[REVIEW] End of Month Reviews #18 - June 2005 [spoilers]

Saxon Brenton saxonbrenton at hotmail.com
Sat Jul 2 17:38:47 PDT 2005

[REVIEW] End of Month Reviews #18 - June 2005 [spoilers]

Reviewed This Issue:
      Academy of Super Heroes #60 [ASH]
      The Alt.Riders #37 [LNH]
      Digital JUMP! #11 [LNH]
      Godling #1 [Misc]
      Legion of Net.Heroes Volume 2 #6-7 [LNH]
      Onion Lad #3 [LNH]
      Speak! #4-5 [8FOLD]

Also posted:
      Legion of Net.Heroes Volume 2 #5 [LNH]

     In addition to some careless mistakes I made in LNHv2#4, I'd better
acknowledge that, yes, I stuffed up the order of words that make up the
LARIM acronym in the last EoMR (should have been Long Angst Ridden
Internal Monologue). And I don't even have the excuse of being run off
my feet at the time.
     Spoilers below.


Academy of Super-Heroes #60
'The Truth Comes Out'
The Romance of the Three Republics
An Academy of Super-Heroes [ASH] series
by Dave Van Domelen

     Okay, I hadn't expected that. The prospect that the Western Dragon
and Premier Niu were playing political games was almost a given; that
they were playing particularly arcane political games divorced from even
realpolitik seemed likely; but that they and Prime Minister Liebre were in
fact literally spirits from the Chinese zodiac trying to get human society
back in order under the Mandate of Heaven while, incidentally, keeping
themselves amused isn't something I had even considered. Still, I suppose
it's thematically consistent with the power play of their fellow godling
Q'Nos in the previous arcs.
     Anyway, the three of them decide to put their cards on the table
before Breaker and Grind. The Combine spies, and subsequently the rest of
the ASH team, find themselves in the invidious position of deciding how to
deal with a political secret that if revealed could lead to destabilisation
of East Asia and war, right at a time when other political powers can't be
trusted not to get frisky. In the end they decide to try and keep the
status quo for the time being while searching for a medium term solution.
     Meanwhile, the Venus subplot continues (and is billed to advance to
the fore next issue). Simon Smith continues his search for parts of Eos's
rainbow, and Triton appoints Kaliban as Khadam's ambassador to Q'Nos's
court as part of efforts to reach Venus. More importantly, Peregryn arrives
in the jungles of the transmogrified Venus and is confronted with what
looks to me to be a classic 'Serpent in the Garden of Eden' situation. Huh,
Peregryn's only expelled the Leviathan from Earth so far; I wonder if it's
the case that if he fails on Venus the World Serpent will be able to
regenerate on that world and perhaps even claim the position of Venus's
Rex Mundi. Ooh! Ooh! If the Leviathan wins this round, then maybe we'll end
up with a pulp era style version of Venus as the Leviathan turns the
inhabitants of Montreal into lizard men!
     And after that bit of wild speculation, the prediction that the
paranormal called Timeslip who's coming back from 2048 is probably Fury's
son Chris seems pretty mundane.

The Alt.Riders #37
'What I Did On My Holidays: Morph: Bend Me, Shape Me'  and
'What I Did On My Holidays: Missy: The Big Bubble'
A Legion of Net.Heroes [LNH] series
by Jamas Enright

     It's Morph's turn for a solo story. He's vacationing in the Grand
Char.yon when he's ambushed, captured, and taken for vivisecting. We know
his capture involves vivisection because the delightfully amoral scientists
have cheerfully told him so; well, to be fair, the scientists could have
been lying to him, but they carry through with their stated intentions, so
their actions back up their words. Then Morph makes an almost successful
escape attempt - `almost' successful because it is staged - before being
captured again and scooped into several buckets for separate containment.
     The continuing story featuring Missy has the Zinkenite movement
organise a protest rally, which features a band called The Big Bubble.
Missy has joined up with Kula Bocca in order to be able to observe both
the Zinkenites and the state of society in general at close quarters, and
it worries her that things seem close to violence, again.

