[REVIEW] End of Month Reviews #20 - August 2005 [spoilers]

Saxon Brenton saxonbrenton at hotmail.com
Fri Sep 2 19:36:49 PDT 2005

[REVIEW] End of Month Reviews #20 - August 2005 [spoilers]

Reviewed This Issue:
      Alt.Riders #39 [LNH]
      Deja Dude/Master Blaster Special #5 [LNH]
      The House Of Fiction #1-2 [8FOLD]
      Legends Of The Eternal World [Misc]
      Vel #13-15 [LNH/LNH2]

     This issue may seem a little rushed.  While almost everything was
read at the time they were posted, I'm writing the actual reviews at the
last moment, having spend a lot evenings over the last week visiting a
friend with relapsed cancer in hospital.


Alt.Riders #39
'What I Did On My Holidays: Silence: Silent Warriors'  and
'What I Did On My Holidays: Missy: Kula Bocca Says So'
A Legion of Net.Heroes [LNH' series
by Jamas Enright

     Once again a member of the Alt.Riders is being manipulated and framed
by sinister forces.  In Silence's case it's for the murder of a woman.  He
awakens in a hotel room with the bloodied body and no memory of what
happened.  After the evidence points out how sloppily the frameup was
carried out but before the investigation actually concludes, he's billeted
at the home of Asheley, one of the investigating officers, with whom he
develops a romance.  At that point Silence's enemies simply frame him
again, this time with the death of Silence's host and with a bit more
finesse.  After Silence's conviction for murder, the story climaxes with
him beings sent to the electric chair.
     The style is written to exclude spoken dialog, which thematically
reflects Silence's minimal speech patterns.  This makes an interesting
contrast to the other stories in this story arc.  Moreover, being written
as a recounting of events also gives the opportunity for a much needed
examination of Silence's character and recap of his history, since there's
a change of emphasis from the 'show don't tell' rule of storytelling.
     Of course, in some ways Silence's shared body with Softcentre makes
for a complication in the arc's structure of ending each issue with a
cliffhanger.  Now, in practice we know that it's unlikely that any of the
characters are going to come to truly permanent fatal harm.  (Emphasis on
'unlikely'.  Jamas, like Dvandom, cannot be fully trusted not to do so
simply to screw with peoples' expectations.)  The question is, how will
they escape their dooms?  For most of them, we haven't even been shown
that they have yet, but Marsha must have if Peter is running around free
after the explosion at Frolicks.  Now, anyone who knows the characters
would assume that Softcentre simply body shifted into Silence and walked
away, effectively in disguise - but that in turn begs the question of why
this fact could not be uncovered when Silence was arrested and his history
brought up.  It suggests a disparity between what is on record in the
files the police have access to and what the mysterious enemies may know,
which I suppose isn't all that strange considering the nature of secretive
organisations in a world like this.
     In the continuing Missy story, tensions continue to rise until the
Chubs release lead singer Ramsey, under the pretext that his songs weren't
intended as an illegal act.  Missy, however, has an argument with Kula
Bocca when it becomes clear that he still has plans to incite a violent
revolution with other songs that include Mohelmot lyrics.  Then
complications with her pregnancy intervene.

Deja Dude / Master Blaster Special #5
'Deja Dude And Master Blaster Go Hollywood'
A Legion of Net.Heroes [LNH] series
by Martin Phipps

     Some more movies are reviewed, although in this case there's also a
bit of plot development leading into 'Road To The Killfile Wars'.  Wish I'd
though of the idea Fearless Leader being pushed back to fourth in command
at the LNH while there are currently three Ultimate Ninjas; I'll have to
use that idea.  The bit about Sleeps-With-Anything-Alive Lass's blood
being used to create a vaccine against zombiism was also cute, albeit
ironic considering it apparently can't be used to fix her own zombified

The House Of Fiction #1-2
'Homecoming'  and  'Lifetime'
An Eightfold [8FOLD] series
by Tom Russell

     Here's one of two non-superhero genre stories posted this month.
Rec.arts.comics.creative, of course, grew out of the superhero parody
newsgroup alt.comics.lnh, and to this day is still strongly dominated by
superheros, so sometimes it takes effort to remember that a newsgroup
about comics - like the comics themselves - is a medium rather than a
genre.  You may recall that I made this mistake with my assumptions when
writing my review of 'Template' #1 earlier this year.
     Even with that in mind, I still found this to be highly idiosyncratic,
since it consists of nothing more than a rambling dialogue of a man
narrating the emotional hang-ups and flaws of himself and his family.
Eventually a peripheral element of superpowers reared its head when, in
issue 2, it was revealed that the narrator had wished his deceased father
back to life.  But that came out of nowhere, and wasn't touched upon
except as something else to complicate the intra-family drama.  Or to put
it another way, the sense of wonder that would normally be expected in the
superhero genre from something fantastic like a return-to-life is missing.
(I say, 'would be expected', because in a genre that traditionally had
been escapist fantasy intended to invoke awe, these days resurrections of
characters is more of a marketing driven plot tool that anything else.
But I digress...)
     So, returning to the thesis that the story is what it is, and has to
be take on it's own terms without necessarily being beholden to any sort
of storytelling conventions other than basic narrative impetus, I would
have to say that THoF seems to be working out.  The task of the story is
to keep the reader interested, and on at least two counts it does that.
The more conventional of the two is the morbid fascination with the
relationships between the narrator's dysfunctional family, whether it be
his own recognition of his shortcomings, the guilt-trip antics of his well-
nigh demented mother, or even the secret keeping of his grandmother.  The
other is the oft times surreal inclusions of mentions of sexuality.
Depending on how you view these things they may come across as either
hilarious or shocking, but to me they seemed strangely out of place coming
from someone as apparently repressed as the narrator.  I dunno, maybe I'm
misreading the narrator, or maybe Tom is just trying to play with our
collective headspaces.  Nevertheless, lines like, "In the same e-mail,
three paragraphs removed, he said that he wishes he had screwed a lot more
girls bareback before he got married. So there you go." were vastly amusing.

