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Doome/Staples

Observing The BlackGuard Entry 15: Jonnie Staples and Darius Doome

08 Oct 12
Jerrod Smith
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Finally, we conclude this series of journal entries with what can be considered either the most promising or most disturbing relationship amongst the team: Jonnie Staples and Darius Doome.

Up until this point, the best I have been able to say about any of the team relationships is that two members may have an understanding or some respect for one another. None have come close to resembling a friendship. This is what makes Jonnie and Darius interesting. It’s difficult to say whether these two actually consider each other as a friend. I find it hard to believe either of them has any friends. Even as members of The BlackGuard, both seem to be staunchly focused on their chosen career paths (Darius’s mad scientist career and Jonnie’s mercenary career) and have little time for anything else.

What I can say is that Jonnie and Darius do not mind each other’s company. In battle, they are the two most likely to actually use teamwork. Outside of combat, they may share an occasional laugh or two. Perhaps they have found common ground in their solitary lifestyles. Maybe they have reached out to one another to achieve something that has been missing from both their lives. Possibly, a bond has formed here that will help to rehabilitate these two men into heroes. That would be the inspirational way to look at their semi-friendship, but there is also a more irksome, and more believable, way to see things.

Frankly, Darius and Jonnie are the two least mentally stable members of The BlackGuard. They recognize this in each other and are, dare I say, drawn to one another. In some strange, twisted way, it’s as if crazy attracts crazy. Instead of finding hope in this “friendship”, I’m in fact worried by it. I don’t see the pairing of Jonnie and Darius as being helpful to either of their psyches. It will more likely be harmful as both encourage each other to roam farther and farther to the edges of their sanity. I can only imagine what will happen when both go completely over the edge.

And on that grim note, I conclude my “Observing The BlackGuard” series. This team has a number of interpersonal conflicts, but I, Dr. Hugo Cranium, am here to help them work through their numerous issues. I see nothing but success in our collective futures!

– Dr. Hugo Cranium

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Observing The BlackGuard Entry 13: Eli Mercer and Sequoia

06 Sep 12
Jerrod Smith
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3 comments

I guess every “family” must have a mother figure and a father figure. This leads me to Eli Mercer and Sequoia.

Naturally, I see these two as the parents of the team because they are the two most responsible and level-headed. It has nothing to do with their relationship with one another. After all, Eli is old enough to be Sequoia’s father (or grandfather).

I imagine Sequoia, like many people her age, learned about Eli (as The BlackFist) through history books, television, and the stories of her parents. As the case tends to be with iconic figures, these tales probably presented Eli as a symbol instead of an actual person. It’s always difficult to accept one’s idol for the person he or she really is. I’m not saying that Sequoia thinks any less of Eli since working with him, just that she has had to learn to accept the real Mercer, flaws and all. It appears she is not only accepting of his shortcomings, but comfortable enough to address them sarcastically to his face. I’m not usually one to make pop culture references, but she has become the Geoffrey to Eli’s Uncle Phil, if you must.

Eli heavily depends on Sequoia to help keep The BlackGuard running, perhaps more than he realizes. You see, Eli is a “big picture” type. He has vision. He knows where his people are, and where they need to go, but he is not a fine details person like Sequoia. If I can use a nautical analogy, Eli is the ship and its captain. Not only is he capable of carrying those dependent on him through turbulent waters, but he also commands the crew and leads them from one destination to another. Sticking with the same analogy, Sequoia is both his map and compass. One cannot navigate without some sense of direction and a knowledge of possible obstacles in the path to one’s destination. Of course, this dependency works in both directions, as a compass and map without a destination or means of transportation are of little use.

Sequoia is a very intelligent, responsible individual with a keen eye for detail, making her an invaluable tool in Eli’s plans for the BlackGuard. However, she depends on him, just as he depends on her. Where Sequoia sees a path littered with puzzles requiring solutions, Eli sees a destination that must be reached no matter what, and that is someone Sequoia needs to follow.

– Dr. Hugo Cranium

Next Entry: Melanin and O.D.A.N.

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Observing The BlackGuard Entry 12: O.D.A.N. and Sequoia

27 Aug 12
Jerrod Smith
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2 comments

Now here is a relationship that requires very little insight: Odan and Sequoia.

