[REVIEW] End of Month Reviews #33 - S...2006 [spoilers]

Martin Phipps martinphipps2 at yahoo.com
Mon Oct 16 08:28:49 PDT 2006

Wow.  Google says I've already responded to this but I haven't so I

Tom Russell wrote:
> Saxon Brenton wrote:
> >      One interesting subtext I noticed is the way that... hmm, I'm not
> > sure how to phrase this properly, the way that four colour heroics are
> > being spruiked over the 'nameless urban legend vigilante' methods of
> > crime fighting.  If it were just one example I might not have noticed
> > it, but twice draws attention to itself.  In the first instance the
> > text explicitly says that Martin feels that he's done more good work
> > in a few months working within the law with the police than he did from
> > years as a no-name vigilante,
> I think this is something that's key to Martin's character, especially
> at this point in the series: how much of Ray's methods, of the
> four-colour approach, to keep and how much of his more "realistic"
> street approach.  Both have their benefits, but people who know me know
> that I certainly weigh in more heavily towards the gaudy/optimistic
> aspects of the genre.

One problem is that you are aware that your characters are being overly
optimistic and the result is a bit perverse.  I mean, both Fleetfoot
and Martin are noble to a fault: Fleetfoot wouldn't lie to protect his
identity (which is ridicuolous: what if somebody had asked him point
blank "Are you Fleetfeet?"  Wouldn't he have lied then?) whereas Martin
wouldn't lie even to a career criminal (which as I pointed out already
is not how law enforcement works in real life: people working
undercover are lying _all the time_, pretending to be somebody they
aren't).  I would have preferred if instead of people being honest and
facing the consequences, we saw more of people being dishonest and
facing the consequences so that the moral in the end is that it is
better to tell the truth.

> Though I hope it gives some pause for thought, my first concern is to
> write entertaining adventure stories-- even if, as in the case of # 3,
> there's not really much adventure going on.  I'm done, for the moment,
> writing _about_ the genre in the my stories; now, I want to write the
> genre.  I want to write superhero stories, and I want to do it well.  I
> want, most of all, to write the kind of superhero stories I'd like to
> read,

Which is all very well and good but when you write stories only for
yourself then you might be less inclined to accept the criticism of
others.  I know that sounds a bit hypocritical from me given that I
wasn't willing to spend months negotiating my Superfreaks stories but
if you're just writing for yourself then I don't see why you would want
to go back and make major changes to any of your stories just because
somebody else thought you should.

> which is why I try to structure my issues with a beginning,
> middle, and an end: something that seems passe these days.

<shrug>  I think the resultant trades are designed that way.  I know
that I do have the beginning, middle and end structure in mind when I
write issues in so far as I try to re-introduce characters every time
and then have either a satisfying conclusion or a cliffhanger (which is
how your #3 ended).  If every issue has a beginning middle and end then
so should every arc and, if the series should come to and end, the
entire series.  Real life, of course, isn't as neatly structured but
readers expect bigger and bigger payoffs as the series goes on.

> This does result in longer stories, but I think it's better to have a
> largely self-contained and hopefully satisfying story in one chunk than
> three or four.  I am mindful of length, and I'm certainly not trying to
> alienate people or be pretentious about it: each story is only as long
> as it needs to be, and I think every scene/line serves some purpose,
> whether to advance plot, theme, or character.

I do think pacing is a problem for you.  If one issue is 40 lines long
and the next is 100 lines long then maybe issue two should have been
divided into two parts.  I'm a bit more anal that way: I actually
measure the lengths of my stories, calculate an average and try to
stick to that. :)

> > (The latter introducing Pamela Bierce, who
> > reads at first glance as a prospective love interest and, because I
> > don't fully trust Tom, could actually represent almost anything.).
> Well, with Pam, I'm certainly sexing it up a bit, and consciously so; I
> think she's more of a lust-interest than love-interest at this stage of
> the game.  I hope this doesn't offend anybody, and I know I'm appealing
> to prurient interest with my lush descriptions of her sexual
> characteristics-- but what's wrong with prurient interest as part of a
> larger whole?  Provoking anger and joy are perfectly valid responses
> for art to provoke; why not an erection?

Just ignore the sexist perverts with only purient interest!  Pam is
more than just a nice ass: I'm sure she has nice breasts too!  Ample
chocolate brown breasts like Eva Mendez's in Stuck on You.  Yeah.

> > Superfreaks #[0], 1-8
> > 'Night Man And Moon Boy'
> > 'Sins Of The Father'  ;  [no title]  ;  'Three Days Two Knights'  ;
> > 'Deja Vu'  ;  'It's A Mad, Mad World'  ;  'Games People Play'  ;
> > 'Choices'  and  [no title]
> > A Superfeaks [Superfreaks] series
> > by Martin Phipps
> >
> >      Spinning off from an 8Fold series proposal, Martin gives us a
> > delightful set of stories that a group of big city cops interacting
> > with superheroes, and taking a look at what it might be like to 'really'
> > have superheroes about.  I use the word 'delightful' quite deliberately,
> > since Martin eschews the genre conventions of the 1990s that 'real'
> > superheroes have to be seriously smegged in the head.
> At the same time, I think it does in a large part cater to the
> secretive/grim'n'gritty quality that defines many 90's comics.  Whether
> this is because he is working in the crime genre or not is debatable.
> > characters are a balanced mix of the humane, self-sacrificing, arrogant,
> > driven, and simply damaged.  Whether this is realistic or not in a
> I'm not sure if I entirely agree with this assertion, at least as far
> as the super-characters go; it seems to me that it's tipped more
> towards the damaged/arrogant side of the equation.

It's a question of point of view.  I'm sure the police in Jolt City
dream about punching out the Green Knight.  They probably wonder if
he's more of a help or a hindrance.  He probably comes across as a real
asshole to them at times.  (Which reminds me: how _did_ he survive on
the streets for ten years withoy a job???)

Consider the Civil War spinoffs (which you probably haven't read but oh
well): Iron Man comes across as a real asshole in New Avengers from
Cap's point of view but in the latest Captain America it's Cap who
comes across as an asshole from the point of view of SHIELD.  Okay, so
there are two ways of looking at it: 1) everybody comes across as an
asshole and Marvel should stop publishing now or 2) this is a realistic
way of portraying a real life conflict in which the other side
necessarily always comes across as unreasonable and unyielding.  I'm
just glad I can download the comics and not have to spend $20 a month
on the whole story. :)

Got to go.  I have a class now.

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