Archive for July, 2011


Sorting: Princesses, Part 2

The Disney princesses can easily be seen as fanciful, shallow heroines that have their lives handed to them on silver platters, but while the earlier princesses may have been content with the lives that fell into their laps, the majority of the princesses actively work at molding their lives to make their dreams come true.  Sure, they usually end up falling for a prince or similarly well-endowed individual, or they come from money themselves, so they don’t have to deal with mundane troubles such as finances.  However, that they have the means to chase their dreams doesn’t make the desire and will to chase them any less, and can’t we all hope for a world where our children don’t have to worry about money?  Maybe that’s just as unrealistic as believing in fairy godmothers and wish-granting genies, but really, what’s the harm in that?

Anyway, enough soapboxing; time for more sorting!

Mulan: Mulan is, perhaps, the easiest of the princesses to sort.  Not that she doesn’t have characteristics that could put her into any of the houses – she’s brave, loyal, clever and cunning at times, but I think there’s clearly a frontrunner from the beginning of her story.

She’s shown as headstrong and rambunctious, which doesn’t quite fit in with the social structure of her community.  However, she loves her parents, and wants to please them, so she does what she can to follow the rules of the society she’s grown up in.  A series of unfortunate events (writer’s note:  Maybe I’ll have to add those characters to a future post?) ends up with Mulan dishonoring her family in front of the town’s matchmaker, and that’s when the fun really begins.

Upset that her aging father is drafted once again to fight for China, Mulan steals his conscription papers and runs away to join the army in his place.  Pretending to be a man, she works hard at both playing her role and being a good soldier, finding it suits her far more than the proper female role in her hometown.  She’s given the option to leave free and clear, when it appears that she’s just not strong enough to hack it in the military, but instead she fights harder to prove her worth.  She saves her entire platoon from a surprise attack, but her secret is revealed when she’s wounded.  Her captain allows her to go home instead of killing her, as she saved his life, but she learns about an impending attack on the Emperor himself, and she plows onward. She does everything she can to stop the impending attack with or without her friends’ help, and comes up with a brilliant plan to save everyone.

Verdict: Gryffindor, with some serious Ravenclaw streaks for her military strategies.

Tiana: I hadn’t actually seen the Princess and the Frog before starting this week’s theme, so I figured it’d be good to get some research in before sorting Tiana.  It turned out to be far more enjoyable than I thought it’d be, and Tiana is a fantastic character.  Her father instilled her with a love of cooking, and had a dream of opening up his own restaurant – unfortunately, his dream was cut short when he lost his life in World War I, but he passed that same dream onto his daughter, and she never forgot it.

When we meet the grown-up Tiana, she’s working extremely hard to make that dream become a reality.  She’s gone so far as to forsake everything else in her life – fun, friends, and love – in order to make it happen.  Things are looking bleak, though, as she’s barely scrounged enough money together to make an offer on a place for her restaurant and the realtors selling the place tell her there’s been a higher offer.  She figures that a little luck can’t hurt, and when a talking frog approaches her for a kiss (a common occurence in Jazz-era New Orleans, I’m sure) she takes it.  What follows is an adventure that shows her that some things are more important than her restaurant, things like friendship and love.  She chooses to remain a frog with Prince Naveen, to not give him up in order to make all her dreams of her father’s restaurant come true.

At the beginning of the movie I thought all her hard work would really define her, but in the end, she proved to be extremely loyal as well.  Loyal enough to her Prince that she’d give up everything she’d worked for in order to be with him – but luckily, in the end, she didn’t have to choose between them.

Verdict: Hufflepuff

Rapunzel: Tangled’s retelling of this classic story is, well, fantastic.  Our heroine may be trapped in a tower, but she’s certainly anything but helpless.  She loves her mother and wants to be able to have a real life without betraying her trust, but as she nears her eighteenth birthday, it becomes clear that her mother intends to keep her holed up in her tower.  When Flynn Rider stumbles into the tower, Rapunzel adeptly knocks him out with a cast iron frying pan and hides his treasure.  She then “asks” her mother to take a lengthy trip to get her some paint for her birthday, but it’s really a ruse – once her mother is out of site, Rapunzel wakes Flynn up, and blackmails him into taking her away from the tower and showing her a good time.

Flynn tries to scare her out of her mission, but she won’t be deterred.  She charms her way out of the scariest pub in the area, and some quick thinking on her part saves both their lives as they’re pursued by the royal guard.  As she and Flynn start to fall in love, and as she realizes all she’s been missing, Rapunzel knows that she’ll never go back to her old life, even though it means hurting her mother.  When her mother tricks her into believing that Flynn has abandoned her, she at first thinks that the world truly is as cruel as her mother told her, but she soon sees through to her mother’s real motivations.  When Flynn’s life is on the line, though, Rapunzel chooses to save him over her own freedom.

Rapunzel is many things.  She’s clever and cunning and brave, almost always ready for a fight, be it with her words or her trusty frying pan.  She decides early on in the movie that nothing will get between her and her goals, and while her goals change over the course of the movie, that drive and desire to get what she wants really defines her.  (Also, unrelated, mad props to Disney for making a prince that really, honestly frees his princesses, and with no benefit to himself at that.  The rest of the princes got pretty little wives in the deal, and his decision killed him.)

