sfp 6 84 for web


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  • screechfox

    Oh my god, I love what Alison’s saying here, but I especially love the second-to-last panel.

  • Arthur Frayn

    It’s… Slighted Privileged Man! He’s better off than you, and offended by not actually *being* better than you.

  • critically_damped

    Infinite patience.

    I can’t even imagine… working this hard to try to get someone this detestable to help you. This must be what it feels like to be Hillary Rodham Clinton.

    • Rumble in the Tumble

      >working this hard to try to get someone this detestable to help you
      “You’re a fucking dick! Now please help me!”
      I wouldn’t exactly classify this as “working hard”, no :v

  • Izo

    I’m wondering if anyone will be bringing up that Max told her to get out of his house, and she refused to get out of his house, and she’s making a fist and calling him names instead. I actually agree with her about Max’s attitude (at least in part), but I’m wondering how things would be if the genders were reversed, and Alison was a guy and Max was a girl, with the same exact dialog and actions being taken where the man was demanding a female Max do something for him, female Max refuses to do what he wants and tells him to get out after telling him a not-very-convincing sob story about how she wasnt the specialest snowflake, then a male Al makes a fist, calls a female Max names, refuses to leave, and makes a fist (with both sides knowing that the male Al is the strongest being on the planet and could kill or abuse the female Max easily if the male Al so wanted to do, even if the male Al has a history of being a ‘good guy’).

    I’m just wondering if people would be saying Al was in the wrong then or if Al is being unnecessarily menacing.

    Also sort of seems like Max is saying that Al is privileged because of her powers, and Al is saying she’s not because she didnt get to choose her powers, so it’s idiotic to hold what her powers are against her (plus I think Alison would RATHER have Max’s powers than her own since she’s so much more altruistic and wants to help others than Max).

    I actually sympathize with Alison, and that she wants Max’s help, but she’s gone about this the entirely wrong way and is risking proving Gurwara is right. And I really don’t want to see Gurwara be right about anything.

    • Loranna

      I was avoiding mentioning that, simply because, well, I’d already mentioned that Alison was on shaky ground, coming to Max;s home, asking his help, then demanding an explanation as for why he won’t Be A Hero.

      But, since he DID now tell her to get out of his house . . . well, at this point, neither one of them is actually listening to the other, are they? But I’ve felt that Alison was being pushy this whole time. And also a bit dense, as Max’s point, I think, is not that he holds Alison’s powers against her, it’s that he holds her efforts to -make him do something he doesn’t want- against her.


    • Weatherheight

      I took the clenched fist not as a Alison threatening Max but rather as Alison trying with all her might not to lose control and beat him into a puddle and walk him dry. Alison is well aware that she has anger issues and the image of the clenched fist is her manifestly struggling to hold her temper.

      • Izo

        Oh I agree that’s the reality (as far as there can be reality in a webcomic), but the way it looks is a lot more menacing if you think about it a bit. And the fact that she has to struggle to hold her temper because she wants him to do something that he doesn’t want to do is problematic, given her levels of power.

    • therufs

      > I’m wondering how things would be if the genders were reversed

      Things would be different, because in the non-SFP-verse, where we readers are, being a woman is not like being a man.

      • Izo

        In a non-SFP-verse, people don’t have the ability to throw cars into outer space.

  • Liz

    You need to work on your pitch, Al.

  • Okay… so that explains it. Precious baby Max never had to grow up because Mommy took care of everyone. I will say, kudos to the writing team. I had guessed Max was emotionally stunted, and here he sounds like a petulant 14 year old.

  • bryan rasmussen

    you saved his life, cash it in.

    • Weatherheight

      Now there’s an avenue she should have thought to try – but Izo’s right, it would prove his point and it would never have even occurred to her.

  • Well, I mean, that’s one way to get someone on your side.

    Not the best way, mind, but a way.

  • Axel_Celosar

    Yeeeeeeeeeaa-no. This asshat is never going to help her.

  • zeFluffleTruffle

    Panel 6 reminds me of the Arthur fist meme (…I’m so sorry for my uncontrollable tendency to meme) but on another note, I just absolutely love the lighting on this page. It definitely adds to the tension of the scene. That expression on Alison’s face in the last panel also captures her frustration and despair along with her words…while I don’t like Max, I do like the conflict he’s adding to the story although I hope he does help Alison for the sake of her sanity.

  • 3-I

    THANK YOU, AL. Criminy.

  • Loranna

    Alison’s rebuttal to Max’s reasoning has made me realize something I never truly understood, until now.

    Alison has a very large nose. For that matter, so does Max. The image of their dueling schnozes brings to mind an epic playground argument between elementary school rivals, posed on either side of the slide to settle, once and for all, who has first dibs. ^_^

    Also, now it’s Alison who’s standing dramatically in the lit doorway! I have to say though, I think Max has the better style. Alison has no poise, no swagger. She’s just . . . there, like a brick wall. Which, given her old role on the Guardians, does make sense; guess old habits die hard, Alison? >.>

    Though, it’s kind of interesting how, despite Alison telling Max off, in the end she’s bowing her head in submission. It’s those eyebrows, I wager; combined with Max’s superior stature, they strike like the thunder of Zeus, crumbling all beneath them to dust. Heck, even his -cheekbones- get into the act! Nice touch, Molly πŸ™‚


    • Izo

      I like everything about this strip except that she has her hand clenched in a fist. It makes it look like she’s being menacing. Which I can understand as being Alison being frustrated, but with someone of Alison’s power, those sort of things can easily make a different impression. Especially with someone like Max, who reads into what people say when they tell him to do something. I’m wondering if, by the last panel, where she’s looking down, she’s relaxed her hand again to show that her momentary frustration and anger was over. Otherwise she’s seeming a bit entitled to think she can tell others what to do. Admittedly, she has that power to force others to do what she wants. But she also should know that it would be ethically wrong and evil. Gurwara might even call it ‘dictatorial.’

      • Burke

        Look at the progression of her body language, and not just the fist in isolation. At the start of her rebuttal, her hands are down at her side, open. They come up, open, to emphasize the point she’s making (which she is doing angrily, yes), and then go back down to her side, this time closed, when she needs to rein her temper back in before asking again for that favor. I don’t think it’s not a fist of menace, but a gesture of self-control.

        • Izo

          I am taking the progression of the body language, and I agree with you that it’s probably to emphasize a point, but while for a normal person, this might not be seen as menacing, for someone with Alison’s history as essentially a child soldier, and her being literally the most powerful person on the entire planet, it will take a more menacing feeling, no matter what her intent was. She needs to be MORE self-controlled – especially when dealing with someone who she’s trying to convince to do something without being a bully or, god forbid, a ‘dictator.’

      • palmvos

        as far as the fist clenching- you’ve just stumbled onto a point. clenching your fists like that is almost unconscious and is usually recognized for what it is. that you can see it also as a major threat in context (because of Alison’s power level) is an interesting question. it reminds me of a real story:
        a city police force did a survey of people who were pulled over for traffic violations. (i forget the name of the city sorry) one of the questions was ‘did the officer have his hand on the gun when s/he came to you?
        black respondents who said yes outnumbered white respondents by 2 to 1.
        this city trained its officers to always have a hand on the gun in this situation.
        (traffic stops are very dangerous!)
        granted- the situation in the comic does not justify a threat of violence though how many people would accuse Max of threatening Alison of violence by the tone or volume of his voice were Alison not able to bench press an Abrams tank?
        (p.s. seriously can we have some decent fan art of that?)

        • Izo

          “a city police force did a survey of people who were pulled over for traffic violations. (i forget the name of the city sorry) one of the questions was ‘did the officer have his hand on the gun when s/he came to you?”

          Actually, I believe having the hand on the gun is standard police procedure in most cities (especially major cities with a significant police force) in the US. There are quite a few cases, where they don’t, where a driver who they pull over has a weapon, or a warrant and a weapon, then shoot the officer and speed off. It’s also police procedure, even for a routine traffic stop, that if there are two officers in the car, one is supposed to go around to the other side of the car just in case. Lastly, white people very likely just don’t pay attention to whether the police have their hands on their guns (especially given the current widespread media notice about police shootings involving black men causing almost a hypervigilant notice among black men when they’re stopped).

          “this city trained its officers to always have a hand on the gun in this situation. (traffic stops are very dangerous!)”

          And this is why I should read the entire post before I start responding πŸ™‚

          “granted- the situation in the comic does not justify a threat of violence though how many people would accuse Max of threatening Alison of violence by the tone or volume of his voice were Alison not able to bench press an Abrams tank?”

          Some people have been accusing Max of threatening Alison even when she CAN. I don’t think he’s threatened violence at all, explicitly or implicitly. He told her to leave. She’s superhumanly strong and invulnerable. She’s repeatedly asking him to do something for her, after their previous ‘meeting’ ended very badly because she didn’t like what he was saying (even though what he was saying WAS jerky). She isn’t leaving now, despite his asking her to, after he opens up to her, again after she pushed him repeatedly to explain himself when he shouldnt have to. If the gender roles were reversed, this would look very bad for Alison. She seems to get a pass from some people (although other people do point this out).

          “(p.s. seriously can we have some decent fan art of that?)”

          YES. PLEASE. THIS.

