LNH20/REPOST: LNH20 Comics Presents #1
pwerdna at gmail.com
Fri Jul 20 11:03:51 PDT 2012
PREFACE: Since Adrian's almost done with LNH Comics Presents #15, I thought
I'd repost the story to date. How's about three issues per day 'til we
About 20 years ago, on the now-defunct newsgroup called
rec.arts.comics, a bunch of people started making up goofy superhero
names for themselves. This spawned an in-joke based roleplay that
somehow mutated into a gigantic, complex superhero shared universe
that outlasted most actual comics companies founded at the time.
Now, a new era in the history of the Legion of Net.Heroes begins with…
LNH20 Comics Presents #1:
The Spoon of Destiny Saga: "Lengthy Linger the Legion!"
Chapter 1 of a chaotic add-on cascade
by Adrian J. McClure (with one line of dialogue by Lalo Martins)
with thanks to Andrew Perron, Lalo Martins, Dave Van Domelen, and
Martin Phipps for advice, ideas and nitpicking
Gripping her sword steadily in her hands, Nerf Girl walked up to the
four-story art deco-ish building. The passers-by didn't even turn
their heads. She found herself just slightly irritated even though she
knew she shouldn't be. In most places a teenage girl in a skintight,
garish outfit (costume design wasn't one of her strong points, as she
herself admitted) with a Nerf sword in her hand would turn more than a
few heads. But here in Netropolis it was just another day. They seemed
more interested in the building then in her. But then again, this was
no ordinary building. This was the LNHQ, home of the Legion of
As she drew closer to the entrance, she passed statues of the great
heroes of the past, beginning with Googlemesh, said to be the first
hero. Then there were the founding heroes of the Golden Age: Lass
Lady, Golden Age Very-Disturbed-Scary-Creature Man, the Society of
Wireless Heroes. She ignored the other statues, because she had work
to do and this paragraph was long enough already, and looked at the
statues of the Saviors of the Net. They had been greatest heroes of
the 90s, who had overcome many terrible enemies, up to and including
Death itself. But they were defeated at last by one of their own--
Captain Killfile--who killed them and channeled their powers into a
killfile, blocking out all superpowers as well as all technology and
magic above a certain level. These statues adorned the entrance of the
Tomb of the LNH Setup Kid, the one who'd brought together the
disparate groups of heroes that emerged as the killfile fell to form
She looked up at the statues of Sig.Lad and MechaKat, two of the
greatest of the Saviors. "Don't worry, Mom and Dad" she whispered.
"I'll make you proud."
She walked through the double doors into the lobby. Numerous other
brightly-costumed figures were milling around her, more than she'd
ever seen or even imagined in one place before. The sheer amount of
color made her eyes hurt. Some of them she knew about: You're-Not-
Hitting-Me-Hard-Enough-Lad, Flashback, Manga Girl. Others she'd never
heard of before in her life. She'd done a lot of research into
superheroes and the LNH in particular after finding out who her real
parents were, but there was always so much more than she could ever
"Your name?" said the woman at the desk. She was dressed in a highly
professional suit and looked at her with an air of bemused tolerance.
"I'm Sigrid Franklins. Otherwise known as Nerf Girl. I'd like to join
the Legion of Net.Heroes."
She raised her eyebrows. Nerf Girl told her self not to be worried
that the receptionist didn't seem to impressed. After all, plenty of
applicants came here every week, and from what she'd heard the number
had more than doubled after the invasion. "Powers?" the receptionist
said, snapping her out of her daze.
"I can wield toy weapons, especially Nerf weapons, with the
effectiveness of, but real weapons are actively useless to me."
"I see," she said. "Do you want to make an appointment with Fearless
Leader? You'll need to fill out this form--"
"That won't be necessary," said a deep, commanding voice. She turned
around. It was a man in his middle thirties, though he had prematurely
white hair. He was dressed in an old-fashioned military uniform. He
was also ridiculously handsome, though she tried not to dwell on that.
"Fearless Leader! I--it's an honor to meet you, sir!"
"You're Sig.Lad's kid, aren't you?" he said. "It's an honor to meet
_you_." Fearless Leader had been a Savior once, she remembered. He'd
known her parents. Unlike her. "Kid Enthusiastic recommended you to
us. So you don't have to fill out any forms. You just have to--DUCK!!"
An enormous floating red tomato, gibbering and shrieking in some kind
of guttural alien language, whooshed through the air at Fearless
Leader. He pulled an old-fashioned-looking raygun out of its holster
and blasted at it. "Sorry about that. Still had some business to take
care of from the last mission. Anyway: all your paperwork is taken
care of, except for your initiation in the Peril Room."
He led her through the corridors of the LNHQ to a metallic doorway,
which swished open to reveal a misty jungle. "Wha--how?"
"Don't worry. It's just a hologram." He smiled blandly. She'd heard of
the Peril Room, but couldn't have imagined it would be this real. She
also realized that she wouldn't have been totally surprised if the
LNHQ had had a real jungle in it somewhere. "All right. Every new
recruit has to be tested in battle in the Peril Room against an
experienced member. This is your opponent, Ultimate Mercenary."
>From the mists of the jungle came a scrawny teenage boy that looked to
be a year or two younger then her. He was dressed in a masked ninja
outfit with far too many pouches. She instantly drew up straight and
looked down on him. "I was expecting a challenge," she said. "And why
is the Legion hiring mercenaries?
He bowed to her, somewhat resentfully. "I'm not a mercenary. That's--
that's just my name." He was trying to speak in a sort of Christian
Bale growl and not really succeeding. "I am a ninja, trained in battle
since the day I was born."