Verdict: Slytherin

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Sorting: Redeeming Disney Princesses

I’ve heard, more than once, that parents nowadays are concerned about having their daughters idolize the Disney Princesses.  They’re worried that they aren’t good role models, that they’re teaching girls the wrong lessons.  While I won’t deny that the early princesses – namely Snow White, Cinderella, and Sleeping Beauty – do suffer from Isabella Syndrome, existing only to be whisked away by their prince charming, the rest are a completely different story.  Granted, I may be biased, as I have quite a soft spot for Disney, but I think that the majority of the Disney Princesses can, in fact, be positive role models for girls.  Nothing can replace proper parenting to teach girls what should be expected of them (which should be no less and no different than what is expected of boys, but that’s an entirely different post for an entirely different blog), but being taught that you can accomplish anything you set your mind to is a recurring theme in the Disney Princess movies, and all of the princesses do it in different ways.

Ariel: The Little Mermaid starts off like many other stories of young girls – she’s protected by an overbearing father, and forbidden from exploring a new, interesting world her father believes dangerous.  This, of course, piques her interest in the world above, and her father forbidding her from investigating it only fuels her desire to learn more.  She works tirelessly to build her collection of human things, trying to learn more about her passion without raising suspicion.  However, when her hideout is discovered by her father, he destroys it in a rage.  He may want to protect her, but his actions instead spur her on to do something rash and headstrong – she goes to Ursula to become human.

As a human, she faces many challenges.  She’s forced to woo the Prince without her voice, which is what captivated him in the first place.  Along with her friends, she works hard to win him over, and even when Ursula tries to sabotage her, she doesn’t give up.  Through sheer force of will and loyal friends, she’s able to win over the prince and live happily ever after.

Ariel could fit into any of the houses, really.  She’s inquisitve and loves to learn all she can about the world above, and she’s brave enough to go to Ursula and leave everything she knows to pursue her dream.  She uses whatever means necessary to get what she wants.  But I think her hardworking nature, and her loyalty to her friends (and their loyalty to her) define her the most.

Verdict: Hufflepuff

Belle: The beauty of Beauty and the Beast has so much more going for her than just her looks.  She’s first introduced as a bookworm who adores her brilliant yet eccentric father.  She doesn’t follow the crowd – not to prove a point, she just likes being herself and won’t change who she is based on what’s popular.  She refuses the advances of the most sought-after man in town, because his vision of a life with her is nothing she’s interested in.  She willingly trades her life to a monster to save her father, and refuses to bow down to the monster’s demands on her.  In short, she’s got backbone.

While the Beast’s prisoner, she doesn’t simply cower or hide from him, nor does she give in to his every whim.  She’s open-minded enough to see that there really is a person buried beneath that coarse, aggressive exterior, and is patient enough to pull him to the forefront.  She teaches him to become more human, and he gives her what she considers to be the best gift ever – the entirety of his library.  Just as she’s beginning to have feelings for the Beast, she learns that her father is in danger, and the Beast releases her so that she can save her father.  Yet she returns and defends the Beast from the pillaging villagers, out of loyalty and love.

Belle could easily fit into Gryffindor, her bravery and backbone make her a prime candidate.  Yet she reminds me of one of my favorite characters from the Harry Potter series, a brainy outsider who marches to the beat of her own drum, is unafraid of the challenges she faces, and who is fiercely loyal to the people she cares about.  I think Luna and Belle would be very good friends.

Verdict: Ravenclaw

Jasmine:  Like Ariel, the heroine of Aladdin starts out as a pampered, protected princess doomed to live a boring, unsatisfying life.  And, Like Ariel, she does something about it.  Unwilling to accept her father’s edict that she must marry a prince, as she’s never met one that strikes her as anyone worth spending an hour with, much less the rest of her life, she decides to take her fate into her own hands and runs away.  Having never been outside the Palace walls, the hustle and bustle of peasant life is overwhelming, and she quickly finds herself in trouble.  Aladdin tries to save her, but in the end it’s she who must save Aladdin from the Palace guards’ wrath, and she gives up her own fleeting freedom to protect him.

When Aladdin shows up at the Palace parading as Prince Ali, Jasmine at first thinks him no better than the other pompous princes only interested in her looks, money, and power as the daughter of the Sultan.  She isn’t impressed by his outlandish attempts to win her over, but his honesty after she blows up at him does pique her interest.  When Jafar tries to take over, she fights him every way she can, and ends up having to be bound and controlled by magic in order to serve him.  She distracts Jafar as Aladdin makes his triumphant return, and the two live happily ever after once Jafar is successfully dealt with.

Courageous and stubborn, Jasmine refuses to let anyone decide her life for her.  She fights for what’s right, and does everything she can to protect the people she loves.

Verdict: Gryffindor

Pocahontas: While I’m well aware that she’s not a traditional Disney Princess, and while her story may not be 100% historically accurate, Pocahontas is still a strong-willed, passionate female protagonist and exceptional role-model.  Instead of fearing the settlers, she’s curious about them, and befriends John Smith in order to get to know them better.  She loves her home and would do anything to protect it, and she works tirelessly to pass this conviction onto John.  John is impressed with her and hopes to create a world where the Native Americans and the settlers can leave peacefully together.

Their respective groups, however, aren’t fond of the new arrangement.  Pocahontas’s tribe fears and hates the settlers, and the settlers want to wipe out the tribe in order to make way for their new home.  Pocahontas is forbidden from seeing John and mingling with the settlers, but she loves him and refuses to stay away.  John tries to make the rest of the settlers see reason, but is unsuccessful.

In the end, Pocahontas stops her father from killing John by shielding him with her own life, and her passion and bravery bring peace to the two groups.

