It’s Break! She’s growing up, and has partially reversed the colours on her costume I see.
Yknow theres always been a bit of an abusive vibe between these two (Im assuming thats the kid hero whos thing is breaking things whos harassing him).
Time for a rereading of this part of the plotline. Could anyone tell me please where i need to go to start from the beginning of these two characters storylines?
Timmy first showed up in Chapter 28 “Toy Story”. (The robot he built was in Chapter 24 “Teamwork”.) Break stopped the robot and Timmy got arrested in Chapter 43 “Giant Robot”.
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dunno, looks to me like she doesn’t quite grasp that whatever ‘spirit’ this kid had, it’s broken, like all-the-way-broken. as in ‘not fun anymore and if you found out why it’d ruin your career’ broken. think about it, long-haired skinny white kid in prison for long enough to go through puberty, probably NOT a co=ed institution and there’s no guarantee that the people running it aren’t like some of the scandals from the eighties. and it’s worse if they tried him as an adult because of his powers.
He did his time, he comes out, and guess what? He’s got a super dogging him after he’s done his time? there are a lot of ways for someone to break, some go back to crime because why the fuck not when everyone’s going to assume they will? and others, given that choice, that REALIZATION, well…
suicide rates compete with recidivism with young offenders, especially if the time they did is harder time and look: no gang tats.
after re-reading and thinking it through, ignore my last post. there’s a zero percent chance that would in any way, shape, or form be the direction a Sidekick Girl story would go. Honest mistakes with tragic consequences just don’t fit the paradigm, (or the pre-covid pages). it was purely projection on my part-but here’s why;
1. I wasn’t kidding about suicide/recivisim/self-destruction rates for junior offenders, and unless there are a crapton of powered offenders under the age of eighteen, the kind of stuff Timmy was getting up to with his robots definitely would get him charged (and potentially imprisoned) as an adult-with all the multitude of horrors available in the U.S. prison system for small men who aren’t good at fighting. The reference to lack of gang tats is a reference to a lack of gang connections-which means a lack of support after lights-out and a lack of protection from other inmates, guards, and officials. even in some juvenile institutions, the experience can result in severe emotional trauma (along with frequent…physical traumas.)
short form: Jail isn’t a nice place, even juvie jail, and he’d be at minimum charged and imprisoned as a super right along side the kids with super-strength and hyperaggression issues.
2. Breaker’s posture and tone. also her statement about ‘following him’ to his new school. as pointed out by “The Passing Critic” this borders on harassment. Timmy’s got a record, she’s not letting him forget it, and likely neither is anyone else. Chances for the sort of normality that might let any reform actually happen are reduced significantly when you have a super who’s just ACHING to put you back behind bars. (Even if she wasn’t, those two are like, thirteen? How much perspective did YOU have at thirteen? or even eighteen?)
Kids that age don’t have any perspective, thus everything feels sharper, more immediate, and most of all, more PERMANENT. Esp. if they’ve just gone through a wringer and don’t think there’s a chance for a second chance. (Especially if said wringer was their own fault and they KNOW It.)
but I’m wrong on this, because he’s a villain, she’s a hero, and she ticks more boxes on the socially acceptable to the audience scale while he ticks several ‘permanently evil’ boxes in the modern culture. at BEST he’ll be stupid and easily led/manipulated with few to no redeeming qualities nor lessons taken to heart from his hard time.
because, aside from the romantic interest of the heroine, it breaks paradigm.
Does it break it though?
Val is an upstanding heroine with the best of intentions. Despite being cornered into just a ‘sidekick’ in status. The rest of the system is shown to have cracks you could drive a truck through.
Mack was a heroine because family and being pretty. Long before she broke through and showed she had talent. Her brother was going to lose hero status for having been scarred. And Isauro has been cornered into villainy because the system won’t let him be a good guy.
Heck note the ice guy who had no compunction to killing suspects. It took three transfers and then an internal investigation led by Val to stop him.
If anything I think your initial concerns might be too tame.
