Sunday, April 26, 2015

Zorro 1.12 - Zorro, The Luckiest Swordsman Alive

Plot: We finally learn the name of the hotheaded stranger from last week, and it's Martinez. We learn it because he was killed trying to escape by the crack marksmanship of Sergeant Garcia?! As it turns out, Martinez isn't dead, only in hiding as part of Monastario's latest plan to discredit Zorro. Martinez is to once again impersonate the outlaw, and this time he's going to steal some jeweled crown off a statue of the Virgin Mary from Padre Felipe's Mission. Since the fake Zorro is believed dead - they even had a public burial of a rock-filled coffin - everyone will believe it was Zorro. Martinez actually balks at it, but as his other option is a trip to Hell with a rope around his neck and a price on his head, he agrees. Besides, Monastario promises him passage on a ship leaving at the end of the week, and the authorities will never be looking for a dead man.

So he infiltrates the mission, but his horse is observed by Inocente, one of the Native Americans at the mission, and Inocente winds up dying trying to prevent the theft. And "Zorro's" flight is observed by Father Felipe. At the de la Vega hacienda, Benito brings word to Alejandro and Diego that Zorro was seen riding toward the mission. Diego excuses himself and goes to investigate as Zorro, only to narrowly escape all the Native Americans at the mission outraged at the death of their friend. He returns home to find Felipe discussing the matter with Alejandro. Apparently all those times Zorro saved people's lives count for nothing, as the whole countryside is up in arms against him over the theft of a religious relic.

Catholics, man.

Diego is stymied, but he's sure Monastario has something to do with this, and there is the question of what the thief will do with the jewels. And Diego just so happens to have some fake jewels he bought in Mexico, so it's off to the tavern, where he drops the jewels surreptitiously, and they produce quite a commotion, especially in Monastario's old ally Licenciado. The lawyer rushes to tell Monastario, who rides to Martinez' hiding place, planning to kill him in his sleep if he is there. Martinez is there, but not so stupid as to sleep where's he's expected to be, and the two quickly set to fighting. Monastario loses, but Martinez would rather run than stay to kill him. Diego and Bernardo trailed Monastario, but there's no time to change to Zorro, so Diego has to face Martinez as himself, and triumph while pretending to be an incompetent swordsman, lest the Capitan become suspicious. He manages to set Martinez on his heels, but Monastario takes the opportunity to shoot the fleeing criminal, who then falls to his death. But the jewels are recovered, and with Diego as a witness, Monastario will have to admit that Zorro did not commit the robbery. He does, however, once again blame Martinez' escape from jail on Sergeant Garcia.

Quote of the Episode: Martinez - 'I have never seen a man so awkward live so long!'

Times Zorro makes a "Z": 0 (7 overall). I'm still not counting Zs made by imposters.

Other: That was a heck of a shot by Monastario, considering the type of pistol and the distance. Very impressive. I did expect Monastario to win the swordfight, though. It wasn't as though Martinez did well against Zorro last week, and the Capitan really ought to be improving from all the times he's fought Zorro.

Though the gap between Diego and either of them must be immense if he can still win a fight while pretending to be a clumsy oaf. He was doing some absurd faces and swings against Martinez. He defeated him by getting his sword stuck in a crack in the rock they were fighting on, and when Martinez went for a finishing thrust, Diego was able to finally pull his sword free with an uncontrolled jerk and accidentally knocked Martinez' sword out of his hand.

Despite his performance, Monastario's suspicious now, and he's not the only one. When Benito delivered his news, Diego was playing his guitar for his father. He feigned being tired so he could go change to Zorro, but left his guitar behind. Alejandro picks it up and something about how it was tuned caught his attention. I think he suspects Diego is not as bad a guitar player as he lets on, and now he's going to wonder just why that's the case. But that is probably not going to come to a head for a while.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Coins Are Serious Business

I saw a bit of American Buffalo on Wednesday. I'd never seen a Mamet-written film before, and this is clearly not the one to make me seek out more of them. I do finally understand all those comments I've seen over the years that described Bendis' writing as Mamet-like. His characters do have a tendency to repeat the same point over and over again. On the other hand, they're at least saying something beyond variations on "Really?" "Yeah." "Ugh." "I know." "Ugh!" "Yeah, I know." Still, there was a definite sense of spinning their tires. Which is maybe the point, these guys can't get what they think they deserve because they can't get it in gear.