Verdict: Gryffindor

Stay tuned for the finale of Disney Princess sorting, coming by Monday!

Sorting: Batman, part two: Heroes (2/2)

And now, wrapping up the sorting of Batman, I present my attempt at sorting four Robins and a Batman.


Dick Grayson / NightwingDick Grayson / Nightwing

I hit him harder than I should. Not sure why. It worries me that it feels so right. (Nightwing)

Dick Grayson, the first of the Robins, was a young acrobat, part of the Flying Graysons, a family trapeze act. When they stopped to perform in Gotham, Tony Zucco tried to try to get a bit of protection money out of the circus. And when the circus said no, Dick’s mother and father fall to their death, in a tragic “accident.” Bruce adopts Dick and eventually the two become the well-known Dynamic Duo.

While Dick has a strong desire for revenge against the guy who killed his parents, it doesn’t really extend beyond that, unlike with Bruce. From there on out, he’s pretty attached to the concept of justice, and to kicking ass. (Also, snark.) He eventually tires of living under Bruce’s thumb and breaks out on his own as Nightwing. He’s loyal, but only so far. But when it comes to bravery, daring, and chivalry, that’s what this Robin is all about.

VERDICT: Gryffindor


Jason ToddJason Todd

I don’t wanna learn to be no crook. I just boost what it takes to survive. (Batman)

I know I originally sorted Red Hood and honestly there isn’t a hell of a lot of difference between Jason Todd and Red Hood, but damnit, he deserves to be in the list of heroes.

Originally a thief, Bruce and Jason first met when Jason was trying to strip the Batmobile. I’m not joking, that’s the cover of Jason Todd’s first issue. He wasn’t well-received, unfortunately, probably because after Dick Grayson riding the line between being a smartass and a good guy, having Jason driving straight towards “asshole” territory might have been a bit much.

This was a kid who was willing to do what was needed to fight crime. He was a criminal himself, sure, but only out of necessity. He even calls out Batman for not going far enough, for not doing what needs doing. At one point, Jason faces a villain on his own, and Batman arrives on the scene only to see said villain plummet twenty-two stories to his death. Jason claims he slipped, but wonders aloud if it would have been so bad if he really did kill the guy. Jason has a goal, and pesky little morals aren’t going to get in his way.

VERDICT: Slytherin


Tim DrakeTim Drake

We’re all blessed with a conscious mind, capable of anything.

After the death of Jason Todd, Batman went it alone. That was, until Tim Drake showed up. Literally. Using clues, deduction, and his sharp mind, he figured out that Bruce Wayne and Batman were one in the same, that Dick Grayson was the first Robin, and that Batman was kind of heading off the rails after Jason Todd’s death. He thought since Batman always had a Robin, that Batman would now need a Robin. And who wouldn’t want a Robin who also wanted to be the greatest detective in the world?

Tim has a noble streak a mile wide, I give him that. He dives headfirst into being Robin, simply because he believes Batman needs the help. However, this is outweighed by his primary drive, which is to become the greatest detective ever. And not in the ambitious sense. He simply wants to solve all the puzzles, to be the cleverest there ever was.

VERDICT: Ravenclaw


Damien WayneDamien Wayne

Don’t patronize me or I’ll break your face. (Batman vol 1 657)

Yep. Bruce has a son.

Damian was born from a test tube and raised by Talia and the League of Assassins. They train him to become their future leader. As a result Damien turns out to be one grade-A ass-kicking punk, and spoiled rotten. He’s not exactly excited about taking over, though, especially when he discovers the identity of his father: Batman. Damian realizes he doesn’t want to lead the League of Assassins. What he wants most is Bruce’s approval, more than anything else. So he concocts a plan to get it. He decides he has to become the next Robin. By killing the previous Robins.

Do I really need to say it?

VERDICT: Slytherin


BatmanBatman

You and I… with what we do… what’s at stake… we can’t fail. Others don’t understand, but even if it’s impossible, we still have to succeed. (Batgirl vol 1 3)

Let me tell you, I thought long and hard on this one.

And what I came to realize is this: there are two Batmans. Simple fact, there really are. There’s the Original Batman, from the classic comics, the television show, the brave hero who was going out to right wrongs. Then there’s what I’ll call the Miller Batman, the guy who sprung out of The Dark Knight Returns, the Batman made wholly out of grim determination and a pool of quiet rage.

I struggled to sort these two in the same house, I really did. For weeks I discussed this with people, poured over source material, agonized over how these two Batmen can be one. But when it comes down to it… they’re not.

So, here’s my best shot at sorting Batman.

Let’s start with what he’s not. He’s not a Hufflepuff. While he certainly values hard work and patience and appreciates loyalty, he’s not exactly about fair play (a millionaire with a hojillion gadgets at his fingertips?). While he shares some traits in common with Hufflepuff, they’re not at the core of Batman’s personality.

He’s also not a Ravenclaw. Listen, he’s the World’s Greatest Detective. I get that. He’s smart as all hell. I get that. But Ravenclaws seek knowledge for the pure sake of it. These guys are your academics. They want to know all the things. Why? To know them. Why does Batman seek knowledge? Why, in Tower of Babel, does he learn the crippling weakness of every other superhero in the universe? Just in case they turn evil.

That ain’t Ravenclaw. I think we know what it really is.

