Friday, April 6, 2012

Beyond Imagination

In my last batch of new reviews, I covered the comic Twilight Lady and while I loved the most recent story (The Indwellers), earlier chapters were, um, less great.  There are many reasons for it including the stilted Poser (a 3D imaging program) art of these early chapters.  The real problem though, is one I've dealt with myself.

I love creating things, universes, ships, and characters, and I like pushing the limits of what can be created.  Specifically, I set out to create the most powerful human character that could ever be imagined.  Yeah, I'm a touch ambitious.  So much so, I actually had to sit down and define what the limits of imagination were so I could get beyond them, only to discover that no individual can get beyond their own limits of imagination.  That said, my character was beyond MY imagination, which is weird but not the point.

The point is I succeeded in my goal, but discovered very quickly that I had a serious problem:  I couldn't USE the character.  Effectively, there was nothing that could actively threaten this character, and any action taken against them or their 'loved ones' could be easily undone.  Stories, of course, need conflicts of some sort, but with my character, there wasn't any.

This is the problem in Twilight Lady.  The Lady really has few if any direct threats to her.  So few, she might as well not have any at all.  Thus it is hard to create a proper story for her, and more importantly, hard to create a reason for her to CARE.  Creating a reason for her to care is the downfall of the comic, as it forces an idea upon her that she might not really have.  When I said my character was beyond my imagination, I mean I can't imagine WHAT that character can imagine or thinks.  The Lady is in that same realm, but they've tried to put thoughts and imagination on her.

Now, I said in my review I preferred the most current version of the Lady, one restricted to the body of her "shield."  Why?  Because it does the same thing I had to do to make my character useful:  Force a limitation.  In my case, I either had to remove most of the power from my character or actually make the story about before that character gained all that power (an origin story if you will).  This makes the character much more likely to care about the immediate situation, and this is exactly what happens to the Lady.  Once she's restricted, having her care is far easier, and more believable.

Still, the problem with the Lady didn't stand out greatly until several pages were dedicated to her monologuing to herself.  Her motivations were laid bare, and her desires became keen and obvious.  Mystery of what she wanted was what made the Indwellers chapter so interesting.  Once the mystery was stripped away, I became disenchanted with her.  The worse part?  The last few pages have had the other characters speculating on her motivations.  It's good, written properly from their perspective with the information they have.  But we know they're more or less wrong, so what was the point?

With my character, in the origin story there is an antagonist (not villain) who commits a series of actions that are strange and are not explained, so much so that even his last action in the story remains an in universe mystery.  AKA:  I do not know why he did it.  It gives rise to a lot of in universe speculation and makes the character much more interesting.  What's more, my character, later on, hints that they might actually know why he did it.  This pushes the character beyond me and makes even me wonder what was found.

With characters as powerful as these, mystery is required, and stripping it away ruins the character a bit.  The good news is that skipping those early chapters of Twilight Lady doesn't effect the understanding of the most recent chapters, and thus the mystery is maintained.  Frankly, I'll probably be ignoring most of the early stuff (not all of it) so that I can more easily enjoy the comic, but it will still bother me.

And someday I might actually release the origin story of my character, which if you hadn't noticed I haven't even told the gender of yet.  But not today.

Anyway, that's enough for this week.  Until next time kiddies.

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