[MISC] Transparent Comics - Mr. Transparent #1: "Origin"

Tom Russell milos_parker at yahoo.com
Sat Sep 1 22:41:44 PDT 2007


New writer!!!!  Ahhhhh!  Hurray!!!!

Welcome, welcome, welcome!

Let me ask the standard question: how did you find us?  A search for
the appropriate google group?  Are you a long-time lurker?

However you found us, I'm glad you did.  This being a special
occasion, I'll skip ahead again in my review queue and jot down a few
notes about your story.

The plot is simple enough: scientist Vincent Solomon accidentally
stumbles upon a formula granting its digester temporary invisibility.
He and fellow scientist Carlton Curtis test the formula, and Curtis is
kidnapped by terrorists.  The invisible Solomon saves the day, and
decides to become a superhero.

It's a perfectly serviceable superhero origin story, very reminiscint
of the Silver Age, with its emphasis on explaining the "rules" of the
powers (maximum invisibility depends on weight/size; one dose of
formula only good for one "dose" of invisibility; protagonist can
'think' himself visible again, ending a dose) and on science, with the
threat/catalyst for superheroing coming into play only late in the
third act.

I like the cammaderie between the two scientists, and I like the
matter-of-fact way in which Vincent introduces himself to the reader:

>         My name is Vincent Solomon.  I am a chemistry teacher at the
> university.  I would like to devote more time to my scientific
> experiments, but I have found it necessary to teach at the university
> in order to pay my bills.  Teaching can be quite rewarding, though.
> My current crop of students are among the brightest to ever sit
> through one of my lectures, but that's not what I want to tell you
> about.

That last line is a very nice and eloquent way to get the reader
interested, while still affecting a very casual air.  The prose
through-out the story is spare and functional, but never to the
detriment of the story.  It moves at a self-assured pace; "Frumpy"
knows that we'll be just as curious as his scientists in what their
discovery entails.

At the same time, the dialogue might be a little _too_ plot-focused.
Exchanges like this are very reminscent of old comic books and b-

>         "Are you a philosopher as well as a scientist, Carlton?"
>         We both chuckled.
>         "Everyone is a philosopher," he smiled.  "Whether a man digs ditches
> or designs aircraft, he has his ideas and beliefs.  Tell me, Vincent.
> Did you ever complete the formula for that weight-loss drug you were
> working on?"
>         "Yes, I did," I said proudly.  "It's been finished for quite some
> time, but I haven't had a chance to test it."

The characterization is fairly prefunctory, though certain details--
Carlton being both successful and fat, Vincent being relatively slim
and unsuccessful, but content with teaching-- are very endearing and
reveal a few things about these two men.

My favourite dialogue in the whole thing is the exchange that not only
shows the most characterization, but also the most humour (in a very
deadpan way).  It's also the only place in which the dialogue does not
bear the burden of exposition:

>         "There," said Skitch.  "Knox is watching the doc.  You can relax.
> I'm going to go get us something to eat.  What do you want?"
>         "A cheeseburger and fries."
>         "That makes it unanimous," Skitch laughed.  "That's what Knox and I
> wanted, too.  I'll get three combo meals.  I'll be back soon."

Still, it's a very nice start that reads very well and keeps this
reader's interest.  I'm looking forward to more from the mysterious


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