REVIEW: End of Month Reviews #39 - March 2007 [spoilers]
saxonbrenton at hotmail.com
Sun Apr 15 22:28:20 PDT 2007
[REVIEW] End of Month Reviews #39 - March 2007 [spoilers]
Reviewed This Issue:
Academy of Super-Heroes #79-80 [ASH]
Alt.stralian Yarns #8-10 [LNH]
Jolt City #7 [8Fold]
LNH Comics Presents #35 [LNH]
Stat/S.H.E.E.T. #-1 [LNH]
Untold Tales Of The Looniverse #3-4 [LNH]
Possum Man: Relinquished #2 [LNH]
Tales From The Gutterground #2 [Misc]
Well. Around the end of March/start of April I thought I was going
quite well, because I'd written three 'Infinite Leadership Crisis'
stories within the space of slightly more than a week (including the
Occultism Kid story, which is about twice as long as the other two, in
an amazing one-and-a-half days).
And then... crash and burn. I've done effectively nothing new in
the past week on the fourth Infinite Leadership Crisis story, or on the
End of Month Reviews, or on the RACCies Awards. And while the RACCies
statistics were collated weeks ago, they haven't been double checked (let
alone triple checked as I prefer) and at this rate I'm toying with a new
way of presenting the awards ceremony. Not that the ceremony itself will
be much of a surprise; if you've read last year's ceremony, you should
have a good chance of guessing what Conflicto and Pointless Awards Man II
are going to be getting up to...
Anyway. Spoilers below:
Academy of Super-Heroes #79-80
'Timequake Part 1: Divine Wind' and 'Timequake Part 2: Blitzkrieg'
An Academy of Super-Heroes [ASH] series
by Dave Van Domelen
In the wake of the 'Four To Never' crossover with all of its
temporal manipulations, the Timequake arc seems to be focusing on dealing
with the messy world wide fallout. Which is fair enough; as I've noted
in the past, about half the time the actions of the Academy and its
allies seem to be about decisively thwarting opponents in the standard
superheroic manner, and the other half is about trying to keep stable
the situations that spring up from the actions (or mere presence) of
opponents that can't be thwarted. It also allows for Dave to do some
more exploring of his world in the subplots by showing the reactions to
different temporal problems scattered about the place, both on- and
In any case the A-plot of ASH #79 is about what initially looks
like an anachronistic Mongol sea invasion of Japan, which then gets more
complicated when it turns out to be an anachronistic Mongol sea invasion
of Japan led by a demon sorcerer named Akuryu. Fortunately the Hyper
Senshi Team Avatarangers arrive to take over from the conventional
Japanese armed forces. This part of the story is actually a rollicking
fun action story. As Dave notes at the end, just as the Academy emulates
'capes and tights' conventions of 20th century superheroics, the
Avatarangers emulate the (equally) slightly goofy super sentai shows
conventions, with things like shouting out the names of the attacks
they're about to make. (And it occurs to me as I type this up, that
might also explain why Justice tends to dress in civies and a leather
jacket. He's English, and may well be acting in the trenchcoat wearing
tradition summarised by John Constantine in the original _Books Of Magic_
miniseries: that no one there would have the nerve to wear a cape in
public even if they could leap buildings in a single bound.)
The rest of the issue is made of subplots, albeit entertaining and
in some cases critically important ones. Arguably the most important may
be the arrival of the planet smasher spaceship ISF Fornax from the 37th
century Spear Carriers setting - but than that would be why it was used
as the cliffhanger.
ASH #80 has an A-plot which, as the title of the story suggests,
relates to the displacement of some World War 2 era German tanks into the
ASH time period. Or at least, it's the plot thread which has its problem
dealt with pretty decisively thanks to the intervention and fast-talking
of Justice. My gut reaction is that the update chaired by Meteor about
the various temporal warps is somewhat more important, partly because the
overview acts as a core to the story but mainly because it underscores
the growing threat of the Fornax. Especially in light of the vignette
set on the Fornax where the decision is taken to sterilise the Earth for
the tactical advantage it will bring the Santari. Still, I suppose the
thematic similarity of what the type of no-advance-warning attack that
the Fornax is now planning could tie in with the 'Blitzkrieg' concept,
but that's me indulging in creative apophenia and probably not anything
Dave had in mind.
Alt.stralian Yarns #8-10
'Fun With Immature Sexual References' ;
'Q1 - Super Duper Awesome Team Force Go!' and
'Q2 - Tenth Issue Spectacular! With Juxtaposition!'
