Categories
Antiheroes DC Episodes

Issue 129 – Amanda Waller

Before The Suicide Squad premieres, we analyze AMANDA WALLER! Doc’s got an interesting idea for therapy, provided he manages to stay alive! Listen now!


  • Intro
  • Background (2:10)
    • Amanda Waller created by John Ostrander, Len Wein, and John Byrne in Legends #1 (Nov 1986)
    • Amanda Waller introduced as leader of Suicide Squad, a branch of Task Force X – she butts heads with everyone on the team, especially Captain Boomerang, but she gets results
    • Later revealed that her family was murdered living in Chicago – worked her way up from congressional aide to head of Suicide Squad
    • Janus Directive – Nearly assassinated and replaced with a doppleganger, but kills the double and passes so she can find out who sent them
    • Later serves under President Lex Luthor as Secretary of Metahuman Affairs, until she is imprisoned for running afoul of Luthor
    • Released by the next President and put in charge of Checkmate, serving as both Black King and White Queen
    • Discovered to be responsible for an anti-Superman organization called Last Line, and created a monster named All-American Boy made of Kryptonite and Doomsday’s cells to battle Superman should he ever go rogue
    • New 52 – Back in charge of Suicide Squad, and later responsible for helping to create Justice League of America
    • DC Rebirth – reports directly to President Obama, and tells him Suicide Squad is a necessary evil – Rick Flag is put in charge of Task Force X
    • Later fakes her own assassination to reveal an international cabal that the Squad helps take down
  • Issues (6:11)
    • Matt’s question: “How in the hell does someone get to be like that? Where not only the criminals she works with, but other people in general, are literally nothing to her. They have absolutely no agency to her except as instruments, means to her goals, or whatever tasks she’s been assigned by the people above her. Her wonderfully fleshed-out backstory does a great job of explaining her iron determination, aggressiveness, and take-no-shit-from-anyone demeanor, and it’s easy to see how it would give her a fight-fire-with-fire philosophy, but not the place of complete and utter detachment from basic moral principles she regularly goes to in order to do her job. She’s certainly not a sociopath, at least I don’t think so. She’s demonstrated plenty of times that she’s perfectly capable of empathy. In fact, I’d argue she’s more skilled at empathy than most people. It’s what makes her so effective at her job, reading people and being able to intuit what they’re feeling and the things they want. She just ultimately doesn’t care what happens to anyone else, unless it’s a part of her mission objective. And it’s not an act she puts on for the benefit of the people in the Suicide Squad or the targets they’re sent up against; she displays the same casual disregard for superheroes, government officials, military brass, and world leaders. It’s like other people just don’t matter to her at all. The only thing I can come up with to maybe explain her is that, owing to the circumstances of her early life, it’d be really easy to have a hyper-pessimistic default assumption that humans are generally evil, venial, corrupt little shits who don’t warrant much consideration. That’s something that, unfortunately, with how old and set in her ways Waller is, it’d be really difficult to get her to change. She probably doesn’t view anything about herself as being a problem that needs fixing, even though it’s gotten her thrown into prison more than once.”
  • Break (27:40)
    • Plugs for BetterHelp, Hops Geek News, and Meredith Finch
  • Treatment (29:44)
    • In-universe – Have her work on fixing the bottled city of Kandor
    • Out of universe – (34:00) – Entrenched government bureaucrat on a power trip
  • Skit (feat. Jasmin from Geeks Unleashed) (41:54) 
    • DOC: *muffled* What’s going on? Where am I?
    • AMANDA: Hello, Dr. Issues.
    • D: *bag comes off head* What the hell… Amanda Waller? What are you doing?
    • A: I don’t do therapy sessions, and certainly not in your office. I have other plans for you.
    • D:  Do those plans involve untying me from this chair?
    • A: Depends on how you answer the next few questions. Although having read your file, I think I have an inkling as to how this will go.
    • D: Is that so? Care to enlighten me then?
    • A: Sure. You’ll try to talk your way out of this, I’ll explain what I’m doing, you’ll still do your best to weasel out, I’ll reveal that I implanted a bomb in the base of your skull, and then you’ll do what I say. 
