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Ellie Yeah, i had to do a double-take when this showed up in me feed reader. Maybe they’re changing the update schedule? Kid Chaos Seriously? I didn’t even bother to check because I was used to the schedule. Silly me… 😜 Pol Subanajouy Yeah, threw me off as well! Pol Subanajouy Wait what?! Fluffy Dragon my guess is she’s either dead or the person who is pretending to be Menace. asa_zernik More likely dead – my guess, he realizes it was a mistake and kills her. palmvos I suspect that it wears off and she can’t handle the absence. Steven Thomas I blame the Time traveling superhero David Nuttall She is not time-travelling. This is just a literal trip down memory lane. She is going to interact with her environment as Ebeneezer Scrooge did when he was accompanying 3 different spirits. She is essentially playing the part of Christmas Past. Nobody here here gets to play Christmas Yet-To-Come. I have not seen some immortal guy wearing a vortex manipulator or his long-lived associate with a weird blue box. Hmm, I just realized that both of those guys die but get better, only one changes his face in the process. Weatherheight Nathaniel Richards is Pharaoh Rama-Tut is Scarlet Centurion is Kang is Immortus is Peter Griff- erm – Mister Gryphon. Anyone would get confused. Olivier Faure So… “completely overwrote her brain with Patrick’s idealized image of what a mother should be like, to the point there’s nothing left of the original person” it is? Gotham No, I interpret what we see here more as “loving him no matter what, without regards for anything”. She’ll say the same thing about necessary consequences about daddy slowly leaking bodily fluids upstairs as she says about his coup. I even suspect her hug, although loving, was kind of inappropriate, even for Patrick’s yearning. “So, tell me about your day?” “Well, I—” “My, you are the greatest person who ever lived. I am fascinated by your every word. Please continue.” “…as a was saying, at work we—” “And so industrious! I’m so proud of you for your hard work, Patrick. It makes me the happiest mother on earth, whatever it is you’re doing.” “…thanks?” “So polite!” That’s also going to be a needless secondary problem with brainwashing distracting us from the so much more important fact that It is fucking brainwashing Olivier Faure … Sorry you’re disappointed? That’s about what I was expecting. The story has been fairly close to these conventions so far, especially this chapter. Gotham Following conventions is what satisfies you? Olivier Faure No, I meant that I’m less disappointed because I saw it coming. (and this story is both more coherent and way more original than the average superhero comic, so we count our blessings and all that) Gotham …well obviously we all saw it coming. That’s what conventions are. shink I doubt the story will stay like this. Patrick is clearly horrified by having brainwashed his mother, the gutpunch is coming. Gotham well yeah, that’s the convention I was hoping would be subverted. (Subverted not in that I was hoping everything would be fine and dandy, but in that I wanted Patrick to come to the conclusion he did something bad on his own, without the help of an external force such as “she ends up demented”. We shouldn’t need an external force to understand this was a terrible thing to do. I go further into detail as to why I think this in previous comments last page, if you’re curious) Kenneth Mayer I’m an astute student of literature and avid consumer, but I didn’t see any of this coming. I just had (and have) the nagging fear that something dreadful is about to happen. I don’t think this fear is based on conventions–it’s based on the way Patrick blacked out things and now we are about to see them. Can we list a few stories that do that, so we can upgrade that strategy to a “convention”? I’m genuinely asking, because I’m sure they are out there. Gotham http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/BeCarefulWhatYouWishFor Kenneth Mayer Thanks–clearly very helpful, but so far-ranging. I guess my dread went back a few steps earlier, to the unveiling of the core memory. You knew it would be awful, and it has been, but it’s not yet done, and it hasn’t unfolded in a way I could have predicted. I’m impressed you saw it coming. Gotham Hm. I think you’re underselling yourself. You really think you wouldn’t have figured “oh, this will end badly” if the webcomic hadn’t framed it this way? If the first page of a new issue was Patrick’s sneak helicopter arrival without Alison or Mane Patrick as onlookers and without any indications yet as to whether with was a flashback or happening in the present of the webcomic? I’d be pretty sickened by a story wherein someone mindcontrols another and this is presented as a good thing that ends super well, no matter the context Zorae42 I don’t know, mind control is a pretty broad set of powers. This specific one that seems to (potentially permanently) rewire the way your brain works? Or any love/seduction mind powers in general. Yeah that’s pretty messed up. Although maybe if he used this power to consensually make people not addicted to cigarettes or opioids that might be okay? But temporarily turning someone into a puppet? Or manipulating emotions (outside of causing nonconsensual lust)? Or a power that forces people to tell the truth? Those seem much more acceptable given the right context, and all fall under the umbrella of mind control. Gotham Well I fail to come up with a topic I could disagree more with on Zorae42 Hah, that’s interesting. So all mind control powers are evil for you no matter what they are or how they’re used? I personally fail to see how using temporary mind/body control to make a bad guy put down a gun and submit to being tied up is any different than using physical force to achieve the same result. Especially considering the former is going to result in less harm all around. As long as you aren’t nonconsensually infringing on who they are/their personality, then I think it’s acceptable to use mind control for good purposes. Gotham How could you even tell it doesn’t infringe on that? You must now my stance on violence by now, and this is violence. It follows the same rules. So yes there are circumstances where it’s fine, like murdering your rulers (which is always fine) The difference is, mental violence (as in, the kind that also exists in the real world like brainwashing, psychological warfare, constant abuse, torture, etc) is so, so much more dangerous. Some people might attempt to make sense of that difference by saying that physical violence doesn’t infringe on human dignity, but that doesn’t sit right with me. David B Huber In the real world, we already have computers that can recognize violent thoughts. Soon, they will be reliable enough to implement the Artificial Conscience of legend: perhaps an implant that offers a cautionary “Thou must not be so wicked!” in a friendly voice? Gotham Again, the only thing that matters is who has their hands on these weapons and whom they use them on And yes I do think Wonder Woman magic lasso is a war crime Zorae42 Well like I said. Taking control of someone’s body temporarily isn’t the same as rewiring their brain. Nor is forcing someone to tell the truth. And causing them to feel extreme emotions is no different than showing them something sad/scary or whatever. I agree it has the potential to be more dangerous, but there are enough fictional characters who’ve decided to use their mind control powers for good who I like that I’m a bit defensive when you say they’re automatically evil for doing so… Okay, so there are like 2 and a few random D&D enchantment specialists but still. Stephanie To be fair, “ending