Proportionate Response

Whenever you are creating a situation in which the hero is going to start wreaking havoc amongst the wrongdoers, it’s always important to initially establish that the villains in question are decidedly deserving of this most righteous beat-down.  You can’t just say: “Oh, they’re villains” and throw them off a cliff.  No, you have to show them actually being bad first.  And you have to do it in such a way as to not make your hero look impotent.

You are also constrained by your genre.  In most American TV animation, the villain is only allowed to threaten to “imprison someone forever” or “make them slaves.”  Generally he or she tests out this concept on a henchperson whose henchwork has not been sufficiently henchy lately, and we get to see the result.  (Usually glowing eyes and the intoning of things like “Yes Master.”)

Then, when the threat is expanded to a larger population base, such as Chromium City or Central Planet or The Whole Universe BWAAHAHAHAHA! the hero is justified in showing up, smashing the Enslavement Machine, and throwing the villain into the Pit of Phantoms where “it’ll be a long time before he gets out of there!” (fade out out on a group laugh.)

But the hero wouldn’t actually kill him or anything.  Ew.

In more adult-oriented programming, the villain generally starts out establishing Badness by killing some people.  Either a fairly large number of inconvenient anonymous innocents, or a single innocent who happens to be connected emotionally to the hero.  A partner or a relative or some such.  Really, it’s best if the villain starts with the anonymous innocents and then latches on to the hero’s Significant Other, threatening to do the same or worse.  At this point, the hero can be forgiven almost any amount of mayhem, as long as the end result is a rescue.

But that only applies to TV episodes and movies, which have, perforce, a three-act structure and a definite beginning, middle and end.  This here is a webcomic, so all bets are off.  ‘Nuff said, yes?

Oh, and of course there is one very notable exception to the “Villains Must Be Shown Being Bad” rule.  And that is: Nazis.  Yep, throw a swastika on an armband and all the poor saps have to do is stand in front of a doorway.  Indiana Jones can hose them all down from behind with a Schmeisser MP-40 and the audience will stand up and cheer.

Let me tell you, it saves a lot of time in exposition.

Bob out.