Character rundown: Undersiders, as of Buzz 7.5
Could you do a character rundown of the Undersiders? What you like about them, dislike…
Taylor “Skitter” Hebert
A cautious, reserved and resourceful girl with a desire to escape the torment she experiences in her civilian life in favor of the more exciting world of capes. While officially a villain, she originally wanted to be a hero, and she still keeps that in mind when fighting… more or less. Sometimes she imprisons people with temporally frozen bugs in every orifice, or carves their eyes out. But other than that she’s a good person!
I like Taylor quite a bit. Particularly the resourcefulness – give her just a little bit of time and she’ll have thought of a creative way out of most sticky situations. I’m not quiteas big on the cautiousness, but that’s just a personal preference in fictional characters, not criticism of how it’s written – Taylor’s cautious and reserved attitude is excellently written and always makes sense in the context of her character and her situation.
I should probably note that one of the reasons I like less cautious characters is that they’re unlike myself. In other words, I can relate to Taylor’s cautious side, though she’s a lot better at it than I am.
Taylor is also very good at rationalizing, whether it’s to explain her caution, or to excuse her more fucked-up actions to herself and the reader. Combine that with her status as the POV character, and she’s so good at it that it can be tricky for the reader not to be pulled in with her and accept her reasoning. I like this because it turns one of her greatest strengths into a pretty good flaw under certain circumstances.
In fact, she’s generally an interesting character to follow the perspective of, both due to her moral struggles and because her intelligence and caution makes her think about things in detail. This helps the narration believably cover a lot of worldbuilding that I wouldn’t have otherwise thought about (or would’ve been horribly wrong about).
Oh, and of course, let’s not forget that Taylor can be damnadorable sometimes.
Brian “Grue” Laborn
Taylor’s dream guy – a kind, handsome young man with maturity and childlike traits in one package, and a rational, pragmatic approach to life. As the de facto leader of the Undersiders, he’s naturally inclined to take charge and isn’t afraid to do so, but does his best to be fair to the other members even when angry. Unlike the other members, he lives away from the Loft, which along with his villainy is part of a strong effort to take over custody of his sister from their neglectful mother.
Brian is just a really good dude, y’know? What’s not to like?
I mean, the thing I’ve just learned about him feeling naturally inclined to take charge seems like it hints at him having a bit of a bossy side, but from the way the team makes decisions democratically in spite of that and the way he seems to be fine with that arrangement, I think it’s pretty clear that he’s doing his best to curb that instinct.
Lisa “Tattletale” McKnowitall
The one who knows, and the one we don’t. After Alec’s backstory was revealed in 7.1, Lisa became the Undersider we know the least about, even though she’s been one of the most prominent ones.
Lisa looks at villainy, and maybe life itself, as a game. She appears cheerful and knowing at all times, and while it’s hard to tell how much of the cheerfulness might be a facade, the “knowing” part certainly isn’t.
I’m not going to lie – I’m a huge fan of characters like Lisa. A cheerful, smug attitude that may or may not be somewhat fake? Knowing more about you than you do, and willing to use all of that to manipulate you? Willing to take risks simply for the thrill, without being outright stupid about it? Endlessly supportive about that crush another character is being shy about, and somewhat subtly teasing them about it?
Sign me the fuck up.
Alec “Regent” ??? (formerly ??? “Hijack” Vasil)
Holy fucked-up backstory, Batman.
The laid-back, somewhat immature teammate who occasionally gets on Brian’s nerves – pun intended – with his irresponsible actions. Alec doesn’t seem to care about much outside battle, which may be a result of his, um, “upbringing” as a product of his father’s one-stag parahuman breeding program. Either Heartbreaker permanently altered his mind with his power (we’ve had confirmation that he uses the power on his children, but not what he does with it), or Alec’s coping mechanism of detaching himself from his actions left him having a hard time not being detached.
Despite knowing well how fucked up his father is, Alec still seems to want to impress him. This might be another result of either Heartbreaker’s power or simply a normal issue for victims of abuse – hard to tell.
I don’t have all that much else to say about Alec, and that’s pretty much my main issue here. Alec is an alright guy, but I don’t feel like we’ve seen much from him. Lisa is the Undersider we know the least about, but Alec is still the one we know the least. I’m hoping that the reveal of his backstory is a sign that this is about to change.
Rachel “Bitch” (“Hellhound”) Lindt
Rachel is quite… intense, but withdrawn. By whim of her power, she thinks like a dog, which makes for difficulty when she tries to interact with other humans. She’s a bit of an odd one out as a result, even among the Undersiders. On the other hand, she gets along with dogs splendidly, and saving them from abuse and incompetence is something she’s passionate about.
