[REVIEW] End of Month Reviews #31 - July 2006 [spoilers]

Saxon Brenton saxonbrenton at hotmail.com
Sun Aug 6 18:52:52 PDT 2006

[REVIEW] End of Month Reviews #31 - July 2006 [spoilers]

Reviewed This Issue:
      Bush43 #40-60  [AC]
      Deja Dude/Master Blaster Special #11-12  [LNH]
      Fuschia Grabbag Surprise #1  [8Fold]
      Godling #7  [Misc]
      Journey Into... #3  [8Fold]
      Killfile Wars #5  [LNH]
      Legion of Net.Heroes Vol.2 #18  [LNH]

     Log of a library under siege from Evil computers - Year three, month
seven: in the final week of July the book holds system decided that the
pickup location of all requests would show 'mail me the journal article'
rather than what campus the books should be held at.  This aberration
only shows up when viewed from the public parts of the computer system,
and the proper locations are still held in the deeper parts if the staff-
only sections of the software - but it is causing considerable
consternation to the students as well as the occasional misplacement of
books at the checkin desk.  End log.
     Spoilers below...


Bush43 #40-60
An Artifice Comics [AC] series
by Jason S. Kenney

     The July episodes of the Bush43 marathon (weeks five through eight,
plus a concluding day of week nine).  For this summary I don't think I'll
break things down by weeks, since the plot seems to be coming together
sufficiently that I think I see the direction of the story.  A large
reason for that can be summarised as: Jeffery's tasks are turning
increasingly away from 'mere' bureaucratics for Romanov/a and instead
towards more the personalised superheroic protection.  This in turn
results in less of a focus of the story on the panoramic overview of
Pacific City's politics (although it's still there) and towards an
intertwining of it with a more linear action-adventure plot (albeit one
with twists).
     Jeffery recruits the superhuman help of his flatemate Isiah to
temporarily depower and capture Bombastic as the latter visits his mother
in a nursing home - a plan that does not go well because Bombastic blows
up the nursing home instead, as part of a setup by Simon Cooper.  Still,
it does result in Bombastic's capture, as well as the abrogation of the
deal Tracy Pine tried to arrange, and a confrontation with Simon's group
at Cassandra Trellis' apartment.  Then comes the problem of how to /keep/
the villains incarcerated, since the political games between the federal
and Pacific City governments have cut off the supplies of the person-
specific drugs that suppress their powers.
     Along the way Professor Richmond of the Seven reveals that he
arranged for the setup of Cooper's villain team as a way of testing and
tempering Jeffery, since Richmond sees him as the city's best hope of
surviving the anticipated return of the Imperial Magistrate.  Then
Richmond continues his testing by mind controlling Cassandra to go on a
rampage as Pox (a change of name from Typhoid Mary), leading to another
confrontation with Romanov/a and Mysteria.
     Once that's dealt with, Bush43 gets help from Eldritch and Weisz
of the New Mages for a raid on a company to obtain supplies of the drugs
needed to keep Cooper et al under control, and fights a Siege Engine.
In the aftermath of that tensions with the federal government increase
again (and then again), and Jeffery finally manages to get Romanov/a to
fire him, just in time for another Siege Engine sent by the Australian
government to attack.
     Through all of this Bush43 is running from one crisis to the next,
and while that's more to his taste in action that the politics, never-
theless it's more-or-less according to Richmond's plans to instil a sense
of desperation and ruthlessness.  I found it interesting that about
halfway through this month's sequence that Bush43 emotionally admits
that he should be trusting and cooperating with other people.  This
counterpoints that he has so few people that he can trust with dealing
with the cities problems, and is in turn counterpointed by the discrepancy
between the scene where Isiah is the one who has to keep Jeffery on the
up-and-up over the capture of Bombastic and all the other times when it
is Jeffery trying to reign in Romanov/a's excesses.
     However, I keep wondering what Romanov/a is *doing* as Mayor of
the city other than leading the occasional vigilante squad.  From a
dramatic standpoint it's perfectly acceptable to have the Mayor turn up
occasionally and be arbitrary in Jeffery's affairs in it's prosecution
of supposed justice.  But from an administrative view the flaws and
stupidities in Romanov/a's approach suggest that either the Mayor is so
distracted by other matters elsewhere that it's not able to pay proper
attention to Jeffery's concerns (in which case I'd like a hint that these
even exist, even if we don't get any details on what they are); or is too
busy bogged down in its own political games to care (as suggested by its
statement that it hasn't been equipping the police force properly because
the police aren't needed; what, the New Mages are going to enforce every
parking violation, littering offence and domestic violence incident?);
or, worse, that for storytelling reasons Romanov/a's motivations are
part of a proverbial Idiot Plot.

