[Rev] End of Month Reviews - Mar 2004

Saxon Brenton saxon.brenton at uts.edu.au
Thu Apr 1 23:07:46 PST 2004

End of Month Reviews - Mar 2004
  Reviewed this issue:
      Anthology 2: Bush43/Mysteria: Old Man And The Seven (Lost 
                    Legacies pt 3)[AC]
      ASH #47 [ASH]
      The Continuing Misadventures of Miss Translation #11 [LNH]
      Crucible City MUX: Myrmidon Special #1 [Misc]
      Ultimate Mercenary #4 [LNH]
  Also posted:
      Limp-Asparagus Lad #52 [LNH]
     Hmm. A diverse selection this month. 
Anthology 2: Bush43/Mysteria: Old Man And The Seven (Lost Legacies pt 3)
An Artifice Comics [AC] anthology series
By Jason S. Kenney
     Aged former villain Doctor Richmond makes an unwelcome visit to 
bring Victoria a warning that a team calling itself The Seven plan to 
attack Pacific City, causing thousands of deaths as they battle the New 
     That's basically all the plot that's needed, since everything else 
is driven by the antagonism of Victoria and Alfonse to Dr. Richmond and 
of Dr Richmond to... well... pretty much superhero-dom in general. It's 
not just that he used to be The Mind and that the reason he's delivering 
his warning is to fulfil a reluctant debt of gratitude to Victoria's 
father, Millennium Man, but also that he knows the dirty secrets of a few 
superheroes and it seems to have soured his opinion about others as well. 
In any case, simply trying to deliver that message becomes an extended 
exercise in posturing as each side manoeuvres to maintain the high moral 
ground (or at least indignation) over the other. Meanwhile the relative 
newcomer, Jeffrey, is stuck in the middle trying to use his irreverent 
banter to gain the same type of advantage over Dr Richmond, and having 
his gambit turned back on him.
ASH #47
'Shattering Helas' part beta 
An Academy of Superheroes [ASH] series
By Dave Van Domelen (Dvandom)
     The international opposition to the power play of Q'Nos the Minotaur 
continues. The expeditionary force of the Moslem Confederation, led by 
the Righteous Flame parahumans, move in to the Shattered Lands of Greece 
- and as has been foreshadowed by the concerns of a number of characters, 
it turns out to be a lure by Q'Nos to attack along the exposed line of 
advance. The European Union continues to posture publicly against the 
Confederaion's action which they have privately supported. Senior 
government members of the North American Combine consider their options, 
and seem to be leaning towards covert action. And ASH members and support 
staff plan Scorch's bachelor party.
     The story continues to concern itself mainly with the battle in 
Greece, the international politics of that battle, and the potential 
of the situation to worsen and spread in one way or another. It also 
continues to do so through vignettes focussing on individual viewpoints 
or discussions between small groups, presumably in an attempt to keep 
the story from becoming too big and abstract an epic for the reader to 
follow. Now, granted the characters in these scenes tend to be privileged 
to some extent in that they know more about the situation that an average 
citizen of the EU, MC or NAC, but the overall level of information 
presented wouldn't have been much different if it was told by an 
omniscient narrator. The closest we get to the reaction of an average 
person is the battle between Base of the Pillar and a cyclops - and 
that's because the details of Base's Origin and powers make her focus 
more on the immediate situation than because any lack of understanding on 
her part.
     By comparison to all the character pieces, the author' notes have a 
biography of the members of the Righteous Flame. Given Dvandom's skills 
at individualising his characters, the range of personalities is to 
be expected. That said, I also strongly suspect that the relatively high 
proportion of non-devout muslims in the Flame passing themselves as devout 
for politico-religious reasons (1 in 3) is deliberately chosen irony. It 
not only reflects the literal politics of remaining hidden in the hardline 
anti-paranormal MC member states, but more generally of the themes of 
opposing/hiding from state repression elsewhere in the world during the 
rebuilding that was highlighted most particularly by the reporter Thom 
The Continuing Misadventures of Miss Translation #11
'Movin' On'
A Legion of Net.Heroes [LNH] series
By Jamie Rosen
     The heroes are thrown out of the Legion as a result of their having 
lost their teammate, the Normalizer (who was shown during the Flame Wars 4 
