LNH/META: The Integrity Quest Companion
milos_parker at yahoo.com
Sat May 20 00:59:16 PDT 2006
THE INTEGRITY QUEST COMPANION
a summary of the plot and an
examination of the characters
and themes of INTEGRITY QUEST
(written by Douglas P. Wojtowicz,
Stephane Savoie & Hubert Bartels)
working from the November 1993 text
(with spelling errors corrected)
FULLY COMPANIONATED BY TOM RUSSELL
Integrity Quest Preludes
PQ1: In the Beginning...
Douglas P. Wojtowicz, aka LOST CAUSE BOY, comes to
the Looniverse, accidentally murdering CANNON FODDER,
crushing him to death with his run of Byrne's
:"I knew I should have thrown in my Mosaic[*]
collection first," he said.:
[*] GREEN LANTERN: MOSAIC was a well-regarded
high-concept series published by DC Comics in the
early nineties, running for eighteen issues. Several
different cities from several different planets were
hijacked and brought to Oa. John Stewart found
himself appointed with the task of keeping peace
amongst the races.
PQ2: Roots Are Set
Lost Cause Boy wanders about LNHHQ until he comes
to a monument erected for the WRITER-WITH-INTEGRITY:
:He was a juggernaut in the name of lost comics, as
unstoppable as his favourite characters and storylines
were stoppable. Only his faith kept him going,
despite the fact that he now looked like Daffy Duck
after Elmer loosed both barrels on him.[*]
He passed by the monument of Writer-with-Integrity
and blanched, throwing down his collection.
"NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!! NOT YOU! YOU CANNOT BE
[*] Wojtowicz often uses cartoon characters as
metaphors; for example, in Prelude # 8, Typo Lad's
reaction to a photograph of Panta is described as a
wild-take worthy of Ren Hoek, one half of the manic
animated duo Ren & Stimpy.
PQ3: Anarky Develops
KID ANARKY enters the Looniverse:
:It started as a line.
This line defied all description. Well, not
totally. It was kind-of a scribble, actually, not
perfectly straight, but close enough. Its simple
existence was purely incomprehensible by everyone
seeing it, if anyone had seen it. It defied all
explanation. OK, maybe not defied, but strongly
argued with it.
Anyway, soon after the writer's idiotic babblings,
this line grew, becoming a stick figure, with details
inexplicably appearing from nowhere, giving it
features. Soon, a somber figure was visible, but
Anarky notes that the world around him seems
somehow simpler and happens upon Lost Cause Boy, prone
at the memorial for the Writer with Integrity.
:[Lost Cause Boy], apparantly worshipping this
rather plain looking monument, looked up in surprise.
"Oh, sorry about that. I'm Lost Cause Boy!!!"
Instantly, [he] was standing, striking a majestic
"Good for you. I'm Kid Anarky.:
Anarky, looking to simplify his life, grabs some of
Lost Cause Boy's comics; unfortunately, they are
Morrison Doom Patrols.[*]
[*] Grant Morrison wrote Doom Patrol for DC Comics
from # 19-63. The series was often surreal; its
strange villains and parodies won it a cult following.
PQ4: A Waif at the LNH Door
PANTA sits on the steps to LNHHQ, bemoaning her
:"I'm Panta," she sniffed. "That's without a (tm),
you know. And I want to be on a superhero team. A
real superhero team with (tm)'s and character
merchandising and..." She burst into another crying
jag. "And trading cards," she wailed.:
She tells a "Legioner" that, like many mutants,
she's not sure where she came from. Driven by her
ambition, she began modeling for black-and-white furry
comics. When more mainstream opportunities presented
themselves, she abandoned the furry market. She was
rejected both by DC (for the New Titans spot filled by
Pantha) and Marvel (LEFIELD X-Force):
:["] That was really weird. Really weird. All
these big guys with tiny heads carrying huge hunks of
metal twisted to look like guns. Lefield never even
called me in. The job went to this girl with this
really stupid hairdo. Feral(tm). Now she's pulling
in the merchandising dollars and I'm doing casting
calls for Japanese manga."
The Legioner studied her for a moment before
asking. "So, what do you do anyway?"
"First, the way I look, the fanboys love it when
I'm on the cover. I perch on tables and make catty
remarks. And when it comes to fights, I jump on
someone and cut them up with my claws. I provide
tension in any superhero team because no one ever
understands what I'm doing on the team anyway. In
team practice, I do more damage to the team than the
"I don't understand it." Panta stood up slowly and
stretched, showing the fanboy crowd every line in her
sexy body, the shape of the tight spandex across her
firm breasts, the high cut of the bodysuit at her
thighs. "Why doesn't anyone want me?":
Lost Cause Boy frees Kid Anarky from the Morrison
Doom Patrols, and the accompanying threat of
SANDMANITIS, by using humour:
:"For Uncanny X-Men 300, the team suddenly is split
asunder by the awesome power of breast cancer. Yes,
every single X-female has to have a double mastectomy,
the price paid awfully for ignoring their huge
swelling bosoms as nothing other than Jim Lee's breast
obsession. Shattered, without a reason to assemble as
X-Men anymore, the female contingent takes off to
battle sexist artists everywhere as the X-Tits.":
Lost Cause Boy suggests that they hang around and
wait for a plot to develop;
:["]After all, there are only so many in-jokes that
can be done without a plot. Now, with a plot,
in-jokes are eternal. Check a Peter David written
comic if you don't believe me."
The statue of Writer-with-Integrity moaned
silently. "Check a Peter David comic if you don't
Lost Cause Boy interprets this as-- wait, wait,
wait. Moaned silently?
Lost Cause Boy interprets this as a sign: he and
Anarky were brought together with the express purpose
of finding out the fate of the Writer-with-Integrity.
He then issues an awesome call to arms (de-capitalized
for quoting purposes):
:"Attention K-Mart shop, er, uh, attention Legion
of Net.Heroes. Any writer heroes who wish to engage
in the search for Writer-with-Integrity report to the
Anarky Develops plot thread.["]:
The scene then shifts, allowing the reader to
discover that the Writer-with-Integrity is the
prisoner of DEFACTO, the Marvellous Editor.
PQ6: Heroes Assembled
Kid Anarky and Lost Cause Boy rescue Panta from a
slovenly fanboy and invite her to join their quest to
get a storyline going. Here it is established that
Lost Cause Boy's costume is a constantly-changing
amalgam of everyone else's.
Both men are extremely attracted to Panta, and here
we have the first reference to an erection:
:Anarky [was] glad that he didn't wear a spandex
costume, as his trousers were starting to grow tight
in the crotch region.:
PQ7: And Then No One Played
Panta is skeptical about the proposal that she join
Anarky and Lost Cause Boy's storyline: for a
storyline, she argues, don't you need a writer?
:"Yes, actually a WRITER is required. In a pinch,
an ARTIST could be used, but you lose the story in
splash pages revealing how well the artist can draw
clenched fists and determined faces.":
An angry anti-mutant mob arrives at LNHHQ (referred
here as the Hall of the Legion of Net.Heroes). Before
our heroes can close the door, the mob rushes in.
PQ8: Ack! Mutant Clichés!
Lost Cause Boy decks himself out in a costume
inspired by Captain America, while Kid Anarky sharpens
a claymore. However,
:"Cripes. It's another one of them damn
red-white-and-blue heroes coming to preach us to
sleep. Kill him before he speaks.":
Lost Cause Boy tries a different tact, appealing to
the mob's baser instincts to try and preserve Panta's
:"Man, if anything, I'd be drooling to get my
photograph taken with her. She's a babe beyond
This tactic also backfires: the mob decides to
spare Panta but to lynch Lost Cause Boy and Kid
Anarky. Anarky tries a more "meta" approach:
:"We are four-colour abstractions of personalities
and representations of abstract concepts of such
things as truth and justice and all that other crap.
Just as you are the opposite of said," explained Kid
Anarky, leaning his Claymore on the ground.
