Anthony Sytko is a runner, lawyer, podcaster, and host of Capes on the Couch Podcast.
Intro Podchaser - Reviews4Good - NUEXGUY - “CAPES ON THE COUCH is one of my favorite podcasts for the unique perspective and insight they bring to the superhero genre. I haven't heard another podcast go so deep into the psychological arguments around these characters. One of the most informative and entertaining podcasts around. Did I mention there are skits as well?” Background (3:16) Black Mask (Roman Sionis) created by Doug Moench and Tom Mandrake in Batman #386 (August 1985) Roman Sionis born to wealthy parents who didn’t care for him - they dropped him on his head early, possibly causing mental damage Hated Thomas & Martha Wayne, who his parents were always sucking up to - this led to a fascination with masks, because he believed his parents were phony Once he came of age and became VP of his father’s cosmetic company, he burned down the family estate, killing his parents, and took over everything After running the company into the ground, it was rescued by Wayne Enterprises, but he was fired - he went to his parents grave, dug up the coffin, and destroyed it - he used the pieces to make a new mask, and called himself the Black Mask Created a gang, the False Face Society, and began going after the Wayne Foundation and its members, including Bruce - after a failed attempt on Bruce’s life, he set fire to his family’s house once again, and in a battle with Batman fell into the flames, fusing the mask to his face During No Man’s Land, he becomes the head of a cult known for ritualistic scarring - he’s taken down by Batman and Huntress Later gave up the theme of masked henchmen and decided to run a drug trade out of the East End of Gotham, putting him into conflict with Catwoman Tortures and nearly kills Stephanie Brown during War Games Killed by Catwoman after threatening to kill all her loved ones - he’s resurrected during Blackest Night as a Black Lantern, but was defeated by Ivy and Harley, trapping him in a pitcher plant that digested his body as it regenerated New 52 gives him largely the same backstory, but now his mask gives him low level psychic abilities - he also has split personalities, with Roman and Black Mask being distinct identities DC Rebirth abandons the psychic abilities, but has him allied with the Penguin Issues No positive family background left him alone Obsession with masks (16:36) Sadism, especially with women (23:49) Break (30:18) Plugs for Petri Dish, Play Comics, and Meredith Finch Treatment (31:23) In-universe - Let him roleplay in different masks to learn empathy Out of universe - (35:08) Reframe to get more buy-in from the client Skit (40:33) Hello Roman, I’m Dr. Issues. - What do you want? This isn’t a house call, and it’s not like I asked to meet with you. You’re required to -*cuts off* I know what you’re here for. Let’s get this straight: I’m not trying to change. I’ve changed enough for my lifetime, thank you very much.  *pause* I appreciate your honesty. It saves me time. Goodbye. -Bye. *sound of walking away, distant* Oh man, I gotta try *walking back* Sorry, I’m not going to give up. -Sucker. As dangerous as this may sound, the goal of therapy for a thief may be to make them a better thief - You can’t be serious. Nobody’s that stupid, especially against me. I don’t mean being better at bad things for society. I mean being more in tune with your mental state so that you are better at your personal goals. What you do with them is none of my business. -What sort of backwards schooling did you do? This is nuts!  How long did you originally plan on talking to me? -Negative 2 seconds, then find someone to kill you. And how long have you actually talked to me? I’ve already exceeded your lowly expectations. -I just can’t get over how bonkers this is. You’re just like that Harley chick...oh yeah, same field. See, I knew all shrinks are weirdos.  So what can this self-proclaimed weirdo do for you? I’m all ears. -You’re really trying to analyze me, huh? *pause* OK then. I want my enemies dead. I want unlimited access to every major corporation’s bank accounts in Gotham. I want enough firepower to take down a small nation’s army...or Batman. It’s about the equivalent budget. So *claps hands* get to it, chop chop!  Not a single emotional goal. You really don’t have the vocabulary for that, do you? -Who says what I want won’t make me happy?  Well, how much did you have before? -Well, let me do some quick math...a hell of a lot more than you ever will. And were you happy then? -I wasn’t locked up, chastised, and made to do interviews with the likes of you. So you didn’t have the same intellectual stimulation, but you didn’t answer the question. I appreciate your deflections. It’s a strong intellectual coping skill -How long are you going to keep up with this psycho-crap? I’m not trying to be some prissy high-status goody two shoes. Fascinating. You equate being high status with somehow being good. I’ve definitely seen examples across a full spectrum with regards to that. Does that attitude date back to direct experience as a crime lord, or from your interactions at a younger age? -It dates back to being annoyed by someone who is not a henchman, partner, associate, or target talking to me as if somehow any of this matters.  