Wednesday, February 15, 2012

I, Crimsonstreak Commentary: Chapter 16

Chapter 16

A Not-So-Little Caesar and an Epic Battle of Epicness

Author’s Notes

  • So, yeah. Zeus Caesar returns. We’ve seen little hints about this throughout the book, but the chapter title is a dead giveaway. By the way, I love $5 Hot and Ready Pizza from Little Caesar’s.

  • The phrase “Epic Battle of Epicness” comes courtesy of my wife, who used to work at the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis. One time, a kid described a movie as an “epic battle of epicness.” I loved that story so much that I incorporated that into the title for the penultimate chapter.

  • I, too, washed out of the Cub Scouts. It wasn’t the square knot that got me, however. It was the time commitment.

  • You may wonder how Chris managed to carry both his father and Warren on his back. As Chris has made it apparent throughout the book, he doesn’t have superstrength. However, when called upon in extreme situations of duress, he manages to find a way to get things done (such as when he pushed back a large group of Enforcers in the Sanctum Cometus). This situation certainly qualifies.

  • Chris and his father need all the help they can get, but they’re unwilling to put Warren in danger. The kid protests, sure, but he won’t take it sitting down. It’s something Chris and Colonel Chaos are counting on, at least subconsciously.

  • Colonel Chaos nearly pulls it off, convincing the Enforcers to set the inmates at Clermont free. Thankfully, the High Imperator arrives to make sure that doesn’t happen.

  • The phrase “Not-My-Father” is inspired by the 90s sitcom Dinosaurs. In that show, a baby dinosaur had a bit where he would scream “not the mama!”

  • “What in the worlds were you thinking?” Chaos 2 asks. It’s another reminder of the multiverse that exists in the world of the book.

  • An important moment for Chris is when he realizes how warped he’d allowed his perception of his own father to become. Even though Chaos 2 was a scheming, diabolical madman, Chris thought of him as his father. The realization shakes him to the core.

  • One of my favorite family stories involves a trip to Steak ‘n Shake with my father. I ordered a steakburger and a milkshake; Dad ordered a grilled chicken sandwich and the largest side salad I’ve ever seen. He kept staring at my milkshake, lamenting his decision to eat healthy. Cracks me up every time.

  • Poor Morty. By far, this was the hardest narrative decision I had to make. In early drafts, Morty survived unscathed to continue serving the Kensington family. He was too much fun to write; I couldn’t let him die. However, Warren has his own character arc in here about responsibility and becoming the hero he needs to be; he needed a satisfying end to his own arc. Thus, dear, dear, dear Mortimer P. Willoughby becomes a sacrificial lamb. His death also raises the stakes. If beloved Morty (and I love Morty; I can’t say that enough) can die, anyone can die. His death gives us more reason to hate the High Imperator.

  • Morty meets his fate with dignity, which is what we’d expect. It’s sort of an “Obi-Wan Kenobi, noble sacrifice” moment. Morty wasn’t Warren’s father, but he may as well have been in many regards. “Tell the boy I shall miss him” gets me every time I read it. Seriously.

  • Morty’s originally scripted line was, “tell the boy I love him,” but Morty refused to read it. He insisted on saying, “tell the boy I shall miss him.”

  • I know this was the right decision because my wife sent me a text message when she read the book: “You BASTARD. You killed Morty!!!!!” I’m only saying this because it helps the pain go away.

  • Heeeeeeeeere’s Zeus Caesar!

  • Chris has often fantasized about confronting Zeus Caesar and avenging his mother. Fantasy is one thing; reality is another. Now, he’s clearly going to have to face the villain after watching his clone bite it.

  • Evil Miss Lightspeed commented on Chris’ weakness and disowns him; Evil Colonel Chaos does the same for Imperator Chris. Nice folks.

  • The brief, surreal scene where Imperator Chris “dies” breaks the connection between the two.

  • We end up with multiple battles raging at once. Primarily, we experience Chris’ fight with Zeus Caesar. We also know the Chaoses are going after one another. What’s Warren doing? I’m sure he’s collapsed into an inconsolable heap and has no pretensions of avenging Morty. Yeah, that’s it.

  • Crimsonstreak doesn’t get the satisfaction of killing Caesar; Imperator Chris does it. Some people will probably say I let Chris “off the hook” by failing to make him the tool of Caesar’s demise, but I promise you he would’ve killed Caesar if he needed to.

  • Yep, the spot-the-imposter trope. It’s an immutable law of stories with doppelgangers.

  • The final confrontation pits the reunited Fairborne family against the High Imperator. It looks like Chaos 2 is going to get the upper hand…

  • …but then we realize Warren was actually doing something while the battle was going on. The teenager has grown up fully now, having seen Morty killed at the hands of the Enforcers. Working in concert with Jaci, they freed the inmates at Clermont and turned the tide. The cost of victory is nearly unbearable for the kid.

  • Gotta give Warren credit for pulling a nice little “Chewie” moment from Return of the Jedi. It wasn’t intentional, but it does remind me of that scene a little bit.

  • In the original draft of the book, Morty is the one who swoops in and saves the day. When Imperator Chris, Jaci, Warren, and Crimsonstreak split up, Morty was overseeing the operation. When he lost contact with the teams, he mobilized the superhero resistance and emerged from the Enforcer aircraft.

  • “Once and Future Crusading Comet” is a fitting phrase for Warren. I thought it was important for Chris to “translate” Morty’s final message for the kid.

  • Jaci’s an important character because she calls Chris out on his own BS. She reminds him that she can take care of herself and that Chris needs to give people more credit.

  • The chapter ends as Chris and Jaci look over the ruins of the Clermont site, wondering what in the world will happen next.