It’s time to get serious here. Supergirl season 2 has lent itself to a lot of discussion, from those squeeing with delight at the all things Sanvers, to those who…may be less enthused at the not exactly flawless portrayal of Mon-El. However, one topic has been criminally overlooked in fandom conversations. The most important topic, at that.
What the fiddlesticks is up with the DEO?
The DEO is, of course, The Department of Extranormal Operations, a subdivision of the US Department of Defense. And with its portrayal in Supergirl, it sort of feels as though it makes no sense. But don’t worry; Kylie and Griffin have a foolproof ten-step plan (only eight of which will be skipped) for discerning if this is truly the case.
Let’s start with the basics. The name itself is rather woolly. What exactly does “extranormal” mean? What is their legal definition when it comes classifying “extranormal”? Does that include the paranormal? And, if so, are there officially sanctioned Ghostbusters? Does this mean that Ghostbuster merchandise is government propaganda that helps fund our defense department? We think the implication here speaks for itself. Well played, Director Bones.
From what we can tell, the general population is fully aware, and accepting, of the fact that aliens exist. Well, accepting enough to debate their status as citizens. So then, why is the department that works on their cases secret? In fact, wouldn’t this be for the protection of said aliens to understand that there are dedicated government agencies, or is this just the secret group behind a public one, which is kept secret because… They have to do shady things that violate alien rights?
That seems rather unconstitutional, so maybe it’s just because the government doesn’t want the public to know the wasteful shit they spend their money on for the DEO.
For instance, they paid money to put lead into their paint at the DEO headquarters. Which yes, isn’t out of the realm of possibility for our government as of late, but you’d think the health hazard alone would turn them off of the idea. We promise, Superman would still fuck them up if things got really bad, even with their well-hidden stash of kryptonite.
More wasteful still, they are willing to pay for property in the heart of the city, which happens to comprise the entirety of a massive of a high-rise that also happens to be one of the most recognizable buildings in the National City skyline.
We don’t know a ton about real estate prices in this fictitious city on Earth-38, but we have a feeling it would have been just a touch cheaper if they had gone with the ol’ bunker-in-the-desert thing. Also because no one would get into it by accident.
Which reminds us, what the hell do the people of National City think is in this building? Does the DEO have to spend money to hire actors (who would have to be agents with security clearance) to play disinterested administrative professionals in a fake corporate office, or is it more like a very fancy hotel that is always booked? If it’s the latter, how do they feel about letting people use the lobby bathroom? During coffee breaks, are agents required to put on suits and dresses and mill around the foyer? Our personal recommendation would be holograms, of course, despite the fact that power outages would render them useless.
Oh, speaking of power outages, the DEO goes on lockdown like…a lot. And even if it wasn’t a regular lockdown, there’s always emergency drills of some kind because they have to do that, just like any other government agency. So do they just eject the poor people who wandered into the lobby having to pee using a blast of pressurized air? Granted, we can think of other ways to throw them onto the streets, but imagine how much better this would be (on the environment too) if they hadn’t insisted on renting space on the busiest damn block of the entire city.
Is it cloaked? Did the DEO drop money on a downtown high-rise that needed a constantly running cloaking device, with the hopes that helicopters might only sometimes hit it? No, even that’s too stupid (not to mention environmentally irresponsible) to be a true possibility. Much better that they have fake hotel workers.
Don’t even get us started on Kara entering and exiting through the windows. Though we suppose if they went with the fake hotel scheme, the public might just assume that she lives there. We’re glad they have their contractors in mind.
BUT WAIT. Contractors! It’s all coming together now! The DEO clearly contracts construction workers so that the building will appear closed down. They’d of course have to be real crews, or else competing construction companies would be trying to figure out who the fake team was, and why they don’t appear anywhere else in the city and… It’s a whole thing. Just trust us. Now, what these construction workers are actually fixing is beyond us, but maybe there’s a constant gas leak. Or they’re always being bug bombed for termites. Or perhaps the DEO agents use their coffee breaks to destroy entire sections of the facade for fun. And stress relief. We know Alex would dig it.
But this, dear readers, brings us to one of the most confusing and glamorous aspects of the DEO—payroll. Real talk: is Kara a contractor or internal employee? We lean towards the former, because we don’t recall “Agent Supergirl” ever being uttered (and good thing too; it sounds really stupid). She also didn’t even know an HR department existed, which suggests an incredibly haphazard onboarding process for her, if there ever was one at all. From what we remember, she just kinda showed up one day, and J’onn never told her to leave. Good thing too, those employee handbooks must be thick as redwoods and quite the dull read.
