Tragically Evil

One of my favorite magazines to read is GQ magazines. Normally I read the magazine to hear what they have to say about products that are far out of my price range, and sometimes I even read some of the articles. In the latest issue though I came across something that I’m not used to seeing in GQ and that was a comic that was titled “For God and Country”. As I started reading I was utterly shocked by what it was about. “For God and Country” was an illustrated telling of the last minutes of Osama Bin Laden’s life. The story was written by Matt Fraction who is currently known for his work in Iron Man, and it was illustrated by Nathan Fox. I was intrigued by Fraction’s depiction of Osama, because when you read the comic Osama reads like a tragic character.

“For God and Country” is written in two parts. The top half of each page has captions written from Osama’s point of view, while the bottom half is written from the point of view of the collective thoughts of Seal Team Six. When reading the top portion, Osama reads like a man who knew he was about to die and it is almost as if he had been waiting on it. We see a terrified and scared man as the soldiers climb the stairs after shooting down his son, Khalid bin Laden. We see sweat on his face as he looks at the SEALs coming up the stairs for him, and panic is written all over him. This is not the evil dictator that I had expected to look boldly into the face of death, and I begin to wonder: was it really like that?

When it comes to Osama Bin Laden the man probably knew from the moment he decided to give the order that resulted in 9/11 that the Americans would hunt him down and slaughter him. From the very beginning Osama knew he was going to die and for ten years he was on the run while his resources slowly slipped through his fingers. Ten years is a long time and during that time it can make a person think. We may never know if Osama proudly looked into the face of death that waited in the black abyss at the back of those gun barrels or if he trembled in fear while questioning if he truly did the right thing those ten years prior to that moment. Was death a release for the man though? Is it right to depict the man in a tragic way at all?

Reading this comic brought up memories of College Literature courses. In John Milton’s “Paradise Lost” Satan is depicted as an anti-hero who led a group of angels in rebellion against God because he was unwilling to be a servant. He claimed that Angels were self-formed, denied God as the creator of the Angels, rebuked his authority over them, and claimed that all Angels should rule over heaven as gods. Lucifer had once been known as one of the most beautiful angels in heaven, but due to his rebellion he was banished to Tartarus after suffering a staggering defeat at the hand of Jesus Christ. The prose of the poem is written in a way that depicts Satan as a tragic hero, and he is depicted in such a way that is meant to invoke sympathy.

The Joker is another very infamous character takes the tragic character stance. After reading Alan Moore’s “The Killing Joke” and reading his version of the Joker’s origin story we see a man who has given up his job to pursue his dream of being a comedian. His dream fails and he has to resort to a scheme requiring him to rob his old workplace in order to provide for his family. His family dies in a freak accident and the crime goes all wrong due to Gotham PD and Batman showing up. Then one misstep resorts in the birth of the “Clown Prince of Crime” who came to be responsible for filling graveyards. The Joker did not deserve to become the Joker, but things just so happened to play out where everything would fall apart.

While reading the notes written by Fraction and Fox it appears as if the creative team did not want to portray Osama as a tragic character. If you disregard everything you know about Osama Bin Laden it reads like a tired old man who has lost everything and waited for years to die, and he is now facing his impending death at the hands of an execution squad all because of something he believed in. The same thing happened to Satan in Paradise Lost and with the Joker in The Killing Joke. All characters believed in something and they believed what they were doing was the right thing, but in the end what they believed in only brought them tragedy.

I honestly believe myself that Osama Bin Laden was a monster. When I think of Osama, I cannot see an old man that is afraid to die, but this comic “For God and Country” made me think a little. September 11, 2011 will always be a day that will live in infamy not just to those who live in the states, but to people all across the world. There were some that cheered when the towers fell, and some say that the United States got what they deserved, but regardless of what anyone says thousands of people lost their lives that day for no reason other than a few men who wanted to carry out a simple act of hatred. Knowing that Osama Bin Laden could willingly send hundreds to their deaths, and condemn thousands more to die, it is hard to imagine that such a man could be human on any level, but despite this Osama Bin Laden to some people was a hero that met a tragic end.

