REVIEW: End of Month Reviews #78 - June 2010 [spoilers]

Tom Russell milos_parker at
Sat Jul 31 19:03:43 PDT 2010

On Jul 31, 8:04 pm, Saxon Brenton <saxonbren... at> did his
best impression of Emile Zola:

> "Tom Russell!
> J'Accuse!  For all your claims of hating anti-superhero stories, you have
> become what you hate, and stand guilty of *gratuitous grim'n'gritty*!"

Oh noes!

In all seriousness, thank you for your feedback, Saxon.  You've given
me a lot to chew on.

When I was discussing this story with my wife, and mentioned my unease
about the possibility of things tipping over to Le Grim et Gritty, she
said, "Yes, you wouldn't want anything that feels jarring.  What
you're talking about totally wouldn't fit in with the kids who were
killed by the park shooter (# 4)?  Or when Martin was assaulted by the
Contessa (# 8)?  Or when Derek's father was murdered by the serial
killer (# 14)?  The extinction of the balloon animals (# 18)?"  Well,
she didn't say it in quite those words, and certainly not with
parenthetical issue numbers, but the point she made still had some
sting: as much as I talk about optimism, JOLT CITY as a whole has been
pretty downbeat, and one could argue that it tips over too much into

And yet-- I'd like to think it's an optimistic series, that it carries
real affection for the people in it, instead of hating them the way an
anti-superhero story or series very clearly despises the people it's
supposed to be about.  I'd like to think that I empathize with my
people's weaknesses and tribulations, instead of being above them or
making cheap little points at their expense.  My hope, as mentioned
elsewhere, was that Martin's perhaps quixotic sacrifice was heroic and
dignified enough to offset the terrible circumstances which put him in
that situation; it is entirely possible, however, that a quixotic
sacrifice in a superhero story is mutually exclusive to the genre.
The same could be said, perhaps, for a story in which evil is largely
triumphant and goes unpunished.  And no matter how much I yammer on
about intentions, hopes, and why-I-did-this-or-that-etc., the simple
fact remains that this story did, indeed, contain those things.

I will say, in case this last installment has made any readers weary,
that it's unlikely for a disaster of this scale to hit the city again
any time soon.

>      Finally, a revised impression of the summary of Fish's fate.  On
> first read through I found it tedious and irritating.


>      Finally it occurred to me that the contrast between the Canton and
> Proctor scene, and the Fish summary, was the key.  The first showed the
> scene, then second narrated it.  Yeah, it's the 'show, don't tell' adage.
> Possibly this is a bit unfair a comparison in this instance, since the
> Fish summary is telling of things happening in the future, and at the end
> of an already lengthy story really does need to be a short and sweet.
> You can't really construct an epilogue showing something like an innocent
> man rotting in gaol for several decades.

One reason why I went with the summary-- besides length-- is that the
summary format allowed for some wistfulness in my phrasing.  The voice
of the narrator in that section was intended to be distant (one reason
for the flash-forward), saddened, and resigned.  My hope is that that
would lessen the sting of the injustice somewhat, and it made room for
those final lines you alluded to--

"I'd like to say that one day, the truth did come out, that poor
Fish was vindicated from the grave.  But what good would that do him;
what comfort would it provide?  The dead are dead.  The future holds
promise and terror in equal measure, but it only does so for the

-- which I'm still quite proud of, and which I hoped would resonate in
a more... how do I say this without being too pretentious?  I guess I
can just say that I wanted those words to be evocative of something
bigger than Fish, something bigger than any one person.

It's not that I didn't want the reader angry-- as I said elsewhere, I
definitely intended to agitate one's sense of justice.  I guess what I
was trying to do by using that summary format and that tone was to try
and ensure that while the reader might be angry about what had
happened, he wouldn't also be angry at me for writing it. :-O

How well I succeeded, though, is obviously up for debate.

And here's hoping, as always, that you (and others) get more pleasure
from the next installment.


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