REVIEW: End of Month Reviews #71 - November 2009 [spoilers]

Saxon Brenton saxonbrenton at
Wed Dec 9 17:36:10 PST 2009

[REVIEW] End of Month Reviews #71 - November 2009 [spoilers]
Reviewed This Issue:
     Coherent Super Stories #18  [ASH]  {high concept 4}
     Honey-Love Bunny #1-4  [Misc]
     Just Imagine Saxon Brenton vs. Andrew Perron in the Return of the 
               RACCies! #5  [LNH/RACCies]
     Legion of Net.Heroes Volume 2 #30:  [LNH/Contest]  {high concept 4}
     Superhuman World 2009: A Date with the Darkness  [MISC/CONTEST]  
               {High Concept 4}
Also posted:
     Just Imagine Saxon Brenton vs. Andrew Perron in the Return of the 
               RACCies! #4  [LNH/RACCies]
     Just Imagine Saxon Brenton's RACCies - Trade Ethetherback  [LNH/RACCies/TEB]
     Legion of Net.Heroes Volume 2 #31  [LNH/Contest]  {high concept 4}
     The nomination period for the RACCie awards has started.  Please  
think about the stories which appeared on rec.arts.comics.creative during  
2009 that you think should be in contention.  Nominations to go to Andrew  
Perron by 31 Jan 2010.  The election period itself will end on 15 March 2010.

     Meanwhile, the theme for the fifth High Concept Contest has been  
delivered: the anachronoid, an artificial being that has been out of touch  
with the world since at least before World War II and is now trying to  
understand it.  Deadline for stories is the end of December 2009.
     Spoilers below...
Coherent Super Stories #18 
'Black Buddha of Bhutan'
An Academy of Super-Heroes [ASH] series   {high concept 4 contest}
by Dave Van Domelen
     This is the first of several stories this month that were posted for  
the fourth High Concept challenge, with the theme of the kitbashed hero,  
a character who takes on the properties of other people or things.
     It's a pulp style adventure, presented as diary excerpts from Jack  
Ripley written in the 1930s.  Jack has the ability to duplicate skills via  
physical contact, and uses them in adventure explorations to find out...  
stuff.  From a storytelling pint of view finding out... stuff... is  
important, because Jack is the (fictional) brother of the (real life)  
Robert Ripley of 'Ripley's Believe It Or Not' fame, and Jack uses his  
kit bashing abilities when he acts as an agent for his brother in searching  
out exotic titbits of information.  This is a secondary character premise  
that I find rivals the contest premise as a point of interest.
     Anyway, Jack and his team are investigating a statuette known as the  
Black Buddha of Bhutan.  The name is a misnomer, it actually being a  
representation of some type of demon and used in murderous ritual sacrifice.  
The format of presenting the tale in diary format allows Jack to  
investigate the mystery over several days yet still give the story a  
speedy pace, and the whole thing culminates in his group dramatically  
escaping from being sacrificed themselves.
Honey-Love Bunny #1-4
'Honey-Love Bunny Parks the Car'   ;  
'Honey-Love Bunny Gets A Room'  ;  
'Honey-Love Bunny Makes A scene'  and  
'Honey-Love Bunny Believes In Magic And Miracles'
A Miscellaneous [Misc] series
by Matthew Brande
     Standard administriva note: to the best that I can tell Matthew  
hasn't posted to rec.arts.comics.creative previously, and he is therefore  
eligible for the door prize of 'best new writer' in the upcoming RACCies  
     Re-reading (and re-re-reading) these stories, the only unifying trait  
that I can identify is that (a) they star Honey-Love Bunny, and (b) the  
stylistic conceit that unlike the other characters we never see Honey-Love  
Bunny speak directly.
     Frankly, that's not much to try and pull these stories together into  
a coherent whole.  I'm strongly tempted to go "WTF?", but other people  
have already gone that route and in response I feel the burning need to  
bloody-mindedly investigate this.