The only thing that gives us pause here is that J’onn made Kara and Mon-El fill out an HR form to disclose this relationship. Mon-El is most likely the same status as Kara vis a vie internal vs. external worker, but it does seem over and beyond to require relationship disclosure for contractors. Especially since Alex didn’t even mention this potential conflict-of-interest when she cheerily insisted that Kara date the boy. Maybe this was J’onn going rogue, thinking that the paperwork would seem like too serious of a commitment and by asking them to sign it, Mon-El would choose to go the way of Poochie. We applaud J’onn for trying.
There is something we can’t applaud J’onn for, however, and that’s letting random people just walk their asses into the headquarters. It’s not even like this is a rare occurrence. Maggie may as well have security clearance at this point, because she’s magically able to waltz in at all hours at the night for no reason other than to see her girlfriend (well, only the mind-reader knew this for the bulk of the season) and get a slightly earlier start on their date. It’s possible that J’onn just takes the head on security clearance given his abilities, except…he’s not there all the time. And even when he is, he can sometimes forget to do the mind-reading thing for plot purposes, so it’s not very useful.
While we’re on J’onn, that reminds us: the Director of the DEO directly participates or intervenes in many of their operations. Like, he’s the one punching people. It’s great that he’s the Martian Manhunter, but maybe that means someone else should be in charge since he’s always in the field and cannot do administrative work. Or, you know, direct the operations. If only they had a living skeleton who sweats cyanide and has a lovely collection of neckties.
But frankly, do they even need a director? They only have maybe 3 or 4 agents active at a given time, unless the plot demands otherwise. Heck, they didn’t even have a dedicated IT guy until Winn got the job this year. Which sadly just bring us back to the GIANT BUILDING! Who is using it, if no one is in it? Or are they just sub-tenants with the following floors: top, ground-level, basement, and sub-basement. Those poor businessmen who work in the middle and have no way of getting in their building (or out). Is this up to code? We have our doubts.
No no, back to the agents. From what we can tell, there is a constant fluctuation in team size from 4 agents to…over a hundred. You know, for those operations where the vans come and stuff. What happens to the van crews during the normal day-to-day, when they’re almost never needed? Do they have other day jobs? Does everybody have an incredibly high number of vacation days they can take? Are they temps and called as-needed (and if so, how does no one know about them)? Are they there, but merely hiding behind the cameras during most episodes? OH! Maybe they live in the vacant parts of the building, which means that the DEO definitely owns and operates a luxury hotel with actual service.
Well then, nevermind us. We were going to go on about how Maggie magically knew of the DEO despite it being a top secret held secret, or how their HR department is sorely lacking in recourse for its employees stealing equipment and going on rogue missions, but it’s clear these are mere quibbles. The DEO makes perfect sense, and its agents are true American heroes.
Especially the ones who cook the meals for the room service of the hotel that they clearly live in and staff.
Images courtesy of The CW , Toys R’ Us, and DC Comics
Asami’s Wardrobe, the Ongoing Saga
There has been an egregious oversight. For all the love we Fandomentals have given Avatar: The Legend of Korra, from its unsung hero, to its subversive end note, to even its crackships, there has yet to be a single piece on this site about its deuteragonist.
Heck, is “deuteragonist” even a fair title in this case? We’re talking about the a character arc so packed with thematic significance, so nuanced, so weighty that it quite possibly rivals Korra’s healing arc of Book 4. And now that the post-canon comic Turf Wars is out and this growth continued, it’s downright shameful it’s taken me this long to finally give this well-earned recognition.
I am speaking, of course, of Asami’s Wardrobe.
That’s right, the clothing and accessories worn by Asami “the angry one” Sato should be considered, in many ways, the backbone of Legend of Korra. Or perhaps the backbone of the backbone. But while Asami had that obvious story of background suffering and devotion to Korra’s cause, only to be treated like gum stuck to the bottom of various characters’ shoes, it was her wardrobe that truly offered the sacrifices.
Most fans will point to her bangles as the obvious example here, and they’re not wrong, of course. We were introduced to these fancy bracelets on Asami’s first date with Mako back in Season 1, when they clacked and clinked happily along. Or possibly in fear of the giant meatball flowers.
