Vaal’s Top 20 Moments in Descendants Vols 1-5 (Part 1)

I’ve been doing this ‘writing’ thing a while and like a lot of writers, it’s easy for me to get down on my own work. It’s just the nature of the beast: once you know how everything should work, you’re sure your stuff doesn’t.
So it’s nice just once in a while to toot your own ego horn and force yourself to talk about what you’re proud of. And since my birthday is next month, I’ll use that as an excuse so you’ll have to forgive me for a month of this.
I promise to go back to woeful, fretful muttering and posting YouTube videos of old cartoons come October. Until then, enjoy my Top 20 favorite moments in the series so far. And feel free to post your own favorites down in the comments and on the forums.
Note: I’m limiting myself to the main series, Annuals and Specials, so if you’re wondering, Minis and Limited Series don’t count for this. Maybe I’ll do those some other time.
Number 20: ‘Big, Big Whistle Pig!’ (Return of the Magi)
As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, I actually went to the University of Mary Washington (back when it was Mary Washington College) and the Morganna’s Body arc and the upcoming Magi Club 7 comprise a nostalgia trip for me. There are a ton nod nods to in-jokes and actual places on campus flying there, from the room the magi meet in, to the destruction of the clock tower that people from my class year despised because it was built as a vanity project when we really needed more parking instead of a giant phallus that did nothing.
And then we have the animals. The squirrels of Mary Wash are legendary beasts of intelligence and bug-nuts insanity—throwing nut shells and branches at passing students; the albino skunk was the friend to all those who stumbled across campus late at night, whether because we were drunk, or up late gaming.
The groundhogs, or whistle pigs, are massive. I’m not lying when I say I’ve seen behemoths sprawled on the lawn below the library that were just shy of three feet long, looking more like banthas than Earth rodents.
I’m not ashamed to say that that goofy-ass moment in which Feral Elle pulls a Rita Repulsa and makes her groundhog grow is pretty much the entire reason Feral Elle has the powers she does. It might not make sense to anyone else that wasn’t at Mary Wash with me, but it was so very worth it. Also, rhyming.
Number 19: Lily Loses Her Car (Freaque)
Lily started out as you standard, run of the mill Libby (known now on TVTropes as Alpha Bitch because some people have no art in their souls, nor Sabrina the Teenaged Witch [Of course the pilot is on YouTube] in their Netflix ques). Her job is to be a terrible person without being a physical threat, because deep down, we like bullies, but don’t like seeing children punched… too often.
Characters like her are people everyone wants to see get comeuppance and to a certain point, bad things happening to them isn’t tragic, it’s cathartic. Some people these days will get a bug up their butt and talk about how traumatic the experience would be, or how it’s still wrong no matter who it happens to, but who really cares what those kind of people think about anything ever?
No, I’m sure we all saw it coming: Establishing that she loves the car, the pump fake when Freaque scratches it up and she’s still too stupid to stop taking potshots—and then the glorious, car melting payoff.
Lily’s grown a bit (not much) since then and now it probably would make you feel bad to destroy the thing she loves most n the world—but back then, looking down on it as the fickle God I am to these characters, my thoughts were closer to ‘Damn it Feels Good to be a Gangsta’.
Number 18: Never Kidnap Alexis’s Fiance (Shadow of the Kurounagi)
Most action scene you read in Descendants have been simmering in my head for a while. I plan these things out like a film crew on a tight budget and replay them over and over again. And most of the time, it works out pretty well, I hope.
This one wasn’t. I had this rough idea how, when Alexis sees the ninjas with Ian, she would snipe them from range, fly in, and soar off with Ian in her arms like Superman with Lois Lane (The link goes to the only good non-comic Superman and Lois relationship on film, by the way). There’s this whole thing I’ve got going where these two don’t really obey the typical superhero relationship rules with each other and this was one of them.
So what happened? Well, I sat down and decided that sniping was boring. All you Army snipers who are right now snapping on scopes and planning to prove me wrong, hold on a second, okay? Don’t get me wrong, sniping is hella cool and dramatic, but it’s dependent on the skill, distance, difficulty, the fact that they never see it coming, and let’s face it, the badass rifle and scope.
Alexis shoots black particle beams. If you miss, you sweep to the left a little bit and still nail the guy. Plus, once the first guy saw a black laser take down his buddy, he’d be a shitty ninja to get hit by the next one. That’s how I came up with Alexis using her powers smarter and went for a high speed take down from stealth—like a stealthy Japanese warrior spy of some sort.
I’m still incredibly proud of the feel of that attack and that’s why it’s on the list.
Number 17: Jun Makes a Friend (Never Simple)
I love Juniper. And I especially love her when she’s doing things not quite right.
Her character pedigree is a strange one: She’s one part Mutsumi Otohime from Love Hina, one part this girl my mom worked with, and one part Phoebe from Friends. If I hadn’t been so late to the Harry Potter party, I’d say she was part Luna Lovegood, but Jun was solidified before I ever heard of Luna.
So there’s no wonder why I have her occasionally go off script in battle and instead of icing down a cyborg nerd (honestly, who are the first DIY cyborgs going to be? Body Builders?), she has a conversation about an origami website and trades contact information.
Bonus joke, because I hope none of you are so bizarre as to have found this funny by itself: never in the series is Juniper shown doing origami, buying origami supplies, or even so much as folding a napkin. Why? Because she doesn’t like doing origami, she likes discussing it online. She’s and origami fangirl.
Because, Juniper.
Number 16: Cyn is Bad at Acting (Amore Detestabilis)
Quick, name a comic books shapeshifter! Now describe their function in whatever teams they might be on/shtick for their villainy or heroics. Let’s see: Mystique, Morph, Clayface, Chameleon, most Skrulls…
If you didn’t add ‘impersonation’ to their jobs, you either honestly missed it, or you’re goddamn liar. And I enjoy typing ‘goddamn liar’ more than the other thing, you goddamn liar.
Calling you a liar (and also making insinuations about your family under my breath) aside, there’s a pretty strong implication in comics that all it takes to fake being someone is the take their face. Sure, the Matt Hagan incarnation of Clayface is an actor, but do you really think his pre-blob experience would help him play a little, old lady? And what’s the excuse for Skulls? Except the more recent ones with implanted memories, they’re actual aliens from another world with another culture and yet, they’re perfectly capable of playing convincing rockstars and janitors and selfmade paragons of the American Ideal fresh off the ship.
The clear answer: shapeshifting makes you a good actor. All you need is to look like a thing and boom, no one can tell the difference.
Not so much for Cyn. As I’ve said before, I love characters who are either the only person who could ever be trusted with their powers, or who are terrible at using them. Cyn is the latter.
While she’s plenty creative, she just lacks the knowledge and skill for both the advanced biology she could perform and the rudimentary acting she might need. There’s quite a few instances of this in the series, but I picked this one because at the time, Cyn has her lust amped by the Knights and ends up playing very close to Blanche from the Golden Girls as she throws herself at Wayne, thus saving the mission via confusion where it would have failed if she tried to act.

About Vaal

Landon Porter is the author of The Descendants and Rune Breaker. Follow him on Twitter @ParadoxOmni or sign up for his newsletter. You can also purchase his books from all major platforms from the bookstore
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