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8/9/2010 c28 48Michael Panush
You didn't really meld character development with furthering the plot in this chapter, which was too bad. The character stuff you did have really wasn't that good. Jim pretty much remained emotionless throughout the dinner. There were some hints of his loneliness, but they were never really explored or developed. I would have liked to have seen more of that, or how his hatred of his parents affects him. You had a few metaphors, and they were okay, but kind of clumsily applied. The opening sentence is a comparison that doesn't finish, for instance. Try working harder at the writing and the character development, and this series will improve greatly.
8/9/2010 c27 Michael Panush
This was interesting (and good) in that you found a way to have some character development and show that Phil is changing, and move the story forward too, with the hidden niche in the park. More of this kind of stuff, please.

However, I kind of wish you used things other than stuff you like - guns, RPGs, and paintball - to show characters bonding and growing. Actually having personal connections, instead of through those games and things, would work much better in the story. It just seems weird and out of place for all the characters to stop fighting evil and then play an RPG campaign together. Some of the other stuff, like talking about Batman's history, didn't really fit into the story. It seemed like you had heard about, thought it was interesting (which it is) and then inserted it in there. It doesn't really reveal much about the characters or move the plot forward. Try and let the plot drive what characters say, not some factoid or cool phrase that you found.

I'll check out the next one too.
8/9/2010 c26 Michael Panush
I have noticed a few improvements in this chapter from your normal writing, but a few problems too. I liked the Noir City and the battle with the Dicktrain. I liked how you kept it with Jim's point-of-view all the way through, which really helped. I also liked some of the character interactions in the beginning. The problems were the writing and the plot of this chapter.

The writing is very clinical and frankly quite boring. You didn't really spend any time putting in interesting metaphors and because of that the story just wasn't that fun to read. You had tons of great imagery here, with the cool and gross monsters and the city, and it became a chore to read about because it wasn't visceral or evocative. This is a problem you have with all of your works, but it was particularly bad here. Please try and work on this. Metaphors and similes will help with the description of the setting and make the action scenes way better, which brings me to my second point.

Most of the story here was a fight, and it got old quick. Without metaphors giving me the feelings of the characters, it reads that like a description of someone's video game session. It's cool, I guess, but I need a lot more to be drawn into it. The action just seemed to go on and on and I found myself hoping it would be over soon and we could get on with the story. If you used some evocative writing, I probably wouldn't have felt that way.

So, I'll read the next ones and hope this gets better. I really liked the character interaction with Mark and Jim in the beginning, as it showed both of them being likable and softer, which was good. I look forward to the next one.
6/15/2010 c25 Michael Panush
I guess you needed a bit of a break from the action in the previous chapters, but I think this 'breather' story might have too little to do with what's going on. The Lovecraft presentation was fun (I did a Lovecraft presentation last semester actually, though mine used Mythos stuffed animals instead of costumes) but what did it add to the story? You could have drawn some interesting thematic parallels between Lovecraft's monsters and the creatures form the niches, but that's about the only connection I could think of. Besides the plot, let's talk about writing and characterization.

The writing was okay. You had some good evocative descriptions of characters and places. I could have used some more metaphors. Metaphors relying on scientific, technical stuff, like 'photon about to be sucked into the event horizon of a black hole' seem out of place in this setting. It would be something I. Ron Ops would say, but doesn't really work here. Try and stick with more basic metaphors, involving things your reader is guaranteed to know about.

On the characters, I liked some parts of it. Telling off the harpies and their reactions was good. But I think the Nazi kid was just too over the top to be taken seriously. Even swastika-tattoo covered skinheads wouldn't act as Nazi as he did, and his presentation was just ridiculous. He'd hauled off to a million years of detention and therapy if he did anything near like what he did. Also, he's just a flat kind of character. Does he have any personality between spewing hate speech? He needs to have one, and to show what's motivating him to being such a Nazi.

Try working on that, and try to work on moving the story along. You might have dropped some hints and foreshadowing in this chapter, but I think it could stand to be a bit more blatant. Looking forward to the next one.
6/9/2010 c1 lili999
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6/2/2010 c24 Michael Panush
This was okay, and I could see you were really working hard on the writing, which is great. It's coming along nicely, but I think your writing still has a few problems. That, some of the characterization, and the plot are still a bit problematic.