Slytherin. Nobody wants to think of their beloved hero this way (except me) but let’s be honest with ourselves: there’s that edge there. The thirst for revenge, the ultimate goal of kicking evil’s ass, all of it, even the hard-to-reach parts. The part of him that says “Deep down, Clark’s essentially a good person. And deep down, I’m not.”

And note I’m calling him Batman. Let’s talk about Bruce, shall we? Bruce who puts on the face of a millionaire playboy to hide the reality, to disconnect himself from Batman’s ideals to where nobody would think to connect the two. In some instances, both Bruce and Batman are the real thing, two sides to the same man. In this case, Bruce is hiding his real nature, putting on a mask for the world to see, because it is a means to his desired end. And in some instances, Bruce Wayne is the mask, and Batman is the reality. Creating a whole second persona, just to hide who you are. Does it get any more cunning?

Terry: Why were you so sure those voices weren’t coming from you?
Bruce: … The voice kept calling me Bruce. In my mind, that’s not what I call myself.
(Batman Beyond)

But like I said, this is Frank Miller’s Batman. This is the Batman of Loeb, of Nolan. But there’s another Batman that pre-dates this Batman, and to ignore him would do the character a disservice.

The Batman of Yore (and of now, too) is the chivalrous hero we all know. The daring do-gooder who uses both fists and sharp wits to fix all the evils of this world. The brilliant detective who uses all of his skill and power for good, whose burning sense of justice and nobility drives him to persevere.

VERDICT: Original = Gryffindor & Miller = Slytherin


Morgan Dempsey (geardrops.net) is a writer and software engineer, currently living in Silicon Valley, California, USA. She blogs at Inkpunks (inkpunks.com) and reads slush for Scape (scapezine.com). Her fiction is currently available at Redstone SF Issue 14, and will be featured in Broken Time Blues (August 1, 2011). She tweets obsessively as @geardrops.

Sorting: Batman, part two: The Heroes (1/2)

I’m sorting nearly as many heroes as villains, so I figure, I’ll split this into two posts. This week is Alfred, Lucius, Harvey, Gordon, and Barbara. Next will be Dick, Jason, Tim, Damien, and The Goddamn Batman.


Alfred PennyworthAlfred Pennyworth

Climb back on that treatment bench, young man or I’ll kneecap you in your remaining good leg, for sure. (Batman)

Butler to the Wayne family and surrogate father to Bruce, Alfred’s been there with Batman since the beginning. He’s a character with a vast array of histories, but they tend to converge on his loyalty to Bruce and to the Wayne family. When Bruce was still young, Alfred would guide him on the best way to manage bullies, on teaching him strategy rather than brute force. And when Batman would go out and push himself too far and get hurt, Alfred was there to pick up the mess, and to bully Bruce into letting himself rest and heal.

Alfred is certainly cunning and resourceful, and willing to use any means to get his end — and we should count ourselves lucky that the only end he cares about is Bruce Wayne’s safety. He is loyal, but there’s nothing about him that seeks out fair play. He is stoic and stalwart, intelligent, cold, calculating, and will do what he needs to look after his own, even if it goes in direct conflict of what they want.

VERDICT: Slytherin


Harvey DentHarvey Dent

Gordon: You know, there was a time when I suspected you were the Batman.
Harvey: Sorry. I’m quite happy with who I am.
(Batman: The Long Halloween)

The youngest district attorney in the history of Gotham, Harvey Dent was the city’s golden boy. He had the nickname of Apollo for how clean he was (except there were other nicknames…). He is facing down the mob of Gotham, ready to put Sal Marconi in jail, but Marconi buys out his assistant attorney, and the traitor flings acid in Harvey’s face. He becomes severely disfigured, loses everything he has, and becomes the villain we all know as Two-Face, his burning sense of balance and justice funneled into the impartial coin.

While Harvey is certainly daring and brave — have to be, to face down the biggest crime boss in Gotham, knowing the guy has a penchant for making people go quiet when needs be — he also very strongly values loyalty and fair play. In fact, the fairness is so much of his personality, it’s what he fixates on the most with the coin. Balance, fairness, unbiased chance. However, that’s a trait buried deep, something which comes out only when he is in crisis. Harvey’s actions as district attorney are predominantly brave and noble.

VERDICT: Gryffindor


Lucius FoxLucius Fox

Maybe you want to read the instruction manual first. (The Dark Knight)

The man with the Midas Touch, Lucius Fox turns failing companies into success stories, which is what he did with Wayne Enterprises when Bruce was dealing with becoming Batman and also his parents’ death. His official role is CEO, but he also likes to tinker, creating the prototype aircraft that would eventually become the Batwing. Once he handled Wayne Enterprise’s business, he decided to stick around instead of bringing another company back from the brink. He enjoyed the freedom he had, and had no desire to give that up.

Whether Lucius is acting as a voice of reason alongside Alfred or simply the clever guy who makes awesome gadgets, runs a company, and has a sneaking suspicion his boss isn’t all he’s saying he is, it’s apparent that Lucius values reason, logic, and intelligence, and his primary drive isn’t to rule company after company, but to enjoy his space and freedom to do as he wishes and, according to the films, even research nifty gadgets.

VERDICT: Ravenclaw


Commissioner James 'Jim' GordonCommissioner James “Jim” Gordon

Our jobs don’t include murder, Harvey. I want to stop Falcone and the rest, but not like this. Never like this. (Batman: The Long Halloween)

Gordon and Batman are allies, though they don’t operate on the exact same side of the law. There are times when Gordon is hunting Batman, and times when he is helping Batman through a confused shrug and a bit of misplaced paperwork. Sometimes he pursues the dirty cops with a dogged vengeance, and sometimes he’s a frazzled commissioner with too few resources, knowing if he gutted Gotham of all the dirty cops, he’d have a much quieter precinct.

