META/POLL: The Purpose of Criticism

Tom Russell milos_parker at
Wed Feb 20 23:16:00 PST 2008

On Feb 21, 1:29 am, Martin Phipps <martinphip... at> wrote:

> I know what you were trying to do.  Did you ever consider making
> Anders a villain, making him Cain to Martin's Abel?  Or did you
> consider that possibility too campy.

No; with Anders, I was trying to show what his relationship with his
father had done to him, which was basically to cripple him socially
and cut himself off from his emotions.  I personally feel a lot of
pity for Anders, though it seems that just about everyone else feels
he's a little shit.  Probably both are true, I dunno.

> As I read it, I thought how much better the story would have been had
> it have been the Annual.  It was a better story than the annual you
> did later so I'm sorry I didn't read it sooner: it's just that I was
> so annoyed at you for writing such a flashback heavy story so soon
> after Green Knight #4 which was, in fact, more flashbacks than
> anything else.

I'm glad you liked it, and I understand (and to some degree, share)
your retinence about flashbacks.  I was more comfortable using them
than usual because, in many respects, THE GREEN KNIGHT was explicitly
about the past-- about restoring it, respecting it, and at times
shuttering it up.

> But having read it now, I'm still confused about what you say has been
> "established" above.  You say "Ray [gave] him a job at Cradle
> Industries (actually Cradle _Enterprizes_) and [taught] him all sorts
> of superhero stuff".  Well, if I now go back to Green Knight #4 (the
> only issue of the original Green Knight series that I haven't read
> from beginning to end) it still seems as though Martin never had any
> formal eduaction and that Cradle Enterprises was simply serving as a
> second
> base of operations for the Green Knight / Acro-Bat team.

You know, I don't know why I included that bit about the job there.
Sorry; you're right that it doesn't make any sense in context or have
any bearing in this particular conversation.

>  Indeed, #6
> made it clear that the Green Knight and Acro-Bat did regular "patrols"
> of the city, presumably every night.  So I stand by my assertion that
> Martin's intelligence would be of the form of "street smarts" and that

But he still would have had a fair amount of tutoring from Ray, and I
think he still would be able to speak as well as he does.  I mean--
failed jokes on my part aside-- it's not like he's a tremendously
articulate man who gets all poetical and stuff.

> he never had any formal education, or even spent much time in a
> library for
> that matter, and that his lack of formal education should have been
> something that you could have used as a limitation.

I see your point, and I very well might explore such a character at a
later date.  Martin Rock's just not that character.

> Ray Cradle may have been a genius but people do not learn through
> osmosis.

You seem to be saying that a superhero-sidekick relationship would
consist solely of them going around beating people up and solving
crimes.  As I've seen it presented, and as I've tried to present it,
it's really more akin to the relationship between a teacher and a
student, or a father and a son.  I think Ray _would_ tutor him not
only in any tasks that would be useful in their business (which
languages, politics, economics and history would be, especially when
travelling abroad), but also try to impart to him other parts of a
classical education.

>  And as for Martin being "fluent in several different
> languages", when did you ever mention this?  

Jolt City # 9.

> And how did Martin learn
> these languages?

"All part of his extensive training as sidekick to the original Green
Knight.  At the time, he rolled his eyes, but now he's happy Ray
crammed it all into his brain."

> Really, Tom, learning a second language takes
> _years_ of practice.  Martin would not have had time to be a sidekick,
> a soldier and a vigilante and also learn foreign languages.  It just
> isn't possible.

Well, again, this would have been during the _twenty years_ he spent
as a sidekick.  I think he would have the time.

  And, no, that doesn't make him stupid: I think most

> Americans would be in the same situation, only being fluent in
> English.

And most, unfortunately, not even in that. :-)

> I think you are taking things to personally, that because you don't
> have a university degree either that I am implying that you are
> stupid.  First of all, I did not equate uneducated with stupid.
> Second of all, you are obviously self-taught.  But, at the same time,
> I could feel obliged to take offense at the suggestion that I wasted
> ten years of my life going to university when I could have just spent
> it reading books: a formal education at a good university presents a
> student with challenges that one does not face when one is self-taught
> or tutored.

I certainly mean no offense to you and probably would have gotten such
an education if I had the financial resources.

I might, in this case, be taking it a little personally but I'm also
confused by your assertions, which just don't make sense for me.  It
seems like you're saying being a sidekick and vigilante leaves one no
time to learn, or that those vocations are somehow antithetical to
education.  Maybe that's not what you're saying, but if it's not then
something is definitely lost in translation here.

> You're putting words in my mouth.  I think I've been clear: those ten
> years of isolation would have had more of an affect on him than simply
> hampering his social skills.  I suppose he could have kept up with
> current events by reading discarded newspapers but that's not
> something you ever established.

I didn't see it as being relevant how he got information, because I
never saw it being something that would be called into question.

>  It might have been interesting if,
> after ten years of living on the street, he didn't even know who Snapp
> was, or at least that his knowledge of Snapp should have been limited
> to what he had heard while he was living on the street.

But he spent those ten years living on the street fighting people like
Snapp.  Heck, if there was anything he would know a _lot_ about, it
would be Samson Snapp.

>  In Jolt City
> #11, Martin claims that he murdered people when he was the Mask with
> No Name, but now that I've read Green Knight #6, I see that when he
> killed his fourth "victim" that it was a man who was pointing a gun at
> a helpless woman.  His own personal feelings of guilt aside,

But, you see, you _can't_ put those personal feelings aside, because
_that's_ what Martin-- and his story-- is about.  Whether he's
logically justified or not isn't as important as how he feels about

Let me throw a couple more questions at you, because I would like to
clear up this particular issue re: his intelligence.

1. What instances have you seen in which you feel Martin is too
erudite?  I'll give you my two failed attempts at humour-- which would
really have worked better with an actor than with prose, as they were
quite dry.  But where there any other occasions?

2. What instances do you remember Martin displays too much knowledge
of an area in which you feel he shouldn't have knowledge?


More information about the racc mailing list