It’s hard to say which chapter’s my favorite. Chapters 8, 9, 27, and 50 are all in contention, but there’s not one I don’t love at least a little.

But picking my least favorite chapter is easy. It’s this one.

Some of my reasons are personal. Objectively, I’d say the Fightopia chapter is not an “F” (ha ha) but a C-, a flawed but entertaining diversion. It’s got serious tonal misfires and plot problems, but the characters are generally lovable and it moves right along. I promise not to make you feel too bad for enjoying it, if you did!

Still, it could have been a lot better. And maybe it would’ve been if (1) my personal and professional life hadn’t come crashing down on me while I was composing it and (2) Phil and I could have agreed on the fundamental nature of what it should be.

I wanted a comedic subversion of the “volume-ending action climax” we’d established in Chapters 6, 12, and 18: something more absurdist than action-adventure, to keep us from getting too predictable and to throw you off balance before we did some of the other big action climaxes we had planned. Phil was like, “yes, HUMOR, sure,” but he wanted emotional stakes, a feeling of real risk, tragic possibilities to avert. You can do both, but neither of us wanted what the other wanted: I would’ve made it like 70% farce, 30% straight adventure and he would’ve said maybe 20-80. What we ended up with was, I think, sorta too much of both and not enough of either.

Tomorrow: a promising start.