REVIEW: End of Month Reviews #48 - December 2007 [spoilers]

Saxon Brenton Saxon.Brenton at
Wed Jan 30 15:53:13 PST 2008

 [REVIEW] End of Month Reviews #48 - December 2007 [spoilers]
Reviewed This Issue:
     Coherent Super-Stories #13  [ASH]
     Easily-Discovered Man #49  [LNH]
     I Can't Believe It's Not No-Point Lad & Dismal-Hope Kid
          Special #7  [BP/LNH]
     Possum Man: Relinquished #4  [LNH]

Also posted:
     58.5 #13, 17-20  [LNH]
     Beige Countdown #6  [LNH]
     Journey Into... #5  [8Fold]
     New Exarchs #7-9  [SG/LNH]
     Northern Vendetta   [ASH]
     Sporkman #4-7  [SG]
     Late late late late late...
     Let's see.  What can I babble about for you this month?  Oh, I
     Over the slow period of summer school the UTS Library is having 
some more construction work done, to complete the extensions on levels 4

and 5.  It was planned for all the books on those levels to be moved
Building 5 (which includes the Library) to Building 10 (about 3 blocks 
away).  They would be reallocated and neatly arranged on the shelves in 
Building 10, and twice a day there would be a collection run where staff

would drive up and collect any books that the summer school students
     Then, on the Tuesday afternoon half a week before the books were to

be packed up by the removalists, it was discovered that the floors at 
Building 10 would not be strong enough to bear the weight.  (As one 
astute student pointed out to me later, this is mildly strange, 
considering that before being purchased and renovated by UTS, Building
was originally the Fairfax Building, where the Fairfax publishers had 
their newspaper printing presses.  You'd think if the floors where 
strong enough to support printing presses then they should be strong 
enough to support several tons of library books - but apparently this 
is not the case.  Possibly the renovations changed the load bearing 
strengths, or something.)
     Anyway.  Wait a few days.  Then...  PANIC!
     It was decided to build a few rows of extra shelves behind the 
references collection on the Library's entry level, and use these to 
shelve about three thousand or so of the most highly used books for use 
during the summer school period.  Meanwhile the rest of the books would 
be packed away in storage, completely unavailable.  Of course, the work 
for this happened all on the very last day before the packing by the 
removalists began, so that things got a bit... hectic.  And even so, 
it's unlikely that books selected because they have the highest usage 
count will automatically correlate to the textbooks most needed by the 
summer school classes.  Fortunately there was time to contact at least 
some of the summer school staff for what sort of textbooks they needed 
be made available.
     Spoilers below...
Coherent Super-Stories #13  
'The Murders On Main Street'
An Academy of Super-Heroes [ASH] series
by Dave Van Domelen
     The starting point for this was the free association 'Powerpuff 
Girls as Depression-era prostitutes'?  Okay.  That's no weirder than 
the origins of some plot ideas that I've experienced myself.  (For the 
record, should I ever be asked the question, 'Where do you get you 
ideas?' my answer will be the literally correct - if not necessarily 
easy for those looking for a quick shortcut - 'Read widely, cultivate 
an overactive imagination that respects nothing and nobody, and then pay

attention to what it babbles to you'.)
     Anyway.  We met White Hat last issue.  In this story he and the 
ghost of his uncle Abe are chasing down a murderer and arrive in
There they meet a trio of spiritualists called the Newton Sisters and 
help them solve an unrelated murder spree by someone with superhuman 
     The murderer (who gets to briefly revel in the name Professor 
Pandemonium) turns out to be an uplifted ape, created in part by the 
biological experiments of a university professor.  In part he is also 
the inadvertent fault of the Newton Sisters, since the downside of their

genuine supernatural abilities is that the use of their powers tends to 
derange reality and cause strange and destructive things to happen.  The

Sisters understand this limitation, and after Pandemonium has been 
disposed of they decide that it is time to move on.
     A point of interest for me was the way that Dirk is overshadowed 
by his supporting cast.  He's a powerful enough leading character, but 
unfortunately he's also a rather generic one.  While he's busy being 
strong, resourceful, manly and where necessary gentlemanly, his uncle, 
the Newtons, and even Professor Pandemonium are busy stealing the show.