"Yes. In fact, you're less than abstractions.
You're merely stereotypes. As such, you have no basis
in even Net.world, being creatures of less than ideas.
You simply do not exist.":
As the mob argues about their existence, Panta
brings up the issue of needing a writer for a
storyline. Lost Cause Boy explains that the search
for a writer is their storyline: they are searching
for the Writer-with-Integrity, who is "a captive
victim of some evil, demonic force..."
Anarky asks how Lost Cause Boy figured that out,
and Lost Cause Boy explains that he checked the notes
in-between issues. He also explains that there is
another hero required to rescue Writer-with-Integrity:
the previously-thought-deceased TYPO LAD.
The story flashes back to reveal how Typo Lad's
power worked to resurrect himself.
:Typo Lad is dead while Youngblood lives.
Typo Lad if wed whines Huns would wiz.
Typo Lad in bed wakes to buns and cheese.:
Typo Lad picks up a newspaper which proclaims Lost
Cause Boy's quest and features a photo of Panta; it is
the photo that prompts his decision to help rescue the
The first issue of INTEGRITY QUEST is written
(largely) in script-format*, and consists mostly of a
debate about the events of the last prelude episode:
by breaking the fourth wall to see that the
Writer-with-Integrity does indeed exist and is need of
assistance, it derails the mystery plot; also, Kid
Anarky is a little perturbed about his
:Kid Anarky, looking in confusion at the claymore
he seems to have acquired from nowhere: "Err, yeah?
Does anyone know WHY I'm holding a claymore? I've
never used a bladed weapon [in all] my life; at least,
not this version", KA tosses the sword aside, which
immediately impales an LNH member.
KA: "Holy S**t! This [is] terrible! I've killed
someone! I'm a murderer, no better than all those
It turns out, of course, that it was only Cannon
Fodder. Lost Cause Boy adds that "people seem to be
experiencing difficulty characterizing you" and
wonders what exactly he does. Kid Anarky attempts to
display his powers, but finds that they have been
drastically reduced: the most he can come up with is a
In two places in this issue, Savoie satirizes
Wojtowicz/Lost Cause Boy's tendency to hog the
:Lost Cause Boy: "... I just felt a need to show
off my incredible reality-warping powers, but we seem
to have lost any kind of story we had.["]...
LCB: "Er, excuse me, but I'm being
under-characterized this issue! I demand to get to
use my power at least once!"
KA: "Shut-up! You hogged the show last episode! I
mean "Lost Cause Boy seeks Writer-with-Integrity!" or
somesuch in a newspaper! Geeze!":
Through out this episode, like those previous,
various legionnaires indulge in the sport of
Panta-watching. Savoie, like Bartels, carefully
skirts the line of good-taste when describing the
slack-jawed lust that the cat-girl inspires;
Wojtowicz, on the other hand, is more, well,
slack-jawed about it.
[*]- This is only Savoie's second installment of
the story, and like his first, shows a certain degree
of formal playfulness.
Panta tries to cheer up the despondent,
power-reduced Kid Anarky by kissing his nose and ear;
though these intimate face-lickings provoke the envy
and jealousy of some Panta-watching legionnaires, they
cause Kid Anarky considerable discomfort (after all,
she is a cat and cats have scratchy tongues).
Bartels constantly reminds us of how sexy Panta is:
:Panta thought about this for a moment, and then
hugged herself, pushing up her firm breasts.:
when "Panta thought about this for a moment" would
certainly suffice. But he also finds ways to undercut
the aura of sexiness that surrounds his cat-girl; Kid
Anarky not enjoying her kisses, for example, is an
overtly funny way in which he does this. Or, when she
:His eyes dropped lower to where her skin tight
bodysuit sagged across her breasts, revealing...
masses of white body fur. He sighed[.]:
This addition to the Anarky-Panta dynamic is a
welcome one, but it also is indicative of Anarky's
role in the story: that of the straight man. This is
developed further when Bartels continues Savoie's
satire of Lost Cause Boy, making him somewhat pompous,
self-serving, and vulgar. Here, he sidles up to a
:Lost Cause Boy resumed a dramatic stance and tone
of voice. His costume glowed in red, white, and blue.
"You may tell your readers that the forces of good
will prevail as they undertake the daring rescue of
that most misused man, the Writer-with-Integrity. I,
at no little risk, will be assembling the most
powerful superhero team ever for this difficult
Lost Cause Boy tells Anarky and Panta that he hopes
this news report will flush out the enemy, forcing
them to play their hand. What's really interesting
about this is that Lost Cause Boy is not acting in the
capacity of "the guy who reads
better-and-doomed-to-be-cancelled superhero comics";
the characterization is mutating and becoming more
With Lost Cause Boy as the pompous ass and Panta as
the sexy cat-girl, it's up to Kid Anarky, then, to be
a more realistic and subtle character, harder to pin
down. His ambivalent attitude towards Panta is
indicative of this.
At the end of the chapter, Panta remarks that she
thought she saw someone in the crowd that she had seen
before; someone who fit Kid Anarky's description of an
IQ3: Why I Hate Being a Mutant
A portly man approaches our heroes and asks who
Panta belongs to; since she is a cat, she is required
by law to wear a collar and bell. When the man
threatens to take her to the pound, Panta's first
instinct is to rip the man to shreds. Kid Anarky
intervenes, bribing the man to let the violation pass.
Panta is collared and belled.
The man leaves in a van that has the look of a
Chester Gould-Dick Tracy drawing. This, plus Lost
Cause Boy's assumption of a golden age guise, prompts
Kid Anarky to wonder why everything is taking on a
Golden Age appearance. This is not the only
:"How much did you give him, Anarky?" LCB inquired
[referring to the bribe].
"Ummm, I'm not sure. I don't have any money on
me," he explained, inverting the pockets on his coat
"It just kinda seemed appropriate and... well,
there it was. Seems kinda strange to me..."
Lost Cause Boy suspects that the man was an agent
of their enemy, which is his implied reason for his
passive stance during the conflict with the man from
the city: there is more to this than it seems at first
glance. However, one cannot help but note how the
reactions of the others-- Panta's instinct towards
violence, Anarky taking direct and subconscious action
to solve the problem-- throws his own passive stance
into sharp relief. When told of the man's intention
to put Panta in the pound, Lost Cause Boy's reaction
is a simpering "there must be some mistake!"
Here, as before, Lost Cause Boy's status as nominal
leader of the group is undermined by his actions and
Four official issues and three prequels later, and
our heroes are still sitting on the steps of LNHHQ,
wondering what the hell to do. It is now that Typo
Lad appears, offering his assistance.
Lost Cause Boy weirdly proclaims that he needs help
from no man, a strange stance considering he has
called for heroes to come to their aid twice (and
because he requested the help of Typo Lad specifically
in the last prequel issue). Panta is a bit more wise
and is quick to accept Typo Lad's help, especially if
it means that the story will start moving, though she
is less than impressed with his powers:
:"i creeayt typos."
"Sounds kinda dull," stated Panta, quickly losing
"O, bhut at izent!" quickly protested Typo Lad,
distraught with the possibility of losing the
interesting of this incredible creature, but it was
Like those who have come before him, Typo Lad is
motivated mostly by his lust for Panta, and in this
episode, the description of her sex appeal is not as
:...crossing her arms, which, in addition to
squeezing her breasts in a _very_ complimentary
manner, caused Typo Lad's eyeballs to oogle out [of]
-- if only because Typo Lad's reaction to it predates
Master Blaster. But Savoie also undercuts the raunch
factor by introducing an unexpected plot development;
namely, Kid Anarky's wife and children:
:"Well, I'm here on the behalf of your wife and
"They're suing you."
"Your wife, Hellen, and your children, Biff and
Christine, are suing for negligence, and lack of angst
over their behalf."
