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Off My Mind: Should Superheroes Be Forgiven for Evil Actions While Possessed?

Heroes often turn bad for brief periods of time but how do you prove they were actually possessed and not just being jerks?

The superhero has a tough job. Like celebrities, they're every action is under the scrutiny of the public. It doesn't matter how many good deeds are done or how many lives are saved. If a hero slips up and does something bad, their reputation is tarnished. They can no longer be trusted. There would always be the possibility they would mess up or do something dangerous again.

Fortunately, as with celebrities, the public has a short term memory. Often heroes fall from grace but manage to overcome their downfalls. This doesn't happen with everyone but it does occur often. Some heroes are just lucky when it comes to forgiveness.

A common reason a hero might temporarily turn evil is due to some sort of possession. As strong as the heroes are, even the most powerful telepaths can succumb to being possessed. Any horrific deeds the hero does while possessed would be unfortunate but you can't really blame someone that was not in control of their actions. The question is, how do you prove a hero was actually possessed and not just in a really really bad mood?

== TEASER ==

One of the recent casualties of being possessed was Daredevil. He appeared to really go off his rocker. During Shadowland, he took it upon himself to claim Hell's Kitchen as his own. He had control over an army of ninja assassins. He murdered Bullseye out in the open. Bullseye may have deserved his fate but killing isn't what heroes do. Daredevil went up against his friends and collegues. After it was revealed he was possessed, the problem was solved. Daredevil was cleansed and took off for a short period in order to find himself.

Now Daredevil has returned to New York City as if nothing had happened. The public knows his secret identity even though as attorney Matt Murdock, he continues to deny it. He probably feels bad for what he did but he returned with an almost carefree attitude. Captain America sought him as since he's basically America's supercop now. After trading some light blows and a super-brief conversation, Captain America decided to let Daredevil go for now. All is okay. They'll "talk" about it later which really means it's never going to be brought up again. Cap may understand that Daredevil was possessed but would the public comprehend and accept the notion?

Being an attorney, Daredevil is one to know the full extent of the law. In order for him to be proven innocent of any and all actions he committed during Shadowland, he would need to be proven innocent without a doubt. How can you really prove he was possessed? There isn't a mark or anything left to show it happened. A telepath could be called in but would a jury be willing to accept the word of one, even if they were a court-appointed telepath? Since superheroes are often friends and stick together, how would the jury and public know whether or not the telepath's assessment was completely truthful? Superheroes could have secret friendships that the general public is unaware of.

Professor X was also possessed when he became Onslaught. As Onslaught he was responsible for mass destruction and also killed the Avengers and Fantastic Four. The fallen heroes were actually alive in the pocket universe created by Franklin Richards but they were still gone for a year. Professor X openly announced he was a mutant and in charge of the X-Men (this time while possessed by Cassandra Nova). Is Professor X easily forgiven because the public didn't know he had such close ties to Onslaught?

Possession by an evil spirit or even a powerful telepath isn't something that can visibly be proven. While the person that is possessed becomes a victim, their actions are too easily overlooked. It's too easy for them to get off the hook. They shouldn't have to be dragged through lengthy court trials but what if an angry hero decides to get angry and cause havoc.

Look at what Wonder Man did to the New Avengers and their mansion. He felt they need to stop operating as a team because they've allowed too many bad things to happen. When ignored, his decision was to form a team and attack the Avengers. Destroying their home and defeating the team isn't something that can be easily overlooked. Is he responsible for the costs of rebuilding the mansion? Does he have a right to make the decision about the Avengers or will it be revealed later he's not simply angry but got possessed by someone or something?

What about Angel? Even with Psylocke trying to telepathically keep the dark influence of Apocalypse at bay, he's still killed. Does that mean Warren is responsible?

There really isn't a way to safeguard against evil possessions. The heroes could try to get someone like Doctor Strange to come up with an anti-possessing spell that protects them but we know that's not really possible or feasible.

Being possessed and forced to become evil is completely unfortunate but it is a risk in being a superhero. There just needs to be some way to prove a rouge hero was actually possessed and not just in the mood to be a complete jerk.

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Posted by labarith

Who?  
 
Who are forgiving them? 
 