"Since the day you were born? You don't literally mean you were
trained as a baby, right?"
"It was painful. But it was necessary. I grew up in a world gone
wrong. The tyrant Apocalisp had wiped the Legion of Net.Heroes from
history, even Ultimate Ninja. But Ultimate Ninja had one fan left. And
that fan had a son. And that son had a clone. And that clone had a
son. Or maybe it was another clone. Or--or--I was the last one. The
last keeper of the Ninja's legacy. Ultimate Mercenary."
"Wait, what's an Ultimate Ninja?" Ultimate Mercenary cringed when she
said that. "Is this some kind of alternate timeline thing?"
"Yes," said Fearless Leader. "He's from an alternate timeline of an
alternate universe. We think. We're not really sure yet how he ended
up here." Great. She wasn't even actually a member of the Legion yet,
and she was already getting mixed up with alternate timelines. Still,
she shouldn't have any trouble defeating a teenage ninja who wasn't
even a mutant turtle. "All right. Let's get this done."
"Good. Remember, the Peril Room exists in a state of temporal grace,
so you can't be permanently injured. It's impractical to sustain the
effect over more than one room with the technology we have, but it's
very useful for this. So hit him as hard as you need to. Knock
yourself out. Or knock him out, whichever." He turned around and the
door swished shut behind him.
When the door closed, there was no more sign of it. The foggy jungle
seemed to stretch on forever. "I'm ready," she whispered, turning
around to face the boy. But there was no sign of him. Maybe he wasn't
quite as pathetic as he seemed? Nervously, she drew her Nerf sword,
which would have glinted dramatically if it were a real sword but just
kind of shone dully instead. Such was the price of her power.
Nerf Girl stilled her breathing and listened for the boy's footsteps.
She thought she heard them--but was it the footsteps of animals? She
couldn't tell. Suddenly, the boy jumped out of the bushes, striking at
her with his katana. She hurriedly parried him but just barely managed
to escape the blade. She hit with her best strikes but he matched her
stroke for stroke. Before long he had her pressed against the ground
and raised his katana. She wanted to protest about how katana weren't
even particularly strong swords and she should have broken it easily,
but she was out of breath.
Ultimate Mercenary raised his sword and readied it for the final blow.
She cringed, knowing that even if it wouldn't last in the long run it
was still going to hurt. He gave a loud ninja scream--or at least
attempted it, as his voice cracked halfway through. Against her will,
Nerf Girl found herself laughing. Ultimate Mercenary stopped in his
tracks, visibly dejected, and seemed to look around to see if anyone
This gave Nerf Girl the opening she needed. She struck at his side,
and he started bleeding. She lashed out her legs and tripped him up,
then leaped upward and prepared to deliver a final blow of her own.
Her uniform had gotten torn, her muscles were sore, and she didn't
care. She was finally about to win.
That was when she realized they weren't alone. Something was rushing
at them from the jungle. More specifically, it was a six-foot-tall
skunk-woman clad in body armor, screaming at the top of her lungs.
"It's Agent-M!" shouted Ultimate Mercenary. "Duck!" He pulled out a
smoke grenade from one of his belt pouches, but tripped up and dropped
it. A cloud of smoke engulfed them. Nerf Girl instinctively dived out
of the way, only to find herself facing the skunk-woman's fist. She
couldn't get out of the way in time. The skunk-woman's punch connected
with her jaw, and she found herself knocked onto the jungle floor.
Then Ultimate Mercenary leaped dramatically from the smoke--he didn't
have quite enough coordination to avoid looking a little silly, but it
was better than what he'd done so far--and struck at her back. She
took the opportunity to kick her in the stomach, knocking her over.
Nerf Girl and Ultimate Mercenary got back up at the same time and
thrust at her together, but she dove out of the way and just seemed to
fight back harder. She leaped upward with a startling burst of
strength and pulled out her two guns. Red spots appeared on their
uniforms. "Bang. You're dead."
The skunk-woman snapped her fingers and the jungle faded away,
revealing a pale metal room. Fearless Leader re-entered. "Good work,
"What happened?" shouted Nerf Girl. "I wasn't supposed to fight her!
You didn't even give any warning!"
The skunk-woman nonchalantly pulled a cigarette out of her flak vest
and lit it. "You don't get any warnings in a real fight," she said.
"That was the test. That kind of thing happens all the time in the
field--you get into a fight with another hero, then you gotta team up
to fight someone else. Trust me, you lasted longer than most newbies."
She grinned, bearing her teeth. Nerf Girl had the sense that it was
supposed to be friendly, which somehow made it even more frightening.
"Oh yeah. I guess I'd better tell you who I am. I'm Agent Mephitidae,
but you can call me Agent-M. I'm the Legion's best kept secret."
"I… um… OK. So did I pass?" Her heart was beating the fastest it had
all day, and that was saying something.
"You passed all right," said Fearless Leader. "Welcome to the Legion."
"But... I lost..."
"Well, of course. Agent-M's been doing this since before you were
born. There's a reason veterans are veterans. If we expected every
newbie candidate to defeat a veteran, we'd never get any new members.
You did a lot better than I expected.” She could barely suppress the
instinct to squeal with excitement, jump up and down, and hug Fearless
Leader and Ultimate Mercenary. Then she realize she hadn't. She drew
the line at hugging the skunk woman, however.
But she winced with pain. Fearless Leader cursed under his breath.
"Don't tell me the Peril Room is broken again! Must be from the
Lycopersicon attack. We'll get it fixed in no time, trust me. For now
you'll report to Kindle."