          • palmvos

            as far as Max threatening Alison- there is a standard out there that when a man raises his voice in an discussion that act is a threat of violence.AFAIK it should apply equally but i don’t always see it. (I live with one of those- and I’m significantly hearing impaired- means i can’t always tell when I’m yelling) This is why there are companies out there that have yelling listed as an act of harassment(I worked in at least one of those).

            ‘And this is why I should read the entire post before I start responding :)’ you are supposed to wait for the punchline! work with me people!

            up-voting to in part to try and get the bench-press art done..

      • Weatherheight

        “I’m wondering if, by the last panel, where she’s looking down, she’s relaxed her hand again to show that her momentary frustration and anger was over. ”

        I’d like to think she is.
        I’m not comfortable affirming that is so, however. πŸ˜€

    • Weatherheight

      Love this analysis!

    • Stephanie Gertsch

      Allison’s nose looks pretty small and cute to me. She has a button nose like a child. Look how low the bridge of the nose is on her face.

      • Loranna

        *looks again at Alison’s nose*

        . . . Still looks big to me. ::shrug:: When I look at it, all I can see is a stout lump of cartilage just sitting there in the middle of her face.

        Then again, if my efforts to create decent-looking faces in Oblivion and Skyrim are any indication, I’m not very good at recognizing the key aspects of the nose, and how they work in relation to one another. So I’ll not insist on this point >.>


  • Charles Moore

    I think Max hates his life. It’s why he was living downtown in that firetrap apartment. It’s why he doesn’t care about the gardeners not being able to spend time with their families – he doesn’t understand why anyone would want to spend time with their families. That ‘freakshow’ crack wasn’t his words. They were his mother’s.

    His problem with his power isn’t about his feeling special, it’s about him wanting to escape his shitty life. He was jumping out windows to try to activate his biodynamism before he even knew he was bio. In his 14 year old mind, his only way out was to be biodynamic so he could fly away from it all.

    …and then when he turns he does carry the gene, his power is to be someone else’s +1.

    The fact that he is surrounded by the trappings of a good life doesn’t make his internal pain any less valid, and Alison reminding him of his ‘opportunities’ is not exactly salve for his wounded soul.

    • Chamomile Mint

      THANK YOU. I’ve known this whole time that there must be something more to Max’s story. That doesn’t make him right, it makes him understandable. His parents seem like the time that would tell him for his whole life that freedom is what’s important and that choice is everything while making him feel as though he can’t make any choice that they wouldn’t agree with and shepherding him mercilessly down a certain life path that THEY want for him. To him, someone like Alison who feels trapped in her life, unable to do anything productive, would seem like the freest person in the world. He’s been told that he is free and powerful, and that everyone is this way, but I don’t think he feels powerful, not really. It’s a basic contradiction between his inner life and the belief system he was indoctrinated into, and that is extremely damaging to a person.
      It’s especially telling that he didn’t believe Feral would do what she did purely out of altruism. That’s the kind of view that would be held by someone who had never known anyone who was altruistic in his personal life.

    • Dwight Williams

      Hmmm. We’ll see if this turns out to be the case in due time.

    • motorfirebox

      I think that’s possible. But I’m not really inclined to look for excuses for someone who is so thoroughly selfish.

  • The Improbable Man

    My father has this saying he likes to pull out when I’m arguing with him, and that is that I am “dead right”, meaning that I am right, but that it won’t matter because I will be dead (or metaphorically dead, in terms of my goals).

    Alison is absolutely right about Max’s reaction to his situation, and his behavior, but her directness about it is only going to piss him off more and make him less likely to help her. It sucks, but she probably needs to be more diplomatic if he’s really that valuable. She’s more likely to change his mind by being more gentle and gradual in showing/telling him how he’s wrong, over a very long period of time, than by bluntly laying it all out and calling him selfish, ignorant, and spoiled (which he totally is). I speak from experience, as someone who grew up as the “rich” kid (not helicopter and plant sculpture rich, but still very comfortable compared to my peers)– it took me a long time to start to question the beliefs I’d held due to my sheltered life and parents’ influence (which was positive in terms of morals such as honesty, responsibility, and politeness, but politically it was much more like Max’s than Alison’s).

    • Izo

      Your dad threatened to kill you when you’re in an argument where you’re right?.

      • The Improbable Man

        Haha, no. I’m talking about security vs. freedom arguments, where I’m arguing on the side of freedom, and he’s arguing on the side of security.

        For an extremely simplistic example (I’ll use strawmen on both sides so this doesn’t degenerate into an argument about the content), I could be arguing that the US government shouldn’t spy on American citizens in any way ever, and he could be arguing that a home grown terrorist could be building a nuclear weapon in their basement and therefore we should spy on everyone all the time. I’m right that we shouldn’t spy on American citizens, but I’d be dead right because I’ll be nuked by the terrorist.

        Again, that’s a simplistic example just to explain the saying.

        • Izo

          Ohhhh. Because I was thinking ‘wow, they take debating REALLY seriously in his family!’ πŸ™‚

      • cphoenix

        My parents taught me a rhyme about driving:

        “He was right, dead right, as he sped along,
        But he’s just as dead as if he’d been wrong.”

        In other words, don’t expect the rules of the road to protect you – and most especially don’t feel justified in e.g. jackrabbiting forward the instant the light turns green without checking whether someone else is trying to run a “deep orange” light.

        I suspect it was not at all a threat of violence from Dad, but rather a warning about the general mechanisms of the world.

        • Izo

          Just read Improbable Man’s response. Yeah that seems to be what he meant πŸ™‚

      • pleasechangemymind

        My parents had a different way of saying it, in regards to jay-walking:

        “The laws of physics trump the law of the land.”

        I remember moving to California and seeing some kid run into the road and almost get hit by a car. My mom pulled him back by the scruff of his neck (er, well, coat) and he started bitching about how he had the “right of way.” She said “yeah, sure you do, but if you get hit by a car, does it matter who was right?” He responded “well then I can sue them!” She replied: “not if you’re dead. No court in the world, no matter how air-tight the legal system is, can reverse time and change the laws of physics so that you weren’t hit by the car. That’s it. The end.”

        The point isn’t about death. It’s about recognizing that just because you CAN do something, just because it’s right or justifiable, doesn’t mean that it will help you reach your goal.

    • Pythia

      My dad does that too!

      He loves using the example of a traffic light. If your light is green, but someone else is speeding past their red light, you shouldn’t move on forward even though it would be right to do so because you have the right of way, because if you do you will die.

  • Beroli

    You have an unstated premise here that is far from universally accepted.

    That is, that selfishness like Max’s can be divorced from narcissistic entitlement. That you are not, in effect, complaining that they wrote an internally consistent character rather than an animated, entirely unbelievable Why You’re Wrong lesson for Alison.

  • The Improbable Man

    After paying very close attention to the 2008 Democratic Primary, I’d say it definitely applies to Barack Obama. πŸ™

  • This Guy

    The crowd must be appeased. The sick burns must be dispensed, and how that reframes the argument be damned.

  • Weatherheight

    I think it’s possible for both arguments to be right. He could hate his fate and also hate himself.

    And self-loathing takes a lot of different expressions – knew a young lady in college who was beautiful and funny and smart; I couldn’t stand being around her because her self-deprecation wasn’t modesty, she genuinely hated herself and her family and let people know. I’m usually pretty tolerant of that kind of attention seeking, but in her case it was so constant that there was never a break and it made me feel bad just being around her.

    But yeah, I think I see your point and I feel you’re giving us another page inThe Book of Max (Well, I wonder, wonder, who, mmbadoo-ooh, who – who wrote the Book Of Max… Oh, Hi, Brennan and Molly)

  • Pythia

    Also because Patrick actually has a good goal in mind, so we can see different people fighting for the same thing in vastly different ways and sympathize with both, whereas here we see different people with different goals neither of whom really gives a fuck about the other one’s goals because they believe theirs take precedence (“it’s my power! It’s my life!”, “you have to! The world matters more!”).

    I would read a comic just about Patrick during the backstory years. I wanna see Menace. Because this: http://strongfemaleprotagonist.com/issue-3/page-45-2/

    And this: http://strongfemaleprotagonist.com/issue-3/page-16-2/

    • Izo

      Oh, I think Cleaver’s an excellent example of ‘There, but for the grace of God go I.’ I do think he’s a tragic villain, not TOO different than Mr. Freeze from Batman, although he’s probably closer to Killer Croc from Batman instead.

      I wish Alison would talk to Max and be convincing in the same way she talked to CLEAVER and was convincing. She was being honest there about her darker impulses, and didn’t just dismiss everything Cleaver thought. She emphasized with him, and that turned him around. She hasnt done any of that with Max.

      She’s able to emphasize with and see the views of a person who’s murdered hundreds and believes that his power gives no one the right to tell him what to do. Doing that actually brought Cleaver around to her way of thinking, and did more to rehabilitating him than any time they’ve ever fought in a physical confrontation or any time he’s been imprisoned. Why can’t Alison emphasize with someone who simply doesn’t want to be told what to do and has a power which is only useful as support, rather than being destructive or beneficial on its own?


  • Cori J.

    Alison is in a dangerous place psychologically. I don’t see the last panel as her begging him to help. She’s begging him to do what she asks before she loses her last shreds of patience and integrity and *makes him* do what she asks. Max asked, β€œI have to? Or what?” and she dodged the question, because they both know. It’s hard for her to let things go, because she knows with certainty she could force things to go her way. She knows this, and is trying to build the skills to avoid that, but her power hampers that development because there is never a true sense of urgency to get creative when you always have a trump card up your sleeve.

