REVIEW: End of Month Reviews - May 2004 [spoilers]

Saxon Brenton saxon.brenton at
Tue Jun 1 23:00:07 PDT 2004

End of Month Reviews - May 2004 [spoilers]

  Reviewed this issue:
      Alt.Riders #22 and 23 [LNH]
      ASH #49 [ASH]
      Captain Everything #1 [LNH]
      LNH Forever #1-4 [LNH]
      Shadestalker #4 and 5 [AC]
      Transit City #2
      Wayward Son `Memento Mori' [AC]

  Also posted:
      Mysteria #9 [AC]
     Sorry about the formatting problems last issue. Dunno where they 
came from, but I guess I should check `preview' before I post on google 
in future...
     During Martin's reply to last month's issue he brought up a topic 
that I honestly hadn't thought about, and to be honest I would have 
considered redundant. He mentioned bringing out the twin miniseries LNH 
Asia and LNH Europe all at once in the same month as a kindness to me so 
that I didn't have to wrestle with the plot over several months. Well, I 
appreciate the thought, but honestly that's not necessary. (Indeed, if 
we want to be pedantic about it, if I can't at least vaguely recall what 
the plots are from month to month then I'm failing my stated purpose in 
reading all of this stuff so that I can put together my RACCies 
nominations list. {thinks} Although now that I'm RACCies moderator I'm 
not allowed to partake in the nominations/voting process, so the whole 
point is kinda moot, ain't it? Oh well, I can probably use it as 
research for the awards ceremony...)
     In any case, everybody, please post your stories when your stories 
are ready to post. If that means putting them all out together, and part 
of the benefit of it is for me to be able to summarise everything in one 
sitting, all well and good. However, I'm very leery of the idea of 
things being rushed for my benefit, especially as I've said I'm doing 
this for my benefit rather than anybody else's. 
     {thinks some more}
     Nothing in the above paragraph should be taken as encouragement to 
any of you to procrastinate in your writing, however.
     Spoilers below.
Alt.Riders #22 and #23
`Are you now, or have you ever been, an Alt.Rider?'
`Freak Show'
A Legion of Net.Heroes [LNH] series
by Jamas Enright
     In issue 22 the Alt.Riders are captured by Frank Bennington (who 
extracts them from (comic-book) limbo). The story is structured as a 
jumping-on point after the lengthy hiatus of the series and reintroduces 
all the characters. Even the villain Bennington gets a bit of character 
development - he's been running afoul of heroes so often that he 
instinctively recognises a situation where the Alt.Riders are likely to 
escape and doesn't even bother arguing with the minion-scientists to 
take care; he simply leaves before the inevitable fight scene.
     Issue 23 they are drawn to a strange circus in the dreamworld, and 
the characters all encounter circus freaks (based on a Residents album) 
that parallel their own lives in some way.
ASH #49
'Island Hopping'
An Academy of Super-Heroes [ASH] series
by Dave Van Domelen (Dvandom)
     The plans of Q'Nos continue from where they left off in the 
`Shattering Helas' arc. The Academy and the Combine begin to piece 
together what the minotaur is up to, and declare war over the intrusion 
into their territories. 
      This phase of Q'Nos' plans involve a world wide magical rite, and 
I found the notion of the prison dimension of Tartarus calling out to 
people in dreams and compulsions to open said prison dimension by 
sailing around the world in a particular pattern to be wonderfully 
creepy and Lovecraftian.
Captain Everything #1
A Legion of Net.Heroes [LNH] series
`Speeed, Part I'
by Jamas Enright
     The city of Got.ham has acquired a costumed champion in the form of 
Captain Everything, who belongs to the BoyScout archetype. When a villain 
called Speeed begins stealing diamonds, Captain Everything tries to stop 
him and gets killed. "Um, bugger..." indeed.
     I was a proofchecker for this post and the ones that follow it, so 
I know what's coming (the disclaimer about Valentino's `Normalman' series 
from the mid-80s was in response to my comments), so I will now engage 
in profound inanities. This story is very different in style to Jamas' 
other writings, such as World Tales or Alt.Riders, and given the almost 
Silver Age attitude of the title character one could almost be forgiven 
for expecting the next part of the story to involve some permutation on 
how the hero will transcend death to put a stop to the villain, with the 
mystery being *how* this will be carried out. Being an LNH title, it 
would be reasonable to expect some clever reworking or at least 
acknowledgement of the cliche.
LNH Forever #1 through 4
A Legion of Net.Heroes [LNH] miniseries
`Time after Time',    `Temporal Tamptrum',
`Smoke and Mirrors',   and   `Full Circle'
by Martin Phipps
     This is a time travel story focusing of a vigilante from the future 
obsessed with bringing the LNH to justice for what he perceives to be a 
crime of murder. The first issue deals with him stealing an experimental 
time machine that he's been helping to develop at the university and 