Then we all know how the next time they appeared, it was when Asami went to see Bolin’s mover in “Night of a Thousand Stars.” During the conversation where she and Bolin commiserate over the displaced Team Avatar, the bangles made not a single noise. It is my personal belief that they perfectly fit the trope of the “suffering empath,” given how clued into Asami’s emotional state they are. The wedding at the end of the show where she and Korra finally confessed their feelings is proof of this, as once again the bangles were clinking together. They are just that naturally attuned to those around them.
Now, I completely understand why they steal the attention for that reason, because that level of character growth was hard-earned. Not to mention, the seamlessly tied together not one, not two, but three of Asami’s fancy outfits—something even her festive yellow clip couldn’t manage. She was clipless at the wedding, after all.
But it’s the clipless point in and of itself that leaves me flummoxed about the fandom’s unfortunate bangles-focus, because Asami’s hairclips told the single most nuanced story in the entire franchise.
It’s easy to be dismissive of such things given that Asami was, on the surface, polyamorous with her clip choices. And indeed, even in her first episode we saw both her yellow standard clip and her fancy yellow dress clip. Perhaps this is the reason her initial reception was one of suspicion, because she wasn’t even willing to stand by a clip.
But what people need to remember is that Asami was a much younger character then, and indeed her shedding of her naivety was a rather central moment for her. Her casual yellow clip was her go-to while donning her Book 1 non-action outfit, or the outfit she wore when she was still but a daughter of Future Industries. It’s true she learned of her father’s nefarious plans in the seventh episode, but it wasn’t until the Book 1 finale that she saw how their fractured relationship could never fully repair. He tried to murder her, after all.
It should be considered no surprise, then, that when the time came for Asami to select a clip with her non-action outfit of Book 2, she selected her blue clip, forever leaving the casual yellow one behind. I personally feel like yellow’s send-off was appropriate, given Asami’s headspace at the time. Yet there are those who point out how this played into the unfortunate Clip Triangle Trope, and I suppose on another level, it would have been refreshing to see the writing rise above such things. At least the blue and yellow clip were never shown to be envious of one another, happily trading places on a dime during Asami’s clothesbending.
But, I’ll admit it…I’m biased. I can dismiss so much of this because Dutiful Princess Blue Clip leaves me clutching at my heart. Because the blue clip was Asami’s action clip, since we first saw her don a sporty outfit to give Korra a thrill. Platonically.
We know Asami lives in her head, and when she’s in action-mode, it gives her a break for once. Her mechanic’s jacket outfit likely empowers her for this reason, which is why it was her go-to choice for her sexy spirit world getaway. But what’s a girl to do when she has to run a company and look nice? She took a small piece of that outfit, the blue clip, and donned it all through Book 2 and 3. What’s more is the blue clip was happy to step into that role—eager, you might say.
Think back to the one time in Book 2 we saw her without it: “Night of a Thousand Stars.” Well, what happened there? She was rendered completely useless, merely cheering on the sidelines for Bolin despite having found out that the man she sold a majority share in her company to was actually trying to steal it and start a war for profit. Thanks, fancy-yellow clip.
Blue clip would have never allowed this to come to pass. And we know it had nothing to do with the impracticality of her dress, as we see her fight some of Kuvira’s baddies in a skirt during the events of “Reunion.”
No, it was the confidence of the blue clip, and should that come as a surprise? This was the very same clip she used to free Tezin from handcuffs as lava rapidly approached.
Now, there are some who argue that it was actually a bobby pin underneath the blue clip that freed him, and I have to ask: what show are you watching? Why would Asami wear two clips at once, first of all, and secondly, her hair is clearly clip-free during the escape, meaning she pulled out the only one in her hair. I instead hold the firm believe that Asami merely removed the wiring from the blue clip’s shell (there’s likely to be snaps in place for this), and put it back together again in time to bring down the Red Lotus guard guarding the other airbenders.
The blue clip was there for her, it provided her with utility, and yet, when Asami made the decision that her life needed to be clip-free—that she could no longer live with a crutch—it was more than willing to step down. Dutiful to the end. Excuse me while I lie down.
It should be noted that while there will always be standout stars in Asami’s wardrobe, they all work together quite well, happily clothesbending without notice when they think she needs it. For instance, when Asami was arrested in “When Extremes Meet,” her wardrobe worried that she might not have been able to handle the degradation of being brought down in her action outfit; those clothes should make her feel invincible, after all. But have no fear, once they were assured of Asami’s emotional state (it was just anger, let’s be real), they reverted back to her mechanic’s jacket and jodhpurs, which was probably far more comfortable for her night’s sleep in jail anyway.
