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Character Deep Dive: Molly Lusc

Tantz_Aerine at 12:00AM, April 20, 2024

Today’s Character Deep Dive is on the intriguing Molly Lusc from the comic Molly Lusc by Andreas Helixfinger!

Molly Lusc is a straight up noir comic complete with an origin story… sort of… of the main character and primary detective Molly Lusc. It has a lot of the noir tropes of detective stories where the detective also narrates the story and the cases. The world of Molly Lusc is also suitably beleaguered, cutthroat, and even downright cruel, with an underbelly that bounces off Molly in several different (and potentially deadly) ways.
As I read through it, it came across to me as a setting of Molly vs Her World vs Herself. And this is what we’re here to dive deep into. So without any further ado, let’s get to it!

Basic Character Design

Molly Lusc is a mutant. She is rather short, without any hair (except lush eyelashes!), dark grey in color, and looking like some aquatic creature fused with the human form (she is called a seal by another mutant that Molly calls a dodo). She’s quite curvaceous but also petite.

Gathering information about Molly’s background is a little tough, even though she’s the one narrating everything. We do eventually learn that she is an orphan, adopted by a non-mutant human whom she calls “Patrick” rather than “dad”.

It’s not quite clear yet but this adoption seems to have taken place quite a bit later in Molly’s early life, because we are specifically told by Molly that she spent some pretty nasty years in the city’s gutters, seeing things no child should have to see. But after her adoption, it’s safe to assume that Molly considers Patrick her dad and his brother her uncle, so she’s not quite an orphan right now.

We start off the story with Molly getting married and she walks us through that marriage of hers and what happened during it (more on that later as well) until its dissolvement through a pretty nasty divorce. Beyond what happened in that marriage, Molly doesn’t seem to have other partners so far.

Personality wise, Molly comes across as rather stoic. She generally remains calm, collected, and focused even in very stressful situations (like waking up next to a murdered guy). One could even argue that she’s a lot more cerebral than she is emotional, which is perfect for the noir-ness of her setting, but for the purposes of the deep dive I’ll take it as a valid, realistic behavioral pattern.
Despite her general stoicism, she doesn’t remain so if confronted with racism against her or others and isn’t above using violence to put racists in their place- or to get some doors to open.

With that as her basic character design, let’s do some psych scans! Warning that from now on, there will be spoilers randomly scattered throughout. Go read Molly Lusc and come back if you don’t want that kind of spoiler-heavy minefield!

Molly Lusc’s Psych Scan

In Molly’s post-apocalyptic, post-nuclear disaster world there are roughly three tiers of people: the ones that are ‘whole’ human without mutations, the ones that are mutated into some other solid, humanoid-style form, and the ones that are so impacted by radiation that cannot maintain a solid form and crawl around in ever-shifting forms of shapeless flesh. Society seems to hold in top regard the pure humans. Mutants are somewhere in the middle, depending on mutating style, and the shapeless folk are the bottom rung.

Molly tells us that there used to be a time that she recalls, which means she experienced, where there was societal (and potentially legal) segregation between the different types of humanoid. It isn’t the case now, and there’s a clear disapproval of vocabulary that coded for that kind of segregation and racism, but there are remnants everywhere, and still places where the segregation still persists.
Racism isn’t just a word sociologists throw around. It’s a social condition that has real, and sometimes even severe, physical, mental, and emotional repercussions. I’ll focus more on the mental health impact of racism. According to research, living in an environment where there exists racism, especially if you are part of the group being discriminated against, can lead to:

* Depression
* Anxiety
* Stress/ emotional distress
* Behaviors of addiction (drinking, smoking, gambling, etc)
* Low self-esteem
…and more. For Molly’s case, low self esteem and stress, as well as behaviors of addiction are the more salient elements.

