REVIEW: End of Month Reviews #76 - April 2010 [spoilers]

Saxon Brenton saxonbrenton at
Sat May 29 20:58:18 PDT 2010

[REVIEW] End of Month Reviews #76 - April 2010 [spoilers]  
Reviewed This Issue:
     Journey Into... #11  [8Fold]  {high concept 8}
     Just Imagine Saxon Brenton Vs Andrew Perron In The Return Of The 
                    RACCies! #7  [LNH/RACCies]
     SW10: The Opposites  [SW10]  {high concept 8}
     SW10: The Opposites Part 2
Also posted:
     2009 (16th Annual) RACCies Ceremony  [RACCies]
     Academy of Super-Heroes #105  [ASH] 
     Coherent Super Stories #20  [ASH]
     Legion of Net.Heroes #35  [LNH]  {high concept 8}
     SW10: The Rise Of Cap-Macaya  [SW10]
     Well darn.  The _Academy of Super-Heroes_ issues lised-but-not-
reviewed last month was #104, not a repeat of #103.  
     Spoilers below...     
Journey Into... #11
'The Leon Czolgosz'
An Eightfold [8Fold] series  {high concept 8 contest}
by Tom Russell
     The concept for High Concept Challenge 8 was 'opposites'
     So how do I like this story?  Let me count the ways...
     First up I'll list some personal stuff, simply because it will 
hopefully amuse you.  I work at a university library, so the setting is 
something that would attract my attention simply for personal reasons.  
On top of that... well, seeing others who are ven more dysfunctional 
with their officious librarianship is an amusing relief, y'know? 
     What, you don't believe me?  Okay, try this on for size, then.  My 
workplace is adjacent to the city centre, the only major university 
library located within the Sydney CBD.  There are other large libraries 
not too much further away, but the combination of exact location (front 
door facing onto  the intersection of two busy city streets), immediate 
proximity (closer to the CBD than the Uni of Sydney), opening hours 
(open later than the state library) and larger facilities than the 
public libraries mean that UTS is the go to for students of the various 
private colleges who haven't been provided with library facilities by 
their own institutions.  That's why the library installed a gate system 
that uses student ID cards for swipe card entry.  We haven't been a fully 
open facility for nearly a decade.  Now, statistics have been collated 
showing laudable improvement such as the drop in the number of thefts in 
the library as well as the decline in the amount of toilet paper used in 
the lavatories - but the bottom line is that UTS has decided that first 
use of its finite library facilities should go-to UTS students and staff, 
and guess what?  That means part of the front desk work involves finding 
new and interesting ways to explain to students from elsewhere that 'we 
don't want your type here'.  Perhaps not quite as bad as the staff at 
the Leon Czolgosz Memorial Library, since we've assembled a list of 
alternate facilities at other institutions that people could use, but, 
yeah.  Officious librarianship.  Been there, done that, waiting for the 
promised new library that will be tucked quietly away within the main 
university complex so that we don't have to worry about 'animal control' 
     Let's move on to substantive content of the story.  It's not a story 
that relates to four colour superheroing in any way - but that's fine.  As 
I usually remind my readers whenever this comes up, comics are a medium 
rather than a genre, and there's nothing in rec.arts.comics.creatives' 
charter that says our stories have to be about superheroes.  In this case 
the story about the appointment of a new head of a municipal library.
     It is structured like a tall tale, and is therefore given to 
hyperbole for humorous effect.  The characters are larger than life 
eccentrics with grotesque obsessions and egos who operate in a world 
that doesn't have quite the same laws of cause and effect as ours do.  
     A short digression.  Actually, it occurs to me that most forms of 
genre fiction can be described as worlds that don't have quite the same 
laws of cause and effect.  The majority of them operate with some level 
of heightened drama, of which soap operas are merely the most extreme 
examples.  Our beloved superhero stories take it a bit further in that 
the physical laws are continuously and ostentatiously being distorted as 
well.  In between most television shows and movies have a base assumption 
of 'good guys win, eventually, and along the way there will be spectacular 
special effects that don't make much sense if you apply real world logic 
to them'.  And to some extent or another this has been occurring in human 
story telling for a long time, since folk tales and faerie tales also use 
a divorced-from-reality internal consistency of their own.
     (A further thought occurs: if I had of applied that same suspension 
of disbelief to the events of the previous _Journey Into..._ episode, I 
would have been able to avoid the nitpicking and gone straight to 
enjoying the character study of Ms Schenck.  Oh well.)
     So here is a tall tale.  It tells a story based on hyperbole.  The 
early setup of the story involves the narrator describing in minute 
detail how eccentric these people are, and once that is done follows it 
their interactions.  As with most engrossing stories the audience should 
be kept interested by being led to wonder 'what will happen next?', and 
being a tall tale at least part of this will also involve the question 
'can these people get any more weirder?'  The thrust and counterthrust 
of the contest between the new City Librarian appointee Peter Ascot and 
Herb Hettinger proceeds in a what for them is (probably) a perfectly 
logical and internally consistent manner - but which for the reader 
involves the puzzle of how events will turn out in this parody of 
bureaucratic excess.