Deja Dude/Master Blaster Special #11 & 12
A Legion of Net.Heroes [LNH] series
by Martin Phipps

     In issue 11 Deja Dude and Master Blaster review _Superman Returns_
before going off to play basketball, allowing Catalyst Lass and Ordinary
Lady to review their top ten romantic movies of all time.
     In issue 12, after being forced to finish off their rostered shifts
at the LNH-HQ by Fearless Leader (who holds these old-fashioned fuddyduddy
notions about how public safety is more important than goofing off to see
a movie) Deja Dude and Master Blaster go and see the second half of
_Jerks II_, and see reviewer Joseph Gale walking out of the movie (Joel
Siegal reprising his disgust at the Real Life movie _Clerks II_).
Despite this advance warning they watch it anyway and then come away from
the movie disappointed.  Master Blaster then explains the finer points of
his philosophy about being a sexist pig while still not being degrading
towards women.

Fuschia Grabbag Surprise #1
An Eightfold [8Fold] story
by Tom Russell

     This story is done in Ascii graphics rather than text.  Two little
round people (rather reminiscent of the baby beans in Larry Marder's
_Tales of the Beanworld_, I thought) meet.  One of them gets embarrassed
and runs away, while the other is picked/picked up by a hand.  The first
grows a body, comes back, is wistful about the now-missing visitor,
allows the body to wither, and eventually turns to stone.
     I think.  Quite honestly, that's about all that I was able to
decipher, and I even missed the significance of the 'HAND' the first few
times around, taking it not to be a literal hand but the acronym 'Have
A Nice Day' and wondering if it represented some sort of apotheosis,
or something.  This quandary put me in mind of an observation (the
provenance I can no longer recall) that some people, when faced with a
work of art of whatever type, go 'I don't understand this, what's wrong
with me?', while others will go 'I don't understand this, what's wrong
with him?'.  Now, from lifelong personal observation I can attest that
while I occasionally get a stroke of brilliance at interpreting stuff,
there have been other times when my efforts have met with catastrophic
     With this in mind I decided to take the opportunity to ask Tom
about Fuschia Grabbag Surprise while we were emailing about the recent
'A Devil Came Down To Georgia' trade etherback.  His response was
basically that this story was posted as a bit of whimsy meant to provoke
a feeling of ineffability and perhaps a bit of WTF, and there were some
parts of it that even he couldn't be sure about.
     So, there you go.

Godling #7
A Miscellaneous [Misc] series
'Battle For Earth'
by Jochem Vandersteen

     After coming up with the idea last issue to use the powers of
Hephaestus to build weapons to use against the alien Captain Wrakk,
Godling sneaks aboard Wrakk's spacecraft while Wrakk is distracted by
the arrival of yet more of Master Destiny's empowered minions (in this
case a trio of winged bikers).  Godling arrives just in time to see
Wrakk about to destroy the group in the same way that he has everyone
else who's boarded his vessel so far, and decides to give up the element
of surprise in order to saves their lives.  The bikers join Godling,
and after defeating Wrakk with both his powers and the weapons Godling
reprograms the spaceship to take the enforced-asleep Captain Wrakk back
to his home planet.

