[REVIEW] End of Month Reviews #37 - January 2007 [spoilers]

Saxon Brenton saxonbrenton at hotmail.com
Sat Feb 17 08:59:23 PST 2007

[REVIEW] End of Month Reviews #37 - January 2007 [spoilers]

Reviewed This Issue:
      Academy of Super-Heroes #76-77  [ASH]
      Conclave of Super Villains #26-27  [ASH]{#26 perhaps counts as Ape}
      Drabble Girl: Drabble #27-39  [LNH]
      Godling #10  [Misc]
      Sea Monkeys  &  Sea Monkeys II  [Ape]
      Tales From The Gutterground #1  [Misc]

Also posted:
      Adventures Beyond Comprehension #10  [LNH]
      Alt.stralian Yarns #4-5  [LNH]
      The Ballad of Johnny Banana  [8Fold]{Ape}
      Bush43 #63  [AC]
      Easily-Discovered Man #48  [LNH]{Ape}
      Jolt City #5  [8Fold]
      Journey Into... #4  [8Fold]{Ape}
      Just Imagine... Saxon Brenton's RACCies on a Plane Filled With
          Killer Ninja Gorillas #1-4  [LNH/NTB/RACCies]{Ape}
      Limp-Asparagus Lad #58  [LNH]{Ape}
      New Teenfactor #1  [LNH]
      Onion Lad #10  [LNH]
      New Teenfactor #1  [LNH]
      Thunderclap #4-5  [Misc]

     (Well, feh.  Late again.)
     Okay, so that was Ape Month 2007.  A bit of a disappointing turnout
compared to last year, but I suppose we shouldn't be all that surprised.
Perhaps it would be best if we collectively just used 'Apes' as a running
theme that turns up when it turns up rather than a preset theme month (of
course, that's effectively what we've been doing over the past decade,
what with likes of _Challengers of the Abominable_, Gothic Gorilla and I
guess the likes of Gorilla Friday as well.
     Meanwhile, administrivia: the Voting ballot for this year's RACCies
(both the yearly event and the Hall of Fame one-off) have been posted.
Any votes need to be emailed to me by the end of this month.
     And now for something completely different:

What I Did On My Christmas Vacation
     Normally Dad's three kids (myself and my two sisters) go and visit
the 'ancestral' home at Crescent Head Road in Kempsey during Christmas,
but initially it looked like Christmas 2006 was going to be different.
I had a RPGing project with some friends that was going to tie me up (but
which eventually fell through), and my sisters also had things to occupy
them.  And, Dad was expecting other family visitors.
     A digression: After Mum died in 2000 he married an old high school
friend who had recently separated from her husband (also an old high
school friend).  This meant that Dad now has three adult step daughters.
The eldest and her husband live quite close, in Canberra, so Dad and Raema
visit them quite often.  And it turns out that Dad is great with grand-
kids.  The youngest step-daughter lives further away, in Perth on the
other side of the continent, and the middle lives in England.  The latter
two families both had their first children in 2006, so the parents went
and visited them at the times.  At other times the parents drive around
Australia in a truck and caravan doing touristy-retiree type stuff (this
point will become important later).
     So, for Christmas 2006 all three step-daughters with their husbands
and kids, as well as Raema's sister and brother-in-law, and (as applicable)
dogs came and had a family get-together at Crescent Head Road - as did
Raema's ex-husband, since this was the first time all three daughters had
been in the same place for a family get-together in about a decade and
possibly they won't be together as a group ever again.
     Yes, I'm sure you can see where this is going - but actually that's
not the main point of the anecdote.
     So, there was a crowded house.  And myself and the two sisters think:
well, it's not like Dad'll be in want of company.  But then Aunty Nancy
fell ill...
     Another digression: Grandma and Grandpa Brenton married twice.
Married, had kids, lost their partners to death, then married again and
had more kids with each other.  Dad is actually the youngest of nineteen,
which isn't that remarkable for an early-to-mid twentieth century family
out in the bush.  Aunty Nancy is one of Dad's full sisters rather than
half- or step-, and they're quite close as these things go.
     So, Aunty Nancy gets diagnosed as having a tumour on the pancreas.
Complication: not only do the specialist biopsy services at the major
hospitals in the Sydney metro area close down during the week around
Christmas, they also close down for the week on either side of Christmas,
and Aunty Nancy has to wait a while to get a proper diagnosis (which
eventually showed it to be malignant, but even more eventually was dealt
with by the operation at the end of January).  But at the time Dad got
rather aggravated and stressed worrying about this delay in diagnosis, so
that when my youngest sister Bobbie realised that she would indeed have
free time to drive up the coast and visit Crescent Head Road, she would
do so for a surprise visit and keep him company in a way that the step-
families couldn't because of their need to care for all their babies and
kids.  A few days later it turned out that the RPGing project I was
involved in would be put on hold because of sickness from one of the
other players, so I said to Bobbie, "I don't need to be here in Sydney.
If I were to be bodily abducted by aliens who then left me at the bus
station in Kempsey, would you come and pick me up?", and she said, "Sure."
     And then the severe stomach upsets hit.  (And note this: it was the
FIRST bout of stomach upsets.).  Over a few days several of the visiting
families (including one of the children and one of the infants) got so
sick that they had to go to hospital for overnight observation, and
another of them had to go because his heart started to play up.  We're
not quite sure what set this first bout off, but quite a number of other
people around town also took seriously ill and had to go to hospital, so
the last time I heard they were thinking it was some sort of virus.
     Then one of the husbands of the three daughters-in-law, after
recovering from the stomach complaint, turned out to not be a beach
person.  Despite slathering himself in sun screen on the face, arms, legs
and shoulders, managed to get sever sunburn on the feet.  (And note this:
this was the FIRST bout of bad sunburn that he was to endure.)  In any
case I can sympathise with him, since I also have fair skin and when I
was seven got a case of sunburn that started at 'untanned', jumped over
'tanned', jumped over 'burnt', and went straight to 'blistering'.
     So.  Bobbie hops in her car, and under the pretence that she was
visiting friends in Newcastle (which was true) and that she'd be staying
there for most of Christmas (which wasn't) she drives up the coast.
She arrives, duly surprises everybody, and when she was asked whether
Gabrielle or myself would be visiting as well she lies through her teeth
and say, "No".
     The next day (Christmas Eve) I catch the bus and travel north to
Kempsey.  Now, here is here is where Bobbie and myself made our two
mistakes.  Firstly, I misread the map on the bus company webpage for where
the drop off point was (foolish of me, because I usually travel to my home
town by train rather than bus, and so wasn't familiar with the bus stops).
Then Bobbie forgot to take her mobile phone with her, so that when I got
dropped off in northern Kempsey, she was waiting for me in South Kempsey
and I couldn't contact her to tell her where I was.  And do you think I
could get a taxi on a Sunday that was Christmas Eve in a country town?
Nooooo.  So I walk back two kilometres in the afternoon heat (being lucky
enough to get a lift for the last half kilometre) and rendezvous with my
sister.  That done we travel home, and surprise Dad, and set up a second
tent for myself on the lawn.
     Ah yes, the tents...  The tents themselves weren't a problem, you
understand.  It's just that with two families with newborns present plus
one with children, the bedrooms and living rooms in the house were all
