SylarContrary to popular belief, I can actually tell time. I know it’s not Friday night. I know it’s not Saturday morning. I had good intentions and wrote the vast majority of this before 10am. I had lofty goals today and they started with getting my blog back on track. I got sidetracked by a Honey Badger. Let’s just chalk it up to shenanigans.

Anyway, let’s get it!

In the mid-2000s, long before she was the bitchy teen drama queen who showed a geeky, nerdy kid the night of his life in I Love You, Beth Cooper, before she tried to kill Neve Campbell in Scream 4 (umm…spoiler alert?), before she played Carrie Underwood in Nashville, Hayden Panetierre was a cheerleader. A cheerleader who couldn’t die. You remember that whispered “Save the cheerleader, save the world” shit, don’t you? That’s from a TV show about regular people who get superpowers and the organization that tracks them down. No, not Agents of SHIELD (though it’s the SAME shit). I’m talking about Heroes.

Now I dug Heroes—well the first 2 seasons of it. It had some good shit—the indestructible cheerleader, the time-traveling, teleporting Japanese dude, the politician who could secretly fly, the shadowy organization trying to kill them. And it had some misses—we had a whole season when Hiro didn’t have powers? Boo! And what was up with Ali Larter’s character? First she was a split personality, single-mom hulk-thing, then she’s a clone? What happened to the black chick who could copy moves she saw, learned karate watching TV, and was kicking ass in Popeye’s Chicken? And Matt Parkman as a telepathic police man was no Professor X. But one place it excelled was with its first and main villain, Sylar.

Before he was the Gimp on American Horror Story or Mr. Spock in the lens flare-laden Star Trek reboot, Zachary Quinto was Gabriel Gray, a quiet, introverted watch repairman longing to be something greater. Did you read that? Quiet, introverted? That means “quiet, kept to himself” which is THE profile for all serial killers in the US. What Gabriel Gray was blessed with, or cursed with, was the heightened ability to figure out how things worked. They called it intuitive aptitude. And when people started developing powers, what did Gabriel Gray figure out? How to take them. By eating their brains. AND HE WAS FINE WITH THAT!

So he changed his name and starting tracking people down, ripping their skulls open and stealing their powers.

What kind of shit?

That, my friends is awesomeness. As a comic book reader I know a little something about people taking other people’s powers. Rogue from the X-Men (you know her as Sookie from True Blood), takes people’s powers through physical contact. But that was only temporary. It wears off eventually. They even dealt with it on Heroes: Peter, who is really the main character, would mimic powers from people he was standing next to. And again, his shit is temporary. But Sylar, he could take your powers from you permanently by taking the part of your brain where they lived. And eat it.

And they put this shit on network TV.

What you ended up with was a super-powered serial killer who only tracked down other super-powered people. And he had a method to his madness: he killed a telekinetic to get telekinesis, killed a shape shifter, then a guy who could forsee the future. When the precognition told Sylar he would cause an explosion that would kill thousands, he killed a guy who could go nuclear and stole his power. Oh yeah, and he killed his mom too.

Sylar went though a series of changes in his pursuit of ultimate power: he tried to kill the cheerleader (fuck saving the world, huh?), got stuck in Parkman’s chubby mind, had his own mind erased and replaced with Peter’s brother, even tried to be a hero—until he learned that his father killed his real mother and had the same powers, and psychopathic problems, that he did.

In the end, I loved this dude because he was methodically horrible. Sylar literally took his opponents apart and made himself stronger while doing it. Bloody and vicious but cool and collected, it was like watching Dexter Meets the X-Men every week at 9pm. And he did it all for the most human of reasons: to feel special.

Celebration of Wickedness Day 27: MAGNETO #atozchallenge

Hey hey hey everybody! Welcome back to another installment of the Celebration of Wickedness, the place where you can finally admit your love for the darker side of life. It’s ok; you can be yourself. We’re all friends here. Gather round. Today, we’re looking at the arch-nemesis of the X-Men, the Master of Magnetism himself, Magneto!

Have you ever seen this guy? Magneto can manipulate one of the most fundamental forces known to mankind. Do you have an idea of what falls under the magnetism umbrella? The entire planet is a magnet. Compasses use magnets. We’re talking light and radio waves! Gamma radiation, x-rays, microwaves. This guy can control the shit you need to see and hear and find your direction. If you’ve seen X2: X-Men United, you saw Magneto orchestrate one of the coolest and foulest prison escapes on film: he’s trapped in a completely plastic jail cell so he has Mystique seduce a security guard and inject liquid metal into his ass (literally), pulls the liquid of the guy’s bloodstream the next day—killing him in the process—turns the metal in tiny balls that tear up the cell, then into discs that he can walk on. And just walks out the prison. I once read a comic where Magneto thought Spiderman was a mutant and to test it, he beat Spidey’s ass by throwing him around using the IRON IN HIS BLOOD.

Magneto is a bad man.

Long before he was Magneto, Master of Magnetism (you have to say his whole name every time), before he was an arch-villain with a bucket on his head, Erik Lensherr (that’s Max Eisenhardt to you diehards) was just a young Jewish boy. During the Holocaust. In Auschwitz. Nothing like seeing your mother killed in front of you to bring out some latent mutant powers, huh? He escapes from the Nazis—kinda—runs away with his pregnant wife, who in turn leaves him after he kills an angry mob while trying to protect her. But things take a positive turn and get good for a little bit—he makes a friend in Charles Xavier (Professor X), they decide to work together to find mutants, train them, protect them and promote mutant causes. Good stuff, right? Yeah, until Erik kills a guy. Well, a former Nazi.

Erik calls it justified. Charles calls it murder. This is awkward. See, good guy Charles wants humans and mutants to live in harmony; bad guy Erik thinks anti-mutant sentiment is a slippery slope into another holocaust. They have a falling out and become enemies.

But here’s the thing: Magneto is right.

You have to understand, the X-Men were created during the rise of the nuclear age and the Civil Rights Movement. They represent the complex social question of how you treat people who are different—but still people—and, in this case, pose a potential threat. This is a question the United States has been trying to address since its inception. Instead of races or sexual preference, there are people who can walk through walls, can shoot lasers out their eyes, can control the weather, can read minds and freeze entire populations. Their capabilities are tremendous and deadly but they’re people. Human beings. And in many cases, they’re kids.

When faced with choosing the path of nonviolence, living in secret, trying to get along with humans and potentially facing another Holocaust; or standing proud, different, fighting back and ensuring it never happens again, Magneto is on the right side on this one. You don’t have to agree with his methodology (he’s actually okay with murder, theft, conspiracy, terrorism, mass destruction) but you have to appreciate his point: humanity has a history of horrible acts in the name of homogeneity. He knows. Lost his parents because of it. Was a victim of it.

Magneto is right. And this makes him not only one of the most incredible villains ever, he’s one of the most complex and compelling characters in literature. Why? Because he’s mad as hell and he’s not gonna take it anymore. And with power like his, he doesn’t have to.

And tomorrow, at long last, you get to find out why I hate that little bastard Teddy Ruxpin.