My Favorite Lanterns

I don't really have anything to say, I just like the idea of these two. Wish they had stuck with these upgrades for a bit longer. The only way it could be more perfect is if Hank had a Red Lantern.

Start the Conversation

Newcomer Gauntlet

Every time I see a "Character X goes through the gauntlet" I get to feeling that maybe we should be able to write "The Gauntlet" as in, there is only one. Just one gauntlet for Comic Vine, one series of opponents that we can refer to. Why? There's not much of a why other than people write "the" which means a specific one that we're previously referred to, when really they should right "a" because they make up a new one every time. It's a language use thing that bugs me, that's all. Also, I think it would be cool. The problem, and this is why I've never done this before, is that for it to be a comic vine gauntlet, everyone would have to agree, and that would NEVER happen. If you're new here, maybe you don't realize it, but a consensus on who beats who is never going to happen on this website unless the comparisons are so one sided as to defeat the purpose anyway. The closest I've come to putting one together involved exclusively Wildstorm characters. This was for two reasons. First, I like Wildstorm, duh. Second, it meant that characters like Spider-Man, Wolverine, Batman, Superman, and Thor, didn't have to be anywhere near the list and so people didn't have to fight about placement. Even that had it's problems though. The biggest problem was that since they're wildstorm characters, few people have an accurate image of what they can do (aside from Midnighter and Majestic, and even then I wouldn't really call it "accurate"). That could end up meaning a lot more explanation that I wanted to go into. Also, Characters aren't one-dimensional, so determining the order is harder than just going off who's stronger and putting them in order. This makes the fights themselves interesting, but putting together any sort of linear increase in difficulty pretty tricky. And, maybe I'm biased here, I feel like the Wildstorm characters are trickier than most in this regard. Anyway, regardless of these issues, I decided to do it again because of the second part of the title for this blog: Newcomers.

Part of joining the Vine is learning, often unpleasantly, that the character you like most in the world, will get their teeth kicked in by The Midnighter. I kid I kid, somewhere in the middle of that sentence it got away from me because that ending was too funny to resist. But seriously, pretty early on, everyone that uses the battle forum finds out that their favorite character doesn't win every fight. This can be a painful experience. I figured, having one go-to gauntlet to see exactly where a character loses the ability to go on, might save time and maybe even be more humane since it's so impersonal. And as an added bonus, it will expose newcomers to characters they've never seen before and get them used to the process of looking up characters they don't know.

Anyway, here's what I was toying around with:

The Wildstorm Gauntlet

Swift

Grifter

-Sanity Check: Agent Wax

Holden Carver

Hellstrike

Maul

-Speed Bump: Jet

Zealot

Backlash

-Team Fortress: Gen 13

Midnighter

Apollo

-Energy Battery: Winter

Jackson King

Jenny Sparks

-Team Fortress 2: Wetworks

Jack Hawksmoor

The Engineer

Mr. Majestic

-Team Fortress 3: Planetary + The Four

-Re-roll Sanity Check: Tao

-Speed Bump 2: Professor Q

The Doctor (Swift's Revenge!)

Jenny Quantum

4 Comments

What's In Character?

This springs from a post I made recently and since the thread went a different way, I'd like to continue it here. My question was originally to @killemall and I'd still like him to respond because I think his input would be worth reading, but it's also just a general question that pertains to battles on CV as a whole. I don't really feel like writing more so I'll just start with the relevant bit of the original post:

Getting off on a tangent though, during Infinity, did Thanos use a force field, telepathy, telekinesis, independent teleportation, or matter manipulation at any point? How about in his recent origin story? I think there was something in Avengers Assemble with telepathy, but what was the extent and context of that and what about the others? When was the last time he used these abilities? Sometimes I wonder what goes into people's considerations for which behaviors are "in character" and which aren't. If a character used to do something "a lot" but doesn't anymore, could their character be said to have changed? Would that be an outlandish concept since we're pretending these characters are real people anyway? Or do people prefer to hold a static concept of these characters in mind even though their use through time and portrayals under many writers would almost require something far more fluid? If this fight should so happen to start, don't worry, I'll get out of your hair, but I felt like rummaging through some thoughts.

Thanos was being used in the original thread and I am curious about the answers to the questions I posted about that character specifically as well as the general topic. He might be a good character to use as an example of what's being discussed but I'm sure there are others too.

26 Comments

How To Disagree

Taken from: http://www.paulgraham.com/disagree.html

The web is turning writing into a conversation. Twenty years ago, writers wrote and readers read. The web lets readers respond, and increasingly they do—in comment threads, on forums, and in their own blog posts.

Many who respond to something disagree with it. That's to be expected. Agreeing tends to motivate people less than disagreeing. And when you agree there's less to say. You could expand on something the author said, but he has probably already explored the most interesting implications. When you disagree you're entering territory he may not have explored.