kind of full.  Dad and Raema simply parked their caravan out on the lawn,
while Raema's sister and brother-in-law did much the same thing (since
they also do the drive-around-Australia-doing-touristy-retiree stuff),
albeit they were sleeping in the back of their specially modified truck.
Raema's ex was staying in the spare bedroom with a renter who lived in the
small fibro house that Dad once used as a shed that's only a short walk
away at the back of the property.  Bobbie already had a tent set up on
the lawn beside the caravan, and now we set up a second one for me.
     That evening Bobbie continued with her self-appointed task of keeping
Dad entertained by getting blind drunk with him.  Well, everybody got
drunk except me, but then I'm the freak of the family and don't like the
taste of alcohol.  And because I also have a low sociability index, I
went to bed about 10pm, and so missed the fun and games with the dolls
     Dad, you may or may not recall from previous blatherings, was a
builder.  In this instance he had built a dolls house for one of his
step-grandkids, and pretty much everybody was in on it and helping (with
painting, or adding decals, or suchlike) except for the kids and their
parents.  So that evening, nissed as pewts, some of them went down to
the carpentry shed where this dolls house was still under construction
and set about finishing it off for the next day, with Bobbie standing
watch.  But the people who weren't in the know got worried about where
everybody was and started asking for them.  To cover their disappearances
the apprentice carpenters organised for some of them to periodically go
back to the house to make token appearances before coming back -- resulting
in a turnover of drunks sneaking back and forth between the house and the
shed at 12 o'clock at night.
     The next morning people woke up and, despite hangovers, had gift
giving.  And naturally the kids were happy enough to pass around the
presents to the under-the-weather adults.  After that Bobbie and Dad
decided that they really needed to go swimming to get sobered up.  I'm
still not entirely sure how I ended up *not* driving them to the beach,
since that's always been my traditional job when the rest of the family
is nissed, but there you go.  Of course at this stage there were a total
of seventeen people staying but...
     Another digression: When I was a kid we used to have our summers out
at a beach house at Hat Head, only a further half hours drive away than
Crescent Head.  This had actually been owned by my maternal grandparents
and shared by them, Mum and her siblings, which meant that summer holidays
were crowded affairs with lots of aunts and uncles and cousins.  Now, we
used to have great fun sitting up until after midnight playing cards or
Monopoly, but this drove Dad spare trying to get everyone organised the
next morning to go around the beach for swimming and fishing on the
appropriate tides.  From this our family learnt one important thing:
don't even *bother* trying to organise a large number of people who are
on their summer break.  It's as futile as trying to herd cats.
     So in this case Bobbie said: "We're going for a swim, who wants to
come?"  And since no one else could get organised within half an hour,
it ended up just the three of us paddling in the water with the annual
infestation of (non-Martian) red weed that always drifts onto Crescent
Head beach but not on any of the other swimming beaches.  We went home
after an hour, and while we were away Raema's ex had departed.  Okay,
from context it didn't seem as though there'd been any yelling or
screaming type recriminations, but it was a pity that he hadn't made it
just a few more hours until Christmas lunch.
     The next day (Boxing day) we did much the same.  Bobbie, Dad and
myself took a boat out to the Maria River in the local state forest and
did some cruising up and down the river system.  We didn't stay out as
long as we'd expected because there were a lot of branches across several
of the waterways, but we saw some wildlife.  We also stopped in one forest
clearing and I shimmied up some trees to collect a small elkhorn growing
up about three or four meters above the ground.  As a kid I was a Climber,
and even the barbed wire that my parents put up around the top of the
fence wasn't enough to keep me in.  Now, these days I can't climb straight
up *a* tree, but this involved a group of three trees in a close
triangular formation, and I was able to press my back up against one of
the while bracing either leg against the others.  It impressed Dad no end
that at 38 years old and 25 kilos overweight I was still able to climb my
way up three meters in less than a minute.  (Still, it's better now that
I've dieted off the extra kilos from the Christmas food and am now down
to my usual mere 15 kilos overweight.)
     The next day I was due to travel back to Sydney by bus and many of
the others were booked in for a six hour ocean fishing trip.  Which is
when the second bout of stomach upsets came back - albeit not quite as a
bad as before.  Bobbie and one of the daughters-in-law came down sick
overnight, and I would come down with it the following afternoon - in the
final two hours of the bus trip back to Sydney.  Fortunately however my
draft horse-like constitution meant that I was only incapacitated for
the afternoon and was weak but able to get up that evening.  Pretty much
everybody else was staying abed for a day or two.  Well, except for Dad.
Dad also came down the a mild case of stomach upset, but was bound and
determined that he wouldn't miss out on his fishing trip, and after taking
some medication for it as well as general motion sickness, he was fine.
This is also where the second bout of bad sunburn came in, because despite
everybody taken their seasick tablets, poor James got dreadfully motion
sick, and then got sunburnt on the hands from hanging onto the side of
the boat as he was throwing up for the whole trip.
     After all that, coming home and having the TV stop working and having
to wait several weeks for the repairman to come and fix it under warranty
seemed almost anticlimactic.
     But I digress.  Spoilers below.


