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March 16, 2006



You could argue that Alix's compassion is part of what's keeping that jaded, negative view of superheroes around. In this story, she still empathizes with Sally. She has to violently shut out that empathy to attack her, but in the end she's concentrating on finding help for her. She refuses Vigilante ouright because she's empathizing with these failed heroes and these failed villains. She feels for Sally, and thinks she's a emssed up girl. She feels for her husband, and thinks he was messed up. She's blaming superheroics for it, and is trying to reject a way of life that's her only natural option because of it. She doesn't want to beat up people she empathizes with. She doesn't want to have to comfort people because they never got to save the world. She wants to go back to her normal job, which was vital, and was helping people who needed her. A teacher for autistic children is a job that requires compassion. A superhero needs to hut off compassion to suceed.



I just got a Spyder tattoo from Bulleteer #2 on my back and I'm so proud of it. Can anyone assist me in posting it here or barbelth's bulleteer webpage?



I think I'll pass on the tattoo (although I understand the pride--that J.H. Williams III Spyder design is great). I'm sure someone over at Barbelith can help.

Ragnell, I think you're right that Alix's empathy contributes to her rejection of her superhero role, but she's made a terrible error in judgment (admittedly, on the basis of some pretty persuasive evidence): for Morrison, superheroes are figures of compassion who thrive by extending that empathy to the whole of humanity. Right now Alix thinks, based on the encounters with Sally and the rest, that she has to shut off her compassion in order to be a superhero, but that mistake has led her to shirk her responsibilities to us all (ah, Marvel!). The Sheeda will destroy those autistic children along with everybody else, right? And ironically it's that very compassion that will make Alix a great superhero, in Morrison's moral universe, if she steps into the role.

By now I assume everybody's seen Jog's review linking Bulleteer to Guardian as well as bad girl comics?

And, a random thought: did Mind-Grabber Kid fulfill his destiny to save the world when he stood up at just the right moment to spare her from Spyder's arrow--leaving her alive to fulfill her destiny to save the world?


I never got from the text that Bulleteer has shut off her compassion. While her empathy and such has made her a standout character, what's most striking to me is her portrayal as a real human being —who just happens to have powers.

Yes, Alix has extended her understanding to Helligan, Black Hand, Nepton, Thumbelina, Old Hollywood and Mindgrabbber Julian... but the buck stops when people show themselves to be impervious to dialogue.

Alix summarizes her distaste for superheroism in the end, and I never received the message that she cut off her compassion, but instead grew tired of the normalized super-clichés —all of which, when taken together, prevented her from getting actual hero work done. Superheroes gorged on the lives of each other —generating another world entirely separate from the one they were intended to be a productive part of.

In Sally's case, she never grew up. She never developed wisdom from her experiences, and lost sight of what was always important. She turned on other people, and though sad, needed to be stopped first, and helped later. And that's exactly what Alix did.

If anything, Bulleteer penetrated right through the incestuous, impervious world of superhumans, and resolved to be a human being with a real life in the real human world of the DCU.

Any thoughts on Alix's maiden name being Travis?


Chad--The problem is, those other real human lives in the real human world of the DCU won't last much longer if Alix doesn't fulfill her role in Seven Soldiers #1. Yes, she quite sensibly stops Sally with force after her attempts at sympathy and understanding fail, but she vocally renounces her own sympathy to do so and then assumes that's all superheroism is about--that, or the kind of fetishization, developmental arrest, failure and death she's seen in every other character in this miniseries. She doesn't reactivate her sympathy when Vigilante approaches her, saying, "I don't want anything more to do with this twisted, horrible world!"--perhaps only referring to the world of superheroes, but she'll doom the rest of the world just to spite that one little subculture while she's sulking in her tent. So the fate of the world depends on somebody (perhaps Alix herself) stirring her out of this funk and reawakening her compassion along with her sense of responsibility and her willingness to identify as a superhero.

The Crimson Avenger as Alix's ancestor would be an interesting connection to the original Seven Soldiers--and hey, it even matches her costume--but if Morrison means the first superhero in DC's continuity and not its publication history then maybe she's a direct descendant of, I don't know, Anthro or something.


Sulking in her tent?

So you think she believes Vigilante's plea that "the world is doomed, unless you, specifically you, save it!" ?

This is a woman who just got home from a job as a bodyguard for a self-involved movie star where she talked some positive sense into self-obsessed F-list cameo character. And then suddely found herself in a ridiculously exaggerrated grudge match she wanted nothing to do with because another woman was jealous of her.