Similarly, her clothes even camouflaged themselves once when she accidentally switched into her business casual outfit while guarding a meditating Korra. Whether this was to prevent the Avatar from freaking out, or because they knew Asami would want to seem action-ready around her is still a bitter war in the fandom. But that misses the forest for the trees. They were willing to work together to do this for Asami, and that kind of synchronicity should not be overlooked.
It’s also part and parcel with the way she can summon goggles out of thin air when the situation requires it. Throughout the show, Asami’s wardrobe predicted her needs and fought to make them a reality. The in-fighting imagined by the fandom only detracts from this point.
So what of her wardrobe in the comics? Well, on the surface, there’s not much here. Asami wears her action outfit the entire time, likely matching her determination to be ~fine~ with the death of her father and push forward, with the exception of her meeting with Raiko. When did she find time to change into them? The timeline is iffy. But it’s not a shock that she would make time to do so, seeing as she’d likely want to put on the face of the person Raiko gave the former infrastructure contract to, rather than the person who openly defied his surrender alongside the Avatar.
However, there’s a small piece of nuance in how quickly Asami changed back out of it in time to watch the sunset with her girlfriend. It’s not like she read the script and knew an action sequence was coming up, so why did the mechanic’s jacket make a reappearance? Well, it’s my own believe that her processing of her father’s grief is not as open-and-shut as her “at least I forgave him” line of the series finale made it seem. Her snapping at the land developer is rather damning evidence of this.
Therefore, it would make sense that Asami would want to don the outfit in which she feels the most secure and unflappable, seeing as there’s already so much vulnerability on the inside.
Another small thing to note is the disappearance of her gloves (both regular type and shock) just as Korra scooped her up in the battle at the spirit portal. For this, it’s rather simple: it’s not very pleasant to touch someone’s face who’s kissing you with a shock glove. Asami’s wardrobe likely knew she’d be able to steal a smooch in this situation, seeing as she was faking a very serious injury; we saw that she was totally fine just a panel before:
So yeah, let her touch Korra’s face without worrying about frying it. Of course her wardrobe would accommodate such a request.
However, it’s the sudden and magical appearance of earrings that should draw attention. At first I thought this was a bizarre mistake—earrings? Asami? But looking at it in context paints quite the story.
You see, they exist in exactly one panel…the panel just after she and Korra get in a small disagreement.
She’s not wearing them before this, she’s not wearing them on the spirit world vacation, she’s not wearing them later in Raiko’s office, and she’s not wearing them during the gazebo chat or final sequence. So…where did they come from? Where did they go?
Well, clearly the only logical explanation is that Asami was so distraught by their disagreement, she thought to externalize her pain by piercing her ears as Tenzin was ushering Korra out the door. Kya’s look there? Yeah, it’s partly because she realizes this was a lovers’ spat, but mostly because she’s wondering if she should offer to heal her earlobes (or at least calm down what’s probably a decent throbbing).
Now, you might be wondering why someone like Asami would even have pierced ears at all. Sure, she wears gowns to weddings that put both the bride and Arianne Martell to shame, but making a permanent alteration to her body without a level of practicality to it doesn’t fit exceedingly well with her characterization. But remember the blue clip. If she was running around with a lockpick in her head for three seasons, you can bet the earrings she had in her pockets served another use.
And indeed they did: ink for her pen. It’s why they’re gone again by the time Korra gets back in her tent, and why Asami seems to be fighting with her pen as she’s making her drawings. Because earring ink is not the most efficient ink in the world.
Look, let’s call a spade a spade here…this was a dark moment for Asami. And we’ve seen her wardrobe adjust to plenty of dark moments before (need I remind you of the silenced bangles?). But we have to remember that we’re in good hands here. So far, Asami’s wardrobe has gone through changes that have touched many of us, and even though I personally haven’t had the experience of piercing my own ears with ink earrings, I have to imagine a few of us have. Then especially situated after a fight with Korra, it’s giving us just another peek at some of that inner darkness teased on the show. My hopes are that it will be fully explicated, and frankly? I’d be shocked if that’s the last we saw of the mini inkwells.
Asami’s wardrobe is at something of a crossroads right now. Should it pretend everything’s fine? Should it allow her these moments of emotional indulgence? There’s no easy answer, but I’m optimistic. The disappearing gloves at the end show us how her wardrobe is still so naturally attuned to her needs and fully supportive of the relationship that serves as a stabilizing and positive influence in her life.
