Issue 1CoverPage 1Page 2Page 3Page 4Page 5Page 6Page 7Page 8Page 9Page 10Page 11Page 12Page 13Page 14Page 15Page 16Page 17Page 18Page 19Page 20Page 21Page 22Break Issue 2CoverPage 1Page 2Page 3Page 4Page 5Page 6Page 7Page 8Page 9Page 10Page 11Page 12Page 13Page 14Page 15Page 16Page 17Page 18Page 19Page 20Page 21Page 22Page 23Page 24Page 25Page 26Page 27Page 28Page 29Page 30Page 31Page 32Page 33Page 34Page 35Page 36Page 37Page 38Page 39Page 40Page 41Page 42Page 43Page 44Page 45Page 46Page 47Page 48Page 49Page 50 Issue 3CoverPage 1Page 2Page 3HolidayPage 4Page 5Page 6Page 7Page 8Page 9Page 10Page 11Page 12Page 13Page 14Page 15Page 16Page 17Page 18Page 19Page 20Page 21page 22Page 23Page 24Page 25Page 26Page 27Page 28Page 29Page 30Page 31p 32Page 33Page 34Page 35Page 36Page 37Page 38Page 39Page 40Page 41Page 42Page 43Page 44Page 45Page 46Page 47Page 48Page 49Page 50Page 51Page 52Page 53Page 54Page 55Page 56Page 57Page 58Page 59Page 60Page 61Page 62Page 63Page 64Page 65Page 66Page 67Page 68Page 69Page 70Page 71Page 72Page 73Page 74Page 75Page 76Page 77Page 78 Guest ArtTuesdayWednesdayFriday Issue 4CoverPage 1Page 2Page 3Page 4Page 5Page 6Page 7Page 8Page 9Page 10Page 11Page 12Page 13Page 14Page 15Page 16Page 17Page 18Page 19Page 20Page 21Page 22Page 23Page 24Page 25Page 26Page 27Page 28Page 29Page 30Page 31Page 32Page 33Page 34Page 35Page 36Page 37Page 38Page 39Page 40Page 41Page 42Page 43Page 44Page 45Page 46Page 47Page 48Page 49Page 50Page 51Page 52 Issue 5CoverPage 1Page 2NewspaperPage 3Page 4Page 5Page 6Page 7Page 8Page 9Page 10Page 11Page 12Page 13Page 14Page 15Page 16Page 17Page 18Page 19Page 20Page 21Page 22Page 23Page 24Page 25Page 26Page 27Page 28Page 29Page 30Page 31Page 32Page 33Page 34Page 35Page 36Page 37Page 38Page 39Page 40Page 41Page 42Page 43Page 44Page 45Page 46Page 47Page 48Page 49Page 50Page 51Page 52Page 53Page 54Page 55Page 56Page 57Page 58Page 59Page 60HiatusPage 61Page 62Page 63Page 64Page 65Page 66Page 67Page 68Page 69Page 70Page 71Page 72Page 73Page 74Page 75Page 76Page 77Page 78Page 79Page 80Page 81Page 82Page 83Page 84Page 85Page 86Page 87Page 88Page 89Page 90Page 91Page 92Page 93Page 94Page 95Page 96Page 97Page 98Page 99Page 100Page 101Page 102Page 103Page 104Page 105Page 106Page 107Page 108Page 109Page 110Page 111Page 112Page 113Page 114Page 115Page 116Page 117Page 118Page 119Page 120Page 121Page 122Page 123Page 124Page 125Page 126Page 127Page 128Page 129Page 130Page 131Page 132Page 133Page 134Page 135Page 136Page 137Page 138Page 139Page 140Page 141Page 142Page 143Page 144Page 145Page 146Page 147Page 148Page 149Page 150Page 151Page 152Page 153Page 154Page 155Page 156Page 157Page 158Page 159Page 160Page 161Page 162Page 163Page 164Page 165Page 166Page 167 Issue 6CoverPage 1Page 2Page 3Page 4Page 5Page 6Page 7Page 8Page 9Page 10Page 11Page 12Page 13Page 14Page 15Page 16Page 17Page 18Page 19Page 20Page 21Page 22Page 23Page 24Page 25Page 26Page 27Page 28Page 29Page 30Page 31Page 32Page 33Page 34Page 35Page 36Page 37Page 38Page 39Page 40Page 41Page 42Page 43Page 44Page 45Page 46Page 47Page 48Page 49Page 50Page 51Page 52Page 53Page 54Page 55Page 56Page 57Page 58Page 59Page 60Page 61Page 62Page 63Page 64Page 65Page 66Page 67Page 68Page 69Page 70Page 71Page 72Page 73Page 74Page 75Page 76Page 77Page 78Page 79Page 80Page 81Page 82Page 83Page 84Page 85Page 86Page 87Page 88Page 89Page 90Page 91Page 92Page 93Page 94Page 95Page 96Page 97Page 98Page 99Page 100Page 101Page 102Page 103Page 104Page 105Page 106Page 107Page 108Page 109Page 110Page 111Page 112Page 113Page 114Page 115Page 116Page 117Page 118Page 119Page 120Page 121Page 122Page 123Page 124Page 125Page 126Page 127Page 128Page 129Page 130Page 131Page 132Page 133Page 134Page 135Page 136Page 137Page 138Page 139Page 140Page 141Page 142Page 143Page 144Page 145 Bonus Content1234 Issue 7CoverPage 1Page 2Page 3Page 4Page 5Page 6Page 7Page 8Page 9Page 10Page 11Page 12Page 13Page 14Page 15Page 16Page 17Page 18Page 19Page 20Page 21Page 22Page 23Page 24Page 25Page 26Page 27Page 28Page 29Page 30Page 31Page 32Page 33Page 34Page 35Page 36Page 37Page 38Page 39Page 40Page 41Page 42Page 43Page 44Page 45Page 46Page 47Page 48Page 49Page 50Page 51Page 52Page 53Page 54Page 55Page 56Page 57Page 58Page 59Page 60Page 61Page 62Page 63Page 64Page 65Page 66Page 67Page 68Page 69Page 70Page 71Page 72Page 73Page 74Page 75Page 76Page 77Page 78Page 79Page 80Page 81Page 82Page 83Page 84Page 85Page 86Page 87Page 88Page 89Page 90Page 91Page 92Page 93Page 94Page 95Page 96Page 97Page 98Page 99Page 100Page 101Page 102Page 103Page 104Page 105Page 106Page 107Page 108Page 109Page 110Page 111 Show Comments Alberto Francioli BUSTED!!! rpenner Biodynamic blush! Arkone Axon Alison is highly educated. …Tara is very intelligent. Education and intelligence are not the same thing. Weatherheight Tara also is more experienced in the wider world. This is a very valuable toolset / asset. Goatmon While Tara is definitely smarter than she lets on, what she’s demonstrating here is an extremely good memory more than anything else. Lysiuj “Alison is not a good actress.” Oh, Gurwara will be so disappointed… and she showed such promise, too! Sanguich True, but at least in humans, smell has a much more powerful link to memory than other senses. It’s possible to be instantly reminded of something from a completely unrelated sent. Something to do with it being our oldest and more primitive sense? If our noses were sensitive like an animal’s, who knows? Eve They’ve all got superpowers, maybe they smell more distinctive? Evidently Feral’s sense of smell is at the superpower level, too. (Although there are a few people around whose sense of smell is that sensitive. Apparently it’s a nightmare to live with, and you hear stories of men who manage to offend an entire group of women by telling them all, correctly, where they are in their menstrual cycle simply by smell.) Elbadasso Well that might have also have been one of the Feral powers that got jumped up when she got next leveled. Super Smell Memory. Arkone Axon …Seems to me that with