MISC: GODLING # 10: Wild Times

jvdsteen jvdsteen at hotmail.com
Wed Jan 10 13:45:37 PST 2007

As always Tom gets a lot of the way I meant to tell the story, the
effects I wanted to reach. My main concern, as always, is to get the
plot moving. Introduce new characters, new concepts and put in a little
fight scene.
The main reason Amanda was introduced was as a plot device, indeed to
endanger the civilian identity of Godling. Among others. Without giving
away too much I'll say this plot will connect with a few others.
Among all the fantastic things happening I try always to put some
interesting character developments or concepts in. In this issue I
tried to show what kind of an arrogant character Death Dog is. The
perfect opposite of Safari (now anyway).
In the next issue we indeed learn more about the woman scorned. In
fact, the focus of the issue will be on women in general. I promise it
will be a unique issue, a breather of sorts until the fur starts to fly
again. Compare it a bit to issue 6.
See you all next ish!

Tom Russell wrote:
> One question I've often debated with my friends is, is it fair to
> criticize something for being the thing that it is?
> For example, John Carpenter's Halloween is a horror/thriller/slasher
> film.  Is it fair to criticize it for its underdeveloped characters?
> Is it fair to criticize a superhero story for having capes and tights
> and villains and secret identities?
> Depending really on which specific example we're discussing and the
> mood I'm in, my answer varies.  And so, as you can see, I'm kinda
> ambivilant about it.
> Which brings us to this issue of Godling.  Not that I'm ambivilant
> about the story itself, per se-- I love it, as I've loved every issue
> of Godling.
> I love Godling because it's the only series on RACC that really taps
> into the Golden Age of Comics, into wish fulfillment and icons.  It's
> very appealing at that primitive level, as forceful and strong and
> heady as the most feverish fever dreams of my childhood.  The stories
> move at a clipped, fast pace, rushing along with enthusiasm and glee.
> There's not much grace to them, but grace is not required or really
> wanted.  Godling is whatever precisely because it is what it is, and I
> love it for the same qualities that might turn others off.
> At the same time, a couple things in this issue kinda stuck out and
> bothered me.
> The first one stuck out, I think, because it was right at the beginning
> of the story.
> > Godling stared into the black hole of the 9mm pistol raised at him.
> > Although with his powers he had no real reason to fear it, he did
> > respect it.
> Okay, but why does he respect it?  The end of that sentence, "he did
> respect it", implies that the next will provide the answer.
> > He'd witnessed three thugs ready to set flame to one of
> > their enemies and had already taken out one of them.
> Is that the answer?  I'm not really sure.  It's a little too vague.
> The thing is, if this passage happened in the middle of the story, I'd
> probably overlook it; once I'm in a Golden Age kind of mind-set, I'm
> completely gelling with Golding and his world.
> Let me try to explain what I'm talking about.
> There's a Captain America story from the forties, one of the original
> Simon-Kirby Cap & Bucky stories, where Cap and Bucky leave Camp LeHigh
> to go fight the villains that reside in a German encampment.  Now,
> here's the thing:
> Camp LeHigh is in America.  Apparently, there is a German enemy camp
> within walking distance of an American base, in 1941, during World War
> II.
> But here's the thing: when I'm in Golden-Age Mode, I don't care about
> the geography of it.  I just enjoy seeing Cap kick some ass.
> And that's the thing.  The Golden Age, like Beowulf or other works of
> early literature (almost ur-literature, in a way), doesn't give two
> shits about believability, structure, character development, and
> realism.  It just wants to entertain you, it just wants to drive you
> wild with excitement.
> And, if you're responsive to it, it does.  At least for me.
> Godling is like a Golden Age comic in that way, and I mean that as the
> highest of compliments.
> But, when you're faced with a discrepency right at the beginning of the
> story, before you've clicked with it, it calls attention to itself.
> But, again, I'm not sure if it's fair to criticize Godling for being
> what it is.  The very thing that bothers me about that first sentence
> is tied, inexorably, to the very things that turn me on about the
> series.
> At the same time, Jochem expands on his format, style, and tone, with
> each and every issue.  He pushes it to its limits, in new and
> interesting ways, ways that are perhaps not apparent at first.  But,
> y'know, that's the Golden Age too.
> If the Silver Age was a time of synthesis, the Golden Age was a time of
> discovery.  The Silver Age merely looked at the experiments of the
> Golden Age, at what worked and what didn't, and brought it together
> into an easily-digestable and very commercial whole.
> On the one hand, this made for "better" stories, in the traditional,
> literary sense of the word; on the other hand, it kinda stamped out the
> individuality that marked the best early comics.  And so I can say that
> Godling is one of the most individualistic works on RACC.
> But let me call your attention to this passage.
> > Death Dog had his nose to the ground, sniffing out the scent of his
> > target, the masked crime fighter who'd dubbed himself Safari. What an