well” and “being morally wrong” are not mutually exclusive. Gotham That’s why I added “a good thing” to it. Nyzer Depends who’s mind controlling whom. It’s debatably the best ending in Mass Effect 3 when your character’s mind is uploaded to the antagonists’ central control hub, which results in the antagonistic AIs ending their galactic-wide slaughter, turning around and helping the various species rebuild from the ruins of their homes. There’s also different kinds of mind control. As well as a scale. Are you seizing control of their body but leaving them able to think, or are you rewiring their entire minds? Are you controlling them temporarily in a moment of dire necessity, or is it permanent? Is the effect of the control an evil one or a good one? (i.e. on a very small scale, using it to make them slap someone for no reason vs. using it to make them pick up and throw out the litter they casually tossed to the ground). And an interesting version is, is the final effect something they approve of both before and after the control? For example, someone suffering from chemical-based depression (no real cause, just the brain being a dick) altered into someone who, well, does not. The “mind control is always evil” idea is one of those flawed repetitive themes (such as “love is some sort of unbeatable, unknowable magic”) you see a lot in stories, and a lot of stories go out of their way to make the scenario “prove” it. But like everything else, there are always exceptions. There’s a lot of evil potential within mind control, and in the worst cases it can be its own special hellscape. But there’s a potential glimmer of light in that well of darkness. … In this particular story, though? Oh, my, no. Patrick has a seriously warped moral view, lacks a lot of the maturity he’d need to wield it responsibly, and most damning of all, he thinks he’s a lot more mature, balanced, and responsible than he actually is. That’s a good recipe for explosive failure, right there. Stephanie It’s still possible that the modern-day Patrick will understand that brainwashing people is fucked up inherently, but I think realizing that without something going terribly wrong is too much to ask of this younger Patrick. He’s a kid who never had the kind of childhood that instills strong moral principles, and he is desperate for the parental affection he’s receiving now. Just because it would be more palatable to us as the audience doesn’t mean it would be in character for him to go “Actually, that was wrong of me regardless of how it turns out.” Gotham Well, again, his character is part of the circumstances of this event that’s entirely willed by the authors. But your solution is an interesting compromise. “I put that memory away because it worked super well and I realized later that the temptation to do it again was too great if I knew I could” Kid Chaos “Mom dies at the end.” 💀 Olivier Faure Look, are you being pedantic on purpose? I feel like I’m communicating my point clearly, and you’re just being aggressive for the sake of it. Gotham The explicit assumption of “I’m less disappointed because I saw it coming” is that I on the other hand, didn’t, and I found it a teeny bit insulting. Don’t mistake my exasperation with pedantry. Olivier Faure My point was more “I’m not disappointed because I didn’t have any hope in the first place, unlike you”, but point taken. (and again, this is still a great story, and very unconventional by the standards of superhero stories) martynW Well, you know. Bad Guy! Like love spells in Larry Niven’s Warlock stories. They lower the person’s intelligence. Gotham A million years ago when Patrick was pretending he did not give a damn about the innocents he killed, we where all already pretty sure it was bullshit, and this page pretty much confirms it definitely. Well, with that I’m the least inclined that I have ever been to call him a bad guy, I’ve supported each and everyone of his choices, save for /stopping/ his attempt at taking control of the US government. (Geez Pat, you were so close! And you gave it all up entirely because some elusive Conspiracy you have never met didn’t pay enough attention to you? Such wasted potential) I mean, I suppose this is a controversial opinion but I couldn’t have hoped for a better time to defend it. Have you seen the US Head of State? I was joking with some friends that if they remade one of the cheesy 80’s action movies today with plots such as “are you a badass enough dude to save the President?”, the zeitgeist would tend toward a general “I mean, do we /have/ to save the President…?” What he’s doing, right now, these pages, that is the only unforgivable thing he has done in my book. And well, seems like he regrets it a lot. Contrary to our protagonist who, when she did the same thing, barfed in a bin, cried a bit on a bench and then went on to decide she would do it again anyway. So who’s the bad guy now Giacomo Bandini You? Gotham Oh yeah that too was kind of uncool Franklin J Gomes I was doing my daily webcomic round, clicked my “Strong Female Protagonist” bookmark by accident, and BLAAAAM, new comic one day earlier. Blub Blub I use http://www.comic-rocket.com to keep track of all the webcomics I read. with the discontinued ones I’m close to a hundred. Gotham Wait wait wait wait you mean there’s a website to aggregate webcomic updates whereas I’ve been using the wholly unsatisfying method of just remembering whenever each updates for /years/ ever since I stopped using RSS feeds because nobody else ever does anymore? WHY DID NO ONE TELL ME llennhoff It showed up in my feedly.com RSS aggregator. Am I the only one still using RSS aggregators? Brandon Barrus Nope I moved to Feedly from Google Reader when it died. Gotham Feedly was neat but too tiresome to keep checking back to once or more every day. I went through phases where it was just overwhelming and I had to delete everything, and slowly, imperceptibly rebuilding toward that same tipping point times and times again. When Google Reader decided it was out of the game, I realized this was not where the future was headed. These days I keep track of a very few numbers of websites I adore, and I take the approach that the remaining important news will one way or another thing their way to me. It has greatly helped with stress and FOMO. Admittedly, there’s some concerns about entrusting the news I consume to algorithms essentially, but I have only one brain and so much stuff is happening. Brandon Barrus Feedly is fine. It’s not Google Reader, but it’s fine Gotham I would unconsciously resent my vacations because of Feedly cause I knew I would have millions of stuff to either check in a dozen hours OR live with the guilt or mark as read the entire bunch, when I would return. This model is not made for humans to bear. 3-I Because we have a personal grudge against you. Gotham That one knows how to flirt ♥ Thomas S TheWebcomicList is my poison of choice … Alynna I just have a giant bookmark list with all the update days listed right after the name of the comic R2D2TS I have my bookmark toolbar filled with folders labeled for each day of the week with copies of the bookmarks for each thing that updates on that day in its corresponding folder. Weatherheight Wait, the more webcomics we read, the older we get…? Oh, sorry. I got it now. 