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Headscratchers / Errant Story

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  • Alright, maybe I'm just an utterly callous bitch, but I honest-to-god cannot comprehend a story where I'm supposed to root against Ian. Now look, Ian is a fucking unstable nuthouse, no argument there. But the elves are such titanic Asshole Victims that I honestly can't understand how we're supposed to care about their incoming slaughter. If a race had a hat, theirs would be genocide. Let's go over what they've done; consider themselves the best creation of the gods, try to wipe out every species that isn't as perfect as they are (ie, everyone), enslave the human race because they were too cowardly to slaughter a race that looked a little too much like them for comfort, start a genocidal war against their own kids, kill each other until almost no one is left, and as soon as they re-enter the world stage go right back to genocide. Their entire history is basically one genocide after another. Even now, with their entire civilization whittled down to one city, they still spend time and effort killing more half-elves. And if that isn't going to make them stop, what the fuck will? What assurance do we have that after Ian is defeated, they won't go straight back to it? NONE. What assurance do we have that they won't try to re-enslave humanity once they have the power? NONE. It's honestly gotten to the point that it seems like nothing but utter-or-near destruction is going to make them stop. In light of that, why the hell is Ian's effort to actually try to finally make them knock it off seen as villainous? It's more like he's saving the damn world from a race who's been terrorizing it from day one. If not for Emerylon, I'd be goddamn rooting for the guy.
    • There's a reason this is front and center under Kick the Son of a Bitch. It seems to me that they're going in after Ian more on Sarine's behalf more than anything else. I'm very interested as to what's going to happen when Meji finally joins the fight.
      • I can understand some of the reasons - the humans have a total right to be concerned about what a crazy half-elf is going to do once he kills the elves. But even on Sarine's behalf, there's some weird dissonance going on for me in this comic where I am honestly failing to care about the protagonist's attempts to stop Ian because I'm rooting for him so hard. It's like Unintentionally Sympathetic dialed up to the point that I don't want the protagonists to succeed. And really fail to understand what the author is trying to do, making the elves such gigantic assholes to the point that genocide actually seems reasonable.
      • Clearly not all elves are predisposed towards genocide (Sarine is the primary example, but she's not the only one). And since the elves are immortal, it's probable that their leadership changes rarely. The elves in leadership positions who made the choice to try to genocide the trolls are probably the SAME ones who made the decision to try to genocide the half-elves. Ian's attempts to fight back by genociding the elves are understandable, but he's going too far.
      • Okay, so if there's some elves who don't like genocide, then what are they doing about it? Do they all leave to create their own city? Lead a civil rights movement? Try to create a counter-culture against elven arrogance? We've seen absolutely nothing like that. Even Sarine only leaves in a socially acceptable way and tries to help the occasional half-elf, which in the greater scheme of things means very little. If you don't like the fact that your race has been terrorizing the world it's your responsibility to goddamn do something about it. If not, you're compliant in your silence.
      • Did you miss what the Errant Wars were about? They were about a disagreement over committing genocide against the half-elves, remember? The Elves who were against it already made their stand and it just went on until they started running low on people. (Also the half-elves committed their own atrocities, which lost them some support)
      • Yes, I do. Sure, the war petered out because there was no one left to fight, but it seems like the pro-genocide side won because people like Sarine got official pardons and the genocide continued. Call me crazy, but if I was willing to fight a war over genocide I wouldn't just settle down back into a society that was continuing that policy. Whether they fought a war over it centuries ago or not doesn't matter; the genocide is still going on and they're not doing anything about it.
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    • The Elves do not, and will never again have the power to have much influence, they are a dying race, they can't reproduce anymore. As of the recent comics there's less than 500 Elves known to be alive total, and that number can only ever go down. Besides which two wrongs don't make a right, especially not when it comes to attempts at genocide. Think about it Ian is committing MASS MURDER here, and as an individual he's now probably killed more people than entire wars have, I'm not rooting for him.
      • How do you know that? Their reproduction rate is incredibly slow, certainly, but they managed to populate themselves enough to control a lot of the world before. All they need is more time to slowly raise their numbers again, which is easy enough if you're all immortal. Besides, even if there is only 500, they're 500 immortals who are still happy to commit genocide, so they're still a threat to all half-elves. And while no two wrongs make a right, two wrongs can damn well ensure a bunch of assholes can stop committing wrongs onto everyone else.
