Superguy Reviews, July 14 - July 21, 1996

WARNING! Contains spoilers for posts from Marie #27 to Errands #4.

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?"

Marie #27 -- Jesse Taylor
Echoes is angst. There. Let's just get this out of the way. Anyway, Miribel gets the last paycheck, and Marie confronts a future version of one of Spectrum's progeny.... not hers. And is told that to save the universe and all she loves, she has to make a sacrifice. One that she isn't quite sure she can make. Garth and Bubbles... improvise on Terran dating habits (The term cut to the quick comes to mind). Marcus applies his own unique talents "repairing" a bulldozer. And Verne contemplates something nasty happening to Anna.

Here's the wind-up, here's the pitch.... Jesse Taylor's setting up a whole world of hurt, some of which may or may not have been necessary, but then again, we're going to be probably solving some problems that are (one, two years?) overdue. A nice blend of wry humor and a bit of pathos, but one wonders how many shoes are going to be dropping at once. I'm half afraid that there are perhaps TOO many elements going on at once. We'll have to see.

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

Total: 6.8 -- "That..." he said, panting, "Is the -last- time I -ever- ask directions from Zen Navigator."

Kent! #1 -- Gary Olsen
Kent Clark is daytime's newest talk sensation, and all of Megapolis is buzzing. So, too, is SNUCCI, who really think that the Megapolis Moron would make an *excellent* addition to their ranks. Of course, it's all a plot to get Kent Clark to interview Mighty Guy on camera so that Flores Lame, AKA Legs Luthor, can at last find out Mighty Guy's secret identity... And why is everyone bored?

The readers aren't, though. Gary's latest miniseries, staring Mighty Guy, is nicely entertaining. His treatment of Mighty Guy is always spot-on, and his supporting characters are, uh, in character. It's nice to see SNUCCI trying to rebuild again, too. They've been a staple of the list for eons, and deserve to go down fighting, not whimpering.

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

Total: 7.25 -- "But, what good will having a massively powerful, subintelligent force of nature on our side be?" Everyone looked at her, silently. "Okay, okay, I take the question back."

Bob City Chronicles #25 -- Ben Brown
It's Election year. However, it appears the hottest election on the list won't be the Presidential election (well, then again, that was before Manman ended up in it), but the mayoral election in Bob City. After all, the President gets elected every four years. Bob City's mayor has been the same for the past thirty. And he rather late retirement message has left the various factions scrambling to get in candidates up for the election ballot. And what a crew. Politicians, thugs, jailed criminal masterminds, sewer political sharks, simple men, dead men, and even a certain OSHA hero.

Seems this week's been one of set-ups. And this one looks like a case of madcap antics crossed with a nice friendly game of Hot Grenade, since most of the rapscallions will be doing their damndest to claw, backstab, and scrape their way to the top. Another threat of gleeful mayhem from Ben Brown.

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

Total: 7 -- "But he's dead!" "Exactly. He's got a ready-made constituency. The dead have been voting in this city for years, and they're not about to stop now!"

Team M.E.C.H.A. #89-91 -- Chris Meadows
It was decided to capsule these episodes as a "block" rather than individually, since that lets us do the summary more easily.

Jenny finishes running the ISIS program, assembling the parts of Summer's mind from all over the 'Net... or most of her mind, anyway. It seems crucial bits were missing... bits which Jenny has, as part of her own mind. So Jenny decides to take the rather obvious solution to fixing the problem...

Meanwhile, Adam is contacted by Dog and given a mission -- to find out what's going on with some disturbances in nature that are manifesting in the area. Meanwhile, Aaron Meadows is kidnapped by some scientists, but that's just a coincidence, I'm sure.

Back in the 'Net, Jenny finishes writing her last journal entry, a message to Summer, and shuts down, removing parts of her core program to complete the rebuilding of Summer's mind. Summer regains consiousness, holds it for long enough to de-meld from the computer console, then loses it again. BUT, she's alive. BUT, Jenny is not.

Summer is moved to the med-lab, but nobody is quite sure what's happening to her. Inside her head, she's fighting off the remnants of the virus program, which manifests itself as a rather disturbing nightmare which she has to fight her way out of. She manages to do so, with the help of Tim and Samantha, the local nightmare experts. She finally regains consiousness and decides that she would very much like to lose it again, as it's been a rough several episodes for her and she's pretty tired. Everyone leaves her to sleep, with Lita sitting guard.

Now... things get weird. Part of Summer's nanites decide to go wandering, and engulf Lita to do so, and knock Dr. Science unconsious to get out undetected. The NanoCritter forms into a female image, and calls itself Eris, and is apparently executing some program, although it's not immediately apparent what. Eris escapes from the Team M.E.C.H.A. base, after melding with the computer and defeating PenumbralPerson(tm, pat. pend) who was attacking through the 'Net. Summer recovers, and she and Phobos angst about Jenny's sacrifice. Meanwhile... the Master of the Net takes over PenumbralPerson(tm, pat. pend)'s body, as his mind got munched by Eris.

