Sunday, August 27, 2006

Super Villains

I’m thinking about super villains.

Darth Vader was voted in a poll the most evil heinous villain of all cinematic time. Wow. Now that is some serious cache. When you understand where he came from, and what he was trying to do (albeit in a very bad and foolish way), you can sympathize with him – if only for a moment.

Dracula. There’s another one. Dark. Really dark. He sucks blood, he steals souls, he is unredeemable. Yet, there is something inside of him that sparks recognition? Identification? I don’t know what exactly.

But to have a good hero, you need a good villain. A good villain is committed to his path. A good villain is crafty. I’m thinking more here about a thinking villain, as opposed to one acting on psychotic impulse, or the typical fare you get in the average thriller.

I’m thinking about a villain concerned with legacy. Vadar had legacy issues. So did Dracula. They had wives, in perverse marriages, yes, but it shows this desire. The dark hero, as villain, needs to possess. They much control. Still, you can relate. And that brings me to the real uber villain of Star Wars: Emperor Palpatine.

He had a plan. He was patient. He was multi dimensional in it’s execution. He was the phantom menace that manifested his revenge with grace and sly dignity, because he didn’t rush. He was committed to his path. He used the situations around him and the beings around him to his own end, giving them what they thought they wanted when it was really what he wanted. Orchestrated. That is the word I’m searching for: the master villain is a maestro: he orchestrates. And he orchestrates a legacy, an Imperial legacy of order that consolidates power. He did not have a wife, no, but he had an apprentice.

There is something to this sith thing, always two, a master and an apprentice. Short of cloning, it gives the villain the ability to be two places at once. The apprentice is no hireling, no mere minion, he is the image of the villain. If some is good, more is better. To fight an uber villain is bad enough, but, to fight an uber villain and apprentice: there is trouble. I like stories where there is dimension to my villains, and apprentices add dimension. But I also need something else. I need proof my villian is bad. First hand for your eyes only proof.

Today I had to put a book down. It started off strong, but hit the sagging middle, and then relied on implied threat of a villain who was weakly portrayed. He had all the above potential, but was actualized weakly. I can’t determine why. I think it was because everyone kept saying how bad this guy was, too much telling, not enough actual bad happening. And when he was bad, it happened off camera (so to speak) and once again, we as readers were relegated to second hand information about his bad from the other characters. This was in contrast to the short story I just read, A Practical Man, where you as reader got up close and personal with the villains and their unique brand of bad. The immediacy of this produced exellent results, made the villains credible and the heros that much more heroic for their approach to handling the threat.

Anyway, 234 more pages to go in August to reach the 5K marathon goal. I have so many choices in the TBR pile and in my e books file. Then there is Tim's TBR shelves, which contain books that are technically also part of my TBR pile. I wish I had something Gothicy to read - spooky, creepy, disturbing maybe. The air is cold with the coming fall, the skies clouldy and rain soaked: this is great gothic weather.

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