My concerns may be tame, but this is modern take superhero fiction, and there ARE conventions to the present form, and Sidekick Girl as a product follows those conventions pretty reliably. a non-evil, non-psychotic heroine (Or team of heroes) driving someone over the abyss due to mistaken interpretations and fixed assumptions doesn’t work unless the victim is some form or other of previously-oppressed person. aka Timmy would need a disadvantaged background, or other mitigating circumstance beyond what’s seen on screen so far. He DOESN’T have any mitigating circumstances (no abusive parent, or financial disability, not gay, not trans, not physically ill or unhealthy, he’s not even a minority.) By contrast, he’s been shown/Characterized as a former ABUSER-with parents that were in fear of him prior to his conviction, which just makes him less likely to be characterized as a victim, and once more, it becomes a sort of ‘justice’.
which doesn’t actually lend to good drama going with the take I suggested, and wouldn’t lead to a good examination of how the super-system creates fixed roles or destroys lives by denying even the possibility of repentance and/or redemption, especially a tragic redemption.
it’s simply not fit for the modern market, particularly if the results are permanent.
Just because this discussion interests me, here’s where I’d go (and the author likely shouldn’t, because my suggestions are all bad.)
Timmy got out of prison and actually ‘learned his lesson’ and doesn’t want to go back. call it growing up, or call it experiencing consequences, he didn’t have any intention of ever going back to being a villain. The game wasn’t fun anymore, maybe, maybe he has an aversion to being touched and a lingering fear of ever being pushed into that situation again.
so he gets out, and he thought he was done, but then, Break shows up, and from there, his life doesn’t get better. Everyone knows who he is and what he did, or seems to know, and no matter what he tries, he can’t get the urge to build out of his system, and no matter what he does, he can’t seem to catch that break, especially when someone from the Villain Agency is hounding him constantly with offers and eventual threats…and nobody believes him when he tries to report this, including Break, who thinks he’s trying ‘something’.
this goes on for months, the offers turning to threats and blackmail. He finally accepts a ‘job’, but not because his resistance is wearing down, so much as he’s given up and is looking for a way OUT…permanently.
The 3000dollar job is just to secure materials for his escape plan. He doesn’t actually need that much, it’s just that his escape plan really doesn’t need much that’s elaborate beyond delaying the perpetual surveillance for long enough, hes’ documented everything, including the harassment from both sides, but he doesn’t think anyone will believe him and he’s so damned tired…and like teenage boys do, he’s mistaking a temporary situation for a permanent one, and his big escape is a rather permanent solution.
a few pages where the heroes heroically track him to his ‘lair’ and disarm the booby-traps…
off panel, second to last panel, Break in profile, a door frame just visible, and a sound effect.
Next panel, Horrified looks.
Follow on page, splash page, dead body holding a homemade gun, slumped under a screen that has the phrase repeating over and over again, “No one will listen to me, It will never get better.”
cue two things:
1. Break freaking out, because this isn’t supposed to happen, she was still, up to this point, playing the attention/interaction game and she just found out he stopped playing.
2. Val finding the journal and the documentation showing the pressure he was under from both sides to go back to villainy, (active pressure from the VA, passive pressure from the heroes and law enforcement refusing to believe him) and a detailed plan for how he was going to get out of the game on a permanent basis because he’s decided he’ll never be able to fix things. (He’s a young teen, young teens often make that mistake.)
this could then flow into an investigation of whether someone CAN be redeemed, and whether the chance should be allowed to occur. also gives some nice shots of how the HA tries to arm-twist it into a better piece of backstory for PR purposes, while also giving Break a chance to experience real growth and an understanding that it isn’t just a game-this is people’s lives, and they matter even when the rules and society say that they don’t.
Hey Daniel M Ball,
With respect, do you have a TLDR point you’re making with this?
Your post sounds like it’s trying to communicate something, either a prediction on where the plot is going to go, or just freeform prose – either way I found it hard to follow, and if simplicity is genius, I’d love a simpler explanation of what you’re saying.
Hm, TLDR…hm. okay, first: all my ideas and predictions are bad, where they aren’t completely and utterly wrong, and if you don’t get it, don’t worry, it’s completely incoherent and written in the wrong english for anyone born after about 1980 or so.
we clear about that first point? Probably?