"Welcome to the Legion," said Agent-M. She grinned widely. She seemed
to be trying to be friendly, which somehow just made it all the more
unnerving. "Hope you survive the experience!"
"Don't worry," whispered Fearless Leader. "She says that to everyone."
Ultimate Mercenary led her out of the room and guided her through the
hallway. "I am honored to have fought beside you, Nerf Girl. You are--
ah--you are worthy of a true ninja." He stopped and made an awkward,
extravagant bow. She curtsied and smiled nervously. Her training
hadn't really covered socializing with ninja. "I'm, um, honored to
have fought beside you too, Ultimate Mercenary. You're name's kind of
long. Can I call you UM?"
"If you must." He winced. She couldn't help but giggle slightly. As
much as UM annoyed her sometimes, she felt glad that there was someone
else here who seemed almost as confused as she was.
He brought her to the infirmary, a large white room full of beeping
medical machines and superheroes stretched out on gurneys. A number of
people--some in costume, some not--were hurrying around the room to
attend to them. Beside a particularly badly injured hero stood a young
black woman with startling red hair, dressed in a white robe with
flame patterns on the edge. She was chanting in what Nerf Girl was
fairly sure was Latin. (She'd started learning Latin in case she got
trapped in a universe where Rome never fell, which she'd been told was
The nun (if that's what she was) finished her chanting and sized up
the two heroes. "Fiddlesticks! Peril room broke again, huh?" Her tone
was rather more forceful than her word choice would indicate.
"Um, yes. I guess you're supposed to heal us. Who are you exactly?"
"Oh, right. I'm Kindle. I'm the Legion's resident healer." That was
good, thought Nerf Girl. Healers were usually pretty easy to get along
"You again?" she said, looking Ultimate Mercenary over. She glowered
at him. "Maybe if you actually listened to other people once or twice,
I wouldn't have to see you so often."
"I don't even need your help," snarled Ultimate Mercenary. "My secret
ninja herbs and spices are all I need."
"No they're not! Get back here!" she shouted, louder than she had
thought possibl, and Nerf Girl realized that her incongruous bright
red hair was in fact made of fire. It burst into life as she started
walking after him. "We'll see how much those things help you when I
kick your--" Then she realized that Sigrid was still waiting for her
and turned around. "Sorry," she said, not very convincingly.
"Shouldn't let him get to me like that. Those ninja never listen."
Once Kindle had laid her hands on her and healed her, which mad her
feel more alive and aware, but also somewhat irritated, she walked off
to find her quarters. Who was she going to ask for help? She barely
knew anyone here at this point. Then she spotted someone immediately.
"Oh, hi Sigrid, I mean Nerf Girl!" said the garishly-dressed ten-year-
old boy. Kid Enthusiastic was someone she actually knew. He was part
of a family of net.heroes that went back to the Silver Age, just like
hers; his parents had known hers fairly well and he'd been one of the
first heroes she met once she'd found out about her her parents about
year ago. He looked like he hadn't aged a day since he'd last seen
her. This was because, in fact, he hadn't. He'd been ten years old for
the last thirty years. "Guess you made it, huh?"
"Well, I'm officially part of the Legion now. I guess. I, well, I
don't know if it'll actually work out. This is just too weird. And
that's coming from someone whose mother is a robot."
"Fair enough. But don't worry, you'll get used to it someday. It took
me five years or so to get used to being a net.hero, and then another
couple years to get used to not aging, and then five more years to get
used to the LNH when I joined. But I did eventually! Want me to show
"No, I'd kind of like to go to my room and rest for a bit." Even after
her healing by Kindle, the room was still spinning around slightly. "I
want to be ready if a fight starts soon. I'll be some villain's
plotting something right this moment…"
"That sure sounds like a scene transition to me!"
And it was
In another, rather more run-down and dingier part of Netropolis sat a
decaying, grungy, cockroach-ridden apartment building. A man drove up
to the building and knocked on the door. He would have preferred to be
headed for Netropolis Plaza, where the LNHQ usually was. But he had a
duty to carry out. This was his city, the city he dedicated his life
to serving. It was a thankless job but only he could carry it out.
Brian walked up the stairs and knocked on the door. "Ditko's Pizza,
He waited for a minute or so until a doddering old woman dressed in a
garish muumuu opened the door. When he saw what was inside the
apartment, he couldn't help but gape in astonishment. It was covered
by a furry, writhing, yowling mass of cats. "Thank kindly you, dear,"
said the old woman, in a voice that sounded like a male British
comedian. She paid him--no tip, of course.
He handed over the enormous tower of pizza boxes to her. The old woman
took out a piece of pizza and handed it to a mangy and disgruntled-
looking gray cat. "Here you go, Eustace. Who's a sweet little kitty?
Yes you are! Yes you are!" He slammed the door in disgust. She was
just another one of the parasites and scroungers that kept truly
great, productive men from taking their place in society. But he had
no choice. With great pizza, after all, comes great responsibility.
Once the pizza delivery boy had slammed the door, the old woman sat
back down on her rocking chair and went back to sewing and stroking
one of her cats, while others clustered around the chair, mewling and
growling for her attention. But she was interrupted by a cheerful
beep. Muttering under her breath, she took out something that looked
like a sort of art deco cell phone out of her pocket. "Yes, dear?"
"Cat Lady, this is Dr. Contraption. Operation Runcible is ready to
proceed to its final phase. Contact Ultravac at once. Over."
