Heroes should not kill.
I know that it is impractical, idealistic, and damn hard at times, but despite that we must try our hardest to avoid killing. I could give academic arguments about why killing would be bad in theory, but that will ultimately mean nothing. Talk is cheap, after all.
Let me tell you a story.
I fought with a woman called Shego at my high school's senior prom. She was the only villain I ever faced who I considered to be an equal to me. That day, her employer Dr. Drakken had launched an attempt to take over the world involving giant robots and a synthodrone whose purpose was to emotionally manipulate me by making me fall in love with him. Needless to say, I did not take it well when I found out. The anger motivated me to fight on despite the odds and foil Drakken's plan. At the end of the day, the world was saved yet again and the bad guys sent off to prison.
All except one.
During the fighting, I kicked Shego into a live radio tower which collapsed on her. I remember telling Shego that I hated her right before doing it. I stood in the rain with a smile on my face after it was done, glad that I had finally won.
Afterward, I went to the dance with Ron Stoppable. I had a wonderful time and fell in love with him that night. We married four years later.
The day after the prom, my mom came home with news about Shego.
Shego had always been tough, as hard as nails. I had seen her go through so much that it never occurred to me that she could have been seriously injured.
Last night, while I was dancing with Ron, Shego was rushed into the Middleton Hospital's emergency room. My mother spend over 10 hours operating on Shego's skull alone. The doctors did not expect her to last more than a day.
Shego refused to die. She clung to life with an amazing tenacity and lingered on for over two years in a comatose state. I visited her every week, hoping that her healing powers would kick in and bring her out of the coma. I kept going even when her vital signs grew steadily weaker. I was there when her body finally gave out.
Two years, three months, six days, one hour, ten minutes. A hell of a lot longer than just one day.
No one blamed me for what happened, not even her family. They understood that dying was a risk that Shego took in being a criminal and forgave me for her death. I never forgave myself, though; killing Shego was an act of vengeance, not of justice. There is no place for vengeance in a hero's life. Vengeance is personal; vengeance is petty; vengeance is selfish. Justice requires restraint, sacrifice, and compassion. I showed none of those things the night of my senior prom. I failed Shego and her family.
I was a pallbearer at Shego's funeral. According to the tombstone, she was only 27 years old, seven years older than me at the time. It rained heavily all through the funeral, but at night the clouds cleared away and a brilliant meteor shower lit up the night sky. It was a fitting send off; Shego's career had begun with a meteor, after all.
After Shego died, I thought long and hard about what had happened and I vowed that never to repeat my mistake.
I have already killed once. Once is enough. It will not happen again.