META/POLL: The Purpose of Criticism

Martin Phipps martinphipps2 at
Thu Feb 21 00:10:09 PST 2008

On Feb 21, 3:16 pm, Tom Russell <milos_par... at> wrote:
> On Feb 21, 1:29 am, Martin Phipps <martinphip... at> wrote:

> > 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.

This would be when they weren't on patrol and beating people up,

> >  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."

  Martin puts his hands on his waist.  You know, he
says in slow but flowing French, you're really
starting to piss me off.
   He speaks French!, says one of the snails.
   "You speak French?" says Darkhorse.
   "And several other languages," says Martin.  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

Apparently, Ray also taught him how to swear in French.  I don't know
how to say "piss off" in French.  The closest approximation I could
come up with in a pinch would be "Tant pis, je suis un peu fache
maintenant (Unfortunately, I'm a bit angry now)."

I also assumed that the "extensive training" would be mainly physical
training.  Quite frankly, it seems like a bit of a waste of time for
Ray to teach Martin French if they're only operating in Jolt City.
Now, if this were Miami and Ray had taught him Spanish then that I
could understand.

> > 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.

Okay, fair question, Tom, do you speak any foreign languages?
Because, in all fairness, Martin WOULD NOT have had time to learn
foreign languages if he and Ray were going out on patrols every
night.  And then there's the added problem that he would have
forgotten his French over the ten years he was the Mask with No Name.
I spent a year studying Japanese but I've pretty much forgotten how to
speak it and am only able to still understand French because I'll see
the occasional French movie on TV.  Even Chinese, which is probably
now my best language other than English, is something that I was
afraid I had completely forgotten when I came to Taiwan and it was a
big relief for me when everything started to come back to me.  At
first, I thought those two Chinese courses I had taken back in Canada
were wasted and that I'd be completely lost here.

> 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?

Any scene where Martin is seen examining a crime scene is a bit off in
my opinion.  You seem to think that, as the sidekick to the Green
Knight, that Martin would have had experience looking ariound crime
scenes but the police back then wouldn't have allowed them anywhere
near a crime scene.  Nor should the police allow Martin anywhere near
a crime scene nowadays, not just simply because he is an untrained non-
professional (when it comes to detective work) but because he has a
secret identity and wouldn't be able to testify in court.  I've been
concerned about this from Jolt City #2 onward.  I realize that it
isn't just Jolt City that uses this trope (ie non-professionals
sneaking around crime scenes looking for clues) but it has become a
bit of a pet peeve for me now that I know how important it is for the
police to maintain jurisdiction over crime scenes.  The yellow tape is
there for a reason.

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

It's more of a question of you failing to take advantage of an
opportunity: Martin was out of touch for ten years and his expertise
should not be in the area of examining crime scenes but rather in
knowing the city and being able to question old contacts that he knew
from his days as the Mask with No Name.

There was one scene that struck me as a bit off though: Martin told
Darkhorse that he could be able to use his superspeed to follow
Willis' car, that Darkhorse's superspeed somehow made him more
observant that ordinary people.  How does that work and how did Martin
know that Darkhorse's powers would work that way?


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