[REV] End of Month Reviews - November 2004 [spoilers]

Saxon Brenton saxon.brenton at uts.edu.au
Sat Dec 4 18:34:40 PST 2004

End of Month Reviews - November 2004 [spoilers]
Reviewed this issue:
      Academy of Super-Heroes #53 [ASH]
      The Alt.Riders Election Special [LNH]
      The Alt.Riders #30 [LNH]
      Teen Fascists #1-6 [LNHY]
Also posted:
      The Daily Super Short-Short Story #51-63 [LNHY/ACRA]
     Okay then, here we are nearing the end of the year.  Nominations for 
the annual rec.arts.comics.creative (RACCies) awards have been thrown open, 
and I'll continue to post the nominations sheet every two weeks (or whenever 
I get motivated). Notwithstanding the difficulty of trying to determine what 
is actually *good*, you should have no problem figuring out what was 
actually *posted*. Go back and check your personal archives (if you keep 
them), the Self-Promotional Binge posts of various Writers (although only 
Martin and Jesse have published theirs so far), or check the google 
archives, or peruse back issues of this series, or for the LNH related 
stuff check out the Anal-Retentive Archive Kid's annual Looniverse 
eligibles post (although the fact that I *finally* managed to file 
Dvandom's surname under `V' rather than `D' after all these years is not 
an excuse for leaving out Andrew Perron's name altogether...)
     Spoilers below.
Academy of Super-Heroes #53
'Angolmois Energy'
An Academy of Super Heroes [ASH] series
by Dave Van Domelon (Dvandom)
     Sneaking in at the very last moment is the most recent ASH episode, 
and it's the usual readable mix of adventure, geopolitics in a semi-SF/
semi-superhero future Earth setting, and personal soap-opera. The tour of 
the Central Asian Confederacy continues to be entangled with escalating 
series assassination attempts. Geode is having trouble adjusting to the 
notion of being in ASH (and may or may not be being set up for a romance 
with Beacon). Anya regrets. And Grind gets some very subdued angsting which 
is indicated more by his physical wounds than by his actions.
The Alt.Riders Election Special [LNH]
A Legion of Net.Heroes [LNH] series
by Jamas Enright
     By interesting co-incidence both of the Alt.Riders episodes this 
month have plots based on dealing up some of the mess I've made with LNH 
continuity. In this special there is an assassination threat on the life 
of Usenetted States President Hexadecimal Luthor, whose presidency is of 
course a take on DC Comic's President Luthor subplot from their Superman 
comics. Agents at the Counter-Terrorism Unit get warnings of the plot and 
move to block it, and get superhuman liaisons in the form of the Alt.Riders.
     The basic plot is complicated by a swirl of conflicting interests. 
There are people like guest star Bicycle-Repair Lad or Agent Madeira who 
know that Luthor is a supervillain who used retconning to get himself into 
the presidency and who genuinely want him removed for the good of the 
country, and then there are the Alt.Riders who actually are behind the 
assassination attempt, but because they've been brainwashed by Frank 
Bennington fall into the category of `doing the right thing for the wrong 
reason'. I particularly found the contrast between the Silver Age style 
methods of Bicycle-Repair Lad and those of the Alt.Riders an amusing contrast.
The Alt.Riders #30 [LNH]
'The Worst of Both Worlds'
A Legion of Net.Heroes [LNH] series
by Jamas Enright
     The mystery of why there are two versions of Barry/the 
Net.Elementalist comes to a head as Barry lies wasting away unto death. 
Missy determines that Barry's wave packet is destabilising, the 
Net.Elementalist is shanghaied into grudgingly give help in stabilising 
him, and then Agent puts forward the supposition that neither of them 
are the original Barry. This sends the Alt.Riders and Retcon Lad off 
into interdimensional space to find the original version, who is still 
trapped in a killfile, so that all three can be reintegrated into a 
stable whole.
     Once again Marsha and Rick are presented as the most sane of the 
group, having to put up (sometimes in embarrassment, sometimes in rage) 
with the occasional overly-clinical methods of Missy, but especially with 
the coldness of Agent and the psychosis of Net.Elementalist. It's 
particularly noticeable in this episode, because there's the reaction of 
the grieving wife Alice to take into account.
Teen Fascists #1-6 [LNHY]
`The Beginning!'   `Fugitives!'   `Docudrama'
`The Conclusion'   `Versus Dr. Perculiar'   and   `Versus Dir.madu'
A Legion of Net.Heroes Y [LNHY] miniseries
by Martin Phipps
     I'll admit to approaching these stories with trepidation. My recent 
efforts in the Daily Super Short-Short Story series notwithstanding, I 
tend to go for lighter stuff when both reading and writing. Occasionally 
I'll put out some darker stuff, but upon reflection that's often to get 
a particular bugaboo out of my system, and as noted in the resulting 
discussion threat for the DSSSS, in that instance it was something I kind 
of wandered into.
     That said, I found the Teen Fascists a funny read -- although funny in 
this case was derived from the amount of irony involved rather than any 
slapstick or bad puns. There's a flavour of almost Orwellian Doublethink 
to exposition like: `After all, it is only through blind obedience to 
the government and to God that people can ever hope to be free!' The 
English writer and religious apologist C.S. Lewis once observed that 
democracy was the best form of government in a Fallen world - but to 
extend that line of thought to its logical conclusion on both levels, 
it requires that the participants actually use their intelligence to 
determine the choices they make and the actions take. Ah well, at least 
these people are heroes of a sort, and have an empath to find out 
whether their opponents feel they are doing wrong; I think that was a 
clever and humanising touch, even if the characters themselves are then 
so obviously blind that they can later recognise the possibility that 
their opponents might be duped into doing wrong but not realise that this 
means that there must be due process of law to determine the extent of 
guilt or innocence.
     In any case, the first four posts make up an initial arc wherein the 
Teen Fascists go to Hollywood to confront the head of the Screen Actor's 
Guild about rampant liberal bias in the media. They find him dressed as 
the devil worshipping supervillain SAGneto, and only barely escape the 
trap of an exploding building that he has set. Things get worse for them 
when they realise that they have been framed in a documentary for the 
destruction caused, and are then forced to make their own counter-
documentary to combat the claims made against them. Unfortunately, after 
the deliver the tape to a TV station, it is shown in a selectively edited 
format that reinforces opinion against them. Oops. Finally they go to a 
PBS station and get help from the Before God Guys to do a live broadcast 
so that they can't be quoted out of context, and manage to clear their 
     The second two-part arc covers their run-in with the Dr Strange 
analogue Dr Perculiar, as well as counterparts of Harry Potter, Ron 
Weasley and Hermione Granger (and the though that the latter three are 
the Hairy Hosts of Hogwarts who grant Dr Peculiar his powers is very 
bizarre indeed!), and then finally a Fight Scene with Dir.mandu.  I found 
this storyline to be too short, not just in comparison to the actual length 
of the first arc, but because a bad guy like Dir.mandu is presumably meant 
to be at least as tough as Dormamu and should have more to his appearance 
than simply being overcome in a one post grappling match.
Saxon Brenton    University of Technology, city library, Sydney Australia
     saxon.brenton at uts.edu.au 
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