Regardless of the details of his incarnation, there is one thing consistent about Jim Gordon: he will pursue all wrongdoers and bring them to justice. He is resourceful, yes, but neither ambitious nor cunning, using the blunt hammer of law and caring little for his career. He is noble and brave, and certainly quite daring. Though he appreciates fair play and seeks it out, when fairness becomes inconvenient, he’s willing to overlook it in the sake of getting justice done.

VERDICT: Gryffindor


Barbara Gordon / Batgirl / OracleBarbara Gordon / Batgirl / Oracle

I volunteered! (The New Batman Adventures)

Unlike the Caped Crusader and the gallery of Boy Wonders, Barbara Gordon dons the mask out of an honest desire to fight crime. No parents to avenge, no tortured past, no man driving her, nothing but the pure desire to kick ass and chew gum. In her civilian life she’s a PhD and manages Gotham Library, a strong, intelligent, independent woman, and probably the least emotionally scarred of the entire Bat crew.

When she was shot in the spine by Joker in Killing Joke (spoiler alert) she lost the use of her legs, but that didn’t stop her from kicking ass and chewing gum anyway. She took on the persona of Oracle, a hacker wizard who could also still shit-kick people from her wheelchair. Nothing’s slowing Barbara down. Not even a bullet.

Brave? Are you kidding me? This lady has it in spades. Take away her ability to walk? Doesn’t change the fact that she’ll stare danger straight in the eye. She’ll punch danger in the gut to get danger down to her level to stare danger in the eye. Daring? Nerve? Holy cow. You want someone who’ll bleed red and gold, Barbara Gordon is your woman.

VERDICT: Gryffindor


Morgan Dempsey (geardrops.net) is a writer and software engineer, currently living in Silicon Valley, California, USA. She blogs at Inkpunks (inkpunks.com) and reads slush for Scape (scapezine.com). Her fiction is currently available at Redstone SF Issue 14, and will be featured in Broken Time Blues (August 1, 2011). She tweets obsessively as @geardrops.

Batman: The Rogues Gallery

Because Batman is super-duper awesome, I felt the need to sort the major players in the Batman universe. This first post will go through the major/recent members of the Rogues Gallery, the villains we know well, and the antagonists we love. The next post will dive into sorting the heroes.


CatwomanCatwoman

It’s such a waste when pretty things get broken. (Catwoman vol. 1 #2)

Selina Kyle, better known as Catwoman, is being counted as one of the villains, even though she doesn’t act particularly villainous. This is a woman who knows what’s important in life, and what’s important is taking care of numero uno. Also cats.

Catwoman is a thief. She’ll help whoever suits her to get what she wants, and whether that’s one of her fellow and more devious rogues, or whether it’s Batman, she’ll do what’s required to get the shiny, plain and simple. Catwoman is all about the shortest path between her and the thing she wants. But she doesn’t mow over anybody who stands in her way. Her game is more to finesse them to the side of the road, or better, into helping her. Rather than crushing her obstacles, she finds a more cunning and surreptitious way.

Honestly, Selina Kyle is one of the easiest people to sort.

VERDICT: Slytherin


Red HoodRed Hood

You can’t stop crime. That’s what you never understood. I’m controlling it. You want to rule them by fear but what do you do to those who aren’t afraid? I’m doing what you won’t. I’m taking them out. (Under the Red Hood)

If it isn’t obvious, let me make it very clear: I’m talking about the Jason Todd version of Red Hood here. And honestly, I really hesitated putting him in the Rogue’s Gallery. I think that’s a little unfair.

Red Hood goes to war against crime, and unlike Batman, when he goes to the gunfight, he brings a gun. And we all know Batman’s got a thing about killing, no matter who’s doing the dying, which is why they were enemies of sorts. (Not to mention Jason Todd’s a little pissed that Joker’s still running around alive when he got to die, painfully. I’d add “that’s neither here nor there” except for Jason Todd it’s kind of everywhere.)

This Red Hood has the goal of cleansing the city of crime, which is good and noble and true, except for the part where he will use any means necessary to get what he wants, even becoming a criminal himself, if that’s what it takes. He wants succeed where Batman failed, to be better than the mentor who let him down, and to destroy the thing that nearly destroyed him.

Frankly, though, I like the cut of his jib.

VERDICT: Slytherin


The ScarecrowThe Scarecrow

Scream. Or I will make you scream. (Batman #630)

Dr Jonathan Crane, professor of psychology at Gotham University and practicing psychiatrist at Arkham Assylum, had a fixation on fear. What drives people to fear? How do they respond? What do they fear? Why do they fear? Any and all data he can gather on the topic, not a single bit is irrelevant to him.

I suspect you know where this is going.

Crane adopts the Scarecrow persona and uses psychotropics to induce fear in patients, and eventually, in anybody he can get his hands on. After awhile people catch on, because, well, I’m sure they have boards for this kind of nonsense, and when your patients seem to be getting worse instead of better, there’s probably some kind of inquiry process. The defense of “Hey, they’re crazy, why do you think they’re in here in the first place?” won’t fly forever.

Scarecrow is after the pursuit of knowledge, plain and simple. A very specific, and honestly kind of useless knowledge, but pure knowledge. He has no real application for it. He just wants to better understand the human experience of fear.