The result is there's a lot more disagreeing going on, especially measured by the word. That doesn't mean people are getting angrier. The structural change in the way we communicate is enough to account for it. But though it's not anger that's driving the increase in disagreement, there's a danger that the increase in disagreement will make people angrier. Particularly online, where it's easy to say things you'd never say face to face.

If we're all going to be disagreeing more, we should be careful to do it well. What does it mean to disagree well? Most readers can tell the difference between mere name-calling and a carefully reasoned refutation, but I think it would help to put names on the intermediate stages. So here's an attempt at a disagreement hierarchy:

DH0. Name-calling.

This is the lowest form of disagreement, and probably also the most common. We've all seen comments like this:

u r a fag!!!!!!!!!!

But it's important to realize that more articulate name-calling has just as little weight. A comment like

The author is a self-important dilettante.

is really nothing more than a pretentious version of "u r a fag."

DH1. Ad Hominem.

An ad hominem attack is not quite as weak as mere name-calling. It might actually carry some weight. For example, if a senator wrote an article saying senators' salaries should be increased, one could respond:

Of course he would say that. He's a senator.

This wouldn't refute the author's argument, but it may at least be relevant to the case. It's still a very weak form of disagreement, though. If there's something wrong with the senator's argument, you should say what it is; and if there isn't, what difference does it make that he's a senator?

Saying that an author lacks the authority to write about a topic is a variant of ad hominem—and a particularly useless sort, because good ideas often come from outsiders. The question is whether the author is correct or not. If his lack of authority caused him to make mistakes, point those out. And if it didn't, it's not a problem.

DH2. Responding to Tone.

The next level up we start to see responses to the writing, rather than the writer. The lowest form of these is to disagree with the author's tone. E.g.

I can't believe the author dismisses intelligent design in such a cavalier fashion.

Though better than attacking the author, this is still a weak form of disagreement. It matters much more whether the author is wrong or right than what his tone is. Especially since tone is so hard to judge. Someone who has a chip on their shoulder about some topic might be offended by a tone that to other readers seemed neutral.

So if the worst thing you can say about something is to criticize its tone, you're not saying much. Is the author flippant, but correct? Better that than grave and wrong. And if the author is incorrect somewhere, say where.

DH3. Contradiction.

In this stage we finally get responses to what was said, rather than how or by whom. The lowest form of response to an argument is simply to state the opposing case, with little or no supporting evidence.

This is often combined with DH2 statements, as in:

I can't believe the author dismisses intelligent design in such a cavalier fashion. Intelligent design is a legitimate scientific theory.

Contradiction can sometimes have some weight. Sometimes merely seeing the opposing case stated explicitly is enough to see that it's right. But usually evidence will help.

DH4. Counterargument.

At level 4 we reach the first form of convincing disagreement: counterargument. Forms up to this point can usually be ignored as proving nothing. Counterargument might prove something. The problem is, it's hard to say exactly what.

Counterargument is contradiction plus reasoning and/or evidence. When aimed squarely at the original argument, it can be convincing. But unfortunately it's common for counterarguments to be aimed at something slightly different. More often than not, two people arguing passionately about something are actually arguing about two different things. Sometimes they even agree with one another, but are so caught up in their squabble they don't realize it.

There could be a legitimate reason for arguing against something slightly different from what the original author said: when you feel they missed the heart of the matter. But when you do that, you should say explicitly you're doing it.

DH5. Refutation.

The most convincing form of disagreement is refutation. It's also the rarest, because it's the most work. Indeed, the disagreement hierarchy forms a kind of pyramid, in the sense that the higher you go the fewer instances you find.

To refute someone you probably have to quote them. You have to find a "smoking gun," a passage in whatever you disagree with that you feel is mistaken, and then explain why it's mistaken. If you can't find an actual quote to disagree with, you may be arguing with a straw man.

While refutation generally entails quoting, quoting doesn't necessarily imply refutation. Some writers quote parts of things they disagree with to give the appearance of legitimate refutation, then follow with a response as low as DH3 or even DH0.

DH6. Refuting the Central Point.

The force of a refutation depends on what you refute. The most powerful form of disagreement is to refute someone's central point.

Even as high as DH5 we still sometimes see deliberate dishonesty, as when someone picks out minor points of an argument and refutes those. Sometimes the spirit in which this is done makes it more of a sophisticated form of ad hominem than actual refutation. For example, correcting someone's grammar, or harping on minor mistakes in names or numbers. Unless the opposing argument actually depends on such things, the only purpose of correcting them is to discredit one's opponent.

Truly refuting something requires one to refute its central point, or at least one of them. And that means one has to commit explicitly to what the central point is. So a truly effective refutation would look like:

The author's main point seems to be x. As he says:
<quotation>
But this is wrong for the following reasons...

