After all, think about Waller’s call to action at the end of Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths #7: “I originally wanted to propose to you that we offer an opportunity to work with the heroes. There are dangers coming, and we might need them,” she begins, adding, “But there is no Justice League now and the heroes are left disorganized and chaotic. And I feel they only add to our troubles.” That’s not really that harsh, is it…?
Sure, that conversation ends with her smugly saying “Finally” when told that she has permission to kill any superhero that stands in her way, but nonetheless: even that wasn’t her first go-to; she starts by suggesting incarceration. It’s the mysterious figures that she’s talking to who bring up that whole “eradicate” thing.
From there, we can look to the summer’s Dawn of DC Primer Special Edition, which opens with an internal monologue from Waller — a rare thing indeed, as it gives us a glimpse inside Waller’s mind in a way that normally isn’t available. (Considering how Machiavellian she’s portrayed as being, it’s a very rare and valuable thing indeed.) Again, she seems to be coming very much from a place of concern for an undefined oncoming disaster.
“Now that the crisis have passed, families have reunited while others grow. Legacy and a bright future are here to stay. It’s all sunshine, happiness, and smiles… it’s total [expletive deleted]. They don’t know what I know,” she explains. Later in the same monologue, she adds, “the meta humans won a battle, but think they won the war. And now they’re trying to lead by example. But no amount of smiling is going to save us when the [expletive deleted] hits the fan.”
(I’m writing “[expletive deleted]” because the comics themselves use skull emojis to censor the cursing, if you’re curious.)
Again, we’re seeing that Waller certainly believes that she’s serving some greater good with her actions, even if she goes to extremes — like planning to murder a lot of people, or causing Titans: Beast World to happen — in order to achieve that greater good. It’s something she describes as “making hard choices,” which is certainly a euphemism to choose in this circumstance.
The heart of the question of Amanda Waller’s “goodness” currently lies in the intentionally unknown: what is the thing that she’s so worried about? Both her appearance in Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths and the Dawn of DC Primer make it clear that she knows something is at risk of happening, and that it’s bad… but how bad can it be? She seems to be entirely okay with an invasion of extra-terrestrial starfish that transform people into animal hybrids as long as it serves her ends, so it’s clearly worse than that… but what is it? Could it be so bad — again the events of Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths, which involved the attempted murder of the Justice League and the near-destruction of reality as we know it, was described as a “battle,” but not “the war,” which feels curiously telling — that the ends could really justify the means, given what Waller’s definition of “means” is? We’ll have to wait until… well, almost certainly an upcoming DC event or two, I suspect, before we know for sure.
So… is Amanda Waller evil? That entirely depends on how you choose to look at it: in terms of intent, there really is an argument to made for “not really,” even though she does have a tendency to (a) threaten to blow people’s heads up in order to get her way and (b) actually follow through with it. Certainly, she’s evil-adjacent — and will no doubt become more so, when she actually gets around to that whole Trinity of Evil thing — but there’s this nagging feeling that, until we actually know what the horror she is attempting to prevent turns out to be, we won’t be able to effectively decide whether or not she had everyone’s best interests at heart deep (deep) down, after all.
Consider that a reprieve, Amanda; no stay in Belle Reve for you just yet.
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