Rachel is not someone I would like to know and interact with in real life, but she’s a damn interesting character, thanks to her unusual way of thinking and how it affects every interaction she has. Getting along with her forces Taylor to put more effort than usual into understanding the way she thinks and adapting to it, and it’s very satisfying to see that paying off a bit in this arc. The events of 7.3 also helped show that there’s more to her than Taylor had assumed, and I’m looking forward to seeing more of that as Taylor gets to know her better.
Hey Krix, from where you are right now, partway through arc seven, where do you imagine the story is going to go, long term? Would you care to make some predictions/wild guesses as to future happenings?
For all I’ve been through, it’s still rather difficult to tell the narrative scale of many of the subplots. For instance, the War of the Docks could just as easily last the whole story out as just for a few more Arcs.
Coil’s master plan having been revealed now does give something of a long-term goal for the protagonists, if they ultimately accept his terms – they can work towards taking control over the city and helping it improve. There’s also the possibility that they can’t trust Coil after all, and after he takes over the city with their help, it’s up to the Undersiders to topple his brutal regime, which could take anywhere from a few Arcs to two thirds of the story.
A greater threat might come to Brockton Bay late in the story. For instance, I still think there are decent odds there will eventually be a mass breakout from the Birdcage (if Lung survived Interlude 6 and gets out somehow, I pretty much guarantee a round three against Taylor with Lung in his fully draconic stage).
If not Lung, Coil or Bakuda, then maybe the Endbringers, or some parahumans with powers that makes them essentially Lovecraftian horrors (there might be overlap), will be the final bosses? I really don’t know.
Whatever the story and its ending becomes, at least I know that it’s something you can make a sequel to, so I’m going to tentatively rule out the permanent destruction of the Earth for now. 😛
(I can’t say the same about Taylor dying at the end, though. I have no guarantee that the sequel is told from her perspective.)
On a lighter note, I expect Brian x Taylor to become a couple. That, again, is a subplot that could either get tied up in this Arc, or last for pretty much as long as Wildbow wants, but I do think they will end up together eventually. And they’ll be adorable together. :3
And hey, let’s throw a random crack ship in here for good measure, and see how that goes. Hmm… how about… Greg… and… Lisa. Sure. Let’s see if Greg x Lisa happens somehow. 🙂
What do you think of the Endbringers? Any ideas on who (or what) they are?
I don’t have much to go on. All I know for sure is that they’re morally detestable to such a degree that even bringing them up is considered morbid.
To some extent, the idea has grown in my head that they might be people who were turned into Lovecraftian monstrosities by their powers, complete with blue and orange morality. There’s no actual evidence that I can recall for that, though, so it’s really just wild guessing with little to no confidence that I’m right.
Hm… I think that might have come from something discussed at the end of Agitation – the parahuman or related being who was capable of mind reading. The Simurgh, wasn’t it? Then again, people later told me that a simurgh is a sort of mythological bird, so chances seem slim for The Simurgh being a Lovecraftian horror. Though… it was probably the use of “The” in front of it, which we haven’t seen in any other parahuman name, that set me on this track in the first place.
But yeah, the odds are fairly small on that one.
As for what their goals may be: When their name first showed up, I speculated on it implying they are gunning for an apocalypse. Unfortunately, the name could just as easily refer to them killing a lot of people in pursuit of some other goal, bringing people to their end rather than the world. As such, I’m pretty much stumped there too.
But whatever they are, and whatever they want, this exchange is rather telling about their methods:
“But the real evidence to my ‘cops and robbers’ theory,” Lisa continued, “Is the reaction you see when someone crosses the line. You’ve heard about it happening. Someone finds out another cape’s secret identity, goes after the cape’s family. Or a cape wins a fight and decides his downed opponent isn’t in a state to say no if he’s feeling lusty? Word gets around, and the cape community goes after the fucker. Protecting the status quo, keeping the game afloat. Bitter enemies call a truce, everyone bands together, favors get called in and everyone does their damndest to put the asshole down.”
“Like we do with the Endbringers,” I said. I sheathed my knife.
“Holy fuck,” Lisa said, slapping the sides of the steering wheel with her hands. I think if the van had been moving, she would have hit the brakes for emphasis. Traffic was starting to move, though, so she started up the car and put it into gear, “Twice, you bring up the Endbringers in as many minutes. You’re being morbid. What’s going on?”
Namely, it tells me that they’re fucked the hell up.
How the heck do you have the self control not to devour the whole story at once??
This blog is that self control. It’s one of the reasons I’m doing this in the first place – I’m prone to binging archival content, and end up not taking my time to theorize along the way. 🙂