    She’s acknowledged that her powers are a curse before, and that the absence of physical consequence make the possibility of doing heinous things that much more available and tantalizing. I mean, she not only threatened Patrickβ€”she *informed* him that he’ll be in custody within 2 years, because she finally ran out of excuses not to apprehend him after he refused intimacy and embarrassed her. She punishes personal insults without even realizing it.

    Clearly, she doesn’t want to go there again, and she doesn’t want to admit that she is already a benevolent tyrant, but she’s slipping. She doesn’t have Brad’s wisdom and compassion, and she can’t learn them overnightβ€”if everβ€”so her inability to suppress her opinions in the interest of moving Max emotionally has led her here and there are no options left, unless a next-page epiphany saves her. Al’s done some pretty horrible things but for her sanity’s sake I don’t want to see her become the monster again here. Max is not a model victim and that makes it crucial for Al to show restraint, and potentially let it go, or risk becoming β€œMenace, but with fists this time.”

    (Ugh, she and Patrick were made for each other. The shipping goggles are never coming off.)

    • Izo

      “(Ugh, she and Patrick were made for each other. The shipping goggles are never coming off.)”

      Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo please don’t say that! πŸ™‚

      PS – everything you said is so spot-on accurate.

    • Ben Posin

      I’d really appreciate one day getting some “Word of God” on what went down when she was talking to Patrick, because I reacted to it a lot differently–for me it was not at all about having intimacy refused or being embarrassed, it was about realizing that in important ways Patrick doesn’t have his shit together.

      He’s running a multinational corporation, he has access to the thoughts of scientists, politicians, business folk, he has knowledge about this horrific, world changing conspiracy, you put it all together and I think it was hard for Alison not to think he really was this sort of super enlightened guy who really could justify everything he was doing, who deserved to be treated differently than others would had they done similar things.

      And suddenly—pop! She realizes that he’s a 21 year old who has a ton of inconsistent, asinine views and axioms about life and morality because he’s never really talked any of this out with anyone. He can’t read his own mind the same way he can read others, so he hasn’t cleaned out the garbage or really examined his past or motivations and made sure it all makes sense or hang together. He’s flailing like anyone else, maybe worse than others because he’s so isolated in terms of having folks to bounce his ideas and thoughts off of. And this guy who very much wasn’t some sort of sage tried to forcibly overthrow the US government, with who knows how many casualties. Of course he should be held accountable by the justice system, given a fair trial and then dealt with appropriately.

      But I can see your view, and I can see that being slotted in as a step down the staircase towards what Gurwara warned her of: that her axiom requires a tyrant.

  • Pythia

    …Well, interestingly enough, he is better off in that he wasn’t forced to basically be a child soldier through his latter teens, thanks to his “my mom was in Congress” privilege.

    He’s also better off in that he holds the bargaining chip here (though he doesn’t seem to know how to use it). If you have something someone incredibly powerful wants, and it’s entirely at your discretion whether to provide it or not, you have power over that person.

    • palmvos

      but if hes as deep into personal freedom as he suggests he is… to want direct power like that should be repugnant.
      and also- that power is only useful if there is something the other person can give you that you want. Max may not see that Alison has anything he wants that she can actually give him.

      • Beroli

        I think that attributes too much understanding to Max.

        That is: He apparently wants, whether he would acknowledge it or not, Alison’s validation and her sympathy. If he recognized why she can’t give them to him, it would upend his worldview, as he’d suddenly realize that there are people who don’t believe in his philosophy on any level. From his perspective she’s the one being petty: she’s treating him with contempt for nothing more than being honest about the way everyone really thinks (the preceding sentence is how I think Max’s perspective parses the situation, not how I parse it at all, if that’s unclear). He might recognize that he’s not going to get what he wants from Alison, but he’s thinking in terms of “she could but she won’t” when the reality is more “she would but she can’t.”

        • palmvos

          as far as the ‘things he wants’ i was thinking…. well more tangible things. (please help me out of the gutter!) He was seeking validation/relationship with her before. so far I have not seen much evidence that he has a lot of hope for this. their positions at the beginning of this segment would suggest that she isn’t far from the front door that she came to to talk to him. as well as the body language early on shows me he isn’t in a forgiving mood. But, I will accept the idea than the ‘can’ in my second point should be can/will, in both places.

          i’ll be honest- the idea that a person’s worldview is not universally accepted or the only true one is a very difficult concept. most people have trouble with it. Alison has trouble with it!

    • Izo

      I’m not aware that Alison was ‘forced’ to be in the Guardians. She did so by choice. The Guardians was Pintsize’s idea, I believe. They WANTED to be superheroes. He didn’t want to be, so he wasn’t. His mother kept him out of the public spotlight entirely so he didn’t even have people asking.

      • Lostman

        Pretty much what you said, and add in the fact when the group captured Patrick. He pretty much ripped apart the idea of superheroes/super-villains, causing Alison to become disillusion, which caused her to reveal her identity on TV which has caused her no end of pain. It’s the reason we even have plot the first place.

        So yes, like I said before: this is all Alison fault.

  • palmvos

    I agree. what is it that is so blanking bleeping blotting bloating necessary that she begs like this? on this page I’m struggling to imagine who has the lower maturity rating right now. I like a lot of what Alison said though this quote ought to wake max up sometime
    ‘I don’t know that I’ve ever met someone that has to clarify what they meant as often as you’.

  • Burke
    • Izo

      Wow I love that link.

      • Burke

        Thanks. The html didn’t work the way I was hoping, but that movie, and the book it’s based on? Good stuff.

  • Weatherheight

    Hmm, that does say something about Max, doesn’t it?
    But What?

    Convinced of Privilege?
    Sure of Alison’s Forbearance?
    Utterly Forgetting the Risk Due to Being Angry?
    Maybe all of the above?

    Nice point

    • Izo

      Brave? (ok maybe not)
      Convinced in his beliefs? πŸ™‚
      Knows that if she kills him with a punch, she won’t be able to get him to help anyway? πŸ™‚

      Your #4 seems the most likely.

  • Chamomile Mint

    But Alison had do force him into explaining. He didn’t want to complain.

  • Loranna

    Not just that. Has Alison actually thought about what working with Max is going to be like, if THIS is how they’re getting along now? What good will having his superpowers for her team be, if neither of them understands or respects the other?


  • Weatherheight

    More Paragraphs!
    Express yourself!

  • Weatherheight

    Well, that depends. If you’re all about the end results, there’s a lot to like about Patrick.
    Provided you don’t become part of the asphalt in the process. πŸ˜€

    • Izo

      I’ve never been a big proponent of ‘the ends justify the means.’ That mantra has been the cause of too much evil in the world, because of the person making the decision is a human being, and human beings are invariably flawed creatures.

  • Weatherheight

    Power is Power. In some sense, Max’s financial power is more adaptable and applicable than Alison’s physical power. I’m not sure Max’s power is as weak as you believe it to be, just less obvious.

    But yeah, that’s another parallel, isn’t it?

  • CrimsonCarnivoreOnAClayCourt

    OK, I have nothing to say about Alison, Max, their feelings or their failings that hasn’t already been said. So instead I’ll say this.

    Assuming she gets Max on her side, what exactly is Alison’s plan here? Just introduce him to various superpeople until one of them fixes the world?

    She’s probably got a specific person in mind. Hector’s gotta be on the shortlist, what with his current goals and the sheer storytelling potential in Mr. I-Wanna-Be-Superman getting even more Super.

    Oh god, is Max going to meet that lame Werewolf kid? “And that’s how our canine overlords came to power. Now let’s all celebrate with a good howl at the moon and some customary butt-sniffing.”

    • bta


      My first guess would be Feral, for the sake of trying to see if improving her power could make her cloned tissues keep the same powers.

      But her entire plan’s got to be a wild shot because it’s based on two powers interacting when it’s established that even scientists know very little about how they work. She can’t predict what improving specific powers would do before she tries it.

  • Weatherheight

    Ends and means, baby. End and means. πŸ˜€

    • Izo

      I wish Alison would talk to Max and be convincing in the same way she talked to CLEAVER and was convincing. She was being honest there about her darker impulses, and didn’t just dismiss everything Cleaver thought. She emphasized with him, and that turned him around. She hasnt done any of that with Max.

      • Loranna

        She sees much more of herself in Cleaver than she does in Max, I suspect.


        • Izo

          I know. She’s said as much when she entered the prison to talk to Cleaver after the Feral/flamethrower incident.

          Both know they’re violent and have fantasies about killing people. I don’t think Max has those types of fantasies, but I think it would show huge growth for Alison if she could put herself in the mindset of someone who isn’t already very similar to her own mindset ‘but for’ one or two small differences in their upbringing.

  • Weatherheight

    Your logic is… impeccable. πŸ˜€

  • chaosvii

    I’m outraged. Outraged and unsympathetic and yes, even unkind.
    But that doesn’t change what would heal the world, and it doesn’t change the fact that you can be a part of it. That you would be the linchpin in it’s creation.
    That you would matter more to the world than you ever have mattered at any point in your life of regret. What you have not worthless, and how dare you even think that you are worthless because of it?!
    I wish you could see this, but I can’t make you see, I can only beg for you to open your eyes. Please find a way.
    Please stop dedicating your life to keeping your blindfold on straight. If I had what you had, I would be able to do so much with that sight you deny yourself.
    I’m just so outraged that you think so little of the greatness you would have if only you would try.

