[REVIEW] End of Month Reviews #40 - April 2007 [spoilers]

Saxon Brenton saxonbrenton at hotmail.com
Sun May 13 05:03:08 PDT 2007

[REVIEW] End of Month Reviews #40 - April 2007 [spoilers]

Reviewed This Issue:
      Godling #11  [Misc]
      LNH Comic Presents #36-65, 400 & 500  [LNH]
      Time Capsules #9  [ASH]
      Lady Lawful And Doctor Developer #1  [ASH]

Also posted:
      Academy Of Super-Heroes #81-83  [ASH]
      Eggplant The Easter Miracle Komodo Dragon #2  [LNH]
      Superfreaks Season 2 #1-8  [Superfreaks]

     This month's theme randomly generated by you, the participants of
rec.arts.comics.creative, is 'people writing far more than their normal
schedules would lead you to expect'.  The Legion of Net.Heroes writers
marked the 15th anniversary of the LNH with a month long daily writing
project, and of these Martin did the lion's share of the work.  *Then*
Martin also went and posted eight episodes of _Superfreaks Season 2_.
Meanwhile Dvandom decided to post three issues of _Academy Of Super-
Heroes_ rather than space them out while waiting for Tony Pi to catch up
with _Conclave of Super-Villains_.
     (Waggles finger admonishingly: You will consider yourselves lucky
that Tom fell sick during this period, otherwise you would have suffered
from an information overload that would have caused your heads to
     Just so you know: (1) _Eggplant #2_ is a reprinted excerpt from
Arthur's _LNH Comics Presents_ #43; (2) _Lady Lawful And Doctor
Developer_ #1 is out of sequence in the alphabetical listing above
because I want to treat it following on from _Time Capsules_ #9; and
(3) I'm going to gather together all the `Infinite Leadership Crisis'
stuff together, even the episodes posted in May, but no, I don't intend
to discuss every single issue.
     Spoilers below:


Godling #11
'A Woman Scorned'
A Miscellaneous [Misc] series
by Jochem Vandersteen

     Okay, so Amanda Reese's accusations against Professor Quentin
Alexander *did* come at exactly the time he needed privacy to act as
Godling.  And then that plot point is turned on its head.
     Sorry, but after the gnashing of teeth over on Howling Curmudgeons
website on the inherent conceptual flaws of Dan Slott's _The Initiative_
#1, I was half expecting the fact that Professor Alexander had to change
into Godling and race off to help Safari in an attack from Devil Dog
would be interpreted by the other characters as Professor Alexander
attempting to flee from arrest, thereby incriminating himself.  I was not
looking forward to that, and indeed when I went on a family vacation over
the end of April and start of May that was the one printed out story for
April that I procrastinated on reading.  Foolish Saxon.  Instead
Alexander asks to go to the bathroom, cleverly uses his abilities to
disguise himself, goes to help Safari, then comes back with no-one being
any the wiser.  This is great.  Maybe it was just me being in a cynical
mood, but I just wasn't expecting something so fundamentally Silver Age
in outlook.  It's like Superman using his super speed and the phenomenon
of persistence of vision to be both Superman and Clark Kent in the same
room at the same time for the benefit of Lois Lane.
     On to other things.  You may recall that when I talked about
_Godling_ #10 that I noted that Amanda's scheme was seriously flawed in
the sense that with a bit of cross checking it would be relatively easy
to prove that her claims are false.  I'm intrigued by the wrinkle that
apparently she's managed to get a witness to the purported attack, but
given how effectively I was fooled by the disconnect between how Godling
would handle leaving the police station to rescue Safari, I will forbear
on speculating about whether that the witness must be lying (as one of
the supporting character's claims) or whether Amanada has used something
like hypnotic gas to make them /think/ they saw an attack.
     Nevertheless at this point I'm still happy with my assessment that
her scheme is not sound.  If nothing else Amada's backstory from this
issue of being abused and now wanting to get revenge (indeed, of being
addicted to revenge) bears this up.  But now I'm beginning to wonder
whether my assessment is *relevant*.
     Look at it this way.  To some extent both the character-motivation
and the engine-of-story points of view suggest that reasonableness is
not a pertinent factor.  This is explicit with the first, since Amanda
is trying to get revenge on innocents for childhood sexual abuse by
using sexual enticement as entrapment.  She's clearly not meant to be
fully sane.
     The second (engine-of-story) is more complicated, since there's
nothing that says the story can't switch back and forth between Silver
Age and Iron Age ways of handling the idea.  The incidents that spin out
of the basic premise can be treated modularly, after all.  But I've got
a gut feeling that any amount Silver Age treatment (such as a mcguffin
for creative use of powers, as we've seen this issue) will make it less
likely to be ostentatiously the sole point of this story arc.  That in
itself should make it easy for the reader to go along for the ride
rather than be nagged at by the illogic of it.  YMMV, of course.
     Anyway.  If you haven't been reading _Godling_ I strongly urge you
to go back and read a few issues from the archives to see what you've
been missing.

