[REVIEW] End of Month Reviews #25 - January 2006 [spoilers]

Saxon Brenton saxonbrenton at hotmail.com
Wed Feb 8 08:55:48 PST 2006

[REVIEW] End of Month Reviews #25 - January 2006 [spoilers]

Reviewed This Issue:
      Alt.Riders #44  [LNH]
      Deja Dude/Master Blaster Special #8 & 9  [LNH]
      The Goddess And The Bomb #1-2  [Misc]
      Godling #5  [Misc]
      Green Knight #4-5  [8FOLD]
      Just Imagine Saxon Brenton Presents The RACCies... AGAIN! #1-2
      Limp-Asparagus Lad #56  [LNH]
      Master Blaster Special: Frickin' Lame  [LNH]
      Time Capsules #8   [ASH]
      The Shining Sea II  [Misc]
      Web Of Mainstream Man #1  [LNH]
      Writers Block Woman (and Mouse) Ape Month Special  [LNH]

Also posted:
      The Collected Speak! Volume #2 Trade Etherback  [8FOLD]

     So then, it's the start of the End of Month Review's third year.
Another year of babbling about other people's stuff, trying to make it
sound profound when it's a critique or at least interesting when (more
often) it's just a plot summary, and doing so within one week of the end
of each month.  (You may be amused, as I was, that I was nominated for
the RACCies' Image Memorial Timepiece by two of the respondents, while
also getting an anti-nomination from a third person on the grounds that
the End of Month Reviews are always on time.)
     Speaking of the RACCies, nominations have closed and the voting
ballot has been posted.  You have until the end of February to get your
votes in.  Currently in receipt of votes from five people.
     And now, the reviews for Apes Month here on rec.arts.comics.creative,
and I'll use my discretion to include Jessica's last nanosecond
contribution in the January mix since it's thematically relevant to do
so.  Leaving aside the reprints of the second Collected Speak! TEB and
the This Shining Sea II rewrite/representation, I count 15 story posts
this month, of which 11 are about, involve or just mention hairy
anthropoids or their equivalents; approximately a two thirds ratio.
This is an excellent result, and I'll join Tom in thanking everybody who
     Spoilers below.


The Alt.Riders #44
'Gorillas In Our Midst'
A Legion of Net.Heroes [LNH] series
by Jamas Enright

     The Net.Elementalist is still unconscious after the events of the
_War Without Worlds_ miniseries, which means his body is easy pickings
for the disembodied intelligence of the leaders of the Inhilators to take
over.  Of course, the Inhilators aren't just interested finding a new
body for themselves; there's the little matter of revenge against those
pesky Looniearthlings who thwarted their plans to eat the planet, so
they mentally influence the denizens of a newly opened gorilla park to
go out and collect the main identifiable offenders.
     There were various amusing moments, such as Kid Not Appearing In Any
Retcon Hour Story's attempts to help Softcenter with anger management,
but have the fact that she hates him because he's a black man rather than
an extraterrestrial go completely over his head.  Also fun was the fact
that Jamas has been infusing the Agent with more personality traits of
the various Doctors from the _Doctor Who_ series, but not the amusingly
eccentric Tom Baker era Doctor.  No, we're talking about the ruthlessness
and (admittedly justified) intellectual arrogance of the Colin Baker and
Sylvester McCoy-era Doctors.  In this episode Agent's showdown rant
pastiche's the Doctor's similar attempt at intimidation in 'Remembrance
Of The Daleks'.
     Ape count: 1

Deja Dude/Master Blaster Special #8 & 9
'Deja Dude and Master Blaster Go Hollywood'  and  'The Vacation'
A Legion of Net.Heroes [LNH] series
by Martin Phipps

     In issue 8 Deja Dude struggles with domestic life that makes him
run late for his movie review appointment with Master Blaster.  Once he
arrives they review 'Planet Of The Apes' and special guest star Gorilla
Grad reviews 'King Kong'.  Hmm.  Yes, now that you mention it, why would
a gorilla fall for a skinny human woman?  It must be like the notion of
aliens lusting after human women in B-grade science fiction films: more
of a coded projection of human insecurities about their social, political
and sexual relationships with 'outsiders' than of a plausible storyline.
     In issue 9 Deja Dude struggles with more domestic life as he and
his wife visit the mother in law, and fall afoul of the finer points of
slaughtering livestock for food.  Meanwhile Master Blaster makes it back
in time from his one-shot with Herman for himself and Sister-State-The-
Obvious review the Top Ten Good Movies Made Better By Nudity.
     Ape count: 2 - albeit the latter only tenuously

The Goddess And The Bomb #1-2
'The Best Laid Plans'  and  'Payback'
A Miscellaneous [Misc] series
by Rick Hindle

