Isom notes

isom notes


Two weeks ago. Do not start back in time.


Are we earlier today in the present time or two weeks ago?


confusing who is the sister and who is mrs newman. “If not for your sister, do it for Mrs. Newman”. It doesn’t have the same impact


Now we meet Isom and the internal monologue starts. Probably should have started at the beginning of the book to set the scenes. If you’re going to use it, use it.


There are a lot of names. Jim is here for something.


so alpha core is back, but they also haven’t been used in weeks? I thought I missed something.


that’s a lot of exposition in one page when he meets Darren. But not when we met Isom. Which is weird. I think less is more here. I’m being told he’s a bad guy, but I can’t see any evidence of it.


And Isom just murdered a bodyguard, so he’s no longer the good guy. And he’s not an anti-hero because Darren doesn’t seem bad. So what is he? You need a Save the Cat moment. We have to have a reason why this guard was murdered. Maybe he was harrassing a woman?


okay, so Big Except shows up. excepts are super heros. Isom says he trained his body though. so is he an except or not?


what are they selling back in the country? Widgets? This is a problem that plagues this book. What is it exactly that he’s doing. It can’t always be abstract. Luke works on an evaporator farm. Are they farmers? You have to make choices because the choices define the characters.


wtf was that hospital scene? So no one has any idea if he’s an except. and there’s a magic braclet. That’s a bit of a double magic scenario. Is it supposed to be like savage dragon? Why did he run away from the hospital? Beacuse it was inconvenient? And then he gets taken to an impound lot for his car? That made no sense.


They should definitely call the police. Aren’t the police excepts? So they should be able to figure this out easily. There should be a reason why they can’t call the police or else its characters being dumb.


How is Merq more than a strip club? A whore house? Isom thinks that the girl might just be darren’s secretary. So why doesn’t he go to the police like normal? He should be sure that something is wrong with her at this point. Something specific should have been left behind earlier. But he has nothing. He just knows that Darren is “the bad guy”. The Naked Gun has clues about why bad things will happen. Nordberg is hurt. It excuses all of Drebin’s stupid behavior because we KNOW something is bad.


Okay so there’s a couple weirdos who are outsiders with plans for the club that make it crucial. Because it’s a popular club. But that’s pretty much it. Why care about this? Give us a reason to care. They’re trying to take Darren’s club. But Darren is a bad guy. If Darren isn’t a bad guy then Isom is an idiot.


There’s no indication that this girl is in danger. This club seems just like a normal club? There are people taking selfies and smiling outside. Hollywood is more dangerous than this at night. It doesn’t seem like a bad place. Isom says he has no plan and he doesn’t seem to have a goal.


So Isom assaults a woman. Jasmine. She doesn’t say what the deal is or that she needs help. Or even for him to “go away you’re going to ruin this.” Then two guys pull him off of her, and he beats them. They acted reasonably.


He then enters the club, which consists of normal looking couples and he threatens the women to leave or else he will beat them. This is not hero or anti hero behavior. The way you do it is you go in and warn people, then you get attacked, then they leave. You don’t go in and threaten people and then get attacked. You are the villain in that scenario.


“Who is this jackass” a woman says. Indeed.


Isom is delusional. the big guy comes back and says something about ensuring defeat, which doesn’t really make sense. He ejected Isom from the club. He wanted to kill him? Isom says he came with only respect, but this isn’t true. He came with only disrespect. He was asked to leave and then assaulted the guards when he didn’t want to leave.


Zero reprecussions if he’s dead? I kind of doubt that. Who was the mayor talking about at the beginning of the book then if not Isom? Seems like everyone has heard of Isom at least. I don’t understand the mechanics of this fight. He jumps off a wall and destroys the brick. That is not something a normal person could do. Batman cannot do that.


okay, so she’s a hooker, but she’s also in so deep that it’s not just some runaway daughter? I don’t get it. Why is this teenage girl so important not to just go to the police? Isom got kicked out of the club, twice. He looks like a vagrant and he ran from the police when he WAS guilty. There’s no indication that anything is being done to the girl that she isn’t consenting to. She didn’t even say “help me” or anything like that.


“considering who i work for” WHO DO YOU WORK FOR???


does the dad convo need to be right now? right in front of the little girl? Jesus. The exposition is not subtle in this book. It’s like a freight train.


So he does have super powers? The girl figured it out. Or is that weights thing accurate? Seems like the girl should be right because that’s the trope.


so he doesn’t know or care about what jasmine is up to. Then why did he start this whole thing and endanger everyone? Why go BACK IN after getting kicked out? Why not wear a mask and do it stealthily if you have family members at risk. It’s a detective story acting like the punisher. That’s the whole point of the mask. So you don’t risk your family.


So the guy is Edna Mode, but the jokes aren’t as good. And now he has his super suit. This should have been in the first 10 pages. Just like it was in Incredibles. Or it could happen at the end, but there needs to be a refusal to be a hero and then a final acqueisence to same. There is no arc here. It’s a straight line that started with yes and ends in a mechanical acceptance of the super suit. I don’t understand why he needs this suit either. The suit has super properties for some reason. Which is odd because it makes the excepts non-exceptional. Why would anyone specifically hire excepts if they can be made with suits. This is ironically the plot of Incredibles.


Norfrica is funny, but same deal. There are no details to go off of. It comes off like Lost.





There are simple things that you can do to explain who these people are. Usually the person talking to them can tell something about them,

“You were X when I first met you. Now you’re Y.”

“You promised me you’d do this when so and so died.”

“You ran away from the city and said you’d never go back.”

“You always did say you’d get rich by any means necessary.”

Things like that.



