Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Ok i will admit it the last post was much more self introspection then it was any real progress into a better understanding of super villains. And i'm even going to go as far as to say any conclusions that i drew were highly suspect at best. Thats what happens to you for the first couple of weeks after stopping anti-depressants.
Now many of my readers the few of you that there are know that i gravitate more toward the marvel universe story lines then i do the dc universe. But i will be offering a correction to a conclusion reached in my book. I eliminated lex luthor from the running as a super villain because of certain ontological claims the dc writers have made about the limited scope of their supposed multiverse. I'm going to ignore that assumption on a number of grounds and conclude that the necessary conditions of freewill are present in the dc world. Lex still loses in the ethics chapter because, well his morality is flexible to an extent that makes the sv designation unsuitable to his character.
I am aware that i have not finished my underclss listing of villains and plan to be finishing it up in the next week or two. Stay tuned kids.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Time for my latest update and this may be both an observation of super villains and a little self introspection. I would also like to say that i've been off the cetalopran for about three weeks now so this may come off as a little melancholy. As an aspiring real world super villain, and a student of comic book super villains, i find myself asking questions about where the hatred for others comes from. Now to be clear i delved a great deal in understanding super villain anger and motivation, but hatred escaped me. Super villains hate those around them. But why, and i link this to there histories and behavior super villains dont start out hard men they begin a sensative and caring people naturally empathic to those around them, the problem is that empathy can be a negative and over the course of a lifetime damage the mind. Highly empathic people notice, feel, and inturnalize the pain and sadness of those around them. And this constant feeling of others pain can make finding happiness in ones own life more difficult. This inability to find happiness through the percieved fault of those around you can breed a disdain for others because their missery becomes your's. No two characters experience this pain more clearly then doom and ozmandius. As i am writing this on my phone i think i've said enough for now and will finish in a later post please keep in mind this may be more self introspection and projection then analysis. Please post back my loyal readers and let me hear your opinions.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

On to the Dark Organization, now this is a really broad class of villainy because it includes both groups and individuals. Now you have the typical villainy organizations like Nazis, and the other facist organizations that are common comic book appearances like Hydra and A.I.M. Now there are plot devise services these characters fill typically when a writer needs someone for a hero to beat up on with little conflict developement these are the default villains. As based for my typical villain discussion the plot mechnism of these characters is not of my interest. Instead the first question is where these characters fit into the villain model. Let's dump the group and go with the individual villain component in this case we can use th DC villain captain nazi or the marvel villain the "red skull". These characters lack the super villain recognition of universal good, and are typically powerr motivated. Unlike characters like dr doom which seek out power for the purpose of improving the world for these groups and individuals seek out power as an end result. There is also a lack of bio-polar condition. For the most part this class of villain is rational even near the limits of sucess, when the super villain is typically consumed by their by polar disorder.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Moving on to the super criminal we can consider this class as the for profit villain. This character is likely to lack any idealogical motivator and is mostly just trying to evil scheme together his next mortgage payment. But the interesting point is that while these characters are more criminally active most of what they do comprises of much flash a little substance. Not only do they seem to put forth? A conserted effort not to kill by standers but also look to emobilize their hero opponent as an action of first resort rather kill them. To them villainy is a job, a really sweet job but a job none the less.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

I'm going to begin with the second highest order of villain, "The Proffesional" now this may be that unique class of villain? That is just not quite there they are devoted to a life of super villainy but are in some less idealistic or at least more prgamatic in how they approach their goal. Magneto and Lex Luthor (metaphysical challenges not withstanding) fall into this catagory. These characters tend to be idealogically motivated to change the world in some essential way, but lack the over the top ethical and moral constraints. So they will lie, the will re_enforce their percieved fault if they believe it gets them closer to their goal. This also sees to suggest that the character lacks the higher level meta-ethical conserns that plague the super villain.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Well this will be my first post via my cell phone so inevitably there are going to be more spelling and grammer errors then normal.
So with my failed re-imaginig of the super villain metaphysics under my belt and a commitment to stick with the formula that actually works it now becomes beholdent upon me to push this disscusion forward. That being said the first order of business will be to name my classes of villain.
The way i arrange these classes here makes no argument for heirarchy, yet.
VILLAIN CLASSES: Super Criminal, Dark Organization, Family, Profession, Maniac Killer.
Please begin speculation now.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Crazy Villainous Metaphysics Part 2