To read the comic click here: http://www.gq.com/news-politics/newsmakers/201112/osama-bin-laden-death-comic

17 Comments
17 Comments
Posted by RazzaTazz

I still think he is human, just an evil one.  Plus he probably figured that since the first World Trade Center bombing that the Americans were coming for him

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Posted by TheWitchingHour

Very interesting blog post. And speaking as an American it's often hard to understand that there could possibly be another side to the story of Osama Bin Laden. But in his own warped worldview he was performing a service to God. And to put forth the idea the America and to some extent the entire western world was without guilt when it came to the attacks of September 11th would be a lie. However I think it is extremely important to distinguish the telling of tragic downfall of Bin Laden from that of two fictional characters. In traditional literature and theater, the tragic hero is often difficult to distinguish from the tragic villain. Often it takes the cathartic moment to tell who is who and even that is subjective given the personal nature of the reader. Bin Laden committed real world crimes with real world consequences. Offering up a new interpretation of his history is wonderfully bold and absolutely welcome, but the entire history must be told. That being said this looks like a very courageous story to be told. I'm interested to read it and see how it plays out.

Posted by Delphic

@TheWitchingHour said:

Very interesting blog post. And speaking as an American it's often hard to understand that there could possibly be another side to the story of Osama Bin Laden. But in his own warped worldview he was performing a service to God. And to put forth the idea the America and to some extent the entire western world was without guilt when it came to the attacks of September 11th would be a lie. However I think it is extremely important to distinguish the telling of tragic downfall of Bin Laden from that of two fictional characters. In traditional literature and theater, the tragic hero is often difficult to distinguish from the tragic villain. Often it takes the cathartic moment to tell who is who and even that is subjective given the personal nature of the reader. Bin Laden committed real world crimes with real world consequences. Offering up a new interpretation of his history is wonderfully bold and absolutely welcome, but the entire history must be told. That being said this looks like a very courageous story to be told. I'm interested to read it and see how it plays out.

I agree with what you said about the difference between the tragic hero and tragic villain being subjective. The Bin Laden depicted in "For God and Country" is completely fictional and only partially based in truth. We have no real way of knowing if the real Bin Laden reacted in the same way as his fictional counter part. So it's interesting seeing a fictional depiction of an evil man being thrown in the same category as Satan and the Joker.

Posted by Kairan1979
@TheWitchingHour said:

Very interesting blog post. And speaking as an American it's often hard to understand that there could possibly be another side to the story of Osama Bin Laden. But in his own warped worldview he was performing a service to God. And to put forth the idea the America and to some extent the entire western world was without guilt when it came to the attacks of September 11th would be a lie. However I think it is extremely important to distinguish the telling of tragic downfall of Bin Laden from that of two fictional characters. In traditional literature and theater, the tragic hero is often difficult to distinguish from the tragic villain. Often it takes the cathartic moment to tell who is who and even that is subjective given the personal nature of the reader. Bin Laden committed real world crimes with real world consequences. Offering up a new interpretation of his history is wonderfully bold and absolutely welcome, but the entire history must be told. That being said this looks like a very courageous story to be told. I'm interested to read it and see how it plays out.

Posted by CATPANEXE

It's easy to be subjective towards any human really. He was the product of his environment and upbringing one way or another and therefore slaved the perceptions and then reality built for him as is any human being. Also it's always difficult to say one should know or realize better when sitting from the comfort of ones own life and subjected to another's nor the decisions they have to face and what they believe is the truth behind everything. Was he tragically evil? Personally I think he was just a person, nothing more or less and example of his own end of diversity. His actions and the result of them however were tragic and horrible from my view, and the resulting effect and backlash at him commonplace and inevitable. Many humans throughout history and fictional characters for that matter whom are generally considered " good " have been responsible for what would normally pass as " evil " actions and results by conventional standard.

Posted by TitsteR

He was a villain since the 70's. He knew what was coming to him since the beginning he molested the 1st child. He was much worst a character than Magneto, Thanos, and Mephisto.

Posted by Dernman

I honestly think he thought he would get away with it.

Posted by Delphic

@lykopis said:

Well, Bin Laden was just a man - an overly pandered to rich boy who tried to play at being a god, and proven in the end to be just another pathetic human who got caught up in his own sense of grandiosity. Interesting to be presented in this way - I don't think anyone outside of his circle felt he was anything but the mere human he was, just a warning to us that others like him are possible and lying in wake.

Anyway - September 11 will be a day always remembered, but I don't think of him. I think of those who died all because some maniac with a few extra bucks was able to brainwash a generation. Sound familiar?

That's what sort of scares me about the middle east right now. After WW I Germany was in tatters, but one man by the name of Adolf Hitler took over the country in it's moment of weakness and gave them a way to get their power back. The middle east right now has no real form of government and only time can tell what will unify them. I'm not saying I automatically expect another Bin Laden, Saddam, or Hitler to take over, but merely noting the possibility that when a nation feels powerless they will turn to those with power regardless of their moral code.