Racism isn’t the only thing that causes trauma in Molly’s background. Though there’s very little we know about it, the fact that she was homeless at all as a child or adolescent can cause (or severely exacerbate), you guessed it:
* Depression
* Anxiety
* Sleeplessness/ insomnia
* Substance use
* Demoralization/ low self esteem
* Suicidal ideation

In Molly’s case, we have her reporting that she generally can’t sleep at nights and that she can’t give up smoking even when her loved ones urge her to:

And now we have this down, let’s talk about the elephant in the room: Molly’s cheating

By Molly’s own account, she got married to a guy that loves her. He takes care of her, has fun with her, and generally has a routine she doesn’t imply she hates. It might bore her but she enjoys his affections.

And yet, when a handsome couple move in the neighborhood, she cheats on her husband with the husband of the other woman (whom Molly says she likes) at the drop of a hat. It’s a strictly sexual affair, too. There’s no talking, no extra activities except sex and perhaps some sleeping afterwards (I didn’t see any cuddling or other kind of emotional connection taking place).

Why is she doing this, why does she have this carnal attraction to the guy, when she’s (by her own description) in a happy marriage, with a husband she has affection for and has fun with?
In my estimation, the cheating has nothing to do with attraction or sexual desire per se. It’s because the guy is a full human, while her husband is a mutant like herself.

According to research, cheating behavior happens for the following main reasons:

In Molly’s case, I’d posit it’s reason number two: self esteem.
She is being desired by the top-tier class of human: the non-mutant, the “perfect” version, the version that doesn’t get discriminated against, the superior one.

Note that this description of a non-mutant human isn’t factual but emotional, and how it could be construed in the mind of a person that has grown up discriminated against and would have internalized to some (or a great) degree the dogma of that racism. Molly seems to have at least some degree of internalization of that dogma. The bout of aggression she suddenly displays in otherwise very stoic reactions to extreme situations is another indication that being discriminated against is something that hits a still-raw wound.

Being the object of sexual desire of a non-mutant human is the most tangible way of validation. Especially considering that the guy she cheats with is (seemingly) married to another pretty, successful, and more importantly, non-mutant wife. A wife, by the way, who did belittle her a bit by hitting her where it hurts- her hybrid nature.

The fact that Molly doesn’t seek further emotional connections from the guy, and doesn’t seem to want to do anything further with him but secure this carnal affair is further indication that she is seeking it only for that validation of herself as someone desired, whole, and beautiful.

Could she also want him for the great sex? Maybe, we have no idea how alive or dead, and how bombastic for her, is her marriage’s bedroom. She doesn’t quite mention it, so that omission may offer a hint that it’s not bombastic at least, but on the other hand she’s focusing on what is important- the affair and how it led to the breaking of her marriage through …multiple murder (read it to find out).

There is one more thing I want to point to that might further support a hypothesis that a lot of what Molly does is connected to her low self esteem issues and possible trauma from her days before being adopted: how she treats her neighbors.

While she’s not extremely malicious, she does go out of her way to learn their dirty laundry and then use it against them for various purposes- she picks and chooses what she wants to do with the couples that live around her, from breaking them up to blackmailing them for perks (like using a pool). It would probably be a completely different pattern if she aired the dirty laundry for ethical reasons (like, for example, a cheated on spouse deserving to know of that betrayal) but that is explicitly not the reason Molly is doing it all.

In essence, what she’s doing is asserting her superiority over them. Despite their upper middle class/ affluent lifestyle, despite everything going well for them societally, they are still at Molly’s mercy on whether they can have peace or even maintain that life they have.

This is deliberate hostile provocation, done for Molly’s amusement and …reassurance. Not only because of her low self esteem which is soothed when she proves to herself that she’s better than others because she can drastically impact their life, but also because someone who can successfully provoke others and cause them to engage in behaviors or situation that aren’t typical for them feels that they gain social and actual power. Power Molly definitely grew up without having, power that can offer a sense of security and consequently of soothing of anxiety and stress stemming from her background.

If this pattern sounds familiar, it’s because it is: it’s a form of bullying. One of the biggest reasons why a person might engage in bullying behaviors is a general sense of powerlessness. They also have often been bullied themselves in the past, which while we can’t tell from what Molly has told us yet, is highly likely to have happened from her time in the streets. What we do know is that she has witnessed a lot of violence, and it’s highly likely to have at least witnessed bullying taking place in various ways and thus learned it as a power-securing behavior.

