ears back, I was reading a Manga comic titled Venus Wars. It was a cool comic and I very much enjoyed it. However, in one scene, the heroes are hiding out in an out-of-the-way sewage reclamation plant. Here, they get critical information from a scientist whom the government banished into the hinterlands. And that’s fine – a time-tested plot device. But, if course, the evil government locates them and suddenly there is an open hatch, an alarm, a video image of guys with machine guns coming down the ladder. The heroes (lovers with guns) dash off with pistols to fend them off. And on their faces, broad smiles of youth and resistance.
In reality, this is crazy. If you are running into a metal corridor battle with mooks with automatic weapons, you should be concerned. Hell, you should be scared to death and shitting bricks. But this couple was running hand in hand, guns clutched in their other hands, wide smiles in their faces.
I’ll believe that people can eventually form a colony on Venus before I’ll believe anyone goes into a risky close-in battle in tight spaces with a dog-foolish smile on their face.
This kinda reminds me of one of those early StarWars knock-off stories. It mentioned that Luke Skywalker was taking off under fire from some colony city. The story said something like, “Three TIE fighters attempted to intercept, but he shot them all down.”
Really? Trained pilots in the latest military hardware and you splash the lot of them in a sentence fragment? You’d think you’d have your hands full, that a desperate pilot might even ram you if you were that good.
The point is, it makes your enemies into mooks, expendable bad guys you can kill with easy and flowing dramatic. It also means, as a reader, I’m bored with your story. Why should I be excited about a god-touched hero? Achilles isn’t as interesting and noble as doomed Hector.
Remember, your hero is only as good as his foes (well, if he’s successful against them, perhaps he’s a wee-bit better). But if you put your hero against slap-stick Keystone Cops, your hero will be a joke.
And anyone who smiles going into dangerous combat is either mad (and not worthy of our hero-worship) or knows that the enemy is worthless (so the story is not worth our involvment).
Thoughtful and realistic villains (and the underlings of such) are critical to good storytelling!