IQ5: Pride and Prejudice
It is a fact universally acknowledged that... oh,
wait. Wrong Pride and Prejudice. Ahem.
Panta, Kid Anarky, and Lost Cause Boy decide that
it might behoove them to actually join the Legion of
Net.Heroes. When they try to head back inside,
however, the butler, Graves, does not allow the
cat-girl to enter. It appears that the LNH has a
strict no-mutants policy.
Lost Cause Boy promises Panta that he'll speak to
the Membership Committee and straighten everything
out; the three male heroes head back inside.
It's at that moment that five remaining members of
the anti-mutant mob approach Panta.
:"Now, with your friends gone, we'll show you the
right way to deal with mutants." He flourished a hemp
rope. "We'll show you the right way to hang one.
IQ6: One Cliché Too Many
Panta whips herself into a Bezerker Fury, and sets
about attacking her would-be attackers, just as the
others have returned with the Membership Committee's
positive verdict. Kid Anarky attempts to jog Panta
out of her Bezerker with a Walt Simonson sound-effect.
Lost Cause Boy chides Kid Anarky for the uselessness
of his powers and tells him to step aside.
Taking "a dominating position in the panel", he
unleashes a number of back issues towards Panta at
dangerously high velocities. Typo Lad, showing
concern for the cat-girl first and the observing crowd
second, uses his powers to convert the back issues
into a fiddler surrounded by kleenex. Panta kills
Cliché Dude appears, slapping Panta across the face
("snap out of it, man!") and convincing her that,
since she was not Wolverine and not a licensed
character, she did not go Bezerk. Once snapped out of
it, she expresses remorse for his actions:
:"Blood. I've spilled blood..." whispered Panta as
she regained her senses.
"D'nt werry abaut at... a'ts jest red inque,"
soothed Typo Lad.:
The heroes had managed to get Panta in by
convincing Graves that she was a net.ahuman and not a
mutant; however, the Bezerker Fury being strictly a
mutant thing, the ruse was now useless.
In other news, Cliché Dude appears to be unable to
say a cliché.
IQ7: Ancient Enemies Clash!!!!
This episode actually takes place between #5 &
LNHHQ is attacked by Peter-Out-Son*, an evil editor
and archenemy of the Legion. Lost Cause Boy's first
attack proves futile, as he launches a run of Captain
Atom and the Hawk & Dove miniseries. "You actually
think I'd be hurt by two series I personally
cancelled?" he taunts. In retaliation, Peter-Out-Son
uses his editing powers to give Lost Cause Boy plot
Lost Cause Boy, reveals to Kid Anarky that he is
immune to plot angst. While Peter-Out-Son is
distracted, Kid Anarky asks Typo Lad to say "sour
tonic"; Typo Lad pronounces it tower comic:
:Peter-Out-Son looked up at the huge, awesome pile
of comics right where Anarky deposited his sour tonic.
His eyes bulged hugely. This was no ordinary tower
of comics. This was a massive tower of Japanese
Manga. A twelve issue subscription for an entire year
to every manga in Japan.:
The tower comes crashing down on Peter-Out-Son.
Lost Cause Boy tries to drill information about the
Writer-with-Integrity's whereabouts, but his opponent
reveals that the Writer-with-Integrity is not one man,
but rather a "colony creature".
Lost Cause Boy asks the Butler to call Dick
Giordano to come and pick up the defeated editor.
It's then that they hear Panta's Bezerker screech of,
"I'm the best there is at what I do!"
[*]-- Peter-Out-Son is a parody of late-eighties
early-nineties DC editor Jonathon Peterson, a man that
fans loved to despise for bad writing and editing
decisions. (Having not read any of his writing
myself, I'm not at liberty to comment on the man.)
Though I could be mistaken, I believe Peterson to
be the same man that now edits ASTRO CITY.
Apropos the accusation that he cancelled HAWK &
DOVE personally, Barbara Kesel, who wrote that series
with her husband Karl, had this to say about him in a
May 2000 interview for SEQUENTIAL TART:
"If you've ever pitied anyone, pity Jonathan
Peterson, the poor person who had to give me the news.
I wasn't pleased, and I wasn't shy about sharing."
At the time, Peterson was "just a lowly assistant
editor" (Jan. 2001 interview with titanstower.com),
and appears to just have been the bearer of the bad
news: the higher-ups had dictated that Captain
Pathetic was Monark. Wait, wrong universe. :-)
IQ8: Bloody Sunday
This episode supplants the events of #6 and follows
on the heels of #7.
Our three heroes rush out to find our heroine
having just disemboweled her would-be lynchers. She
is tearing someone's face off when they get her
attention. She leaps to attack Lost Cause Boy; he
immediately counter-attacks with a run of Suicide
Squad* that knocks her out.
Lost Cause Boy diagnoses Panta as having
:["]A nasty case, a nasty disease... It turns
innocent comic book characters [into] raving loner
psychopathical killer-vigilantes. Today, I think we
got her in time. But unless you intervene early
enough, the disease can never be cured[.] Panta?" He
slapped her lightly on her cheeks. "Panta? Can you
"Panta. You're going to be alright."
Panta's eyelashes fluttered... "I'mm Panttaaa..."
"Panta," Kid Anarky whispered. He was about to
"I'm the best..." she added.
"No. You're just Panta," Lost Cause Boy said
firmly. "You don't need to be the best. Just be
Panta. Just be yourself...":
Here, Lost Cause Boy is presented as being fairly
competent without hogging the spot-light. It's a
surprising maturation of the character, and this time
when he takes charge-- when it really counts, when the
stakes are high and somewhat personal-- he proves
himself an effective leader. His feelings for Panta
are almost paternal; we can't say the same, of course,
for Typo Lad, who eagerly and immediately offers to
clean the blood off of Panta's creamy fur. Lost Cause
Boy absent-mindedly gives his assent before ordering
Kid Anarky to follow and make sure Typo Lad doesn't
take advantage of the now-slumbering and helpless
Left alone, Lost Cause Boy is bothered by the odd
feeling that he's lived these events before, only
differently: Cliché Dude was involved, somehow. Lost
Cause Boy wonders if their enemy has manipulated
continuity, and what enemy would have that much power.
Meanwhile, COMICS SNOB BOY sits on the third-floor
of LNHHQ, in the "clubroom". After Graves gives him
another snifter of cognac, the future traitor gives
his own diagnosis of Panta's situation:
:"Yes, another victim of poor comic nourishment.
This is what you get when you only see cheap faddish
mainstream comics... The only cure is a heavy dosage
of quality, well-written comics... Cerebus, for
example. Sandman, or Miracleman. Bean World... Poor
girl. Friends don't let friends read Youngblood.":
[*]-- Suicide Squad was a series published by DC
Comics in the 1980s and 1990s, featuring supervillains
doing secret missions for the government, akin to "The
Dirty Dozen". It is not to be confused with Suicide
IQ9: Panta's Visitor
In the recap box, Bartels provides us with further
vital information on Wolverine's disease:
:a sickness that turns people into
killer-vigilantes who talk to themselves in
Three short paragraphs contrast Panta's lodgings
with those of Kid Anarky (a maid places "two mints on
his crisp white pillow") and Lost Cause Boy (a Louis
XIV desk is complemented nicely by "richly brocaded*
curtains"). Panta sleeps in the basement ("Mutant
guest quarters") next to the hot water heater, covered
by a "threadworn blanket" and sleeping in half of a
wooden box. Still, the narration tells us, this room
is much more luxurious than what she is used to.
The visitor of the episode's title is "the dread
editor, Defacto!" He refers to Panta as his "little
kitty" and calls her by the name Cassandra, which
confuses her. He warns her of a plot brewing against
the LNH (and that they won't believe her should she
try to tell them) before trying to recruit her:
:"You need merely observe the survivors of the
coming LNH debacle and tell me about them. Who they
are. And what plans, if any, they might conceive
against me. I would find out, eventually, but it's so
nice to be forewarned. Right?" The hand shook her
"Yes, yes, yes," Panta gasped. Her body swayed
back and forth in the hand's grasp.
