8FOLD/ACRA: Jolt City # 2, There Was a Crooked Man!

Tom Russell milos_parker at yahoo.com
Tue Sep 12 14:26:51 PDT 2006

First of all, I want to thank Martin for the review.  Positive or
negative, I need comments to grow as a writer.

And away we go...

Martin Phipps wrote:
> Okay.
> First, the good stuff.  The scene in the warehouse was very well
> described: I could see how it all played out as if I'd seen it in a
> movie or on TV.

Thank you.
> Now for the rest of the review.  Yes, I know, I'm an asshole. :)
> If it were up to me, I would have made issue 2 issues 2-4 instead.

I understand, and I almost broke it up into two issues.  But, really,
since it's one story, I thought it best to post it as one piece.

> Issue 2 could have ended with "That's when Martin passed out" and issue

Which was my plan, but, for me, that wouldn't have been a satisfactory
ending to that chapter.  I know a lot of modern comic books and modern
readers will find that satisfactory, but to me, there's not enough
happening, so it's not good enough.

Also, in general, the series is a tip-of-the-hat to the Silver Age,
where you would incredibly complex plots.  Check out some of the
Lee-Ditko Spider-Man (particular the stuff with gangsters) for an
example of this.

I really wanted a full, robust story, more akin to what I did with the
Green Knight Annual.  There's action, there's humour, there's character
interaction, there's detective work.  The first issue of Jolt City, for
me, wasn't as successful because its focus was too narrow, its plot too

> 3 could have ended with "If he had the energy, he'd smile."  Issue 4
> would have had more set up would not have ended with "You start on
> Monday" because there were some unanswered questions.  Was Martin still
> in the doghouse? Was Derek going to testify?

At least one of those questions forms the crux upon which our third
issue turns. :-)  So, see, I'm not _all_ about self-contained stories--
I can do the whole serial/subplot thing, too. :-)

> Green Knight wasn't bound by his promise because, for all anybody knew,
> he didn't stop The Crooked Man, Martin did.
> Right.  Martin really should have known better.  If only he had watched
> some TV detective shows.  Like Columbo.

Which will also be brought up in our third issue.  However, this
differs in that Martin is not under investigation for a crime, and that
there would be no reason for anyone to compare the Green Knight's
fingerprints with Martin's.

But the consequences of this un-garbed superheroing will bear fruit in
our next issue, if not the next two.

> The point is that Martin should learn the difference between
> interrogating a suspect and testifying in court.  As much as he might
> feel guilty about lying to Snapp, he should feel more guilty about
> wanting to prevent Derek from testifying.  And how was he supposed to
> do this anyway?  Did Snapp mistakenly assume that The Green Knight's
> secret identity was that of Jolt City's District Attorney?

There'll be more on Snapp as the series progresses, but I think this
was really a case of Snapp calling Martin's bluff, showing the Green
Knight that he's in control, that he's not scared of him or the Crooked

> Another thing.
> >    "We're looking for a guy with fifteen-foot arms,"
> WTF?  Isn't that a big leap in judgement?  Wouldn't it have been more
> logical for him to assume he was dealing with a speedster?  A speedster
> could have covered fifteen feet in an instant, grabbed Joey with one
> arm and hit him with the other with enough force to take his head off.
> It would have been fun for Martin to have been wrong and then the
> assailant turned out to be not a speedster but a fifteen foot armed
> guy.  Martin would have thought "Okay, that would have been my other
> guess."  Nothing wrong with inserting a bit of humour, Tom. :)

There is humour in the story.

But this is a valid point and, with your permission, I'd like to use
your suggestion should I repost the story at a later time.

> But, Tom, try an experiment for me.  Stretch out your arms.  Okay?  Now
> raise them above your head and hold it there for a second.  Hurt much?
> Now imagine your arms are fifteen feet long.  The Crooked Man would not
> have been able to lift his arms: it's hard enough when you stretch your
> arms out to three feet and try to move them around.

Or, if he did lift them, they would hurt like a bitch.  And, though I
never really got it across in the text, I imagine his arms flailing and
waggling about wildly.

But I'll bow to your superior knowledge of physics/biology in this
instance. (I learned my lesson last time.)

> Anyway, physics and biology aside, I liked the bit with Roy Riddle
> about penance because it then make sense when Martin made the
> connection later with The Crooked Man taking a drug that would be
> painful.

One purpose Roy serves in the series is to be didactic like this; for
example, in the first issue, he explains the difference between a
phyrric victory and a sisyphean task, both of which come into play
through out the issue and at its end.

> What made less sense was Martin's line "We live in a phallocentric
> patriarchial society".  Now, Tom, I consider myself a well educated

He's trying to be funny; Danielle asks him why it's odd to say
"daughters" before "sons".

> person but I don't talk like that first thing in the morning and
> especially not if I had a severe headache to boot. :)
> I have expected Pamela to deny Martin the job because he had just
> checked her out.  In my experience, women with "long silken black hair
> and delicious chocolate complexion" do not appreciate being stared at
> as much as I may personally think of it as a kind of compliment. :)

More on Pam later, too.  Much more.  (This series will earn its ACRA
rating, damn it!)

> I do appreciate the fact that the solution to Martin's problems, as it
> turned out, depended more on his fighting skills than on some cheat
> that the lab guy came up with.  It did however, come across as a "Star


> Trek ending": with only a few paragraphs left, we knew that Martin was
> going to defeat The Crooked Man right there and then and this spoiled
> the surprise.  It would have been better if this story had been broken

Point taken.

> up into a three parter with half the issue left to go and Martin could
> have commented on the irony of The Crooked Man falling in his lap.
> Hmm.  What exactly was the Crooked Man's beef with Pamela anyway?  The
> Crooked Man said "something about the scum going free, and that it's
> Pam's fault".  Is Pamela dirty?  And I mean in the criminal sense, not

Pam writes bail bonds.  If someone gets bonded and skips town/fails to
appear, then they've gone free to resume their crimes.

> And about Danielle Handler.  Is she a red head like Tyra Banks?  A
> dirty blonde like Jessica Simpson?  Or does she have long silke black
> hair and a delicious chocolate complexion like Aishwarya Rai?  Oh God.

>From the first issue:

"Danielle Handler, forty, an ever-shifting swiftly-tilting mass of
scraggly hair, perennially brushed from a soft face: a loose curl
always dangling defiantly down to her broken nose.  Brown eyes, coffee
skin, still pretty, even with a broken nose."

And if you think these women sound sexy, just wait until I whip out the
villainesses. :-)

> I can't that image out of my mind now: it's like it's burned in there.
> :)

You're welcome.

> Martin



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