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TomMartinArt's picture


By TomMartinArt in Arrest Us

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A broken henchman has taken his last beating.


sean of the dead's picture
sean of the dead from Madisonville, KY is reading Peckerwood, by Jed Ayres June 20, 2014 - 5:06pm


* Such an awesome approach. As soon as he started desribing his boss, I thought "Could it be?" Then when he made it clear who he was in relation to the famous folks, I thought "So good."

Adding to that, the relationship between the narrator and the "hero" of the story, when he explains how as a kid he looked up to him, wanted to be him, is a great touch.

* Part of me really wanted to see a mention of a word bubble above the action, a *SMACK* or *POW* or *OOOOF,* but that's my dumb sense of humor, so I haven't let it affect my judgment.

* When he smashes the hero's fingers, a quotation mark is missing, which makes the paragraph get confusing for a second. No biggie, but definitely needs to get fixed.

* Make a point to differentiate between the flashback and the present...when it goes from the mackeral beating straight into limping into the bus station, it was a little off-putting. Same thing later on, when the scene changes drastically. Maybe use the old centered ### trick or something?

* Overall impression: Very good. I love it it comes back around and ties back in to the title and the theme. Great "origin" story for some new character in the "Who's Who" series. I like this a lot. It surprised me with its climax in a good way. Definitely a thumbs up from me!

Nice work, dude!

TomMartinArt's picture
TomMartinArt from Amherst, MA June 20, 2014 - 5:24pm

Thanks man! 

That's something I've been a little leery of for a long time. When ending a declaration with a quoted question, does the sentence in end a question mark? Is it

I asked Dana "do you want pizza or spaghettios?"

I asked Dana "do you want pizza or spaghettios."

I always felt like it was the latter, but that does always look strange. Dana said pizza, by the way. Just FYI.

Joe P's picture
Joe P from Brainerd, MN is reading Wheel of Time June 23, 2014 - 9:00am

Not sure how well fan fiction will do in a crime fiction challenge. There's definitely crime involved. Fan fiction is kind if a shortcut and when I realized what it was, I had that thumbs down button in my mind. But I stuck with it and was glad I did.
And you executed your story well. You took a fresh look at a created world and put your own twist on it. Your MC was original, believable and sympathetic. He has dimension and arch.
I would like to see what kind of world you could create from the ground up. Fan fiction is convenient because there's already a style associates with it. As soon as you started to describe the amusement park, I was there, because I've already seen that setting a hundred times. I enjoy it, but it's nothing new and not really "yours." Maybe what I'm saying is that I think of fan fiction as training wheels and I think you're ready to take yours off. See what you can do without them holding you back.
As far as suggestion for improving this story, I have two thoughts: 1) You might as well use the B-word, the J-word and the G-City-word. We all know who and where you're talking about. Might as well not dance around them. 2) I think your MC is earning his own costume/identity. I'd like to see some hints of what the eventually will be. The lisp and bandages and gloves are adding up to something, but I'm not sure what yet.
Hope this helps. Keep on writing! Good luck in the contest.

Joe P's picture
Joe P from Brainerd, MN is reading Wheel of Time June 23, 2014 - 9:02am

I asked Dana, "Do you want pizza or Spaghettios?"

This is the grammatically correct version. 

TomMartinArt's picture
TomMartinArt from Amherst, MA June 23, 2014 - 12:39pm

Thanks for the upvote mister, but I definitely disagree that "fan fiction" is the word for what this is. I'd have used analogues if this kind of situation were more widespread in genre fiction, but as-is, I felt like appropriating the big guys- indistinct and vague though they were- and appropriating a few of the tropes.

Being vague was because with the names instact, it would have had that greasy feeling of fan fiction. That chemical taste you pick up in artificial flavor. Maybe you get that chemical taste from here, I don't know. Me, I'm comfortable with it.

Jonathan Riley's picture
Jonathan Riley from Memphis, Tennessee is reading Flashover by Gordon Highland June 23, 2014 - 5:17pm

I loved this. The very first thought that popped in my head is that this guy has a pretty sharp head on his shoulder for just a henchmen. And later I realized that was the point. Such a neat approach to humanize a throwaway character in a popular fictional world. He has depth, a background, history with his boss and nemesis that come before his dealings with hard crime.

I like the exclusion of the B and J word and G city. I actually think, if there is someone out there that knows nothing at all about batman, but is aware that super heroes exist in fiction, could love this story just as much without all the context. That's what makes this story so good.  A very compelling character. Knowing a little about Batman and the Gotham world just makes it even more enjoyable with all the nods you give with the funny antedotes, the crazy schemes, the settings, it all works great.

Yeah, I've got nothing negative to say about this one. I immensly enjoyed it Tom, as I do with most of your stuff. Keep it up. Good luck.


Jonathan Riley's picture
Jonathan Riley from Memphis, Tennessee is reading Flashover by Gordon Highland June 23, 2014 - 5:19pm

Damn double post.

TomMartinArt's picture
TomMartinArt from Amherst, MA June 23, 2014 - 5:22pm

Thanks Jonathan!!

Erik Carl Son's picture
Erik Carl Son from New England is reading Sunset and Sawdust by Joe Lansdale June 24, 2014 - 9:14am

Fun story and a great take.


TomMartinArt's picture
TomMartinArt from Amherst, MA June 24, 2014 - 5:05pm

Thanks mister. I think you forgot to vote, unless you were going ot vote with a thumbs-down, in which case you got it and don't worry about it.