Okay, trying to pare this down to something coherent that can be understood by a person who isn’t on 30 hours of sleep dep…
My prediction is what is NOT going to happen, and describes in too much detail what isn’t going to occur…but would have occurred if it were written in the 1980s or 1990s. (especially the 90s.)
Short form: we’ve already seen that the Hero/Villain dichotomy is ARTIFICIALLY ENFORCED, with a whole stack of requirements if you wanted to cross the aisle thanks to the very regimented way the hero/villain agencies operate. Like with Val’s encounter with the glass ceiling or Declan’s realization it was all a sham, Timmy is permanently a villain-even if he tries to quit. He has zero legitimate ‘out’ now. Short of noble-self-sacrifice-saving-the-world, he’s going to be a supervillain for the rest of his life (And treated like a supervillain for the rest of his life) even if he never commits another crime.
He’s got, effectively, a permanent record with people who don’t need a warrant to search his house. No matter what he does, he will always be suspect number one.
clear on that? He has no out. this is why Break could get into his ‘special school’-she doesn’t need a warrant, or anythign other than “he’s a supervillain” to be permanently shadowing him until she gets bored. Likewise, we’ve SEEN Valerie’s point of zero tolerance, and she’s probably the most open-minded of the bunch with the subject. (the more typical reaction is how her friends reacted to her dating a hench…which was initially pretty badly).
Now, in TWOR (The World of Reality) having a record can already screw you up, and we at least have a tiered system where a juvenile record can be sealed in most cases so it doesn’t screw you for the rest of your life for some light vandalism and mischief. Timmy’s equivalent of light vandalism was millions of dollars of destruction and several felonies because it was done with a superpower-and that’s a whole other level of crime, likely he will NEVER have a clean record.
Do you see where this is going?
Timmy is a freaking TEENAGER who’s just found himself in what looks a LOT like a permanent situation that is BAD, for things he was doing as a preteen for kicks.
We’ve ALSO seen the kind of tactics the Villain Agency engages in for both gathering, and keeping, their assets, and we’ve seen the severe reaction to even the hint that someone might be crossing the aisle-on the ‘hero’ side, nobody crosses the aisle because they aren’t gonna be allowed to, and crossing from hero to villain is all-points-bulletin gloves-off-engage-at will.
Means he is STUCK. and he’s a TEENAGER. Now he might’ve been a right terror as a preteen, but most boys are-he was just uniquely equipped to get into the kind of trouble he now can’t get out of.
we live in a society where your behaviour thirty years ago can become a career ending scandal today-even if it was something that was a stupid stunt, or even socially acceptable when you did it. Tim’s got zero life experience, really. his horizon is fifteen years at most, more likely thirteen years, of which he was cognizant of maybe eight (most people ‘lose’ the time between birth and age four.) this gives a warped perspective-a huge chunk of his life has been spent being punished for what amounts to a tiny period of time in the grand scheme of a human lifespan.
it is PROBABLE that he is at minimum traumatized, it is likely that, barring sociopathy or psychopathy, he wishes that would go away because he doesn’t have the tools to deal with it, or with the likely result of ‘tough on crime’ measures and the whole artificial division caused by the Agencies (agency? we’ve seen how very similar the HA and VA are in the Declan storyline.)
under those sort of pressures, people tend to break. some break worse than others, but nobody with HIS life is going to be whole upon release from lockup.
What is the NATURAL consequence of this? he’s permanently a suspect, someone is dogging him constantly, it’s likely someone from the other side is also doing so to keep the game going…because that’s what the agencies represent-an authority that keeps the game going for the public’s consumption.
what’s a kid with no horizon that says ‘good ending’ going to do? Val’s friends were concerned about Isuaro’s mental state to the point that one of them checked to make sure he wasn’t going to jump-and Isuaro has enough life experience to make rational judgement calls.
Timmy DOESN’T. He was caught before he could develop those coping skills, and then tossed into super-jail of one sort or another.