And really, that’s the bottom line. Asami’s wardrobe lived a complicated tale, but at the end of the day, we knew we could count on it. So even if I’ll admit to a bit of nerves until January, this has been a hardfought story and one hell of a ride. Let’s all welcome the earrings, and may they come to earn a place in our hearts right next to the blue clip.
Images courtesy of Nickelodeon and Dark Horse Comics
Varrick’s Behind The Turf Wars
So. You just read Turf Wars. You’re probably wondering how it is that those wars over the turf fits together with the larger picture. And if you weren’t, now you are, because we just called attention to it. You know what this means? It means we’re going to have some fun, and you will like it.
That’s right, it’s time to crack open the new Legend of Korra comics that finally hit digital shelves last week. “But wait,” you might be saying, “the two of you (being Griffin and Kylie) already cracked it open, and dumped the contents over our heads with a ten thousand word rant on the worldbuilding. What more is there?”
We’re glad you asked, Jeffrey! See, while Korra and Asami were busy indulging our shipper feels, there was something nefarious brewing in the background. Or…the foreground? It is the title here. But we have to ask: who was the one person absent from this comic. The onneee person who we’ve seen chew on the scenery consistently since Book 2. Who has served as the puppet master for as many long games as there have been long games. And a few short games as well. The one man—nay, the legend—who always makes himself known. Unless he doesn’t want to make himself known.
That’s right, we’re talking about Iknik Blackstone Varrick. And he is behind EVERYTHING you just read.
See, the two of us were having some trouble making heads and tails out of the triad, developer, political, homophobia parallelogram that is the plot. It’s not that any of the individual vertices didn’t work on their own level, but what were they all doing hanging out together? Then it hit us, like an old man ordering soup at a deli. It all makes sense, if you think like someone who doesn’t care about sense, or someone who doesn’t want us to think he cares about it. And that’s Varrick, to a V.
Before we can take you through how he did everything, we must first tackle the why.
It’s no secret that the solicitation for Part 2 of Turf Wars mentions that none other than Zhu Li Moon will be running for president against the currently unopposed Raiko. Everything we know about anything suggests she will win, because if she doesn’t…then why does this story exist? We don’t imagine an immaculate redemption arc for Raiko. He’s finished politically, and frankly should be after appointing Kuvira (and then surrendering to her). And Varrick knows it!
But shouldn’t this mean that Varrick wants to be president? No, not really! The presidency is obviously a wedding gift to Zhu Li, and he’s more than happy to be First Lady.
Except there’s another reason he wants Zhu Li to be president, rather than just contributing to Raiko’s campaign and “the other guy’s” again. The reason involves someone he has wronged in the past. Somebody who really, just plain straight-up hates the guy. And someone who has no idea Varrick is doing anything. Can you guess who?
That’s right! Unlike Raiko, Varrick did have a bit of a redemption arc when he chose not to make weapons of mass destruction, and when he apologized for years of inappropriate workplace behavior with Zhu Li. We have to think given how impressed he was with Asami’s hummingbird mecha suits, and his displayed eagerness to work her on those, that part of his turnaround includes reparations with her. Specifically that time he lied to her, tried to steal her company out from under her, hired gang members to distract her while he took her entire inventory, and then threatened her sort-of boyfriend at the time to shut up about everything. Just a small disagreement, really.
Well, what is it that Asami might want, but cannot have? A conversation with her father (oh snap). But besides that, there’s really not much you can get for the woman who runs Lockheed Ford Motors Industry. Except wait…remember that homophobia? Remember how it’s an integral part of Korra and Asami’s plotline? It’s for a reason. Because the one thing Asami can’t get for herself? Equal protection under the law!
Wait, only Kya knows they’re together! Or is that just what we’re supposed to think? Because we seem to recall Varrick inventing Gaydar™. Sure, it was by accident when his airbender detector went wrong, but this is the guy who built a fusion bomb before ever having successfully built a timer, by his own assertion.
The point is, he knew Korra and Asami were together before they even knew.
Therefore, Zhu Li’s presidency is for one main purpose: marriage equality. Well, also because Raiko is terrible and the country needs someone competent to lead it. But that’s secondary for Varrick, of course.
However, Varrick is not one to just let his wife run and hope for the best. He’s basically Lex Luthor, but with mostly good aims. And possibly intentions? It’s confusing. Even his war profiteering days were based primarily on the idea that he needed to save the Southern Water Tribe from subjugation, since nobody else seemed interested in helping. Hey, look! Yet another reason to unseat Raiko!