a little consideration, that would make him the perfect guy to have around. “Good morning; here you go.” “You brought me ice cream? Ibuprofin? And pads… oh, that’s so considerate of you!” “The nose knows.” Zorae42 That’s nice if they’re your super close friend. Otherwise it’s hella creepy. With all the shame our culture places on the menstrual cycle, it can be embarrassing to have it pointed out. And with the assholes that commonly use “I bet it’s that time of the month” to shut women down, it can also come across as insulting (even if it is that time of the month, due to the implications). Arkone Axon Just because the culture tries to make people feel ashamed about having a menstrual cycle doesn’t mean we have to give in to that influence. It’s amazing how liberated you can become once you decide the “unspoken rules” don’t apply to you – because people can’t openly confront you on rules that aren’t official and can’t even be enforced without your cooperation. And yes, “I bet it’s that time of the month” is indeed insulting – especially since what that time of the month actually means is: having a bad headache, having back and other joint pain, and being weakened by loss of blood… all at the same time (especially bad for my partner; she used to lose a full PINT of blood every month, with the other symptoms being similarly intense. It literally incapacitated her at times. I made her a lot of kale and spinach to replenish her iron levels on those weeks). Which means any “mood swings” are simply the result of being aching all over, sluggish and weak from blood loss… and this jerk comes along being insulting and insensitive about it. “It’s not “mood swings,” you prick! I’m in the same kind of physical discomfort you’d be in if you donated blood and then got drunk enough to have a massive hangover the next day!” AshlaBoga “‘It’s not “mood swings,’ you prick! I’m in the same kind of physical discomfort you’d be in if you donated blood and then got drunk enough to have a massive hangover the next day!” Good description. My girlfriend once compared it to the worst blue balls of your life. Combined with you bleeding and the whole thing lasts several days. *Shudders* Lisa Izo I’m…. almost curious how your girlfriend knows what blue balls feels like. Zorae42 Except not everyone has made that decision and a lot of people are still embarrassed by it. And it’s rude to do that to people without knowing where they stand on that sort of thing. That’s not… That’s not why it’s insulting. It’s insulting because the implication is that women can’t make rational decisions during that time. Or that they can’t help being unreasonable bitches when they’re just being reasonably assertive. It’s not about being insensitive. I mean it sucks, a lot, but that doesn’t mean I’m not capable of making decisions/being nice at that time. And there’s lots of medications out there to make it tolerable and not debilitating. Arkone Axon “It’s insulting because the implication is that women can’t make rational decisions during that time.” That’s exactly what I said. You’re in intense physical discomfort, which is guaranteed to make anyone feel a little short tempered – and then the idiot states that limited patience is the same thing as being neurochemically incapable of logical behavior. Eve By the way, to anyone bleeding that heavily: if you possibly can, get blood tests for anaemia. Don’t just take iron tablets. The ordinary over-the-counter iron tablets have far too low a dose to treat anaemia, and the prescription strength ones (you can occasionally find this strength in supplements, but it’s rare) are too strong to be safe to take unless you know you are treating anaemia. Food sources won’t be enough. If prescriptions are expensive, then one compromise is to get the blood test (always find out your ferritin level, there are different reference ranges in different countries and what’s considered normal in one country may be considered anaemia in another), then source the 210mg iron (65mg elemental iron) tablets online and take them yourself, with another blood test in a few months to see how things are settling. Arkone Axon The problem is that she wouldn’t take the stuff. We had numerous arguments about her insistence on “hollistic” treatment – which to her translated as “don’t do anything, then whimper about being miserable and wait for backrubs.” Nor was this the only situation where she refused to take medicine or engage in physical activities to improve her condition. I’ve finally taken to issuing ultimatums: “You will drink the damned nyquil or I will pour it down your throat,” or “you can either do the stretches so your muscles loosen up and your joints stop aching, or I will extend you no sympathy.” (Thankfully she’s better than my parents – my father just got out of the hospital last night with a hole in his wrist from where they inserted the probe, and if it opens up again he gets to press down on the artery while Mom calls for an ambulance. He told me, “they said I’m not supposed to bend my wrist at all, and only limited movement with the fingers.” “Translation: the doctors told you not to use the hand at all, and you’re rationalizing disobeying the doctors.” Dad: “No.” Mom: “Yes.”) Eve Oof, best of luck to him. My former singing teacher refused to take her blood pressure meds in favour of natural remedies. So the uncontrolled high blood pressure turned into vascular dementia, and she had a nasty few years of it before dying. This is in a country with universal healthcare, too. Anaemia can kill Arkone Axon We finally got him to put a wrist splint on last night… the problem is getting him to just NOT DO THINGS. We have to go check on them later, make certain my father isn’t pruning in the yard. While nodding sagely when people point out that he’s risking his life and saying “yes, you do make a good point” as if nodding sagely and speaking in a calm, measured tone makes him sound wise. And thankfully she’s no longer having her cycles. She is VERY happy about that. But