Coming in during the second half of the movie wasn't optimal, there were certain connections I didn't understand. But it was obvious Don and Teach (Dennis Franz and Dustin Hoffman) were planning to rob someone of valuable coins, but mostly spent their time arguing about how to go about it. Don wants to bring in another guy, Fletch, but can't get ahold of him. Teach is opposed to bringing in a 3rd guy, which is funny since, as my dad explained it to me, Teach himself has forced his way into the mix. The more they delay, the more they squabble, the more they get paranoid about everything. Bobby - who alerted Don to the opportunity originally - brings a coin of his own he's hoping to pawn off on Don, and Teach gets suspicious. Fletch still won't answer the phone, Teach gets suspicious. Don starts getting fed up with Teach.  It keeps spiraling out of control, and nothing gets done.

Don's really only on this because he thinks someone got one over on him, and he wants to get him back, get what he thinks he deserves. Teach saw an opportunity, but now they're letting their own natures undermine their goals. They suspect others are trying to beat them to it, or undermine them, and they waste time complaining about that, rather than trying to pull off the robbery. Not that it matters, because the whole thing is a fool's errand, anyway.

I couldn't understand how Don put up with Teach. Hoffman's character carries himself like a genius among dopes, and he's extremely passive-aggressive, questioning every decision Don makes. He even tries to come off as a heavy towards Bobby, which, I understand Bobby is supposed to be a kid, and Teach just clocked him in the head with a rotary phone. But the idea of Dustin Hoffman intimidating anyone is laughable.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Being A Vigilante Is A 13-Episode Work In Progress

Thanks to having access to a friend's Netflix account, I got to watch that Daredevil series last week. I'm not sure whether binge-watching it over 3 days was a good idea or not. Anyway, there might be spoilers, if you care.

I can't decide how I feel about D'onofrio as the Kingpin. He doesn't match my idea of Fisk, but he might work for this series. It isn't his size, D'onofrio's not a small guy, and the cameras are positioned well-positioned to make him look bigger. Look up at him, lots of close-ups so he fills the frame. His shyness around Vanessa, how out of control and brutal he can get where her safety is involved, that felt right. But the social awkwardness, that was unexpected. I'm used to a Kingpin who is comfortable at those charity galas, glad-handing potentially useful politicians. D'onofrio is so uneasy around everyone, unable to even fake being comfortable around others. It does actually help him in a way, because of how unwilling he is to emerge from the shadows, it makes his claims of concern for the city's well-being ring genuine. The fact it isn't an act is strange.

I saw an argument that Fisk doesn't become the Kingpin until the very end of the season, in the same way Matt doesn't become Daredevil until the very end. The point when Fisk is either so confident or desperate he will boldly flaunt his power with shootouts in full view of everyone. When all the other major players in organized crime are either dead, or have departed on other enterprises. Except I'm not sure what they do with him given how the season ended, so I'm not sure it holds water.

The rest of the cast was pretty good. It's not a cheery show, much more Miller's Daredevil than Waid/Samnee's or the early Lee/Romita swashbuckler, but Charlie Cox does have a little of that cocky breeziness. The glib, cocksure attitude Matt has a lot. Deborah Ann Woll plays a good Karen Page (I like how she struggles with her desire to see the people behind the murder of a friend exposed, and with the fear other people she cares about are going to be hurt. She's been through a traumatic experience, and she's struggling to deal with it, but there's conflicting impulses. Elden Henson works well as Foggy, has his own mix between wanting to make being a lawyer pay off, but also helping people who really need it. He knows Matt is right about helping people, but he also knows they have to keep the lights on. He's a little more practically-minded, which isn't saying much when compared to a guy who puts a mask on and punches criminals. I'd agree I didn't see much romantic tension between any of the three, but that's OK. Let them be friends and coworkers. Also, Vondie Curtis-Hall was a good Ben Urich. Dedicated journalist, good man, bit of a realist, and he has this slightly slumped shoulders, hang-dog look to him. It works for the weight of all his various fears and concerns. On the whole, the casting was solid.

The fight scenes were pretty good, and I liked the lighting in a lot of the scenes. They used this sickly yellow-green light a lot that made everything look alien somehow. Which is strange, because I think it's just the color of streetlights, maybe slightly dimmed by the light going through a window, which would be perfectly normal in New York. But it works. I'm not as sure about how they depict Matt's view of the world. He describes it as everything looking as though it's on fire, which seemed a strange choice. It lead to a good line from Rosario Dawson's character to the effect that if she saw everything as being on fire, she'd want to hit things, too.

