Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Leaving Megalopolis (OGN)

"They're hunting us.  It's a game to them" - Jeff

Ladies, gentlemen, people who fit both those groups or neither, we live in exciting times for both aspiring and established artists of every stripe.  The internet in its guise as a force for good now allows consumers to support directly films, books, comics etc that might not otherwise see the light of day.  of course you are taking a risk every time you donate, but for every "The Sarkeesian Effect" debacle, you get something like Leaving Megalopolis, Gail Simone's 2014 crowd funded tale of a city where all of a sudden, the superheroes turned into sociopathic monsters and the struggles of a rag tag group of survivors as they try and make it out of the city alive.  With superb art from Jim Calafiore, we get a very human tale of survival against impossible odds, and like Garth Ennis's The Boys, a chilling reminder of what it might be like for ordinary humans if every superhuman was a villain to a greater or lesser degree.  Megalopolis was a safe city because that's where all the super heroes lived and they were heroes who had comics devoted to their escapades so no one was prepared when they turned evil.  The horror this book contains give us "heroes" who'd give Kid Miracleman a run for his money in the despicable stakes and some truly heart wrenching stories emerge over the course of the narrative.  So successful was the fund raising that not only does it come in a nice hardback package, but has an extra short story, detailed notes on the design of the various characters and did well enough that a sequel called Surviving Megalopolis will be coming out in november.  Like all disaster stories, the cause of the disaster is less important than the struggle to retain ones humanity in the face of unbearable hardship, Simone always excels in the humane depiction of people under pressure so lets see just how you go about Leaving Megalopolis.
Mina and Harold.
The story opens on a several pages showing us a disaster has taken place.  Wrecked buildings, a destroyed bridge, a huge hole in the ground, a dead dog.  We then join the primary protagonist for this tale, Mina Rios.  She is in a police uniform and apologizes to a dead woman on the ground in her underwear as she takes the weapons from the ruined police car.

She walks through the empty streets when one of the rogue heroes flying above drops a man close by her to his death.  Then a chubby bearded man ventures out of a nearby shop and asks for her help.  There is a young woman in there, naked to the waste, crying.  He thinks the super heroes did something to her.  His name is Harold, the girl is called Lisa.

Mina is very terse with Harold and as Lisa hugs her, orders him to find something for her to wear.  Outside are two men one who think that because Mina is a police officer things might be looking up, his name is Michael.  The other one, Jeff, thinks it's a trap. They approach Mina's party and she aggressively points a shotgun at them asking what they want.  Suddenly a superfast hero called "Fleet" dashes down and rips Jeff's head clean off.
Fleet beheads Jeff.
Harold exhorts Mina to shoot Fleet, but Mina says there is no point, "he's got us."  Fleet then hands over some bullets to Mina, Mina asks him to at least let Lisa go.  He says "no" then dashes off leaving them somewhat bewildered.

We then get a transcript of what appears to be a Senate investigation into what happened.  It seems a toxic cloud appeared over Megalopolis just before the heroes went crazy.  Then we get a flashback to Mina as a kid round at her grandma's.  She is feeding a raccoon, and her grandmother comes, scolds her for feeding the racoon and tells her it's time to learn how to shoot.  Then she gives us Mina's tragic backstory in the form of a lecture:

Grandma: "Never let a man hit you, not once. Stop him however you can.  Scratch his eyes out.  Blow a hole in him.  You take a knife to his pecker, baby you hear me?  Because he hits you once, and you go back? No power on earth or in heaven will stop him from hitting you again.  End up like your poor mama".

She says Mina's mum forgot the basic rule, "you have got to survive". Young Mina says that's all the raccoon was trying to do.

Back in the present, Michael says that going north which Mina was doing, is a bad idea.  The bridge has been sealed off by the heroes and festooned with dead bodies as a warning.  Michael is a nurse and says that over the river is a bunker with food and medical supplies, they'd be safe there.
One of the bridges is still standing, so they decide to make for it because no one has a better plan.  Then they come across a man chained to a lamppost crying for help.  Mina opines that she doesn't think the heroes were reponsible for this.  Then we get another flashback to her childhood where she goes to visit her mum in hospital, her dad stabbed her three times and set her on fire wth lighter fluid.

In the present, two heroes fly down to kill the trussed up man who Mina believes has been left as bait.  But then "Overlord" the ultimate hero appears and kills the other two, then breaks the tied up mans neck so hard he practically takes his head off.  But he doesn't detect Mina's party cowering close by and flies off again.