The dark voice chuckled again. "Now, don't go
spoil the fun and tell the others about this meeting.
It wouldn't be a good idea." Then a flash of white
blinded her. Thunder roared through the room so
loudly that Panta clapped her hands to her ears.
Tears filled her eyes.:
[*]-- One thing you can count on with Hubert
Bartels, it's that you will learn some new words
(like, at least in my case, "brocaded"). He has an
impressive vocabulary; not because he uses big show
off words like honorificabilitudinitatibus, but
because he uses precisely the right word for what he's
trying to get across: in this case, "a heavy fabric
interwoven with a rich, raised design" (American
Heritage, Fourth Edition). Precision is one of the
hallmarks of the Bartels style.
IQ10: The Editor Blues
And so, here it is, the infamous Integrity Quest #
10: The Editor Blues, better known as, The Woody
Scandal. The story is not pornographic by any stretch
of the imagination; it's quite tame compared to some
of the stuff in the MASTER BLASTER SPECIALS. So why
all the fuss?
I think, more than anything, it's a matter of tone.
The fact is, this episode of Integrity Quest is
completely at odds with all previous episodes. All
the work that's been put into the Panta-Lost Cause Boy
relationship-- especially the interesting paternal
angle glimpsed in # 8-- is gleefully thrown out the
window in what amounts to an earnest piece of
Worst of all, in addition to violating the tone,
Wojtowicz also violates one of the sacred rules of
writing a cascade: willfully retconning the previous
episode. When writing a cascade, one should build on
what happened before. It's more respectful of the
other authors, it encourages a certain level of
consistency, and it makes for a better story.
Bartels provides us with a great story-hook: Panta,
a traitor?! What is she going to do? Wojtowicz
cheapens this by revealing that Lost Cause Boy was
present during Defacto's recruitment, that he heard
the whole thing. This violates the story-hook by
possibly taking the decision out of Panta's hands; by
putting it in Lost Cause Boy's hands, it also
re-establishes Lost Cause Boy as the "main" character,
which I think is one of the behind-the-scenes tensions
that informed the way Savoie and Bartels characterized
Lost Cause Boy.
Lost Cause Boy invites Panta upstairs to his room
after Defacto has left. The next morning, they have a
conversation which may or may not be post-coital. He
hopes that Panta will tell him about Defacto, but she
does not. He decides to call in the legendary
Superhero-Bashing-Dude, in hopes that he will
"brow-beat" her into "intelligent action"; the
implication is somewhat insulting towards Panta.
In fact, the entire episode is insulting towards
Panta, and that is a matter of tone:
:Lost Cause Boy rolled over. The dull patter of
rain against his window was too much for him to sleep.
Not with this mystery. Not with his recent battle
with Peter-Out-Son. And not with a gorgeous piece of
meat like Panta in the basement wearing only her fur.
He looked under the covers at his woody.:
'A gorgeous piece of meat'? At least he didn't
refer to her as a piece of tail with a tail. Oh,
wait. Actually, he did, later in this same episode:
:To find Writer-with-Integrity, and to find out for
sure if he really did make time with that piece of
tail with a tail.:
The general consensus is that, a, the people who
made a big deal about it at the time were making too
big a deal out of it, and, b, people today make too
big a deal out of people making too big a deal out of
it at the time. Drizzt has this to say:
:Doug threw in a semi-explicit sex scene in the
middle of what had been a good story with no warning.
I wrote him a heated letter about it, he posted to get
the general feeling of the LNH on it. Basically, most
other people-- wReam being the only exception that
springs to mind-- didn't care. Hubert objected on the
grounds that Panta should be unattainable, the story
was retconned away, and the advisement about [labeling
mature content] was added to the proto-FAQ: Doug and I
made peace, everyone went away happy as far as I know.
Dunno why... certain people have to harp on this
piece of LNH history that was really nothing more than
(I was unable to locate Doug's "general feeling of
the LNH" discussion post on any of the three pre-RACC
newsgroups on google; if anyone knows where I can find
these, I'd very much like to see it.)
Though I understand Hubert's objection, I don't
personally have a problem with Panta being attained;
my problem is the tone of it, which is very offensive
not only to Panta but also to Wojtowicz fellow
authors. It was because of Wojtowicz, I might add,
that the Integrity Questors were forbidden entry into
the Council of Elders.
This might sound like I have a beef with Wojtowicz.
I don't. First of all, it would be churlish to do so
when he left our group over ten years ago: he's not
here to defend himself. Secondly, those he wronged
have forgiven him. Thirdly, I enjoy his work: I think
his early contributions to the Integrity Quest are
some of the funniest parts. I must have read "The
X-Tits" bit about a dozen times. And it still makes
It's funny because he crosses the line; his sense
of humour is deliciously low-brow and transgressive,
very ballsy. The kind of stuff I try to do with my
own MASTER BLASTER SPECIALS. Bartels's humour might
be more sly and satirical, and Savoie's writing may be
more interesting on a character level, but Doug
Wojtowicz is the man to go to for piss-your-pants
funny. He reminds me in some ways of Martin Phipps,
who is at times similarly over-looked for better
All this, however, doesn't excuse Integrity Quest #
10, nor some of the curiously munchkin-esque writing
of his WC.
IQ11: Retcons Galore!
Savoie dallases the events of #10:
:Kid Anarky woke up screaming. Whew! Yup! Here
he was, still in bed.
"What a nightmare!" he pondered. "Geeze! Lost
Cause Boy, and Panta! And a... a 'woody'!["]:
Kid Anarky passes by Lost Cause Boy's room, only to
find that Panta did spend the night with Lost Cause
Boy after all. But:
:"You... you... you and Lost Cause Boy... you guys
"What? No... no! You insensitive moron! No, we
didn't! Is that the first thing that comes to your
mind?! He invited me to his room and we cuddled. Is
that alright by your moral standards, Mr.
Self-Righteous Preacher Wannabe?! WE CUDDLED! At
least someone had the kindness to get me out of those
dreadful Mutant Guest Quarters! Hmmph!":
Strangely enough, Savoie's retcon of Panta's
out-of-character behaviour is similarly
out-of-character: I have a hard time believing Panta
would ever say something that indignant, and she
seemed happy before with her Mutant Guest Quarters.
But I'm doing Savoie (and, I suppose, Wojtowicz) a
injustice, as I'm comparing their characterization to
the Panta We All Know And Love, who was still in the
process of being defined at this time.
Anarky muses on Panta's physical beauty, which
reminds him that he's married, which reminds him that
he's not married. His angst is interrupted as Panta
re-enters the scene. After he apologizes, he asks her
if anything is wrong:
:"Hmm? Oh no! No, not at all. It's not as if,
oh... an editor had visited me during the night and
had manipulated me into his clutches or anything like
that... Definitely not. I'm a bit upset because...
Rebel Yell just died, and the funeral's today. Yeah,
"Oh, good. Gee, do you think going to the funeral
is a good idea? Who knows what could happen?"
"Oh, sure... It's not as if, oh I don't know, as a
result of it, LNHer will be set against LNHer,
resulting in all our deaths except for Cheese-Cake
Eater Lad, and possibly Ultimate Ninja, who'd
doubtlessly fake his death. I mean, what are the
This is a very clever use of Hubert's plotline:
Panta makes an active choice to tell Kid Anarky, only
to have him not believe her-- just as Defacto said.
Thus, the "rules" Bartels set up remain inviolate.
The issue ends with Kid Anarky observing the
butler, Graves, carrying a large Lefieldian gun.
Graves explains that he's after rats in the basement.
Lost Cause Boy also observes Graves, only he hears
something far more sinister: Graves swears that he'll
get Panta, if it's the last thing he does.