LNH Comic Presents #36-65, 400 & 500
'Infinite Leadership Crisis' parts 1-30, 400 & 500
A Legion of Net.Heroes [LNH] series
by (in alphabetical order) Arthur Spitzer, Jamas Enright, Jessica
Ihimaera-Smiler, Martin Phipps, Mitchell Crouch, Rob Rogers, Saxon
Brenton and Tom Russell.

     For me Arthur said it best in one of the behind-the-scenes emails:
'Four stories in one month; what the hell was I thinking?'
     Still, this project was a lot of fun, and it's rather heartwarming
to know that when they get their metaphorical knickers in a twist that
the LNH Writers are still capable of pulling off a stunt like this.  In
a way it's rather a shame that Jamie Rosen has been too encumbered by
Real Life to be active on RACC for the past few years, since he once
indicated that this is the type of project that he was interested in
participating in.
     So then.  Overview-of-the-crossover-with-selected-examples:  No...
Wait.  It only just occurs to me as I type this that it's a story arc
rather than a crossover , what with being self-contained within a single
title.  Huh, funky that I never noticed that before...
     Anyway, as noted in last month's EoMR, the high concept is that
Ultimate Ninja went away on vacation, and all the replacement leaders
vanished each day at midnight.  The obvious leadership fill-ins of senior
staff with experience are quickly exhausted, and then they start getting
into the unlikely candidates.
     Now, anyone who thinks about this for a moment will recognise that
this is a pretty formulaic concept.  IIRC it was pointed out early on
in the behind-the-scenes scheming that a basic template for a Infinite
Leadership Crisis story would run something along the lines of starting
with a scene where Pulls-Paper-Out-Of-Hats Lad announced the day's
leader, there's a bit of angst about whether to take on the job, perhaps
some of the day's activities are shown, and then the leader disappears.
It is actually this structure that leads me to my only significant
dissatisfaction with a story (other than my own Footnote Girl issue):
Martin's Irony Man story took place on the second day, and the overall
story had not yet had the opportunity to establish the daily structure
that the fill-in leaders were disappearing at midnight.  It was supremely
in character for Irony Man to boast that he wasn't going to disappear,
but I think he vanished too early in the day and without a much needed
follow up.  Okay, yes, Tom managed to milk a good joke out of it in the
next episode, but t would have established the overall situation better
for a hypothetical casual reader if we had have had a scene approaching
midnight on day 2 where Irony Man makes his claim to permanency, and then
vanishes in front of other Legionnaires who then go 'Oh crap.'  Even just
two days worth of suspecting/knowing that leaders were disappearing at
midnight would have been enough to establish a pattern, which later
episodes could show or ignore as they needed.
     And of course once the basics were established many of the episodes
did tinker with the formula.  The main variables of the stories were
always the personalities of the nominees, but the way the stories were
told had a bit of room for variation.  For example, Martin's use of day
12 to cover two leaders (for day 12 and 13), then use the 'free' post
for day 13 to have a 'Meanwhile...' episode was an early example; and
later on Rob used the fact that he never started one of his episodes
with the appointment of a leader to set up the situation where he could
bait-and-switch the apparent leadership of Easily-Discovered Man over
the actual appointment of Easily-Discovered Man Lite.  Then there was
Jamas's episode where the remaining LNHers conspire to drive away the
obnoxious FAQ Boy.  I know that in my later episodes I was trying for
a bit of variety, which is why Occultism Kid managed to unearth the
identity of the person responsible but ran out of time before he could
tell anyone, and why I had a villain fall victim to the disappearances
in the Footnote Girl episode.  (Hmm.  I wonder if Bart the Dark
Receptionist used his power devices to transport Tiddles to somewhere
else on May 2, or whether the evil cat arrived in the midst of over 400
days worth of net.heroes who had been informed of what he'd been up to.)
Even something as simple as Browsing Boy waking up alone after his wife
Linguist Lass had vanished made a change, in addition to making an
emotionally charged ending; and the use of Sarcastic Lad's not-often
remembered history that he gets his powers and personality from being
possessed by a demon.  It certain adds a wrinkle to Sarcastic Lad's
character that he's got the will power to keep the demon under control
and only be a pain in the butt rather than be actively malevolent.
     However, in the end the characters and how they coped were the main
point, and I think all the episodes stood up quite well.  See, all the
writers involved were either fanboys or fangirls, and characterisation
and past continuity *matter* to us.  None of this idiot plot characteris-
ation for us, nosirreebob.  I think I recall Mitchell voicing some
concern about getting a proper grip on the characters he had, but those
stories turned out fine and I particularly liked the Politically Correct
Person issue.

