REVIEW: End of Month Reviews #97 - January 2012 [spoilers]

Adrian J. McClure mrfantastic7 at
Wed Feb 29 19:00:54 PST 2012

On Wednesday, February 29, 2012 4:44:04 PM UTC-5, Saxon Brenton wrote:
> [REVIEW] End of Month Reviews #97 - January 2012

This wasn't a terribly active month for me, was it? All I wrote was a
single LNH20CP issue, whereas I wound up doing a pretty substantial
amount of writing this month. (Well, apart from coming up with the

>      [- The Apathy Beast stalked the lines of text.  Its muzzle
> wrinkled in revulsion at the sour taste of stubborn persistence.  Flecks
> of foul and slightly acidic drool dribbled from its lips. -]

Right now I'm struggling with the Obsessive Anxiety Beast, who's just
as annoying. I think I check my email for new posts more than I
actually write.

>      For writers who have been around on rec.arts.comics.creative for a
> long time, certain themes and styles tend to repeat.  For better or for
> worse.  For example, I've got a suspicion that my own frequent use of
> metafiction and fourth wall breaking have reached the point of
> stereotype.

I don't think that's a bad thing at all. A lot of writer, not just in
RACC, tend to have pet themes and obsessions in general. Look at
Stephen Moffatt, for instance--all his stories revolve around time
paradoxes in some ways, and you'd think they'd get dreadfully
repetitive, but they don't. Your own style has considerably matured
since the old days, for one thing. Your exposition feels more natural
now than it did in the old LAL issues I've been rereading, though
you've always had good ideas.

> you know, speaking of LNH Asia, I've occasionally wondered why the
> character of Deja Dude II  hasn't made more appearances over the years,
> considering that DD2 is based on his real life son Michael.  In
> retrospect I would have expected Martin to have more emotional
> investment in the character for exactly that reason - although it's also
> possible that this falls in one of those 'It seemed like a good idea at
> the time, but I've since reconsidered and/or lost interest' situations.
> Goodness knows I've had more than a few of those myself.  But I
> digress...)

Basing characters directly on real-life people you know can make
things pretty awkward. For instance, from what I remember Laurell K.
Hamilton based a character on one of her books on her then-husband,
who readers liked, and when they divorced she suddenly started writing
him as a scumbag. Not that I'll ever read those books, of course--I'm
only familiar with them through the drama they generate.

>  I find it interesting that the
> easiest way for me to differentiate these two models is to define one
> in terms of its in-universe raison d'etre for forming the team, and the
> other in terms of its external-to-universe reason for publishing a
> comic about the team.  Hmmm.

Interesting. One of the things I liked about the Wolfman-Perez Titans
(which I read for the first time in the recent omnibus), by the way,
is how it managed to make them feel more like the first kind of team,
like an organic whole rather than characters who were awkwardly shoved
together. This was because of Marv Wolfman's attentiveness to
character dynamics--he was careful to balance the team members off of
each other and give them all clear motivations. He had two trios of
characters with one more extroverted, one more introverted, and one in
between--Beast Boy, Gar, and Robin for the men; Starfire, Raven and
Wonder Girl for the women. But they all had a lot in common, in that
they were teenagers who were trying to find their own place in the
world around them, and had all experienced catastrophic losses in
their past. He also put a lot of thought into each of these
characters' motivations and their reasons for being on the team.

And that, incidentally, is the reason I'm not really feeling
Generation 2.0. I don't feel like I know these characters even at the
most basic level. Most of them don't even feel one-dimensional yet.
The exception is Wikipedia Brown--I liked the scene where he nit-
picked the trolls in #5. But essentially, I have no idea who these
characters are six issues in. I don't have a sense of their
characteristic dialogue patterns, the way they relate to each other or
the rest of the team, or what they're doing on the team.

I forget who said this, but one of the best pieces of writing advice
is that you have to know what your characters want. That helps them be
active and also ensure that they have an individual presence in the
story, that it's actually about them and not just a story that could
involve anyone. From this point of view, #6 was a missed opportunity.
Martin gets into the characters' origins, but only in the most basic
level. He doesn't really answer the question of why they wanted to
join the LNH. Well, for Google Lad I guess it's obvious enough--he's a
legacy hero, and he wants to take revenge for his mentor and associate
with other net.heroes. And May and Jay aren't really members yet. But
the others--why did they become net.heroes rather than using their
powers for other purposes? Why did they join the LNH rather than using
their powers for other purposes? Obviously, I tend to get very in-
depth into characterization, but you don't have to spend quite as much
time on introspection as I have to establish that. For instance,
Pantra will never have a backstory, and she's rather averse to
introspection, but it's clear what she wants from life: causing
trouble and fighting things. What about the members of Generation 2.0?

> In other words, there's a mixture of
> characters here, with Google Lad being used as the legacy character.

I think this mixed approach is characteristic of LNH20. They're all
new characters, but most of them have either been around for a while
or have some sort of link to the world's backstory. The thing about
the original LNH is that it started out in medias res, giving the
sense of something that was already as large and complex as real
superhero comics; this imprint has been the same way. I've also toyed
with the idea that there have been one or more Crisis-type events that
altered the world's history in the past. LNH: the only place where
revamps actually ADD baggage...

>      Which, yes, reminds me of the metatextual commentary that I like
> to indulge in with the LNH imprint, but here it's just straightforward
> explanation, albeit presented with the title character's wry humour.
> Nor can it *just* be considered world building, since it's not just
> presented as an explanation of the way that the world works.

Y'know, Spellbinder always kind of seems to toe the line between being
parody and being... um, not-parody? Generally this works very well,
with its skewed take on both superheroics and various kinds of
mythology, but I was a little uneasy about the introduction of
analogues of the New Gods at the end. It made it feel like a bit too
much of a parody rather than its own thing, maybe, because of how
close the analogues were? I don't know, though, the superhero genre
these days is inherently self-referential. Whether that's a good thing
or a bad thing, a lot of writers have taken that in interesting
directions. I have enough faith in Robin Strickland as an author that
I'm willing to expend him the benefit of the doubt about coming up
with an interesting take on pseudo-Darkseid. That said, I prefer
Kirby's weirder and more complex take on Darkseid to the generic
cosmic overlord version, though the latter has been in some good
stories, such as Claremont and Simonson's X-Men/Teen Titans.

>      Let's look in on how _The Super Wizard From Space_ is doing.  My
> goodness, up to issue 27 since it's inaugural issue in March last year.

I am way, way behind on this series. It's a lot of fun. That's all.

At the rate I've been writing lately, I wonder if I'll become as
prolific as Wil or burn out completely in a month or two.

>      And at the Legion of Net.Heroes HQ on Looniearth-A, Anal-Retentive
> Archive Kid glances over as a new posting arrives from the RACC mailing
> list.  He notes another issue of the _End of Month Reviews_ has arrived
> (nearly chronically late, again) and scans through the contents page.
>      Then, in his best David-Tennant-playing-the-part-of-the-Tenth-
> Doctor impersonation, he utters a flat, "What?"

Masterplan Lad pops in and reads over ARAK's shoulder. "Saxon Brenton
didn't review a single thing my Author wrote this month. Then again,
he only managed to write one issue. Serves him right for leaving all
of us in Ultimate Mercenary's old supporting cast in some sort of
confusing continuity limbo... Oh, right, I'm not supposed to be back
in continuity yet. Or perhaps ever." He pops out of existence again.

AJM (getting a plaque for mounting the Apathy Beast's head on my wall)

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