VERDICT: Ravenclaw


BaneBane

I will watch him. Study him. And when I know him and why he does not kill, I will know this city. (The Vengeance of Bane)

Most famous for being The Man Who Broke The Bat, Bane grew up in the school of hard knocks, and he studied. Hard. He picked up a multitude of skills: the art of kicking ten kinds of ass, strategy, and surprisingly enough, a classical education. From a priest. Whom he later killed. (That’s just how he rolls.)

Growing up in prison, serving out his father’s sentence (because that’s how Santa Prisca rolls), he becomes the top dog, the guy nobody screws with unless they want to find the shortest path to dead. And the super-scientists, brilliant lads they are, inject him with Venom, just to see what happens. You know. For shiggles.

The drug makes the Strongest Guy In Prison even stronger, though he needs a steady stream of it (hence the lovely tubes you see protruding from the back of his neck). And what does The Guy Who Is Stronger Than The Strongest Guy In Prison Now That He’s Juicing decide to do? Break out of prison and go be the strongest guy in all the things, forever.

Which means he has to beat Batman.

But it isn’t enough to take him on in a head-to-head fight. Nope. If we’re listing qualities Bane has, “fair” is not even remotely on that list. He’s a strategist. He knows to wear down his enemy before engaging directly. Which is exactly what he does, when he breaks out the prisoners of Arkham and lets Batman run himself ragged trying to round them up.

Obsessed with being at the top? Cunning strategist? Will do anything to get what he wants, hang the rules? Yeah, this one’s easy.

VERDICT: Slytherin


Black MaskBlack Mask

I’m listening, and when I say I’m listening, I’m also thinking about killing you. (Under the Red Hood)

He’s a scarred crime lord who hides his face behind a mask of carved ebony, but he didn’t start out that way. In fact, Black Mask might be a good study in nature versus nurture. Born Roman Sionis, his childhood was not entirely unlike Bruce Wayne’s: born to wealthy parents, raised among Society-with-a-capital-S, set up to inherit a successful company. But where Bruce’s parents had hearts of gold, Roman’s had hearts of lead. They were cruel and spiteful, and all but ignored their son except when appearances demanded. And when Roman dared to seek love outside of his caste or whatever, oh the fit they threw.

So he did what any reasonable villain-in-training would do, and burnt their house down. Killing them both.

He then went on to sink the company, but that was kind of by accident, showing that while he has some skill with a lighter and a bottle of kerosene, he’s distinctly lacking in business acumen. However, I have some suspicion that it was simply the whole straight-and-narrow of business that eluded him, because he went on to a somewhat successful career as a crime lord (except for the parts where Batman keeps fucking up his Christmas, but you can hardly fault Black Mask for that).

Black Mask has a burning desire to rise to the top and sit there, and keeps going at it, looking for a new way to get there. Legit company? Thuggery? Drug trafficking? Whatever helps him climb that ladder to power.

VERDICT: Slytherin


Mr FreezeMr Freeze

I failed you. I wish there were another way for me to say it. I cannot. I can only beg your forgiveness and pray you hear me somehow, someplace. Someplace where a warm hand waits for mine. (Batman: The Animated Series – Heart of Ice)

Dr Victor Fries (pronounced “Freeze” — thanks, comics!) is one of the more tragic and sympathetic members of the rogue’s gallery, I think. He’s forever bound to a cryogenic suit after having suffered an industrial accident. For those who don’t know, you might be thinking, oh, mad scientist suffering an industrial accident, he was probably being a jerk or something, right? Well, he was trying to save his wife from a terminal illness. So, yeah. Don’t you feel like an ass.

When his attempt to get revenge on the man who ruined his experiment to save his wife is foiled by Batman, Mr Freeze vows revenge. The whole “you have destroyed what I love, I will destroy what you love” kind of revenge. His loyalty to his wife is unwavering, and his method for revenge is direct and head-on. He isn’t cunning and conniving about his attacks. (They’re all cold-themed, you prettymuch know who you’re dealing with right off.) He works hard to get what he wants, compromising nothing.

VERDICT: Hufflepuff


The PenguinThe Penguin

Where’s the thrill in committing the perfect crime if nobody knows it was you? (Detective Comics #611)

Oswald Chesterfield Cobblepot has the kind of face even a mother doesn’t know how to love. He thinks of himself as a gentleman criminal, though he’s not much of a gentleman, and he’s a fairly mediocre criminal. Initially mocked and rejected by the underworld for his stature and appearance and persistent umbrella, he went back and killed them all with a .45 caliber umbrella.

He wants to be a crime lord. He wants to be the mayor. He wants to be respected by all those around him. He wants to be a lot of things, and he tries really hard, but he never quite makes it. Honestly, Batman has bigger fish to fry, and probably goes after him out of pity more than anything.

(Editor’s note: It should be noted here that the author absolutely despises The Penguin and is gritting her teeth throughout this sorting. That would be the grinding sound you heard earlier.)

VERDICT: Slytherin (though he’s not very good at it)


Poison IvyPoison Ivy

I have no interest in your deals. No interest in you, in any of you, on the outside. This park, this is Gotham now… its future. Reclaimed by nature, pure without mankind’s assaults. It is a sanctuary now, and I am guardian. I will not let it be defiled. Not by anyone. Certainly not by you. (Shadow of the Bat #88)

Pamela Lillian Isley is an environmentalist-turned-eco-terrorist. In some incarnations she is more plant-like, in others, more human, but regardless of her appearance, she’s always looking out for all plants everywhere. She is incredibly misanthropic, to say the least.