     Athena and Clusterbomb are two long time superheroes in Pinnacle
City who observe the hype surrounding the arrival and exploits of the
latest superhero, the Great One, with varying shades of weary cynicism.
Then Athena stumbles upon the fact the attacks by giant robots (one of
which is a giant robot ape) and their subsequent defeats by the Great
One have all been staged, and with help sets about proving it, ruining
the Great One's reputation.  This in turn sets the scene for the second
issue, where an embittered Great One makes a deal with a mysterious lady
(and probable crime lord or crime lord's aid de camp) Aspen Carthage.  A
group of ninjas (probably the Laughing Hand mercenaries, most recently
working for The Trojan, who I will make a guess is the otherwise nameless
gentlemen with Aspen in the final scene) attack Athena and Clusterbomb
at Clusterbomb's apartment, and later the Great One attacks and kidnaps
Athena and prepares to torture her in revenge.
     Okay then.  I'm not going to complain about how Rick has started
*another* series without getting more than an issue of the others posted,
because I suffer from 'fractured hypercreativity' (being visited by more
story ideas that I have the speed or motivation to deal wi... Ooo, a
shiny plot idea...) and it would be hypocrisy on my part to complain
about other peoples' scattershot approach.  I will note that while
_C.O.S.T._ was moderately cryptic in it's setup, this series is more like
_Legends Of The Eternal World_ in its straightforward plotting style.  We
get a feel of how the setting of Pinnacle City works, both through the
naming of other heroes and the citations of past history.  We also get
characterisation for the lead characters, most especially for the
contrast between Athena and the more earthy Clusterbomb.
     Ape count: 1 - albeit tenuously

Godling #5  [Misc]
'It Came From Afar'
A Miscellaneous [Misc] series
by Jochem Vandersteen

     Godling investigates a UFO flying over New Troy, and thereby meets
Captain Wrakk who has been sent by his home planet of Braxx as their
champion.  Wrakk asserts that Earth will soon be capable of lightspeed
travel and with it's past history of violence it will therefore become a
threat to Braxx, and must therefore be destroyed.  Pfftt.  Considering
that he's been empowered, both personally and with his ship's armaments,
to be capable of destroying entire planets and has used this ability in
the past, I get the feeling that a planet's past history is probably just
a rationale for him destroying it; if he can't find one reason, he'd find
another.  The big question, of course, is that having been trounced
fairly soundly by Wrakk the first time, how will Godling overcome him in
the 12 hours before Wrakk destroys the Earth.
     Ape count: 0

Green Knight #4-5
An Eightfold [8FOLD] series
by Tom Russell

     The fourth issue is mainly a flashback story, showing vignettes
spaced out over a number of decades as Green Knight and the Acro-Bat
encounter and repeatedly face off against their arch foe, the Psychopomp.
The stories contain fewer retro elements as time goes on, which parallels
the loss of child-like wonder of the earlier, Silver Age style adventures.
(And at this point I will repeat the general remark that there's a
difference between child-like and childish.)  This loss of wonder, of
course, has been an important element to this series.  It manifests in
the Green Knight as part of his growing grimness and paranoia, and in
Acro-Bat as he turns from a colourfully clad sidekick to an anonymous
and non-quipping urban vigilante.  I'll admit that I hadn't expected the
revelation that Riana Cradle had figured out that Ray was the Green
Knight, but it fits with the theme of superhero careers turning sour; so
does the revelation that she was having an affair with Martin Rock.
     Issue five starts out as a continuation of the uncomfortable waiting
game, but changes direction when Ray finally tells Anders of his costumed
identity.  Of course Anders is stunned by this, but it turns out that
he's also so emotionally divorced from his father that there's nothing
to follow up after the surprise, and moreover that this is a trait that
he shares with his father.
     Ape count: 2.  Issue 5 only mentions in passing that the Psychopomp
no longer uses gorillas as minions, but to my mind this has a strong
tie-in with the theme of turning away from Silver Age style trappings of
the Green Knight and Acro-Bat's superhero activities.

Just Imagine Saxon Brenton Presents The RACCies... AGAIN! #1-2
A RACCies [RACCies] cascade
by Jesse Willey ; and Tom Russell

     Okay, technically it should be a [RACCies/LNH] cascade, just like
last year.
     In issue 1 Retcon Lad is contacted by Pointless Awards Man IV: The
Voyage Home, who claims to be form the future and hints mysteriously
about how 'it's time' for this follow-up story to last year's 'Just
Imagine...'  In issue 2 the Weevil Mastermind is plotting semi-
ineffectually, seemingly for no reason other than to further the
cascade.  Then a (or perhaps even The) Shadowy Figure turns up and
squashes him, on the grounds that he must stop the cascade from reaching
issue 12 lest disaster strike.  Well, good luck, Shadowy Figure, but I
don't like your chances; cascade storylines aren't so much stopped as
peter out through apathy.  Oh yes, and did everybody notice that the
perennial bane of cascades - time travel subplots - was introduced right
from the start.
     Ape count: 1

Limp-Asparagus Lad #56  [LNH]
'Decimation' part 1
A Legion of Net.Heroes [LNH] series
by Saxon Brenton

