Discovery

11b was the manifestation of truth in young Theo, whose home was sabotaged by the decisive Jack Slash. Browbeaten by the fearsome person who had just fought someone earlier in the same apartment, Theo was forced to reveal that he wished to become a superhero when he grows up, in order to protect the world from villains like his present captor. However, Jack, who had been on the verge of killing Theo when his mother, Purity, returned, retracted his earlier threat. Instead, he would give him two years to prepare and develop his powers, and after two years elapse the two of them would engage in a final duel fitting for the circumstances. Purity’s eventual return serves only to shock her and provide a witness to the morbid deal sealing Theo’s fate.

The concept of the butterfly effect was mentioned repeatedly. If the flap of a butterfly’s wings can cause an earthquake a continent away, surely the development of Theo would also redound significantly on the world. Theo’s fateful deal thus testifies to the fact that purpose in life is motivated by one’s effect on the surrounding society, whether for better or for worse. Jack merely expedited the process of Theo’s discovery–of his purpose in life, and of the soul within him.

Advertisements

Attack and Defense

12-Interlude serves as a synopsis of the eight existing members of the Slaughterhouse Nine (henceforth abbreviated as the Nine), who were introduced via a bloody massacre. The Nine crashed the party of Skidmark who was quickly decapitated, and proceeded to wreak havoc on the attending crowd. As the grisly bloodshed escalated among the mourning wails, the Nine were introduced through their actions. In particular, one sees that Jack is the leader of the group, with the others being instruments of his command. Nevertheless, they enjoy considerable autonomy, and Jack has to strive to maintain a careful balance among his group members. For example, two of them might be embroiled in a fatal fight that would devastate the group dynamic. To preserve order, Jack has to rely on a carrot and stick system: entice the others with special rewards befitting their own personality. For instance, Crawler’s carrot is his constant desire to evolve and be in perpetual danger to satiate his purpose in life; however, he is controlled by the potential dismemberment of the group, which removes that same purpose. In this manner Jack had to carefully study each member with scrupulous scrutiny, observing their strengths and weaknesses. This is similar to the management of a government or a body with conflicting interests and ambitions, and in the end the volatility of the situation can seriously jeopardize the group setting.

The gradual erosion of the group relates to existentialism: only individual choices are the most authentic and guarantee the most success and fulfillment of purpose overall. Indeed, Jack’s perpetual control over the others hinders the others from executing their true powers. This creates a cycle of dependence on Jack: if they step out of line, then they will be summarily punished; however, if they are obedient, then they would become more vulnerable and are eventually forced to retaliate to preserve their standing. This is evident with Mannequin, who was beheaded before the ambush of the party. This is symbolic of the fact that he lost his cool attacking Taylor. Instead of nursing his wounds, he is forced by Jack to complete the test in one fewer day than the others in order to stay in the group. The increasing demands of the group makes it increasingly more difficult to preserve the group’s stability, which further reinforces the claim that individual choices, unaffected by group mentality, do the best job at fulfilling purpose.

Survival

https://parahumans.wordpress.com/category/stories-arcs-1-10/arc-1-gestation/1-02/

The approaching hero is Armsmaster, a tinker specialized in compartmentalized weaponry. Armsmaster, like the Undersiders, mistakes Taylor for a villain. He asks if she will fight him, revealing that he cares less about putting the villains into into the custody and more about the thrill of a fight.

Of course, it also meant her costume was dark enough to fool even someone who was apparently experienced into believing she was a villain. Or so she assumes. It’s also possible that her tactic of sending the bugs at Lung’s crotch is what marked her as evil. She realized, “This was like Michael Jordan telling you sucked at basketball.”

Due to a combination of his telepathic technology and experience, he realizes her downcast expression and changes the topic to offering her a place with the Wards, the local superhero team. She turns it down. Taylor continually makes excuses to the reader explaining why she rejected it, implying she regretted the decision herself.

Of course, this is the choice that set her on the path on which the rest of the story treads.

Everything you are is the product of every choice you made since you began to exist.

Struggle

1-4: A mini-climax begins to manifest itself. Taylor immediately enacts her hero plan and stealthily creeps to the boardwalk, where she overhears the plan of the villainous ABB to exterminate all the children of the city. But for what purpose does Lung, the superhuman leader of the gang, want to extirpate the youth? Is it for his own interest, or is there a greater mastermind involved? The answer reveals the dark side of society: secret groups are formed to pursue their own cause often illicitly, like the drug cartels of Latin America. They would do anything for their own profit and the adversaries’ harm.

