REVIEW: Russell's Reviews Volume One # 2

Martin Phipps martinphipps2 at
Sun Jan 13 00:05:23 PST 2008

On Jan 13, 3:08 am, Tom Russell <milos_par... at> wrote:
>    Rather than have one last surviving monster leap
> out, or having the kids face said monster, or showing
> the fight scene, Martin resolves the problem in a way
> that deflates the drama but exponentially increases
> the pleasure.  

To be honest, from the very beginning, I've tried to avoid fight
scenes unless they are either really cool (or so I thought when I
typed them) or necessary for the plot.  Here the story was about the
detectives deducing that the aliens were travelling in a pack, thus
making them relatively easy to find.  It was not supposed to be about
Extreme hunting down aliens.  Nevertheless, it would have been, as you
point out, anti-climactic to end Part I with a blurb about Extreme
hunting down and killing aliens.  Such a blurb might also have faced
the same criticism that you made of the previous issue, namely that
the story was unsatisfying and potentially unresolved.  If just one
alien had gone unnoticed by Extreme, wouldn't they still have the same
problem?  So the sceptical teenager asks the question that the reader
was going to ask anyway and Extreme makes a compelling argument for
why he shouldn't worry.

> And this is something Martin usually
> does fairly well.  Sometimes, the wit, imagination,
> and logic behind this sidestep isn't as witty or
> imaginative, and in those cases it's not as enjoyable.
>  The pleasure is not derived from the structure (or,
> in this case, the subverting of structure), but from
> the details.

One good thing about Superfreaks is that it forces me to think about
the details.  One thing that occured to me when I finished my
kidnapping story in season 2 was that finding a baby with a cult does
not tell the police which of the cult members actually kidnapped the
baby.  Of course, as they were about to kill the baby in a ritual
sacrafice when the police arrived, it's a bit of a moot point as they
were all guilty of _something_ and, therefore, were all under arrest.
I personally like the fact that this explanation came in the form of
Michael King assuring the victim's family that the cult members were
all going to jail even if they couldn't make the kidnapping charge
stick.  If I were writing superhero stories in which the story was
resolved by the hero hitting the villain then such details would not
be important.

>    And in this particular issue, there are a few more
> details to hang onto than in its immediate
> predecessor.  I like, for example, how they deduce
> there are several aliens rather than just one.  It's
> not a whole lot of detective work, but it's more than
> he usually gives us, and it certainly whets the
> appetite.

It wasn't hard to figure out either.  The first alien on the Chauvani
ship was obviously born fertile because it was killed shortly after
birth and still managed to reproduce.  Plus they knew all along that
the victims were dying as a result of something bursting out of their
chests.  Plus if Edward had seen any of the Alien movies then that
would have helped tremendously too. :)

>    I thought the conclusion to the troll-slayer
> storyline was suitably clever; it was nice to have one
> of the police officers come up with a plan and
> implement it.  And there was a surprising amount of
> dramatic impact to self-defensive killing of the
> suspect, and to the detective's reaction to what had
> happened.  It's one of those moments-- character
> moments, moments with a degree of emotion behind
> them-- that shows up once in a blue moon in this
> series.  I wish there were more of them like that.

Ah but no, that's not true.  It's actually become a bit of cliche in
this series.  Officers Johnston and Jackson and Detective King have
all had to shoot people in self defense and have angsted about it
afterwards.  As King said, "I'm supposed to solve murders, not commit
them."  This is similar to CSI and CSI: New York in which when
suspects die there is usually an inquest with internal affairs asking
questions and in stark contrast to CSI: Miami in which Horatio Caine
will shoot a suspect in self defense and then adjust his sunglasses
and walk away.

If you want to see character moments then you should go see Season 2
#8 which focuses on the suicide of a young man and various characters
having different reactions to it.

>    I didn't particularly care for the television show
> subplot, which didn't really seem to go anywhere.  I
> mean, I guess I understand it-- it shows that Michael
> won't divulge case details out of concern for the
> victims and their families-- but it felt like it
> intruded somewhat on the rest of the story.  Perhaps
> in this case Martin didn't it use it as well as he
> could have.

I almost forgot to wrap that story up before posting.  I suppose I
could have done a story in which the body that they find on a set
turns out to be a _real_ body and not somebody in makeup, but believe
it or not they actually used that idea this season on CSI (except that
it was a horror movie set and not a TV set).  Instead, I thought it
was clever having the a police detective from Pepperton meet people
playing police detectives in Pepperton, sort of like that Seinfeld
episode in which Kramer meets the guy who plays him on the show on the
show (if that makes sense).  Thing is, when you reverse Gary Sinise
you get Cindy Garrett which is a woman so I made Michael's TV
counterpart a woman.

Anyway, I'm just happy that the issue didn't seem too short this time.

>    It reminds me a bit of the Columbo scene way back
> in the first season of SUPERFREAKS.  One of the
> detectives goes to meet her hero, a lieutenant in a
> familiar rumpled raincoat, basically to tell him what
> a big influence he was and so they can compare his
> more deductive methods with the more lab-based
> methodology employed today.  It wasn't really a part
> of the rest of the story: it was a standalone scene.
> I guess if done another way it could have constituted
> a sort of character moment, but since it wasn't in any
> way integrated into the plot or any thematic thread,
> it just seemed kind of... there.

Yes, well, that scene was also there because Mary hadn't been in the
episode and there is a tendency in real TV shows to try to use all the
characters that appear in the credits.  Mary hasn't had much to do
this season, what with her having still been on maternity leave when
the season started.  Alan Russell hasn't exactly appeared in every
issue either, the problem being that if a crime is commited by someone
using a superpower, it is very hard for him or her to claim that
somebody else did it, not unless that somebody else had a similar
power.  Thus, most cases involving supervillains would be easy wins
for the prosecution and would not be worth showing.  (Certainly that
was the case with the troll killer so it was more dramatic to simply
kill him off.)


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