    • D: YOU WHAT? 
    • A: Oh, the bomb. I needed a failsafe to make sure you played along. 
    • D: WHAT HAPPENED TO ASKING NICELY? 
    • A: I don’t have time for that. I need this next mission to go smoothly, and there are some potential disruptive actors that need reigning in. That’s where your expertise comes into play.
    • D: My expertise went out the window the second you made me a hostage. Surely you’re aware of the research that indicates I’ll tell you whatever you want to hear, or do superficially whatever you say, for the sake of self preservation? At what point did you ignore conventional interaction for pure transactional gain?
    • A: Right on cue. The literature you suggest has only been applied to prisoners of war; you are not a part of that cohort. Also, that’s your first attempt at stalling. I’m indulging because I think it’s relevant to your duty. I trust that you’ve read Thaler’s work?
    • D: Nudge? His book on behavioral economics? Sure! I love it because he describes humanity as a set of imperfect beings that are generally predictable, but not perfectly rational. Lest I remind you, the point was SUBTLE ADJUSTMENTS. This is totally too far.
    • A: Is it? When the world’s very existence is at stake? When I do things my way, there is as close to a guarantee of success as any monte-carlo forecast may show. Trying to prove me wrong is trying to lower the odds. A gambling man like yourself should know the house always wins.
    • D: So you’ve done as much planning as anyone can reasonably expect. Somehow, I’m integral to this. That means my demise lowers your odds as well.
    • A: Not exactly. I need A psychiatrist, not specifically you as the psychiatrist. You merely have some insight into the assets that could be useful.
    • D: Then the rate limiting step is time. So your hypothesis is that threatening instant death in a civilian is likely to lead to faster contrition than…oh I don’t know…convincing any professional that SAVING THE WORLD is worth the effort? Just how risky is this? Or did that part of the expected value curve get left off the page because you forgot how to manage that?
    • A: Since you’re about to lead into more stalling, I’ll curtail your inquisition: JOKER.
    • D: *pause* Awwwwwww…man…AWWWWWWWW COME ON! Are you expecting me to cure the Joker? Under duress, I think it’s necessary to inform you that- 
    • A: I’m aware of your prior encounters. You are ideal, regardless of the outcomes. You didn’t back down. That’s more than most can say. All I need is for you to string him along so nothing else goes wrong with the others involved.
    • D: HE ELECTROCUTED ME!
    • A: And you continued treating dozens of superpowered beings, deranged humans and other sentient forms. This is quite the honor, to be hand picked to serve the greater good, even at the most inconvenient of times.
    • D: You suck up to me now AFTER you put the bomb in me?!!! Lady, I respect your hustle and grit, but you got this all backwards. Don’t think I’ll let this be cheap.
    • A: Money is irrelevant, you know that.
    • D: Well clearly to you because apparently you don’t want FRIENDLY mediums of exchange. I can’t remember someone sounding so noble while being so…mean. Who hurt you bad enough for you to give up on everyone…and yet still “care” about the world? That’s some traumatic dissonance.
    • A: *restrained anger* You REALLY are trying to be a therapist right now, after all of the warnings? This is getting long, Doctor. Or, would you rather I call you Ar-
    • D: PLEASE! I do all of this because I want to help. Truly. I…I’m going to be honest. Anything I try with you, or the Joker at this point,  is beyond what I’m comfortable with as a professional. I meant what I said earlier. I just want this to stop. I hope you save the world. I also hope that you find the emotional center that you lost when your family died.
    • A: …and that’s the line *explosion* Shame. I wasn’t sure if he’d try to make it personal. That was pointless. *text/phone sound* What now…Harvey Dent Automated Legal team? Why…*more notifications keep ringing* private settlement based on medical alert on behalf of Dr. Issues? Insurance review for physical and mental health damages by an unknown organization? Discovery hearing with local, state AND federal committees? JUSTICE LEAGUE VIDEO CHAT? I don’t have time for this! *calls phone* It’s Waller. We’re going to need 4 neurosurgeons and an ortho spine surgeon here immediately. NO, we don’t need more bombs. Not yet, anyway. We’ll…go on hiatus with that for a little while.
  • Ending (48:03)

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