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TheKittyOfAtlantis

The Reckoners may never have learned Steelheart's weakness

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...in which case the audience didn't, either.

 In the prologue of Steelheart, David describes Epic weaknesses thusly:

Quote

"...if there's one fact we can hold onto, it's this: every Epic has a weakness. Something that invalidates their powers, something that turns them back into an ordinary person, if only for a moment."

By this definition, an Epic whose weakness is in effect should be unable to use their powers in any way whatsoever, as if they were no longer an Epic at all. Being attacked by or being in the presence of a person who does not fear him does not appear to have this effect on Steelheart. Although an attack from a person who does not fear him is shown to be able to bypass his defensive power, he is able to use his other abilities within seconds of suffering such an attack, as seen when he mortally wounds Blain Charleston with a super-strength-enhanced punch just after the latter's bullet grazes him. I suppose it is possible that Steelheart's other powers simply do not work while he is being attacked by someone who doesn't fear him, but upon consideration, another explanation presents itself.

In Firefight, the Reckoners confront the Epic Sourcefield, whose weakness is Kool-Aid. While fighting her, David notices that different degrees of exposure to her weakness seem to affect her powers in different ways. Pouring it over one of her forcefields causes that particular field to disappear, and splashing it on her body causes her personal protective field to momentarily flicker and weaken. However, only when David removes her mouth guard and forces her to drink some do her powers shut down completely. Sourcefield's true weakness, the condition that makes her functionally an ordinary person, is drinking Kool-Aid; having it touch her body or her forcefields is what we might call a "pseudo-weakness", a related condition that dampens an Epic's powers but doesn't entirely stop them.

Another example of this phenomenon is a major plot point in Calamity.

Spoiler

Tia tells David that Prof's weakness is being attacked with his own powers. Just as Steelheart's impervious skin can be breached by someone who does not fear him, Prof's accelerated healing can't repair an injury inflicted by one of his own forcefields. However, being attacked in this manner doesn't prevent Prof from using his other abilities or even healing himself from injuries that are inflicted by other means at the same time. As David eventually realizes, this is because Prof's true weakness is something else entirely: failure. Although the connection between Prof's true weakness and his pseudo-weakness is not as concrete as it is for Sourcefield, there is still a clear relationship. Weaknesses are rooted in fear, and Prof's fear of failure is one of the reasons why he fears and despises his powers.

So, if being attacked by someone who doesn't fear him is a pseudo-weakness for Steelheart, what might his true weakness be? Perhaps his powers would shut down if no one in the world, or at least no one within a certain distance of him, feared him at all? We will probably never know.

 

(Does this post need to be in the Calamity subforum? It's not specifically about Calamity, but it does mention Calamity spoilers as part of its argument. Apologies if I've misplaced it.)

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19 minutes ago, TheKittyOfAtlantis said:

...in which case the audience didn't, either.

 In the prologue of Steelheart, David describes Epic weaknesses thusly:

By this definition, an Epic whose weakness is in effect should be unable to use their powers in any way whatsoever, as if they were no longer an Epic at all. Being attacked by or being in the presence of a person who does not fear him does not appear to have this effect on Steelheart. Although an attack from a person who does not fear him is shown to be able to bypass his defensive power, he is able to use his other abilities within seconds of suffering such an attack, as seen when he mortally wounds Blain Charleston with a super-strength-enhanced punch just after the latter's bullet grazes him. I suppose it is possible that Steelheart's other powers simply do not work while he is being attacked by someone who doesn't fear him, but upon consideration, another explanation presents itself.

In Firefight, the Reckoners confront the Epic Sourcefield, whose weakness is Kool-Aid. While fighting her, David notices that different degrees of exposure to her weakness seem to affect her powers in different ways. Pouring it over one of her forcefields causes that particular field to disappear, and splashing it on her body causes her personal protective field to momentarily flicker and weaken. However, only when David removes her mouth guard and forces her to drink some do her powers shut down completely. Sourcefield's true weakness, the condition that makes her functionally an ordinary person, is drinking Kool-Aid; having it touch her body or her forcefields is what we might call a "pseudo-weakness", a related condition that dampens an Epic's powers but doesn't entirely stop them.

Another example of this phenomenon is a major plot point in Calamity.

Spoiler
 
Tia tells David that Prof's weakness is being attacked with his own powers. Just as Steelheart's impervious skin can be breached by someone who does not fear him, Prof's accelerated healing can't repair an injury inflicted by one of his own forcefields. However, being attacked in this manner doesn't prevent Prof from using his other abilities or even healing himself from injuries that are inflicted by other means at the same time. As David eventually realizes, this is because Prof's true weakness is something else entirely: failure. Although the connection between Prof's true weakness and his pseudo-weakness is not as concrete as it is for Sourcefield, there is still a clear relationship. Weaknesses are rooted in fear, and Prof's fear of failure is one of the reasons why he fears and despises his powers.

So, if being attacked by someone who doesn't fear him is a pseudo-weakness for Steelheart, what might his true weakness be? Perhaps his powers would shut down if no one in the world, or at least no one within a certain distance of him, feared him at all? We will probably never know.

 

(Does this post need to be in the Calamity subforum? It's not specifically about Calamity, but it does mention Calamity spoilers as part of its argument. Apologies if I've misplaced it.)

Quote

“I’m sorry,” my father said, sounding anxious. “He was reaching for you. I—” Steelheart’s eyes went wide, and he raised his hand before him, looking at his own blood. He seemed completely astounded.

He sounded anxious.  He was probably already fearing him.  And right before Steelheart attacked him, he was definitely terrified.  He didn't fear him while shooting Deathpoint, but when Steelheart turned on him, he was afraid.

