Well Dusty-kun, I told you I was writing an english paper on our favorite comic.
Sounds so funny, doesn't it? Well, figured someone might like to read it.
I still have some editing to do, it's a bit too long, but I wouldn't mind some feedback. It's a critique, supposed to connect it to American society... Hah. Good for a laugh a least.
A Tainted View of Black and White
__A change in the general attitude of society has become rather clear in recent years. What was once clear-cut good versus evil situations are no longer seen that way. The increase in knowledge and acceptance of other cultures via the Internet, classes, exchange students, TV, books, and comics has created a greater tendency towards cultural relativism, the idea that morality varies with region and cultural background. In recent years, people have become more prone to insulting political leaders and coming up with government conspiracy theories than they were several years ago. People do not trust all the decisions made by the government. Partially, perhaps, this is due to the government trying to make things into a "we're right, they're wrong" type attitude, which many people cannot honestly believe. Also, trusting the government would mean believing that they were a clear-cut good; people don't really accept that anymore. In the past few years, thanks to varying sources, an increased amount of awareness and knowledge of other cultures, as well as general misanthropy among young people, the line between good and evil has been fading from the minds of society.
__Comics are one way to see these feelings reflected. Twenty years ago, most comics had a basic good guy, an all-American boy, superhero, justice lover, and these bad guys, who committed crimes, wanted to take over the world, and did not have a single good trait. Now most heroes have a dark past, and in older comics, would have been the hero's nemesis. They break laws, do bad things, but they are still the heroes, because where they are coming from makes perfect sense to the reader. Poison Elves is an example of this change, with the "hero" being an Elvin assassin, with little regret for his field of work.
__Lusiphur, from Poison Elves, is not the kind of hero most of our parents grew up with. Probably the most obvious difference between Lusiphur and older comic heroes is that Lusiphur is an elf. Not your friendly Keebler-peddling variety either, he wears black, has a short temper, and is never without a weapon. Not long ago, you felt perfectly safe walking around alone at night, now, everyone seems to look over their shoulders for thieves, murderers, and rapists. Lusiphur knows you have to watch for that, and he is prepared for anyone foolish enough to go after him. Adding to that, you have his name, Lusiphur. It can be connected to the biblical Satan, Lucifer, but this Lusiphur gets angry about any reference to a connection. It once was a common assumption that you were either Christian or a devil-worshiper, and for some people, that is still so. But now you see more and more people who jump up to defend the idea of varying other religions being equally valid.
__Another major change between Lusiphur and classic heroes is his occupation. He has no dull day job that he leaves at a moments notice to go save the world. What few semi-normal jobs he has during the series, he either quits or gets fired due to his explosive temper and violent tendencies. Lusiphur is an assassin by trade and demeanor, and he will never try to argue that he is a good person. However, Lusiphur does not see his actions as right or wrong, just necessary to situation. Just as cultural relativism says morals change due to personal background, Lusiphur believes that what is right and wrong will vary from situation to situation, and person to person. "I've killed a lot of people... A lot... Sometimes for the right reasons... Sometimes just survival... I've never lost sleep over one of them because I believe, for one reason or another, everyone's got it coming to them." (Lusiphur, Sirius #2) Despite non-ideal occupation, Lusiphur is still the hero of Poison Elves. In comics a few years back, Lusiphur would have been the bad guy. The hero either would have killed him, or convinced him to "turn good" and become a sidekick, and the readers would have been happy with that. Now readers would not trust it, and expect Lusiphur to turn around and stab the hero in the back. People do not trust easily anymore, nor do they change easily. In the beginning of Poison Elves, Lusiphur is working for Sanctuary, an elite Assassin's guild in Mandthra(a major city). All the beginning characters are assassins and thieves, but you see them behind the scenes, on a day-to-day basis, and you meet these good, honest, friendly people. They just happen to kill and rob for a living. You meet them as actual people, not killers, and you see the kind of guys you might have hung out with at one point, and when you are reminded what they are, it becomes a feeling of that is just what they do. You may not be able to imagine a hacker as a good person, but if you learn your close friend is a hacker, it becomes just something they do; you do not suddenly hate them. It is not an uncommon situation in today's society.