We then get another transcript which discusses the local head of the National Guard having a shoot on sight policy for people trying to leave the city in case they spread a possible pathogen.  Back with Mina's party, they come across a large black woman sitting in a chair by a huge hole in the ground eating egg sandwiches.  Her name is Meredith.  She says the heroes won't come here because of what came up through the hole.
Meredit and the mysterious hole.
She saw it all, a Lovecraftian style tentactled entity rose up and the superheroes united to bring it down.  But then it rained sulphuric rain and that's when the trouble really began.  She says sadly she lost her dog in the attack, oh and her husband too.  She appears to be in shock as she says all this.  We then get a flashback of Mina being told she will be getting a dog, initially she resists the idea, then says only if it can sleep in her room at night.

Meredith wants to stay where she is, but Lisa convinces her that she should come along even though Meredith thinks she'll slow them down.  Mina seems unhappy at this turn of events but accepts the new member of their group as she remembers her new dog climbing onto her bed with her as she says "it doesn't mean I love you, got that?" to it.

As they move on, Harold asks Michael about the man Jeff he was with before.  Michael and Jeff had been hanging out at the same coffee shop when the Event occurred. Unfortunately fighting broke out between those holed up in the shop and those wanting to get in.  Then Michael tells Harold that he had all the Overlord comics (see below for a sample that proves important later in the story), "... 'til they made him all grim and gritty.  I didn't like that.  I couldn't read that shit."
Overlord getting a grimdark reboot
Anyway all the screaming at the diner attacted Overlord, as the owner of the bar tried to fight him off, Jeff and Michael left him and escaped with the realisation neither of them were good guys themselves.  Then Lisa tells them to be quiet, she has spotted a wild bobcat.  Harold sees it as a harbinger that "the time of man is over".  But Lisa disagrees saying, "it means that things live.  It means things get better."

Suddenly they notice Michael is missing.  Two more men appear before them, Mina holds them at gunpoint.  The bespectacled man introduces himself as Lukas and his friend is Franklin.  He says "the padlock people.. the monsters" have taken Michael.  Lukas then relates a very sorry story.

He lived in an apartment block where people were friendly and watched out for each other.  Then when the Event occured things changed.  Some folk in the block realised that if they left "sacrifices" tied up outside every few hours, the heroes would kill them and leave the rest alone.  First of all they picked on all the people who hadn't quite fitted in, then finally started grabbing people off the street.  Lukas realised it was an appalling thing they were doing after they poisoned his dog for making too much noise and attracting attention.  Michael is the latest bait.
Lukas tells of superhero collusion.
Lukas apologises, but Mina says he collaborated with a monster.  "Fuck your sorry" and she starts to leave.  Harold says they have to rescue Michael, but Mina wants to abandon him.  Harold says she's a cop, she took an oath to protect him.  Mina yells she's not a cop:

Mina: "I'm a fucking guard at the mall...there was a cop car in the west lot outside the mall. One of them showed up, Cupid. He killed the lady cop inside.  Laughed.  Said she was good sport.  I took her uniform.  I took her guns".

She says she didn't want to be raped by looters, she can't protect Michael, "I can't protect anything". 

Harold demands one of her guns.  If she won't go back for Michael he will.  Mina says that's certain death, but Harold won't stand down.  Lisa meekly says they won't make it to the bridge anyway.  Then Red Flame, the hero being supplied with victims swoops past them.  Mina finally realises she can't stand by and see someone burned alive like her mother was and they go back.

We then get a flashback to young Mina in tears holding the dead body of the racoon she befriended that her dog killed.  She rages at the dog and her grandmother for getting it for her, then tears over her situation overwhelm her and she sobs "I don't want to be anymore". 

Michael has been tied to a lamp post and the leader of the building's pack is trying to torture information about where the rest of his group were headed.   Michael manages to stutter out a "fuck you".  Red Flame arrives and says:

Red Flame: "I like this.  I like this so much. The way you turn on each other.  You barely even need us to hunt you down.  Fear makes you destroy yourselves.  Weak".

As he goes to kill Michael, Mina comes up behind and points a shotgun at his head point blank.  "Chaz says hello" she says and then blows his head off.
Boom! Headshot!
The mob from the building move into attack them as they cut Michael down.  Meredith slices the leader of the mob in the face with sharp stick which gives them pause.  Mina's group run, but the mob is close behind and Franklin gets shot in the head.  Lukas realises he can make amends and taking the shotgun he makes a stand while the others get to relative safety, sacrificing himself for them.

