[Reviews] End of Month Reviews #16 - April 2005 [spoilers]

saxon.brenton at uts.edu.au saxon.brenton at uts.edu.au
Wed May 4 19:26:34 PDT 2005

End of Month Reviews #16 - April 2005 [spoilers]

Reviewed this issue:
      ASH #58 [ASH]
      The Alt.Riders #35 [LNH]
      Legion of Net.Heroes Volume 2 #1-2 [LNH]
      Looniverse Y #5 [LNHY]
      Onion Lad #2 [LNH]
      Speak #1 [8FOLD]
      Template #1 [8FOLD]

Also posted:
      LNH Asia: 2 Slow 2 Serious #1-4 [LNH2]
      LNH Asia: The Week After Next #1-4 [LNH2]
      Swamp Patrol #22 [Starfall]
      Vel #13 [LNH]

     Okay, I'm recovering from the hassle of helping to get that
blasted game ready for assessment on Friday last week, only to discover
that one of the relatives had died and we'd have to fast-track the
submission for Wednesday so that we could drive to the funeral on
Thursday. Bleah. Nice enough funeral, under the circumstances. The
priest was right though: you don't get many readings from John 21 in
the eulogy - but then Uncle Roger always was a mad fisherman.
     Meanwhile, I think I mentioned last year that it's amazing how
many ways a computer borrowing system can break down yet still pretend
to limp along as though nothing had happened. Please record that
statement onto a tape or CD, and play on continuous loop. Double bleah.
    Spoilers below.


Academy of Super Heroes #58
'Big Break'
The Romance of the Three Republics
An Academy of Super Heroes [ASH] series
by Dave Van Domelon

     The first draft of commentary on this issue started out with the
mental manipulation of Giantess and segued into an extended joke about
Chris Claremont's fetish with the theme of mind control. Then I reread
it and came to the conclusion that no matter how *true* that was, it
was hardly *relevant* to the Academy of Super Heroes, and scrapped it.
Nevertheless, my reaction does highlight the current state of ASH - it
continues apace, but unless I want to go into lengthy detail on the
minute of the issue (and in my current run-down state, I don't) then
there isn't much I can add that I haven't written before. Actually,
there was some other, interesting, topics which Martin brought up in
his Because I'm Bored Review of this issue which I wouldn't have had
the wherewithal to even notice, let alone be able to comment on with
any sort of authority. However, in one of his responses Dave did note
that there was a lot of the Asian situation that was supposed to appear
nonsensical - to which my response is "Well, DUH!" The sight of Grind
(Grind, of all people!) spending issue after issue ploughing through
the complicated politics of the situation but still not being able to
make much headway is a sure sign to me that there's some heavy duty
political smoke-and-mirrors going on.
     In summary, Giantess turns out to have been what I would
hair-split as being mentally manipulated rather than out-right
mind-controlled (as one of the guilty parties boggled, it got out of
hand). After some information collection by a (logically but still
disconcertingly) more mature Netwalker, it turns out that this was
instigated by the CAC rather than the Chinese. In the end Breaker
decides to go undercover within China itself, bring the story cycle
into its final third, which Dave says that after re-evaluation will be
only two issues rather than the originally planned four.

The Alt.Riders #35
'A Moment of Blue'
A Legion of Net.Heroes [LNH] series
by Jamas Enright

     After a hilarious opening recap, it turns out that not only is
Missy pregnant, but that the child the extra-dimensional parasite that
Rotanna has been pursuing. Then FAQ Boy and some Conspiracy Corporation
goons turn up and hustle Missy away because they think they gain power
from the child/parasite, and block the others from interfering with
some occult legalese. However, in the end this does FAQ Boy little
good, because after Missy finally looses patience with him she simply
leaves, leaving him stunned.
     In the meantime Agent and Dva have gone to counter FAQ Boy's
restraining order with some arcane legalese of their own, fighting fire
with fire. This leads to an opportunity to highlight Marsha's
near-psychotic hatred of black men, which from past details of her
origin I suspect is a displacement of her hatred of her mother and her
unknown father.
     After FAQ Boy returns a second time and is seen off, Rotanna
discovers that she can't get rid of the parasite without harming
Missy, and Missy decides to return to her home planet for the birth.

Legion of Net.Heroes Volume 2 #1-2
'Real Ultimate Power'  and  'Ape Is Enough'
A Legion of Net.Heroes [LNH] series
by Jamie Rosen

     Jamie Rosen resurrects the concept of a generic LNH series for
useable-without-permission characters for a second volume of the Legion
of Net.Heroes series. Sigh. Now I'm going to have guilt fits about not
contributing to both this *and* the Looniverse Y series, aren't I?
Well, technically Jamie hasn't asked for submissions for this one yet,
but still... Better get to work on a story about singing gorilla
pirates in the subways...
     In the first issue a cross-dressing mad scientist, Dr Ag-Queen,
creates an army of clones of Ultimate Ninja and sends them out to sully
UN's reputation by committing crimes. A team of LNHers track Dr
Ag-Queen down using particularly convoluted logic and capture him. In
the second issue a group of LNHers return to Net.ropolis after a
mission only to discover that everyone in the city, including their
teammates, have been turned into simians by the (mis)use of a rare
ingredient in one of Cheesecake-Eater Lad's cheesecakes.