Digital JUMP! #11
     Andrew decides to bypass issues 5-10 and go straight to #11. The
reason given in the subsequent discussion thread is that he was having
some writers block with the first story arc, and this will allow him to
put out more stuff while coming back to the skipped over bits later. This
is fine as far as it goes, and I hope it works for him, but as I've
already said elsewhere, that particular tactic didn't work when I tried it
in _Limp-Asparagus Lad_ nor for Kyle Lucke with _Cheeezarr_. Not to be too
much of a doomsayer, but what I guess I'm getting at here is that for
someone who is as slow a writer as I am, and as Andrew seems to be, this
type of manoeuvre is harder than it looks.
     In any case, the plot itself involves the villain Phoenix Down trying
to use the Reversion Ray Projector, Kid Enthusiastic getting zapped with
it instead (because, like, heroes are always Saving The World by throwing
themselves into, against, or in front of nefarious devices) and the
consequent return of Librarian Lad and Weirdo Boy - who we are informed/
reminded (in yet another coffee house exposition scene) were Andrew's two
earliest character creations for the LNH, appeared in a single one shot,
and who then disappeared off the face of the net as they were eventually
superseded by Kid Enthusiastic. These two characters are then given over
to Public Domain (via an Excel Saga homage).

Godling #1
A Miscellaneous [Misc] series
by Jochem Vandersteen

     Before anyone perks up and thinks to themselves, 'Oh goody, someone I
can vote for in the Newbie Award at the next RACCies', actually Jochem has
posted two previous issues of Godling back in 2001 and 2002. In fact, this
is the third Godling #1. The very first (and the one that I vaguely
recalled, prompting a google search) seems to have been the start of a
story arc that never proceeded: that of an attempt to blacken Godling's
reputation through the media by a televangelist called Father Michaels.
The second one showed Godling recording his memoirs as a result of the
death of another hero, and which ended with a next issue blurb promising
Godling's origin which, lo, has arrived after a three year hiatus.
     With that context explained, 'Origin' takes the form of a first
person recollection without explicitly stating that the narrative is being
recorded. Anyway, when a superpowered crime wave hits the city, university
lecturer in mythology Professor Alexander feels he should act but knows
that he lacks the wherewithal to effectively do anything - although that
doesn't prevent him from impulsively trying and being humiliated. Perhaps
this is the type of attitude that attracted the interest of the Olympian
gods, since Alexander is contacted by Circe and brought to Olympus. The
gods, it seems, want to empower a mortal hero to act against supervillain
and terrorist activity, with the benefit for them being an increase in the
amount of faith they receive. Alexander is made to immerse himself in a
bath of their collective blood and thereby gets to call upon their powers
one at a time, before being sent to take out a group called the Speed 
     The previous two issues had strong retro elements - such a referring
to many past superhero exploits by Godling and others - which this episode
lacks because of its nature as an origin story. Nevertheless, there are
still some things that give it a similar feel. I suspect it partly from the
way Professor Alexander's desires to fight crime evokes Steve Roger's origin
in becoming Captain America, and partly from the newly empowered Alexander's
demeanour as he almost immediately begins to use the Silver Age style
bombastic mode in dealing with both villains and police.

Legion of Net.Heroes Volume 2 #6
'The Spectacular Super Fred'
A Legion of Net.Heroes [LNH] series
by Jamie Rosen

Legion of Net.Heroes Volume 2 #7
'Bandwagon Chick Begins'
A Legion of Net.Heroes [LNH] series
by Martin Phipps

