#214 – “Stage Presence”

I admit, among the first elements I decided on with the characterization of Edwin VanCleef was this particular exchange – the line I’m the hero in this drama!” was among the first I decided on for him; it just felt like it captured the very essence of how I wanted to portray him. The arrogance, the self-righteousness.. the delusion.. while the WarCraft setting have many vast and epic enemies like the Burning Legion, the Old Gods, Deathwing or whatnot.. most of them are ultimately self-admittedly dedicated to evil, proudly proclaiming how they’ll turn the world to ash for kicks and giggles. With Edwin VanCleef.. we have a villain who is as mortal and flawed as the rest of us, and who not only once did the right thing, but remains convinced he still is.


20 Responses to “#214 – “Stage Presence””

  1. August 5, 2010 at 19:13

    …Is it ok if I start cheering for the bad guys now?
    Serious you made Edwin Vancleef one of the most interesting ‘bad guy’ I have come across in a long time. That includes Ozymandias from Watchmen.

    • 2 Nhani
      August 5, 2010 at 23:42

      You’re free to cheer for them however much you like, really – I expect it’d be rather fruitless, but you’re free to :p

      I’ve rather enjoyed writing VanCleef so far, he has a more complicated reasoning than simply serving some dark force for power. There’s no question that he’s a villain at this point, but rather than intentionally kicking puppies for power like many Warcraft villains, VanCleef rather tells himself they are evil puppies serving an evil kennel that only he can vanquish.

      It makes him interesting to write, and lets me do something in particular with him that I haven’t been able to do with other enemies thus far.

      • August 6, 2010 at 15:43

        Evil Cultists are very different in comparison to people who were forced to become villains.
        Edwin could be seen as a somewhat insane character now you pointed out the puppy-theory, but he’s not sold his soul (Yet as guessed by his connections to his undead summoning ally) while the Twilight Hammer Clan did.

        A villain with values is always interesting, especially if he handles situations like these in a elitist noble way.

  2. 4 wowplayer
    August 5, 2010 at 19:26

    I like evil even more now >=3

  3. 5 wowplayer
    August 5, 2010 at 19:29

    by the way… some bad guys were once doing the right thing or so they beleived… even kel’thuzad! he was originally trying to cure some unknown disease… only difference now is that he knows the disease, life!

  4. 6 Eduvudd
    August 5, 2010 at 21:02

    Think really makes me think is VanCleef is truley evil, or is just someone who thinks hes doing the right thing, in all the wrong ways? Because the nobles of Stormwind actually were corrupt because they were obeying the orders of Lady Prestor, AKA Onyxia. Reason why Stormwind hasnt supplied troops to Westfall, Redridge, and Duskwood. Which brings be back to that first question.

    And even through all the history of VanCleef and what little is known, I think what you’ve done is amaze and right on the bullseye with him, keep up the great job! :D

    • 7 Nhani
      August 6, 2010 at 00:06

      Villains whose sole motivation for being evil is simply because they’re evil is generally considered rather poor storytelling – while some grow to accept that the rest of the world see them like that, most well-written evil characters actually don’t revel in “being evil” – they simply somehow justify actions that otherwise aren’t justifiable, for whatever reason.

      As for VanCleef, he has long since crossed the line from well-meaning, idealistic rebellion into selfish vengeance. No matter how corrupt the nobles may be, at this point.. VanCleef really isn’t any better – especially since he’s not really hurting the nobles so much as he’s hurting the innocents who would be as much exploited as he was.

      • 8 WormRunner
        August 6, 2010 at 01:06

        An essential component of real evil seems to be the self-centeredness that allows one to justify any possible action because of an injury. There are always injuries, but only some people take this to homicide, or genocide.

    • 9 Frostsaben
      August 8, 2010 at 12:14

      You could say he’s “morally gray”

  5. 10 saila AKS Wester
    August 5, 2010 at 21:05

    why dose I get more and more feeling of VanCleef been Balthier from FFXII

    “Princess! No need to worry. I hope you haven’t forgotten my role in this little story. I’m the leading man. You know what they say about the leading man? He never dies.”
    —Balthier to Ashe
    well some one had to see the connection.
    also from balthier when we are on it and this is an bit thouger for me to hear VanCleef say.

    “exit the stage to the left.”

  6. August 6, 2010 at 11:16

    I think the key to a good story is never to have, or have very few, characters that are evil for the sake of being evil. And as we all know, Blizzard are great at creating stories. Even the current Big Bad Guy, the Lich King, has a rich story of why he is evil. Arthas didn’t pop out of his mother’s womb scheming about how he is going to take over the world. It was a slow fall from grace, with seemingly inconsequential actions and decisions that eventually led him to the path where he believed he was doing what was right but turned out to be ultimately evil.

    Van Cleef I think is a great intro for a new player to see this kind of story-telling when playing WoW. He’s a bad guy, you have to kill him in order to prevent his evil actions from taking effect, but to him, he’s doing what is right because his perception of what is necessary to accomplish that goal doesn’t register as evil … only necessary.

  7. 12 Timber Wolf
    August 6, 2010 at 11:51

    what kind of hero uses lackeys to do his killing? Harumph.

  8. 13 Stephen Shook
    August 6, 2010 at 13:58

    The best villians are heroes in their own eyes. They are on the side of good and rightousness. Most likely trying to save the world from a fate that they see as largely unavoidable. This is also the best heroes.

    Think about all those heroes you’ve cheered for going against impossible odds now think if the story was told from the other perspective. They be villians going against what was believed to be right. Good Heroes and Villians are not black and white. Since Good and Evil themselves are not black and white either.

    I’m reading the Wheel of Time Series for the first time. Its good but the whole series could be aptly named “A Series of Misunderstandings” Truly only 1 ruthless force. The rest stems from Misunderstandings.

  9. 14 Zednotzee
    August 6, 2010 at 18:11

    Will Hani and co escape with everyone in tact? We shall have to see. And I’m afraid I’ve got to say it. This is a real cleef hanger!!! Sorry…..

  10. 15 Arlandin
    August 6, 2010 at 22:53

    Really hope Edwin survives somehow. :\

  11. 16 Arafor
    August 7, 2010 at 08:19

    Why do I get the distinct feeling that Tiny will say “pft, looser!” when VanCleef lies on the ground?

  12. 17 TC
    August 7, 2010 at 17:21

    dont kill him :( let him escape and swear vengance or something *cries*

  13. August 7, 2010 at 17:29

    Third panel is just SO FULL OF WIN!!!

    Excellent job in positioning, lighting, posing…damn, Van Cleef looks absolutely awesome!

    And here my gang is headed to Deadmines (eventually…after a few other misadventures along the way…muahahahahaha) and I’m just using the in-game Van Cleef…sigh…


    • 19 Nhani
      August 8, 2010 at 12:36

      Hah, well the tools are only half the job as.. uhm.. I just said, I guess. Ahem. Anyway.

      I’m curious what spin you‘ll end up taking on him, actually – obviously I have my own twist built out of what I felt was his purpose within my narrative; there’s certain aspects I ramped up in favor of others for that very reason. Since I expect you’ll have a much different thematic and narrative reason for facing him than I have, it’ll be interesting to see how different the execution will turn out!

  14. 20 megafire
    August 11, 2010 at 23:25


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