One does not have to be a genius to see that Odan and Sequoia come from opposite upbringings. Sequoia grew up surrounded by educated, well-mannered individuals. Odan grew up around hoodlums. Sequoia graduated from college with honors. Odan has not stepped foot in a school (unless you count a dojo) since early puberty. Sequoia speaks clearly and articulately. Sometimes, I feel I need an interpreter when conversing with Odan. Needless to say, Odan and Sequoia tend not to communicate with each other very well.

I guess I should at least attempt to add a little depth to this observation. Both Odan and Sequoia tend to have a steady stream of information coming into their heads. Both actively make an effort to keep up to date with whatever they consider to be their source of “the truth”. Sequoia’s truth comes from literature. She’s not foolish enough to believe that any one book is entirely honest or accurate, but she does believe the more she reads, the closer she comes to the truth. Odan’s truth comes from the streets, by way of music, television, and word of mouth. Odan will tell you himself that, if anything, the hood is honest, and sometimes brutally so.

I wouldn’t go so far as saying Odan and Sequoia do not like each other. I just don’t think they can currently relate to each other. I do think that both, since joining The BlackGuard, have discovered a world entirely different than the ones they come from and may yet find some common ground.

– Dr. Hugo Cranium

Next Entry: Mercer and Sequoia

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Observing The BlackGuard Entry 11: Afia Melanin And Jonnie Staples

20 Aug 12
Jerrod Smith
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3 comments

Today, I want to cover the many differences and similarities of Afia Melanin and Jonnie Staples.

In this discussion, I guess I should start with the biggest difference in Jonnie and Afia, and that is humor. Jonnie tends to find humor under just about any condition. If he notices even the slightest joke in a situation, he makes sure to point it out to the rest of the team, whether they appreciate it or not. Afia, on the other hand, finds very little to be funny about any situation (She obviously has not gotten any of MY witty remarks). If Afia does have a sense of humor, it probably revolves around the downfall of the “white man”.

That leads me to another difference between these two: their views on race. In Afia’s mind everything has some sort of racial connotation. Just about any action she witnesses is racially motivated in her eyes. I honestly believe that she is so driven to see her own race prosper that she projects her viewpoints onto everyone else. Since all of her actions are racially motivated, everyone’s actions must be racially motivated. In contrast, Jonnie could care less about the racial issues of the world. Even in the presence of blatant racism, Jonnie simply ignores it. I don’t know whether he is in denial of the presence of racism or just so self-absorbed that he does not concern himself with it. Either way, I think his refusal to acknowledge it bothers Afia intensely.

There are two traits that these two do share though. Both are impulsive, and both are violent. I guess you could say that all the members of The BlackGuard are violent, but Afia and Jonnie tend to get more satisfaction out of their violent actions than their other two teammates. Impulsiveness combined with a violent nature means these two are always the first to jump into battle. It’s funny how these two are so quick to jump into a fight, and neither is fighting for the same cause.

– Dr. Hugo Cranium

Next Entry: Odan and Sequoia

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Observing The BlackGuard Entry 10: Eli Mercer And Darius Doome

04 Aug 12
Jerrod Smith
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3 comments

Now, I move to one of the most counter-productive relationships of The BlackGuard: Eli Mercer and Darius Doome.

I call this relationship counter-productive because it seems to go against Eli’s intentions for the team. Eli started The BlackGuard as a means of rehabilitation. Each member of the team is there because they have ‘issues’ that make them liabilities if left unchecked. Since arriving at the base, I’ve witnessed Eli’s attempts to restrict the negative attributes of each member and endorse their positive attributes. But therein lies the problem with Darius.

For every other member of the BlackGuard, the negatives and the positives can be separated. Darius, not so much. His insanity and his genius appear to be one and the same. I honestly believe (and obviously, so does Eli) that if one were to somehow remove Darius’s insanity, he would then become just another average scientist. The same mind that may invent a radioactive toaster one day may very likely hold the key to defeating a dangerous adversary the next.

