More Reasons Why Med’an is Awful and Why I’m Glad He’s Gone

Something that emerged from the the WoW Q&A at BlizzCon 2016 was a statement from Alex Afrasiabi that Med’an’s tenure as the Guardian of Tirisfal is no longer canon.

Now I want to clarify a few things here:

  • This, on its own, doesn’t mean that Med’an as a character is no longer canon. Afrasiabi dances around this a bit, but the impression I get is that what’s being retconned here is ONLY Med’an becoming the Guardian, and nothing else. The broad strokes of the comic book story arc focusing on Med’an can still happen even if all of the story’s details don’t happen or happen in an as-yet-undisclosed manner.
  • However, a lot of information has come out since then to indicate that Med’an MIGHT be getting deleted from the canon. Which is why I’m here writing about it, natch.
  • Now, in addition, I’m revisiting this topic because the original is easily the most popular post out of everything I’ve written on this blog, and yes I think the Buzzfeed-esque clickbait title plays a role in that. Sorry not sorry.
  • Final note: yeah I got pretty bombastic and hyperbolic in the original, and while I haven’t really calmed down re: my feelings on Med’an, I still want to be a bit more sober in my speech about him now.

Reason #5: Khadgar

The best place to start with additional reasons why Med’an is awful is by talking about the guy who has most clearly usurped his place in the narrative: Medivh’s former apprentice Khadgar.

Khadgar, both in his original role from the WC2 and The Last Guardian narratives and his resurgence in Warlords of Draenor and Legion, is patently more interesting than Med’an. His past as a nervous young apprentice sent effectively as a pawn of the Kirin Tor to spy on Medivh is already more compelling than Med’an’s contrived childhood.

That’s not to say that Med’an’s background doesn’t have the potential to be a great story. The narrative of a child who is trapped between worlds by virtue of his heritage is a great starting point, but the problem is that a) it’s already been done better with Thrall, and b) the way Med’an was sequestered with only Meryl for contact with other sentient life completely defangs the narrative. If Med’an doesn’t really ever have to confront his nature as an outcast with no tribe to call his own, then it makes his mixed heritage a complete footnote. Put another way, it doesn’t matter that Medivh is his father and Garona is his mother, because his worldview isn’t impacted by his parents being those particular people.

Who are Khadgar’s parents? It doesn’t matter. They’re of no consequence to the story, so they never come up. The fact that Med’an’s parents are characters who are important to the narrative, but whose narratives hardly impact the arc of Med’an’s narrative (his parents could be literally anyone else and it would change his arc very little) just drives home an awful truth: Med’an’s parentage is used as a kludge to artificially make him appear more important to the narrative than he really is.

Khadgar becomes important to the narrative specifically because of what he does, not what he is. He becomes Medivh’s apprentice, learns that his master is responsible for the Dark Portal, and ultimately aids in killing Medivh. He gets his youth stolen from him specifically because Medivh/Sargeras is spiting him for his ingenuity.We care about Khadgar because he did the right thing but paid a price for it. Throughout the Second War and the Alliance expedition beyond the Dark Portal, this mechanism of Khadgar doing the right thing even when he has to give something up for it continues.

Medan, however, becomes important to the narrative specifically because of what he is: a macguffin spawned from two significant characters, someone “foretold by prophecy” to be important. He is pursued specifically because he’s the Special, and he ultimately only succeeds because he’s the Special.

Reason #6: Garona

Something notable about the second volume of the Blizzard/Dark Horse collaboration called Chronicle is that it gives us a pretty good picture of what was going on with Garona, in addition to some clarifications about her nature.

  • She is no longer the daughter of Maraad’s sister. The timeline of Garona’s birth and childhood, and the capture and death of Leran (Maraad’s sister) doesn’t allow her to be born and grow up in time to join the Shadow Council’s shenanigans prior to the First War. So the filial connection with Maraad (used in the comic as a way to give Maraad a reason to drop science on Garona’s origins and guide Med’an) is basically wiped out at this point.
  • While Garona still spends time at Karazhan with Medivh, nothing is mentioned about the notion of a budding romance between them. The omniscient narration of Chronicles allows for information to be skipped over, so there’s room for the two of them to have possibly coupled up at some point, but nothing about Garona producing a child shows up at any point later in the narrative, and her role in the background of the Second War is greatly expanded.
  • Meryl, a key individual for Med’an’s upbringing in the comic, doesn’t warrant a mention in this volume. Khadgar is specified to be the only person Garona trusts, however, so it seems more likely that if Garona DID bear Medivh’s child but didn’t feel confident in caring for that child, it’s Khadgar who most likely would have been trusted with the baby. If this happened, it would likely have impacted Khadgar’s motivations in the later Second War and the Draenor campaign, but nothing about that is changed.

Now again, just because Med’an’s birth isn’t mentioned doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. Principally, what his exclusion most likely means is that he wasn’t relevant to the narratives being told in Vol. 2. Could he become relevant in a later volume? It’s possible, because the narrative space still exists for his conception to take place. But critical details of his background and childhood are missing, which fundamentally alter his interactions with particular characters in the comic.

Reason #7: LEGION & Harbingers

The introduction of the class order halls in Legion brought a veritable TON of supporting characters from the lore of the game out of the woodwork to play supporting roles for the player. Med’an is notably absent from all of these order halls. It could be argued that because his narrative was based on him taking on the magical paths of a bunch of different classes, he doesn’t really fit into one versus another. However, it could also be argued that Med’an, as a cross-class, cross-factional character, would have made perfect sense to involve in the class campaigns or even the Light’s Heart campaign, and yet he’s completely absent.

For an expansion that really plumbed the depths of the game’s history to bring in characters for the class narratives, Med’an’s absence speaks volumes. He’s a character that SHOULD be involved if Blizzard wants him to have any relevance going forward, and yet he’s nowhere to be seen.

What’s more, you’ve got the Harbingers animated short that focuses on Khadgar, which was released as part of the lead-up to Legion‘s release.

Something specifically called out by Khadgar during his interactions with “Medivh” is that the Council of Tirisfal shut down the Guardian role following Medivh’s downfall, specifically because that much power residing in one person was a terrible risk. This position would essentially undo the entire Guardian narrative that was the foundation of Med’an’s powercreep in the comic: namely, that his nature as Medivh’s son and his heritage as an orc/draenei/human hybrid made him well-suited to wielding all the various colors of magic that he got from the New Council of Tirisfal, which Khadgar condoned but did not join.

Why I’m Glad This Kid Is Out

When you put all of these details together, combined with all of the glaring flaws of the World of Warcraft comic series that I called out in the original, what you’ve got is a situation where Blizzard seems to be very quietly shuffling Med’an off the canon history of Warcraft.

I, for one, am most pleased. This whole project has been about discussing that Med’an is superfluous at best and damaging to the canon’s integrity at the worst. While I always struggle with situations where a piece of work has to be decanonized, I think in this case I’m okay with cutting off the warped, unrecoverable branch that Med’an represents on the overall tree of Warcraft lore.

Of course, if anything about Med’an shows up (either cementing his removal from the canon or the unlikely event that he shows up again) I’m certain to write more about it here, so stay tuned. ^_^

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