Legends Of The Eternal World #1
'Three Destinies'
A [Misc] series
by Rick Hindle [?]

     <Reviewer mutters to himself:> Well, that's embarrassing.
<Looks up to see audience, hastily plasters an inane grin over his face
and shuffles papers in order to pretend he's busy working.  Then gives it
up as a lost cause.>
     I printed out the first issue of this series from Google rather
than a subscribed email account, meaning that only now as I sit down to
actually write the review do I realise that the author didn't put his
name in the text of the story - which causes minor problems because
Google Beta hides the full email address unless you go to the trouble
of starting a reply-to-the-author message.  Still, by doing such poking
around I'm pretty sure from context that the author is actually Rick
Hindle, a long time if sporadic poster on rec.arts.comics.creative who's
posted a number of superhero genre stories here since 1998, including the
moderately long running (for RACC) 'City Of Heroes'.  This means that if
anybody in the audience has been waiting for somebody - anybody - to
nominate for the Newbie Award for this years RACCies, you're going to
have to continue holding your breath.  But that's okay, since you all
look so fetching in blue.
     Anyway.  While reading this I felt a strong manga vibe, which upon
closer examination mostly evaporated when I realised that these days I
tend to visualise any story that has quasi-fantasy setting in it in manga
style.  In particular, if it's got elves in it (which 'Three Destinies'
has) I definitely tend to visualise it in manga style - which is strange,
because I don't tend to read/watch mange/anime more than any other type
of story.  Go figure.
     So then.  Along with 'House Of Fiction' this is the other non-superhero
genre story this month, but this one looks like it's shaping up to be more
of an adventure story.  More specifically, this episode is a gathering-of-
the-cast story.  Rynn Whispering is a police deputy who's brother Tomm was
recently killed by an unidentified mystical creature, and who is now
contacted by a visitation from a prophetess called Canistra who tells
him that he can avenge his brother's death by leaving his home city and
travelling to Sol Roftus and meeting with some others.  Along the way he
has a brief encounter with a fellow contactee when he is aided in a fight
by Anders Goldenspoke, a young elven lawyer.  They meet again in Sol Roftus,
here they a lumbered with the final member of their group, the spoiled
Crown Prince Tarshan In-Quaihd, and Canistra explains that a period of
political turmoil is coming which only these three, working together, can
     As fantasy genres go this world has a least one interesting twist
that we've seen so, in the widespread presence of steam era technology.
On the other hand, the impending invasion by the General's army of 'dark
sorcery and evil' is more of a genre standard, as is the notion that only
this small group can thwart the General's malevolent intentions, but to be
fair that may be just a plot engine.  We'll have to see what variations
are played with that underlying quest format.  In particular, the musings
of Anders on the movements towards political reunification suggest to me
that geo-politics may be more complicated than a Tolkien-esque several-
     Since this is an opening episode in a fantasy world, a bit of world
building is required, and for the most part it's handled well.  The
introduction of Rynn and his emotional turmoil over the death of his
brother give an excellent opportunity to introduce some local geography,
while the subsequent political musing of Anders are somewhat blander but
almost immediately counterpointed by the fight scene with a reptilian
Hyleon during the train trip.  The fight also gives the opportunity to
see both Anders and Rynn in action; we'll have to wait and see if Tarshan
has any combat skills, or if his talents need to help in the defeat of
the General lie elsewhere.
     In fact, if I have any serious problems with how this series is
shaping up, it is solely in feeling disquiet in wondering how Tarshan
will be handled.  As a personal peeve that comes from reading too many
David Eddings fantasies, I tend to cringe at the trope of obnoxious-royalty-
humility.  This may not be fair on my part, since, yes, the presence of
such characters creates conflict, which is necessary for the story - but
after enjoying the start of 'The Redemption Of Althalus' I simply stopped
reading when the plucky princess got up to make a speech to rally
potential allies.

Vel #13-15
'The Search For Carina' Part 3  and
'The Embassy'  and  'The Embassy' Part 2
A Legion of Net.Heroes [LNH/LNH2] series
by Jesse Willey

     Consisting of two posts, the latter (with the header of #14)
containing both a #14 and a #15.
     Issue 13 rounds of the search for the missing Sing-Along Lass, or at
least, the present day Sing-Along Lass.  After much to-ing a fro-ing it
turns out she'd been teleported a few days into the future as well as
across space, and it had simply taken a while for her to arrive.  Along
the way Vel lands in Albert Einstein's study circa 1950, which is a rather
bemusing counterpoint to Vel's already established psychiatric sessions
with Sigmund Freud.  Bluntly, Freud's presence adds a useful tool for
examination of Vel's character both by the reader and by Vel himself, but
unless Jesse is setting up some future use of Einstein it looks to me
like just a gratuitous guest appearance.
      Issue 14-15 is/are set in the future and is/are something of a
lead-in to the upcoming Road To The Killfile Wars project.  Vel battles
some cyborg Dorfs at the Dorfian Embassy, along with the aid of Deja
Dude, Master Blaster, and the mysterious Dalton Asters.  Lots of dark
back history is hinted at.

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