[*]--Panta is referring here to the upcoming events
of SEIZE DANGEROUS (wReam), in which the entire LNH
goes to Rebel Yell's funeral, only to be murdered,
only to find out they're not really dead.
IQ12: Who R-Rated LCB?! (Rated PG)
Lost Cause Boy, confused by his and Panta's
out-of-character behaviour in # 10*, consults that
same issue for clues. Kid Anarky enters and asks who
could have written that (and if they could do the same
for him). Their discussion is interrupted by the
sudden appearance of the Ultimate Ninja.**
The Ninja asks Lost Cause Boy and Kid Anarky if
their butler can watch LNHHQ as the rest of the LNH
goes into battle.
:"Our butler? But I thought he was your..." Anarky
began. He froze. "Yeah, sure, we'll let him watch
Before the Ninja leaves, he sternly warns/threatens
the duo about future woody incidents. He forbids Lost
Cause Boy to even say the word Woody, unless he's
referring to an actor from CHEERS or Walter Lance's
After the Ninja makes his exit, our heroes resolve
to go after Graves-- "bugtown style".****
A lot of notes this time:
[*]-- I'd like to think that Wojtowicz is being
ironic when he says that in # 10, "Lost Cause Boy's
honest and truly affectionate feelings for Panta
suddenly got nearly perverted into a low grade
sex-farce." Because I hardly think that "gorgeous
piece of meat" can ever qualify as an expression of
honest and truly affectionate feelings.
[**]-- Recall that Drizzt told us that the only
other LNHer who had a problem with # 10 was wReam--
whose writer character is, of course, the Ultimate
[***]-- Wojtowicz's third cartoon character
reference by my count.
[****]-- Bugtown is the creation of comics creator
Matt Howarth, a "blighted cityscape with no government
or laws. Violence is constant...
"Bugtown exists in its own dimension of reality and
has several unique properties... any building which is
destroyed, or any person who is killed in the city is
spontaneously restored, albeit often changed by the
circumstances of their destruction. The constant
death and destruction in the city are in fact
necessary, because without the energy being diverted
into the resulting resurrections, the city would
explode." (Proportionate strength of Wikipedia, I love
Bugtown had its own newsgroup, alt.fan.bugtown,
which was overrun with Spam in the mid-nineties. The
last on-topic post I found was a link to some of
Haworth's websites from May of 2000; the Spam,
however, has slowed down to a trickle. In all of
2001, for example, there was only one post. (I
personally found the 1996 resume of Mr. Jeffrey Earl
Walker to be amusing, not only because he cross-posted
his name, address, and telephone number on many USENET
newsgroups, but also because he did it all in caps. I
don't think that's the best way to make a favorable
impression on a prospective employer.)
IQ12B: I. Q. Gets Bloody!
This episode is numbered 12, but is actually the
Panta escapes from Graves just before the cavalry
arrives in the form of Lost Cause Boy and Kid Anarky,
both brandishing more realistically-drawn weapons than
Graves, the result of Lost Cause Boy's previously
unrevealed powers to summon anything he's read in a
comic book; he is also channeling Matt Howarth's
psychotic character John Post.
So, in addition to the chameleon costume, back
issues that can be used as weapons, and having
powerful friends that let him break the fourth wall,
Lost Cause Boy is also capable of doing, well,
anything. Note that none of these powers (except,
perhaps only tenuously, the back-issues-as-weapons)
nor his personality have anything to do with his name.
The character evolved in the hands of three
separate authors, the more unflattering (and
interesting) parts of his personality arising at times
in reaction to the power-boosting/spotlight-hogging
antics of his creator. In many cases, it really feels
like Wojtowicz's chapters are written as if this is
Lost Cause Boy's story. This vibe may come from the
way he characterizes LCB; if one looks at the stories
carefully, one will see that he is fairly generous
with letting the other characters save the day: it is
Kid Anarky, after all, who convinces the anti-mutant
mob that they don't exist. And it is really Anarky
and Panta who carry the fight in this issue with
Graves: Anarky blows off the faux butler's foot, while
Panta lobs off his ear. Of course, at the same time,
it was hardly a fair fight; Graves was outnumbered
three-to-one and his weapon was vastly inferior:
:Anarky's lips curled up. "Awwww, come on.
Everyone except a Marvel mutant knows Cable's weapons
are not only shitty looking, but impossible! I mean,
there's not even a pistol grip on that thing. And
where are the sights?":
Lost Cause Boy threatens Graves with Michael Bolton
in liquid form if he doesn't start talking.
Understandably, Graves talks:
:"Who messed with my little intimate encounter with
Panta last night? And just what the hell did happen?"
"It was Harrass. He wanted to get rid of you guys
by bringing you up on charges of sexual harassment!
The whole Panta wanting to be a spy thing was a red
herring! Honest! Honest!":
What's really interesting about this is that
Wojtowicz is using a negative thing (the Woody
scandal) in a positive way: as a springboard from
which to further the plot. Rather than ignore the
events of #10, he instead uses them to great comedic
Lost Cause Boy hints at having editor-abilities
himself before handing Graves over to John
Kricfalusi*, who redraws him into a walrus. Lost
Cause Boy resolves to have Roy Thomas erase their
memories of the Woody Scandal.
:Kid Anarky looked at LCB. "Isn't it a risk
having Roy Thomas work on our memories?"
"It's a safer bet than having Marv Wolfman touch
us. Come on, before Defacto finds out[.]":
Defacto, however, is all-knowing; he summons
Supreme's[**] cousin, ROCHESTER, and sends him after
our heroes. Wojtowicz comments here about Rob
Liefeld's tendency to give Aryan-looking characters
cool black names, such as Shaft, Supreme, and now,
[*]-- Kricfalusi, famous at the time of IQ as the
creator of REN & STIMPY. Cartoon reference # 4.
[**]-- Supreme was a vague Superman clone created
by Rob Liefeld. Alan Moore wrote a well-regarded
meta-story with the character.
IQ13: IQ Bludgeons on... with Rochester!
This episode takes place after the aforementioned
events of Seize Dangerous.
Rochester approaches our trio as they exit the
Peril Room. Panta distrusts him, smelling Defacto and
Liefeld all over the extremely-muscular man. She
volunteers to rip his heart out and "drink the pulsing
blood". Lost Cause Boy disagrees:
:["]I say we let him join us."
"Why?" Panta, Anarky, and Rochester asked in
"He's a Liefeld character, and as such, a lost
"Yeah, but why should _we_ let him join us?"
queried Kid Anarky.
"Well, it'll keep the story moving.":
Just as our trio has become a quartet, an alarm
:"It looks like... yes. Spitt's[*] charging
towards Metropolis! And we have Yakblood[**]
destroying the Crossroads[***]. We're going to have
to split up." LCB looked to Rochester. "You'll have
to take Spitt."
Rochester swelled his muscles. "Of course. For I
am... Rochester, Supreme's older brother."[****]
Anarky pulled LCB closer. "Doesn't Spitt look a
lot like Doomsday?"
"That's why you're helping him out, Boy Genius,"
"Awww, great. Give me all the fun stuff[.]":
This particular episode is marked by a lot of
fourth-wall humour; reference notes and parenthetical
statements are treated as if they have physical
substance. Kid Anarky complains about having to move
them, and even skins his shin on one; Wojtowicz twice
apologizes, prompting Anarky to warn that Savoie might
"drop a few footnotes" on Lost Cause Boy in
The Woody Scandal is brought up again, and when Kid
Anarky mutters the accursed word, Lost Cause Boy
chases him with a rolled-up newspaper.
Our heroes head to the net.tubes that will take
them to their respective missions. This makes
INTEGRITY QUEST # 13 a landmark in the whole of the
series: after twenty-two episodes all-together, they
finally leave the &%$#@in' headquarters! :-)
[*]-- If I'm not mistaken, Spitt is a parody of
Dale Keown's Hulk clone, Pitt.
[**]-- Yakblood is a parody of Youngblood, one of
Liefeld's creator-owned titles.