So let’s break down the how this supergenius set out to accomplish everything.
“I can smell a conspiracy when I see one!”
The first thing that tipped us off to this immaculate plan was Raiko’s campaign manager, who is dressed suspiciously like Varrick. Is this some kind of cosplayer?
Additionally, he seems to be completely incompetent, almost to the degree that it must be intentional. -3% polling? Ensuring Raiko doesn’t make a single appearance to the temporary housing camps full of thousands of constituents? That’s the exact opposite of what he should be doing.
No, there’s simply no campaign manager, no matter how green, who would think that a shirtless poster (not to mention a blatantly misleading one) is a more effective approach to securing reelection than face-to-face time with the people, especially given the dismal (and impossible) polling. And the fact that he’s not facing any opponent. The only logical explanation is that the man this campaign manager styles himself after…is his employer. He’s being paid to waste Raiko’s time—not the most difficult feat.
What is difficult to believe is that -3% approval Raiko would be running unopposed. Like Tenzin said, even a flying lemur would be able to run against him and win.
So wouldn’t every random yokel be trying to toss their hat into the ring? Especially the ones who lost the first election when they first started this newfangled democracy? Well, not if Varrick paid them off, bribed them, or threatened them. This might seem like a stretch, but Future President Zhu Li will have some prime cabinet appointments to make; we’re certain Varrick wouldn’t have hesitated to offer a position to any of the loser candidates from way back when, along with other political up-and-comers. Others would have been easy to bribe. As for the threats, well, this is Varrick. We saw his heavy-handed methodology of keeping Mako off his war-profiteering plan.
Only one question: what would a recently pardoned, recently defected inventor/engineer/shipping merchant use to threaten people when he’s still in the midst of rebuilding Varrick Industries International? Well, this is where the plotlines begin to come together.
“Oh yeah, I guess that was a bad thing…”
Varrick hired the triads!
Yeah, we know this is a rather lofty accomplishment, even if Varrick had canonically hired triads in the past to do his bidding. Even more, we were given Tokuga’s backstory, about how he took advantage of the chaos from the attack on Republic City to rise to power and get every gang member to “fall in line.” But…doesn’t this seem just a bit hyper-ambitious and disturbingly effective for some random chi-blocking kid?
The timeline is, quite frankly, nothing short of ridiculous. It’s been a matter of weeks since Kuvira’s invasion, and we’re supposed to think that some sword-wielding punk took over ever everything to stake out claim in a city where the basic infrastructure is probably badly damaged. Why fight now? Would this “turf” he carves out even have a chance of sticking once the thousands and thousands of citizens evacuated are moved back in? Or once repairs are made on a block-by-block basis? There has to be something more strategic at play.
These turf wars have two major effects: they prevent the police from helping with the housing crisis too much, and they make Raiko look utterly terrible. Both these things benefit Varrick! Raiko’s polling will never even climb to 0% with such safety concerns in the city, and the housing crisis continuing gives Zhu Li a platform to be authoritative. Wonder why she was randomly in charge? Because Varrick wanted her to be in charge.
There’s also some money to be made here. After all, if you can’t make money off of war, then you flat-out cannot make money. See, while Asami is an established do-gooder who throws her money at all social injustices (and love interests), we’ve only seen Varrick open up his purse in a situation that will benefit him. Which makes this bit stand out to us:
She was ON that, almost as if she expected it to happen. Because she probably did, since Asami is kind of predictable with her, well, tendency to dump piles of cash on things that need fixing. Now, as amusing as it might be to think of Asami and Varrick like the Waynes and the Kanes (WHICH IS WHICH???), each buying half the city because they can, we do have to acknowledge that this is such a ridiculous thing for two private companies to be doing. We’re talking about a multi-billion yuan investment, which should be a major infrastructure project for the city. This is exactly what taxes are for, not donations.
But wait, what if the property values were cheap—like, really cheap? So cheap that Varrick and Asami wouldn’t be committing financial suicide to their bottom lines with that? Well, think about what drives prices down: that’s right! Triads warring and stabbing each other in the middle of streets!
So now we see why Varrick *must* be behind the Turf Wars. Tokuga is suspiciously organized, we’re shown everything happening just before we witness Zhu Li in charge and offering to help fund the reconstruction project with Future Industries, plus, isn’t it odd that these wars also seem to be happening in places where nobody is living? Varrick is Mr. Chaotic Good in many ways (and yes, we are calling the South’s fight against oppression the side of ‘good’ here), and we can think of no other reason why the triads would be going full-force for land of questionable, if not entirely worthless value.
