Friday, July 22, 2016

This May Be The Scowliest Team Ever

Yes, even scowlier than those '90s Punisher/Ghost Rider/Wolverine team-ups. I'm actually surprised I'm sticking to an "every other month*" schedule with these made-up team posts. When I was making a list of possible XBox 360 characters to use, I noticed a lot of my games have similar protagonists. So angry, sullen, violent male protagonists for everyone! With a couple of outliers of course, see how long they can tolerate each other.

The Leader: Wei Shen (Sleeping Dogs) - Wei survived going undercover in Hong Kong gangs, and not only brought down some major Triad leaders, but also exposed corruption in the police force. And he survived, which is the most impressive part of all. Wei believes in the law, but also recognizes its limitations, which isn't the same as accepting them. He will step outside what's legal to extract what punishment he thinks appropriate. How long he could keep his badge under those circumstances is up in the air.

Wei's pretty good at driving, shooting, and beating people up, but I think the most critical skill he has for this circumstance is that he's very good at working with people and gaining their trust, even if he despises those people. That may be key here, him convincing the rest of the team he cares about them, and they can trust him, even if that isn't necessarily the case early on. If they all survive long enough, I imagine it will be the case, because Wei also seems to form genuine strong bonds quickly, whether he meant to or not. Which means if something happens to someone on the team after that point, he could get a little out of control.

The Rogue: Corvo Attono (Dishonored) - For the purposes of this, I'm going to assume one of the High Chaos endings, probably one where Emily didn't survive being abducted by Havelock. The game tells you that, in that event, Corvo ultimately abandons Dunwall and flees to who knows where, trying to escape his past. So let's go with that. He left, just kept using Blink until he was exhausted, then slept, woke up, and kept going until he felt he'd run far enough. He may have settled some place, but more likely he drifts. The Outsider hasn't spoken to him in years. Makes sense, Corvo hasn't done anything interesting in a long time. Corvo opted to focus on the revenge he felt he was owed, rather than attempt to pave a better path for Emily, and look how that ended up. So he avoids trusting his judgment whether to take action or not.

What he's going to get out of all this is unclear. A possibility of trying again somewhere else, a chance to end it with some higher goal. Perhaps it's that he's sees something similar in the other members of the group, and in this case, like attracted like. Or maybe he's noticed that even with his failing Emily and Dunwall, the world didn't fall apart entirely, and it's worth keeping it from being destroyed by outside forces. If he keeps taking action, though, the Outsider will probably start egging him on again, and Corvo might react badly to that.

Corvo and Wei are both experts on infiltration, though Wei's approach is more long-term, deep cover, while Corvo's more the type you turn to when you just need something stolen quickly. Still, the two could make quite a team, if they can trust each other. Given past experiences, both are going to be on guard against betrayal from within, which includes each other. There's no telling which way Corvo might break at a critical moment, and it isn't clear if anyone else on this team can stop a guy who can teleport and slow time, though he might not be the only one with that last trick. . .

The Muscle: Rita Mordio (Tales of Vesperia) - Rita isn't a scowly, broody guy, but she is temperamental, she is violent, as well as loud, smart, and fully confident in her abilities. And she's a pretty serious powerhouse with the spells she'd learned by the end of the game. Hitting people with tidal waves, meteor swarms, masses of darkness. The tradeoff is she's not the best at physical combat, and it takes time to cast. Good thing she's going to have an entire team of people good at killing with hands, blades, and guns who can buy her time. As it is, she's the smartest member of the team, and if they need a solution to anything related to sciences, she's the best bet. If it's going to require diplomacy, she's the one to keep well away.

Rita was 15 in the game. I though about maybe having it be Rita a few years down the line, a bit older, more powerful, but it might also sand the edges off a bit. But maybe not, she might have grown kinder to her friends, but she doesn't know these guys. She tended not to have a lot of patience for people she thought were stupid, or behaved foolishly, so this group might drive her up the wall. She is going to yell at and nearly blow up this bunch repeatedly. There isn't anyone on here that resembles the naive innocent Estelle was, which seems to be the sort of person who brings out Rita's protective nature. What's mostly likely to keep her with them is curiosity about the worlds they're moving through, or the threats they're facing. Possibly also the desire to keep her friends back home safe.

