REV: End of Month Reviews #75 - March 2010 [spoilers]

Saxon Brenton saxonbrenton at
Fri Apr 30 15:24:06 PDT 2010

[REVIEW] End of Month Reviews #75 - March 2010 [spoilers]  
Reviewed This Issue:
     Journey Into... #10  [8Fold]  {high concept 7}
     Looniverse Chronicles #1  [LNH]  {high concept 7}
     Patrick Harrison and the Canadians: the Hockey Stick Thief  [MISC]
     SW10: January 2010 #4: The Ministry of Speed  [SW10]  {high concept 7}
Also posted:
     Academy of Super-Heroes #103  [ASH]     
     SW10: January 2010 #3: Return of the She-Ra Fight Club  [SW10]
     Seventy-five issues?  Where the does the time go?
     Spoilers below...     
Journey Into... #10
'Cover Story'
An Eightfold [8Fold] series  {high concept 7 contest}
by Tom Russell
     A big problem with writing these recaps each month is that all too 
often I overanalyse things.
     Throughout this particular narrative I kept wondering 'What sort of 
leverage does she hold with the authorities that lets her get away with 
that sort of extraordinary behaviour?'  Or the media, for that matter?
     That question is never answered, and to be fair that's probably 
because it's not important to the presentation.  In a longer format, 
probably attempting to dot all the 'i's and cross all the 't's, this 
might at least be alluded to.  However, the short story format that the 
fixed time limit of the High Concept Challenge favours means that this 
is passed over.  Assuming that it exists as anything other that a 
phantasm in my head, of course.
     In summary, this is a story based on the HCC7 notion of 'Olympics'.  
It's a character piece that relates the circumstances of, and some of 
the backstory behind, an interview with Heidi Schenck, an East German 
Olympian turned four colour hero turned lesbian rights representative who 
is now dying.  The strongest possible /implication/ is that Ms Schenck's 
long term health has been damaged because of the steroids that the East 
German regime used for its athletes, although significantly she never 
directly confirms this.  This latter aspect makes up a major focus of 
the story: her extraordinary habit (and okay, ability to get away with 
it) of acknowledging a controversial idea without acknowledging it.  
This does not take the form of a political style talking past the issue 
to obfuscate, and certainly not a military style 'neither confirm nor 
deny' stonewalling.  Instead, her responses are typically (perhaps 
stereotypically by this late stage of her career) presented along the 
lines that such and such a controversial notion could affect her image 
in such and such a way.  Sometimes literally in that format.
     The first example of this - "'Without the skirt, I look more 
feminine.'" - is in a context that it could be just an interesting 
personality quirk.  The second - "'It wouldn't be very patriotic of me 
to say that I hated my mother and father for sending me away.'" - brought 
me up short in wonderment.  How did she get away with that in communist 
East Germany?
     And at the risk of repeating myself, we aren't told.  Possibly that 
aspect isn't important at all, and may even have been a detail which was 
never considered.  Whatever the case, Tom pulls a clever sleight of hand 
and focuses instead on the personality reasons for doing so rather than 
the mechanics of how it is handled:
| "There are people who can lie and everyone loves them and there are 
| people who can lie and everyone can see it, and with me, they can see it.
| I can't put on an act.  I have to be honest and risk it not working 
| very well or else it won't work at all."
Which is fascinating and in one way very brave while simultaneously being 
very cowardly.  The brave outweighs the cowardly by a large amount, of 
course, simply because in her situation it would be/would have been simple 
to use the minders and publicity agents as a shield to not make any comment 
at all.
Looniverse Chronicles #1
'264 BC: Extend The Olive Branch... of DOOM!'
A Legion of Net.Heroes [LNH] series  {high concept 7 contest}
by Andrew Perron
     Right, administrivia first.  Another HHC7 entry for the theme of 
'Olympics'.  Also, Andrew has created a new anthology series to showcase 
stories that take place in other than the present day LNH setting.
     In this case, at one of the Olympic games in ancient Greece.  