I see. That’s how you view your spheres of influence. If no one fits into those spheres, then you don’t expend mental energy on them. That’s an advanced skill to maintain locus of control. How did you learn that? -I don’t know. That sounds like common sense to me. If someone isn’t worth my time, then they’re a guaranteed waste of my money. The best examples are the ones who keep asking questions when they’ve been given every hint to stop. I’m picking up what you’re putting down. But what about those that are in your sphere of influence and you can’t kick them out? -They don’t exist. Au contraire; I’m talking about your adversaries. They probably take up most of your mental bandwidth, and make you feel worse because you’ve lost to them. -*defensive* I don’t lose. I learn.  You’re impressing me with your knowledge of mindset focus techniques. How does that translate when you’ve had to make such a transition from full mob boss to anonymous inmate number? -It translates just fine because no inmate is asinine enough to have drawn out stalling conversations with the man responsible for their death. Oh, I’m going to have to challenge you on that one. You’re forecasting a future that may never happen. I’ve dealt with clairvoyants before, and they’re not perfect, either. That type of bias will get you into trouble. You need someone to watch those psychological blindspots. -*exasperated* You’re really just going to stay there and act like I’m not insulting you, warning you to get the hell away from me? You really are off your rocker!  Every conversation is an opportunity for growth. Even when I have my own doubts of the benefit, I’m willing to try. Surprises only happen if you take a chance. How long have you focused on such a restrictive life? - Come here inside this cage, I’ll show you restrictions. Thankfully we only resort to restraint when it’s absolutely necessary. If you decide to be unruly, then 4-points are readily available, along with injection medication depending on your symptoms. Thankfully, I don’t have to directly get involved in that. - Too scared? Don’t want to get your hands dirty and make the hard choices? You’re soft. Especially on the outside. I bet you go down after… let’s say 3 hits. Well, I’ve been hit 4 times and got a broken rib, so you’re not too far off. Nice guy though, just let his delusions get the better of him and incorporated me. You on the other hand, are all about making direct threats and intimidating people that have no interest in such things. I’m sorry if I’m coming off aloof now. You’re getting away from the meaningful topics in your life to show yourself as a class D thug. - I came within inches of killing Batman. I left Stephanie Brown for dead. You want to call me D-class? Do so at your own risk. *non-chalant* I...just did. Your wit is sharp enough that I don’t have to repeat what I said. Don’t miss the point that you present yourself that way, but have the potential to… - And we’re done here. Todd, if you don’t mind. Wait, you’re supposed to protect m-*gate unlocks* You can lock up my body. But you never took the time to freeze my assets. And those are MUCH more powerful than anything I do physically. Having said that, let me show you what I can do. I don’t normally enjoy this… wait, who am I kidding, I love this! They say love what you do and never work a day in your life. In my case, that’s been true since day one. Now then…  *muffled* Good self-actualization - Aww, if you think it’s hard to speak now, let’s see how well you talk when your jaw is in 3 pieces. The crowbar, please, Todd.  *muffled scream* - Music to my ears... Ending (48:25) Recommended reading: Batman: War Games Next episodes: John Walker, Isaiah Bradley (Ruby), Comic book death (Matt) Plugs for social References: Lucha libre - Anthony (23:36) Kanye West - “Through the Wire” - Anthony (48:56) Apple Podcasts: here Google Play: here Stitcher: here TuneIn: here iHeartRadio: here Spotify: here Twitter Facebook Patreon TeePublic Discord