I was a little disappointed they wasted Leland Owlsley the way they did - he's essentially a money manager - but hopefully we'll get some of the stranger costumed villains in the other series. The opportunity is there to get weird, but I'm not sure they'll take it. This is silly, but I'm a little concerned about how they show the Iron Fist, when that series premieres. That show is a year or two off, but there were a lot of hints and nods towards it in Daredevil.

It's a decent enough show. At times it feels too much like a prologue, but there is a lot of good stuff in there. I really liked the episode where Matt and Foggy have a difficult conversation about Matt's double life. Foggy's anger and confusion is palpable, and Matt would clearly rather not have the conversation, but he's too beat up to even get off the couch. He feels completely helpless in the face of Foggy's sense of betrayal. So I didn't love the show, but I thought it was worth the time I spent on it.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

31 Days of Scans - Favorite Team/Corps/Family

I had some trouble with this one, because I found it vague. When it refers to team, does it mean a general group, like the Avengers, or a certain lineup? There are 3 or 4 specific X-Men rosters I like quite a lot (some because of the stories told with them, others because I thought there was a lot of potential), but I don't give a tinker's damn about any of the current X-groups. I don't even know which teams there are these days. The trend towards vast superhuman armies has something to with that. Who isn't an Avenger these days?

Ultimately, I decided there was one team I like in almost every version, and I went with them. That's the Suicide Squad, provided John Ostrander is writing it. I haven't read Keith Giffen's work, so I can't speak to it one way or the other. But Ostrander's work, oh that's some good stuff. I like the Task Force X years, and the "if you can find them, maybe you can hire. . . the Suicide Squad" years.

The roster changes as frequently as you'd expect with a name like "Suicide Squad". People die, or leave, or just get banged up. New villains get arrested, or new heroes sign on, but it always works, because Ostrander takes the time to flesh them out, make them interesting, make the reader care about them. Dr. Light was mostly a miserable coward and butt of a lot of jokes. He still demonstrated on a couple of occasions that he could be cruel and dangerous, and then he even tried to be the big hero on Apokolips.

Fine, it backfired horribly, and he was left as a ghost, watching Boomerbutt use him as an example of the dangers of heroism. But it was interesting to see that Light recognized there was some strange camaraderie among all these people (even though a bunch of them hate each other), and decide he wanted in. Count Vertigo's this ruthless but flexible individual who struggles with severe hereditary depression problems. Captain Boomerang is a complete scumbag and opportunist, who nonetheless is just skilled and valuable enough he doesn't get killed. Rick Flag's doing the best he can with a job he doesn't want, subordinates he mostly hates, a boss who doesn't trust him, and a massive guilt complex that gets him into trouble. Deadshot. . . Deadshot's just severely messed up, but strangely reliable. If you know how to approach him, you can work with him, assuming you can keep him alive. Waller truly believes she can make something good out of this, and that it needs doing, but she has to compromise herself a lot. Fight dirty, but as she once noted, she's good at that.

It's this bizarre, wonderful mix of people. Ostrander sets up not only the villains as people with motives and backstories (Ivy's initially just trying to do her time and get out, but when she sees a chance to use Vertigo, she jumps at it. Vertigo meanwhile, just wants to free his country from their Soviet puppet government), but a whole support staff. Johnny Economos and his stories about his ex-wives. Waller's niece, Flo, her unrequited love for the Bronze Tiger, and burgeoning friendship with Oracle. Oh yeah, Suicide Squad gave us Barbara Gordon as Oracle. Briscoe, who named his attack 'copter after his dead loved ones, and even sleeps inside. Dr. Legrieve's assistant, Marnie, who gets far too involved in trying to help Deadshot. Father Craemer, trying to provide spiritual guidance to this bizarre cast. It's good, not only because it helps Belle Reve feel like a real place, and the Squad feel like something they actually took the time to plan out when they put it together, but the non-costumed folk make for a nice contrast to bounce off the costumed weirdos.

That comes up a lot with most of the characters, they have these hang-ups that they can't get over that keep causing problems for them. Waller can't stop trying to hoard power and keep secrets, and it backfires. She doesn't confide in Flag, so he creates a huge problem with he starts trying to kill Tolliver and Cray for blackmailing the Squad, even though Waller has it handled. Flag tries to take the responsibility for that on himself, rather than confiding in anyone who might have talked him out of it.

