The New Review Crew is Jesse Taylor, James Rinehart, Jon Lennox, Eric Sturgeon, Chris Angelini and *THE* Mason Kramer.
|0: Abysmal||(I've seen Power Rangers fanfic better than this.)|
1: Very Bad
|(Ooog. Give me Tales to SMURFIFY any day.)|
|(Little White Dojo. 'nuff said.)|
3: Very Poor
|(Better than Tales, but not by much.)|
|(I liked it. It was better than Cats.)|
|("Eh." Okay, not bad, but not good either.)|
|(Genuinely good read. Basic Superguyage.)|
7: Very Good
|(High basic Superguyage. The difference between 6 and 7 is fairly slim.)|
|(Very high quality writing.)|
|(Really excellent, even for Superguy. Can have no serious flaws.)|
|(The kind of thing that leaves you sitting there in front of the screen going "whoa...." for a while. These are VERY, VERY RARE.) Also known as "What's this guy doing slumming with us hacks?"|
And then Leon, aka Lampshade Man, takes Maxine Destruction, aka Future Ruler of The World, out for a cup of coffee, dinner, and conversation. With a side order of action, though they get to play spectator this time. Now this is the plot on a basic level, but the point is, it's as much _what_ gets discussed as what happens. Character byplay is the key to things, as Ben helps define Max, her father, and Leon to new levels... while treating us to a little trip to a Diner that could be from a Chan movie. Just a simple, solid piece.
|Jon: Abst.||Stirge: 7.5||Mason: 7||Jesse: 7||James: 7||Chris: 7|
Total: 7.1 -- "This place never stops suprising me."
This one's strange, folks, because, on it's own, it makes some amount of sense. But put with the rest of the series... But who cares? The simple yet elegant style of this issue makes it shine, and leaves one waiting for the next episode.
|Jon: Abst.||Stirge: 8||Mason: 7||Jesse: 6.5||James: 7.5||Chris: 8|
Total: 7.4 -- Bland took off the headphones. "I don't understand," he said. "It doesn't make sense."
Meanwhile, the Dark Pantheon return to their base with their prisoners. They are interrupted from their intent to take a little rest after last episode's fight sequence by the fact that Omni, Nemesis and Doppelganger all suddenly notice large quantities of raw Chaos headed their way.
Jane pops out of her Gate in the middle of a town, and notices that all the escapees from the computer game dimension that are currently hanging out there are acting a bit weird. Not that escapees from the computer game dimension should be expected to act in a way other than weird, but there you go. She meets up with several members of the H.E.R.O. Corps and their allies, just in time to notice that one of their little group has apparently gone a wee bit wonky thanks to the Chaos.
Meanwhile, back at the H.E.R.O. Corps base, Thunder and Lightning debrief (read: yell at) Starshot. Meanwhile, the rest of the group go over the battle footage (the entire fight in the previous episode was filmed by a convenient camera crew). One of the figures in the enemy forces is recognized by Lightning, who remembers that said enemy was more powerful than he. Another one of them is noted to look like Gateway, one of the H.E.R.O. Corps members, who when confronted by the picture gets a bit freaked out.
Meanwhile, Jane and the group she ran into follow along after the escapees from the computer game dimension, and their errant member, but come to a rather abrupt halt when they run (literally) into Team Anachronistic's RV.
This episode... wasn't bad. This is not to say it was good, but it wasn't bad. Aside from the fact that it seemed to be exceedingly Pentad-driven, there really were no serious problems with it. It does suffer from Too Many Characters At Once-itis, but there's actually some very, very much needed characterization in this episode. Not much, but it's there. Aside from that, the episode seemed cliche, and rather bland. This series is looking to be action-driven rather than character-driven, and, well, the action really isn't that special.
|Jon: Abst.||Stirge: Abst.||Mason: Abst.||Jesse: 4.5||James: 4.5||Chris: 4|
Total: 4.3 -- "GET OUT!!!!"
|Jon: Abst.||Stirge: 1||Mason: Abst.||Jesse: 1||James: 1||Chris: Abst.|
A fruit bat named Energeto the Human Dynamo plots to destroy an overpass because - well, just because. Maybe it's for the cash. He's spotted on the overpass by Harry and Rob, who decide to deal with this menace. To do so, they improvise a battle cry and rush the villain who manages to mistake them for heroes, villains, and then heroes again. Christie's bus stops in front of Energeto, and she departs to help confront him. Steven and Michael also show up on the scene and head out to investigate the cause of the traffic jam that has stopped their car.
