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I’m not even going to launch into a long comment about why I feel justified in it or why people should agree with me. The feeling I experienced when I read this page was just… relief. Rens Ladies and gentlemen, observe here the Privileged White Male caught in the throes of a terminal case of Affluenza and Entitlement. I’d be surprised if Max here has ever not gotten what he wanted in any but the two cases we’ve seen — he didn’t get a ‘cool’ superpower, and Alice declines to be his trophy Biodynamic. But he’s turned the former into a chip on his shoulder the size of the Kilimanjaro, and takes it out on the latter. Time to ditch this jerk and walk away, Ali. Weatherheight Huzzah! She’s giving up! ::does a quick soft hoof and then begins braying:: She gave up, and he thinks he’s right, but still she won’t dance on his his head! He stood strong and yet she won’t dance on his head! He’s so wrong and yet she’s not right; Oh why won’t she dance on his head? http://strongfemaleprotagonist.com/issue-6/page-21-4/ Let’s all give Alison a big hand for stating “given how complex all this is”! Seems like she got two important points here. a) She’s wasting her time in this discussion/argument (at least, for right now – who knows, Max might grow up a little bit later on). b) While Max’s point about the extreme degree of his vulnerable is one she doesn’t quite seem to grok (big shock), she does seems to be getting what he’s saying at some level (spends quite a bit of breath giving him reasons to try her plan that he clearly won’t accept, but hey…). I’ve always felt Alison tends to think in sharp contrasts and simplistically, and she often doesn’t get the other person’s point initially, but she really is good at hearing people… eventually. After a little shouting on both sides. Cruised the archives real fast – man, does this scenario of “other person has to get pissed and in her face to get through to her” happens a lot. Patrick, Daniel, Mary, Jen (her sister)… Now, Alison… Tell Max that you don’t completely understand or respect his reasons, but that you’re going to abide by them. Then calmly shake the dust off those awesome boots, walk out those double doors, fly home, and get some freaking sleep! 😀 Olivier Faure Uh. They were both more civil about it than I expected. Otherwise, I really think the good answer is something like “It’s a big commitment either way. I’ll think about it”, because this isn’t a decision you ought to take immediately. Weatherheight That is a better answer. Alison might have gotten that, with a bit more tact and patience and a little less history between them. A shame, really. Jason Rivest You know what? I don’t like Max, but I want him to remain a part of this comic. I want to see him grow. Weatherheight Me too, but I’m starting to think he’s going to become the MacGuffin. http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/MacGuffinSuperPerson And all of this is to help us feel he both deserves his fate (because he’s a twit) and simultaneously doe not deserve his fate (because his family life is pretty horrible). Yay, mixed feelings! Zac Caslar Oh, I’m sure he’ll be back. Maybe to grow, or maybe to become her new nemesis. I suspect he could get highly invested in being her Lex Luthor. Manuel Simone I appreciate Max here. Despite being a super-jerk, he’s a man who’s doing what he wants and never give up/change for anyone else, even if he might have a crush for that person. He’s determined and bold and very sure on his own decisions, and I hope that Alison would understand that she can’t convince everyone to change their personalities/ decisions for her no matter how much she begs. At least she gave up, a small, but admirable step. Nathanaël François “Just to watch you realize that, for once, you weren’t going to get your fucking way”. Yeah, that would NEVER happen to you, Max. VariableNature ….at this point, I’m starting to wonder why I even bother reading this webcomic. I mean, the art is well-done and the writing is great, but I just keep feeling….EXHAUSTED as this arc progresses. Alison has spent this entire arc getting her ass handed to her, from Gurwara to this pompous ass, achieving at best nothing, and at worst finding her goals to be hindered and delayed, if not outright destroyed. I’m tired of being shown how wrong Alison is about everything. I’m tired of seeing her struggle and fail without any hope of success. I’m tired of reading all the people commenting on this webcomic who seem to go out of their way to call her out on being a tyrant and manipulative and everything else they can think of, seemingly ignoring or waving off any good she might have accomplished in the past or is currently working to accomplish. And I go back over the last arc, and it’s basically the same thing there. It ends with Moonshadow still free, Patrick still being a villainous jackass that he apparently always was, Alison’s seemingly only non-powered friend being made into a person with no redeeming characteristics, and Paladin basically being forced into non-profit work by Templar’s legal department exploiting laws about biodynamics. I get that there needs to be conflict in the story for it to progress, but at this point I’m starting to just not care anymore. And that’s even BEFORE we bring up the major plot questions of “Who’s running Nemesis’s old gang?” and “Who caused the storm that gave people powers?” and “Who killed everyone who had powers that could have let the world become a post-scarcity utopia?” I just want Alison to get a clear win once in this issue that doesn’t turn around in the future to be poisoned or taken away. And I feel like it’s not going to happen, and I hate that because I see so much of myself in her. I love her optimism, I love her focus, I love her determination to help others less fortunate and well-off than her, and I love that she has recognition of how much power she truly has and actively works to control herself so that she never goes off the deep end, as we can clearly see in this page. It’s 5 AM, I’m rambling like I normally am when I try to talk about stuff that I have deep feelings about, and I just want Alison to have a victory that can’t be debated. A clear, definiative step forward to a future where everything is better for everyone, everywhere, forever. Just like she told Cleaver. Lostman Without pain and, struggle. But ya I’m getting what your saying here, it gets tiring after while seeing the same thing. A victory would be good for Alison, even a small one. However it’s struggle we came here to see. Izo I like the struggle 🙂 It lets Alison grow as a character into a more hardy and thoughtful person when her ideas are constantly challenged and she has to adapt and learn. As Fred DeVito said, “If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.” StClair I get why this is exhausting and frustrating, and if it’s not your thing, I absolutely support your desire/decision to say so and step back. My opinion is that this comic is (among other things) a deconstruction of the common super-trope that Punching Solves Everything. There is no problem facing the world which cannot be addressed by finding the right person or thing and punching it (or blasting it with eye-beams or fireballs or whatever). That’s the appeal of the superhero paradigm/genre – quick, direct, simple solutions. Allison is very well-suited to punching things, but as she is finding out, and us with her, there are so many problems that can’t be solved that way… … no matter how tempting it is, some times. VariableNature I’m just worried that the temptation will prove to be too great. And that it will end up being proven as the “only” way Alison can get results. Because as far as I can see, that’s what the narrative seems to be setting up. And I didn’t start reading SFP to have that message told to me. I agree with your opinion, but there’s still that part of my brain that says “Sometimes the world actually IS that simple”. Weatherheight Think of it this way: The traditional superhero comic has the hero overcoming problems with their powers and contains the mixed messages of “Right makes Might” and “Might makes Right.” Conflict is sketched out and quickly resolved in order to get an immediate payoff to keep the reader coming back. Brennan and Molly are taking a lot of time setting up the obstacles Alison needs to overcome. These obstacles are not easily resolved with force application; Alison’s trial is not against flesh and blood but against hearts and minds. Setting that up requires a lot of time and requires spelling out the complexities of those problems. More importantly, it requires that Alison really, truly recognize and acknowledge that complexity. Yeah, Alison’s not perfect, and hopefully that makes her more relatable. Yeah, the villains are pretty horrible but Brennan and Molly are trying to show that they are not wholly wrong in their philosophy, and hopefully that make them more relatable. Alison seems to have learned a really big lesson on today’s page (I hope), one she really needed to learn. There are consequences (some intended, some not) to forcing compliance, and she’s decided that, in this case, she’s not yet willing to bear thise consequences. As a species, humans are hard-wired to like immediate gratification and to have difficulties with long-term rewards. And most of us would like life to be fair and to reward honest effort. That’s why movies usually have happy endings. That’s why escapism often is about escaping reasonable consequences. Brennan and Molly are doing something really risky here – they’re trying to show reasonable consequences in fiction. So far, they’re doing pretty well, but every point you raise about the narrative is valid. That’s the risk of experimental fiction. You’re not alone. I think most of us would like to feel Alison making more progress on her journey. I think most of us would like to see some of these folks get their come-uppance (or redemption – I really want to see Max and Daniel redeemed, but I’m not counting on either). I want to have Alison feel a little less like nothing she does really matters. I have Faith that Brennan and Molly are working towards a happier ending, but I think they’re planning a bumpy ride for all involved. And if you think the feels have been awesome from time to time, imagine the feels when this starts wrapping up. Have Faith. VariableNature The last time the feels have been awesome was the end of issue 4. Yeah, it ended on a sad note, with Alison and her family still having to deal with the fact that her father has cancer, and the acknowledgement that her parents feel guilty about letting her become Mega Girl, but there was still her reconciliation with her younger sister, the hope that things might actually get better and improve. That was two years ago. Holy crap, look at everything ELSE that’s happened since then. Look at everything else that has stood in her way and told her that she’s wrong. Moonshadow’s still MIA, and is probably going to be pushing four digits for the amount of rapists she’s killed (assuming, of course, that every single person she killed actually HAS committed rape/sexual assault). Patrick’s murdering people and screwing with Paladin in ways most major corporations can only DREAM about. Gurwara is, at best, an asshole, and at worst actively exploiting Alison’s insecurities to get away with screwing with her. Her former roommate has shut her off, and Max is a poster-boy for the worst parts of the Libertarian political party. Forgive me for being a bit skeptical for taking on faith that things are going to get better. I may not have hit the “fuck it, I’m out” point just yet (that’ll be if/when this comic pulls a Zebra Girl and Alison decides to just give in to being a tyrant), but I just feel uncomfortable that we’re heading towards it. palmvos one of these days i’m going to get a copy of Save The Cat and read it.. because i suspect we are in a standard hero’s dark arc. its ok if you want to step back. come back in a month or two when we are past this arc if you want. remember we are getting two pages a week in a medium that can take a while to resolve this kind of conflict. the slow pace of pages means that the story goes slowly, and the reader gets lots and lots of time to obsess over little details. also i suspect Alison is kinda strong willed (hardened tool steel 55+ HRC) so she needs to be hit over the head a lot. thus shes going to face even more disappointment soon. Izo Many of my favorite webcomics often have me wanting to pull out my hair to find out ‘what happens next’ – Goblins, The Last Halloween, Erfworld, Freefall, PS238, Order of the Stick, Elfs Only Inn (before it abruptly ended), and others. One of my absolute favorites, called GrrlPower (weather, I know I’ve seen you on that forum!) once had this…. infuriatingly long fight scene which took I think over a year in real life, and there was some sort of power up sequence with just one part of the fight that alone took 5 months. That’s like Dragonball Z levels of stretching things out :). The comic is masterfully awesome, the author of the comic is amazingly talented both in storyline and artwork, and if you read it just collectively together, it’s very well paced. But when it’s twice a week, it felt like it was taking forever. That’s just the nature of a webcomic format, unless you have one of the very few comics that update daily (like 1/0 – one over zero, or Commissioned). Those ones tend to be easier to update though, since 1/0 was a minimalist type of comic, and Commissioned, I think is written by a person named Obsidian who might be artificial intelligence and does not require sleep. Remarkably, I’ve never felt this way about SFP. Each comic somehow leaves me wanting to find out what happens next, but at the same time the forums keep me wonderfully entertained between updates because there are so many LAYERS to the philosophical discussions in each strip. palmvos i didn’t find grrl power until after that fight scene. I can imagine what that was like though. (come to spinnerette and imagine doing the glass arc 2 times a week with an interruption or delay at least once a month) yes you have seen me over there. and there is this familiar donkey there too! ::offers carrot:: I follow order of the stick too- it is one of two irregular update comics I read. (found this one in its forum list of web comics) the other one had such a startling ‘What the’ moment that the comic itself went What the…. (please update soon please please…) its amazing that grrl power has been going several years… and we are only what 1 or two weeks into her story. makes the lack of sleep and food gags in that story even funnier. like another poster i find the moderation her galling sometimes… but all i need to do is venture out into the news sites that use discus and see why. we would not have the community we do without someone willing to play quiet tyrant over us. ::bows to the moderator:: pleasedontkillme….. Loranna . . .Someone else who enjoyed Elfs Only Inn? I -knew- there was a reason I liked you, Izo ^_^ Loranna Aaron J. Shay I’m not sure there’s any such thing as a victory that can’t be debated. Within every worthwhile victory, there’s a sacrifice, and within that sacrifice, doubt whether it was worth it. I want Alison to have a worthwhile victory, too. And I want her to earn it. ∫Clémens×ds So I’m starting to think Brennan reads my comments and got into the vicious habit of teasing just me. Here’s what I wanted! A Max with some degree of rational sense and actual valid arguments. Well, one. And despite that, the scene still reads as partial to Alison’s case with little to no ambiguity and Max still comes out as petty and selfish. But he knows. He knows that I see. The undercurrent of this conversation that I alone am deluded enough to even remotely consider seriously. And it’s all there on purpose. That invulnerable bully who uses of emotional blackmail and fallacious “it’s complicated so in the end it only comes down to if you are a good person or a chickenshit” arguments to force someone who repeatedly refused and asked her out to oblige her demands. Who finally “concedes” with the power play of an audible spiteful sigh and a dramatic, eyeroll-and-hand-gestures-complete “I give up” to establish moral supremacy in front of a brat who just won’t make the right choices. Also, Alison, “unremittingly”? You can tell someone is in the midst of written two essays a week Olivier Faure I think that Max’s lack of strong argument for not helping Allison is part of “his” point. He doesn’t have to help Allison, and that holds true whether he can justify it convincingly or not. Part of letting someone make their own choice is not pressing them if they don’t want to explain themselves. Max probably resents Allison for not only forcing him to explain his motivations when he didn’t want to, but also insulting him because she didn’t like them. Hence the “I’m going to say no to you if only because I’m starting to hate you” bit. Weatherheight Oddly, I totally see what you’re saying here. More oddly, I also saw the exact opposite – that Alison, finally realizes that this is a lost cause (at least, for now) and has decided not to waste her effort here anymore (at least, for now). And yeah, that does indicate a high degree of deftness in the narrative. Dafydd Carmichael That doesn’t look like a giving up face to me…. SJ Indeed. Kaladin Stormblessed Oh snap owen finally, al!!! letting go is so hard but so important sometimes Haven Alison probably should have just emphasized “this information is already out there, you’d be safer stepping into the limelight, doing some super-networking”. It’s actually kind of sad that the entire point of her teacher’s lesson (that people tend to consider their own self-interest first and foremost, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing) seems to have been lost on her. On the other hand, lol at this guy saying “I want to see you not get your way for once”. Maybe his real power is super-projection. Weatherheight And if Alison had bee half as vulnerable with Max as she was with Cleaver, he’d already know that Alison’s life is filled with failed goals and unfulfilled ambition. 