__The government in Poison Elves could easily be seen as a reflection of our government. Lusiphur does not hold much, if any respect for it, as many people now do. It is not uncommon to hear someone call the president an idiot, or a politician a backstabbing liar. The Human government consists of police forces and mayors in each town, above that, we do not know the workings except that, like our own government, getting anything accomplished is nearly impossible due to "red tape." The mayor of Mandthra is more concerned about how much money he gets in his pocket than what is actually accomplished. Leader of the Blood Guard, a police group investigating Sanctuary, Vido, is not only obsessed with his goal to the point of violence towards other cops and anyone he catches, but he is also on drugs. This man ends up in the insane asylum; still ranting about the Sanctuary guild he never caught. The Elvin government is much like our own federal systems, lead by a council of powerful elves who vote on what to do, much like the senate or house. They are always scheming and backstabbing, making secret deals, much like how our "councils" work. Some of the most powerful leaders of the council are the secret ones, like Morachi, the leader of Sanctuary.
__People mock the government because it feigns perfect good, yet makes decisions that not everyone agrees with, and it hides certain policies, actions and agendas. "Since it does have the responsibility of running a certain populace with a certain level of sanity, it will never reveal its inner goals - the 'for the good of the people' goals. But you KNOW they delve into a bit of skullduggery now and again, in order to motivate itself towards its inner goals... These tactics would be viewed by the average citizen as an infringement on their rights... Which they are..." (Morachi, Sirius #3) Thus the government is not wholly good or bad, it does what it does for the benefit if the people, but the methods are not necessarily good, causing anger and distrust. Lusiphur is the embodiment of this disillusionment, taking it so far as to often completely ignore the laws of the governments, reflecting the rising popularity of anarchy in recent years. And common jokes of wishing to kill a politician were reflected when he killed the War-duke Aliwon over a pair of ruined boots.
__Other characters, like the wizard Tenth, also reflect the views of Poison Elves readers. While the fact that he is a wizard might make one think he would represent Paganism, and he does in so far as not believing in a true good or evil existing, but he comes closer to being atheist with offhand comments like, "Religion is a death fixation." (Sirius #33) Like anarchy, atheism has become a more common belief system than it once was, due to disenchantment with the honesty of churches, just as anarchy is disenchantment with the truthfulness of our government. Like Poison Elves author Drew Hayes does with his insightful starting notes on subjects varying from love to conformity, Tenth observes life objectively. "Life is a variable condition. It twists and turns and is, generally, unpredictable... You can learn as much as you think you can and still never know it all... So a true wizard's saving grace becomes observing life... More specifically, lives. But even this can become a bit mundane when it is realized, after long enough, everyone is the same..." (Tenth, Sirius #33) Then, there is the Purple Marauder, a mockery of the traditional comic book hero. He walks around in cape and underwear, and is invincible to an absurd point, dodging bullets, or even taking them without flinching. He makes long, loud, metaphorical speeches that are actually quite twisted and disturbing. He steals and tries to force his beliefs on others, all while playing the superhero. He is everything that has disenchanted people with government, society, and religion.
__In Poison Elves, as well as other comics I read, you can detect a definite trend towards erasing the line between good and evil. The author of Poison Elves reflects the attitude of his audience in his starting notes that usually analyze the lack of thought present in today's society or how love has been turned into something cheap. His copyright notices are self written, and vary each issue, threatening various methods of vengeance for stealing the product of his mind, in a world where the internet often causes people to not care about copyrights and license agreements as they download files, bootleg anime, and distribute others artwork as their own. Kids who play video games or watch anime, find the villains to be more realistic, more intelligent, and more understandable characters than they once were. Online the number of fan sites up for a villain of series or game versus the number for the hero will show the villain to have more hits. If you go read these sites, it is not because they like the guy for running around causing death, but because they can appreciate his character motives and storyline more so than they can the hero. Usually because the hero is pretty basic and one-sided, while the villain has deeper motives, and does not see his actions as wrong, just different, and often, necessary to better the world by erasing things, like the contemporary ideas of good and evil.