About a year ago, I wrote an article stating that Juggernaut should be a villain. Consider this the flip-side of that article. I think that Bishop should be a hero, and I’m somewhat chagrined that he’s not.
At one point, it used to be common for villains to turn into heroes. Villains would realize the fruitlessness of their endeavor- they’d realize that crime doesn’t pay. Or they’d realize that they just didn’t have it in them to commit crimes. Or they’d become friends with the hero, and sometimes even fall in love with the hero, and be wooed to the side of the good guys. Villains would reform. They’d be redeemed. And it was a good thing.
I liked what it said about humanity. That even the worst villains can have some good in them and can be brought over to the side of good. I liked what it said about heroes. That there was something even better than defeating your own opponent; there was the possibility of bringing your opponent over to your side. For those and many other reasons, I’ve always loved stories of redemption.
I liked seeing former villains Hawkeye, Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch welcomed into the Avengers and become some of that team’s most steadfast members. Chris Claremont has a reputation for turning his villains into noble heroes- as he did most notably with Magneto- but the Avengers have the X-Men beat in this regard. Besides those first three, the Avengers also brought Black Widow, Wonder Man and Sandman into the fold. The Justice League of America didn’t have as good a track record, though Ice Maiden and Major Disaster would both become members. However, Justice Leaguer the Flash helped reform former Rogues like Pied Piper and the Trickster.
This isn’t just a comic book phenomenon either. I like that Buffy: The Vampire Slayer saw former foes Anya, Faith and Andrew become allies and even members of the team. My daughters love to remind me that Luke Skywalker knew there was still good in his dad Darth Vader. Even the bumbling fools of the Police Academy were able to convince their original nemesis, played by Bobcat Goldthwait, to stand on the side of law and order.
Yet lately, the direction seems to have been turned around. Instead of villains reforming and becoming heroes, we’re watching as heroes fall and become villains. The trend was started by Chris Claremont and John Byrne. They had noticed that villains had become heroes but never the reverse and set out to tell the story that had never been told. The result was the classic Dark Phoenix Saga, though it wasn’t yet the beginning of a trend.
The subsequent years saw a trickle of heroes falling into villainy. Yellowjacket fell out of favor after hitting his wife and staging an attack on the Avengers. Quicksilver spent some time as a bad guy again, even facing off against two teams of Avengers in a pair of Annuals. Even the Titans saw one of their own turn evil as Jericho was corrupted by the soul of Trigon and led the Titans Hunt. And, in perhaps, the most-reviled example, Green Lantern Hal Jordan went crazy when his hometown was demolished and destroyed the Green Lantern Corps. The hero-turned-heel was becoming a well-known trope, though it certainly hadn’t replaced the redemption story.
Yet, in recent years, I’m starting to wonder if maybe it has. And I’m not referring to the actions of Tony Stark and Zatanna. Though the actions themselves have been less than heroic, the stories have been more about exploring the moral choices that heroes have to make, and sometimes make incorrectly. They may have become anti-heroes, but they aren’t out and out villains.
exactly what’s happened to Bishop. He’s an out and out
villain. He’s the big bad guy in the new Cable series the way
that Apocalypse was in earlier Cable stories or that Fitzroy had been
in Bishop’s own series. He’s the person who shot Xavier.
And now he’s trying to assassinate an infant. I could maybe
accept it if we had been witness to a big Bishop-falls-from-grace
story. But we haven’t been given that. It seems like one day
Bishop was one of the good guys and then pow! he was one of the bad
guys. It just doesn’t make sense.
And he’s not the only one. Scarlet Witch suddenly turned multiple-e eeeevil for Disassembled and House of M with nary an explanation. There are hints that Barry Allen is coming back as the bad guy for Final Crisis.
I don’t like it. I don’t like losing heroes I once looked up to and cheered for. And I don’t like what it says about humanity- that evil is more likely to overcome good than good is to overcome evil. I don’t mind the occasional fall-from-grace story. It is a part of the human existence after all- which is probably why I never had a problem with Hal Jordan as a bad guy. Whether or not the story was well-written, there was at least a story. But absent a story, or even a reason, I don’t like Bishop as a bad guy. It doesn’t make sense to me. And I want my hero back.