Follow TV Tropes


Strawman Has A Point / Comic Books

Go To

  • Happens in a Very Special Issue of Shadow of the Bat that spoke out against drug use. Tim Drake tries to convince a group of kids at his school that they shouldn't use such things, only for the lead kid to provide the sensible argument that Tim does not have any right to forbid the kids from doing what they want with their own bodies and that equally harmful drugs like tobacco and alcohol are legal, so it is hypocritical to pull the "that stuff's poison" card. Though Tim does have a point in that kids generally are not allowed those things by law either.
  • Advertisement:
  • In Action Comics #176 "Muscles For Money," Superman decides to start charging money to save people. While it is certainly true that Superman was doing some reprehensible things (charging insane amounts, forcing people to sign contracts before he will save their lives, etc) the primary argument seems to be that Superman doesn't deserve any sort of reward for the good he does. The worst part is when Superman politely requests the $10,000 reward for two criminals he brought in only to have everyone declare him a money-grubber for it, despite the fact that this is a reward the police themselves had offered and which anyone else besides Superman would have been given happily. He even makes a very good argument for why he needs money: while he could easily create money, for example crushing coal into diamonds with his super strength, doing so would probably wreck the economy. The other characters have no good answer to this argument, but still insist that it's wrong and we are clearly supposed to side with them.
  • Advertisement:
  • During the "War with the Runaways" arc of Avengers Academy, Hank Pym and Tigra plotted to take Molly Hayes and Klara Prast and put them into foster homes where they would never be found by their older "siblings". Predictably, when the Runaways found out, they attacked. While Pym and Tigra's plan sounded cold and heartless, and while Hank Pym is probably the last person who ought to be making decisions about other people's lives, it's worth noting that the arc was, in part, a follow-up to the unfinished "Home Schooling" arc from the Runaways series, the central thesis of which seemed to be that Nico and Chase were god-awful parental figures who seemed especially ill-equipped to help Klara, who was still showing signs of trauma from her near-death experience and who is powerful enough to accidentally kill someone if she gets too upset. Thankfully, at the end, Nico casts a spell to make each team see things from the other team's point of view, and thus the two groups are able to reach a peaceful compromise.
  • Advertisement:
  • In the Chick Tract "Somebody Goofed" as well as the "edited for black audiences" version "Oops!", a man named Bobby overdoses on speed and as his friends and family are gathered around, a Christian shows up to tell them all about how Bobby is burning in Hell right now. When another man shows up to stop him we're supposed to side with the Christian. Of course, whether the Christian is right or not, moments after the death of a loved one is usually not the best time to preach to people (let alone say he's suffering eternal damnation for his choices), making the other man totally justified in trying to shut him up. Of course, this being a Chick tract, not only is this guy evil and rude and even assaulting the Christian for no apparent reason, the final panel of the comic reveals he was in fact Satan himself luring another soul to the lake of fire.
  • Civil War was supposed to be a nuanced exploration of whether or not compulsory registration for superheroes was necessary to curb catastrophic mistakes and potential abuses of power. Both sides were supposed to have valid points (but supposedly supporting the Pro-Registration overall). Unfortunately, due to insufficient coordination between the writing teams of different books (as well as a serious difference in the skills of the writing teams — the anti-reg side got J. Michael Straczynski), Mark Millar failed at making readers sympathize with the pro-registration side and both sides ended up looking like straw men, with the pro-registration side looking particularly monstrous. For starters, the SHRA criminalized the act of apprehending a criminal when you yourself are an average citizen, as well as SHIELD trying to arrest Captain America for refusing to join the pro-reg side and enforce the law, before it was actually signed into law. To make matters worse, the actual specifics of registration varied from book to book:
    • In pro-reg books, registration was treated as a prerequisite to a superhero being a crimefighter. Supers were given the option of not using their powers, getting trained in using them properly and to establish that they were not a threat to themselves or others, and going to prison. If they did not want to fight crime after they were finished being trained, then they didn't have to, and there was no indication that they would be forced. It was just shown that a lot of people chose to fight crime because they had made friends with their fellow trainees and they felt like they should use their powers for good. However, the pro-registration side was still not sympathetic because Tony Stark and Mr. Fantastic were portrayed as being jerks, who felt like they knew what was best. But they were making excellent points throughout and if Mr. Fantastic's soothsaying math can be believed, it was the lesser of a few evils.
