[REVIEW] End of Month Reviews #35 - November 2006 [spoilers]

Saxon Brenton saxonbrenton at hotmail.com
Sun Dec 10 17:33:17 PST 2006

[REVIEW] End of Month Reviews #35 - November 2006 [spoilers]

Reviewed This Issue:
      Bush43 #61  [AC]
      Drabble Girl: Drabble #1-13  [LNH]
      Fuschia Grabbag Surprise #3  [8Fold]
      Haiku Gorilla #251-296  [LNH]
      Journey Into... Annual #1  [8Fold]
      A Journey Through The Mind Of The Seemingly Unstable [#1 & 2]  
      Mail-Order Super-Heroes #1  [Tim Munn]
      Superfreaks #14-15  [Superfreaks]

Also posted:
      Academy of Super-Heroes #74  [ASH]
      The Alt.Riders Story Challenge Spectacular!  [LNH]{VC}
      Alt.stralian Stories #3  [LNH]
      Legion of Net.Heroes Volume 2 #21  [LNH]
      Limp-Asparagus Lad Special #3  [LNH]{VC}
      Master Blaster [#8]  [LNH]
      Pants Rabbit Lad: Whatever Happened to Suicide Werewolf?  [LNH]{VC}
      Pants Rabbit Lad and Master Blaster Special  [LNH]{VC}
      The Student [Misc]{VC}
      Superfreaks #16-17  [Superfreaks]
      Superfreaks Special [Superfreaks]{VC}

     So.  This month's theme (for the month, not just this EoMR) randomly
generated by you, the rec.arts.comics.creative participants (and your
flashbulb like attention spans) is 'constrained writing'.  That is,
writing within the limitations of how words are strung together to make
a story rather than the more usual limitations of genre.  Back on 4th
November Tom Russell noted that there had been a lot of those this year,
and issued a vocab-story challenge (one story of 75 sentences, each
sentence ending in a specific word from a pre-determined list) and
proportionately quite a few people have participated so far.  They are
the ones marked {VC} on the lists above.  Meanwhile we also have Jamas's
_Drabble Girl_ maxiseries, and the conclusion of the 'Support Your Local
Gorilla_ arc from _Haiku Gorilla_.
     I'll also note that the initial nomination ballot for the RACCies
awards has been posted, but that this will almost certainly be revised
to accommadate Arthur's suggestion of a 'Best Of...' award.  A related
issue is the fact that I'm running a bit behind of the EoMR because of
preparations for the RACCies and doing the _Limp-Asparagus Lad Special_
#3 for the vocab challenge, plus finishing off Limp-Asparagus Lad #57
(currently at the editor), so I'll be keeping things short this month.
     Finally: guerrilla advertising: Thanks to Eric Burns' Websnark blog,
I got the timely reminder that the second issue of Andy Weir's _Cheshire
Crossing_ webcomic came out recently.  If you like the thought of Mary
Poppins beating the snot out of the Wicked Witch of the West, you will
probably like this webcomic.  http://www.cheshirecrossing.net/
     Spoilers below...


Bush43 #61
'Brave Front'
An Artifice Comics [AC] series
by Jason Kenney

     It seems that Jason didn't burn himself out with the Bush43 weekly
event a few months back in June (issues 20-39) and July (issues 40-60).
Issue 61 picks up where things left off.  Jeffrey continues to work to
prepare for the much and mal anticipated return of the Imperial
Magistrate, including overseeing the delivery of a shipment of armaments
for the Pacific City police to (the currently suspended) Officer Self.
     I've mentioned previously that I found it a bit strange that the
federal government hadn't been putting out posturing bluster about
Erlend's control of the city.  It's possible that they're doing so
now and we simply aren't seeing it because Jeffrey's been sacked, is
therefore out of the loop for the political machinations, and therefore
the readers don't get to see this mentioned let alone being acted upon
because Jeffrey's the viewpoint character.  Or more logically perhaps it
was there all along, since the federal opposition would have been making
hay out of this sort of situation right from the start.  In fact, there
are simply too many implications for the 'state rights' issue - even if
the comparison between a federal/state struggle isn't quite exact because
Pacific City isn't a state capital - for some group or other *not* to be
making hay out of the situation - remember the flak President Bush copped
over the substandard response to Hurricane Katrina?  This is particularly
so now that the city has been cordoned off.  Which raises another issue,
actually: if people can only exit after being searched, and no one's
supposed to be getting in, how are the food and fuel supplies arriving?
     And yet, on another level these quibbles don't particularly matter.
*Thematically* at least, it's appropriate that all of these problems are
being ignored, since it heightens the sense that Jeffery is alone in
trying to save the city.  Or at least (and this is important) that from
Jeffrey's point of view, he's the only one trying to save the city.
It's a recurring theme that his fellow science heroes keep telling him
that he should confer with them and not take on these burdens alone.
In the past Jeffrey has admitted that he should, and then goes it alone
     So, are his instincts right or wrong?  Well, as the titular hero of
the series it's more likely that his instincts are right than wrong, so
perhaps it's more a question of how he goes about it and how much
collateral damage results anyway.  That said, there's still the worrying
thought that structurally the plot of the arc may not be 'hero saves the
city' (Jeffrey saves Pacific City) but 'man learns a lesson' (Jeffrey
doesn't save Pacific City and only afterwards recognises where he went

