It was always my intention to portray the Huachucas as a sort of egalitarian concept of nastiness. It didn’t matter what race or gender you were, only that you were willing and able to do some very despicable things to your fellow human beings. Perhaps this week’s comic is not being subtle about pounding that idea home, but given that mostly so far when we’ve seen Huachucas clearly they’ve been ”Huachucas of color” engaging in the kind of rituals that wouldn’t be too far off Hollywood or pulp depictions of, say, “darkest Africa” or hoodoo voodoo? Well, sue me for deciding an anvil or two might want to be dropped.
This is not merely some desire for political correctness on my part. You might recall me confessing that one of my biggest inspirations for the Huachucas was the Street Thunder gang from the original Assault on Precinct 13. They were also a multicultural mix of white, black, and brown, all united in merciless aggression against their targets. Was it realistic? Maybe not, but one thing that struck me was that by having all of them together (and similarly having a mix in the group under siege) John Carpenter removed race from the equation in terms of “good vs. evil” and let it be a matter of purpose and actions taken. Although Precict 13 was inspired by the Westerns of yore, in this film it was not as simple as bloodthirsty Indian savages attacking a fort full of innocent, good-hearted white people… the bloodthirst remained, but the white gangsters were there shooting children and taking blood oaths along with all their darker-skinned peers. The lesson was clear, and it’s a good one to keep in mind, if a little chilling: that we as humans are capable of terrible deeds regardless of race, color or creed.
And if Street Thunder seems far-fetched as a concept, there are certainly actual historical examples of groups who were egalitarian in some ways and awful in others. My current gaming fixation is Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag and it reminds me how pirate crews of the Spanish Main were often democratic in organization, provided for the health care of their members, and even took on escaped slaves to help with the ship (not often making them full, armed accomplices, but sometimes… and still likely providing a better life than the plantations). Now there’s something to be said of the time and place where there were those brutally run slave plantations and men crewing naval ships were often pressed into service against their wills and suffered under autocratic commanders, and some of the stories of pirate cruelties were no doubt exaggerated (probably sometimes by the pirates themselves if they were the kind of stories that might make a foe surrender without a dangerous fight)… but there are enough documented accounts of cold-blooded murder and worse to not be dismissed entirely. Some pirates were slavers, for example, fully willing to vote on matters concerning the ship with their fellow white men while still chaining their dark-skinned “cargo” below decks.
Anyhow, I’m not here to preach my own views on morality, particularly in regards to historical and cultural contexts, but in making the Huachucas a group comprised of people of many different origins, and showing their rituals drawn from many different sources (and even then, those rituals are being twisted from the originals or even wholly made up to suit their own ends), it’s my intent to keep the focus of their villainy where I intend it to be: not based on any accidents of birth or upbringing, nothing that can be easily excused or rationalized… nothing but the deeds spawning from their own callous hearts.