The quotation you point out as mistaken need not be the actual statement of the author's main point. It's enough to refute something it depends upon.

What It Means

Now we have a way of classifying forms of disagreement. What good is it? One thing the disagreement hierarchy

doesn't

give us is a way of picking a winner. DH levels merely describe the form of a statement, not whether it's correct. A DH6 response could still be completely mistaken.

But while DH levels don't set a lower bound on the convincingness of a reply, they do set an upper bound. A DH6 response might be unconvincing, but a DH2 or lower response is always unconvincing.

The most obvious advantage of classifying the forms of disagreement is that it will help people to evaluate what they read. In particular, it will help them to see through intellectually dishonest arguments. An eloquent speaker or writer can give the impression of vanquishing an opponent merely by using forceful words. In fact that is probably the defining quality of a demagogue. By giving names to the different forms of disagreement, we give critical readers a pin for popping such balloons.

Such labels may help writers too. Most intellectual dishonesty is unintentional. Someone arguing against the tone of something he disagrees with may believe he's really saying something. Zooming out and seeing his current position on the disagreement hierarchy may inspire him to try moving up to counterargument or refutation.

But the greatest benefit of disagreeing well is not just that it will make conversations better, but that it will make the people who have them happier. If you study conversations, you find there is a lot more meanness down in DH1 than up in DH6. You don't have to be mean when you have a real point to make. In fact, you don't want to. If you have something real to say, being mean just gets in the way.

If moving up the disagreement hierarchy makes people less mean, that will make most of them happier. Most people don't really enjoy being mean; they do it because they can't help it.

7 Comments

Kieron Gillen on The Battle Forum

Yes, I'm taking liberties. This is from his tumblr. I would have simply liked it and not shared it, but he referenced the Wildstorm Universe and then it was over.

Characters don’t exist out of context. Characters are created as part of a universe, with a set of rules and conventions.

My go to example is the “Batman always wins”. True in the DC universe. Drop him in (say) the Wildstorm one, and the more cynical rules of that place would lead to the rich guy to be incinerated from orbit the first time he pulled on his costume and decided to cross the Authority.

More generally, science-fiction universes normally have the trope that Earth tech when facing enormously advanced aliens can do something. Iron Man’s suit can face off against hyper-advanced aliens, due to it being based on the romantic conception of science, etc. Take that to a hard Science-Fiction Universe, and Iron Man is toast. Thousands of Iron Man armours would be killed by a single Knife Missile, in Iain M Banks’ Culture universe. Take a thousand Knife Missiles to the MU, and Tony would take them down on his lonesome.

This is why Battle-board style questions can be a lot of fun, but miss certain key elements of fiction.

Start the Conversation

Still Thinking About Comics

This is some sort of transition from my Comics Can Be So Good blog.

Avengers 13

Reading from beginning to end, from point A to point B, Hickman doesn't tell a story. He makes a world full of threads of ideas and situations and he weaves them together over the course of his telling, giving you a story to look back on from point B to point A. Of course the story is there the whole time, but you don't know all the pieces at the start so you may not experience the story as much as you experience being thrust into a new world, idea, or situation. In some ways the main story is really that of the world he makes, and not the story of any character or group of characters. Hickman weaves tales more (and better) than any comic writer I can think of. This is a big part of why I've liked the books he's written.

Age of Ultron 9

I forgot to check, but whoever is on art (pencils, inks, colors, everyone involved) for those Killing Pym scenes is doing a great job. I like the feel of it, like it takes everything good about an older style and brings it to the present. It's really nice and I want more time travel stories that feature that art. My only issue with it was that a couple times Wolverine looked a little fat/barrel-chested/1950's fit. Actually the writing of that scene was as great as the art. I enjoyed the Wolverine/Wolverine/Pym dynamic and Pym being Pym throughout it. My other thought on the issue is Wolverine. Now, I don't know if Wolverine actually dies (I know I certainly wouldn't be surprised if there's a paradox with claws on the loose somewhere in the savage land) but if the scene is taken as it is shown, then there's a way to kill Wolverine with just blades. I think that's about as interesting as all the time travel stuff. And on time travel, I love it every time the idea is brought up somewhere that time is an organism.

Avengers Arena 10

It's weird, the characters dying. When it's one I know and like, I'm kind of sad because these are characters I might never see again (not high profile enough to bring back). But then, the reason they're able to get killed in the first place is because for the most part they weren't being used so there's no guarantee I would have seen them anyway. This one was particularly sad though.

