8FOLD/ACRA: Jolt City # 4, The Green Knight-Darkhorse Team!

Martin Phipps martinphipps2 at yahoo.com
Fri Dec 1 21:05:49 PST 2006

Tom Russell wrote:
>    I have tried in this story to create the most vile,
> repulsive villain that I could.  As such, the first
> half or so of this story is exceedingly ugly.

I don't mind.  But Nathan Willis, the Washington Post collumnist might
be pissed.  As might Nathan Willis, the photographer from Texas.  Or
Bruce Willis.  I mean you used his name so obviously Nathan Willis is
based on him.

Okay, I'm just being snotty. :)








>    "I told them I was the Green Knight's go-between,"
> says Roy.  "That you needed to be brought to, uh, your
> lair."
>    "Did they ask why?"
>    "Yes," says Roy.  "I figured it wouldn't be very
> seemly for me to lie, and, to be frank, I'm a bad liar
> besides.  So I just said that you had your reasons,
> that I couldn't disclose them, that they should trust
> you.  And Miss Handler obviously does."

I hope Danielle and Pam aren't going to be your equivalents of Lana and
Lois, always catching a glimpse of our hero's secret identity only to
have it explained away.  Danielle is a detective.  Pam is a private
investigator / bounty hunter.  Lois was a reporter.  Lana... was a
cheerleader.  Okay.  Fine.  The point is that these are mostly smart
women.  The odds that they don't know or can't figure out who is who
stretches plausibility a bit.  Odds are, based on what I've read up to
this point, that Danielle either knew Martin was the Green Knight (and
was trying to get him to admit it) or she has now figured it out.  In
fact, if Danielle is upset with *both* Martin and the Green Knight then
that's one more reason to make the connection: it's not as if she loves
one and looks down upon the other.

>    "I can't plan for every eventuality," says Martin.
> "And I can't be scared.  Otherwise, I'd just keep
> covering myself, protecting myself, and what message
> does that send to ordinary people?  If a hero needs
> that much protection, shouldn't they need more?  I'm
> not going to scare mothers and fathers."

Interesting thought but what message does he send by dressing up as the
Green Knight and *not* having body armour?  What ever happened to
"Kids, don't try this at home!" :)

>    He just heads in the front door.  There's a certain
> grayness in the air this dying afternoon, a somber
> gloom that always descends when the victims are
> children.  Which, in Jolt City, in Martin's Jolt City,
> in Snapp's Jolt City, is far too often.

Tom, the melodrama is a bit thick in this paragraph.  Even for you. :)

>    "You just better have a good explanation for this
> Rock business," says Danielle.
>    "Rock... it's complicated.  And maybe I'll explain
> it to you, someday."
>    "That's not the way it works," says Reynolds.  "You
> don't get to keep your secrets, carte blanche."
>    "I'm sorry," says Martin.  "But you've just got to
> trust me."
>    "You keep giving me fewer reasons to," Danielle
> retorts.  "Where is he?"
>    "Rock's in a safe place," says Martin.
>    "You better keep ahold of him," says Danielle.  "We
> got some questions that don't have answers yet.  We're
> going to want you to turn him back over to us after
> this is done."

Okay, so she doesn't know.  Wow.  No wonder she needs the Green Knight.
 She really sucks as a dectective. :)

>    "I can rub it at super-speed," offers Darkhorse,
> putting his words into action before they echo into
> the air.
>    "No, thanks," says Martin, withdrawing in agony.
> "I, uh, don't like being touched."

Sounds like something I would have read in the slash-fanfic version of
this story. :)

>    Darkhorse reaches his vibrating hand into the door,

Just when I thought the homo erotic overtones couldn't get any more

> popping open the lock with his immaterial fist.  He
> vibrates through the yellow police tape.  Martin
> grumbles before ducking under it.
>    Darkhorse is zipping to and fro inside, opening
> drawers, turning over cushions and replacing them in
> the same instance, giving the entire scene a strange,
> squiggly static quality.
>    "Stop," says Martin.  "That is not the way you
> conduct an investigation."