😀 JeffH What a great site! Thanks so much for telling us about it! Gotham “What about you go upstairs and do to him the same thing you did to me to convince him he’s not dead? I support your choice whatever it is but I hope you find my advice valuable. What kind of mother would I be otherwise.” So that’s going to be that then. Why is Patrick regretful of using mind control, so much so that he put it deep being a door sealed forever in his mind? Not because it’s the most terrible thing you can do to a human. But because he was too dumb to try it first and make himself the perfect family. Zorae42 We don’t know what conclusion he’s going to draw from this. It might be that he realizes that this isn’t actually his mother anymore and that any love she gives him is worthless; and thus doing this to other people is fundamentally wrong. Gotham This is still not good enough. You shouldn’t need to rationalize /why/ violence is unethical, empirically assess the consequences of imposing your will upon others to determine whether or not it’s fundamentally wrong. If violence isn’t inherently wrong in and of itself, then you always leave the door slightly ajar for the possibility to “do the violence better and avoid the bad consequence”. Admittedly, with your example it’s hair-splitting semantics. I can’t really imagine Patrick telling himself that he can learn to mind control in a way that doesn’t change people, since it’s the primary purpose, and everything you do to someone else, even the most ethical of things, changes them octopod42 So, uh, I take it you’re not much of a consequentialist then? Gotham No this has nothing to do with that and more about the purpose and scope of that particular story but oh boy do I not need an excuse to once again go into unnecessarily explicitly cruel details about why the deontology/utilitarianism dichotomy in the stupidest trash in philosophy Zorae42 But he did it as a kid who just desperately wanted his ‘evil’ mommy to love him. It looks like this is the first (and last) time he tried this and it’s not like he really considered the ramifications of his actions. I realize desperation isn’t an excuse, but it’s not like he’s deciding to do this all willy nilly (so I doubt ‘do it better’ is a consideration for him). And I imagine it’s why he locked this memory away – to make sure he wouldn’t consider it an option when he got truly desperate. Hopefully now that he remembers he can do this, there’s a way he can undo this or he takes the time to go learn how to do so. Because he will probably slip up again, and will immediately regret it (at least I hope he would). Gotham The circumstances of the act are willed by the authors with a purposeful story in mind. Zorae42 I don’t know. It seems reasonable to want to provide a foil to Alison’s choice to use force to achieve something she wanted. Yes, she did it and it didn’t backfire at all (at least not yet) and it’s clearly going to go wrong for Patrick immediately. But he could’ve decided to figure out how to use it without it backfiring and decided it was better to forget he could even do it at all because he didn’t want the temptation. I mean, I think Pintsize is a great example of someone who’s never decided to use his powers in a way that infringes on the rights of the innocent(ish). He’s smart enough to be able to create all sorts of tech and has the ability to shrink? He could totally take all of Congress hostage under threat of him shrinking down unnoticeable into them and cutting a specific nerve, turning them into quadriplegics. They haven’t given him too much screen time, but I think it’s safe to assume he’s never done that. It seems like he didn’t even resort to stuff like that when his friends were getting hurt trying to make up for Alison’s absence. ObviousPuppetAccount Ah, good ol’ “I might have killed a lot of innocent people in my failed attempts to take over the world, but I could have done a whole lot worse” Patrick. Young and upcoming “To protect the innocent people of the world from cruel governments I have to kill innocent people and set myself up as the government” Patrick. Bright and shining “You can’t overthrow the omelette without killing a few eggs and installing yourself as overlord” Patrick. Olivier Faure It’s a good thing the story never addresses the logistics of Patrick’s coup, because I don’t see any conceivable way you could replace the US government (post-Bush, no less) with an autocracy with a casualty count under seven digits. David Claughton Depends on what he means by ‘capture Washington DC’. Seems to me that physically laying siege to the city is rather a blunt tool for someone who has access to the thoughts of every congressman. ObviousPuppetAccount It’s canon that he used gaint robots to fight with people in the streets. He might be a telepath, but he’s not as subtle as he would have you believe. Weatherheight Unless, of course, the whole point of the “giant robots attacking” gambit was to show you just how unsubtle he is and preclude consideration of the option of a telepathic conqueror working behind the scenes and co-opting the government one politician at a time. Mwu-ha-ha. 😀 ObviousPuppetAccount I don’t think it ever addresses what kind of government he would replace it with either. Or what his rule would be like, but seeing what he said during his conversation with Alison I’d say it would land him a spot in the history books titled: “Where it all went wrong”. Not to mention that it is rather grating how he pats himself on the back for how “few” innocent people he got killed and how he “really tried his best” to limit the numbers. I’d offer him some milk and cookies as a reward, but he’s already programmed his mother to do that for him. So I’ll have to find another passive agressive way to express my impotent sarcasm. cphoenix Wait. Post-Trump, you say this as though you’re not joking. Trump/Bannon are replacing the US government with an evil shadow clone even as we speak, and destroying whatever they can in the process. Perfectly legal and above-board, and so far the only people who have been killed are a few extra victims of hate crimes. It’ll take a few years to replace all the judges, but heads of key agencies are easy. Betsy DeVos said on record that Trump offered her whatever position she wanted and she chose Education. That is not how you fill Cabinet posts in a sane government. But DeVos, Pruitt, etc. were installed. And Bannon can’t even read minds. Someone who knew all the secret indiscretions of all the politicians? Patrick could take over in a week. Tylikcat …if you’re blessed with politicians who care about their indiscretions. *sigh* David Brown Mooby World head office. cphoenix It’s true that being credibly accused of multiple child molestation is almost not enough to keep one from being elected. But there are some things that don’t play well even in Alabama. If he’d had sex with a man, for example… And a mind reader would be able to dig up a lot more specific dirt, and a practiced mind reader would be able to convince more people to come forward. Even so, if the politicians knew it was coming, they’d be able to ramp up the engines of doubt until even a recording wouldn’t be enough… Oh wait, that already happened. Wait for the initial media flap to blow over, then quietly say the tape is a fabrication, and your base will somehow ignore the tape from then on. Ugh, maybe you’re right. I thought I was being cynical, but I can see now that there is always room for more cynicism. Olivier Faure Puh-lease. Democracies everywhere have centuries-long traditions of having the opposition complain that Democracy is dying and/or dead every time an unpopular president is in charge. Trump is awful and US Democracy is flawed, but it’s nowhere near as bad as Singaporian “democracy”, which itself is miles above a real totalitarian regime like Maoist China or the Khmer “let’s kill all the intellectuals and deport everyone to rural areas” Rouge. 