In fact, Dirk gets the dual role of being the titular hero (with the
commensurate action scenes), but also as the point-of-view character for

the audience to follow as the story explores the situation.
     Meanwhile Abe seems to be enjoying being a snarky ghost more than a

vengeful ghost.  I guess he get's more uptight about the vengeance
Jack Rogers as time goes on.  The Newton Sisters all have strong, if 
sometimes broadly painted, personalities based on the Powerpuff Girls.  
And Professor Pandemonium is a particularly memorable villain, combining

intellectual arrogance and a non-human territorial drive.  (Now, I may 
be giving Pandemonium's potential as a villain too much credit because 
he's an ape, but I suspect that if he had survived and learnt the lesson

of not confronting his opponents directly, he could have made a Gorilla 
Grodd level mastermind with a series of increasingly elaborate and 
demented schemes to conquer the world/mark out his territory.  Just an 
Easily-Discovered Man #49
'Funeral For An Enemy'
A Legion of Net.Heroes [LNH] series
by Rob Rogers
     After learning of the death of the Waffle Queen last issue, 
Easily-Discovered Man and Easily-Discovered Man Lite begin to search for

her killer.  They start by infiltrating the memorial for her organised 
for her fellow net.villains.  Then, with the help of Londonbroil they go

to interview her ally Mrs Butterworth, only to discover her murdered as
     Well damn.  I'd better make a mental note to myself to nominate Rob

for the discretionary 'Also Crapping On Garth Ennis From A Great Height'

award for the 2007 RACCies.  As I've noted in the past, part of the
humour that derives from the character of Easily-Discovered Man (and for

that matter, Writers-Block Woman) is shortfall between their absolute 
faith in the four-colour morality of superheroes at their best and the 
actual state of the world around them.  And considering that the 
Looniverse is a humour setting, which both satirises the genre
of superheroes, and allows for the characters to break the fourth wall
knowing comment on that satire, this takes a rarefied form of insanity 
to pull off.  It probably makes it easier to write that neither Easily-
Discovered Man nor Writers-Block Woman are the focus characters of the 
series - instead being, in literary terms, obstacles for their sidekicks

to manage.  Nevertheless, their insanity is an uplifting and ennobling 
insanity.  We're talking the whole Don Quixote/Knight of Doleful 
Countenance bit here.  What's particularly interesting in this case is 
that the Waffle Queen shared that rather specialised romanticism of the 
way superhero/supervillain conflict should be carried out.
     Uhm, yeah.  So what it all boils down to is that I was quite taken 
by Downyflake's eulogy about the way that the Waffle Queen was more 
interested in the aesthetics of killing he opponents than in the act 
itself.  I also liked the musical introduction by Sing Along Lass with 
Kid Recap on piano.
I Can't Believe It's Not No-Point Lad & Dismal-Hope Kid Special #7
A Legion of Net.Heroes [LNH] series
by Tim Munn
     Was there a point to this?
     (Kidding!  Just kidding!  Put down chair down!)
     Okay.  No Point Lad has an argument with Dismal Hope Kid and
off and does stuff before coming back and abusing Cheesecake-Eater Lad.

Or more likely the Cheesecake-Eater Lad robot, since this is taking
during Infinite April and Cheesecake-Eater Lad would have been replaced 
at this juncture.  (Hmm.  And is that human/goat hybrid related to 
Kid Kid?)
     In any case, this story isn't strong on plot, but is strong on 
characterisation for No Point Lad.  It's pretty clear that even after
this time No Point Lad is still somewhat deranged because of his powers.
Possum-Man: Relinquished #4
'Mommy, Don't Let The Bad Possum Hurt Me'
A Legion of Net.Heroes [LNH] series
by Mitchell Crouch
     These individual issues of this series are definitely getting 
longer.  No, really.  Compare the line counts in the header information.