Drabble Girl: Drabble #1-13
'An Innocuous Beginning!'  ;  'Aftermath Of An Explosion!'  ;
'The Mystery Begins!'  ;  'Trouble On The Horizon!'  ;
'Drabble Girl Takes Charge!'  ;  'Yet Another Q Scene Rip-Off!'
'Into The Unknown!'  ;  'Inside The Wordinator!'  ;
'Drabble Girl Strikes Back!'  ;  'The Wordinator Attacks!'  ;
'Drabble Girl In Trouble!'  ;  'Stuck In The Wordinator!'  &  'Expulsion!'
A Legion of Net.Heroes [LNH] maxiseries
by Jamas Enright

     Jamas makes use of the character created by Jaelle to create a
series of 52 drabbles (stories of exactly 100) words.  I'm guessing
that the number of drabbles is directly related to the current DC Comics
series anthology series _52_, although there doesn't seem to be any
significance beyond that so far.
     Drabble Girl is minding her own business in downtown Net.ropolis
when an explosion disturbs the peace.  After helping out, Dr Stomper
explains that this was caused by the incursion by the other-dimensional
Wordinator - a creature of pure text who is expanding into the
Looniverse.  Ultimate Ninja sends Drabble Girl to confront the entity,
basing his decision on the fact that since she can only appear in one
hundred word stories, she'll have some measure of protection, since
the Wordinator won't be able to sustain its attack across issues.
Drabble Girl confronts the Wordinator in its home dimension, but the
confrontation ends in an impasse and it sends her back to the Looniverse.
     It's a cute concept, and makes clever metatextual use of the
limitations of the drabble as a form of superpower.  However, I do think
that the confrontation in the Wordinator's dimension in issues 8 through
13, with all the random words floating around, was a little bit too much
of an obvious easy way to get the postings to one hundred words.

Fuschia Grabbag Surprise #3
An Eightfold [8Fold] series
by Tom Russell

     So.  There are two of those pea-pod people that inhabit the world
of Fuchia Grabbag Surprise, and they're talking about moustaches.  I
think.  And one of them is advocating moustaches, and the other one says
he's not interested in moustaches.  The first one disappears/disintegrates
himself and wills/curses his moustache on the second one.  I think.

Haiku Gorilla #251-296
'Support Your Local Gorilla'
A Legion of Net.Heroes [LNH] series
by Tom Russell

     These issues cover the conclusion of the 'Support Your Local
Gorilla' arc (running in full from #127 to 296).  But first, Anal-
Retentive Archive Kid has handed me a note, asking me to remind every-
one that technically Haiku Gorilla has had four story arcs this year,
rather than the three that were mentioned in Tom's Self-Promotional
Binge post.  This is because of the two part filler story 'The Strangling
At Howell's Manor' in #124-125.  So that's 'Unjaned Melody' in _Haiku
Gorilla Adventures_ #1-64, 'The Death Of Pants Rabbit Lad' in _Haiku
Gorilla_ #65-123, 'The Strangling At Howell's Manor' in #124-125, a
non-story post in #126, and 'Support Your Local Gorilla_ in #127-296.
     In earlier issues of 'Support Your Local Gorilla', Haiku Gorilla
announced that he would run for the Net.ropolis Senate seat, and was
opposed by Briefcase-Eater Lad with the support of the United States
President Hexadecimal Luthor. Shenanigans proceeded, including when
Luthor decided that Briefcase-Eater Lad's platform was too liberal and
had him replaced by a lookalike: Luggage-Eater Lad!
     In this month Haiku Gorilla is in the middle of his third debate
with Luggage-Eater Lad when the released Briefcase-Eater Lad arrives
and denounces Luggage-Eater Lad as an imposture.  It is revealed that
Briefcase-Eater Lad is a clone of Luggage-Eater Lad created for the
purpose of providing a liver for the original.  This revelation hurts
Briefcase-Eater Lad's standing in the polls, since although Briefcase-
Eater Lad manages to defeat Luggage-Eater Lad in a briefcase eating
contest, he nevertheless loses the vote to Haiku Gorilla (who,
incidentally, has also been readmitted to the Legion of Net.Heroes).
The story arc closes with the rather sinister revelation that Hex Luthor
is holding hostage Jane Goodling's husband Gore, as well as the alleged
son of Jane and Haiku Gorilla.
     Okay then, what can we extrapolate madly out of this? Should we
start integrating a clone rights group in the Loonited State's politics?
Or make the observation that in the alt.future depicted in _Spite Grrrl:
Pretty In Pink_ there was an extended subgroup of heroes called the
Hyphenated Eaters Corps, and that this may be the start of that group?
No time!  On to the next item...!