Rob and Harry fare rather poorly against Energeto. Then Christie shows up and tries to turn the tide. She seems to have taken the insane villain down, but Energeto rallies while Steven and Michael join the fracas. Michael determines that the battle is causing Energeto to manifest into an energy form, and the group decides to press the attack in order to drive him into this state. Energeto overextends, transforms and gets spread too thinly, leaving him defeated. The super powered group heads off for a victory party at the Dasher residence, where Michael is planning to pitch the idea of a super team.
'Origin' is a well written issue which fills in an early gap in Sentries history. Also, its current placement is rather ironic, given the shattering events in this team's recent continuity. It's an interesting counterpoint, seeing the team's formation and early innocence alongside its great losses and hard-won experiences. The characterization is a little light, which would be inexcusable in an issue #1. However, as most readers will already be familiar with the Sentries, this is a minor quibble at best, as the writing is still at the series' usual high level.
|Jon: Abst.||Stirge: 7.5||Mason: 7||Jesse: 7.5||James: 6.5||Chris: 7|
Total: 7.1 -- "But they actually save the universe. That still sounds like work."
Elsewhere, the toon hero Fuzzy Bunny sneaks into the West Coast Defenders underground base. Well, he doesn't sneak into it so much as plummet. He encounters Nikon Ninja there - and more importantly, Nikon Ninja's very sharp sword - who susses the toonic rabbit's intentions of joining the team, most probably as a freeloader. He lays down the law, and puts the bunny in the 'capable hands' of Trap Door Spider Man, who has his usual charming effect upon the rabbit.
Somewhere Else, the Mighty Muddy Power Grangers have set up shop on a farm which they *ahem* liberated from its previous owner. It is revealed that they have not returned to their home Earth, and Pinto Sally flirts with the idea of farming and going straight. This does not, of course, prove a popular idea with the rest of the family, who decide to get back their powers, weaponry and robots - somehow. And lo, in the sky there appeared a cache, in the form of three mindless drone Tofu pursuing an airspeeder, which promptly crashes. Led on by the allure of guns and the female pilot of the speeder, the male Grangers destroy the Tofu. The woman reveals herself to be Sha-na-na, 'Warrior Woman and Guardian of the Gateway'.
Finally, an obviously evil woman, Rita Repeato, cackles a bit, and has her loyal servant Bester send in two more patrols of Tofu to capture Sha-na-na.
This is a nice issue, up to the usual standards of West Coast Defenders. There are many funny scenes, which mix nicely with the serious tone with which the issue opens. Rita Repeato is obviously a straight Power Rangers Classic steal, but whether this is a good or bad thing still remains to be seen, and I'm optimistic. Bester might be a Babylon 5 in-joke, although there isn't much to suggest that except the name and a teaser question. The biggest problem with this issue? Formatting. Mac Quotes were turned on, which makes the story slightly more of a chore to read than it should be. This seriously detracts from the enjoyment of the title, and as such, should be addressed immediately.
|Jon: Abst.||Stirge: 6||Mason: 6||Jesse: 6||James: 5.5||Chris: 6|
Total: 5.9 -- "Thats Fuzzy! No relation,"
Philip Moyer is one of the best of the recent crop of Authors, and this episode is a shining example of this. The prose is clean and clear, the tale includes humor without being an excuse for humor, and the humor is actually funny. It's almost enough to get me to look up his past work, but for now, Z-Team entertains. And that's the important bit.
|Jon: Abst.||Stirge: 7||Mason: 7||Jesse: 7||James: Abst.||Chris: 8|
Total: 7.25 -- "suni dy tkunda clodawy onnawy tuares wieti."
First, Chris Masse sits around, watching the multiverse go poof.
