Friday, November 25, 2011

MASKS Commentary Track: Chapter 19

Well, what do you guys think of this one, huh? Tell me I surprised you at least a little. Go on, tell me. No, seriously, I’ll cry otherwise.

Oh, all right. This chapter is one of those points where the differences between Trevor’s point of view and Rae’s become really apparent. Trevor’s actions in the previous chapter made perfect sense to him, but to Rae they were absolutely crazy. And of course the explanation only makes the whole situation worse.

I enjoyed bending genres in this chapter. I deliberately wrote Rae creeping through the tunnels as if she were in a horror movie. One of the things that always intrigued me about superhero comics is the way they combined genres in utterly insane ways. They’d have team-ups between kung fu masters and wizards and secret agents and vampires and space aliens and cowboys and time travelers and God knows whatall else. You never knew when your favorite superhero would find himself in the middle of a horror movie, or a spy thriller, or a cosmic odyssey. And the superheroes mostly take it for granted that these things happen. So the horror overtones in this chapter were my way of reminding everyone that in a book with a ghost cowboy, a teleporting super-commando, a were-tiger and the last son of a dying planet all running around, anything can happen. And it usually does.

Moving on!

I know I’m going to get asked about this, so I’ll mention it now: the “artist’s impression” Rae mentions was planted waaaaayyy back in Chapter 5, when Rae was griping about her bad press. Yeah, I plan that far back. Anything can happen!

Once again, the conflict in this chapter comes down to whom you believe. We’ve seen in Trevor’s flashbacks that he’s haunted by the train bombing, but do we believe his version of events—that he screwed up—or Rae’s—that he’s a murderous terrorist? And do we believe Rae’s story about finding the Peregrine costume in a box, or do we think she had something to do with Jude’s disappearance? Don’t worry, we’ll get into all these issues in later chapters.

The Masked Rider makes another appearance in this chapter, but you might notice the change in Rae’s behavior—for the first time, instead of hiding from him, she tries to chase him down. I think this is the first scene where we see how reckless Rae’s capable of being. We know she’s scared of the Rider, but that doesn’t matter when someone she loves is at stake. She’s willing to literally chase after the angel of death. She doesn’t do the greatest job of it—there’s no way she’s going to catch that horse on foot—but this is a major turning point for Rae, and you’ll see how it affects her as we move into the last third of the book. This won’t be the last time she does something crazy because she’s run out of non-crazy options.

The next chapter gave me an interesting bit of trouble. I don’t know whether you’ve noticed, but the chapters in Masks alternate points of view—Rae gets all the odd chapters and Trevor gets all the even ones. Trevor’s just been kidnapped by Cobalt, so the next chapter would logically show what happens to people after Cobalt takes them. But … well, what you see isn’t always what you get, okay? Just come back next Wednesday for a guest star you won’t forget …

This week’s soundtrack is “Reason to Breathe” by Acacia Sears. (Personally, I prefer the recording on her album, "Dialtones", but I couldn't embed it here.) Something about this song speaks to the misunderstanding between Rae and Trevor: “Couldn’t we please just try this again from hello? / Take back the history, make believe we just didn’t know …” 
Reason to Breathe

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