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Off My Mind: Supervillains Entering the Witness Protection Program

Is it possible for some villains to want to reform and can they live a normal life afterwards?

Everyone deserves a second chance. That can even apply to supervillains. We rarely hear of these super-powered bad guys receiving serious sentences. They don't get the death penalty regardless of how heinous their acts may be. Even the criminally insane like Joker or Norman Osborn are believed capable of being reformed. Supervillains, when caught, are either locked up in prisons or asylums in the hopes that someday, they'll get better.

Of course not all supervillains are insane. Some have just done bad things out of ignorance or desperation. There has been some villains that have changed their ways. These former villains have turned their backs on their former evil ways. Some have even sought further redemption by trying to become an actual hero.

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Because some of the evil deeds they may have taken part in cannot be easily disregarded or forgotten, they may have only one choice left, turning in state's evidence and entering the Witness Protection Program. If the former villain qualifies to enter the program, can they begin a new life as an ordinary citizen and will their pasts allow them to live peacefully?

== TEASER ==

This is something that Ed Brubaker has explored a couple times. In the pages of INCOGNITO, we were introduced to Zack Overkill. Zack was a super-powered mercenary that testified against his powerful boss. In order to lead a normal life, he was required to take drugs on a regular basis which would suppress his superpowers. In his new life, he didn't have any qualifications other than work as a mail clerk in an office.

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Overkill's mundane life didn't last long. He eventually found a way to get around the effects of the drugs the government required him to take. With the return of his powers, his location was soon discovered by his former allies and of course all hell broke loose.

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In the pages of CAPTAIN AMERICA, there has been several former villains whose lives are now at risk. It might seem that supervillains have a great deal of motivation to constantly try to get away with their evil plans despite getting caught time and time again.

For some, they eventually get to the point where they have no other choice but to turn in evidence against their former employers or colleagues. Their attempt at entering the Witness Protection Program is ending with different results. Death.

There was a time when a killer Scourge made it his mission to wipe out the criminal element - permanently. With each death, he uttered the words, "Justice is served." The Scourge originally went after low-level villains, many who were practically a disgrace to other supervillains and their criminal ways were stopped with extreme prejudice.

This new Scourge (who isn't necessarily a new character) is still targeting villains, but these are villains who have tried to do the right thing. Their reasons may have been selfish but it was determined and agreed that whatever information they had to turn over was enough to grant them a new life of peace.

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With all the technology and super-human abilities, the idea of a villain truly going into hiding doesn't seem likely. Even the highest classified information can be compromised. There are also those with telepathic abilities. A former villain may be able to change their identity on paper but they would still retain their unique brainwaves or thought patterns. The nature of their powers could also result in being discovered if a device was created that could track down any sort of emissions they might release.

Can a former supervillain enter the program and live a normal life? The answer is no. There are just too many factors that will prevent them from starting over. The former villain could become bored with a normal life. They are not used to working for a living. Being a supervillain was an attempt to get what they wanted in the easiest way possible. Those that were in deep with other supervillains will find it difficult to fully get away from their former partners or employers, especially if they turned in evidence against them.

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This isn't to say that supervillains should give up the idea of trying to turn over a new leaf. It's just not going to be an easy task. Clearly if a person 'does the time,' they deserve a chance to start over. It's just that with all the technology and superpowers in comics, the chances of them vanishing or riding off into the sunset isn't going to be an easy task. Especially if they betray their former employers or partners. If anything, this should be a lesson to the young and impressionable villains. They need to think before they get in over they heads.