Gee, he’s kinda betting it all on a roll of the dice, isn’t he?
I gotta object to this narrative turn. The comic was solid until this point, and then this page just kicks the legs out from the tone that had been established.
1) If you have a secret which you are attempting to keep “out of the wrong hands,” you don’t hide it with “a vast treasure.” At the very least, you don’t tell random people on the street about the treasure. That is counterproductive at best, given the general moral caliber of treasure hunters.
2) If the “power” could even “alter reality,” and he was afraid of it falling into the “wrong hands,” which logically means that he considers himself the right hands, why did he not just use the power to obliterate the source of the power? Or use the power to hide the source in the center of the Earth? Or in the Sun?
3) Informing the unknown recipient of the map that their knowledge will lead them to a vast treasure and also omnipotence, then audibly hoping that they are not motivated “by the vices of greed and small-mindedness” is Leave It To Beaver-style naivete.
The hook is solid–the MacGuffin which will grant unimaginable wealth and power to the one who finds it is a tried-and-true plot device. But the way you’re introducing it is weak at best.
For instance, the message could be intended for a specific recipient, and it is due to machinations that our heroine has been the one to open it. In this version, Alfonso doesn’t need to play the part of Mr. Exposition quite so transparently. “Rog, it’s Alfonso. I apologize for the odd form this missive takes, but there are things you must know. Some years back, during my travels, I discovered a source of limitless power–power enough to alter reality itself, if the user so desired. Fearing what might result if the wrong sort of people got their hands on the power source, I hid it away with enough money to support its guardian for a lifetime.” Blah blah you are now the map, blah blah prevent it from falling into the wrong hands, blah blah you’re the only one I could trust to do this after I am gone. This way, the bulk of the exposition is left to be given over the course of the narrative, rather than front-loading it.
In another version, the map comes with little or no explanation. Alfonso just appears and goes “You are now the map!” all Wizard of Oz-style. In this version, it’s entirely up to other characters to provide exposition over time as our heroine is entangled in events outside her experience and control, and is captured by one group, then another, etc. She learns a little bit here and a little bit there about what the map leads to while she is being shuffled around by the people who are attempting to use her knowledge.
Aiee, watch me comment on ancient pages!
I love this page! It’s such a great version of the mad scientist- slightly genre-aware, undoubtedly brilliant in his field, and totally wildly unaware of how people work. I bet his grand plan involves the world functioning as narrative, along some grand Guiding Principle. Very period!
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