If I am wrong, a possibility for his real weakness is someone who believes that he is a good person or doing good.  Steelheart probably thought that he was good, and so did David's dad.

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26 minutes ago, Markus said:

He sounded anxious.  He was probably already fearing him.  And right before Steelheart attacked him, he was definitely terrified.  He didn't fear him while shooting Deathpoint, but when Steelheart turned on him, he was afraid.

 

That is an angle I had not considered. If being in the presence of someone who doesn't fear him is SH's true weakness, which is what I think you mean (and please correct me if I'm mistaken), then what about the fact that he doesn't fear himself?

Edited by TheKittyOfAtlantis
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There is also the possibility that Steelheart's full weakness was along the lines of being confronted by someone that's not afraid of him, so someone not afraid of him would partially trigger his weakness enough to hurt him but he still has his powers overall unless he gets called out/confronted by such a person. At least that would be the most straightforward with how his weakness is presented in the book.

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44 minutes ago, Edgedancer said:

There is also the possibility that Steelheart's full weakness was along the lines of being confronted by someone that's not afraid of him, so someone not afraid of him would partially trigger his weakness enough to hurt him but he still has his powers overall unless he gets called out/confronted by such a person. At least that would be the most straightforward with how his weakness is presented in the book.

That's a good suggestion. Upon consideration, the link does seem a bit more direct than the one I thought of.

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On 3/7/2017 at 0:23 AM, Edgedancer said:

There is also the possibility that Steelheart's full weakness was along the lines of being confronted by someone that's not afraid of him, so someone not afraid of him would partially trigger his weakness enough to hurt him but he still has his powers overall unless he gets called out/confronted by such a person. At least that would be the most straightforward with how his weakness is presented in the book.

 

I now have the mental image of Steelheart's mother showing up to start berating him in the middle of a fight scene.

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3 hours ago, Kobold King said:

 

I now have the mental image of Steelheart's mother showing up to start berating him in the middle of a fight scene.

Or doing this every time a new Epic swears loyalty to him. 

Spoiler

 

 

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On 3/7/2017 at 1:23 AM, Edgedancer said:

There is also the possibility that Steelheart's full weakness was along the lines of being confronted by someone that's not afraid of him.

Especially since that's what bullies are typically afraid of...

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On ‎07‎/‎03‎/‎2017 at 0:15 AM, TheKittyOfAtlantis said:

...in which case the audience didn't, either.

 In the prologue of Steelheart, David describes Epic weaknesses thusly:

By this definition, an Epic whose weakness is in effect should be unable to use their powers in any way whatsoever, as if they were no longer an Epic at all. Being attacked by or being in the presence of a person who does not fear him does not appear to have this effect on Steelheart. Although an attack from a person who does not fear him is shown to be able to bypass his defensive power, he is able to use his other abilities within seconds of suffering such an attack, as seen when he mortally wounds Blain Charleston with a super-strength-enhanced punch just after the latter's bullet grazes him. I suppose it is possible that Steelheart's other powers simply do not work while he is being attacked by someone who doesn't fear him, but upon consideration, another explanation presents itself.

In Firefight, the Reckoners confront the Epic Sourcefield, whose weakness is Kool-Aid. While fighting her, David notices that different degrees of exposure to her weakness seem to affect her powers in different ways. Pouring it over one of her forcefields causes that particular field to disappear, and splashing it on her body causes her personal protective field to momentarily flicker and weaken. However, only when David removes her mouth guard and forces her to drink some do her powers shut down completely. Sourcefield's true weakness, the condition that makes her functionally an ordinary person, is drinking Kool-Aid; having it touch her body or her forcefields is what we might call a "pseudo-weakness", a related condition that dampens an Epic's powers but doesn't entirely stop them.

Another example of this phenomenon is a major plot point in Calamity.

  Hide contents

Tia tells David that Prof's weakness is being attacked with his own powers. Just as Steelheart's impervious skin can be breached by someone who does not fear him, Prof's accelerated healing can't repair an injury inflicted by one of his own forcefields. However, being attacked in this manner doesn't prevent Prof from using his other abilities or even healing himself from injuries that are inflicted by other means at the same time. As David eventually realizes, this is because Prof's true weakness is something else entirely: failure. Although the connection between Prof's true weakness and his pseudo-weakness is not as concrete as it is for Sourcefield, there is still a clear relationship. Weaknesses are rooted in fear, and Prof's fear of failure is one of the reasons why he fears and despises his powers.

So, if being attacked by someone who doesn't fear him is a pseudo-weakness for Steelheart, what might his true weakness be? Perhaps his powers would shut down if no one in the world, or at least no one within a certain distance of him, feared him at all? We will probably never know.

 

(Does this post need to be in the Calamity subforum? It's not specifically about Calamity, but it does mention Calamity spoilers as part of its argument. Apologies if I've misplaced it.)

Perhaps his true weakness is obscurity, or not being known? Not being feared is within the definition of not being known, so not being feared would affect Steelheart, but it might not be his epic weakness. Also, you don't remember everything as well as you think you do, so even though David thinks he saw Steelheart was incapable for only a few seconds, it might actually have been much longer.

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Gotta admit, right up until the end I thought Steelheart's weakness was going to be either:

1) Can only be harmed by someone who believes he's a hero (hence why he sends out all those messages about slaughtering people who never existed, even while he makes a stable empire with power and water and generally better lives than most. People have to believe that he's a villain otherwise he becomes powerless and can't help anyone, so he does as much good as he can within that model without anyone questioning it).

2) Can only be harmed by someone not attempting to harm him (hence whey the accidental graze hurt him).

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