LNH: Legion of Net.Heroes Volume 2 #13

Tom Russell milos_parker at yahoo.com
Tue May 2 09:56:49 PDT 2006

Jesse Willey wrote:
> > ::rolls eyes::
>   I never meant for Vel to be a likable character.

That's not why I rolled my eyes; I rolled my eyes because your
statement-- that he's more of a threat than any villain-- is the sort
of hyperbole one associates with munchkin roleplaying and egotistical
writers.  "The universe will never be the same!"

Hyperbole can be good for the superhero genre and promotion-- I mean,
calling PIGS IN TIME the greatest LNH series ever is admittedly
hyperbolic-- but the difference is that you mean it.

> > But here's the thing, Jesse: your work is
> > plot-driven.  So I think it
> > would behoove you to learn proper story structure.
>   I know how.   It's just the way I like to write.

Good.  Now find someone who likes to read it.

>   This one does have a point.   That the LNH really
> isn't any better than the Killfiles.   The Ninja is
> just as likely to use deadly force as they are.
> Ultimate we shouldn' care about them as 'heroes'
> because they aren't.

Ooooohkay.  This brings up so many different things.  To start with the
one that's the most relevant to your statement--

This point just doesn't come across in your story.  The theme isn't
really developed, there is no insight provided, the two groups of
characters are not adequately contrasted.  And that's because you
didn't take the time to emphasize, focus, and just plain do the work
necessary to get that point across.  Here, let me give you an example
of what I mean.

You said,

>    That the LNH really
> isn't any better than the Killfiles.   The Ninja is
> just as likely to use deadly force as they are.
> Ultimate we shouldn' care about them as 'heroes'
> because they aren't.

If this is the way you feel, Jesse, then you shouldn't be writing

Superheroes _are_ heroes.  Sometimes they screw up, sometimes they
cross a line, sometimes they're petty-- but they're still superheroes.
Batman is not more complex because he's been borderline psychotic for
the last ten years.  Because PsychoBatman is *not* Batman.

PsychoBatman is an obsessed vigilante seeking vengeance.  The true
Batman is an obsessive hero seeking justice.  There's a big difference
between obsessed and obsessive, but much like useless & pathetic, I
doubt you'll grasp it.

IDENTITY CRISIS has gotten a lot of flak, and there are many good
reasons to give it flak (among them, Sue Dibney and Firestorm).  But I
don't fault it wholesale for the mind-wiping thing, and that's because
the point of IDENTITY CRISIS *isn't* that they're not heroes and we
shouldn't care about them as heroes, but rather that they are.
Sometimes they do the wrong thing.  They're only human.

But just because they're human beings, doesn't mean that they aren't
heroes.  They are exemplary human beings.  They still have their faults
and failings, they're not gods, but there's a difference between
showing chinks in the armour and showing hypocritical dirty laundry.

Too many of the conflicts in superhero comics are personal.  Personal's
nice, personal's good, but the moral dimension of it, the right and the
wrong, has fallen by the wayside.  (This is something Adrian McClure
pointed out to me in private email, something I had only been
subconsciously aware of hitherto.)

Or, as Mark Evanier said, if you have a story where the Batman is as
crazy as the Joker, you've only succeeding in writing a story where I
don't care who wins.

This is not an argument against complexity.  It's an argument for true
complexity, rather than the cynicism that prevades modern superheroes.
Cynicism is not complex.  It is, in fact, far simpler than optimism.
It is a knee-jerk reaction and requires absolutely no thought or

It is an inherently juvenile position: they're just as bad as the bad
guys.  And it's one that antithetical to the genre itself.  It's not
genre deconstruction or genre revisionism: it's not understanding the
genre.  It's like writing a mystery story with no clues, no suspects,
and no solution.  Why bother to write it?

And who would bother to read it?

Jesse, I really think you should cut the superheroes out altogether,
and just write X-Files fan-fiction.  It would better suit your

> > Sure, that could be funny.  So do it with one of
> > your own characters.
>    Never create a character where an old one will do.

If you're going to use them, yes.  If you're going to pointlessly kill
them off to be petty, no.


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