The Guy of Mystery: Sean (The Saboteur) - I do really poorly at picking this archetype. I suppose, with Corvo years on from the end of the game, I should have switched him and Sean. Oh well.

But at least with Corvo, I can sort of envision what he might do after his game ended. With Sean, I'm not sure. I can't see him staying in Paris, he'd patched things up with Veronique as much as he was likely to. Would he return to car racing? British Intelligence hinted that Sean had a checkered past back in Ireland, so he might be able to go back home (unless all that killing he did for the Brits in the game caused them to look the other way.) Sean is going to swear constantly, drink and smoke constantly, and want to blow things up. He will probably have some idea initially about needing to protect Rita, because she's just a kid/girl, until she blows something up (possibly his car), at which point he'll mostly abandon that impulse.

Like Wei and Corvo, Sean can do the sneaking thing, although his approach always started with breaking a soldier's neck and stealing their uniform. Not sure how applicable that will be. Probably better to rely on his facility with driving and explosives. Between him and Wei, there could be some pretty great driving sequences for this crew. Have Corvo Blinking from a car, over to a different vehicle to kill the driver, then back before it crashes. Or Rita popping up out of a sunroof to unleash some destructive attack. Sean's never one to pass up making a smartass remark, so he's probably the one who loosens things up from time to time. The others may have their own sense of humor, but most of them don't show it much.

The Man with a Boat: Nigel West Dickens (Red Dead Redemption) - I couldn't resist putting this goober on a team. Dickens was a snake oil salesman, but clever enough to be useful to John Marston on occasion (and clever enough to get a lot of help out of Marston before providing assistance). Despite Marston saving his neck multiple times, Dickens was never happy to see him. Because John Marston was an exceptionally angry, violent man with a short temper, who didn't entirely like Dickens. Still, as penance for all those people he swindled, he can be saddled with three John Marstons. Though Rita is the one most likely to torment him. She'll see through his spiel right off, and while she may not have much sympathy for the people he suckers, she'll be entirely contemptuous of his nonsense.

It's really a crappy carriage drawn by some poor horse, so except in certain circumstances, they'd probably ought to rely on Wei and Sean's cars, or whatever else they can scrounge up. Dickens is going to wind up in this entirely by accident, but be unable to safely extricate himself from the situation. Like it or not, the safest place for him is next to these people who have the capability of protecting him, if not necessarily much interest in doing it. So how is Nigel West Dickens going to earn his keep? The carriage is, if a slow conveyance, at least an unassuming one. And there might be times you can't use a car or whatever. Also, for all that his medicines don't actually help people, he does have that sort of fictional idiot savant ability to stumble into something useful. His zombie repellent did precisely the opposite, but there might be an occasion where you want to attract the undead. And he must know something useful about medicine or chemistry that could come in handy.

While he's not as smooth a talker ass he likes to think, he does have some skill at it, or he wouldn't have survived as long as he had before encountering Marston. Wei is good at working undercover, but only when posing as a tough guy. The sort of, "Hey, I'm good at breaking legs, why don't you let me join your gang?" thing. Which is useful, but not going to work in every circumstance. And Sean and Corvo aren't that different. They can't play harmless. Dickens can probably serve as a distraction, simply by not shutting up long enough to be told to scram. And if he really needs to, he can play an unassuming old man quite easily. There would have to be a scene where he and Rita have to work together, her as the clever and exasperated young girl, accompanying her sweet, slightly addled grandpa, and use that to get into somewhere, or past a border crossing, or something. Dickens' nerves, and Rita's impatience would make for a fun combination.