3-I The fact that you believe that everywhere else in the world is worse off than the United States, despite the fact that the popular vote is meaningless, public utilities and functions are run by private corporations for profit, unelected administrators make rulings that materially affect access to government for millions of people across the country, and there is functionally no way for us to use any means within the government to change any of these things, speaks more about your complacency than it does about ours. ObviousPuppetAccount Olivier did not say that everywhere else in the world is worse of than the US, he only said that compared to some other democracies it is way better and compared to totalitarian countries it is way way better. Both of which are true. Even so, as someone who is not from the US, who sees that they have deep flaws, it is still one of the greatest places for a human being to live in. The USA has problems and those shouldn’t be excused, but despite that it is still a really great place to live in compared to a whole lot of other places. My own country is perfect without any flaws though and number one. Sorry USA. Pythia I too am from Canada. ObviousPuppetAccount Has Canada secretly annexed my country? I hate it when that happens. Olivier Faure Oh no, the United States seriously sucks compared to any other democracy. I mean, you guys have private prisons, for pity’s sake. It’s still miles above China or even Singapore in terms of public representation. At least you don’t get thrown in jail for supporting Bernie Sanders, which is the kind of thing that *does* happen in non-democratic countries. Todd Maybe not for supporting Bernie Sanders but for supporting candidates or ideas that were considered forbidden by the bourgeoisie or their representatives. Americans have been jailed and murdered by “their government” for their political beliefs or aspirations or killed by those who were represented in government with little to no repercussions. Todd This is, of course, depending entirely on how one defines democracy . . . . palmvos given that even on historic and or passionate elections less than 60% of eligible voters vote, I think the death count would be high but far less than you’d think. most people struggle to get by regardless of who (or what) is in power at any given moment. so as long as the individuals who are in power don’t feel the need to round up large numbers of people to blame them for something.. it wouldn’t matter much. oh wait… they have been rounding up people in large quantities for many years…. and few people have noticed… Olivier Faure There’s a wide gap from apathy to social problems and elections and apathy to a paramilitary coup. If nothing else, the US military would keep fighting until Menace decimated it. As XIII put it, the US has a really fucking strong tradition of democracy, problems like gerrymandering and two-party system aside (as opposed to various third world countries which have a tradition of colonization, military juntas and communist autocracies). Todd Your “strong tradition of democracy” has been largely kept channeled into reasonably predictable channels (deviation from which is condemned by moderates, bourgeois and not; try reading some accounts of how ex-slaves practiced democracy until wealthier blacks “taught them better”). You can vote for any public post, from dogcatcher to president (so long as “the right people” agree with who’s running for the job), but God help you if you try to use democracy to try and get a say in how your work-life is organized. And given how bourgeois democracies (including the US’s “strong tradition of democracy” [which apparently isn’t meant for non-whites]) have used and been dependant on using colonization and military juntas in opposition to those who wanted to at least try and set up real, local democracies (read something about the history of Haiti), it’s risible, ignorant, and insulting that you tout any of the so-called “Western democracies” for anything like a “tradition of democracy” but sneer at “various third world countries” and their “traditions” as if it’s, what, genetics, maybe . . . ? Olivier Faure Yup. You caught me. I was a white supremacist all along and I’m fueled by my amused contempt of the lesser races, and the third world countries’ inferior genes (and also worker classes and gypsies and jews). Can’t believe nobody else noticed before. Well, since the jig is up, I’ll see myself out now. ObviousPuppetAccount Fanaticism is one helluva drug. magnetoo Utopia or dystopia: you’re not allowed to think it’s anything in between. Stephanie I think it’s conceivable for someone who can read minds as thoroughly as Patrick can. RobNiner ♫ This is beautiful, it’s all gone so horribly wrong. Philip Bourque I wonder where Patrick got his idea of the ideal mother? Leave it to Beaver? Ellie Patrick doesn’t watch TV, so maybe she’s a conglomeration of all the ‘good’ mother memories he’s seen? David Brown Either that, or feeling the pain of abuse and imagining what the opposite would be. Thomas S He only watched LoonyTunes, so that’s both too late to influence, and not an example granting a family life. Debbie Jackson He’s seen other shows – he just finds them, as a rule, to be painful and disconcerting, since he can’t properly sense the humans visible on-screen. zellgato Ayup… as I thought. He’s probably gonna be the main thing about the conspiracy.. due to him and his subconcious influence. David Nuttall As a person with limited emotional responses (part of the package of Asperber Syndrome), I can see how getting an unfamiliar emotion thrust on you is going to back-fire big-time as the Love feelings fade, to be replaced with resentment and hate. She will not care that much that her husband is dead, but being made to feel what she did will set her off very badly. This will end very poorly. David Brown I have Asperger’s as well, and a few other things. What I’ve learned personally is that when you have a seriously abusive family life, when you get out of it, that’s when you get REALLY dangerous, because everything you held back in fear has the chance to erupt. Takes a few years of therapy and support to become a person again. Mistress Dizzy Same. I’m still learning how to process anger in a normal way. Stephanie I suspect it’s not going to wear off. Giacomo Bandini So, a psychopath that loves you. A litteral dream coming true, isn’t it Pat? Darkoneko Hellsing too old for yandere material masterofbones I find it interesting that people consider this “gone horribly wrong” Its amateurish, sure. But his main problems have been solved. That his mother is a tad 2-dimensional now is really a minor inconvenience compared with “constant stream of hatred and desire to kill” sent from his parents. And *loving* 2 dimensional is a step over “kill my husband without hesitation* 2 dimensional. Quite Likely That’s a good point. This is a bit creepy but assuming you have any sympathy for Patrick’s agenda it’s a net gain. Though idk, does the fact that the victim was a sociopath make a crime any less bad? Do we care about what happens to sociopaths? masterofbones Well she was someone willing to murder innocents if it helped her. Ethically locking her away would be a more appropriate choice, but seeing as he is a supervillain, this is hardly his worst crime ever. He’s essentially killed a murderer and replaced her with someone else. Zorae42 She killed her husband when told to while at gun point. That hardly makes her a murderer. And since Patrick is still alive, her husband is the only person she ever actually killed (she didn’t even really attempt to kill Patrick, just thought about it really loud at him and he ran away). Being willing to kill people/wanting to kill someone doesn’t make you a murderer. (She was still an abusive mother and a terrible person to her kid). Shiromisa Idk, while we don’t have any definite proof, the circumstantial