Thursday, February 4, 2010

Futures Analysis: Determining Ancient Enemy Resurgence

Predicting patterns is important. Its very useful to known whether a commodity you're interested in will be worth twice its current value in six months. This kind of analysis drives all of commodities trading.

But what's more important than predicting whether an ancient enemy will return? This is a perfect venue for futures analysis since ancient enemies have a lot of data about their appearance. After all, they are ancient. Granted the information used for any futures analysis would be gleaned from cave drawings rather than bar graphs, but the information is still there.

If I was a Native American mutant inventor, I would like some basic predictions about whether an ancient adversary destined to bring about a "Fall of the Mutants" was going to return in the next quarter. That just seems like helpful information.

If I were a hairy canadian mutant, it would be good to have a heads-up about whether some feral jackass who was apparently manipulating my entire life was gonna bust in and start mucking about with things again.
If I were a billionaire playboy who dresses like a rodent and one of my arch-enemies was going to return in mummified form, I would like to be able to plan for it at least a week in advance.

If Mandrakk the dark monitor is coming from the end of time to eat our universe, it's best to have prior notification.

Obviously since heroes don't seem to know about ancient enemies before they return, ancient enemy futures analysis has not been very popular in comic books. Even those who have tried (Destiny and Blindfold in the X-Men comics) have been pretty damn crappy with it. What we need are futures analysis portfolios providing information about ancient enemy resurgence in a logical and easily understood manner.

Like so:


Hmmm, we need to develop some mutant vampire countermeasures posthaste.

11 comments:

Tom said...

Where are you getting your data? This seems arbitrary. Does the j% resurgence change if the heroes are based out of an old church or graveyard? (in the case of vampires) Would werewolf enemy futures depend on yearly cycles *and* the phasing of the moon? Are ancient enemies, especially mortally vanquished enemies more or less likely to resurge if there is some world-or-universe-ending event transpiring? What does the graph look like for "% Chance That Ancient Evil Enemy Resurges in Zombie Form"?

I think more data needs to be crunched. There are too many variables overlooked here. More Analysis! (and more zombies!)

Robbie said...

How is it that the future is based off of the past?

Xauri'EL Zwaan said...

What they really need is a prediction market - like InTrade, but for ancient enemies. Buy 'The Joker will escape from Arkham this month' at $7.50 per share, and if he does escape, your contract is paid out at $10.00.

Mark said...

@Tom- Agreed, my data is pretty spotty. To be fair in this case, I cheated and looked up Selene's past comic appearances. Real ancient enemies future analysis would use more data I am not privy to at the moment (i can't very well read ancient texts of the Marvel Universe if no-one has written about them yet).
@Robbie- The past is used to predict the future all the time. It's the only data we can use.

@Xauri'EL Zwan- That's not a bad idea. Taking a bet that the Joker will escape from Arkham is always a good investment. Now all we have to do is worry whether Grant Morrison, Paul Dini, and Tony Daniel will engage in insider trading.

colsmi said...

Your basic point here is of course an excellent one. Characters in superhero universes invest far too little in R & D. They let things happen to them far too often. There are so few examples of sensible pro-active strategies sourced by intense research: SHIELD used to have its telepaths, as does 2000AD's Justice Department. And Kurt Busiek's Avengers at least drew up a data-base of possible dangers & created a network of sensors to watch out for danger coming. I suspect his Avengers would’ve indeed used futures analysis to help design their early-warning system: Tony Stark is a futurologist, after all.

But it's worth saying that economics doesn't have a great record of correctly forecasting the future. In fact, not only have predictions been less than reliable, but the more detailed the predictions, the more they can and have lent themselves a spurious legitimacy, and the more less-probable and profitable trends can consequently seem worth disregarding. Superheroes might not benefit from the kind of complacency that futures analysis might create. Michael Wood wrote cleverly about how any kind of prediction can mislead us and make us arrogant: "The Gods appear whenever we think we know more than a human creature ordinarily could, and they disappear again when we turn to ask them what to do." Our fictional heroes, given futures analysis, had better be given some basic education about data-construction, probability and human error. For while Mr Mxyzptlk tends to turn up every 90 days, Kierrok The Damned only attacked the X-Men because of chance, because Cyclops happened to accidentally blast an ancient structure while mourning Thunderbird's death. And there's a human tendency to focus on the obvious and apparently predictable while missing the Kierroks lurking round every corner.

Robbie said...

"@Robbie- The past is used to predict the future all the time. It's the only data we can use. "

What you suggest is inductive, and if true then astrology would be a science.

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