A Legion of Net.Heroes [LNH] series
by Mitchell Crouch
Issue 8 round off the first story arc and Bingo the cattledog turns
into Bingo the Boy Were-Cattle-Dog Creature and savages Screwball (but
only after humping Screwball's leg).
Issues 9 and 10 are flashback stories featuring Contempo Weapons
Lad, who you may remember from the A Journey Through The Minds Of The
Seemingly Unstable trilogy from late last year. It seems that Contempo
Weapons Lad is Been-Out-Bush-For-Way-Too-Long Man's adopted son, and when
Contempo Weapons Lad says he wants to leave the farm to become a net.hero
Been-Out-Bush insists on him joining his Aunt Boris' hero team Super
Duper Awesome Team Force Go in Bris.bit. However all of the team members
save Contempo Weapons Lad are killed thanks to the sinister machinations
of a sea lion and a piece of seaweed. Or perhaps just the sinister
presence of a sea lion and a piece of seaweed, since we never actually
get to see the motivations of those responsible.
In the wake of Super Duper Awesome Team Force Go's decimation,
Contempo Weapons holds a news conference to explain what happened and
announce the disbanding of the team. However, the exceedingly annoying
Obsessive-Compulsive Boy turns up as Contempo Weapons Lad is about to
start cleaning the base, and after some misadventures manages to lead
Contempo Weapons Lad to a scene of slaughter carried out by the Silly
Lizard. Cue fight scene.
This series continues to be very old school LNH. It plays with
both the conventions of the superhero genre in a way that shows just
how stylised and divorced-from-reality they can be:
| "Don't try to fool me with your insidious mind games!" spat CWLad.
| "I've seen what you can do! Sure, I haven't actually seen you do it,
| but rather be told that you did it by an annoyingly persistent super-
| powered being who I have no reason to suspect doesn't have ulterior
| motives of his own in order to gain my trust and then dispose of me
| at the last second, leaving Bris.bit open to attack by an array of
| net.villains and heinous criminals [...]"
as well as indulging in silly word play. Yet despite knowing this I
still got blindsided by this exchange between Contempo Weapons Lad and
Obsessive-Compulsive Lad and laughed out loud:
| "You realise, of course, that I am _not_ your friend?"
| "Yeah you are, you are, yeah, you are! No one else has ever put up
| with me for this long before, nope, never, not once, not ever, never,
| ever, ever-"
Despite (or perhaps because) of all this Tarq still manages to
capture the stereotypically laconic attitude between Been-Out-Bush Man
and Contempo Weapons Lad, as well as the cadence of speech for both of
them. Now, admittedly, I was a bit surprised that Contempo Weapons Lad
used the words 'bother' rather than the more stereotypical 'bugger' as
a cuss word (the latter being the fault of Toyota commercials, I'm
afraid). Still, it's deftly done.
Jolt City #7
'The Last Trapper Story!'
An Eightfold [8Fold] series
by Tom Russell
Having escaped the Trapper's death trap, the wet, tired and sore
Green Knight goes with Dani Handler to recuperate. Since Green Knight
isn't comfortable with letting Dani take him home lest she learns his
secret identity, and Dani isn't willing to drop him off somewhere to let
him stagger home by himself in his condition, she takes him to her place
with the intention of letting him sleep on her couch. After a bantering
discussion turns into an argument, they halting reach the admission
that they are romantically attracted to one another and agree to wait
until they are not in the middle of a case to consummate their
relationship (of which more anon). After a night's rest they realise
that the Trapper must be planting clues and lingering at the scene of
the crime in disguise as a way of thrillseeking, which is a flaw that
they turn against him.
The way that they capture the Trapper was quite clever. Arguably
however the most important part of this story is the talk that Green
Knight and Dani have where they sort out their feelings for one another.
I'm willing to bet that it was also this pair of scenes that caused the
original two-part Trapper story to blow out to three parts. In any case,
the way that Martin tries to live up to the archetype of the superhero as
Green Knight is something I found more interesting. The "I'm a four-
colour. We're not supposed to swear." line was very cute. But at the
same time we know that isn't perfect boy style scout hero, even if he
works hard at acting like one. Of course, it's the 'works hard' part
that is the key here. The Green Knight is not one of the four-colours
\who gained his powers from a genetic mutation or some freak accident.
He had to train for it.