      • The big reveal here makes it pretty clear there aren't going to be any more elves getting born. They've got nowhere to go but down.
      • Regardless if their numbers have nowhere to go but down, the overwhelming majority of Elves are still either actively engaging in the genocide or not doing anything to curb it, becoming complicit through their inaction. The comic has showcased a grand total of two sympathetic elves (Sarine and Misa) surrounded by a literal sea of JerkAsses.
      • I can agree with you there, along with the fact that I dislike Meji as a character. The epilogue only enforces this. Arrogant, gets godlike abilities through a random stroke of luck, decides to muck around and force the world to do what she wants, is smart enough to figure out that that's not exactly a good idea, then goes off and apparently succumbs to the half-elven insanity that claimed Ian. Yeah, not getting many "well-written protagonist" points in my book. Seriously, the entire thing makes Ian come off as the tragic anti-hero of the story.
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    • My guess? This is what happens when you deconstruct Elf related tropes without knowing there's a limit. The comic is meant to make it clear that the elves brought it on themselves, but at the same time genocide is never ok so thus Ian is a bad guy because, big shock, genocide is an evil, evil act (that and the whole murdering thousands of humans when he started out). However the writer clearly made the elves too unlikable for any of the readers to care what happens to them. The writer could have made it so that the elves go after the half-elves that go crazy (Like what Sarine did in the first comic) but no, most just want to kill all of them. Also based on the writer's other work he really doesn't seem to be able make anything that doesn't have half the cast being assholes.
    • My take is the whole point of Errant Story wasn't to show "genocide bad" because, well. If genocide wasn't bad, we wouldn't be wondering whether or not the elves might deserve the karmic justice backlash here. The whole point of Poe's choice in depicting Ian versus the elves was exactly this controversy. Sometimes it's not about telling your readers what to think, but about stirring an emotional response. Judging by the conflicted feelings a lot of people are having over the moral dilemma in this one and the fact that Ian is written largely as a tragic figure, I'd say mission accomplished.
      • As a side note, I actually really disliked all depictions of elves before reading Errant Story, BECAUSE of the same tropes that Poe took up to eleven. Sarine's character, imperfect and with blood-stained hands though she is, actually redeemed elves in general for me. She's not necessarily a good person, she's done a whole lot wrong, but she has regrets, she's not arrogant, she's willing to admit to her faults, and, rare among elves, she's open-minded, adaptive, and she even has a sense of humour.
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    • Thing is, Ian himself is committing genocide against the elves to... prevent genocide. He is completely unsympathetic as well and is more than a little crazy. There is clearly something deeply wrong with him, and he is utterly incapable of recognizing that he is a monster himself.
      • I must have been practically the only one rooting for the elves. Now, the vast majority of them are self-centered and concerned only with their own security and survival, but for the most of the actual plot, few elves do something actually evil. In fact,the plot starts with an elf ranger (Sarine) killing a half-elf where we learn the killing was not entirely undeserved, so the premise that some half-elves do go mental has some merit. Later on, most of what the elves do is a reaction to what Ian is doing. First, they chase him when he steals a magic book from them. They try to locate one of their deities after Ian has essentially absorbed the other one and intends to kill them all. It ends with Ian trying to finish them all off by combination of invasion, city nuke and zombie apocalypse. Meji stops it from being a total genocide, but with several hundred elves alive, it is essentially a death sentence for the race. Oh, and their city is ruined, some of their zombified ancestors are still around, their civilization as they know it is destroyed, they are still sterile, and their remaining god is incarnated in a half-elf that basically hates them. The comic informs us that they did some nasty things in the past, but the vast majority of the bad things they (attempt to) do in the present time is either a) mostly reasonable reaction to what someone else done to them or b) a few individual elves like Meji's dad being assholes. I am not seeing how that warrants a virtual genocide, especially as we know very little about whether the average Joe Elf knows or approves of any of this. Ironically, Ian a) provides a perfect example of the kind of "errant" that prompted the wars and that the rangers were created to fight, and b) accomplished most of his goals (commit assisted suicide and kill the elves) with no negative fallout for what he did - Meji made sure that the remaining half-elves would be free from any persecution for his rampage. Mass murder is okay when the right people do it and the protagonist is your girlfriend, kids!

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