"I hear you loud and clear, dear," muttered the Cat Lady. She took out
her clunky Zenith Space Command remote control (which also doubled as
a death ray, in case any meddling heroes discovered her current base)
and turned on the antiquated black and white television. The cats
stopped in their tracks and turned their heads as one to the
televison. The Cat Lady began to stroke the cat in her lap in a
decidedly knowing and sinister way.
The screen flickered to show a mad scientist with frizzy hair seated
in front of an enormous supercomputer, covered in magnetic tape spools
and an imposing number of blinking lights. "Excellent," said the
scientist, rubbing his hands in glee.
"My spies have obtained blueprints for the LNHQ," said the Cat Lady.
"This would be an ideal time to attack because they are still
recovering from the battle with the Lycopersicons. I take it you've
arranged a suitable distraction?"
The computer spat out some ticker tape, which was picked up by a
shapely young woman dressed in a brightly-colored costume which
revealed a considerable amount of flesh in unusual places. "Indeed we
have," said the woman, reading flatly. "We are ready to commence the
final phase. The Spoon of Destiny will soon be ours." The computer
printed out another sheet. "No, no, you crazy dame, more drama,
exclamation point. I mean--" She drew up her shoulders and shouted--"I
mean, no, no, you crazy dame, more drama!" The computer printed out
some more tape. "That's better. Soon, the Spoon of Destiny will be
ours! Maniacal laughter. I mean, hahahahahahahaahaha!"
"You know, you could consider installing speakers," said the Cat Lady.
Dr. Contraption gasped in horror.
The computer printed out another sheet. "Speakers? What do you think I
am, some kind of iPod? I don't need any cloud computing or whatever
you punk kids are using these days, I'm the goddamn Ultravac! I am
quite simply the greatest supercomputer that has ever existed, and
under my leadership we will finally rub out the Legion once and for
all! Hahahahahahahaha!" The computer printed out another sheet. "Ha."
Meanwhile, the ticker-tape reader shuddered inwardly. She was a
college graduate with an English degree and this was the best job she
could get, because net.heroism, net.villainy and construction were
just about the only growth areas in the economy right now. She had
meant to get into women's studies, and now here she was wearing a
skimpy outfit and reading out printouts for a supervillainous
computer. Or was it a villainous supercomputer? Well, someday, she'd
pay off her student loans and then it would all be over. Someday…
Three people sat alone in a conference room. One was Fearless Leader.
Another was a muscular, square-jawed man with hair of an odd blue-
black hue, dressed in jeans and a faded, distressed T-shirt with "DN"
in a circle on it. The third was a distractingly beautiful brunette
woman in a white business suit.
"Well, Doc Nostalgia I think that mission turned out pretty well,"
said Fearless Leader. "The Earth's still around, anyway."
"I hope they won't be coming back anytime soon," said the other man.
"Still… The Net.Tastic Nine did better when they were handling the
Morphoids. Even the Saviors would have done better than... sorry. But
this Legion's not bad."
"The team was effective," said the woman called January Frost, pre-
empting any remarks Fearless Leader might make, "although the use of
exploding jello to stop the Hideous Sun Demon was a little odd. But it
worked. Nonetheless, I doubt this is the last we've seen of the
Lycopersicons. They'll likely return to more subtle tactics, as they
"Oh no," said Fearless Leader. A light on the conference room had
begun flashing, and it made an thorouglhly unpleasant beeping sound.
"Net.villain attack. Just when I was thinking we could finally get
some rest. On screen."
The conference room screen turned on, revealing a figure in rainbow-
colored armor with shoulder pads based on the Greek comedy and tragedy
masks, wearing a mask that was split down the middle with one half
smiling and the other frowning. He had a glowing ring on his left
hand. "Hear me, Legion! I am Dr. Mood, and with the power of my Doom
Ring I will steal the Spoon of Destiny! I will attack the Netropolitan
Museum of History at 3 o'clock! And there is nothing--nothing--you
pitiful heroes can do to stop me!"
"Well, he shouldn't take too long to take care of," said Doc
Nostalgia. "But why did he give us the specific time?"
Fearless Leader frowned. "You're right. That's kind of--Wait a minute.
Computer, give us a closeup of that ring." The chair hummed, and then
a spinning rainbow-colored ball appeared. Everyone waited and fidgeted
uncomfortably for about a minute while waiting for it to resolve. Then
it zoomed in on the ring. "It's a very different design from his
costume," said Fearless Leader. "The costume's blocky and imposing,
but the ring is sleek and dynamic. Looks like WHATEVER tech to me."
"It's a trap," said the woman.
"How do you know, Charisma Lass?"
She raised her eyebrows when she heard that name. "Because that's
exactly what I would have done. In fact, it's exactly what I did do
several times when I worked for them. In particular, given that this
villain seems to have emotion-manipulating powers, it's a trap meant
to catch me."
"So you stay here," said Doc Nostalgia.
"But they know I know how they think, so they probably want me to stay
here. They're probably planning some sort of attack on the LNHQ, and
this pathetic net.villain is a distraction meant to draw the rest of
the Legion away."
"But what if that's what they want you to think, Jan?" said Fearless
Leader. "What if there's actually someone backing him up and they want
us to think the real danger is headed for the LNHQ when it's actually
headed for the Spoon?"
"It's a moot point," said January Frost, "because the actual Spoon of
Destiny is not held in the Netropolitan Museum. That one is a decoy.
The one in our basement is a decoy too. The actual Spoon is held in a
crypt in Italy."
"Great Kirby's ghost!" said Doc Nostalgia. "This is too confusing.