The Wild Card: Nathaniel Renko (Singularity) - I haven't decide whether Renko is part of the team, or the initial antagonist. He brings them together either way. In the ending I like best, Renko killing Demishev and Barisov and keeping the TMD - the game says Renko vanishes, but there are rumors of someone wielding considerable power building a new empire in the ruins of the U.S. That wasn't how I had interpreted my taking that approach - I thought of it as Renko simply being tired of these two Russians trying to jerk him around - but we can go with it.

Armed with a TMD with unlimited energy, it wouldn't be difficult for Renko to recreate some of the horrors he faced on Kartorga. If he keeps mucking about with the TMD's ability to warp time, maybe he punches holes through into other universes. All the other characters' worlds (except Sean's) had some aspect of the supernatural or bizarre. Demons, witches, zombies, a world-spanning octopus-looking thing made of energy, you name it. And after dealing with Nazis, Sean may not be fazed by the science-spawned horrors anyway. This team is comprised of the people who encounter these tears, and while exploring them or fending off what's emerging, they run across each other. Except for Dickens, who blundered in while fleeing angry townspeople, but whatever, he's there, and escape isn't going to be easy. They'll have to decide whether to try and defend their homes first, or head for the source of the problem. And Renko may not be content to stay in one place, and try to take the fight to their homes directly. Or try to take them over while they're running around in his world.

* I looked it up, and "bimonthly" can mean either twice a month or every other month? That explains why I'm always unsure when to use it. Just an awful decision by the English language right there.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Brute Force - John Ellis

Half of the point of this book is that the Allies won World War II because they were able to overwhelm the Axis powers with the sheer weight of their industrial production. The Germans had no chance of being able to produce tanks, guns, planes, fuel, whatever on a scale that could keep them on relatively equal footing with the U.S., the Soviets, and the British. Ellis has a lot of facts, and figures to detail just how outmatched the Axis powers were, to the point that, even when it looks like they were close to achieving some sort of victory, they really weren't. For example, during the Battle of the Atlantic, between the U-boats and Allied shipping, even when the Germans were sinking a huge amount of merchant ships, Britain was apparently still building up their overall merchant fleet (from ships they'd added from other nations or countries, as well as ships they or the Americans built), the Germans were still falling behind. Especially because Hitler didn't put enough emphasis on building U-boats, and even when he did, they couldn't build them fast enough to tilt things.

The other half of the point of the book is that the Allies could have ended the war quite a bit sooner if they had been smarter about using their material edge. Ellis details repeatedly how the Allies largely fail to use any real inventiveness in their tactics, and often fail to show the necessary urgency that might have enabled them to capture large quantities of German soldiers. So the commanders frequently seem perfectly fine with simply throwing wave after wave of tanks at entrenched positions, except at times when they could have made a major breakthrough, which is when they always seem to lose their nerve. The moments when large advances are made is typically when the Germans have decided to fall back, and so the Allies are merely taking land, but not really disrupting what effort the Germans can make to fight by capturing their forces.

In the Pacific theater, Ellis criticizes the Army and the Navy for being unwilling to work together (or more accurately, both being unwilling to be under the other's command) and go with a single advance, with Ellis arguing for MacArthur's idea of cutting through New Guinea and the like to cut off the supply of raw materials to Japan. I think it's worth mentioning that just because MacArthur said his goal was to cut off Japan's supply lines, that doesn't mean that's what he would have done if he had been given overall command (which, had they settled on a single approach, and chosen that one, there's a good chance he'd have been given the overall command). He said he was planning to move around islands that possessed strong Japanese forces and simply cut them off to die on the vine, but he still attacked well-defended islands in the Philippines, even when told to leave them, as Ellis mentions. So there's a big difference between what MacArthur says he'll do (or says he did), and what actually happens.

It does come off as a lot of Monday morning quarterbacking, something Ellis acknowledges as well, but even acknowledging can't hide the fact it gets tedious to hear again and again about how Allied commanders were unimaginative screw-ups who seemingly always make the wrong choice. They're too cavalier with their men when they shouldn't be, and too cautious with them when they shouldn't be. Maybe he's right, especially in the situations where Allied commanders had access to decrypted communications and knew their opponents' strength and intentions (such was the case for Montgomery when plodding after Rommel in North Africa). But it's hard to believe they were always this consistently fouling up.