@CATPANEXE said:

It's easy to be subjective towards any human really. He was the product of his environment and upbringing one way or another and therefore slaved the perceptions and then reality built for him as is any human being. Also it's always difficult to say one should know or realize better when sitting from the comfort of ones own life and subjected to another's nor the decisions they have to face and what they believe is the truth behind everything. Was he tragically evil? Personally I think he was just a person, nothing more or less and example of his own end of diversity. His actions and the result of them however were tragic and horrible from my view, and the resulting effect and backlash at him commonplace and inevitable. Many humans throughout history and fictional characters for that matter whom are generally considered " good " have been responsible for what would normally pass as " evil " actions and results by conventional standard.

It's easy to be subjective when you look at another person's point of view, but sometimes you really wonder how they can possibly believe they are right.

@TitsteR said:

He was a villain since the 70's. He knew what was coming to him since the beginning he molested the 1st child. He was much worst a character than Magneto, Thanos, and Mephisto.

Well I personally wouldn't consider Magneto, because he did do some horrible things in the name of mutant kinds, but he still reformed to some extent.

@Dernman said:

I honestly think he thought he would get away with it.

What makes you say that?

Edited by TitsteR
@Delphic said:

@TitsteR said:

He was a villain since the 70's. He knew what was coming to him since the beginning he molested the 1st child. He was much worst a character than Magneto, Thanos, and Mephisto.

Well I personally wouldn't consider Magneto, because he did do some horrible things in the name of mutant kinds, but he still reformed to some extent.

   Magneto did some horrible things such as what? Killing people when being attacked or when other of his kind is being attacked? Is self-defense or the moral of defending others really that horrible? Yes, death is horrible when it comes from the means of a tragic event, but you have to look in all perspectives and not just through the events. Magneto was not a bad person despite his actions and poor decision makings. He defended others and he was an avenger, however, has Magneto has Magneto tired to force religion down peoples throats? Has he forced women and children under his will just for his pleasure? Does he tell his men do sacrifice their life for him? In reflection, it may seem that BL was an avenger too, but deep down he was protecting his own worship and praising a religion that makes men like him dominate against not just a race but gender the same. Yes, this might seem similar to Magneto, but Magneto doesn't  like spilling innocent blood whether it be mutant or human alike. Innocence to him is very valuable as the building block of the future, whereas BL wants to kill everyone and everything that does not value his ways regardless of innocence or not. There's a fine line between honesty and corruption. Magneto represents a more honest-like "villain". A villain who can down down as "A-Tragic Hero". If this were not true, Xavier, a man with high moral value, would not carry this man in such high regards of friendship. BL represents a corruption because people of high moral value would not give a damn about a man who kills for fun and power over others.  In that comic, it views BL as a scared old man. This is a contradiction to his belief since his belief and very faith holds death as a reward. 72 virgin girls to f*ck post-death. This if they die, 72 virgins will be waiting to give their bodies to them when they die. This is how BL was brainwashing his men and the men following behind him are just horny sickos that would die for this kind of bliss. So contradiction has it that if what that comic really did portray BL as a scared old an basically says that the man didn't even belief in his own faith! This in the real world is what you call Hypocrite. Which is basically what BL and his teachings really are in this world. Corruption and hypocrisy. It had nothing to do with God and Country.... No War does.
Posted by Delphic

@TitsteR said:

@Delphic said:

@TitsteR said:

He was a villain since the 70's. He knew what was coming to him since the beginning he molested the 1st child. He was much worst a character than Magneto, Thanos, and Mephisto.

Well I personally wouldn't consider Magneto, because he did do some horrible things in the name of mutant kinds, but he still reformed to some extent.

Magneto did some horrible things such as what? Killing people when being attacked or when other of his kind is being attacked? Is self-defense or the moral of defending others really that horrible? Yes, death is horrible when it comes from the means of a tragic event, but you have to look in all perspectives and not just through the events. Magneto was not a bad person despite his actions and poor decision makings. He defended others and he was an avenger, however, has Magneto has Magneto tired to force religion down peoples throats? Has he forced women and children under his will just for his pleasure? Does he tell his men do sacrifice their life for him? In reflection, it may seem that BL was an avenger too, but deep down he was protecting his own worship and praising a religion that makes men like him dominate against not just a race but gender the same. Yes, this might seem similar to Magneto, but Magneto doesn't like spilling innocent blood whether it be mutant or human alike. Innocence to him is very valuable as the building block of the future, whereas BL wants to kill everyone and everything that does not value his ways regardless of innocence or not. There's a fine line between honesty and corruption. Magneto represents a more honest-like "villain". A villain who can down down as "A-Tragic Hero". If this were not true, Xavier, a man with high moral value, would not carry this man in such high regards of friendship. BL represents a corruption because people of high moral value would not give a damn about a man who kills for fun and power over others. In that comic, it views BL as a scared old man. This is a contradiction to his belief since his belief and very faith holds death as a reward. 72 virgin girls to f*ck post-death. This if they die, 72 virgins will be waiting to give their bodies to them when they die. This is how BL was brainwashing his men and the men following behind him are just horny sickos that would die for this kind of bliss. So contradiction has it that if what that comic really did portray BL as a scared old an basically says that the man didn't even belief in his own faith! This in the real world is what you call Hypocrite. Which is basically what BL and his teachings really are in this world. Corruption and hypocrisy. It had nothing to do with God and Country.... No War does.

