The Pain of Loss: Will Achilla become a hero or a vigilante?

Did the pain of loss transform Trunks or awaken his true self?

As you’ve already seen in Achilla The Strong(and if you haven’t, click here), Achilla Johnson doesn’t grow up in a nurturing home. The love and affection that should come freely from a parent are only earned through blood, sweat, and tears during her formative years. More often than not, Achilla’s suffering goes unrewarded as she strives to meet Ailina Harris’ standards for her.  When Achilla moves into the Johnson household, she encounters a nurturing environment, and it shocks her at first.  Achilla never learns the value of love until she experiences it first-hand, and she finds that it is one of the biggest unfilled holes of her childhood. After living in a loving home, she is willing to fight for it; even against a formidable opponent like Ailina(read Achilla The Strong to find out who wins). That’s how love works. Whether it’s the love of a parent, a child, or a partner, once you have it, you’ll fight to protect it. You’ll draw strength that you didn’t know you had to ward off anyone who threatens  it. If you want to see a mother’s anger, endanger her child. If you want to see a peace-loving man blow up in a fit of rage, threaten his wife.  If you want to see Achilla take on a superhuman opponent with the strength of a bull elephant in musk, just watch what happens when Ailina threatens her new family.  When cornered, love is a ferocious foe, and someone will hurt you to protect who or what they cherish. They’ll even risk death to protect the object of their admiration.

The woman who grabs this fleeing driver had a child in the backseat.

So what happens when you take that love away? What if the attacker succeeds in harming, or even killing that parent, child, or partner? In response, the protagonist takes one of two paths; justice or revenge.  With characters like Bruce Wayne, you see a man hell-bent on bringing every criminal to justice. He becomes the Batman whose one rule is to never kill. Frank Castle seeks to protect civilians at all costs. He becomes the Punisher who will shoot a criminal in the head without batting an eye, along with anyone else who stands in his way. Frank Castle is no stranger to violence, so the leap to killing for his cause isn’t exactly a large one. Still, the pain of loss made him colder than before, and that’s what it does to most protagonists.

Not exactly a friendly chat.

Son Goku is a more extreme example than The Punisher.  Goku is a masterful martial artist with unimaginable strength, but he’s a peaceful man in DragonBall Z. Sure, he loves to fight almost to the point of addiction, but he stops short of killing his enemies unless it is absolutely necessary. That all stops when he faces Frieza. When Frieza pushes him too far, Goku’s noble nature gives way to a blood lust unbecoming of a peace-loving hero.  Goku’s rage transforms him into a Super Saiyan. It also turns him into a different person altogether; the kind of relentless, enraged warrior necessary to take down a sadistic sociopath like Frieza.

Is that Goku talking?

The pain of loss gives Goku an exponential power boost, but it also temporarily erodes his moral character. In his thirst for blood, Goku loses all reason and even disregards the people he’s always fought to protect.  All he cares about is punishing his enemy in the most humiliating and painful way possible. Nothing else matters. No one else matters. Revenge is everything. Goku’s mindset proves that pain is often irrational, and so is the fury that follows.

Rage causes Goku to make one of the worst decisions in Anime history.

However, the pain of loss doesn’t always trigger a metamorphosis from peace-lover to murderer. Sometimes, it  unlocks the gate to a rage kept in check by a moral code or an exterior influence that holds the character accountable. Wonder Woman, Achilla’s main inspiration, is an example of someone who never had a problem vanquishing her enemies, but she held back for the sake of the Justice League. When she perceives that Superman dies in battle, she stops caring about her vow to not kill.  She requires an exterior influence( The Flash) to remind her of their team’s mission and values. Despite her desire for vengeance, she takes the path that Superman would’ve wanted in honor of her fallen comrade.

You don’t mess with Wonder Woman’s friends.

So what happens when Wonder Woman doesn’t have a team? What if Wonder Woman never has the support of a Justice League that shares a common belief to preserve a life before extinguishing it, even if it is one filled with evil?  What happens when no one is there to curb you when rage grips your heart and won’t let go until you do what it commands? What if the only solution you see is to kill the transgressor, and there is no one there to tell you otherwise; or at least no one you can trust to understand how you feel?

This speech means nothing unless it comes from someone who can relate.

The key to taking the path justice lies in the protagonist’s support system.  It takes mentors and friends to instill wisdom and clarity to someone blinded with hatred, and sometimes the best way to prevent the explosion of rage is to provide a listening ear or a shoulder to cry on. A support system doesn’t make your loss any easier. It’s still a heavy burden, but it becomes manageable when someone helps you lift it. Carrying that pain on your own is too much to bear, but when you have support, you won’t have to.  Nobody ever should.

Loss is never easy, but it’s even harder to handle alone.

Mourning is not meant to be a one person job, but for many it often is. Some people don’t have that support system and are forced to live with the loss the only way they know how.  That is often where revenge comes into play, and it can consume your life until nothing else matters.  Characters who live a life filled with bitterness and vengeance are often solitary creatures. Those who cope well  with loss do so because they have someone they can lean on. They are a stark contrast to each other on the outside, but they share the same emotions.  The main difference between them is in the opportunity to be vulnerable and heal. Without that, they will spend the rest of their lives wounded.

For how long do you think Vegeta held these tears back while carrying his pain alone?

I’ll give you small sneak preview into Angel of War. Achilla Johnson will suffer the pain of loss, but who will be there to help her carry the burden? Will there be anyone who will know how she feels that can steer her on the right path? Or will she live a life of bitterness, rage, and solitude? Will she become a hero for justice or a vigilante for revenge? You’ll have to read Angel of War to find out, but this much is true.

How Achilla decides to carry her burden will change her life forever.

I hope you’re ready, my friends.

No Apologies,

G. Miller

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