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Dart
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Joined: 02 Dec 2019
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 08, 2019 3:41 pm    Post subject: Battles at the Dusk Reply with quote

Switching gears.
Wondering about the logic behind gladiator match-ups at the Dusk.
The quota is 1-2 people a week. Wayne is not interested in losing more people than that, that'd be a waste. (Well, maybe just a few more people, the audience needs its fun.)

It sounds like normally, Marty fights every night. (Technically, that's never explicitly stated, but pretty strongly implied. The most direct instance being "he showed me how to fight twice as much every night".)

Marty has what look like scars from a whip on his back. (My guess is that they are not from the gladiator fights, but from before he arrived at the Dusk.)
Other than that, there seem to be no overt signs of past injury.
So, either he rarely (if ever) gets hurt in the fights, or he gets magical healing when needed. (Don't know if that's a thing Lucideus-based magic can do, but that seems plausible. And if magical healing is a thing, we know that either not all gladiators receive it, or it still takes a while to recover - "knifey Neil won't be fighting again for a while".
If magical healing exists but not all gladiators get it, Marty, being one of the star attractions, could justify the extra trouble and expense. But if so, that's only an extra incentive to minimize the chances of him getting hurt, i.e. to pitch him against people who are unlikely to injure him.)

So, all in all, it seems most likely that Marty fights often, and almost always wins. And Marty being Marty, he leaves his opponents in pretty bad shape.
But I don't think he usually kills them (though that must still happen pretty regularly). If most Marty fights ended with a death, he wouldn't be allowed to fight nightly - that would be way over the goal of 1-2 deaths per week, and Marty isn't the only "crazie" there.
(And he does seem like he'd lose interest once an opponent was unconscious, which leaves a somewhat-decent chance of survival. Probably, most/all of Marty's fighting experience is from the arena, so he was never under pressure to kill, only to put on a show. He might be neither interested in, nor know how to, kill someone efficiently, just entertainingly.)

Marty being paired up with Bob makes a lot of sense - Bob seems like the most useless gladiator of the Homeville bunch. (Joe's shown his attitude before, Wayne heard about Kiku "defeating a guard in his sleep", and Henson has the more impressive build. And Bob doesn't look or act like gladiator material at all.)
Seeing as Wayne later throws Kiku into the Pit, we know it's about time to fill the quota.
So the intention was probably for Bob to lose to Marty and be tossed into the Pit.
Then Wayne, being annoyed at Bob's "victory", uses Kiku to get back at the Homeville group, and drive home the point that they must play by his rules or things will get worse for them.

Other than being annoyed / taking the opportunity to teach a lesson, there seems to be very little justification for Wayne to get rid of Kiku of all people. From Wayne's perspective, I'd think Kiku would be pretty valuable - good entertainment, unusual weapon and dress style, etc.
But who knows, maybe there were no old hands Wayne was willing to part with. And a newbie is a newbie, easy come easy go.

--

Also wondering about the wide bars.
Seems like such a stupid thing to have. Surely Wayne would not make that mistake accidentally, and surely the events of the comic are not the first time someone slipped through the bars.

It could be a plot device / used for a laugh with no proper in-universe logic, but that's boring and also could be used to justify anything, so it's a last-resort explanation. Moving on.

A deliberate decision to increase the entertainment value? - doesn't quite scan.
"Give the fighters an option to "cheat", so that the audience has an extra reason to get involved" and/or "add dramatic tension by giving the fighters an illusion that they can escape"? - but if the fighters slip back into the cells and are hiding somewhere in the back, the arena is empty and boring. Even if the audience can throw a fireball after them through the bars, they can't enjoy the effects.

Maybe initially Wayne intended to only have big, strong gladiators, who would not fit through the bars; so it only became an issue when he started throwing anyone and everyone in the Pit (with the quota and all).

Surely he could fix it... But maybe he didn't want to put the battles on hold long enough to install new bars.

That seems somewhat plausible.
The bars were close enough together for the kind of fighters Wayne initially had in mind...
Then someone scrawny ended up in the arena and snuck in and out during (a) fight(s). (Could be even before the quota.) Maybe it resulted in something the audience enjoyed, like going in for extra weapons mid-fight.
And after a few fights like that, people came to expect/enjoy that possibility, so Wayne decided to keep it.

And we know there are rules in place to discourage "common rookie mistakes", so for all we know, there may be a rule about "no hiding out of sight for more than (however long)", punishable in some audience-directed way.
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Dart
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 08, 2019 9:45 pm    Post subject: Sand Beetles and the prison Reply with quote

Wonder if taking the prisoners was ordered by Hat Person, or was the initiative of one of the Sand Beetles. If Hat Person is so concerned about secrecy, the whole thing seems very chancy. They could, I suppose, be short of time and getting reckless, but...

