Superguy Reviews, July 1 - July 7, 1996

WARNING! Contains spoilers for posts from Steel Angel #1 to Retrograde Rhapsody #11.

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.)

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.) Also known as "What's this guy doing slumming with us hacks?"

aSG: Steel Angel #1 -- Eric Sturgeon
Altiversal counterparts are a pet peeve of mine. Now, I realize this is a personal preference, and may tinge my judgement, but I've seen too many bad uses of "what ifs" or "let's put so-and-so in this situation/setting/world." Generally, either the character or the universe suffers from this as the character or the setting is forced to fit the other. The key balance point is to keep the character(s) familiar, yet people in their own right with different goals, likes, and inspirations. Not shadows of whoever the "main" line version is.

Pretty high standards there. So, while I started reading Eric Sturgeon's "Steel Angel" with a bit of trepidation, I was rather pleased to see the balance was held. Passing references to Morgan aside, the kidnapping of Anne by Joseph and Darwin (if you don't know who THEY are, then I'm not about to spoil it) was nicely done in that almost NONE of the plot invovled needed knowledge of the Main Superguy line nor did it make gratuitous references to the main line. Yet, both the Sun Wizard and Technomancer stayed in relative character that when I connected who they were (I confess; I actually mistook Joseph for someone else before I saw his name), I could agree that they were not "out of character".

If anything, one of the pluses were also a minor flaw. Stirge puts us in the thick of things, without resorting to telling us what Altiverse this is, or indeed, much about location. This is a plus, since it gets us straight into the meat of things without boring us by "setting things up" as it were. However, at the same time, I'm not sure where this takes place or not. I _think_ it's in the equivalent to Vietnam, but there are few locational clues in the text, save for Anne's language. While it's not too pressing now, I'd rather not find in subsequent episodes that this had taken place in Hoboken or some such. A little more grounding would be appreciated.

All in all, an excellent attempt at altiversal superguy, and quite possibly Stirge's best work to date.

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

Total: 6.7 -- "Like, oh, like, Sun, giver of the, like, Tan, remove yon damsel-like babe, for she is, like, about to, like, block thy rays, and, like, make my tan, like, uneven."

SG: Bob City Chronicles #23 -- Ben Brown
Lampshade Man once again saves the talking Maxine Destruction into joining him for coffee rather than making a strike on the records building. He's duty-bound to stop her, see: he's got a grant.

With that great beginning, Our Protagonists go through a scene change, then head back to the store Maxine owns, which is, naturally, being robbed. One fight scene later (and a beautiful one at that), Maxine decides not to press charges, and actually--nah, that's too much of a spoiler.

Ben Brown doesn't do sweeping epic stuff, he does light comedy. Which is what this list needs more of. Who needs angst? Here we've got humor, decent writing, humor, well-thought-out characters, humor, a city you can see, if you look carefully enough, and, lest I forget, humor. Maxine is the most unusual protagonist to hit this list; she wants to take over the world, and her usual methods are destructive, but she doesn't want to hurt anyone. The scary thing is, she's smart enough that shejust might be able to pull it off someday...

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

Total: 7.2 -- "My grant came through. I'm getting twenty thousand dollars from the government to study vigilantism first-hand."

SGA: Superguy 101 #6 -- Rob Furr

Jon: Abst. Stirge: 7.5 Mason: Abst. Jesse: 8 James: 7 Chris: 7

Total: 7.375

Slackers Anonymous #15 -- Amy Borden
The only way to really describe this issue is to quote Johnny Carson: "this is weird, wild stuff...". This issue features the Slackers - resplendent in costume and code names, no less - against the forces of Bedlam, who are invading Earth. The slackers engage in a running battle against these troops, trying to hold onto their planet and their sanity. Success on either is in doubt by the end of the issue. Kevin - AKA Galloglas - almost acts heroic, and manages to meet a local woman named Amy Borden, who is later instructed to 'piss off' by Team Cynical itself. The ubiquitous Wayne manages to ingratiate himself amongst the Bedlamites - possibly learning something of import about a Key that he'll dismiss the next day as a bad trip - while Marv and Ninja lead a daring 'cavalry' advance to the rear (run AWAY! run AWAY!). Sven himself soon adopts this tactic, and the group reforms around Cantata and Brother Zoop! They learn that Marv opened the way for the Bedlamites to invade, and further, that he has a hidden Absurdity-based power. Just as the news is being digested, there's a red flash in the city street, Mindburner goes down for the psi-count, and everyone runs away... smack dab into the Bedlamite leader and his entourage, which Cantata prepares to take on. Finally, a somewhat recovered Mindburner fights the never recovered Wayne, and lashes out with a Horkin' Lot of Power. Looks like we're gonna need another Timmy!

Whoo. This issue is _packed_. Reading it straight through is a lot like weathering an invasion: there's so much action going on that you actually feel tired by the end. Not that this is a bad thing: somehow, Amy manages to keep her chaos on a tight leash, never letting it get too out of control. Slackers #15 does a good job of bringing together the various plot threads that have been left dangling until now, leaving off the explanations until the anticipation has been properly built up. More importantly, it also provides some much needed characterisation for Marv, who until now has been rather formless. He still needs a good deal more, but this issue finally manages to define him in the minds of the readers.

If there is anything which could stand improvement within this issue, it is the introduction of code names. After fourteen issues or so, the changeover to hero identity for the Slackers is a bit abrupt. Fortunately, civilian names aren't abandoned entirely by the narration, which helps to minimise this problem. Otherwise, a good issue from a consistently good Author.