Another flashback to Mina as an adult post coital with her boyfriend Chaz.  He says he'd love to have a child with her, but this freaks her out a bit and she goes into the sitting room and has a flashback in a flashback of the day her father did the terrible thing to her mum.

Back in the present and they make it to the bridge.  But there is a huge hole in it.  Before they can start to work there way round it, Lisa starts buzzing something.  When asked what she is doing, she turns and grins that it's her "Mite Brigade signal device" and she is calling her friends to this location.  She is a superhero!
Lisa reveals her true self.
She gloats at the expressions on their faces and says her cape name is "Visua".  She says the eldritch thing they fought changed them, the heroes realised their heroism was part of their nature, "is it heroism if you life leaves you no choice?"  The thing made them see how pointless it all was.

Visua: "All we feel is pain.  And killing one of you..? Makes that pain go away.  Makes us happy for a while.  Hunting you is sport. And I get to be decoy!".

She grabs Harold and says she's going to burn him first, but he headbutts her in the face.  As she backs off, Mina sees a racoon on the other side of the bridge and realises what she has to do.

She tackles Visua and hurls both of them off the bridge.  Harold catches hold of Mina and Visua has hold of her.  Before Mina can be pulled up, Visua uses her powers to burn his hand and force him to drop her and Mina into the river.  Harold, Meredith and Michael can only look down in silent sadness at this turn of events.

Then they carefully make their way round the hole in the bridge.  It looks like they might have escaped finally.  Until that is, Overlord appears.  He says "one of you has to die.  Choose."  All three volunteer, so Overlord chooses Michael.  He makes him kneel in front of him and is about to crush his head when Michael recites the words from the comic page earlier in the story about Overlord's origins. This gets through to Overlord when nothing else could. 

Overlord: "I can't save you.  Too much dark between universes.  Universe of empty rage."

Then more heroes appear, wanting to know what he's waiting for.  With more prodding from Michael, Overlord turns on the other heroes and starts fighting with them, screaming to the three survivors "Runnn!  The darkness is coming back!"
Michael the comicbook nerd gets through to Overlord.
We then wind up the story with a voice over saying the shoot-to-kill policy for people escaping Megalopolis was rescinded when the National Guard refused to fire on them, and we see Michael, Meredith and Harold being delivered to safety.  The general dubs them the real heroes of this story.

Finally we get another flashback showing Mina and Chaz at their job as mall security.  He asks her to think it over about having kids, then there is an earthquake.  Chaz wants to check to see people are alright and Red Flame appears.  Chaz says it's OK, "the good guys are here".  And Red Flame fries him.  Then we cut to Visua/Lisa surfacing in the river pleased at her survival.  But she is shot through the head by Mina who also survived.  The book ends with Mina, armed only with a water-sodden pistol, facing down a group of super heroes calmly and without fear.
Mina's last stand..?
The bonus story gives us the tale of an unnamed young woman who takes refuge from the maddened superheroes inside the wrecked clubhouse of "Team Tom O'Hawk".  Inside is "Scout" who was one of the team, but unlike Tom O'Hawk and Southern Belle doesn't have superpowers. He's keeping Tom's corpse company, and when the young woman accidentally activates an alarm on the console, Southern Belle appears.  Despite his lack of powers, Scout fights Belle long enough for the young woman to escape, before Belle manages to kill him.  As she runs, the young woman reflects, "He said he wasn't a hero.  He lied."

With this book, I am so pleased I am able to put Gail Simone in my top five of comicbook authors (if you're interested it goes: Garth Ennis, Alan Moore, Grant Morrison, Brian K Vaughn and Gail Simone).  She has a lot in common with Ennis is some respects, both write with a fierce sense of humanity and can create compellingly sympathetic characters with the broadest of brushes.  Actually this story has me feeling sorry for the superheroes, unlike the selfish, venal monsters of The Boys, these heroes were genuinely trying to do what was right.  When the city was attacked by the eldritch thing, they fought it and won, yet it changed them through no fault of their own.  Overlord's torment at the end shows that the heroic core is still in there, but has been overwhelmed by aggression and rage and the need to kill to try and placate those feelings.  Mina is a fascinatingly spikey protagonist whose heightened sense of self preservation plays well off the more traditionally heroic Harold.  Simone gets two great reveals in, first that Mina isn't really a cop and second, the genuinely shocking reveal that Lisa is a "hero" whose been playing them.  Letting them get within a stones throw of freedom for her own sick pleasure, never has a bullet to the head been more deserved.  Jim Califore's art is nice and crisp, with some excellent and original designs for the heroes that makes them more than just knock-offs of Marvel and DC standards.  A lot of thought was put into the look of all the characters and the art notes make for a fascinating read and a real insight into what you get when artist and writer are on the same page.  I shall definitely be checking out the sequel now at any rate.  A triumph for 21st century fund raising.