Time Capsules #9
'Development Cycle'
An Academy of Super-Heroes [ASH] series
by Andrew Burton

Lady Lawful And Doctor Developer #1
'Swing Of Things'
An Academy of Super-Heroes [ASH] series
by Andrew Burton

     I'll take these two together because they're essentially two
facets of the same story.
     It's the 1990s - either shown in flashback on DVD or directly.
_Time Capsules_ shows a series of encounters between Lady Lawful and
the eccentric-gadgeteer-with-a-deathtrap-fetish villain Doctor Developer
which eventually leads to Lady Lawful hauling Doctor Developer into the
role of super team tech guy.  This is done on the not unreasonable
principle that he's never been a truly vicious villain: meaning that
not only is he not particularly morally objectionable to work with, but
also that he needs to be protected from his own habit of accumulating
ticked off enemies who are still alive.  Eventually he proposes to her.
_Lady Lawful And Doctor Developer_ is set at an indeterminate point
towards the end of this period, and is a character piece vignette where
the couple go shopping.
     So, it's either 'Oh, ick, romance by deathtraps or' or 'Oh cute,
romance by deathtraps' depending on your take on the matter, I suppose.
Doctor Developer is a complex character when you start to think through
the implications of his motivations.  He's superficially amusing.  But
also a bit of a worry when you think of how his bondage fetish manifests.
But then he's rather inspiring in the way he doesn't let his fetish lead
him into hurting others.  Regular sex is probably good for him, even
though anyone who's familiar with the basics of the ASH setting will
look at the dating on the DVD and realise that they're only going to get
one year of marriage before Lady Lawful inevitably vanishes at the climax
of the Godmarket.  (Yes, I thought of this before looking at the urled
pages in the endnotes that mention it; I'm a continuity geek after all.
I wonder if DD tries desperately to try and keep the world stable after
the Godmarket, or if he goes off the deep end after the loss of his wife.
I can't imagine Andrew or Dvandom not having considered the question.)
     Lady Lawful doesn't get quite as much character development, but
then it's early days yet.  A lot of what she does get in _LL & DD_ is
second hand commentary, so we'll probably get to see how accurate Doctor
Developer's understanding of her is.  And hopefully we'll also get to
see what his real name is.

Saxon Brenton   University of Technology, city library, Sydney Australia
     saxon.brenton at uts.edu.au
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