blinkytreefrog: (Default)
[personal profile] blinkytreefrog posting in [community profile] scans_daily
The final post in my latest list of weirdness, and it contains my sole foray into manga (I'm not a huge reader, sadly) and a representative from a well loved Wildstorm title.

Part One (with some explanation on the whole thing),
Part Two,
Part Three, and
Part Four.

Before I go into details, just a point that was brought up a few times in my previous posts, and one that has a lot of validity. Quite a few of these characters have suffered from being underused, written out of character, and 'dumbed down'. This is not to say it doesn't happen to other characters, but genius characters do tend to have it harder than others, and there's a perfectly logical reason for that; writing characters who are much smarter than you is hard. If you've got a genius scientist you can fake it a bit by demonstrating the results of their experiments without actually explaining how they got there, but if you want to be really authentic, you have to have them talk science. Same thing with a genius detective, there's only so long you can talk about what a great detective they are before you have to explain how they made their brilliant deductions. And if you've got a brilliant con artist, it rather helps to show them outsmarting someone in a brilliant way.

If you're trying to write this and you're not actually a genius, this means that you are going to have to do research, consult people who are geniuses, or just spend hours logically working through something that your character will do in minutes. That's hard, and time consuming, and if you're working to a deadline it must be awfully tempting to cut corners, dumb down the character, or just plain use someone else instead.

So on one hand, I can't totally blame writers for not writing my favourites working to the best of their abilities, but on the other hand, it's really frustrating seeing how cool the character can be when written at their best and then having to settle for a mediocre portrayal from someone who doesn't have the time or inclination to put in the effort to write a genius as an actual genius. And believe me, when someone has put in the effort you really can tell.

Luckily, the last two characters do not generally suffer from this problem, possibly because they tended to be written by their creators (most of the time, anyway) and you can tell there is a genuine fondness there. Which is neat!

2. L
Note: remember to read the manga from right to left, peoples!

Death Note is a serious and pretty depressing manga (and anime, and live action film) in which a smart, arrogant and ever so slightly sociopathic high school then college student (called Light) finds himself the proud owner of a notebook that kills people when you write their name in it. He immediately starts killing off half the criminal population of the world, something that the police can't help eventually seeing as a wee bit suspicious. It's at this point that uber-detective L joins the investigation.

We never actually see L in full to start off, he's merely a guy with tousled black hair and a laptop providing his expertise from afar. He commands the respect of the whole police force, but considering he took about 2 days to move the investigations further forward than anyone else had managed in weeks, this seems pretty fair. So, we've got a master detective, respected worldwide, but unseen by the reader until he finally reveals himself to a select unit of the police. Surely he's serious, stylish, Sherlock Holmes type who commands awe with his mere presence!

Alternatively, he could be this guy.

How are they a genius?
He's the best detective in the world. He's also the 2nd and 3rd best detectives in the world, under different pseudonyms. There's a perfectly good reason for this, namely that if you're an evil bad guy who wants to find out the real name of the world's best detective in order to do him ill, hiring the 2nd or 3rd best detectives in the world just seems logical. If this seems like a clever trick, you're right, but to L it's not so much a clever trick as how he always thinks. You imagine that, even having an ordinary conversation, most of what he says would be designed to test your response so that he can gather more information on you. He's also so good at getting into his opponents head, he's often out-thinking their thoughts even as they think them.

One gets the feeling that he'd be an extremely disconcerting guy to talk to.

Why are they a bit oddball?

As well as the above, he has many other 'quirks'. He barely sleeps, has an atrocious posture and he sits like this.

All the time. He claims that it reduces his thinking ability to sit any other way, and it's hard to tell if he's serious or just bullshitting to see how people react. For all that's he's an expert on people's motivations, he often doesn't quite seem to get the whole etiquette thing, and he takes a rather liberal view of 'personal space', 'other people's stuff', 'blunt truths', and 'behaviour that is considered normal'.

Man, what's her problem?

Finally, his diet seems to consist entirely of cake, chocolates, sweets and tea and coffee with masses of sugar dissolved in it. While this may explain his lack of sleep, it never seems to actually affect his weight.

Wait, did he just say you can out think calories? I'd say they don't work that way, except it seems that for him, they kinda do?

Finally, here's L out in public.

Well sure Light, you could do that if he hadn't just stolen her phone. Totally pwned :-).