    • In anti-reg books, SHIELD forcibly conscripted anyone who happened to have any kind of superpowers whether they wanted to fight crime or not, and the pro-reg heroes were Well Intentioned Extremists. When Luke Cage said he just was going to not use his powers and stay out of it, armed gunmen showed up at his door on midnight of the day the act went into effect. In Avengers: The Initiative, kids recruited were told that they either join the initiative, get their powers taken, or go to jail. Cloud 9, a woman whose power was a little cloud she could fly on, only used her power for joyriding, never crime fighting; Stark sent War Machine to arrest her for flying without a license. Her only alternative to an extended prison sentence was to be drafted, complete a course of sniper training and go on killing missions. In addition, Stark orchestrated an attack on Black Panther, foreign chief of state, because his wife (X-Man Storm, who had diplomatic immunity) refused to sign up. It was quite clearly a case of "work for us or else".
  • Civil War II attempted to avoid this trope by making an even-handed approach than the first installment, only this time it ended up botching it even worse by making both sides unsympathetic and unlikable:
    • Iron Man is supposed to be viewed as "the good guy" due to every criticism he has about the precognitive powers being proven correct and generally being painted as the sympathetic one, despite starting the war in the first place by kidnapping the Inhuman seer Ulysses, attacking the Inhumans and just generally carrying the Idiot Ball, and refusing to even negotiate how to use Ulysses in a non-invasive manner. In comparison Carol is painted as an extremist with no redeeming qualities, despite her behaviour only getting out of hand in direct response to him pushing against her.
    • With that said, Captain Marvel turns into a zealot in her pursuit of pre-crime justice, to the point she ends up driving her own allies away with her With Us or Against Us mentality and relying on Ulysses' visions to carry out her objectives, even though they aren't sure they're 100% accurate and are prone to getting misinterpreted. In comparison, even when she's meant to be empathised with, including tie-ins and issues that paint her as being the Lesser of Two Evils, she still comes off as needlessly cruel in her actions, as well as completely unwilling to compromise, even when Phil Coulson presents a valid middle ground they could work on.
    • At the end of the event, Captain America delivers a a scathing speech to both sides of the conflict about how they have completely ruined the public's trust in superheroes and how they dismissed the normal people's opinion in the face of actual threats. But the reader is not supposed to agree with him because he is secretly brainwashed by HYDRA and plans on tearing down American society and replace it with a fascist dystopia in the war's aftermath.
      • This was so bad that following the event, the writers had to do some severe reconstruction to prove that Carol was ultimately correct in her decisions, as its revealed in US Avengers that Thanos' attack -which Carol's attempt to prevent resulted in the death of James Rhodes, her boyfriend and Tony's best friend, causing their feud to become so personal- would have resulted in far more death had they not intervened. As well as that, Jessica Jones would then reveal that the woman accused by Carol of terrorism due to Ulysses' prediction that appeared to be innocent was, in fact, actually a terrorist, just one not linked with HYDRA as they believed, and the following Secret Empire storyline features some severe Break the Haughty treatment to give her empathy. Essentially, they realised that no matter how you sided on things, they ruined Carol and needed to fix her quickly.
  • In Convergence: Superboy #2, after the Kingdom Come heroes face Superboy, he becomes angry and determined to fight them despite their pleas to work together. Everyone (even Dubbilex, who narrates the book) states how irrationally and angrily Superboy is behaving... except Superboy is right for several reasons. First of all, they attacked first, so their pleas for peace seem hypocritical and petty after they were the ones who attacked him with Kryptonite gas. Second, Superboy has no idea if these guys are Evil Counterparts to the heroes he's familiar with. Third, the only thing Superboy knows is that anyone who loses their fight will see their city destroyed. When he asks why the KC heroes (if they're so noble) didn't surrender right away, they say because they have a better chance of figuring things out. Except, there was no way they could have known anything about Superboy or his world to make that judgement.
  • Issue 14 of My Little Pony: Friends Forever revolves around a community of dragons being suspected by the police for committing arson, with the dragons being portrayed as racially profiled victims because of it. However, the fires matched dragon's breath perfectly, the dragons have no alibi or defense whatsoever outside of "stop profiling us", and were being uncooperative and acting suspicious to the point the police have to bring in Spike just so they can even speak to the dragons. While it would have been wrong to outright blame the dragons for it, police have to entertain every possibility and analyze all evidence accordinglynote , and all evidence pointed to a dragon culprit, until pretty much the last page.