All of which is well and good, but the rigid self-disciple which is
vital for him being an Olympic class athlete with a penchant for fighting
crime in gaudily coloured costume does not necessarily transport over to
being good at socialising. Remember, he spent ten years as a no-name
loner vigilante living in abandoned underground supervillain lairs. Even
now he's a very private person (although it's hard to make comparisons
with what's normal under the circumstances because most costumed heroes
are pretty strict about their secret identities). So then, the question
becomes: is he putting enough or insufficient trust in Dani? We shall
LNH Comics Presents #35
'Infinite Leadership Crisis Episode #0'
A Legion of Net.Heroes [LNH] series
by Jamas Enright
So, a wandering group of loonies of LNH Writers (yes, I am given to
understand that that is the appropriate collective noun) decided to get
together for a month long writing project. The high concept is that
Ultimate Ninja goes on vacation, leaving control of the Legion of
Net.Heroes with someone else. Unfortunately the interim leaders keep
vanishing at midnight, prompting the Legion to appoint new leaders
each day. Cue a month's worth of daily stories by different Writers
featuring different characters as LNH leader.
This story is the setup, with Ultimate Ninja having a breakdown of
sorts, being told that he has to take his accumulated recreation leave
or loose it, and deciding to use the opportunity to go away for a while.
A Legion of Net.Heroes [LNH] series
by Andrew Burton
New writer but longtime reader Andrew has put forth this new series
as his entry onto RACC (but we'll see more stories by him for the ASH
universe imprint next month). This story starts with Stat-taking Kid
and his robotic partner S.H.E.E.T. foiling a theft by the Numismatist
and his henchmen, only to have the whole episode revealed to be a dream.
Now, like other commentators I'm wondering to what extent the superheroic
dreams of Silliac Pentium are a reflection of reality. There are a
couple of possibilities of course, but given the negative issue number
I wouldn't be surprised if Silliac's dreams will somehow act as an
inspiration for his Origin.
All in all this a perfectly reasonable LNH story about someone
having a costumed identity based on some unlikely concept -- in this
case, statistics -- with nods at various LNH conventions like net punned
Untold Tales Of The Looniverse #3-4 [LNH]
'Episode I: The Fandom Menace' ; 'Episode II: Revenge is the Shit'
'Episode 3: A New Dope' and 'Episode 4: Return of the Straidi'
A Legion of Net.Heroes [LNH] series
by Martin Phipps
Martin sets out to satirise the Star Wars sequence of movies,
which is admittedly rather easy considering some of the plot holes,
particularly in the last produced/chronologically earliest movies.
That said, Martin specifically works on the inter-personal relationships
of the story rather than the howlers of bad physics that one might
expect that he, as a physics teacher, would be most ticked off with.
(Things like piloting a damaged and out-of-control spaceship to a crash
landing as though it were a aeroplane in _Revenge Of The Sith_ and
ignoring the fact that the there's at least two orders of magnitude
difference between orbital velocity and that of a aeroplane. Or
fighting directly above a stream of lava and not getting burnt because
they're not touching the lava rather than worrying about the radiant
heat as well.)
Gah, I really am in a crappy mood at the moment, aren't I?
Anyway, by taking such a well known set of stories he's able to pick
out highlights and rely on the readers' familiarity with the story to
provide the context. So, for example, the familial context of Star
Wars episodes 4 and 5 is able to be summarised by a ransom note from
the Darth Vader analogue Seriously Pissed Off Guy:
| "Dear Puke," it said, "I have your sister Layher held hostage in my
| newly reconstructed Lunar Fortress. Yes, Puke, you banged your own
| sister. Pervert. Signed, Seriously Pissed Off Guy. PS: I am your
In this way Martin is able to boil down the plot context to
highlight some of the sillier social foibles. Coming in for particular
criticism is the Straidi/Jedi obsession with control, since it's the
repression of the teenaged Anarchin's hormones that start set in motion
the metaphorical avalanche that the previous plot points had merely been
Eliding the Star Wars plot down it its edited highlight also allows
for humour, as the readers are expecting one thing based on the Star
Wars plot and the writer can substitute something unexpectedl.
The child Anarchin's shouts of "I want my mommy!" when he's brought
before the Straidi Council is one example. On the other hand, Martin
uses this method to pass over opportunities elsewhere that might have
reinforced his theme: when Aimaslutta dies after giving birth to
Anarchin's children, it is said that she had lost the will to live
because she would never get her girlish figure back. Which is a
reasonable enough hyberbole of human reactions. If, on the other hand,
she had lost her will to live because of losing Anarchin, then it would
have given PC Wan the opening to comment in a very Straidi way that now
she had been properly punished for leading Anarchin into the Dark Side
with her lusts.
Saxon Brenton University of Technology, city library, Sydney Australia
saxon.brenton at uts.edu.au
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