yeah… I actually reminded her of it this morning, over the breakfast that I made. While pointing out how I keep trying to feed her good, healthy food that suits her tastes. She did say that it’s nice that someone tries to take care of her, because she never had that before. So… I try. BadExampleMan Worst. Bar trick. EVER. Tylikcat Not just in humans. I’d think in all vertebrates – certainly, all mammals. Really, we don’t have the best noses! Ran Re: “If our noses were sensitive like an animal’s, […]”: Oddly enough, they *are*. The whole “we don’t smell as well as animals” thing is a myth, at least according to this article: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/11/science/human-sense-of-smell-nose.html Tylikcat That gave pretty mixed evidence – about as much processing space as a mouse (I mostly worked in rat in my very limited work in olfactory bulb), much less than dog, as well as a lot less scent discrimination… I think the take-away is that our noses can do a lot more than they’re usually given credit for (which is certainly true). I suspect there’s a lot of variation in scent acuity, as well. Being bipedal does some odd things – it’s often easier to get scent off surfaces, but our noses are usually more up in the air. (At least, I know air scenting is a specialized skill with animals, but I don’t know all that goes into it. I know humans can learn to follow a scent track on the group – I’ve played around with that – but you need a stronger signature to follow it in the air.) The memory issue is innate, and it has to do with the way the olfactory bulb connects up to the limbic system – scent memory goes most directly into some of the most basic architecture for learning and memory. Have a visual: http://psychbrain.weebly.com/uploads/2/9/6/1/29610377/8581064.png?419 Eve Oops, I forgot to keep an eye on this. In case it was ambiguous, if a man turned up and started commenting on the menstrual cycles of the women around him, he would firmly be shown the door and to learn about boundaries. I really don’t want a random bloke bringing me ibuprofen, ice cream and pads either, especially since I use none of them! My partner knows when I’m on my period because I tell him, and has had to nip to my flat to fetch my cup if I’ve miscalculated the timing once or twice. It’s fascinating to learn about how the Victorians linked smell to immorality, but I am yet to be convinced that our sense of smell is as sophisticated as that of some other animals. The article looked like it was separating the size of the olfactory bulb to how scents are processed in the brain. Forgetting to look at the neurological side of things is sadly common. For instance, I have Auditory Processing Disorder, which is neurological, but it took me a while to get diagnosed because I got sent to an ENT surgeon who hadn’t received the memo that hearing involves both the ears and the brain. Not to mention that the media are renowned for bad reporting of science. I find it’s best to look up the original trial they’re reporting on. Tylikcat Separating the bulb and the processing is appropriate – but I think you have a typo in there, and I’m not sure if you’re making or disagreeing with that point. Eve Which bit did you think was the typo? I’ve spotted a missing word, but that’s in the first paragraph. Separating the bulb and the processing is appropriate, completely ignoring one and presenting a skewed conclusion isn’t. Also the New York Times has shown itself to have an appalling lack of ethics when it comes to disability reporting, so I don’t think it’s likely that they will be particularly good with medical reporting either. Tylikcat “The article looked like it was separating the size of the olfactory bulb to how scents are processed in the brain.” I was having trouble parsing that bit, which lead to trying to figure out if you were disputing that? The NYT does slightly better than most print journalism on science reporting but that’s a really low bar. I mostly read popular reports because I’m interested in what most people are hearing about science* – it wouldn’t occur to me to get my data there. But in this case, I’m a neurobiologist, and one of the things I teach, sometimes, is neuroanatomy. * Okay, and sometimes I get a heads up on interesting research. But, yeah, you have to look up the actual research, because often what’s being written up in the popular press is totally bonkers. Arkone Axon Oh, I should add that I’m not talking about randomly walking up to women and saying “hmm, my keen sense of smell tells me you could use these.” I’m talking about someone you know and trust who happens to have a particularly keen sense of smell and knows it’s okay. (though perhaps I’m just feeling envious. I don’t have a sense of smell. At all. I have a keenly developed sense of taste, but my sinuses are often clogged and I’ve never been able to sense a smell other than “nose wrinkling and eyes tearing up because the recipe calls for lots of chopped onions.”) Shjade Keep in mind, she really digs Alison. It seems likely she’d have a good memory for the competition. Eve I think she fancied her, asked her out, got told no, and moved on. Plenty of friends go through that, and if they are actually decent people and not Nice Guys, get past it. Arkone Axon No, she fancied her, took her to a favorite bar, kissed her without warning, and got punched through a wall. But yes, she did move on… never stopped desiring Alison (and never pretended not to, either), but she took one look at Lisa and jungle music started playing. Shjade Well, for one, you can “get past it” and still have feelings for someone. For two, she certainly hadn’t “moved on” by the time she was in the hospital, which was when she first smelled Patrick on her (Issue 3, page 58, “Because I think I probably love you.”), so…yeah. Some guy I know it wasn’t the point you were making, but I’m disputing the Highly Educated bit. She’s in college now, but with a nonsense free-form major. Most of her high school years were (hopefully) getting child-actor level tutoring in between punching bad guys. She’s had enormous resources spent on her, but they were mostly in the ‘punching stuff’ direction. Admittedly, this isn’t “Alison Goes to College” so maybe she actually is killing it in her studies off-screen, but I don’t recall seeing a practical demonstration of such other than one paper on mythology, and that was mostly just a voiceover. screechfox Alison has the expression of someone who regrets literally every choice she has made in her life. Rando As she should. RobNiner ♫ Oh yeah I know that one. AdamBombTV “I have a very good explanation for that… let me just go to the other room and work out it is” Lysiuj “Patrick, could you do me a favor and tell me which lie she will believe?” palmvos oh… there needs to be some fan sketches of that scenario! Weatherheight So… Does Alison come clean and hopes Tara is true to her friends, even when Alison clearly has been shady? Or does Alison risk one of her foundational friendships by either (a) lying or (b) asking that friend to trust her even after getting caught in a lie? Especially after Tara is obviously cutting Alison some slack because the boyfriend/baseline person who was clearly feeling “out of circle” hours ago is now neck-deep in biodynamic activity. Bumpy night Kid Chaos “Feral, meet Patrick, a.k.a. ‘Menace’. Patrick, meet Feral, one of my best friends of all time; be nice.” 😜 ClockworkDawn “She murdered supervillains for a living for most of her life. Should be neat, I’m sure you guys knew some of the same people.” Lisa Izo “Heck you probably killed each others allies more than once.” Incendax A foundational friendship shouldn’t be in danger from something like this, unless she outs him as Menace right there. Friends have secrets. As long as it doesn’t happen too often, it shouldn’t be a deal breaker. Arkone Axon Problem is that this is the tip of the iceberg. Tara’s on the verge of finding out that her good fortune was achieved at the cost of torturing an innocent person. Imagine finding out that someone you trusted committed horrible crimes against innocent people for your benefit; imagine the guilt you’d feel, and the sense of betrayal at being made complicit and a beneficiary of those crimes. Incendax Unfortunately, I think that’s par for the course when it comes to being a major superhero in this world. They are all murderers and former child soldiers, so every single one of them has had to deal with innocents getting killed for the good of other people, and wrestled with the doubt that comes from wondering if you did the right thing. It wouldn’t be an admirable thing, but they should all be used to it by now. Weatherheight Some people never get used to it, some do. Incendax I think this comic leans heavily on the side of the latter. Feral specifically might be an interesting case. She clearly had less issues with killing people in her old life, but her newfound idealism might make her lean towards the former. We shall see! Arkone Axon “I’m TRYING to be a better person! I wanted to be BETTER than this! You made me participate in evil again!” Yeah. It’s important to remember that the reason Tara’s become so awesome is because we’re seeing her after years of growth and development. Hopefully Alison will also grow and improve. There’s a webcomic called “Something Positive” with a similar character. She was a vain, shallow, vapid, gold digging twit and was a perfectly acceptable target for all manner of karmic punishment. These days she’s on the run from the law and neither living comfortably nor looking as pretty. But she’s also a much nicer person and has real friends (it shocked her to realize this). And another character named Mike, who started out as a creepy “nice guy” type who got kicked out of a few roleplaying groups for his attitude and behavior… now he’s married, a father, AND… a superhero. The most popular superhero in his town, in fact. Eric Schissel Whether Tara would have the same opinion as you do about the series of events in question if (presumably when) she finds out more about them is not something you should take for granted, I’d think, nor that it is the center of Alison’s story (or even the part of it that concerns Tara.) That it’s the part of it that makes Alison the antagonist in this comic strip so far as you are concerned is well-established but is not the point at issue even if your name is coincidentally Tara… Arkone Axon I never said she was the antagonist. Especially since the terms “protagonist” versus “antagonist” don’t necessarily mean “hero” and “villain.” You can have a villainous protagonist. You can even have a heroic antagonist. And I’m not taking Tara’s future reactions for granted. I’m basing my prediction of her future reactions based on her past behavior. She did horrible things that she now repents. She allowed herself to be continuously vivisected on a 24/7 basis for months, before she was finally liberated from that. She was in a very real hell of her own choosing, martyred for the sake of others. Now she’s been freed from that… because a friend engaged in kidnapping, torture, and everything her organization “Valkyrie” is set up to oppose when it’s abusive partners doing those things. And she was never given the choice, she was made to benefit from evil actions without her knowledge or consent. That doesn’t make Alison the antagonist because Alison IS the protagonist; the story is about her. But it does make her someone who has done very horrible things and she will now have to deal with the consequences. Eric Schissel Hrm. True. (On another point, which of them came up with Valkyrie again? Might not have been the best choice.) Arkone Axon I’m… not certain. I think the name was decided offscreen. Jovial Contrarian I hope she’ll try twisting her arms and throwing her on a table, it used to work before :^) Weatherheight Nah, Tara will just let her rip it off, regrow the arm and give Alison a green eyed stare designed to hit her right in the guilts. Arkone Axon