LNH: Easily-Discovered Man #52 (1/2)

EDMLite robrogers72 at gmail.com
Sun Apr 1 14:15:41 PDT 2012

    Doused with microwave radiation, Theodore Wong gained the
ability to glow and be detected at great distances by anyone
with a Geiger counter.  Together with his sidekick Lite, his
intern Cynical Lass, and fellow hero Substitute Lad, Wong wages
a constant battle against the forces of corruption, chaos and
common sense as the fabulous EASILY-DISCOVERED MAN.
    The following takes place during between issues #11 and #10
(yes, the series uses reverse chronology) of "Beige Countdown."

-----Previously on "The Adventures of Easily-Discovered Man"----

     While investigating the death of their greatest enemy,
the Waffle Queen, Easily-Discovered Man and Easily-Discovered
Man Lite are interrupted by the "Infinite Leadership Crisis,"
a world-changing event that takes them away from the case
-- as well as their homes and loved ones -- for more than
500 days.

     Upon their return, Easily-Discovered Man Lite is
forced to answer for his actions during the crisis, and
dismissed from the Legion of Net.Heroes as a result.
Easily-Discovered Man, on the other hand, is confronted
at home by his wife, his daughter, and many of his
friends, colleagues and former enemies in an intervention
-- the purpose of which is to persuade him to give up
the mask of Easily-Discovered Man once and for all.

     The intervention takes a strange turn, as the
mother of Easily-Discovered Man's former sidekick
-- the super-villain known as Plummet -- accuses him of
driving her son to madness, and Lite finally learns the
truth of what happened to his predecessor...

    Before presenting the conclusion of that tale, however,
the author would like to take a moment to celebrate the
20th anniversary of the Legion of Net.Heroes.

     As the longest-running LNH series currently appearing
(however sporadically) on rec.arts.comics.creative, it
seems appropriate for "The Adventures of Easily-Discovered
Man," currently in its 18th year, to take a look back
on those heady times that spawned our fictional journey...
and the ways in which our world has changed since then.


     With all of the wonders technology now offers us, it
can be difficult for contemporary readers to recall just
how primitive conditions were nearly two decades ago.  Why,
in 1993, a young man in search of adult entertainment had
only two choices: sign up for Cinemax, or leave the house.
The information superhighway changed all that...

     In 1993, if someone called you, you knew exactly where
they were -- not because of some fancy GPS tracking app, but
because that was the only place their phone could be.

     Want to see a Marvel Comics character on the big screen?
In 1993, true believers had two choices: Dolph Lungren as the
Punisher, or _Howard the Duck._

     Hard as it is now to believe, before the publication of
_The Hunger Games,_ the _Twilight_ novels or J.K. Rowling's
teen wizard series, many adult readers were forced to read
books written for adults.

     5. BARACK OBAMA*:
     In 1993, many Americans sincerely believed that the
eventual election of a President who was not a white male
would herald a new age of tolerance, understanding and
intelligent political debate among the citizenry at large.

     6. FOX NEWS:
     In the early 1990s, many Americans were still unaware
that problems like global warming, the growing income gap and
the spread of international terrorism were either Democratic
lies or the fault of Nancy Pelosi.

     Participation in a game show, dating show or documentary
series did not yet qualify one for celebrity status in the
waning days of the 20th century.

     8. MP3s/FILE SHARING:
     In 1993, if there was a song you really wanted to hear,
you had to go to your local record store and buy the CD.
     Also, there were record stores.
     And CDs.

     Sports fans who wanted to watch two men beating each
other senseless in a bloody melee had only one real choice
in 1993: hockey.

     10. SOCIAL MEDIA:
     Want to know how many friends you really have?  In 1993,
your best bet was to ask if anyone wanted to help you move
into a new apartment.

     11. 9/11-INSPIRED PARANOIA:
     In the 20th century, it was still possible to board an
airplane in the United States without leaving one's shoes,
belt, bottle of water, checked luggage, personal space or
sense of dignity behind.