Their friends who know they were brainwashed?  Yes. 
Strangers who don't know?  No.

Posted by Pokeysteve

Little surprised that Hal didn't at least get a mention here. DC gets no love =/

Edited by damJadler

In our criminal justice system, you are innocent until proven guilty, not the other way around. Daredevil (or his counsel) would not have to prove his innocence--they'd just have to show enough evidence to give the jury a reasonable doubt as to his culpability. This wouldn't be hard.

Posted by Oghmata

The fact is, in most cases possession is just a huge deus ex machina for writers who made a good character go bad and had just no idea for a good explanation (cf : Shadowland...).
Besides, nobody has ever wondered if Wolverine should be forgiven for his evil actions while not possessed at all, and no one has ever made a big deal out of his lethal ways, so why "possessed characters" like DD should have trouble ?

Posted by TDK_1997

Well it all depends on the character that has been possessed.

Posted by Avenging-X-Bolt

I believe they should be forgiven but steps should definitely to verify that the possession was genuine and of course to prevent it from happening again.

Online
Posted by NightFang
@Pokeysteve said:
Little surprised that Hal didn't at least get a mention here. DC gets no love =/
Yeah, Think Hal got it the worst of any body.
Posted by Planewalker

Redemption is a common theme just remember Star Wars how many jedi touched the dark side and came back into the light, but I think trust is a slow process to regain so forgotten never but forgiven eventually 

Posted by GBrutality

this was actually a really interesting article to me especially with the characters that were brought up. xavier being possessed, or creating onslaught was almost a different sort of manifestation of his powers fusing with the thoughts of magneto. if he weren't such a powerful telepath then maybe it wouldn't have gone down as such, and he wouldn't have been able to strip magneto of his memories at all. 
the shadowland stuff i think gets overlooked because no one liked shadowland. but what sucks most about it was marvel was too afraid to pull the trigger on that. it really did have potential when you think about it. what the hell hasn't murdock been put through? he finally had a form of power, something he never had before, and with the hand at his beck and call, he could've really gotten more done in his eyes than maybe he ever could in court. bullseye got killed, a guy who had tormented daredevil for years. he even went as far as killing his loved ones. but because daredevil has to be a voice for good, always, they decided to use the possession angle, which i think is a cop-out.
someone brought up hal jordan before and i think that almost got forgotten because marvel pulls this one ALL the time.
last thing i'd like to say is that, i love the idea of warren being an heir to the throne of apocalypse. i can safely say that i'm decent at guessing when stuff is coming in a story and i have to say i never pictured that being a possibility. and warren has had a lot happen to him. i mean, the crucifixion and being turned into a servant for a tyrant is enough to warrant some baggage. i wouldn't mind them actually letting him be this way for a bit and not just be goddamn possessed. be cool to see one of the original x-men become one of their greatest threats in a new form.

Posted by _jackbauer

Overlooking, or selectively excluding, Hal Jordan from this list was a pretty big mistake.

Posted by John Valentine

Yes.

Posted by Decept-O

"To err is human, to forgive divine."

Posted by jkuc316

I thought we were past the idea of Heroes don't kill? I mean some heroes are already killing.

Posted by rudorudo
@_jackbauer: lol so true
and in the case of Wonder Man - gotta say dude's got a point.
Posted by KainScion

wawawawawa hal get no love wawawawawawa. wolverine has been controled how many times? WE LOST COUNT!!! hal once. wolverine has killed thousands of people and heroes while being controlled.

Posted by RainEffect

The thing that pissed me off the most about Daredevil was that he didn't need to be possessed. If you read Brubaker's run, he basically lost everything he had and was pushed to the absolute edge. I was excited at first by the Shadowland concept, because it seemed Daredevil finally lost it and turned into Frank Castle. But then it turned into "Possessed by some unintuitive thing called the beast".
 
Ridiculous.

Posted by G-Man

@Pokeysteve:

@NightFang:

@_jackbauer:

I wanted to keep this a Marvel-geared article. Nothing against Hal or DC characters but with the "New 52," there's been a lot of DC coverage lately.

Staff
Posted by Lokheit

Not mention of Wolverine? 
 
I can tell at least 3 recent possessions/controls: Hydra/The Hand (when he killed some heroes, including Northstar and one of Peter Parker clones), demonic during his new series and as a horseman of Apocalypse. 
 