HAH! I can see Tara doing exactly that! …Which begs the question: what will happen to the arm? Double the Tara, double the fun? Weatherheight Did you just troll me with the Infinite Trolls meme? ::doffs his Fancy Hat™ in Lysiuj’s general direction:: Well played… Incendax She can remember his smell from the doctor night, but can’t remember his smell from the times she presumably fought Menace, or at least his henchmen who would smell like Menace? Lysiuj No, it’s from issue 3, when Alison came to visit her at the hospital with Patrick. Patrick didn’t go in with her, but Tara still told her she could smell a man on her. http://strongfemaleprotagonist.com/issue-3/680/ Incendax Right. So why can she recognize his smell from then, but not from all the times she presumably fought Menace, or at least his henchmen? Lysiuj Oh, gotcha. Well I doubt he ever fought anyone himself; or came into direct enough contact with his soldiers and robots to leave a scent on them. (And if Tara had caught his scent in the past while fighting him she would have already recognized it at the hospital). Beroli Safe bet from the fact that Patrick isn’t dead that he never actually fought in a lethal battle where his mental anomaly wouldn’t help him, and his henchmen probably didn’t go straight from a briefing with him personally to fighting Tara. (The ones who ever met him in person–which I would expect to be very few, and mostly limited to ones he didn’t expect to be in battle. His supervillain style was all about being the faceless voice making demands behind the robots and lesser supervillains.) Blub Blub she would have to know the henchmen quite well to be able to differentiate between there own and menace smells. Ian Osmond Probably because Menace presumably tried to keep far away from any place where Feral was shooting people. And he probably didn’t snuggle with his henchmen. Filthy Liar Alison’s continual shock that other people are at least as smart as she is, is definitely one of the high points of the comic. ClockworkDawn “But… But I’m the protagonist!” SaiyanHeretic A strong female one at that, it’s even in the title! Guilherme Carvalho *Alison looks up, points* “See?” palmvos note: the authors need to quit buying the 4rth wall from aperture science. Tsapki It’s almost like flawed, I daresay HEAVILY flawed, protagonists make stories better. Arkone Axon Depends. In the 1980s Alan Moore established that flawed heroes could make for more interesting stories than pure and incorruptible heroes. But that was followed by the Dork Ages of the 1990s where everything was X-Treme!!! and the emphasis was style over substance, with stories involving heroes that were nothing but flaws. You need to have characters that readers can become emotionally attached to. (And I didn’t forget to capitalize the “and.” The word “Xtreme!!!” includes the triple exclamation points, and should be shouted loudly. Preferably before chugging a soda while snowboarding upside down, or covering up massively oversized shoulders with pouches, pouches, and more pouches: http://thepunchlineismachismo.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/2016-06-06.jpg ) Lisa Izo That guy is totally Liefieldized. http://www.dadsbigplan.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/steph-and-cass.jpg Andrew Jensen Jeeze, this one is easy. “You’re right, I’m giving you a poor cover story. The truth is, as much as I would like to explain everything to you, I don’t have the right to out this guy’s secrets to you without his permission, which he is in no condition to give. Can we roll with this until the crisis is over?” This is the difference between being honest and being trustworthy. Being honest is never lying. Being trustworthy requires being able to keep a secret. Psile Yeah, we’ll see how she deals with it. That is one thing I wish would happen more often in fiction. If you have two people who have a strong bond, one of them can usually say ‘Hey, I can’t go into it right now. Just follow my lead, k?’ and it’ll be okay as long as they actually explain what the fuck is up later. Andrew Jensen It’s not even just in fiction. Like, anyone with friends who aren’t out of the closet about something need to know how to do this. And similarly, people need to know how to understand when a friend says to them “I’m not telling you the whole truth because I’m covering for a friend.” If you really trust your friend and their judgement, you don’t even need to get the explanation later. Arkone Axon On the last page I mentioned being a Heinlein fan. There’s a bit from one of his books that I’m thinking of here, where the protagonist mentions he may be in trouble with the law – and his friend immediately offers him assistance, no questions asked. The protagonist immediately feels warm and happy to know she’s such a good friend. Or as the saying goes, “friends help you move. Good friends help you move bodies.” Tylikcat It is true that there is a set of friends* who if they show up at the door in the middle of the night saying “They’re after me, you have to hide me!” I will absolutely take them in. There is then a further breakdown on whether I will give them hot food and blankets or slam them up against a wall and demand details on what damn fool thing they’ve done. (Modulo getting them all appropriately hidden.) Finding out people are lying to my face about something is still going to piss me off. If you can’t tell me – fine (unless you’re in that latter group who have kind of lost their getting me involved in shit and not telling me the details privileges) but lying is just disrespectful. * By great cliche, the amount of shit we’ve gone through together is a factor. Arkone Axon Yes. That’s the big thing – you don’t do that for just anybody. There are too many people out there who talk about being friends, even claim to be like family, when they need your help – and then when it’s the other way around suddenly they barely even know you. You do that for the people who you know would do it for you. Tylikcat