8FOLD/TEB: Annotations for the Compleat History of the Red Hart in Nine Acts

Andrew Perron pwerdna at gmail.com
Sat Mar 7 09:43:41 PST 2015

On 3/1/2015 11:47 PM, Tom Russell wrote:
 > (1) "the ruins of Las Vegas"
 > In Andrew Perron's story 'Open Letter' (MIGHTY MEDLEY # 1), which
 > introduced the Dyzen'thari, it was hinted that something had happened
 > to Las Vegas when the Dyzen'thari invaded our reality. Said invasion
 > was depicted in JOLT CITY # 22-23, and is dated as October of 2008.
 > RED HART begins five years later.

Notably, it also implied that the unnamed letter-writer had done something 
they'd rather not have.

 > In mathematics, the octonions are a normed, nonassociative,
 > noncommutative divisional eighth-dimensional algebra over the real
 > numbers. And if that makes sense to you, congratulations. I knew that
 > I wanted to go with a maths theme for my pantheon of space-gods, and
 > that I wanted something esoteric.

Awesome. :D I was wondering.

 > (3) "deadly Venus, wand'ring Mars"
 > This is of course a reference to the ORPHANS OF MARS corner of the
 > Eightfold Universe, in which Venus is home to dread and unspeakable
 > horrors.

Dread and unspeakable horrors which are, apparently, tens of millions of years 
old at *least*.

 > (4) "more pleasing than the cosmic night's!"
 > Writing in iambic pentameter is hard, especially for yours truly, as I
 > really seem to have a remarkably bad ear for stressed and unstressed
 > syllables.  I had to do several searches in online dictionaries for
 > relatively common words.

AUGH SAME. I wrote a sestina once for my girlfriend in iambic pentameter and 
holy crap it was hard.

 > In cases when it was a choice between a
 > nice-sounding line and one that scanned properly, I went with the
 > former.

And that's fair.

 > As hard as "normal" meter was, it was much harder with the sonnets, of
 > which this was the first. Octonion's argument here is that
 > civilization and technology is more beautiful than nature-- that not
 > being able to see the stars at night due to urban growth is a small
 > price to pay.

Interesting, but I REALLY FRIKKIN DISAGREE UGH. >:/ Light pollution *frothing 

 > The sedenions are, like the octonions, a normed divisional algebra
 > that is both noncommutative and nonassociative. (Unlike the octonions,
 > they are not alternative, and have sixteen dimensions.)

Of course!

 > The character Sedenion is less Kirby-- his antagonists, for all their
 > merits, are seldom conflicted or introspective-- and more
 > Shakespearean, a tragic figure in some ways.

Sedenion is actually more like a Kirby protagonist than antagonist, though I 
can't think of any who fully fell. Nevertheless, they were pretty 
Shakespearean sometimes.

 > The cosmic
 > dam was built-- probably by Nox, the absolute oldest survivor of the
 > various pantheons we encounter-- to contain it because it cannot
 > itself be destroyed.

Hm! I didn't see her as a builder, but that might make sense...

 > The Pulse Collective is an ancient space empire that, at this point in
 > Eightfold history (late 2013) has yet to make contact with Earth. They
 > will early in 2014 through the person of Tina Wazowie.

Ah! I didn't realize this took place first! o.o I guess that does make sense.

 > I don't have too much to say about the Warning, as his purpose-- to
 > say "hey, don't touch that"-- is pretty self-explanatory. But it might
 > interest the reader to know that, if this thing were ever to be
 > staged-- which, okay, that's never going to happen-- but if it were,
 > my intention would be for the Warning to be played by the same actor
 > as Octonion, and to serve as an independently-functioning aspect of
 > the god.

Ooooooooh. :D I so want to stage this.

