Monday, August 25, 2008
Villains Deserve Stories, Too
When we unleashed Genius upon an unsuspecting populace we expected it to be a divisive book. It is, after all, about a young woman who kills cops. (Actually, let me clarify: That's not what she does, that's what she's willing to do. There's a difference.) We knew some people would respond to the story and the storytelling, if not the subject matter, just as we knew that some people would hate it, occasionally sight unseen. The first page is a litmus test: If you can get past the splash image of a cop getting his jugular perforated, then maybe you can understand what we were going for. If not, no harm, no foul.
Is she a bad guy? I honestly don't know. As with all things, it depends on your point of view. They always say that every villain is the hero of his or her own story and if we identify with that story, he or she becomes our hero as well. George Washington was a villain to the British. Luke Skywalker was the villain to the Empire.
But even if Destiny Ajaye is a villain, even if she does vile things for reasons known only to her, that doesn't mean her story shouldn't be told. Lest we forget, the entire Star Wars saga tells of the creation, and eventual redemption, of Darth Vader. The villain.
If you don't like Genius, that's fine. Feel free not to like it because you don't dig on the writing, or the art, or the execution. I am secure enough in my own self-worth to weather such criticism—in fact, I welcome it. But I call bullshit if you don't like it because of who Destiny is or what she does (and I've read or listened to more than one review that took that kind of offense). Especially if you're a comics fan.
If you're the kind of person who can read the gazillionth issue of Superman, where Big Blue faces off against the intergalactic despot of the month; if you can read Black Adam, where a genocidal maniac searches for his lost love; if you can read any issue of The Punisher—you know, starring the vigilante who kills, wantonly, and remains the hero of his own book…if you're that guy, or gal, then you don't get to whinge about Genius' content.
For the record, let me be clear about something: I have nothing but respect for police officers. They do a job that I'd never volunteer for. I know more than a few and would trust any of them with my safety, and that of my family. But I'm not blind to the fact that there are some cops who don't live "to protect and serve," just as there are some politicians who take money for votes, some teachers who don't give a shit, some clergymen who molest children, and some firemen who are dicks. They are human beings, and they have their foibles, just like anyone else. To say that they can't serve as antagonists in a story with an inverted protagonist is both narrow-minded and reactionary.
So, hey, vote for Genius if you liked it; or understood what Adam, Afua, and myself were going for; or just want Top Cow to continue publishing comics that aren't afraid to reach for something...and, in so doing, risk failing in the attempt. If you don't want to vote for it, that's fine, too.
But don't withhold your vote because you think the subject is unworthy of consideration. Because, frankly, there is no such thing.
at 10:49 PM