  • Lika Boss

    she is so.. dumb sometimes. Why is she pissing him off on purpose if she wants him to help her?

  • bta

    It would take a device worthy of a James Bond villain to get her that rhinoplasty anyway.

    • Izo

      LOL, that’s true, especially considering what it takes for her to even get a haircut.

      Unless, like…. Cleaver was employed as a rhinypasty tool to do that. Or they developed blades less than 2 microns at the edge?

      Why am I talking about superhuman rhinoplasty? I have no idea πŸ™‚ I like Alison’s look immensely.

  • Steele

    So, let’s see, Alison’s STR and CON are probably like 25+, her DEX would be, I dunno, 15, INT and WIS around 13/14… but her CHA has to be, like, 8, and she’s rolling 1’s on all her Persuasion checks, if the last few pages are any indication.

    …sorry, I’ve been playing a lot of D&D lately.

    • Izo

      I wish I understood what the numbers actually signified. Most of my knowledge of it comes from reading either Goblins or Order of the Stick webcomics.

      • palmvos

        25+ god level (Thor is 28 str i think)
        15 dex- max 18 so shes limber and reasonably flexible. she can probably do most standard cheer moves.
        cha 8- average like loranna i disagree. her CHA is probably fairly high as she has leadership ability. but she is completely untrained (no diplomacy/persuasion skills).
        I’d say her wisdom and int are around 9-11 (average to above average.) D & D doesn’t have colleges like we do- so the fact that she can hack college and other things says shes above average on INT. this leaves WIS as her dump stat and it shows!

        • Loranna

          Agreed on all points, with the small addendum that she probably took the Iron Will feat once or twice, as Wisdom in D&D (IIRC) also covers strength of will, and I imagine Alison has a fair amount of that.

          Just, she doesn’t have as much of the other qualities of Wisdom – foresight and, well, wisdom. ^_^


        • Weatherheight

          This would be much easier in Hero System, but D&D is so much more accessible. πŸ˜€

      • Steele

        Well, You have Strength, Constitution (toughness), Dexterity, Intelligence (book smarts and problem solving), Wisdom (common sense and perception), and Charisma (Affects your interactions with people). The highest Baseline stat a character can achieve is 18, but since Al is super human, I raised her physical stats to well beyond that threshold.

        Her CHA is low since she obviously can’t seem to convince people who already disagree with her to do anything, and her methods for attempting to do so are heavy handed and far from eloquent!

  • palmvos

    I suspect that its more of a heat-of-the-moment as well as the general sense of security of being in a safe place that allows Max to not think about the level of threat he’s dealing with here.
    /s after all most people do think before they talk… right? /s

  • Scott

    He’s showing his background and attitude in the way he chooses to interpret what she’s asking. What she’s doing with imperative language is fairly standard persuasion- “You *can’t* just walk away, you *have* to help.” Reasonable people know that doesn’t mean anyone’s actually going to use force, but Max is reading it that way. Maybe that’s the way he’s been treated, or maybe it’s just the way he sees the world. Reminds me a bit of people who assume criticism == censorship and rant about censorious oppression after seeing a Sarkeesian video.

  • Izo

    In her defense, she was probably in a state of emotional shock at that point, having just been flamethrowered and a few feet away from three doctors who the guy murdered right in front of her in one of the most horrific ways possible, plus hurting Feral, plus Alison was still trying to deal with the fact that Feral, one of her best friends, was willingly going to subject herself to essentially eternal painful torture in order to just help other people.

    Right now, she doesnt have any of those excuses.

    • Weatherheight

      I dunno, finding out about someone who might have saved the lives of some of her dead friends via a judicious use of his power early on might count as emotional shock. She’s brought up that point indirectly at least once. πŸ˜€

      Your point is very well taken, though. Just being a burro. πŸ˜€

      • Izo

        No problem. I enjoy a good debate. πŸ™‚ I don’t think that hindsight is really enough to constitute emotional shock. The thing with Feral was in the moment, though.

        I should also add that, at the time, seeing the murderer having burned those doctors alive and torching Feral happened RIGHT AFTER Feral’s friend basically blamed Alison for being ‘too good an influence’ on Feral to make Feral want to ‘make a real difference in the world.’ And Alison probably does blame herself for being the cause of Feral wanting to do that, at least in some small part. So in addition to shock, she was feeling a LOT of self-loathing and guilt and I really don’t think she was completely in her own head at the time. Afterwards, she did start admitting that she does have a bad voice in her head that tells her to do bad stuff because she can get away with it, and she just has to keep ignoring it.

  • ophidimancer

    Maybe she thinks Max can save Cleaver’s life?

    • Izo

      This is just a guess,but I don’t think so, since Cleaver’s power seems to be killing him since the blades are, if I remember correctly, some sort of cancerous growth. Cleaver’s powers have gotten augmented naturally and it’s sped up how it’s killing him…. Max augmenting it further would probably speed up the death cycle even more.

      • phantomreader42

        Cleaver’s powers have gotten augmented naturally and it’s sped up how it’s killing him…. Max augmenting it further would probably speed up the death cycle even more

        Considering how much pain he’s probably in, that might not be entirely a bad thing.
        Then again, if he could augment Daniel’s powers, WITHOUT augmenting the same powers in the cancer, then the host body would get stronger and better at healing than the parasite, and that might make it possible to fight it off. It seems like a gamble, but there probably isn’t a viable solution to weaponized hyper-cancer that isn’t incredibly dangerous.

  • Stephanie

    Of course he thinks the “flying tank” powerset is the best one. Of course he does.

    • Loranna

      It could be worse. He could want the “reality warper” powerset. >.>


      • Weatherheight

        I just got that fur on my back smoothed down!

        ::grumbles and sets back to fixing things::

        • Loranna

          *gets -larger- brush*

          Such a excitable burro ^_^


      • Izo

        God I hate ‘reality warper’ powersets. The most overpowered trope for superhumans, especially when in the hands of a lazy writer. It grates on my idea that ‘perfect people are boring.’ So are ‘powers that let you do anything you ever want.’

        ALTHOUGH…. I did once read a REALLY good fanfic story called ‘Funny Business’ which is a RARE example of a reality warper story done amazingly well. Mainly because it was a deconstruction of the reality warper archetype.

        Here’s the link. It’s a great read.


        • Loranna

          Reality warping can be an interesting power to read and write about, if the setting presupposes that reality has a consciousness, and that all parties concerned – caster, target, and reality – must assent to the warping in question.

          Yes, even for things like curses. I never implied that said assent had to be willing, or even witting. But do keep in mind, reality’s watching every dirty trick you pull, even when you talk it into not looking ^_^


          • 9Jack9

            Steve Jobs was often described as reality warping. People either loved him or hated him for it, depending on whether they were consumers of Apple products or employees told to do what was previously considered impossible.

    • Izo

      I think ‘flying tank’ is the best one too πŸ™‚ But Supergirl is my favorite superhero of all time (although my next three favorites are Spider-Man, Monet St. Croix, and The Question – both Montoya and Sage)

  • Izo

    “I’d say Femax was being a ____ and Malison was in the right. I think being a pompous jerk is gender neutral.”

    You are a remarkably fair person then πŸ™‚ In my opinion, many people would give Malison a much harder time and make more excuses for Femax.

    “I feel a bit sorry for the guy but honestly, there’s more to life than powers and there’s no use whining over it when you got so much more going for you.”

    Except as soon as anyone finds out about his powers, he has trying to use him and take advantage of his powers to help them, regardless of whether he wants to or not.

    “Cleaver seems to be doing fine, besides the guilt but that’s not directly involved with his power.

    Except for the fact that, for most of his life until very recently, Cleaver’s been a psychopathic mass-murderer of what is probably in the hundreds of people (if not more). Also… he’s slowly, and painfully, dying from his own biodynamism while he’s in a mega-max super prison unable to even move his arms (and the blades he has instead of hands since he was 14 so that he can barely even feed himself).

    Other than those little caveats, he’s doing swell.

    “Then again, I don’t agree with the fact that Max is obligated to do the right thing. No one needs to do the right thing, most people live their lives being generally neutral and if you don’t believe in the afterlife nothing bad is going to happen to you because of it. Good actions should be done by choice not because they are responsible.”

    Like I said, you’re a remarkably fair person. Far too many have this belief that altruism can and should be forced. It’s troubling.

    “I’m sorry Uncle Ben but “great responsibility” shouldn’t be dumped on some teen with “great power” unless that kid volunteers out of the goodness of his heart to fling himself around New York in spandex. Though it’s easy for him to say cause he neither has power, or stays alive for very long in the comics…”

    +1 internet for the spider-man reference!

    “(And here I promised just a week ago not to comment in paragraphs…)”

    I love that you comment in paragraphs. It makes your posts very easy to read and respond to, and it’s a lot easier to read than someone having a wall of text

  • Izo

    “But Gurwara IS right.”
    I know, it’s painful to admit this given how much I can’t stand Gurwara…. but the people making this comic have done an excellent job on these philosophical points.

    I agree with almost everything else you said too. I think Alison IS a good person, and she would be a ‘good Queen’ but having a dictatorship, even a benevolent one, is never a good idea for a society, because you’re having a society that only lasts for the length of that person’s lifetime, and is entirely subject to that person’s whim if they ever change their philosophy and emotional outlook. It makes the society incredibly unstable where freedom and liberty are concerned.