She doesn’t appear to have anything against Batman specifically. Her main opponents are those who kill plants, such as the companies who deforest for resources or land, who pollute rivers and lakes and kill off the surrounding plant life. She also doesn’t much care for the men who’ve wronged her in her life and will go after them, but that breed of revenge is more when she gets around to it, or when she’s feeling bored.

Ivy is brave and daring when it comes to saving her plants. For her, plants are the true victims, and humans are the criminals, and she will be noble and honorable in standing up for those who cannot stand up for themselves. Those who would harm the innocent, defenseless plants, must answer to her.

The Lorax ain’t got shit on Ivy.

VERDICT: Gryffindor


Two-FaceTwo-Face

You believe in the justice system, don’t you, Vernon? You didn’t spend all those years in law school for nothing, right? Then you know, justice has two sides. Innocent or guilty. Like this coin. One side clean. The other side scarred. (Batman: The Long Halloween)

Specifically Two-Face. Harvey Dent sold separately (and by that I mean he’ll be sorted in the next round).

Two-Face is the darker side of attorney/hero/champion Harvey Dent, the side which emerges when Harvey Dent has been pushed too far. Dent himself struggled growing up, and when he is mutilated after the mob flung acid on his face, mutilating him, his demons surfaced and took control.

While his means have changed, his goal of wanting to control the crime in Gotham is still a defining characteristic. He will go head-to-head with The Penguin (he deserves better (Editor’s Note: We get it, you hate The Penguin)) or other crime bosses as he needs to. However, instead of using the legal system which exists in Gotham, he turns to his famous two-headed coin, now scarred on one side.

Two-Face’s loyalty resides with justice and the eradication of crime, even though his methods have slipped into the criminal. He is dedicated, hard-working, and when it comes to eradicating crime, he can be incredibly patient, ready to settle in for the long con. And he is obsessed with fairness and balance, as is given to him by the flip of his unbiased coin.

VERDICT: Hufflepuff


The RiddlerThe Riddler

I, on the other hand, live for mental challenges! Games of wit! The chance to outsmart worthy opponents!” (Harley Quinn #6)

Edward Nigma is obsessed with riddles, puzzles, and wordplay. For him, crime isn’t about the financial gain or the power over others. It’s about being the smartest and cleverest there ever was.

Unlike other members of the Rogues Gallery, The Riddler isn’t plagued by suffering and torment. He became obsessed with puzzles and with being the brightest and knowing everything when he was very young, and quickly became an ego-maniacal narcissist bent on feeding his image of himself as the most brilliant man alive.

The Riddler sets up puzzles for other people to solve, so that when they fail, he once again gets to feel like the smartest person in the world. His entire identity is based on being the smartest, cleverest, wittiest person around.

VERDICT: Ravenclaw


Ra's Al GhulRa’s Al Ghul

The only thing that thrives outside these walls are the six billion shortsighted parasites who continue to ravage our planet’s natural resources. On its own, humanity is a destructive force. It needs a master. (JLA: Tower of Babel)

There’s a part of me that admires the justice-seeking nobility of Ra’s Al Ghul, except for the part where “kill all humans” is the only solution he can come up with. An immortal by way of the Lazarus Pits, he has lived for hundreds of years, ruling over a secret organization and working on controlling the world. He and Dr Horrible would have been best-good frienemies, I’m sure.

Born 600 years before his first appearance, he was a master of science and medicine when neither were well understood. He used infected blankets to assassinate the leaders who wronged him, and then to prove a point, had the city razed and burned to the ground, killing everybody who lived there. He’s nothing if not thorough.

Everything Ra’s Al Ghul does is very precisely calculated. He has spent his life acquiring knowledge and skill, all of it for the use of increasing his own power and wealth. Nothing stops him from living forever, not even stabbing followed by cremation.

If you think about it, he’s like Voldemort, except way better at it.

VERDICT: Slytherin


Harley QuinnHarley Quinn

You’re just jealous ’cause you don’t have a fella who’s as lovin’ and loyal as my Puddin’ is to me! (Batman: The Animated Series — Trial)

Dr Harleen Quinley worked at Arkham Assylum, and started off totally sane, until she met the Joker and fell head-over heels for him. It’s obvious to everyone but Harley, however, that the Joker is just using her to his own ends. He is emotionally and physically abusive to her, verbally degrading her, threatening her with violence, and sometimes actually becoming violent. And yet, she remains by his side.

Harley is a hard one because of everything she isn’t. She isn’t particularly cunning or subtle or clever or ambitious. She isn’t noble or brave. She doesn’t seek out knowledge with an unrelenting thirst. She doesn’t believe in fair play.

But what she is, is loyal. That girl will stay by the Joker’s side come hell or high water. It’s a dark, twisted, and disturbing loyalty, a trait to be feared and horrified by, not deserving a single ounce of admiration. But really, she’ll stick to the Joker, no matter what.

VERDICT: Hufflepuff


The JokerThe Joker

In my dream, the world had suffered a terrible disaster. A black haze shut out the sun, and the darkness was alive with the moans and screams of wounded people. Suddenly, a small light glowed. A candle flickered into life, symbol of hope for millions. A single tiny candle, shining in the ugly dark. I laughed and blew it out. (Identity Crisis)

If Harley was tough, Joker was near impossible. When I first asked the question of where he’d be sorted, I had to ask if there could be a fifth house, called Batshit Fucking Crazy, where the house colors are purple and green and the mascot is a Cheshire smile. Where do you sort someone who’s in it “for the lulz”?