Not to mention many rage rampages.

Posted by Jake Fury

Yes, they should be forgiven. It's difficult to prove to the general comic public though.
Posted by Namor1987

Yeah they should be forgiven
Posted by Gambit1024

Yes they should be forgiven.  
 
Daredevil especially. He's done much more good than anyone else in NYC to clean up Hell's Kitchen and because he kills a murdering psychopath who's made his life a living hell since forever, the hero community is giving him sh*t for it. 

Posted by xerox_kitty

I always think of Malice who (presuming it's the same entity who has the same name & powers) possessed Invisible Woman, Polaris & Omega Sentinel.  Polaris was literally stuck with Malice, and went on to lead the Marauders when they were the biggest baddest bunch of mutant killers in the Marvel U.  She didn't have an easy time when she was freed, and went on to be possessed once more by the Shadow King who had taken over Muir Island. 
 
But I guess mutants are used to being possessed, possessing and being replaced.  They do seem to operate to a different set of rules to the rest of the Marvel U.

Moderator
Posted by SC

Its like normal people and alcohol/drugs. Depends how much control they had in the situation, including foresight. If your putting yourself in situations you could be exploited, you ideally will be responsible enough to take measures to ensure your powers, abilities, position aren't exploited. Hard part is figuring out the specifics (coincidentally like real life) 

Moderator
Posted by The Lobster

Well the superhero wouldn't be charged or sent to jail for any of the evil things he did while possessed. 
 
The law states that you can't go to jail for something you weren't in control of. That's why the guy who ended up killing his wife's family while he was sleepwalking wasn't sent to jail. He wasn't in control of his actions. 
 
So I guess it's forgivable when Superheroes do it too.

Posted by Outside_85

It would be more befitting them if they saw trial and possibly prison terms if they crossed the line.
 
That said, I hate when they end up explaining a hero going bad (like Hal and Daredevil) with them being the victims of possession.

Posted by Billy Batson

Yes.

BB

Posted by shrmntnk62

I agree that they should be forgiven, but it depends on the amount of damage they've caused on how easily and quickly it will happen.  The Daredevil thing I can see as pretty easy to forgive. The Archangel thing, especially in the last issue, maybe not so much (or Parallax for that matter.) They're friends would be the first ones to fogive them but the general populas could take awhile. I think the idea of a court appointed telepath is a great idea too. Create somebody new or blow the dust off someone that hasn't benn used for awhile. It could even be a SHIELD appointed posistion for cases of superpowered folks that dun messed up.
Posted by RedheadedAtrocitus

Possession unfortunately is the popular plot device nowadays for why some superheroes go down a path of evil that they normally might not partake in.  Its getting almost cliche.  Daredevil. Angel.  Certain Green Lanterns prior to their little war.  Darth Revan.  So on and so forth.  Its becoming a boring and tired theme to go on that they'll only turn to darkness if evil forces beyond their control take the reigns.  That being said, of course they should be forgiven because unless all superheroes are strong telepaths or have strong souls to battle such forces, then they should hardly be totally at fault for what overcomes people or society around them.  Sadly though if one really looks into the rules and regulations for possession from a Christian standpoint, usually it is the belief in the act itself or usually a sad or depressive mood that brings on the possession in the first place.  Just look at the male child in Maryland from which William Peter Blatty took inspiration to write The Exorcist.  And translating this into comics, Hal Jordan was the greatest example of this happening in between Reign of the Supermen and the Zero Hour crisis.  He had been possessed by Parallax, not just because of that entity's drive to cause chaos, but because Jordan was also grief stricken beyond reckoning for the loss of Coast City.  And he nearly destroyed the DCU because of that!  Point being is, sometimes possession is brought on by a darker part of our psyche and consciousness and perhaps SHOULD be punished if such a thing were to ever happen.  Maybe deep down Shadowland happened not because Murdock was an unwilling participant to possession but that he was an all too easy candidate for it.  All a demonic entity needs is a little encouragement after all...

Edited by Frobin

Again a silly question!  
 
If they are really possessed, then, of course, you should forgive them ... because they had no choice, they did do it against their will ... obviously they're up against massive powers, sometimes even more powerful than themselves. 
 