Ok, I'll admit it. I was wrong the suggestion that of experiential differences in a given universe duelistic structure is silly. All classes of villain have the same access to the unique form of Freewill I attribute to Super Villains in my book in virtue of the fact that they exist in a neccessarily performing reality. All assertions I made in my previous post, I'm throwing out.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Crazy Villainous Metaphysics

This is going to come across as a little off the wall and in terms of our world's physics impossible but since we are talking about comic books I'm going to take the liberty.

Essentially to make my definitions of these alternate classes of villains work I will have to assert what some will call at best highly questionable, "The metaphysics of one do not define the metaphysics of all." Characters while residing in the same universe as a Super Villain may experience the metaphysics of that world in distinctively different ways. Such that not every character in that universe may have freewill even, if for one group it pertains and is necessary for their status.

I understand if this seems like a violation of basic physical law but since the events we are considering take place beyond the reach of our own reality, it is not fully inconceivable to think this way.

Consider this, in my treatise on Super Villains one requirement for freewill was a world in which a dualistic nature of existence obtains. Now while that may be a requirement does this assume that all beings have equal access to this dual world structure. In many comics the answer is no, not every individual has access to a dualistic reality some beings are wholly physical while a rare few are non-physical. The Super Villain has access to both, but not everyone is the same.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

This Week

I'm sorry for the lack of posting this week, as this weekend when I normally spend most of my time writing I was at Mid-Ohio Comic Con promoting my book.

I had planned this week to do a short article on why certain classes of heroes attract different types of readers and different age groups, and how this is associated with moral psychological development.

But, when I was at the comic con this past weekend explaining my book and it's concepts over and over again, I repeatedly received the same question. "So if you have defined what a Super Villain is then what are the villains who don't qualify?" This is a good question. I initially answered this in the same way I explain it in the book "The Super Villain" I imagine is similar to Plato and Aristotle's world of forms. An idealized state that very few ever achieve if any, and instead most characters are graduated aberrations of the form.

When I was initially writing the book I had toyed with a chapter that would lay out classifications for the levels of villainy, but this seemed to put the cart before the horse. Without a full and compete definition of the ideal how can we understand the lesser. And while Super Heroes are interesting maybe it is time to take up this discussion of classifying the lesser villains.

So that will be the project and direction over the coming weeks on this site. We have our Super Villain, and our shining examples of villainy and morality blended into perfect harmony in characters like Dr. Doom, Ozymandias, and those elite few that meet the stringent criteria laid forth in my book, but what about the losers?

I had planned my next book to be a similar to my first and to do the same thing with the Super Hero I had done with Super Villains, and that may yet still happen. But for the time being I'm going to try something different. Each week for the next few months I will post further work I do on the other classifications of villain. Now this will not be final draft work, more so meandering thoughts and some research. Essentially fleshing my ideas out online looking for feedback and input. These ideas once coalesced will go to create my next book.

I intend to rely heavily on the work of Owen Flanigan, Aristotle, and a few other famous philosophers to get to my goal, and we will see how this all plays out.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Other true Super Villain examples, Dr. Horrible and Ozymandias