So when Vigilante comes up to her and explains the scenario, she stops him right there, saying she thinks he's exhibiting paranoid schizophrenic behaviour, like Sally Sonic. When he insists, she takes that as another example of self-interested monologue that places responsiblity on someone else's shoulders (like Sally Sonic), and she's not going to be part of that game any longer. "Are you even listening to me?" she asks.

Bulleteer may in fact be damning the world by not participating in saving the world, but from her perspective, it makes sense to refuse Saunders. He's obviously exaggerating from a self-important panicked "glass is half-empty" perspective, like everyone else she's met in the last 24 hours. There are more immediate concerns that are less "glorified". Plus, she lives in a world with the JLA, Doom Patrol, Freedom Fighters and hundreds of other heroes (Mind Grabber Man) who would flip at the chance to save the day. She's not damning the world as much as stepping aside to suggest maybe someone else, more inclined to this "twisted, horrible world", join the fight.

...Perhaps I'm reading into Alix too much, but I sincerely don't think her character is being portrayed as selfish and unthinking.

It's funny that you mention "to identify as superhero". I think that's the entire problem with Alix. She doesn't want that. She wants to do the right thing. And that means cutting through the overwhelming selfishness that soaks that identification.


Chad, you might identify the superhero with overwhelming selfishness, but Morrison doesn't. This is a crossover in which a superhero museum serves as a quiet reminder of the noble, selfless qualities in the human race that refute Dark Side's Anti-Life Equation, in which a superhero bodhisattva learns compassion for his captor and forgiveness for himself so he can free us all. In rejecting that role, Alix rejects all the qualities Morrison argues superheroes should embody. That isn't to say they always do or that fans always appreciate them for those qualities, as this series has reminded us for four issues, but in stepping aside Alix does nothing to remedy that.

And I think you're working overtime to dismiss Alix's behavior. She says the Vigilante might be a shock-induced hallucination, but she doesn't really care: she's so desperate to not be a superhero (as if she can be anything else anymore) that on the last page she rejects his mission whether it's real or not, explicitly turning her back on the rest of the human race. Her final line is "World, save yourself." What was that about shifting responsibility onto someone else's shoulders?

Morrison explains very well what's brought her to this point; it's a completely believable decision on her part. But it's also a colossal mistake--as a rejection of her own best character traits, as a renunciation of one of the crossover's recurring themes, and on the pure plot level of world destruction. It's a beautiful play by Morrison as it integrates so many registers so smoothly while setting up a great dilemma for the final issue.

And a dilemma that many of the other Soldiers have already faced. Guardian was on the verge of quitting; Klarion could have abandoned its people; Shilo was driven to suicide; Ystin was weighed down by guilt in a fashion that puts "Evil Dust" to shame. Now it's Alix's turn either to give in or to embrace her role and all its responsibilities, wanted or not.

Peter Hensel

Chad, I think your gratuitously altruistic view of Alix has some significance, but an important trait of Alix is her oblique view of what is important and right. Seeing the ad for a "Powerhouse," signing up to help the seven soldiers, and then standing them up is incredibly selfish, just because "[superheroes] were the last kind of people [she] wanted to meet." While true, her presence with the seven soldiers from the #0 special wasn't shown as incredibly important, similar to Vigilante's offer to save the world in #4. She denied being a superhero before becuase she didn't want to empathize with other heroes.

Throughout the mini series, she refuses to be a superhero. When her husband Lance proposes the application of the Smart Skin, which would keep her forever beautiful and forver young, and a super hero, she flatly dismisses the notion, joking at it. She never sees the value of becoming a super hero, so obviously when forced into becoming a super powered bodyguard, acting like a hero and saving lives, she would be unhappy with that job of being a super hero. It just fits her character. She does not assess her situation and decide helping autistic children is the best option, instead of saving the world. In her parochial world view, her excessive empathy makes her want to save other people's emotions. That makes her feel meaningful and good in the world. Saving the world, on the other hand? She didn't even feel excited saving Stellamaris (themermaid at the convention in #3). Surely risking her neck for an entire world of faceless human beings would be twenty times more unsatisfying than saving an individual and getting paid for it.


Great comments.

As to the Evil Serum, I somewhat felt that the implication was that Sally was using the drug's influence as an excuse, as a way of avoiding responsibility for her actions, which would fit into Morrison's theme of stunted maturity. And I doubt it's a coincidence that it's so reminiscent of those plot devices used by so many superhero writers, even in these days of 'realism,' to explain why good characters turn into villains.