Villains never tried that kind of double-triple-reverse psychology in
"Actually, Ultravac is from your day," said Fearless Leader. Doc
Nostalgia growled. "So here's what I'm thinking," said Fearless
Leader. "Doc, you can bring a field team after this 'Dr. Mood' with
whoever we have ready right this moment. Jan, you can stay here,
because we don't want them to realize we know their game, even thought
we do and they know it; I'll back you up, and I'll go talk with Kindle
to see if she can heal up anyone else who could be useful. And Agent-M
will get the Espionage Squad together to go after the real Spoon of
"Which is probably where the trap really is," said January Frost.
"Yeah, well, lots of people have tried to put Agent-M in a trap
before. It never ends well for them." He grinned. "So, who have we got
for Dr. Mood?"
"Well, the last fight took a lot out of us," said Doc Nostalgia. "Most
of the Legion is still in the infirmary or recovering."
"We know that," said January Frost.
"But the readers don't," said Doc Nostalgia. "Some people say that
being accessible to new readers is an old-fashioned value, one that
has no relevance to this new age of espionage-based superheroics,
constant revamps and reboots and never-ending overcomplicated
crossovers." Inspiring music began to play in the background. "But I
"We have to get ready now," said Frost, exerting her power of
persuasion to the utmost. "He'll be attacking in 15 minutes. Who do we
have on call at the moment?"
"Well," said Fearless Leader, "Pantra's still out tracking those kids.
Ultimate Mercenary is set to back her up if she fails, but we can
probably spare him for this. Shouldn't take too long. Manga Girl would
probably be the most useful at the HQ. If there are any net.heroes we
need who Kindle can't heal in time, she can boost them with her
drawings. The Router's still in space, cleaning up after those
doomsday weapons. And Professor Penumbra..." At that moment the
spectral figure of a man in a trenchcoat appeared in midair, wrestling
with something with far too many tentacles, then immediately
disappeared. "Well it looks like he's busy right now. So that leaves
us You're-Not-Hitting-Me-Hard Enough Lad, UM, Nudist Man, and the new
one. Nerf Girl."
"Nerf Girl? You mean Sig.Lad's daughter?" said Frost. "Intriguing.
I'll be interested in seeing how she performs."
"Why is Nudist Man even in the Legion?" said Doc Nostalgia. "He
doesn't even have any nudity-related superpowers. His power is that he
walks around naked. Anyone can have that power."
"Well, it's his specialty. He's spent his entire life developing it.
He's like the Batman of nudity," said Fearless Leader. "And you'd be
surprised how often he's useful. Supervillains usually don't expect to
see a naked man charging at them. Unless it's some kind of
supervillain bachelorette party."
"And his complete and utter lack of any capacity for embarrassment is
practically a secondary superpower in and of itself," said Frost.
"Well... I don't think he can harm the mission too much," said Doc
"Then it's settled," said Fearless Leader. "Send out an alert."
Jerry Muggs, minor-league professional criminal, was having a good
day. It was dismal and foggy by waterfront district of Netropolis, but
that was how it always was. It was also always night. No one really
knew why. It might have been due to the spawn of the Old Ones that had
been seen lurking around the docks ever since the Killfile fell. But
it wasn't Muggs's job to ask such things. It wasn't his job to ask
just what was in the box, either, just to deliver it to WHATEVER.
He'd worked long and hard to get here. He'd started out on the lowest
rank of Netropolis's underworld, a member of the Generic Mugger's
Guild, who spent most of his time getting beaten up by superheroes in
between the really important fights. People often asked why anyone
would want to try to commit any kind of petty crime in the city with
the highest concentration of net.heroes per capita in the entire
world, but in fact it also had one of the highest crime rates. Maybe
something about the city made people more violent. Maybe it was like
climbing a mountain: they wanted to take on the net.heroes becuase
they were there. Or maybe they wanted to prove to the net.heroes that
in a world full of weird technology, alien invasions and magic,
ordinary human beings could still fight back. Even if they were
fighting other ordinary human beings, and got beaten into the ground
within seconds once the net.heroes actually showed up.
Whatever the truth was, he knew he couldn't give up. So many of his
fellow generic muggers had given up after being beaten by a net.hero
once or been crushed to death by one of the anvils, pianos, and so
forth that inexplicably fell from the sky in Netropolis every so
often. He knew he wasn't making very much money, and any money he did
make was soon lost to the hospital bills. But he beleived in himself,
and before long he got a job as a two-bit thug in a criminal
Then the Killfile happened. It was a weird time. There was so much
less evil, but so much less good too. The crime rate went plunging
down, but so did the rate of charitable giving. Before long Muggs gave
up on crime. He'd spent some time working for secret conspiracies and
invading aliens, but it just wasn't the same. He thought for a while
about trying to get his life together, but never quite managed it.
Then the Killfile fell and the heroes and villains were back. Muggs
was overjoyed. He finally had someone to hate again. He'd gotten back
into the business and worked his way up to low-level crime boss. Once
he thought of a good schtick he could become a Crime Boss With a
Gimmick, the next best thing to being an actual net.villain.
Muggss pulled himself back to the present. His men, bearing enormous
early 90s-style ray-guns they'd bought from Cyborg Bob's Used
Hypertech, faced down the men from WHATEVER, dressed in their snazzy
double-breasted suits and carrying their shiny, compact old-fashioned
death-rays. They'd met in an abandoned warehouse, here in the area
that had the largest concentration of abandoned warehouses in the
entire country. "Whatever that thing is, it's here," said Muggs.
"Ready to pay us."
"Sure, I--wait, did you hear something?" One of the men from WHATEVER
drew his gun, but was knocked out by a sparkling object that came
whirling from the shadows. It was a bat-shaped projectile covered in
There was indeed something moving in the shadows. Something that
glittered faintly in the moonlight. Something that even Muggs had to
admit was pretty sexy.