Seb's picture
Seb from Thanet, Kent, UK June 25, 2014 - 11:36pm

Well-written and engaging, but I wish you'd used original characters instead of writing fan fiction (albeit well-written and engaging fan fiction, which is so rare it makes this story an endangered species). I love the idea of focusing on a minor henchman and playing with the hero/villain thing, but it felt like you were taking bits from various Batman canons and mixing them into something that didn't quite fit. It's very real world, yet the villain would not sustain the way you painted him. I really want to like this but I struggled to see past the well known characters, and the ending just seemed to show how much the real world/comic world you are using just doesn't blend. I suppose that might be the point, but then why not create your own hero and villain? Still, an enjoyable read and an interesting take on the competition.

Wonder Woman's picture
Wonder Woman from RI is reading 20th Century Ghosts June 25, 2014 - 4:26pm

I found the story very enjoyable and downright nauseating (in the best of ways!) I love the henchmen's backstory and the ending gives the reader a wonderful BIFF! to face. Nice job, man.

TomMartinArt's picture
TomMartinArt from Amherst, MA June 26, 2014 - 7:57am

Thanks yo!!

Hector Acosta's picture
Hector Acosta from Dallas is reading Fletch June 25, 2014 - 7:38pm

Hey Tom,

There's actually quite a few stories like this out there. If you're curious, check out Beat to a Pulp: Superheroes, or the Masked anthology.

I liked this story, but I would have enjoyed it a lot more if you would have used your own creations. Whether you think it's fan fiction or not, using, or alluding to famous characters felt like it brought more baggage and didn't really positively affect the story.  Because I am a comic book fan, every so often I would stop and think "Well, the Joker/Batman wouldn't really do that", something that goes away if you have your own characters.

The other issue is that using the Joker and Batman, and then killing them for the sake of making the main character look even more deadly leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Your writing, and story is better than that.

I really think that this story is bordering on great. You have a great handle on your main character and his voice, and I really dug his transition from henchmen into a villain I really would love to see a second draft with your own take on superheroes.

TomMartinArt's picture
TomMartinArt from Amherst, MA June 26, 2014 - 7:57am

While I appreciate the upvote and your kind words, I gotta fuss at ya.

The other issue is that using the Joker and Batman, and then killing them for the sake of making the main character look even more deadly leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

That's definitely not what I was trying to portray. He's not deadly, he's not supervillain material, he's not that bright. He only succeeded because no one was looking out for him. He's Robert Ford.

Liam Hogan's picture
Liam Hogan from Earth is reading Hugo Nominations July 1, 2014 - 7:36am

Hi Tom.

Great fun, nice conceit, could be elevated a little higher!

I'd start it a little brisker - either start false (mawkish) and then correct, or start true and then "you weren't expecting that,were you" rather than "i almost did something" for which you still end up apologising.

You could do with a careful proofread - ugly repetition, mainly "I think
about what happened" followed by "I remember what happened" sort of thing. Especially as this is cruising at the upper word count. Couple of typos as well "bulding" (for building) is one.

I'd be keen to drop the word "Gotham" in there fairly early. It's nicely misleading, as it's the nickname for NY, but also where Batman prowls. Maybe "I’m leaving town. Like, right now. Get the fuck out of Gotham." or something.

He wakes up in the marsh but seems dry, he wakes up after a beating but has money for the bus? He gets on a bus all beaten up, with no objections or other passenger reaction? Explain, or at least comment?

I'd also go easy with the "remote car starter" and other precise descriptions of the trap he sets, it doesn't quite ring true, and glossing it over would be fine. Heck, I'd have him buy 50m of wire, and go old skool...

You don't mention the two bodyguards at the end. (Recruit them, perhaps?)

Overall, a fun read, but it feels like you haven't quite got your mileage out of the idea. Perhaps it's partly because it reads a little like fan fiction (you have to write as the Joker, but it comes across as sligthtly flat, slightly out from the fireworks we expect). 

I'd also nix the bus ride. Since he comes back, it isn't necessary. He can think of doing it, but doesn't need to do it and then return.

Finally, I'd LOVE to see him reading the "help wanted" page for supervillains. As you create a "real world" for henchmen, then have him considering going to work for Lex Luthor, or green goblin, or something...

Good read though. Thanks!



chiracjacques81's picture
chiracjacques81 May 2, 2023 - 12:58am

Remote control cars are not only fun to play with but can also provide a great way for people to develop hand-eye coordination, motor skills, and problem-solving abilities. They can be used for racing, stunts, or simply for cruising around the house or yard.

Adam Jenkins's picture
Adam Jenkins from Bracknell, England is reading RCX Magazine (Issue 1 coming soon) July 3, 2014 - 2:05pm

One thing that I wasn't expecting from this contest was any fan fiction stories, taking well established characters and spinning them into a non-canon tale. I figured that fan fiction was pretty lazy, so no self-respecting writer would get involved with that and put it up for review on a forum such as this. Luckily I have not come across and fan fiction at all in this contest. I'm not even sure why I brought it up.

Seriously though, I would not consider this fan fiction in any way, in the same way I would consider League of Extraordinary Gentlemen to be fan fiction, or the books of Kim Newman. You could easily have mad changes to the certain characters to avoid anybody having issues, especially as you mention no names. It honestly didn't bother me at all, but you may have avoided some of the choicer criticisms had you done so.

What you have here is a very clever take on the superhero/villain genre. There are meta segments, and meta is very popular at the moment, so it feels like those Austin Powers skits meets Community. Introducing killing into this world gives it a nice bit of humour while referencing the original source material in a reverential way. Basically what you seem to do is take a real life pragmatic criminal, and drop him into a comic book world so he can mess with their rules. I love that.

If I'm being picky, the scene with the Jok... er, the Clown villain, was the weakest part. The meta humour is slightly heavy handed. I'd almost prefer that part to be hinted at but sever seen, and maybe replaced with how he got from jail to being a henchman. This is being picky though, because the story as it is works well, and is easily one of the more enjoyable stories I have read in the contest. Big thumbs up.