REVIEW: End of Month Reviews #64 - April 2009 [spoilers]

Saxon Brenton saxonbrenton at
Fri May 8 01:21:05 PDT 2009

[REVIEW] End of Month Reviews #64 - April 2009 [spoilers]
Reviewed This Issue:
     58.5 #49  [LNH]
     Crazy Guy #30.1  [SG]
     Eggplant the Easter Miracle Komodo Dragon #4  [LNH]
     Just Imagine Saxon Brenton vs. Andrew Perron in the Return of the  
          RACCies! #1-2  [LNH/RACCies]
Also posted:
     Academy of Super-Heroes #99  [ASH]
     What, so nobody is going to comment on how late the previous issue  
was, and then wonder if this issue was going to be similarly late, and  
give me the opportunity to pop up and smugly say, "no."?
     Well, poop.  All that perfectly good setup by Andrew in this year's  
RACCies awards ceremony gone to waste.
     Spoilers below:
58.5 #49
'Cannon Fodder Triumphant'
A Legion of Net.Heroes [LNH] series
by Lalo Martins
     Well, that was suh-weet.  Cannon Fodder had finally made his way  
to the dead universe that the Xinerama are using as their base of  
operations, and although surrounded by the Xinerama - each one of whom  
is powerful enough to fight off a full attack squad of net.heroes - he  
has them exactly where he wants them.  Basically he uses the Ultimate  
Gnab (originally created by the Evilverse's version of Doctor Stomper)  
and collapses the universe on top of them.  And when that proves  
insufficient to stop them, he uses the Secretary Box to open a bang  
path to the Evilverse and collapse that on top of them as well.  I get  
the impression that he was prepared to keep doing this until he got the  
result he wanted.  Anyway, his part of the story rounds off with him  
returning the Peril Room in the LNH-HQ and laughing in triumph.  (Or  
maybe in insanity if he failed catastrophically and his mind snapped,  
or maybe in malevolence if all the death he just caused has pushed him  
into being Evil.  But I think it was hysterical triumph).
     Now, as threatened in the previous EoMR, I took the opportunity to  
print out and read the published-so-far _58.5_ during the train trip on  
Wednesday and then into the night when I couldn't finish it off in a  
mere seven and a half hours.  One interesting thing I noticed...
     Hold up.  First, one *aggravating* thing I noticed was another  
error of fact in last issue's reviews, in that the shapeshifter that  
Pantra purportedly ate in #47 was Freak of the Thundersquad/Old School  
rather than Jim Green of the New New New New New Young Teens.
     ...was the way that the two storylines/meta-arcs/quests of Cannon  
Fodder and the New Misfits have been used to interleaf with each other  
to various effects.  Sometimes this is literally the case, as in #11  
where scenes cut back and forth between the two groups at appropriate  
points in the dialogue.  Another is a Chekhov's s Gun gambit, where a  
weapon (in this instance, the Ultimate Gnab) was introduced in #22  
during the Evilverse's invasion, was used as a threat by the villain  
to destroy the Looniverse in #40-41, then was reengineered and used by  
Cannon Fodder in this issue to end the threat of the Xinerama Brotherhood.
     Or has it?  There are still nine-and-a-bit issues of this series  
to go.  Rereading the entire series so far has given me an appreciation  
of how well the whole thing hangs together.  (And this is despite  
instances where Lalo has cheerfully admitted to making up filler or  
dropping stuff because he no longer feels up to it - for example, his  
decision not to show the culminating fight between the Geekobots and  
Yuppiecon's in #10.)   It's possible that there may still be some loose  
plot threads to tie off.  This is actually quite plausible in light of  
the New Misfits' activities in issue 48 and 49, considering that they  
were assigned to deal with the giant marshmallow puppies homing in on, and that those same puppies have turned out to be a cover  
for an attempt by one Melissa clone (Vector) to murder another (the  
Crime Empress) - meaning that in terms of both theme and dangling plot  
threads the whole affair relates back to the New Misfit's self-appointed  
mission from earlier in the series to take down the Crime Empire.  Cannon  
Fodder could have a similar call back of related plot danglers.  Or  
perhaps he could spend some time experimenting with his revamped powers.   
Or... ooh!  ooh!  The appearance or the Rung of Revamp could also be an  
instance of Chekhov's Gun:  destroying two universe really might have  
driven him Evil, and the other LNHers have to trick him into using the  
Rung to return his powers and state of mind to normal.
     Okay, yes, the last part is just me being silly.  Let's move onto  
the next story on the list...
Crazy Guy #30.1
A Superguy [SG] series
by Dave Van Domelen
     In this story Dvandom briefly returns to (reprises?; temporarily  
uncancells?; brings back for a curtain call?) his old _Crazy Guy_  
series, which concluded in 1999 and the more aggravatingly dangling of  
its plot threats tied up in the first of the _Exarchs_ series.
     Basically, this is a character piece focusing on one of the  
supporting cast, Sister Sara Lopez, during an extended period when  
Stuff Was Happening elsewhere in Superguy continuity and which Dvandom  
wants to acknowledge.  This aspect presents an interesting opportunity  
to view the story from two different angles.  The first - and arguably  
the lesser of the two because of its mere mechanical nature - is as a  
piece of continuity porn: does it tie-in well with the events in the  
other storyline that it references.  The answer is yes.  However, it  
does occur to me that since Sister Sara is not a costumed superhero,  
that her activities were unlikely to ever have involved a major  
interaction with either the villains behind the invasion or the  
superheroes opposing it.  This would make it easier to slip her story  
anywhere into continuity.