"No! It can't be! Not.. Sexy Disturbed Sparkly Vampire Man!"
But it was. He made short work of the men in the warehouse, which was
probably for the best as there was already one prolonged fight scene
this issue. Cowardly Lott fled the warehouse as he heard the sound of
breaking bones and the screams of the dying.
Sexy-Disturbed-Sparkly-Vampire-Man dangled the worthless criminal scum
from the edge of the warehouse. The blood-drained corpses of his
fellow criminals lay on the floor below them. It was a shame there
weren't any taller buildings he could dangle him from, but there also
weren't likely to be any cops around here. "What was in that box? Tell
"Look, I--I don't even know! The WHATEVER guys mighta known, but you
killed 'em all!"
"You're lying," SDSVM snarled. (Really, he always snarled, so you can
take that as understood from now on.) "Now tell me what was in that
box and I might end your life quickly!"
"He doesn't know. Put him down," said a voice from below.
He looked down and saw two people standing below. One was a dark-
haired woman in an olive-green jumpsuit. The other was a giant
floating eyeball in a fedora. "This is Explain-the-Joke Lass, and I'm
the Private Eye," said, apparently, the eyeball. "We're from the
Legion, and we've been on this case for a while, and--"
"You--you're an eyeball?" interrupted the criminal.
"Shut up!" said SDSVM.
"Well, yeah. That's my name," said the Private Eye.
"But, you know, that'd normally mean that you're a gumshoe, a shamus,
a private dick," said the criminal. "Not literally an eyeball."
"Well, I didn't ask for it, but here I am," said the eyeball. " And
I'm no--well, this ain't a Tom Russell story."
"Should we really be having off-color references to past LNH stories
in what's supposed to be the first issue of a new LNH imprint? That
was a reference to Tom Russell's Mister Blister and Sister State-The-
Obvious, by the way. Now put him down."
"Oh, I'll put him down all right," said SDSVM, who dropped the
criminal from the warehouse. But the crook found himself floating in
midair and gradually descended to the ground, as the eyeball was
quivering and wiggling around.
"You--you let him live? Do you have any idea what that man has done?"
"No," said the eyeball. "Do you?"
"No, but--but you know what kind of person he is. I had to get the
information out of him. You stopped--"
"You weren't getting information, you were dangling him off a
building. That kind of thing never works. Well, sometimes it works
according to the laws of drama, but so does using an Ouija board.
Which is about as reliable. Interrogation's a lot more complicated
than just intimidating and torturing people. I know. I've seen it from
both sides. Confessions you get from torture are less than worthless.
A man would confess he's his own grandmother under torture. Well, in
this city, he could be, but he would even if he wasn't, you know?"
"You know nothing of the evil I've witnessed," said SDSVM. "Of the
darkness I've lived through. I may not play by the rules like you
net.heroes, and I'm not always happy with what I have to do, but I am
the hero this city needs."
"Go cry me a river, buddy. I know plenty about darkness and evil and
misery and all that jazz. I may not have to drink peoples' blood to
survive, but when's the last time someone wrote a paranormal romance
novel about a giant floating eyeball?"
"Enough," said Explain-the-Joke Lass. "I'm not pleased with your
tactics either, but we have a common enemy. Now do you know who is
"WHATEVER," said SDSVM.
"Don't give me lip, pal," said the Private Eye. "Tell me who it is."
"WHATEVER is behind this."
"That's what we're trying to figure out. Now--"
"He means the World Headquarters for Anarchy, Terrorism, Evil,
Vengeance, Extermination and Retribution, an evil organization headed
by the supercomputer Ultravac who are recurring enemies of the LNH.
Also, that exchange of dialogue was inspired by Abbott and Costello's
Who's on First."
"Oh, yeah. Them. So, you think this is a trap?"
"I know this is a trap," said Explain-the-Joke Lass. "The WHATEVER
soldiers were defeated far too easily. We--"
That was when they noticed that they were surrounded by cats, who
slowly advanced toward them, their eyes gleaming with great-even-by-
feline-standards malevolence. Then the box began to shake...
Nerf Girl sat alone in her room, setting up the last of her things
there. This would be her home now. She still couldn't quite wrap her
head around that thought no matter how much she tried. She set up the
last of the fantasy novels on her bookshelf, and took out the last
things left in her backpack: the action figures of her mother and
father that Kid E had given her for her birthday. Her hands trembling
a little, she set them on her dresser beside her mirror.
Finding the room hadn't been hard--in spite of the fact that the
building had far more corridors than it should, judging from how it
looked on the outside--but it had taken her a while to get there. Once
Kid Enthusiastic had gotten started telling her about the
headquarters, it wasn't easy to get him to stop.
He'd told her all about the headquarters--how he'd found it buried
miles underground with Fearless Leader, January Frost and Agent-M when
they were still part of Pla.net.ary Investigations, and it had burst
from the ground in an earthquake when the Killfile fell. It was said
to be thousands of years old, and there were rumors of an ancient
Legion that used it in the time of Googlemesh.
The LNHQ, he'd told her, was always four stories tall on the outside
but far larger on the inside. In spite of this it was always the same
distance from the front to the back. The location of rooms inside
shifted around sometimes as well, usually either in the most
convenient way possible or the most inconvenient. The building itself
moved around within the city, too, but people who lived there could
always find it and never realized it had moved unless it was pointed
out to them. It could also recover from any amount of damage, given
time. A number of people speculated that the LNHQ was a living thing.