 > The god-sea ends the universe by erasing it from existence; Red Hart
 > and Never-Lord would end the universe by destroying it. While Sedenion
 > hopes Red Hart will fulfill the prophecy and save the universe, his
 > position is that if the universe has to end, the latter apocalypse is
 > preferable. Also, for "Life" in this line, one could easily read "free
 > will", as Sedenion believes the two to be the same at this point.

Hmmmmmm! That's *very* Kirby.

 > (22) "And you! So young and sexy-sex! A bite!"
 > Awides is a crazed, perverse, and ravenous version of Galactus-- less
 > a primal force of nature and more a deranged, slobbering beast. While
 > he still speaks in meter, I consciously made it less flowing and more
 > disjointed.

Very good. <3

 > (23) "I said no!"
 > Van's murder of Octonion is an assertion of her own agency and free
 > will, and a refusal to become host to some cosmic destiny. She knows
 > who she is, and she likes who she is. For me, this is what makes her
 > sympathetic, even when she does things that I personally would
 > disagree with or that appear to be short-sighted.

Honestly, I'm on her side with this one. Consent, even for gods.

 > (25) THE SHADES
 > Featureless humanoids who have been reduced to extensions of the
 > Never-Lord. Though I never described them, visually I had in mind
 > something like the Putty Patrol from the television program Power
 > Rangers.


 > Tina Wazowie, the Polish Princess of Punk Rock, front-woman for Zero
 > Below, an all-girl band with ice powers.


 > She's the first of several tomboyish, laid-back yet manic
 > young women who have popped up in my work lately.

I like 'em.

 > He didn't have a whole lot of
 > personality there, but when we did the never-released "Human Zeppelin"
 > radio program, he became very hokey and square-jawed.


 > I tried to make Matt Sharp a bit of a blank slate to ape this
 > contrasting effect. He didn't turn out completely blank; he has an
 > undercurrent of sadness which contrasts nicely with Red Hart's
 > grandeur, and which informs his horror at the destruction Red Hart
 > leaves in his wake.

He reminds me most of the Black Racer - just this person who's a vehicle for 
greater things.

 > Really, all of Kirby is supremely visual and primal, and that feeling,
 > that style, really can't be translated into prose narrative.

OR CAN IT. :D Honestly, a lot of my work is about trying to translate visual 
tone and style into prose.

(Also, I recommend the writing of E.E. "Doc" Smith for something that's not 
the *same*, but has a lot of that quality.)

 > One of the earliest things that occurred to me when I came up with Red
 > Hart was that he would be animated by a "Forever-Pulse". I still have
 > no idea what this actually means.

That's *extremely* Kirby.

 > One of the original Wonders, Pharos, was Jolt City's first costumed
 > hero. His lair was underneath a church, and now serves as the Green
 > Knight's hideout, the Knight's Den.

Oh nice!

 > She got over
 > it, though, and has continued to be a capable, competent professional
 > who doesn't take any crap and brings out the best in others.


 > (37) "I'm partial to problems I can solve by punching them."
 > Julie gets the best lines; that is all.


 > It was more coming up
 > with the idea that others executed, and those others typically got the
 > glory. He is a "superhero's superhero", the way someone might be an
 > "actor's actor". It is his talent for problem solving and finding
 > unusual angles that Julie's calling upon in this case.

Hmmm, yes

 > Sometime in 2009 or 2010, Derek forms a new sort of superhero group,
 > the Daylighters. Unlike the Seven Wonders, this is a large and
 > loose-knit sort of superhero social network, originally built to act
 > as an anti-FEVER task force. It's largely derided-- at one point Julie
 > compares it unflatteringly to MySpace-- especially in 2013. But they
 > continue to attract high-profile talent like Knockout Mouse and (after
 > the Wonders disband in 2014) Fahrenheit Man, their star-- and
 > Derek's-- will rise.

Awesome. <3 <3 <3

 > She unfortunately doesn't actually appear in
 > these pages; I could never quite find an excuse to work her in.

It happens. I'm sure the More Dr. Fay League is working behind the scenes as 
we speak.

