REVIEW: End of Month Reviews #53 - May 2008 [spoilers]

Saxon Brenton saxonbrenton at
Sun Jun 8 19:24:21 PDT 2008

[REVIEW] End of Month Reviews #53 - May 2008 [spoilers]
     58.5 #28-29, #39-43  [LNH]
     Academy of Super-Heroes #88-89  [ASH]
     Anthology 2: Heatwave #1  [AC]
     Ars Magna #3  [AC]
     Beige Countdown #10  [LNH]
     Hymenoptera  [Misc]
     Jolt City #13  [8Fold]
     Legion of Net.Heroes Vol.2 #26  [LNH]
Also posted:
     Alt.stralian Yarns #15 Teaser  [LNH]
     Sourcebook - Collapsinum  [ASH]
58.5 #28-29, #39-43

'Man I Was Mean But I'm Changing My Scene'  (Part 11 of Beige Twilight)  ; 
'Equal To The Love You Make'  (Part 12 of Beige Twilight)  ;
'I Believe in Yesterday'  ; 
'I Know What's Coming Down And I Know Where It's Coming From'  ; 
'You Don't Believe We're On The Eve Of Destruction'  ; 
'All Along The Watchtowel'  and 
'I Wanna Be Evil, I Wanna Be Mad But More Than That, I Wanna Be Bad'
A Legion of Net.Heroes [LNH] limited series
by Lalo Martins
     What, I haven't done a 'What Is This?' summary for _58.5_ yet? 
[checks back issues]  Oh, I see, I didn't do a full review for issues 
22-27 in February when I started using the 'What Is This' conceit. 
Okay then.  Ahem.
     What Is This?:  A limited series that is a rough equivalent to, 
and parody to, DC Comics' _52_ limited series.  It is set during the 
'Infinite April' of 2007 when the Legion was electing a new leader each 
day and then having him, her, or it disappear at midnight - as seen in 
the 'Infinite Leadership Crisis' stories in _Legion of Net.Heroes 
Comics Presents_.  However, rather than focusing on the individual 
'leaders for a day', _58.5_ is dealing with other stuff.  Part of this 
is ongoing superhero adventures.  However, via the process of 'show, 
don't tell' it's also been demonstrating why President Hex Luthor has 
been taking some of the political measures that have been/will be 
causing problems for the Legion during the _Beige Countdown_ and 
_Beige Midnight_ periods.
     Issues 28 and 29 are cases in point.  While many of the Legion's 
membership have been disappeared (and replaced with robotic duplicates, 
for publicity's sake), there has also been an invasion of Evil 
Legionnaires from another universe who have infiltrated the Legion 
and attempted to stage a coup.  Hex Luthor has ordered the city of 
Net.ropolis sealed within a force field dome, and now a fight between 
the mainstream Looniverse's Legion and their compatriots on the one side 
and the Evilverse Legion on the other has broken out.  Which brings us 
up to date.
     Now, the bulk of the fight itself tended to be summarised, 
although even so there are amusing descriptions such as:
| There were also trivia challenges, cooking contests, spelling 
| bees, two or three political arguments, a poker table, and a 
| patch towards the middle where Procrastination Boy and the 
| Evilverse Super Apathy Lad were leading a two-world team very 
| intently doing nothing whatsoever.
which not only gives a sense of expanded scale for the whole 
proceedings, but also summarised the style of the LNH quite succinctly. 
Analytic uses a clever method of sending a coded message out through 
the force field, whereupon the filed is dropped and reinforcements sent 
in.  The importance of all this is summarised by the Leviathan to Mary in 
issue 29: that President Luthor realises that the Legion of Net.Heroes 
is important to the defence of the Looniverse and can't be done without, 
so that if he wants to cement his power base he has to cement his 
control over the Legion.
     Then there's a big jump over issues 30 to 38, with #39 being a 
recap issue narrated by Kid Recap (wherein we are informed that during 
the gap the New Misfits managed to bring down the Crime Empire).