    Minor disagreement btw, in that she HAS used physical violence as well in the past to convince people, more than a few times, but not nearly as much as she could if she wasn’t raised well by her parents.

    • Stephanie Gertsch

      For me she just reads as being in shock and pleading for help. An older person might back off when she keeps arguing, but I don’t feel a tyrannical streak coming from her.

      • Loranna

        I’d quibble that Alison’s less feeling shock and more feeling umbrage.

        She’s said nothing to the effect that she’s trying to understand Max’s position, but just can’t wrap her head around it. Rather, she’s implied that she finds his reasoning distasteful, she sees his lack of helping downright offensive, not to mention insulting to those who have been helping – and suffering – all along, and at last she’s asking him if will he please just stop being such a prat and HELP already, because that’s what she came here to get him to do.

        At the very least, she’s being very persistent, despite Max’s repeated lack of interest in wanting to help.


        • Stephanie Gertsch

          Yes, she’s very persistent. I think it’s because the value of helping has been drilled into her since she was so young, she’s trying to wrap her head around how someone could choose not to help and failing.

          She seems very frustrated, but I wouldn’t necessarily call it “umbrage.” For me that sounds more like blind rage, while Allison obviously is listening and trying to find common ground.

  • Dividious

    Is it okay to say that I don’t really like Allison? I mean she’s a wonderfully complex character and her intentions are noble, but she seems to have a disregard for other people’s rights, safety, lives, personal decisions, etc. I enjoy the complex situations that she is put in and the dialogue that follows, but she really seems almost like an anti-villain. (An anti-villain is someone who is moral/noble/courageous but lacks the traditional “means” of a hero) She always seems to be stepping on boundaries.

    • Loranna

      To be fair, classic superheroes have problems with boundaries too. Batman sneaks into peoples’ homes or offices to dig around for evidence. Superman crashes through the ceiling to ambush some bad guys. Spiderman crawls across peoples’ windows, seeing or hearing anything going on inside . . .

      Alison just deals with different sorts of boundaries these days, as there’s no more supervillains for her to smash πŸ™‚


    • Edward L. Howell

      Who’s to say her story arc does not end in supervillainy?

  • Izo

    Then Alison would be a dictator and an immoral person, relying purely on ‘the ends justify the means’ even if the ends involve blackmail and forcing someone to do something against their will because ‘you know better than them.’ As if Max is less of a person than she is with less right to have free will.

    I don’t think Alison will do that.

  • Elaine Lee

    You don’t know what she wants yet. Example: Any parent would beg for the life of his/her child. While I don’t believe pride is a sin, it’s not a virtue either. There are many goals worthy enough to be worth your pride.

    • Weatherheight

      And really, how much is pride worth at the supermarket? πŸ˜€

      • Izo

        About $3.50.

  • Weatherheight

    The details of “I make other people more powerful” haven’t been explained yet. It seems many of us are supposing an increase in effective force application, but it could be greater fine control, expansions of the power set into related areas, or even entirely new abilities.

    Neither have we yet heard the cost of those boosted powers, either physical, emotional, psychological, or spiritual.

  • Weatherheight

    It’s entirely possible to have fun and relax and yet not drink. πŸ˜€

    I agree with you, she’d probably be fixated on her problem and that would seriously spoil the possibilities.

  • Weatherheight

    What we want and why we want it is pretty strongly influenced by our past (I am Obvious Burro!). It’s interesting to me that so many of us (and I include myself) want to have a way to reason that either Alison is “more right” or Max is “more right” when maybe the issue is both of them are a bit “too wrong”.

    Nice post!

  • Arkone Axon

    It’s an interesting power that only a few people in comic book style stories have ever had. “Augmentation.” If you’ve ever looked at the “Mutants and Masterminds” tabletop game, look at the “Boost Power” power. That’s what he has, apparently.

    Which makes me wonder: is HE the reason Alison can now fly? Is his power growing, is he causing others to gain in strength just by being in the same city?

    • Izo

      I doubt it – Alison was able to fly before she even met him. Remember, she saved him from a burning building by flying.

      • Arkone Axon

        Yes, but who is to say that he wasn’t the cause of her enhanced abilities? Just because they hadn’t met yet doesn’t mean he can’t have been the cause. It’s an interesting possibility – with some huge implications. For instance, what if he’s been TRYING to develop further powers… and as a result has been boosting his own “boost power” power? Until his very existence causes an increase in the power levels of everyone else?

        Of course, it could also be that his powers only work if he’s concentrating on someone… in which case, what kind of fanboy is he? He’s obviously attracted to her sexually, but perhaps it’s more than that – she might represent everything he ever wanted, both in terms of having “useful” powers and also in terms of being openly heroic without being mocked for it by authority figures who have rationalized their amoral behavior with Randian pseudo-philosophy and then shoved the same nonsense down his throat. As a number of people have already pointed out, this boy jumped out off the roof in the hopes he might fly. This was not a happy kid growing up.

  • Weatherheight

    I am in total agreement with those who say he needs to grow up. He does.
    But, having had loving and effective parents, growing up isn’t done in a vacuum – it happens in interaction with the good people around you and by gaining perspective and judgement from them or because of them.

    Used to work retail in a RPG/gaming store, years ago. I spent a lot of time listening to teens complain about how unfair their parents are. I had a lot of fun hearing them out and then playing devil’s advocate. One young man came back after his first year at college and thanked me for teaching him how to see the other side’s argument, even if you might disagree with it.

    I consider that one of the nicest compliments anyone has ever paid me. πŸ˜€

    To me it’s pretty clear Max has been isolated and lonely. I strongly suspect his parents (and more likely, mostly his mother) is the cause. His inability to clearly express himself, his need for affirmation via being agreed with and admired, his focus on external trappings and shallow perspective – it all can fall out of that. And I admit it, I’m kind of a soft touch for the outsider.

    I feel sorry for Max, but i don’t like him. Pretty sure I wouldn’t want to hang out with him. I feel sorry for Daniel, and I kind of like him, but I’m pretty sure that I shouldn’t hang out with him – he’s kind of a trouble magnet. But if either of them said, “I need to change. I want to change. Can you help?”, I would try to be as much like Alison at her best as I could. Given my track record, not really my strong suit, but I’d try. πŸ™‚

    Last paragraph? Amen – It may be corny, but I like Captain America and Superman when they’re upholding the best of values even when it costs them. I stand proudly a sap!

    ::plants his hooves firmly, turns his ears forward, looks into the sunset, and lets his tail fan out in the breeze::

  • Weatherheight

    Nicely said!

  • Weatherheight

    One of the reasons I love this forum is so many different thoughts come to the table and are so very often well expressed – and, I feel, that makes me better, little by little, and hopefully everyone else is of that same mind.

    I am only as good as I allow others to help me be.

    And thank you for the flowery prose praise.. Prosaise?

    ::sniffs the flowers and thoughtfully takes a bite::

  • Weatherheight

    ::wiggles his ears happily and chews on the flowers::

  • Lysiuj

    “I knew an elf ” Details?

    • Weatherheight

      I used to spend a lot of time in a place called Icemule Trace. Lots of different people lived there. πŸ˜€

      • Lysiuj

        Well now I know what Gemstone IV is. Thanks! πŸ™‚

  • Loranna

    Whether it was ethical or not to feel so, I would be terribly miffed if you or anyone else were to just walk off with my laptop without my permission, or my car.

    . . .And now I’m picturing Alison literally walking off with peoples’ cars, justifying her actions on the basis that the parking spaces for said cars would be better used for building homeless shelters, and the cars themselves, as furniture πŸ˜›


    • Weatherheight

      Back in my college days, there was insufficient parking on campus and even greater insufficient parking adjacent to campus. I utilized the computer center often (computer center – a place where mainframes and access terminals are kept and people could access them – PCs were just becoming an affordable thing [Comedic Mansplain!] ) but it was a pain finding parking when I did.

      And every time I found someone parked like a centipede with a drinking problem and a nervous twitch down its right side, I really wanted TK to correct the problem. My heroic aspirations were much much lower back then. πŸ˜€

  • Edward L. Howell

    We ARE talking about the woman who one said, “Now do what I say, or I’ll kill every one of you” or words to that effect… so yeah….

  • Zorae42

    I’m starting to think Patrick might have started the fire at Max’s apartment complex.

    I can’t imagine him ignoring Max when he apparently has such a huge, world changing power. Although given Max’s intense value of personal freedom, hatred of his power, and rich/powerful family (who have the same feelings Max does), I could see how it could be rather difficult to manipulate him into using his powers for Patrick’s desires. Or at least difficult without resorting to unsavory methods. Or even if he dos know how to manipulate him without resorting to such methods, he considers a way to do so that will also might

    Because what if he introduces him to Alison (and lets her know about Max’s power when the time seems right)? She places an intense value on the greater good and helping people, has the power Max wanted the most, and is invulnerable/super strong and immune to most repercussions.

    Patrick knows she’d try to convince Max to use his powers for the greater good, and there are only a few possible outcomes:
    1. She convinces Max to use his powers, this makes her happy (and potentially grateful to Patrick for letting her know about Max’s power) and makes Max easier to manipulate for Patrick’s own goals.
    2. She forces Max to use his powers. This does all sorts of things to Alison’s psyche and makes Max easier to manipulate for Patrick’s own goals.
    3. She fails and goes to Patrick for help (as his manipulation skills are unmatched). Then he gets to be the good guy to her for contributing to the greater good. (Most likely the lowest probability)
    4. She fails and Patrick manipulates him unprompted (nothing gained nothing lost). Then after he’s done with him potentially hands him back over to Alison and be the good guy to her that way.