This is a recipe that gets you a school shooter or a suicide case. given his robots weren’t killing people before, it’s not likely to be the school shooter, and when you stack on the added permanent harassment of a ‘nemesis’ who’s dogging you every step, suicide seems pretty damn likely. Because it’s a comic-book world, he’ll end up making the choice, then having to go through some extreme measures to implement it-because he can’t fix what’s wrong and nobody will let him forget he’s the villain.
but he’s not sociopath enough to deny that they’re partially RIGHT.
so what is the likely move?
Typically you get two kinds of suicides. The kind that are doing it for attention and aren’t serious-that’s the kind you WANT to deal with, because they can be talked down.
then, there’s the kind that truly see no escape, no redemption, and no future. That’s the kind you Do NOT WANT to deal with. Male suicides tend to use means that deface the body, because they’re fueled by a different social and societal expectation. Girls use pills, boys use guns. boys have a significantly higher success rate in self-termination, they also tend to avoid doing it where they can be easily found or stopped.
(even when using guns, boys shoot for the head, girls shoot for the chest. maybe societal programming or maybe it’s inherent, there are schools of thought on both directions).
the telling line that set my thoughts going on this, was Timmy’s ‘Whatever’, and his general lack of reaction to his parents. this isn’t normal in people who aren’t depressed. he didn’t want anything or ask for anything, no discussion of a favorite food missed, and no strong reaction to seeing Break.
just…’whatever’. (Translates as “I’m going to be harassed by heroes for the rest of my life, this is the new normal.’)
for a middle class kid who doesn’t WANT to be a ‘Badass supervillain’ this is pretty much seeing that there is no future.
which can lead to some good development for the rest of the cast, depending on who dopes it out first, and who finds the body.
except all of the above is worthless. It’s not even good speculation, it’s just kind of knocking some ideas around.
I was just reading Chapter 43: Giant Robot. Where did Break get her costume/rocket boots from? She’s way too young to be a Blue Card. Speaking of which, shouldn’t Val have a problem with her being a vigilante?
Perhaps Make and Break have been playing at Blue Card / Red Card but things are now way too real for Timmy.
That’s kind of my read, but I’m probably wrong. Maybe the rules are complex and rely a lot on when and how your powers manifest? Val’s regeneration was initially very slow, she could’ve been missed for YEARS, while both the kids are pretty blatant-probably Make manifested first, and maybe his dad exploited him for a while before the kid became impossible to manage. (Pre-teen rebellion, esp. in dysfunctional families, is a thing) and Break got her blue card expedited because she could easily deal with tech-based hazards at little apparent risk.
we kinda don’t have enough information here. Let’s see what develops.
Hey Daniel M Ball,
Thanks for the clarification and the expanded explanation – that makes a lot of sense and I think you have a really thought-provoking perspective here. I am very grateful for you breaking that down and sharing!
Tower, just remember I’m PROBABLY wrong. My perspective doesn’t fit the genre as it exists in the present. “Bullies” are like Los angeles Ice-Hole from the storyline where Mac was away, and their victims tend to be more or less innocents, or at least not peers in this genre (especially with the current market) and there’s a fairly solid no-kill rule in play (which wasn’t subverted when Kay was iceboxed by the Coroner, setting off her brother on a massacre, because that story comes from a different tenor and philosophy from what I described.)
What I described is an actual TRAGEDY storyline, and there are maybe even hints that it’s more of a tragedy than it looks just off my previous tries, because there are ‘hints’. kids when I ws growing up would sometimes pick on each other as an almost courting ritual (esp. in that phase between ‘girls are icky’ and ‘ooh, victoria’s secret catalog, i’ll be in the bathroom’.)
Break’s expression at Timmy’s response looked…disappointed to me. Like maybe she kicked his sand-castle in as an attention getter and this whole thing has been (to her) a kiddie-courtship thing or a substitute for a relationship (considering she’s been FOLLOWING HIM FOR YEARS…)
Dysfunctional? sure. Cute as hell when you read about it, but if both parties aren’t playing the game anymore it can go bad REAL quick.