     Let's start at first principles.  One of the basic theoretical  
purposes of 'proper' fantasy stories is to promote the reader to look  
at the world in a different way.  In practice this doesn't happen  
particularly often, as a lot of fantasy literature is a recycling of a  
generic fantasy land ripped off from Tolkien.
     Now, simply because the Honey-Love Bunny stories are different from  
pretty much anything else on RACC does not mean they are without merit.  
It has long been commented that the American comic book market is  
disproportionately dominated by the superhero genre, and I have previously  
observed that this is replicated here on RACC.  A bit of difference would  
do us good.  On the other hand, the fact that _Honey-Love Bunny_ is  
different, defies our genre expectations, and demands effort to read and  
appreciate doesn't automatically make it some magnificent piece of avante  
guard literature.  In fact, if I was to be generous and assume that at  
least some planning went into the overall *series* rather than just into  
the *individual stories*, then taken as a whole they look to me to be some  
sort of stream of consciousness surrealist anthology.  Or to put it another  
way, it looks as though Matthew decided to tell a variety of different  
styles of stories based on a particular character who would act as the  
unifying element.  There's nothing wrong with this as a concept.  I started  
out my _Limp-asparagus Lad_ series with that as one of the secondary  
considerations, and I nicked the notion from what Neil Gaiman is said to  
have planned for his _Sandman_.
     The problem is that while it's possible to tell a succession of  
stories in different styles, this in turn requires a continuing thread of  
something else - usually of plot that forms an overarching story arc - to  
draw the series together.  I can't discern anything like that in this  
case.  There doesn't even seem to be consistency in basic motivation for  
the lead character.
     To give you an idea of what I'm talking about, let's do a brief  
compare and contrast of the four issues.  The first two stories have very  
little in the way of Honey-Love Bunny's motivation or character, instead  
focusing on the reactions (and over-reactions!) of people to Honey-Love  
Bunny.  The first seems to be a slice-of-life incident where Honey-Love  
Bunny gets mad at a dickish parking lot attendant.  The second sees a  
multitude of duplicates of Honey-Love Bunny (whose presences are never  
explained, providing more evidence for the accusation that the series is  
a surrealist tract), which sees Honey-Love Bunny arrested and accused of  
being a criminal mastermind.  This puts me in mind of Douglas Adam's  
style absurdities that happen to people, which them have to be coped  
with, but with the bureaucratic nature of the universe ultimately  
grinding you down.
     The final two stories do deal with Honey-Love Bunny's character.  The  
third story makes no mention of the arrest in issue 2.  Instead Honey-Love  
Bunny is invited out to dinner, defends a wife against a drunken husband,  
and gets to sleep with the girl.  There are some amusing scenes of Honey-
Love Bunny angsting about 'his' gender ambiguity, but overall this is a  
morality story - meaning that the protagonist does a good thing and as a  
result is rewarded.  In the fourth story there's minimal plot, with Honey-
Love Bunny having a dream and going off (with almost fairy-tale simplicity  
of motivational cause-and-effect) to consult about what the dream means,  
and ends up professing what looks like a courtly love to a Bunny Club  
     I'd suggest that this series should find something to do overall,  
whether that's tell a story to tell or explore a theme.
Just Imagine Saxon Brenton vs. Andrew Perron in the Return of the RACCies! #5  
A Legion of Net.Heroes [LNH] chaotic add-on cascade
by Andrew Perron
     Okay, so.  Last issue Andrew *finally* managed to rope in a second  
writer, making this story a proper multi-writer cascade.  This issue the  
characters (Bluetooth, Manga Man Violet, and newly joined by the Red  
Herring) proceed to advance various plot threads.  Part of this involves  
trying to get more people to represent the other colours of the spectrum  
(yes, it's turning - at least in part - into a Blackest Night parody/
pastiche/what-have-you).  For this they call upon the help of another of  
the Mangateers (aka the Power Manga), Manga Man Pink.  Another plot thread  
is used when they meet up with the heroes who have been affected by the  
Legacy Beam (Hi-Fi Lorelai, formerly Kid Hyperdefinition; and Blasferatu,  
formerly Longinus).  Other (extant) plot threads that are as yet untouched  
are regaining the Legacy Beam from the Interim Iconoclasts and figuring  
out the mystery of Just Imagine Saxon Brenton Presents the RACCies Again #6.