Episode #89 was... definitely surprising. I doubt anyone expected Jenny to die as a result of this plotline. The reason she died was probably not immediately understandable, but made sense when you think about it. Jenny may be a computer program, but she thinks of herself as a person, and copying her code and cannibalizing that copy for the necessary bits just wasn't right to her, even though the other solution meant her death. Summer's return to life was not a surprise in the slightest, but the method of that resurrection most certainly was. The only real flaw in this issue was the subplot with Adam and Aaron, which is sort of jarring, especially since it goes away in the next two episodes.

Episode #90 was... rather disturbing. What else can you really say about a nightmare episode? The nightmare sequence was probably the best chunk of writing in Team M.E.C.H.A. in a LONG time. If there was a flaw in the episode, it would have to be at the end, when Tim says Summer's nanites saved the day. Maybe there's a point to it, but "Summer's nanites are real cool" is a way too common theme in Team M.E.C.H.A., and it would have been nice to find some way to have her beat the nightmare without bringing nanites in. But still, this was a very nicely done episode.

Episode #91 was... rather confusing, really. Not the events per se. Eris is clearly some remnant of the virus, most likely the part that came from the Master of the Net, who is apparently going to be the Big Villain for this plot arc. While the events per se made sense, it would be real nice to get some explanation soon, or else the Reader is going to get real confused. If there was a problem with this episode, it would be that Lita is a bit too much of a "red shirt" (to use the Trek analogy). I'd've liked to have seen a bit more of her before she got et by the nanites, personally.

These three episodes are recommended reading if you're a fan of Meadows' work. Overall, they were good reading.

Team M.E.C.H.A. #89
Jon: 6.5 Stirge: 7 Mason: Abst. Jesse: 6.5 James: 6 Chris: 6


Team M.E.C.H.A. #90
Jon: 6.5 Stirge: 7.5 Mason: Abst. Jesse: 7 James: 7 Chris: 6

Total: 6.8 -- "You're dead," Sarah Conner said, brushing her sometimes brown, sometimes blond hair back out of her face. "Dead things shouldn't come back."

Team M.E.C.H.A. #91
Jon: 6.5 Stirge: 6 Mason: Abst. Jesse: 6 James: 6 Chris: 6

Total: 6.1 -- In the PenumbralPad (TM), PenumbralPerson (TM)'s body lay in front of the computer. It was in perfect health, heartbeat strong, good respiration...but there was no mind inside it. The lights were on, but there was nobody home...

Mason's 'Mazin' Mob #9 -- Mason Kramer
Trial scenes, random meandering through altiverses and blowing up the universe all have one thing in common: they're all on the list of 'things far too common on Superguy'. That's why anyone trying to use one of these ideas, in this over saturated time especially, has to make sure that he or she's got an angle. Fortunately, this issue manages to turn the court scene on its ear with a Big Horking Speeder Battle, which proves the convicted Momentum's good heart, pure soul and courage of convictions... well, I'm exaggerating a little. What this issue does do is entertain through carnage, while developing Alice's personality a little more fully, and examining the dynamics of the Mob.

Okay, this kind of resolution is a bit trite. Sure, we've got the prisoner with a heart of gold handed to us. Right, we've got the wise judge and jury who make the right decision in the nick of time. Somehow, this issue has the chutzpah to pull it off without apology. We could have stood a bit more time dwelling on Watt and his motivations (or is he really this dim?), and perhaps some more out of combat material would have been welcome, but otherwise this issue is a fine read in a consistently good series.

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

Total: 7.25 -- "Standard literary device, sir. Take the cliffhanger from the last episode, and use it as the beginning of the episode, then roll the credits."

HERO Corps #13 -- Nopporn Wongrassamee
[Capsule not available.]

Jon: Abst. Stirge: Abst. Mason: Abst. Jesse: Abst. James: 4 Chris: Abst.

Total: 4

Adv. Of Force Ten #14 -- Jesse Taylor
Force Ten returns with all of the style, professionalism and expertise, that you're used to - which is to say - absolutely none. Also, Nariko joins the team, which partially prompts the return to duty. Meanwhile, Shannon looks for a way to make Chris, the water elemental from Road Race from Hell(tm), solid again. Finally, Irene gets saved from jail to sample a most unusual soft drink.

Yup, they're back, and funny - not to mention slightly disturbing - as ever. Been a long wait for these folks to admit they're an active team again, and this issue eases them back into the saddle. This episode seems to spend most of its time gathering pieces into place, which is okay for the most part. As long as we begin to see answers - or at least the tantalising promise of answers dangled like a carrot on a stick, always within reach but never close enough - over the next few issues, this shouldn't be a problem.

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

Total: 6.8 -- "You... broke me out of jail... to try a cola."

