REVIEW: Superfreaks Season 2 # 7

Tom Russell milos_parker at
Thu Sep 6 21:41:09 PDT 2007

I'll say it right off the bat: I enjoyed this one a lot more than its
immediate predecessor.  While there were a couple things that bothered
me (and I'll get to those) this installment was, by and large, one of
the better examples of Martin Phipps's writing.

And I think a large part of that is, more than some other issues of
this series, this one was a comedy.  Comedy is, generally, something
at which Martin excels.  While he's said that, as a whole, the series
could be considered a comedy, in many issues-- well, there aren't any
jokes. :-)

Not the case here, though.  Look at this beautiful scene with the
Legion of Extreme Fans:

>   "Could you all explain what you can do?" a reporter
> from the crowd asked.
>   Chesspawn spoke up.  "I have the ability to come
> back from the death."
>   "Is that useful?" the reporter asked.
>   "It is if you die," Chesspawn said.
>   "I have the power to get very angry when faced with
> evildoers," Mr. Angry said.
>   "And?"
>   "And what?"
>   "And then what do you do?"
>   "What do you mean?"
>   "So you get angry when faced with evil doers.  What
> good is that?"
>   Mr. Angry got angry.  "Just what are you trying to
> imply, hmm?  And what can you do when you are faced
> with evil, hmm?"
>   "Nothing but I'm not claiming to be a hero."
>   "Why you--!"
>   "Bryce, please," Psychic Girl said.  "There's no
> reason to get angry."
>   "Hey, Diana, you're not supposed to use my real name
> in public!"
>   "You just used mine."
>   Another reporter spoke up.  "And what do you do?"
>   "You want to know what my powers are."
>   "Yes."
>   "I'm Psychic.  That's why I am called 'Psychic
> Girl'."
>   "So you can read minds?"
>   "Uh huh."
>   "So what am I thinking?"
>   "You're wondering if I can really read minds."
>   The reporter nodded.  "She's good," he said to the
> man next to him.

Now, *THAT* is the Martin Phipps we know and love, the Martin Phipps
that I wrote my very first long review/essay, 'The Phippsian Reader',
about.  It's funny, it's quick, it's immediately accessible.  I
especially love Chesspawn's odd line, "I have the ability to come back
from the death"; it's much more memorable and quirky than, say, "I
come back from the dead".  It sounds like a line from a Wes Anderson

And, of course, there's this great pay-off:

>   Three thugs were attacking a woman in an alley.
> Chesspawn shooped down and introduced himself.
>   "Beware evildoers!" he said.  "For I am chesspawn!"
>   The three thugs weren't intimidated by him at all.
> "So what can you do?" one of them asked.
>   "Um... die?" Chesspawn said.
>   The thugs laughed.
>   "You got that right!"

While the plot Martin used for his "crossover" event story was pretty
much a by-rote adaption of the Secret Wars, I _did_ enjoy the way it
paid off in this scene:

>   Scott walked up to Mary.
>   "Mary?"
>   "Yes, Scott?"
>   "I just wanted you to know that it wasn't my
> intention to skip bail."
>   Mary smiled.  "That's okay.  We figured you'd been
> kidnapped by the Beyonitor like everybody else."

It was a very nice extrapolation of the "heroes kidnapped by cosmic
being" trope.

>   "Anyway," Mary said, "the hearing is tomorrow
> afternoon.  Please try not to get kidnapped by any
> more omnipotent entities before then.  Okay?"

And that was a very cute line.  It's also nice to see the law
enforcement be understanding and accomodating.

Which brings me to something that kinda stuck out a bit:

>   Alan Russell smiled as well.  He was very happy for
> them so, just this once, he didn't mind losing a case.

Now, this moment in and of itself is a little interesting, and
inherently so: a prosecutor doesn't mind losing his case?  Especially
one who's been as determined as Alan Russell; remember the trial of
Extreme during the very first Superfreaks story arc?  (I remember that
one particularly vividly, because deaths don't get much more, well,
Extreme than being killed by super-sperm.  It was a nice extrapolation
of the archetype and his powers.)  That was an accident; this crime
was deliberate.

Of course, that resulted in a death, while Scott's crime was a simple
bank robbery.  That certainly factors into things.  And Scott was
pretty short on money, what with a wife and kid...

So I understand him being sympathetic.  But it comes across as too
much of a surprise for me.  It's not some glaringly obvious flaw or
anything, but with a little more set-up-- perhaps a scene prior to
where Alan agonizes a bit over the case and about the moral dillemias
inherent in his empathy-- that would be interesting.

Of course, what's really interesting is that Alan didn't actually
"lose" the case; the sentencing was only suspended.  It's possible
that since we did not see the trial, that Scott had plead guilty to
the crime, in which case even Alan still would have won, and could
recommend a shorter sentence, or even time served.

One thing that _was_ odd about the last issue was this exchange:

>   "I'm sorry," Scott said sincerely.  "Maybe I can go
> speak to the bank manager and explain what I did."
>   "You can do that," Mary said, "but you're still
> going to jail."

Because if Scott did talk to the bank manager and returned the money,
the bank manager could choose to not press charges.  (Recall that this
is the Commercial Bank of Pepperton and _not_ a Federal or National
Bank.)  I'm not saying that the bank manager would necessarily choose
to have the charges dropped.  But since, in my experience, Commercial
Banks are private businesses, the manager/owner has the same right as
any store owner or citizen to choose to drop a charge against
someone.  Even a rape victim can choose to drop a charge; murder is
the only crime I'm aware of in which the victim cannot choose to not
press charges, for obvious reasons.  But Mary makes it sound like even
if the manager was amenable, Scott would still be going to jail.

Legal/logical flaws aside, I did enjoy the comedy in this issue, and I
enjoyed the outcome of Scott's trial/Alan's reaction to it, even if it
could have used a bit of finessing.


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