Magical brain surgery! Yeah, good point. I guess I'm more bothered by the Vigilante and Lois/Superman examples, where Morrison wants to let the characters off the hook that easily, and the Evil Serum bugs me insofar as it seems part of that trend.

Peter, I certainly don't fault Alix for refusing to go along with Lance's (Lance, spear--ouch) desire to douse her in smartskin--that was fetishization, not altruism, and the desire to remain forever young and changeless has been roundly criticized throughout Seven Soldiers as an emotional and psychological cage. It's no wonder that Alix rejects the world of superheroes when Lance, who loved it for its worst qualities, was her first exposure to it. Nevertheless, I agree that Alix is being pretty irresponsible by the end of #4.

And I love the comments, too. Keep 'em coming!


Marc, I wasn't suggesting "the superhero" was an inherently selfish identification, but rather the self-indulgent behaviour exhibited by some who do identify as such. And most evidently, those characters featured as foils for Alix.

The way I see it: as Mister Miracle escaped the traps of comic plots of the Modern Age, Bulleteer punctured the characterizations. It's all meta-narratives, and I desperately wish Alix to return.


reply to Marc

re: tattoo.
no sweat. But just to make a correction. It's the shot (pardon the pun) from Bulleteer #2 page 1 by Yanick Paquette that I had done. Not the J.H. Williams version from SS#0. Too much spider-web details in those drawings.

Thanks for your time, man.

Peter Hensel

Marc, while not compeltely clear in my comment, I meant to show how much Alix rejects super heroes as a whole, not denounce her for not wanting to be one, although by the end, I, too, desperatle want her to go save the world.

The suggestion of Seven Soldier's as a "puncturing" or deconstruction of super hero tropes and cliches is an interesting one. So far, I had only focused on the larger theme of mental transformation and improvement. The Guardian loses his love not from villains, but from his girlfriend's worry, and that same worry never materializes in many other super heroes' relationships. MJ still stays with Peter even though she cries every night, worried about him, in Ultimate Spiderman, for instance. Something to think about.

Peter Hensel

These comments helped spur an essay I had lost direction with, especially the allusions to the evil serums, thanks guys! I should have it posted in an hour at the latest.

Mark Simmons

Marc: I saw your comments before reading the issue itself, and when I read the actual story, my first thought was that you might have read more into this Evil Serum business than there really was to it. Despite Vitaman's protests, it's just a comic-book version of Bad Drugs, right?

But on second thought, there's also Vitaman's confession on the following page that he's pimped out poor little Sally as part of a complex scheme to get revenge on her father - another redundant comic-book plot device superimposed on top of a perfectly plausible mundane story. So perhaps this is a running theme after all.

There's still the question of what the Evil Serum actually does, though. I'm not sure it's the cause of Sally's corruption, or just an enabling device - perhaps, like Sublime in New X-Men, a little something to help the super-people stay in character...

Meanwhile, another recurring theme in Bulleteer seems to be the concept of team-ups, which - as per Seven Soldiers #0 - are how super-people confirm their identities, surrounding themselves with people who share their delusions so that they can all reinforce each other. Judging from this final issue, the arch-nemesis thing is just another form of team-up, and the "Bulleteer and Sally" catchphrase works just as well whether they're lovers or deadly rivals. In that case, even fighting bad guys becomes merely an exercise in mutual role-playing. No wonder Alix decides to give up on the whole thing, even when the Vigilante appears with his call to genuine heroism against a genuine threat.

Prof. Fury

So: Alix has her mouse, the Guardian has Baby Brain, Zatanna and Misty, Klarion and his kitty, Mr Miracle and Mother Box, Justine and her horse (and Frankenstein with one issue yet to go)--I wonder if there's something going on here beyond a more general point about, you know, working together being important, that will pay off in SS#1. Would it be too much to speculate that the *real* 7S will be the sidekicks? Okay, probably, yes, that's probably too much.


Probably, but it does remind me that I wanted to tally up some lists--animal companions, the Seven Ancient Treasures--and see if we have any other sets of seven (complete or otherwise) lurking around the plot. Maybe after the last issue of Frankenstein.


Over on the 'lith, we were discussing the theme of externalized consciences, wherein animal familiars become Jiminy Crickets to their protagonists. Ystin becomes separated from hirs, in the form of Vanguard. Jake challenges his - the disembodied voice of Ed Stargard. Zatanna protects hers as Misty, and collects a new one as the Merlin... Klarion merges wth his in the end, Shiloh merges with his in the beginning, Alix's familiar is her skin, and Frank's is his blood. Each externalized conscience gets closer and closer to the hero, becoming more and more an essential component.


That sounds fantastic. Can you give us a link?

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