[REVIEW] End of Month Reviews #19 - July 2005 [spoilers]

Saxon Brenton saxonbrenton at hotmail.com
Sat Aug 6 19:04:18 PDT 2005

[REVIEW] End of Month Reviews #19 - July 2005 [spoilers]

Reviewed This Issue:
      Alt.Riders #38 [LNH]
      Godling #2 [Misc]
      Legion of Net.Heroes Volume 2 #8-9 [LNH]
      Onion Lad #4-6 [LNH]
      Speak! #6-9 [8FOLD]

     No rambling comments this month. Nothing to see here. Move along,
move along.
     Spoilers below.


The Alt.Riders #38
'What I Did On My Holidays: Softcentre: I Get By With A Little Help
     From My Friends '  and
'What I Did On My Holidays: Missy: Cry for the Fire'
A Legion of Net.Heroes [LNH] series
by Jamas Enright

     Marsha is taking her vacation in San Fran.cis.co.ca when she is ran
into (that phraseology looks awkward, but it's literally correct) by an
old school acquaintance who's working for a delivery company, and who
asks the favour of Marsha to deliver a package to lighten her busy
workload.  At this point in the story cycle the reader should not be at
all surprised that it's part of a frame up.  The package is duly delivered
to Frolicks Inc., turns out to be a bomb, and Marsha finds herself being
hunted by the police.  Tension is compounded along the way by Marsha's
reflexive hatred against black men flaring up in passing against a guy
who later turns out to be a security guard at Frolicks.
     Missy's situation, meanwhile, continues to grow incrementally worse.
She tries to contact the Chub government to arrange peaceful talks, but
while the Chubs eventually admit that she has indeed returned after sixty
years, they aren't interested in any discussions about the political
ambitions of the Moles.  Then at the next Zinkenite rally the Chubs arrest
the lead singer of the Big Bubble for using Mohelmot, the now outlawed
ancestral language of the Moles, and Missy begins to suspect that Kula
may have manipulated events towards this outcome in order to create a
martyr for his cause.

Godling #2
'True Hero?'
A Miscellaneous [Misc] series
by Jochem Vandersteen

     It's the day after Godling received his powers and the surprise
and consternation from his capture of the Speed Demons gang are still
reverberating - which are then multiplied when Godling captures costumed
bank robbers Icepick and Panzerman.  Supervillain Master Destiny again
rants about the way Godling is thinning the ranks of his underlings (and
is billed to actually try and do something about it next issue); and at
least one member of the city police department, focus character Wade
Hudson, considers Godling a loose cannon and disaster waiting to happen.
It also seems that, from context, superhumans are a relatively new
phenomenon for the city of New Troy, although not so new to wider society
as a whole that everybody is still wrestling the idea that superpowers
are even possible.
     Meanwhile, capturing today's villains du jour has meant that Godling
has had to make excuses for why his civilian identity has made himself
scarce.  I admit that, based on some of the strong distillation of Silver
Age superheroic style that was present in earlier posts, I was almost
expecting an evocation of Superman being hassled by Lois Lane as she was
tried to prove he was Clark Kent, but that was probably just me making
connections that weren't there and generally suffering from apophenia.

Legion of Net.Heroes Volume 2 #8-9
'The So-So Seven Start Out'  and
'Moving In'
A Legion of Net.Heroes [LNH] series
by Martin Phipps