    Patrick definitely has the resources and guile to plan that fire. And it definitely makes sense considering how important he is and how ridiculous of a coincidence that fire would be otherwise.

    • Weatherheight

      Yesss.. yesss.. this is Patrick-style plotting!
      Young Skywal… I mean, Young Zorae42, the Emperor will see you now…
      Most promising….
      Have a chocolate.

  • Guest

    I’d love to see positive, sympathetic representations of people with inherited wealth.

    So many stories, even popular targeted towards children, include a fairly un-nuanced “rich villain,” I assume because people who aren’t the most materially wealthy in their group want to feel better about themselves, and it’s a cheap way to appeal to that demographic. As someone who was born into some wealth, well, it made me sad to see those characters over and over. It probably made it harder for me to have a good attitude and understanding about my situation. Because, well, I didn’t want to be a bad person. It made it seem like having wealth is an inherently evil thing. Creating and maintaining a life of material security is a virtuous thing. It may not make someone more virtuous than anyone else, but in itself it’s a trait everyone can benefit from having.

    I don’t think Max is just one of these “born rich villain” characters, there’s a lot more to his characterization than that, and I find it pretty interesting were this arc is going. But he reminds me of the trope. In SFP we have several characters who are at least somewhat sympathetic who have great personal wealth, but were not born into it: Lisa (Paladin), Patrick, presumably all the former members of The Guardians (the superhero group Alison was formerly part of as Mega Girl.) Maybe I’m missing some, but I think so far Max is the only character with significant inherited wealth.

    So, I’d love to see a wealth-positive story about a born-rich person portrayed sympathetically and positively. Let them have genuine feelings and experiences and thoughts and information people in that situation would have. Let them deal with all that. Let them experience their situation through their own eyes, and let them not dismiss their own experience of it. Let the character be a role-model, perhaps, but don’t make them into one shaped by the most shallow wishes of people poorer than they are. Let them be a role-model for themselves and their own interests, like everyone else. And to be clear, I mean to include a person’s genuine, non-coerced desires to participate meaningfully and positively in lives others as part of “their own interest.”

    I guess there’s an off-chance the SFP authors see this and find it interesting enough to address in the background or more prominently, but I more just wanted to throw the idea out there in general. I don’t think it’s the central focus of the current content, but it seems related enough that a comment about it is relevant, especially considering all the negative comments about Max that mention his wealth.

    Here’s to hoping “rich” and “jerk” will one day be unrelated concepts in our culture.

    (And as always, thank you to the authors for a thought-provoking comic.)

    • Izo

      Monet St. Croix.

      It takes a while until you realize that she’s actually a sympathetic character tho πŸ™‚

      Oh…. and Batman.

    • Edward L. Howell

      Article: How Wealth Reduces Compassion. Scientific American, April 10, 2012.

      It has been scientifically proven that wealth and status decrease our feelings of compassion for others. This may be why it has become a trope – there’s truth in it. Nothing against you personally and not saying you personally are this way. – it’s just statistics.

    • Ellie K

      There are plenty of positively portrayed characters with inherited wealth lol http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/SpoiledSweet

  • Guest

    I have some inherited wealth, not a whole lot, but enough that I felt like I had enough to bother thinking about in that way. I grew up, and I think a lot of people from a variety of backgrounds do, with the idea that children are supposed to “do better” than their parents. More financial and social success, more meaningful and impactful life, using whatever we started with to make something even better. The family is supposed to accrue and organize resources and the knowledge to use them so that each successive generation has more to work with, enabling them to do more and bigger things.

    I think there are probably some good things about this idea. I mean, on a larger scale that’s what the idea of human progress is all about, right? Maybe “do your best with what you’re given” is better than “do better than your parents”. I remember being jealous that, for some of my friends, getting a well-paying job and doing decent work at it was easily enough to “do better” than their parents. Whereas if I did that, it wouldn’t be enough to “do better” and I’d be a sub-par person.

  • Izo

    Some do, some don’t. The good parents do. The bad ones create people like Paris Hilton. πŸ™‚

  • Izo

    Really? You hide it so well! πŸ™‚

  • Izo

    If you’ve ever watched Heroes, do you remember Ando (the friend of Hiro, the time traveller)? His power was the ability to augment other supers’ powers. Like the speedster, he was able to augment to the point where she could run so fast that she could take them backwards in time. With the mind-reader, he was able to augment him to be able to control minds, not just read them. Not sure what he could do with Hiro to augment his power because I sort of didn’t watch a lot of Heroes after Season 1, since it got really bad and I only watched when my friends were watching.

    Anyway, Ando’s power is what Max seems to have (or at least that’s what I’m guessing). He’s basically doomed to be the plucky sidekick if he was going into the superhero biz.

    The plucky, annoying sidekick.

  • Izo

    In general, being manipulative is not seen as a good trait. It’s a useful trait though. But not a good one.

    If someone went up to you and said that you are a very manipulative person… would you consider that to be praise? Most probably wouldnt, although I do admittedly know some attorneys who take it as a compliment πŸ™‚

    • masterofbones

      Not *seen* as a good thing vs not *being* a good thing. VERY different. Being manipulative is good, being seen as manipulative is bad.

    • chaosvii

      I would take it as a complement simply because it would finally mean I can actively influence people well enough that I should consider dialing it back. But i would ask where they got the impression I was being dishonest in my application of charisma. If they simply meant I was being self-serving then whatever, but I’ve always associated manipulation with dishonesty or warping of perspective away from the truth. Influential on the other hand, is a fairly positive word that avoids that association.

      Alison is neither skilled at manipulation nor being influential on a personal level. She can inspire in a generic manner, or out of personal experience, but that’s as far as her charisma will take her. Her honesty has a lot to do with that, but her lack of experience with civilians has much more to do with it. She’s out of touch in most non-hazardous situations.

    • Arkone Axon

      There’s another excellent webcomic titled “Freefall,” in which the chief of police proudly admits to being a manipulative mastermind. “No one said a mastermind has to be evil. However, they are the ones who get all the press.”

  • Izo

    “Thomas Jefferson himself said people who trade freedom for security, ignore either.”

    Not to be too nitpicky, but Jefferson didn’t say that. Benjamin Franklin said that. Also, technically the quote is this:

    “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”

    It’s been butchered a bit in modern times. Actually people started misquoting it as early as 5 years after he wrote it in his Reply to the Governor letter in 1755.

    • llennhoff

      I recently posted that quote on Facebook as “Those who would give up an essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, will vote for Donald Trump.”

  • Izo

    Well, any good hero has flaws. Perfect people are boring.

    • Johan

      Amen to that πŸ™‚

  • Izo

    “Would it though? I mean, is it really that simple? Is forcing someone to do something necessarily ethically wrong?”

    Aside from the fact that, yes, I believe that forcing someone to do something is ethically wrong, because you’re treating another person as less than a person (and I hope you can see how that can be applied to other evils in history, like the Holocaust or slavery), there’s also that ALISON most likely believes that forcing others to do something is wrong, based on everything she’s said in the comic, especially after incidents like Moonshadow, and based on how her parents seem to have raised her.

    “The government makes people do things all the time. (For example, you are required to pay your taxes and not doing so is punishable by force.) ”

    And that’s actually one of the main reasons that Libertarians want a small government with limited power. Enough power to prevent anarchy and protect its citizens, but not so much that it can run ramshod over individual liberty. Taxes tend to be a way for government to do the latter. Government is one of the few things which can use LEGAL force on individuals, and individuals are who give the government the right to do that…. so when you give the government such a massive power, you want to make sure its going to use it responsibly by placing a lot of limitations on that power to use force. You’ve pretty much described the main reason for why abolishing the IRS in favor of something like a fair tax or a flat tax is a big theme for some libertarians.

    “Parents make children do things. ”
    Children lack the mental and emotional capacity often to understand the consequences of their actions, and parents are responsible for their actions, so they can tell the children to do things. But even then, there are limits. Go too far, and there are child endangerment laws (among other laws). You can tell a child to go to bed at a certain time. You can tell a child to eat his or her broccoli. You can’t tell a child to jump off a bridge or to beat someone else up.

    “Teachers and employers coerce people into doing things (albeit not with the threat of physical force, but with powerful threats all the same)”
    Employers don’t force people to do anything. They are engaged in a contract. Services in exchange for currency. If the employee does not want to do the work, they don’t get the money. Why should the employee be entitled to money if they don’t do the work? You’d be then coercing the employer to give money for nothing. In essence, you’d be condoning theft. Teachers likewise arent ‘forcing’ anything. There’s an agreement. They teach a lesson. The student learns the lesson. If the student wants to disobey the teacher and be a disruptive influence in class, he or she can be removed from the school, or they can drop out and have no prospects for employment and grow up ignorant and stupid. Or, less drastically, they can be homeschooled and learn but would need to have their parents still be an authority figure.

    “I know Max is a big ol’ libertarian who believes nobody should ever be able to force him to do anything, but I’m not. And I don’t think Alison is. And I don’t think any of us should be.”