For the writing, I noticed some really good metaphors here and I liked how many you had. However, while some were really good, like the monsters leaping forward 'like jungle cats' others were kind of clumsy. The one about the hands coming out like plants in a time-lapsed photography thing is just too long and complex to be a metaphor. Try and find a way to shorten things like that in the future. You want them short, snappy and evocative, but still letting the reader focus on the actual thing that you're describing. You don't have to say 'like' all the time too. You can say 'as if it was' or just use an actual metaphor and call the object the thing your describing it as. Some of the other ones were just wierd. You mentioned Nate and Mark looking like 'they were about to force out a shit,' which is just silly, gross and kind of immature. You ruin the mood if you're making poop jokes.

The characterization also seems to be taking a backseat to the action, which is not cool. The characters are all sounding very similar. You had some nice touches in there, like wanting to call their car 'the party van' but when the actual fighting started, everyone just yelled out stuff like 'shit, we're being attacked!' and that's it. Try and think of some more creative swears for them to use, and try to keep them all unique.

The action itself was okay, but some of it was a little unclear. The chase just seemed to go on a bit too long and became kind of dreary and boring. Try and keep fight scenes shorter and sweeter, and make it clear what's going on, who's winning and who's losing and what the outcome is. Also, why did they even go into the dangerous niche? They didn't know Bien and Rica were there, so it couldn't be to rescue them? Were they just on patrol or something? Clearing that up would have been nice.

I guess these chapters are more focussed on building a bigger team than advancing the plot, which I don't like so much. I'd like to see the plot doing both, getting new team mates and moving forward together. I hope you focus on that in the coming chapters. Also, look out for sentences that repeat the same words and typos when you're editing. I caught a few of them.


6/1/2010 c23 Michael Panush
This was interesting, but I think you could have spent more time on it. The plot continues to intrigue, though I think you're adding too many characters a little too fast. The characterization of Rica and Bien was okay, but they're still not memorable. At least they're not particularly offensive.

The writing was also okay, but could have been better. I caught maybe two or three metaphors and they seemed to be ones that are re-used often, 'like animals in a zoo' for instance. I caught a few confusing sentences too.

Overall, kind of middling. I'll read the next one and see if it improves. Good job keeping to Rica's point of view, though.
6/1/2010 c23 Bien Canonizado
Reading this chapter makes me feel happy and special.
5/12/2010 c22 Michael Panush
This chapters could really use a round of editing. Not that the typos were really bad, but there were a lot of sentences that were clusmy, re-used words and just sounded awkward. And overall, this chapter was pretty pedestrian, and not much happened. Jim met Rica, who might be important later, but that's really it. You got to see him doing boring office work, but that could have been described instead of done in detail. The writing was okay, but the metaphors were sparse and kind of lacking.

Jim's characterization also needed some work. Would such a serious guy as Jim really think of zombies when he's looking at a riot vehicle? That sounds like something I would do. Also, he was kind of rude to his boss. I got the impression that he was serious, but not overtly rude, and especially not the kind of guy who would think 'I don't care about your problems, boss, let's change the subject.' The chocolate milk was actually a nice touch, and that's the kind of way you can make him more relatable and human, not having him think about zombies, which seems too out of character.

So, keep trying with this one and keep those criticisms in mind.
5/6/2010 c21 Michael Panush
Well, I must say this was a step down from the last chapter. As a finale, it wasn't bad, but it still had signifigant flaws in the writing and characterization that held it down. The plot however was fine. I could see the stakes of the battle, and it led to a cool climax and a nice showdown. I liked how tough the villain was, and the part where something hurts him at the end and he warns that there's more like him is a good hook. But the bad things I'd say are the writing and the character work.

For the writing, I could see that you tried a little. I saw about two or maybe three metaphors in the whole story, and they weren't very good. You still need to know the difference between a good simile or metaphor and a statement's that just hyperbole. When you make a metaphor so over the top, like 'as gleeful as a sugar rushed child' it becomes almost comedic, and still doesn't give me a good idea of what you meant. You don't have to make the thing you're likening something to over the top for the simile or metaphor to work. In fact, you won't give me a good impression if you do. Also, watch using metaphors that are overused. "A knife through butter" is one of those, and I caught some of that in here. The pacing of the description of the action needed work too. You had the sword fight with Nate over in a sentence or two, same with when Mark shot Cao Cao in the head. You don't have to drag out the fight, but do drag out the tension. These are important moments and they deserve a lot of gravity. Spend some time describing their feelings, the tension inside of Mark as he pulls the trigger, the fear when he sees his friend getting hurt, that sort of thing. The shadow men also needed some more description, as I couldn't really get a good fix on them.