Besides that, there isn't really anything substantive in here I haven't read in any number of other books on the topic. Overy's Why the Allies Won, for example, cover a lot of the same ground in terms of production. This is a nice way to have a lot of the relevant numbers in one place, but it's not new ground.

'In short, Hitler was not faced with a sort of military IQ test in which the correct sequence of binary decision-making would lead to the correct answer, but was trapped in a maze in which every option was ultimately meaningless because all the exits had been blocked behind him. His military incompetence in the Barbaroosa campaign was revealed not so much by his inability to get out of the maze, as by his ever having allowed himself to be immured there in the first place.'

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

It's Been A Week, Let's Discuss This

I figure by this point that you've either seen or heard about last week's Civil War II issue, or you don't care. But, just in case, this deals with some of what happened there, so if you are trying to remain unspoiled, come back for tomorrow's post. I mean, it'll be a review of another book about World War II, but it won't spoil this comic for you.

OK, everybody good? Fantastic.

Clint Barton killed Bruce Banner. Ulysses said Banner was going to become the Hulk again and kill a bunch of people, all the heroes rushed over there. Banner, while insisting he can't become the Hulk anymore (and I think the week before, Totally Awesome Hulk did a whole issue just about the fact Banner can't become Hulk any longer, full stop), got progressively freaked out about all this, and it turned out he'd given Clint some special arrow months ago, just in case he did turn back. Clint says he saw Bruce's eyes turning green, he fired, he turned himself in. Here we are.

I will say this for Bendis: A lot of his characters may sound alike. He may have no ability to properly pace a story, meandering along at issues for a time before rushing a conclusion. He may promise one thing, then dawdle along for months or years without ever doing anything. Where was I going with this? Oh yes, despite all that, he is very consistent about wanting Clint Barton to kill people.

He had Clint get murderously angry during Secret Invasion, he somehow decided that Clint was the member of the New Avengers who would try to kill Boss of All Superheroes Norman Osborn. When Clint was on a team with Wolverine, Bucky Barnes, Carol Danvers, and Mockingbird, to name four characters all much more willing to go that route, historically. I vaguely remember him having Clint kill someone in House of M, or try to at least. And now this.

I'm not sure why Bendis is so hellbent on having Clint kill people, when, for much of his history, Clint was a vocal opponent to Avengers killing people, ever. His stubbornness on that point (along with some communication breakdowns and Clint's own belligerence) helped kill his marriage to Mockingbird. He convinced Abner Jenkins to turn himself in and go to prison over a murder Abe had committed. He was on Captain America's side about not killing the Supreme Intelligence in Operation Galactic Storm, whether it was an artificial intelligence or not. Bendis can accept a guy with a remarkable talent for archery can hang with the Avengers, but not that he can do so without killing people, even with a quiver full of trick arrows that can do pretty much anything you need them to do and the ability to hit basically any target he needs to, no matter how ludicrous. Or else he thinks someone having a rule against killing is silly, but he seems to let Spider-Man stick to it (pun not intended, but not objected to either).

After Bendis left the Avengers books, I felt there was a small pushback from a few other writers to reassert Clint's anti-killing stance. Remender had Clint be adamant Avengers don't kill in Secret Avengers, and for all my issues with Fraction and Aja's Hawkeye book, at the end, they did have Clint defeat the sad clown assassin guy without killing him (though I'm not sure Clint avoided a body count up to that point). It seemed to get buried a bit under the portrayal of Clint as kind of a moron (rather than a fairly clever guy who happens to be hotheaded and impulsive too), but it was there. Now this.

On the positive side, Clint turned himself in immediately, so I assume he expects to face consequences and is prepared to do so. Which seems right for Hawkeye. I don't expect Bendis will do anything with it. He's thrown in the shocking moment, it'll fall to someone else to make something useful of it, and that's probably for the best.