[***]-- The Crossroads Universe. I'll let Russ
Allbery's text from
http://www.eyrie.org/crossroads/intro.html speak for
itself, as it's a difficult concept to summarize and
do justice to simultaneously:
:Every story creates a universe... every story is a
window into another world where people live and die...
We rarely see more than glimpses of those worlds,
little bits and pieces in scattered works of fiction,
but they are no less real because of it.
From time to time, in one of the infinite
universes, someone won't be content with those
scattered glimpses. They will taste the reality
behind the story... and go in search of it. Most will
fail. But a few will find the right road, will go
straight where others turn, and find the connections
between the worlds.
A few will find Crossroads.:
The Crossroads setting has been defunct for several
years; it is a closed universe.
[****]-- Note that Rochester was Supreme's cousin
in # 12/13 and is now his brother.
IQ14: The Enemy Always Strikes First
Panta and Kid Anarky are dispatched to defeat Spitt
(contrary to Lost Cause Boy's plan to send Anarky with
Rochester; maybe Hubert wanted to keep LCB away from
Panta?). They find themselves in a black-and-white
indie comic universe; Panta uses zip-tone to the best
aesthetic effect for the both of them.
A huge mechanical tank-like structure, easily ten
stories tall, resembling "the Death Star on
caterpillar tracks", bears down on a defenseless town,
crushing houses. The tank (which we learn in the next
episode is called the MachineThing) is full of Marvel
Fanboys, who rush out of the tank, spraying survivors
with four-colour ink and dragging them inside the
tank. Our heroes bid a hasty retreat.
The Fanboys corner our hapless duo in an alleyway.
Panta tries to summon another Bezerker Fury, but
cannot: this isn't a superhero universe. Anarky tries
to use a plot device given to him by Lost Cause Boy,
but is unable to; his ill-defined and undependable
powers only result in covering every surface with
"day-glow sixties flower-decals".
The Fanboys fire a Cable-esque gun at our heroes,
rendering them four-coloured and unconscious.
IQ15: In the Embrace of Madness
Kid Anarky awakens, mistaking Panta for a teddy
bear and inadvertently groping her rump.
:He screamed and jumped across the tiny cell.
Suppose someone had seen them? They almost killed
Lost Cause Boy for much less. He sweated, his mind
full of hanging mobs, the 'W' word, and rolled up
newspapers, full of horrid angst.:
After realizing that this entire universe,
identified here as Kitchen Sink, has been
"Marvelized", our heroes are brought before their
dread captor, Defacto. He explains his plan to remake
all the universes into ones like his own; then he's
going to "run an Infinite Crisis* on all of them and
collapse them into one", one he can rule forever.
He has Panta and Kid Anarky put to work inserting
Spider-Man 2999 trading cards into comic books for
shipping. It's then that Anarky hatches his ingenious
plot to divide and conquer, pitting Defacto's army of
Fanboy minions against one another: destroy the
majority of the trading cards, causing the Fanboys to
fight over those that remain.
[*]-- Obviously, the title INFINITE CRISIS for DC's
recent miniseries event was stolen from Hubert Bartels
and Integrity Quest.
IQ16: The Big Dumb Fight to End All Big Dumb Fights
Spitt attacks Net.ropolis, and battle is enjoined
with Lost Cause Boy and Rochester. Lost Cause Boy
buys fifty-five pounds of peanut butter and uses it to
prevent Spitt from hawking his deadly loogies. Lost
Cause Boy then uploads the villain to alt.fan.bugtown
and swears to take care of Yakblood.
In the text, Wojtowicz takes a dig at Bartels for
hijacking/altering/postponing his battle-with-Spitt
:Rochester snarled. "And I wanted to go fight
"Yeah, yeah, yeah. Just chill out..."
Suddenly, the sound of crashing stone and metal
filled the air. Both heroes whirled, seeing a large
portion of Net.tropolis [sic] crashing to the ground
like in that one Max Fleischer Bongo Cartoon where the
end of the world switch is thrown.[*]:
--right before Spitt attacks our heroes.
The original subject line for this installment was
"Integrity Quest in kind of meandering at this
moment", and perhaps this was Wojtowicz's attempt to
get things back on track; what's ironic about this is
that that's exactly what Bartles was doing by putting
Kid Anarky and Panta in Defacto's clutches, thus
bringing them closer to the Writer-with-Integrity.
Again, not to bash, but as the series enters the
home stretch of the last twenty-plus pages, Wojtowicz
is trying more and more to force his vision onto the
[*]-- Wojtowicz cartoon reference # 5, and easily
the most obscure of them all.
Savoie picks up on Bartels's plot from 15. Panta
inquires just how they're going to dispose of the
extra cards. But:
:"Shhh. I can't say out loud while the audience is
here," replied Kid Anarky.
"Oh. Why not?!" insisted Panta...
"Because. When the audience knows the plan, it
never works. Didn't you ever watch Scooby-Doo?"*
"Oh. Well, how're we gonna do it if they keep
hanging around?" exclaimed Panta, pointing out of the
panel at the reader.
"Simple. I threaten to let the readers know what
a wimp the writer is by telling them how he
"Boy, that took quite a while. Do you think it was
worth it?" asked Panta, a look of exhaustion on her
"It will be if it works. All we can do now is
The plan-- which involved packaging the extra
trading cards in with a freebie newsletter (thus
rendering them worthless on the collector's market)--
works. Hearing that Panta and Kid Anarky have escaped
in the ensuing chaos, Defacto decides to implement
Panta and Kid Anarky, creeping around Defacto's
MachineThing, comment on the fact that Savoie is
making the story up as he goes along. Kid Anarky
suggests reading the script for this episode, but
before they can do so, they find themselves
face-to-face with Defacto's henchperson,
THUNDER-BLOT.[**] Thunder-Blot wields a large
electricity-bolt-spewing fountain pen and is dressed
in "what almost, but not completely, failed to look
anything like what a norse god would look like".
[*]-- Savoie cartoon reference # 1. :-P
[**]-- A parody of Thunderstrike, a Thor-like
character that De Falco wrote and, by some reckonings,
Personally, I like De Falco. He's not the
greatest-- his execution is far from subtle and his
run on Amazing Spider-Man following the Clone Saga was
decidedly un-Spidey-like in tone and character-- but
he's not Ron Marz or Howard Mackie, either. :-) And,
as far as infamous editors go, he's certainly a
far-cry from the likes of Jim Shooter, Bob Harras, and
Bill Jemas: I've yet to run across any Bad De Falco
On the other hand, I haven't been looking,
IQ18: There Can Only Be One!
Our heroes run from Thunder-Blot, who speaks (quite
rudely) entirely in capital letters and only in bad
comic book clichés. Thunder-Blot catches up to them,
and Panta attacks. Thunder-Blot is trying to "squeeze
her flat like a zit" when Kid Anarky intervenes
with... a claymore...?
Kid Anarky giggles at this occurrence, drops the
sword, and throws a bucket of water on Thunder-Blot,
shorting out his electrically-powered fountain pen and
causing him to melt, Wicked Witch-like.
:Kid Anarky gathered Panta's battered body into his
arms. He carried her from the ruined room out into
the corridor. "Panta, Panta, Panta," he kept
repeating. Behind him, there was nothing but a
Panta's furry head lolled loosely in his arms. He
could barely feel her heartbeat through her thin
bodysuit. Was the little leopard girl dying?:
IQ19: Of Yaks and Youngbloods
"When last we left off, the two less interesting
characters," bristles Wojtowicz in his recap box.
And, it's true, by this time the tension that's
existed since the start between Wojtowicz and the
other two writers has manifested itself in a severe
split, not only stylistically, but also in terms of
plot: now they're in two completely separate stories.