There’s also the matter of Varrick being the first person to discover that Spirit Vines are sort of not the best things to be messing with. And also the guy who vehemently refused to make a super weapon of untold destruction because the destruction was untold. Every test fire could have been blowing up comets in space for all he knew! So, with that in mind, we’d posit that there’s more than one reason (because nothing is ever that simple with Varrick) he wants to buy up all that “useless land”.
To make sure nobody stupid enough to build on it actually tries to build on it.
Varrick and Zhu Li saw the destruction the vines could cause first-hand, as it’s how they escaped prison in the first place! Plus, there’s no doubt in our minds that he was paying pretty close attention to what Asami was doing with the reconstruction efforts of Republic City after Unavaatu made the Swamp Benders look like slouches. That three year gap was long, and Asami and the city somehow managed to find a happy balance between the vines and every single form of infrastructure, so there’s only one thing Varrick, a businessman at heart, could take from that: You can’t build on the vines. You can only build around them.
Plus, there’s that whole thing where Spirit Vines are super easy to use for, again, jury-rigged fusion bombs so it’s probably in his best interest to try and limit people’s easy access to them. How is he supposed to make any money if everyone’s dead?
Now things are clicking…
“Mind blowing, right?”
Except. Wait. Tokuga got hired by this schmuck to attack airbenders:
How does Varrick fit into that one? That’s where things start to get all business-y. See, the only logical explanation is that Keum Enterprises is a deep, deep subsidiary of Varrick Industries International and quite possibly a recent acquisition. They’re so far down the chain that nobody would think twice about the several layers of parent companies that eventually trace back to Varrick. It also gives him plausible deniability for everything that Keum does, since how can he be expected to keep track of everything every employee of his does? That’s what other people are for!
But why did Varrick set Keum Enterprises on this path? The very same reason quite a few others are in this scheme: to make Raiko look even worse. See, Keum buys the land on behalf of Varrick due to the turf wars tanking real estate prices, arousing no suspicion at all since the city is broke and Raiko probably wasn’t the happiest of campers when a chunk of prime downtown property was rendered unusable for about three years. Which is most of his presidency, by the way.
Then, as the turf wars are being relegated almost entirely to that unuseable land, it paints Raiko in the light of someone who doesn’t support the private sector by protecting their interests and efforts in restoring his own city which is, again, full of healthy voters! And it certainly doesn’t help that, from the average person’s point of view, his neglect for this attempt at urban development and revitalization is frustratingly incompetent, not to mention apathetic.
We can’t imagine a whole lot of people actually know you can’t build on that land. Sure, there were witnesses to that time Korra pissed off the vines so much they ate an entire apartment building, but how would they know that’s what would always happen?
But here’s where the twist twists even more: Tokuga doesn’t report directly to Keum. He can’t, considering all of the hands on work he does to ensure the Turf Wars keep raging where they should be and don’t bleed over into other parts of the city. Nah, this mook is fully in cahootz with good ol’ Iknik Blackstone Varrick. He works with Keum, but for the most part he goes where Varrick tells him to go, and does what Varrick tells him to do.
Make sense so far? Great!
Oh, wait, that doesn’t explain how or why the attack on the airbenders went so badly…which was again to fracture Raiko’s support base even more since hating on the airbenders/ignoring the problems the airbenders face is like political suicide. See, we’re pretty sure it’s safe to assume that Varrick didn’t plan for Tokuga to get transmogrified into a lizard spirit abomination. That’d be crazy!
No, all he wanted was to further escalate the conflict and this actually works out even more in his favor! Tokuga might be a hideous freak now, but this just stokes fuel to the fire Varrick was already dumping gasoline on. So he does the only thing he can do to keep things on the right path: hands Keum Enterprises over to Tokuga so he can take a more hands-on approach from every angle possible. If Tokuga controls the company buying and “building” on the land that the triads are warring over, it’s a fraction of the risk with the potential of exponentially greater results of making Raiko look bad!
“Never let the truth get in the way of a good story.”
So there you have it: everything you need to perfectly understand this comic. Varrick is sort of the Littlefinger that Benioff & Weiss wish they knew how to write, and boy is he climbing this ladder of chaos to his advantage. And Zhu Li’s. And all the LGBT characters of this world who want marriage equality. What could be better?