A living thing with a somewhat worrying sense of humor.
And then there were the basements. No one knew just how many the LNHQ
actually had. The deeper you went down, the more buttons the elevator
seemed to grow. One of the Legion's earliest members, Too-Much-Time-on-
His-Hands Lad, had gone off to see how deep it went, and it was
rumored that he was still looking for the bottom. No one else had ever
been below Sub-Basement 33. He had just been telling her about some of
the things they'd found down there when she'd finally reached her room
and taken a rest, pulling herself away from his exciting but
exhausting infodump. Maybe now she'd finally get a chance to settle in
before she faced her first supervillain attack.
Then Fearless Leader's voice blared out of the intercom. "Now hear
this. There is an attack in progress at the Netropolitan Museum of
History by an unknown villain. He calls himself 'Dr. Mood' and seems
to have the power to manipulate emotions. Nudist Man, Ultimate
Mercenary, Kid Enthusiastic, You're-Not-Hitting-Me-Hard-Enough Lad..."
Her heart started beating. Surely they couldn't call on her... could
they? "... and Nerf Girl, please report to the flight.thingy bay at
She couldn't believe it. She didn't know whether to be overjoyed or
terrified. Wiping the sweat off her brow, she walked out the room and
headed for the flight.thingy bay. But where was it, anyway? Kid
Enthusiastic had shown it to her on the tour, but he'd gone over so
much she couldn't remember where it was. Then she turned the corner
and saw the flight.thingy bay right there, with a group of
Legionnaires standing beside it. At least the LNHQ was on her side
"Welcome to the LNH," said Doc Nostalgia. "I've known your family
since Mr. Thingy started out, Nerf Lass--"
Doc Nostalga frowned. "Nerf Girl. I hope you can live up to your
parents' legacy." He was a lot different from the version her parents
had known. Younger, for one thing. The anti-entropic energy released
by the fall of the killfile had de-aged him from a distinguished elder
statesman to a brash, but still crankily nostalgic, young hero. Kid E
had told her that he thought that every Legionnaire should have a name
that ends with "Lass" or "Lad" and had unsuccessfully tried to get
this introduced into the Legion constitution for five years running.
"Oh get on with it!" shouted You're-Not-Hitting-Me-Hard-Enough Lad.
"Let's start the fight already!"
"We're not even there," said a naked man. Upon seeing him, she gaped
in shock. She hadn't really been briefed on how to deal with a naked
man. "Hi," he said, waving cheerfully. "I'm Nudist Man."
"Oh, uh... hi," she said, shaking his hand and making a concerted
effort to look at his face.
"Everyone here? Good. Let's get going," said Doc Nostalgia. She
couldn't help but feel awe when she strapped into the flight.thingy
and felt it take off. Her own grandfather--Mr. Thingy of the
Net.Tastic Nine--had invented it. She wondered what he'd make of the
fact that it was being piloted by a naked man.
A flash of light filled the Incredibly Dangerous Ancient Mystic
Artifacts Room of the Netropolitan Museum of Art, and Dr. Mood
appeared out of thin air. "Hahahahaha! At last the time has come to
take what is mine--the Spoon of Destiny!" he said, gesturing
dramatically. He was glad that he wore a mask so no one could see him
An enormous crowd of tourists was gathered in the room, taking
pictures with their iPhones. Supervillain attacks were a huge tourist
draw; this was the main reason that the Museum had this room. The
museum, of course, had both magical and technological wards that would
keep any collateral damage from destroying it, powered by all the
artifacts stored within. The use of such a system on a large-scale
basis, though, was deemed impractical due to the volatile nature of
the artifacts, meaning that like so many of the hypertechnological
innovations that had emerged or re-emerged after the fall of the
Killfile, it currently had very little practical application outside
of the world of net.heroics. Of course, if anyone had ever listened
to Dr. Mood, he could easily have found a way to power the entire
planet and then some using the chaotic energy created by bringing
together mystical artifacts. But his foolish superiors had shown
typical contempt for the younger generation of "mad scientists" that
had emerged post-Killfile. If they wanted brilliant scientists such as
himself to work for WHATEVER instead, that was their loss. At least
WHATEVER let him keep all the royalties from his own patents.
"You suck!" said one of the tourists. "Where's Acton Lord?"
"Acton Lord? Acton Lord? Bah! I, Doctor Mood, am a far greater villain
than he! I'll have you know, I defeated Captain Pathetic just
The crowd muttered disappointedly. Some people walked off. This had
not exactly been the response that Dr. Mood was hoping for. But he
could make them feel differently! He looked at his Doom Ring and tried
to recall which was the correct button for "fear." In retrospect,
installing a button for every single emotion might not have been a
good idea. He should have stuck with a few tactically useful ones such
as fear, doubt, and hate or something along those lines. He pressed a
button, and the crowd started walking off. He realized belatedly that
he'd pressed the button for contempt. He frantically jabbed another
button, and the crowd suddenly began to scream and run around.
"Excellent!" he shouted. He raised his fist and sang to the tune of
"Row your boat": "Cower, cower, cower, cower, cower before my might!"
Then he saw the flight.thingy touch down outside the window. At long
last he would face those so-called heroes and show them who was truly
worthy. He flew out through the window (which automatically opened to
let him through, as the Museum couldn't afford to replace it every
single day) and floated down to face the Legionnaires. There were five
of them. He'd hoped they would have sent out a larger group that could
charge him in true 27-to-one hero fashion so he could show the world
his might, but this would have to do.
He was just about to press the fear button when he saw the naked man.