 Issue 117 - Elastigirl Intro Shoutout to Down to Folk - Chad & Ariel give you folk tales with a twist - Background (01:54) Elastigirl (Helen Parr) created by Brad Bird in The Incredibles (November 2004) Helen Parr has the power of flexibility  Married to Mr. Incredible, Bob Parr - have 3 children - Violet, Dash, and Jack Forced into retirement after a man trying to commit suicide got saved by Bob, but was injured in the process - superheroes then banned for approximately 15 years Bob goes off and begins surreptitiously superheroing in private - Helen discovers what he’s doing, and has to go rescue him The whole family then battles Syndrome, a former fan of Bob’s who’s going to use technology to give everyone superpowers, thus making supers useless They defeat Syndrome, and come together as a family In the sequel, two wealthy businesspeople - Winston & Evelyn Deavor - use Helen as a public face for their company to get people to trust heroes again This leaves Bob at home with the kids, while he struggles with Jack’s nascent powers Helen encounters the Screensaver, who uses hypnotic imagery on TV screens to control people Screensaver turns out to be Evelyn, who reveals that her father died from burglars while waiting for superheroes to show up - Helen captures Evelyn, and heroes remain legal Issues (06:00) Being a spouse while being super Being a parent while being super (12:25) How does her powerset impact her choices and adaptiveness? (21:16) Body image issues (28:15) Break (35:31) Plugs for Geek Peak, Ignorance was Bliss, and Al Ewing Treatment (36:44) In-universe - Create a secret lair for supers to have individual therapy, just work on gaining their trust Out of universe - Focus on interpersonal therapy Skit (43:08) Hello Mrs. Parr, I’m Dr. Issues. - Well hello Doctor, it’s so nice to meet you. Gosh, I just love your office. Tasteful decorations, and *gasp* did your child make this? My daughter, yes. - It’s beautiful. My daughter Violet is very creative. My sons… are more into destruction. Oh my daughter can wreck stuff with the best of them, don’t let the artwork fool you. - That's children, I suppose. Especially when you have 3 of them. And with powers to boot. One minute they're playing nicely, the next minute there's a literal tornado in the kitchen, the bathroom is sealed with a force field, and the lawn is on fire.  That sounds like a lot to handle. How do you manage? - Well the older 2 I can talk to about things. It takes a while, but they get it eventually. Jack-Jack, though, he's still a baby, and figuring out his powers. And bless Bob, he tries his best to wrangle them while I'm gone, but he gets frazzled so quickly.  Have you tried a babysitter? - Once. It did NOT go well.  Well, I’m not a couples therapist, but I am a happily married man, and I’ve learned that an open and honest discussion about expectations can help drastically reduce the stress in a marriage. You two need to be on the same page. - Oh, we are. Well, some of the time. That’s better than none of the time. When does it work best? - When we’re out there fighting the bad guys. Even after we took some time off to raise the kids, when we got back to it, it was like no time had passed. We were totally in sync with each other. Then we get home, and… And you’re off-base. - Yep. You know, we both have powers, but sadly neither of us can read minds. That would make things a lot easier. I’m not sure it would. That could just lead to more unmet expectations. The fact that you’re both powered doesn’t mean anything when it comes to communication. You have to be upfront about what you need and are willing to compromise on. You’re not going to get everything you want, but unless you tell him what you’re looking for, you’re not going to get anything. - I know. But where am I supposed to find the time? And the energy? And how do I figure out which thing to tackle first? Gosh, makes me wish the Underminer would show up. At least I know how to solve those kinds of problems. Punching things in the face only gets you so far. Trust me, I see it all the time in my line of work. -Well to be honest we never thought we would get to be back to doing any sort of punching. Now things have come full circle. It’s like one bad apple spoils the bunch. Bob had the itch longer, but I got to scratch it in a more sophisticated way once people saw that we could do good again.  But that doesn’t come close to translating to fulfilment. Sometimes I have a three-part system that I view relationships: love, work, and play. You’ve mentioned love, and work, but what sort of recreational stuff do you have going on in your life? -Are you kidding? Who has time for play when you have kids?! Well, do you play with your kids? -Jack-Jack of course, but those are things he needs to grow. Violet does her own thing, and that’s becoming its own hurdle. Dash is just so fast with everything...and I don’t mean his superpower. That’s not really what I meant. It’s important to spend time with your children, don’t get me wrong. However, you need some adult time, either alone, with Bob, others that you can relate to in the same sphere. -*pause* To be honest, that’s what being a superhero was about. It used to be that blend. Help the world, help ourselves. I know it’s changed, it wrong to want it to be that way again? No, it’s not wrong to want things to be simple. What’s wrong is ignoring the complexities in order to be able to cope. If that’s how you’re looking at things, then you’ll never be able to fully address the problem. Does that make sense? - Definitely. I won’t reminisce too much. Those memories are a good part of what keeps me going. I need to remind myself of why my life is the way it is