So chew on this image in your imagination; Let’s make the mistake of assuming I’m right, that all sorts of signals are missed, how is she going to handle it, when she realizes she caused the death of a kid she’s liked since fourth grade? (as in, ‘like-like’?)
What do you suppose that would do to her psyche? never mind if THAT speculation’s also wrong, because even if it’s wrong, it’s not healthy in a setting like this to consider that one person can drive another person to suicide to escape them, and what that might do to the survivor mentally and emotionally. (Given how devoted she’s been to ‘breaking’ things he’s made, she WOULD take it as her personal fault, even if objective evidence said otherwise…unless she’s a psychopath like los-angeles ice-hole, which I don’t think she is.)
What you get with a tragedy is something bad, that can’t be taken back, that happens not because everyone involved is either a good or terrible person, but because shit gets misunderstood-a tragedy is a tragedy because nobody intended for this permanent awful thing to happen, and there’s no way to undo it.
the survivors have to just learn to live with the consequences.
which is really a good opportunity for character growth and development and offering some established character problems a different perspective.
Or, y’know, giving Break a tragic backstory scholarship at superhero U and everything gets swept under the rug by the agency.
about my above. Here’s a chilling thought that I wrongly inferred…
Break may be the only human being in Timmy’s life who actually gives a shit about him, rather than either:
A)what he can do for them.
B)what he’s done to go to prison.
She said it: He MOVED HIS FAMILY-meaning he was the breadwinner, not pops, but Pops ratted him out at the first sign of trouble. mom clearly didn’t do anything to intervene either, but neither of them fessed up to anything directly or took even the slightest responsibility for his ‘turn to the dark side’. They profited, and they waited, but they didn’t do what PARENTS do.
or at least, what Parents SHOULD do. at least, nothing on camera, and did you catch the stereotypical behaviors? commenting on his hair as if it’s the first time she’s seen him since he went inside? Dad talking about ICE CREAM like he’s a little kid?
Did these people not visit their son in jail??
what kind of parents do that? In their own city, can’t even find a couple days a week to check on their kid??? Break may be the only person on earth that gives a shit about Tim…like, at all.
tied to my tragedy hypothesis, that makes it REAL sad.
now for the bad/wrong speculation in the other direction: Comedy.
Not ‘haha’ comedies like hollywood makes, but in the sense of ‘a happy ending with a light tone’.
it kind of goes against my own tendencies to even IMAGINE a happy ending involving those two (Make and Break), especially if it’s also following my messed up thinking processes.
pre-condition: Break’s been stalking Make (Timmy) for YEARS. seriously, there’s almost something mentally ill about following him from town to town just to be his special enemy. Almost like she’s chosen to be his special person.
going off observations here; Timmy’s parents aren’t good parents. That’s obvious-they didn’t bother to check on him in jail, his old man seemed fine with using the boy to make the money, but still tried to deniably rat him out to the Hero Agency as soon as they showed up.
I’m going to go with “Break is the only person who gives a shit about Timmy”.
But what KIND?
They’re still in that confused and confusing age range where lives the dysfunction of poor socialization along with the raging of the hormones.
She showed up for his release, and made sure he noticed her.
for a comedy, then, this is a possible romance plot, with the gleeful complication of the obtuse male not reading the signs from the interested female…because the both of them have terrible social skills.
so where do we go for the drama? Well, like the Tragedy take, Timmy gets to be the object of a lot of pressure. Pressure from the Villains to go back into the business, pressure from the desire NOT to go to prison again, and pressure from this hero-chick who won’t leave him alone…aaaannndd…wow, what’s this tingling..?
so he fakes disinterest, because he doesn’t know what to do, or how to do it, and he doesn’t want to look like a dork.
(Fragile self-esteem, right? kid like that probably has LOTS of that going on.)
and at that point, I run dry. can’t manage to think that way, every direction I see ends in nothing but badstuff. Probably proof of my own failures in that field.
You’re posting paragraphs of criticism and speculation based on a single page in a comic.
na, Billy, based on a full re-read of the entire comic (except maybe some of the guest strips and holiday one-offs).
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