Superguy Reviews, June 9 - June 16, 1996

WARNING! Contains spoilers for posts from Teen Hero a Go-Go #1 to Mason's 'Mazin' Mob #8.

The New Review Crew is SW, Mechaman, Jon, Stirge 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.)

2: Bad

(Little White Dojo. 'nuff said.)

3: Very Poor

(Better than Tales, but not by much.)

4: Poor

(I liked it. It was better than Cats.)

5: Mediocre

("Eh." Okay, not bad, but not good either.)

6: Good

(Genuinely good read. Basic Superguyage.)

7: Very Good

(High basic Superguyage. The difference between 6 and 7 is fairly slim.)

8: Excellent

(Very high quality writing.)

9: Exceptional

(Really excellent, even for Superguy. Can have no serious flaws.)

10: Perfect

(The kind of thing that leaves you sitting there in front of the screen going "whoa...." for a while. These are VERY, VERY RARE.)

SG: Teen Hero a Go-Go #1
Richard Less, formerly of the MIB, gets a new job running a super-duper top-secret agency. Special Agent Bankert opens a grocery store. A bunch of kids get in an accident. And James "Stinky" Jones is somehow involved in all this.

This is a first issue, and like many of its type, introduces several characters and doesn't spend much time with any of them, making it hard to get a feel for them at this point. The writing is solid Bankert, the imagery simple and easily pictured, and it ends on something of a large cliffhanger. I expect good things out of this series, if Bankert can refrain from returning to the land of the dead.

Jon: 5.5 Stirge: 5 Mason: 6 Jesse: 6 James: 5

Total: 5.5 -- Evil Government Conspiracies

SG: Teen Team 2001 #35 (WTA)
As the forces of the Overmind begin to overwhelm the Texas Free State, Texas's Superguy Rangers gather the remaining civilians and prepare to make their last stand at a vast underground bunker underneath the ruins of Austin.

Alternate futures are hard to do well -- far too often one gets the impression "in all this time, that's all that's happened?" But Teen Team 2001 is managing to paint a convincing picture of five years' worth of events while simultaneously providing a fascinating counterpoint to Chris Angelini's "Winner Take All", enhancing that series's feeling of urgency.

Teen Team 2001 #35 is clearly a "breather" issue -- last issue gave us the destruction of Stately Ward Manor, and next issue looks to be a dramatic last stand which will surely leave Mason crying in his beer once again. The framing sequence with Phong Nguen provides a masterful alternate view of our heroes -- showing them as the truly *super*guys they are, people who are different from and above the ordinary person, while simultaneously showing how, despite all that, they are still essentially powerless against the overwhelming force opposing them.

I'm certainly looking forward to the next (concluding?) episode.

Jon: 7.5 Stirge: 7 Mason: Abst. Jesse: Abst. James: 6

Total: 7 -- "All right, Astatine, we can go get ice cream after the battle" "YAY!"

The 001NORMALGUY characters introduced in Escutia's anthology series join the main plotline with this episode, Lord D'Terminant begins siphoning power from Starwave, and we start to get a picture of what the heck he's up to. Several of Escutia's Looniverse characters join the plotline, too, making this even more of a ride. And, of course, more Altiversal Counterparts.

This has been an entertaining storyline since it began, and that hasn't changed, even though we're on the road to the end. Big Things(tm) are afoot, and I for one can't wait for them.

Jon: 5.5 Stirge: 6 Mason: 8 Jesse: 6.5 James: 6

Total: 6.4 -- "You forgot to press 'Enter'..." "Dowh!!"

The madcap antics continue in the third installment of Road Race From Hell<tm>, and the comedy just keeps coming. We start out with Ari O's introduction to rural sterotyped constabulary (all we needed was them reporting to a "Boss Boar," though they seemed a bit north for the stereotype.) Then we hit Lunchtime, courtesy of Gerbre and everyone's favorte walking plot device. Then we focus on the aftermeal entertainment, as the various mecha-oriented racers have a free-for-all with more than one little twist getting in the way. Intersperse this with scenes of Transmat, Qui-bell, and Shannon Druida, liberally. And don't forget that snack run with our favorite Most Totally Evil Woman In The Universe. (Galaxy!)