evidence is pointing pretty hard to “would murder someone if it was even the slightest bit more convenient for her than not doing that”. She was monologuing at her son about how she was going to kill him and it was his fault while having tools and a shovel in the trunk of the car, like, she wasn’t trying to throw him off the scent while they drove to a surprise party. Zorae42 We don’t throw people in jail for “being okay with murdering people”. And she didn’t plan on murdering him “because he was the slightest bit inconvenient”. She took him to what appeared to be multiple expensive doctor and therapist appointments to try and “fix” him. It was only after she realized there was no way to fix him and decided they “couldn’t handle” raising a psychic child, that she planned on killing him. There are plenty of non-sociopathic mothers that do the same thing to their disabled/autistic/mentally ill children (unfortunately their kids aren’t telepathic and don’t get the option of running away before it happens). She’s guilty of criminal child abuse, but not murder. Shiromisa We sure do throw people in jail for attempting to murder their children though, even if they don’t get to finish it. The tone of this comment is frankly kind of disturbing to me. Zorae42 But she never even got to the point where she started. She just started driving him somewhere. Yes she had the intent/desire to kill him when she got there, but she never got there. She should’ve been locked up for child abuse, but she never made it to attempted murder let alone full blown murder… Maybe conspiracy to commit murder? But that’s still not actual murder. You made it sound like she’s willing to do murder at the drop of a hat. When it really took quite a bit. And it was no less than what many non-sociopathic people have needed to do the same (meaning we can’t claim she’s more disposed to murder solely due to her mental illness) Plus making her love Patrick has in no way reduced her capacity to commit murder. It’s just reduced her capacity to murder him specifically. I mean, she was a really bad Mother. And her actions were condemnable. But she didn’t deserve mind control. Shiromisa I’m not sure where I’m arguing that she deserves it? Because she doesn’t. What she deserves is to be put away someplace small and dark where she can’t hurt anyone else. Because she has, very clearly, been hurting people, even if the narrative is hinting more than outright saying so. I also never said a word about her mental illness, only her actions, which include murdering her husband without any attempt to deescalate the situation and attempted murder of her child, the guilt for which all the expensive torture sessions in the world do nothing to mitigate. And I am standing by that last point, because come ON, it doesn’t matter whether she literally got to the point of actual harm when there’s that amount of premeditation and intent on clear display. She was going to kill him, and I don’t understand how that’s an arguable point. My point here is she is a bad person, and the amount of justification for her actions I’m seeing play out here is…extremely concerning. Zorae42 Ah, you are not the same person I was originally replying to. Fair enough. disqus_OGo1yusSeL She is totally guilty of attempted murder. an attempted offense crystallizes the moment the first concrete step is taken towards realizing the criminal ends, with the intention of doing so. To use the old example, looking at a house and thinking about robbing a house isn’t an ‘attempt’, but if you start going up to houses and checking the doors to see if they’ve been left unlocked, with the intent of illegally entering if it s…BAM. Attempted criminal offense. Taking your child out, alone, in the middle of the night, to a (presumably) secluded location, with what I presume to be the murder weapons in a box, with the intent to murder him? Totally fits that criteria. Proving it in a court of law would be difficult, because so much depends on her mental state/subjective intentions, but…we have access to that via Patrick. You don’t have to be in the physical process of trying to kill someone to be guilty of attempted murder. bryan rasmussen she’s guilty of cruelty to animals. she’s also guilty of attempted murder. she seems to be guilty of some sort of financial corruption based on the memory where she wants to have Patrick help her with some financial corruption – after a dinner party. She did kill her husband when threatened, but she might still have been found guilty in some jurisdictions for being a little too eager to do it. She offered to kill Patrick again to soothe his troubled soul, which if she did it would be murder. basically every time we see her she is committing some crime that is pretty far on the evil path. bryan rasmussen well she asked if he was reading her mind, I’m sure if he wasn’t she would have told him about going to see chuckles the clown. a_lethe_ia she killed a life feeling animal because it annoyed her.btw, killing animals is also a quoted sign of apossibly pathological lack of empathy, which she also killed my remorselessly killing her husband andthen went on acting like she had swat a fly, not js murdered her husband of 20 years after her son, broken from her hate came back to prove to his enabling father once and for all that his mom is, tho not a monster, an unempathetic human being that cant be able to feel empathy and has no quelm to murder if it suits her. ) oh and she planned to murder her son because she couldn’t deal with him and couldn’t, idk, get him taken care of by authorities m, nah, she had to murder him and he fled out of luck, she is a horrible abusive sociopath so much that she kills a dog because it annoys her and without even caring about the devastating effect it had..because i am also pretty sure that if she was male she’d possibly already offended and would’ve gone to jail, but abusive women are still often able to hide better..and then enabler like his dad excuse the abuse andexpect from victims to just shut up and take it because it’s easier to them to pretend their choice of partner isnt just fucking over someones wellbeing just because they dont care to self control (or to ask for help if they cant do it alone) she couldn’t. and did not try.both together is the problem — god I hate those people but well how do they say.. burnt fear the flame. Zorae42 See, you call her a “horrible abusive sociopath” when her actions have all been things non-sociopaths are more than capable of. She clearly wouldn’t have killed her husband if she wasn’t held at gun point. Deciding the dog was too much of a hassle? Yes, most people probably wouldn’t kill it right there and then, but leaving it at a kill shelter where it’d suffer the same fate or just straight up abandoning it? Yeah, that’s something ‘normal’ assholes are definitely capable of. And don’t even get me started on mothers who decide killing their disabled child is the only option they have – they usually wind up receiving a disturbing amount of sympathy. Weatherheight “Do we care about what happens to sociopaths?” An excellent question – Do we care about outcomes when they happen to people whom we feel deserve them? Does anything go as long as the outcome is ostensibly good? Is there such a thing as human dignity? Can that degree of power applied against those who “deserve it” and can we be sure it won’t ever be applied against those who do not “deserve it”? There was a 12-issue limited series for the Squadron Supreme back in the 80’s (Written by Mark Gruenwald, looks like it started in 1985 – gosh, I’m old) that explored the exact same issue as we’re looking at here. Ad it wasn’t that easy to say the rewriting of the core personality was a