😀 masterofbones Cleaver’s outward appearance matches Alison’s inward feelings about herself, so she can empathize with him better. Max looks pretty, so she expected him to be perfect on the inside too. masterofbones The problem is, going into detail about the information being out there would include mentioning, “my super-villain crush blackmailed and conned his way into securing highly confidential information on you that practically nobody else would be able to get their hands on”. I mean, she could go the blackmail route, but this info isn’t really just “out there” Spongegirl Circleskirt Is it irony that the spoiled rich guy is lecturing Allison about getting her own way or that Prof. Guwera’s (sp) game came full circle “in real life”? Zac Caslar An associate and I were gnawing on the nature of Max and how he gained a power so completely in tune with his parent’s political talents. And how he hates it for being so much like what they do because the power and influence of a politician is how able they are to help others. Max is walking away from that and gaining nothing as influence is, after all, mutual. Well, it is a fitting resolution for him to be left brewing and stewing and fuming like the spectacular coward he is. How funny is it to finally meet someone who desperately needs to have something to prove, but who all the same refuses? Congrats to SFP, btw, for finally introducing to me a character for whom I truly believe life is a crueler fate than death. I’m actually rooting to Allison to just disengage and walk away; the personal price of icing this brat would likely well exceed the satisfaction of the deed. Stephanie Icing him would be a waste anyway. She should force him to do whatever it is she needs him for in order to save countless lives. That many lives outweighs his precious autonomy. Zac Caslar No. I don’t think she has the right to force him to act -and doing so greatly opens her to sabotage if she does. But she has the right to treat him like an enemy. And should. Actually saying she shouldn’t make him take action makes me at least a mild hypocrite, but I don’t think she can. Quite what he can do and how she expected it to help her is unknown. That kind of ambition might need an army, but it won’t be built on shortcuts. And she’s not Caesar. I don’t see Allison as that kind of truly ruthless and that’s really to the best because for what she might be planning her good nature and reputation are going to be invaluable. Keeping Max in line long-term would require some vicious action that could destroy her entire cause if it was revealed -torturing him, mentally dominating him, brainwashing him, etc. Arthur Frayn I think she’s just going to leave now, and give him zero protection against the Great Conspiracy, other powered people who track him down, Patrick, or further house fires. Max is on his own, just like he says he wants. Lysiuj Good, now go to sleep. Insatiable Booksluts I don’t really understand why Alison thought she could talk Max into this in the first place. He’s downright hostile toward her. Stephanie She thought he would have to put aside their personal differences when he realized the stakes. She didn’t grasp that he might actually be willing to sacrifice countless lives on the altar of his own pettiness. bta These two just had a date that ended poorly and they’re already acting like bitter exes. Johan Dude common, it was fine to just say no, she would have left. That last line is so petty … Mouser She’s had a lot of practice at “not getting her way” for a while now. In fact, she’s starting to learn “change tactics” and “new goals” Fairportfan I don’t like him even more than i didn’t like him before when i didn’t know why i didn’t like him. Izo Do you not like that you know now why you don’t like him, as opposed to when you previously did not know what to not like about him when you did not like him? Fairportfan Yes Izo I am so happy that my sentence made sense. Stephanie I know, right? I always got a bad vibe from him for no discernible reason, but now I feel really justified about it. Izo It’s the eyes. The shifty-looking eyes and high cheekbones. Zac Caslar It was his reaction to Feral. I went and checked, and I was reading quite a bit into his dialogue to claim that he “loathed” her, but I wasn’t wrong in intuiting that his reaction was highly socially atypical. Think about bringing up Dr. MLK. Or Jonas Salk. Assuming a reasonably informed person the basic socially conditioned response is generally “yeah that’s a good guy.” Even if they’re not sure, they’re likely to just give a milquetoast answer because there isn’t any culturally credible debate about whether or not Dr. King or Dr. Salk were good moral actors. Lot of the same would apply to Gandhi or Mother Theresa. At least superficially But the person who answers, in light conversation, “well I’m not so sure you can call X actual hero a good person” has internalized an ideology that sees good in nothing. That’s their root answer, their unfiltered (or maybe just unguarded) internal monologue. A parallel would be hearing Cliven Bundy spout off about how black folks would be better off -genuinely, sincerely, materially better off- if they were still slaves or became slaves again. Plenty of folks found that disconcerting and mind-blowing, but it wasn’t out of line with anything else he’d said -it just clarified quite a bit. That’s someone offering a candid perspective which itself is, imexp, a real insight into how they think. That person has taken conviction as being the equal to information, and they’re making that mighty moral stand all alone just like someone told them is right. And they’re telling us all who they are when they do, which is at least a kind of good in itself -fills in a LOT of blanks. Lheticus Videre I get a feeling that the “getting your f***ing way” thing is a big reason why he considers his power the worst and Alison’s the best. Izo Possibly. Weatherheight At the very least, it is definitely a part of his reasoning. Christophe2314 Though I have to say, Max’s power would actually be way more effective at getting whatever he wants than Alison’s, if he bothered to think it through for a sec. Alison has brute force, invulnerability and flight. It’s powerful in combat scenarios, but otherwise a pretty limited toolset when it comes to life in general. Max, on the other hand, has the power to boost the powers of any super, which means he can get virtually any super to owe him favors. He could easily make some very powerful allies, with toolsets far more versatile than Alison’s. Loranna Good point, though I’d argue that Alison could leverage her powers in more ways than combat. She could do the Superman Thing, and be a one-woman construction crew, zipping around and building dams and shelters,diverting rivers for fun and profit, plowing mega tracks of land for super-farming, punching her way through mountains to make roads and tunnels . . . You know, basically making everyone else superfluous! 😛 Who needs a telekenetic or a power-booster when you can do the work of hundreds of men all by yourself? Loranna Christophe2314 That’s where Max’s power gets even better: had he been using it intelligently, by now he’d have Alison as an ally too. He has an insanely varied arsenal of superpowers at his disposal; all he has to do is spend some time shadowing superheroes in exchange. Tsapki A good point, but keep in mind Alison did mention super accuracy isn’t part of her anamoly. Most of those activities are slow going not just due to the required power needed, but due to safety requirements as well. Alison could flood an area, cause a landslide or any number of other disasters if she doesn’t understand the specifics of the environment she is altering. Goatmon Yeah except Allison isn’t an engineer or a carpenter and even if she was, her abilities wouldn’t magically make her fast at building things. Being really good at moving stuff doesn’t magically let you build a dam by yourself. Lisa Bradley would almost certainly be way more effective at construction by herself than Allison could ever hope to be. Dean Alison’s powers do not include super-engineering. Building dams so they don’t collapse and cause floods is probably more difficult than it looks. Weatherheight “which means he can get virtually any super to owe him favors. He could easily make some very powerful allies, with toolsets far more versatile than Alison’s.” This is so extremely true. But isn’t his mother a Senator, and isn’t that exactly like what his mom does? And don’t we seem to have sufficient evidence that Max either resents or outright hates his mother and is likely to not want to be like her in any way? All of us have odd biases that cloud our judgement – Max’s is extremely intense. This is not me negating your point nor endorsing Max – but your comment led me to yet another log on the bonfire that might fuel Max’s pressure cooker. ideas cascading into infinity… masterofbones He could just as easily make very powerful enemies, and would be entirely reliant on others to protect him from those enemies. Alison is safe from pretty much any assassination attempt(other than mysterious entity + probably her government). She can do whatever she wants with only minimal threat of repercussions. bryan rasmussen on the one hand he has the power that, used wisely, would allow him to get all the help he’d need to protect him from enemies no matter how powerful, on the other hand he is a jerk and seemingly incapable of using that power wisely due to extreme selfishness. Sengachi “Just to watch you realize that, for once, you weren’t going to get your fucking way.” … *sigh* There really are people this absolutely oblivious aren’t there? palmvos Well its about time! leave! don’t destroy anything on your way out. wait… this is where she beats him to a pulp? please say no. also- that risk? is complete unprintable crap. if he’s wealthy enough to have a helicopter, and an estate that size, (that his parents are not also in) he already lives in a protected bubble.is it as tight as a AAA star? no. he has security of his own which he should call. Weatherheight And all of that would do nothing to seriously impede Mary (Moonshadow) if she put forth a concerted effort. Or someone with either Alison’s or Daniel’s power sets. Having played more than a few RPGs over the years, normals are really fragile. 😀 No one is un-killable, if someone else is willing to expend the resources. Not saying he isn’t a coward, but in a world where people can tear down skyscrapers with their bare hands, his fear isn’t exactly unfounded. palmvos Right now he isn’t at POTUS protection levels. That’s what it would take to stop moonshadow. Daniel… nobody knows his power and thus protection from him is futile for now. Alison…. if she goes rouge…it would take something extraordinary to stop her. the thing with security is it comes in levels. what threat are we keeping out? (or whats in the house? a large collection of Fenton, a couple of renaissance paintings, a 10 lbs bag of diamonds, or the nuclear launch codes each might require a different level of security) – we don’t see it but an estate like Max’s has security that a normal house wouldn’t have. its the idea that hes somehow anonymous enough to not need any protection is ludicrous. to get that he would have to live in suburbia and pretend to have a job of some sort. flying around in a helicopter isn’t exactly a subtle thing (unless you are part of a SEAL team.) there are people who know he’s got money. if his mother is alive then he is an important lever on her, so he lives in a bubble of some sort. Perhaps this is another time when he needs to clarify what he is thinking. being part of the .5% does have some drawbacks… Weatherheight Daniel is Cleaver’s given name, and thus far the only thing that has stopped one of his rampages is Alison. Conventional weapons have just pissed him off. If Mary’s power is what I think it is (either electromagnetic warping or sensory editing with huge area of effect and levels of indirect), then a whole bunch of normals won’t even slow her down – Max would need a team of biodynamics specifically tailored for stopping her. We’ve seen how effective that’s been with known biodynamics. Not saying it couldn’t be done, but the evidence so far is kind of daunting. We know Max spent some time in “The Program”; I’m wondering if Max is more aware of biodynamics and their abilities than he has let on. In addition, we still have an unknown enemy that is killing biodynamics for some reason and whom even Patrick fears (or so Patrick says… 😀 ). I don’t think his fear is invalid; I feel it’s pretty reasonable. I happen to also think that overall, he’d be better off with more biodynamics as friends, because the norms are barely going to be able to slow a biodynamic down (much less stop a determined normal with skills – we’ve lost too many good men and women that were very well guarded to determined assassins in this world). His logic is, as you suggest, not covering all the bases. However, as a writer once said in a Marvel Comics, “Good has to succeed and survive against all challengers. Evil only has to succeed once.” Yeah, the second paragraph is mostly dead on. The only caveat I can say to support Max’s rather weak argument is that it has been working pretty well up to this point (I feel Max is really terrified of change.. hell, pretty much terrified of everything). The fact that Patrick – the telepath – was the one to give this this information to Alison suggests that Max’s status may not be as “out there” as implied. At least, not yet. Neat ideas. 😀 Stephanie So he has an opportunity to save countless lives, and he’d refuse out of spite even if he otherwise wanted to do it. He cares more about sticking it to someone who wounded his ego than he does about countless lives. Despicable. Unless Max’s voluntary cooperation is absolutely critical to make the plan work, I tend to think that Alison would be justified in forcing him into it. Not because he’s a jerk, but because his autonomy isn’t more important than countless lives. StClair Those other people aren’t real, that’s why. They don’t have names, they barely have faces. Rumble in the Tumble Dear Stephanie, We are glad to inform you that The Computer has calculated your Possible Usefulness Quota™! According to The Computer’s calculations, which are perfect in every way, you will do the most good in your life by spending the rest of it in the Uranium Mine #253. You have no say in this. Arguing with The Computer is treason. Your life expectancy will shorten dramatically, but it will be worth it. Trust us. The Computer says so, and The Computer is always right. The Computer is your friend. Not trusting The Computer is treason. You will start working tomorrow. The Troubleshooters will come for you in the morning, to transport you to your new living quarters. Do not fight the Troubleshooters. Disobeying the Troubleshooters is treason. Please enjoy the rest of your life in the mines (approx. 5 years). Remember that happiness is mandatory. Have a nice daycycle! Weatherheight Enjoy Bouncy Bubble Beverage! Enjoyment is mandatory! Izo I think this is quite possibly the coolest post I’ve read in quite a while. Walter Don’t worry Alison, Brois will change his tune after you rescue him. Your couple name will be Ax. Izo I’d like to ax the idea of shipping them together. beastlytales Ok Max is a douche but is he really wrong here? If someone I dated twice who then yelled at me and flew away came to my house and revealed they, somehow, knew my biggest secret and demanded that I join a battered womens shelter on the spot? No way would I say yes. Working with domestic abuse victims is an extreme environment. Some police officers and social workers are required to see psychologists because of the demands of a job like that and Alison is still treating it like something she can cram in on a weekend, inbetween curing world hunger and all forms of inequality and systemic racism of course. She wants people to sign up for this but she isn’t really making clear what the job is. Maybe its happening off page but it is something that we have no idea how Maxs power would affect. Does his power only increase other powers in a certain way? For a certain time period? Does he have to stay in physical contact with them? Does he physically change them? Do his powers hurt him? The people he uses it on? What about when the boost runs out, does it hurt then? Does it take people time to adjust to new powers? If he used his abilities on a dynamorph would it physically change them? Make their mutations more extreme? “Cure” them? Who knows! And how does it help the very niche set up Alison is trying to build? What can he actually offer? It feels like the super powered version of an old argument: “You can help!” “It will cost me something.” “You must help!” “I don’t want to sacrifice anything!”. Alisons professors axiom test being played out with “with great power comes great responsibility”. Some people don’t understand the problem, some people don’t see it as effective, some people know others aren’t going to do it so why should they, some people don’t want to or can’t risk the sacrifice it will require. And Alison still thinks she can force them to make it anyway. Max might donate to charity, he might buy the Big Issue, he might volunteer, he might do nothing. Depening on the day I’ve done all four. I can’t judge him for not wanting to do something I wouldn’t do. Alison is claiming the heroism outweighs the risk but Alison doesn’t have a normal view. She’s killed people to “do the right thing” before, she is indestrucible she doesn’t have the same outlook as normal people. Hers is closer to Ferals where an ultimate, insane sacrifice is noble, when in reality Ferals permanent vivisection is crazy and no sane doctor would agree to it. Max saying no just to dig at Alison and feeling all hurt that he didn’t get hte best superpower is lame and yes he is very priveliged in lots of ways blah blah blah. But is he really wrong for not wanting to work with her on something so extreme when they clearly don’t get along? Clevin helped to organise a way for a friend to get out of debt by inviting lots of people to pull together in something enjoyable. It was clearly a lot of effort put into a single person on a cost benefit ratio it might not be perfect but it was effective. Alison (like Patrick) is still in a sophmoric kind of way trying to figure out how the minimum of people can help a maximum and it doesn’t work. You can’t get everyone to work together because not everyone will agree, understand, be able or want to. And you cant do it alone Stephanie Since Alison is talking about a plan for saving “the world” or at least “countless lives,” I think it’s extremely unlikely that she’s looking for Max to help with Valkyrie. It’s a good project that addresses a need, but it’s not exactly global-scale heroism. Zac Caslar I suspect it’s not accidental that we don’t quite know with what she’s asking for help. Zac Caslar Yes. It’s really just that simple. He can help, he can possibly be an incredible help, and he won’t because he’s childish. Libertarians can go honk themselves. You’re either helping out or you’re not. _Especially_ if we’re talking global action. The survival of the species crushes the churlishness of the individual. Campor Exactly this. We didn’t get where we are as a species by telling people who weren’t as fortunate as us to go fuck themselves. We got there by helping each other and working for the community. Kate Blackwell You could be helping people right now yet instead you are here reading and commenting on some random webcomic. Izo Yes. we’re all evil because we’re on a webcomic forum instead of curing cancer…. apparently 🙂 Pythia …I’m just going to leave this here: http://tab.gladly.io/ Anyone who’s