It feels like nothing happens. That’s often the case in stories where motivation isn’t clear and there is no sense of urgency to the plot. The characters are never challenged, so they don’t have to do anything. They just go from one thing to the next with no purpose.


There really needs to be an indication that Jasmine was in trouble. to justify the violence at the club. But especially for Isom’s sister to call him out of retirement. She basically calls him to do a wellness check and he even calls it out. That makes no sense. If he’s a strong-willed character, she should have compelling evidence to get him out of retirement. He left his suit and his family in the past. The little girl in the city clearly has her heart broken. It should have taken more than a phone call to for him to return. He makes a promise to return to the girl but he hates the city and vowed never to go back. So that lie makes him a shitty person.


Ultimately, there should have also been some violence against Isom’s family to explain his paranoia. Maybe the death of his sister’s husband was suspicious or known to be in this gang? This could be known, but it needs to be said. The entire comic to too coy with details like this that are integral to the characters and our connection with them.




The flashback at the beginning still makes no sense. Things were good. Crime was down. Why? Why is Alpha Core bad? I see that they look bad, but why?


There’s no sense of any danger and mystery or any ticking clock. Isom is going after Darren because he’s the bad guy. He hasn’t done anything to show he’s the bad guy, we’re just supposed to assume it. He talks about building an empire, but I don’t even know if the empire is bad. There are many different types of villains and grey area antagonists. You need to pick what kind of antagonist Darren is. At least some place to start. You have to make choices.


The book also starts by saying that crime is down. So why is there a need to do anything? Why not start with crime being high? Up the tension so it can be resolved. Make the dad’s death fresh. Kill a family member, do SOMETHING to kick off the story.



I have no idea who Isom’s sister is or if she’s important. She could have been kidnapped during the book with him working to get her back. Or at the end of the book requiring Isom to get his suit out of retirement and become a caretaker to that little girl. Then he could have driven her out to the country and explained something about himself. She seems just like a Penny to Inspector Gadget, which ironically makes Isom the buffoon, which he does act like! But his sister doesn’t do any actual work to get him out of it.


There’s no explanation for why Isom stopped being a super hero. Mystery is fine, but he doens’t say if it was a good or bad feeling. But everyone in the story knows. We don’t. So there is a barrier between us and the characters. He gives absolutely no emotion at all about something that should have tons. He didn’t just get tired of it, did he? Not even a throw away line?


Why does the costume guy have so many resources, and he’s so cool with Isom. Was Isom a well known super hero? These are important details. We can’t be left in the dark about literally everything when characters are acting as though they know. James Bond isn’t coy about any details. And neither are the bad guys. They say who he is all the time. Or else it’s just like the farm. It’s a place that sells things.


Who is Jasmine’s mom? Just some lady? It seems like this entire story is revolving around some friend of the family. Is she smart? Is she scrappy? Is she always getting herself into trouble? No idea. Maybe there is *something* going on with this Darren guy, but there’s no indication that he’s bad or even has bad intentions. He’s not going after a rival gang. He’s not trying to corrupt politics. He’s not trying to exact revenge on Isom. There is absolutely nothing to worry about other than a video of a girl Jasmine looking angry.



You don’t know what his powers are or if he is or isn’t a super hero. It’s implied that he is, but the book seems to force the mystery that he isn’t. Even though you see him do many super hero things. It works in Shazam, and Savage Dragon because SD wasn’t aware of his own powers so he discovered them along with us. But it doesn’t work in Isom because he is aware of all of his powers and his history. So you have no idea if things are too dangerous for him or not and because of that, it negates the tension in these fights. You don’t know if what he’s doing is stupid because you have no idea if it’s risky for him or not. Usually, super heroes say what they are right in the name. Spider-man, superman is more powerful than a locomotive, able to leap tall buildings, Batman is the world’s greatest detective, etc. It’s the most important part of the superhero. The labored question over whether or not he is an Except is a major issue. It doesn’t bring anything to the story and has no pay off. People will say it’s mysterious and cool, but it’s not. It’s the rules and the foundation of the universe. The genre is built on it.


The action scenes have no tension because we have no sense of Isom’s powers and there is no relationship between him and this Except guy. He could have easily been a former rival of Isom’s or a childhood rival. He also didn’t grow as a character in the second fight. He just physically beats him the second time. Why? No idea. Rocky would train hard to fight again. That was his character arc. Hard work. Tony Stark would invent his way out of the second fight. Superman would learn humility. What is Isom’s arc?



The story needs a central theme. Comics have themes. Xmen civil rights, superman, truth, justice, etc. The Flash, can’t put things right. Is it good vs evil. Is it the erosion of goodness in the world. Is Isom a beacon of hope and light. Is he an anti-hero against a corrupt world. Is he having to deal with his past? Is he fighting greed and perversion of values and this is the biggest loss. Because it could have been a comic about fighting an agenda like the borg or the empire. It could have been exactly what the kickstarter was, but it’s not. It seems to be a detective story. But it’s not executed correctly for a detective story. Those are very tightly crafted. With clues and twists and turns. Like Roger Rabbit. You know everything you need to know about Eddie Valiant in the first 20 seconds of meeting him.



There is no arc. This is 120 pages that gets us nowhere. There’s no rising action, no falling action, no dark night of the soul, no false sense of victory, no denouement. Nothing challenges the characters and they don’t have to figure anything out or endure. They just know the lot the entire time like magic. Perfect example is his second fight with the Except. He doesn’t learn or overcome anything to beat the guy in round 2, like in every Rocky movie. He just fights him and wins.


You will say that it’s just a first part, but it can’t be. You still have to have these elements. Where was the climax? Where were new friends made and old ones tested. Where was the suffering and transformation?


It’s a first draft.