Everyone Hides Behind Their Masks, Whether They Are Superheroes or Psychiatrists

A Review of Steve Vernon’s The Glint of Moonlight on Broken Glass in Nothing to Lose (Nocturne Press, 2007)

By Derek Newman-Stille

What does pain do to a person? In what way is victimhood contagious? Asks Steve Vernon in his short story The Glint of Moonlight on Broken Glass.  Vernon’s story is a superhero story, but one that is not about someone with incredible powers or a beyond the normal desire for justice. He is a regular man trying to make his city a better place. He is a person in poverty, like many heroes would be – torn between the desire to fight crime and the needs of everyday life in a capitalist society. His hero is one that wears a mask and cape, but lives in a one-room apartment with cockroaches unlike the traditional Marvel and DC comics heroes. He doesn’t have his own method of transportation – no Batmobile – he takes a cab to the hideaways of criminals and into the darker parts of the city, the same as any other citizen would.

This story is fundamentally one about the state of victimhood and may be upsetting for those who have been victims of violent crime. Despite the superhero context, this is a very serious story about the nature of society and the way that crime can spread to encompass more than just the original victim. Pain in this story is like ripples on a pond, spreading outward uncontrollably and affecting greater numbers of people. A lot of that pain centres around those who try to help society, and a psychiatrist in this story becomes both victim and victimiser, having her veneer of control broken by violent crime. She is fundamentally changed by her experience of crime and develops a vampiric hunger to absorb the sensory experience of crime around her, consuming all of the anger and frustration and guilt in the hearts of her patients.  She is a broken mirror reflecting the pain of society, and Steve Vernon asks the question, how can one defeat pain? How can one defeat victimhood?

The hero of The Glint of Moonlight on Broken Glass aptly calls himself Captain Nothing, aware that there is fundamentally nothing under his masks but more masks, an endless Russian nesting doll, a Matryoshka doll spiraling toward a hollow core with every level that is taken away. He represents the anonymity of the city, the social masks that people in civilisation wear to hide their inner selves and the danger that wearing multiple masks can make when one loses sight of their own identity. Masks of class, masks of profession, masks of emotional health that cover the lack of substantial identity beneath. Vernon asks the question what lies beneath the masks? and reminds us that often we wear masks not to hide from others, but to hide from ourselves.

You can read more about Steve Vernon at http://stevevernonstoryteller.wordpress.com/  and you can purchase Nothing to Lose at http://www.amazon.com/Nothing-Lose-Adventures-Captain-ebook/dp/B004KSR2FE/ref=sr_1_1_title_1_kin?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1345918131&sr=1-1&keywords=nothing+to+lose+steve+vernon

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One thought on “Everyone Hides Behind Their Masks, Whether They Are Superheroes or Psychiatrists

  1. Steve Vernon says:

    Reblogged this on YOURS IN STORYTELLING… and commented:
    A brand new review of my story “The Glint of Moonlight on Broken Glass” in my collection of superhero stories NOTHING TO LOSE.

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