Tune in next time where we break open Legend of Korra: Turf Wars Part 1’s other narrative secret: Asami Was Drunk The Whole Time!
Images courtesy of Dark Horse Comics and Nickelodeon
Five Ways To Ruin the Con Experience for Everyone Around You
It’s that time of year again. San Diego Comic Con, the grand-daddy of all the cons, is upon us, and that means thousands of you will be flocking to the ridiculously heated streets of San Diego to participate. While many of us set out to go, meet people, watch panels, get our cosplay on, and get some sweet, sweet swag, there are a few ways you can help ensure that you and everyone else has a better con experience. And by help ensure, I mean here are five things that you absolutely should not do.
If you’re going with friends or meeting up with a group of friends, set a freaking alarm and be on time. SDCC is a highly structured event for panels, and your being tardy means you and your group can miss signings, panels, meals, taxis, and more. Oh, and don’t expect your friends to hold your place in line for a Hall H event so you can leave your hotel room later. The horde of other fans wanting to get in on those panels will all but ensure that you’ll get a nice comfortable spot… on the floor while you wait for the panel to end. SDCC waits for no one.
Bottom line: Set your watch, your phone, whatever. Leave early and anticipate that crowds are going to make for slower transportation.
Look, buddy. People pay good money to go to SDCC. They wait for this all year. The last thing they want to do is put up with your cranky butt because you either skipped a meal, didn’t get enough sleep, misplaced a cosplay item, or didn’t get an autograph you wanted. This isn’t to say you can’t have moments where you’re just DONE and want to go relax. Everyone has those. But don’t let whatever is going on with you bleed into how you interact with everyone around you.
Plan ahead, stay hydrated, sleep when you can, and pack a snack where possible. You paid a lot of money to get here too, don’t self-sabotage your own vacation by not taking care of yourself.
Be a know-it-all
Nobody likes a gate-keeping geek. Cons are a place for all of us to revel in our geekdom with our fellow nerds. To meet our equally obsessed peers and gush over DC’s Rebirth, or our favorite film franchises, or television shows. Nothing harshes a good nerd squee like some asshole waltzing in and either trying to prove someone else is a “fake” fan or trying to one-up everyone else by bragging about how they just know sooooooooo much more about a piece of media.
San Diego Comic Con is freaking expensive. If you’ve reserved a slot, paid for the hotel, paid for the tickets, paid for transportation… I think your fellow con-goer would be taking that “fake” for attention to the extreme. Just let people enjoy being with their fellow nerds, regardless of their knowledge level. Look at it this way. You LOVE this certain story arc that most of your peers haven’t had the fortune of experiencing. Wouldn’t it be exciting to share your joy of that story with them and watch as they get excited about it too and want to learn more? SHARE THE NERD LOVE.
There’s a video on youtube that I’m going to drop in right here.
So you’re stuck in line for a panel, and the person behind you absolutely LOVES a particular piece of media. Or you’re meeting with friends for lunch, and they won’t stop gushing about a movie trailer they just saw for a franchise you can’t stand. Maybe you’re bitter after listening to a Henry Cavill interview, and you wanted more Gal Gadot, but your con buddy is now on a Superman high.
Don’t be that jackass. Let them gush over whatever it is they’re excited to be there for and don’t default into breaking two rules at a time by judging them AND being cranky about it. After all, they patiently sat through the two-hour rant you gave last night on why Kate Kane is now and forever the absolute best in the Bat Family. Show them the same courtesy. (Even if we agree with you, Kate is stellar.)
Bite the shipping bone
Everyone has their OTP’s; it’s the magic of shows. We as a geekdom like pairings and shipping. But there’s a time and a place for that. You know what isn’t cool? Running up precious minutes on a panel for a television show or a movie asking about a ship when the cast and crew are there to promote the season arc and share updates and new cast introductions. There’s a line of people behind you who’ve waited all year to ask their questions about characters, arcs, etc. And there’s a finite amount of time for questions. Don’t hog the mic and throw fan ship questions, especially if it’s to denigrate a canonical couple and bog the panel down.
That gauntlet of con-goers who lost a chance at getting their show question in because you wanted to rant about a ship? Well, you have to pass them all on the way back to your seat. The con is there for you to have a good time, but it’s there for everyone else as well. Be considerate.
PS. DON’T ASK THE CAST OR CREW OVERLY PERSONAL QUESTIONS. BOUNDARIES. BOUNDARIES ARE YOUR FRIENDS.