REVIEW: End of Month Reviews #54 - June 2008 [spoilers]

Saxon Brenton saxonbrenton at
Sat Jul 5 13:12:01 PDT 2008

On Friday 4 Jul 2008 Tom Russell replied:
> On Jul 4, 1:46 am, Saxon Brenton wrote:
>> [REVIEW] End of Month Reviews #54 - June 2008 [spoilers]
>> Jolt City # 14
>> 'The Sensational Character-Find of 2007, Pt. 3: The Secrets 
>> of the Contessa!' 
>> and to be honest I can't tell whether she is sexually obsessed 
>> with the Green Knight and feels genuine guilt for her obsession, 
>> or has a guilt-and-punishment fetish with her harassment of 
>> the Green Knight as its focus (her hysterical self-condemnation 
>> put me in mind of the 'naughty nun sketch' from Monty Python 
>> And The Holy Grail, which I'm pretty sure will loose me some 
>> cred as a reviewer).
> Looking at it now, her little monologue would probably play better/
> be more effective in a film or a play than in prose.
Hmm. Yes, I think I can see how visuals would clarify the issue. 
It also occurs to me that adding in one or two parenthetical 
comments that describe those visuals (the ones that immediately 
springs to mind are things like 'pain in the eyes' and 'tension in 
the body' - things that hint that it's not a pleasant, fetish-like 
recrimination she's going through, although some people do get 
off on extremes of pain). That said, those would need to be brief 
and ambiguus enough that Derek is still confused about whether 
she's serious or not.
>>                  In nay case, because of this near bit of bait-
>> and-switch I didn't anticipate that Moses Mason would be 
>> revealed in the last line as one of those people who had 
>> been murdered.
> Often times in serial storytelling, when a character is about to 
> die, there's usually some kind or sense of closure-- some truth 
> is illuminated, something meaningful is communicated, et cetera. 
> I tried my best to leave Moses's story "unfinished"-- after all, we 
> just met the guy a couple of issues ago, and he seemed (or at 
> least I hope he seemed) like he was going to be a regular 
> supporting cast character. In his last scene-- perhaps the last 
> time that he and Derek speak to one another-- Moses doesn't 
> say anything *particularly* meaningful and, in fact, jokes about 
> Erika's breasts. (Hardly a graceful send-off.)
> I think there's a higher degree of versimilitude, and I'm glad 
> you were surprised by it. And while it's not until the next issue 
> that I explicitely connect the serial killer to Moses's death, I'm 
> glad you made that connection and that the twist didn't seem to 
> come completely out of left field-- that it felt in some way organic.
{shrug} There are different levels of 'realistic'; of mimesis (imitation 
of reality in art). Mostly Jolt City looks like you're concerned with 
realistic reactions to events and situations, even if those events and 
situations are fantastic. (More constraining forms of this would be to 
insist that a story itself have no fantastic elements at all.) And of 
course there's also visual realism, as in having a TV show or movie 
with high production values so that the props and sets don't look like 
they're done on a shoestring budget.
And then there's what your doing in Jolt City #14, where (as you say) 
you've done away with the most basic form of narrative by having 
something happen that's random and senseless and more like what 
happens in real life than you would expect in a story. Essentially, 
ignoring the consenusal reality of audience expectations about how 
a story 'should' read for the something that closer resembles an 
actual trajedy.
> And, yes, in one way that scene between Martin and Derek 
> re: Moses and Derek's secret is meant as a bait-and-switch, 
> but if that was its only purpose, I probably wouldn't have used 
> it; I think it also manages to highlight some of the tensions/
> differences in Martin and Derek's relationship, some of Derek's 
> maturity (wanting to tell his father) and some of his immaturity 
> regarding his rushed feelings for Erika-- if only in a somewhat 
> oblique way.
It was also thematically consistent with the teaching Martin has 
been doing: the annectdotes about superheroing and ethical 
> I've been a little worried about this story (the whole thing, all five
> parts) because it's different than most of those before it. There's
> not really much by way of external conflict-- i.e., heroes versus
> villains, saving the city, et cetera-- and the structure is one of a
> slow build, details and small events (with a couple of big ones)
> piling on top of each other. I've got a good feeling that in the
> conclusion, everything will pay off-- that everything will come
> together and the ultimate over-riding structure across the five
> parts will become apparent.
> But I'm wondering, dear readers and reviewers out there in RACC-
> land--is the pace too slow? Is the lack of super-conflict making you 
> feel good, bad, or indifferent? Is the structure too eccentric or 
> oblique at this point in the game?
Perhaps it is as the TV Tropes wiki webpage warns, and the more 
you read and think and write about these writerly concerns, the 
less you're able to simply sit back and enjoy a story. For my part 
#13 seemed at bit slow because of the early inclusion of so much 
of the apparently unrelated serial killer plot, but I assumed that it 
would resolve in the end. The pacing of the whole *arc* hasn't 
given me a problem however, because I groked that this is more 
of a character based story: so it's less 'man-vs-man' than 
'man-vs-self' and most especially 'man-vs-nature'. There's a 
difference between slow pacing and leisurely pacing, and I think 
it may be a mistake to assume that because the 'classic' form of 
four-colour heroes has fast events and lots of fight scenes that that 
is the only way it can be done. Judicious alternative treatments 
- ranging form decompressed storytelling on the slower side and 
wide screen megaviolence on the speedier side - are just as valid. 
Saxon Brenton
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