     Jamie, Martin and myself continue to play tag-team with this series.
     In #6 Jamie wrests back control to presents a story where Fred the
Receptionist gains, purportedly, the combined powers of the entire Legion
(What? No `Composite Superman' jokes?) and then uses it to fight against
a giant rampaging lizard. It seems that trying to psychoanalyse giant
rampaging lizards isn't particularly efficacious, but hitting them is. The
story closes with an ambiguous 'was it all a dream?' ending.
     In #7 Martin gives a flashback story from around the time of the
formation of the LNH, with particular focus on Bandwagon Chick. As Bonnie
Chique she almost joins the cheerleading squad for the Mon.gosub.lian
World Cup Soccer Team, but another joke about Mon.gosub.lians and goats
gets in the way. Upon returning home she decides to fight the rise in
crime, however she's the daughter of a wealthy industrialist and
consequently her attempts to be a net.hero are seen as dabbling in at
least some quarters. This doesn't stop her from joining the newly formed
LNH, however. Along the way there are some sniggersome moments, like her
date's attempts to figure out exactly *what* it is that the cowardly-and-
superstitious-lots are afraid of, and the Q&A `What kind of superhero
drives around in a van?' `The kind that has a lot of teammates?'

Onion Lad #3
'Enter: Teriyaki Chick Part One of Three: Butter Off Dead'
A Legion of Net.Heroes [LNH] series
by Jesse Willey

     In this episode Onion Lad is sent with offsider Peelix the Cat to
investigate a bank robbery committed by Doctor I-Can't-Believe-It's-Not-
Butter. Most of the humour of the issue comes from interpersonal drama
based on the notion that, annoying as Onion Lad tends to be, he can be
made to elicit sympathy from the reader by surrounding him with even more
annoying characters, such as Peelix and Ebonics Lad (who, incidentally,
appears to bite the big one in a car explosion/melt down/discombobulation
-- but since it doesn't specify whether the bomb was an otherwise
conventional explosion powered by boiling I-Can't-Believe-It's-Not-Butter
or an actual transformation into I-Can't-Believe-It's-Not-Butter, I'll
reserve judgement until Jesse explains the context.) The story closes with
the appearance of Teriyaki Chick, with the hint that Onion Lad knows her;
we'll have to see how her presence affects the dynamic between Onion Lad
and Peelix.

Speak #4-5
'Heroes, Heroes, Everywhere, and Not...'  and  `The Origin of the Gas-Man'
An Eightfold [8FOLD] series
by Tom Russell

     In #4 Gregory and Harry are cooling their heels in a hotel, and
slowly running out of money while doing so, as they try to identify just
the right superhero to unmask. It's taking longer than Gregory would like
because Harry insists that it must be done to the unwritten rules of
superhero/supervillain conflicts. Their plan advances incrementally as
Gregory takes steps to track down Harry's old Gas-Man suit of armour. In
#5 Sandy forwards the location of the armour to Gregory, as well as a
press article summarising Harry's career as a costumed villain. It turns
out there are serious discrepancies between some of the stories Harry has
been regaling and what's reported in the media. Some of that discrepancy
could be misunderstanding on the part of others, but as the evidence piles
up it's beginning to look as though Harry is both delusionary and a spouse
     My comment for #4 is: I'll cheerfully admit that I'm becoming less
sure where this story is going. Based on Tom's description of this series
as, to paraphrase, an examination of one man's moral decline, you may
recall last EoMR that I mused on the prospect of the character of villain
Harry Cash being used as a literary device to goad Gregory into super-
villainy and hence into greater depravity. Well, Harry's certainly trying
to lead Gregory into supervillainy, but it's the highly stylised sort of
villainy that's stereotypical of Silver Age mainstream comics, with death
traps and a strange sort of barbarian honour between the antagonists.
Maybe Gregory will throw in his lot with this type of flamboyant costumed
villainy, and in doing so adopt that highly stylised insanity. But as
evidence of Harry's delusion's mount and Gregory's irritation at not doing
anything (which we see expressed in the issue 4 in the petty afflictions
he dumps on superheros from afar) we might see him turn against the
established milieu of both costumed heroing and villainy, and out into
unregulated waters of superhuman immorality. The evidence mounting against
Harry being competent or even sane in #5 seems to further hint at the
second option, but I'm still prepared to be surprised.

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