[LNH/ACRA] Onion Lad #8

Tom Russell milos_parker at yahoo.com
Wed Jun 7 08:50:11 PDT 2006


I was asked recently about the variations in length in my comments; it
seems, for example, that some stories inspire pages of analysis, while
others a few measly paragraphs.  I want to assure everyone that this
has nothing to do with the writer who I'm reviewing, or even the
quality of the story; it has everything to do with how lazy I'm feeling
at any given moment, and with how many useful comments I can make,
whether they are of utility to the reader or the writer (or both): and
so, I suppose, quality does come into play, because if there is no
thematic meat or linguistic/stylistic/structural jumping-jacks for me
to point out to the reader, or if the writer's style is technically
flawless and effective (even if they lack certain personal quirks that
I can, then, comment on and point out to the reader), then there's
really nothing for me to go on about.

This is actually the case here.  Usually, Mr. Willey's writing inspires
quite lengthy reviews, often because of certain tics or (from my point
of view) deficiancies which are not in evidence in this particular
story.  Willey scores two points right at the start of the first
quarter with a handy-dandy and efficient summary of the last issue, a
rare occurence in his body of work.

> Previously:  Former teen sidekick Weiner Boy came to the LNH for help
> after he was attack by Doctor I-Can't-Believe-It's-Not-Butter.
> Unfortunately, he found Onion Lad.   Now the usual gang of idiots have
> been drawn into a case involving sex, the mob,  a fallen super hero and
> Doctor I-Can't-Believe-It's-Not-Butter.

The plot, such as it is, involves our heroes looking for Hot Dog Man
(the aforementioned fallen superhero)/ gathering evidence of his guilt.
 Hot Dog Man, in turn, is beaten by Dr. I-Can't-Believe, who is a part
of the Killfile family and thus serves as this issues tentative link to
Willey's One Man Crossover, KILLFILE WARS.  Along the way, Willey
satarizes homophobia-- obstentiably part of Hot Dog Man's motive-- and
that makes his use of Frat Boy (much as I disdain the retconned-in
relationship with Weiner Boy) a wise choice.

There is a theme hinted at, and it is a theme that's a welcome sight in
Willey's work--

> 	"Oh God!   Oh God!  I'm sorry... can you ever forgive me!" Hot
> Dog Man asked.
> 	"No."
> 	"What?"
> 	"You killed people!" Weiner Boy said.
> 	"But... but... I see I was wrong now..."
> 	"They're still dead.   It's not for me to decide which criminals
> go free.  No one person should do that.   I learned that from you,"
> Weiner Boy said.

-- but it isn't really developed to my satisfaction; it's a fine
thematic statement, but such statements only work if the story is, in
some way, _about_ them.  And, for me, this story wasn't really about
anything, other than then the jokes; this passage, and Hot Dog Man's
earlier monologue, feel like they're trying to shoe-horn a theme into
what is, and should remain, a bauble.

Though, looking at Willey's work as a whole, and KILLFILE WARS in
particular, this theme isn't new; my major problem with his aesthetic
is that he marries this theme (no one is above the law, no one, not
even a hero, should ever kill) to asinine deconstructionism by
presenting the heroes as killers, thus rendering them the villains of
the piece and having no one worthy of our sympathy or, I'd argue, even
our interest.  It's fine to equate killers with villains, and I have
nothing against presenting fallen or murderous superheroes per se; at
the same time, without some sense of balance-- without an actual
honest-to-goodness hero, flawed or otherwise-- the moral angle is
replaced by a cynical and dubious one.

What made this story enjoyable, for me, is that for once he presents at
least a token gesture towards that balance.


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