Journey Into... Annual #1
'The Boy Who Believed'  ;  'A Thousand-Thousand Snowflakes'  ;
'The Teardrop Princess'  ;  'The Breath Of Ghosts'  and
'All A Year In A Single Breath'
An Eightfold [8Fold] series
by Tom Russell

     Tom recreates the 80 page giant anthologies that DC Comics used
to put out, with the theme of Santa Claus.  Some of the treatment is
influenced by the superhero genre (Santa's naughty-or-nice sense being
perhaps the most obvious example), but other parts were influenced
(deliberately, as you'll note from Tom's introduction) by the fairy tale
format.  The first tale, while good and with an interesting twist on
a boy and his guilt complex about his bratty younger sister, didn't
particularly grab me.  Had the remainder of the stories been of a
similarly competent level then this Annual would probably be listed
under 'Also posted'.  But then the stories wander into the heavily
mythopoeic, such that although I started reading at around 9:30 at
night I didn't put the printout I was reading it from down until I was
finished it... so I didn't get to bed until 1 am.  I mean, how could I
resist a Spirit of Christmas who's archnemesis is an evil eight year
old who's an immortal and has read too much Ayn Rand?

A Journey Through The Mind Of The Seemingly Unstable [#1]
A Journey 2 the Mind of the Seemingly Unstable [#2]
A Legion of Net.Heroes [LNH] Vocab-Challenge miniseries
by Mitchell Crouch

     Mitchell's take on the vocab-challenge takes the form of three
interlinking stories - basically a continuing storyline repeating the
same 75 sentence word pattern.  These are the first two that fell in
     In brief, while waiting for their applications to the Legion to go
through, Contempo Weapons Lad and his fellows entertain themselves.
During a game of Stacks-On Contempo Weapons Lad begins to hallucinate
- and here Mitchell has an excuse to use shifting surreal imagery to
account for the words needed in the mandated order.  Now, I can't
really complain about this since I used a similar trick (fight in a
department store containing all sorts of stuff that would account for
any words that couldn't otherwise be worked in).  Nevertheless, it does
mean that these stories have a surreal quality and a minimal amount of
plot.  Well, an even more minimal amount of plot than the vocab-challenge
stories; plot wasn't actually something that was stipulated under the
original conditions.
     In any case, in the first Journey the hallucinating/having-an-
out-of-body experience Contempo Weapons Lad fights and defeats his
doppleganger Alterante Weapons Lad only to be confronted by a giant
ambulatory carrot.  In the second, Contempo Weapons Lad and Ka'rot,
before, in the concluding third, Ka'rot takes control of Contempo
Weapons Lad's body and fights CWL's teammates while the ghost of
Contempo Weapons Lad works against this possession.

Mail-Order Super-Heroes #1
A Boring Productions [BP] series
by Tim Munn

     On the logic that they're in the lame duck period of the American
political cycle, the Congressional Committee on Super-Human Affairs
decides to go nuts and passes - among other things - the Official
Heroes Alliance Mail-Order Catalogue.  I'm not entirely sure whether
this is merely supposed to be the setup for the series in general or
something more specific; it feels like something that should, as they
say, Bodes Ill but I might be wrong about that.  The rest of the story
focuses on Stop-Drop-And-Roll Lass, her place in the Heroes Alliance
(including the reputation of her parents, Master Lawyer and Atomic Lady,
hanging over her), and the mission that she is assigned to.

Superfreaks #14-15
'Death'  and  'Birth
A Superfreaks [Superfreaks] series
by Martin Phipps

     Issue 14 opens with a bit of random strangeness involving the
death of a clone and then the clone's replacement.  It's an interesting
permutation on the theme that's been ongoing for the last few issues,
and it seems to me that this is a topic that Martin can keep ongoing in
the background to milk for dramatic potential - it's got potential to
be a lot more than just background colour even though the main storyline
that introduced the idea has concluded.  But the main focus of #14 is
the arrival from space of what is at first thought to be a meteor impact
but upon further investigation turns out to be a spacecraft piloted by
the would-be world conqueror General Zon.
     The developing weirdness of this is quite good.  The growing
evidence starts out at a level of looking like the type of thing that
lunatics who nurse pet conspiracy theories would put forward, but then
grows through a standard investigation with specialist superhero
consultants.  And then... well, if Extreme was one of the main protag-
onists and a focus character then his confrontation with General Zon
would be a standard fight scene.  But Extreme isn't a focus character;
the non-powered criminal investigators are, and in that regard things
have escalated into an almost Lovecraftian horror story: something much
more powerful than most people and with malign intentions has arrived
and thrown the status quo into disarray.
     But of course there are other members of Extreme Force, so even
though Zon briefly exiles Extreme himself to the Twilight Dimension, his
team mates vow to carry on the fight in issue 15, and things ramp back
to standard superheroics.  In the interim Extreme Force produces some
clones (allowing for a riff on the 'Reign of Supermen' arc from years
back), and Zon is defeated.  However, there's a sense that they've let
a genie out of a bottle.

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
fiction of the rec.arts.comics.creative newsgroup can be found at:

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