REVIEW: End of Month Reviews #63 - March 2009 [spoilers]

Saxon Brenton saxonbrenton at
Thu Apr 30 05:16:00 PDT 2009

[REVIEW] End of Month Reviews #63 - March 2009 [spoilers]
Reviewed This Issue:
     58.5 #47-48  [LNH]
     Thunderclap #13  [Pincity]
Also posted:
     Academy of Super-Heroes #98  [ASH]
     Very, very late. But that's not important.
     What is important is that Suicide Squid - the Ten Tentacled Avenger Of  
The Deep - had been feeling rather morose about the change to the climax of  
the _Watchmen_ movie.  You know, taking out the a giant space octopus.  
However, once he realised that there was still a cephalopod link in the  
name of the 'Sub-Quantum Unifying Intrinsic Devices' (SQUIDs), he's been  
feeling a bit better.
     Spoilers below:
58.5 #47-48
'The Two-Way Mirror Mountain'  and 
'You Ain't No Friend Of Mine' (Part 1 of Cannon Fodder Triumphant)
A Legion of Net.Heroes [LNH] series
by Lalo Martins
     Hmmm. Something that may or may not be interesting, but is at least  
tangentially relevant, was the mistake I made last issue in identifying  
Witch Princess as Disdain of the Evilverse's Acla Fright rather than  
Whatever on the New Misfits.  This is, of course, appalling, since the  
stated purpose of the EoMR is to be the prod I use to ensure I read and  
comprehend what's happening on RACC in a timely manner rather than being  
lazy and procrastinative.  Alas, backtracking through the error, it seems  
that the second read through, when I was actually writing up the entry for  
#46, happened too late at night for comprehension to work properly.
     Now, the pertinent point of this is: I should have remembered Whatever.   
After all, the discussion between herself and the Leviathan in issue 29,  
which summarised the battles between the Legion and their Evilverse counter-
parts (with its many fights, cooking contests, poker games, political debates,  
and the intense non-efforts of Procrastination Boy and the Evilverse's Super-
Apathy Lad vying to do nothing whatsoever) is one of my favourite and most  
easily recalled scenes from the series so far.  However, upon further  
reflection I realised that I could not recall much about Whatever beyond  
her apprenticing herself to the Leviathan.  Clearly, I have not been  
'soaking' in this series, in the sense of re-reading it for pleasure in the  
way I would for some others.  This, methinks, I will correct when I take a  
few weeks rec leave in early May and reread the series.  At this point I  
can't make a determination as to whether I've simply been insufficiently  
fanboyish enough in not bothering to remember stuff once I had finished  
summarising it, or whether the jumps over issues have harmed the narrative  
flow, or whether certain characters get a greater proportion of the  
characterisation than others.
     Which allows me to segue into the semi-pertinent part of the discussion  
(pokes audience with a stick: you haven't died of boredom form my  
circumlocuitous blatherings, have you? good, just checking).   
Characterisation.  Now, it most certainly is not true that the characters  
in _58.5_ don't get any characterisation.  Pantra, in particular, gets an  
number of nice little moments.  That said, I will admit that I have always  
had a problem differentiating between a stereotype and an archetype.  Still,  
the aspect of Pantra's personality that is kill-happy strikes me as a  
stereotypical cat-girl trait.  This can be put to good use for humour  
(always a useful narrative tool in an LNH story) as in #47 where in the  
wrap-up to a fight she makes the comment that the shapeshifter Jim Green  
"tasted like ~^@#@=$".  On the other side of the equation there are other  
scenes which still play upon her cat-like nature but look at it from a  
less obvious point-of-view: for example, in #48 when she waits for Cannon  
Fodder's body to regenerate "until there was enough to recover... then,  
like any good cat, I dragged it away."  Still, one thing I will need to  
keep an eye out for is whether there are any dimensions to Pantra beyond  
the obvious cat-girl aspects of self-indulgent sex kitten given to  
occasional mega violence.
     A somewhat different aspect of characterisation can be seen in the  
handling of Cannon Fodder.  Cannon Fodder is an old LNH character, and  
not unsurprisingly has had characterisation that wanders a bit.  Of course,  
he's a Legion of Net.Heroes character, and in many ways can therefore be  
defined more by the shtick of his superpowers and/or the obsession on which  
his costumed identity is based.  That said, from memory he's usually been  
depicted as within a plausible throwing distance of his main concept: the  
guy who comes back to life after getting killed.  The main differences  
have tended to be how angstily or resignedly or blasely he handled being  
used as the red shirt.  What Lalo has done is effectively taken Cannon  
Fodder back to his roots, made him aware of his own secret origin that he  
has effectively been oblivious too for the past decade or so, and gotten  
him to embrace the violence of his home newsgroup that  
clings to him.  I've actually enjoyed most of the scenes where he goes  
into his 'Zen destructive' mode, partly because he doesn't come across  
as a posturing macho tool, but mostly because he uses his abilities  
intelligently.  Putting together these two factors means that he comes  
across as intriguing because his actions run more-or-less at right angles  
to the behaviour of the standard action hero - there are ramifications to  
the use of his abilities that require specialised consideration in how  
they are applied.