Of course Taylor decides to impede the plan of the ABB by sending out an armada of insects to destroy Lung. However, all of her attempts fail, as Lung embeds himself in a perpetual fire that deprives the army of insects of life and vital oxygen. He also makes himself stronger in his constant metamorphoses. But how did Lung obtain such powers that allow him to act with impunity? Whatever the case, there is a definite connection with the real world: businesses and large corporations often exploit other people to make themselves stronger. Even facing a difficulty (e.g. legal battles) simply enhances the corporation’s status instead of weakening it. As for the actual powers themselves, they might simply be symbolic of the fiery, ruthless destruction wreaked by the dominant powers.

1-5: Of course Taylor is not vaporized. On the contrary, she is saved by a mysterious group of people who are also said to be villains. So there is an apparent paradox: Taylor fought a group of villains to save another group of villains. What order remains in this conflicted world? This certainly resembles a feudal society with all of the different levels of obligations. In the end, only personal interests and brute force can preserve order. Similarly, Taylor was saved by an act of force from her saviors.

Connecting to the real world, one sees that there are predators and prey, whose food web is an elaborate, intricate system of complex relationships. It may be possible for “villains” to be fighting similar unscrupulous people, leading one to question: What is “good” and what is “evil?”

Salvaging

 

https://parahumans.wordpress.com/category/stories-arcs-1-10/arc-1-gestation/1-02/

https://parahumans.wordpress.com/category/stories-arcs-1-10/arc-1-gestation/1-03/

The first chapter left a lot of Taylor’s past to mystery: Taylor’s dreams of being a superhero and her friendship with Emma are touched on but never explored. This section explains it all.

For years and years, the two girls were the best of friends. Taylor’s mom said they were like sisters. However when Taylor’s mom died, at our protagonist’s most vulnerable, weakest, and most broken moment, Emma turned on her and used their former connection and shared secrets to destroy her. As Emma was her only close friend, Taylor was left with absolutely no support from anyone. Even her dad wouldn’t help her, for fear of making the situation worse. When her former friend traps her in a locker with months-old used tampons, the overwhelming frustration and isolation causes Taylor to trigger.

As all powers reflect traumas, Taylor’s new power allows her to control insects: they become a source of support when she has no others. This reflects three major themes of existentialism: complete and suffocating isolation coupled with constant escalation of sorrow and pain, both the products of an uncaring or even malicious cosmos.

Her new dreams of being a hero fill the void that her mother, Emma, and her detached father left behind. She pours all her time into preparation for her big debut as a hero: selecting names, designing costumes, and training her mind, body, and power.

Especially of note is her knack for turning a negative experience into a positive one. When she finds nothing she has gained, she creates a gain by learning something. This is the ONLY way humans can progress, and she has the sagacity to do so with purpose.

 

Just as Taylor suffered for her solitude, so did the city. When trade ceased to provide revenue, many of the abandoned turned to crime, which overran the city.

In 1.02, she salvages clothes, backpacks, and dead bugs. In 1.03, she salvages herself.

 

 

Shock

1-Interlude and 1-1 presented a powerful introduction to the series, immersing the reader in a world filled with blatant inequity and transcendental prowess. One sees the golden man with apparently no purpose except to perform miracles and stare at awed spectators. But what does this figure, whose name Scion only serves to epitomize his mystery, actually represent? Does he play a significant role in later parts of the story? One possible explication is that he represents a savior of the world, except he chooses not to reveal himself yet to humankind.

More enigmatic is the story of Taylor. The plot slams headfirst into the reader with a story of extreme harassment by what readers later find out to be her friends. The contrast of her unmitigated reclusion to the shining popularity of Emma poses an oxymoron to their initially being friends. But an even more important question is, why did they break up? Why did Emma lead a group of cronies to further deprive Taylor of the joy of her existence? This might be a result of the disillusionment of having a friend whom she does not understand, or an elaborate plot construed to inflict the maximum damage on certain victims. Whatever the case, Taylor’s attitude is slowly becoming more doubtful–even coming as far to question for what she is living. To that she has a response: she wants to grow up to become a superhero. This might be because doing so would allow her to exact revenge on her brutal tormentors. But more crucially, this might be a realization of existential desires. She probably wants to reform the inequities in the world by obtaining power.