really concerned about helping people as much as possible should have this (and other similar things which exist, like http://freerice.com/) on their computer, so that even the process to read a webcomic online has SOME charitable benefit, small as it may be. StClair Mind you, sometimes after getting our community together, what we did was go to the next community over, kill them all, and take their stuff. Random832 Well, no. Statistically, we got where we are as a species by forcing the vast majority of members our species to do things they don’t want to do. Personal freedom for *anyone* except a very small ruling class is a very recent invention on the historical timescale. beastlytales But how could he help? Given the superpowers we’ve seen what use is making them stronger? Would it make Pintsize, who can already shrink to a micron level, shrink more? Or would it make him able to shrink things other than himself or what he is immediately touching, and thus world shipping could be forever changed! Provided he and Max are constantly working together. Could Max increase Patricks anomaly and make him able to control minds? Or is that a completely different power set? One of the points of the comic is that traditional powers have to be used in unusal ways to be actually useful. Feral uses superhealing to donate organs, Pintsize is off helping physicists… Patrick probably found out about Max while researching his conspiracy. Maybe Max not being public like so many of those kids is the only reason he is alive. To be actually worthwhile Max has to be increasing the power of someone with a power really worth increasing. Alisons argument comes from the fact that a lot of her childhood was spent proactively fighting “evil” and now she has trouble seeing how it isn’t easy for other people to do it the way she does. Helping effectively is whats needed not just smashing your opinion into people Tae-Woo Kim And this is when she resorts to tyranny. Or is it? Izo No, this will be where she proves Gurwara is wrong. hope hope hope hope hope hope hope hope hope David Gillon She can’t prove him wrong. Gurwara suggested to her that she was en route to tyranny. If she does become a tyrant, he was right. If she doesn’t become a tyrant, his intervention is likely what stopped her. And it’s impossible to prove otherwise. Gurwara’s thesis, Alison is likely en route to become a tyrant, was only falsifiable if no one told her. Stephanie Gertsch Shrug. Or maybe he was just talking through his ass because he realized tenure meant he no longer had to give a crap about teaching. Al abuses her power in big and small ways, but she’s ultimately way too empathetic to fill a tryrant’s role. (This isn’t just a response to David. I just honestly have little use for the classroom scene apart from an example of how not to elicit class participation. The only part that stood out to me was the idea that “people are complicated” but it took way too long to get there.) David Gillon Except he is teaching, in a way that seems particularly targetted at Alison, and with a high potential of causing class complaints. If he’s burnt out on teaching and no longer gives a crap about it, then he’s doing it wrong. Alison might be empathetic now, but probably so was Patrick, once. VariableNature And next you’ll be telling me about the Invisible Pink Unicorn that lives in your garage, right? This argument about Gurwara doesn’t make any sense. You can’t just claim victory by virtue of “no one can prove I didn’t win”. Random832 You realize that calling someone’s argument unfalsifiable is a *grave insult*, right? He wasn’t in any way actually saying that Gurwara is right in any meaningful sense, but rather was specifically pointing out exactly how any sense in which Gurwara could be considered “right” is completely meaningless. Izo Or maybe if she doesn’t become a tyrant, it’s because she was brought up right by her parents to respect other’s rights to live their own lives and that ‘might does not equal right’ and that not everyone is going to be as good as she is, but that shouldnt mean you chastise them for it?(remember the soccer game and what Alison’s father told her?) Arthur Frayn Max Galt is afraid. Not only would helping Alison’s plan risk his actual mortal life, but it would definitely end HIM, his pose, persona, and separatist beliefs. I wonder why he thought pursuing Alison would not risk changing his safe, insular world. Izo Very astute observation. In addition to the physical risks to him, there’s a definite social risk as well to his current way of life, which he finds enjoyable (regardless of what different people think of him). ZBass Patrick’s powers of persuasion would be crazy useful right now. Izo Patrick’s power is only for reading minds, not persuading. Weatherheight I think ZBass meant Max’s ability to read minds and thus know which buttons to push to achieve the best results from his perfectly typical powers of persuaion. 😀 Izo Ahh. That’s true, although I suspect that Max is rather stubborn and might not be as easy to persuade as some others. Just like Alison isn’t. palmvos if he can read deeply enough to get the identity details of an angry crowd, he has all the information he needs to do an excellent job of persuasion. ZBass Meh, to paraphrase ‘if you can read their deepest thoughts, it doesn’t take much effort to get them to do what you want’. The persuasion is pretty much a side effect of the mind reading. Psile Okay, I’m way curious now as to just what Allison wanted him to do. I mean, the ability of his to amplify powers could have a lot of uses but not without drawbacks. Maybe amplifying pallidin’s power so she can invent even awesomer stuff, if that’s possible? Like he seems useful but not “you’re the only person who can do this” useful. Also, I’m pretty much not waiting for Max to reveal some kind of deeper level any more. Some people are just a complete waste of carbon and I personally am starting to realize that is just a sad fact. Everyone has a perspective, but there are a lot of people who are objectively horrible people even after you see things from there perspective. Max seems to just be one of those people. Zac Caslar Some people just are. My fave example is Uday Hussein, son of Saddam Hussein, as a 4 year old boy. At 4 he’s not the monster he’ll grow up to be and really his biggest flaw is his father and that’s not his fault. But by the time US forces find, corner and kill him he’s a multiple murder, mass rapist (dozens of rapes), and torturer. He’s probably got a tragic story, but the world’s better off without him because after enough damage gets done why someone acts is just a footnote to what they do. MisterTeatime I feel like the people who built the supercomputer In The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. We have the answer- now what the heck was the question? Izo +1 internet for anyone who mentions a Douglas Adams book. MisterTeatime I admit, it’d probably be handy to have someone with Max’s power around for… whatever Alison is thinking about doing… but that admission is having trouble overcoming my gut feeling of “and nothing of value was lost.” scottfree “The super-villain who told me about your power might not be as nice, so just deal with that with your Care Bear powers when he gets here, okay? Bye.” Allen “Nice powers you got there…be a shame if anything happened to you…” Really??? Tsapki Alison made a pretty good point of it. If Max was concerned about his powers making him a target, it would be more profitable to him to join and build comrades with people who can help defend you and teach valuable skills than sit in a corner and hope someone who has your info and can snatch you up whenever they want never feels the need to. Allen Alison is no longer making points. Her idea of a convincing argument is cohersive threats of severe bodily harm. Rens Houben Sorry, no. You can’t simultaneously defend Max’ “agency” in refusing to help Alison save countless lives and then suggest that Alison declining to save his entitled privileged white-boy hide when someone with less scruples comes calling is despicable tactics. He’s under no obligation to help her. That’s his choice to make. She’s under no obligation to help him either. That’s her choice to make. Be *very* careful when arguing that only one of those two statements is “unfair”. Loranna I think Allen was speaking of the possibility that Alison would resort to “protection racket” tactics, and actively make Max’s life difficult, rather than just sit back and let Patrick do whatever he felt like. Loranna Allen It appears that “obligation” went out the window when Alison planted his face in the coffee table, then threatened to tear his arm off… FlashNeko And at the moment of the last panel, the Professor suddenly feels the urge to laugh in triumph but is unsure why. Also, I realize how Max has no idea what Alison’s been through ever since… hell, ever since the Moonshadow incident, but the massive presumption on his part is amazingly galling. Utterly believable but galling. Also, also, why do I get the feeling that once Alison leaves, some of Patrick’s goons are going to show up to do a little “recruiting” of their own? Izo The Professor and Max are working together! (just kidding) Seriously though, I’m predicting something like that happening also with danger to Max. Hope it doesn’t though. In the hands of Patrick, Max’s power can make Patrick almost a ‘break the game’ powerset and I’d much prefer some sort of Han Solo heel turn move when they need him most to show Max isnt just defined as selfish. bryan rasmussen Since Patrick sent the letter about Max, Patrick already knows. Maybe he has already had Max augment him, and maybe he has done it so smartly that Max doesn’t even know it. Or maybe this is part of his plan to get that augmentation. Alon Rand We really don’t have any details about what Max can do, exactly, but I suspect he cannot permanently augment other biodynamics. I think what he can do is enhance powers temporarily, either within a limited range or for a limited time (or both). Izo Although biodynamics (or at least Tier 1 ones, like Pintsize, Alison, and Cleaver) seem to be having their powers increase lately out of the blue. If Max’s powers were to increse, it could go from temporary augmentation to permanent augmentation, or maybe (and this would be ACTUALLY useful) temporary augmentation OR reduction/turning off powers. Alon Rand Temporary augmentation by itself would be hugely useful, too, incidentally. Just not as empowering to an entitled 14-year-old (or a bitter and entitled 20-year-old). But yes, it’s possible he’s got some new aspect to his power he hasn’t discovered because he doesn’t use what he already had. Likely, even. But there’s no way for Alison to know what that new ability might be, unless the file she got from Patrick contained a lot more than we saw. bryan rasmussen maybe Patrick is working as one of the gardeners, I suppose he would have his reasons to be working late hours in close proximity to Max! Alon Rand Possible, I suppose. I doubt he’s got the time, with all his other interests, to spend on something like that, even if Max’s ability worked entirely unconsciously, and the effect persisted for a fairly long time. I’d imagine if Max’s current level of ability were all that useful to Patrick, he A: would not have told Alison about it at all, and B: would have come up with a much better method of gaining access to it than infiltrating the gardening staff of Max’s parents. Izo I dunno, I think the idea that Patrick has already had Max augment him is unlikely, since Patrick doesnt control minds – he reads them. I think it’s more likely that Patrick read the mind of someone in government who knew about, and covered up, Max’s power, then blackmailed them somehow to get the secure file on Max. It’s possible – I just think it’s unlikely. bryan rasmussen ok but once he reads the mind of the government official he knows who max is and he can read max’s mind. According to Patrick once you can read someone’s mind it is easy to manipulate them into doing what you want, so he could have manipulated max into augmenting him. Unless – Patrick isn’t interested. Knows that Max will automatically say no to any request to use his power so he needs to create a situation where Max is willing to use it, perhaps by having Allison get on his nerves in some way. Maybe Patrick set up the fire really, it seems awfully convenient now. OR the power works automatically in proximity – in which case Patrick just bought the house next door. masterofbones I don’t think Gurwara would be happy about this. I think he would be genuinely sad about what is going on, and likely a bit scared of what Alison is doing right now. Walter I’m thinking that once Alison leaves, Moonshadow cuts his throat. The Improbable Man Just say the magic words, Alison: “Power Armor”! Weatherheight Didn’t Lisa lose a leg while in Power Armor? 😀 Tsapki Mary, Hector and Brad all lacked power armor but seem to have their limbs. Weatherheight Heh. My point is that putting your faith in power armor may not work out the way you hoped. Mary has always-on Improved Invisibility – hard to target. Hector could turn really small and has gadgets. Again, hard to target. Brad – Yeah, you got me with him! 😀 Izo Mary can turn invisible and create illusions. You can’t hit what you can’t see. Hector can turn to a cell size, or even subatomic, and knock you out internally – possibly (but not definitely) even someone like Cleaver. Brad can…. um… okay why doesn’t Brad freaking have power armor? Loranna In all fairness, area of effect attacks could still hit both Mary and Hector. Though in Hector’s case, you’d want explosives, or the Earthquake Stomp special attack, rather than spray-and-pray, or the Cleaver Cuisinart Super Desperation Move 🙂 Loranna DawnCandace Sigh. He is such a pissbaby. David Forrest Will accepting his inexplicable not-wanting-to-help make her stronger? SJ Heel turn in 5…4…3… Mechwarrior Yeah, someone’s a little bitter about that date. JohnTomato What a fragile, precious, flower. Live on your feet or die on your knees. Jordan Hiller He’s not much for personal courage, is he? Though I’m not one to talk… He never wanted to be a superhero, he just wanted to be a special snowflake and hated that his power wasn’t overtly cool. This guy just rubs me the wrong way. He’s got literally everything going for him and all he can do is gripe about he hasn’t got and why it’s unfair that he doesn’t have even more. Olivier Faure The best theory I’ve read is that he didn’t want superpowers to be a special snowflake. He wanted them to escape something, Taylor-Hebert-style. My money is on a shitty home situations, with abusive parents who tried to control everything he did. Trying to jump off a roof to get powers strikes me as something you only do if you really, really want them. And the actual powers he did get were not empowering at all, and made him more dependent on his parents for anonymity. If this theory is true, it would explain nicely why he’s so bitter about them. Weatherheight I likt this analysis. 🙂 Jordan Hiller I’d guess that his parents are more controlling or neglectful than outright abusive. Mechwarrior There’s a point when you stop justifying someone’s behavior as due to not getting enough hugs as a child or whatever. Max is an adult, his parents no longer provide a valid excuse for him being an entitled asshole. Random832 He has not been given the tools to survive in the world without his parents’ money, which he only gets outside their control when they die. Mechwarrior Max with “useful” powers would have made Furnace look like Spider-Man in the responsibility department. JanetBird I don’t think she’s giving up… Izo Aw man, Max. And I was being all supportive of your reasoning up until that last thing you said, then you went and got all douchey and spiteful instead. Although MAYBE he said that because he felt it was the only way that she’d finally accept him saying no. Or maybe he’s just a spiteful douchey guy. Could be either way – Max is a bit deeper of a character than some people give him credit for being, from what I’ve seen. I’m happy that Alison seems to be finally taking no as no, though. Even if he had to emphasize, re-emphasize, and re-re-emphasize the no to get her to accept it. Some people you just can’t convince. Also that she at least acknowledged when he did make valid points now. And she’d decided to NOT go some tyrannic route that some people on the forum have suggested (by blackmail, or by threat, or by force). (minor prediction that Patrick will come after Max or send someone else = either directly or indirectly – after Max who doesn’t have Alison’s restraint) palmvos the reality is… that people with money can be made very uncomfortable very quickly. imagine if suddenly the SEC starts thinking hes doing some insider trading on the side… or maybe one of his companies has a sweatshop or two, or there is a violent felon on his gardening staff… there are possibilities out there. if is mother is still in congress… she could go through an ugly primary or be unseated…. Izo I don’t disagree with what you said. But I also don’t think blackmail would be justifiable either. He isn’t doing something evil. He’s just not doing something good (but risky) that Alison wants him to do. Izo Another slim possibility is he said that last thing because he was angry that she kept asking when he would tell her no, then got insulting after he opened up about his powers (regardless of how whiny his reason may be), then refused to leave. Weatherheight I’m pretty sure Max is scared all the time. Scared of his mother, scared of his power and how inadequate it is towards empower him… and scared to try and change. And resentful of Alison because she has the courage to change. Zechariah Val Judy I have to admit, if the roles were gender swapped and a strong woman were telling an overconfident white knight that she had no interest playing a supporting role in his story, I might cheer her on. On the other hand “I give up. I’m gonna go fly a few laps around the city and maybe bend some iron bars. Have fun not using your powers” Stephanie I don’t think I would cheer her, personally. Subverting traditional gender roles is great, but not at the cost of countless lives. Lostman Ok Alison, time to get going. But the word about Max will get out: one way or another. Ben Posin It’s frustrating sometimes throwing comments into the void here to await moderation, knowing scores of other folk are probably saying something similar at the same time. But here goes: Who is with me for predicting or hoping that what Alison has given up on is avoiding throwing her weight around? Follow the path Gurwara has set out for you. Tyrant! Tyrant! My guess would be that she’s not going to threaten him with physical violence–instead my money’s on her threatening to make a public announcement about his powers. Not sure exactly what sort—she could let the world know what a selfish prick he has been and is being, but