  1. Hmm, some interesting things in there. Weirdly this reminds me of the Poseidon Adventure crossed with the Warriors. I think the experiences of the 'normal' humans is more interesting than the bit about superheroes gone bad. Really, it seems to me, they could represent any sort of threat (vampires, aliens, wild animals)

    It's the classic 'pick them off one at a time' journey. With the traitor in our midst reveal (you seen Tears of the Sun?).

    As to the superheroes go bad thing I do like to see stories that try to represent how superheroes might be treated in the real world. I know there's that Civil War thing, and of course Watchmen. But they still have that fantasy background. I'd love to see the morality considered in a genuine 'real world' setting. How would Batman be regarded for instance in a world with Black Lives Matter?

  2. Yeah it is basically a disaster movie, I meant to include a note to that effect that I think got missed out when I was editing. I haven't seen "Tears of the Sun".

    The closest thing I can think of as to what you're proposing as a superhero in the real world story is Garth Ennis's "The Boys" (whaich I covered on this blog) which gives us artificial created superhumans given wealth and priveledge by the multi-national corporation that was behind the serum that made them and interestingly treats the "supes" like stage mums treat their kids with entitled monsters being the end result. The focus of the story though are The Boys (although one is a woman) who work for the CIA monitoring the activities of the supes as well as there being a political agenda with the multinational company buying a vice president in the hope they can get superheroes to be taken on as part of the official defence of the USA.

    Might not be a "boots on the ground" version of superheroes you're thinking of, but it is a very cynical take on the idea of what superheroes might be like if they lacked the compassion, generosity of spirit and kindness of your average DC and Marvel superhero.

  3. The Boys looks very interesting. That's tomorrow morning at work sorted out. I would read it tonight but it never feels right skiving on my own time.

    If I was a superhero my mum would probably still be doing that licking a tissue thing.

    "Argh! Gerroff"

    "But you've got black stuff round your eyes"

    "That's part of my costume!"

  4. Well I hope you enjoy The Boys, it's my favourite self contained series and my second favourite "run" after Alan Moore's Swamp Thing.

    I think what you describe is a compelling reason to keep your superhero ID secret from your loved ones! Recently after watching the film "Chronicle" (which is a found footage film about three teen boys who get superpowers and the hijinks and tragedy that it leads to) my sisters and mum were debating what superpowers we'd like to have. I said I didn't want innate superpowers, I wanted the "Hero Dial" from "Dial H" (also on this blog) which allows you to dial up a random superhero identity with each twist of the dial.

  5. "If you could have any superpower which would it be?"

    "Cold War Russia"

    I think I've seen Chronicle. Something about nosebleeds? If it's the one I'm thinking of I got a bit confused. The boys seemed a bit interchangeable so I wasn't sure who was who. I liked the big battle at the end though. That was well done.

    As to superheroes as jerks I was watching that Captain Todger thing today with someone because of his donkey thing.

    "They're lovely"

    You seen that? I also like the very right on supervillan.

    "And all shall kneel before me. Unless of course they have any cultural objections to kneeling, in which case I would be happy to accept their obsequience in whatever way they find acceptable"

  6. Yeah they get nosebleeds, and the end battle is amazing. I just liked it when they used their powers to lark about in shops and so on. Seemed very true to life.

    I haven't seen Captain Todger, what is it? Film, TV program? Sounds fun!

  7. Captain Todger was in a series of Mitchell & Webb sketches. It was indeed very funny. They pitched the character so perfectly, not completely evil but the sort of person who would nod along at Daily Mail articles.

    His arch enemy was General Drayfox. Now he was evil. He wanted to destroy the world, but he was very keen that his mook workforce had a very welcoming and diverse hiring policy.

  8. Well, that's not been my most productive ever day at work, but I have now finished your "The Boys" reviews. I was trying to moderate my input, but I got into DVD boxset "just one more" mode.

    Wow, I can see why you like it. Ennis really is brilliant at melding the fantastic with mundane reality. I remember a review of Watchmen that said it showed how being a superhero would work in reality. You would be so obsessed that you'd live off cold beans and never shower. But even the characters in Watchmen seemed like Hollywoods version of normal. Nothing wrong with that. Nobody's expecting Ken Loach. But the characters in The Boys did seem a lot more real.