in the first place. This may sound harsh but...I didn’t dream of things going this way. In what way? -Actually...all of it. I planned for kids, but I didn’t know if they would be like us. I wanted a home, but I never knew we’d be a superteam. I wanted to make a difference, but I didn’t think I’d be told to go into hiding...or come out again! I’m not in a competition with Bob, but he always makes it sound like we are to him. I know I’m going around the same points again...maybe that’s the biggest problem. I see things my way, and I want my family to see things my way. We don’t even have to agree. Is that last part true? -*slightly defensive* of course it is! I’m not trying to be provocative. I’ve learned that many families have a competitive dynamic at baseline. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that. But what is the goal of winning battles when you don’t know what the war is? -Then  I… I don’t want to be right just to be right. I want Bob and the kids to agree with me because they realize that I want what’s best for us. Maybe I haven’t communicated that clearly enough. I can’t force them to do what I want, and I don’t want that either. I guess I’m just looking for a little more harmony, and I’m willing to take it however I can get it. Then you’re going to need to visualize what you want, and ask each of them what they want, and put it all together into one congruent package. Something you build together is more likely to last than something you build separately and jam together however you can. -This sounds almost exactly like dealing with Syndrome. *playful sarcasm* Ding ding ding! We have a winner! You get to mirror the construct of your hero team with your family life. Perhaps this also touches the proper nerve about the nostalgia you were raving about, too. -And what if Bob doesn’t buy it? What if Violet shuts down? What if I think it’s a lot to ask of people who don’t think on this wavelength to just go along with this sort of thing like everything is just peachy all of the time. You’re right, I make no guarantees. Yet, just like you hinted at, there’s a reason Bob connected with you in the first place. You know that. He sees the strength you have on the inside. If he’s like the countless others in a relationship, the ebb and flow shifts in that way. I hope he’ll step up to the plate like you want him to. -*melancholic, but actually hopeful* He’s told me when he’s not strong enough...that let me know he gets it once in a while. Ok...I actually think that family plan is the best course of action right now. I’m not going to over complicate it. - *suddenly serious* So who should I bring in next time for you to straighten them out? Bob? I bet you’ll see how wrong he is about everything That’s the opposite -And Violet needs to get in gear so she can really start to impress for her career I’m not a child psychia -And *whisper* I think Dash could use a stimulant to help with that undiagnosed ADHD, am I right?  You’re kind of pushing...oh boy *clearly nervous* -*pause, then laughing* relax, Doctor. I know better than that.  Don’t scare me like that! Too many people mean that stuff! - Sorry, Doc. I don’t get many chances to crack jokes with new people. Most of the people I meet these days are either stuffy politicians trying to shake hands and lie, or bad guys who need a fist to the jaw. But I like you. I’m glad this got set up. When they told us we had to meet with a psychiatrist as part of becoming superheroes again, I was skeptical. But we’re gonna do this again soon. OK then, looking forward to it. - And tell your daughter I love her work. Maybe she can make something new before my next visit. I’ll see if I can bring something from Violet… if Jack-Jack doesn’t burn it or Dash rips it to shreds… Thanks, that’s very kind. - Take care, Doc! Ending (51:47) Recommended reading: go watch Incredibles 1 and 2 Next episodes: Black Mask, John Walker, Isaiah Bradley Plugs for social References: Mr. Miracle episode - Anthony (06:15) #FreeBritney - Doc (14:15) The Incredibles - Return to city brake scene - Doc (25:10) Hartman Hips - Anthony (29:16) Apple Podcasts: here Google Play: here Stitcher: here TuneIn: here iHeartRadio: here Spotify: here Twitter Facebook Patreon TeePublic Discord
 Intro Thanks to new Mayor patron Ben! Skit (5:02)  Ending (27:11) Next episodes: Elastigirl, Black Mask, John Walker Plugs for social References: Anthony’s AIPT Column Apple Podcasts: here Google Play: here Stitcher: here TuneIn: here iHeartRadio: here Spotify: here Twitter Facebook Patreon TeePublic Discord
In lieu of show notes, I'll just say how refreshing and interesting it was to watch a 32 year old movie I hadn't seen in 31 years. Doc and I had a TON of fun discussing this, with a lot of reminiscing and flashbacks. Hope you enjoy it! - Anthony Apple Podcasts: here Google Play: here Stitcher: here TuneIn: here iHeartRadio: here Spotify: here Twitter Facebook Patreon TeePublic Discord
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