As two comic book villains who have received a great deal of attention lately, Dr Horrible (Dr Horrible's Sing-along-Blog) and Ozymandias (Watchmen), I thought it only timely to put them to the test. Are they part of the elete class known as Super Villains or are they members of a lesser category?
Well we can start with the metaphysics. Since the worlds that both of these characters exist in seem to be aberrations of our own and for the most part the hyper realist model of existence is considered by many physicists to be the actual state of our own existences, then it is safe to assume the same for these worlds as well. Furthermore while I see no reason to believe in a dualistic reality in which we exist the same is not a necessity for Dr. Horrible, and for Ozymandias the actions of Dr. Manhattan seem to support on some level of dualism in his unique reality. Thus the requisite Super Villain metaphysics that forms the basis the special type of freewill that they enjoy, can be met.
So, onto psychology. Both stories take place in to narrow a time frame to observe any bipolar behavior though both characters seem to show signs of possible severe depressive episodes. In reference to personality disorders, we have certainly more clearly defined examples. Both characters are clearly narcissists, you don’t think that you are the only one capable of saving or ruling the world and not be a narcissist. On the subject of paranoia well Ozymandias plan requires such a level of complexity and that he feels the need to kill everyone who even had prevue to smallest part of his scheme one cannot doubt and underlying notion of paranoia, no matter how justified. Dr. Horrible well watch the movie, if the nervous tic isn’t a give away nothing is.
With psychology and metaphysics covered we come to ethics. Here is where both characters really shine. First, Dr. Horrible attributes the world’s current woes to a corrupt status quoi. But as always with Super Villains this desire to fix the world has a great deal to do with some underlying personal issue, in this case his inability to connect with the girl of his dreams. Ozymandias on the other hand is the ultimate moral reasoner he is capable of understanding not only the cause of human suffering but the sacrifice necessary to save it. Ultimately he is forced to do what a super hero never could; he feels remorse but understands the necessity of the sacrifice.
Ozymandias also truly lives the Super Villain ideal in that not only does he wish to be a god but usurps true power of a god as well. Where this is most clear is in Ozymandias’ idealization Ramasies and the pharaoh kings of Egypt, and through his plan to defeat Dr. Manhattan.
Ozymandias represents Marx's direct challenge to god, and a perception that god's power blinds him to truth. Dr. Manhattan say that Oz while the smartest man in the world is merely a man, and not of any consequence to him. But Oz understood what Manhattan could not, that Manhattan was not saving humanity but crippling it. And in the end Oz usurps the power of a god by setting in place circumstances that drive god from the very face of Earth.
Both of these characters could probably have supported their own chapter in my book, and I have been rather vague in this entry on purpose, making larger generalizations and leaving out key points that I believe could reinforce my argument. The point in all this is drive some discussion and comments.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Female Super Villains: Fact or Fiction

On the subject of female super villains, the question first is whether any exist, if yes then who, if not, why not?
So, let’s take an example of a well known female villain and run it against the model my book creates. The example that I will use is Dark Phoenix, now some people may ask why not Granny Goodness. Well the simple answer is one of metaphysics. As long as DC limits multi-verse to 52 possible realities we cannot attribute any of its characters the necessary level of free will I argue as necessary for true super villain status. Thus until this is changed all DC characters are instantly eliminated.
Now Dark Phoenix does hail from a sufficiently complex and wide multi-verse in which we can attribute to her the limited sense of free will necessary. That hurdle crossed lets look at psychology and ethics.
Well on the behavior front Dark Phoenix is as bi-polar as they come so she makes it there. She is a narcissist and paranoid. So great, and despite the movie her truly destructive outbursts seem mostly limited to her more manic moments. That’s two down and only ethics to go.
Now this is probably the most difficult with Dark Phoenix. As a character that has been primarily confined to only a few events based story lines it seems hard to determine if she has an understanding of universal good or responsibility. For the most part there is not plotting in her actions no larger picture only blind hedonistic desire that drivers her actions. In light of such a revelation we are forced to conclude Dark Phoenix is not a Super Villain.
Though I would be willing to attribute the title to Emma Frost, she hails from the right universe, the right psychology (bipolar of the depressive variety), and she has the belief that she is in some way working to make the world a better place. She lacks the anti-human sentiments of Magneto but captures the larger goals. Honesty may be a down fall of hers but I am at this time willing to confer upon Emma Frost the title of Super Villain.
The title of Super Villain is meant to represent an ideal, like Plato's world of forms most will fail some will come close but it is meant to serve as a scale by why we can measure characters and ourselves.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Magneto, a tragic character?

