My Only Escape is Escaping
- We’ve met Crimsonstreak, we’ve learned a little bit about his predicament, and now it’s time to spring him. We could have tooled around the Clermont Institution for the Criminally Insane for a bit longer, but I think we’ve established the character and need to let him roam free.
- I think my novel will get some comparisons to Austin Grossman’s Soon I Will Be Invincible, which also starts out with the protagonist in prison. It, too, is a first-person comic book novel. No one will believe this, but I didn’t read Soon I Will Be Invincible until the summer of 2011. This came after my book was accepted for publication. It had always been on my “to read” list, but I didn’t get around to it until then. It's a pretty enjoyable read and I urge everyone to check it out.
- I like ongoing jokes. My friends find it annoying that, years later, I still dredge up the same stupid jokes about Neil Diamond and Star Wars (shocking to many of my friends, there isn’t a single Neil Diamond reference in I, Crimsonstreak). One of Chris’ quirks in the book is that he refuses to refer to his crimefighting outfit as anything but a uniform. He hates it when people refer to super-suits as “costumes.” This is something that remains consistent throughout the novel.
- In the original draft of the book, it was actually Infrared who traveled with Crimsonstreak during his escape. However, it became clear that Infrared ended up being kind of a Biggs Darklighter-type character. He’s only in the book for a brief scene and then you’re supposed to “grieve” over his (apparent) death. It worked okay, but when I talked it over with my beta reader Mike, we came to the conclusion that the Crusading Comet would be a better fit for this role. True, we don’t know much about the Comet at this point in the book, but this act of leaving him behind is a thread woven throughout the rest of the adventure. It also sets up ready-made tension between Crimsonstreak, Mortimer P. Willoughby, and Warren Kensington IV when they all meet shortly.
- Crimsonstreak isn’t perfect, but he is a hero. Every instinct cries out to “never leave another man behind.” Yet, he’s not going to escape Clermont if he has to carry the Crusading Comet with him. The Comet knows this, even though Chris doesn’t want to admit it. Crimsonstreak reluctantly accepts that he must leave the Comet behind because someone has to save the world.
- He has to choose “freedom or friendship.” This theme of making the hard choice is found repeatedly in several situations where our protagonist must decide what constitutes “doing the right thing.” Sometimes the lines get blurred.
- Crimsonstreak’s thoughts about his inferiority come to light in this chapter to reinforce his internal disappointment. “Mom could fly,” he thinks wistfully. “So can Dad,” he recalls with bitterness. “I got nothin’,” he admits. We all have self doubts, even superheroes. Especially superheroes. Even though his powers are extraordinary to us, they're ordinary to him. This realization grounds the hero.
- The chapter ends with a phrase that’s repeated a few times throughout the novel: “Running. Always running.” This is a literal “always running” in that Crimsonstreak is a super-speedster who’s constantly on the go. It also has a deeper meaning, however. In some ways, Chris has run away from some of his own problems. His relationship with his father, for instance, is something he ran away from. Down the road, we learn that his relationship with Jaci went down the same road. He’s really never come to terms with his mother’s death and has been “running” to the rescue ever since. I tried to pack a lot of meaning into those few words.
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