Meanwhile, in a Star Trek riff, a beweaponed Mary slips in through a wormhole. She encounters part of Vickie, who chides her for agreeing to the Plot Device's gamble. Vickie reveals that she is this universe's only real form of FTL communication, and also has a pipeline in on the Author's Altiverse. She offers to transport Mary back to AA, but the Sliders knock-off decides to just slip through her wormhole instead. Mary really needs to learn to deal with her impetuousness.
Bane tries to help Mary regain her control. She mutters something about continuity, then angsts that Bane lied to her. Omni shows up, laughs at Bane, then gets smacked around by Mary. Mary really needs to learn to deal with her anger.
Meanwhile, in 000SFSTORY, the Evil Author's counterparts duke it out, while a drunken munchkin Mary rearranges the universe's political structure. She then goes to Heck. Mary really needs to work on her exit lines.
The Mary on 000WAROFTHEWORLDS destroys everything in that altiverse. Then she blows up 001WAROFTHEWORLDS. Must suck. Then she goes to Heck. Mary really needs to work on her paranoia.
The Mary on 000METAWORLD is greeted by Lazarus Baines, who congratulates her on ruling the world. He tries to blast her, but being a Mary, she's Cooler Than He Is and prepares to blow the vampire away for daring to lay a hand on her. Before she can, however, she senses her Order self, and opens a portal to her, in order to crush the counterpart. Mary really needs to work on her 'getting along with others' skills.
Nopporn has proven on one or two occasions that when he focuses on character and personality, his writing can reach very high levels. This, unfortunately, is the antithesis of those stories. We seem to be locked in a rather inane collage of kewlness, jumping from scene to scene where a Mary demonstrates her power, and little to nothing of her personality. Also, there is an air of pointlessness to this issue. It seems to serve as little more than a showcase for just how Bad a Mary can be when she's ticked and to bring them all a step closer to Munchkin Con '96. This issue is unfortunately like watching someone take one hour to make a single move in a chess game.
|Jon: Abst.||Stirge: Abst.||Mason: Abst.||Jesse: 3||James: 4.5||Chris: 4|
Total: 3.8 -- "Ooh, roast
This last revelation has me wanting to throttle ShadowyWriter, but the rest of the piece had me laughing enough to stay my reflexive action, I think. Excellent romp, and what happens next should be amusing as well.
|Jon: Abst.||Stirge: 7||Mason: 7||Jesse: Abst.||James: 7||Chris: 7|
Total: 7 -- Stream of consciousness battle sequences. Gotta love 'em.
Angst. Pure angst. Pure, unadulterated angst. Scads of it. I mean, we're talking big whopping quantities, here. I mean, enough angst to make Captain Happy throw up his hands in disgust and walk away.
Jenny is re-connected to the main Team M.E.C.H.A. computer, which remains sealed off from the rest of the 'Net until they can find the security holes. System diagnostics find no trace of the virus that killed Summer. The 'Mazin' Mob show up at TMHQ, and are filled in on the situation.
Phobos wanders off to try and deal with the whole thing, and runs into Maria, who was trying to do the same. The two spend time talking about things, instead of privately moping, and are recovered somewhat by the time Team M.E.C.H.A. and the 'Mazin' Mob are called back together for a meeting.
The members of Team M.E.C.H.A., the Irregulars, and the 'Mazin' Mob all meet to try and figure out what to do about all this, but nothing is really decided except that the team will stay together until they find and punish the person who did this.
This episode has scads of angst, yes, but it also has lots of characterization, which is good. Unfortunately, much of the episode is devoted to the 'Mazin' Mob's reactions... Phobos in particular gets spotlighted, while Mike gets very little screen time. While there's nothing wrong with featuring the 'Mazin' Mob, it would be nice to see more of Team M.E.C.H.A. -- this is, after all, their title and everything. The writing is solid and the characters believable, and this is a good, if not exceptional, episode. Definitely worth reading.
|Jon: Abst.||Stirge: 6.5||Mason: Abst.||Jesse: 6||James: 6.5||Chris: 5|
Total: 6 -- "The bastards who did this need to die, and they're going to die multiple times if I have anything to say about it."