There are all these conflicts with other agencies (Zastrow of the KGB was an interesting foil for Waller, and Stalinoivolk was pretty cool, Eiling and Sarge Steel were opportunistic scumbags), but then sometimes they have to work together

I don't know if the Squad ever had a mission that was actually completely successful. Several were outright disasters, like the first mission to the USSR (to rescue an author who didn't want to be rescued), and the attempt to rescue Hawk when he tried to take part in some civil war in Latin America. The mission to rescue Nightshade's brother, except he was already fully possessed by a demon and waiting for her return. Maybe it's a bad idea to ask a group of super-criminals to rescue people? Waller's plan to keep an eye on Lashina backfired horribly.

Even the moderately successful missions were mostly stopgaps. The team-up with Roy Harper that destroyed a major cocaine distributor, but there are more where he came from. They dealt with Kobra on a couple of different occasions, and the Quaraci super-terrorists Jihad on at least 3 occasions, but it was never anything more than a delaying action. Rick Flag blew up Jihad's base with a damn nuke, and it didn't eliminate them. There's a real question whether you can accomplish much of anything good using methods like the Suicide Squad. Maybe the last story in the ongoing, when they helped take down a different Squad that was propping up a corrupt government. But even then, they're cleaning up a mess started because someone saw what Waller did, and decided to copy it. There are no clean victories for them.

But it gave everyone the chance to be badass at least once, or show off how dangerous they were. OK, not Slipknot, he just looked like a chump, but everyone other than Slipknot got a chance to show off, or in some cases, the opportunity to be humanized a little, so you care about them in spite of their being bad people. Punch and Jewelee are this goofy criminal couple, but they show on a few occasions they can be deadly. At the same time, they're oddly devoted to each other (if completely indifferent to everyone else's suffering), and they were really excited at the prospect of being parents. Boomerang, for all that he's a cowardly scumbag, shows that just because he can't kill the Flash, that doesn't mean you take him lightly. Bronze Tiger holds his own against Stalinoivolk, and then Vixen is the one who shows up and ends the fight. Nightshade took out one of Granny Goodness' Furies, and as you see above, Count Vertigo took out Darkseid's own personal assassin. Everyone gets a chance to show how it is they've survived this long, but it's no guarantee they'll survive the next 5 minutes.

I don't know where the top image is from, but I'm pretty sure it's by Luke McDonnell. Dr. Light and Kanto's deaths are from Suicide Squad #36, by Ostrander (writer), John K. Snyder (layouts), Geof Isherwood (finishes), Todd Klein and John Workman (letterers), and Carl Gafford (colors). Deadshot's brief stint as alarm clock and the group shot of the Soviets are from the first issue of the 2007 Suicide Squad mini-series, by Ostrander (writer), Javier Pina (pencils), Robin Riggs (inker), Rob Leigh (letterer), and Jason Wright (colorist). Boomerang waking up with a massive headache in another dimension is from Suicide Squad #11, by Ostrander (writer), McDonnell (artist), Kleing (letters), and Gafford (colors).

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Gunboat! - Bryan Perrett

So the weekend wasn't all running around helping Alex and watching crap movies. There was time to read a book.

Gunboat! is, as you might imagine, about gunboats, those flat-bottomed ships most commonly used by navies to patrol rivers and other shallow waterways. Perrett focuses almost exclusively on British gunboats - except for a chapter about American use in the Civil War - but I don't know if that was simply a choice on his part to focus on them, or if they were just the majority. The latter would be possible, given the British maritime tradition.

The book starts with the first major introduction of the gunboats in the Crimean War, where the British capital ships couldn't get close enough to Russian forts and batteries to do any damage. From there, Perrett moves forward through the gunboats frequent use in China to deal with pirates, the American Civil War, some of the conflicts in Egypt, and World Wars 1 and 2. Perrett doesn't go into massive detail, but he does give some depth to the specific engagements. The chapter I was most interested in was the one on operations in Mesopotamia during World War 1, because of the all-too-brief mention Halpern made in his Naval History of World War 1. This book does give a much greater view of that than Halpern did, getting into some of the good and bad command decisions, the difficulties faced because of the climate, the successes and reverses.