     Running off on another track, it's continues to be the case that this  
series is clearly written as superhero parody compared to, say, the  
_Thunderclap_ series (below).  The plot of these two issues is basically  
Cannon Fodder and the New Misfits continuing to search for the home  
universe of the Xinerama Brothers, first arriving on Earth 308 and  
getting into a sequence of fights with local heroes and villains  
masquerading as heroes, then either being dispatched to a Xinerama prison  
or back to the mainstream Looniverse.  However, for fans of the original  
Excalibur series the arrival of the group in the Mystic Bandwagon onto  
Earth 308 is said to be drawn in art reminiscent of Alan Davis and features  
the characters in a mixture of disguises much as occurred in the 'Crosstime  
Caper'.  By comparison to this long-past fan-favourite, the dystopic state  
of Earth 308 is later summarised in terms clearly analogous to recent Event  
storylines from the big two superhero comic publishers, most particularly  
'Civil War' and 'Dark Reign'.  Structurally this works both for pacing  
purposes (it helps get past a lot of history that might not need to be  
shown; 'might' in this case because the sheer length of the _58.5_ series  
is such that it could, theoretically, fit in at least some of the story  
where those disguises where needed), as well as for the humour purposes of  
     However, there is always the risk that if too much of the plot is  
subsumed by parody references that the story as a whole suffers.  To date  
the overarching structure of _58.5_ has avoided that, simply because the  
search for the Xinerama Brothers has matched the search for the Monitors  
in _Infinite Crisis_ only loosely, allowing for various activities that  
do not map one-to-one with the events of _Infinite Crisis_.  Meanwhile the  
history of Earth 308 is not the main point of issue 47, but instead is  
only the backdrop on which the LNHers are continuing their search.  By  
comparison, if the main purpose of issue 47 had been about the struggle of  
the New New New New New Young Teens against the Thundersquad, then I think  
it would have required something more of a twist on the likes of 'Civil  
War', 'Dark Reign' etc rather than being a distillation of them.
Thunderclap #12
'Revolution Part I - Spooks'
A Pinnacle City [Pincity] series
by Rick Hindle
     And now for something much shorter.
     Plotwise the action starts in media res.  The Playboy and the Ice Queen  
are waiting in Montecavio for the ransom demanded for the safe return of  
Suzie to turn up, when they are informed that the American Ranger and co  
are in the neighbouring country of Santa Maria, and that Thunderclap is in  
captivity.  The rest of the story backtracks to detail the arrival of the  
heroes and how Thunderclap attempts in infiltrate (without his powers)  
Montecavio, until we catch up to the point where the Ice Queen gets to  
gloat that she's going to kill the captured hero.
     The story opens with the lovely scene of the Playboy being unhappy  
with the climate and room service in the place they have been lodged by  
their hosts in General Echevarria's regime in Montecavio.  The  
effectiveness of this evocative touch in bringing the Playboy to life can  
be gauged by the fact that I immediately started wondering how the Playboy  
handled not just defeats by the heroes (when you just know that he's had  
his nice clean clothes scuffed up) but also by how he handled hard work  
like setting up criminal capers.  Does he grit his teeth when doing the  
hard work of preparation?  Is he a savant planning genius who can arrange  
things with ease?  Does he simply pay lieutenants to arrange the details  
of the crime for him?  The Ice Queen, meanwhile, remains obsessed with  
revenge against the type of 'beautiful people' who made her life hard in  
high school, which in this case carries forward to include Thunderclap  
because of their recent fight in issues 9-10.
     Thunderclap, meanwhile, gets to demonstrate either utter bravery and  
confidence or utter impulsive foolishness by agreeing to leave his pin -  
the source of his powers - behind when he infiltrates Montecavio.  Possibly  
it's a combination of both, considering he is an adolescent male.  In any  
case, this sets up the cliff hanger of leading to wonder how the title  
character will get out of this one.
Saxon Brenton   University of Technology, city library, Sydney Australia
     saxon.brenton at 
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