And the thing about patrols every 10 minutes indicates the guards expected something to happen, so it may not even have been the first time something fishy happened? But the guards did act shocked at the bodies' disappearance, so we know at least that part hasn't happened before.
And the guards could do the frequent patrols as a precaution after receiving a tip - think there was a conversation about the prisoners being scared / "the dawn is coming".

(Not completely sure if the Sand Beetles and the Dawn are related, but will assume so for the time being.)

So the prisoners know something about the Sand Beetles (or at least that there's something to be afraid of).
The green-haired guy seemed to know a fair bit (recognized a Sand Beetle / called it a pest and mentioned they don't usually attack nobles).
Jim mentioned the Dawn as though he expected it to be common knowledge / expected the heroes to get the reference.

I get the impression most commoners in Hometropolis have at least some idea about all this, while most nobles are completely clueless (seeing as it doesn't usually affect them). (Jim is an exception, but he spends a good deal of time among commoners and takes an interest in them. Not to mention he probably has some inside knowledge from the Dusk's dealings with (presumably) Hat-Person.)


Which brings us to the social structure.
The nobles who cause trouble in Homeville are apparently rich kids willing to go out of their way, and they all seem pretty similar. But in Hometropolis, we see the "nobles" actually make up quite a stratified society. There are "upper-class nobles" (like the Dusk's patrons), but also plenty with less than glamorous jobs.
The postman is a noble.
The guards are nobles, even the low-ranking ones.
Jim may have extra reasons to do what he does, but he puts up with an abusive employer and a job that goes against his morals.

Seems that in Hometropolis, being a noble is assumed to be the default. In and of itself, it doesn't mean you're high in society, it just means you're a human being with rights. (As for non-nobles, - "But my servants-" - "it's alright, you'll get new ones".)


Had an idea I was trying to get to, something about how Sand-Beetles-prison-incident connects with stratified-society-of-nobles. But too tired and lost it by now.
OK, that's enough then.

((Edit Dec 17: took out incorrect detail re: the postman wearing "a student uniform". He isn't.))


Last edited by Dart on Tue Dec 17, 2019 8:51 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Aja
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Joined: 21 Jul 2002
Posts: 2018
Location: Thataway

PostPosted: Tue Dec 10, 2019 12:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ooh... to be honest, that "every night" line on page 186 is one of the things I've been meaning to fix (along with the corresponding text on 168). Nightly arena matches really would be way too often. It would make more sense for the fights to be a weekly or semi-weekly event.

Unfortunately, there are literally hundreds of little problems and inconsistencies on my "To Fix" list that I haven't had the time or energy to address, given my schedule for the past few years. That's why I was pleasantly surprised to hear that the comic still seems reasonably cohesive. That's also why I especially appreciate these thoughtful posts you've been making; you've already helped me to prioritize which things most need to be corrected/clarified as soon as I can get some free time.

Re: The Beetles: Hmmm... not sure how much to say. My usual policy is, "If something is (unintentionally) confusing in the comic, I shouldn't explain it on the forum; I should make it clear in the comic."

There are a few things on my "To Fix" list that might make things clearer, but for starters: Would it help to brighten up the bits of straw that are stuck to Patches in the first panel of this page? (I just asked my co-author, who said yes, those are way too dim for anyone to notice. Oops.)

As for the arena's bar-spacing situation, you've got it exactly. Grin Early on, they thought, "Hey, we're only throwing big beefy goons in here -- why not save money by buying only 60% of the recommended quantity of bars?"
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Dart
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 10, 2019 10:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ahh, I did manage to poke a hole or two in reality!

While fixing things would be neat, having some inconsistencies is both unavoidable and perfectly OK. And it's fine to keep going despite them. I'm sure most readers prefer "more pages with a few inconsistencies" to "few pages but not a thing out of place". (Myself included, believe it or not.)

And I doubt many people would dive into the details as much as I do, it's a personal curs- I mean, superpower.
Besides, very few of my conclusions are things I'd place a very high level of certainty on. One reader toying with some crackpot theories based on insufficient data doesn't mean things need to be changed/clarified.
(I was actually thinking of easing off on the analysis, seeing how the comic's probably not even halfway done (...feels like it's only just getting started...), and there's way too little info about a lot of things.)

Re: bits of straw: they are definitely visible on pg 322. I didn't miss them because they're too faint, I missed them because they didn't draw my attention on first reading, and I didn't re-read that scene.
OK, seems that the 2 sets of beetles are coming from the same place, and my crazy little idea got shot down. Good good, I wasn't fond of it.
(I added a bit to my Sand-Beetle post a few days ago when I realized there's a way simpler explanation, not sure if you saw - "Upd Dec 8: ... Spike+Patches may not be "covering" the arena drop point; both pairs of Sand Beetles might check it every once in a while, among other things they do")


Re: "every night" - makes sense. It doesn't even need changing, really - it could be an implied "every night when there is fighting".