One thing Perrett highlights is the level of cooperation between gunboats and land forces. It makes sense, given how close to shore gunboats tend to operate, but I wasn't expecting it. There are several occasions of gunboats either transporting troops, helping to ferry them out of lost situations, bringing in supplies, or sending their own crews on land to help hold a position until the army can show up. Some of them were involved in the "Desert Column" march across the desert to try and help relieve Khartoum (because the Nile was down too low for the boats to readily make it upriver)*. It was fairly surprising how well it seemed to go. There weren't really many examples of the gunboat forces and the land forces butting heads, which does not seem typical.

* They apparently quite enjoyed learning to ride camels, which given what I've heard about camel's temperament, seems strange. They're like bigger, surlier horses, which know how to spit.

Monday, April 20, 2015

The Weekend Didn't Go As Planned

Did not make it to Cape-Con this year. Alex was insanely busy all weekend, and I didn't feel like making the drive through some ugly weather by myself. Did take advantage of the presence of comic shops to buy almost everything I wanted that came out over the last month, plus a couple of other things. We'll get to those reviews eventually, maybe next week.

Alex' shows went well, outside of that stretch Saturday when the one inebriated girl was leaning into the booth to request a song, obliviously holding her drink way too close to one of his speakers. She wasn't being crazy or anything, but accidents can happen, you know? He spent most of Sunday cooking for a catering gig he has today, which I couldn't help much with. Clean a few pots, run out for more supplies, help make some meatballs. Some of his other friends came over and irritated him by complaining he wouldn't hang out rather than, you know, helping.

During one of the lulls, I got roped into a game of "polish golf". That's what they called it, looking onlne leads to a bunch of links to "ladder golf", which doesn't seem like the same set up. The way we played, they set two PVC pipes in the ground maybe 15 yards apart, and put a beer bottle on top of each one. You play in pairs, and you take turns throwing a Frisbee at the other pairs' bottle (or the pole). They try to catch the Frisbee (one-handed, because you have to hold a beer in one hand) before it hits the ground, but they can't grab it until after it's passed the pipe. If the bottle is knocked off, they have to try and grab that, too (also one-handed). If the Frisbee hits the ground, the team that threw it gets one point. If the bottle hits the ground, that's two, so up to 3 points per toss are possible.

It's weird, considering I'm right-handed, but I had much more success catching with my left. Maybe it's left over from baseball, I don't know. Still bruised or jammed all of my fingers. I didn't have a lot of success with throwing, at least in terms of knocking down the bottle. Fortunately I was partnered with someone very good at that, so we won both games.

Saw parts of Let's Be Cops, which was about as stupid as I thought it looked when its commercials started appearing last summer. No surprise there. Then Alex and I made the mistake of trying to find something on Netflix, which never seems to have the movies I actually want to see, so we wound up watching Oldboy, and Alex was the fortunate one, because he fell asleep part way through. The lesson I took from that is if some guy has you imprisoned for 15 years, then has you released, and offers you the chance to kill him, with the cost that you'll never know why he did it, just kill the guy and be done with it. I should have gone with Europa Rising.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Zorro 1.11 - Double Trouble for Zorro

Plot: The story starts in the tavern, where a large number of people have gathered to drink and enjoy the dancing of Senorita Fuentes. Heck, even Monastario is there, and he's enjoying himself. But there's one young fellow who seems to be growing increasingly agitated as he watches the attention other men are paying to the young woman. After the dance, one of those men approaches and asks if she'll join him for a drink. The stranger bolts up and tells him to shove off, even though Fuentes doesn't know him and wants nothing to do with him. Then the stranger throws a cup of wine in the fellow's face, which sets off a swordfight, and the stranger wins handily, killing his opponent. Which is pretty stupid in a room full of soldiers who saw him start the fight, but it's pretty clear this guy's brain never gets out of the starting blocks, and off to jail he goes.

The next day, we check in on Diego and Bernardo, who are training Tornado. Diego hides, then whistles for his horse, and Tornado is able to find him. I guess that could come in handy, but in this case, Sergeant Garcia hears the whistle, and recognizing no one lives near there, correctly surmises he may have found Zorro's hideout. Though I'm not sure Zorro would just be hanging around in broad daylight whistling, but still, good work, Sergeant! Bernardo is able to see them coming and alert Diego so he and Tornado get out of sight, and apparently Bernardo can't whistle on his own, but can if he uses a piece of grass? Or maybe Garcia is just assuming Bernardo can't whistle on his own (being mute), and Bernardo sees no reason to disabuse him of that notion.