The question is: Why even asking such an question? And most of all: Why don't ask the question: Should superheroes be forgiven for doing really evil actions when being NOT POSSESSED ... just because they really thought them being the right thing to do ... and just they are too dumb or megalomaniac to see the consequences or even think that they could be wrong.
 
NO, is my answer here!  
 
And the heroes wouldn't be Daredevil or Angel ... no ... it would be Tony Stark and Reed Richards for violating civil and human rights and acting against values that are somehow required for being a 'hero' (negative zone prison, torture, cloning of Thor which leads to the murder of Goliath, hunting down friends like villains and rats, betraying friends, while joining forces with villains ... total ethic downfall) ...  
 
I still wonder how this characters - mainly Tony Stark, also Reed Richards and some others too - can be seen as heroes after Civil War. I didn't see a story which explains all this or provides some sort of excuse or justification. 

Posted by Doombert

As much as I hate marvel events I would LOVE to see one that involved this to some extent.  I'd like to see Ghost Rider go after some of these "brainwashed" hero's or others that like to ride that fine line...and occasionally cross it.  Why he (she) hasnt yet is honestly beyond me. Something that follows the gist of the old quote "The road to hell is paved with good intentions."  Ghost Rider VS.  MU would def be interesting and get more readers interested in GR.  Everyone likes him but nobody buys his/her books. 
 
I don't know if I'd want to see the new GR do it or not.  I haven't made my mind up on her yet.

Posted by JonesDeini
@GBrutality said:
this was actually a really interesting article to me especially with the characters that were brought up. xavier being possessed, or creating onslaught was almost a different sort of manifestation of his powers fusing with the thoughts of magneto. if he weren't such a powerful telepath then maybe it wouldn't have gone down as such, and he wouldn't have been able to strip magneto of his memories at all.  the shadowland stuff i think gets overlooked because no one liked shadowland. but what sucks most about it was marvel was too afraid to pull the trigger on that. it really did have potential when you think about it. what the hell hasn't murdock been put through? he finally had a form of power, something he never had before, and with the hand at his beck and call, he could've really gotten more done in his eyes than maybe he ever could in court. bullseye got killed, a guy who had tormented daredevil for years. he even went as far as killing his loved ones. but because daredevil has to be a voice for good, always, they decided to use the possession angle, which i think is a cop-out. someone brought up hal jordan before and i think that almost got forgotten because marvel pulls this one ALL the time. last thing i'd like to say is that, i love the idea of warren being an heir to the throne of apocalypse. i can safely say that i'm decent at guessing when stuff is coming in a story and i have to say i never pictured that being a possibility. and warren has had a lot happen to him. i mean, the crucifixion and being turned into a servant for a tyrant is enough to warrant some baggage. i wouldn't mind them actually letting him be this way for a bit and not just be goddamn possessed. be cool to see one of the original x-men become one of their greatest threats in a new form.
Bingo on all accounts. Especially on Shadowland 
Posted by Trodorne

for your question, In a way yes, but they still need to pay for the crime. Should have forced Daredevil into the thunderbolts as a form of community service and tell the public Daredevil is in super prison. 
 
 the general masses are not all that bright, but they have seen stranger things in the marvel universe. so how they would not understand the idea possession is beyond me. 
 
 But on a seperate note I WAS DEAD SET AGAINST Daredevil being mind controlled as myself and many others wanted to see Daredevil cross that line into super villain on his own.

Posted by The Devil Tiger
@Namor1987 said:
Yeah they should be forgiven
Posted by GothamRed

It all depends on the nature of the possession, like how they went about being possessed, if it was instantaneous or over time (which if it was they could have sought out help), and if any of the actions they committed while possessed were at all influenced by their own subconscious.  That's how I see it anyway

Posted by MisterMollusk

Possession is stupid. It's just a cop out to have characters do bad things without being "bad". I don't see why heroes can't have weaknesses of character that causes them to make bad decisions. Cough Parallax. Cough.

Posted by jimmy11

My opinion: 
   When someone is possessed, somebody else is in control of his/her body and powers. Right?
   For example: when somebody gets shoot by another person, shooter is to be blamed, rather than gun.
   Forgive but don't forget and prepare for the next time it happens !!!!!!

