LNH: Legion of Net.Heroes Volume 3 #3: "Sequels are Always Worse" [6/6]

Jeanne Morningstar mrfantastic7 at gmail.com
Tue Nov 10 10:23:21 PST 2020

The battle was over now. The confused net.heroes (and the occasional 
net.villain and wildcard) were being ushered back home; the device was 
being disassembled and shipped off to the LNH lab. Sarcastic Lad saw 
Token Girl trying to get a smoke in the Abandoned Amusement Park and 
walked up to her.

"What is it?" she said. "It's over between us."

"Believe me, I know," said Sarcastic Lad. "I wanted to say that too. And 
I also wanted to say... why the hell aren't you with Cat? She could 
definitely use a shoulder to cry on now and it pretty much has to be you."

"What? Why the hell do *you* care?"

"I don't, believe me. I just wanted to make it extremely clear that I am 
officially getting out of the way of you two."

"You're what?"

"One of the reasons our relationship didn't work out--the many, many 
reasons--was that it was clear who really mattered to you, and it sure 
as hell wasn't me. I know that whole thing you have with Cat was 
actually retconned in pretty recently, but it's an essential part of 
your character now, and--"

"Actually," said Token Girl, "that all started in Just Another Cascade 
now, and that was... five years ago now, right? Yeah." She blinked. 
"What was that horrible noise?"

"Probably the Writer thinking about being old. Anyway. I'm distinctly 
the third wheel in this situation. I know when I'm a Joxer."

"The hell do you mean?"

"You know what I mean. But I'm not gonna say it because A, you already 
know it, and B, you won't listen, to me or to yourself. I hope you get 
there--and I really mean that--but I'm sure not holding my breath." He 
sighed. "You need to stop talking to me and start talking to her."

"Yeah, you're right. Just this once." She waved goodbye. "See you in 
Hell, Sarc."

"You too."

Sarcastic Lad slumped on top of a nearby wall like Charlie Brown. He was 
having Feelings now, and he didn't like that. Mercilessly mocking his 
own feelings didn't make him feel better. Right now he wished his old 
best friend--wReanna's ex-husband--were here so they could go to space 
and make love to a bunch of space babes, or at least go for some beers. 
But he didn't come around anymore.

"Hi there," said Mashup Laq.

"What do you want?" snapped Sarcastic Lad.

Mashup Laq laughed. "I just wanted to say... thanks for sorting Tara 
out. You're not actually all bad, you know."

"Yeah, that's what you think."

"So I was thinking... how would you like to join my game group?"

"Well.." Anything was better than stewing around in self-loathing, 
thought Sarcastic Lad. Probably. "I really want to go have some sexual 
escapades in outer space, but I guess that'll do..."

"It's so hard to say goodbye to yesterday," sang Boyz II Men in the 

"Where the hell is that music coming from?" said Sarcastic Lad. He 
turned around and saw a young woman who looked distinctly like Laura 
from Wicked and the Divine, with a jacket with many different band 
patches from many genres, holding up a giant blocky 80s-style boombox.

"Oh, hi Thematically Important Emotional Music Lass!" said Mashup Laq.

"Will you turn that thing off?" said Sarcastic Lad. Thematically 
Important Emotional Music Lass stuck her tongue out at him.


"Hey," said Tara, touching Cat on the shoulder. Cat didn't respond.

"I just... need to be alone for a bit," she sighed.

Tara nodded. "Then I'll just be quiet and be alone with you."

Cat let out a heavy sigh. "I don't feel like doing anything."


"Yeah. Why are you here? Aren't you mad at me too?"

"I am, Cat, and I'll probably yell at you later, but you're my friend. I 
don't want to see you just... collapse like this."

Catalyst Lass started crying. "That was supposed to be something great 
and meaningful I was doing to help the team and it just... didn't work."

"Look, Cat, you fucked up and you hurt people, but that happens in 
actual relationships. Friendships as well as romances. You deal with 
that and you move on." She put her arm around her shoulders and hugged 
her tight.

"Yeah, I guess. I think a lot about relationships but... I don't think a 
lot about being in relationships myself. That's why I put all my energy 
into fantasies and weird crushes that never work out. Always the 
bridesmaid, never the bride."

"So... are you actually interested in a relationship, or..."

"Maybe someday. I like big romantic feelings but I don't always feel 
them myself... maybe I'm on the aro/ace spectrum somewhere, I don't 
know. I feel like I could, though, and I'd like to someday..." She 
looked closely at Tara's face, her eyes following her powerful jawline. 
"I just haven't met the right person yet," she lied.

"Well, okay," said Tara. "Anyway, I do not think you should be sitting 
around in your own head, OK? Do you want to see something cute and 
relaxing, or something weird and bad and kinda fucked up?"

"Don't care," said Cat.

"OK. Let's watch this. This is one of the most amazingly terrible movies 
of all time. It's called Face/Off..."

"Sure," said Cat. Tara picked her up, took her in her arms, and plopped 
her on the couch. Like a dashing pirate king carrying a blushing maiden. 
Cat was already feeling better.


And somewhere, in the Victoria's Secret of the East Coast Brotherhood's 
abandoned mall headquarters, there was a small shrine that Juliet 
Valentino kept unknown even to her teammates. There were candles--an 
enormous number of candles, every single one she could scavenge from the 
mall--around a pedestal with a Funko pop of Catalyst Lass. She couldn't 
find a proper action figure of her, but one day she would.

She kneeled down before the statue and seethed in rage.

"'Love. It destroys us all. The curse of being a Romantic. It will 
destroy you Juliet. Someday, when you least expect it.' [quoted from 
Beige Midnight #3] That was what Romeo Inman, the Romantic Innuendo who 
came before, told me." She looked into the blank eyes of the plastic 
abomination in the form of the woman she loved. "Not if I destroy you 
first, my love. Not if I destroy you first."


