--Previous Piece: Charlemagne LeBeau
The final piece of this series where I select the single best CV character written by one of CV's greatest ever character writers (Mercy, LL, Nova, Zauby and Gambler) and justify my claim that said character is said RP'er/writer's best and among the greatest in CV history, this piece will focus on Zauby's greatest ever character, and the greatest and most complex hero in nU history; Abigail Aensland. Few characters are as genuinely accomplished as Abigail, few heroes have the psychological complexity and emotional authenticity she has, and no character has faced and survived, what I consider to be, the three deadliest and most prominent antagonists in nU history; Ivana, Charlemagne and Satar. Few characters are as long-lasting, and even fewer as great as Abigail.
Born in the daughter of Londoners, Atticus and Emilie Aensland, Abigail was raised in wealth as much as isolation. Praised by her parents for her talents but never given their warmth and affection to the extent that a child needs in their formative years, Abigail had no true bond. Instead, she was thrust into a situation that forced her to give up all sense of security when her father's attempt to help pass a law sympathetic to mutant-kind led to public condemnation. Accusations of being secret mutants, death threats, and riots dogged them day after day, culminating in a riot outside a movie theater that saw Atticus shot dead, Emilie critically wounded, and Abigail fatally wounded.
And though she and Emilie survived, Abigail's discovery of her mutant heritage and the madness it drew into her life, had scarred her. If being a mutant meant relinquishing the safety of family, home and herself, without which no child could find emotional peace, then she would settle for nothing but hatred of all mutants - and herself. But in time, Abigail's views changed as she enrolled in Oxford University, where the cultural melting pot gave her new insight and greater perspective, and where her role as a witness to the fatal beating of a shapeshifting mutant changed her forever. Though her self-hatred remained, the seeds of heroism were planted deep in her heart. Seeds that saw her abandon her undergraduate studies and take her first steps towards becoming the greatest hero in the world.
The hero who bested Charlemagne LeBeau, fought for Gothic City when it was abandoned by it's own government, poured her soul into saving Venezuela when no one'd dare face Ivana, the only hero to ever stop Satar and finally break his hold on Gothic City, became the leader of the League of Shadows and was one half of the most memorable feud in nU history with Ivana. Abigail is not only Zauby's greatest character, but one of the greatest characters and heroes in CV history.
Typically, heroes - ideal heroes - are my least favorite characters because straightforward heroes who are virtuous, brave, just etc. don't challenge our ethical standards. They rarely ever force us to reconsider or at least reflect on our moral views or the nuances of the ethical standards that the world regards as ideal. Because, by their very nature, heroes embody all the beliefs and morals that are almost universally accepted as ideal. And because heroes are characters we're supposed to agree with from an ethical standpoint, they're usually not ethically complex. Or complex as a whole. But Abigail is one of the most complex characters, let alone heroes, in CV history. She is psychologically complex, emotionally rich, and she has redefined the role of not only the street level hero, but the hero overall on CV. Abigail is an ideal hero, but one who subverts the expectations and conceptions of what it means to be a hero.
She is brave, altruistic, compassionate, selfless and has a steely determination to be and do good regardless of the danger that poses to her. But she's also self-loathing, fearful, alienated, depressed and introverted when heroes are often thought of as fearless, extroverted, awe inspiring and worldly. Abigail, on the other hand, is not a representation of heroic perfection as ideal heroes often are. She is flawed. She is not a living breathing ideal. And because of these flaws, she's a different kind of hero. One with innate goodness yes, but one that's also self-inquiring and emotionally believable. What do I mean by emotionally believable? Most characters on CV are emotionally inert to external stimuli. Specifically, to things that should elicit fear. And that's because most characters on CV are fearless and not portrayed to be emotionally vulnerable, especially not heroes of the magnitude and greatness of Abigail. But Abigail feels fear. She feels anxiety. She is emotionally believable and authentically, wholly human. When forced into a situation that preys on our fears as humans, she isn't inert.
She fears but is brave enough to overcome those fears because as a hero, she recognizes that her fears do not supersede the greater good. In a world where so many characters are super geniuses with impossible technology bordering on magic, where there is magic for characters to wield, where heroes are gods and mutants and metahumans who can move mountains with their minds or fly to the sun and back, Abigail is a university dropout who loathes her mutant heritage - and yet she not only represents the best of humanity better than any other hero, she defends humanity better than every other hero. Furthermore, on CV RPG, there is a trivial link between heroism and violent conflict. Conflicts where the hero must use violence to overpower the villain they are in conflict with. Through these conflicts, themes about the hero's strength, literal and metaphorical, are explored. The hero is strong and virtuous. Unyielding and fearless. Bold and larger than life.
But Abigail deposes this standard of heroism, or at least complicates it, by exploring how emotional vulnerability and fear are also linked to heroism within the context of these conflicts. She's psychologically affected by the tragedies she's witnessed, she questions her own ethical standards, her confidence as a hero is shaken to the point of leading her into a self-imposed exile. And it's because of Abigail's inherent humanity allowing her to be a conduit for the shared vulnerability of both herself and mankind as it lives in a world where dangerous and vastly superior ultra-beings exist that she defends mankind better than any other hero. Because she understands who she is fighting for. And in doing so, understands why she is fighting, and who better to embody mankind's hope than a hero who understands their fears and feels their vulnerability. Who better than the world's greatest hero? Who, though flawed, is brave, extremely talented, resourceful, altruistic, a gifted fighter, compassionate, decisive, and has bested some of the world's most dangerous villains when no one else would or could?
Heroes are often deified and separated from their humanity. They become ideals. But Abigail overturns this. She shares the vulnerability of the people, the world she's trying to protect. She is symbolic of the world's vulnerability against the superhuman dangers that threaten it - and it's continued survival. Because as much as Abigail is a hero, she is, more than anything, a survivor. And the juxtaposition between Abigail and all these incredibly dangerous villains she faces, embodies the world's vulnerability and struggle against all the fantastical threats it faces day in and day out. Which is made all the more interesting because while Abigail almost shuns her own mutant powers, powers that are left latent and unexplored, she is still a mutant. She is no human. And yet, she is somehow the most human character of all. A counter to Nietzsche's views of humanity. In particular, that mankind suffers from it.
That humanity is a socially and culturally imposed sense of inferiority that destroys one's potential and consumes one's will. And though she "suffers" from humanity as Nietzsche asserts, Abigail has fulfilled - not destroyed - her own potential. She became the savior of Gothic City (though can Gothic City truly be saved?) when she destroyed Black House and defeated Satar when no else could. She bested Charlemagne LeBeau, the boogeyman of mutant-kind and the deadliest melee fighter in CV history. And she has faced and outlasted Ivana in her quest to liberate Venezuela from the Shogunate. And led the League of Shadows, turning it into a support structure to impose moral order wherever she went. All of which Abigail accomplished while disestablishing the conceptions of what it means to be a hero.
No other hero has done this. Has been this deep, rich, vulnerable and complex a character while rising to an almost mythical status in the metahuman community. Her history, behaviors and morals make her not only the greatest hero in nU history, and among the greatest ever in CV history, but she is the most complex and compelling hero that I've ever seen on CV, and Zauby's greatest ever character.
This is my last piece in what's been a fun series where I got to explore the greatest ever characters in CV history, or at least the ones I argue are the greatest. And though she doesn't know it, I was partly inspired to create this series by LL's past intention to do a P4P ranking of the greatest ever fighters/martial artists in the nU.