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Author Topic: The Hidden Knowledge: A Series in Review  (Read 9475 times)
MarkReed
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« on: April 02, 2016, 09:55:12 am »

SPOILERS: This thread takes a look back on Hidden Knowledge issues from the point of view of someone who has read everything published so far. (At the time of this writing, the series is up to issue 16.) Spoilers will be frequent, so I recommend you avoid this thread if you're still on your first read through.

Issue #1

This issue has a ton of setup in it, and it's clear that Daphne has a solid grasp on her overall plot from the beginning. We start with the discovery of the book. We know that Tari admits later that she planted the book, and it was hypothesized here on the forums that she'd done so for at least a few issues before the actual reveal. What we can see in the comic is Tari's hand on the book, and the book itself in a half-on-half-off position on the bookcase. Daffyd is holding a self-hypnosis book just to the side of this.

My personal interpretation is that Tari is taking the book off of the shelf here. Daffyd's hands and the hypnosis book are angled in such a way that he'd have a clear view of Tari putting a book on the shelf. Unless his view of the shelf is being blocked by the self-hypnosis book. In which case, props to Tari for being super slick there. But even then she'd have had to pull the book out of her bag or wherever she'd been carrying it, so this feels much more like she's taking the book OFF the shelf. My presumption is that she planted the book on a previous visit to the shop and is taking it down now to bring it to Daffyd's attention.

Also worth noting is the self hypnosis book purchase itself. Issues 6 through 14 contain a lot of twists and turns with the overall plot. Throughout the whole power struggle we are left to wonder again and again just whose side Tari is ultimately on. In issue 14 it is suggested that Tari could have been a free agent the entire time. "Clovis is gone. Alberto does what Joachim tells him, and Joachim will do what I tell him." The purchase of the self-hypnosis book could indicate just how she broke free from Clovis's control. She may not have found her answers in that book in particular, but the purchase indicates that Tari is investigating the subject. If so, props to Daphne for having a character proactively investigate hypnosis as the counter to another form of mind control. That's a nicely done inversion of the subject.

Another thing interesting about this initial encounter is Tari's personality. "Still having trouble sleeping?" "Yeah, a little bit." "Sorry to hear that." "I just need to get laid more." Given what we learn about Tari as the series progresses, this verbal exchange is hilariously ironic. Check out that body posture on the left side of page 2! Very unlike the personality we see later on. On page 8 Janice refers to Tari as being "as shallow as a tide pool." Daffyd isn't deemed a good fit because he's "not a bodybuilder with a 10 inch cock." This suggests that Tari was living a double life. To her friends she was a bombshell starlet with a shallow personality who frequently dated only the most attractive of men. To men of power she was a high class prostitute with plenty of powerful clients. The dating criteria between those two personas are rather different. Especially since she's revealed to have been publicly dating Clovis for some time. Were the bodybuilders that Janice refers to really bodyguards for Clovis that Tari was using as a form of cover? I'd love to see a one-shot prologue to the series from Tari's point of view. I think there's enough material in how she was balancing her various personas and relationships to make plenty of good character development... and plenty of sex. A bodybuilder 'boyfriend' and Clovis as an MCer would make for two interesting scenes. The trick would be keeping the content down to 12 or so pages.

Speaking of keeping things down to 12 pages, it's worth mentioning that the writing in Issue 1 is excellent. The whole comic is 13 pages - one of which being a very well done and intriguing cover. (Great job, PortalComics!) That means that Daphne had 12 pages to tell the plot, and she did a phenomenal job. In this issue we have two distinct sex scenes (both of which have mind control lead-ups), two dialogue exchanges, enough overall plot setup to kick off the series, and another 2 pages of fantasizing. That's some tight writing! And Daphne does a particularly good job with smooth transitions and pacing. Really, with great art, a long term plot, and this much effort paid to the opening issues it's easy to see why Hidden Knowledge became a flagship series for the website.

The last thing I want to bring up about issue 1 is the final three pages. Here we see a one off fling with Kendra, whom we thought was a throwaway character until her surprise callback in issue 14. (Planned from the start, or just a good use of existing material to jump start character development with the 'new girl?') The MC in this scene is great. Both sex scenes in this issue are particularly hot, in fact. But here we see Daffyd's first conscious exercise of power. And in terms of the fantasy, it's perfect. The cold use of mind control on a stranger is very wish fulfilling. For that reason alone I wouldn't want a bit of it to change. But the scene also has a lot of impact from a character standpoint. Here we see that Daffyd isn't really that nice of a guy. There was a lot of discussion in posts about future issues revolving around Daffyd's sense of morality. I think a distinction needs to be made between a character being immoral and a character being likable. It's difficult to write wish fulfillment fantasy involving a character with mind control powers and a strong moral character. Issue 1 of Enchanting Summer does a good job of it, with the accidental hypnotism and slowly developing plot. I've read comments saying Saint James's Infirmary does as well. But a lot of mind control fantasies are pretty dark at their core, and I think it would do us well to remember that villainous MCer's are a necessity of the genre. With that said, it's entirely possible for a villain to be a likable character. I think would be a better focus of character discussion as the series continues to develop.

Looking at issue 1 as a whole, I find myself impressed all over again. When I was first reading the series, this issue was a favorite for the attention grabbing cover, interesting art style, and two great MC scenes. Looking back on it now, there's also a huge amount of depth here as well. The story does a lot more than just set things up. Callbacks are made to this issue at several points in the series. It's not easy to balance both the long term and the short term so well. Daphne really hit it out of the park when she developed this issue.
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MarkReed
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« Reply #1 on: April 02, 2016, 10:38:31 am »

Oh! Something I forgot to mention. In the fantasy/dream sequence on page 9, we see Daffyd dream of sex with a bunch of girls. Some of them are introduced characters, but the rest look like random girls. Little does the reader know on their first read through that Daffyd will meet and enslave each of the depicted women. Surprise!
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Daphne
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« Reply #2 on: April 02, 2016, 11:46:32 am »

Wow, thank you! It's incredibly flattering to have one's writing studied to that depth. Smiley
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Haight
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« Reply #3 on: June 08, 2016, 02:55:17 pm »

Incidentally, any word on the next issue?
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Dr. White
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« Reply #4 on: June 08, 2016, 09:56:14 pm »

This is awesome. Any plans to discuss further chapters? Wink
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Everything is about sex except sex. Sex is about power. - Oscar Wilde
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