 > (46) "And you, the least of thy thin pantheon."
 > So, here we get some backstory, which should be pretty easy to follow:
 > Red Hart was one amongst a group of gods, which were all of them slain
 > by Narok before time began, at the behest of the Never-Lord. Red Hart
 > alone survived, and managed to chain, but not defeat, the dragon.


 > He persists in saying that the Never-Lord is dead, and
 > wondering how he can have the Never-Lord's powers-- but I think he's
 > starting to become aware of what's really going on, or at least is
 > afraid of it.

I was wondering if he actually did.

 > (49) "Tis true, as far as gods and Naturals go."
 > By Naturals, he refers of course to the Natural Numbers. This bit may
 > be a bit difficult to parse, but basically, the dragon is
 > mathematically demonstrating that one-eighth is greater than
 > one-sixteenth, and that the Never-Lord's powers are primarily divisive
 > and subtractive, rather than additive, in nature.

Oooooh, nice.

 > (50) "This universe I'll save, decreed by fate!"
 > When this was first published, Mr. Perron heaved a SIGH at this line,
 > and yeah, I know-- this guy, right? But I'm not unsympathetic to
 > Sedenion's position here.

Nor I. Frustration is an entirely valid emotion for a story to evoke, as long 
as it doesn't go too far. <3

 > And so
 > the Never-Lord's imprisonment and subjugation of Nox is, as Van
 > intuits later, a terrible and unspeakable crime. This is what actually
 > incites the conflict between Red Hart and his uncle before the
 > universe (and our story) begins.

Ah! I see. Makes sense.

 > (55) JAMY LO
 > Jamy Lo, theoretical biologist from the planet Lo-lox-gar.

She's cool.

 > (56) "That's where it was. Everything's dead now."
 > This is obviously a direct reference to the genocide of the D'Bari in
 > UNCANNY X-MEN # 135. The telling difference here is that, while Dark
 > Phoenix unintentionally committed genocide by intentionally eating the
 > star, here the destruction of the Rowdar system and its star was
 > cosmic collateral damage, which of course Matt, as a decent human
 > being, finds overwhelming and horrifying.

You know, I've never thought about it before, but while the Dark Phoenix Saga 
is a very Claremont story in terms of characterization and plot structure, it 
takes place in a deeply Kirby-soaked milieu. This was after he'd done stuff 
like the Celestials, too, and after other creators had brought 
second-generation Kirby-inspired cosmic stuff in, like Thanos. (And, after 
all, the Trial of Galactus arc was a direct result of it, both in terms of 
Claremont and Byrne's feud, and in terms of the Shi'ar and the galactic 
community in general.)

Anyway this is rad

 > (57) "People? You mean, how many organisms?"
 > Science fiction, and especially comics science fiction, tends to have
 > a strong bias toward "civilized" species with languages and cultures.
 > Jamy has no such bias, which I think reinforces the enormity of what's
 > happened to Rowdar.

Oooo, good point. Not just people you could have a conversation with, but 
*ecosystems*, *life itself* is destroyed here.

 > It was important to me that, as a soldier, and particularly a modern
 > soldier engaged in presumably urban warfare, Matt take a more nuanced
 > approach to the nature of warfare and the inevitability of collateral
 > damage.

Makes sense.

 > This also helps to explain why alien contact
 > with the Eightfold Earth isn't as frequent as in other superhero class
 > universes; most significantly advanced species would know to steer
 > clear of it.  As was touched on in NONFICTION # 3, most of Earth's
 > would-be conquerors have been "universal locusts" who plan on draining
 > the planet of its resources before moving on. They're just stopping in
 > for a snack, so to speak. Whereas no one in their right mind would
 > want to be that close to Venus for an extended period of time.

Oooooh, good point.