As for Banner, it's another pointless death I can't see moving the needle with anyone. I guess it must, though. If it wasn't managing to goose sales temporarily, they wouldn't keep doing it, right? Seems like they could have done something with Banner, even without him being the Hulk. Confidant and helper to Amadeus Cho, consultant for the Avengers, action scientist, something. Or just let him rest for awhile.

And it's the usual Idiot Ball that dominates these things. If you're worried the Hulk will freak out, why send 10,000 superheroes to arrest him, which will probably freak him out? Pick someone calm he likes, preferably one who can get away quickly if need be, and let them talk to him. Like Dr. Strange. He and Banner go way back, Stephen's a calm guy, and he can magic himself away if need be. Just talk with Banner. If we assume Bendis is paying attention to other books, and Strange is still occupied with the war against magic, find someone else. Not Stark, he'd almost certainly foul it up, but there has to be someone. Keep some heavy hitters in the next county over if you really must.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Fighting Can Be Productive, Sometimes

Ip Man was a master of the martial art style called Wing Chun, and the film Ip Man, with Donnie Yen in the title role, is about his life in Fo Shan prior to, and during, the Japanese invasion of China. Prior to the invasion, he lives in a big house with his wife and son, the latter of whom he tends to neglect with practicing his form. He doesn't run a school, or take on students, but people still show up to test what they've learned elsewhere against him, and he accepts these mostly good-naturedly.

The invasion begins, his house is seized to serve as HQ for the local Japanese forces, and Ip Man and his family are soon living in a small apartment, and he has to take a job shoveling coal to keep his family fed. Then he learns that a general in the Japanese Army is encouraging local martial artists to come and test themselves against his soldiers in exchange for sacks of rice. Ip Man is not interested, until one of his friends goes, and dies fighting the general.

This leads to the inevitable showdown between Ip Man and General Miura, but there's also several other subplots about the struggles other people in Fo Shan are facing. A friend is trying to run a textile mill, but is seeing his shipments hijacked and held for ransom by some bandit gang, lead by a fellow Ip defeated earlier in the film. The man who was the local police captain before the invasion is now serving as an interpreter for the Japanese, and is responsible for helping get martial artists for Miura's tests.

What was interesting to me was that, despite his own hardships, Ip didn't seem to have considered the possibility others would be facing similar problems. His harsh reaction toward Liu (the former policeman) is understandable in his anger at a friends' death, but in general, he seems to have kept himself somewhat disconnected from everyday life. He's willing to help people in need (which has the effect of others being willing to help him, even if he hates to ask for or accept it), but he doesn't seek out those who need it. He has to be convinced to help, but once he does, he throws himself into it.

The fight scenes are pretty good, excellent flow and pacing. The fact that Ip Man uses the same movements in both the fights earlier in the film, when he's not being serious, and later, when he's furious and determined, works very well. With the early fights, you can see how easily he could hurt someone, but he's not. He's basically humoring these challengers, making light strikes or moving slow so maybe they can learn something from it. When he's serious, it's the same movements, but faster, and with real force behind them. Suddenly people are flying across the room, but they aren't getting up with a surprised or embarrassed look on their face. They aren't getting up at all.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Negative Associations Like This Could Be Bad For My Teeth

In the last month or so, most every night when I use mouthwash, my mind starts thinking about the Kevin Smith/Terry Dodson mini-series, Spider-Man and the Black Cat: The Evil Men Do.

Because at the end of the third issue, the villain explains how he can teleport small amounts of fluid (which he uses as a way to provide heroin for people without them worrying about messy needle marks or being observed purchasing anything). He relates how he discovered this power when he was younger, by accidentally teleporting the mouthwash he was swishing in his mouth into the heart of one of his parents who was yelling at him, killing them.

So I guess that's why it comes to mind, but I'd really just as soon my mind didn't dredge that up. Considering that he relates this story after having used that power to drug Felicia, and is preparing to sexually assault her. If I remember right, it didn't happen (the guy's brother killed him, although Felicia took the rap for it initially), but Smith went ahead and added a sexual assault during college to Felicia's backstory, as her motivating incident to turn to crime. Which I think has blessedly been put in the dustbin of history, since it was completely unnecessary and just a bad idea in general.