Another problem was the dialogue. I know this was a big action scene, but everyone started sounding real similar. It's difficult to keep things unique in the middle of action, but you have to work for that. The villain seemed very cliched too. He sounded just like a Hollywood villain, and you didn't really give him any unique quirks to make him different from any other two-dimensional bad guy. I think you should have spent some more time developing him.

Finally, there were some typos and errors in the text itself. There was a sentence that ended abruptly, words re-used within the same sentence (sphere) and other sloppy mistakes that could have been fixed with some careful editing. So, I liked how you kept the Point of View with Mark, I liked the battle and the strategies they used, but it still had problems. I hope you keep working on these problems in time for the next one.
5/5/2010 c21 Solaris2000
Cool! I like the two latest updates! Specially chapter 21! So,what is next for the three Archer brothers?
4/30/2010 c20 Michael Panush
This was an interesting chapter, and I can see you're working hard trying to work on this story. Let's look at the writing, plot and characterization, and we can see how it's coming along.

For the writing, I can see some major improvements. You were using a lot of metaphors, and while some of them were pretty standard, there were a few good ones. The important thing is that you're using a lot of them, and you're at least thinking about the figurative language. However, try and take some time to think up creative and more complex metaphors and similies. Some of the ones you've used seemed pretty standard. Remember, you want them to be unique and memorable.

The plot was okay. I liked the strategizing and then the big battle, but they didn't seem to have much trouble. When Nate was overwhelmed, I thought it was an interesting plot turn, but then he somehow had the skills to fight his way to victory? That kind of came out of nowhere and after that, there really wasn't much suspense as to who would win. The evil dojo owner being the bad guy also seemed kind of obvious. I could see it coming from his first appearance. And having him actually say 'I'll need more time to run my new dojo!' seemed a very contrived way of gaining his identity. I'm sure if they did some more investigating, they would have found it out, and it just seemed too easy.

The characterization also needs a little work. Jim's getting too humorous now, and Nate started acting like some fanboy, instead of the stoic kind of guy I thought he was. Remember to keep the dialogue constant with all your character, so Jim shouldn't be sarcastic and cracking jokes every other line.

Otherwise, this was interesting. I wonder where the story will go from here.
4/27/2010 c19 Michael Panush
This was interesting, and I like the idea of them getting help from their friends and calling in back-up for taking over the niche. The writing wasn't that great, and some of the dialogue in the car seemed kind of stilted, like Nate describing 'brushing his teeth and showering' as what he did that morning. It just doesn't sound like a real response. Not that much figurative language used in the dream sequence either. Also, saying, 'oh yeah, Nate knew about it from dreams' seems a little cheap, kind of a handwave to give him an Avatar and get him into the action. The wierd kind of philosophical talk everyone has with the guy in the dream also could have used a little work. I'm not sure what revelations Nathan reached or anything.

Well, I hope you really pull out all the stops for the next chapter and the oncoming epic battle.
4/27/2010 c18 Michael Panush
This was a lot better than the last one. Your characterization and action were pretty good, but I really liked the writing and how the action was heating up.

I noted two really good metaphors in the first half of the story, and they were both very evocative and memorable. I liked how you described the drone exploding like a 'Jackson Pollack painting.' I wish there were more of them, and that you keep up that level of quality for the metaphors. They are certainly improving from the earlier ones.

The plot is also getting better and better. I love the idea of some other force controlling armies and strategically waging war against Jim and his brothers. I kind of wish he didn't laugh cartoonishly at them, but other than that, he's mysterious and seems like a capable villain. This is really good and I hope the plot keeps ratcheting up the intrigue and action.

Also, good job at keeping the point of view to just Phil for this chapter, and just Mark for the last one. That's really made these chapters better organized and much easier to read and follow.

So, keep up the metaphors and the plot and I look forward to reading more.
4/27/2010 c17 Michael Panush
This chapter was a bit of a letdown following the previous one. It didn't seem to follow up on the Mayor scandal, or really move the plot forward in any big way. I know the webcomic and making a Cthulhu costume for Halloween are cool, but what do they do to move the narrative forward? They show some stuff about the creativity of the characters, but you can deal with them in much less obtrusive ways that slapping them down here at the expense of the plot. Try and work them closer into the action, and if they don't serve much of a purpouse, even if they are really cool, then I suggest getting rid of them.

Characterization was all right, and I wish you'd try to use more metaphors and figurative language. It might seem like there's not that much oppurtunity for it in this chapter, but try and use it for the tones of voices, their feelings, and that sort of thing.

Phil does have good taste in comics though.

I'll keep reading, so hopefully it'll pick up next chapter.
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