Gomi #7 -- Randall Keith Milholland
Gomi 7 is an intruiging and somewhat refreshing change of pace for this series, as we leave behind the over-the-top absurdist violence that has previously been its hallmark, and get instead a serious mystery and interior character piece. We begin with a dream of the title character, Iris Quan, presented, intruigingly enough, as a role-playing/interactive experience. A transcript of a session with a psychiatrist then quickly shows us that this Iris is a patient in a mental institution...and a conflict with Betty Yeh shows us that this institution is, perhaps, not the most reputable sort. We close with discussions between Iris and her ghost-protector (who she mentioned earlier, and who she suspects, or is led to believe, is a delusion) about his nature and what their relationship is.

The mystical aspects of Gomi have always been among its more interesting bits, and Iris's amnesia allows us to finally learn much in the way of its nature and background by learning it along with her. The episode also shows that Nee has a lot more range than his previous works have displayed, and I'm personally looking forward to seeing what he comes up with in the future.

Jon: 7.5 Stirge: 7.5 Mason: 6 Jesse: 6 James: 7.5 Chris: 6

Total: 6.75 -- "I am here, girl," said a hoarse voice in the darkness. A shadow moved towards her, and moonlight from the window illuminated the familiar face of her servant ghost. "At the foot of your bed, as I always am at night."

Tales of the JHDF #1 -- Jesse Taylor
Fourth wall? What? Where?

The Jordan High Defense Forces are back, after a *long* hiatus. The trio decide to form a team, despite the fact that two of them have no powers whatsoever, and the third is most emphatically not a ninja, despite the fact that she has all the necessary moves and equipment. They cut class one day when the Ostrogoth starts making mayhem downtown, and are joined in battle by one Joe Smith (no, really, that's his name), who, it seems, woke up recently and realized that everyone around him had the delusion that there are people with superpowers. Of course, he knows otherwise...

A fun romp, and a new character with an unusual power. Taylor, as always, entert ains with outright slapstick, metareferences, and the odd ShadowyPlot hint. I ho pe it isn't as long before we see these characters again.

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

Total: 6.8 -- "I am the Ostrogoth!! I am invulnerable! Powerful! Strong! And I look -good- in spandex!!"

Adjusted League Unimpeachable #107 -- Eric Burns
First off, let me get this off my chest. If there was any justice (and low instinct for self-preservation on Sabre's part), Trudy'd get the continuity note job. Because, ladies and gents, that says it all. Now onto the rest of the post, after a token shudder at the foreshadowing we skipped mentioning to comment about the Note. The ALU break orbit with one one decidedly hungover Trudy, one glacial Trashman, and one easy-going godlet in the control room. We find that even with her reprieve, things are Wrong with Dianna or at least not right. Then we skip to Earth, where Transit apparently falls ill, which as Healer elucidates should NOT be happening. Another cut-away happens as Baneala finds herself in the unenviable position of having to delay the Disposa'bll fleets attack by any means at her disposal. Trashman and Masked Bruce have it out over his, er, "furlough" given to Dianna. And in honesty, though Trashman "won" the argument, the entire way of handling it quite likely did not get the message though to Mike. And then we hit the last part of the multi-part post, which the term "soul-bearing" is probably a bit too grandiose, yet Mandy's diary entry and Dani and Dianna's talk come to the point of the matter too well. And finally, the connection of the Montelbon and Guinness (coincidence and coincidence) plotlines start to combine with the Magestrix element, hinting to the spearhead hopefully coming in the next few issues.

*whew* Even for a summary that's big, considering the lack of details. As usual, Sabre aka Eric Burns, does a bang-up job of characterization and writing. The only complaint I can really think of is not with the post itself, but with the delaying way of it. All the forces seem to be aligning quickly, and it's with eagerness that I want to see the conclusion. Especially with the distinct feeling of dread I've been getting that Dani may get that primary membership in a way she'd never want it.

Jon: 7.5 Stirge: 8 Mason: Abst. Jesse: 7.5 James: 6.5 Chris: 7

Total: 7.1 -- Penance wasn't always restricted to the penitent, Trashman reflected as he started filling out Diplomatic Encounter forms.

Errands #4 -- Eric Sturgeon
Errand Boy teleports mysteriously around, while having flashbacks of his time with the Irregulars and his strange disconnection from the Dreaming. He 'pops in' above a city, and doesn't fly, so much as plummet.

First person narrative, when improperly done, can really grate on the nerves.

I mean _really_ grate on the nerves.

We're talking 'fingernails being dragged tortuously down a squeaking chalkboard while the dragger smacks gum loudly and taps irregularly but loudly against a table top' grating on the nerves.

Fortunately, Errands #4 makes the switch to first person narrative without pain of any sort for the reader. Also, the flashbacks work nicely to break up an event which must otherwise be a) short or b) boring as watching paint dry. Because of them, this issue is neither and works. It's still a bit slow, but written well enough that it simply seems leisurely.

Jon: 7 Stirge: Abst. Mason: Abst. Jesse: 6.5 James: 7 Chris: 6

Total: 6.625 -- "Do you want the long, involved explanation that explains the cosmos and my place in it, or the quick one which sounds good at first until you think about it?"