Still, not something I was excited to have climb back into the forefront of my memory. Now all of you have to suffer along with me.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Zorro 2.36 - Long Live The Governor

Plot: Diego returns from escorting Leonar on a shopping trip, and seems to be making good time with her, until he notices Bernardo signaling him and breaks off the conversation abruptly. The Captain is meeting with Manuel Larios in the library, and they need to hustle to the secret passage to observe. Alejandro is already there, sword in hand and ready to end this, but Diego points out they don't know all the conspirators. In the library, Arrellano is remarkably cocksure about his importance to the Rebatos, and has decided they will all kill the governor together. The conversation is ended by the arrival of Sergeant Garcia, here because the Governor wants to set up shop in the library for awhile, which involves bringing in all manner of distractions for His Excellency.

It's at this point the captain puts the plan into motion. The other dons are scheduled to come to the hacienda and meet with the Governor personally, and Arrellano suggests that perhaps Alejandro could ride out and extend the invitation personally, so it will seem less authoritative. Diego is close to patching things up with Leonar when Bernardo butts in again, to tell him all the lancers are gone. And soon, as the governor takes a nap with the aid of his music box, Arrellano has Diego taking him to the lake to collect some wild rice for dinner. When Diego mentions it certainly seemed as though the governor was exposed, Arrellano offers to return to watch over him, if Diego will continue on and collect the rice. Diego agrees, then promptly doubles back and changes to Zorro. And Bernardo has somehow already moved the governor, his couch, and the music box into the passage.

Just in time, as Arrellano and the Rebatos - all 5 of them - arrive. Leonar stumbles upon them, but is quickly subdued. Things go downhill for the would-be assassins when they discover the governor not where he's supposed to be, and Zorro quickly sets to picking them off one at a time. The Rebatos make this much easier by frequently splitting up, though Zorro's very good at quickly grabbing and subduing them at every opportunity. Soon it's just Zorro and the Captain, and Arrellano, with no one to use as a hostage (Leonar having already been freed by Zorro), meets a final, fatal end.

Quote of the Episode: Zorro - 'Captain, I am  sorry you do not approve of the display. It would have had a better balance with one more sword. Yours.'

Times Zorro Marks a "Z": 1 (14 overall). On the wall above the heads of the tied up members of the Rebatos.

Other: When the Governor reached the library and saw everything Garcia had laid out for him, he started to pitch a fit, until Leonar stepped in to defend the sergeant by pointing out the governor told Garcia to put his things there. I really like Leonar. It's too bad Bernardo kept butting in with bad news at the worst possible moment for Diego.

The governor remarked to Diego this week that he was disappointed to find Arrellano had neither the temperament or the humility to be a good public servant. That's an astute judgment. Certainly Arrellano lost any pretense of humility the longer he saw the possibility of becoming Governor. His attitude towards the Rebatos was consistently remarkably arrogant for a man willing to kill his boss so as to seize his job. I suppose he figures he can implicate the Rebatos if they tried to turn against him, though I don't think he had met all of them yet either. But it seems to me that, if the Rebatos had been willing to kill one uncooperative leader, they would hardly balk at killing a second, and take their chances on being able to find a different willing partner (or better yet, pawn).

So it does appear the stairs that lead up to the library in the secret passage could come from the cellar, which might explain Alejandro last week. Except there also appears to another landing in between those two levels I can't explain. Is the cellar just really deep in the ground? I could see that. There's no central heating or cooling, it's a hot climate, wine is meant to be kept cool and damp (I think, I know zilch about wine), it might have to be pretty far down.

I do wonder how Bernardo got the Governor and all the stuff in the secret passage. Possibly he could set the music box on the Governor's chest, then carry them in, set them down, then drag in the sofa and end table, and set everything back as it was. Otherwise, I don't know, because he'd have to swing the sofa around to get it into the passage, I think, and that would be awkward with someone sleeping on it.

