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.

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