Chaos Reigns and the Enforcer’s Porsche
- I’ve never been to New York City, something that will probably be completely obvious to anyone from the area who reads this book. I did a little research here and there to wrap my head around the city’s layout.
- Now “out and about,” Chris is confronted with a city devoid of people. It’s almost like the aftermath of a zombie apocalypse. New York is there, but it’s not New York. The implication here is that people are too scared to walk the streets and are holed up in their homes.
- “Certainly not Superman, not in these dark times.” Superman continues to be a hero who takes on a more hopeful outlook on America’s possibilities. This is a clue on how Chris sees the world in stark terms of right and wrong. Although he’s been thrown in prison by his own father and watched his mother die on national television, he retains a sense of hopefulness, even if buried.
- The encounter with the Enforcer here was originally just a run-of-the-mill, milquetoast henchman for the New World Common Wealth. In early drafts, Chris originally encountered Warren IV while hiding inside the Kensington penthouse. After meeting Warren, he was introduced to Morty. It worked, but Warren IV became a “ridealong” character who didn’t have much of a personality. Warren IV’s earliest incarnations suffered from “Whiny Skywalker Syndrome.”
- The Enforcer’s voice breaks, “Peter Brady-style” provides a hint that our Enforcer here may not be all that comfortable with what he’s doing. It also gives me a chance to reference The Brady Brunch, for better or worse. The reference likely sailed over the heads of younger readers.
- Oddly, Chapter 6 included “New Chaos City” in the title, but Morty never mentioned that particular change (how…Morty…of him). So when Chris sees the “NCC” badge, he’s not sure what to think. Chapter 7 provides our first mention in the narrative about the name change New York has undergone.
- Originally, Crimsonstreak said, “Don’t taze me, bro!” when confronted with the particle buster. I thought it was funny, but that reference became very dated. I changed it to a “boomstick” reference from Evil Dead. I thought the latter had the chance for broader appeal.
- “Wishing again that Crimsonspeed also came along with Crimsonstrength” reminds us again that Chris has his limitations.
- Crimsonstreak’s decision to kidnap an Enforcer in broad daylight isn’t prudent. It’s brash, borderline stupid. It reminds us that Chris isn’t perfect; he makes a few missteps from time to time.
- Chris has “kidnapped” Warren Kensington IV. It seems coincidental, but I like to think Warren and Morty were working behind-the-scenes to make this happen. It serves as a “loyalty test” for Crimsonstreak, and Warren is in no danger whatsoever. We don’t realize that until the “interrogation” concludes.
- Again, it’s worth mentioning that Warren wasn’t the original character kidnapped. It was initially a random Enforcer. Warren IV’s character arc wasn’t all that strong, so I placed him in the Enforcer Corps as an undercover operative. His father was pressed into Crusading Comet duty earlier than expected; Warren IV ends up going that route as well. He was originally a more trusting, “Crimsonstreak, show me the way” type of character. It didn’t work very well, so I redeveloped him to be more assertive. His teenage years have been stolen away by the rise of the NWCW much as Chris’ college years were stolen away after his mother’s death.
- “Of course his name is Warren Kensington. They’re all named Warren Kensington.” I’ve always gotten a kick out of that line.
- The dialogue reveals that Warren Kensington IV, a son of privilege and heir to the Crusading Comet mantle, isn’t too thrilled to be where he is. He’s 17 years old in the book, having been born in November 1992. The action in the novel takes place in 2010 if you do the math and cross-reference the ages through the supplemental appendices in the back.
- I really enjoyed changing Warren IV from a “gee whiz!” teenager to a more grizzled “veteran” pressed into duty. He carries a huge chip on his shoulder and provides a good complement (and parallel) for Chris. Both characters have a tendency to think they “know it all,” only to realize they don’t. The Chris-Warren-Morty dynamic becomes the heart of the book through the conclusion.
- My family, indeed, had a Buick Skylark. It was the car I drove in high school. A friend of mine once nicknamed it “Skylark One” after I became president of my high school chapter of the National Honor Society.
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