TWA #20 – Supervillains Battle Thread

“Ebola Erica” by Tony Southcotte


“Judas” by Jeff Martin


SupervillainGreetings short story lovers. Welcome to this week’s match up.

This time around we asked our authors to contemplate criminality on the grande scale. Our writers were challenged to come up with the birth of a supervillain. We set few restrictions on their stories, only that they had to be set on earth (with this group that’s not always a given).

Otherwise they were free to mold their criminal however they wanted, using whatever motives or superpowers they saw fit, or, alternatively, to use naturalistic tones to paint their grisly mural.

Representing the arena is Tony Southcotte with “Ebola Erica.”

Challenging him is Jeff Martin with “Judas.”

Battle #20 is now live!

Read, comment, vote, enjoy!

We have two judges that will render their decision by Friday. The third vote comes from you, the readers. We ask that you read both stories objectively, and then leave a comment below or on the story itself. Authors are not allowed to comment on their own stories, but we’re sure they’ll be checking in here. We’ll tally up the totals and announce our champion on Friday.

[poll id=”16″]


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  1. I’m not too sure why these two writers were pitted against each other. The level of writing of the two authors is on two different planes. “Judas” captivated me immediately and kept my rapt attention continuously. When I read Judas I was not aware there was a writing prompt about a super-villain. I don’t normally like that genre but I was extremely impressed with Judas and like I said it captured me immediately. With no disrespect intended to the author of “Ebola Erica” I had to force myself to finish reading it, but I did finish it in fairness to both writers. The quality of writing just was not anywhere near the standard set by the author of “Judas.” I don’t want to say anything else negative because I know how difficult it is to be a successful writer. I would love to read anything else written by the author of “Judas.”

    • Thank you for contributing, Debi. While you are free to express your opinion, we do ask that you phrase it as that: an opinion. As the arena has proven time and again, there are a wide array of writing styles that people find enjoyable. In the future please use phrases such as “I think” or “In my opinion” when discussing your tastes. The exception here is your vote, which you are free to cast with as much vigor as you wish.

      As for the prompt, the arena is based on head-to-head battles each week where both authors are tasked with writing a short story from the same prompt. The prompt itself, and how well the authors fulfilled it, gets factored into the decision of our judges.

      Thanks again and welcome to the arena!

    • The following comparison can be considered my opinion.

      Judas and Ebola Erica are literary yin and yang, I also identify more with Jeff’s style of writing, fast-paced and verbose, but it was exhausting at times–a lot of readers will struggle keeping up with the action. In comparison Ebola Erica read like Morse code, “sentence,” STOP. “Sentence,” STOP, which really disoriented the underlying sense of suspense, ultimately they were both a struggle to finish reading.

      Judas flowed better but was more predicable even when it out paced itself, I felt like I knew what was going to happen but still had to reread for details. Ebola Erica seemed to change scenery dramatically, but really fit the overall tone of the story. In fact the scenery and settings of both stories were extremely well done, I could litterally smell the beach, the school yard and the hospital in both cases.

      I really enjoyed the way Tony incorporated several current events so seamlessly, another commenter brought this up on his story page. I also LOVED the beach scene from Judas, it seemed so origional for a religiously themed story. As a Floridian beaches bring to mind bikini’s and drum circles peppered with gypsies and hippies, and combining that preconceived notion with the story of Judas was refreshingly jarring.

  2. Two very different takes on one very juicy writing prompt. Thanks, authors, for both of your contributions.

    After I finished both and went to vote, I had to think long and hard about the choice. These stories are very different, and I think they’re trying to do different things. Jeff’s “Judas” was a sledgehammer: elegant in its inelegance, gut-punching, heavy with verbage and description. Tony’s “Ebola Erica” was more a scalpel; subtle, craving a light touch, but still capable of cutting to the bone.

    “Judas” read much like a supervillain origin would in a pulp comic: an unambiguously good guy gets done wrong until he can’t take any more, and exacts his revenge. I loved the very satisfying comeuppance at the story’s peak, and even though some readers may find the language too thick, I found it the perfect vehicle for the gothic atmosphere of the story. My one complaint is that the story seemed to take a very sudden turn in the middle

    On the other hand, “Erica” was a much quieter look into a nascent supervillain. I loved the realism behind it, the feasibility of it. I loved how richly Erica was developed as a character. The best supervillains aren’t born, they’re created, and Erica was definitely a product of her environment. Set against a backdrop of paranoia, the story throws the reader for a loop about what Erica’s motivations really are. The only thing I didn’t like about the story was that it didn’t, in my view, trust the reader enough to connect the dots between her life and her misdeeds. I found the examples of voices in Erica’s head to be excessive, and they read like a storytelling crutch.

    Two very different stories, but only one vote. Thanks again, authors.

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