Eh, I’ll do it for people I wouldn’t ask it of, which is to say the set of people I’d take in without question is larger than the set of people I’d trust at my back without question. Brian Roney I play a lot of social deception card/board games (One Night, Secret Hitler, Avalon, etc). There are _so_ many players whose main weakness is they feel the need to try to make a cover story. Like “Seriously, if you hadn’t said anything I’d be with you, but now you’re making stuff up that I’m doubtful about, so now we’re going to be talking about _that_.” I think it comes from people going “Okay, this is what my cover story is going to be.” and then attempting to share it as much as possible. Like Jayne in Firefly where he memorizes his lines and says them even when they’re not necessary because damn it he put the work in. Magma Sam Yeah, but I think part of the issue is that Alison didn’t want to not just ‘avoid explaining on the spot’, but avoid explaining in ‘general’. That whole “actually explain what the fuck is up later.” is kind of a big deal. Eve Yes, but where would the plotlines be if everyone were sensible in fiction! I think too many writers assume you need bad communication etc. in order to create conflict and drama, and the readers/viewers end up yelling at the page/screen, “Oh for heaven’s sake, just talk to each other!” kabob I think that happens a fair amount in The Games We Play by Ryuugi Jaune has a shitton of info that will either have bad consequences if he reveals them, or they aren’t really hid secrets to reveal, and instead of the traditional song and dance of either lies or half truths, he just tells his friend that he can’t tell him right now, and they move on. critically_damped This is “Strong Female Protagonist”, not “Person Who Always Does the Best Thing”. This comic started out with Alison recognizing that she lacked knowledge and understanding, and I think it’s entirely about her learning those things from the people around her. Having superpowers doesn’t make you omniscient or omnibenevolent, you have to work at both of those things, regardless of your level of education and good intentions. And they directly inform each other in an impossible, contradictory feedback loop that gets even worse with every step you take towards omnipotence. I absolutely love this comic, because it takes the best elements of the best Superman stories, the central part of what makes a good Superman story interesting. And that is not “Superman always does the right thing”. It is “Superman always WANTS to do the right thing, and is absolutely physically capable of doing the right thing, but sometimes doesn’t know what the right thing to do actually is”. Andrew Jensen I… Think you may be responding to other posters? My statement is not a critique of the story or the character. It’s more that, where the previous big moral question “is it ever right to compel action through force” has no easy answers, this one does. I’ve spent a lot of time considering the dichotomy of the supposedly synonymous virtues of “honest” and “trustworthy,” I have come up with an elegant solution, and I like sharing it whenever the topic comes up. I would not think less of the character if they don’t immediately reach the same conclusions. I won’t think less of the writing either, unless this devolves into one of those stories where the drama could be avoided if people would just talk to each other. Lisa Izo Much as I hate to admit it, I can’t see any problem at all with Andrew’s response. In fact it’s probably the best possible thing that Alison could ever say to keep her secret while not lying, even if she’s omitting the truth. So I’m pretty sure Alison won’t say it. Margot Yes, but in this case it’s more complicated than that. For one thing, what about Feral’s trust in Alison? I don’t know about Feral’s history with Menace, but we know that her girlfriend really hates him, so would she be ok with helping him if she knew who he was? Maybe, because she also loves and trusts Alison and Alison is asking her to, but maybe Alison should let her make that choice? And it’s not just Patrick’s secret that Alison’s keeping, but also her own, that she has befriended and supported Menace. So she’s not just trying to protect Patrick. Also, she doesn’t really trust Patrick, and she knows he can be amazingly manipulative (except right now), so probably it’s better for her to explain things to Feral (whenever that happens) than to let Patrick do it. So yeah, I think she should probably say something like “Sorry I lied to you, this is really complicated and confusing, can I explain after the crisis?” But I think she probably should tell Feral (and Clevin) the truth eventually, even without Patrick’s permission, and she shouldn’t be too surprised if they’re really pissed off at her for deceiving them. Evelyn Shea They’re not advocating telling Tara he’s menace; in fact they’re advocating the opposite. “I can’t get into my friends problems with you; they’re his business.” Which is honest without giving away information. Margot I get that, I’m not sure she shouldn’t tell, at least once the crisis is a bit less crisis-y. And I’m just not sure that Alison’s secret keeping is actually motivated by concern for Patrick’s consent, so saying “I don’t have the right to out this guy’s secrets to you without his permission” is maybe not as honest as it sounds? Herwood And you can be both at once! sammybaby “Look, it’s not like that! He didn’t have anything to do with the attack on the hospital. I just didn’t want to tell you who he was because he’s Menace, that’s all.” Walter Ruh Roh Raggy! GreatWyrmGold “Bad enough that you’re lying, but the timing doesn’t reflect well on him.” Psile <— Tara is not amused by this fuckery. JohnTomato Feral whispering? She’s a screamer when the soft drink machine gives correct change. Urthman I like that the phrase “I’d take a bullet for you” has a completely different meaning for Feral. “You know that I’d bang my shins on the coffee table for you.” Giacomo Bandini