Most of Mario’s foes are comically evil; they’re doing the whole “take over the world” or “kidnap the princess” thing, but they’re so goofy that you really never take them seriously. Super Paper Mario’s Count Bleck isn’t like that though. He’s got a funny name and odd manner of speaking, but he poses a real threat to not only Mario’s world, but all of existence. In the beginning, the only thing that the player knows about Count Bleck is that he wants to destroy everything and not only has the power to do it, but has already set his plan in motion! This guy is at least a league beyond Bowser, and Mario has to find a way to stop him. The thing is though, how do you stop someone who has the power, will and nihilistic-enough outlook to end all of existence though?
(Spoilers await beyond this point. Beware!)
Well, it turns out that there’s more to Count Bleck and his desire to end all of existence. See, if he wanted to end everything just because, then there’d probably be no stopping in him. A man who’s got nothing to lose and seeks only to watch the world burn is an incredibly powerful force after all (just look at the Joker). That’s not what Count Bleck is though. Rather, he’s a man who’s out to take revenge on everything and everyone for the loss of his beloved. Once this comes to light, he all at once becomes a very human character, someone most people can much more easily understand.
There was a time, long ago, when Count Bleck was known by a different name. He was “Blumiere” of “the tribe of darkness.” It seems that he had been terribly injured at one point and was found by a girl by the name of “Timpani”. She nursed him back to health and the two fell in love in the process.
There was a problem though. Apparently those of “the tribe of darkness” forbade their kin to associate with outsiders, so Timpani was banished from their dimension and nearly killed by Blumiere’s father. As one might expect, this sent him into a devastated, heartbroken rage, leading him to claim a forbidden power, utterly destroy his home dimension and redub himself as “Count Bleck.” He then set out to destroy the entirety of existence since, without Timpani, it was all maddeningly meaningless to him.
He’s still a terribly powerful character with an extremely strong motivation, but he’s no longer an enigmatic Joker-like force. Instead, he’s a tragic character who can possibly be reasoned with under the right circumstances. He’s certainly done terrible things in the name of vengeance and is attempting to do more, but one cannot help but feel a bit sorry for Count Bleck once his full backstory is revealed.
He still needs to be stopped of course, but now we can at least understand his motivations. I imagine many people would turn to anger, despair and even nihilism if their beloved was prematurely (and wrongly) taken away from them. As we, and eventually Bleck, learn though, that’s not the answer.
Count Bleck is absolutely a scary character in concept when players first meet him. He’s a man on a mission with both the power and will to see that mission through. What takes away that scary veneer though isn’t comedy or obliviousness, but a very tragic, very human backstory. His arc makes Super Paper Mario’s ending super satisfying, making the game a pretty good choice for spooky season (or really any time).
What do you think of Count Bleck? Can you think of any other characters with similar stories?
image by Duck of Indeed