1. The Drummer


Very basically, he's the tech guy of Planetary, the mystery archaeologists dedicated to keeping the world strange. That statement really doesn't encompass the broadness of his abilities or weirdness of his brain, however.

How are they a genius?
He talks to machines, yes, but more broadly he talks to informations systems. This means the internet, any machinery, radio waves, and more esoteric things like magic traces, temperatures and emotional echoes left from important events.

Being tapped into all the information in the planet, it would be rather unfortunate if he wasn't capable of using it, but luckily his brain is more than capable of doing everything from discussing scientific theories, to creating computer viruses for the whole planet, to putting together time machines.

Why are they a bit oddball?

He's had this ability his entire life, and consequently, his ability to connect to other human beings is just a wee bit out of whack.

To be fair, he could have turned out a lot worse, especially considering how utterly uncaring he was as a kid.

"My entire family is dead? Duh, I already knew that!" Luckily working with Planetary from a very early age seems to have given him things to do and socialised him the the extent that he could be socialised. He still doesn't seem to actually hang around anyone but the main Planetary team, but he is good friends with them all, despite Snow trying to strangle him every now and again. He's not the most mature human being in the world, mind, but the others don't seem to care too much.

Still, you've got the fact that he has no name other than "The Drummer" and the fact that he carries a pair of drumsticks everywhere he goes and drums them against things when he's trying to pick up and manipulate information. Also, he's so connected to the planet's information systems that being shoved into a parallel world without warning is enough to make him scream in agony and give him a blood nose, when everyone else was confused but fine.

Finally, you've got the really freaky things, like the fact that his sex life appears to involve television sets. And yes, I know some people like to spice up their sex life in ways that 'involve television sets', but his sex life really appears to involve television sets.

Oh Drummer, you little freak.

Finally, I leave you with this panel to contemplate. would that even work?

And that's it guys. Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed. I'm going to put together an 'honourable mentions' post in a bit, but if anyone else has an favourite weird brainiacs that they enjoy, I encourage them to let others know about them. Character love is a wonderful thing to see :-).

Date: 2011-01-08 09:23 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I always liked L. I laugh when Light fans say that he was just as bad as Light, just on the other side and that there were no good guys in Death Note, because that page with the discussion about not killing random innocent people? Yeah, that's him. He might not care on an emotional level, but he still does the right thing because it's the right thing.

Now Near, he was a bastard. All of L's genius, without his better qualities.

And The Drummer is kind of adorable.

Date: 2011-01-08 10:58 am (UTC)
drakyndra: The Music Meister demands you sing! (GRATUITOUS MUSICAL NUMBER TIME)
From: [personal profile] drakyndra
I think it's just a reaction to all the "L's just a harmless adorable woobie" stuff. He's nowhere near as bad as Light, but he does have a brutal ruthless streak, which some people seem to forget about.

Date: 2011-01-09 12:54 am (UTC)
jarodrussell: (Default)
From: [personal profile] jarodrussell
I stand by my theory that Near grew up to be Elijah Snow.

Date: 2011-01-09 03:30 am (UTC)
darkblade: (Default)
From: [personal profile] darkblade
I'm not sure if you like Near more than a most of people or dislike Elijah.

Date: 2011-01-09 03:42 am (UTC)
jarodrussell: (Default)
From: [personal profile] jarodrussell
The first one.

Date: 2011-01-08 09:34 am (UTC)
blackruzsa: (Default)
From: [personal profile] blackruzsa
Which Hal tried to have sex with him? XD
Also, I was gonna say "Put Light in there" but then he's evil, so....

Date: 2011-01-08 10:26 am (UTC)
blackruzsa: (Default)
From: [personal profile] blackruzsa
Ahahahh XDD

Date: 2011-01-08 10:47 am (UTC)
ogrebear: Ogrebears Icon (Default)
From: [personal profile] ogrebear
What happened to The Drummer? Is he still about or dead after the crapstorm that hit the Wildstorm universe?

Date: 2011-01-08 01:36 pm (UTC)
bewareofgeek: (Default)
From: [personal profile] bewareofgeek
I like to think Elijah used his shiftship to save his Earth, and the rest of the the Wildstorm comics were from a different parallel entirely. :)

Date: 2011-01-08 09:01 pm (UTC)
q99: (Default)
From: [personal profile] q99
The Planetary stuff did seem to split off into it's own alternate Wildstorm.