crossover to have had the ability to turn the Trolls back to human). They 
are contacted by a mysterious benefactor, Lamar Dunston, who offers them 
a new headquarters - albeit one in the abandoned warehouse district that 
shares building space with the embassy of Ereh.WAN staffed by their old 
antagonist Cabell. Once in residence they are welcomed with a gift basket 
by some minions of Mr Everywhere.
     The events of the issue are given over to the setup of a new team 
headqarters. The tone of the issue is given over to the theme of 
rejection. A lot of the character focus is on Sleeps-With-Anything-Alive 
Girl, probably since it's a useful parallel between being a social reject 
because she's a zombie and a net.hero reject because of the aforementioned 
plot reasons. Actually, of all the characters, SWAAG seems to be the one 
most likely to be given over to introspection and even angst. Blue Wave 
is too upstanding, Starts-Arguments-For-No-Apparent-Reason Kid is too 
self-absorbed and socially clueless, and part of the fun of Miss 
Translation is that she's just a little bit cryptic and people are forced 
to try to work out what's going on in her head. Given SWAAG's origin as a 
sex-obsession themed throw away character it's almost natural to think 
that she would be in the same basket as SAFNARK, but that doesn't seem to 
be the direction that Jamie's taking here.
Crucible City MUX: Myrmidon Special #1
A Miscellaneous [Misc] one-shot
By Dave Van Domelen (Dvandom)
     So, Dvandom produces another story that's a role playing game tie-in 
for *yet another* universe - this time deriving from an online game based 
on someone else's dice and paper game. In any case, the story has the 
simple premise of 'go and tell your parents you're a superhero' which is 
always a good source of interpersonal drama. In this case it has the added 
twist that Myrmion's parents confess to having secrets of their own that 
directly relate to the origin of his powers.
     On a meta-level, the explanation that the RPG character's origin 
was modified because there were far too many newcomers on the MUX at the 
time with mystical origins reflects an old writing adage. To paraphrase: 
there are no bad origins, just bad writers. Clearly, the potential problem 
of having Myrmidon's origin changed for administrative reasons has been 
used as a springboard for storytelling advantage.
Ultimate Mercenary #4
'The Genetically Engineered Vegetables of Wrath: The Concusion'
A Legion of Net.Heroes [LNH] miniseries
By Adrian McClure (Time Warrior)
     Ultimate Mercenary leads the tribe into battle by sneaking them into 
the LNHHQ that has been the headquarters of the genetically engineered 
vegetables ever since they took the world over in this particular 
timeline. Then the true nature of the timeline is revealed, just in time 
for the headhunters to arrive and start killing everybody and bringing 
the first story arc to a close.
     There is a dichotomy to this series. I am thoroughly enjoying it, 
but on an intellectual level I know that this is because I'm a LNH fanboy 
geek and this series is pushing all of the right buttons for me. Its 
appeal for me is basically the combination of energetic comedy, wry 
metatextual observations, and the regular surprise inclusions of past 
elements of LNH continuity that twist the plot in unexpected directions 
(I really hadn't expected the machinations of the Producer...) I'm not 
sure to what extent this may be a niche market. In my opinion the 
inclusion of the third type of element have been quite creative and... 
not unobtrusive, since they're obscure points of continuity and have to 
be explained quite explicitly... more like incorporated in a way that 
doesn't cause the flow of the story to be interrupted too much. In any 
case, other people might not find that balance to their liking (and at 
that point the occasional spelling and grammar error might begin to 
become irksome as well).
     But I found myself wearing a fond smile as I was skimming 
through the summary, then was caught off-guard and laughed out loud at 
the first line of actual story when Ultimate Mercenary observes that 
the infodump summaries aren't working out. Things just got weirder from 
     And, no Adrian, you don't have to worry about still writing a Flame 
Wars 6 tie-in. Not only hasn't Jamie finished with Flame Wars 5 yet, but 
*I* haven't even caught up *that* far...
Saxon Brenton     Uni of Technology, city library, Sydney Australia
saxon.benton at uts.edu.au

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