[REVIEW] End of Month Reviews #45 - September 2007 [spoilers]

Tom Russell milos_parker at yahoo.com
Wed Nov 7 19:11:21 PST 2007

On Oct 20, 12:12 am, Saxon Brenton <saxonbren... at hotmail.com> wrote:
> [REVIEW] End of Month Reviews #45 - September 2007 [spoilers]
> Jolt City #11
> 'Mystery Of The Two Green Knights'
> An Eightfold [8Fold] series
> by Tom Russell
>      It occurs to me that after the several issues of exploring Martin
> Rock's flaws and hang-ups (most notably including his inability to
> deal with his own childhood sexual assault) that issues 10 and 11 had
> presented the other side of the equation.  Last issue in particular
> - even though last issue had lots of action and plot advancement - still
> felt mainly like an opportunity to show how badass Martin Rock is.  

I think that's a fair analysis.  The whole series, as I've said
before, has been something of a tug-of-war between different aspects
of and impulses within Martin's personality: the need to be a hero
versus his vigilante impulses, the need to be more gregarious versus
his solitary nature.

Most of the time, the more brutal side of him-- the vigilante side,
the loner-- is cast in a disparaging light.  With # 10, though, I was
trying to show the positive aspects of that side of him, in that it's
that side of him that's kept him alive all this time: a willingness to
fight quick and dirty, and to use fear as a weapon.

You're right in saying that he's never really faced his childhood
trauma, choosing instead to ignore it as long as he can.  Certain
things keep cropping up to remind him of it-- for example, the park
where both his assault and the Nathan Willis massacre occurred-- and
he certainly had to face it when subjected to the same trauma in # 8.
I think that by the end of that issue, in which-- to put it
indelicately-- he 'anger-fucks' Pam, he's come to terms in some way
with the fact taht it happened, and that it screwed him up, and that
he carries a lot of anger inside of him.  Again, that's not quite
"dealing with it", but he's no longer pretending that it didn't
happen, and I suppose that's a step in the right direction.

In the same way, in # 10 I think he comes to terms, in some way, with
the fact that he has this anger and his loner-ness, and that it can be
and has been useful in keeping him alive.  At the same time, at the
issue's end, his fate is solely in the hands and dependent upon the
actions of others; there's nothing that he can do about it, and he's
at peace with it.

If part of the struggle has been to learn to accept help from others,
he has won that battle-- a fact that's more evident in the conclusion
of # 11, in which he asks Derek to become his sidekick.

> Which is not to say that Martin
> is presented as perfect: in a moment of impulsiveness he manages to trip
> and knock himself unconscious (shades of the Silver Age Green Lantern!),
> and at the end there is an oblique confession to Dani about his past
> activities as the Mask With No Name, which ties in with his wrestling
> with the vexatious subject of when/if four colours should kill.

Even as Martin becomes more at peace with himself and his past, and
even as he does things to redeem himself, at the same time, his past
will always be there.  While it might have less of a presence as time
goes on (after all, there are only so many times, for example, that
Spider-Man can visit the damn bridge and think about Gwen Stacy) and
as Martin moves into the mentor role, it will always be present.  He
can't just put all that behind him.

>      This issue starts in the aftermath of the cliffhanger from last
> issue: Martin had just engineered a prison breakout with the aid
> of Dr Fay Tarif and the Derek-Green Knight and been confronted by
> Darkhorse.  Martin manages to beat the speedster by outthinking him,
> possibly aided by the chip in his neck.  Or at least, that's what
> Darkhorse says.  Poor Darkhorse, he just don't get no breaks, do he?  
> Even the enemies of his predecessor think that the current incumbent
> isn't as intelligent.

Which might be bad writing on my part.  In his original appearance
(the new Darkhorse is, somewhat obviously, the very same man who was
Fleetfeet in JOURNEY INTO... # 3), he's far more competent and
intelligent-- if a bit cocky.  I think in having him play a foil to
the Green Knight, and in attempting to make the Green Knight look good
in his own series, I've perhaps made him look a little too dumb.

