[REVIEW/ACRA] End of Month Reviews #41 - May 2007 [spoilers]

Tom Russell milos_parker at yahoo.com
Wed Jun 13 00:45:48 PDT 2007

On Jun 12, 10:03 pm, "Saxon Brenton" <saxonbren... at hotmail.com> wrote:
> [REVIEW/ACRA] End of Month Reviews #41 - May 2007 [spoilers]

> Jolt City #8
> 'Panic In A Pretty Box'
> An Eightfold [8Fold] series
> by Tom Russell
>      Oh dear.
>      I will cheerfully admit that parts of this story got me all het
> up.  It's just that they probably weren't the parts that Tom was
> expecting to get people all het up about.
>      You see, the story has several scenes with graphic descriptions
> of sex acts, such that Tom thought it prudent to post a separate
> introductory explanation about its Acraphobe-ness.  Warned by this
> preliminary post, I then read through story itself with what in
> retrospect may be a too analytical frame of mind.  I just didn't see
> it as a big deal.  Well, that's not quite true; on an intellectual level
> I can see exactly where Tom is coming from.  But on a visceral level
> I found myself cruising through, wondering if there was some way to
> heighten the effect - perhaps by differentiated the consensual sex scene
> from the rape scene by choosing different words (a formal 'penis' as
> opposed to a slangy 'cock' or euphemistic 'male member', for example).
>      Then I got to the end of the story, and read something that had me
> close to yelling at Green Knight "Have you taken leave of your senses,
> man!?"  Which was probably at least part of the point, but we'll get to
> that in a moment.
>      The plot in brief.  We get a Batman Cold Start with the Green Knight
> trying to stop some thieves called the Kabuki Gang, but unfortunately
> they're armed with copies of the vibra-jackets that allow them to turn
> intangible, so they escape.  Green Knight confers with Dani about how
> the use of vibra-jackets is spreading through the criminal element, and
> eventually discussion turns to their relationship.  He's still hemming
> and hawing with Dani about revealing his true identity of Martin Rock,
> and Dani simply turns to sex as an alternative aspect of intimacy.
> Their attempt at sex counterpoints the later actions of the Clockwork
> Contessa, who lures the Green Knight to her base, captures him and rapes
> him with the intention of getting pregnant by him.  Unfortunately, Green
> Knight was raped at gunpoint as a child, and so he does not take the
> experience well.  This includes refusing to press charges after Dani
> rescues him.  Then, later, he meets up with his former employer, Pam
> Bierce, and has the intimate relationship of both sex and sharing his
> secret identity with her that he could not share with Dani.

There are a number of equally valid ways to look at this, a couple of
which you latch onto below-- Martin's stress/shock after the Contessa
and his serious character flaw both causing him to act recklessly.
One that you pick up on here-- that Martin could tell Pam what he
could not tell Dani-- is important as well.  Dani only knows and loves
him as the Green Knight, the hero of Jolt City.  The Contessa only
"knows" him and "loves" him as the Green Knight as well.  Only Pam
accepts Martin Rock, public enemy number one.

Martin also has a need for intimacy.  He's not a particularly
gregarious person; he's been on his own for ten years, hardly speaking
to other people when he wasn't interrogating someone.  His intimate
connections tend to come, then, out of wild leaps of trust in
strangers-- Roy Riddle making the best case for this assessment, with
Pam (more-or-less a stranger) a slightly weaker case.  So far-- with
luck typical of a superhero-- this hasn't bitten him in the ass.  Yet.

But it's still a dangerous tendency to _not_ think through the
consequences, one that he's at least somewhat aware of.

>      Obviously the poor guy is stressed out from being captured and
> used by the Clockwork Contessa.  Nevertheless.  After all the talk in
> previous issues about how he's a private person, and the example of the
> paranoia about secret identity security he had from his mentor, the
> first Green Knight, he goes off and sleeps with his ex-boss and reveals
> both his own secret ID and his relationship with his mentor and mentor's
> wife (and please, tell me that he didn't mention Ray and Ree Cradle by
> name).

No, not by name, though I see how that could be unclear, being that I
glossed over it in description rather than letting it play out in
dialogue.  Martin hasn't even told Roy Riddle about Ray, though it's
certainly plausible-- with Anders knowing Martin's identity and
Anders's father being such a prominent figure-- that Roy has put two
and two together.

>      Worse, this does not make for a good comparison with Green Knight's
> stated intention to be a positive role model for disposed urban youth.
> Here I am not so much talking about the argument of whether it would be
> bad PR for him to publicly reveal that he's been raped - although Dani
> makes a strong case (and I would add that even though the Contessa was
> doing it for the procreation, a lot of rape is about establishing power
> relationships via humiliation, so it's important to fight the oppression
> - something that Green Knight should know).

I think it's something that he does know, but the stigma attached to
it-- and his need to keep personal details private-- even personal
details that don't endanger his secret identity-- prevents him from
taking this stand.

>      Rather, I'm talking about different ways and means of dealing with
> personal problems.  I think what Tom is showing us is the one point in
> Green Knight where there's a serious character flaw: trying to be a
> competent, in-control person at all times, but not being competent
> enough that he's capable of pulling off intimacy with other people, so
> instead he keeps his feelings and problems inside, where they build
> until he probably does Something Really Stupid.

Excellent analysis.  Martin often acts impulsively when he shouldn't,
and it's self-destructive.  I don't want to get too psychoanalytic
about it, but someone like Ray Cradle was incredibly in-control.
Everything planned and safe.  And in doing so, he allowed his wife to
die without ever being honest with her and revealing his secret
identity, effectively closing himself off from any intimacy.

Martin's still stuck between two styles-- the careful planning that
Ray taught him, and the improvisational style he used living on the
streets.  And I think he tends to overcompensate between the two
extremes because he's still finding that balance-- slowly, arduously.

But he _will_ find it, providing he lives long enough. :-)

==Tom, off to work on # 9, which features not only more of Martin,
Dani, and Pam, but also Darkhorse, an alternate earth, and an atom

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