Strikeforce: Morituri is largely concerned with its younger cast, and most of its Big Ideas are kind of couched in the ways in which they interact with young people, which makes sense. Everything often seems so much more intense at that age, as the entire world of Big Ideas seems to be settling on you. But none of those ideas is particularly exclusive to youth. And making it past that brash age and into what one might think of as “experienced” doesn’t save us from any of them.
Beth Luis Nion wasn’t meant to be a Morituri. She was their commander, meant to stand at a reserve and move the pawns. She had the skill. The experience. And she was just as vulnerable to the overwhelming nature of idealism as anyone.
Nion fell in love with one of “The Black Watch,” those experienced soldiers who were the first to undergo the Morituri process. In her exuberance, Nion made a brash choice, undergoing the Morituri process in order to share something unique and special with the man she loved. If I had a dollar for every time I underwent life-threatening scientific experimentation for a guy, amiright?
In any case, the age of The Black Watch soldiers meant that they lasted nearly no time at all before the energies within them consumed their bodies. Nion, however, their contemporary, lasted much longer. In-story, the theory is that her low-level ability (the power to make flowers bloom) kept the consuming energies from burning too quickly.
But if we look at her power outside the story, I think there’s plenty of useful metaphor to go around here, as well. It seems small, but, come on, there’s a reason the expression is “stop and smell the roses.” Nion is the commander. She’s meant to watch. To observe. Of course her power is about the little things, which of course aren’t little at all.
I’ve said before that this is a series that manages to find hope in the midst of so much darkness. I think Commander Nion points us to some of the how. Big, crashing war and death and despair and ugliness are all around, but even here, if you look, there’s something wonderful to find. It might be glory, or faith, or art, or a painfully-brief romance. It might be a flower. But they’re all of them worth whatever joy you can eke from them.
I think Brent Anderson and Scott Williams actually sum up all of it in a really amazing page that ends the book’s first year. Click it for full size, because oh my god, this page, people.
It’s a combination of the deaths of both Robert (Marathon) and Commander Nion. At the top is the raucous explosion which marks Robert finding his moment of glory. At the bottom is the far quieter passing of Nion. And both of them cast off ripples which are just as large and just as important and just as heartbreaking and beautiful. And in between is … well … just about everything.
Which, I think, makes my point far better (and certainly more breathtakingly) than I ever can.