No.  It isn't.  There should be a police detective at the scene.  If
Darkhorse works for the government then there's a jurisdiction issue.
The local police can ask the federal government for help but it is
still their case and they can't have someone with super speed
destroying evidence *which is exactly what he did do in an earlier

> "He was someone that black men could look up to and
> emulate.  Replacing him with a white guy is like
> saying, hey, assimilate into white society."

Translation: "Hey, Darkhorse, I'm black.  And that black man you saved
in this park before?  That was me.  I just thought I'd bring that to
your attention." :)

Seriously, they think Martin Rock is the original Green Knight.  That
means he wears a full face mask.  Why does he all but tell Darkhorse
that he's black here?  So much for protecting his identity.

It's also ironic that Martin hates racism while at the same time is
obviously racist.  I know this element of the story is deliberate.  You
went into a while ago when you discussed your characters Ebonics Lad
and Afro Boy.  Martin Rock's own feelings seem to be something he needs
to work out.  Darkhorse was quite astute in realising that the he
hadn't got out much socially.

>    "I'm not suggesting that," says Darkhorse.  "But
> two out of three came up empty, again.  If we don't
> find anything inside, we're stuck.  We have to start
> thinking outside the box.  Maybe... maybe I can run at
> near the speed of light and catapult us back into
> time.  I'm still a little shaky at it, though, and so
> I might overshoot by a couple hundred years."

Actually, running near the speed of light would send you forward in
time.  If you travel faster than the speed of light though then you'll
arrive back before you left which would mean you travelled back in

>    "And thanks for the cookies," says Darkhorse as he
> stuffs his face.

He needs carbohydrates.

>    Police report says the car was last seen by Corner
> at the Jolt City Expo Center at six o' clock this
> morning.  That was about three hours before the park.
>    "Why are you here in Jolt City, Mr. Corner?"
>    Jack points to the still-spinning wheel.  "Unicycle
> convention."
>    "At the Jolt City Expo Center?"
>    "That's right."
>    Martin gets Darkhorse's attention.  "That's our
> next stop."

Actually that would have been their next stop anyway: it is logical
that Nathan stole a car near where he was staying.  But you wanted to
make it more dramatic. :)

>    Two seconds later.  The speedster's getting a bit
> exhausted, getting slow with the night.

He needs more cookies. :)

> I inhaled and exhaled ten thousand,
> six-hundred-mile-per-hour breaths in half a second.
> It created a cushion of air that stopped the bullet
> dead.  It made me a little light-headed, and I fell
> unconscious for a short period of time."

Probably as a result of inhaling the bullet. :)

>    "He made some threats to her," says Danielle.  "But
> didn't try anything.  Turns out his genitals were
> destroyed back in Iraq.  Crushed when he was trapped
> underneath some rubble."
>    Martin unclenches.  Thank you, God, he prays
> silently.  I never want anyone to go through what I
> went through.  Thank you for saving her.

And Tom says "You're welcome" :)

Okay, that was good.  Probably the best thing you've written this year.
 (Speak was last year.)  I'm still annoyed by the length of these
issues but Darkhorse helped a lot to ellide a lot of the travel time.
:)  I can understand why this had to be one issue and not two though
because the whole issue was spent mostly searching for Nathan Willis.

One thing that has bothered me about this series (and I can see it
started with the GK Annual) is that the police and the FBI are more
often problems for the Green Knight rather than allies, that they are
more of a hindrance than a help.  Partly it is Martin's own fault
because he stubbornly holds on to his secret identity when he could now
take credit for stopping *both* the Crooked Man *and* Nathan Willis.
Partly I suppose it is for dramatic purposes that the hero needs to
fight alone and that the police need to be obstacles to be overcome
along with everything else.  Of course, if the story were told from the
point of view of the police then it would be the capes would come
across as obstacles hindering the investigation.  If I erred on the
side of making the heroes seem incompetent and amoral in Superfreaks
then you've definitely erred on the side of making the police a bit too
dependent upon the Green Knight while at the same time causing problems
for him, although I suppose incompetent police are a staple of the
genre... otherwise why do we even need the capes?


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