Actually she can simply explain the situation with no outright lies, just a few omissions. “Look Tara, the reason i can’t bring this guy tohelped the DBRD is that he’s unregistered. He conside the american government bloody and unthrustworty. I met him when i was a superhwro, he cane to me with compelling evidence suggesting a governative conspiracy who was killing metahumans. We struck a deal: i would not give him to autorties As long he refrained from criminal activities, so che can keep investigating the conspiracy. We kept contact, and he helped me from time to time, that’s why you smelled on me. I considered him a friend, but later we had a very bad falling. I ve notbseen him since… Before this evening.” Et voilà, everything solved. Arkone Axon That is an excellent idea, this is actually the best possible solution (at least in the short term) as far as I can tell. And… Alison almost certainly will not resort to it. She doesn’t THINK. She relies on her heart, not her head. Which sounds great – except that in reality it leads to the people you would help instead becoming your victims, and you getting to carry the guilt with you for the rest of your life. This whole chapter is going to be about the consequences of following your heart instead of your head – of not THINKING about what you’re doing. Alison’s behavior has been much like that of Stephan of Cloyes, who led one of the “Childrens Crusades.” (where a bunch of kids and some adults followed the twelve year old to the Holy Land to convert all the Muslims with song and prayer… and half of them starved to death and the rest got sold into slavery) Misspel The other problem is that this is not an interactive comic where the Author can pick and choose from the most level headed. Us who have hours to think about each action, while these same actions in the story can take place in mere seconds. And while I tend to go for truth with omissions like this, I think that Tara could figure out that Patrick is Menace from that information or at least strongly suspect it. She knows that he is a strong empath/telepath. If it was suggested that he was a criminal with anarchist tendencies, I think that she would figure it out. Giacomo Bandini Well, if omission doesn’t work, there is also good old lies. “Alison… is he Menace,isn’t he?” “WHAT?! Oh come on Tara, what the f*** are you saying? You think that Menace was the only telepath in the planet? That i let go the most wanted biodynamic in the world? That the most dangerous terrrorist of recent history is sleeping drunk in the guest’s room? Don’t be ridicolous, it’s just a bloke.” Jubal DiGriz I’ve only just now realized that Alison has substantial trust issues. Fair enough, she does have a couple BIG secrets, but when under pressure several times now she’s defaulted to lying instead of saying something like, “I can’t tell you the details.” Any notions on why this is? Habit from wearing a mask in her formative years? Not being used to having unconditional friends? Or is it more like she thinks she can lie well enough that she’ll always get away with it? Lysiuj Combination of everything in paragraph 2, really. But also, it seems like each time she wants to not expose any of the details about the situation, or even that there is a situation. Like she wants to keep as many people as posibble from even knowing something’s up. (And to some extent it’s hard to blame her…) Eve Also she’s young (and missed out on a normal adolescence) and some of are worse when put on the spot like this than others. She’s ended up in a tricky situation and she’s panicking. JeffH I think the situation of, “My friend was the worlds most famous super-villian,” put her in a position where totally transparent honesty was not really an option. I think Andrew’s suggestion above — basically, “I can’t tell you the truth right now, but I need your help anyway,” — would have been the best choice, but I don’t think it’s the initial natural reaction for the vast majority of us. I don’t see this as where she thinks she can lie well — it seems more like she found herself in a situation where she couldn’t tell the truth, and followed a bad path from there. Rando Because she is a bad person, who will take the easy way out rather than doing the right thing. Rando And before anyone mentions it. Yes, she was a super hero. Who was invulnerable, and never at any risk. She was playing a game. Incendax I think it stops being a game when your friends are brutally murdered. In fact, it makes me wonder how she seems to have gotten out of it reasonably intact. If anything, she is more empathetic than she was when we saw her as a child growing up. But maybe that’s why she never really knew much about even her own teammates. She just kept them at arms length, never growing incredibly close because they would just die. Feral and Pinsize seem to be the real exceptions. Even Brad is just ‘friendly, but I don’t even remember you have two moms’ level. Tsapki She was never at any risk as best as we and likely she knew. She’s been injured twice during the comic, once by over tasking her power, once by another biodynamic. Arkone Axon Worse than that. She WANTS to be a good person. She WANTS to do the right thing. And… she rushed ahead with the mindset of “THIS IS THE RIGHT THING TO DO AND I MUST DO IT AT ONCE WITHOUT THINKING ABOUT IT OR TALKING TO OTHERS ABOUT IT,” which screwed things up for her so very, very badly (and also for the people she intended to help). And I put that in all caps not because I’m SHOUTING ON THE INTERNET, but because that’s literally how that mindset works: you don’t just decide you’re right, but you decide it emphatically, “loudly,” drowning out any contradictory input. An unshakable conviction that leads you to dismiss anyone who disagrees with you as incorrect at best and evil at worst. (The kind of mentality that leads to responding to legitimate criticism with questions like “why do you hate America?” or “why do you want children in poverty to starve to death?”) Weatherheight