I think we misunderstood one another. I wasn't comparing Magneto to Bin Laden. Magneto is a far cry from Bin Laden. The intentions behind Magneto's crusade was pure, but his methods employed against humans only made humans fear mutants more. I was saying I wouldn't put Magneto in the same category of villains as Mephisto or Thanos who both are evil for the sake of being evil. Magneto is an avenger as you said and there is cause behind the killing he does.

Posted by Volpe

I don't know what to think about Fraction now. Should I be impressed, or worried about him?

Posted by Delphic

@Volpe: I read the creator notes for the comic and both writer and artist make it pretty clear where they stand on their opinion of Osama Bin Laden. I think they were really just attempting to use their creative license, and for them to make a person like Osama seem like a human being shows major creative talent, so personally I'm impressed, but it's really your call.

Posted by Superguy0009e

a man that plans mass murder isnt a normal man, probably had something wrong with him

Posted by Jonny_Anonymous

I don't believe any one is truly evil same way as I don't think any one is purely good

Posted by tron_bonne

Ugh, I don't like Fraction's method of writing at all.

Posted by SC

Cool and interesting blog.  
 
I don't believe in the concept of an inherent evil. Its just a label that can be assigned and its merit often depends. There are both subjective and objective elements involved. Its possible that Osama may have mellowed in old age. There is a reason that most suicide bombers are really young but the people who order them around and send them aren't. So maybe his faith in his cause had faltered with time, age and his living conditions. Or maybe his resolved hardened. Hard to tell. Both seem viable. Either would mean different things as far as the state he was in when he died.  
 
He's just human to me as well. Nothing more, nothing less. Human's cover a broad range. Its their capacity for things that create the variety, that entails ignorant, to educated, aware to deluded, powerful to weak, compassionate to callous. Obviously much more than that, but those combinations can be pretty - can result in some scary results, as well as the opposite.  
 
Fiction done right to me is interesting, because we can explore these combinations, and actions in a safe bubble. Can be tricky though because we can dig deeper into subjects we can't in real life. 

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Posted by DANCECATEXE

@Delphic:

Not really and that would be impossible. If I thought he or his people had another point of view to draw from in the first place I couldn't look at him subjectively. He was taught to believe as were his people that they were goods chosen ones to defeat evil in this world, and that America was the devil, literally incarnate. As well we we're at war with them at the time, bombing them to ash would actually be the correct term, them and their wives and children. Like I said I loathe what him and his people did, it's tragic, but he himself wasn't the embodiment of anything, just misled and uninformed at the least. Which is pretty sound. He wasn't an American so his only idea of us would be anything he was told, and only ideals could center around what he was told of life, the world, the universe and the afterlife. He actually believed what they were doing was right. Remember, these are people who believe it's awesome to give even their own mortal lives for the variation of good they believe to govern life. There's more exact details to it of course. In short, there wasn't anything for him to " consider " as it was outside his perception, perception which for all of us defines everything we know. His methods are not my own, and I would stand against them given the chance and situation, but I'm not even sure of I would be able to claim what I would do in effect would be good or evil, or just what I felt to and was inclined. So defense of his actions personally no, but I don't endorse mass killing nor naked force. Then again I have the luxury of having been shown another way, and experienced it firsthand to know it works, so the option is their for me in my perceptions. I'm not comfortable with the way I choose to view some people, trust me. But my decision is to love life and humanity. That means I can't outcast anyone, or that will only be the beginning of me agreeing that I can be selective and eventually find fault in everyone whether they are extreme or not and begin to despise humanity, and darken my heart in turn. I believe all people can be cured with love, and it's lesser applied than hate and violence sadly. So, I despise what they do, but not them.