     12. "SMALLVILLE":
     In 1993, fans of Superman sincerely believed that the
worst thing DC Comics could do to the character was to
kill him.

     In 1993, those who wanted to share their writing with
a wide audience had two choices: work their way up through
the newspaper, magazine and publishing industry, or post
something on Usenet.
     Also, in 1993 it was still possible for those who took
the first of those routes to earn a decent living.

     The Stephen King short story "Rage," about a high school
student who brings a gun to school, could still shock readers
in the early 1990s, because -- as with Stephen King's other
fiction -- he wrote realistically about something horrific
that readers assumed could never possibly happen.

     15. SMOKING BANS:
     In the 1990s, it was still socially acceptable for "The
Adventures of Easily-Discovered Man" to introduce a character
-- Cynical Lass -- who was a smoker.
     Today, if the author wanted to indicate that such a
character was edgy, sophisticated and slightly anti-social,
he would probably just give her an iPhone.

     The vast technological marvel soaring far above our heads
has become both one of the 21st century's greatest
achievements and an apt metaphor for the U.S. budget,
especially since there is now no longer any reliable means
of reaching it or returning from it.

     17. THE EURO:
     Years from now, this symbol of a long-cherished dream
-- an international currency for a stable, united Europe
-- will doubtless fetch a high price on eBay.

     18. THE IRAQ WAR:
     The savvy Americans of 1993, having studied the
destruction of the _Maine,_ the sinking of the _Lusitania,_
and the Gulf of Tonkin incident, vowed they would never
again be tricked by their government into going to war
to battle a threat that did not exist.

     *The author recognizes that some of these things may
have existed in some form before October 1993.  As the
author did not have access to them, however, he believes
that fact may fairly be considered irrelevant.

     Having completed that fond journey down memory lane,
we now return the reader to the irregularly-scheduled
posting of episode #52 of "The Adventures of Easily-
Discovered Man," "Unmasquerade," not yet available in
app form.

    The Adventures of Easily-Discovered Man #52
      Plot:                                     Script:
      Rob Rogers                                Rob Rogers

     Plummet's mother was not a tall woman.  She was not a
wealthy, powerful or particularly well-dressed woman.  By no
stretch of the imagination could she ever have been called
an attractive woman.

     When she spoke, however, everyone gathered in the Prof's
living room -- from his wife and daughter to Substitute Lad
to the former villains ReVamp Lass and My-Dall to Easily-
Discovered Man himself -- paid close attention to every
rasping word she said.

     "I am not 'Plummet's mother,' " Plummet's mother said.
"I am the mother of Eric Vanderschmidt.  A sweet boy.  A kind
boy, who wanted nothing more out of life than to use his unique
gift and to please the people he admired."

     Plummet's mother scowled at Easily-Discovered Man, who
held her gaze, then turned back to me.

     "He ran after your Professor like a little dog, and it
cost him his sanity," the little woman said.  "And after all
these years, your beloved Professor still has not had the
decency to tell me how it happened."

     "My good woman, if only I knew," the Prof said, his
long face lined with grief.  "We were working together on
a mission for the Legion of Net.Heroes.  That much I know.
But what that mission was, or how it was resolved, I have
never been able to determine.  There are no records
available at Legion headquarters, and no member of the LNH
can recollect what happened on that fateful day."

     Something clicked in my mind.  I resolved to have it
checked out later by a neurologist, and continued with what
I was going to say.

     "The Apocryphal Man," I said.

     Everyone turned to stare at me.  I was getting used to
this by now, so it didn't bother me very much.

     "A former member of the Legion of Net.Heroes who...
went bad," I explained.  "He was so powerful that the only
way the LNH could stop him was to trap him in his own

     "Like what the FCC did to Howard Stern?" Substitute
Lad asked.

     "Something like that," I said.  "And according to
Professor Perhap, once anyone or anything goes into the
Apocryphal Universe, it's like it never existed in our
universe.  It's like being de-friended from Facebook."