Note how much Planetary and Hark were doing publicly at the end to change everything. That never happened in the main Wildstorm.

Date: 2011-01-08 10:56 am (UTC)
drakyndra: OH NOES SPOILERS AHEAD! (Spoilers!)
From: [personal profile] drakyndra
Oh how I love that uber-dramatic tennis match in Death Note. There's all the murder and scheming and plotting - and then two geniuses play I-know-you-know-I-know tennis. It's so delightfully absurd.

Date: 2011-01-08 12:22 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] hybrid2

Date: 2011-01-08 01:01 pm (UTC)
icon_uk: (Default)
From: [personal profile] icon_uk
In terms of the difficulty in writing geniuses, I always liked the line in a Legion comic where Brainiac 5 explains that in order to solve a problem he needs to link to the Coluan hive mind and essentially passes out on a bed.

Ultra Boy is surprised that his approach to solving a problem is falling asleep and Saturn Girl points out "He's a genius, if we always understood WHY he does things, we wouldn't need him on the team."

Date: 2011-01-08 05:25 pm (UTC)
pallas_athena: (Default)
From: [personal profile] pallas_athena
Yeah-- Brainiac 5, in whatever iteration, will always be my favourite comics genius.

Date: 2011-01-08 02:21 pm (UTC)
thokstar: Spot (Default)
From: [personal profile] thokstar
Wait, did he just say you can out think calories?

When you think as hard as L does, it's a vigorous workout.

Good list. It's not the one that I would make (I'd probably throw a few webcomic characters on as well, such as Tedd Verres, a Girl Genius character to be determined later, and possibly Riff from Sluggy Freelance), but that reflects me more than the list.

Date: 2011-01-08 04:23 pm (UTC)
nezchan: Navis at breakfast (Default)
From: [personal profile] nezchan
Don't forget Helen Narbon Beta!

Date: 2011-01-08 10:06 pm (UTC)
nezchan: Navis at breakfast (Default)
From: [personal profile] nezchan
No wait, she's officially evil. Never mind.

How L stays fit *nerd disclaimer*

Date: 2011-01-08 04:27 pm (UTC)
yap: (Default)
From: [personal profile] yap
I think it is probable he exercises on a regular basis, given the tennis match. Not much latitude in faking that.

In terms of the sweets, I suspect he's just barely skating by nutritionally, perhaps getting omega 3 eggs in his baked goods, tons of supplements and maybe even lipitor. But the sugar rush is deliberate, L's way of focusing and staying up.

Which brings me to an embarrassing story. To start with, I did not have video games growing up. I try them from time to time but the only ones I feel comfortable with are digital versions of card games, scrabble and Pokemon. Over new year's weekend, I played a point and shoot game while in line and did ok but my heart rate went up from my concentration. I ended up having to take breaks, like I would at the gym. It just occurred to me that it might be the same for L on a regular basis- the sort of singleminded concentration that gets his heart rate up and calories burning.

Re: How L stays fit *nerd disclaimer*

Date: 2011-01-08 04:49 pm (UTC)
divi_d: Very old drawing of my old feline OC Rashida.  (Still my avatar of choice, though :-p.) (Default)
From: [personal profile] divi_d
I know Women's Chess Champion Alexandra Kosteniuk (man I hope I'm spelling her name right) has commented that thinking hard tends to burn A LOT of calories, so... yeah, the reason L is so thin is probably due to the fact that as much sugar as he's shoving in his system, he's constantly burning just as much, on account of his mind basically being a giant furnace.

Date: 2011-01-08 05:44 pm (UTC)
icon_uk: (Default)
From: [personal profile] icon_uk
Can you imagine the conversations that the Drummer and Doug Ramsey would have?

Date: 2011-01-09 01:12 am (UTC)
jarodrussell: (Default)
From: [personal profile] jarodrussell
Isn't Doug Ramsey kind of...boring, though? I mean, has he ever pulled up intergalactic bug porn on the not!Joker's TV by humping it? I've never read too much about Ramsey...Wikipedia and the posts here...but he never seemed to possess the spark of madness that Drummer has so casually integrated into his every day life. Doug strikes me as a fine young gentleman, but not in the same weirdness league as Drummer or L.

Now, a comic about The Drummer and Cassandra Cain as a mismatched pair of Buddy Cop vigilantes, completely devoid of dialog, using a combination of body gestures, cartoon-filled thought bubbles, and Jonathan Hickman infographic porn, now that would be a comic worth...reading...not reading...translating...digesting...assimilating...