 > So, I'm not big on "heroes" who kill, and am a pretty big proponent of
 > "superheroes shouldn't kill unless it is absolutely necessary, and
 > good writers don't create situations where it is absolutely
 > necessary." Or, as Blue Boxer later puts it, "there's always another
 > way." But there is a line, and I think being a genocidal death-moon
 > crosses that line.

Honestly, as one of the biggest "superheroes should be heroic"-pushers out 
there? I thought the Superman storyline where he kills the Phantom Zone 
Criminals in the pocket universe was perfectly in-character. It's kinda dumb 
that the writers put him in that position, but I am entirely comfortable with 
"literally killing everyone in the world and then saying they're going to come 
over and do it to *your* world" being the place where the line is crossed.

(Which, I guess, means that I'm on Claremont's side re: Galactus. I'm okay 
with that.)

(Though I'm not on Jim Shooter's side re: Dark Phoenix, but that's a different 
story - paying for a crime is different than preventing a crime.)

 > I also like Derek's plan, because it makes Red
 > Hart's accidental destruction of the Rowdar system an integral piece
 > of the puzzle and not just a motivator for Matt's crisis. It all fits
 > together, people. Mostly.

Yeah! It makes it feel... neither avenged nor justified, just... *more*.

Incidentally, I've ranted before about blowing up planets for shock value, but 
this didn't feel like that - it felt like what all those stories are *trying* 
to do, in terms of showing scope and scale. So much so, in fact, that I didn't 
even think about that aspect until just now.

 > The corruption and enslavement of Nox is the original sin of the
 > Eightfold Universe, and also the real inciting incident of the whole
 > Red Hart saga. Really, the universe can't be saved from its myriad
 > dooms unless that first wrong is righted.

Fascinating. o.o

 > Without a free Nox, Matt
 > could not control Red Hart, and neither Awides nor Narok (nor
 > Sedenion) could be defeated. Van is, in the end, the one who is
 > responsible for Nox being freed-- really, she is, despite and because
 > of her flaws, the hero of this story.

AWESOME. :D Hell yeah Van! I do love stuff where people just doing the right 
thing *is* the right thing. (You can probably guess where I fall on the end of 
Sailor Moon S.) (No, not the episode after the climax, that was just dumb.)

 > Of course, while she knows that he
 > is or is at least in some way connected to the Never-Lord, she doesn't
 > really know what that means, and like the rest of Earth, she "knows"
 > that "mind control isn't real."

Real-ish mind control existing on the cosmic scale works for me, also. I think 
this series really does make things feel *big*, in a way that even a lot of 
cosmic events I've enjoyed don't - for instance, the DnA Marvel ones. I think 
the level of abstraction brought by the poetic meter and the stage directions 
really helps with that.

 > .... So, Van dying is something I always knew was going to happen, and
 > that I was dreading, since I liked her, a lot, and I figured the
 > readers would like her as well. I don't like killing off characters,
 > and if I do it, it has to count for something. It might seem at first
 > that Van's death doesn't "count", which makes it sadder. But as we'll
 > soon find out, and as I mentioned in an earlier annotation, Van's
 > death-- her one selfless and redeeming act, because she could just hop
 > into her new spaceship and leave Sedenion with the box-- is what
 > rights the primordial wrong and sets our last act into motion. Still
 > sad, though.

But SO GOOD. Again, you nail deaths with meaning in a way that so many don't.

 > This originally was a sonnet, but I just could not for the life of me
 > get the ideas in there in a way that adhered to the correct rhyme
 > scheme. So other than the rhyming couplet at the end-- because really,
 > nothing's better than a rhyming couplet at the end-- I took a more
 > free-form approach. In a succession of three speeches in this scene,
 > Sedenion agonizes over, and then rationalizes, what he's done to Van.

The meter breaks down as he does.