    Ennis has a great ear for dialogue too. I like his twists on the superhero cliches, especially "with great power comes the chance of becoming a right c*nt" :-)

    It was also an interesting take on the bloke goes on rip roaring rage of revenge because his woman was raped trope. Oftentimes the women in those scenarios might as well be The Dude's pissed on rug. They're just the maguffin. But Billy"s wife was so real and it was an interesting exploration as to for whom billy was actually doing things and his motivation. Obviously it wasn't for her, that sort of thing was everything shed saved saved billy from, so it was a good that the story acknowledged his own selfish motive. But at the same time it was hard to judge him for that.

    Nice to see the CIA as sort of good guys for a change. I'm reminded very much of Darius Jedburgh in the BBC version (ie the good one) of Edge of Darkness.

    Yeah, a very nice deconstruction not manly of the superhero genre but also the other attempts to deconstruct the superhero genre.

    Now I think we should pen a deconstruction of Ennis's work. We're through the looking glass here people!!!

  9. *staggers in and sits at PC* Sorry about the delayed response been AFK all day and evening. I'm so pleased you enjoyed The Boys. It's a pretty gripping story, I had to limit myself to one volume a week when I was buying it and it was getting so tempting to splurge on the last few at once.

    Billy reminds me of Ennis's take on The Punisher (in the MAX series anyway), both are men with darkness in their hearts, are made better by their loved ones and when they lose those loved ones the revert and wage war on those deemed responsible. Only difference is Billy works on the inside of the law while Frank Castle remains outside it.

    People say Ennis hates superheroes, but I think they're wrong. What he does hate is how superhero comics are such a huge part of the comics industry and have crowded out the variety of stuff that existed before. He grew up reading war comics which seems to have lead to his fascination with the military and if there is one thing he does hate it's war profiteers and corruption in the higher levels of the military structure.

    I must watch "Edge of Darkness" again. Got the dvd, something to listen to while I play on my Xbox 360.

    Hopefully that made some kind of sense *falls face first on bed and starts snoring*

  10. S'ok, no hurry, no worry. Been up to anything exciting? I'll check the Macclesfield papers to see which crimes have been mysteriously foiled by a shadowy figure who dissappeared into the night muttering only her Arnie inspired catchphrase "Oww, my frigging back"

    I share Ennis's interest in military stuff. I like realistic military in fantasy contexts. Dog Soldiers, Battle: Los Angeles etc.

    One thing I'd like to see is something based on JK Rowlings apocryphal quote that a wizard with a wand would be no match for a Muggle with a shotgun (or presumably an M-16)



    I should read more Punisher stuff. Apparently that's the character I'm most like (no superpowers, predilection for black t-shirts). I'm not that moody though. I could do with picking your brains about a costume idea for something, but I'll stick that n an email.

    Enjoy your snooze. Sweet dreams.

  11. Nah nothing exciting, 'tis the season for all my close relatives birthdays so it's an evening out at one of Manchester's many eateries. Although I like the idea of living a double life as the defender of Macclesfield.

    I'm sure there's plenty of fanfics that explore the Muggle With A Shotgun idea (sounds like a good film title). Trouble would be sifting through the mountains of smut fics to find them.

    I really like Ennis's take on The Punisher. Totally removed from the fantasy world of the main marvel universe, only Nick Fury appears in his run. I have covered all but one of the ten books that make up Punisher MAX (they have been out of print and some volumes were hard to find cheap, still haven't been able to get ahold of book six) but be warned, they are incredibly bleak and the last three books are real emotional roller coasters. He's not so much moody in those books as a dead inside murder zombie.

  12. Ooh, hope you had a lovely time. I have very find memories of Manchester from back in the day. Is the Ritzy still around? Bounced around on that sprung dance floor a few times in my misspent youth.

    This idea of a Macclesfield superhero is really growing on me, maybe you should sketch a few ideas.

    Yeah, most of what I know about the Punsisher comes from your blog, although I've also seen the various films. I've always preferred that gritty realism thing though.. When I was a kid I read a few SHIELD tales as they appeared in some the few Marvel comics I liked for other stories. It was Nick Firy and some woman with an italian name (think she was a contessa or something) and it was all about how they'd do assasinations and then arrange for a clean up crew. That gelled more with my preferred reading material like Dredger in Action. Ironically the only superhero I liked was the very campy TV Batman. I've always been very disssapiktoed that none of the new Batman films even had a throwaway reference to trying to get rid of a bomb on a pier.