Looniverse Y #5
'Affirmative Action'
A Legion of Net.Heroes Y [LNHY] series
by Arthur Spitzer

     Arthur addresses the issue of lack of female membership in the
Legion by having the New LNH Member Detector trick Kid Kicked-Out into
being changed into a woman. Understandably, Kid Kicked-Out is more than
a bit put out by this. However, his teammates (and houseguest) only
have a short time to mock his misfortune before word comes that the
vampiress Giga.bit (Queen of the Bikini Damned) is setting up
operations in the sewers beneath Net.ropolis.
     Because Giga.bit wears the Bikini That Enslaves Men's Minds, only
Buxom the Vampire Slayer and Kid Kicked-Out can safely go to confront
Giga.bit and her beach party of the damned. There's a fight scene, and
Kid Kicked-Out distracts Giga.bit for long enough for Buxom to Slay
     Snicker. Evil sandcastles...

Onion Lad #2
'Letters Home'
A Legion of Net.Heroes [LNH] series
by Jesse Willey

     Jesse takes over Tom Russell and Dane Martin's old Onion Lad
series (previous cover date: July 19 1999), and gives what amounts to a
(re)introductory issue. Apparently Jesse was motivated to do this
because of the way that Onion Lad keeps taking up more and more of the
story time as a supporting cast member in Vel.
     In any case, Onion Lad writes a letter home, and the juxtaposition
between what he says and what actually happened is both amusing and
insightful in a character develop kind of way. Interestingly,
considering how creepy and whiny Onion Lad has sometimes across as, not
all of the comparisons are negative.

Speak #1
'The Strange Case of Gregory Dingham'
An Eightfold [8FOLD] series
by Tom Russell

     The first issue of Tom Russel and Jamie Rosen's new 8Fold shared
universe writing imprint. The strange thing for me is that the
mailserver at UTS library delivered this as a blank email: title and
headers, but absolutely no text in the body. Thanks to Tom for
forwarding me a copy after I discovered that I couldn't find it on
google, either.
     Anyway, Gregory Dingham inexplicably gets the power to control
people and objects by word of command, and first realises it after a
careless remark causes his mother's death. Thereafter he tests the
limits of the power (imposing a few of his own along the way) as he
tries to think of what to do with the ability. There are a few scenes
that foreshadow a superheroic origin, making the story seem to point in
the direction of a parallel of the standard Spider Man style
(only this time with a more direct cause of death). But then Tom twists
the whole thing on its head, and Gregory buckles under the pressure of
what he perceives to be obligation of being an active hero, and turns
to crime.
     The twist was surprising to me, came across as both clever and
obvious - and off the top of my head I can't remember anything like it.
Perhaps surprising, simply because it is so obvious a twist. That said,
I'm not anywhere near comprehensively well read, so I might be missing
an obvious example. But then again, maybe not. Although mainstream
publishers do occasional 'villain stories', they tend to use
protagonist villains of the type of Doctor Doom or the Submariner or
Lex Luthor - men of grand passion with at least a pretense of nobility.
It occurs to me that they would be less likely to try to make a
protagonist of someone in Gregory's situation: someone who is - at base
- motivated by fear of being hemmed in by other people's expectations
and is rebelling against it. Bloodymindedly railing against an unfair
fate, sure; that's classic Greek tragedy. But not recoiling in fear
from a burden. Not your typical anti-hero/villain, methinks.
     Still, that sort of motivation does make it plausible for the type
of 'much worse' things that Tom has hinted will be in future issues.
Humans can do truly dreadful things when motivated by fear. What I will
be interested in seeing is the *form* that Gregory's rebellion will
take. Are we talking about someone who's just as afraid as the
conventions and expectation of costumed supervillainy as he is of
superheroing, and whose story will examine some of the less well
explored aspects of superhuman crime - or are we looking at the birth
of just another costumed terrorist? We shall see.
     Postscript. Read #2 last night. I notice that Gregory has brains
enough to realise that he's running from responsibility, but not the
willpower to get his act together. If I was feeling more energetic I'd
exude some smugness.

Template #1
'Consider This Fair Warning. The Next Time We Meet It Won't Be On
     Such Friendly Terms'
An Eightfold [8FOLD] series
by Jamie Rosen

     And here's the other Eightfold debut. Billy Kidman returns to his
home town for the funeral of his father, and to set up a business for
himself. After the funeral he discovers that his father was the World
War 2 era superhero Template, and that everybody who knows this is
expecting him to follow in his father's footsteps, including the
vengeful offspring of one of his father's rogues gallery. The issue
concludes with Billy doing the sensible thing and calling the police,
and this leaves me wondering what the plot twist will be that keeps
calling the police from being of any use whatsoever.
     The first issue is steeped in homecoming nostalgia, which makes
transition point of revealing Template's identity moderately shocking.
Of course, the readers would be expecting some sort of surprise along
the lines of costumed superhero-dom, since that's what this newsgroup
is predicated on, so I imagine it would be a lot worse for Billy.

Saxon Brenton   Uni of Technology, city library, Sydney Australia
     saxon.brenton at uts.edu.au
The Eyrie Archives of Russ Allbery which collect the online superhero
fiction of the rec.arts.comics.creative newsgroup can be found at:

More information about the racc mailing list