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

Total: 7 -- "Nobody's going to think an invasion of flying pink spaghetti is threatening. What you got here is just....stupid."

AA: Movin' Daze -- James Rinehart

Has it been mentioned recently how bloody difficult it is to review an Author's Altiverse post?

[You just did -- Ed.]

Grr... Anyway! This post chronicles the journey of two new Authors, Mechaman and... um... Phil, who doesn't have an alias. Oh, and Phil's muse, Aerianne. What are these three journeying towards? Why, their Authorial Demenses, of course! Their homes, their writing tables, the place they go to when their Musae inspire them to the creation of new works of wonder and glory!!!

*cough, cough* Right. Um, anyway, there's a lot going on in this post. Running ("Oombaraga!") gags, and actual *subplots*. Not just a sort of little tie-in things, but actual, honest to goodness, real life subplots.

For an intro AA, this post kicked butt.

Hmm... scratch that.

This post kicked butt.

It had a funny fight scene. It had Swedes. It had a Cantata. It had me -- although I was apparently wearing my 'Designated target' shirt at the time. It had Muppets. It even had a veiled reference to a popular numerology thing that the Author of the post deserves to be repeatedly thwapped for. *AND* it was well-written -- an AA! Well-written!

I honestly can't find anything wrong with it.

If you like the Author's Altiverse, then unless you're weird, you will like this post.

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

Total: 6.875 -- "Though I don't think 'Crazy Eddie's High Calibre Express Service' will get my business anytime soon..."

SG: %N #1 -- Crash Mallory
This is an unusual way to start a series, as all the action occurs in 000REALLIFE (which, as we all know, is the world around us or at least a reasonable facsimile). Gina focuses on herself during a typical day, where we see that she just isn't satisfied with life as we know it (or rather, as she knows it). She gets together with her friends, and opens a portal to 000SUPERGUY, and invites them to join her. Naturally, they do.

The series is somewhat confusing at the moment. We know very little about any of these characters, save that they're all members of the "Bermuda Triangle Brainpack." This will change, of course, but for now, we have to wonder why all these kids would want to enter an inherently dangerous area like Superguy. :)

Still, it's an entertaining read, and the problems are easily surmountable.

Jon: Abst. Stirge: 5.5 Mason: 6 Jesse: Abst. James: 5 Chris: 5

Total: 5.375 -- "Geez, Gina, what'd you do, bump us all into an episode of Sliders?"

SG: Most Totally Evil #14 -- Jesse Taylor
After a fowl start, this issue opens with the hiring of a mercenary by the name of Ka'tarna to do what we've all dreamed of doing: killing Admiral Morgan. Er... well, maybe you haven't dreamed of killing her, but you probably know someone who has. They're more numerous than you think. But I digress. The issue proceeds to an examination of its own place within continuity, arriving at the conclusion that it simply does not exist. While most reviewers would balk at the concept of summarising a non-extant issue, I simply choose to think of this as a challenge. Besides, if I get anything wrong, I'll simply blame it on reality failure.

From here on, things get strange... or stranger, if that's possible. Admiral Morgan and her Merry Band grow bored with their latest pastime: watching pro golf on television, and decide to destroy something instead. They settle on revenge against Spoonman, for his actions in the Road Race from Hell(tm). Things would be looking bleak for the man of flatware right about now, if not for the timely arrival of Dana Wader and her shuttle craft, which rams Morgan's ship in a desperate attempt to... prove... something. Probably revenge. That's what these evil types go all out for. A battle ensues on Morgan's ship, which leads to the destruction of the youth ray-gun and a subsequent infantisation of Wader, Morgan and the crew. How cuuuuute.

This issue is very tightly focused, which helps the reader greatly in picking back up where 'Wandering Morons' left off. It is also well written and a truly funny read. This issue does nothing spectacular, but then again, it doesn't have to. 'Most Totally Evil' #14 seems to set out to tell the story of the top competitors for the prize of the same name, and does it cleanly and without pretence. While a subplot or two might be refreshing, and probably necessary for the long-term freshness of the series, the lack of such isn't noticeable yet.

Jon: Abst. Stirge: 7 Mason: 8 Jesse: Abst. James: 6.5 Chris: 7

Total: 7.125 -- "It's a perfect plan! Why, I just love having the greatest hero in the world pound on me..."

RR: Retrograde Rhapsody #11 -- Greg Fishbone
Every Author in Retrograde Rhapsody has their own spin on things. Which kinda is the point. And in this episode, Greg Fishbone spins things toward the absurd. The Crawbelladorians try to cover up the shuttle crash. Breakfast with two racial enemies is shown not to be an appetizing prospect. Back on Earth, we find (to our surprise?) that the President is clueless to what's going on, even AFTER Helen Quinn's group smuggles a message out in a song (which has a catchy tune apparently). And finally, our intrepid ambassador gets a meeting with the Crawbelladorian President due to technical difficulties.

While the plot in this episode moves sort of glacially, this ep was still nicely done, coverng what points are still relevant now that the shuttle crash incident is behind Helen and her crew. An excellent starting off point for people who didn't read the first 10 eps. (And will want to see precisely WHAT they missed afterwards)

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

Total: 6.75 -- Case in point, this informative brochure, which just goes to show that if you're really good at propaganda, you don't even have to be subtle about it.