Savoie and Bartels tend to the quest for the
Writer-with-Integrity, the drama, and the comedy;
Wojtowicz, not even particularly funny anymore, is
regulated to write what amounts to Bugtown fan-fiction
and bitching about what's become of his story:
:Lost Cause Boy looked at [the recap box] and
paused for a moment. "Less interesting...?"
(Well, you've got that big muscle-bound goof.
Anarky has Panta with him. Which is more
"Oh, so you're saying that wit and storytelling
skill is less important than tits and ass? Fine, that
does it, I'm quitting."
(Hey! Wait a minute!!! What's wrong now?)
"Jeez. Nothing's going my way. Characters [are]
not going where I want them to.["]:
He makes another reference to the Woody scandal,
causing the entire LNH to drop everything and attack
poor victimized Lost Cause Boy. He pushes a button on
a plot-device, transporting himself and Rochester to
Crossroads. There, they are greeted with a sign that
:This space left intentionally blank. Crossroads
mini is over.:
(I can't be certain, but I think the Crossroads
group politely declined Doug's petition to have a big
fight with Yakblood in that milieu.)
The discovery that his comics have been
computer-colourized leads Lost Cause Boy to the hiding
place of Yakblood. Yakblood is not alone, however--
HACKMAN, THE FANBOY ARTIST (Liefeld) is spontaneously
creating poorly-drawn one-dimensional guest stars.
The action cuts to John Crosspost, one of the two
Crosspost Bros., as he kills Spitt.
When we cut back to Lost Cause Boy and Rochester,
they are faced with a huge army of heroes; they lost
count after 75,000. They are rescued, however, by the
Crosspost Bros. and their Borg ship. The Crossposts
apprehend Liefeld, taking him with them to
sci.tech.cuisinart and then back to
Lost Cause Boy heads off to find Panta and Kid
Anarky, inviting Rochester along. Rochester declines
for the moment. Lost Cause Boy gives Rochester a
stack of Alan Moore Miracleman comics and departs.
[*]-- One recurring trend that one finds in
Wojtowicz's writing is that, once a threat has been
nullified, that threat is then passed on to be
tortured by a figure that Wojtowicz holds in awe and
respect: Dick Giordano, John Kricfalusi, or in this
case, the Crosspost Bros.
IQ20: The Beginning of the Beginning of the End[*]
Kid Anarky tries to use his plot device to save
Panta; instead, he finds himself transported, along
with the rapidly-dying cat-girl, back to LNHHQ. He
tries to convince Late-Nite Lad and the Incredible
Unsleeping Man to get her some medical assistance;
after pretending the plot device is "the most dread
device you'll ever see", he scares them into finding
However, the help they find is equally
:"A boy and his sick mutant? Nice emergency yo
woke us up for. What's next, kid, cockroaches in the
kitchen?" sniped Sarcastic [Lad].
"She looks awfully hurt," stated Sister
"Hah! In my time, heroes never got hurt. No,
sireee. They'd stand up and take [it] on the chin.
You would never see blood. Just good old punches,"
said Old Comics Man.:
Several LNHers decide to throw a party. Fuzzy asks
Kid Anarky to invite Dr. Boring-- who, as it turns
out, is Panta's last hope. As Kid Anarky leaves with
Panta's sleeping, weak kitten body, he runs into
:"Gee, that date of yours is a cheap drunk... The
party's not even started and she's already passed
DR. BORING-- a net.villain hiding from the
Brotherhood of Net.Villains after he "terminally bored
one of their leaders to death"-- sets to work trying
to save Panta. Kid Anarky sits in the waiting room
The next morning, AUNT COMIC-RELIEF enters the
waiting room and lets Kid Anarky know that Panta is
going to make it.
:"Doctor Boring says that I had several broken
ribs, some internal bleeding, and a collapsed lung.
At least that's what I gathered from all his talking.
Do you want to see?" Panta slid the bedsheets down,
revealing her furry breasts and stomach. Wrapped in
layer after layer of bandages.
Aunt Comic-Relief looked up from her knitting and
gave Panta a firm stare.
"Oops, I'm not supposed to do that," Panta said,
pulling the bedsheets up again.:
It's a classic Panta moment, and it sums up so much
of her appeal: the sexiness and the innocence, the
verve. Though Hubert's concept has been pretty sound
from the start, this is one of the first strong signs
of the Panta we know and love.
Panta asks that Kid Anarky bring her some reading
material, perhaps some Marvel Comics-- she thinks
there's a clue about the Writer-with-Integrity in the
As Kid Anarky leaves the clinic, he is given a
Munchkin of the Month award by a group of dwarves for
killing a god (Thunder-Blot) in #18.
[*]-- Title stolen by Joe Kelly several years later
for a DEADPOOL arc. :-)
IQ21: The Prefix Lives On
In the recap box, Wojtowicz references DARKWING
DUCK-- that's cartoon reference # 6.
Lost Cause Boy rips through the walls of the
MachineThing, intent on rescuing Panta and Kid Anarky.
Defacto claims to have killed them and the dread
editor summons parodies of the Fantastic Four ("the
Down'n'Dirty, Nitty-Gritty Phlegmtastic Four!"), Lost
Cause Boy's favourite heroes.
Using his knowledge of the Fantastic Four, Lost
Cause Boy is able to use the powers of the Thing and
Invisible Woman to fend off the parodies. Defacto is
not worried: he can always summon more "hackneyed
That's when All-Knowing-Last-Chance-Whiner-Destiny
Woman appears, telling Lost Cause Boy that Panta and
Anarky are safe and sound. This doesn't, however, get
Lost Cause Boy out of his predicament.
:[Lost Cause Boy] was being pounded by the combined
remainders of the Phlegmtastic Four.
"Well, you know what I WOULD do if I were you?"
The enigmatic woman smiled.
LCB's face bloomed into a smile. "I know what you
[Her] smile turned into a frown. "No, wait. I
"W W W OOOOOOO OOOOOOO DDDDDD Y Y !!!!!!!
W W W W O O O O D D Y Y !!!!!
W W W W O O O O D D Y Y !!!!!
W W W W O O O O D D Y !!!
W W W W O O O O D D Y !!!
W W W W O O O O D D Y
WW WW O O O O D D Y !!!
W W OOOOOOO OOOOOOO DDDDDD Y !!!
an' I don't mean Allen.":
Back at LNHHQ, Kid Anarky plays make-believe with
his Panta action figure (with ACTION FUZZ) and his own
action figure. It's interrupted by the Ninja's
announcement that Lost Cause Boy has spoken the "W"
word again; now, the Legion is going after him.
Kid Anarky visits the Crosspost Bros. in a bizarre
attempt to save Lost Cause Boy by persuading Jon
Crosspost to go after LCB. Meanwhile, Lost Cause
Boy's own plan-- to have the stampeding legionnaires
destroy the MachineThing in their attempt to lynch
him-- goes awry when he discovers he has no way of
That's when Crosspost shows up, frightening the
LNH. Kid Anarky and Lost Cause Boy cleverly sets the
Crosspost on Defacto's trail. Remember how I said
Wojtowicz often has the neutralized threat tortured
heinously by a figure he respects?
:"But that's not all!" [Ron Post/Lost Cause Boy]
said. "Not only do you have the killer tungsten weed
whacker chord, but we also have dipped them in the
worst cauldron of diseases imaginable. (Boston Bay.)
Yes. You've got AIDS, syphilis, cow pox, anthrax,
diarrhea, posting from Jack Schmidling (some [goon] on
the talk.politics circuit who writes fascist,
anti-Semitic crap); and the ink from thrown-out issues
of Thor written by... you."
Defacto cowered in the corner. "Y-y-you wouldn't?"
"Of course not. The Legion of Net.Heroes is a
comics-code approved universe[.]"
"Thank God," Defacto whimpered.
"That's why we're crossposting to alt.fan.bugtown,
so that not only can we do this, but you'll survive
and return to hassle the LNH and get chewed up more of
the same," Jon said with gleeful carnage in his eye...