I get the impression that she (a) was given really big problems way before she was emotionally or intellectually capable of handling them (b) was forced to become keenly aware that mistakes on her part literally got people killed and one of the best defenses was to keep as much as possible of her life concealed in order to protect her family and friends (c) formed a lot of professional relationships that became friendships that, frankly, ties back into point (b) (d) is fully human in her head – an awful lot of us lie to protect our self image and our expressed image, and Alison doesn’t seem to have fully internalized an ability to forgive herself when she messes up (again, back to point (b) ), and (e) isn’t getting as much psychological therapy as she might need. I’m getting the impression that counseling by the DBRD doctors are way more concerned about the physical outcomes than the psychological outcomes of biodynamics. AshlaBoga My less charitable take is that the US military doesn’t want tier 1s to be easily be able to function outside of military life. Weatherheight Ohh.. yeah, this is pretty good too. Lot of good thoughts on the idea at the top of the thread. Ian Nithmask also, her family life treats her mind to be as unvulnerable as her body, everyone does most of her issues can be traced back to the lack of support from anyone, she is invencible, why should she care about others, stop the consequences, meh, ill just figure it out later, noone can hold her accountable narcissistic, self-centered, prone to lying how many people has she ever had who treat her like a person at all ? Weatherheight I kind of got the impression that her family is pretty involved but at the end of the day they really don’t understand what she’s done or are unconsciously not examining it too closely (much as most spouses and children and parents of career military don’t too closely examine what those soldiers actually do while on duty, particularly special ops members). I support our soldiers not because I always agree with what they are called on to do, but rather because I have a vague sense of the horrors they must face and grieve that they must face those horrors for my sake. zellgato Eitehr tell him. or tell him its his secrets.. but to trust that you’re trying to do somethign worth while. Or yakno reveal it and Feral will take care of the future problems.. *cough* but preferably not bryan rasmussen Because he’s normally invisible, you insensitive jerk! Lisa Izo Dun dun dunnnnnnnnnnnnnn Alex Harencar ooooooOOOOOOH! Blue This is mildly off the general conversation but do we know if she’s totally bullshit about Patrick’s backstory, being a tier 3 who shares a doctor. Partially because we haven’t seen any other telepaths/empaths, and I’m kinda curious what the power scale is there and also because I’m curious if that’s his cover. Arkone Axon Eh… if he shared the same doctor, he’d already be in jail. Alison’s doctor works for the government, and with the military and national security agencies in particular. Magma Sam I see a lot of suggestions to “put off the truth” until later after the crisis. I don’t think hiding the truth with a promise it’ll come out later will save any damage. And telling her the dude’s Menace is obviously not an option. What does she follow ‘that’ with? “What? No, I’m not Brainwashed! He can’t even do that! I know this cause he told me in private 1 on 1 confidence as a secret he’s never mentioned to anybody before ever.” And if she can’t convince Feral around that one, delayed truth or not, then things go ‘way’ to hell. Arkone Axon Well, she COULD tell Tara “I promise to tell you – but later, and preferably over several stiff drinks because I’m feeling kinda guilty about the whole subject,” except she’s just damaged her own credibility by lying about it. Tylikcat The plight of Alison. Taking up social drinking would be a huge step forward…! AshlaBoga “He’s sort of like you. He broke a ton of laws and is paying his debt back to society, but he’s an unregistered ex-villain.” Of course, then Feral will become very curious as to *WHICH* villain is he was… MrSokar Blamo! Some guy “Because that happened years ago. Get a calendar, damn.” Ricardo Alves Junqueira Pentea The problem with underestimating super-powered friends. XD Darkoneko Hellsing uh ooh Patrick Rochefort Uh, when were Feral’s doctors killed? What? D: Kifre Just before Feral started her marathon donations there was an attack on the hospital by a bigot with a flamethrower. Lisa Izo By the anti-biodynamic bigot guy with the flamethrower that happened right before Alison threatened to murder a crowd of protesters and a police officer and yelled how none of them could stop her from doing anything. Patrick was there and convinced her to stop because he got all of their names and addresses (I guess so he could have them killed outside of the public view later?) AshlaBoga It’s important to note that he talked her down from doing exactly what he, as a supervillain, would later do. It’s a bad sign when a bad guy is saying, “No, that’s Dumb Evil, here try Smart Evil.” Mega Girl would have made a great enforcer for Menace… Lisa Izo I agree. It was more like “Alison, don’t threaten to kill them in front of everyone publicly. I read all their minds and have all their names and addresses. Kill them in private like a smart villain would, without the negative P.R.” But as I’ve said a few times…. Alison is not a bright person. She thinks with her fists. Patrick is evil (even if he thinks he’s doing it for a greater purpose, because almost everyone evil thinks they’re doing the evil for a greater good), but smart. Lisa Izo Oh and I agree, Mega Girl probably would have made a good enforcer for Menace. Sort of like Shego for Drakken, except if Drakken was competent and intelligent. Danygalw “Wait, that *wasn’t* years ago? Man, my sense of time is really messed up!” or alternatively, “every day you went through that felt like years to me, Feral.” Herwood Wait! Her doctors were killed? When?