     Martin makes a return to working with stories set in the early days
of the Legion, playing with the bits of past LNH history.  This time
rather than a tale focusing on one character like Bandwagon Chick, we
have two ensemble stories.  Anyway, the first story relates how the
Legion managed to gain control of the historic LNH-HQ from Y-Plex Burp,
who wanted to redevelop the prime inner city real estate site.  In the
process this establishes why Y-Plex was one of the Legion's opponents
back during the Cosmic Plot Device Caper.
     The second story sees the Legion moving into the LNH-HQ from their
clubhouse in the suburbs.  There's more bits of history of the building
exposited, and while Doctor Stomper and Irony Man are exploring the
sub-sub basements, they find and then free two members of the Legion of
Net.Hippies - Procrastionation Lad and Super Apathy Lad - who have been
in suspended animation for twenty years.
     Ah me.  This is all classic stuff, of course.  The clubhouse shaped
like an upsidedown computer, the bit parts by Y-Plex Burp's Thug #1 and
#2, and of course issue 9 ending with Doctor Killfile's classic threat
against the Legion which started the first storyline.  There's also nice
character bits, for example Kid Yesterdaze's teasing of California Kid.
In fact, if there's any quibbles I have about this it's the relatively
minor fact that, if I recall correctly, it was Contraption Man who built
the Peril Room at Ultimate Ninja's orders in... <googlegooglegoogle>
wReam's _Sieze Dangerous!! episode 1_ [Cover date Oct 10 1992 -- Anal-
Retentive Archive Kid].  Well, that and the fact that, if they'd wanted
to make Procrastination Lad feel better they could have mentioned that
Nixon hadn't just resigned, but also been indicted and sent to the
electric chair, but since I've also managed to get Hexadecimal Luthor
in as president of the Usenetted States in both the Looniverse and
Looniverse Y, I can probably afford to rest on my laurels.

Onion Lad #4-6
'Enter: Teriyaki Chick Part Two: For Butter or Worse'  and
'Enter: Teriyaki Chick Part Three: Butter Get My Side of the Story'  and
'The Secret Origin of Onion Lad'
A Legion of Net.Heroes [LNH] series
by Jesse N. Willey

     Okay, so Ebonics Lad really is dead, at the request of his creator,
no less.  Gosh, one less black guy for Softcentre to get worked up about
in an attempt to prove that she's not intimidated by black guys, huh?
     Last time you may recall that I made a comment about how good a duo
of Onion Lad and Peelix made in terms of both interpersonal drama and
playing off each other for laughs. Subsequent comments by Jesse indicate
that Peelix's inclusion was at the insistence of his co-plotter, Dane.  I
found this mildly intriguing in it's serendipity, since the dynamic of
playing the more loony against the less loony worked quite well then, and
continues to do so in issue 4 when the dynamic changes slightly with the
inclusion of Teriyaki Chick: Onion Lad and Peelix get to play the freaks
and Teriyaki Chick gets to wonder how she's going to shepard the two of
them without them tripping her up.  Onion Lad remains the saner of the
two LNHers though, as well as the one who has some notion of his own flaws.
     In issue 4 Teriyaki Chick asks the two Legionnaire's if she can
accompany them, and then leads them to the villain Doctor I-Can't-Believe-
It's-Not-Butter, who is trying to upgrade his powers to internalise them
so that he can get full super villain health insurance before proceeding
with his plans of conquest.  After a brief fight scene at the Otaku Hut,
Doctor I-Can't-Believe-It's-Not-Butter captures Teriyaki Chick and ties
her to a railroad track, from whence Onion Lad rescues her with a
timeporter stolen from Vel.  This, in turn, leads into a 'heroes meet,
heroes fight, heroes team up and kick bad guy butt' scene in issue 5
between Onion Lad, Teriyaki Chick and Vel, before they gang up against
Doctor I-Can't-Believe-It's-Not-Butter who has been distracted by Peelix.
After they further distract the Doctor with a bad comedy act, Vel manages
to teleport the Doctor into confinement, from which he is rescued for a
meeting with his half-brother, Doctor Killfile.  Issue 6 begins Onion Lad
begins sentenced to one week's servitude to Vel for stealing the
timeporter, which includes narrating Onion Lad's secret origin in the
interests of having complete LNH records.