All New X-Men 12 (though my statements apply to Uncanny X-Men as well)

What I like about this comic is the moments between the fighting. I like that in most comics, but here it feels like it means more because these guys seem to always be on the verge of combat when what they really need to do is talk. So every time they get close to talking about the things that are important (whether that's how much fault Cyclops should have, if the X-Men are right to defend themselves or take action, or the various young x-men coming to terms with the present day and all its relationships and implications) I get excited. In this issue young Scott and Alex Summers meet up and Captain America tries to get them to stop talking and I yelled "NO!" before I could catch myself and then was so happy to read Alex saying that Scott shouldn't pay attention to Cap. I like when a comic prompts such a response in me. There's something about these comics that feels real to me, but that's what Bendis is always aiming for. Sometimes though the realness of it is frustrating in a very real way. I see that in general whenever there are a lot of these characters in a room all trying to talk and not really hearing each other. That sort of communication breakdown is incredibly real and always makes me very tense and anxious when I read it. But the queen of frustrating reality is Jean Grey. The way she keeps breaking into minds and or freaking out and then making situations worse seems like what would probably happen. She's the character I love to hate and she goes along way to add to that anxiety I get when reading this comic that makes me want them all to just calm down and talk like rational people should. Argh, frustrating.

Start the Conversation

Oh please someone murder me...

Really quick: I've been loving everything (writer, artist, story, dialogue, art choices, characters, personalities, musical influences, backmatter, online essays, history, future, etc) about Young Avengers. I've been excited about the forthcoming introduction of Prodigy. I found out recently that a lot of people didn't care much for Prodigy, but I've always liked him and was eager to see the magic that would come out of him being brought to life by these creators. And then I read this from Kieron Gillen's interview and realized it is possible for me to be even more sold on the idea of Prodigy in their hands: "When Jamie talks about Jessie Ware being an influence on how he sees Kate, I both get it, and move it onto the playlist. That he nods towards Frank Ocean being how he sees Prodigy, I nod excitedly, and almost kick myself that I didn't make that explicit link. But those ideas are coming from my treatment, and it's always a back and forth."

2 Comments

Pay me no mind, just rambling about Stormwatch again...

I meant to write up a little thing after I read that preview, but I didn't. Lazy, remember. Suffice it to say, I liked it well enough. If you're gonna start over from scratch, THAT is how you do it. I was impressed. Didn't get a sample of the characters, but the attitude in the pages going in gave me hope. Now that I've read the issue I've got some more thoughts. But brief, because I've got a blinding headache. And no, that's not related to the comic.

Started out looking good, or at least, not terrible. Seeing Angie back and her being something like a real character made me happy. Seeing her tech-up made me really happy. I like that she's not a robot. The run down of the team dropped my jaw. Apollo and Midnighter abducted and given powers by aliens which they then escaped? Both of them? My first thought was that I know some specific people are gonna be upset by this. I should say, I had been completely without a clue or care as to the identity of Storm Control, but that layout of Apollo and Midnighter forced a thought into my mind when I had been content to have it revealed later (because it's still hard to bring myself to care about this title, even if they change it). My thought was that maybe (hopefully?) the origins for Apollo and Midnighter are just a cover and it's Henry Bendix talking, lying about the superhumans that he made. I don't mind all that much if their origins are different, but it seemed like a silly thing to not only change but to establish right out there like that. Like "Hey guys, this is different, you hear?" Granted, that's basically what the entire issue is and also, I don't know the story line. Maybe those aliens will come up later. My other thought on their background is that it reminded me of Jack Hawksmoor and I was sad that he's just disappeared. The thing I was most happy about was the lack of power descriptions and painful exposition. A lot was explained and passed on to the reader, but it was painless. I didn't think that was possible with a stormwatch comic anymore...

But back to the characters. Introductions were good. Shadow Council or whatever are already coming across as more interesting, or at least less stupid. Storm Control I'm alright with, we'll see about him as we go. Angie has a personality, seems fun, has powers I recognize without having them painfully explained. Even Midnighter and Apollo are shown well for the first time. Their relationship is taken as assumed and there's no fuss over them, avoiding an awkward drawn out start. (Reminded me of them in the WSU, they just were, no need to mess them up by making a big deal about them.) Jenny and The Weird were kind of whatever, but them being easy to swallow is a positive. Nice that they also have a relationship that's obvious, if not clear, before we start. I was surprised to see Fuji as Force (Fuji + Cyclops?) sparring with Hellstrike, but I'll wait to see what's happening with those two. It's nice that the sentient gas beings of Wildstorm are back together, even if they're different. Everyone has a personality, people have relationships with each other, the team seems like a team, and there's direction. It's great. And that last bit with Lobo was excellent. Don't know if it looks like Emp and Grifter's pages from Wildcats on purpose, but I'll take it.

So, I like what's here. It's different, it has potential and it hasn't offended me. That's high praise. All I can ask (I mean, other than for a good story) is that Jack Hawksmoor be used well wherever he ends up in the DCU.

@rayegunn, what did you think?

1 Comments