Friday, June 1, 2012

Back from the Dead #11

The world outside of any bubble can look very different.  It’s something to do with perspective.  For instance, anyone looking from the outside in had a different interpretation of the return of the Witch Doctor.  Anyone who knew what was going on had a lot more information than those participating could have appreciated, caught up in the emotion of it.

For instance, the Witch Doctor’s return was significant, in that there had been those predicting it ever since her battle with Widowmaker, when reports came back that she vowed revenge at the moment of her death.  Now, that might be hearsay and legend and nothing to do with what might have actually been said, but superheroes being a very public concern, and many corroborating statements to the effect that this indeed happened, it’s at least possible.  There was always fascination with the Witch Doctor, as there always is with the occult, from the moment of her first appearance at the side of Justin Proper.  There was a great deal of speculation as to why he’d chosen her as his squire, whether or not he was grooming her for a specific purpose.  Of course, the Council didn’t particularly care what civilians thought of them, because their approval ratings only shot up when they first came together, each of them already famous, already groomed for the spotlight, natural-born heirs to the throne of public approval, because they dictated the course of social progress.  What else do superheroes do?

Most squires were easy to interpret, so very little thought was put into them.  The Witch Doctor was different.  She said very little, so when she spoke it was a significant occasion, and she was always saying things that could be interpreted as prophecy, whether or not she actually meant it that way.  People tend to take meaning the way they want to.  She had a cult following immediately.  Even her secret identity was said to be a fabrication, and had been made common knowledge years ago, just another element of the mystique.  She was said to possess the ability to bring others back from the dead, and although this was never confirmed, it opened the door to speculation that even her own death could never be permanent.  Thus, when she said something like, “I will cause your ruin,” in a pool of her own blood, it was assumed that she meant personal retribution.

Her relationship with Justin Proper was a major part of it.  It was assumed that she must have been a family friend, perhaps even related directly to him, and since Proper himself was always something of a bafflement, it was not inconceivable that the explanation for the Witch Doctor had necessarily in some way already been deduced by him.  If Justin Proper expressed confidence in someone, that was endorsement enough.  Something about his other squire, Meme, seemed to make even logic this flimsy hold weight.  Proper was not the major force of the Council, but he was the most respected, an outsider who was a cipher, the perfect combination.

That was the sum evaluation of the Witch Doctor as well.  Her return painted her as a savior, someone who would solve every problem.  Those who wondered why even the mighty Council had never managed to establish perfect order now came to believe that the mysterious daughter of dark arts had known the secret of the universe all along.  What further proof did they need than the Witch Doctor’s own words?

The gathering of allies was seen as proof that she was transcending the previous order and making way for a new one.  Her victory over Widowmaker was seen to be assured before it ever happened, and thus no one was surprised when the first reports came in, the corpse of her assassin delivered to the doorstep of the UN, a warning that the existence of such evil would no longer be tolerated.  She was not threatening to become a tyrant so much as serving notice.  There was no change in her personality, and thus could not be said to have changed since her return.

The Council, and especially Alpha Dog, tried to denounce her, and there was an official notice that all their squires had been replaced, and that the heroes who had once served that function were disavowed, no longer sanctioned agents of the public good.  For some, that was enough.  For others, it meant nothing at all.  The Council lost a share of its authority that day, but in many ways, nothing changed, because those who believed in them kept the faith, and those who didn’t could not be said, after all, to matter.

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