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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: 2011-01-09 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.


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