maybe she’ll instead announce that he has volunteered to help and that Valkyrie is proud to partner with him, and leave him in a pretty awkward position with the public if he then says nah, I don’t feel like pitching in. Make it fait accompli. Izo Valkyrie can have a new motto then. Here are some choices:) : Valkyrie. Do what we say or we’ll ruin your life. Valkyrie. Our business is making the world a better place. And blackmail. Definitely blackmail. Valkyrie. Because no doesn’t always mean no, if you really really want them to do something. Valkyrie. Not all force has to be physical violence. Ben Posin Well, I guess there are reasons not everyone loves tyrants. Arthur Frayn No, you butthead. No. Izo I give a reasonable interpretation of what Ben said about using blackmail or threats instead of physical violence (and Ben seems cool with my comical interpretation of his post, which was inspired from the sitcom ‘Better Off Ted’ with Veridian Dynamics, and hasn’t been rude about it). You, on the other hand, call me a butthead. You know, you could maybe…. expand on your reasons a little? Possibly without an ad hominem attack? Thanks. Lostman announcing what this guy is would really be low, and not only that; think about all the people who want to abuse him for their own use. Max is a resource that many would love to exploit for there own gains. Heck, I can list a few off the top off my head: Mary for starters, then I could see the aggressive attendees of Brad convention could take interest, and that person building a A.I would love a power boost… Ben Posin I guess it could be low. To Alison, maybe hiding your light under a bushel seems really low, particularly when it doesn’t really seem to be about safety, but instead more selfish, even childish, reasons. So maybe she isn’t willing to threaten to throw him into the moon if he doesn’t start helping folks right now—but is she required to keep his secret for him, to participate in pretending that a resource that could change the world doesn’t exist? Particularly when she already knows that, to some degree, his secret is already out? Let’s take it to extremes–if this was the person who could “talk to diseases” and who could maybe get HIV to live in harmony with mankind and get Malaria to leave us alone, would it be low to deny him or her (can’t remember) the option of keeping that a secret so that the dude wouldn’t be pressured to pitch in and could have fun living it up in NYC? I don’t know if it’s right, but I know I’d be more than a little tempted. But hey, we’ll see! I’m hoping she’ll go discuss the matter with Gurwara. Weatherheight Well, let’s face it, most viruses and bacteria are kind of asshats anyway. Talking to them probably be a lot like.. talking.. to.. Max. I zee what you did there! ::gives Ben Posin a toothy grin and wiggles both ears:: Rumble in the Tumble “Yo my dude, you either help me or I’ll dox you, how’s that sounds? By the way, I’m the good guy. Not a tyrant.” Gs “But is she required to keep his secret for him, to participate in pretending that a resource that could change the world doesn’t exist? Particularly when she already knows that, to some degree, his secret is already out?” I mean, she could do all that, and she isn’t required. But ruining his life doesn’t mean he’d help her or anyone else. It’s just as likel to get him thrown into a cell and forced to cooperate with shadowy forces, or killed. It wouldn’t be to Allison’/ benefit. And it would be utterly cruel. SJ Is she “required”? Certainly, she is not “required.” But, to me, that’s asking the wrong question. Alison is, ostensibly, the heroine of the narrative. As the heroine, she is entitled to Moral High Ground status. To me, the question isn’t, “Is she required?”, the question is, “Does she still get to claim the Moral High Ground if she doesn’t?” EDIT – Sorry, I think I may have replied to the wrong post. Weatherheight You may be right. I’m hoping Alison goes back to Patrick and calls him on the manipulation he just did. I hope Patrick admits it and then offers Alison something better than money – help with convincing Max to help… which was Patrick’s plan all along! masterofbones She has threatened violence in order to get her way before, to reasonable success. Seems like she should just double-down and go for it at this point. 3-I Yep, screw Max and anybody who thought Allison needed to be refused because she needed to learn a lesson. He’s a jackass who wants to make her feel bad, who has no interest in helping anyone but himself, and who views situations in terms of “how can I get the most out of this for ME.” But you know, “thinking like a fascist,” etc. masterofbones Gurwara never said that thinking like a fascist was bad. He just pointed out the reality of the viewpoint Tsapki I will let innumerable people suffer and die, just because you challenged my belief system and tried to be reasonable with me. Does this remind anyone of anything? David Stieber I don’t want to be a person who cheers for violence, but dang I desperately hope the next panel is Alison throwing him a comedically long distance into like, a gross lake or something. Also this page and plot is great! I’m so hooked!! Weatherheight If this were anime, that would totally happen. 😀 AlgaeNymph Give your friends superpowers, now you have bodyguards. Now *sell* your powers on a sliding scale: billionaires pay billions, while starving artists pay with a song. I thought of that in less than a minute, and most people have too. But you can’t do this, Max, because you *have* no friends, because you’re a total asshole. *I* have more friends, and I’m a shut-in introvert. You can’t even be the cool, mysterious benefactor of a superteam because you’re so hard-on about being a face-puncher. You’re willing to deprive the world just because you can’t hurt people. Moonshadow’s killed rapists less slimy than you. Eric Meyer I don’t believe he ‘gives’ superpowers. Merely enhances already existing ones. Lysiuj I’m not a fan of Max, but until/unless we know that he is a rapist then every single rapist is universes slimier than him. Stephanie I dunno. Rapists are truly awful people, I’m not minimizing that in any way…but I honestly have a hard time seeing them as worse than someone who knowingly, intentionally condemns “countless, countless” people to die. Max is operating on a whole different scale of evil. Izo …. it almost seems like you said that Max not wanting to be altruistic, even though he’s not harming anyone, is worse (ie, more evil) than someone who forcibly rapes and violates another person. Seriously? Stephanie The problem isn’t that he isn’t being altruistic. The problem is that he is knowingly, consciously, intentionally choosing to allow an enormous number of people to die needlessly. He is doing more harm than a rapist does. Christophe2314 How many lives could you have saved had you dedicated your life to saving lives?* How many people have died because you’re not a doctor helping the sick in third world countries? If we can be blamed for letting bad things happen through inaction, then we’re all unquestionably evil. *Say that ten times really fast. Stephanie I don’t disagree with that. I should be devoting every second and every resource to alleviating suffering. I am not as good a person as I ought to be and I acknowledge that. Lysiuj There can be many good reasons for refraining from a seemingly good and neccesary action; such as fear for your own safety, being unsure if that action will actually do good, believing that action will do harm, thinking it’s not your place to interfere in a situation, etc. If you rape someone you are actively deciding to ignore someone’s consent and free wiil, brutalize their body and strip them of autonomy. There couldn’t possibly be any justification for it. There’s a gulf here between active and passive which I can’t ignore, and I might go so far as to consider Max’s actions more wrong but I can’t see them as more evil. Stephanie I don’t think any of those reasons, except “believing the action will do harm,” are even relevant when it comes to letting countless, countless people die. “Cool motive, still [indirect] murder.” Gs That’s an impossible burden to put on EVERYONE. Allison could be saving more lives, but she isn’t. I could be out there saving lives, humans as I am, but I’m not. Max just wants to live his life. It’s a complete fluke his anomaly is maybe a power booster. We don’t have any guarantee it would help anything. What if he augmented a power that then went beyond what the user could handle? A fire or explosion based power? That’s lives lost, too. There’s no guarantee the hypothetical “countless” who died…wouldn’t have died anyway. Stephanie I am taking Alison at her word that, if Max does whatever her plan is, he will save such an enormous number of lives that it’s on par with “saving the world.” Newbie I feel like we look at this from very different angles. Max is a power enhancer, he would not actively be saving anyone personally, he’d be enabling other people to save MORE people. In not acting he is not actively condemning people so much has he is not actively saving them. For instance, I could, hypothetically, become a medical researcher. I have a pretty strong proficiency in science. The things I discover could advance medicine and save “countless, countless” people. That’s not what I’m planning to do with my life. Does that make me worse than a rapist? Stephanie Whether Max can save people directly or one step removed from directly, he can save “countless, countless lives” and he is choosing not to. Choosing inaction is still a choice. He is choosing the path where they die. He is choosing to condemn them. Weatherheight We don’t really know exactly what Max’s power does. If it does as you say, then your point is quite valid. But the implication is he augments existing powers rather than bestowing powers. Which is a lot less useful, since the number of biodynamics with advantageous powers seem to be a small portion of the total biodynamic population and a exceedingly minuscule portion of the general population. Can’t wait to see exactly what his power does. 😀 Zac Caslar Right, that’s the irony of it all. Max is in potentio INCREDIBLY POWERFUL. Just not in the way he wants. /violin To be fair though that he has no respect for money makes lots of sense. He was raised at nearly the mortal limits of privilege and luxury; why would be, a young man, have any real idea of the consequences of money? Without that he’s not going to have any interest in earning it either and without a cause to act for he’s not going to have any greater purpose. Weatherheight I wonder how much time has spent around other biodynamics with useful abilities. If that is “quite a lot” that also shades his view on money. They kind of power he wants and the kinds of power he’s seen sort of make money look a little.. pale (personally, I disagree with him, but…). Rumble in the Tumble Well, the important thing is that you have found a way to feel superior to a guy who’s only wish is for you to finally get out of his house. ClockworkDawn Okay, now my patience is wearing thin with him. Izo As with many things about Max, I think about it, and I come to a reason why he’d say something like that. He started out surprisingly sociable, considering how their date ended. Then he said no to her, and she kept pushing. Then he said he didn’t want to tell her why not, and she pushed on that too until he told her. Then she insulted his reasons. And he told her to get out. Then she refused to get out, and insulted him some more. Then he gave a reason why he didn’t want to, which Alison even admitted was a valid reason. And she nevertheless kept pushing for him to do it, pointing out ‘the information is already out there anyway, which I got mysteriously somehow.’ Then he said no, VERY explicitly so she’d finally get the message…. and topped it off with a ‘even if I wanted to, then at this point I’d say no anyway, just because you can’t take a hint when someone says no’ Like a lot of things with Max, it starts off to me really douchey, then the whole devil’s advocate thing in my brain starts happening and I realize that there could be reasons for it – including acting what seems spiteful, but might really just be ‘take a hint when someone says NO.’ Which, admittedly, it seems to have done and Alison realizes there’s no use in trying to convince him anymore. OR I could be reading too much into this. PS – this sort of reminds me of Star Wars and Han Solo a little, where Princess Leia (and then Luke) both tell him off because he doesnt want to engage in what he considers a suicide mission on the Death Star, since he’s no hero (in his own opinion). Of course, at the last minute he come in and saves the day. Maybe he just didn’t want people telling him what to do. Including telling him to be a hero and think of others. Maybe Max is being like Han 🙂 Leia: “It’s not over yet!” Han: “It is for me, sister. Look, I ain’t in this for your revolution, and I’m not in it for you, Princess. I expect to be well paid. I’m in it for the money.” Leia: “You needn’t worry about your reward. If money is all that you love, then that’s what you’ll receive.” [to Luke] “Your friend is quite the mercenary. I wonder if he really cares about anything. Or anybody.” (then) Luke: “Well, take care of yourself, Han. I guess that’s what you’re best at, isn’t it? ” OR…………………. (see above) I could be reading too much into this. Stephanie Even though I’m normally all about respecting a no, my sympathies shift dramatically when it’s a “no, I’m going to let countless people die rather than lift a finger.” And that applies to his wealth as well as his powers, IMO. Izo So you feel that it’s justified to force someone else to risk their life, regardless of whether or not they say no, they do not want to? Let’s use an example. You witness a mafia hit. You can testify, but if you testify, they ARE going to kill you, because they’ve killed every other person who’s been a witness to their crimes. But you’ll get witness relocation, and the government says ‘we’ll do our best to keep you safe.’ Of course, this means you’ll forever be looking over your shoulder to see if the feds actually CAN keep you safe, and you’ll have to forever leave your family and friends behind. But by testifying, you will possibly be saving lives of the next people the mafia guys try to kill. Would you do it? You’re not going to say that, just because it involves just ‘speaking the truth’ that there’s no risk, right? Maybe you would testify. Maybe you’re a courageous person like that. A lot of people are, and might take it upon themselves to ‘do the right thing for the greater good, despite the danger to themselves.’ A lot of people also die because they ‘did the selfless thing’ instead of ‘did the self-interested thing.’ As in being self-interested in keeping the life you enjoy, the friends you like, and not being at risk of being killed every day and every hour. I commend you if you’re that brave, and think you’re a very noble person. But…. would you -force- someone who doesn’t want to do that to do it anyway? If he or she says no, over and over again? You’re making the assumption that what she’s asking is simply ‘lifting a finger’ and something that has no risk to him – which even Alison had admitted is a valid point. Yes, he’s being jerky about how he says it, but she did keep asking and asking without taking the hint that he is not wanting to be ordered to do it. And the same applies to his money by the way. It’s his money. He can be as generous as he wants, or not, to whatever causes he wants – they just don’t have to be YOUR causes. That makes it no longer charity or generosity, and hopefully one day, someone won’t come over to you and tell you ‘we know what to do with your money, or your abilities, better than you do. Don’t bother saying no – we won’t listen to your protests anyway.’ Stephanie I wouldn’t testify about one mafia hit if it meant dying, no. I would accept dying–or even better, a risk of dying but I’m being personally bodyguarded by a Superman expy–for a guarantee of saving “countless, countless lives.” And if I had that power and refused, someone ought to force my hand. Max is not the only person whose opinion counts here. Every single one of those countless, countless people is an actual human being with a name and a face and a place in the world. Max thinks he gets to decide for all of them that they’re going to die. Alon Rand Mmmm…I dunno. I agree that Max is a tool – cowardly, entitled, arrogant, and selfish – but I’m deeply, deeply uncomfortable with the idea of compulsory altruism. I’m cool with a hard sell – pulling out all the rhetorical stops to convince him to do the right thing, up to and including trying to find a reward he’d find compelling – but at the end of the day, it’s still got to be voluntary. He’s not hurting other people by hiding his abilities (if he were actively doing something that caused harm, he’d need to be stopped, of course, forcefully if necessary) – he’s failing to help, and that simply isn’t the same thing. Incidentally, Alison handled this whole thing very, very badly. If her goal was to talk him into helping her – in any fashion at all, really – browbeating him for his attitude and point of view isn’t going to get him where she wants him to be. It doesn’t matter that she’s right about him – she wants something only he can provide, and putting somebody on the defensive with repeated verbal attacks – justified or not – pretty much never makes them receptive to your desires. She might, MAYBE have been able to talk him into pitching in if she’d swallowed her pride (and her contempt) and validated his infantile disappointments. If her reaction to his little tale of woe had been, “I’m sorry the powers-lottery didn’t hit the jackpot for you, but if you come help me now, you could still make a HUGE difference. Your ability might not grab the attention others do, but it will make you my most valuable ally.” The entreaty to empathy would fall on deaf ears – Max has amply demonstrated he lacks much empathy – but buttering his ego by talking up his value to her might have made the difference. Hell, it’s possible, once she got him on board, that she could counter-program some of his worst traits. Not everybody that acts like that actually has a clinical personality disorder – often they’re just raised in an excessively sheltered environment. Exposure to people with other life experiences, in circumstances outside his comfort zones, might open his eyes enough to start to change. That’s really unlikely to happen now. Stephanie I agree that Alison mishandled this. She could have avoided reaching the point of “either take Max’s freedom or let an enormous number of people die” if she’d passed her Speech checks. But that’s the decision she’s facing now. If she chooses to preserve Max’s freedom, she is condemning those people to die. Alon Rand Unless you’ve got a set of actual people whose lives are in certain danger, arguing for the