[REVIEW] End of Month Reviews #66 - June 2009 [spoilers]

Saxon Brenton saxonbrenton at hotmail.com
Sun Jul 12 16:30:19 PDT 2009

[REVIEW] End of Month Reviews #66 - June 2009 [spoilers]
Reviewed This Issue:
     Easily-Discovered Man #50  [LNH]
     The Forgotten Vigilante  [Misc]  {contest}
Also posted:
     Coherent Super Stories #17  [ASH]  {contest}
     Legion of Net.Heroes Volume 2 #29
     The Forgotten One  [Misc]  {contest}
     One More Day  [Fic]  {[Misc]  contest}
     Ten Word Masterpiece Theater #18  [LNHY]  {contest}
     Thunderclap #14  [Pincity]
     Well, that's annoying as all get-out.  I had the EoMR for June all  
typed up and ready to post for Sunday (that would be Saturday for all  
you people on the other side of the Time Crapper's Iron Curtain of  
International Date Line).  But now that I go to look for the file, it  
seems to have been deleted/gone missing/been eaten by Shub-Internet.   
Quoth the raven: "Bugger!"
     Recreating the review of _Easily-Discovered Man_ #50 will be  
trivially easy, since I'll just go back to my hand written notes (why,  
yes, it is often the case that I write up stuff on the bus travelling  
to and from work, and then transcribe them later; doesn't everybody do  
that at some point or other?).  However the extensive sequence of  
compare and contrast between the various entries for the high concept  
contest was done on the fly, and I don't think I have the time or  
inclination to recreate them in full.
     Anyway, let's get the administrivia out of the way.  Tom announced  
another of his writing challenges in mid June. This one was cast in the  
form of a full blown contest: write a story based on the high concept he  
provided. In this first instance the concept was 'the Forgotten Man', a  
depression era character who is forgotten every 24 hours.  Full details  
may be found in the original post:
The contest closed on the 3rd of July, and voting for the six stories  
that were submitted is now underway up until 18th July 2009 at:
The winner gets the honour of nominating what the high concept for the next  
challenge will be. So: go, read, vote.  Meanwhile, I've marked the relevant  
five stories in the lists above with {contest}. The sixth one (mine,  
typically) ran over into July.
          Anyway, spoilers below:
Easily-Discovered Man #50
'Easily-Discovered Man No More'
A Legion of Net.Heroes [LNH] series
by Rob Rogers
     I dunno.  On the one hand it always gives me a satisfied feeling  
looking at a new post from a series on RACC that's reached a substantive  
issue number.  It kind of feels like an affirmation that there are people  
hereabouts plugging away for the long haul.  Which is a profoundly  
superficial and stupid reaction, because as a long time resident I also  
know there are people like Martin Phipps and Tom Russell who have huge  
oeuvres, even if only some have reached the tantalising and deceptive  
high series numbers.  And this is before taking into consideration any  
artificially high series numbers created for parody purposes (Hubert  
Bartels produced an impressive run of stories for Panta, but let us not  
forget that the _Tales of the LNH_ series was created ex nihilo at  
issue 278.), or series such as my own _Limp-Asparagus Lad_ which  
succumbed not once, but twice, to the error of thought that it could  
skip over planned story arcs to get to the meaty bits and then come  
back and fill in the gaps later.
     So, what can we say about _Easily-Discovered Man_ #50?  Hmm.  Well,  
the long term story arc continues to be shaped by the death of the Waffle  
Queen.  For example, a new villain called Dessica attacks EDMan, Lite and  
Substitute Lad in an attempted audition as the replacement Waffle Queen;  
then, allegations are aired that the Waffle Queen and her assistant Mrs  
Butterworth were murdered by Screensaver.  However, in this issue there  
are also a number of crossover elements coming into play as events of  
the 'Infinite Leadership Crisis' from _Legion of Net.Heroes Comics  
Presents_ and _Beige Countdown_ raise their heads and begin to shape the  
plot as well.  Adamant-Authority-On-Everything has been ticked off at  
Lite's pranks during the ILC, and arranges for Lite to be drummed out of  
the Legion; Frat Boy conspires to aid Adamant as a way to protect Lite  
from the obsessive vengeance of Mynabird; and Cynical Lass announces she  
about to leave on the space mission depicted in _Beige Countdown_.
     All these events are quite clearly sign posted in one way or another.  
Nevertheless, as I think back and try to recollect the events of the  
previous few issues I realise that I'm going to have to go back and reread  
those issues, in much the same way that I had to go back and reread _58.5_.  
In this case it's not so much the large number of issues with attendant  
plot twists that I'm worried about keeping track of. Nor  is it merely the  
long periods between issues.  Rather, it's because the series acts like  
Lite himself: with aggressive insouciance, with its plot taking its sweet  
time and wandering wherever whim takes it.  It's not quite as bad as the  
self-deprecating comment that Lite makes in the prelude, that any story  
involving sex, romance or consistent storytelling isn't going to involve  
him.  Demonstrably _Easily-Discovered Man_ is quite good storytelling in  
terms of characterisation, dialogue, pacing of individual issues, and  
bringing the funny.  However across multiple issues the 'plot' of  
investigating the Waffle Queens murder has become less of the A-plot and  
more like a theme or a recurring motif.