  • Magnus Robot Fighter eventually ascended the straw point — the hero accepted that the robots' reasons for rebellion were basically sound, and tried to arrange a peace. That is before it descended again, at which point Magnus even destroyed robots that were not rebellious.
  • Red Sonja — "She-Devil with a Sword" #1-7 has the Borat-Na-Fori religion, which practices human sacrifice. The Celestial, the antagonist, and some sort of strawman for organized religion, points out that his religion is the only thing keeping the entire realm from plunging into barbarism, and that Sonja is only going to make things worse by bringing him down. It turns out that he is absolutely right. At best, the moral of the story is that the Aztecs deserved what they got from the other Mexican Indians and the Spaniards.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • We're shown that Thrash the Devil seems to be going on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge by tossing every last echidna into an alternate dimension in a major case of Sins of Our Fathers. However, while they weren't responsible for what happened to his people, the fact that the echidnas, an overly advanced civilization, sat there and did nothing concerning Dr. Robotnik/Eggman and allowed beings like the Dark Legion and Enerjak to wander freely, you can't help but wonder if he was in the right there, just in an odd way.
    • Mina is depicted as being overzealous and callous for making a public statement about how dangerous NICOLE is and indirectly starting a mass paranoia concerning her. However, as sympathetic as she is, NICOLE was shown to be extremely dangerous as a result of the Iron Queen corrupting her programming, leading to a takeover that led to the Mobians being enslaved and many supposedly legionized (i.e. mutilated with cyborg implants). The Freedom Fighters are outraged by Mina's actions and label the public as being vindictive, but as she angrily pointed out, people had suffered because of NICOLE, and largely because they were cocky enough to neglect installing any security precautions into her software (it was implied they were taking precautions by that point, though had neglected to consult the public about it, by then it was too little too late).
    • Hamlin is conveyed as smug weasel who uses a long-lived grudge against Sally to try and get the council to persecute her for disobeying orders. However, Sally was the one who created the Council in the first place, and then nonchalantly ignored them when they attempted to use democratic tactics. When Hamlin pointed out she was undermining their entire purpose (with some other members even agreeing with him), she gave up her refute and outright blackmailed the Council into siding with her. Quickly assuming Hamlin is persecuting her out of spite (he was, but he also had completely legitimate reasons) and moaning about how he could be so heartless as to suggest that she was not acting entirely professionally just made her look like a self-righteous tool.
    • The reason for Hamlin's spite is the neglectful treatment that his old team received from the Freedom Fighters. While we're supposed to side with Hamlin over his team's being mistreated and forgotten, despite being an actual team that Sally personally trained, it falls apart because that team was called the Substitute Freedom Fighters. By definition, they go into action when the regular line up can't. Also, his team was led by Larry Lynx, who had volunteered to help Rotor in the past, so Hamlin and his teammates could've had more active roles if they had simply asked.
    • Pretty much any character who calls out Sonic or the other Freedom Fighters for being reckless. Compared to other interpretations, Sonic is more fallible because of his cockiness and his failures have much more dire repercussions. He sometimes accepts this shortcoming, but only whenever it falls straight on his head and even then it never lasts. Otherwise Sonic is actually pretty ignorant towards criticism, and in some cases is even hostile to those who try to handle things their own way (be it more stable or not).
    • In the IDW continuity, Shadow shows up with full intention to kill Dr. Eggman (who at this point had lost his memory and become the kindly Mr. Tinker), out of the belief that even without his memories he's still a threatnote . Sonic manages to back him down by bringing up all the things he did before his Heel–Face Turn, saying that if he was capable of redemption, then why can't the same thing be said for Eggman? However, considering that the first thing Eggman does upon regaining his memories is unleashing a Zombie Apocalypse on the entire town, one can't help but wonder if Shadow really had a point.
  • When Jason Todd, the second Robin returned in the "Under the Hood" series, his primary goal was to take down the Joker. Towards the end of the mini-series, Batman tries to justify the Joker's continued survival by revealing he fears that his killing Joker would make for a line that he can never uncross, leading to Batman Jumping Off the Slippery Slope and becoming nothing more than a Serial-Killer Killer. Jason, who has been set up as a murdering maniac now little different from the Joker himself, immediately shoots back a rebuttal about the Strawman Fallacy of this particular argument, asking why taking exceptional actions to deal with an exceptional individual, a monster whose list of crimes should have earned him the death sentence a dozen times over or more, would lead to those actions becoming the new default. As he points out, he's not saying that Batman should start killing crooks at random, or even that he should start lethally pruning his Rogues Gallery in general. Just that Batman should do what the legal justice system fails to do, and put the mass-murdering, psychotic, irredeemably evil monster that is The Joker to an end. It's telling that all Batman can muster in response is an empty apology and an insistence that he can't do that.