On the other hand, she’s affectionate, supporting, and loving with those she perceives as her people. With her husband, the cheating aside, she’s loving enough to walk away without ire and with chagrin when he divorces her. She regrets the hurt that she has caused him. When it comes to her adoptive family, she drops everything to go help them and doesn’t judge them (especially her uncle) for their bad decisions. So when she’s not feeling threatened, compelled to put up a defensive armor of covert aggression to the world, she’s a kind, compassionate individual that offers support to others, without expecting rewards.

That duality in her behavior makes me posit that her other behaviors are defense or coping mechanisms stemming from her trauma and her self- esteem issues as I analyzed above.

2D vs 3D

Molly Lusc is an excellent example of having a character that is quite complex and has a lot of room for exploration and development:
On a 2D level, she’s your standard private eye in a noir whodunnit type of episodic style story. She does her work well and she is great at navigating her gritty, tough, no-quarter-given world.

On a 3D level, she’s a product of her gritty world, its history and its trauma that it has bequeathed her as well. She’s a person with deep emotional issues that she must resolve as well as an affectionate side that she must allow to manifest more often- as soon as she feels, if she ever feels, safe and powerful enough to do it.

Environmental cues

From what we’ve already discussed it’s no surprise that most of the issues Molly is grappling with are environmentally induced: being discriminated against on such an issue as her entire being, having to live on the streets, experiencing extreme violence on a daily basis, possibly being the target of violence or being forced to use violence to defend herself are all traumatic experiences that create chronic issues.

Molly isn’t the exception in seeking out acceptance and validation from her peers. We all do it. The way she goes about it is often destructive to herself and others exactly because she’s informed from her own background’s experiences of dysfunctional behavioral patterns and traumatic events. I expect that she will keep developing. The more she gains validation from more constructive sources (like her job as a P.I.), the more she heals from the trauma of her early years, the less she will be likely to engage in maladaptive behaviors such as cheating or causing people’s lives to implode.

Kudos to Andreas Helixfinger for creating such a complex character! Go read Molly Lusc and get to know her for yourself!

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Avart at 10:58PM, April 20, 2024

This is awesome! Congrats Andreas and Tantz, really an interesting and fun read :)

Jason Moon at 10:32AM, April 20, 2024

This is so cool Andreas! The deep dive analysis of Molly is so well done, awesome work Tantz! This was a lot of fun to read

mks_monsters at 5:54AM, April 20, 2024

Very well done. As much as I don't condone having affairs, they are not black and white, and they are not always done because of the reasons we think. Most of the time, love has nothing to do with it. Some people turn to it the same way some people turn to drugs, alcohol or other self-destructive behaviour. They want to get a high that makes them feel good or worth something. Or is some cases, they hate themselves so much that they seek to destroy themselves. Like I said, I don't condone the act, but I do believe our first react should NOT be "kick'em to the curb". It should be "why did they do it?" because most of the time, it really is just mental illness and it is fixable.

Tantz_Aerine at 4:51AM, April 20, 2024

I'm glad you enjoyed the read Andreas! I had fun putting together her psych profile :D

Andreas_Helixfinger at 4:44AM, April 20, 2024

However - as a sidenote from the creator - Molly's journey out of hell has only began - challenges to be faced and secrets uncovered - and we'll see if she can reach the spark of light at the end of the deep dark tunnel that is the life and adventure of Molly Lusc.

Andreas_Helixfinger at 4:43AM, April 20, 2024

👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏 An infinity of applauds. I am touched and honestly overwhelmed by this amazingly spot on analysis of my main dame. It is as you say Tantz, on one hand Molly is your typical private eye, on the other hand she is a mirror of the world and society she lives in and a woman on a quest to overcome her lack of self-respect, the traumas of her past and the turmoils and injustices of her time that created them both. Thus break free from the social, emotional and psychological hurdles that formed her destructive behaviour towards herself and others, and are holding her back from truly accepting and loving herself as she is and be the force of benevolence and integrity that she could be and - deep down - wants to be. All in all! Tantz! I thank you👏❤😊

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