An interesting question was asked of me during a Face Book Comic Con forum, “Does Eric Magnus Linshier (Magneto) qualify as a Shakespearean tragic character?”
In all honesty I believe, I began to answer the question too quickly without enough consideration to all the applicable facts. So, why not; in my book I pursued the definition of a Super Villain and those characters that may qualify as such by running them against a model, to test their virtue as such. Hence I intend to do the same here for Magneto, and we will place him against the greatest of all Shakespearean tragic heroes, Hamlet.
I’ll begin with the most obvious of all things that we may use to disqualify Magneto; he is not of royal blood. Hamlet was royalty, so was Romeo, Macbeth, and in the classic Greek tradition this is a “requirement” to be a truly tragic character. Even Willy Lowman (Death of a Salesman) was a prince according to his son. So is Eric royalty, he is after all the leader of many mutants and one of the most powerful, but has he ever been referred to as a prince or king. The answer to my knowledge is a resounding “No” with a possible exception coming from the “House of M” story arch but I would question its place in larger canon. I would also place little faith in the ability of manifested dreams to truly endow someone with royal distinction.
Another requirement for tragic character status is that you have to be “dead”. This means in no uncertain terms as long as Eric is walking around he’s not tragic “yet”, call me for a re-evaluation when he kicks the proverbial bucket.
But all these facts aside what do Hamlet and Eric have in common? Well not a whole lot really. Eric’s character flaw or tragic mistake is his general condemnation of all humans for the sins of a few. This view of humanity leads to a calculated series of confrontations and events that undermine his goals, create a stream of unhappiness in his life.
Hamlet’s tragic end is not because of a conscious hatred of a large number of people, but the desire for revenge against the exact individual who killed his father. Hamlet’s mistake is not one of calculated action but the misfortune of oversight. Accidents that he never meant to occur. The same is true for Romeo in causing the death of Marcutio and Tibelt, which eventually leads to his tragic death.
We don’t pity Magneto, we empathize with him. On the other hand we pity Hamlet, Willy, and Romeo. This is the hallmark of a tragic character, and why Eric misses the mark.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

How I Became A Super Villain: Preface


What is a Super Villain? I’d like to think that since I’m writing a book about Super Villains, I would come armed with some background on the issue, but then again there is always room for discovery. We can ask; are Super Villains simply traditional villains as found in any other genre of literature? Are they just your run of the mill antagonist equipped with super powers, or are they something unique to this modern world of ours? I will suggest that Super Villains are unique in both form and function. This book will be my dissertation, my exploration into who or what the Super Villain is; and from the characters what may we divine about ourselves.

As I am one for the dramatic it may seem apr├Ęs pout to make claims that this book will rage against the ivory tower intellectual machine that opposes new ideas that might invade their bastion of elitism. I would like to be able to suggest that anyone with a doctorate will laugh at both my topic and my conclusions. I’d like to be able to say that! Unfortunately, by the time you get through this introduction my use of vocabulary should imply that I spent a lot of time hanging around those elitists. In fact I count myself blessed to be able to play at that intellectual level. It is also hard to argue the point when I have chosen to write a book about the philosophical exploration of a literary genre, and its creation of characters unique to modern culture; by topic choice alone I am pretty far from Joe Six Pack. So, I think it may be a little early to call out the establishment on this one. I’ll wait for the scathing reviews before I start swinging the battle axe of righteous indignation.

Where I will go out on a limb, is that my choice of topic is a rare one when considering the vast preponderance of non-fiction intellectual work available in today’s market. Comic books as both a form of art and literature are ideas that are slowly gaining ground; a graphic novel has won a Pulitzer, and comic books as a whole have a larger place in mainstream popular culture. Even literary critics must concede that Shakespeare was pop-fiction at one point. But, for all my bolstering about how my topic is so divergent from the mainstream of philosophical inquiry, my arguments and the way in which I construct them will feel very traditional. The unique nature of my argument will not come from the originality of how I construct it, but in its eventual conclusions.

Moving on; this book is dedicated to the intellectual fan-boys and girls out there that always saw something deeper in those comic books they collected, but never enumerate those insights without fear of sounding like a 50 year old virgin at a Star Trek Convention. You know that guy who even creeps out the people in the Klingon costumes.