> > idiot that guy was. Dressing himself like some SM-version of Tarzan. He
> > could take an example from his own style. His expensive red leather
> > duster, his Oakley shades... That man was disgrace to the black race,
> > making them look like damned cannibals or something. He grinned at the
> > thought of cannibals. Actually he liked a casual bite of human flesh
> > every now and then himself.
> Here, Jochem gets us into the villain's head, undercuts his supporting
> hero, and then undercuts the assertion the villain made in the first
> place.  The villain thinks the hero is a stereotype and the villain
> actually reinforces the stereotype himself.
> This is actually a very nice and complex piece of characterization on
> Jochem's part, and it still unfolds in the head-long rush of his prose.
>  The sentences are unpolished, mimicking the actual cataclysms of human
> thought.  This serves to doubly reinforce the identification the reader
> has with the villain, and it also serves as a pointed comment on race
> and stereotypes.
> Now, this isn't the other piece that bothered me (remember, I mentioned
> two).  It's this one:
> >     "Hi professor," the female in his bed greeted him
> >     Startled, he took a step back. He recognized her then. The gorgeous
> > blonde was the student who'd tried to ask him out a day earlier.
> > "Amanda? What are you doing here?"
> >    "Isn't that obvious? I'm waiting for you," she said
> > seductively.
> >    "How did you get in?"
> >    "The super offered to let me in. I told him I'm your sister."
> > She brushed a strand of hair behind her ear. "A little charm is all
> > it took."
> >    "Please, put some clothes on and leave," Quentin pleaded. As
> > good-looking as Amanda looked, the whole scene felt morally wrong to
> > him. And besides that, he would get in a lot of trouble were he to
> > sleep with her.
> >    "Don't you want to join me?" she asked, running her hands over
> > her body.
> >    "Again, please leave."
> >    "I can't believe you don't want me. I've seen you looking at
> > me during class, professor."
> >     Quentin was getting sick and tired of the whole affair. He walked
> > over to Amanda and grabbed her by the wrist. "Please get out of
> > bed."
> >    She struggled, but Quentin wrapped the sheets around her and got her
> > out of bed. He found her clothes on the floor and handed them to her.
> > "Put them on and get out of here before I call the police. You're
> > trespassing in my house."
> >     She glared at him. "Nobody has ever turned me down, professor.
> > You'll pay for that."
> >     "Invoice me," Quentin said.
> >     Angry she put her clothes on. She stormed out the door. Shouting
> > again at him, "You'll pay for that!"
> <snip!>
> > "Hello?" he said, surprised. He wasn't used to encounters with
> > policemen in his civilian guise.
> > "Hello, professor. I'm sorry but you'll have to come with us,"
> > Janson said.
> > "Why? What happened? Has something happened to someone? Monica? My
> > brother?"
> > "No sir," Janson said. "We're putting you under arrest for the
> > rape and assault of Amanda Reese."
> The thing I'd really like to know is, _why_ did Amanda act this way?
> Now, I understand that
> 1) some women sleep with their professors/try to put the moves on them
> 2) some women make false claims of rape as a means of revenge
> But I've never seen that combination before, and for some reason, it's
> just not gelling.  I don't really get Amanda's whole attitude in this
> thing in the first place: why does she want to sleep with her
> professor? why is she so indignant when he refuses?
> I mean, does she expect anyone she asks to have sex with her to do it?
> >     She glared at him. "Nobody has ever turned me down, professor.
> > You'll pay for that."
> Okay, so maybe she does.  Which makes me wonder, how many people has
> she done this to before?  And why does she do it?
> I'm not saying the character doesn't work; I'm saying that the
> character interests me.  Her motivation interests me.  I wish I had
> seen more of her character in the scene, hinted at if only obliquely.
> And yet character motivations and complex introspection and subtle,
> oblique characterizations aren't the hallmarks of Golden Age comics.
> So maybe it's not fair to criticize this story for this incongruity.
> Why fault it for what it is?
> I think the problem is, the Death Dog scene spoiled me.  I liked the
> way it provided some insight into the villain.  And with a character
> like Amanda-- potentially a more complex and interesting antagonist
> than the supervillain-- I guess I was kinda hoping for more insight.
> Compared to the Death Dog scene, Amanda seems more like a plot device,
> a way to put our hero's civilian identity in peril.
> And, who knows?  Maybe the next issue will give us more insight into
> Amanda:
> > A Woman Scorned
> And so I'm kinda hoping that, at least in the case of this character,
> Jochem breaks from the Golden Age vibe-- just a _little_.  I'm hoping
> that "A Woman Scorned" is actually about that woman, and not only about
> how Quentin gets himself out of this mess.
> But that's kinda like hoping for a tragic ending to a romantic comedy
> (or a romantic uplift at the end of a tragedy).  It's not that it can't
> happen-- but that it really shouldn't.  Just like Silver Age
> superheroes shouldn't kill and Golden Age ones shouldn't fight talking
> apes in a Giant Musical Instrument Emporium.
> Things should be what they are.
> Shouldn't they?

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