     Issue 40 sees Cannon Fodder *finally* meets up again with the rogue 
Xinerama brother who warned him that the rest of the Brotherhood were 
intent on destroying the Looniverse.  Apparently the Brotherhood have 
their own private universe, which is why Cannon Fodder and Kid-Not-
Appearing-In-Any-Beige-Midnight-Story couldn't find them during their 
cross dimensional investigations.  Anyway, the Xinerama brother is 
seemingly just about to make a big reveal when he gets murdered by one 
of his non-rogue fellows, and in the cliffhanger confrontation with 
Cannon Fodder prepares to use a hyper compression device called the 
Ultimate Gnab (created as a contingency by the Evilverse Doctor Stomper 
for the Evilverse's invasion) to crush the Looniverse out of existence.  
Issue 41 has a big fight scene, wherein Cannon Fodder calls in 
reinforcements, the Xinerama brother is careless enough to play the part 
of villain even though he claims not to be interested in such stylistic 
trappings, and the Ultimate Gnab is stolen by what looks like the Time 
     Issue 42 is a downtime-and-catch-your-breath story.  Cannon Fodder 
leaves to renew his search for the Xinerama Brotherhood, President 
Luthor schemes against the New Misfits, and Panta and Ripping Dancer 
try to reduce Net.ropolis's pigeon population.
     Then, in issue 43 the New Misfits are led into a trap by their 
Evilverse versions, Acla Flight.
Academy of Super-Heroes #88-89  [ASH]
'Coming Home Epilogue: The Next Morning'  and
'Kheper's Path I: Sunset'
An Academy of Super-Heroes [ASH] series
by Dave Van Domelen
     Although issue 88 does, as advertised, act as the conclusion of 
the 'Coming Home' arc, structurally it also acts as the lead in to the 
'Kheper's Path' arc that kicks in next issue.  Solar Max and Jen 
Kleinvogel have arrived back on Earth, and various debriefings happen 
off panel.  The cute conceit of this issue is that it is made up of 
conversations between people, and almost all of those conversations are 
pillow talk, occurring in (or after) bed.  The major exception is for 
Jen, but that simply underscores her growing emotional distance from 
Dan Tracy.  (Aaron and Paul make an interesting case, considering that 
they share the same head rather than the same bed, but it takes place 
in the morning after a good night, so the comparison stands 
thematically.)  There are various scenes where separated characters 
catch up, bits of world building (the bit about Detroit being a Contract 
Town looks like a shoutout to _The Reverse Engineers_), and political 
scheming in New York.  That scheming is brought into focus when the 
veteran spymaster Devlin Marx is reported murdered.
     (I use that phrasing deliberately since as of issue 89 the murder 
investigation hasn't confirmed that the antimatter explosion in his 
offices has actually killed him and left a body.  I can imagine Maria 
insisting that his murder was faked as part of an elaborate scheme by 
Marx to lure various individuals out from cover.  Heck, such a 
supposition could prove correct even after forensics confirm a DNA match 
from the residue.  This is a setting that has cloning and organ legging 
operations of various levels of legality, after all.)
     An interesting observation on a purely personal level: I've found 
that I'm not as interested in the stories set in New York.  I wasn't 
during the 'Metropolis' arc and I'm having trouble being other than 
clinically watchful now.  And I'm not sure why.  For example, it's not 
as though the politics of New York aren't as comparably arcane as those 
of Venus, or China and the Southeast Asian Treaty Organization countries, 
or the European Union/Moslem Confederation/Kingdom of Q'Nos - and I 
enjoyed the antics in those story arcs just fine.  The fact that New 
York is a smaller area than those others makes no significant difference 
in style except that the participants are all packed closer together (and 
thereby allows more opportunity for high speed motorbike chases). 
{sigh}  I'll probably figure it out eventually, so for now I'll just 
mention the fact of it.
Anthology 2 
Heatwave #1 
'The Deal'  (Heatwave Part 1)
An Artifice Comics [AC] series
by Adrian J. Watts
     Here's a relatively straightforward story about the fireman 
Shane Curtis, whose job involves using some specialised armour to 
act as the science hero Heatwave.  Immediately after the destruction 
of Pacific City, he is contacted and recruited by a woman calling 
herself Lena Kozlov for the purported reason of saving the multiverse.