Re: bar spacing - woo, got a thing! ^__^
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Aja
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Joined: 21 Jul 2002
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 11, 2019 2:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dart wrote:
Ahh, I did manage to poke a hole or two in reality!

I knew this day would come.

*goes to Home Depot for some Reality Spackle*

Dart wrote:
And I doubt many people would dive into the details as much as I do, it's a personal curs- I mean, superpower.

As a card-carrying over-analyzer, myself, I completely understand. Nudge Nudge I'm impressed with how much you've pieced together based on the few hints that have been dropped in the comic so far.

My co-author's second beetle-related observation was that perhaps the time label at the start of Page 435 is easy to miss.

That scene skips back in time by about an hour, so everything (up through the meeting with Hat Person) is actually a mini-flashback that's happening before everyone arrives at the sand heap.

In case Spike's weird speech balloons are a source of ambiguity: The fuzzy/grainy borders were meant to represent Marty's voice becoming sort of breathy/raspy as a result of inhaling all that sand (which Spike still hasn't bothered to clear out completely). The wobbly text is due to Spike being recently cracked. (At least, that's what I was going for. I can see how it could be interpreted in different ways.)

Anyway, hopefully most things will become clearer over time as the comic progresses. Grin Like you said, there's a lot of story ahead!
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Dart
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 11, 2019 7:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Aja wrote:
...perhaps the time label ... is easy to miss.
...happening before everyone arrives at the sand heap


Wow, did I over-complicate that.
On first reading, I did think that was Spike. Then I went back and only re-read bits of that scene, and didn't even look at the page with the time marker.
Another mix-up on my part, not the comic's.

Aja wrote:
Marty's voice becoming sort of breathy/raspy as a result of inhaling all that sand (which Spike still hasn't bothered to clear out completely)


O__O
Poor Marty. As if everything else wasn't bad enough...
Dammit Patches, you do sand-particle-necro-manipulation, how hard can it be to clear it out? Just as a matter of basic decency? Having foreign material in the lungs is all kinds of unpleasant, you know.
(Not going to say 'dammit Spike', 'Spike' and 'basic decency' don't mix.)
(Dammit, he's already dead, how does that make it worse?.. >__< )
...oh damn. I thought Marty's death was relatively quick and painless, he probably didn't even have a chance to realize what's happening. That Spike got him right as the sand closed over him, more or less.
But sand as far as the lungs... Not all that quick, I guess.
For all we know, he climbed out himself...
Might've been alive as late as panel 7 on pg 372...
Oh damn... ;__;
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errantskies
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 12, 2019 11:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dart wrote:
...oh damn. I thought Marty's death was relatively quick and painless, he probably didn't even have a chance to realize what's happening. That Spike got him right as the sand closed over him, more or less.
But sand as far as the lungs... Not all that quick, I guess.
For all we know, he climbed out himself...
Might've been alive as late as panel 7 on pg 372...
Oh damn... ;__;


On page 380, Richard pegged Martyís time of death as being on page 370. Personally I consider that correct (I said so in a different post someplace and Aja even seemed to confirm it, but Iím not sure on that), so my interpretation is this: Although the body is dead and doesnít need to breathe for paltry reasons like ďlivingĒ, they DO need to breathe in order to speak (airflow over the vocal chords is kind of a requirement of speech). So Marty actually inhaled the sand particles AFTER he died, in page 372 when he starts coughing. At that point itís only the beetle pretending to be Marty to fool the heroes, but the coughing fit is genuine.

Also, I like your in-depth analyses a lot, and I think you should continue if you feel the desire! I over-analyze things myself, but putting it into words is hard so I just kind of do it in my head mostly.

Hereís something you might find delightfully intriguing, like I did: in page 275, the Coroner tells us, the readers, that the sand isnít actually sand but rather ďhighly dessicated organic materialĒ. So, contrary to the name, the sand beetles donít control sand, they can control living (or formerly living) matter.
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Dart
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 12, 2019 3:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Errantskies! Thanks for the reply!