Academy of Super-Heroes #76-77
'Four To Never Prelude: Time Enough'  and
'Four To Never Lap 1: Time Trap'
An Academy of Super-Heroes [ASH] series
by Dave Van Domelen

     The management of _End of Month Reviews_ refuses to accept any
responsibility for the giant monsters turning up at the wedding of Essay
and Peregryn.  I am convinced that Dvandom had this planned in advance,
and therefore feel no culpability in pointing out what was foreshadowing.
     I am, however, happy enough to accept responsibility for the info
dump about the limitations on Santari cloning practices, and will put it
on the trophy shelf along with the hulkhens and Pointless Posting Man
wearing his underpants on his head.
     So, in issue 76 there's the big wedding of Sara (Essay) and Howard
(Peregryn), and as noted the kaiju turn up, as does Inanna does as well
to act as master of ceremonies.  And considering the whole point of the
exercise boiled down to 'Sara didn't want to give birth out of wedlock'
the whole thing finishes just in time, since she goes into labour during
the reception, and the baby turns out to a shapechanger.  Meanwhile
Claudette takes the opportunity to mend some fences (and probably build
up a stockpile) by helping Howard return the human body of Sarah (Comet)
from the plane of elemental ice that it's been stuck in for the last
sixty odd issues.  And I bet Claudette doesn't just get a link to the
plane of ice out of the deal; mayhap sympathetic magic will allow her to
get a super-fast caryatid.  Then we segue into the preparations for the
Prix Ultime car race, technically jumping to _Conclave Of Super-Villains_
#26 for the Prologue.
     Issue 77 is the first episode proper of 'Four To Never'.  The race
starts, the time distorting gravity bubble immediate takes effect, and
while the Conclave and the Academy are scrabbling to deal with the
external consequences, time within the bubble is frayed into four threads
(or at least four that we're allowed to view).  But for more on that, we
must move on to...

Conclave of Super-Villains #26-27
'Four To Never Prologue: Time Trials'  and
'Four To Never Lap 2: Time Bombs'
An Academy of Super-Heroes [ASH] series
by Tony Pi and Dave Van Domelen

