REVIEW: End of Month Reviews #48 - December 2007 [spoilers]
saxonbrenton at hotmail.com
Wed Jan 30 16:57:40 PST 2008
[REVIEW] End of Month Reviews #48 - December 2007 [spoilers]
[2nd post. Considering that the whole post was composed in Notepad
(for that crisp and crunchy 7-bit ascii look) and only the hard
carriage returns/line breaks were instered in Word, I'm a bit
worried about where all those extraneous lines came from]
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]
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 know.
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 from
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 wanted.
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 10
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.
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 Wyoming.
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 against
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.
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 great
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 conventions
of superheroes, and allows for the characters to break the fourth wall to
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 wanders
off and does stuff before coming back and abusing Cheesecake-Eater Lad.
Or more likely the Cheesecake-Eater Lad robot, since this is taking place
during Infinite April and Cheesecake-Eater Lad would have been replaced
at this juncture. (Hmm. And is that human/goat hybrid related to
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 all
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 Green-On-Black.
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 conclusion
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 going
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
a 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 takes
in future issues.
Meanwhile, Tarq muses in the end notes that he has a nagging feeling
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 appearances
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 say
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 motivation,
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 has
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 lockup.
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 still
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 uts.edu.au
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