Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Being a Legend

To understand this post you first need to read this:  It is a comic strip about Elan, a slightly clueless bard who is most decidedly a Good Guy and his father, a general, who is most decidedly a Bad Guy.  The best part of it by far is the 4th last panel:  "If I win, I get to be a king.  If I lose, I get to be a legend."

Most people in the real world that can really be considered bad guys don't see themselves as such.  They see the world as being full of fools who deserve to be exploited or they see it as a confrontation that somebody must win:  why not them?  Also in the real world people don't sit around thinking that if they manage to carve out an empire for themselves they stand a really decent chance of having a paladin walk into their throne room and chop them up in a fit of righteousness... that is really more reserved for fantasy worlds.

I LOVE this series.  The whole story from start to finish is awesome if you are a gamer and can get all the in jokes but even if you aren't much into fantasy gaming this particular comic is something you can appreciate I think.  The very idea of a villain sitting on a throne just waiting for the final confrontation with his son and not being particularly worried about losing is excellent.  Not that he is certain of victory of course, it is just that the very act of having a final climatic battle and dying after years of nefarious deeds ensures the villain a place among the great ballads of good vs. evil.  Being the king has all kinds of hedonistic benefits and most people who fight their way into power on the backs of dastardly deeds end up partaking of those benefits and seeing that as the point of the whole affair.  This villain though has the long term covered; he knows that someday no matter what he does he will die and he might as well try to arrange his death to be something everyone will remember.  Since you can't take it with you you might as well make it a glorious death.

It is a real departure from the classic setup where the bad guy is all about survival and the good guy is all over 'do the right thing regardless of the danger.'  In your average action movie the bad guy wants power, money and the associated benefits but isn't at all interested in being killed for a cause, must less the cause of 'make a great story'.  The opposite is true of the average action movie hero who is willing to put their life on the line to save the world / rescue their relative / protect the environment / stop the evil plot.  At the very end of the comic Elan runs away in horror, obviously unable to handle this discussion.  He clearly expects anyone with the bardic tendency to value the best story over their own life to be a good guy and cannot deal with that lust to be a legend from a villain, much less his own father.

I look forward very much to when the confrontation between Elan and his father finally reaches its climax.  If the author fulfills his promise at all it will be a battle the bards will sing for a thousand years.

1 comment:

  1. Libia is a shining example right now, only the son wants to be the next bad guy.