I thought about that for awhile. The Joker is insane, which is what makes him hard to sort. His mind doesn’t work like ours. He doesn’t have loyalties or ambitions. He doesn’t play any societal game. He’s a free agent. He’s the bazooka in the plan.

But there is one thing he likes. Lulz.

If we take Lulz as a goal, as a code, as something he lives for, things begin to fall into place. There is nothing about Lulz that is honorable. Lulz does not favor hard work, intelligence, wittiness, bravery, daring. Lulz favors itself, and anything that can be done for it.

A single-mindedness towards a goal, with the willingness to do anything to achieve that end, it becomes clear where The Joker belongs.

VERDICT: Slytherin


Morgan Dempsey (geardrops.net) is a writer and software engineer, currently living in Silicon Valley, California, USA. She blogs at Inkpunks (inkpunks.com) and reads slush for Scape (scapezine.com). Her fiction is currently available at Redstone SF Issue 14, and will be featured in Broken Time Blues (August 1, 2011). She tweets obsessively as @geardrops.

Sorting: Firefly, pt 2

Apologies, this week has been absolutely nuts for me.  But here it is, the conclusion to Tuesday’s post!

Inara Serra: The only member of the crew to have a legitimate profession outside of the ship, Inara brings a certain level of respectibility to Serenity.  While Mal often mocks her choice of a profession, Inara seems to do well as a companion, completely transforming her shuttle into elegant living quarters.  She is extremely compassionate – a trait probably enhanced from her years of training – and cares deeply for the crew.

When Inara first joins Serenity she makes it clear that she never intends to service anyone in the crew, and she holds to that – she’s happy with her living arrangements and doesn’t want to complicate things. While she is very friendly with the crew, she rarely takes a role in their jobs, and is normally away with a customer while the rest of the crew is taking part in their sometimes shady dealings. As such, we see very little of how she handles under stressful situations.

What we do see of Inara’s confrontational prowess, though, is that she prefers to diffuse a situation with her words before it comes to blows.  We see numerous times that she attempts to calm an enemy (or, occasionally, another crew member) using her feminine wiles and companion training, and she uses her respectibility as a companion to get the crew out of trouble.  She uses her contacts within her customers to get help when the crew needs it, and convinces a client to bend the rules in order to help the crew get away from some particularly vengeful enemies.

Verdict: Slytherin

Shepard Book: We know very little about Shepard Book’s past, which makes it hard to sort him properly.  He is very devout, but quite accepting of all of the crew just as they are.  He tries to settle things diplomatically, but has been known to help fortify and defend himself, the crew, and anyone else under his protection if necessary.  He’s also extremely knowledgeable on not only his chosen faith, but the specifics of others.

When we first meet Book, he is looking to go on a journey, and doesn’t care about the destination.  He swears to defend those he believes defenseless, even if they turn out not to be.  It seems as though he’s searching for something, but we never really find out what.  Whatever it is, though, he puts it on hold when he joins the crew, as they accept him and give him a new mission in life.

It’s clear that Book has some sort of violent past; he’s far too familiar with weaponry to have spent his entire life in an abbey.  It’s possible he was once connected with the Alliance, as he’s still got clearance with them to access their medical facilities when he’s wounded in a gunfight.  From what we see of him in Serenity, he fights for what he believes in, no matter the cost.

Verdict: Gryffindor

Simon Tam:  Had Simon been able to stay in his comfortable, successful life as a doctor on the core planets, he’d be a Ravenclaw, no question.  Top three percent of his class, and a  brilliant doctor even under pressure, Simon had it made.  But there’s one defining thing about Simon that makes all of that meaningless – his love for his sister.

Simon does some extremely brave, yet admittedly stupid things to rescue his sister.  Giving up everything, defying his parents and the law to try to save her – those are more brave than stupid, but trying to get himself lit on fire and getting himself shot fall more on the stupid side. 

Even with the crew, Simon is very reserved, always worried that they’ll turn against them and turn them over to the Alliance (to be fair, he may not be completely wrong in his suspicions, in regards to one crew member).  But most of them like having a doctor on board, and think that Simon’s actions against the Alliance to save his sister were very noble, and they’ll do what they can to protect them.   

Verdict: Gryffindor

 

River Tam: River is the brilliant, broken younger sister that Simon has given up everything to rescue, and her smarts show through even her bouts of insanity.  Sadly nowadays it comes out more in random trivia (about the ship, about how to kill people, etc) than in ways it could be useful, but Simon works tirelessly to find ways to fix the damage done to her by the Alliance.

We know that as a young child, River was exceptional.  She excelled at everything, and even pointed out when Simon’s textbooks were incorrect.  She chose to go to the Alliance school where so much damage was done, chose it because it had the most exciting and challenging program, and she loved to learn.  While there, she was able to outsmart the teachers and get notes home to Simon, begging for help.

Much like Ender in my last sorting, River’s intelligence would have been used as a pawn in someone else’s game, had Simon not intervened.  She’s led to believe that the program she enters is good for her, and there are many that would use her skills to benefit themselves.  In the movie, we even see the crew using River’s unique gifts to protect themselves – something Simon is furious over.  River can take care of herself, but with her mind so fractured, it’s sometimes hard for her to realize when to do so.

Verdict: Ravenclaw