visiting the early days of the LNH, discovering that he was/is/will be 
instrumental in forming the alliance between Y-Plex Burb, Manga Man and 
Dr. Killfile. His obsession is clearly indicated by the extent to which 
he blinds himself until it's too late to the fact that if he's fulfilling 
historical events then he will *not* be able to change to the recorded 
victory of the LNH against the aforementioned three villains. Further 
obsessive behaviour crops up in subsequent issues, as he slips into 
stereotypical terrorists' rational that destroying something in the name 
of his cause will in some way equate to doing something constructive in 
the name of his cause. Now, if he had made plans to get rid of the LNH 
as part of a long term plan to replace it with something better I might 
have been able to concede that he had more than the proverbial two brain 
     In part 2 our time traveller attacks and destroys the LNH Europe 
HQ, and in part 3 tries to discredit LNH Asia while impersonating the 
Japanese net.hero Moonfire. This latter plan results in him fleeing 
through time to escape from LNH Asia, trapping him in 2004 when his time 
machine breaks. Finally, in part 4, the LNHs of 2004 and 2020 begin to 
track him down for the attack on the LNHE HQ.
     Given the themes of historical imperative laid out in issue 1 I 
really should have seen the ending coming, where he his own death in an 
act of bravado against the LNH is the very `murder' that he witnessed as 
a child and which prompted him onto his crusade against the LNH in the 
first place. Closed time loop. Overall a very tightly plotted story.
Shadestalker #3 and 4
An Artifice Comics [AC] series
Shadestalker #4 
`The Fine Print' (White Lies Part I)
`Little Revolutions' (White Lies Part II )
by James Queally
     Issue 3 has aftermath of the fight from the previous issue, as 
Reggie finds himself out on the street and takes refuge, first with his 
girlfriend Christina and then with Father McKinley, and the latter 
begins to teach him about his powers. Reggie's mother Ariana leaves his 
father Eugene; and yakuza wannabe Ren has a finger chopped off for 
failing his mission to kill Eugene. Meanwhile dying cancer patient 
Nicole Lanza is tricked and blackmailed by the murderous and possibly 
demonic Coda.
     Issue 4 sees the culmination of Coda's immediate plans for Nicole, 
as he forces her into attacking Reggie at a coffee shop. This, however, 
is but the first step against Reggie.
Transit City #2
An [IP] series
by Byron D. Molix
     The Falcon makes only a brief in-costume appearance, but his 
presence hangs heavily over the storyline. Organised crime has stepped 
back in order to create a false sense of security in their opponent, but 
this hasn't worked as intended and now Oyabun Ito is planning more direct 
action. Meanwhile the analysis of the public's reaction to the Falcon 
indicates that opinion is split.
     Since the Falcon's (presumed) alter ego is Adam so together and 
seemingly not-at-all psychotic, the first reaction to my rhetorical 
question over last issue is that it seems that the Falcon is merely 
playing the extremist nutcase in order to intimidate the crime families. 
Certainly this would fit with the title of `Role-play'. Such an 
assessment would be premature, however. The Falcon clearly fits into the 
Batman-style mould, and one of the themes of the Batman/Bruce Wayne over 
the years has been who is the `real' individual. Is the Falcon a persona 
put on by Adam to fight crime, or is Adam a persona of the Falcon to 
interact with mundane society? And frankly, the fact that Adam has mental 
powers only makes the issue more complicated, since these days telepathy 
can be used as a handwave explanation for all sorts of funky stuff with 
suppressed memories, stolen identities, xeroxed minds, etc.
Wayward Son
An Artifice Comics [AC] series
`Memento Mori'
by Matthew J. Pierce
     The introduction to this post says that it's a reissue of the first 
part of the story in preparation for the story being continued, as well 
as a quick explanation of who Caleb Wayward is. Despite its `repeat' 
status I'll give a quick review, partly because I don't think it's been 
posted to RACC before (can't find a copy either on google or in the 
Eyrie) and partly because I'm rather taken by this moody tale of an 
immortal occultist. The character summary suggests superficial 
similarities to John Constantine (the doomed to an eternal battle and 
life without lasting happiness routine), but the story itself is more 
evocative of the occult detective/`trenchcoat brigade' genre overall.
     In any case, the story begins with Wayward narrating to his current 
love interest about his life and what makes him the way he is, leading 
into a tale-within-a-tale about a time when he had to return to Germany 
to investigate a break-in at a mausoleum that he has set up and keeps 
under his indirect care.
Saxon Brenton     University of Technology, city library, Sydney Australia
     saxon.brenton at
The Eyrie Archives of Russ Allbery which collect the online superhero 
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