Date: 2011-01-09 01:45 am (UTC)
icon_uk: (Katie Cook Doug)
From: [personal profile] icon_uk
I agree up to a point, though would stress that Doug was not "boring" so much as he was "ordinary".

He's been a lot... weirder since he came back to life, mostly through the expansion of his powers, and a complete failure to write him with his previous "grounding" in the real world, which seems to miss the point of the character a bit IMHO. But it's been less a "watch alien bug porn" than it is "quietly comprehend a lot more about what is going on than most others could hope to", and he's using his pretty much absolute reading of body language a lot to assess situations and truths. He might well watch bug porn now, but would perhaps be more likely to assess the courting patterns of the species, and interpolate a lot about how they operate.

Doug would be able to comprehend the sheer magnitude of the Drummers intellect and thought patterns in a way Cass never could, she can read people superbly, but there's no limit to the kind and quantity of information that Doug can process and comprehend, no matter how alien or complex it is, he'll get it and be able to reply in kind.

Date: 2011-01-09 01:59 am (UTC)
jarodrussell: (Default)
From: [personal profile] jarodrussell
Cass can read people, crowds, with some work gorillas, and figure out that giant slime creatures are lonely while on a date with Superboy. Plus, from toward the end of her book, we know that her "language center" is distributed across her brain, so it's not a long hop to suggest she can interpret multiple data streams in parallel. So, I really have no proof she "would be able to comprehend the sheer magnitude of the Drummers intellect", I think she and Drummer could have quite the time crowd watching people...not to mention the sheer comedic value of such a mismatched pairing, where Drummer always wants to hang back and Cass is always dragging him into the fray.

As for, "boring" versus "ordinary," I find ordinary very boring, so it's strictly a statement of my personal measurement, not of Ramsey's character.

Date: 2011-01-09 09:38 pm (UTC)
icon_uk: (Katie Cook Doug)
From: [personal profile] icon_uk
Yeah, but compared to the Drummer as described above Cass is, relatively speaking, barely above what a normal person is to him, she's superb at what she does, but what she does probably isn't 0.5% of what the Drummer will pick up, which will include the physical world beyond animal interactions, he tracks electronic information and environmental variables, and whilst her language centre is impressive, at least half of his is processing data in a different dimension.

Doug, as far as we know, HAS no limits to his ability to process information and comprehend communication and new information. Warlock, using Doug's powers, was able to see a scientific equation on a blackboard and from that alone, intuit and comprehend the physical concept behind the equation, despite it not being something he'd had awareness of before. He can also, now, apparently do the same "talk to machines" thing Drummer can, he can speak binary out loud and have electronic systems obey whatever instructions he's given them. Even if Doug isn't on the Drummer's level, he's probably closer than anyone else on hand who doesn't have cosmic awareness.

And "ordinary" whilst not something to be overdone, is a very useful narrative tool, especially in team books, someone who can subtly (or blatantly) highlight how bugshit weird their lives are by comparison. In Doug's case his teammates included a Presbyterian werewolf, a Roman magma-elemental, a superstrong Brazilian millionaire, a Vietnamese mind-controller, a Russian demonic sorceress, so the middle class kid was a nice contrast.

Date: 2011-01-08 07:32 pm (UTC)
nezchan: Navis at breakfast (Default)
From: [personal profile] nezchan
And this, in a nutshell, is why I stopped liking Death Note the moment the L arc was over. L was this wonderful, one-in-a-billion genius, pretty much tailor made to be Light's opposite number on a number of levels. So what happens when that unique individual is taken off the stage?

"Oh, we've got a bunch more in storage, let me fetch a couple."

Date: 2011-01-08 09:31 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
For me, it was a combination of that and the fact that neither Near or Mello were even half as likable as L. Mello was a thug and Near was an amoral bastard whose entire motivation was showing up L. In comparison, we have the page here where L refuses to let uninvolved people die to aid the search for Kira, and several other similar moments during his arc. He may have been a borderline sociopath and ruthless as hell, but he did know where to draw the line.

Date: 2011-01-08 09:53 pm (UTC)
nezchan: Navis at breakfast (Default)
From: [personal profile] nezchan
Hell, after Light's father was out of the picture, the entire rest of the cast was either one-dimensional or unlikeable. And from looking ahead a bit to the last volume or so, that never did improve.