The Forgotten Vigilante 
A Miscellaneous [Misc] posting  {high concept contest}
by Scott Eiler
     Rather than recreate all four posts for the high concept contest,  
I'll just focus on one and also use it as a dumping ground for general  
observations.  _The Forgotten Vigilante_ gets the nod as the venue  
because as far as I can determine this is author Scott Eiler's first  
story on rec.arts.comics.creative, which also means that he's eligible  
for the door prize in the 'Best new Writer' category at next year's  
RACCies awards.  (Grumpy voice:  not that I expect you people are  
actually paying much attention when I do that sort of nitpicking.  Last  
year I did a test and for once did *not* compile and submit a list of  
all the new writer eligibles.  And guess what, nobody else did either.  
Grump grump grump grump grump.) 
     Ahem.  Anyway.  One thing to keep an eye on as you read these stories  
is the way that each one does or does not handle the interplay between the  
explanation of how the curse of being recurringly forgotten comes about,  
how the protagonist explores the mechanics and implications of the curse,  
and how well those two explanations are integrated into the basic  
storytelling structure of setting up an unusual situation and watching the  
protagonist struggle his way through  (and interestingly, all the authors  
involved took Tom literally in making their forgotten man figures as  
males.)  Each story handles these factors in different ways. 
     For example, in _The Forgotten Vigilante_ the exact cause of the  
mnemonic rebooting is never solidly explained, nor is it in my _The  
Forgotten Man_.  A possible explanation may be hinted at, but in these  
two instances the important factor is not how the character got where  
he was, but instead how he handles his situation.  Edouard Morowiecz  
in _The Forgotten Vigilante_ takes up the task of tracking down Nazi's;  
the vigilante in my story goes a bit insane and wages a war on crime  
conducted at any price.  
     By comparison, for Colin Surry in 'Dear Diary' in _Coherent Super  
Stories_ #17 the reason that he suffers from recurring exo-amnesia is  
critical to his motivations and actions.  He was a corrupt cop who feels  
responsible for a massacre, and whose latent powers have manifested in  
this way as a function of punishing himself (shades of the cod-psychology  
of the old Wild Cards series), and who has since deluded himself into  
thinking he's under an external curse from Hawaiian deities.  Moreover,  
it also acts as incentive for him to info dump his situation as a form  
of confessional, so that his origin is covered by both the 'tell' and  
'show don't tell' aspects of storytelling.  A further comparison on this  
point comes from the protagonist of Martin's _The Forgotten One_.  Unlike  
all the other high concept stories this one shows the origin of the  
character and his exploration of how his curse works, even though the  
story itself is told after the fact.  This could make for dry reading,  
but Martin takes the time to add little incidents to keep audience  
interest, such as the hilarious episode at the halfway mark where the  
actions of Clarence the angel in granting the status of recurring  
forgetability was revealed to not be well-meaning carelessness but  
rather the deliberate malice of a fallen angel, or several run-ins with  
the law during the protagonist's exploration phase in the second half.
     A different story aspect to note is the variance in how much it  
affects the protagonists.  Edouard seems not particularly affected by the  
inconvenience at all - but at the risk of reading into the situation, it  
seems that he's at the end of his career, and consequently had decades  
to learn to manage and use his affliction/ability, or at least grow numbed  
by it.  The other forgotten man figures are all in the thick of things,  
such that even those who have learnt to cope aren't reconciled with their  
situation - with one other exception, as the protagonist of _The Forgotten  
One_ seems to be rather cold blooded in taking advantage of his situation.   
(In fact that particular character seems to have a disconnect in  
motivation, since at the start of _The Forgotten One_ he's about to  
commit suicide, whereas after he's been cursed by the demon Clarence he  
doesn't fall further into despair and instead begins exploring and  
exploiting his condition.  The only explanation I can think of is that  
perhaps at the start of the story he's pragmatically and thoroughly  
concluded that he has no further options in life, a situation that  
changes when Clarence intervenes.  But this is me rationalising.)
     This aspect has a final interesting wrinkle in the way it plays out  
in story mechanics.  In Andrew's _One More Day_ Michael Moriarty is a  
time traveller whose damaged technology and irradiated body cause reality  
to reset every day so that his actions are made to unhappen.  His  
situation is critically different from that of all the other forgotten  
men, in that he has the option to simply deactivate or destroy the  
offending flux drive should he choose, albeit at the cost of giving up  
any chance of returning home.  In simple terms, the struggle in the  
stories of all the other forgotten men is 'how do I cope with or  
overcome this situation?', whereas Michael's struggle is 'do I want to  
pay the cost of overcoming this situation?'.  This, incidentally, also  
allows Andrew to engage in his forte for emotional characterisation.
Saxon Brenton   University of Technology, city library, Sydney Australia
     saxon.brenton at uts.edu.au 
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