Tuesday, August 09, 2005

The Rungs of Villainy: the Blackmailed Accomplice

Today we climb up on the Rungs of Villainy to:

the Blackmailed Accomplice.

Like this guy at right, from a Golden Age Batman story. Lots of Blackmailed Accomplices back then.

Heavily shadowed by the dark threat of exposure, stooped from the burden of fear and guilt he carries, this (rather well-dressed) Blackmailed Accomplice staggers through the repercussions of earlier mistakes, while the backdrop of a carefree carvinal and a flock as free as birds cruelly mocks his troubles. Oh, the Comic Book Irony.

Blackmailed Accomplices are always tortured by some moronic past mistake. You know the sort of thing I mean, "I never should have shoplifted that stick of gum, but it was my mother's dying wish for one last piece! I did three years at Stonegate in a cell with Smashnose McCoy for it, but I've made a new life for myself as a prize-winning neuro-botanist, church deacon, and beloved local public notary! If Smashnose exposes me, my daughter's engagement to the mayor's son will be ruined ... and along with it, her happiness! I--I'll have to help him with his plan to steal the shipment from the aglet factory ... or else!"

Ah, the pre-Internet world; weird, wasn't it?

Anyway, we don't count in this category any people whose relatives have been threatened with bodily harm or kidnapped or the like; those are Extortion Victims, and do not belong on the Ruins of Villainy. No, the Blackmailed Accomplice is afraid of exposure, and while he always manages to convince himself he's protecting other people, he's really just protecting himself from the ramifications of his illicit gum-pocketing youth. His is the crime of cowardice; his concern for himself and his own life outweighs any considerations of what harm he is doing others or society.


Siskoid said...

You know, I was going through Batman the Animated Series, and the Hugo Strange episode had him blackmailing a judge because she started a fire when she was a little girl.

It's a little bit more than stealing gum, but I can't believe a legal expert wouldn't realize that a) it was an accident and 2) she can't be prosecuted for what she did as a minor.

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