Unfortunately, however, there is a minor problem or two with this episode. Not with the prose itself, nor with the comedy, but if you look at the above text, one notes that some of the racers and plots seemed to have dropped off unexpectedly. What happened to the Sentries, ALU, or Zaratharawallawalla, the Spirit of Minor Vengeance? What of the poor, er, HEROIC Spoonman? I mean a day _has_ passed, by the end of the episode, yet not even a passing mention was made.

Hopefully this little glitch won't happen again, but don't let this nitpicking keep you from enjoying the wild ruckus and total carnage.

Jon: 7 Stirge: 8 Mason: 7 Jesse: Abst. James: 7

Total: 7 1/3 -- You want an Identifying Quote from that monster? Pfft. Get real.

SG: H.E.R.O. Corps #11
In the past, Jane pops out of a wormhole and is confronted by a FA$A android on Lagrange 4. In the present, Lagrange 5 notices Lagrange 4 has popped up. Substance and Sunburst talk for a few minutes before being interrupted by Starshot, who had apparently been sent to teach Sunburst proper control over her powers. Meanwhile, Thunder and Lightning kiss. On Lagrange 5, a rescue mission is undertaken to Lagrange 4. Meanwhile, at Groom Lake, the Dark Pantheon and the H.E.R.O. Corps whomp on each other. On Lagrange 4, the rescue mission gets underway, barely getting everyone out before the station pifs into time again.

This was... not a good episode. It wasn't mind-rendingly bad, but neither was it up to par by any stretch of the imagination. The scene transitions were jarring, the prose was choppy (*Especially* the first scene), and it suffered from all the problems that tend to plague Nopporn's works.

The first is characterization. There are -way- too many characters being introduced -way- too fast. I barely have a grasp on most of them except for "X can do Y". Characterization. Do these people do anything other than fight and, er, screw around? Darned if I know, 'cos it sure doesn't come up very much in the story.

Wonky Time/Dimension Stuff. Trust me, I know what I'm talking about in this regard. Time loops are enough of a headache when there's a point to them. I only hope that there's actually a point to this one. It's too early to tell.

Shameless ripoffs. I watched Babylon Squared. I like Babylon Squared. I do not like Superguy Does Babylon Squared. This episode's plot was so obviously ripped off and utterly gratuitous that the story would have been vastly improved by simply leaving it out entirely. Babylon Five and Deep Space Nine should not be required backstory for understanding and enjoying a Superguy Post. Period.

In summary, this post was a lot like Nopporn's other works. Lots and lots of building blocks, but lacking any development on them or any real sense of bringing things together. Not recommended unless you're a completist.

Jon: 5 Stirge: Abst. Mason: Abst. Jesse: 3 James: 4.5

Total: 4 -- "Not the one..."

SG: Spotlight On...Midnight Tableau...#21
This post is a hard one to capsulize because nothing really happens. The majority of the post is taken up by a dream sequence by Coma (Lyle). Due to the fact that it is, well, a dream sequence, it's very hard to describe what happens. Apparently, the main focus of the sequence is about Lyle's abusive father, and his sister. Anything beyond that, however, is essentially up to the individual reader to interpret.

This post was a nice, solid, well-written Chris Angelini post. It was slightly surreal, but that was apparently the point. It was enjoyable, but it just didn't feel substantial. However, it -is- nice to see Lyle getting an issue all to himself, after so long lurking in the background of the Dream stories. All-in-all, most definitely worth reading, and then worth reading again to try and puzzle out the dream sequence.

Jon: 7 Stirge: 7 Mason: 8 Jesse: 7 James: 6.5

Total: 7.1 -- Weird dream symbolism.

SG: Mind's Construction #5
The fifth episode of "Mind's Construction" is one of those episodes that's just cool, even though it doesn't clear up any of the mysteries that have been sort of building up during the rest of the series. The falling Long Haul is captured by three small airships deployed from the larger one that the Long Haul just finished escaping from. Wally and Sheila, the only members of the crew still conscious, start searching for a way to get out of this dangling predicament, only to find that the interior of the Long Haul has apparently suffered a rather major redesign. They solve the airship problem (after finally finding the equipment deck) by the rather unique tactic of heating the gasbag until it pops. The episode ends with them still hanging around, but not in quite such dire straits as before.

