REVIEW: AC: Bush43 Daily Week Three (# 30-34)
milos_parker at yahoo.com
Sun Jun 25 22:51:49 PDT 2006
The third week of Jason Kenney's daily-dosage of Bush43 certainly ups
the ante when it comes to action; by my count, there's four fights
across five issues. I'm not a big action fan, myself, but Kenney pulls
it off pretty well: his description is very tight and bare bones, quite
economical, and manages to mingle Jeffery "Bush43" Carter's thought
processes with the action.
There's been a lot of talk on RACC lately about first person, from the
way Jesse Willey uses it to the way that I do. One could argue that my
use of first-person (and my writing in general) is too interior, that
it's more about thoughts and memories than it is about physical reality
and the external world. (I'd say that it's one of the things
first-person is better for than third.)
Willey's use of first person is much more external, so much so that
with very little effort it could be transformed into third person. My
basic argument, because Willey's work is plot-based and because, for
me, his action scenes are not his strong-point, is that the first
person is a poor fit.
But here we have the middle-ground. Let's look at how Bush43 uses
Jason nimbly utilizes first person in order to get across certain
things about his protagonist's mental and emotional state. Look at the
rhythm in the follow passage from # 31.
<<I braced for a shock that never came.
And then, they were gone.
And then, it hit me they were gone.>>
"And then, they were gone. And then, it hit me they were gone." Now,
Jason could have flubbed this, he could have rendered it as, "And then,
they were gone. They were gone." But that wouldn't have gotten across
the subtle difference between their disappearance, and the realization
that they had disappeared. It's a split between the physical (the
state of goneness) and his perception (the realization of goneness).
But even "And then, they were gone. It hit me they were gone" wouldn't
have really worked; the repitition of the "and then" asks us to compare
the two statements and, by extension, contrast them. By using "and
then" both times, it's asking us to consider the split between the two.
And this is important because, at this point in the story arc (and
through out much of these five issues), Jeffery is out of his element,
he's behind the curve and slow on the uptake. By emphasizing a split
between reality and its perception, it also emphasizes his state of
Kenney's word choices are ineffably precise: consider "it hit me they
were gone". He could have said, "I realized they were gone" or "it
occured to me". But not only is "hit me" shorter and thus more
visceral, but it's also the perfect fit in this context: coming after
an action scene, and only one sentence removed from "I braced myself
for a shock that never came".
In fact, those three lines are like a poem, marked by thematic rhymes:
I braced myself for a shock that never came (violence A)
and then they were gone (goneness B)
and then it hit me (A) they were gone (B)
For three little sentences, I think these pack a terrific punch (A).
But this isn't achieved by some intellectual effect, or from pretty
literary passages. The effect is completely visceral in origin,
operating solely on a subconscious level. And this brings up my next
point: Kenney uses first person to emphasize the immediate and the
He doesn't slow things down for detailed description. Carter seldom
reflects on the events happening around him-- which only adds to the
feeling that he is a drowning man. The story moves fast, fast, fast--
much faster here then in last week's Number Crunching bonanza.
... Tom interrupts this review for a moment, so that he can reflect on
Number Munchers. Ah. Number Munchers.
Okay. To continue...
I'm not one-hundred percent happy with Kenney's use of first person.
While the dialogue is crisp, I'm always dubious of any first-person
narrator who remembers reams of conversation verbatim, who can recall
the tug and flow of it. But I suppose it's a convention of
first-person, and some may call this a nittling point.
Speaking of nittling points (nittling is a word, isn't it), some of the
very things I'm praising Kenney for-- the spare and economical nature
of the prose-- seem to be some of the very same things I've faulted
Willey for in the past. I think the thing that helps Kenney in this
regard is the strength of his word choices, his pacing, and his
rhythmic sentence structures.
The action scenes move very quickly, and are very immediate and bloody,
but I must say they're not particularly creative, depending instead
upon who hit who where and the hardest. That's fine, because the point
of the action scenes is not really the action, but the toll it takes on
Carter. But I just want to go on record to say that I miss the days of
giant typewriters and unusual fighting props, things that seem to have
all but disappeared from comic books these days. (On the bright side,
they seem to be all the rage in some of the better Hong Kong Kung Fu
And, since I'm reviewing these five issues, I suppose I must say a few
words about the actual plot. :-)
I would say that the plot is definitely thickening. An explosion, one
for which Bush43 blames himself, destroys a building, possibly claiming
many lives. No matter how many times he tries to get to the wreckage
to help with the rescue effort, people are trying to keep Jeffery away
from it: the Mayor, Cassandra, the New Mages. I have this sinking
feeling that there's a conspiracy afoot, and that Cass is a part of it.
And, yeah, what with her being a supervillain and a dark-and-sexy femme
fatale, I know that the Rules of Film Noir and Its Spandex-Clad
Derivatives tells us that she's no good for him. But the character's
really growing on me, and so I hope I'm wrong.
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