    While Alison is OBVIOUSLY not a libertarian, and probably is more into a more utopian-ized version of socialism, I don’t think she’s a socialist at all – she doesn’t want to be a dictator. She knows how easy it would be to do exactly what you’re describing for her, and she hasnt done it. On some very deep and instinctual level, she knows it’s wrong.

    “He has resources and those resources should be used to help people. If they aren’t, then why should he be allowed to keep them?”

    (before I write this, this is not directed at you specifically or personally)


    You have more money than I have, and you’re not using it in a way that I think you should be. Give me your money and I’ll use it in a better way, because I know better than you.

    That’s basically another way of saying what you just wrote.

    Except who exactly are you (not you in particular btw, I’m saying ‘you’ in a general sense) to judge that how I’m using my (again, not me in particular, but ‘me’ in a general sense) money is superior to you? Why should I do what you want, just because you have a different belief of what is a good use of money which you yourself have not earned? It’s basically diminishing another person’s identity as a PERSON. And we used to have that in this country. It was called slavery. It’s the same thing. The plantation owner feels the slaves are less than people, and besides, “they ain’t gonna know what to do with freedom anyway, so they does what I tells them to do”

    Not to invoke Godwin’s law or anything … but the Nazis had a similar view of the jews, who had a rather large amount of successful businesses in Germany. They seized the jewish businesses and wealth, because they, the government, felt it knew what to do with the money better – and besides, so the German government said, ‘they’re Jews, they’re not human, and they are less worth living or possessing anything than the Aryan people.’

    “(I understand that at this point I’m basically arguing against private property. But really, is there a strong ethical basis for private property?)”

    Actually yes, there is. Especially in the United States. Jamestown originally was run essentially as a predecessor to the socialist commune idea. The colonists set up a common storehouse of grain from which people were supposed to take what they needed and put back what they could. Lands were also held in common and were worked in common. The settlers owned no land of their own.

    The whole thing was a disaster and fell apart, and within two years most of the colonists were dying of starvation and the ones that didn’t starve were ravaged by malaria. In the end only 38 colonists were alive after 2 years, from an initial 144 colonists. Most of them were eating rats to survive, despite being on VERY farmable and soil and game-rich land.

    The problem was twofold. First, they were told that if they did not generate any wealth for the crown, the crown’s financial support of the colony would end (this was a system common at the time called mercantilism, which was the one of the main reasons nations even had colonies in the first place). Second, and more importantly, they discovered that when everyone is entitled to everything, no one’s responsible for anything. A colonist who started working early or worked later than the others received the same food as a colonist who worked less, or even didn’t work at all. Plus they felt they could still generate wealth for the crown by looking for gold instead (a futile effort actually – they should have just been farming and hunting instead).

    Then James Smith scrapped the commune government model and instituted a new one. Each colonist was given a parcel of land – essentially, the beginning of private property in the European colonies in the Americas. If you didn’t work, you didn’t eat and your family didn’t eat. Work or starve, in effect. Everyone started working their land because they had a responsibility to the success of their private property. Within a few years, they were not only feeding themselves, they had surpluses so that they could send back wealth to the Crown.

    Heck, the entire American Revolution was essentially because British Mercantilism was unduly burdensome on the rights of individuals’ private property, with taxes like the Stamp Act and the Tea Act.

    So yeah, there’s a strong ethical basis for private property, and an even stronger logical basis for it, strange as it may seem to some.

    TL;DR – what Loranna says below, but a whole lot less verbose than my wordy butt.

  • Izo

    And how sure are you that it will save the world?

    If I tell you that, by killing certain key people, I have a computer-generated algorithm that says we will end world hunger, would you just say ‘sure, I’ll go kill those people’?

    I’d hope not, because you’d be relying on the idea that I know that my ‘hit list’ of people is accurate.

    Btw, this was sort of the theme of the movie ‘Wanted.’

  • Izo

    That’s definitely one way to look at it (from a principle standpoint), but from a results standpoint, I think you’d have lost.

    • masterofbones

      But I’d get to feel smug about it, and that’s the real goal in life..

  • Izo

    He could easily say no to his parent’s money, and strike out on his own to be a self-made man instead. So yeah, he has a choice.

    I agree about Al having a white knight complex, but it’s not always consistent, despite her efforts to try to be so.

  • palmvos

    on point one you ask why. may I submit- ”to whom much is given much is required.” is it fair? please. but it is a cultural attitude of America and possibly the West. when someone is given great gifts (will anyone debate that max’s wealth and connections are not a great gift? anyone?) we tend to expect great things of them. someone asked about sympathetic portrayals of inherited wealth- this is part of the problem with that. the Champions superhero RPG actually considered wealth a superpower and thus wealthy people must either be the hero (batman, green arrow) or an antagonist (list left for the reader)

  • Izo

    Playing devil’s advocate here for a moment:

    If she feels that way about his arguments, one could argue that she shouldnt bother to talk to him in the first place and invade his privacy, and just leave him alone. Isn’t it enough that she had the first word? She also has to have the last word? πŸ™‚

    • Mechwarrior

      Oh, I don’t think there was a point in talking to him again after that date.

  • Stephanie Gertsch

    I think it’s a weird thing Americans have developed:P

  • Pythia

    I know people seem to have made peace with the whole “Al tearing up a bunch of money” and what happens when you take resources from dubious sources, but I want to kind of leave this here:


    • Loranna

      Nice vid! Adam is fun to listen to πŸ™‚

      Though I might point out, in Alison’s case, there were reasons to expect that Patrick would have still tried to control Valkyrie through his donations – and is actively trying to control Valkyrie through the dossiers he sent Alison too. Unlike these conservation programs, where the hunters paying to kill animals aren’t getting any say in how that money is spent.


  • chaosvii

    To expand off of Zorae42’s concepts-

    Max is more than simply wrong, he’s portrayed as unwilling to learn or grow.
    Max’s pain is reinforced by a belief system that keeps him ignorant, further, it is a belief system that is repugnant to a lot of people.
    It isn’t simply (or even mostly) the behavior in the abstract which resonates with the audience to evoke disgust & outrage, it is the complete lack of thought that goes into the behavior, and the deeply flawed reasoning behind it does not evoke enough sympathy to overcome that Further, there is a degree of togetherness & belonging that shows is a part of Daniel but which is absent for Max.

    Daniel is often wrong, but has always shown a degree of curiosity and determination to improve, or at least overcome someone else. Even his on screen fight with Alison was meant to advance his ideals and test them against Alison’s. He doesn’t even attack the squishies until he recognizes he needs leverage to get a fight out of Alison.
    In contrast, Max has his ideals laid out in a way that don’t afford any meaningful confrontation. He has always been in an environment of courtesy which discourages criticism, and when confronted with Alison’s ideas, he pretends like those notions are compatible when they are opposed. This page here is one of the few pages where he is being criticized, and he has leveraged courtesy to avoid confrontation: “Get out of my house.”

    Going back to Daniel, his beliefs are based in visceral, all too common contexts of violence that are well known in many cultures.
    Max’s beliefs are based in abstract, rarely explored contexts of existentialism, disillusionment, and alienation that barely have a cultural presence in even the most privileged nations in the world (also he’s obscuring the actual conflicts he’s enduring in the context of becoming suicidal due to not getting what he wanted). Daniel’s choices are understood as being a part of something that happens to people who feel real. Max’s choices are probably seen as incomprehensible to lots of folks, and even to those that can follow the reasoning, is hard to imagine themselves in. One could hypothetically write an entire half of a novel about how Max came to be a guy that chooses not to help the world out. Yet even with all that background clearly outlining the things that consume him and deny any chance of being more than a self-absorbed post-teen, most people (who’ve already read Catcher in the Rye) would be like “What the hell? He’s like Holden Caulfield except hella rich and even more of a toolbag.” (plus they would probably either discard that half of the novel or demand that the other half not waste their time by having Max retain his uselessness).
    Daniel likely knows someone who understands and has dealt with something similar. Alison can conceptualize the pain and the two of them relate.
    Max would be lucky to know someone without a background in psychology who understands, he would be lucky to know someone with the rare pains that he endures, and he would be especially lucky to know someone who would admit to having any of the struggles which have clouded his view of the world. Max is lucky to be rich, but he doesn’t look lucky enough for all the other things. Alison shows no sign of conceptualizing the pain, and they are not relating in the slightest.

    And the last point I’d like to add is: Daniel is acting upon his beliefs and screwing up enough to learn, Max is choosing inaction due to his beliefs and avoids ever learning The former is acceptable in a fictional narrative, the latter is nearly universally condemned, fictional or otherwise. For there is no virtue in an avoiding of doing what is right, and a coward is rarely given more respect than a courageous villain.

  • chaosvii

    This is very enlightening that you (and I assume Izo too based on the upvote) do not consider warranted premises to be a virtue when discussing a fictional narrative. (This actually explains most of my contentions with various people in other fandoms actually, and I thank you for helping me understand that about myself.)

  • Steele

    They’re close! Just replace “Con” with “Endurance”, DEX with “Agility”, I guess you can toss WIS, and CHA is still Charisma… guess you’d ahve to tweak the #s though since the highest stat you can achieve is “10”… But Al is also superhuman so, maybe it still fits!

  • masterofbones

    So I don’t show it, but I still feel it. Not quite as good, but it still counts as a win in my book.

  • pleasechangemymind

    But the government “makes” people do things as part of their end of a social contract, in exchange for the services the government provides. It’s literally a deal struck between the citizenry and the government, so if the government “makes” you do something, that she because you were already supposed to. If you don’t, then you’re receiving services from the government without paying for it which is, technically, theft.