 > He finally comes to the conclusion that free will is a luxury and a
 > liability the universe cannot afford. And really, though I don't agree
 > with him, I'll cop that the sequence of events in this story seems to
 > support that. Free will in the malignant hands of Caracalla and FEVER
 > is what brought on the Dyzen'thari, and as a result the god-sea; free
 > will in the hands of the well-intentioned, like Octonion and Sedenion
 > himself, account for the other dooms. But compare this, of course, to
 > Sedenion's earlier equation of free will with Life itself.

Death is part of life, and the destruction of free will would be the total 
destruction they speak of earlier in the play.

 > (65) "Wowza!"
 > In her second appearance, Nox-- or, as she says, "the tiniest droplet"
 > of herself, an aspect-- is filtered through Van, and speaks with her
 > mannerisms and verve.

Yes <3 <3 <3

 > (67) "He chose you, because you can keep him in check."
 > To be clear, I don't think this is a case where Matt needs to find out
 > he's always had the power all along. I don't think he really has the
 > capacity to keep him in check until after Rowdar, because until then
 > he has no idea of what the Red Hart is truly capable of. He needs that
 > moral outrage, and he needs this scene with Nox.

Hmmmmmm! But he had the *potential* all along.

 > (68) [AWIDES is sucked into the black hole and dies.]
 > So, it's at this point where the whole thing goes full bonkers, with
 > an impossible succession of spectacles presented at a lightning quick
 > speed. I have no idea how one would go about staging a sentient death
 > moon being crushed by a black hole that would do it justice, but at
 > this point in the story, the whole stage-play conceit just goes flying
 > out the window.


 > Monad is the first cosmic being to show up who doesn't speak in iambic
 > pentameter (not counting the filtered-through-Van and
 > filtered-through-Matt incarnations of Nox and Red Hart, respectively).
 > Her speech is certainly elevated in that philosophical wanderer Stan
 > Lee kind of way, but as she says, "I am new!"

Yeah, she's a different style altogether! <3

 > Monad is explicitly referred to in the text as a "space robot", and
 > what this means basically is that she should look something like an
 > all-black Rom.


 > (70) [Emerging... is RED HART, now glowing... white.]
 > I probably should have renamed him WHITE HART here, as this is an
 > explicit rebirth, both for Red Hart and the Impossible Sun.  By
 > igniting it, he frees Nox who, in her full glory, enables him to
 > destroy Narok and create life from his ruins. Certainly, I intended
 > his new costume to have symbolic value, and looking at it now I wished
 > I had made it more explicit with a name change. This would also
 > parallel Van's rebirth as Monad. Ah well; a missed opportunity.

Oooooh, yeah. Well, that's how it can be in the leatherbound script version.

 > (71) "Let the Hero, born of woman..."
 > So, Nox is at last revealed in her full glory, and so speaks with her
 > own voice: not iambic pentameter, not goofy prose, but in a different
 > meter, with fifteen syllables to a line. But even this is filtered;
 > all three of her lines are a direct quotation from the Battle Hymn of
 > the Republic (as Scott Eiler recognized). In the actual poem/song by
 > Julia Ward Howe, the "Hero" in question is the Christ, the woman is
 > Mary, the Mother of God, and the serpent is Satan.

Ah! Fascinating.

 > (72) "I was the hero...!"
 > I do kinda feel bad for Sedenion. He really was trying to do the right
 > thing. It should be noted I've used this ending-- the whole "disperse
 > great cosmic power among all living things to dilute it" thing--
 > previously and /fairly/ recently, in JOLT CITY # 19. I liked it there,
 > but like it better here.

I love it, and as I said, I'd already planned for using it as a the climax of 
a hopefully-upcoming LNH story, so I'm both delighted and shaking my fist.

 > (73) "She usually does... when things go agley."
 > This scene serves as a very Shakespearean kind of epilogue. This line
 > in particular is me tipping my hat, letting everyone know that, yes,
 > Van lives on in Monad.


 > I hope you enjoyed this series, and that at least some of the
 > annotations presented here were of interest.

Andrew "NO .SIG MAN" "Juan" Perron, absolutely and absolutely.

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