Now, before anyone can ask the inevitable question, “Why are you writing about Super Villains and not Super Heroes, they are ... etc?” I have a two fold answer, first the rather parochial response is that I like the villains better and it’s my book. The second reason is that Super Heroes are less unique; they are an evolution of earlier concepts derived and refined from many classical literary heroes. But I digress; it is simply that the unique concepts that surround the Super Villain warrant a fully conceptual dissection. There are volumes of scholarly work done on what it means to be a hero, both in the real world and in fiction. An endless exploration of what it means to stand for truth and justice and all that’s right in the world. But what about the bad guy, where are his volumes of scholarly work, where’s the love? So that is the second reason as to, “Why discuss Super Villains?” Because, no one else has done it, and the conclusions we arrive at may teach us something about whom we are.

Now to get down to specifics, if I’m going to take you on a path to understand the Super Villain I should at least tell you what my dastardly plan is. For crying out loud I wouldn’t be much of a Super Villain if I made you wait to the end to find out my nefarious scheme. I have to get it right up on the table so everyone can see.

The first four chapters of this book are really going to be about discerning the definition of, what it truly means to be a Super Villain. In chapter one I’ll pick out some characters who we may want to call candidates for the title of Super Villain. If you’re a real avid reader of comic books, and familiar with comic lore you might be able to skim this chapter for the names of the characters I chose. For the most part chapter one will be a short synopsis of the character’s histories, personalities, and their thoughts on what makes the perfect first date. Two reasons for doing this: first, is to have actual examples of familiar characters to compare to my argued points. Second is that by examining the characters’ behaviors and histories we may find historical consistencies that bind them together.

Once armed with a few characters that can provide contextual examples for the study of “Super Villains” and “Super Villain Like” characters; we then must create a system for reaching a conclusion of what exactly defines a true Super Villain. In this case we are best aided by a discussion that begins with a broad topic and works its way to a very specific standard. For this reason I will begin with metaphysics hence chapter two is going to examine free will and possibility theory as it relates to the Super Villain. I know a few people just went blank and I think a guy at Barnes and Noble’s just had an aneurism[1]. So now my intrepid readers; there is no need to fear, at the start of this chapter I will outline the basics of each topic covered along with some scholarly opinions on the larger subject, as to give some prior insight before I get onto my discussion. It is my hope that in doing this I may elevate the discussion and in part educate my readers.

In chapter three I will move from a discussion of the metaphysics to the mental world of the Super Villain. Specifically this chapter will focus on understanding the psychology of the Super Villain. I will begin by outlining the common psychological disorders of the Super Villain in their traditionally defined format, and then in their “Super Villain States”. The reason for this is that certain traditional psychological conditions may not precisely fit with the Super Villain psyche, and for this reason a new format for the diagnosed condition will be warranted. Now it may very well be that not all Super Villains share the same psychosis, but their may very well be a collection that most Super Villain personalities are based on.

In chapter four I will become ambitious, by attempting to ascertain an ethic of the Super Villain; it will be a search for a moral code common to those most often thought to have no moral code. To accomplish such a goal, I will begin by analyzing and building an understanding of what motivates a Super Villain. This should provide adequate grounding to determine a value structure, and meta-ethic that will bolster the Super Villain’s position. These goals accomplished, we will then be able to tie in our finding on the Super Villain metaphysics and psychology to build a more complete picture of who the Super Villain wants to be. Finally, I will wrap-up with observations about the unique nature of the Super Villain ethic, and a few realizations this brings to light.

In Chapter Five I will focus on what I would like to call personal conclusions. This chapter we will take our realizations of the Super Villain: metaphysics, psychology, and ethics; and form this into a cohesive concept of what these characters are, and quite possibly can tell us about ourselves. For some readers these practical conclusions of the Super Villain chapter may hold revelations of a great morale truth. For other readers there may some insight into how these characters suggest we perceive the world to work, or possibly desire the world to work. And inevitably there will be those who find nothing of value at the books conclusion, but it is my hope that those individuals are few and far between.

In the end if nothing else we will have a better understanding of who these wholly unique characters actually are.

[1] If someone wouldn’t mind putting the book down for a moment and calling an ambulance it would be appreciated.