     I have a particular liking for the pacing during the introduction.  
There are paragraphs of loving detail on the other significant nominee 
for the position of City Librarian Rebecca Schwartz - her bouts of 
fascism, her behaviour after suffering a stroke, and the tangential 
mystery if what another seriously ill librarian was doing with the 
adorable puppies - and then there is a pause in the flow of the text as 
Peter himself is introduced:
| Yes, that Peter Ascot: he who had served as the head of three different 
| library systems in four years, the very same.
     Then the text continues and lists some of Peter's eccentricities.  
That pause fascinates me, because I wonder if the further description 
of Peter Ascot was needed.  Probably it was, because the audience needed 
to know something of his personality for the ensuing conflict to make 
sense.  But under other circumstances it may have been an interesting 
less-is-more intensifier for humorous understatement (normally the 
effect is used in horror stories, since it's a truism that the things 
in your imagination are much scarier than the things you actually see; 
and now I'm trying to recall if/where I've seen it used before for comedy).
     Anyway, the introductory description of Peter Ascot continues with 
a listing of his foibles, and then just before we get to the first scene 
of characters actually interacting with actual dialogue, there is a 
second pause to gather breath with the line:
| And I tell you all this not because I think that the hiring practices 
| of the Leon Czolgosz Memorial Library and the city in which it resides 
| make for particularly compelling reading, but to explain the 
| significantly more important matter of how Mr. Ascot attempted to 
| obtain his own library card.
     A statement which is both true and not-true.  All of this has indeed 
been setup for the rest of the story - but also has been an attempt to 
set both the tone of the story and to keep the audience interested with 
an insight into a weird world of bureaucratic shenanigans, which means 
it would indeed have intended to be interesting reading in its own right.
Just Imagine Saxon Brenton Vs Andrew Perron In The Return Of The RACCies #7
'Across The River And Into The Trees And Past The Forcefield And Through 
The Lazer Maze'  or  'The Bittorrents Of Spring'
A Legion of Net.Heroes [LNH] and RACCies chaotic add-on cascade
by Andrew Perron
     For the most part there's not really that much that I can add that 
hasn't been said before about previous issues of this cascade.  Well, 
nominally-a-cascade.  Because even as a nominal cascade, the point is 
more about throwing entertaining silliness together than developing 
coherent tone, structure or theme.  (Characterisation usually isn't too 
big an ask - but plot development tends to be hit-and-miss in cascades.  
The whole making-it-up-as-we-go-along aspect can act as a challenge for 
participants to forge something coherent out of what has gone before, but 
the silliness factor usually results in a melange of amusing ideas.)
     The exit of the Interim Iconoclasts was abrupt but necessary, and 
at least it was both funny and in character.  The revelation of the 
reincarnation of the original Mange Man is either going to simplify or 
complicate continuity.  However the main point of parody in this short 
issue comes from a cute use of a crossover with the postings of the 
RACCies awards, where Pointless Awards Man IV is literally dumped from 
the end of this post into the narrative text of the ceremony in the 
awards posting (and then comes back next issue).  It's a variation on 
some of the more egregious types of crossovers that monthly(-ish) comic 
books have used over the decades to exploits any sense of completism 
that their readers may have and thereby raise sales.
SW10: The Opposites
SW10: The Opposites Part 2
A Superhuman World [SW10] story  {high concept 8 contest}
by Scott Eiler
     In this story Gaia and Death arrange for a teamup (of sorts) between 
Psychovant and Saint Cecilia against the other-dimensional Ultimate 
Darkness.  The introduction is quick and too the point, but Gaia's 
dialogue is a bit on the dry and expository side.  No matter, since it 
allowed for a speedy introduction of Psychovant - whose dialogue most 
certainly is not dry and expository.  He's a fun, over-the-top character.  
Personally I keep envisioning him as Lobo the Duck - the Amalgam Comics 
combination of Lobo and Howard the Duck - but that's probably just me.
     However the merger of Psychovant and Saint Cecilia - so as to 
synthesise and reinforce their dualities so as to face off against the 
Ultimate Darkness - and then having that synthesis take the form of an 
acoustic guitar, was surreal.  Perfectly logical in terms of ordering 
hierarchies of different opposites, but nevertheless a seriously WTF 
moment in terms of execution.  Fortunately Gaia's summary of the 
Ultimate Darkness' attacks on other Earths in other universes hints that 
the Ultimate Darkness habitually moves on if it is defeated in one 
location, so this is probably just a temporary team-up rather than a 
long term change in their status quo.
Saxon Brenton   University of Technology, city library, Sydney Australia
     saxon.brenton at 
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