Review: End of Month Reviews #72 - December 2009 [spoilers]

Andrew Perron pwerdna at
Sat Jan 30 22:45:50 PST 2010

On Sun, 31 Jan 2010 00:15:24 +0000 (UTC), Saxon Brenton wrote:

> Digital JUMP! #12
> 'LEMBAS! Turn Down Your Lights Where Applicable'
> A Legion of Net.Heroes [LNH] series
> by Andrew Perron


>      Anal-Retentive Archive Kid insists that I remind everybody there's 
> a gap of missing issues from _Digital JUMP!_ #5-10.  This is actually a 
> pertinent point, since the gap of several issues and delay of several 
> years (issue 11 was posted in 2005) gives a very good reason for 
> reintroducing the characters the way this episode does.

Oh yes.  And just to belabor the point, Issue #5 will be out soon.  Almost
certainly in February.  I'm planning on doing "Warriors of Light!" through
issue #10, then doing the go-visit-Japan arc starting with #13.  I'm not
promising that I'll write them in chronological order, but skirting around
what exactly happened to set up the status quo we see in #11 and 12 is

> This issue is a character piece, with four separate mini stories for each member of the 
> ensemble cast.  Now, if this were a real comic published by whoever and 
> distributed by Diamond, then those would indeed by *mini* stories, 
> approximately 8 pages each.  But this is text-based net.fiction, and so 
> instead Andrew has produced an issue where each sub-story is almost the 
> size of one of the regular posts.  Yes, I checked; I have a filing cabinet 
> with two drawers worth of hardcopy printouts of this type of stuff.

This is true!  I thought several times about breaking it up into four
separate issues, but I decided that, thematically, it had to be one.

This is half the reason it took so long to write.  The other half is that
it's *hard* to write stories that work outside of any ongoing plot and,
indeed, with comparatively little plot at all.  Carmine's was by far the
easiest, because it's a typical superhero beat-'em-up, and James's took the
longest because I had to think of a bunch of different things that would be
interesting and make sense for the character without overlapping
thematically, then tie them all together.

>      Apart from the size of the issue, the other thing that grabbed my 
> attention was how dense with information this story was.  And I'm not 
> just talking about characterisation and back history needed to reintroduce 
> the characters, nor the brief continuity check of what guest appearances 
> they have made in the meantime.  Andrew has gone and collected a wealth of 
> Looniverse specific information and sprinkled it into the story.  I think 
> the relevant phrase is 'fanwank'.  I'm given to understand that this is 
> supposed to be a pejorative, although personally I've always had a hard 
> time understanding why.  YMMV.

I have *always* loved shared universes, and the Looniverse most of all.  To
take a Tom Russell-esque turn here, being part of the tapestry that's been
woven over the years by so many different people in so many different ways
is just... awesome.

>      The first story features Casey von Aluminfoil.  By contrast with the 
> superhero shenanigans that the other three get up to, this is a rather 
> down-to-earth piece about choosing where he wants to go with his university 
> choices - enlivened with only a bit of superhuman top dressing.  If 
> anything it emphasises the fact that Casey is the normal one.  Well, 
> relatively normal one, considering that Malachite (Shining Tungsten 
> Magister) and Carmine (Crimson @venger) are both aliens and should probably 
> be acknowledged to have a different baseline for 'normal'.

Indeed. Yet even if Casey took a trip to a world of intelligent methane
bubbles living in oceans of mercury under a blue-green sun and fought crime
beside a team of methane bubble heroes, I think he'd still be the normal

>     Apart from the continuous snippets of comedy ("Jeez, even in my own 
> vignette I'm not the main character."), another thing that caught my 
> attention was Casey's indecision over his education choices.  Oh-ho, I 
> thought.  Are we up for some Hamlet-style dithering?  And then I recalled 
> that Casey has previously been the sensible one, so on reflection he was 
> probably just overanalysing his options for humorous effect.

Yep!  Though, to be fair, I'm not sure which one to have him go to.  Are
there any other currently-active characters in college?

>     The second two are variations of the superhero theme, as Malachite 
> and Carmine both go off and have adventures.  In both cases it presents 
> the opportunity to showcase their personalities and powers, which to date 
> haven't had much chance to be explored.  

Indeed.  You'll notice Malachite is a lot more laid-back in her personal
interactions here than in issues #3 and 4, and it's largely due to the fact
that I didn't have to play her off the other characters' goofiness.

> The difference between the two 
> scenes is that Malachite is simply wandering around Net.ropolis, enjoying 
> the ambience of the city, and happens across a minor civic problem with a 
> damaged rail line, while Carmine goes out and actively hunts down crime 
> to fight.  This first gave me that slightly fuzzy feeling of satisfaction 
> combined with embarrassment that I get when I read about costumed heroes 
> going about being ostentatiously civic minded, which I usually use as an 
> indicator of well-presented Silver age ethos.