     On an administrivia note, I don't think that Adrian has ever 
posted/cross posted to rec.arts.comics.creative before (thereby making 
him eligible for next year's Newbie Award) but Google groups refuses 
to even admit that this issue was posted to RACC, so I'm not sure I 
trust that conclusion to be correct.
Ars Magna #3
'Schoolyard Blues'
An Artifice Comics [AC] series
by Ashley Corgan
     What is this?  Another promotional issue cross posted from the 
Artifice Comics website.
     At first I found this rather hard to get into until I realised that 
the shifts were - for the most part - shifts between different aspects 
of the current situation rather than different scenes altogether.  
Unfortunately the first time I read the story was during late shift at 
work, so I skimmed, and the shifts combined with the fact the Imperial 
Magistrates forces jump between parallel Earths disjointed my perception 
of the story's coherence.  With that in mind I can say: this is not a 
light read, but persistence will be rewarded.
     The plot in short is that one version of a girl called Sheila 
Torrence is kidnapped/shanghaied from her home Earth [The mainstream 
Earth of the Artifice Comics publishing imprint, according to the AC 
website] by Imperial Magistrate forces led by Lady of Shadows, apparently 
as part of political machinations over a empty place in their hierarchy 
in the Imperial Alchemists.  However, other factions are after Sheila as 
     Two random observations of no particular significance:  First, once 
I had gotten my head around the plot, it occurred to me that with a setup 
like the one described, in another publishing imprint the notion of a 
teenager being kidnapped across time would make a credible young adult 
adventure story premise.  Of course, the more noirish house style of 
Artifice Comics doesn't suit that type of story, and is probably better 
suited to a more paranoid exploration of identity, power politics, and 
     Second, up until now I had never been aware that the Imperial 
Magistrate and her forces had been cross universe travellers.  (Heck, I 
hadn't even been conscious of the fact that the Magistrate had been 
female.  If the fact had been mentioned during the _Bush 43_ episodes 
that I've read, then it didn't register in my mind.)  Now, I had been 
aware that the Imperial Magistrate was a big bad, and so the mention 
of her piqued my interest almost as much as the complications of 
multiplicity over Sheila's identity had.  Looking back on that reaction, 
I wonder whether the actions of the Imperial Magistrate as shown in a 
story will be capable of living up to her reputation from her backstory.
Beige Countdown #10
'Who Stole The Stars And Put Them In Your Eyes?'
A Legion of Net.Heroes [LNH] limited series
by Rob Rogers
     Meanwhile, in outer space...
     Just so you know, this story was posted in four sections.  It's 
also part of the story that is out of sequence with what has already 
been posted, but that's not a particularly big deal considering that 
this is an outer space story compared to the Earth-bound stories that 
surround it.
     Anyway.  A contingent of Legionnaires head into space in order to 
stop the threat posed by the Legion of Net.Villains (led by Mynabird) 
releasing the criminals imprisoned in the Ultimate Black Hole.  There's 
a big fight scene, with lots of character bits and most of the characters 
(especially the more powerful LNHers) get something to do.  There's also 
gags (I'm torn between whether the BENDIS (the Bronze-age Emotional 
Necessitator and Decompressional Implementation System) or GENITALS 
(Garth Ennis Non-Institutional Terrifying Alternative Lifestylers ) 
from _58.5_ #28 is the better gag.  I think I'll go with BENDIS simply 
because it's a more useful plot device.)  And it looks like most of it 
was distraction so that Mynabird could steal the Power Kirby, then use 
it to conquer the universe and torment Easily-Discovered an Lite.  At 
end the LNHers are scattered across space or held captive or otherwise 
in cliff-hanger-y situations.  
A Miscellaneous [Misc] story
by Mitchell Crouch
     What is this?  Lacking anything else to post just at the moment, 
Tarq publishes a school assignment.
     An insect develops the start of a sense of aesthetics based on 
individuality and uniqueness.  However, there are degrees of 
individuality, and the insect is not prepared for the ostracism and 
loneliness that result from when its experiment with decorating its wings.
Jolt City # 13
'The Sensational Character-Find of 2007, Pt. 2: The Strange Menace of 
     Abner Schrebel!'