    The government making people do things that they are contractually obligated to do as part of an agreement is not the same as, say, forcing you to do something you’re NOT obligated to do with a threat of violence or some other sort of retribution.

    P.S. Super not a libertarian. If you couldn’t tell from the first paragraph. πŸ˜‰

  • chaosvii

    Pfft, that kid sucks, not even his narration can hide how much of a self-absorbed child he is. I don’t know if it was a good thing to read that book with the punchline already handed down to me by my English teacher, but I do know that a year later I thought to myself “Holy shit, if I keep doing this pathological angry resentment know-it-all thing I’m entangled in, I’ll be worse than the people I’m angry about, I will seriously become Holden Caulfield except not as homeless.”

    For me, it is easy to be exactly the same age as he was written as and just straight up never buy into the crap that he so desperately wants to be true. The one thing that really set me off was how much he wanted to be the golden standard, yet didn’t even notice when he obviously fell short of his own standards.
    If he was a perfectionist then I would have empathized. If he berated himself meaningfully I would have given a crap. But most of all, if he wasn’t so much like me except clearly worse, I wouldn’t have grown to despise him halfway through, then cool off and remind myself that this is the point. When you don’t try to grow as a person and instead focus on how much everyone doesn’t play by the rules you think are best, you end up like this idiot who just wants the world to reshape itself for him but never actually does anything to ensure that it is better suited for him. He just presumes that his suffering is confirmation that he’s correct about how bad things are.
    (I too have not read it in a while, so I may have misremembered some of the faults I assigned to him)

  • masterofbones

    Ever talked someone into something? Manipulation. Ever intentionally avoided topics in order to keep a conversation friendly? Manipulation. Ever dressed up and paid attention to your manners in order to give a good impression? Manipulation.

    Manipulation isn’t a bad thing – it is in fact necessary for the running of society.

  • chaosvii


  • ∫ClΓ©mensΓ—ds

    First off, you are conflating here the misgivings in the premise and in the execution. Disengagement from fiction comes from the latter, when the plot doesn’t follow its own rules. That one ranges from mildly to immensely distracting and can vary between wholly forgettable (in Looper, why do the mafia kill Bruce Willis’s wife is the future is so hard on crime they have to send their victims back in time to get killed? So that we have a movie, silly) to irreparably damning (Usually uncharacteristic character decisions. Like how nobody in Prometheus makes any coherent sense). You have some leeway there but generally yes, don’t poke the audience too much.

    However. And it’s s a big one.
    When *establishing* the rules, not following them but positing them on paper, you can Go. Fucking. Nuts. Have you seen Adventure Time? Don’t you dare telling me you wouldn’t react with the same contempt as this author of yours (which really, in both scenarii, is just different levels of polite) if someone were to reject it because weather patterns as they relate to geological topography doesn’t match up to real life. I’m not saying that putting crazy things in your story makes every other thing unquestionable, I’m saying that the premise of a story is always unquestionable. (And even rule breaking when it comes to details is like, shut up dude)

    And I’m not even saying that it cannot possibly matter. I’m saying that it could not possibly matter *right now*. This was the second time I was establishing the scenario where Alison is confronted by something she isn’t in canon and twice that the same goddamn person came to say that it didn’t work with canon and jeez this has exactly the same value as if they commented, below my first comment, “you know Alison’s superpowers don’t make sense scientifically”

    Like, I– I know. And if you want we can put a pin in that one and go back to it later to use it as a starting point to explore and learn about the concept of human strength or, with my thing, the psychology of narcissism. But can we please– twice now that I’m asking– talk about the thing I raised this interrogation for? And then do the other thing?

    • chaosvii

      “I’m saying that the premise of a story is always unquestionable.”
      This is the heart of our only substantive disagreement that is worth discussing for reasons other than the fact that I am a stickler about details that have been lost on you. If I was primarily motivated by things I enjoy talking about rather than things I feel compelled to talk about, I would probably only talk about this one statement and why I find it lacking.
      If only I were so fortunate.
      In lieu of an enthusiastic and socially well adjusted reply, the rest of this reply will involve a depiction of a speedy decent into madness in the hopes that the clearing up of misunderstandings & mistakes upthread is not too goddamn boring for all who might end up reading this huge deviation from the tale that I actually quite liked and would be keen on discussing if not for all the dreadfully unnecessary anguish I needlessly act upon when I read certain kinds of mistakes on the internet.

      “Don’t you dare telling me you wouldn’t react with the same contempt as this author of yours”
      I dare. I don’t clearly see why this is hard for you to accept, but given you think the above about story premises, I can avoid being surprised that you find this sort of thing outrageous or can at least feign it. But more importantly I will take a stand against the tyranny you seek to impose in my mind!
      For you see *reveals tinfoil hat* I see through your clever machinations and have protected myself with a similarly clever defense!
      The hypothetical first author recognizes that they failed to care but are generally unmoved to regret not caring & thus deeply apologize over something that doesn’t warrant a meaningful apology (tone note, I was having the author be kinda smarmy but not overtly disrespectful in that instance, I just realized that I can’t expect anyone to effortlessly recognize that)
      And in the other, the author insists that caring about this stuff is ultra lame and worthy of derision. It isn’t varying amounts of polite, it’s different stances on the notion that caring about the details is worthwhile and unworthy of condescending derision. That you miss this nuance is something I self-indulgently point out.
      This a simple error, and despite my unhinged fantasies that this is somehow caused by something truly alarming and worthy of a medical drama, it’s just as well to suppose that you just didn’t give it all that much thought cause you were annoyed or tired or distracted or bored or whatever.

      Misgivings in the premises you opt to include in your fanfic are indeed what were being criticized here, and it would have been better for me to provide an example which involved that rather than details. But it was kinda difficult to construct a detail in a story premise that would in likelihood go unnoticed by most, yet form the very basis by which the tale is told, and I guess I didn’t care enough to be perfectly analogous because I wasn’t intending to present it as an argument for why premises are or are not inviolate so much as portray how little regard you gave to a particular kind of criticism and proceeded to portray yourself as a fool that treats valid (if hardly useful) criticism as invalid for non-reasons.
      After your latest reply, it turns out that in addition to non-reasons (I portrayed my story premise consistently so shut your face I don’t care) you also have inapplicable reasons that are respectable but remain inapplicable (You’re nitpicking canon, for a fanfic!) because canon was not in dispute.
      Due to my tinfoil hat, you can be rest assured that your empire’s mind-control beams do not cause me to say the following I empathize with the circumstance that you just have a trouble recognizing what people intend to convey to you when you really don’t want to discuss a weird meta topic that has nothing to do with what you originally intended to discuss when you first posted a fanfic to contrast against the canon.
      But that still doesn’t make the following any less of a mistake
      “twice that the same goddamn person came to say that it didn’t work with canon”
      ^This is a misinterpretation I attempted to clear up on your behalf because I am a weirdo that enjoys doing that at you. From Hell’s heart I wag at thee! The only reason I’m not extra smarmy right now is that I recognize that you don’t care, you don’t want to care, and you are begging for me to leave you to your apathy. I could do this, I really should do this.
      But on the other hand…
      You straight up did not recognize that I was telling you that this is not and has never been a canon dispute.
      It is, like I just told you in my previous reply, a criticism that your fanfic is predicated on your controversial position of current psychological insight into behavior that applied to Max and only an handful of nerds would know this, read your story, and subsequently have their suspension of disbelief shattered despite there being an easy work around that they could have done effortlessly.

      Clearly this is a thing of imminent importance! Someone was sorta controversial on the internet and a few nerds may find themselves mildly off put by this minor contention!
      Oh but it doesn’t stop there folks! One such nerd pointed out this flaw, and the author dared to be so sassy, that they made an specious argument that was later revealed to more or less claim that the flaw doesn’t exist by virtue of it violating their axiom of the story premise being inviolate! And they also said some other stuff when some other nerd piled in and it just gets kinda tedious from there… STORY OF THE CENTURY!

      Yes, this dispute is silly, I get that your priority was to necessarily disregard any canon that contradicts this new and more intellectual Max that is a fun foil but an intentionally different foil to the Max we got on-panel.
      That’s cool, and I personally accept the necessary changes, so I enjoy the execution.
      What I don’t accept is the way you argue. That’s what drives me to do this.
      This is the reason I keep doing the long sprawling deconstructions of what you argue. Your mistakes in argumentation, few as they may be, sometimes veer into metaphorical canyons so vast that I feel compelled to take up the mantle of vigilante lecturing. I’m not the goddamn Batman, but my perverse desire to make you “pay” for not understanding how proper arguments go is just as obsessive and cartoonish.

      So yeah, I could do as you request, and I should do that… someday.
      Seeing as you desire for me to stop going on and on about stuff that can’t and probably shouldn’t evoke much interest out of you, I will make sure you don’t make the mistake of thinking that I actually have an undying problem with your half-assing your efforts to understand boring stuff. I understand rather clearly that there probably isn’t anything worthwhile you can actually do about these obsessive replies I make. It’s on me to resist these perfectionist compulsions of mine. It’s not on you to go through a year’s worth of introductory college logic or rhetoric and be good enough at it to avoid disappointing some stranger on the internet.
      So maybe, someday I will just stop engaging in this joyless art of untangling poorly organized or outright mistaken thoughts.
      But not yet.