Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Valiant Comics & Watchmen - Harada / Ozymandias

Watchmen, the greatest comic book ever told, has influenced a host of writers and characters since its release. In this series of articles, I'm going to make the case that it also directly influenced Valiant Comics. And why not? What better place is their to take inspiration from then the best of the medium?

In this first post, I'm going to discuss the similarities between Toyo Harada of Harbinger and Ozymandias (Adrian Veidt), and how Harada is in fact furthers the movement away from 'comic booky' writing that Alan Moore started with Ozymandias .

1. Real world characters

Both Toyo Harada and Ozymandias are attempts by their writers to take comic book characters further into reality and away from comic book conventions. Both characters are realistic, grounded characters that are depicted in a believable way and in surroundings we see in our daily lives. They act and talk like wealthy, intelligent, business men we know from the real world. They both spend more time in offices, conference rooms and building lobbies than they do in secret lairs and volcano hideouts (a direct evolution from what the creators of the characters are reacting to - Lex Luthor and Magneto). Neither has flashy or outright visual super powers that break the suspension of disbelief their real world depiction creates. Harada's powers are intelligence and mind related capabilities such as telekinesis, telepathy, mind control etc. Ozymandias powers are incredible intellect and strength. Certainly, these are exciting but don't run contrary to science. Physically, neither has the stereotype muscular comic book physique, though Ozymandias is certainly straddling the line. I would further argue that Harada is an evolved version of what Alan Moore did with Ozymandias; Harada avoids other comic book stereotypes such as code names and costumes.

2. Charisma

Partly to compensate for the lack of a visually flashy power (there is something inherently translated to the reader through a visual such as adamantium claws, blue fur or feathered wings) both men are very charismatic (both in manner and speech) and there is a seduction involved in their exploits. Ozymandias seduces other characters and the reader with his keen intellect. Because the characters in the story (and the reader) believe he is thinking about things at a deeper level and with more skill than they are, the characters are quick to believe him and therefore easily manipulated by him. Harada's seduction is similar, he uses his intellect but also his powers of mental persuasion. Additionally, he uses an emotional ploy. His targets are usually children and he plays the good father to them. Teaching them, loving them, providing for them. The tour he gives of his facilities - his show and tell - is a great example of his manipulation.  Lastly, he plays into the stereotype of the successful Asian businessman whose success is a product of his deep work ethic and attaining knowledge others don't have (this stereotype was recently used very effectively in the movie Inception with the character of Saito)

3. Moral Ambiguity

Harada and Ozymandias are the villains of their story. But their motivations, point of view and actions make it very difficult to so cleanly define them as 'bad guys'. They are certainly morally ambiguous
like magneto
wants pete to make him have a change of heart but he is our villian that we believe in. evil prof x or prof x gone too far or prof x realistically what woul dhappen

1. Both are morally ambiguious characters
2. Both are 'villians' whose pov we are drawn to
3. Both are grounded, real world types ie. charasmatic, rich, business men.
4. Both use thier powers to outwit, out smart their opponets
5. Both would appear corrupted and evil at first glance but once we get into their mindset we understand that they, like all great men in positions of power are forced to make tough choices. They bought chose to do horrible things for the greater good

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