justification of an actual, ongoing crime to prevent hypothetical ones is the very worst kind of slippery slope position to hold. We still don’t know exactly what Alison wants Max to be doing – the comic skipped over her spiel to him and jumped to his refusal. But based on context, she was basically saying, “you boosting the powers of those of us working on Valkyrie would make us more effective, and allow us to help more people.” While that’s probably a good thing in the long run, claiming that his saying no to that proposal justifies her compelling him to do it anyway is not particularly defensible. He’s a jerk, but he doesn’t deserve enslavement because he isn’t sufficiently empathetic. I would contend that short of a literal massacre either imminent or currently in progress, in which his ability is key to preventing or halting it, she has no justification for that. And even if that were the case, it’s a really shady thing to do, and remains morally questionable at best. Stephanie I’m not sure why you don’t think Alison has in mind a set of actual people whose lives are in danger. And from the new page it’s clear that she needs Max to help once, for a few hours, not to be her slave forever. As I’ve said several times, it is extraordinarily unlikely that she wants Max to help with Valkyrie. Valkyrie is not the kind of organization that “saves the world.” Walter I was thinking this, roughly. Like if it is really “countless lives” levels of importance to get him on board, then I think she needs to back off and start scheming. Like, we know he’s looking for a girl. We know a lot about how he thinks. We can find him a new social circle. You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with. “Countless Lives” are worth the sacrifice, we can bring this guy around, give it a year or so. Izo “I would accept dying–or even better, a risk of dying but I’m being personally bodyguarded by a Superman expy–for a guarantee of saving “countless, countless lives.”” And if the people who she’s bodyguarding you against are close to her level of power? Also, since when is there ANY sort of guarantee? “And if I had that power and refused, someone ought to force my hand.” Why should someone be allowed to force your hand? Why should you be FORCED to be altruistic? It’s the same sort of reasoning that slave owners had about slaves – that the slaves should be forced to work for the slaveowner, because with their numbers they could accomplish more work on the plantation than the slaveowner could. Force and altruism do not work together in a free society. “Max is not the only person whose opinion counts here.” In regard to what Max should be allowed to do with his own life, it sure IS the opinion that counts here. Here’s another example. Alison is superstrong and has superhuman levels of stamina. If, instead of using her powers to beat up bad guys, she spent all her time, day after day, rotating a crank to a generator to produce power for the city grid, she’d do a whole lot more good – especially now that there’s almost no supervillains left outside of prison. Why should she be wasting her life in axiology classes when she could be providing free electricity to the world (I sort of ripped this idea off of a Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal webcomic) Here’s a less ripped-off idea. Alison would make an excellent soldier for the army – one of her would save the lives of thousands of American soldiers having to fight and die for whatever causes the government is involved in (which I’m sure at least some people would consider the greater good). Why is she wasting time as a volunteer firefighter and going to college? Should someone be allowed to force her to join the military? No, because you should be allowed to choose what to do with your own life. “Every single one of those countless, countless people is an actual human being with a name and a face and a place in the world.” And each of them has a right to their OWN lives. Not to other people’s lives. “Max thinks he gets to decide for all of them that they’re going to die.” Max isn’t deciding whether anyone lives or dies. He’s deciding that he doesn’t want to be a tool for others without his consent. It’s literally terrifying that people think that forcing other people to do work against their will can be a good thing. We had a civil war with that as one of the focal arguments. Stephanie It’s pretty pointless to talk about thinks Alison should be forced to do, because pretty much nobody is actually capable of forcing her to do anything. >Max isn’t deciding whether anyone lives or dies. He’s deciding that he doesn’t want to be a tool for others without his consent. He’s deciding both things. I don’t care what his motives are, it’s impossible to escape the reality that he is choosing for those people to die. Infinitive I hear where you’re coming from here, but I don’t know that I can agree. A couple of observations: First, we have only Allison’s word that “countless lives” will be saved by his action. Given that we don’t know what she wants him to do, or what’s at stake, right now this is entirely her word, and she’s been dead wrong before. Second, even assuming she’s right and that countless lives WOULD be saved by Max’s action, the assumption that Allison can protect him is sketchy at best. She doesn’t have a good track record at protecting. Beating up? Sure. Tracking down? Not bad. But actually preventing immediate harm? Not so much, no. Yes, she’s massively powerful, but one of the core themes of the whole comic is that Allison’s powers don’t actually solve problems. Ever. Third, no means no, and it’s a principle enshrined in every shred of the law. Max has an absolute right to refuse Allison for any reason or for no reason whatsoever. We can hate him. We can rage at him. But in no way, shape, or form can we, or Allison, force him to action. Yes, the obvious parallel that folks have been picking up on with the “no means no” theme here is rape, but let’s set that aside because it’s a very sensitive (and rightly so) topic. Blackmail, in which one person compels action through social pressure? Illegal. Forcibly taking someone to make them do something? That would be kidnapping. Making someone act through immediate or threat of physical or psychological harm? That one’s torture, and it’s so bad it’s a war crime. Taking someone and forcing them to work against their will? That’s slavery. We fought a war over that one. And that’s the whole ball of whacks right there. Once we make the decision that the forcible subjugation or compulsion of one for the benefit of many is acceptable, the door’s wide open. If one’s okay for many, how about many for all? How about we enslave the entire biodynamic population to enforce peace worldwide? Max’s position here is disappointing and maybe even despicable, and the fact that he’s going to take it and stick to it may indeed hurt or kill a lot of people. And that’s awful. Thing is, we’ve tried all the other alternatives. They’re worse. Stephanie If it turns out that Alison’s plan is stupid, I’ll change my mind. For now, I’m assuming that she’s right and Max is capable of saving so many lives that it’s equivalent to saving the world. I don’t think sticking to the principle of non-maleficence is more important than saving “countless, countless lives.” Forcing people to do things is bad. Letting a huge number of people die to keep your own hands clean is worse. Thomas McMullin But Max doesn’t decide. Alison ripped up the check from Evil-whats-his-name ex. She didn’t want that hit to her pride. Her morals. So now by taking the “high road” she has to force someone else to put themselves at risk. If you had to accept a cheque from your abuser, or force someone else to put their life at risk? Which makes you the more moral? Walter That’s actually a really big moral deal, and you are sort of presuming the conclusion. YOU may think that someone should override your decisions if they feel that they have good reason to. And that’s fine for you. But that isn’t even close to a universally acknowledged moral truth, about half of humanity disagrees with you. pleasechangemymind I just… how is she forcing him to do anything? Trying to convince him, sure. Maybe being rude and abrasive and pushy, sure. But she’s not forcing him to do anything. And he’s acting like she is. He keeps saying “you can’t MAKE me,” “you can’t FORCE me to,” as a way of disregarding the fact that she’s not forcing, she’s imploring. He’s assuaging his guilt for not helping by acting like she’s trying to force him to do it, which would make him morally justified in a refusal. I mean, I think she might have respected his ‘no’ a little bit more if his reasons had been more “I’m scared, this whole thing is overwhelming, and I’m not ready to risk my life for something I’m still so unfamiliar with, especially when it puts such a big target on my back, both physically and politically (given family ties).” Instead, his response was “no, because I said so, because fuck you, and because I didn’t get the power I wanted and you should feel bad for getting the power I wanted and ALSO it’s a personal risk.” He tried to play on her empathy in the worst possible way, and when he actually tried to use reason (the personal risk part) it came off as more selfish than emotionally genuine. I don’t think he’s WRONG. He’s perfectly within his rights to say no: it’s reasonable of him to do so, and for him to get pissed at Alison for pushing. I just think he’s a dick and he went about this in the worst way (meta)humanly possible. Izo “I just… how is she forcing him to do anything?” Not all force is physical. Threats, blackmail – those are not physical force. C’mon, you have got to realize that having Alison, with her power, continually being pushy and abrasive, when she knows there’s NOTHING he can do to actually make her leave or leave him alone, is using a type of force if she doesn’t acknowledge and accept his very definitive ‘No.’ If the gender roles were reversed, this wouldn’t even be a question. If the wealth of each of them were reversed, again, this wouldnt even be a question. “He keeps saying “you can’t MAKE me,” “you can’t FORCE me to,” as a way of disregarding the fact that she’s not forcing, she’s imploring.” I’m beginning to think he keep saying it so the whole fact that she IS forcing him stays in the limelight, since Alison is a moral person, and if it’s continually pointed out to her that she’s on the line of forcing him, her decent nature is the only thing preventing him from BEING forced. Sort of like, in the movies, when someone steps in front of a gun of someone and says ‘What are you going to do – kill me?’ “I mean, I think she might have respected his ‘no’ a little bit more if …” His reasons for saying no are irrelevant, honestly. Lets look at the elephant in the room as an example. A guy asks a girl to have sex. She says no. If he asks why, and she says, ‘I just don’t want to’ would you think it’s justified for him to keep demanding and asking for a reason which meets some criteria he wants, or is the fact that she said no enough? What if the girl says ‘no, screw you for even asking!’ – does this mean the guy should keep asking and demanding? If she’s rude about saying no, does this mean the no doesnt count? I’d think that her saying no is enough. It’s the same thing here, but just not about sex. It’s about risk to his life though and a violation of his liberty to make his own choices when the ‘no’ isnt respected. Why should it be different when the thing at stake is his life being put at risk, and it’s a man being pressured, when Alison is clearly the one with the actual power between them to be able to force him? “He tried to play on her empathy in the worst possible way, and when he actually tried to use reason (the personal risk part) it came off as more selfish than emotionally genuine.” Maybe he tried to play on her empathy and was abysmal at it. Or maybe he just doesnt realize that he sounds like a complete and utter whiner. He didnt even WANT to tell her why in the first place, but she pushed at it. Maybe he actually KNEW that she’d think his reason for not being happy about his power sucked, in her worldview, given she did win the ‘superhero lottery.’ So he didn’t want to say. Then he says, and she belittles him for it. Whether rightly or wrongly, he didn’t want to say in the first place. “it came off as more selfish than emotionally genuine.” Probably because the reasons ARE selfish. But they’re also emotionally genuine. If you ask most people what they’d do if they win the actual lottery, most would say the first thing they’d do is buy a house or something else extravagant for themselves or their family. Most would not say something along the lines of ‘I will give most of it to charity’ or ‘I will open a soup kitchen and dedicate my life to helping the poor.’ It can be ‘selfish’ but also emotionally genuine. Maybe they’ve always wanted to have a house and have been living from paycheck to paycheck their entire lives, always worried about bills and now they don’t have to be. Selfish – at least compared to someone who’s altruistic to the point of sainthood. But also emotionally genuine. “I don’t think he’s WRONG. He’s perfectly within his rights to say no: it’s reasonable of him to do so, and for him to get pissed at Alison for pushing. I just think he’s a dick and he went about this in the worst way (meta)humanly possible.” I agree on both counts. He’s not wrong to say no, and he’s in his rights and reasonable for him to say no (Alison even admitted that), and it’s fine for him to be pissed at Alison for pushing. I also agree that he’s probably a dick and went about talking about this in the most aggressive, douchey way possible. Happyroach I think a better example would be you’re walking along in the desert and you look down and see a tortoise. It’s crawling toward you. You reach down and flip the tortoise over on its back. The tortoise lays on its back, its belly baking in the hot sun, beating its legs trying to turn itself over. But it can’t. Not with out your help. But you’re not helping. Why is that? Lysiuj Max didn’t “flip anyone on their backs”, he’s merely not flipping them back on their legs. He’s passively refraining from action, he didn’t actively do the harmful action in the first place, so he’s not responsible for it. chaosvii And even if he were responsible in some respect towards human rights or whatever legal liability applies, he still isn’t culpable for their current state of powerlessness. Izo That’s actually not a very good example, since in your example there’s absolutely no risk or inconvenience to you. In the examples I gave, there are risks, or at the very least, inconveniences to ones life. Also I recognize the example you’re giving from a movie. Graeme Sutton We don’t know what she’s asking him to do, or whether it would save countless, or any lives. Stephanie Alison said that it would save a number of lives so enormous that it’s like “saving the world.” Max, who heard the plan, never objected to that claim. For now, I’m taking Alison at her word. If her plan turns out to be stupid, I’ll change my mind. pleasechangemymind I would completely agree, if it weren’t for the “for once, you won’t get your fucking way” part. He’s just… god, he’s such an immature little creep. I think he’s perfectly morally justified in saying no on a level of “I’m scared and this is terrifying and I’m sorry, but I can’t.” But he isn’t comfortable demonstrating that, so instead he uses the excuses that a) his power isn’t the one he wanted, b) Alison always gets what she wants and needs to be taught a lesson or something, and c) she’s trying to *force* him to (no, she isn’t) which gives him 100% of the moral high ground. Considering that none of those are valid, it’s coming across as a piss poor excuse instead of the very valid one of “sorry, this is too overwhelming and dangerous and this is a part of myself I’m not comfortable sharing yet.” Instead of being emotionally honest, he’s being manipulative. He’s not wrong. He’s just acting like an asshole. Similarly, Alison isn’t wrong. She has every right to try to convince him. But this was tooooootally the wrong way to go about it, and she’s coming off very entitled and rude. Izo “I would completely agree, if it weren’t for the “for once, you won’t get your fucking way” part.” Well that’s just him being an a-hole. But it doesn’t take away from the fact that he’s right about there being risk, and that he said no. He might just be pissed that SHE keeps asking and doesn’t seem to understand that no means no. “Similarly, Alison isn’t wrong. She has every right to try to convince him. But this was tooooootally the wrong way to go about it, and she’s coming off very entitled and rude.” Yep…. I think Alison is wrong, but I also think she’s wrong for the right reasons (or at least for reasons I can sympathize with, even though I can’t agree with her). But that still means she’s wrong. She did have a right to try to convince him, but once he made it abundantly clear that his answer was no, she should have stopped and respected his choice, even if she didn’t agree with it. She might very well be entitled. It’s sort of a theme of adversaries who point it out to Alison – Professor Cohen, Moonshadow, Gurwara, and now Max. weedgoku “She has every right to try to convince him.” Does she though? He said no. He said no multiple times. Asshole or not, no means no. Telling someone to do what you want or they’re an asshole doesn’t make you right. It just makes you someone who can’t respect other people’s decisions. chaosvii I think Alison has every right to be very incompetent in her attempts, while not actually crossing over from oblivious-well-meaning-asshole into someone who coerces others into fulfilling their goals. Mitchell Lord I think “He’s not wrong, he’s just an asshole”…is kinda a major component in this comic. Namely, that a LOT of the bad guys ttend to be ‘not wrong, just an asshole.’. The professor wasn’t WRONG…he was just an asshole. It’s a trick used in Strawman arguments a LOT. You have a reprehensible character give an argument…and, instead of disproving his ARGUMENT, you disprove them being in any way, shape, or form, someone you want to listen to. Or, to put it another way…you have Hitler give an argument. But, “Why should we listen to you. You’re Hitler!” is the defense. Or, even the slightly more insidious “Why should we listen to you! It would lead to us becoming YOU!.” Or “I don’t have to listen to you, you’re crooked Hillary. Or “I don’t have to listen to you, you’re Trump!” That said, there’s an issue for Allison. A lot of times, her arguments are some variation of “PEOPLE ARE DYING! HELP THEM!” And, the person makes a “Why should I? They deserve it.” argument. Respecting ttheir choice, in this instance, would lead to, well…people. Dying. Moonshadow’s choice was LITERALLY “I’m going to keep murdering people.” Cohen’s was “I will fail you because of personal issues.” Gurwara…was “Everything you know is wrong…just forget the words and sing along…EVERYTHING YOU KNOW IS WRONG.” (The fairest one in this group). Max is “I am capable of doing great good…but instead I will exploit the poor and innocent.” That said, there ARE sympathetic characters who disagree with her. (Batboy comes to mind.) Also, they do a good job of making there be a lot MORE to these character then just ‘being an asshole’. persephone_the_wanderer So, as someone who has studied philosophy for literally years, you can spin out a wide variety of responses here, but at the end there are basically three camps: 1: Consent is king. If Max doesn’t consent to doing it, then it’s wrong for Al to try to coerce him. (Footnote: this is true even if literally ten — or ten billion trillion — people will die because Max is a tool.) 2: Utility is king. The only thing wrong with Al’s approach is that it isn’t convincing. Max is so far in the wrong that it’s hard to comprehend. Authenticity? Self-actualization? Shut up Max we are talking about life and death. 