An Eightfold [8Fold] series
by Tom Russell
     I find myself with an embarrassment of riches of opening lines that 
could be used to express my frustration with Martin Rock's handling of 
his private life (although the Betty and Veronica games that Dani Handler 
and Pam Bierce, decide to subject him to were immensely amusing).  Let 
us merely say that it was wise of Derek Mason to look to Martin as an 
exemplar of how to be a hero and not how to be a man.  That's quite a 
condemnation of Martin incidentally, when you consider that part of his 
methodology as the Green Knight is not just to fight crime, but also 
to inspire others � especially those in the slums � to be better 
individuals.  On the positive side, the little story that Martin tells 
Derek about the brouhaha that erupted after the murder of High Roller by 
Blue Max shows that as far as four-colour he's a very good teacher.  (In 
fact, that anecdote - with all of the complexities about superhero 
responsibilities that it highlights - would have made a wonderful piece 
if Marvel Comics had actually bothered to explore the issues surrounding 
their Civil War Event rather than using it as merely a springboard for 
superhero puncheminnaface.)
     However, I've expressed my disquiet over Martin's handling of his 
private life before.  Let's look at something else.  Not at the story, 
but at the story telling.  Out of all the craft in this issue, there is 
one item that brings me up short and makes me go WTF!?, and that was 
Darkhorse and his wife Daphne inviting Green Knight and Derek over for 
dinner and not properly explaining that 'costumes optional' translates 
as the option for casual nudity.  Bwah?  Okay, the resulting social  
embarrassment was funny and sets a nice contrast against the rather 
nasty story of High Roller's murder than comes later.
     I'm not completely sure what to make of it.  Is it meant merely to 
be comedy, like the obsessive detail that the librarian gives Derek 
earlier in the story?  Is it a serious social gaffe on the character's 
     Well, on the one hand this isn't a comedy series, it's a drama 
that uses occasional comedic relief.  Behaviour so fundamentally at odds 
with general social norms - let alone the conventions of four-colour 
heroes for protecting their secret identities - seems jarringly out of 
place.  I'd even go so far as to say it undermines the verisimilitude of 
the second half of the issue.  I kept returning to that scene and 
wondering "What the hell were they thinking?"
     On the other hand, it's comedy of manners stuff, where a genuine 
misunderstanding about social mores might give the same result.  But 
again, all the participants belong to the four-colour hero scene in some 
way or other.  Even factoring in a desire on Darkhorse and Daphne's to 
try to foster a casual relationship with Green Knight, they really 
should have known better.
     More generally this returns me to the observation about how the 
various comedy series have more leeway than the serious ones to show 
somewhat (or even extremely) implausible situations.  Most comedy series 
could get away with having nudists inviting people over for dinner and 
not bothering to tell the guests in advance, and pass it off as general 
silliness being used as a setup for comedy.  In some ways that gives 
comedy an unfair advantage in how lenient a critique might be.  This is 
something that has been on my mind ever since I called out Frumpy in the 
November 2007 EoMR about using an Idiot Plot to set up the situation 
in _Mr Transparent_ #5.
Legion of Net.Heroes Vol.2 #26
'Where Monsters Come From'  (Intermezzo - Act 3)
A Legion of Net.Heroes [LNH] series
by Saxon Brenton
     This one is mine, and it doesn't work as well as it was originally 
planned.  There's no particular surprise there, since it's actually cut 
from what became _LNHv2_ #27 and in retrospect the dynamics (or at least 
the perceived dynamics) change slightly between it being a scene and 
becoming a stand alone.
     The situation is this: _LNHv2_ #27 was written in such a way as 
to experiment with different ways of providing information.  Arguments 
between characters, exposition from characters about their origins, 
political griping among characters, embarrassing secrets held by 
characters, private observations by characters, commentary by the third 
person omniscient narrator, etc.  Very Big Boy's field trip in what 
became _LNHv2_ #26 takes the form of a question and answer session used 
for teaching purposes where the didactic exposition is alternating with 
comments from the narrator.  As a stand alone story that alternating 
between two types of exposition looks a little monotonous.  And it 
probably needed a fight scene as well.
Saxon Brenton   University of Technology, city library, Sydney Australia
     saxon.brenton at
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