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

Martin Phipps martinphipps2 at yahoo.com
Sun Nov 11 21:23:44 PST 2007

On 11 12 ,   10 21 , Tom Russell <milos_par... at yahoo.com> wrote:
> On Nov 10, 12:32 pm, Martin Phipps <martinphip... at yahoo.com> wrote:
> >  There's no longer the need to make all characters
> > likable, although obviously one would try to make them all
> > interesting.
> Well, a character doesn't have to be likeable to be interesting.  TAXI
> DRIVER unfolds solely from the point of view of Travis Bickle-- but
> I'd hardly call him likeable.

Maybe not but it is the movie that gave us the famous Robert Deniro
line "Are you talking to me?", isn't it?  There must have been
something about the character that people liked. :)

> > You seem to be endorsing the value of individual accomplishment
> > whereas most ensemble casts are there to endorse the value of team
> > effort.
> Well, I'm really trying to endorse both; as Martin Rock has noted
> himself within the pages of Jolt City, he's done more good working
> with others than by himself.

Maybe.  But it would be highly unusual for police to release a crime
scene to untrained professionals (including superheroes) if they
thought there was any more evidence to be found.  It strains
believability to have the police give superheroes free reign in such a
situation, the main problem being that they can't be expected to
testify if they actually find something.  The whole go-it-alone theme
is reminiscent of a lot of cop movies where the Captain doesn't
believe Axel Foley (for example) and he has to go find the evidence
himself, but in real life any evidence that a cop found while doing
his own investigation would be useless because it has to follow the
chain of custody from the crime scene to the evidence locker in order
for it to be presentable in court.


> >  One thing about the TV show Law and
> > Order that is a bit annoying is that it follows a single case from
> > beginning to end in a single episode even though in real life the case
> > would take months to pan out.  So if you look at the 22 plus episodes
> > of Law and Order that come out in a year, you have to assume that
> > these cases were actually being tried in parallel instead of one after
> > the other.  It would be interesting if they actually tried to do the
> > show that way instead of focusing on a single case in each episode,
> > but of course it would be much, much harder to write because the
> > wiewers would get hopelessly confused given the number of cases they
> > are dealing with at the same time.
> I think that singleness of focus is a positive in Law and Order, which
> I still think is the greatest television show ever made.

And yet the show on the other channel that had investigators juggling
up to three cases at a time got better ratings. :)

> > To be blunt, if you are going to do an ensemble in the future then you
> > won't be obligated to make secondary characters look like idiots in
> > order to elevate the status of the central character.  You admitted to
> > doing that vis-a-vis Martin and Darkhorse in Jolt City #11.
> That's not _exactly_ what I said, and I don't think I was doing that
> in # 11.  What I said was:
> "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
> Snail-Earth.
> 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."
> So, rather than elevating Martin at the expense of Darkhorse, I was
> having Martin deflate Darkhorse to prevent his own deflation.  So I'm
> not saying that Darkhorse isn't cool, but rather that Martin has to
> make himself feel cool in order to not look like a potzer.
> In the case of # 11, the way he beats Darkhorse has everything to do
> with the circumstances and with Martin's intelligence.  It'd be
> somewhat like having Batman defeat Superman, which happened in Frank
> Miller's DKR-- no one says that Miller's making Superman look like an
> idiot in order to elevate Batman.  What I'm saying isn't "Darkhorse is
> lame and the Green Knight is cool"; what I'm saying is, "Green Knight
> doesn't have any powers, but he's pretty cool too".  It's a fine
> distinction, but one that I feel is important to keep in mind.

Back when Peter David was contributing to rec.arts.comics.misc, he
agreed that if the Avengers were to fight the JLA (this being before
they actually did) that the Vision would be make a significant
difference because he could turn intangible and there wouldn't be any
obvious way to stop him.  But he also pointed out that if a writer
wanted the JLA to win then the writer would simply find a way to have
the JLA put him down.  I think that's probably an example of what you
mean here.  But one hates to be reminded that these characters are
basically the writer's puppets: it was great having an actual writer
contribute to a thread on racm but it also kind of killed the thread
to be reminded of the reality of the situation. :)

> >  I
> > personally hate it when authors do that.  I realise that, to a certain
> > extent, I make the supers in Superfreaks out to be idiots to elevate
> > the cops but the typical approach of superhero stories is to make the
> > cops look like complete idiots, little better than the Keystone cops
> > of silent films.  The old Batman TV show was particularly bad in this
> > sense: when a crime was committed, did Comissioner Gordon
> > investigate?  Did he have his men old looking for who did it?  No, he
> > called Batman every single time.  What the Hell did he ever do when he
> > didn't have Batman to call?
> Well, the old Batman TV series was a comedy, and so I'd cut it a bit
> more lee-way. :-)

True.  I think the comics were pretty much the same at the time

> I think your Superfreaks is more effective when you concentrate on the
> police and how they have to deal with the heroes and super-crimes/
> supernatural phenomena.  When the focus is split more evenly between
> police and heroes, or moves over to heroes pretty much entirely--
> where the focus switches to the heroes and big action fights rather
> than the police work-- I feel that the series suffers.

Maybe.  But it is also weird sometimes when I'll set up a big fight
and then cut to the investigation (or inquest in one case)into what
happened.  I've done that at least three times. :)

> >  And the whole "I'm wrongly accused and
> > need to clear my name" plot (as seen in the TV shows The Futigive and
> > Prison Break) usually has the effect of making the police look like
> > idiots (the exception being the movie The Futigive which cut back and
> > forth between Harrison Ford's character and Tommy Lee Jones' character
> > and we got to see them separately figure out who the real killer was).
> Which is another fine argument for a ensemble story (or, at least, a
> story with multiple points of view).
> And, speaking of pet peeves, it's Tommy Lee Jones's character, not
> Tommy Lee Jones' character. :-)

Maybe I missed it but I also would have expected a lawyer (or even a
judge) at some point in #'s 10-11 to have argued that nobody could go
to trial, let alone jail, when there isn't even enough evidence to
prove that the victim is dead, let alone murdered.  Granted, I have
the same objection with regards to Prison Break.

> > It's a personal pet peeve.  Just as making the supers less than
> > perfect seems to be a pet peeve of yours.
> Wait, wait, _what_?
> You're implying that my characters are _perfect_?  That's news to
> me. :-)

Martin Rock said that "capes down swear" which is a bit silly.  He
also said that they don't lie which is why he had to keep his word to

Which reminds me: if the DA was in Snapp's pocket then why did Snapp
tell the Green Knight to stop Derek from testifying?  Surely the DA
wouldn't have had him testify anyway?  (I just realised that today.)

> The whole reason why I concentrated on one point of view for these
> past eleven installments of JOLT CITY is to get the reader into the
> head of Martin Rock, and see both his flaws and his virtues.  I take
> it from your point-of-view I've failed in this regard?  That Martin is
> actually some kind of flat perfect paragon of virtue?

Unfortunately, I see a difference between what Martin thinks the ideal
hero should be and what he really is and that makes him seem a bit
hypocritical.  And that's not a good thing.  Take for example the
secret identity thing: we found out in #11 that he had a valid reason
to keep his Mask with No Name idenity secret: as the Mask with No Name
he had killed people.  Thing is, that is not a very honourable reason
to want to keep your identity secret.


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