     - pant pant pant -
     Now, the story itself manages to advance these various plot points,  
and even throw in a brief fight scene when Convoluted Origin Man shows up,  
after having been turned into a continuity zombie by the Hungry Past.  
However for the most part the story is exposition and characterisation.  
The Mangateers act like fanboys, and so there's a lot of banter involving  
references to manga, anime, role playing games and conventions.  Meanwhile  
Bluetooth continues to struggle with his Darkening in amusing ways.  And  
the Red Herring is still as insane as it was when it first appeared back  
in _F.I.S.H. Force_.  Completely silly but perfectly readable.
Legion of Net.Heroes Volume 2 #30
'The Articulated Man!'
A Legion of Net.Heroes [LNH] series   {high concept 4 contest}
by Andrew Perron
     Here is another High Concept 4 entry.  Public Relations Kid has  
arranged for some new LNH action figures to be made with Siberian  
neo-plotdevicium, and when Kid Enthusiastic and Kid Borlung start 
playing with them the plotdevicium causes the toys to take on and swap  
attributes between the Legionnaires they represent.  Confusion and  
hilarity ensue before things are sorted out.
     This is a great little comedy of errors.  The story is a simple  
premise which is dealt with in a direct and uncomplicated way (and yes,  
I'm jealous, since my HCC4 entry collpased under its own weight in trying  
to deal with its premise).  This despite the fact that there's a large  
number of cameos, either in person or by name check.  There are also  
numerous jokes, some of them LNH specific (personal favourite was to the  
Haiku Gorilla Educational Senate Non-Action Figure), while others are  
more generally superhero comics based (such as the Siberian  
Neo-Plotdevicium paralleling Marvel's Antarctic Vibranium).
Superhuman World 2009: A Date with the Darkness  
A Miscellaneous [Misc] posting  {high concept 4 contest}
by Scott Eiler
     A final High Concept 4 entry.
     This has a feel that makes it interesting in a bemusing sort of way.  
Now, the story is fine.  Leon Utwald has absorbing properties of very wide  
remit, being able to variously absorb physical properties, information and  
superpowers.  On a dinner date with a business client who has powers  
herself he impulsively decides to demonstrate to her - and is briefly  
knocked unconscious when he encounters the darkness that Pam Brown says  
all humans are in touch with to some extent but which is particularly  
fond of her.
     The thing is it feels as though it should be the opening chapter in  
a much longer story.  For me this comes partly from the brevity of the  
plot, and mostly from the way Leon learns something but the reader doesn't  
find out what he *gets* from that information.  Specifically Leon  
encounters something overwhelmingly weird with Ms Brown, and it ends:
> So ended Leon Utwald's date with The Bride of the Ultimate Darkness.
     There isn't any indication of consequences from this, whether it be  
an overt moralising such as "And it scared him so much that he was more  
careful about who he touched in future" or an explicit teaser of future  
adventures (which the reader may or may not ever get to see) such as "And  
that experience led him further into the superhuman world."  Of course,  
Leon's reaction *could* be shown in the hypothetical next instalment.  
     On the other hand, in all probability this post was simply something  
put together for the High Concept challenge without necessarily being part  
of something bigger other than a larger setting.  In other words, perhaps  
it's not part of a larger story but simply a vignette showing part of a  
world.  Supporting this view is that the author's notes tells us that the  
Bride of Ultimate Darkness is an established character in other stories  
written by Scott and available on his webpage, while Leon is new.  It's  
plausible that Leon is simply a to-be-only-briefly-used point of view  
character, focusing on his reaction to her unique situation.  However,  
that in turn comes back to the need for the reader to find out what  
Leon's reaction *is* beyond the merely immediate and physical.
Saxon Brenton   University of Technology, city library, Sydney Australia
     saxon.brenton at 
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