Of all the members of The BlackGuard, Darius has had the most ‘successful’ career as a super-villain. His methods, though strange at times, are unquestionably effective. Eli is more than aware of this. In a team that is three fourths direct offense, he realizes just how valuable a strategic mind is on the field. Without Darius, the BlackGuard initiative would most definitely fail, and then no one would benefit. This puts Eli in a very conflicted position. In order to ensure that his team is victorious, he must allow, and sometimes even encourage, Doome to be Doome.

What really makes this situation troubling is not only how it affects Darius, but also what it does to Eli. Of course, Darius will continue to be an unstable individual, but I can only imagine the turmoil Eli’s conscience is undergoing. Having to set aside one’s principles in order to achieve necessary results. In this case, I’m actually more concerned with the mental status of Eli.

– Dr. Hugo Cranium

Next Entry: Melanin and Staples

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Observing The BlackGuard Entry 9: Odan And Darius Doome

09 Jul 12
Jerrod Smith
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4 comments

Slowly, but surely, I’m trudging through this series of entries. Let’s continue with Odan and Darius.

I would have expected there to be more animosity between these two than I’ve currently seen. Despite his small frame, Odan has the personality of the typical bully, and from my personal experience, bullies tend to pick on the “brainy” types. however, I’ve yet to see Odan make fun of Darius. This could, of course, be due to the fact that he has me here to ridicule instead, but, somehow, I feel it’s more than that

Though Darius may be a scientist, he is to a great extent a bully himself. Before joining The BlackGuard, he earned a reputation as a notorious super-villain. In this strange world of super-powered beings, this earns Darius some “hood credibility” with Odan. Of course, in typical bully fashion, Darius is always quick to endorse Odan’s derision of others (once again, most commonly me). Darius even goes as far as attempting to instigate a response from Odan’s victims. I’m uncertain as to whether he does this in order to accomplish something or just for his own personal enjoyment.

Of course there is one trait common to both Odan and Darius: boastfulness. Both men seem to be compelled to announce their own greatness to anyone within shouting distance, and both tend to be very long-winded about it. When it comes to these two, bragging about oneself is an art-form. It’s actually quite theatrical at times.

I still wouldn’t go as far as to say Odan and Darius are friends. In fact, I don’t even feel comfortable saying they get along. All I’m willing to say right now is that at the moment, Odan and Darius are not (excuse the following colorful expression) “on each others’ s#!t-lists”. Considering these two enormous ego’s, however, it’s only a matter of time before they bump heads.

– Dr. Hugo Cranium

Next Entry: Mercer and Doome

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Observing The BlackGuard Entry 8: Afia Melanin And Sequoia

26 Jun 12
Jerrod Smith
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5 comments

Today, I continue my analysis of the social interaction amongst The BlackGuard by looking at Afia Melanin and Sequoia.

Afia and Sequoia have a relationship unlike any other in the team due to the fact that they are the only two females. I feel that a kinship has formed between these two ladies as both try to maintain their sanity while surrounded by outlandish males.

That’s not to say they always agree with one another. Sequoia is a thinker, and Afia is a “do-er”, as one might call it. Where Sequoia prefers to analyze a situation and gather all information before acting, Afia often jumps to conclusions (and then to action). Sequoia has no qualms about pointing out flaws in Afia’s logic, something most people, especially those without superhuman abilities, would be reluctant to do.

Afia, however, does not take her usual confrontational tone with Sequoia as she does with others. It appears Sequoia may actually be capable of talking sense into Afia from time to time. Though Afia tends to value brawn over brains, I believe she may actually respect Sequoia for her intelligence. This could be due to the fact that Sequoia has a vast knowledge of African history and culture.

One thing I find intriguing is the occasional admiration Sequoia has for Afia. She may not follow her logic at times, but Sequoia is still fascinated by Afia’s dominance on not only the battlefield, but in just about every argument she ever has. I believe there’s a repressed side of Sequoia that looks up to Afia. She’s the defintion of an empowered woman.

– Dr. Hugo Cranium

Next Entry: Odan and Doome

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Observing The BlackGuard Entry 7: Mercer And Staples

09 Jun 12
Jerrod Smith
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6 comments

I’ve allowed myself to get distracted and have been remiss in my entries on the individual relationships of The BlackGuard. Today, I resume the process with an observation of Eli Mercer and Jonnie Staples.