See, issue 4 is twice as long as issue 1.
     The plot in brief is that Possum-Man has his knock-down drag-out 
fight with first Duck McMuck and the White Boomer, and then
For the past few issues he's been having on and off confrontations with 
this lot, but now the mood and pacing /seem/ to reach a climax as the 
villains get co-ordinated.  The villains close in on both Possum-Man and

his support cast, and the hero has to put in considerable effort to save

himself and his friends.  But finally the villains are captured and all 
seems well - until Pos is confronted by the fact that the mysterious 
'mistress' for whom all three of the abovementioned villains are 
working is not only still unaccounted for but is still gunning for him.
     Up until that last scene the mood and structure of the story had 
felt like it had built to a story climax: particularly the whole 'hero 
fights to save the lives of the badly wounded friends'.  But then the 
mistress cliffhanger contextualised that climax as a type of arc
or chapter ending instead.  If you've been going with the flow of the 
story rather than keeping track of the minutiae (in this case I was
with the former on the first read through) it's a neat bit of bait-and-
switch.  The question that now needs to be answered is how Possum-Man's 
struggle against 'The Mistress' will be handled now that it seems to be 
escalating into the next apparent sub-arc of the story.  I can think of
few rather simple and obvious possibilities (the most humorous involving

Possum-Man trying to handle her in exactly the same way as he did her 
minions, and failing utterly because she's so much more competent than 
they were).  In any case, we'll have to see what direction the plot
in future issues.
     Meanwhile, Tarq muses in the end notes that he has a nagging
that there's something he's overlooking in Possum-Man's character.  
I thought I'd have a look at this, so I went back through his
in  _Alt.stralian Yarns_ #3-6 and the _Possum Man_ issues so far and see

what descriptive summary I can make of the character.  Hmm.
     Now, having pondered on this for a better part of a month I can't
that there's really any area of characterisation that seems to have an 
obvious shortfall.  Even his so-far-only-hinted-at-secret-origin at the 
university bar doesn't seem too pressing in terms of supplying
since at this point it seems that Possum Man is motivated by what the 
DC Heroes RPG called 'The Thrill Of Adventure' rather than being driven 
by some dark trauma to fight crime.  Well, unless the UniBar incident
caused Possum-Man some sort of dark trauma with an associated state 
composed of equal parts denial and derangement.  I'd have to turn the 
question back to Tarq: Perhaps the missing part can be tracked down by 
homing in on where things feel wrong.  What *part* of the character do 
you think is missing something?  Personality?  Motivation?  Dialogue?  
Is it occurring during net.hero scenes or the civilian identity scenes?
     Looking over the development of Possum-Man's character, the main 
difference seems to be that he was playing second-stringer to Been-Out-
Bush-Way-To-Long Man in his early appearances.  In _Alt.stralian Yarns_ 
it's clear that BOBWTLMan is the leading man, and by story convention 
everyone defers to him (although BOBWTLMan was given some strong 
character traits to justify that deference).  In _Possum Man_ it's Pos 
who's the leading man: he acts that way and everyone else automatically 
follows his lead.  Even supporting characters like Office Hank, who 
sometimes gets irritated with Pos's obtuseness and in other 
circumstances would probably pistol whip him and throw him in the
    Other than that Possum-Man's characterisation seems pretty 
consistent.  He's still slightly unhinged, and prone to do silly things 
(making him either childish or child-like, depending on how generously 
you wish to interpret his actions).  To be fair however, that may be a 
function of Tarq's writing style rather than a character trait per se.  
As Tom Russell and myself have withering on about, Tarq tends to write 
old-school LNH 'demented stories', and even the most purportedly 
responsible of his characters will still suffer from too-much-machismo 
or some variation of easily-distracted-by-shiny-things.  Possum-Man
tries to maintain a net.hero image by doing things that are cool rather 
than are sensible.  Which, incidentally, carries through to his skills.

He's not an incompetent by any means, but his skills tend to run towards

riding motorbikes dramatically, or being able to climb up trees or onto 
roofs in order to lurk in shadows.  On the other hand he does have a 
well developed and useful skill for fast-talk.
Saxon Brenton   University of Technology, city library, Sydney Australia
     saxon.brenton at 
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