Requiem for Madame Kabala

Posted by Atomic Fungus

Been mulling this over for a while, as I’m not used to writing necrologs of any kind. But figured I couldn’t let go without saying a few farewell words about the most outrageously cool and devious bitch queen of the entire Masque universe. I know she wasn’t everyone’s favorite character, but she was mine, and so I’d like to share some of my reflections on her. There’s little I can say that hasn’t been said already among Masquers at some point, but at least I can sum it up in one place. If I go it wrong somewhere, feel free to chime in.

Any necrolog should start with a biography of sorts, but very little was ever revealed about her life, background, personalia, not even a first name (although I’ve thought up a whole lot of exotic names to suit her). We know she was a researcher, more specifically the first DNA-strand clean-up scientist, and that she was ambitious in her work. But she was never satisfied with her earnings, which implies she didn’t belong among the elite, not among the rich. Maybe she fit among the intellectuals, but she was always climbing; whether for love of money or for a higher social status is hard to tell.

About her personal life, we know even less. Her age was unknown, but nanos allowed her to remain young looking and sexy and to carry a child, whom she designed to her own liking. There obviously wasn’t an actual man in the picture, just a sampling of genes. But there were certainly men in her life, and a party animal like her must have been constantly surrounded by a crowd. In between parties, she took care to shape her son to her own purpose, even to the point of making him her personal research assistant. There seems a general agreement she was an abusive mother, but the way I see it, her worst abuse was holding onto him too tight, not letting him go – or grow up, for that matter. The fact that she made him her bargaining chip and turned him into a gigolo at the age of 15 – well, I guess it was in character and she couldn’t help being what she was. Besides, judging by the generally liberated attitude of Masque society, it may not have been regarded as abuse! (Note how Prosper the Third wanted his son to dive in early at the age of 12 or less…)
The question is: Why did she do it? It’s not as if she wasn’t desirable enough to handle all those “customers” herself – maybe except for the sleazy ones – preferring lamb on the menu. But there’d still be a wide enough crowd drooling over her to help out with most of her wee plots.

I know this might raise some eyebrows, but I wonder if involving the son was her way of being close to him. Like some of those single mothers, who let their kids partake in their adult lives from day one, without ever stopping to consider what’s best for the children. I’m not trying to make up excuses for her, but from a psychological viewpoint, her relationship with her son is an interesting case. Whether she ever loved him and what kind of love that was, remains an open question. She was certainly proud to show him off, but was that merely self pride (“Look at my creation – all grown up!”) or did she actually see him as a real person maybe one day really growing up? There ain’t no quick answers here, but it’s not fair to label her a monster preying on her young. It’s more complicated, for Madame K. was indeed a complex character, not just yer one-sided villain.

Speaking of complexity, I believe she must have been something of a split personality, a scientist and a con artist blended inside one lovely shape. But why would a bright academic mind turn to crime when she could have had all the satisfaction of a fulfilling and challenging life and career just being a scientist ? I’m guessing she enjoyed living dangerously, on the edge of the law, even though her little crimes were always so subtle they could never be pinned to her. I’m guessing she was bored and created her own excitement, and I don’t think it was all about the money.

I think she was testing herself, making sure her own technique wasn’t slipping. A lively creature like her couldn’t just be another lab lurker together with the Lengipules and Teeds. She had too much energy and creativity, and so she plotted and schemed and hooked up with whoever suited her purpose just to get a bigger kick out of life. But it was all just for fun until her own son broke with her and she turned bitter and spiteful. It still amazes me that he had the balls to come blubbering to her (the very thing she told him not to) and she took him in, although she made a point of rubbing it in before doing what any mother can be expected to – snoop your pockets. And then there came the turning point in her con career – when she handed the formula over to Tono there was no way back. He grabbed the reins, she became his pawn, and she lost control for the first time in her life…

I think she realized at some point the stolen attomons were a bad idea, but she was too deep into the game to pull out. Besides, it wasn’t like her to surrender and walk out on her partner. She remained absurdly loyal to Tono, maybe not realizing how expendable she was to him. However, attomons did make her shine for a short while, and must have given her a hell of a good time while it lasted. Undergoing the veluntox gave her the five minutes of fame she’d be remembered by worldwide; while ironically enough, her spectacular end had no audience worthy of it, just the one person in her life who would have preferred not to have seen it. Her death was painfully realistic and grisly in all its detail, and I bet it was given more panel space than all the other deaths yet to occur in the story.

Whoever designed Madame K. must have slapped together genetic strands from Madame Curie for brains and vision, Milady from Dumas’ Three Musketeers for slyness and Elfquest’s Winnowill for mystery. And yet, she was unique in her own mischievous and delightful way. She provided spice and glamor to Masque and gave the readers the entertainment so very needed in an otherwise tragic story. She triggered events and challenged established notions with her very lifestyle, and did the bitch act with amazing conviction. And if someone on Sivarsi 9 ever raises a monument in her memory, what better epitaph than her own comment about life, science and society as she envisioned the future: “We bow not to idols, but to ideals!” And that really says it all.

About Masque

On a futuristic earth-type world, in the vast, technologically overrun megalopolis of SIVARSI 9, citizens live what seems to be a utopian existence. But Anton “Prince” Prosper, last scion of a fabulously wealthy, morally bankrupt dynasty, lusts for more. A scientific genius secluded from the world on his own, private island, Prosper dedicates his gifted […]