     As I've mentioned from time to time, I don't see much point in
reviewing my own stuff since I already know what the plot is and hardly
need to force myself to comprehend it.  In this case I'll include LAL56
because it's part of the ape count.
     So, uhm.  A bunch of cultists committed to devolution and armed with
ray guns that devolve humans into australopithecines go on the rampage
in Net.ropolis, although the people who are mutants simply devolve into
non-powered humans.  The mutant net.heroes have to put a stop to the
mayhem, which is only complicated when a bunch of cultists committed to
creationism turn up in response.  Partly this is a parody of the current
'Decimation' event happening over in Marvel comics, where the Scarlet
Witch has gone insane due to the loss of her children and transformed
the world, twice.  Currently almost all of Marvel's mutants have been
stripped of their powers (although luckily for them they still have
Squirrel Girl to protect them if Dr Doom or Thanos turns up, or if the
Living Tribunal goes on a rampage, or something).  Partly it's a way to
play around with the rather contrived situation that they've stumbled
into where the public gets hysterical about mutants but not non-mutants
superhumans.  Partly it's an excuse to do a homage of the Devolutionaries
from Scott McCloud's _Zot_ comic, whom I always liked.  There should be
no surprises that next issue will involve for-the-most-part depowered
net.heroes regrouping to deal the warring factions of devos and creatos
while also trying to keep from slipping on the bananas.
     Ape count: 1

Master Blaster Special: Frickin' Lame  [LNH]
A Legion of Net.Heroes [LNH] one-shot
by Tom Russell

     So, a bonobo walks into a bar...
     His name is Herman, and he explains to Master Blaster that he's
lost his ability to engage in the stereotypical bonobo activity of
promiscuous sex.  Master Blaster is appalled by the very thought of
this, and thereafter makes various attempts to get Herman's male potency
back.  The story is labelled as both Acraphobe and as dealing with an
adult subject in a totally juvenile manner.  You should pay attention to
this warning.  The story is hilarious, but it ain't kid safe.
     Ape count: 1

This Shining Sea II
by George Phillies
A Miscellaneous [Misc] series

     Technically speaking this is a partial repeat of a novel, but since
it's a rewrite and the original was posted back in 1999 when I was barely
paying attention to the LNH's material, I'll use my discretion to throw in
a quick babble about it here.
     A group of powerful, opinionated and arguably quite dangerous
superpowered children are thrust from their own four colour comic book
universe and into an Earth without superhumans. Their reactions are
credible both as squabbling pre-teens and as superhumans who are used to
a world that works in a particular way.  At the close of the episode
they're about to rescue what they think is a stranded space plane, and
you can see the potential for catastrophe-causing misunderstanding which
has been crystallising from about a third of the way through.
     Ape count: not applicable

Time Capsules #8
'Memoirs Of A Kong'
by Dave Van Domelen
An Academy Of Super Heroes [ASH] series

     Features an archival talk show interview from 2035.  The guest is
an intelligent, cybernetically enhanced gorilla who had been uplifted
by the Technomancers of Kadam, who's spruiking the release of his
autobiographical movie.
     Ape count: 1

Web Of Mainstream Man #1
'A Hero Needs A Weakness'
A Legion of Net.Heroes [LNH] miniseries(?)
by Tom Russell

     A nefarious villain has planted an indie comic in Maintsream Man's
comic book order, nearly incapacitating the Hero Who Only Reads
Mainstream Comics.  This prompts him and a group of his fellow net.heroes
to visit the comic books store and the source of sabotage.
     Phrased that way the story sounds rather sparse, doesn't it?  Well,
yes, but that's because the mystery-based plot is mostly used as the basis
for character interaction.  And because this is the Legion of Net.Heroes,
that means a lot of obsessive-compulsive loonies in costume talking past
each other with witty dialogue.  Uhm, except for Pocket Man, who
traditionally gets to play the straight man.  (Hmm, you know, when you
put it that way, I think my characters in _Limp-Asparagus Lad_ might all
be suffering badly from sanity and reasonableness...)
     Oh yeah, and WikiBoy gets Editted again, much to his discontent.
     Aqe count: 0

Writers Block Woman (and Mouse) Apes Month Special
'King Kong Revisited'
A Legion of Net.Heroes [LNH] series
by Jessica Ihimaera-Smiler

     Writers Block Woman and a giant Dutch speaking gorilla named Espen
decide to recreate the final scene of _King Kong_ as an Apes Month
project, but unfortunately neither of them actually knows how the movie
ends.  It seems that Mouse remembers her mother's reaction to the ending
of _Bambi_ and kept sabotaging the power to keep her mother ignorant of
how King Kong met his fate and thereby avoid a similar fit of histrionics.
Cue standard sitcom plot as Mouse has to deal with the consequences of
her well-intentioned attempt to keep things under control as they spiral
out of control.
     Actually, thinking about it, that seems like rather strange
behaviour for Mouse.  She's been baby-sitt^H^H^H^H partnering her mother
for years, knows by now that there's almost no way that she can long
postpone the inevitable complications, and usually just tries to deal
with things (either by herself or by having a designated representative
on hand).  Still, Writer's Block Woman ability to set off disaster with both
innocence and enthusiasm was spot on.
     Ape count: 1

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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