Saturday, November 19, 2005

The Martian Manhunter Vs. Vision

For a change, today's COC fight is presented, in the grand old philosophical tradition, as a dialogue. Between Socrates and The Comic Book Guy.

S: What a admirable being is J'onn J'onzz, known by some as The Martian Manhunter! The last of his kind, he overcomes his grief at losing all he has ever known through acts of extreme nobility. Possessed of immense power, he chooses to help others, not only through force of arms, but through that most powerful of virtues, his boundless wisdom. Do you agree?

CBG: Pfft. No. Your speech only reveals your ignorance, my long-dead friend. In this contest, as in the Highlander, there can be only one victor. And that victor is one who is made by man, but who surpasses man's tawdry limitations. I speak not of the formidable Lieutenant Commander Data, but one even more stalwart than he: behold, the awe-inspiring Vision! Need I remind you that this android, in addition to possessing a supreme intellect, can fly, has super strength, can change his density, and emit destructive beams of radiation from that weird little dot between his eyes?

S: So you feel that a vast array of powers could decide this battle.

CBG: I do, Socrates.

S: Then perhaps we could renumerate some of the Martian's abilites. In addition to the flight, density changing, and super strength you speak of, J'onn J'onzz is a telepath, with all the accompanying psionic pwers; can turn invisible; has enhanced vision; can emit deadly energy beams from his eyes; and transform into any shape. These abilities I have just adumbrated do pertain to the Martian, do they not?

CBG: [Heavy sigh] They do, Socrates.

S: And this is a longer and wider list of powers than the Vision's, is it not?

CBG: It is, Socrates.

S: So we have proven, then, that on the scale you mentioned earlier, at least, the Martian wins.

CBG: [Mutters darkly]

S: What was that? I didn't quite catch it.

CBG: Nothing, nothing.

S: Now, another measure of a hero is how he he lives his life. I will not speak here of the Vision's pseudo-life as an android, for whatever one's definition of "life," it is certain that virtue, the good life, is what is to be chiefly valued. Man, machine, or Martian, actions count more than one's corporal makeup. True?

CBG: This is not quite what I had in mind when I agreed to have this little discuss---

S: I am glad we are once again in agreement. So, virtue is what we rate now. Let us start with J'onn. The Martian's friends regard him as one of the most trustworthy heroes on Earth. He has been a member of (as I believe) every single Justice League incarnation since its inception. Often, he is chosen as a leader, and a respected one at that. Even the paranoid Batman respects and trusts his green-skinned friend. All this does much to commend the Martian's skillful mind, not to speak of that highest of virtues, his wisdom, by the way. And again, in terms of raw power, he is unequalled; even such a godlike one as Superman has expressed doubts about beating J'onn in battle. Yet does the Martian use his powers in haste, or at the bidding of fickle emotion?

CBG: ...No?

S: No, he does not. The opposite, in fact, holds true. In contrast, your synthetic man has often fallen under the sway of what in man would be called emotion. In fact, he was originally a pawn of the maniacal robotic supervillain Ultron, correct?

CBG: Aha! I knew you would bring that up! He was, but he reformed, and saved---

S: He saved the Avengers, yes. But can one stray so far from one's true origin? Indeed, in the mid-eighties, the Vision used the other Avengers' absence during the Secret Wars as an opportunity to try to...?

CBG: [Weakly] ...Take over the whole world.

S: Yes. Now, our Martian has never done anything so base, has he?

CBG: No.

S: On the contrary, despite his power, he maintains a stoic distance from others weaker than he, interfering in their lives only to save them. Now tell me, Lipos, is it more honorable to openly live as what one claims to be, or to shamefully hide one's true nature in always reaching for new identities --- in the Vision's case, supervillain, human, husband, benign dictator, and oddly colorless android?

CBG: Well, that question is a bit circular, isn't it? Wait--- who do you mean, Lipos?

S: Oh, I just like to make up little Greek nicknames for my students, like Plato. In sum, Lipos, do you not feel now that J'onn J'onzz is altogether more powerful, more wise, more virtuous and more worthy of our admiration than the Vision?

CBG: If it will only make you stop talking, yes.

S: Then our session is over. Thank you for opening my mind to your point of view so that I may systematically break it down to the base untruth it was.

CBG: Worst. Dialogue. Ever.

The Champ. His girl perished in a fire. Sad. Posted by Hello

Next: Hoppy Easter

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