     (What convenient alphabetical listing.)
     Issue 26 is a catch up and reintroduction issue after CSV's four
year hiatus.  The mysterious instigator of the 'Four To Never' plan does
some last minute review of her anticipated enemies and pawns (thereby
bringing the audience up to date on the major players as well), then
sets her scheme in motion.  (Incidentally, it's the mention in passing
of the Raging Mad Mountain Gorillas during Conflicto's entry that pushes
this issue in `Perhaps Ape', going by last year's definitions of how I
was counting Ape stories.  Poor Tony.  He returns to RACC and immediately
gets caught in the crossfire of a running gag.)
     Issue 27 has a more complicated plot as it picks up from where
_Academy Of Super-Heroes_ #77 left off: the expanding warp bubble
encompassing Monaco has divided the area within into four separate time
threads while at the same time threatening the rest of the world with
gravatic stress induced earthquakes.  The forces of ASH, the CSV, EUROPA
and STRAFE all get together, examine the problem, decide it's a trap and
in best superhero style (how ironic for the CSV) decide that since
they're on a deadline that they'll set it off, see what happens, and bust
any heads en passant.  After recruiting a fourth gravity manipulator, the
combined efforts of Aegis, Keinvogle, Solar Max and Triton successfully
disperse the warp, but they are made to vanish as four new antagonists
emerge from their sarcophagi.  Oh, and for my money on who the guy in the
fifth sarcophagus is: if it's someone who's actually needed specifically
for who and what he is rather than just some random schlub, then the
extensive and large scale use of time manipulation would imply Timeslip,
the alt.future version of Chris Kelsey from ASH #64.
     As a matter of principle I was planning on doing an in-depth
examination of these issues, but after spending more than several weeks
mulling them over I can't find anything particularly profound to say about
them.  I just like them.  Good characterisation, good pacing and plot.
     Well, good plot from the writers of the story.  I'm still a bit
concerned on the abstract level about the villain's plot.  As in: this
might not be the return of Rebus, but it's starting to look as though
it's an imitation of his style.  It's getting a bit Rube Goldberg/Heath
Robinson-esque for me.  Which is deliberate, I suspect.  It's been noted
in CSV #27 and out into February's ASH #78 that most of these antics are
distractions, which makes sense if you take as a default assumption that
in order to work that the villain's plan is automatically going to cause
a lot of collateral damage.  In that case it's bound to attract attention
(and it has) and you need smoke and mirrors to keep the heroes from
getting to the nub of the exercise and thwarting it.  Because that bit I
wrote above about setting off traps to see what happens and busting heads
as necessary is not only a genre staple, but is also literally true in a
setting where the parahumans are all explicitly reality manipulators on
some level and only loosely bound by the limits of the possible.
     The inevitable question that derives from of all of that is: can the
end goal of project 'Four To Never' only be achieved by high-visibility,
attract-the-attention-of-heroes mechanics?  For that we will have to wait
and see.  At this point we don't even know what the end goal is.  No,
really.  Given the description of Triton as one of the Four Keys in
CSV #26 it seems likely that Aegis, Keinvogle, Solar Max and Triton are
the Four of 'Four To Never' and that the four-villains-released-from-the-
sarcophagi are distractions within the story and at a plot level.  And if
this line of reasoning holds, then we still don't know if they've been
disappeared to keep them from interfering with something or to gather
them together to participate in something.
     Bottom line then.  Since we don't know yet what the end goal is,
we can't assess whether this high visibility, high risk strategy is the
only option, or the best option among many, or a case of its architect
being blessed with high intelligence, cursed with an enormous ego, and
crippled with a Rebus-like obsessive-compulsive disorder to play games
with her opponents.  It's an enjoyable story, but it raises expectations
in me that go beyond `what's the villain's plan?' and `how will the
heroes get out of this one?' and spill over into `is the setup worth the
villain's effort?'

Drabble Girl #27-39
'The Invasion!'  ;  'The Plan!'  ;  'The File!'  ;  'The Shield!'  ;
'The Effect!'  ;  'The Fight!'  ;  'The Retreat!'  ;
'The Retaliation!'  ;  'The Preparation!'  ;  'The Squad!'  ;
'The Surprise!'  ;  'The Countdown!'  and  'The Return!'
A Legion of Net.Heroes [LNH] maxiseries
by Jamas Enright

     In response to an email conversation I had with Jamas a while back,
it becomes apparent that I must reiterate the operating policy of the
_End of Month Reviews_.  I'm doing this as a way to goad myself to read
all these posts rather than procrastinate.  It's for my benefit, not yours.
     <Daffy Duck voice> "Mine! Mine Mine Mine Mine MINE! All MINE!"
</Daffy Duck voice>
     That being said, I suppose that since I *do* occasionally get around
to doing reviews of some stories rather than *just* do plot summaries
it's only fair that I try to rotate them among all titles in much the
same way I try and rotate a focus on different authors, titles, and
imprints.  So, please, take a seat in that comfy chair by the fire.
Would you care for some cognac?
     Okay then.  The plot in brief is that the Wordinator sends multiple
KABLOOM tubes across the Looniearth and nearby celestial bodies, which
is an attack that Doctor Stomper is able to briefly thwart by imposing
a language barrier on reality, basically by using a dictionary file to
severely limit the words available for the Wordinator to use.  The
Wordinator's second wave of attacks is driven off, and then Dr Stomper
arms Drabble Girl for a second counter incursion into the Wordinator's
dimension, just as the Wordinator makes a specific assault on the LNH-HQ.
     This series romps around, playing with the limitations of the
written word in general and the drabble format in specific in much the
same way as other writers such as myself, Tom Russell or Jochem
Vandersteen play around with the tropes of the superhero genre.  I nodded
in appreciation at the various uses of Drabble Girl's inability to be in
a story of longer than 100 words - both offensively and defensively in
combat, as well as creatively for a scene change.  Of course, I'd babbled
some of my own ideas along those lines in response to Jaelle's original
Drabble Girl story, so I was expecting some creative uses of her powers
along those lines.  The use of the dictionary file did surprise me, and
I was vastly amused by the way it not only blocked some words but also
restricted the verb forms of others, reducing a description of Drabble
Girl's fight against the Wordinator's minions in #33 to:
| Drabble Girl fire. More creatures down. Drabble Girl look creatures.
| She no find creatures. She look creatures. She no find creatures.
| Drabble Girl go LNH.
     Which is hilarious providing you know the context of why the writing
style is like that; otherwise it just looks WTF.  Which segues nicely
into a general comment that applies equally to _Drabble Girl_ and other
recent 'constricted writing' format stories that I can think of off the
top of my head (_Haiku Gorilla_ and _Ten Word Masterpiece Theater_): they
tend to read better collected than in individual issues, simply because
of the structure of the format.  Now, granted, Jamas has slightly more
room to manoeuvre with regards to things like periodic plot summaries
that a ten word story or a haiku does, but it as a generalisation it
seems that these things work best when 'paced for the trade'.

