REV: Robservations #2

EDMLite robrogers72 at
Sat Mar 3 22:17:30 PST 2007

Robservations:          "All Reviews That Fit We Print"

In this issue:             LNH: Possum-Man: Relinquished

Possum-Man: Relinquished
#1: "School Reunion"
#2: "Safety First"
By Mitchell "Tarq" Crouch

        Although I'm a fan of "Alt.stralian Yarns" (and "Sea Monkeys I
and II
-- heck, if Tarq posted his grocery lists, I'd probably read them), I
sure if the world needed a "Possum-Man" series.  Possum-Man was my
least favorite character in "Alt.stralian Yarns," a cheerfully
nuisance, reminiscent of the Joey Tribbiani character on "Friends."
we all know how well *that* spin-off turned out.

        I should have known better.  What Tarq has done in
is to make Possum-Man into one of the most complex, interesting
characters I've read about on RACC while staying true to his essential
characterization as a cheerfully ineffectual nuisance.

        Writing about super-heroes normally gives the author a chance
create a character who is supremely competent in one identity
(Superman, Bruce Banner) and awkward, flawed or vulnerable in the
other (Clark Kent, the Hulk).  This duality allows the reader to
a character with powers, abilities and access to beautiful women far
beyond anything to which they could aspire, and yet at the same time
identify with that character.

        Tarq doesn't do this.  Possum-Man isn't the kind of hero
would want to be.  As Sticks Tarqchevskison, he's a surly loner and a
struggling clown.  As Possum-Man, he's regarded as a hero -- but he's
not the sort of hero who's looked up to by children or invited to
preside over civic events:

>Content that his night's worth of work was done, he ran off along
>the wharf, flailing his arms wildly above his head and yelling
>"I am _so_ hectic!" while he dragged his Styrofoam muscles
>behind him and his possum-shaped chest hair was exposed
>to the elements.  He dived awkwardly into the harbour, and
>swam away into the night.

        Possum-Man is a lonely, possibly disturbed dreamer who fights
crime without really knowing what he's doing.  In other words, he's
kind of person who might really become a super-hero.  Which is an
interesting idea, though it wouldn't, by itself, make him interesting
read about.  The Punisher is probably the most realistic depiction of
what a super-hero might be like, but it's one I'm rarely interested in
reading about.

        So why am I so interested in poor Possum-Man?  For one thing,
he's funny.  Tarq is just as off-the-wall here as he is in
Yarns," even if the pacing and plotting of the story suggests that
he's creating something a little more polished this time around:

>Late that night, Possum-Man sat alone on the roof of a single-
>storey building that was conveniently located near the docks.
>He assumed its purpose had something to do with the
>administrative side of aquatic transportation, but he had no
>evidence either way.  And the daytime use of the building
>was completely irrelevant, anyway.  It was there, and
>he was on top of it, and that was really quite helpful of it.
>Well done, building.

        But there's also a sadness beneath all the bluster.  Not an
angst-ridden sadness: Possum-Man might feel bad about things
from time to time, but he doesn't feel sorry for himself.  Towards
the beginning of issue #1 for example, Sticks recognizes that
his best efforts as a clown don't add up to much of anything:

>He flipped it around his back, out of their sight, and applied
>some super-fast balloon-fiddlin'.  When he held it back up in
>his other hand, it was a flamingo.  "What about now?"
>The children shrieked with laughter, but then the one up the
>back yelled again, "No, it's just a different type of dinosaur!"
>Sticks blinked, but played along anyway.  "Well, so it is!"

       And yet Sticks also realizes that he doesn't need to be a
*good* clown in order to entertain children.  The kids find his
incompetence endearing.  The same is true of his super-hero
career: both the police and the community at large believe
that he is capable of protecting them.  Only Possum-Man
knows that he doesn't know what he's doing.  And while he
keeps a smile on his face at all times, that knowledge eats
at him, bit by bit.  And it's a tribute to Tarq's writing that
we're able to see it.

        I haven't even brought up Green-On-Black, an absurd
one-note villain who still manages to seem dignified next to
Possum-Man, and my favorite character to be described,
developed and killed in the matter of a few sentences:
Dr. I-Shoot-Powerful-Beams-Out-Of-The-Palms-Of-My
Hands-How-Hardcore-Am-I.  And I haven't mentioned the
ways Tarq manages to describe settings beautifully while
making the reader think that he isn't taking any of it

        While "Relinquished" is a mystery, I'm much more interested
in finding out what made Possum-Man give up the tights for five
months than I am in whether he's able to find his classmates' killers.
I want to know whether he'll allow himself to be manipulated by
his old girlfriend.  And I want to know more about why he thinks
he does what he does.  I'm still not sure that I like Possum-Man,
or that I ever will.  But I can't wait to read more about him.

        Rob Rogers
        Easily-Discovered Man Lite of the LNH

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