Bilistiche of Macedonia is a horse trainer with entrants in the games, 
but she is also a superhuman who secretly fights for justice as Aphrodite 
Bilistiche.  While travelling to the games she sees a rock falling from 
the sky and contaminate with its glow the sacred olive trees that produce 
the victory laurels at the games.  Her account of how dangerous these 
particular olive branches have become is dismissed because of her gender, 
so she sets out trying to protect the participants in the games by use 
of her abilities.  Those participants whom she frequently associates in 
her mortal identity she can quickly and easily protect by directly 
infusing with protective power, so she therefore sets about to sabotage 
the other contestants so that only her associates can win and come into 
contact with the laurels.
     Now, on a meta level this works fine, because it provides Aphrodite 
Bilistiche the opportunity to showcase her powers to the reader.  But 
within story it leads to accusations of... Bilistiche-dickery!  Yes, 
just like in the Golden Age Superman stories when Superman would use his 
powers in contrived and outlandish ways to fool and humiliate Lois Lane 
and Lana Lang (because in those days the demographic for comic books was 
young boys, who were always in favour of seeing girls (and their cooties) 
humiliated and kept in their place), Aphrodite Bilistiche goes about 
using her superhuman powers in a sequence of complicated manoeuvres.  
All this instead of using those powers to distract the judges who have 
possession of the deadly olive branches while she either decontaminates 
them or replaces them entirely.  
     Now, lest the reader of this article miss the nuance that I am 
ranting in mock indignation, I will conclude with the recommendation 
that this is a perfectly readable story, done as a Golden Age style 
pastiche with lots of appropriate little touches, such as calling in 
her living statue friend Galatea to masquerade as her while she is busy.
Patrick Harrison and the Canadians: the Hockey Stick Thief
A Miscellaneous [Misc] posting
by Martin Phipps
     So.  Martin's love of superheroes and action movies, and his  
penchant for topical satire combine in this story, where the illegitimate  
children of sports stars (who "can't keep their pants on") are hidden  
away in the safety of Camp Limbo.  And told, futilely, not to go running  
around killing people and stealing cars.  Because you see, in the world  
that this story inhabits, having an irresponsible sporting star as a  
parent is something like having a supervillain as a parent: you inherit  
their abilities and bad reputation.
     In this instance Manhattan teenager Patrick is accused of having  
possession of Jacques Levesques' hockey stick, and as a result discovers  
that he's the son of National Hockey League commissioner Patrick Trembley.  
He teams up with some new friends at Camp Limbo to solve the mystery of  
the missing hockey stick, stealing cars and murdering their way across  
the country.  All ends well with the motto "See kids, you too can murder  
and steal as long as you have rich, powerful parents to make it alright." 
     This comes across as high speed fun.  Everything that is not a joke  
is either background information, characterisation, and most of the time  
these set up for jokes as well.
SW10: January 2010 #4: The Ministry of Speed
A Superhuman World [SW10] post  {high concept 7 contest}
by Scott Eiler
     I don't think I've made this observation before, but the obvious   
advantage of having so many of the Superhuman World stories presented  
as journalist reports is that Scott has a valid reason to present  
information dumps in a concise form.  In this case the speedster The  
Hurrier has been invited to write a comment for the Superhuman World  
website on new super-runners who are appearing.
     The resulting write up is dense with all sorts of interesting  
titbits of information.  The Hurrier outlines his worldview on the  
difference between super-speed (where the person can do everything  
quickly) and its subset super-running (where the person can move fast)  
and how the former can lead to an addiction for constant speed; and  
this segues into the nominal main story concept of a religious  
ministry to those suffering from an addiction to speed.  There is  
also a classification scheme of various sources where an individual's  
super speed may derive from - which includes an obvious take-off of  
the Speed Force used in the DC Universe setting.  In fact, the middle  
of the article has a number of direct swipes from outside the SW  
setting: simply because of the nature of the topic of discussion I  
was expecting the throwaway references to the speedsters naming  
themselves DCU style with words like 'quick' and 'zoom'.  I was  
grinning in bemusement when the Peanuts references, including  
Linus van Pelt as a super-mage.
Saxon Brenton   University of Technology, city library, Sydney Australia
     saxon.brenton at 
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