Date: 2011-01-08 09:51 pm (UTC)
celestialchild: Noriko Readman from Read or Die (Noriko Readman)
From: [personal profile] celestialchild
Although at the end Near did indicate that neither he nor Mello could have done it single-handedly, and required one another in order to make it possible. Or at least I thought he said that?

But yes, the "bunch more in storage" aspect did shine through. Near and Mello just couldn't interact with Kira/Light the way L could.

Date: 2011-01-08 09:57 pm (UTC)
divi_d: Very old drawing of my old feline OC Rashida.  (Still my avatar of choice, though :-p.) (Default)
From: [personal profile] divi_d
Yeah, Near said that. It's of note because in the follow up in the manga it was then put in question if this was actually an accurate statement (IE: that Near essentially orchestrated the whole thing himself, and was just being humble... or at least superficially respectful of his predecessor).

There's some other stuff I'd like to add to the conversation, but it might be best for me to re-read my Manga first :-p.

Date: 2011-01-08 09:57 pm (UTC)
nezchan: Navis at breakfast (Default)
From: [personal profile] nezchan
Yeah, that's the thing. The first arc was wonderfully self-contained, and all the little ways "good guy" L contrasted with "good boy" Light really made the intense chess games between the two of them believable and enjoyable. It's a tricky balance to create a dynamic like that, so swapping one part for another just didn't come off as genuine and the series suffered.

Honestly, if they'd just stopped the series right there, or maybe went a different direction and made a greater connection between Shinagami and Death Note users (for a long time I suspected the latter became the former, but it was a rare event), I would have praised the series to the heavens. As it is, well...

Date: 2011-01-09 12:53 am (UTC)
jarodrussell: (Default)
From: [personal profile] jarodrussell
Okay, I haven't read your post yet, so...yeah, but I wanted to say: L and Drummer in the same post is just asking for the Internet to crack in half. Can you imagine if they teamed up? If L were the fourth man? If Drummer found the Death Note? Can Dummer see Shinigami, are they information? Was Light an agent of whoever put the harddrive of souls beneath Hong Kong? I haven't read this post yet, but it mayj be may favorite SD post of the year!

Date: 2011-01-09 05:30 pm (UTC)
zyriex: Best Spiders Ever (Default)
From: [personal profile] zyriex
Oh gods, that might be one of the most awesome things ever! Is there anyone out there that could fully take advantage of such awesome though?

Date: 2011-01-09 02:57 am (UTC)
fajrdrako: ([Daken])
From: [personal profile] fajrdrako
Thanks for the entertaining glimpse!

Date: 2011-01-09 04:51 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] psychopathicus_rex
I'm not sure whether or not the Drummer technically counts as a genius. I mean, yes, he has this instinctive understanding of all this technology and information stuff, but that's more of a power or an ability - it's not something he's figured out on his own through intrinsic smarts, it's just the way his brain is wired; he's got different senses than we do. If he had created some sort of a gadget or something that let him do this stuff, or figured out the hidden language of machines all on his own and become fluent in it, that would be different, but as it is, intellect isn't really a factor here, I wouldn't say.

Date: 2011-01-09 05:16 am (UTC)
pyrotwilight: (Default)
From: [personal profile] pyrotwilight
L was fun, but I'l admit I was horrendously dissapointed that Kira didn't win in the end. Near and Mellow were also very boring to me but L had such an interesting dynamic with Light that i loved watching one try to kill/catch the other.

Date: 2011-01-09 02:34 pm (UTC)
midare: (Mystek has no weasel)
From: [personal profile] midare
If you like oddball geniuses, I really recommend Gunnm. Disty Nova is the weirdest one of them all (tough I must warn you, his insanity is, for the most part, not too endearing, even if there are hidden depths to his character. He can be pretty disgusting. The carousel...).
It was a really fun series! Thanks for introduing me to PS238, too - I have never heard of it before, but it looks really interesting. :)

Date: 2011-01-09 06:03 pm (UTC)
zyriex: Best Spiders Ever (Default)
From: [personal profile] zyriex
This series of yours has been pretty amazing so far!

I really like this entry since I love Death Note and L and now really want to read Planetary.

Date: 2011-01-09 06:35 pm (UTC)
grazzt: (Default)
From: [personal profile] grazzt
So, are you going to start on the evil list soon?


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