stolen without the consent of the owner and with the intention of depriving the owner of it permanently. It has nothing to do with gifts. The element of a gift is that it is given CONSENSUALLY. If you remove that element, it can NOT be a gift.

    “What about simple assault? It’s basically non-consensual BDSM.”

    No, assault (and I’m assuming you mean battery, not assault – assault would be the threat of harm, battery is the actual harm) is not non-consensual BDSM. Again, you can’t remove an essential element of a definition and then say it’s the same thing.

    “Rape is more than a simple violation of consent.”

    God I’m happy you never worked in the DA’s office. Rape is non-consensual sexual intercourse that is committed . Even in common law, it’s the unlawful intercourse by a man against a woman by force or threat against their will. The analogy is about the mentality of the rapist and the mentality of Alison, which I repeat over and over but you seem incapable of reading. The mentality involved is using ‘by physical force, threat of injruy, or other duress’ to achieve the goal. Alison did that. She didn’t do it for sex. She did it to force Max to do something ELSE to which he repeatedly said no.

    “When’s the last time a pick pocketing victim was filmed having their wallet stolen and was subsequently bullied until they committed suicide? When’s the last time a pick pocketing victim was told that they probably gave the thief their wallet and now they’re lying about it? When’s the last time pick pocketing was used systematically to subjugate an entire group of people?”

    This part of your post is meaningless.

    “Your analogy disregards the reality of rape by reducing it to a simple violation of consent.”

    No, it doesn’t. You really don’t understand what the word analogous or analogy means, do you? I’ve explained the definition enough times but you seem content to be ignorant.

    “If we were intended to read “Alison as rapist,” this would be taking place juxtaposed with Moonshadow instead of with Alison’s professor talking about tyranny.”

    Actually, it does have a lot to do with what Moonshadow said. The concept of doing something bad, even if you’re doing it to an innocent person, because you think you’re doing something good in the end.

    It also has to do with Gurwara, and even more on point.

    If you’re using Moonshadow because she was attacking rapists or would-be rapists or suspected rapists though, then you’ve again missed the point of what analogy means, and what the word mentality means.

    “Or is tyranny also analogous to rape?”

    Yes, it is. Do you really not comprehend this? I think you really don’t comprehend this.

    “If you believe that is the case, I would question why you seem so intent on watering down the word “rape” until it loses its meaning.”

    It doesnt water down the meaning! Tell that to the victims of Saddam Hussein’s son, Uday, who had entire rape rooms where he used the fact that his family was essentially the tyrants of their country as his justification.

    If anything, people like YOU are watering down the meaning by making the mentality of the perpetrator meaningless and just reducing it to ‘having sex.’

  • Jack_T_Robyn

    Living without delusion is a tax on the soul.

  • Psile

    Using rape sounds like puffery. It’s intentionally using an inflammatory word to add emotional weight to your argument, and that is why I object to it’s usage. I object to it as an analogy, because the two acts are not in the same field. There is a huge disparity between the two things and acting like they are similar makes no sense to me. Rape has a lot to do with sex. It is, by all legal and moral definitions, an inherently sexual act and we have other words we use for other acts involving forcing someone to do something they don’t want to do. Blackmail, coercion, torture. Take your pick. You’re a lawyer if I recall correctly and I have no doubt that you have more than the requisite vocabulary to properly define Allison’s actions without relying on an obviously emotion-based analogy. Allison’s motivation (I am going to force you to do something because I think it is the right thing to do and will help lots of people) is completely different from a rapist’s (I am going to force you to do something you don’t want to do because it will make me feel good and have no other benefit to anyone).

    Also I am aware that a moral event horizon is a story telling mechanic, but I would posit that it is a weak one. That is a matter of subjectivity, but from what I can tell SFP is trying to tackle morally complicated issues without simplifying them in to the simple moral decisions and rules that we see in so much entertainment. It is doing this in a medium famous for using simple moral structures to classify ‘good’ and ‘bad’ people. Comic heroes have rules, but this comic exists to partially challenge a lot of those concepts and how they have created a group of people who think life is really that simple and how they are growing up and all having to realize that it isn’t. So a trope like a moral even horizon, while a real literary tool, is out of place here.

    Basically, this comic is making a genuine attempt to be realistic in it’s portrayal of people, though it is free to be as unrealistic as it wants in terms of science. So I am holding it to that standard, which is why I said that a moral event horizon is not a real thing. Because in this world where characters are forced to make difficult choices without the benefit of knowing if that choice is ‘absolutely good’ or ‘evil’ a moral event horizon is as out of place as an unflinching walk (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/UnflinchingWalk) in a serious harrowing war movie about the trauma that soldiers experience.

  • SJ

    That depends on whether you’re asking the alleged beneficiary of the mugging, or the person who got mugged.

  • Richard King

    Whoa there! Please calm down a bit. It seems like this is a bit of a hot-button issue for you. You should probably take a moment to chill a little before reading further.

    I think you may be carrying some of your hostility to others over to me. Please don’t.

    Like I said, when debating the moral calculus of a given situation, you HAVE to leave emotion at the door.

    YOU have decided to redraw the lines of the discussion by emphasizing Alison’s mindset as being that of a rapist. I believe you are incorrect. Again. Note: this is a different discussion.

    Based on my reading, a rapist, TYPICALLY, rapes for one of two reasons: the need to feel and exercise power over another, and/or the need for sexual satisfaction (I realize this is simplifying and not taking into account other causes, such as chemical imbalances, but these two reportedly are the most common).

    For a rapist, the act of rape is MOST OFTEN one of taking and exercising control, if we are to believe what psychologists have to say on the subject.

    That is, quite literally, “the mindset of a rapist” – at least as far as the psych books say. Rape is about controlling others for the sake of exercising that control. Rapists often feel powerless in their daily lives, work menial jobs – the act of rape is often one of asserting dominance over a world that they feel is being excessively unfair to them. They almost never express regret, often commenting that the victim ‘had it coming’. Rapists are, essentially, whiny selfish losers who take what they want to benefit only themselves without regard to the well-being of others. They are usually very short-sighted and rarely think of the future at all.

    Alison’s mindset does not appear to match that, at all. She doesn’t appear to be doing what she is doing simply to establish control over Max, or for sexual gratification. She isn’t using him as an object in order to meet her own desires. Far from it.

    Alison is quite literally doing what she’s doing to Max solely to benefit others. She personally gets nothing out of it except risk. There is no immediate gratification or pay-off that we see. It doesn’t fit “the mindset of a rapist” at all.

    Furthermore, she is clearly not happy with herself in regard to what she has done – but, she expresses a willingness to do it again if she has to, even though doing it clearly makes her unhappy.

    I tried to make this point before – that there is next to zero chance of a rape victim ever thanking their rapist for what they did, while there is a greater than 0 chance that someday, Max may himself decide that being dragged out his personal pity party was well worth it.

    The reason for that? Because rape NEVER benefits anyone except the rapist. It is solely caused by selfish motivations. What Alison is doing is coming from a place of selfLESSness, and she is doing it at potentially great cost to herself, and solely to benefit others.

    You keep saying that there will be no consequences.

    Note that the author has very carefully set up inside the world of the story that a person that was able to hurt Alison (I.E. her equal in terms of power) is currently being held in prison.

    Note that Alison was injured by her former teammate.

    Also note that she has family she cares about and goals she is invested in achieving (university and her victim’s assistance deal).

    Do you think she would get to keep going to university if this stuff came out? Would anyone want to work with her on the victim’s assistance thing anymore? What would happen to her family if she experiences public backlash for her actions? At the very least, it’s going to make thanksgiving dinner pretty uncomfortable with a pitchfork wielding mob right outside.

    Not to mention the possibility of civil suits, including the likelihood of asset seizure/frozen bank accounts/whatever other punishment the courts come up with.

    That’s aside from the fact that she’s clearly made a lot of enemies among the hero community over the years since she’s seen as the person who screwed everything up for most of them.

    Would also absolutely NOT be surprised if a super-powered assassin operated in this world.

    The key here is that we DON’T KNOW what Alison had Max do.

    My whole point is that it is way too early to rush to judgement on this.

    That’s why the Ten healers were a hypothetical – it’s a suggestion of a particular set of circumstances that might possibly shift the balance of the argument of whether what she did was right or wrong to illustrate the point that WHAT was done is extremely important.

    How many lives would have to be saved before that twisted arm became “worth it”?

    Then there’s also another aspect to this whole situation.

    The corollary to the Spiderman “with great power comes great responsibility” argument. They recently touched on this in the Spiderman scenes in Civil War: if you have the power to stop someone from killing somebody and do not, are you not then responsible for that individual’s death?

    The subversion of this line of thought is why the ending of Batman Begins is so shocking: when he utters the line “I won’t kill you – but I don’t have to save you,” it’s jarring. It rings false. We aren’t used to having our heroes say “Not my problem”. By refusing to save the man when he could have, he is just as responsible for the man’s death as if he had shot him in the head.

    Now realize that Max has been withholding his power for the better part of 20 years. A power that doesn’t allow him to be a hero, but instead enhances the heroics of others. 20 years of enhanced heroics, flushed down the tubes because of basically, jealousy and fear.

    How many could have been saved that weren’t?

    How many people did Max kill through his inaction?

    We don’t know.

    A large part of why Max doesn’t use his power is because he doesn’t value it – has no idea what it could be used to achieve. The only way to prove to him the value of his power – his ability to affect the world – is to get him to use it.

    It’s tragic, really – Alsion’s being slammed for her methods, but we don’t know what she actually DID yet.

  • KevlarNinja

    Ah, we have the same thing here in Ontario. Up until recently, you could only buy booze from the government run or approved stores (or at the breweries themselves). Only recently have they started to let some of the grocery stores sell beer and wine.