This episode was -very- funny, in places, and Rob's writing style remains very good. However... it would be nice to know what's going on. It's been five episodes, and still we don't really have a clue -why- things are happening, just that they are. Still, this is an episode definitely worth reading, and I'm looking forward to what's next.

Not that I have the faintest idea what's next, but I'm looking forward to it anyway.

Jon: 6.5 Stirge: 6 Mason: 6 Jesse: 6.5 James: 7

Total: 6.4 -- "Hell, I'm a god damn Buddhist, for Christ's sake, what the hell am I doing swearing like this?"

RR: Retrograde Rhapsody #10
Helen Quinn and her decidedly motley crew of assistants try to get the Lycici to her shuttlecraft before it wakes up and does something regrettable like, say, killing them all. The My'nar ancestors follow them. Shadowy men get informed of what's going on, while the Protectors of Order realize their current situation sucks. Also in the "current situation sucks" camp are the punkette agents back on Earth, who had their ship salvaged for tractor parts. Helen Quinn and Co manage to get the Lycici back to the shuttle only to find that the shuttle isn't there, which puts them firmly into the "sucky current situation" camp, too.

This post was fun, and well written. It's nice to see a Round Robin plotline that doesn't go utterly, wackily, through-the-wall metaphysical, for once. (Joke! Joke! Guys, put down that wombat! Aiiee!) A good read, and this series looks to be continuing to be that way.

Jon: 6.5 Stirge: Abst. Mason: Abst. Jesse: 7 James: 7

Total: 6.8 1/3 -- Salvaging spacecraft for tractor parts.

SG/LNH: Team M.E.C.H.A. #84
Dr. Odd Science is forced to reveal (after having had his lab notes stolen by Phobos and Jenny) that Summer's Nanites are actually extramultiversal in origin, having originated in Dave Van Domelen's RoboMACs universe.

Unfortunatly, the presentation of this rather interesting backstory revelation leaves rather a lot to be desired. First of all, Odd Science's discovery of the origin of the Nanites was oddly unforeshadowed, especially given that Robotech_Master apparently wrote this post *before* most of the Grand Tour. Had we seen Dr. Science investigating and making connections, with mysterious hints being dropped about his past, this revelation could have come much more satisfyingly.

Additionally, Odd's motivation for keeping said backstory a secret from the rest of the team strikes me as somewhat unconvincing -- Team M.E.C.H.A. accepted Adam Douglas back into its ranks after he shot their leader in the Industrial Revolution, after all.

My greatest problem with Team M.E.C.H.A. #84, though is that these rather interesting revelations are presented through an amazingly dry lump of plot summary and exposition. A significant fraction of this episode consists of summaries or extracts from previous storylines of "Team M.E.C.H.A." or "Dvandom Force", which all-in-all gives the story a feeling like those end-of-season T.V. shows which re-use footage from earlier in the series in order to save money. I've read these stories before -- they were much more enjoyable in their entirety.

Expositing and retelling backstory for those who came in late is a necessary but tricky task in any serial medium, but it is essential not to forget that the audience will undoubtedly include long-time readers as well as newcomers, and thus backstory-revelation should include something *new* -- new revelations, new points of view, or characterization through the personality of the storyteller, for example -- for the benefit of those readers.

I don't mean to criticize this story excessively -- Summer's Nanites *did* need a backstory, and tying them into Dvandom Force makes the Grand Tour arc into a sensible, integral part of the larger picture of Team M.E.C.H.A., rather than simply a year-long digression. But the presentation of this idea was, unfortunately, rather lacking.

Jon: 6 Stirge: 5 Mason: Abst. Jesse: 7 James: 6

Total: 6 -- Wavy flashback lines.

SG: Team Anachronistic #9
Comparing Team Anachronistic #9 to its previous issue is rather like comparing apples and oranges. Where that ep suffered from trying to whip our perceptions supposedly thousands of "issues" into the future, to try to impress us with a small and rather skimpy skimming of a future for both this team and the H.E.R.O. Corps, this episode loses a bit because of the basic drop between episodes. Granted, there are eps in the crossover inbetween, but there is very little to connect it with the previous ep.

