Monday, February 12, 2007

The Best Comic Book Villain

When I extolled the praises of heroes a while back, I inadvertently neglected the other side of the coin, the yin to heroes' yangs. In my celebration of the heroic (and the wild, and the just plain weird, because Ambush Bug is not necessarily a hero even though, I guess later in his career, he tried.)

I didn't mean to do that, of course, but I was focused on The Best Comic Book Superhero, not on their counterparts, and so I didn't mention anything about villains at all.

Then, the other day, I posted a reprint of The Best Superhero on Editred.Com, where I now have a space, also.

And that reprinted article drew a comment, a comment that made a good point, a point I'd overlooked.

Heroes stand not just for truth, justice, and the American Way (or the way of whatever country you happen to live in or support), but they stand for something else: order.

Not "Order" as in ve must have order. But "order" in the sense that they are the opposite of entropy, the opposite of chaos. (And I'll make a confession here: I know what 'chaos' is and have known for a long time because I used to -- long ago-- play Dungeons & Dragons, and you could make characters be "chaotic" and either "evil" or "good," and I always wondered how "chaotic" could also be good, but I later learned that chaos is the absence of order.)

Now, I've got to add a little joke here: "Chaotic good" would be the very definition of my life since A and B were born. Want to find out the meaning of chaos? Add twin boys to a house of teenagers.

Anyway, I also wondered why you'd bother describing your character's orientation that way because it didn't seem to matter in the game itself. So you Dungeonmasters out there, tell me why I should have cared that my Cavalier, (Duran Greyhawk!) was Chaotic Good or Lawful Good or any of that. And I promise not to snicker too much about you still playing D&D, since, after all, I still own my Ambush Bug comics.

That, my friends, is exactly what it was like!

But, now knowing what chaos is, and why it would be bad, I also know that heroes stand for the opposite of chaos. And I might have come up with that on my own, but I didn't. Instead, I came up with it after reading a new nomination in an entirely new category (this category, for those of you who are not so quick on the uptake. THIS category: Best Comic Book Villain.)

The nomination comes from Jim Dodge Jr., who you can find on Edit Red, too, and who can already boast of having a book published, Skullfarm Raindance, available here. Jim, like all good contrarians, read my entry on superheroes and immediately went to the dark side, nominating a villain and creating this category.

Jim has nominated "Carnage,"

and I know comics have passed me by because I didn't even know who "Carnage" was. So I asked him, and here's what Jim told me:

Carnage is really Cletus Kasady, a serial killer who was inprisoned with Eddie Brock, a/k/a Venom. The symbiote and Eddie had been forcibly separated and Eddie was put in a normal jail. His cellmate, the aforementioned Kasady, was a lunatic of epic proportions. The symbiote came and broke Eddie Brock out by rejoining with him. They left behind an egg-like baby symbiote who joined with Kasady. Cletus's inborn psychosis and the symbiote's hatred of Spiderman give him even more strangth than Venom and powers never before imagined.
Jim can't just tell us who Carnage is, though, he also has to tell us WHY Carnage is the Best Comic Book Villain. And he did, using an economy of words:
Carnage kills randomly and brings a huge piece of chaos to the Marvel Universe. I don't like his killer tendencies so much, just his lack of concern for rules and order.
So it's okay to be friends with Jim, just make sure that you don't put him in charge of organizing the company picnic or anything else requiring rules and order.
And there you have it, the first nomination for The Best Comic Book Villain.

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