Sometimes it’s hard to imagine superheroes as human. With unparalleled strength, fantastic speed, cool gadgets, or even web-slinging abilities, heroes are often considered a class of their own. As a society, we have elevated the idea of the superhero to beyond human perceptions. This includes their views and moral reasoning. We see them as having the highest of morals, understanding the importance in all life regardless of what that person has done. I mean, how else could all these villains keep escaping and destroying cities? But what if a regular person had superpowers? What if, tomorrow, you discovered you could punch a man through a wall without repercussions? Would this new found ability change you at all? I would imagine it would. I mean, I know a few people that deserve a good punch. Luckily for us, JADED by Jon Santana explores these questions.

Santana provides us with new heroes who have their morality grounded in the human experience. Each hero fights to save humanity, but a tragic moment changes their ideas. In this sponsored analysis, we plan on dissecting and taking a look at what a regular human would be like if we had powers.

The Dark Side of Superheroes Shows in JADED

If you’re unfamiliar with JADED, you definitely should check it out. The story centers on a group of superheroes who have lost their way. Each hero has fallen from grace by committing a major crime. Imprisoned, these heroes are orchestrating their escape. But in order to do this, they need a man who is no longer on Earth, and many civilians fear the return of Adam Sovereign.

Adam Sovereign

One of the first instances we get of Sovereign is him trying to rescue a doctor. The doctor has made a personal decision after a tragic accident. The doctor has decided to throw himself off of a building. Sovereign, however, intervenes to stop the man. But Sovereign’s reaction to what this doctor says is what brings his moral compass into question. Sovereign is completely indifferent to the doctor’s life and focuses solely on the legality of the situation.

Jaded
Courtesy of Iron Age Comics

I bring this up because Sovereign is constantly telling the doctor “After this, I’m taking you to the authorities.” This raises the question of what Sovereign’s moral perspective is. Now, it is unclear what will happen to the doctor once the police take him, but I feel that is half the problem. Will the doctor lose his career? Will he be imprisoned in an institution? Who knows! Either way, the doctor’s life is going to be completely different.

The morality of the situation overall is questionable. However, the questions of morality are especially raised towards Sovereign rather than the victim in my opinion. Sovereign focuses on the legal aspect of what the doctor is doing rather than the moral. He emphasizes how it is “illegal to do that”. The whole exchange is void of emotion on Sovereign’s part. Throughout, he’s flying away to help other crises that are occurring around him. When the doctor offers to tell Sovereign his story, Sovereign seems more annoyed rather than kind. This begs the question, is Sovereign doing this to benefit mankind, or is he doing it because it’s the law?

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Kid Prodigy

Although Adam Sovereign is the center of the story, there are four additional superheroes to consider, three of which we become familiar with early in the series. Kid Prodigy, Grady O’Connell, and Ethera all present complex issues. They come with their own baggage but still try to be superheroes. Their real downfall is just being human.

Jaded
Courtesy of Iron Age Comics

Kid Prodigy is a classic example. He is an agile, young superhero who is working to make a name for himself. Providing classic puns, this hero harkens to characters like Spider-Man, Deadpool, or Iron Man. However, Kid Prodigy is not the same as Peter Parker. Two of Prodigy’s nemeses capture his mother and his girlfriend. They force to choose him to choose who lives and who dies. As you can imagine, the choice doesn’t turn out well.

If you were a superhero in this position, what would you do? Would it be possible to save both women when one is hidden somewhere? Kid Prodigy indirectly and inevitably makes a choice. In most super heroic cases, despite the consequences, the hero makes some peace with their self afterwards. But in reality, that rarely happens. Sometimes, you have to choose between two terrible options and deal with the consequences. And sometimes, you don’t deal with those consequences well. Because Kid Prodigy is a hero, we expect that his morals inevitably win out. But his reaction to the tragedy is murderous revenge. How he responds being in this tragic position brings up the question to what his morals were in the first place. If a tragedy is going to turn someone to murder, were they morally sound to begin with?

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Grady O’Connell

Grady O’Connell is smarter than the average person. His father has given O’Connell tech enhancements, making him faster than other humans. With a quick wit, O’Connell can hit you with a snap back faster than you could imagine. He was a boy who loves his family and had an overall happy life.

Jaded
Courtesy of Iron Age Comics

O’Connell and his father were both super-speedsters. Their powers relied heavily on their speed and ability to analyze situations. The pair worked together, fighting crime and training. However, all this work didn’t stop O’Connell from losing his father to a villain.

In order to stop a speedster, the best way to do it is to lift them (and everything around them) off the ground. The villain exploits this flaw and lifts everything in their immediate area, leaving the O’Connell’s to try to catch all the falling civilians. While O’Connell is trying to save a child from being crushed, the main baddie sends O’Connell’s father into another dimension. We have no idea where he went, or if he’s even alive. This creates resentment within O’Connell that surpasses his morality. He decides to create a sort of time machine with the hopes of changing his father’s disappearance. But O’Connell uses human subjects to try his machine out.

So here’s the question: is the sacrifice of a few for the many ethical? Can you argue that murdering a few people is worth it to the masses you may save? O’Connell faces this dilemma, risking civilian lives to save his father, so that they can save even more potential lives? Sacrificing the few to save the many is a moral problem that humans have struggled with for centuries.

Ethera

Ethera was born with a unique power. She can be invisible and intangible, making it easy to pass through just about all objects. But Ethera suffers from something very few adults have: night terrors. When deep in sleep, Ethera has such strong night terrors that her powers are triggered. In deep sleep, she passes through the floor and falls through the ground, running the possibility of suffocating in the earth.

Jaded
Courtesy of Iron Age Comics

What, exactly, is the cause of her night terrors? Well, without saying too much, it’s the exact thing that leads to Ethera’s morally questionable decision. She murdered a family member. After years of enduring his abuse and watching him abuse others, Ethera snapped and enacted her vengeance, murdering him. But that’s sort of the problem with her decision. Her form of justice can be seen as reasonable, but is murder ever really justifiable?

Her reaction to years of abuse seems understandable. The things she endured at the hands of an abuser are beyond unforgivable. But is killing someone really in line with superhero morals? Of course not, but as a mere human, these things seem somewhat reasonable. A person can only endure pain for so long before they snap. But if you kill someone who has done harm, what makes you better than the person you killed? Can you really call yourself a hero?

Conclusion

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JADED is an engaging series that takes a hard look at the morals of superheroes. It removes the sugar-coating we often see from the big publishers and shines a light on how humans were designed by nature. We have reactions and memories that may seem barbaric but are rooted in our biology. These reactions were often used as a means of survival. They are what make us human.

Not all superheroes can meet our standards of morals. And if every superhero did, the stories would become repetitive and boring. There is a human space that is open and ready for exploring and this moral middle ground is an exciting and new place to look. JADED gives us a story that has themes closer to THE BOYS by Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson rather than any Batman we’ve seen. It’s dark, gritty, and will make you question what you would do and what your morals are.

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