Re:Marty's time of death:
It's not impossible the sand was inhaled after Marty's death. But breathing in while submerged seems like an instinctive thing. Spike had no reason to inhale sand, they don't want to damage the body; and if the body does still have the instinct to breathe (and/or actually needs to breathe while being puppeteered - you never know), I'd guess Spike would be able to override it and wait until out of the sand.
(It's possible to go without breathing for over 2 minutes, sometimes much more, without any lasting ill effects; but without training, the instinct to gasp usually kicks in much sooner, even when it's a very bad idea.)
And inhaling to speak once out of the sand, and accidentally breathing in a bit of the sand, shouldn't result in many particles reaching the lungs. Healthy humans tend to have pretty heavy defenses against that.
I suppose it's possible that Spike did that on purpose to make the puppet more convincing, but he doesn't seem to be thinking about it at the initial moment, plus (as above) it doesn't seem to make sense damaging the body.
...I doubt it makes any real difference to the story whether Marty died a couple of minutes earlier or later. I just get too attached to characters.


errantskies wrote:
...you should continue if you feel the desire! I over-analyze things myself

Woo, over-analysers unite! ^__^
Glad you enjoyed.
With the things I missed when relying on memory (and how relevant many of the little things can be), I feel like I'd need to re-read the whole comic. (Which I might do.)


errantskies wrote:
...the sand isnít actually sand but rather ďhighly dessicated organic materialĒ.

Good point! I remember necromancy had been mentioned elsewhere in the comic a couple times. I'm guessing necromancy is what allows Sand Beetles to control dead organic matter.
(But it's probably a different process than how they control the bodies, at least in part.)
I'll still call it "sand" for simplicity though, unless there's a more-accurate-but-still-short-enough term that fits...
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errantskies
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 12, 2019 10:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think the key difference is that sand is heavier and harder to breathe in than a finer, more powdery material. Remember how the Sarge compared it to biscuit mix? The art also demonstrates that itís lighter because we can see how easily itís kicked up into clouds. Probably any movement in that big old sand mountain would put a lot of it into the air, making it very easy to breathe in a bunch of it. But youíre right that really only makes a couple of minutesí difference in Martyís time of death.

Spikeís concern about the condition of the body is probably because itíll no longer be able to heal. So the more the body is injured, the shorter the time heíll be able to make use of it (as the damage racks up). He might not care about something internal that doesnít compromise the bodyís structural integrity, like a broken bone would. But then again, the sand inhalation changes the sound of his voice, and he could consider that important if he wants the bodies to pass for lifelike/be usable as disguises. He seemed to imply in his conversation with Hat Person that their purpose is more like soldiers, though.

I have reread parts of True Magic many, many times over now. Every time I get curious about a minor detail I only half-remember, it starts me on another archive binge. I donít think Iíve ever reread the entire comicís run before, but I have definitely done so several times over multiple sittings. The most impressive part is the humor never wears out; the same silly bits still make me chuckle every time I read them again.
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Dart
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 13, 2019 12:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

errantskies wrote:
...any movement in that big old sand mountain would put a lot of it into the air, making it very easy to breathe in a bunch of it. ...

True. But if that alone were sufficient to change someone's voice, it would happen to the rest of the heroes too. They spent a good while rolling around in that sandbox.
Then again, a strong enough coughing fit (especially on top of all that recent yelling) can do enough damage to the vocal cords to change voice quality.
But then again, that's how it works in a living body; who knows how dead-but-Sand-Beetle-controlled tissue reacts...
I guess the exact timing can be left to interpretation.
At this point, think I prefer to think Marty got to punch Patches himself. Go out with a bang.

errantskies wrote:

He might not care about something internal that doesnít compromise the bodyís structural integrity, like a broken bone would.

Wonder how intact a body needs to be to be useful/usable.
Maybe the Sand Beetles can control bodies through a similar process to how they move the sand ("necro-kinesis"?), in which case the body could be mashed to a pulp (...or desiccated and ground up...) and still be usable.
But that must be inferior to keeping it intact and using a crystal needle.

I'd think the Beetle makes use of at least some of the internal workings (whether or not that's strictly necessary). At first I thought the body might work through much the same mechanisms as it did in life (why re-invent the wheel, right?), which would mean it needs to retain most of its functions (blood-flow, etc). But puppet-Marty was able to hold Henson in place with one hand (#379), suggesting it's a different mechanism, or at least a combination of "normal life processes" and "necro-kinesis"/etc.

I really wonder what would happen if the Corporal powered that body in the lab for a few seconds longer. It could tell us whether the "power" and "will" driving a puppet come from the same source.
Would the body only react instinctively and/or lie still after the initial jolt?
Would it automatically reflect the Corporal's feelings/reactions?
Would it behave the way what's-his-name did in life?
I have a feeling we'll find out more about this as the story goes on, though.

errantskies wrote:
I have reread parts of True Magic many, many times over now. ... The most impressive part is the humor never wears out; the same silly bits still make me chuckle every time I read them again.

Heh, yeah. I've been quoting jokes and funny bits from TM to friends non-stop for the past couple weeks.[/quote]
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