At the same time, if you look at his appearances in Jolt City (with
the exception of Martin handing his ass to him with a car), he _is_
fairly competent, almost to a god-like degree: he saves countless
lives during the park massacre, almost single-handedly liberates the

In many ways, just as the original Fleetfeet story was inspired by an
old Superman story, the Green Knight-Darkhorse Team is inspired by the
World's Finest superheroes, Batman* and Superman, and the dichotomy
there-- street-level superhero without powers, teamed up with a god--
is the same in both incarnations.  I think if Martin didn't do things
like tell the Snails that Darkhorse's name was Dipshit that Martin
would look kind of lame in comparision.

And it's probably that feeling that fuels a bit of animosity between
the two.

[*-- Though I think it's unfair to call the Green Knight a Batman
analogue, just as I feel it's unfair (though probably more justified)
to call Darkhorse a Superman analogue.  I think the important
distinction is personality, and I think Martin Rock is decidedly
different from most superheroes, regardless of power-levels or
archetypical similarities.]

There will be future Darkhorse-Green Knight teams, especially now that
Martin has a sidekick.  Which brings up the future of the series.

It's on a slight hiatus while I oversee the Jolt City Annual (cracks
whip!) and edit the final version of the collected edition (toil,
toil, toil!).  When it returns, one can expect a shift in focus, and
in narrative weight.

The series has been pretty much about Martin Rock from day one, to the
point where all other points-of-view have been excluded.  Now, that
was something I did on purpose.  It did not make writing it any
easier; if anything, it made it more difficult because I could not
really rely on subplots or showing the reader something that Martin
didn't know yet or anything like that.

The major exception, of course, was the revelation that Derek was the
second Green Knight, near the start of # 11.  I very deliberately did
this for a number of reasons.

The first being that the "Mystery of the Two Green Knights" wasn't
much of a mystery, really.  By sticking to Martin's point of view, and
showing the reader only those things that Martin would know, the
reader is given no clues as to Derek's identity previous to this
installment.  Again, keeping focused on Martin was a choice I made
deliberately, because the first eleven issues of Jolt City are not
about the Green Knight putting Samson Snapp behind bars, but about
Martin Rock.  It's a psychological journey, and so it had to be, to my
mind, focused inwardly and on one person.

But in doing so, I hadn't really laid the groundwork for a big payoff/
reveal at the end of the eleventh issue, and so it wasn't really a
mystery story; if I had played it that way, I would be guilty of the
same literary crime of which I have accused others.  So, instead, I
played it the Columbo route: I let the reader know upfront who it is,
and the tension that arises is not centered around who but rather when
and how-- when and how is Martin going to figure it out?

Secondly, by shifting it to Derek's point of view at the beginning of
# 11, I'm also preparing the reader for the direction the series will
take in the future.  Instead of being focused exclusively on Martin's
point of view, we'll be seeing how other people view Martin and how he
views them back, and how these other people view each other.  Derek,
of course, will play a major role, as the series will be "about" the
mentor/sidekick relationship.  But we'll also see more of Dani and
Pam, and, perhaps more importantly, we'll see what they'll think of
each other.  One can also expect Darkhorse to play a more prominent
role-- a number of characters new and old can be expected to appear.

I hestiate to call it an "ensemble" piece or a "social novel" or
anything like that, but it will be in marked contrast to what has come

>  The story closes with several vignettes
> as plot threads are tied up, which highlights the feeling of it being
> the end of a major story arc.

You hit the nail on the head there.  While it might be an episodic
one, it is one story.  Its unity doesn't come from a progression of
plot (though Snapp is a villain, albiet an offscreen one, through-out)
but rather from an evolution of character and theme.

>      A quick point about the Apelantians.  More glorious Silver Age-style
> silliness, perhaps made more so by a typo.  Now, typos can't be fully
> avoided in an online amateur fiction forum so I deliberately try to not
> comment on them unless there are so many of them that it's clear that the
> author needs to be made aware that he or she should use either use a
> spell-checker or a proof reader.

Thankfully, I'm not as bad as I used to be.  However, I encourage any
and everybody to point out any typos or gaffs they've seen in # 2-11,
as I'm trying to polish up the collected edition.

>  That said, when the appearance and
> immediate attack of a gorilla with a fish bowl on his head has the near
> Freudian-slip:

> The simian's fish connects with Martin's already battered face

Oops. :-)

Though, when I look at the sentence, I think of Martin's face being
literally covered with batter, which would suit the fish quite
nicely. :-)

Thank you, as always, for your comments.  It's part of what makes
writing fiction worthwhile.


More information about the racc mailing list