Journey Into... #3
An Eightfold [8Fold] series
by Tom Russell

     Story focusing on the speedster Fleetfeet.  Nice story with a strong
Silver Age vibe; the first part in particular, with its bizarre death
traps organised by a supervillian teamup, and Fleetfeet ridding himself
of a debilitating virus by phasing himself out of reality, then slowly
phasing back in and leaving the virus behind.  In part two Fleetfeet
carelessly mentions to Professor Pillowhead that he's one of the
Professor's students, and the Professor takes it into his head to use
logical deduction and a process of elimination to figure out exactly
who - overlooking the fact that this could adversely affect Fleetfeet's
ability to defend the public against the likes of the giant kudzu plant
that attacks campus.  In any case, cue a battle of wits in the downtime
between superhuman battles.  Part three reveals that the Gorgon has been
stalking Fleetfeet from behind the scenes.  Having captured Fleetfeet,
Gorgon exposits that thanks to the not-quite-fully-removed virus that
Gorgon arranged for both Fleetfeet's initial slip of the tongue, for
Professor Pillowhead's obsession, and for Fleetfeet's upcoming marriage
to his girlfield Daphne with a planned breakup between them.  After
defeating Gorgon Fleetfeet fakes the death of his heroic identity, with
the intention of starting again elsewhere.

Killfile Wars #5
'In The Family'
A Legion of Net.Heroes [LNH] miniseries
by Jesse Willey

     Dr I-Can't-Believe-It's-Not-Butter chases Onion Lad and Teriyaki
Chick until Dr Killfile arrives and begins battling his brother instead.
Dalton is able to give Electra some information that he's been searching
out for her ("You're a Tyco Remote Controlled Super Assassin.") before
Electra and other members of the Team head off to respond to the LNH's
requests for assistance in the Killfile situation.  In space, Vel recaps
to Marcia why he had to kidnap his son Dran to get the baby medical
treatment.  And having dealt with Dr I-Can't-Believe-It's-Not-Butter,
Dr Killfile uses a stolen communicator from the second (and also now
dead as of last issue) Ultimate Ninja to put in effect his main plan.
     Considering Dr Killfile's comments at end about the plans of "that
other me" in another timeline, I'm willing to go out on a limb and guess
that he's referring to the Dr Killfile who experimented on Electra, and
is now planning on activating Electra's assassin programming.

Legion of Net.Heroes Vol.2 #18
'Catalyst Lass Vs. The Preacher'
A Legion of Net.Heroes [LNH] series
by Tom Russell

     This issue focuses on Catalyst Lass and starts with various scenes
of Cat capturing villains or trying to arrange for the Legionnaires to
get along with each other. Ah, of course; you know, it had never occurred
to me that Catalyst Lass might act as de facto morale office for the
group.  There's also lots of references to reading gushy romance novels
used to good effect - although to be honest when the character was split/
divided/duplicate/what-have-you into Catalyst Lass and Hell Catalyst all
those years ago I was never sure on which of the two characters had which
character traits, so I'll have to simply assume that reading purple prose
is appropriate to CL rather than HC.
     Anyway, Frat Boy has been kicked out of the LNH-HQ's church by Self-
Righteous Preacher for being gay, and he asks Catalyst Lass to intercede
for him.  Thereafter follows a tale of connivance as Cat tries to get
the Preacher to change his mind.  First there's the use of the imperfect
duplicator ray to create a bizarro Jack Chick tract - but that's quickly
recognised as the attempt at subversion it is.  Then there's the asking
of a favour to get an angel (and later, the Holy Ghost) to make an appeal
to authority only to discover that even if humans don't make gods in
their own image they most certainly make dogma in their own image.
Finally Catalyst Lass uses the imperfect duplicator ray on Self-Righteous
Preacher himself to create the laidback, cool and froody Megachurch Man
and sets about stripping the Preacher's congregation in the LNH away from
him.  The latter only barely works, since Cat seems to have overlooked
the fact that the Preacher has always been more concerned with being
right than with being popular.

Saxon Brenton   University of Technology, city library, Sydney Australia
     saxon.brenton at uts.edu.au
The Eyrie Archives of Russ Allbery which collect the online superhero
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