good or a bad thing. For example, some of those affected wanted to remain rewritten, both before and after the re-write was negated (they had finally realized what it felt like to belong, and they liked it). Not sure if it’s available as a graphic novel / compilation (it should be, but…). Worth reading, though. Quite Likely An excellent answer / series of additional questions. Yeah old man, the version of Squadron Supreme I grew up with was the J. Michael Straczynski version that came out in 2003. Weatherheight That was awesome, as well. Rising Stars was also awesome. Squadron Supreme is interesting, in that the team has been villains, heroes, and something(s) in-between since its inception. I would really like an omnibus collection of all their appearances and some commentary from the editorial teams about their take on why they took the directions with the team(s) that they did. Quite Likely Yeah when no one really cares about the characters much it’s a lot easier for whichever author gets a hold of them to just go balls to the wall with whatever new concept they think up rather than sticking to the usual superhero story conventions. Weatherheight One of my favorite X-Men stories is the one Byrne and Claremont when we find out Wolverine’s “given” name – there’s a fight, but it’s not germane to the main point of the plot, which is Logan and Heather and Mac meeting up and starting to resolve their issues. I *like* stories that defy conventional fights and focus instead on character development that isn’t conflict based Ian Osmond Sociopaths aren’t necessarily evil. (This one is, though.) Quite Likely Depends on your definition of evil I guess. The definition of sociopath that pops up when I google it is “a person with a personality disorder manifesting itself in extreme antisocial attitudes and behavior and a lack of conscience,” which seems pretty synonymous with evil to me. Nyzer You can lack a conscience and still avoid harming others due to simple sensibility. It’s generally easier to get by in life if you avoid harming others. Sociopathic doesn’t mean sadistic. Quite Likely There’s also the “extreme antisocial attitudes and behavior” part… Nyzer … Do I really need to describe how being “extremely antisocial” does not necessarily automatically include inflicting harm on others? The conditions you’ve set can describe an evil person. Or simply a mouthy asshat. Or even just somebody who keeps to themselves and finds other people in general annoying. Quite Likely I guess could you? I’m pretty sure this is more like definition 1 of antisocial (“contrary to the laws and customs of society; devoid of or antagonistic to sociable instincts or practices”) rather than definition 2 (“not sociable; not wanting the company of others.”) I think people who just keep to themselves or mouthy asshats still have consciences for the most part. There are plenty of jerks with a heart of gold. But sociopaths seem to be more specifically the jerks who when you look deeper turn out to have a heart of more jerk. Nyzer I’d still say that someone who acts contrary to the laws and customs of society and is devoid of typical social practices isn’t necessarily going to be regularly harming others. And the thing about looking too hard at specific definitions is, when I go looking for a clear definition of “sociopath” or even a clear distinctive difference between “sociopath” and “psychopath” there’s… a rather large grey area. (Most tend to agree that the main difference is whether one was born that way or developed that way due to childhood trauma.) That’s the thing about differences between individual people; they’re vast. Definitions for people with antisocial personality disorders range from saying “they lack empathy entirely” to “they can manage a close resemblance when asked to imagine the things they see happening to themselves” to “they actually can sometimes genuinely care about someone – usually only family members if so – it’s just not the default”. And there are a whole host of other traits that may or may not be included. A lot of the articles I’ve read about it say that psychology has really only scratched the surface there. Plus, due to the nature of antisocial personality disorder in general, the most (in)famous and well studied cases are going to be about the ones who were the most unhinged. The ones who function normally in society (or put up a good enough facade) aren’t ever even going to be diagnosed, let alone studied. What some articles say (and what I tend to agree with) is that APD in general falls along a spectrum. Like basically anything else. So it all boils down to how severe the behavior is. Someone only mildly to moderately antisocial and amoral may never do anything worse than most people if they’re rational enough to understand that (getting caught) acting like a selfish jackass doesn’t do them any favors in life. You can lack empathy, you can lack a desire for social behavior, and yet still be a better person than many “normal” people who go out and do things like murder their lover for cheating on them. And I’d rather keep the description of “evil” for those who have actually done cruel, evil deeds, instead of just slapping it on those who have a disorder that makes them statistically more likely than average to [i]potentially[/i] do evil deeds. Nyzer You should, if they’ve never done any more harm to others than any other random “normal” person. Patrick’s mother was an idiot; she was willing to kill her telepathic child because it was inconvenient (when she could have benefited so much more from taking him up on his unsolicited offer to help her). She’s not even trying to be a decent person. But just because someone has a mindset that makes them more likely to be inclined towards criminal activity doesn’t mean you should treat it like a guarantee. Gotham People say “gone horribly wrong” because it’s definitely not going to stick. It’s been two pages now where we got the Drastic Last Panel Wallpaper Color Change of Doom, and even if it was a red herring he wouldn’t have shut off this memory because “everything well /so/ well I needed to forget it so that I could justify the consistency of my d4rk backstory excusing my current cool and mysterious demeanor” I mean hopefully masterofbones Yeah we will see. This *could* end up being worse than if he hadn’t acted, but things would have to get pretty wacky for that to occur. Perhaps she has gone full yandere for him, to the point of continuing his project even after he disappeared, Really I just want there to be a legitimate reason for him to block her out of his memory, because Alison needs *some* consequences for doing this blindly. Nyzer It’s gone horribly wrong because it’s really clear that his mind control effect was… amateurish and sloppy. In an effort to turn his mother into what he wished she’d be, he broke her brain entirely. The only really fitting metaphor I can think of would be like a real messed up medical situation… like setting a compound fracture while your hands are covered in HIV-infected blood, and leaving enough foreign material in the body to cause a dangerous infection while you’re at it. Congrats, you made things very slightly better for about five minutes, after which it’s all going to very quickly get so much worse than if you’d just amputated the limb entirely. Natsumeg this explains the visions from the start of the chapter. Thomas S I think there is more to go with those visions / dreams of Alison’s … Dean She… she hasn’t even washed the blood off her hands. While serving food. Tylikcat Has she even had blood born pathogens training?! ruhrow I mean, she ostensibly has sex with the guy, so the number of pathogens that are going to pass blood-oral that