Arrellano told Diego he had the lancers hiding around the hacienda, but judging by Garcia and Reyes, he actually sent them on a beer run. I guess he thought it would be rude to expect Alejandro to just open his wine supply to all the dons on behalf of the Governor. Or that's what he probably told the sergeant at any rate.

Zorro flat out killed Arrellano. It wasn't an errant pistol shot by one of Arrellano's co-conspirators. It wasn't an oh-so convenient fall off a building. Not as an execution of an unarmed man or anything, it's during the course of their battle. Still, Zorro isn't content to merely disarm or subdue Arrellano as he was the Rebatos. He runs him through. Which I wasn't expecting. When Zorro removed his cape before starting the battle, I thought he was just showing off for Leonar. He seemed to be showing a lot flair, really selling it for her, but perhaps he was just being serious. No cape to possibly hinder his movements, either because he respected Arrellano's skill enough, or because he was ready for this to be done with. The Rebatos at least were not pretending to be the governor's trusted associate, and were open enough with their opposition that they were a known threat. Arrellano was the friend with the concealed dagger, which makes him worse perhaps, in the Zorro universe.

Friday, July 15, 2016

In Superhero Comics, Making Enemies Is Easy

I was thinking about how both the Black Widow and Deadpool are both being menaced by someone they treated badly in the past. The Widow by Maya, the daughter of the woman who taught Natasha in the Red Room. Deadpool by Madcap, who had a bad go of it when he was stuck inside Wade's head.

In both cases, the protagonist was in a rough place, and simply didn't have much empathy to spare. Natasha was just trying to survive, and had no time to befriend another girl who wasn't trained, and whose injury or death would probably have gotten the same for Natasha. By belittling Maya, describing her as a pet, as one kept safe from the danger every other girl there was being thrown headlong into, she seems to have instilled in Maya a desire to be better than Natasha at what she does. Or what Maya thinks Natasha does and is, anyway. I suspect in their final confrontation, whenever it occurs, it will turn out Maya has fundamentally misunderstood the Black Widow.

As for Deadpool and Madcap, Wade's life has been a steady string of misfortune, one which causes him to lash out or treat others poorly, while trying to keep the causes of that behavior hidden. And here's Madcap, who takes nothing seriously, running around in Wade's head, privy to all his secrets, treating it like some buddy comedy. As Wade points out, he's not a great friend to have even when he's trying to be one, and he wasn't interested in being one to Madcap.

Now, both the characters are in different place. Natasha's old friend may scoff at her being an Avenger, but she is more willing to have friends, to actually care about people. And Deadpool, if his comments to Madcap are to be believed, brought Madcap into the Mercs for Money because he thought the guy was lonely and could use friends. Even if Wade hadn't embarked on his newly found, "let past wrongs go," approach at that point, he still seems to have been trying to make amends.

And it's too late. However current Natasha might treat Maya now, the damage is done. And Wade only reached out to Madcap after establishing close bonds with several other people, most of whom hadn't previously been tormented by Deadpool. With Madcap, there's also the possibility that when he left Wade's mind, he may have taken some of the worst parts with him, in which case Wade has become his own worst enemy even moreso than he was before. You can't necessarily say that about Natasha and Maya (Maya probably has a steep hill to climb to become the Widow's worst enemy, for one thing), but certainly the path Maya has chosen was informed by what she saw the Black Widow doing.

This isn't a new story turn, the protagonist who was kind of an ass but has since reformed, being confronted with people unwilling to accept the change, but it catches my interest. The impulse, when you're having a bad time of it, to dish a little of it out, I get that. And I get that it can make you feel like crap afterward, especially if the person who bears the brunt of it had nothing to do with your crappy situation. And there's nothing that says the person who takes the hit has to forgive and forget, even if I show up later trying to make amends (or went my own way and barely gave them a passing thought, in Natasha's case). It might be healthier for them, but no one is guaranteed a chance to patch things up, or erase a past act of casual cruelty. And how that's handled, that's something I'll be curious to see.