Yay!  Yeah, the entire main cast of this series is kind of instictively
altrustic.  Even the whole "Like Rouge" thing was Carmine trying to fit
into the tropes of the world to get help. (I haven't said this in-story
yet, mind you.)

>     The fourth story with James had him, typically enough for Kid 
> Enthusiastic, throwing himself into a large number of projects.  However, 
> after rereading a thought struck me: James isn't presented as a source of 
> confusion.  In the first few stories his whirlwind energy and seeming 
> non-sequitors were causing bewilderment for everyone he met (issue 4 was 
> a high point for this).  He still hasn't slowed down, but now it seems 
> that people are used to him - even police chief Trousers, who exhibits 
> the very Sam Vimes-like attitude that superheroes are his to hate, 

Sam Vimes in Net.ropolis was exactly what I was going for. (Although I was
also inspired by Agrus Kos from the Magic: the Gathering Ravnica Cycle
novels, but he's basically the same character.)

> and 
> who by rights you would expect to have a very low threshold of tolerance 
> for the type of hyperactive lunacy that Kid Enthusiastic excels at.

This is another byproduct of the issue-skip, and another chance to show
another side of a character.  Basically, he goes off energetically in all
directions at once, but he does it in such a friendly, unselfish way that
it acts as a sort of sideways charisma - once you get used to him, anyway.
(Which, note, none of the characters had time to do by issue #4.) He's easy
to get annoyed at but hard to hate.

However, even that doesn't really explain his interaction between him and
Police Chief Trouser.  I figure that Trouser is so used to dealing with
people who are hiding something, people who want something, people who have
ulterior motives, that when someone comes on the scene who's completely
guileless and uncontrollably selfless, he has no defense (after the initial
"nobody can be THIS good" paranoia).  Sort of like the Vimes/Carrot
interaction, really, although I wasn't thinking of it in those terms when I
wrote it.

> Journey Into... #8  
> 'Brave New World, With Such Awesome In It!'  
> An Eightfold [8Fold] series   {high concept 5 contest}
> by Tom Russell


>      All that social interacting gives full opportunities to compare and 
> contrast the attitudes of different eras.  And if that wasn't enough, the 
> character of Dr Palmer Smith, who is one of the scientists who helps 
> reactivate the Gelding, is also bought to bear.  Dr Smith is burdened 
> with a distaste for the modern world and is nostalgic for the 'golden 
> age'.  It's subtle, but I get the impression that his fixation with 
> becoming the Grey Gelding's new Rider is a symptom of thinking of the 
> robot as a historical artefact to be treasured as an interactive museum 
> piece rather than as a person who needs to learn how to get along in the 
> world.  Which is ironic, considering that he and Dr Fay Tarif are the two 
> responsible for reactivating the gelding after he has been on display in 
> a museum for seven decades.

I just loved the complete optimism of the story, the recognition that even
with stupidity and politics and superficiality and fear, there's a lot to
appreciate about living in the modern day!

> On The Deadbeat Special: Beige Happy Hour!
> A Net.Trenchcoat Brigade [NTB] story
> by Arthur Spitzer

> So 
> instead of going to a Naughty Teenaged Babe reality in the Looni-multiverse, 
> he heads off to a Naughty Teenaged Babe altiverse, implying the all-but-
> now-defunct Superguy imprint where writer inactivity means that there are 
> currently no multiverse threatening Events and he can party uninterrupted 
> in the imprint's back story.  Dr Deadbeat: morally reprehensible, but 
> not stupid.

Wow, I didn't even catch that.  Awesome. XD
> Superhuman World 2009: December 2009 #1: The Mayas Were Right!
> A Superhuman World [SW09] series
> by Scott Eiler


>      I rather liked this one.  Now, it has to be said that the brevity 
> of the story and the fact that it's a vignette for a larger mosaic 
> setting are still making me hunger for longer stories that focus on a 
> particular aspect of the Earth being thrown into a new orbit.  However 
> I outlined my arguments for that in the last issue of the EoMR for 
> 'A Date With Darkness' and I don't see much point in belabouring them 
> again.  Suffice to summarise that the short posts that Scott has been 
> putting out usually have interesting premises to them and could very 
> easily be used as a seed for a much longer rendition of a story.

I thought it worked better here than there; iit felt more complete on a
vignette level.

What I really liked was the subversion of 2012 fever in a very intelligent

Andrew "NO .SIG MAN" "Juan" Perron, that paragraph feels like it should be

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