Speak #6-9
'At the Goodman Museum Of Supernatural And Paranormal Phenomenon And
   Miscellany'  and
'...A Drop To Drink'  and
'Whirlwind'  and
An Eightfold [8FOLD] series
by Tom Russell

     So, there Saxon was reading Speak! #6, and we get to the part where
Gregory rhetorically tells the characters of the movie Taxi Driver to
just have sex with each other - and they do, totally changing the plot
line and outcome.  And Saxon dies laughing, just like the weasels of the
Toon Patrol in Who Framed Roger Rabbit.  And it's all Tom's fault.
So there.
     Anyway, Tom decides to wrap up this series, which will raise some
interesting questions about whether some of the plot threads may have
been altered from their original conception as part of an ongoing series,
but we'll get to that after the plot summaries.  In issue 6 Gregory and
Harry go the Goodman Museum where Harry's old Gas-Man armour is being
held, along the way getting to see a few more snippets of Silver Age
style super history like the remains of Red Fido and some of the last
drops of unpoisoned water of the Lewy River.  The curator shows them
where the armour is, and gives not-so-oblique hints as to when would be
the best time to return and steal it.  And then we get the alternate
version of Taxi Driver, which turns out to be foreshadowing.
     In issue 7 Gregory and Harry go to the museum to steal the armour,
and in the process have a fight scene with a trio of heroes: Darkhorse,
Pachyderm, and the new Dr. Metronome.  The Gas-Man armour actually works
during the fight, implying to me that Harry may be one of those gadgeteers
who animates their inventions rather than merely using advanced technology,
but in the end the fight is actually carried by Gregory.  They escape, and
after a chase Dr. Metronome is taken hostage.  Deducing that the costume
is the source of Dr. Metronome's powers, the costume is removed, but
Gregory both follows Gas-Man's unspoken request not to remove her
mask/goggles, and to refrain from raping her.
     Issue 8 sees them still holed up at their hotel with no idea about
how to proceed, although when the authorities begin to close Gregory
does have the clever idea to use his boosted powers through the television
to make everybody think that they've died in a shoot out in Tennessee.
Unfortunately it doesn't last long, and with the police closing in
Gregory decides to use a variant of the adage that there's no problem so
big that it can't be fixed with the use of high explosives to create a
9.9 earthquake.  In the final part it turns out that previous limitations
Gregory had put on his powers to keep them from killing anybody mean that
there are strangely few fatalities from a 9.9 earthquake.  Gregory spends
most of the concluding issue watching Gas-Man in action - in this case
playing rescuer.  Since regaining his armour it's been subtly apparent
that doing super 'stuff' - whether heroic or villainous - invigorates
Harry, and rather than heal Harry Gregory accedes to his implied request
to be remembered for the way he died in action.  Then Gregory offers no
resistance as he's taken into custody.
     It occurs to me that one of the factors that made it so hard to
determine where things where going is because Gregory himself is so
conflicted.  We know from the first issue that his fear of being unable
to live up to superheroic expectations drove him to crime, but thereafter
the narration intermittently drops into chiding himself to do something
sensible and moral, and then about half the time he'd allow himself to
be dragged along to do the wrong thing because of his continuing fears,
or simply because allowing others to make decisions is somehow easier.
Other things, such as his slow growth in respect for Harry while at the
same time internally expressing irritation and contempt for him and his
values, read more like a battle between intellectual and visceral
reactions.  Now, conflicted characters can be good for fiction; handled
well they represent at least one factor in keeping the audiences'
interest to continue reading, and I'd say that holds true in this series'
     Still, it does make it hard for me to guess where things would have
went had the series continued.  Would Gregory have take up costumed
supervillainy, or found a third path?  Would he have raped Dr. Metronome
as the next step of a path into evil, or would he have refused in this
case and later succumbed to a similar temptation to rape as his irritation
at the whole costumed supervillain/hero schtick built up?  All of these
possibilities, and probably a lot more, are inherent in Gregory simply
because his internal self-analyses never gave a clear picture of what he
was going to do, only what his thinking about doing.  And for someone who
knew what the right thing to do was, and who had recoiled from it, those
two things are not the same by any means.

Saxon Brenton   University of Technology, city library, Sydney Australia
     saxon.brenton at uts.edu.au
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