Instead we find the characters, save for Delta, on a night on the town. Why? Dunno. Delta sneaks out to watch TV, and chats a little with the Laptop. Again, why? Actually, this second time it's a bit more clear, as Delta gets a little bit of characterization time. Sad to say, the rest of the characters go into stereotype mode afterwards. The two males supposedly are reduced to hormonal reactions, and the ladies are not far behind. When the "crisis" happens at the end, well, it's a bit out in left field, since nothing gives a hint about it before a rather abrupt revelation by Delta. Overall, not necessarily a BAD episode, but not much to support it.

Jon: 6.5 Stirge: Abst. Mason: Abst. Jesse: 5 James: 5.5

Total: 6

SG: Marie #25
Robots. Big robots. Fighting. Hitting. Hurting. And tearing up downtown Detroit in the process. Skippy, the eternally cheerful destructive device, gets ticked. Marcus gives Our Heroes (?) new Combiner Mecha (With a name that I can't spoil here--just trust me, you'll want to kill Taylor afterward). And Red Bandit's programming breaks through the holds, taking over the vehicle she's been stored in for several months.

Taylor is one of the most entertainingly *funny* Authors on Superguy, and several of his trademarks are used in this episode, which contains his best work in some time. A huge anime fan, he isn't afraid to gently mock the conventions of the form, in a scene that had me drop-down laughing for several minutes. Looking forward to next episode, where, according to the teasers, "Stuff go boom."

Jon: 7.5 Stirge: 9 Mason: 9 Jesse: Abst. James: 6.5

Total: 8 -- "And I'll form the-- no. I can't say it. It's too stupid."

Mike Escutia split up his original plan for the forty-some scene long Hero Patrol #40 into four episodes. However, the seams from this split are unfortunately still rather visible, and so HP #41 tends to read like parts 3 and 4 of 8, especially in how we start in media res without much of a re-establishment of scene and setting.

As such, the episode is somewhat difficult to summarize, insofar as there aren't really beginning or ending situations to point out. The various former Hero Patrollers, plus assorted altiversal counterparts, LNH characters, PRECOGS guardians (about which more later), and the like, run around meeting up with one another presumably in preparation for a final confrontation with the bad guy two issues down the line, in what would have been the original outline's climax. As such, though, this episode feels like it has excessive set-up and not enough delivery.

I'm also a little dubious about the whole idea of using the xxxPRECOGS altiverses in Superguy, insofar as Precogs are, as far as I know, an alt.comics.lnh / rec.arts.comics.creative thing, being originally one of the LNH's multitudinous parodies of the comics industry, in this case of Diamond Previews. As this is the case, one would expect that for the majority of Superguy readers this would be an in-joke they wouldn't understand. The altiverse is fairly clearly drawn other than that, though, so hopefully the obscure nature of the in-joke should not impede enjoyment too much.

Jon: 5.5 Stirge: 6 Mason: 7 Jesse: 6.5 James: 6

Total: 6.2

SG: Mason's 'Mazin' Mob #8
Trial prose is probably the second hardest type of prose to write on the list. All of us remember the length and detail required the last time two of the authors' characters met in a courtroom in _Knights in Blue Spandex_. That trial explored topics of extreme seriousness and tension in the aftermath of Spandex Babe's role in the Industrial Revolution. As Momentum's trial starts in this episode of Mason's 'Mazin' Mob, there is a much lighter tone to the trial, in almost a three ring circus feel.

More than half the action takes place before the trial even begins, thanks to the cross-circuited dreams of last MMM episode. Tris and Momentum have a little chat, and discover some disturbing facts, while both ALU and Mobsters prepare in their own way to give Mo an opening and a second chance. Both Shana and Trashman dust off rarely-used (well, textwise) skills and subterfuge as Bruce Rogers defends himself admirably from the story-hunting reporter. And then, cricket in hair, and resolve in her heart, Mo comes to trial. And what a trial it is. Short, lively, and with much homage to a certain off-beat courtroom comedy, the lawfirm of Ward and Johnson present their case in a witty and concise style aided by their expert witness's unflappable testimony. And then, just when the magic moment is about to happen, the other shoe is dropped with a bang.

Nice pacing, witty dialogue, bad karaoke, this ep has something for most everyone to enjoy.

Jon: 8 Stirge: 10 Mason: Abst. Jesse: Abst. James: 7

Total: 8.3 -- Bored and Boring Multibillionaire dialogue