wouldn’t have passed in sexual intercourse is…pretty low. Mayyybe like hep B or something but hey, plenty of folks are immunized for that now! ObviousPuppetAccount Well, unless Patrick had frequent intercourse with his dad, that isn’t going to really help him much. And if he did, that is a whole nother can of worms I don’t think we want to open up. ruhrow True. I suppose I wasn’t thinking about *him*…most people barely manage to worry about whether they’re putting themselves in danger, nevermind collaterals. Talina M It says something about the commentariat here. As everyone points out disease vectors. Jace I’m waiting for the *it gets worse* shoe to drop. Morri uh oh… her brain’s health is about to go downhill WAY fast, isn’t it? Callinectes Red panel of doom! Prepare for the quackening! Gotham Someday. Someday. AL Tei Blood on her hands while serving food….. She may truly love her son now….but she is even more bat-sheet crazy. Oh Patrick….I am sorry. SFP did the same thing basically with strong arm tactics and stated she would again. If she judges him w/o incorporating her own standards, then she is a hypocrite. But I don’t believe she will. This power of his, it is truly a slippery slope so to speak. R Lex Eaton Um… Not to divert from Patrick overwriting someone to make a soulless shell, but since when did people start reading Alison’s conclusions as reaffirming use of force rather than the temptation to use force? AL Tei I don’t think affirming is the right way. More like mutual recognized mistakes? R Lex Eaton Yes, I agree. I read her conclusions as an attempt to not make the same mistakes again, even though the instinct will be there. I’m only confused about some readers citing it as evidence of a downfall. Gotham She said she would still do it again if given the choice R Lex Eaton You’re referring to what Gurwara asked, right? I always thought that meant that owning up to a mistake would be preferable to never having made it, especially considering how it affected a friend. She didn’t strike me as a villain gleefully telling you they’d do it all over again. Gotham Only because the only word in that sentence that doesn’t fit is “gleefully”. Everything else matches pretty well. Well, glee isn’t on my list of requirements to be considered to be defending the worst principles. R Lex Eaton There’s a big difference between a choice you could hypothetically change in hindsight and a similar choice occurring in the future that must be made with the wisdom gained. Gotham Hm, which is? The fact that the choices are placed on opposite sides on the timeline? I fail to see how that matters. R Lex Eaton It means that “would you undo what you did knowing what you know now?” is a different question than “if this happens again, will you do it again?” Gotham No that I got, thank you, I’m just perplexed by your unequivocal claim that these are different R Lex Eaton Alright, I’ll try my best to make it clear… To me, a lot of Alison’s anguish during that story was in her knowing that helping her friend would require a sacrifice in the form of a bad person’s future and her self respect. Later, she recognizes her error in assuming that sacrifice was justified rather than an act of presumption. When asked if, given the opportunity to reverse everything she did, knowing what she knows now, she said no. I’m not sure that means that she would do it again. I’m thinking that undoing the act would also undo the lesson learned from it. That lesson is what informs her actions going forward. It’s a process of refinement in both herself and her goal. She can’t undo the damage,but she can make sure it didn’t amount to nothing. Gotham I see what you mean. To me, the question of “knowing what you know now, would you change what you did” doesn’t imply “you will necessarily lose that lesson”. It’s not the purpose of the hypothetical. The question is /entirely/ about what impact that very lesson has had, and per Alison response, the answer is not enough to matter. You interpreted the complete opposite, which is… interesting? And I can’t even bring myself to consider the validity of that interpretation because I refuse to believe the webcomic would seriously ask “was your personal growth more important than the person upon which you enacted unforgivable violence” and for Alison to answer “yes” R Lex Eaton I don’t think her growth is more important either, at least from an in-universe standpoint. I just don’t think her self-examination lends credence to this alarmingly prevalent read that she’s set up for a fall. If nothing Alison does makes things better, if she can only worsen the world and its problems… What kind of message would that say? That, to me, is the prime issue behind the entire encounter–indeed, behind the series. Not that Alison could become a villain. Not that her goal could be one she’s unsuited to bring about. But that the goal–Everything Perfect for Everyone Forever–is doomed to fail. And I don’t believe that. I refuse to believe that. Gotham I don’t think it would say that? To me at least, it would say that it’s not necessarily her role to accomplish. As far as I’m concerned, the best way this story can end is if Alison realizes she’d better stop trying and leave it to other people more qualified. If it ends with Alison saving the world I’d think it’d be a tad too whimsy, and if it ends with Alison ruling/destroying the world I’d tell myself “well, I can’t say I wasn’t concerned this would happen”. But that’s my visceral and absolute hatred of power speaking R Lex Eaton I get what you’re saying. But there has to be a better solution than quitting. What kind of existential crisis would someone go through after being told the world would be better off if they were never born? And the best thing they could do is remove themselves before the situation gets worse? The story has to be worth telling. Even if Alison doesn’t complete the work, she should not abandon it. Gotham I’m open to be positively surprised by where the story will go. I’m sure I haven’t already come up with all the possibilities that could occur. Part of the problem with the setup is that the thematic elements clash with the… let’s call them “lore” elements, when they’re supposed to go hand in hand. The webcomic is supposed to be a gigantic metaphor for the struggle an entire age group faces when becoming young adults and realizing they have agency, and how to use it ethically. Problem is, Alison is too powerful for the metaphor to hold. Young adults are not in a position where they instantly become a threat to the world order. Making her the world’s strongest human was a mistake, I think, it separates the two kinds of stories the webcomic can tell from that and they don’t really coalesce coherently. The stories to be told about a generational passing of the torch and the stories about how Superman would definitely end up becoming a fascist don’t… mesh well, together. We end up with a pretty good webcomic but where the story is /constantly/ brought down and stalled by the wrong ethical considerations. You’re right, we shouldn’t tell young adults that they should not try because the risk of doing wrong is too high. But we have to tell Alison that. R Lex Eaton Heh. Interesting take. Nice discussion, Gotham. Twas good. Zorae42 But isn’t the point that even though she’s Superman, she’s not a threat to the world order? That even if she punched out the President and all of Congress that it’d just be a regime change in a single country and she wouldn’t really be able to fix the world (you can’t punch hunger and disease)? Otherwise she would’ve been killed like the ones actually capable of affecting real change were. I think the two stories do mesh rather well. This lets them explore how