Godling #10
'Wild Times'
A Miscellaneous [Misc] series
by Jochem Vandersteen

     Dude.  Do you know how long it's been since I've seen a story where
superheroes sit around and swap origin stories over coffee?
     Okay, yes, superheroes sitting around expositing their origin
stories is definitely an artefact of the policies of the Big Two comics
companies (IIRC Marvel in particular) that every half year or so a series
needed to recap the origin(s) in order to keep the new readers on track.
In that regard it's an acquired taste and one that shouldn't be overdone.
But still...
     Look, Tom Russell's reviews on this series have already commented
on how the vibe of _Godling_ is that of raw, pulp sensibility action
heroics.  I see no reason to disagree with that assessment.  But a
corollary of that which I have observed is that there seems to be a lot
of posturing and bluster between antagonists and potential antagonists.
However in this case Jochem is more interested in highlighting the theme
that Godling is the first superhero in New Troy, the superman who's going
to inspire a new generation of heroes.  So instead of going for the
'heroes meet, heroes fight, heroes team up and kick bad guy butt', they
swap origin stories over coffee and talk about their plans for improving
the city.  How cool is that?
     Plot in brief is that Godling encounters Safari in Lower Troy, and
they talk on a rooftop over coffee.  Safari is being stalked by a super
assassin named Death Dog on behalf of Master Destiny, and after the two
heroes go their separate ways Death Dog moves in for the kill.  Godling,
meanwhile, returns to his identity as Professor Alexander and is offered
sexual favours by a female student named Amanda Reese.  Prof Alexander
turns her down, and she arranges for him to be arrested on charges of
assaulting and raping her.
     Now, I have to state straight off that I'm more concerned about
Safari's cliffhanger than I am about Godling's.  Not so much over the
question of `Is he going to get out of this?' because I'm reasonably sure
they both will, but on the question of `How will he get out of this?'
Why?  Frankly the way that Amanda has gone about her accusations is clumsy
to the point of stupidity.  In this day and age it should be trivially
easy to use DNA matching to prove that Quentin didn't touch her, let alone
sexually assault her, and once that's done a sworn affidavit from Quentin
that Amanda tried to seduce him and made threats when he turned her down
brings the whole thing into the nasty legal realm of litigation.  It
will almost certainly get messy, and may even illicit some ideologically
driven hostile attention from extreme feminist groups.  But unless it
draws unwanted attention to Quentin at a moment when he really needs to
privacy to change into Godling and be off dealing with some time critical
super problem, I would tend to look on her accusations more as a major
pain in the butt than anything else.  Moreover, unless some plot
contrivance is able to keep her allegations and his counter-allegations
from the public, I should think her enrolment as a student is about to
come to an abrupt end.  In short, she's screwed herself royally.
     On the other hand, the obvious counter to my objection is if the
currently depicted adventures of Godling may not be happening in the
modern day.  This is not implausible, since one of the earlier versions
of _Godling_ #1, posted prior to the current series, depicted a Godling
who was a veteran superhero - and that could be interpreted as setting
the origin and early adventures of Godling back a decade or two into the
past.  And I'm not familiar enough with the developmental history of
forensics to make a guess at how that would affect the handling of
Amanda's claims.  And on the gripping hand, it could be that Amanda's
claim is *meant* to be revealed as a sham, so that she becomes an
embittered and insane villain, ala most of the Batman's rogues gallery,
and embarks on increasingly elaborate misandronistic schemes to destroy men.

