Monday, March 5, 2012

I, Crimsonstreak Commentary: Chapter 17

Chapter 17

If You Rebuild It, They Will (Maybe) Forgive You

Author’s Notes

  • The chapter title is a play on “The Voice” from Field of Dreams. The line is often misquoted as “if you build it, they will come,” although the actual line is, “if you build it, he will come.”

  • I have a clear idea for a sequel. Some minor setup for a second Crimsonstreak adventure is involved here. Not all the Clermont escapees were willing to fight in the final battle. Some of them did what villains do best: live to fight another day. They’ll need to be rounded up.

  • The paper route flashback is a modified slice of Adams family history. I had a paper route for several years, but when I wanted to play high school baseball, I had to give it up. Unlike Chris, I was only a two-year varsity letter winner.

  • Chris muses about some of the logistical problems of reestablishing the United States of America. They’re very real, from bringing back Congress to getting businesses to change their letterheads. It’s a subtle observation, but the point is that the New World Common Wealth had a huge ripple effect from the top (government) to the bottom (small business).

  • Colonel Chaos didn’t establish the New World Common Wealth (Evil Chaos did that), but the NWCW was his brainchild. He feels duty-bound to set things right. His imprisonment and the subsequent battle have changed his perspective.

  • I tend to be an upbeat guy, so I wanted the ending to reflect a certain hopefulness. Yet, we still have some unresolved issues. What do we do with Evil Chaos? The Clermont escapees? At the same time, I didn’t want a complete return to the status quo. Just having Miss Lightspeed “fixed” would’ve been a lazy way out; it would’ve wrapped things up too neatly.

  • Zeus Caesar stored the memories of those he killed, including Miss Lightspeed. Through some quirk of science fictional junk science, their collision during the final battle sent Miss Lightspeed’s memories surging into Evil Miss Lightspeed. Thus, the Karen Fairborne who now exists is an amalgamation of the two, with the “good” persona overtaking the “bad” one for now. This part of the ending may not be a particularly happy one.

  • Deep down, Chris knows this new Miss Lightspeed isn’t really his mother, but he’s willing to take a deep breath following his ordeal.

  • A thematic footnote is the idea of a “superhero aristocracy”; that people with powers are better than those who don’t have any and should rule those who are inferior. I imagine this would be a very real conflict if superpowered beings existed. X-Men tends to play up this theme in the conflict between Professor X and Magneto.

  • So what do you do with Colonel Chaos 2? As Chris notes, there’s no clear solution. Send him back to his own universe, and he can come right back. On the other hand, he’s too crafty to stay imprisoned for long.

  • “Transformative quantum signature transference” sounds like pure technobabble, but did you know that one out of every 130,000 Americans suffers from it? That’s from the U.S. Department of Fake Statistics.

  • The Crusading Comet emerges from Clermont with some major injuries. I’m concerned that arm of his may never fully heal, leaving Warren IV to take up the mantle of the Crusading Comet for good. That may be a hint.

  • Chris mentions that Morty and Warren played major roles in saving the world “without powers.” This is a very different tune from the one he sang earlier in the book, when he implied Warren wasn’t a “real” hero because he didn’t have powers.

  • A thematic thread throughout the book is the power of choice. Colonel Chaos chose to try to bring his wife back and distance himself from his son. Chris chose to leave the Crusading Comet behind during their escape from Clermont. Morty chose to sacrifice himself because he had one more lesson to teach Warren.

  • “Warren Kensington—both of them—gives me the same businesslike nod” recalls an earlier line from the book: “They’re all named Warren Kensington.”

  • For better or worse, Crimsonstreak views Warren as the little brother he never had. This probably means they’ll continue to bicker and fuss while Chris remains overprotective of the young Crusading Comet.

  • “There’s no magic superhero intuition, no instant solution for everything. When we manage to save the day, it’s usually thanks to sheer determination and a lot of luck.” This line says a lot about Chris and superheroes in general. They may not always know what to do in a given situation, but they’re going to try to save the day.

  • In the original draft of the book, there was a more overt reference to the presence of the character who eventually became Stoner Cheetah. It took too much of the focus away from Chris, so I changed it.

  • “Running. Always running. Not today” is a twist on the familiar phrase used throughout the book. Here it serves to let us know we’re finished…for now.