R.K. Milholland likes to append a message at the bottom of every comic he posts. Sometimes these are in-jokes, sometimes they are random quotes, sometimes they are a commentary on the comic itself.One such comment, placed at a turning-point in the most recent storyline, was as follows:
“‘You’re supposed to redeem Kharisma.’ Funny. I don’t remember making that promise.”
It seems self-explanatory from the quote that there were quite a few people who expected Kharisma to overcome her own inherently hateful nature. The seeds were there, sure – Something Positive is about people, and no one person is no more than an icon of evil or hate.
(Well, not entirely true – many side characters, from e-bay scammers to perverse gamers, are presented as two-dimensional objects to be mocked and pitied and hated. But all the recurring characters in S*P have at least some measure of depth.)
I’ve touched on this topic before, when Kharisma’s fate was still up in the air. Would she end up like Mike, and find some measure of acceptance… and personal redemption? Or another Eva, whose view of the world would only grow darker as it fed upon itself?
I use Eva as an example here, but it is an imperfect one. We saw Mike’s redemption and development throughout the first years of the strip. Eva’s downfall happened in pieces here and there, often off-screen. She was more scenery than character, and while her flaws certainly grew and grew, it was more as an obstacle in Davan’s life, not as fully a story all her own.
So I suppose I can understand why some people expected Kharisma to find her better side. Randy invested time in her. She’s shown up more and more the last few years – and even had quite a few storylines focusing around her. Like Mike she was an outcast, slowly becoming more and more attached to the main cast.
And for a time, she actually was a sympathetic figure. While working alongside Davan in his hellish job… well, let’s say she was the lesser evil in those environs. And when she left… well, those were the moments when she seemed to genuinely have the capacity to interact with the rest of the cast on an equal level. And when she even seemed to have a heart.And then she embarked on the path to becoming a homicidal murderess.
Kharisma is the counterpart to Mike. Eva wasn’t – Eva started off good, and then her duplicity was revealed. That’s a different story entirely – and one that, for the most part, happened out of sight.
We’ve watched Kharisma. Like with Mike, we saw her fail at being a human being from the very start, but she stayed in sight despite it. And we saw that the possibility for redemption was there.
But it was never promised. It was never guaranteed.
And in the end, she fell, and she fell hard.
I’m not surprised, and I’m not disappointed. I liked Mike’s path to humanity, but if every character was destined to overcome their petty flaws? Then doing so would be absolutely meaningless.
Would I have enjoyed a storyline where Kharisma did manage to overcome her failings? Probably. But this is the story Milholland is telling… and he’s telling it damn well.