When dealing with situations that made him nervous. Dr. Mood had
alwasy followed the old advice of imagining the people you're facing
naked. It had served him well throughout his college education and his
career as a supervillain. But now he was facing a man who could not
possibly be any more naked. "I give up!" he shouted, falling to the
ground on his knees. "I surrender! Please don't hurt me!" He started
"Oh come on!" shouted You're-Not-Hitting-Me-Hard-Enough Lad. "That's
pathetic! Aren't you going to give us even a little bit of a fight?"
But before he could say anything, a man on a flying motorcycle touched
down beside him. He seemed to be a teenager, and was dressed in a
costume that looked like two fashion designers had gotten incredibly
drunk and added as many ridiculous elements as they could possibly
think of. He was wielding a gigantic lance. "Whirling Otaku Fury!" he
shouted, pointing the lance at Kid Enthusiastic. It shot an enormous
spinning blast of energy at him. Kid Enthusiastic leaped out of the
way, but not quickly enough. He fell to the ground dead.
"Ha! I had hoped my sister would be among you, but no matter. You
cannot stand before the power of... THE OTAKAISER!"
Is Kid Enthusiastic really dead? (Well, no. No he isn't. But how will
he come back to life?)
What are WHATEVER's plans for the LNHQ, and can the Legion assemble a
team in time to stop them?
Just what was inside that box?
Can Agent-M stop WHATEVER from getting the real Spoon of Destiny? Is
that even the real Spoon of Destiny or is it actually somewhere else?
How convoluted can this possibly get?
Was Professor Penumbra's appearance just a meaningless cameo or does
it have some actual relevance to the plot?
Some of these questions may or may not be answered by someone other
than me in the next exciting episode of... THE SPOON OF DESTINY SAGA!
Welcome to LNH20 Comics Presents! This is the flagship title of the
LNH20 'verse, which features tales of the Legion in the present day.
Its sister title, Tales of the LNH v20, will feature stories from the
Legion's history, and maybe of other worlds and times in the fashion
of Andrew Perron's Looniverse Chronicles anthology. Anyone can write
for either series.
This first arc is a chaotic add-on cascade, a venerable LNH tradition
which exemplifies its spirit of collaboration and invention. Anyone
can jump in and contribute to the story, the more off-the-wall and
complicated the better. Just respect what past authors have written.
A lot of the background for the LNHQ comes from Dave Van Domelen's
Acton Lord #0. The general structure of the plot and the "27-to-one"
line in particular were inspired by the Cosmic Plot Device Caper, the
cascade that began the original LNH.
Oh, and don't forget to read The Great Catastrophe #1 by James Mason
with Andrew Perron, which came out in between the two parts of this
issue. The bit from Jerry Muggs's POV was a last-minute addition
inspired by that issue. (He was going to be Cowardly Lott from the
original Saviors of the Net cascade before I remembered that character
wasn't created by Arthur Spitzer but by an author who seems to have
vanished. Probably he wouldn't mind considering he created him as a
throwaway character in a cascade, but I couldn't resist throwing in a
reference to the only other extant LNH20 series.)
All characters appearing or referenced in this story are believed to
be general use unless noted otherwise. For characters with more than
one creator, I've listed the character's primary writer first, where
there is one.
Doc Nostalgia, Private Eye, Explain-The-Joke Lass, Nerf Girl, Brian
the Objectivist Pizza Boy, WHATEVER, Cat Lady, her cats, Dr.
Contraption, Jerry Muggs, the Lycopersicons, Ultravac, Ultravac's
ticker-tape reader, the currently-nameless receptionist, and the
mysterious Great Old One in the harbor created by Adrian J. McClure
January Frost and Cyborg Bob created by Adrian J. McClure and Tom
Fearless Leader created by Adrian J. McClure and Dave Van Domelen
Sexy-Disturbed-Sparkly-Vampire Man created by Adrian J. McClure,
inspired by Very-Disturbed-Scary-Creature-Man created by Arthur
Ultimate Mercenary, Nudist Man, Captain Pathetic, the Spoon of Destiny
and Apocalisp created by Tom Russell. Ultimate Mercenary's primary
writer is Adrian J. McClure. (Note that UM's background and how he got
to the LNH20 world is going to be addressed in Just Imagine, whenever
I get around to writing the next chapter.)
Too-Much-Time-on-His-Hands Lad, the Net.tastic Nine, Mr. Thingy,
Sig.Lad, Mecha-Kat and Acton Lord created by Dave Van Domelen. The
latter three are ask before using.
Kid Enthustiastic, the Router and Kindle created by Andrew Perron
Manga Girl and Otakaiser created by Andrew Perron and Tom Russell
Agent Mephitidae created by Andrew Perron and Ted Brock
The LNH Setup Kid created by Adrian J. McClure and Andrew Perron,
inspired by the LNH Setup Kit created by Arthur Spitzer. Reserved.
You're-Not-Hitting-Me-Hard-Enough Lad created by Arthur Spitzer and
The Saviors of the Net created by Dave Van Domelen, Andrew Perron,
Arthur Spitzer and Adrian J. McClure
Professor Penumbra, Pantra and the cast of Menace (coming soon to a
newsgroup near you!) created by Lalo Martins. The latter two are ask
Googlemesh created by Martin Phipps. The Ancient Legion as a group
created by Adrian J. McClure, ask before using
The Generic Mugger's Guild (aka "The Mugging Corporation") created by
Ultimate Ninja (who does not exist in this universe) created by wReam.
Holy Gamer Boy, that's a lot of characters.
Andrew "NO .SIG MAN" "Juan" Perron, get excited, yo!
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