the next generation should use their agency to a much better degree than someone with a more mediocre power. And it gives you insight into how people that totally hate the system and just wants what’s best for people can become part of that system. Gotham Oh, she can’t fix the system, but she can ruin it quite good I wager. As per why the Conspiracy didn’t go for the people who could /destroy/ the world, just the ones to make it better, well… beats me. Zorae42 To be fair, weather control and disease control could just as easily be used to break the system as fix it. Gotham I know but… nigh invincibility? /Mindcontrol/? I can accept these can’t save the world, but not that they’re harmless. David B Huber I view “Alison’s Dilemma” as an example of the flaw underlying the concept of “the greatest good for the greatest number”; it embodies compromise and acceptable losses. Whereas if you meet the needs of every single individual, “the masses” take care of themselves. R Lex Eaton Reminds me of an essay from way back. Superhero fiction consistently focuses on the particular rather than the general. Crime fighting done on a case by case basis. And the Calvinistic way that some characters are trapped in the roles of hero or villain is part of, for lack of a better term, a Protestant ethic. Society can take care of itself; the agents of good are interested in us. David B Huber Personal growth? Feral’s choice to sacrifice herself to save others was doing more good in the world than Alison could ever manage. By amplifying Feral’s power, Alison co-opted her friend’s choice and made it “all about Mega Girl”, never mind the coercion and violence she felt justified to employ! “See what *I* can do?!”… And yes, I’m being deliberately incendiary. Gotham I get the incendiariness but I’m not sure what point do you intend to get at Dave Huber I’m merely suggesting Alison’s ethical struggle may have had less to do with her strong-arm tactics than a realization that – unconsciously – her motives may have had a selfish element of “I can’t let Feral be lauded as the greatest hero!”? By augmenting Feral she saved her friend and provided organs for the entire world. “THAT was a job for Mega Girl!” Todd But where does this line of argument get you? Anyone’s actions can simply be dismissed as unconscious ego-tripping. It’s the psychological equivalent of conspiracism. David B Huber Simply that if she never considered coercion to be the problem with her actions, she may indeed criticise Patrick on that basis without hypocrisy nor irony 🙂 AshlaBoga My perspective wasn different, the amplifier work so well that they have enough organs for everyone somehow. Thus her motive changed from help friend, to save more people. Her violence had a massive unintentional benefit…. An interesting moral to say the least. sagelynaive It’s different because sometimes bad things in the past have hidden repurcussions. The first question is, if you had time travel or fate bending abilities, would this be something worth changing? The second question is, are you going to change your behavior from now on because of this? You could also think of it as the philosophy of how you approach the thing. Like, am I going to mope about how I should have done this, or start changing how I do thi?. Or both? I have no idea of that’s a distinction that matters with this particular question, but I can think of circumstances where it would. Gotham (I still read these messages and feel like these are just people really condescendingly telling me that “past and future are not the same thing”. Which, thanks, I noticed?) sagelynaive (That’s fair tbh, I was mostly just trying to make sense of what they were trying to say, not to belittle you in any way) AshlaBoga She’ll probably be like, “use this on the President!” Ken Gagne If Patrick doesn’t like what his mother’s become, will he just change her again… or change her back? Pol Subanajouy And then you realize that if all you want in any relationship, be it familial, romantic, professional, is someone who only agrees with you and inflates your ego, you don’t want another person. You just want an extension of your ego. Alynna I feel for Patrick right now. He is so haunted by how he planned this, and now everything is different – because he was inspired to change her – he doesn’t know what to think, he doesn’t really realize what he has done. I think this is the true reason he blanked her from his mind, and ultra locked this door. He is a teenager so completely out of his element. Instead of killing his mom, which I expect was his original plan, here he discovers new facets of his powers. Possibly ones that would get him disappeared in a little black folder. Now that he is starting to see the fake mother he created is just a shell, that she cannot think enough to wash the blood off her hands – that she forgot she killed her husband. If he doesn’t lock this power away – he may not notice when he uses it. How could he ever trust his actions again, how could he ever trust what the people around him were thinking? He doesn’t want mind control. Because then he becomes completely alone – since he cannot turn his power off, and teenagers make impulsive decisions. Especially in situations as charged as these. He knows everyone’s innermost thoughts, and he needs friends. His ‘minions’ were in a way his friends. He was the leader, but he empathized, he understood. They followed him because they believed in him, and they care for him. If he gets angry – and changes any one of the biodynamics in his organization, because they are all teenagers – who can predict what will happen. So that is why I think he locks this memory away, this is the horrible thing. Him having the one thing he never wanted, the one thing that can isolate him further, that can make him never trust anyone again, because he is smart enough to know that he cannot handle this. He locks it away so he can survive, so he doesn’t become his own worst nightmare. So he doesn’t remember what he did to his mother. How he killed who she was, by changing her. And how easy it was. Weatherheight I wonder if the re-write of Claudia’s personality also involved some collateral damage. I take care of a person with Dementia with Alzheimer’s symptoms, and that “Wait,I did something and now I don’t remember it? What a goose I am!” response is something I’ve seen a lot in the last 6 years. Wouldn’t it be interesting if Patrick can “fix” people but the process ends up killing them in a few days / weeks / months? “Through the mist, through the woods “Through the darkness and the shadows “It’s a nightmare, but it’s one exciting ride…” “Say a prayer, then we’re there “At the drawbridge of a castle “And there’s something truly terrible inside” Kill the beast, indeed… Dan B Theory: Patrick has also done this to Allison. Back when they first met. We’ve seen lots of evidence that her personality changed. Before meeting Patrick, Allison was kind of a jerk, frankly. Now she’s trying hard to do the right thing. Allison believes the cause of the change was finding out about the conspiracy. I think Patrick looked into her mind and said: “Nobody’s going to miss that personality!” and built her a new one that would help him search for the conspiracy. Thomas S OK, that is a strong and disturbing theory … thanks for posting. JohnTomato Tuesday already? Pat my lad, perhaps it’s time you tried to swallow a revolver. cannibalism I’m going to repeat what I said on the last page: that’s fucked up. Also, this feels like a trap. Jimmyjims A tunnel-vision love that blots out all other concerns. Wishing the comic could pan over to Alison’s face right now. Potato Patato Von Spudsworth 3 I’M NOT LIKING THESE IMPLICATIONS! BAD VIBES! BAAAD VIBES!