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Complete Toppling Heroes by Steelbadger - T - HP/DC Comics

Discussion in 'Review Board' started by Steelbadger, Jan 2, 2021.

  1. Steelbadger

    Steelbadger Unspeakable

    Joined:
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    Title: Toppling Heroes
    Author: Steelbadger
    Rating: T
    Genre: Adventure/Mystery
    Status: Complete
    Library Category: The Alternates
    Pairings: Hints of Harry/Wonder Woman
    Summary: When a high profile robbery is foiled by Superman, and it is revealed that a witch may be involved in the attack, Harry must get to the bottom of it lest the secrecy of his world be put in danger. Sequel to Kicking Gotham, which can be found on my author's page.
    Link: https://www.fanfiction.net/s/13694861/1/Toppling-Heroes
    AO3: https://archiveofourown.org/works/26420626
    WbA: https://forums.darklordpotter.net/threads/toppling-heroes-hp-dc.39579/

    Once again, now that the story is complete on both FFN and AO3, I guess it's time to submit it to the review board like the hack that I am.

    It's still not Megamatt. 7/5 stars.

    More seriously, I think I prefer this story to Kicking Gotham. The more adventure focused style plays more to my strengths, and setting it closer to the Wizarding Britain we know makes it feel more connected to Harry Potter than Kicking Gotham did.

    That said, Toppling Heroes still suffers from a similar issue of plot linearity that Kicking Gotham exhibited, and the pacing and tension of it, despite efforts to mix it up a bit, still feels like it follows a very regular sinusoidal pattern. The larger issue is in the overall structure, where the conflict with Herpo is weak enough that it is unable to overcome the 'rule of three' expectation (establish, reinforce, resolve). The majority of the complaints I saw were immediately after the penultimate fight, which is Harry's third encounter with Herpo, and they are primarily concerned with the fact that Herpo's escape in that battle feels contrived, and as a result the conflict feels like it is being stretched out artificially.

    I think a stronger connection to the villain would perhaps have allowed the story to get away with that. Alternatively, the story could have been restructured in such a way that one of the fights (probably the museum) could be removed entirely so that the Herpo conflict matches the rule of three expectations.

    However, the quality of the writing is, I think, better than Kicking Gotham with less of a tendency to run off on unnecessary asides for the sole purpose of forestalling complaints of canon non-compliancy. I think it could stand to expand some of the secondary characters more, as at the moment they're fairly shallowly realised, but the voices employed are reasonably distinct between characters, and consistency is mostly maintained.

    I think I rated Kicking Gotham a generous 4. This one I'm more happy about calling a solid 4, I think.

    Anyway, that's my take-away from what I've seen so far. What does everyone else think, and what issues and missteps have I forgotten?
     
  2. Fatality

    Fatality Order Member

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    The timing of seeing this is funny, because after recently watching Wonder Woman 1984 I remember thinking to myself I should message you to congratulate you on being able to write Diana's character a hundred times more convincingly than so called professionals Geoff Johns and Patty Jenkins. It's a low bar, and unfortunately you're not getting paid nearly as well, but please pat yourself on the back for me.

    I'll admit to huge bias because I'm a sucker for DC and a sucker for Harry Potter, so anything competently written involving those two crossing over is going to be a 5/5 for me. Toppling Heroes is more than competently written though, I really enjoyed the different voices and personalities you captured for the characters - Harry and Diana foremost obviously, but characters like Padma and Quigley felt unique and fresh enough amongst the usual auror characters, and I was grinning anytime another Justice League character came into the story. I definitely want more of Harry interacting with the whole super hero game but I think easing into it a bit has definitely made things interesting and more grounded, as much as a HP/DC crossover can be grounded. I guess I'm speculating that things are ramping up through each story, as Gotham is pretty street level while this story was a more global threat and by the sounds of things the next is going intergalactic.