Hope of finding Zorro thwarted, Garcia gives Bernardo a message for Alejandro from the Capitan. Monastario is having a big dinner at the tavern for all the major rancheros, and a few other members of the community. It's a trick of course, as he plans to have the hotheaded swordsman impersonate Zorro and rob the dinner, so as to discredit Zorro with the people. Diego doesn't know all that, only that there's a trap, because that's all Bernardo overheard when delivering Alejandro's letter, declining the invitation. Monastario's not having any of that, and sent back a note essentially ordering someone from the family to attend. It was while writing that note he casually makes mention of a trap to Garcia in Bernardo's presence. Curiosity piqued, Diego agrees to go in his father's place, and that night, Monastario tries to lay on some snake oil about how there have been misunderstandings, but really, he's just trying to do what's best.

Absolutely no one buys it, and then Zorro appears to rob everyone, and generally mistreat the staff and musicians. Diego slips out after handing over his money, since everyone is looking at Zorro. Bernardo is waiting in the stable with Diego's Zorro outfit, and there's a ladder leading to the upstairs rooms the phoney used. Diego moves in and climbs in a different window. By this point the fake is leaving, and Monastario makes a half-hearted attempt to pursue, only to see a Zorro emerge from one room, just after the fake ran in the other. He thinks he's lackey's gone off plan, and so tells him to fight, and make it look good. Meanwhile, the fake is finding escape difficult, because someone (Bernardo) keeps moving the ladder on him. Finally, about the time Monastario goes over the railing, the fake has to fight the real deal, and is handily beaten. The patrons unmask him as Zorro vanishes and Diego once again gets into the room by some method I can't figure and hides behind a table. It's back to jail for the hothead, after Monastario blames his being loose on Garcia, of course.

Quote of the Episode: Monastario - 'During the year I have been Comandante, several regrettable misunderstandings have taken place.'

Times Zorro makes a "Z": 1 (8 overall). I'm not counting the fake cutting one into a rancheros coat, but real thing put one in the tavern door. Thanks Diego, that's going to take a lot of sanding to remove, you know.

Other: I can whistle, but I have never managed what Bernardo does, where you blow through the blade of grass to produce the sound. But I've never figured out how to do the whistle where you put two fingers in your mouth, either.

I hadn't thought about it until this week, but Monastario has been hellbent on this idea the common people are protecting Zorro. That was the point of last week's fake discharge of Garcia, and this week's plan, that everyone who isn't a soldier under Monastario's command is against him and aiding Zorro. The funny thing is, we know that isn't the case. We haven't seen really anyone directly aid Zorro, even if we have seen people oppose Monastario in their own ways. But he can't accept it's just one guy (well one guy and his friend) that are constantly outmaneuvering him. No, it has to be a vast conspiracy against him that protects Zorro, not the fact that Zorro is simply a better swordsman and rider than Monastario or any of his lancers. Also, that Zorro is fighting in a manner that works to his advantages and against Monastario. I guess because Monastario himself is trying this big plan where he bends the power of the military and the law to his favor, he figures anyone who can defy him has similar manpower on his side.

I don't know if Bernardo knows how to read or write, but if not, Diego might want to invest some time in teaching him. Bernardo had a hell of a time pantomiming, "the dinner Monastario is holding is a plot to discredit Zorro". Though I have to give credit to Monastario on that score. He invited not only the wealthy landowners, but a few working class folk, and ordered his fake to be especially harsh to them, as well as the Senorita Fuentes and the musicians. He wanted all economic classes turned against Zorro, and that's some solid attention to detail there.

I can't figure out that hotheaded stranger, though. He didn't know Fuentes, she wanted nothing to do with him, and he still insisted on starting a sword fight and killing a man. I suppose it's meant to demonstrate his quick temper and general lack of any moral fiber. He can't be merely a hotblooded young man, who falls for a woman and then gets in a duel with another similarly smitten guy. He has to butt in where he isn't wanted, and deliberately insult the other guy, start a fight, and then kill someone who clearly not on the same planet as him as a swordsman. Even Sergeant Garcia can see immediately Romero is outmatched, and asks Monastario if they shouldn't be butting in (but the Capitan already has a plan forming, so he says no). It's a little much, but I guess they didn't want any moral ambiguity about whether he was an unscrupulous bad guy or not. He feels more like a plot device than a character, though.