Sea Monkeys  and Sea Monkeys II
An Ape's Month [Ape] story
by Mitchell Crouch

     Since the story mentions the city of Net.ropolis I'm pretty sure
this probably takes place somewhere in the Looniverse, although whether
it's LNH, LNH2 or LNHY is something I can't tell from available evidence.
I'm pretty sure it's not NTB or OSD, however, since there isn't, you
know, trenchcoats or spham mentioned.
     Anyway.  The somewhat redundantly named Anthropomorphic Ape meets
and team up with Coco the Powder Monkey, and they get harassed by their
respective nemesis.  Wackiness ensues.  There were a lot of fun moments
in these two (my favourite was the obsessively confrontational dialogue
of Dr Disagree), but there were also a lot of sense of disconnect which
kept making me wonder 'How did we get to here'?
     Like the way A.Ape meets up with Coco, half-heartedly and somewhat
dismissively listens to his origin story, yet insists on calling him a
friend and going off-his-head with worry when he thinks Coco may have
drowned; I kept thinking that the transition may have been improved by a
brief note like 'A.Ape found himself thinking of Coco as a friend despite
their new found ability to argue'.  Or perhaps the way Dr Disagree was
present in the opening scene for the way A.Ape killed Dr Anthropologist,
then six weeks later is chasing A.Ape for what sounds like ages; It could
be inferred that Dr Disagree is chasing A.Ape to bring him to justice
(for at least manslaughter charges), but his exact motivation is never
addressed, and Dr Disagree's s dismissal of Coco as a wanted criminal
sits funny if that were the case.  Oh, and the use of the phrase 'military
marsupials' rather than 'military mammals' to describe Coco and Colonel
Cologne was pretty jarring too, come to think of it, but that's probably
just a typo.
     Basically, there was lots of funny, but I had the nagging feeling
that it was made up as it went along - something belied by the end notes'
suggestion that Mitchell had at least some of this planned in advance.

Tales From The Gutterground #1
'The Runaway Chaotic, Sporadic, Traumatic, Make-it-Up-As-You-Go-Along-
Story Game  Part One'
A Miscellaneous [Misc] series
by Arthur Spitzer

     Arthur decides to start his own _Guttertrash_ inspired series rather
than continue posting under the actual title of Abhay Khosla's classic
series.  Which IIRC makes it the second such _Guttertrash_ inspired
series after Jamie Rosen's _Stolen Garbage_ title from the late 1990s.
     Now, I was going to continue this review with: "When you stop to
think about it, it's amazing how much Arthur's current writing style,
perhaps best described as 'What The Hell Have You been Smoking This
Time?', allows him to pastiche Abhay's _Guttertrash_ series."  But then
I realised that that's not quite true.  It's merely his most commonly
used current writing style, since his _Legion of Net.Heroes_ vol.2 #14
and _Cauliflower the Christmas Miracle Pooch_ are nowhere near as
nihilistically surreal as his other recent stuff...)
     Anyway.  A high school student with a gun goes berserk on a school
bus and tries to hijack it to Colombia to become a drug lord, but is
blown away by the driver, who then reveals that he's the brother of Walt
Disney and is on a mission to stop Walt from being revived from cryogenic
storage and as a result, sorry kids, you're all probably going to be
killed in the explosion when the nuclear bomb strapped to the bus goes
off.  Told from the perspective of one of the cheerleaders.

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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