    As you mentioned some of the Unspeakables and other secondary characters felt a bit like exposition machines, but sometimes that's what interviewing an expert is like I guess. Herpo definitely didn't do all that much for me but I didn't have any real problems with him, his actions seemed logical and he served the purpose of an opposition for the more interesting characters to respond to. I think seeing some of what the consequences of it all are in the sequel will probably help. Even on it's own though, Toppling Heroes was definitely enjoyable enough for me to give it a 5/5 - looking forward to the next one.
     
  3. Padishah Emperor

    Padishah Emperor First Year

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    I enjoyed both of your DC stories immensely, but I actually think Kicking Gotham is the superior of the two. Aside from Diana's ability to communicate with quintapeds, if you removed her and Superman from the plot you'd basically have a functional post-Hogwarts Harry as an auror adventure story. The DC part of the crossover really wasn't as integral as it was in Kicking Gotham, which I think makes it work better as crossover.
    Also a plot point I didn't quite get/missed: how exactly did Herpo come to possess Daphne exactly? Was it that her stunning spell hit the urn horcrux, which released Herpo's spirit which then suddenly possessed her?
    4.5/5 for me, but as I can't give you a half star as part of a rating, I'll up to it 5.
     
  4. Steelbadger

    Steelbadger Unspeakable

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    This is a fair point, though both stories are fairly light on the DC aspects, really. I had the idea for Kicking Gotham a long time ago and it took a long time before I was able to work out why the idea didn't seem to work. The addition that turned it into a working story in my mind was the Giovanni Zatara secondary plot to give Zatanna a real reason for being present and to break up the main plot a bit. It ended up being rolled into the main thread a bit too completely to feel like a real b-plot but the initial feeling that Harry and Zatanna had their own reasons really made the difference there.

    Maybe this one would have benefited from a more Diana-centric plot line too.

    Herpo's proto-horcrux had lost much of the magical protection originally imbued into it, and the spell which Daphne used effectively blew apart what few binding spells remained. That might have left Herpo stuck, but the shard was able to bind itself to Superman whom it then eventually took control of. As Superman, Herpo then kidnapped the one magic user he knew about, and forced her to perform spells of his own design to capture the Justice League in chains made from her own life force. He then took her to Scotland and transferred the shard to her at the stone circle.

    The reason for the transfer was that while Superman, with his speed and power could intimidate Daphne into doing what he commanded (apparation, for example is established as requiring the twist and so Superman could surely react fast enough to stop it, and in general Daphne is meant to be an unremarkable witch) he thought it would be better to control Daphne directly and then use her to control Superman.

    Some of that stuff is explained, some is implied, and a few of the details were left unsaid, but my hope was that the unexplained bits wouldn't prove too confusing. I really didn't want to over explain the bad guy's plan if possible.

    Dunno how successful that was, but there it is.
     
  5. Padishah Emperor

    Padishah Emperor First Year

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    Ah, so Herpo initially controlled Superman prior to controlling Daphne? That makes sense of the Twelve Apostles scene as well (which I was also slightly confused by), so thanks.
     
  6. coolname95

    coolname95 Second Year

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    It was an excellent story. Competent technique, gripping plot, fun action scenes. The only real conceptual complaint one could have is that the fights may get a bit old towards the end of the story, but some of that was addressed with the WbA discussions. I'd give it a 5/5.
     
  7. Shinysavage

    Shinysavage Madman With A Box ~ Prestige ~

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    The main critical points I might have made, you brought up yourself (namely Herpo being a bit lacking in depth, and the straightforward nature of the plot) so I won't harp on about those in particular detail - although to be fair, as I write this I wonder if that last point about the plot is more to do with this being a story where Harry is an Auror, rather than a weakness in the plot itself? It's not something that would necessarily have leapt out at me were I not mentally set up for Harry working as a detective of sorts, I guess.