3: Nothing matters. GIVEN THESE OPTIONS, 2 seems preferable. If you want to go for 1, well, okay, just understand that your principles entail that literally millions of people will die in awful ways for no good reason. Loranna If Option 2 is preferable, then would Alison not have done better to simply fly in, grab Max, and fly a mile up, telling him that he can either help her plan, or he can hit the ground? Loranna Izo 2 doesnt seem very preferable to me. ‘Utility is king’ has been the reason for so much evil in the world, including slavery, genocide, theft, war, and mass murder. It’s effectively the philosophy that a sociopath would use to excuse any horrific act he or she might want to commit, in the name of ‘the greater good.’ I do admit that if it was ‘one person must be inconvenienced to save the lives of 10 billion’ would give me pause to do the ‘inconvenience the one person’ – but 1) it’s an impossible parameter because you’re making these definitive statements for things which are beyond exceedingly unlikely, and 2) it would still be wrong, and I’d be morally corrupt, even if in the long run it helped people. Because who’s to say the next ‘greater good’ action will be someone forcing me to do something against MY will. Extreme example -a radical group believes that the world is overpopulated. So they go around, looking for families that have more than 2 children…. and kill any child born after the second one in each family. They believe it’s for the greater good. They’re killing people though. ‘Utility is king’ is too easy a philosophy to horribly abuse. Walter 2 seems preferable, if you are already running 2. But assessing moral systems from inside one of them is a bit fake, yeah? Look at them from inside of 1, and you’ll pick one. (For those who pick 2…well, okay…rapist). Like, if you are a consequentialist, consequentialism seems super persuasive. It has the best consequences! But if you are a deontologist it seems less persuasive, you are violating THE RULES! chaosvii I’m largely in agreement, but I think that last sentence weakens your persuasive power. You paint it as “no good reason” but that’s a bit reductionist for how wars have been fought over the securing of liberty against governing bodies that are run by people with poor long-term planning or excessively driven by self-interest or are swept up in the latest political/social witch hunt. The reason is not as impressive as it could be, yes, but exercising caution against people abusing power because they don’t know how to/why they should govern effectively remains the most pragmatic reason for why a bias towards consent shapes many policies of societies that have come to reject monarchies and theocracies as governing entities. d4t4 This may be Alison’s “you need to learn how to lose” moment. Happyroach Hasn’t she been having a string of those moments? Seriously, when was her last moment of success? Izo Getting through to Cleaver. Dominik “(…) for once, you weren’t going to get your fucking way”. Yeah, look who’s talking, Mr Hell or High Water I’m Getting My Fucking Way. Shweta Narayan I’m reading it as “For once, I’m going to get my way by saying no to you” – Because he hasn’t been getting his way around Al and I think that’s what really smarts. Guilherme Carvalho yyyyyep, that’s what it sounds like to me as well Izo I think it’s less that and more ‘You refuse to accept that I said NO to you, so at this point I’m so fed up with your arrogant idea that you know better than me what I should do with my own life that even if I WANTED to do this, the fact that it’s you asking would only spread your conceited belief that you have a right to tell me how to live my own life.’ – ie, ‘teaching you some humility and the ability to respect my saying no means more to me than even if I wanted to do this thing… which I don’t want to do’ Or he might just be ticked off at Alison because of all the repeated times she’s asked him and ignored his answer and made fun of him being whiny while at the same time asking for a favor from him which puts him at risk. He hasn’t gotten his way around Al, but Al hasn’t gotten her way around Max either. You could argue the same thing about Al that you can about Max in that respect for what each of them has said. Again, from a ‘playing devil’s advocate’ side of things. Thomas McMullin Honestly, I know your argument isn’t the case. But I wish it was. It would add some depth to the character rather than him just being a straw man for Rich White Privilage. He can still be a cautionary tale about that, just give the man some depth. Like, I was loving their little back and forth, hoping he’d eventually reveal himself as some Syndrome-esque(The Incredibles) super villain. But the moment the gardeners came into it, I knew it was just going to be some unsubtle moral standpoint. And that’s a real shame. I’ve been loving everything else about this comic. Like the character who changes gender uncontrollable being kept out of a women’s only space. Or the badass in jail, who’s like all rocky and knifey but then you realize he’s just a kid. He’s Alison’s age. Everything else about this comic has been so great so far. This singular arc where we’re just seeing a 2Dimensional platform for preaching how evil rich men are is so disappointing. I really hope I’m proven wrong, and there is a twist coming. Something to just make this particular character seem like a waste of space. Because as it stands? Rich Man = Evil is a trope I got my fill of as a little kid watching cartoons. Where simple story telling belongs. Now, Rich Man = Sympathetic = misguided = Evil for the right reasons, heck yeah that sounds great. But as it stands, I’m worried that either he’s going to be a write off and another source of frustation for our main character, or she’s going to “fix” him and help him see the light. JLeen I’m kind of hoping the “I give up” means “I give up trying to reason with you; now I’m going to make you.” She knows she’s effectively immune to the law (attacking Feral’s attackers), although with his political connections such might not apply. I doubt such will happen, but I think it would be cool and proactive; but she’s not usually one to get so fed up to act in such a way. Izo “I’m kind of hoping the “I give up” means “I give up trying to reason with you; now I’m going to make you.”” Just out of curiosity, if you had any power over someone else, would you abuse it as soon as it became clear that you couldn’t convince them to do what you want of their own accord? Ian Osmond Alison, you’re right that Max is being a jerk. However, by not accepting that he’s being a jerk, you’re being a worse jerk. Giving up was your only ethical move; I hope you actually hold to this last panel. Stephanie Is she really being a worse jerk than the guy who wants to let countless people die for no good reason? I know it’s not nice to push someone’s boundaries, but you’d have to do some pretty awful stuff to get anywhere near the level of evil Max is displaying here. Loranna We still don’t know what Alison was asking Max to do. We can infer things, based on their conversation, but we still don’t know what she was asking. We still don’t even know if her plan was -feasible-. Max hasn’t said anything to the effect of “I simply can’t do that; my power doesn’t work that way,” but Max has also implied that he -doesn’t use his power-. Sure, he was tested back at age 14, but we can’t be sure that the doctors then were accurate in their assessment – or even if said assessment holds valid now, after years of lack of use. Everyone else’s powers have increased, yes, but they’ve been -using- their powers; Max’s may well have -atrophied- from prolonged disuse. . . . Of course, if Max were a little bit smarter, he might have said “Look, I can’t even do what I used to at 14 now. I’ve lost my power; I can’t help, even if I wanted to.” Ah well, nobody’s been accusing Max of being shrewd. >.> Loranna Weatherheight “Look, I can’t even do what I used to at 14 now. I’ve lost my power; I can’t help, even if I wanted to.” I did that with an NPC in a RPG once, and the PCs bought it! Worst performance of my life and they never doubted me for a minute. The key is the clammy palms… I think Max’s power will lead to exactly what Alison says it will, but I’m pretty sure it doesn’t involve just Max; it involves Max in coordinated effort with other known biodynamics. I have to wonder… What if Alison had gotten them on board first? Kate Blackwell It’s not for no reason, he brought up valid points why he does not want to do it on this very page and Alison didn’t even refute them. It sounds like doing whatever she wants him to do would come at some personal cost. Ian Osmond And now we’re EXACTLY in the position Alison was in with the stones in class. Beroli Not quite. Everyone there (including Gurwara) agreed that John getting flunked wasn’t fair and that it should be avoided as long as avoiding it didn’t mean going down with him. There wasn’t anyone who said, “I’m putting down the white stone, and that’s all there is to it. It’s the one that ensures my interests. Nothing else matters to me.” The fiendish serpent head of selfishness revealed–but not sarcastically this time. Clearly we do not got this, and no amount of being prepared next time will change the fact that some people just don’t want to be part of that “we.” She needs a new axiom. Or she can cling to that one, and it will hit her in the face again. Gs The trouble is, yeah. If she forces someone to do something that makes them uncomfortable, even if it’s for The Greater Good, that’s wrong. Because while it’s not the worst thing, in this case, it’d be a first step toward something bigger. Me. President, you’re GOING to do to x. World, you’re going to do y. Beyond that, it’s not exactly a benign request on Al’s part: she’s asking him to paint a target on his back, a huge, every powered individual with a sinister or even a patently good agenda might want him to help THEM, too. I’ll be honest, I would be reticent, too. leoboiko Only now did I realize that his power is to… Max out other people’s powers 😀 Max actually has a point. What makes Alison exasperated here isn’t just that she’s not having it her way. It’s that this pointless bourgeois ideological cockfight is standing in the way of helping untold thousands. Izo I can’t believe I didn’t see the obvious pun. Stephanie I think there’s a big difference between “I really really want them to say yes” and “countless people will die unless they say yes.” If Max has the ability to save “countless lives,” and he is knowingly choosing not to, then he is actively making the choice to allow those people to die. None of those doomed people got a choice. Why is he entitled to condemn them? I am all for using violence in this case. For the low, low price of violating one awful person’s autonomy, Alison can save countless lives. It’s not a nice thing to do–taken by itself, it’s an evil act–but letting countless people die needlessly is worse. Lostman Question: how can Max’s power save lives? Stephanie That hasn’t been revealed in the text yet, but Alison seems fully convinced that her plan will obviously save lives, and Max hasn’t objected to that conclusion. We’ve heard a lot of “I don’t want to” and “I’m mad about my power” and “It would put me at risk,” but at no point has he argued that the plan wouldn’t work. So I’m taking it at face value, for now, that the plan would guarantee saving an extraordinary number of lives and that this fact is immediately obvious on hearing it. palmvos I’m not cool with this. 1. we don’t know how his power could save millions of lives. 2.Alison, bless her heart, is not representing a government or authority here. we cannot allow her to unilaterally decide for us who and who should not be forced to do something like this. other wise we end up taking the global 1%’s wealth and redistribute it to soften the blow of the lower levels. now all that said- max is a unprintable human being that needs to be spanked by life. Alison does not have the position to do this. yes she ‘got away’ with the incident with the crowd and feral. but, it has cost her a bit in sympathy. if she beats Max to a pulp… she should find herself in a cell and very likely will. Stephanie The argument that Alison is a fallible human being, and shouldn’t be in charge of deciding what the greater good is, is a valid one. But if she’s right, and the power actually definitely will save that many lives, Max should be forced to go through with it. So the question at that point is just how good her evidence is that her plan guarantees saving that many lives. MichaelMRT “…and the power actually definitely will save that many lives, Max should be forced to go through with it.” Absolutely not. Down that road lies tyranny. That would turn Al into a despot – a generally beneficent tyrant but a tyrant nonetheless. That doesn’t even get into the fact that we don’t currently know if Max’s power is passive or active. What if it requires him to actively bestow the augmentation but he refuses to help? Are you proposing that Al break a bone every time he refuses? Now, if you want to argue that Max should be incentivized to help out (and I’m not talking in the “nice leg ya got there, be a shame if something happened to it” school of incentives) so that, ultimately, it is still a free will decision on Max’s part to join the team, then yes, that would be fine. Stephanie It would certainly get Al’s hands dirty–but I don’t think keeping her hands clean is more important than saving “countless, countless lives.” Choosing inaction is still choosing. If she doesn’t force Max’s hand–after, of course, exhausting all possible ways of getting his voluntary cooperation–then she is consciously choosing for all of those people to die. palmvos ‘if she’s right’ but we don’t know that. no evidence has been supplied, and in any case the proof has to be in comic- i.e. you and I are observers only. most 4rth wall jokes are the characters talking to us not the other way around. so- forcing Max to do this thing will require Alison to leave empty handed and peacefully, then get people who do have authority vested in them involved. in the US i don’t think we have a set of laws that will allow that. (morality =! legality) but if there were to be laws to force Max to involve himself- it should require something on the order of a criminal trial to invoke. given grand jury and FISA courts I think a way could be found to keep the pre-judgment phase quiet. (Britain does that routinely) so- lets have her prove she’s right before anyone gets thrown through a wall. nominations for the jury and court personnel? gurwana – Max’s advocate clevin, brad – jury (brad as foreman) patrick- undisclosed location several miles away without phone, text device, pager, duct tape, and NO SWISS ARMY KNIFE ! judge? rest of jury? Alison’s advocate? The Articulator Remind me how Max’s power definitely and assuredly will save countless lives? Stephanie I’m taking Alison at her word that she has a plan for his powers that will very obviously save countless lives. She seems certain of it, and Max hasn’t raised any objections on that front. If when the plan is finally revealed, it turns out to be stupid, then I’ll change my position. SJ That sort of rationalization is how tyrants are born. In a free society, no one is obliged to serve the greater good, and no one has the right to force somebody else to serve the greater good. It doesn’t matter how many people it could save: once Alison forces Max to use his gifts against his will, she is no longer the good guy. Stephanie You can just as easily say “once Alison puts Max’s desires ahead of thousands of people’s lives, she is no longer the good guy.” Izo Perhaps you should donate one of your kidneys, part of your liver, and some of your bone marrow. You should also be forced to donate blood on a weekly basis, or you’re evil. You’d be saving several people’s lives by making those donations, at just some temporary and non-lasting discomfort (for which you’d be asleep when it happens) and maybe have to give up drinking alcohol. If you don’t, you’re putting your own desire ahead of at least dozens of other people’s lives. Also if you don’t, others should be able to strap you down and forcefully take those ‘donations.’ Here’s another, less drastic one, with absolutely NO risk to your life or health at all, so you can’t hide behind a risk vs reward reasoning (which should by itself be an acceptable reason). You should shave off all of your hair and donate it, on a regular basis, to make wigs for children with cancer undergoing chemotherapy so they can have hair on their head. There’s no risk to you whatsoever, and the only thing that happens is you are bald. I notice from your avatar picture (if that is you) that you are not bald. Should we assume that you hate children who are undergoing chemo because you do not do that? No risk to you and you can make many people’s lives better, but you have not done so voluntarily. And now I, as a fellow human being, am asking you to do that. Let’s say that I’ve actually, in the past, donated and shaved off my hair to do just that. And I’m asking you to do it now. Do you have a right to say no? Or would I be justified in shaving off your hair by force? Because what you’ve said seems to imply, strongly, that you’d consider me justified in doing that, rather than committing an act of battery upon you. In fact, by the logic you just stated, my NOT forcing you down and shaving off your hair to donate it to children undergoing chemotherapy would make me a bad person. Stephanie Go ahead and forcibly shave off my hair. You won’t be able to donate it. It’s dyed. I don’t believe that forcing people to donate organs would increase utility, for a variety of logistical reasons. Therefore I don’t think it’s morally required to force people to donate organs. I do think it’s morally required to force Max, who has a unique ability allowing him to save an enormous number of lives, to save those lives. Returning to the dye example, It’s possible to think there are some situations where an enormous potential benefit outweighs the cost of breaking the principle of non-maleficence, without thinking that any benefit whatsoever justifies breaking that principle. The benefit of free hair for wigs doesn’t justify the harm of shaving people’s heads. The benefit of saving countless, countless lives justifies the harm of forcing Max to use his power. Stephanie Gertsch Meh. I think tryrants start out wanting power and use propaganda to sway the masses. But that’s just my cynical take. Allison still needs to back off though. It’s ultimately not her choice to make. Happyroach Actually, in a free society people ARE obligated to serve the common good. Paying taxes, and serving on juries, for a start. We also have laws that force people to obey the common good in the form of obeying laws. In time of war, people may be drafted. In other words, a functioning society means people can’t do anything they want to do. SJ Well, this may just be nitpicking, but I’m pretty sure that we don’t actually have any laws that force people to obey laws. What we have is a judicial system that punishes people for DIS-obeying the law, but that’s not the same thing. And I’m also pretty sure that Max isn’t breaking any laws by saying, “I don’t want to help.” If we’re meant to believe that their Constitution is more or less a mirror of ours, then forcing Max to use his powers to help people would likely be a violation of his 13th and/or 14th Amendment rights. Until such time as the government of the SFP-verse votes a bill into law requiring dynamorphs to use their powers in service of the nation, then it would still be a violation of Max’s civil liberties to try and force him. Lysiuj In an actual free society (note – doesn’t really exist yet in our world, but let’s assume), the rights and obligations of the people, collectively and individually, would be decided by the state and it’s bodies, after the people’s representatives were elected democratically, and after they repeatedly decide on the laws and regulations of the state which best serve the people. Even if, theoretically, every law which forced people to do something were fully moral and reasonable; and every such obligation, along with every governmental and private body, were under effective regulation; even then we’ve made sure the only widespread violations of human rights are those which the people’s representatives decide upon, and are subject to regulation, and can be outlawed if need be. In other words, any situation where people can force other people to do things must have many limitations, and strong ones. And the best way I see to do that is a democratic, check-and-balanced, regulated legal system. If Allison forces Max, no one is overseeing her actions, she isn’t acting on behalf of the law, no one and nothing can stop her. masterofbones You are correct, which is why some people view taxation as unethical. I would also argue that “free society” is generally an oxymoron. HOWEVER, individuals are not allowed to decide what rules society will and will not enforce. Society in general has agreed that taxes are a good idea. Society has not agreed that people with superpowers should be forced to use them for the good of the world. An individual trying to force someone to pay more taxes would be arrested, no matter how much those taxes could potentially help the poor. Rumble in the Tumble >I am all for using violence in this case. For the low, low price of violating one awful person’s autonomy, Alison can save countless lives. It’s not a nice thing to do–taken by itself, it’s an evil act–but letting countless people die needlessly is worse. Congratulations, you’ve just built Guantanamo. danelsan You could save multiple lives at the risk of your own as well. Are you? Are all your friends and family? Should I apply violence until you all agree to do so? Sendaz Lets shift this a moment. What if this were another dynomorph like Feral with regeneration and said ‘Look, you can regenerate so you can provide countless organs for people and we really, really need them. And yeah because the need is so great we are going to need to harvest these ALOT’. Now we know the route Feral took, but it was her choice. But what if this second dynomorph would rather live a pretty regular life without having organs constantly scooped out of them. Do all the countless lives they could be helping mean that the regenerator has to be slaved to the task of permanent organ donor? And before you say, well maybe they just have to donate every so often, BUT every day , every hour they are not being harvested someone is going without and therefore is dying needlessly. Because that path is a slippery slope where your ability/genetics trumps any personal choice. Izo THIS! Exactly! I agree with this post so very much. Why am I okay with the choice that Feral is making? Simply that. Because it was her CHOICE. Would I be okay with it if someone decided to FORCE her to do it? No. I wouldn’t be. Even though Feral will heal from any injury, and even though it can save thousands of lives, if Feral didn’t agree to do it, it is WRONG. Stephanie That’s a tougher one because it would save fewer lives and would require someone to undergo ceaseless torture. Alison implied that Max can save an extraordinary number of lives at comparatively minimal personal cost. Significant cost, yes, but not remotely comparable to what Feral is going through. I don’t buy into the slippery slope argument when it comes to trolley problems. Situations like this need to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Loranna Whatever Alison -thinks- would be the cost, as far as Max is concerned, the risk involved makes helping Alison anything -but- minimal. At the very least, he’d be putting an even bigger target on his back, and his family’s back, than there already is. Heck, some of Alison’s old enemies might get the idea that, with Max in their pocket, they might have a chance of beating her this time, and start a new wave of supervillainy. Imagine Moonshadow, with the amped-up ability to focus moonlight into a laser beam? Loranna Izo “Situations like this need to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.” With you as the arbiter for others? The situational reasoning you’re giving seems to be extremely vague Stephanie I don’t believe I said that I should be personally in charge of those decisions. However, if it were my choice, I would force Max’s hand. masterofbones Save fewer lives? Each organ saves a person, she is donating several every day. That’s hundreds of lives saved. How many more do you need before it becomes worthy of force? Stephanie That’s lot of lives, but not “countless, countless” lives–enough lives that Alison thinks it’s reasonable to call it “saving the world.” I’m not sure whether I would think force was warranted in that situation. It’s not as clear-cut as the Max issue. Weatherheight Not trying to be mean here, but you’re advocating either slavery or tyranny. I would like to point out that everyone makes decisions everyday that have consequences beyond what they can see. It’s reasonable to assume the ripples shut down pretty quickly, but sometimes little things have far reaching consequences. Max isn’t the only actor in Alison’s scenario, and putting it all on him isn’t quite honest. I agree that Max is a coward and a creep, but chaining him up and forcing him to act in a manner against his will, while an idea that is delightful to entertain and which I would like to watch from the front row center court, is also an evil act (and yes, I’m often ashamed of some of the thoughts that go through my head). While sometimes we have to choose between two evils, it is still choosing evil. I know it isn’t popular these days, but the ends do not justify the means. The means redeems the ends. Stephanie >While sometimes we have to choose between two evils, it is still choosing evil. Yes, it is. Choosing the greater evil is also choosing evil. Choosing to allow “countless, countless people” to die is worse than choosing to violate Max’s autonomy. Kate Blackwell You can probably save at least a few lives right now by selling most of your possessions and donating to people who need but can’t afford urgent medical care. Should someone force you to do that? Stephanie My position is that, if the potential benefit (or harm averted) is great enough, it can justify breaking the principle of non-maleficence. That doesn’t mean that I think that any benefit whatsoever, no matter how small, justifies breaking that principle. Nero If he’s going to be like this, the sensible thing to do would be to kill him now so someone supervillains can’t use him. LitShips Sensible, but not moral. Allison has proven that to essentially be her motto. Izo Join the army or die. That’s pretty much what you just said, or at least it has the same reasoning. Here, I’ll expand on it a bit. You’re good with fixing cars. Join the army as a mechanic or the army will kill you, since you might go to another country and join their army instead and make cars for them instead. Weatherheight I know, right? I have competing urges to beat the hell out of this jerk and to give him a hug and tell him it’s not all his fault. Having spent 10 years in customer service and been a trainer of new reps for seven of those years, there are two points I repeated to myself and others over and over again was this: 1) The customer is not angry at you, really; they’re angry at their situation and you’re the matador’s cape. 2) Pretty much always, angry escalation never helps. Listening and sympathizing usually works better. Johan It was different before, she wanted to know why. At this point of the conversation, it was pretty clear she was gonna leave him alone with a simple yes or no. But I guess they are both tired and frustrated. Ah well, at least they both got to explain their points of view. Loranna Until the last panel of this comic, it wasn’t clear to me that Alison had given up – she was -still- trying to reason with Max, until he flat-out said that he’d refuse just to spite her. Max was petty, yes, but Alison wasn’t showing any signs of giving up. Loranna Johan To me it was clear in the third panel of this page. She stayed to make sure he could make an informed decisions, after that it was all on him. Loranna *Goes back, re-reads Panel Three* . . . Maybe. Looking again, I can’t tell if she’s giving up, or trying one last time while making it *sound* like she’s giving up. I’m probably projecting my biases, though, much like Max is. Loranna Weatherheight heh. Weatherheight “and I know that you now that I know that you know that I know that you know that, and thus I cannot choose the glass closest to me!” Never go up against a Sicilian when death is on the line. Izo And I have to upvote you for quoting the Princess Bride. SJ Yeah. That’s what I just said… ** scratches head quizzically ** Fairportfan I figured you meant she was gonna turn on her heel and storm out. Izo SJ is referring to the trope (or maybe a lesser version of that trope) Sort of like the whole thing with Han Solo says the rebellion is not his cause… then when they need him the most, he comes out shooting and saves Luke, sends Darth Vader spiraling out of control, and is responsible for the Death Star being destroyed. Mechwarrior What if she does a Face Kneel Turn? Kate Blackwell Would help if we knew just what the heck she’s asking him to do. Like even knowing if she’d need him just for a one time power up or as long time commitment would put his arguments in a different light. Izo I don’t actually think she’s annoying – except maybe annoyingly idealistic. It’s sort of difficult for me to view Alison absolutely positive or negative because she has so many elements which I’d hope I could emulate if I was in her shoes, but at the same time seems to be falling into the trap of ‘thinking you know what’s best for others as if they are not your equal.’ Or at least, I see a lot of nobility in her, despite sometimes being annoying. Which I can’t say is a bad thing – until and unless, as we both have so aptly said:), she tries to force others to do what she does and doesn’t accept the word ‘no’ – which she’s been doing or at least on the edge of doing with Max, and did blurt out in the axiology class when she got frustrated (although Gurwara’s test was SO unfair). I think Alison is often a model of restraint in her actions (even if not always her words), for the most part. She’s also young and inexperienced in knowing how to solve problems any way other than by force, which was most of the reason for her breakdown on national TV in the first place (which she admitted to Cleaver). Weatherheight I realized I haven’t said this for a few pages: So many smart people commenting and such interesting points being made. So much fun! ::wiggles his ears happily:: Zac Caslar Since there might be a little confusion I remind ya’ll Allison’s anomaly is near Invulnerability and Super Strength with both apparently originating from Tactile Telekinesis. This has recently allowed her to fly as well. She is not a “god.” She is not even very powerful on a scale beyond the immediate. SFP really begins when she learns she can’t “punch out poverty.” and that’s a total concession of her actual powerlessness. Allison could not become a global dictator just by deciding everyone does what she wants or she punches them into goo. She is not Superman. Cleaver can harm her. So can Moonshadow. It seems plausible that other biodynamics out there could as well, and we have no real idea if Telepaths could be a threat. SFP is all about not having the strength you want, but having to use the strength you’ve got. Keep that in mind. End PSA. Loranna Er, did Moonshadow actually hurt her? I remember Mary taking a swipe at Alison’s neck, but it didn’t accomplish a whole lot – nor did electrocuting her with the power cables in the dam. For that matter, Cleaver could cut her skin, but not her bones, right? So yes, he could hurt her, but she could fight back. As for telepaths . . . well, Patrick was her nemesis for years, before he took off the mask, right? Was there any indication that Menace consistently defeated Alison in their prior conflicts? Not to mention, her current combination of powers lets her tear down buildings, smash tanks with other tanks, and otherwise act like a one-woman weapon of mass destruction. Granted, that’s not enough to establish control over the whole world, but it’s enough to scare at least -some- people into complying with her. And her powers are probably still growing . . . Loranna Weatherheight And by inference, so are Patrick’s, and Brad’s, and Hector’s, and possibly Lisa’s. And every other biodynamic out there. I just made a mental link between this and DC’s Kingdom Come storyline. ::glances over his shoulder at the fur on his back, then mutters something about being up all night again:: Loranna This is becoming a habit, burro . . . ::pulls out her brush:: 😛 Loranna Izo Moonshadow was NOT able to hurt her. At all. Happyroach Indeed, Allison’s abilities, if you look at them, are rather limited, if extremely powerful. That’s one of the problems I have with the “Oh, Allison could do more good as a a one-person construction brigade” comments. She’s not Superman, she doesn’t have magical “Do Anything” strength. If she tried to dig a tunnel, ti would collapse- if she tried to make a damn, it would fall. I have a feeling that Allison did look at direct applications of her powers, and discarded them as impractical. Hence trying to find something else to do. Loranna She picked up a giant piece of machinery in Lisa’s place, without providing said machine adequate support to keep from breaking under its own weight. Yet, the machine did not break. I think it’s safe to say, she can do the Superman Thing, at least on some level ^_^ Loranna palmvos as far as the building dams and tunnels… you are right. only because she doesn’t know how to do it safely. in reality superman doesn’t really tunnel- in that you can’t follow after him when he does it. I am absolutely positive that there are a number of professionals who would be more than capable of showing her how to leverage her strength to successfully do those tasks easier than current methods. and besides its not like we need a bunch of dams built right now. but it would be fun because then she could give a dam. Zac Caslar Right. And in fact there is an actual scene where she tries to repair a damaged playground and very visibly fails. Super strength isn’t the right tool when you need actual…uh…tools for precision work. It’s certainly possible for Allison to learn enough engineering to apply her strength like that, but that would require deliberate education in a formal field -not to say that people don’t do so as amateurs, but I’m guessing that the more force you bring to a project the more carefully it has to be used. Try to punch through a mountain and it may just fall on you instead -not every tunnel needs dynamite. That said she is also firefighting, and that’s terrific. Ilzolende Kiefer She needs to learn engineering? Oh, man, if only she were … enrolled in college … maybe with an internship at some kind of hardware-focused program? Richard Hughes Alison suuuuuuucks at this palmvos but if they know that you know that they know….. Izo I sort of have to upvote you for this just because … David Gillon Oh, hell, it’s potentially a lose-lose situation. Alison needs to walk away now. If Alison can’t get Max to help, then we’re left dealing with the consequences of whatever she needs him to do not being done. She says lives are at stake, but it appears not imminently at stake given the way she’s ended up getting to Max’s. There’s no obvious crisis looming. If she forces him to help, even by browbeating him, then she’s taking an irrevocable step down the road Gurwara warned her about. So she needs to walk away. But if she walks away, those deaths are still in the pending pile. So she can’t leave it alone. Do the least harm applies. Doing the least harm, multiple deaths versus a single person compelled into something against their will, the answer is obvious, but Max would still be being compelled, and Alison would be taking a dangerous step for her psyche. Even if necessary, even if ethically compelled, it would be an indelible black mark on her karma. If the threat scenario allows, she needs to walk away and ask someone else to try. Brad, or Lisa, or even Patrick (assuming the threat isn’t Patrick). Daniel probably wouldn’t be the best option (though even he could work). It’s only when the threat scenario becomes imminent that compulsion becomes an ethical necessity. Loranna . . .We still don’t know if there IS any threat. We don’t know what Alison wanted Max to DO. She isn’t failing to save lives here. She’s simply failing to enlist someone’s help to help her save -more- lives than she already is. And she was never under any obligation to Save All The Lives Ever. Loranna David Gillon Page 82, panel 5 