     The second aspect involves aggressively ignoring all the  
continuity notes and authorial explanations and ask, does it work as  
a story in its own right?  Well, basically, yes.  Granted, this is a  
genre piece and requires the audience to understand that in a superhero  
setting Weird Sh!t Happens (and not just for random humorous reasons).   
Once that is appreciated the story holds together very well.  You'll  
notice that Dvandom has chosen not to make the action from the other  
storyline the focus of the story; it's actually background material and  
an excuse for Sister Sara to be badass while worrying about Jack.  In  
any case, as much content as is needed to explain what is going on is  
included - at least up until the end, when Jack gets to summarise his  
contractual bind with Satan and that summary is glossed over and gets  
summarised in turn with a "so you see..." statement.
     In other contexts the style of the editorial note where Jack  
summarises might be a bit jarring for some people.  As someone who read  
the series at the time it was being published, and in any case has grown  
use to Dvandom's style of ersatz Silver Age footnoting, I did not find  
it objectionable and indeed considered it near invisible.  However,  
nitpicking at the posting from the other direction (and, yes, this is  
a bit hypocritical considering that I've already said I would be  
aggressively ignoring the footnoting for the purposes of examining the  
story from this angle), the way Jack's initial summary was elaised over  
looks jarring.  It might have been kinder to new readers to have  
foregone copy'n'pasting the original text and represented it - for this  
issue only - in a way more in keeping with a stand-along story.  Say,  
hypothetically, that this was not an example of serial fiction which  
referred back to past issues, but instead was a single story in an  
SF/fantasy magazine where the background of what Sister Sara was up to  
was justified by 'that's the sort of thing that happen in superhero  
universes'.  then you might get something like:
| So Jack told her.  He told her about being left for dead in an alley.  
| He told her how Satan T. Lucifer Jones had appeared and pointed out  
| the many fine points of Hell(tm)'s health care benefits, with  
| particular reference to not leaving employees impaled on walls.   
| He told her about the clause in the proffered employee contract which  
| explicitly said he could refuse any mission that he found morally  
| objectionable.
and so on in the same style, or perhaps another one that does not  
involve editorial notes.
Eggplant the Easter Miracle Komodo Dragon #4
'The Book of Miracle Pets'
A Legion of Net.Heroes [LNH] miniseries
by Arthur Spitzer 
     In this concluding issue a man suffering existential angst over  
why his daughter died from cancer is writing a book on the miracle pets.   
Then, almost as if by an act of fate the cruise ship he's on is sunk in  
a meteor shower, leaving him and several others on a life raft with  
Eggplant.  The golden opportunity to not only research his book, but  
also to ask the question of why his daughter died rather than making a  
miraculous recovery.  But he never carries through with it.  And that's  
only partly because they were busy killing Adolf Hitler and destroying  
his brain, because to be fair that only took up part of the first day.
     Okay, so.  You know there's a genre of English disaster novels,  
like John Wyndham's _Day Of The Triffids_, where some disaster happens  
and civilization has the underpinnings knocked from it, and instead of  
heading in the direction of American disaster stories where the  
survivors go in for post-apocalyptic chic and form motorcycle gangs,  
these survivors instead go for English genteelism and try to hold onto  
civilisation in the manner as before including afternoon tea and scones,  
which turns out to be rather difficult to carry out because everyone is  
under stress and only a half-step away from going batsh!t insane?   
Right.  This story by Arthur is like that, only with added komodo  
dragons dressed in Easter bonnets.
Just Imagine Saxon Brenton vs. Andrew Perron in the Return of the RACCies! #1-2
A Legion of Net.Heroes [LNH] chaotic add-on cascade
by Andrew Perron
     Yes, the name, heck, the entire series *and* it's predecessors,  
is a running joke.  No, I didn't have anything to do with it.  Didn't  
suggest it, certainly didn't bribe people to keep it going.  Frankly  
I'm beginning to wonder if it's to harass me into writing more _Limp-
Asparagus Lad_.  Certainly the revelation by Pointless Award's Man IV  
in issue 1 that RACCies cascades in-and-of-themselves are no longer  
sufficient to hold off the Hungry Past because I am no longer organising  
the RACCies and hence the Limp-Asparagus Force is no longer suffusing  
the RACCies based cascade reads like it.  But I'm probably just being  
paranoid.  Or more likely I'm blathering since I'm feeling tired because  
this is the last review being typed and in any case it's a *cascade*  
and they tend to more about fun that literary merit. 
     Uhm.  So.  Bluetooth and Pointless Awards Man IV meet in the  
Abandoned Warehouse District of Sig.ago, and PAM explains why he's  
trying to get another RACCies cascade going, in the process getting  
Bluetooth to give a plot summary of the previous three _Just Imagine..._  
cascades.  Then the Interim Iconoclasts show up, demanding to know  
whether plot threads from issues of LNH series that were skipped over  
have been resolved.  Bluetooth makes some initial headway in fighting  
them, but they successfully argue him into consciousness, prompting PAM  
to reveal his former identity as Manga Man Violet.
Saxon Brenton   University of Technology, city library, Sydney Australia
     saxon.brenton at 
The Eyrie Archives of Russ Allbery which collect the online superhero  
fiction of the rec.arts.comics.creative newsgroup and its sibling group  
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