    In other respects though, it's a really enjoyable story. I really like your take on Harry, and I mean it as a compliment when I say that, looking back at this action packed adventure about Dark wizards, superheroes and demi-goddesses, the bits that stick out are character related; Harry's approach to leadership with Susan, Quigley and the other junior Auror who's name escapes me, his trolling of Draco, Harry's lack of fucks in the ICW meeting...all great stuff. I also really enjoyed the trip through various myths and legends. Diana seemed in character to me, although I don't claim to be an expert on her, and of course, the setpieces are a lot of fun.

    Overall, I'd agree with your solid 4. Looking forward to part 3!
     
  8. Silly

    Silly Third Year

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    I finished both Kicking Gotham and this story over the weekend, and they're both very well written!

    I think that the greatest strength of this series is the way you've managed to actually create a world where it feels like both the Justice League and Harry Potter fit in naturally.

    I find that crossovers are generally quite challenging to pull off, since writing one requires the author to combine two works that might operate on completely different sets of rules into a single cohesive world. This is where the vast, vast majority of crossovers I've read tend to struggle. One half of the crossover might end up overpowering the other, or the author never really does a good job integrating the two environments at all and the worldbuilding suffers greatly as a result. However, in your two works so far, both universes feel well represented and true to their source material. They also interact with each other in a way that feels very natural and neither of the two settings feels completely dominant compared to the other.

    The biggest issue that I had with Toppling Heroes, you already highlighted in your post.

    The most prominent part where I noticed this was partway through the story, when Harry and the gang start clashing with Herpo and Superman. I swear there were multiple times in the story where we are building up to a big fight scene, only to have the conclusion be "the good guys almost win, but then Superman does some bullshit Superman thing and the bad guys escape on the back of his super speed". This is understandable the first time it happens because the good guys don't yet have the knowledge that Superman is secretly a baddie, so they are obviously unprepared for it. And even though they failed they have at least gained that very important piece of information and can prepare better next time. However, in the subsequent fights where the baddies make it out unscathed, it feels like that fight didn't really accomplish all that much, and was just there because the story feels like it needed a fight there. As it stands right now, I get the feeling that we are repeatedly building up to the same climax between every fight scene, because the fight that happens knocks us back down the hill instead of progressing us forward.

    With that being said though, Toppling Heroes is still very well done, and is a solid 5/5 in my books. It's not perfect, but no story is, and the issues I had with it were incredibly minor and did not really detract from the reading experience at all. I am eagerly looking forward to the next installment. (In the meantime, I've binged your Harry + Fleur short story, which was quite cute.)
     
  9. Drachna

    Drachna Fourth Year

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    I quite enjoyed Toppling Heroes, although not quite as much as I liked Kicking Gotham. Tightly plotted with good dialogue and action sequences, TH is a quickly moving roller coaster of a story. I found some of Steelbadger's plot devices to be a wee bit uninspired, and at times the story got bogged down in needless exposition, but overall, I would recommend this to any fan of HP crossovers, and as I know next to nothing about DC, any potential reader shouldn't let that become an issue.

    4/5.
     
  10. James

    James High Inquisitor

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    I am lazy and just want to know Steelbadger that I enjoyed this story very much.
     
  11. RandyRanderson

    RandyRanderson Third Year

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    From the perspective of someone who has never read DC and who has never been a fan of the concept of superheroes, this was an excellent stand-alone fic. Steelbadger could have labeled it as a Harry Potter fic, wiped my memories of superhero stories, and I would still have enjoyed this fic.

    The crossover elements are not overdone and are introduced in such a way that someone who is unfamiliar with the DC universe can still enjoy the story and understand the context. The combat feels like Harry Potter and flows nicely enough. At times, the plot did feel a little underwhelming and predictable but it wasn't enough to really detract from the story.

    4.5/5, rounded down for the actual rating.
     
  12. Snupps

    Snupps Fourth Year DLP Supporter

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    Great fic, very well written. My favourite part would have to be the chapter with the quintapeds - story suddenly took an almost spooky vibe with how the island we presented and how tough the quintapeds are.

    The only issues I really had have already been outlined by the others above - so 4.5/5 rounded to 5. Keep at it Steelbadger.