Saturday, September 03, 2011

Internal Logic of a story

From Forbidden Worlds #14, 1953.

I love these old comics. Several brilliantly-paced short short stories in a whole mag. Most of the time, they are great little stories about fantastic fantasy, horror, and sci-fi episodes without getting dragged on for dozens of pages. They are like reading short Twilight Zone episodes in comic form.

That is, except when there is an internal logic fault. I can go along with just about any story as long as its rules are set up. I can always imagine Superman flying along, and laser pistols humming out in other sci-fi stories.

This page is the last of a short about a radioactive dinosaur turning into a monster after a nuclear test. See what I mean? I can take that premise fine. I can take that the radiation caused the egg to mutate. He hatches and can talk. Fine. He goes on a rampage and nothing, not even bullets, can stop him. Fine. The scientists discover that a chemical cysteine will stop the monster. Fine.

But then, just a panel after more bullets bounce off the creature, the scientists injects the monster in the belly with the cysteine with a normal hypodermic needle.

See what I mean? Bullets bounce but hypodermics go right through! Just some other method of getting the cysteine into the monster's system--any method, gas, pill, whatever--would make it suitable and plausible for me. But the injection here, the internal logic error, takes me out of the story world I was in. Even though I am in a story that makes no scientific sense whatsoever, and I know that, I am taken out of the world with a simple fault.

Case in point, that movie Superman Returns. People cannot understand how excited I was about my favorite hero finally being brought back into movies. Maybe new Superman movies would come out every few years, just like the Batman franchise. But the internal logic errors destroyed the chances of that happening. That is why people hated the movie.

In the movie, Superman amazingly rescues a crashing plane and in dramatic fashion, what appears to be the limits of his strength, sets it down in the middle of the ballpark. Wow. Lex Luthor later stabs Superman with Kryptonite. Fine. Kryptonite hurts Superman and takes away his powers. Fine. But at the end, when the mountain of Kryptonite is lifted into the sky by an already hurt and depleted Superman, what appears to be a weight that appears dozens of times greater than even a crashing 747 and is composed entirely of the substance that takes away Superman's powers and hurts him, even I, a huge Superman fan, simply said, "No way."

I wanted to believe that even Superman, when all his strength is gone, when there is no one else to save the world, could dig down deep inside himself and come up with the inner strength to do this miraculous feat. Much like any action movie when the main character is shot and dying, he still runs around and takes care of business. Somehow that shot and dying protagonist is allowable. But a Kryptonite-stabbed Superman lifting a HUGE mountain of Kryptonite simply isn't plausible in the sense of internal logic. And remember this fact as well, the populace at large, even people that don't read comic books, will allude to the fact that Kryptonite is a deadly substance that can bring something down. People will metaphorically call something a "Kryptonite."

This is why a lot of movies suffer. Internal logic errors. The world is broken. And we as an audience cannot take it.

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