META/POLL: The Purpose of Criticism

Martin Phipps martinphipps2 at
Thu Feb 21 07:12:18 PST 2008

On Feb 21, 10:39 pm, Tom Russell <milos_par... at> wrote:
> On Feb 21, 3:10 am, Martin Phipps <martinphip... at> wrote:
> > Okay, fair question, Tom, do you speak any foreign languages?
> I speak some admittedly rusty Esperanto.
> > 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.
> I disagree quite strongly, and I guess we'll just have to agree to
> disagree on this point.
> It's a little like saying that Moe Berg couldn't learn to speak and
> read the eighteen languages he knew because being a baseball player
> and spy wouldn't leave him enough time.  A highly disciplined person
> _can_ learn an awful lot of things, and can retain that knowledge.

Except that learning a language is more than just a question of
learning facts.  It's a skill.  It's like learning to play a musical
instrument: it takes a lot of practice.  Granted, some people are
better at acquiring languages than others but if Martin had been able
to learn several languages fluently from a non-native speaker like Ray
(assuming French wasn't his first language) then that would have been
a truly remarkable achievement indeed.

Of course, Jolt City #9 was the episode where they vibrated their
molecules and travelled to another dimension where they met
intelligent snails who could speak French, snails which were being
enslaved by Snapp to make vibo jackets for him.  Giving everything
else that was happening in that issue, I was willing to overlook the
idea that Martin had learned French from Ray Cradle. :)

> > Any scene where Martin is seen examining a crime scene is a bit off in
> > my opinion.
> I see your point about that trope, and I think it's more than just a
> pet peeve; you have legitimate reasons behind it and I respect that.
> That's why when I've used the trope, I try to make it as reasonable as
> possible.  For example, in the Willis case, they've set the
> superheroes on the case because of its seriousness (a little like
> calling in the Feds, maybe?).  The only other crime scene
> investigation scene I remember is in the Trapper story, and in that
> case Dani has to sneak on-- and she was the one doing the
> investigating.
> My memory must be a bit rusty, because those are the only two I can
> come up with.  And I understand that in the Willis case you don't
> think that was a particularly strong reason.

There was the Crooked Man crime scene in Jolt City #2.

> > > 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.
> But he would have examined crime scenes-- unseen by the police-- in
> that identity.

Which is fine except that if he touches anything, anything at all, he
compromises the scene.  He pretty much would have had to learn how to
float above the floor in those crime scenes. :)

> > 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?
> You got me there.
> Well, I think the idea is that they need to follow tire tracks, and
> they don't have much time, and so Darkhorse can follow them much
> faster than Martin can.  Which is why, when they notice the tire
> tracks, Martin asks Darkhorse about his eye-sight.
> But, yeah, it's a bit silly and you got me on that point.

Of course, it would have been a bit petty for me to make the point at
the time because the solution had elluded me too.  It wasn't until I
watched a DVD of old CSI episodes that I saw a better way to do it.

There was a similar situation in an episode of CSI: they noticed tire
tracks leaving the scene.  Obviously they couldn't tell where the car
had gone based on the tire tracks.  But there was also a patch of oil
on the road under where the car had to have been parked and they
reasoned that the car was leaking oil.  They followed the oil drops on
foot.  It was lucky because there would have been no way to follow
tire tracks on an open road that hundreds of cars would have used
every day.


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