    • Batman does finally explain another reason why he is afraid of doing so years later; it is because he sees Gotham or the darkness of it, as his true enemy. He fears that should he kill the Joker, something worse would appear. Given how the DC universe works, he may not be wrong. Then we find out there has been three separate Jokers and things become more complicated.
    • Another answer was earlier given during the Hush arc: Batman is tolerated by the police as long as he doesn't takes the decision to kill criminals into his own hands. If he ever decides to stop enforcing Thou Shalt Not Kill, even for the Joker, then Jim Gordon will consider him to have gone as mad-dog as the rest of them and arrest him (by any means necessary). Batman, acknowledging that he needs at least Gordon on his side if he's to maintain effectiveness in his war, obliges him.note 
  • Similarly, in the Superman story arc "What's so funny about Truth, Justice & The American Way?", animated as Superman vs. the Elite, the Elite are depicted as homicidal maniacs already in the middle of Jumping Off the Slippery Slope — yet, like Jason above, they do make a very real point about how some villainous individuals should be met with lethal force, if need be, and superheroes shouldn't be afraid to kill if the job demands it.
    Manchester Black: People don't want babysitters in spandex to spank them when they're bad. They want surgeons to cut out the cancers that fester in us and make sure they never come back.
  • In The Transformers Punishment Warpath is observing the Firecons in a cell complaining about their treatment after attacking Optimus Prime and remarks that Decepticons kill and brutalize anyone in their path but act like they're the victims whenever on the receiving end. Windblade chastises him, but as we see in both this book and others, the Decepticons have committed many hideous atrocities and do act like they're the ones being oppressed whenever attacked.
  • X-Men:
    • X-Men has always existed uncomfortably with its pro-tolerance message using mutants as a metaphor ("Accept people who are different!") and the fact that mutants in-universe do try to kill billions of people on a fairly regular basis. Very often it seems like is Magneto was right arguing that peaceful co-existence between humans and mutants is impossible, considering that no matter what the X-Men do, the plot never seems to get any closer to reaching that, particularly because people in the Marvel Universe are Too Dumb to Live and suffer from Aesop Amnesia regarding that theme. In many stories they seem willing to easily sacrifice any and all of their freedoms at a moment's notice, so quite often it would seem like the world would be better if the X-Men let Magneto Take Over the World, since at least he doesn't go making the Green Goblin the most powerful man in America.
    • Robert Kelly's arguments (such as comparing mutant registration to gun control) actually made sense to some readers and viewers. Then they turned an otherwise logical argument into an anvilicious allegory to McCarthyism when they had the senator hold up a "list of names of identified mutants", shifting the argument from "Some mutants are dangerous" to "All mutants are dangerous". Of course, once the killer mutant-seeking robots come in (and they always do), it seems clear that Kelly is Jumping Off the Slippery Slope, even if his arguments do have a grain of truth to them.
    • The first arc of Cable and X-Force involves the head of a Chick-Fil-A stand-in who bars mutants from eating in her establishments. When confronted, not only does she explain that her daughter was killed during Xorn's attack on NYC, but also points out that superhumans tend to cause insane amounts of collateral damage wherever they go. Thus, her desire to not see her customers and employees killed comes off looking pretty rational, all things considered.
    • In the New Mutants mini-series, Kevin Ford (AKA Wither) is hiding out in a junkyard after accidentally killing his dad with his disintegration abilities. While trying to lay low, he ends up killing the dog belonging to the junkyard's owner. A confrontation ensues, and at the last second, Dani Moonstar rescues Kevin and beats up his attackers. While we're supposed to root for Dani and not the bigoted junkyard owner, it's hard not to sympathize with him given that a mutant just trespassed on his property and killed his innocent pet. And then when Wither decides he doesn't want to stay at the school, after having no on-panel counselling or training to control his powers, and after having to be stopped from deliberately killing someone, Xavier just lets him go on his way. You're supposed to be on Xavier's side for letting a kid choose his own life, but when the kid has already killed someone and his mutant power is dissolving any organic matter he touches, you kind of feel like getting the cops involved might be a good idea, and maybe the pro-registration crowd have a point.note 
    • Henry Peter Gyrich is to superhumans in general what Robert Kelly was to mutants specifically. On the face of it, Gyrich has a point — super powers can be insanely dangerous — but he's such an unthinking, insufferable bigot that any worthwhile point he might have is completely drowned out. You'd think he'd have been a major character in Civil War, but oddly enough, he isn't.