I noticed quickly that any interaction between Eli and Jonnie can become an explosive situation, like introducing fire to gasoline. This has mainly to do with the fact that they have entirely different comfort zones. Whenever they are in the same room, there’s a clash for dominance, as both are trying to transform their surroundings into something which they are accustomed to. Allow me to elaborate.

Eli requires order in everything he does. In fact, amongst The BlackGuard, he is order. He mandates that every member of the team wear black (with the exception of Geronimo, whom it seems Eli does not have as much authority over) to create not only unity, but order. To keep a team as dangerous as The BlackGuard under control, he must maintain a certain amount of decorum, or else he risks turning something initially positive into a disaster, which he has already narrowly avoided a few times in the short time this team has been together.

Jonnie, on the other hand, finds comfort in chaos. In fact, he relishes in it. Not to say that Jonnie is only happy when he has either a gun or sword (or grenade) in his hand, but he does seem bored whenever there’s a lack of unpredictability in a situation. When he finds himself in these predicaments, he feels compelled to create chaos, often to the dismay of Eli.

As long as these two are unable to compromise in their battle of order vs. chaos, there will always be turmoil within the team. On a side note, despite their differences, I get the feeling Jonnie doesn’t see Eli as such a bad guy. And despite the fact Eli seems to care about the well-being of his team, sometimes I feel he just doesn’t like Jonnie.

– Dr. Hugo Cranium

Next Entry: Melanin and Sequoia

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Observing The BlackGuard Entry 6: Staples And Sequoia

30 Apr 12
Jerrod Smith
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7 comments

Today, I want to discuss the peculiar “friendship?” of Sequoia and Jonnie.

Originally, I saw Sequoia as having the same relationship with Jonnie as she does with Darius. Like Darius, Jonnie often has an obscured view of reality, which greatly contrasts with Sequoia’s sensible nature. However, where Sequoia chooses to simply ignore Darius, she often competes with Jonnie in a game of wits. Both of these two seem to appreciate the art of a perfectly timed quip (often at the expense of Mercer), so any “conversation” they have is normally a sparring match of one-liners and jabbing insults, with each mocking blow causing the smirks on their faces to grow.

As a former student of mine, I am well aware that Sequoia enjoys laughing at others more so than just laughing with them. I find it quite intriguing that, of all the members of The BlackGuard, Jonnie seems to be the one that can make her laugh simply by berating another teammate. I would say that she’s simply amused at the target of the insult, but I notice that the jeers directed by Jonnie are often the ones that cause her to quietly giggle to herself.

It is their common love of sarcastic gibes that causes me to believe there is a mutual respect between Jonnie and Sequoia…… and possibly something more.

– Dr. Hugo Cranium

Next Entry: Mercer and Staples

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Observing The BlackGuard Entry 5: Melanin and Doome

06 Apr 12
Jerrod Smith
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5 comments

Let’s take a look at Darius Doome and Afia Melanin, two individuals who are the epitome of brains and brawn.

I’d like to start by saying there are two things Darius and Afia have in common: Both see themselves as superior, and both use each other in battle. When Mercer is not present, which is surprisingly often considering the BlackGuard consists of mostly super-villains, both of these two feel that they should naturally take control. With Mercer having no appointed field leader, again, surprisingly neglectful on his part, there seems to be a clash of who calls the shots. What makes this situation interesting is that both Afia and Darius are oblivious to each others’ perceived leadership position.

Afia associates a person’s strength in battle with their overall worth to the team. With Darius having very little physical prowess, he is the most worthless in Afia’s eyes. Still, even Afia realizes his scientific mind comes in handy when the occasional annoyance that can’t be solved by her fists comes along. She may occasionally call on him to use his brain to remove an obstacle in her path, but once he does, she returns to viewing him as useless.

Darius does not seem to be bothered by Afia’s perception of him. I’m not sure if he just doesn’t pay attention to it, or if he just values her opinion that little. Just like Afia uses him, Darius also uses Afia. Darius sees himself as the mastermind of The BlackGuard, and his three teammates are his minions, there to take damage in his stead. Afia fits this position best with her invulnerability. She can give and take punches all day, giving Darius ample time to perfect his schemes.

– Dr. Hugo Cranium

Next Entry: Staples and Sequoia

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