  13. "Someday you just can't get rid of a bomb!" definitely one of my favourite movie moments. One of the reasons I enjoy Grant Morrison's take on Batman is he manages to meld the grimdark take on the character with neo-Silver Age style madness.

    Ennis has done a Nick Fury miniseries in the same vein as Punisher MAx, called Fury MAX "My War Gone By". It's also grim reading as it takes us on a tour of America's post WW2 interference in other countries although stops short of Desert Storm. I've got it on the schedule for early next year, I keep putting it off though because I keep feeling I'm not going to be able to do it justice. I think I'm ready now though.

  14. I'll have to stick that line into my magnificent octopus (notwithstanding there won't actually turn out to be any bombs in it)

    Have you ever seen Return to the Batcave? It's wonderful. Won't say any more in case you haven't. Spoilers!

    Also features a great remix of the original Batman theme.

    (I nearly got to marry the neice of the guy who wrote that. Long story.)

  15. Heh, it's a great line. I have that film on dvd it's such good fun. I mean I like the Nolan Batman films well enough but I find it amusing that Batman can be portrayed at such extremes. At some point I'll cover Batman Inc. There's a brilliant bit where Robin, who is his son Damien Wayne adopts a cow and declares it "Batcow" and it ends up living in the Batcave along with their cat and dog.

    I haven't seen "Return to the Batcave" is it a film or TV show?

  16. What would happen if they ever adopted an actual bat?

    Return to the Batcave is a film. Stara Adam West and Burt Ward as themselves investigating a mystery which involves flashbacks to the making of the TV series. It's brutally candid about what really went on but also beautifully warm hearted. And it even has a great twist ending when you find out who the 'villain' is.

    Think there are some clips (possibly the whole thing) on YouTube for when you get your sound fixed. I think you'd enjoy it.

  17. I shall definitely remember to seek it out when I get my PC sounds fixed. It's my first thing to do next year, post Xmas when I have a little cash saved I'll run it round to the PC shop. I'd do it myself, but my PC is built in such an annoying way that you need to take the entire inside out to access the sockets at the front and I am not confident of my ability to do this with out wrenching a load of other things out of their sockets.

  18. If you want something wrenching out of a socket I've heard Wookiees are good at that. Hmm, come to think of it Chewie *is* an engineer. Unfortunately I don't have his phone number.

    "What was it again?"

    "Wrrgh grahh ruuhhhrr hhrrh!"

    "Maybe you could just write it down?"

    Oh, sent you an email btw.

  19. Maybe Chewie has nimble fingers, I'm sure some delicate repairs would be needed when travelling in the Millenium Falcon.

    Email received and responded to with thanks :)

  20. The Falcon definitely strikes me as a vehicle that responds best to percussive maintenance. Although I do now have the idea that Chewie likes nothing more than relaxing with a spot of needlepoint.

    For me part of the charm of the original Star Wars was that the Falcon was just a pile of junk. That's why it was all the more heartwarming when she saved the day at the end. The whole ethos of the films was a raggle raggle bunch of underdogs overcoming the odds.

    But in the little expanded universe stuff I've read everybody (including the Falcon) is the best, and by far. Im not a big fan of that. It just makes the characters annoying and difficult to root for. Where's the triumph when the baddies were already outclassed?

    I think that's exemplified with the 12 Parsecs thing. It goes from being a wonderfully character establishing bit of attempted BS (with Ben Kenobi's eyeroll response) to a literal example of how brilliant pilot and ship are.

    Why do protagonists always have to be superlative these days? Why can't they be useless so we can identify with them?

    *rants about 'kids today' and 'spell in the army's what they need'*

  21. Yeah I don't know why protagonists have to be "The Chosen One". That's my issues with the Star Trek reboot. The original Captain Kirk worked hard and was a driven, studious man until he finally was rewarded with the Enterprise. New Kirk gets the Enterprise because destiny says so and blah blah blah. Frustrates the hell out of me.

  22. I was rather hoping that it would turn out in Harry Potter that he'd just been set up as a decoy to draw attention away from the real hero Neville. It seemed to be heading that way. I can see though why it might have been a bit too brave of Rowling to be that cynical.

    Another area this crops up is the Bond franchise (although it improved a bit with the Craig films and even the Dalton ones). In the books, which I love, he's very flawed. The only reason he gets sent on the missions he does is because he's the most expendable of the 00 agents.