  • The Punisher can sometimes get this during crossovers with other heroes, as his arguments for killing a criminal will be all-but ignored. Note that this only applies when talking about legitimately irredeemable murderers; Punisher's tendency to brutally murder people who commit relatively minor crimes (stealing, drug-dealing, defending someone else from Punisher, etc.) is significantly harder to justify than him trying to kill a lunatic like Carnage or Norman Osborn.
  • The Ultimate Marvel version of Captain America was frequently portrayed as completely out-of-touch with modern society, supposedly a more realistic portrayal of a man who was suddenly transplanted from the 1940s to the 21st Century than mainline Cap and his seemingly infinite tolerance. However, this idea fell flat in the Ultimatum storyline, where Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch's relationship is explicitly shown to be incestuous, and Cap is presented as being wrong for being Squicked out rather than cooing "Aww, they make such a cute couple!" like Wasp does.
  • In general, whenever someone considers or makes an attempt to kill The Joker, this is always considered a case of Jumping Off the Slippery Slope even though the Joker is the poster clown for Joker Immunity. For example, in Knightfall, Jean-Paul Valley, the temporary replacement Batman, stops one of the Joker's murder schemes and decides that he's going to be better at the job than Bruce and kill the Joker right away. The Gotham City Police Department pull their guns on Valley and tell him to stand down. Jean-Paul Valley was DC Comics Take That! against the '90s Anti-Hero, so his actions were supposed to come off as too extreme, but Gordon and his subordinates place a ridiculous amount of faith in a justice system that has been demonstrably corrupt and/or inept. Almost to illustrate that point, five minutes after the Joker is arrested, he kills his guards and escapes in an ambulance.
  • Superman Annual #3 depicts a Bad Future where Lois is killed and Superman decides to bring about nuclear disarmament. This leads to him becoming more controlling and authoritarian, and being linked to the deaths of a few people (which weren't his fault), and so the government asks Batman to take him down in a fashion pulling heavily from Batman: The Dark Knight Returns. Batman is meant to be seen as in the right, just as he was then, despite the fact that he's now on the opposite side.
  • Chuck Austen was particularly bad with this in his run on the Uncanny X-Men:
    • Nurse Anne was supposed to be the Angelic love interest who we want to get together with Havoc. When Havoc breaks up a wedding to get together with Anne, Polaris has a breakdown and threatens Anne. While she certainly escalated the situation by knocking everyone out, but she makes some pretty good points about Havoc breaking up with her at the wedding. Not to mention, she was kind right about Annie.
      • Annie was actually quite the repeat offender, in one issue she calls Iceman a homophobe for not knowing that Northstar was openly gay, and follows this up by calling him Racist. Keep in mind that Iceman is serving as the Strawman and Anne is the Creator's pet. Without knowing that, you'd naturally assume Anne was supposed be come off as a loon.
    • Iceman is presented as being in the wrong when he expresses concern at letting the newly recruited Juggernaut use their mansion and training equipment. The issue is that Cain is one of the longest-running X-men villains around, and has committed actual acts of terrorism. The fact that Cain turns back into villainy is just the cherry on the cake.
    • Cyclops "proves" that Havoc has feelings for Annie when he covers her up when he sees (what he thinks is) her stripping. Never mind the fact that he barely knows the woman and she appears to have been "hired" to strip.
  • In World War Hulk, the Illuminati get a number of "What the Hell, Hero?" speeches from other characters for shooting the Hulk into outer space and allegedly planting a bomb in his ship that killed Hulk's wife and child. The latter is unforgivable but the former can be excused by the impetus for the decision being Hulk's rampage in Las Vegas which got about 22 people killed. This was also a period in which anti-superhero political forces were just LOOKING for an excuse to enact registration laws. Exiling him was being pretty lenient and arguably doing him a favor since "Leave Hulk alone" is one of the Hulk's catchphrases. And the Illuminati only end up looking even more like designated villains when it is revealed that the bomb that killed Hulk's wife was not planted by them but by loyalists of the Red King who wanted revenge against the Hulk for overthrowing their leader and that Miek, one of Hulk's new friends, knew about this but didn't tell Hulk because he wanted him to become the Worldbreaker.


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: