Ahead there be spoilers for the “Countdown to Infinite Crisis” sub-series “Sacrifice.” I’d box em, but the storyline’s a few months old and I don’t think it’s possible to discuss it at all without putting spoilers in, which would result in endless clumsy boxes.
Okay, that should be enough text to avoid unpleasant roll-overs.
A few months ago in the DC Universe, former JLA advisor Maxwell Lord was revealed to be a villain bent on discrediting all super-heroes. His plan involved using telepathic abilities to slowly manipulate Superman into attacking other heroes, thus ensuring their deaths and costing the guy from Krypton all support. By this means, Superman was made to attack Batman (whom he thought was Darkseid) and nearly killed him; soon afterwards he and Wonder Woman mixed it up, with Supes thinking he was going against Doomsday. In the course of the battle, Wonder Woman managed to injure Superman enough to slow him down so she could interrogate Lord with her magic lasso. With a wounded but still brainwashed, ambulatory, and hyper-fast healing Kryptonian behind her, WW asked Lord what it would take to make him, Lord, stop; forced to be truthful, Lord said, “Kill me.”
So she did. Snapped his neck.
Naturally this started endless controversy among the DC capes, possibly ending Diana’s friendship with Superman and Batman. My question to you Dopers is–Does anyone REALLY think Wonder Woman should have acted in any different a way? If so, why? If not, why not?
She could’ve incapacitated him–knocked him out–long enough for the effects to subside while he was captive in her lasso, then held him prisoner or dealt with him more humanely.
But given the situation–Supes was still under Maxwell’s control, and Maxwell could’ve killed her even under the lasso’s influence–I do think what she did was justifiable. I don’t have much sympathy for Maxwell Lord, but there you go.
I haven’t read comics for years so I don’t know how much of the immediate post-Crisis WW reboot is still in effect (I know Diana got promoted to Goddess of Truth for a while and her mother took over the WW role for a while and, like, the invisible plane is back and junk) but that WW was much more the, to purloin a phrase, warrior princess than the pre-Crisis WW was. She was definitely presented as someone who would kill if necessary (she iced a couple of demi-gods in the first few issues of the new book). Not having read the series in question and not knowing if WW currently has the ability to compel behaviour other than truth-telling with her lasso (like on the TV show how she could order people around and induce specific amnesia), I don’t know if she could have, say, ordered Lord to release his current hold on Superman and prevent him from ever doing it again and/or make him forget he has mind control powers. If she’s in the heat of a pitched battle and the man himself is saying that the only way to stop him is to kill him, then I don’t have a problem with her actions.
Can she order people to do things with the lasso? I thought it just made them tell the truth? Which, technically, he did. If Lord was controlling Superman, then knocking him (Lord) out would have worked. If it was implanted and sealed off, without Lord’s continuing mental control, then yes, I’d go with killing him.
In the TV series, she could compel people to act with the lasso, and could also induce amnesia. Usually used to make thugs forget they saw her and turn themselves into the police. I don’t remember if post-Crisis she can compel people to act, or in fact if she ever could in the comics. There were a couple of powers invented for the TV show that had no basis in the books.
Ethically, superheroes don’t kill. They’re supposed to revere and preserve life. She willfully violated the tenets of her chosen profession.
As a soldier, in a war, it might be argued she’d just triumped in battle behind enemy lines. If a captured enemy is making future threats against you and your fellow soldiers, you might be well-justified in killing him if you needed to evade capture or needed to effect an escape. But they’d nuetralized the immediate threat, they had every reason to believe their area was reasonably secure. They were in cotrol of the situation. She cannot reasonably claim self-defense…
And this wasn’t just any enemy combatant: this was the enemy leadership, a man who had information pertinent to areas of the current attack and many major crimes answer for. Typically these men are captured alive to face debriefing, interrogation, trials and tribunals.
Also problematic: she killed a clearly subdued man over the objections of her fellow officer who was standing right there. She listened to his threats, judged and executed him. If both of them felt he was an immediate threat and reacted to immediate danger, that would be one thing. But they were just talking. Only Wonder Woman reacted as she did. He wasn’t a threat. This was also recorded and broadcast.
See, this is the thing. Maxwell Lord isn’t an immediate threat, since Superman is slowed down in that scene, but once his healing powers kick in Diana is very much in danger.
Maxwell Lord, to all intents and purposes (from what I’ve seen in current continuity, please correct me if I’m wrong) cannot be compelled to do anything with the lasso. She can’t make him stop the mind control. She can unloop him and knock him out, and keep him sedated, but his implication is clear: once he wakes up, he’ll start using his telepathy again. What does she do then? Keep him permanently unconscious for the rest of his life?
Exactly. If you have a mindcontrolled Kryptonian around, your first priority should be to minimize casualties, especially your own. Lord set her up, and she did the most practical thing she could have, since she didn’t know if knocking him out would stop Superman. It was a snap judgement, and in the short term, the best choice.
It’s sort of a contrived set-up for the sake of advancing the plot.
Wonder Woman could have killed Lord while he was in actively in control of Superman and killed Lord to free Superman. But that would be entirely justified.
Superman could have killed Lord in self-defense, or even accidentally, while fighting off Lord’s mental control. But that would have been understandable.
Or they could have knocked him unconscious and taken their chances.
Between the availablity of the Phantom Zone, the Purple Ray, various mind controlling devices, simple state execution
So instead we have a situation where Lord is firmly under WW’s control, Superman is freed, and Lord is acting uncharacteristically arrogant (even for him) and is goading WW into killing him, so that his murder can be broadcast and further trigger the OMAC Protocols. It hinged on Wonder Woman acting against the likely reactions of a trained superhero warrior with a defeated and trussed captive in her charge. So she talks to him and calmly murders him. It’s even less justifiable than her killing Von Bach in KINGDOM COME.
On the one hand, what Diana did was not only legally defensible (in defense of herself Superman’s free will, and anyone around them), but arguably morally defensible as well. She took the clearest action possible to solve the problem and prevent the further loss of life.
On the other hand, she took the easy way out. She’s a superhero. She knows many telepaths, super-scientists, and magicians. She hangs out with honest-to-Bullfinch Gods on a regular basis. There was another way out. She didn’t *have *to do it.
So ultimately, it’s a question of when killing is justified: when it’s the clearest course of action to prevent further suffering, or only when it’s, no fooling and guranteed, the only possible answer.
I side with Superman on this one, but I can’t say I don’t see Diana’s side of things.
Like I said, was Lord controlling Superman? Or was the order to fight her just implanted, sort of fire and forget?
If yes, I totally support her and would have done the same thing.
If no…it was a bad move.
This brings up a facet of the DC universe I hadn’t considered before: with all the heroes around, it’s AMAZING the public’s never seen one of them kill someone, even accidentally. I’m not saying they kill often, or should, it’s just that realistically it would happen, at least with people just starting out with powers.
Sorry, just musing there, not intending to hijack.
I’m sure they have, but the images of WW they saw was presented without context, and even slightly doctored so that Max wasn’t in his scary checkmate uniform. All they saw was WW killing a bound man, a well-respected businessman and former Justice League associate.
It’s a bit different from seeing someone kill a supervillain in the heat of combat.
Superman’s killing the Phantom Zone Criminals isn’t public knowledge, but Max isn’t the first person killed by a hero that the public knows about. Even ignoring violent vigilantes like Wild Dog, Hitman or the Eradicator.
Flash was tried (but aquitted), for killing Professor Zoom, when the latter attempted to murder his fiancee. I’m sure one of the times Green Arrow killed is known. Jack Knight killing the Mist’s son is known, I’m 99% sure.
The difference is, as Menocchio said, none of their killings are presented to the public by the victim’s agents, to make it look like the unprovoked murder of an innocent.
Out of curiousity, what exactly was Batman’s response to this? For various reasons, I’d expect him to be among the least concerned with the actions taken. (He personally doesn’t kill, but he is pragmatic to a fault, so…)
That’s never been completely true. Golden Age heroes killed, even squeaky-clean ones like Captain Marvel and Captin America. In his earliest appearances, Batman killed bad guys with the ruthless efficency of his immediate inspiration, the Shadow.
“Heroes never kill” was specifically a Silver Age convention, and the Silver Age ended when characters like Conan, Punisher and Wolverine became insanely popular in the 70s. And even during the 60s, there was always Nick Fury and the T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents racking up impressive body counts.
Modern-day Batman doesn’t kill, to the disappointment of the families of the Joker’s victims every time he breaks out of Arkham. I’ve never heard a convinving rationale for leaving Joker alive.
I say she should have let him live, and just run off into hiding…if the rest of the superheroes and the public at large are just going to condemn her for saving them from a brainwashed kryptonian anyway, they deserve to fry. Let 'em enjoy their moral purity on their way to hades.
Maybe later she can plant some nice Themysciran roses on the charred, villain-infested ruins of Earth.
What, you were expecting my usual “end justifies the means, greatest good for the greatest number, and the bad guys knew the risks of the game when they signed up” angle?
Not well. Present-day Batman doesn’t kill, and takes a very hard line against killing (not that he hasn’t been tempted himself, but he’s never given in). If he wasn’t on everyone’s shit list himself right now (he built the satellite that caused this whole thing), he’d be Wonder Woman’s harshest critic.
As for the absurdities of the non-killing code, it’s a place where storytelling logic runs head first into publishing logic. We want good antagonists to appear again and again, we like (at least some of the time) heroes to take a hard line against killing, and we want such behavior to be mostly rational. We can’t have all three. By letting Joker return to an asylum with a revolving door, Batman’s showing an irrational faith in the system that’s failed again and again. But, if someone killed the Joker, he’d be back in six months, he’s simply too good a villain to waste. It’s a genre trope that ought not to be examined too closely, like how radiation=powerz instead of cancer.
True. It isn’t Batman’s failing that keeps the Joker around it is, in the story, the system’s failure to deal with that type of criminal. In the real world it is that teh Joker is too good a villian to keep dead.
Pre Crisis Joker was executed for his crimes in “The Joker’s last mile” That was in the 1940s and he still came back.
As for Batman I give him the pass. The “killer Batman” only existed for a few stories. For most of his published history he had the do not kill code. Even in his “Killer” days he stated “As much as I hate to take a life I have to…”
Batman’s code only makes sense in his reality. Murder took away his parents and that psychologically scarred him to the point where he’d run around in tights pounding the crap out of people to avenge them. It’s likely his aversion to killing is linked with his other mental problems.