The passage that would normally be introduced here
has been edited by even the fans of Matt Howarth in
order that it not induce hellish vomiting in computer
laboratories around the nation Needless to say that
all who hate Defacto will be pleased to learn that the
trip to alt.fan.bugtown was successful and Defacto
took fifteen weeks to die from his horrible
lacerations and diseases, thanks to life support and a
lack of anesthetic.:
Crosspost compliments Lost Cause Boy ("for a
goody-goody superhero, you're not as much of a wuss as
I thought") and the two plan to murder Stan Lee for
Ravage 2099, which they feel was just a rip-off of
Bugtown. Though the threat of Defacto has been
neutralized, there still remains the matter of the
:["]That means this series will go on for several
more issues just so we can tie up this storyline."
(No! No! You won't! You can't! I'm here! I'm
"Crap, it's another one of those [reference
notes]," Anarky said, kicking it over.
"No, wait! Read it. We found him! He's no longer
a prisoner! He's freed!"
They began hugging each other, jumping up and down,
when Panta hobbled out.
"No wonder neither of you two ever laid more than a
finger on me," she muttered, looking at the pair.
The pair of male net.heroes broke away from each
other and chuckled like Elmer Fudd.*:
Rochester reappears, now answering to the name
Curly. The quartet decide to become an official hero
team, but have trouble deciding on the name.
[*]-- Cartoon reference # 7.
IQ22: The Aftermath...
Despite the unevenness of Wojtowicz's last few
issues, I would have to say that the most unsatisfying
chapter of the Integrity Quest is this, the final one.
Here, it is revealed that Defacto has escaped the
clutches of the Crosspost Bros., has been hiding out
as Aunt Comic-Relief this entire time, and is the
father of Panta (her mother is the X-Mutant Feral).
He gives her a kiss good-bye and makes his exit.
This bothers me for a number of reasons, one of
which is that it's fairly anticlimactic. But the
primary reason I dislike it is one of the few
complaints I have about the terrific work of Hubert
Bartels, and that's the way he uses copyrighted
characters from mainstream media.
Now, I know that it's parody, and so it's protected
by law, but every time I read about Panta going to
Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters I cringe;
whenever Feral is mentioned as her mother, it makes me
queasy. It was one of the problems I had with the
Snowbuni arc that ended TALES OF THE LNH.
I know that Hubert had the permission of Snowbuni's
creator and publisher to use her in that story. But
it seems to me that every character that belongs to
another universe is a character that doesn't belong to
the LNH, is a character that weakens the argument that
the LNH is a valid universe in its own right, and not
just parodic fan-fiction. That being said, the Ewoks
storyline was hilarious. :-)
SOME FINAL THOUGHTS
Integrity Quest was one of the first major LNH
stories, and it is significant for many reasons: the
introduction of Panta being the most obvious. But
just because INCREDIBLE HULK # 180 introduces us to
Wolverine doesn't mean it's a good story. (It isn't.)
And though the Woody Scandal tested the waters for
what was acceptable content, much like NAKED LUNCH, it
doesn't mean that NAKED LUNCH is a good book. (It
But the Integrity Quest has more going for it than
a popular character's first appearance and some spicy
content. I have endeavored with this guide to make a
case for it's value as a piece of literature on its
own merits. Is there better literature? Sure.
Better LNH material? Yes.
But it's still a good story. There's some strong
character work, particularly from Bartels and Savoie;
there are many moments of parody, both deft and broad;
metatextually it is rewarding as well.
Integrity Quest was written on the fly, made up by
three very different authors as they went along, often
times working at cross-purposes with one another and
miswriting each other's characters; this is not a
weakness of the work, but rather a strength. The
behind-the-scenes tension splashes over into the
public sphere of the work itself, coming through in
the way characters are written, in the narration, and,
during the home-stretch, structurally.
Integrity Quest is the story of three characters
looking for a plot and a Writer, but it's also the
story of three writers with sometimes
mutually-exclusive viewpoints and tones trying to work
together: the story of collaboration, of the LNH
itself, in its true form and original spirit. We need
more stories like Integrity Quest, by which I mean
collaborative stories; there are mistakes that we can
learn from when writing cascades, even if these
mistakes give Integrity Quest some of its oomph.
Throughout Integrity Quest, Doug Wojtowicz
continually tried to reassert his dominance on the
story as it moved further and further away from what
he wanted it to be. I sympathize with Doug; one of
the hazards of working in a collaborative environment
is that others can carrying your baby off in a
different direction, and by the time it's full-grown,
it doesn't even look like your kid anymore. What do
you do, when you've invested time and effort into
something only to have someone hijack it and, in your
point-of-view, ruin it?
I wonder if that's how Doug felt as Integrity Quest
slipped further and further out of his own grasp, and
if these feelings of frustration are what led to the
death of Lost Cause Boy and his exit from the LNH. Or
maybe, that's how Hubert and Stephane felt when they
read IQ #10. I don't know, but these questions are
raised in the text itself: it's part of what makes it
a compelling piece of work.
SOME GENERAL RULES ABOUT WRITING
AND CONTRIBUTING TO CASCADE STORIES,
AS LEARNED FROM Integrity Quest
AND THE AUTHOR'S OWN PERSONAL MISTAKES
One, learn to let go. Even if you started the story,
once others join in, it's not your story alone.
Two, don't plan. Plans will be derailed and that will
lead to retcons. Cascades are hectic enough; they
don't need to be subject to massive retconning (though
it works in a story like Integrity Quest or Saviours
of the Net, where retconning is part of the plot).
Let yourself explore. Leave yourself open to
Three, try to be tonally consistent with the rest of
the cascade. This also means that if the tone shifts
to something new and mysterious, let it shift. IQ #
10 would not be nearly as offensive if it wasn't for
the context, the way it's completely at odds with
everything else in IQ. My #pi issues in Saviours of
the Net didn't really gel with everyone else's-- and,
as Steven Howard pointed out in SAVIOURS # 11, Jesse
Willey's SAVIOURS # 9 didn't fit in at all.
Four, _develop_ and _build_ on the previous
plot-threads instead of just adding new ones. Though
I was lucky enough to have others build on my #pi
issues for SAVIOURS, I would have been better off to
_build_ rather than over-complicate.
Fifth, don't feel the need to throw your own
characters into the ring if there's already several
characters in the story. All you're doing is giving
more characters for the other writers to try to get a
handle on, and there's a fair chance they might ignore
them completely: the only one of the Questors who
wrote Rochester during IQ was his creator.
WHO WROTE WHAT
PQ1 Wojtowicz LOST CAUSE BOY
PQ3 Savoie KID ANARKY
PQ4 Bartels PANTA
PQ8 Wojtowicz TYPO LAD RETURNS
IQ10 Wojtowicz WOODY SCANDAL
IQ12b Wojtowicz ROCHESTER
Wojtowicz -- 13
Bartels -- 12
Savoie -- 6
INTEGRITY QUEST (C) 1992, 1993 Douglas P. Wojtowicz,
Stephane Savoie, and Hubert Bartels. INTEGRITY QUEST
COMPANION (C) 2006 TOM RUSSELL.
Director of MILOS, LIFE AND TIMES OF A DREAMER
Limited autographed dvds now on sale, directly from the filmmaker
"In the beginning, Milos seems to have no clue how to relate
to anyone. He is quizzical, leaving the viewer questioning
-- Ryan M. Niemiec, co-author of MOVIES AND MENTAL ILLNESS
"If a comic book, book, movie or novel is not somebody's fantasy
then who wrote it and to whom does it appeal to? In order for a
shared universe to have a widespread appeal, it has to appeal on
a primal level. If somebody says superhero comics are just 'wish
fulfillment' then he needs to explain what is entertainment that
doesn't satisfy our wishes and what satisfaction at all you can get
from it." -- Dr. Martin Phipps
Do You Yahoo!?
Tired of spam? Yahoo! Mail has the best spam protection around
More information about the racc