     ReVamp Lass -- who, like Professor Perhap, had
served as a member of the Evil Brotherhood of Evil Net.
Villains -- offered me a wry grin.

     "I wouldn't believe everything Professor Perhap told
me, if I were you," she said.

     "But it makes sense now... well, as much as anything
that happens in this series makes sense," I said.  "Prof,
you and Plummet... er, Eric... must have taken part in the
fight against the Apocryphal Man.  That's why no one can
remember what happened to him.  And maybe it explains why
the LNH has always been so... reluctant to accept you as
a member."

     "Oh, there's another reason for that," ReVamp Lass
said.  "Isn't that right, Substitute Lad?"

     Hidden as it was beneath a reflective red mask,
Substitute Lad's face remained impassive.  His body language,
however, looked decidedly uncomfortable.

     "We said we weren't going to talk about that," he said.

     "It's only fair," said Jennifer Wong, the Prof's
daughter, who sat scowling on the edge of the sofa with
her right leg in a cast.  "My father and the sidekick
both deserve to know how their careers as super-heroes
have made life more difficult for your Legion."

     Easily-Discovered Man cocked his head, as though unsure
he had heard his daughter correctly.

     "Difficult in what way?" he asked.

     "I'll answer, if you won't," ReVamp Lass said, looking
at Substitute Lad in a way that made me wonder how well
they'd known each other, and for how long.

     "Have you ever wondered," she said, fixing me with
her gaze, "why soldiers wear uniforms to battle?  Uniforms
that convey their rank, as well as their nationality?"

     "Because it's awfully uncomfortable to go to war in
your boxer shorts," I replied.

     Substitute Lad turned to me.  "It's so that everyone on
both sides knows who you are, what you can do and where you
stand," he said.  "And that you've chosen to be part of the

     "Before the two of you came around," said Professor
Michael Dahl, Easily-Discovered Man's colleague at Dave
Thomas Deluxe University -- and the former super-villain
known as My-Dall, Man of 1,000,000 Mood Swings -- "a super-
villain sizing up a hero for a fight knew exactly what he
or she was getting into.

     "Battles tended to be evenly matched," Dahl continued.
"A street-level villain would think twice before mixing it up
with a cosmic hero like Kid Kirby or Captain Continuity."

     "And because everyone was in costume, there was very
little collateral damage," ReVamp Lass said.  "Lots of
buildings were destroyed -- empty warehouses, mostly --
but very few civilians were ever hurt or killed."

     "And then you come along -- you, Lite -- and you
decide that you don't need to wear a costume," Substitute
Lad said, stepping forward so that the red mirror of his
mask was just inches away from my face.

     "You and the Professor pick fights way above your weight
class, and you get out of them by lying to the villains about
what Easily-Discovered Man can do," Substitute Lad said.
"You convince them that he's much more powerful than he
really is."

     "Suddenly, all the rules are off," ReVamp Lass said,
her voice trembling with anger.  "Anybody -- in costume or
out of it -- is a potential threat.  Anybody could be more,
or less, than they seem.  The only winning strategy, if
you're a villain, is to lash out at everything that steps
in front of you with everything you've got."

     She looked away for a moment.  When she returned, her
face had regained its former composure.  I wondered if that
was one of her powers.

     "I don't have to tell you what that means in terms of
innocents hurt or killed in fights that should never have
happened," ReVamp Lass said.  "If you want to know what the
legacy of Easily-Discovered Man and Lite has been, visit
any of the hospitals of Net.ropolis."

     "Why... why has no one ever mentioned this to me before?"
asked  Easily-Discovered Man, his voice cracking a little as
he spoke.

     "Would you have listened?" his wife asked.  "If your
own daughter wasn't enough of an example for you..."

     "Your own daughter?" I asked, looking from Mrs. Prof
to Jennifer to Easily-Discovered Man and back again.
"What's she talking about?"

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