Posted by LordRequiem

Hal was possessed, but I'm pretty sure it would've been he that longed for Coast City to be re-created at any cost, not parallax, I would blame him for Zero Hour. 
 
Hood was sort of becoming possessed, but he's a bad nut anyway so no one gave that a second thought.

Posted by illmatic06
@xerox_kitty
Invisible WOman's Malice is unrelated to the entity Malice.
Posted by KEROGA

everyon knows daredevil's secret identity?????????????
Posted by daredevil21134

If its not their fault,its not their fault

Posted by Mega_spidey01

what about hulk when he fough thor in hulk vs ?. he nearly beat thor to death.

Posted by Omegalpha

They should not be blamed but forgiveness is another matter entirely that pertains differently to each individual.

Posted by ReVamp
@Jake Fury said:
Yes, they should be forgiven. It's difficult to prove to the general comic public though.
Dardevil, Hal Jordan, Bucky Barnes and Wolverine should all be forgiven for what they have done. Even though the last two weren't exactly possesed, they were brainwashed, which is similar. =)
Posted by CATPANEXE

in short, soooooooooooooooooooo many characters have had their actions forced that it could almost seem that the majority have had it done at least once in their life, to where I can't imagine any of them could hold it against the other.

Posted by last_ghost

call sam and dean winchester??? i dont think anyone is at fault when their possesed, and should be forgiven.
Edited by MastaKilla

I think the better question is should we forgive writers that do this, without a valid storyline reason, just so the characters can 'go bad' with the only intent to sell more comics....

Posted by SpidermanWins
@Frobin said:
Again a silly question!   If they are really possessed, then, of course, you should forgive them ... because they had no choice, they did do it against their will ... obviously they're up against massive powers, sometimes even more powerful than themselves.  The question is: Why even asking such an question? And most of all: Why don't ask the question: Should superheroes be forgiven for doing really evil actions when being NOT POSSESSED ... just because they really thought them being the right thing to do ... and just they are too dumb or megalomaniac to see the consequences or even think that they could be wrong. NO, is my answer here!   And the heroes wouldn't be Daredevil or Angel ... no ... it would be Tony Stark and Reed Richards for violating civil and human rights and acting against values that are somehow required for being a 'hero' (negative zone prison, torture, cloning of Thor which leads to the murder of Goliath, hunting down friends like villains and rats, betraying friends, while joining forces with villains ... total ethic downfall) ...   I still wonder how this characters - mainly Tony Stark, also Reed Richards and some others too - can be seen as heroes after Civil War. I didn't see a story which explains all this or provides some sort of excuse or justification. 
This
Posted by nobodythere

Michael Jackson was accused of some awful things in his lifetime. Despite settling out of court for fear of his image being tarnished it was. When similar charges were laid against him a second time he decided to do what he should have the first time: Fight. He won the case and yet most of the public was sure he was guilty. Even now after his death people still feel he was guilty. Micheal Jackson was and is a huge celebrity, he is known the world over, even by those whom a lot of would call fringe dwellers or uncivilized. A superhero, I feel, would be in a similar light and more then likely, when accused of terrible things, even when proven innocent, would still be met with hostility and scrutiny. 
 
Thankfully comic memories are, generally, only as long as the latest creative team decides they need to be. Last year's story arc is only relevant if the editor/ writer feels it should be. If not, the respective characters wake up, were in an alternate reality, are an alternate reality version, had a vision of a possible future, were possessed or whatever else. Course some companies feel the need to reboot their entire line to erase their history. Whatever works I suppose!

Posted by RareCheshire

Yes... but now I feel bad for Scarlet Witch, no one extends her an olive branch for being mentally unstable though her actions killed many more in comparison to possessed characters.

Posted by Mbecks14

i think so. BUT while on the topic of good/evil forgiveness... 

MAGNETO. Needs to get the F out of the X-Men. he's a genocidal maniac who has tried to kill basically every member of the team on countless occasions. And he's succeeded several times as well. He seriously can't be forgiven enough to be considered an ally.  
  
They  keep making him a flip floppy good/bad guy. He's evil. Keep him evil. 
 
same goes for Dr. Doom.
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