Catalyst Lass sighed with relief now that the flashbacking was over. 
That all had been a while ago, now. After watching the movie, talking 
over the bizarre symbolism, the implausibility of the surgical 
procedure, and how great Gina Gershon is, they felt a lot better. People 
had mostly moved on, but not all of them--a handful still refused to 
talk to her. Cat had put down the lingering bad feelings, but also meant 
putting down the other feelings, the ones about Tara.

The big problem, she realized, was that she'd tried to build some kind 
of elaborate computer program to try and help Tara have a better 
romantic life instead of just dating her herself. It was pretty obvious 
once she actually thought about it. And that was also exactly what 
Sister State-the-Obvious had told her when it was all over. She just 
hadn't been ready to internalize it yet until weeks of quarantine angst 
had broken down the barriers she had around her feelings.

Maybe she did like fantasizing more than actually being in a 
relationship. But she had been slowly feeling herself pulled closer and 
closer into Tara's orbit for as long as she'd known her . Through the 
various terrible boyfriends--and the occasional terrible 
sorta-girlfriend--Cat had always thought, well, *I'd* do it better.

Now in the quarantine she couldn't shove the feelings into the back 
drawer of her brain any more. They were all spilling out and making a 
big mess.

Suddenly she got a buzz in the comm system. She called up the message, 
and it was, of course, Tara.

"Hi!" She said. Cat's eyes ran along her jawline again. "How are you doing?"

"Oh, good enough." She laugh/sighed. "I"m glad we're all still holding up."

"Are you sure? You look a little frazzled." Tara could always see right 
through her. That was why Cat had let her in so early on the fact that 
Ultimate Ninja was Nina now. Cat knew that Tara would know immediately 
the moment she tried to lie.

"Yeah, a little. I'm trying to keep everyone afloat and it's hard."

"Well, if you need to rest for yourself, you should do that," said Tara.

She sighed. "Yeah. Thanks. I guess I needed to hear that. Anyway," the 
feelings were a giant flood about to drown her in her office. She had to 
say it. "Anyway, I just wanted to say that I..." She took a deep, deep 
breath. "I have been thinking a lot about you lately, about us, and I..."

She couldn't say it, not yet.

"You what?"

"I just wanted to say that I... Am really glad to have you in my life."

"Yeah. Thanks." Tara smiled wide. "I'm glad to have you too. Take care 
of yourself, Cat."

"You too. Bye." The screen went off and Cat started ugly-crying. Then 
there was another buzz. She wiped her tears off and pressed the button. 
It was Sister State-the-Obvious.

That made her feel a little better. At least that whole thing had worked 
out for someone, in the end. SSTO and Doctor Stomper had formally 
started dating--though really they'd been dating for a long while before 
formally acknowledging it, in a way you normally saw more often among 
lesbian couples--not long after. Cat had been a tiny bit disappointed 
there hadn't been a dramatic romantic kiss, but neither of them were 
really that sort of person.

Their relationship had been shockingly stable. Sometimes SSTO's powers 
made it hard to talk about her more complex feelings, but Doctor 
Stomper, with his knowledge of superhero genre relationship tropes, was 
usually pretty good at intuiting them. He was actually pretty sensitive 
when he didn't get so completely abstracted he lost touch with being a 
person entirely, and SSTO was good at pulling him out of that state. As 
of a few weeks ago, they were engaged.

"Oh hi! What is it?" said Catalyst Lass.

"You need to tell her you love her," said Sister State-the-Obvious.

Cat buried her head deep in her hands. "I know, I know. I'll get around 
to it..."



The concept for this issue came from a discussion Tom and Arthur had 
way, way long ago about a potential sequel to the Valentine's Ball. 
Arthur said that it didn't need one and "sequels are always worse," and 
that made me think: what if they tried to have another one and it went 
horribly wrong?

This was the last of the big ideas for my original plan for LNH 
v3--apart from the big emotional climax this is leading to, which will 
be one of the climaxes of that cascade. Originally it was going to be a 
cascade issue but it was A, way too long, B, pretty tangential, and C, 
the concept of this story--a sequel to LNH Triple Play #3--pretty much 
had to be LNH v3 #3. (It also ended up spawning a spinoff of a spinoff 
when I split off the first scene, but never mind that.)

The way I see LNH v3 now as a whole, after Drew's issues, is kind of a 
spiritual successor to LNHTP--characterful stories about the "core" 
classic LNHers, longer and more extensive than the one-off gag bits and 
short scenes of Another LNH Title? Really? (I'd definitely make ANLTR #8 
and the Free Comic Book Day Special v3 issues now.) I'm reflecting a few 
specific plots too--I plan to use issue #5 for The Trial of Self 
Righteous Preacher, a story based on an idea by Drew which follows up 
LNHTP #5 and Limp-Asparagus Lad #55.

Catalyst Lass: Lis Riba
Doctor Stomper: T.M. Neeck
Sister State-the-Obvious, Deductive Logic Man, Self-Righteous Preacher: 
Token Girl: Tara LJC O'Shea
Sarcastic Lad: Gary St. Lawrence
Romantic Innuendo: Arthur Spitzer
DNSDaemon: Ted "Arsenal" Brock
Occultism Kid: Josh Guerink
Mashup Laq, Miss Social-Cues: Drew Nilium
Bad Timing Boy: Vernon Harmon
Hell Catalyst: Drizzt/Jeff McCoskey
Super Apathy Lad; Jacob Lesgold
Loquacious Lad: Greg Schomberg
X-Intruder: Drizzt
Gets-Annoyed-When-Writers-Mix-Different-Genres Lad, Thematically 
Important Emotional Music Lass: Jeanne Morningstar

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