21 Feb 2013

Subject 13 #7 - Commentary

As always, go read the issue.  It makes the commentary easier to follow.

Rennie's habit of hitting snooze is one familiar to me.  I tend to keep hitting snooze until I have maybe ten minutes to wake up, get dressed, treat the cats, and dash for my bus.  Nasty's nightwear is based on a few minutes of thought - what would a tomboy who isn't confident about her looks, like Nasty, wear to bed.  And, naturally, I worked in a shower scene.  It's something that appeared in my early works; oddly, none of them are really fan-service-y.  They just followed from what was happening.

Rennie's mother, despite changing her name with every marriage (possibly number three, though I haven't delved too much into Mrs. Hayes' background yet), knows about the relationship between Nasty and Maria.  It pains her to see the two fight, though she knows why they do.  Mrs. Hayes also lets the reader in on the actual relationship, not just Nasty's view of it.

Meanwhile, the Treasure Department makes an appearance.  (Well, if you've read issue 6, you'd know who they are.)  This, if anything, dates the web series.  Remember from the intro, I mentioned writing this mainly during 2001 and 2002.  Issue 7 was written the summer of 2001.  The Al Qaeda attack on the World Trade Centre in New York City hadn't happened; meaning, the massive reorganization and added level of bureaucracy known as the Department of Homeland Security hadn't happened.  My thinking, in that summer of 2001, was that Treasury, specifically, an off shoot of the Secret Service, would handle the tracking of metahumans.  Today, that'd be handled by Homeland Security.

While I'm on this tangent, the attack on the World Trade Centre created a problem*, for me and for writers at DC and Marvel.  A Spider-Man movie trailer had to have an image of the WTC editted out, because of raw emotions.  DC and Marvel had to figure out how, in a universe filled with heroes, could terrorists succeed at destroying two buildings and coming close to destroying a third**.  With DC, their iconic heroes lived in fictional cities like Metropolis and Gotham.  Superman can't be everywhere.  Marvel, though, has most of their heroes living in New York City, including the heavy hitters of the Avengers.  And, I, although not in the same league, have to figure the same thing out.  The S13-verse (my shorthand for the setting) is based on ideas from DC and Marvel, with analogues.  So, why couldn't my Avengers-analogue prevent the destruction?  And, how real time is the story?  At some point, I may even have answers.

Back to issue 7.  Maria signed over her daughter to what she thinks is Treasury.  Nasty, meanwhile, showed that being a hero is something she can do already.  She didn't have to help little Jimmy.  She didn't have to make sure he got to school safely.  She did, though.  Many people would have stood by, thinking "kids will be kids" or not even noticing.  Being the one to act is tough; it means having to put yourself in a position of responsibility.

The last scene is there to remind people what really is going on, in case something got missed in a previous issue.  The two people are still nameless and faceless, though at this point, I know who they are.  I just couldn't think of a way to show that.  Besides, nameless, faceless people of an evil corporation?  There's a reason why it's a cliche.

Tomorrow, Subject 13 #8, "Sign, Sign, Everywhere a Sign", will be up.
Saturday, over at Fan To Pro, Lost in Translation takes a look at the nature of remakes, as I get ready for the penultimate and ultimate parts of The Avengers Adaptation.
Coming soon here, why Sharktopus was a better movie than Battleship.

* Not to trivialize the loss of family and friends who were working at or just visiting the World Trade Centre.  The destruction of the WTC is a major event in American history, from the attack happening to the reaction by the American people and the American government.
** I.e, the Pentagon.


  1. I've never understood the snooze habit. The sleep you get after an alarm is restless at best. I set the alarm for when I need to get up, then I get up. Without coffee. I'm probably in a minority.

    The Hayes family in out of the blue is a surprise, but does allow for the needed backstory of information. The history provides the context for showing that both mother and daughter are good at jumping to conclusions.

    Interesting tangent, and information of which I was unaware. My natural inclination for "Why didn't someone stop X" is to say "Because the people were stopping Y"... some event that we don't know about, because of all the attention on X. There's also the matter of the "fixed point in time" from Doctor Who, which... perhaps it's insensitive, but I believe it to a certain degree. We're not blessed with seeing the whole picture.

    Finally, the last scene remark is a good point, and one of the annoying facets of a serial - you may have some people who have read since the start, some who enter in the middle, and some people (like me right now) who do an archive marathon session. It's not easy to satisfy two groups simultaneously, let alone all of them. It's also impossible for a person in one category to properly analyze how it seems to the others.

    1. I tend to abuse the snooze. I have effectively four alarms set - an old cell phone that has three separate alarm settings and a short timed alarm function. If I can wake up after the second, I'm ahead of the game.

      The Hayes family let me show Nasty's old school without having her tell anyone. The family also let me show off a loving mother-daughter relationship that Nasty could envy if she ever thought about it.

      The "fixed point in time" thing works well with time travel - some events have to happen. But, so far, I don't have time travellers. A failure by heroes to stop a disaster like the World Trade Centre bombings would turn a lot of people against them. "Where were you? Why didn't you do anything?" With some heroes, they just don't have the ability to do that. But heroes in Superman's class do have the ability, so now the question becomes why didn't they and what could be a greater danger while still not trivializing what happened. It's something I have to think about, especially now that I've expanded the setting somewhat.

      This is the issue where I started looking at the work as more than just blowing off steam. The subplots are building up, ready to become the plot when needed. If someone started with this issue, then there's information missing. I haven't really gone back to Nasty's first use of her power or how she got it, but it's more a small detail at this point compared to everything else.

    2. It's not necessarily just a time travel thing. Picture it this way, from the perspective of Superhero M.

      A person tries to rob a bank, and M stops them. They then try to kill someone, and Ms stops them. They then try to release a plague, and M stops them. This person is obviously not getting the message, and (for whatever reason) is able to remain in the clear. Any attempts by M to get police or others involved runs into the block of "well, they haven't done anything wrong". Thus the fixed point - the villain has to SUCCEED at something, and be revealed AS the villain. Otherwise the situation will simply get worse, and the public will remain oblivious. So, a tragic event occurs, and we get:
      Public: "Where were you? Why did you let him kill a room full of people?"
      M: "If I'd prevented it, next week he would have destroyed the whole city."
      Public: "You can't know that!"
      M: "Not 100%. But I'm statistically confident."
      Public: "Screw you!"

      If anything, the accusation should be that the villain wasn't ALLOWED to kill the ONE guy, because at that point he could have been locked away, and we wouldn't even have the debate about killing the room full of people. The superhero should only get involved if the guy gets AWAY with it. Personally, I think this is why some superheroes don't spend tons of time mucking about with minor crimes, they need to get after the people who are escalating before that gets out of hand.

      This may also be a really terrible way to look at things.

    3. Ideally, the superhero stops the bank robbery during it, not before it can happen. Attempted robbery is still a crime, and catching the crook in the act will at least get him into the legal system. Some of it is a matter of when the crook is stopped. If the crook is stopped too early, he hasn't committed a crime and can turn around and sue the hero. At some point, letting him succeed becomes a problem; most people won't make the jump from "I stopped him from doing this," to "I had to let him continue so that the authorities see how much of a danger he is."

      What helps with the World Trade Center attack is that the vast majority of people weren't expecting it. It was outside the public's perception of what terrorism was at the time. So, even heroes might get caught unawares, at least for the first jet. However, with the rescue operations, supers would go an help and be onsite for the second. It could be a way to depopulate the supers.