Monday, August 08, 2005

The Rungs of Villainy: Innocent Dupe

We live in times of moral ambiguity, I fear. Times when it's easy to become confused about who is evil and just how evil they are. Times when people are actually shocked that Max Lord, who was from the start and fairly consistenly afterwards portrayed as a deceitful manipulator of superheroes for his own advantage, has the nerve to become a deceitful manipulator of superheroes for the advantage of mankind.

Well! The Absorbascon is nothing if not morally rigid. Thus, let us attempt to provide a calibration of criminality, a taxonomy of evildoers in the DCU, a hierarchy we call:


First, we need an Innocent Dupe.

Why, look, the ever-reliable Penguin has found one for us! Actually, I hestitate to describe this guy as an Innocent Dupe; he is THE Innocent Dupe.

"I have no contact with human society! I'm so out of it I've never heard of the Penguin! Use me, unawares, to assist in your nefarious plans! I trust you completely and live for pawnhood!"

As if his "Hi, I'm a moron" speech weren't enough to get the point across, the guy has birds sitting on him. Nothing, but nothing, says "I have all the perspicacity and sagacity of the average park statuary" than a bird sitting on your head.

The guy's Innocent Dupidity is so overwhelming that the drop-jawed Penguin has removed his hat in religious awe, thinking "Dude, you are my birthday gift from the Gods of Evil," and the bird in the hand stares up lovingly, thinking, "You are the greatest pigeon of all time!"

The Innocent Dupe is the bottom Rung of Villainy. He does harm only unintentionally, when the real villian uses him as part of a larger plan. But in a universe where costumed evil oozes out of the sidewalk-cracks in every abandoned warehouse district planet-wide, self-imposed ignorance is still a crime.


Anonymous said...

I loved the "taxonomy of evildoers," and this rung in particular. It's very surprising that the dupe here has survived long enough to sport sparse greying hair.

Anonymous said...

Max started as a manipulative bastard. He did not _remain_ one.

He underwent significant change over the course of JLI/A/E. While it is conceivable that he could have backslid from that, the change was presented as real even in his internal monologue and, unless we take the series as having been VERY unreliably narrated, he would have abandoned his large-scale master plan or left his friends out of it.

In addition, JLI/A/E had already presented him with a master plan. It is not fundamentally inconsistent with the one from Infinite Crisis, but there are inconsistencies of objective and scope calling for explanation.