http://strongfemaleprotagonist.com/issue-6/page-82/ Alison to Max: “Jesus Christ, Max! You’d be saving the world. I mean saving countless, countless lives at least! Doing an act of unspeakable heroism.” ‘countless, countless lives’ and ‘unspeakable heroism’ seems to raise it up above anything Valkyrie might get involved with. So I think this is a threat we don’t yet understand. Loranna Right. In Alison’s opinion, she’s asking Max to do something so incredibly important. But all we’ve got so far is -her opinion-, and Max’s lack of challenging her assertion that said opinion is valid. Alison, to paraphrase another poster, has a white knight streak a mile long. Max is a self-centered (insert expletive here), who thinks in terms of how things affect -him-, rather than examine situations objectively. I submit that we still can’t be certain that Alison’s big plan is as vitally important as she thinks it is. As for whether this all revolves around a new threat we don’t yet understand . . . well, I’d have to wonder, why did Alison go to -Max- first, rather than Lisa, or Hector? Even if their powers couldn’t solve the problem at hand, both are intelligent people, and more importantly, both are -already friendly to Alison-. When girding up to face a new threat, wouldn’t it make more sense to turn to your current allies, before trying to recruit antagonistic former boyfriends? Loranna David Gillon It could be that white knight streak that’s sent her running off to tilt at windmills. There definitely seems to be something Alison knows and we currently don’t, because the ‘countless, countless deaths’ and ‘unspeakable heroism’ don’t make sense with what we know now. I could well be wrong, I generally am when Brennan and Molly are being deliberately coy, but there does seem to be a factor we’re not yet seeing. Kate Blackwell This isn’t some specific crisis or situation, superpowers could be taken out of the equation and this scenario could still easilly apply to the real world. Like there are literaly people starting in the world right now, as well as people with the means to help them who aren’t, and that includes most of us posting here. The only difference would be the method and the scale of it. Ben Posin Can’t say I agree. It might be unethical, it might be mean, but I think there’s a world of difference in saying “no” in private conversation with Alison when you think there won’t be any consequences (he literally asked “what are you going to do to me, huh?”) and saying no after you are in the public eye, with the country looking to you in hope and for help—particularly when you now might really want want a strong support system and plenty of powerful friends. I’m not saying it’s the right thing to do, I’m just guessing that the “I give up” isn’t the obvious “I give up on getting help from you Max.” And I could be 100% wrong, we’ll see. d4t4 Perhaps. I guess you have to ask yourself “What do you think you know, and how do you think you know it?” Tim Hundley Thank you. I had never heard of this story, and now I am three chapters in and absolutely enthralled. Guilherme Carvalho I listened to that this year, just a couple of months ago. Pretty nice. The “induction on natural numbers” proving why he’d want to live forever is completely flawed, though. pleasechangemymind I sympathize with Max almost as much as I want to smack the shit out of him. Man this is such a good comic. *sets timer for next week’s update* Weatherheight Heh. I want to smack some sense into him more, but I grok! Philip Petrunak Alright! Time to send him into orbit and pretend this arc never happened! palmvos James Doohan respectfully requests that Max not share his burial ground. also some comment about physics…. Debbie Jackson Mayyyyyyybe.. chaosvii Lol okay, sounds like some major projection there bub. But yeah lets all give Alison a big hand for when she has the most unique experience of her entire life, she allows herself to let go as if she had some sort of practice dealing with the earth-shattering, utterly unprecedented event of her not getting her way. I mean if I was Alison and I had to deal with her crazy life of always getting what she wanted and this is the point where things go less than super awesome? I dunno, I’d probably contemplate suicide or something, I’d feel so worthless, I mean what a waste! Why even bother being invincible if you have to like, treat people with respect and dignity?! Come on Al, I got a mason jar with Max’s name on it right here! #AlisonGreatestTyrant #SuicideJokesAreTotallyTasteful Izo 1) We don’t even know what ‘sensible action X’ is. 2) Alison admitted there are risks when he presented that point. GreatWyrmGold 1) That makes the problem worse, not better (at least in this case, where Max is denying not a RAX but all RAX). 2) The problem doesn’t stem as much from in-universe behavior as the lack of a solid explanation for the readers. And it doesn’t seem like Allison actually believes the risks are that meaningful. Izo I’m wanting to copyright this saying. “Perfect people are boring.” 🙂 Crow ” *ring-ring* Hey, Patrick? What you did wasn’t okay, and time hasn’t fixed the rift it put between us. I know we both want to make the world better. So not for me, but for yourself, and well, for me too. Please convince Max to help me.” And then maybe we could watch some Looney Tunes. Edit: Actually though, while it solves Ali’s immediate problem, it fails to solve my problem. My problem being I want Max to be way, way gone forever. Beroli I don’t think Alison would consider “get a ruthless mind-reading manipulator to manipulate Max” any better, morally speaking, than, “You see this fist? YOU’RE GOING TO HELP ME,” which I also think she won’t do. Guilherme Carvalho Holy crap, I just thought of something really important: is Max boosting Alison’s powers? Can he choose who or what to boost? If so, how and how much? Does the boosting stop if he’s far from her for some time? I just got frightened she might actually sort of devolve a bit. Mechwarrior Alison has been using her powers around Max enough that it seems unlikely that he could boost her without her noticing it. Jonathon Side Is it just me, or does Max’s argument seem kinda weak here? It’s like he’s repeating something his parents told him. “It’s too risky. It would be the end of you!” But he has no idea what that actually means, so he just repeats it. “for once, you don’t get your way.” Pot. Kettle. chaosvii I think the “for once” line is also being repeated from his parents, in addition to whatever projection he’s placing on Alison here, it sounds like the sort of thing I’d expect the parents of a guy like that would tell him to shut him out of a discussion about his powers. Tsapki Neither does Alison’s family. One person with a machine gun could drop byone day, killthem all and leave. Sure Alison could possibly hunt them down and murder them horribly, but it’s been made clear she can’t defend everyone see cares about. Max on the other hand probably has enough money and connections to buy superpowered bodyguards, or maybe just build a secret bunker in the middle of nowhere and have a teleporter on speed dial to yank him on his family there at the first sign of trouble. Goatmon There are some flaws with your argument, here. First, Allison doesn’t have powers that can really be easily exploited, due to her inability to be easily threatened by anyone else. And what would even be the point of that? It’d be way less effort to just hire a super with super strength and/or durability ot do whatever they would want Allison for. Second, Max’s abilities not only make him a viable target for someone who wants to use him to boost their own powers, but they also give him zero protection from anyone who would want to do that. His sole means of defense is being rich. And that doesn’t really count for much. Third, even if teleportation technology exists in SFP (which I’m not even sure is a thing?) there’s no way to guarantee absolute safety if he or his family is attacked. No security measure is 100% secure. The most effective means he has to keep himself and his family safe is to stay under the radar. ∫Clémens×ds Heeeey, wait a second. Before we go, one last (I promise) thought experiment. Disclaimers: 1. We shall suppose Max being in danger if people found out is indisputable 2. This is not Max, this is WhyYouAreWrong!Max, who works wholly differently 3. Alison’s part is regarded as more canonical with our real Alison, insofar as my personal interpretation of Alison fits your engine 4. I love you please don’t be mad “Wait, what? It’s already out? Oh… Oh no. Alison, you have to protect me.” “I’m sorry? Mr. I-don’t-have-to-do-anything is giving me orders?! “Yeah well I stand more to lose by sticking to my dumb principles than by giving them up. Besides the narrative already validated you saying I was a jerk for believing altruism is not a thing thirty pages ago so it’d be redundant to make it another conflict now.” “Does that mean you’re going to help me?” “What? No. I still don’t want to.” “Are you serious? I swear to J— you know what, then no. I’m not protecting you.” “And what does being a sore smartass accomplish? It’s not an effective way to communicate to me the errors of my ways so that I change my mind –I already know I’m being selfish and I’m okay with the moniker– and that just makes you no better than me. Is that what you want to be? I get to die because you don’t like me? You don’t get to criticize my choices if my pettiness is something you don’t get over for the sake of your own moral standards. You have to protect me Alison, no matter what I decide, otherwise you can’t stand your grounds.” “You forgot something important, Max.” “What is that?” “This is not the webcomic, this is one of those dumb comment by Clemens which shall be over in a few lines and with that I can absolutely afford to lose all my morals.” “Hmmm I’m not sure I get it but oh wait you’re not listening anymore you are taking something out of your bag and it appears to be a cube shaped object I don’t recognize but wait you are now unwrapping the box and it turns out it’s a handmade white mug you’re holding but it appears to boast a customized sentence I can’t quite make out in the darkness of my dim living room but wait now you are raising your hand and the light of the hallway catches the mug you place over your head in an extremely menacing manner and I manage to read ‘THIS MACHINE CRAVES SMASHING INTO OBJECTIVISTS’ FACES, WITHOUT A SHRED OF LOVE FROM ALISON TOU YOU MA—’ and I can’t make out the last letter due to the inclination of the mug away from me but fortunately you happen to throw the thing at Mach 3 in the general direction of my teeth which gives me way not enough time to make the relatively simple supposition that the last letter by process of elimination has to spell my nCRUNCH Christophe2314 They don’t, but when you have an army of superpowered allies who you can make even more powerful just by being near them, that tends to act as a powerful deterrent. Izo At which point the main strategy becomes ‘in order to make the good guys suddenly weaker, target and kill Max first.’ Loranna I’m not so sure Max has actually considered whether Alison’s plan will work. He seems self-centered enough that his thought process skipped over “Will this actually work?” and jumped immediately to “How will this impact my life and my freedom?” And, since whether the plan -could- work or not doesn’t matter to him, he doesn’t bother bringing that point up to Alison. At this point though, I I really don’t know; I feel like I’m spinning my brain in circles 🙁 I would really like to know WHAT the plan is. Loranna Pyro Why do I associate Max with Mercy from Overwatch all of a sudden? *cough cough* HEROES NEVER DIE *cough cough* Stephanie If Max were the protagonist, but the choice being faced here were the same, I would still think Alison should force his hand. Stephanie And those countless, countless people have the right to live. Stephanie That’s a direct quote from the comic. Stephanie True. Maybe they shouldn’t be compared at all. Stephanie Gertsch I just noticed he said, “I’m putting myself on the line for you” rather than “I’d be putting myself on the line for you.” Freudian slip? Urthman At this point, Alison needs to roll her eyes and say, “I can’t believe you though I would want to date a selfish loser like you. Why on earth did you think I’d be interested in you?” camolot the creator She doesn’t get her way all the time, and has had to fight her way here, every step of the way. A problem is that neither of them has even made an attempt to understand the other. To him, she’s the powerful, perfect hero that got everything he ever wanted, gets anything she wants, and now wants to use him like everyone else. To her, he’s the entitled spoiled brat who is crying over nothing and being difficult when he could be saving lives. Neither of them has even made a shadow of an attempt at understanding the other’s position outside of their initial observations. It’s the same reason I have problems with safe spaces. There should be conflict here, yes, but that conflict should be a result of, and the catalyst for, attempts at reconciliation and understanding. We, as people, only really improve when our positions are challenged, when we are forced to stop ignoring the things that make us uncomfortable, and instead dive straight into them. This is painful, sure, but it’s the only way we will become better people. That should be happening here, but it’s not. They’re not even making an effort. Mechwarrior The point of safe spaces is so that people can confront issues on their own initiative when they’ve mentally prepared themselves or so that people with PTSD or other issues can have a place to relax without worrying about something suddenly causing a flashback. They are not, as opponents are so quick to claim, a means of shutting down discussion. Because there are some times and some places where some conversations aren’t appropriate. Kid Chaos “I give up…on talking. Now we do this the hard way!” *cracks knuckles* 💀 Sarah Brand Sure, Max is being a jerk, but consider his perspective. Alison has barged into his home and rudely demanded that he put himself at risk to save lives. Given how sheltered he is, this is inevitably an abstract notion to him. It’s not like a superhero has ever pulled him from a burning building or… oh. Wait. (Come on, Max. Pay it forward.) Rens A “polite argument” where he thoughtlessly accused the most noble person Alison knew of either being stupid or having a hidden agenda because in his worldview nobody is that selfless without expecting a return for it. He’s not interested in liberty as a concept, he’s interested in his personal liberty to do whatever he wants, and to hell with anyone else. If he can’t have what he wants, he sees no reason to help anyone with anything. Libertarians. Not much you can do once they’re that deep into the Galt juice. Walter That doesn’t seem super fair. I don’t think she’s being annoying. I’d be yelling at him too. Not helping save countless lives is infuriating. If he has the right to say “No”, that doesn’t mean she doesn’t have the right to say “pleeeeease!”. Weatherheight Ayep. While what Patrick and McDonald’s do is still a bit on the shady side, there is still agency for the target audience to exert. The target audience is still making the final decision (although the bases for that decision may not be all they could be). Weatherheight Well… heck. That didn’t even occur to me. I saw that as the obligatory anime “shot to the face that leaves a thin line of blood but not much else” trope, but that could just as easily have been a cheekbone-breaking shot to the face. It seem my bias and expectations are showing. ::slides his Fancy Hat™ a bit to the left:: That’s better. So the questions are: a) if he took a shot that damaging to the face, would he still be willing to help Alison in any way, or is this all a ploy set up to punish her? b) if it was just a grazing shot, would he have sufficient motivation from that to mess her over, or does that imply his offer of “help” is genuine? Nice. ::mutters something about ARCLight and winks knowingly:: Arklyte This nickname goes back to UT2003(and me not knowing English) so whatever reference you mean, it’s unlikely. Though it doesn’t stop 100500 other people from having it. Damn, I can bet that if I decide to sign in on some hardcore pornsite with it, it’ll already be taken: Anyway, what I mean is that she’d thrown the present with enough force to shatter cup that was in wrapping inside a present box. She could have easily broken his nose, caused deep laceration, broken his jaw, made him lose a lot of teeth and above all not to mention the fact that one of the corners could have gotten his eye. Patrick might be looking worse then Joker right now. He was dripping(not simply had it on his face) blood after all. Is he going to use it against her in some sort of a plan? My bet is no. To tell the truth I think he’s actually having suicidal tendencies. We never see his parents, never heard what was his reaction as a child to knowing the worst about people around him and so on. … Anybody? chaosvii Yes. The totally bananas councilor guy, Ken. “I was a mind-slave for six months when Puppetmaster took over Boston.” http://strongfemaleprotagonist.com/issue-5/page-52-3/ chaosvii While that is a fair evaluation of how utilitarianism is poorly represented & criticized, it now leaves us with the difficult question of how exactly does one identify a properly constructed & applicable plan to implement utilitarianism. I think that’s what people stumble over. It’s easy to find a terribly implemented claim of utilitarianism, and it’s easy to find a snazzy way to convincingly advocate for consent being king. But it’s not as easy to indicate why consent tends to be a primary (if not all encompassing) ingredient for sustainable maximized utility. Nor is it clear where consent is consistently worth compromising aside from situations where consent is being violated or presumed to be such. Without a firmly established standard to determine when to favor utility over consent, it is considered far less dangerous to simply favor consent over utility even if that means lots of very useful and life-saving plans fall by the wayside while attempting to isolate exactly how much compromising is necessary. Random832 The tools I’m referring to include the ability to find or interview for an entry-level job. And even *that’s* assuming his parents aren’t actively obstructive of any attempt at independence. (It’s a constructed worst-case scenario, it doesn’t require actual evidence because, remember, we’re talking about what *might be* the case, not what *is*) Mechwarrior Anyone can find or get an interview for an entry level unskilled job. He’d just have to be willing to give up his cushy lifestyle to do so, and all evidence points to him being completely unwilling to accept any personal discomfort. agurk Fifth panel tho. Pot calling the kettle black anyone?