Superguy Reviews, August 15 - September 10, 1996

WARNING! Contains spoilers for posts from Spotlight on... #23 to Most Totally Evil #15/Preteen Patrol #38.

The New Review Crew is Jesse Taylor, James Rinehart, 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?"

An Authorial Birthday -- Mike Escutia
[No capsule available.]

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

Total: 6

Dread Attourney #2 -- Dirk Myers
"Some Enchanted Evening" opens with the Dread Attorney admiring himself and his latest idea, advertising for a new sidekick. After doing this for a while, he decides to go out to eat (using his Nightmare 2000MX DeathTrap for transportation). Meanwhile, the rampaging vegetables (remember them?) decide to stop trying to be minions and become superguys. The DA's date with Greta goes as well as can be expected (badly), but he does manage to get new sidekicks (the afformentioned vegetables).

This series has the same sort of appeal that the companion series (ManMan Returns) has. Namely, it's weird, and we have no idea *why* we like it, but we do, dogonne it!

Stirge: 7 Mason: 7.5 Jesse: 7 James: 6 Chris: 7

Total: 6.9

Kent! #2 -- Gary Olsen
In Gary Olsen's mini-series covering a solo adventure of the Man of Petrified Wood, one expects the plot to be simply .... chaotic. Well, got half of it right. Nothing ends up simple as "Kent!"'s tapings get more and more destructive, Flores Lame continues her mad quest to gain The Clue, and SNUCCI tries to maneuver close enough to gain control of Mighty Guy. To the point of cloning ..... well, it was SUPPOSED to be Mighty Guy. Instead, we have the return of Mighty Guy's stranger half.... Bizarre Guy, Man of Warped Wood!

The insanity looks like it's building to a rather bizarre, yet smashin conclusion. (Yah, as in Urban Renewal.) Still, hilarious ep.

Stirge: 9 Mason: 8 Jesse: 8 James: 7 Chris: 8

Total: 8 -- "We're four members of the Association of People Who Take Out Incredibly Huge Insurance Policies and Then Go Put Themselves In Incredibly Dangerous Situations," Tony explained. "Needless to say, when one of your producers, Mr. Grey, asked us to be on the show yesterday, we all phoned Lloyds of London and went hog wild."

The Mind's Construction #6 -- Rob Furr
Wally and his intrepid IS team finally free themselves from the AA airships and plummet in their Long Haul back to the earth, wrecking havoc on their captors along the way. Two men in a van with a very interesting repartee attempt to pursue when they see this aerial spectacle. The Intercontinental Salvage crew survive their fall and lick their wounds and attempt to regroup in their rig. Unfortunately, at exactly the wrong time, Wally is interrupted by a man who only adds to his confusion that the poor architect feels, although he gives us a very large clue as to where in the multiverse this story is set.

Although this episode does not advance the plot a great deal, it really doesn't have to. MC #6 is a very 'sudden' issue, taking a very few moments and exploring them quite well with a series of shifting viewpoints. Wally's confrontation with The Voice of the Revolution at story's end is especially good, nicely demonstrating his utter frustration with the events which for so long have not seemed to be under his control. This issue also tantalises the reader with the promise that they'll finally be let into the know, story-wise, which will be a big payoff.

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

Total: 7.3 -- "Look, would you mind just shooting us? I don't think I can cope with any more uncertainty. There's no adrenaline left, man."

Force Ten #61 -- Jesse Taylor
In Force Ten #61, Jesse Taylor alleviates one of my worries. The past few eps had been setup, but the "payoff" seemed so far away that focussing on it now seemed ludicrous. But, then ShadowyWriter takes off on a plot tangent and introduces (or reintroduces, and therein lies at tale not done yet *HINT*) Ana Ng. Who, simply, is an Angel. Of course, she's not dealing with it too well. Also, Marie and Ray are asked to join up, we see more from BIC central, and finally, a little song and dance from some forgotten revolutionaries down in Central America.

The showdown is still building. That much is easy to see. However, by focussing on Ana's plight, Jesse gives us something to do while he starts laying the primacord. Looking forward to the next ep.

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

Total: 6.8 -- "In the washroom... fortunately, the amazing fabric known as DENIM!!! is remarkably easy to clean and maintain!"

%N #3 -- Gina Mallory
Gina aka ACrash aka the writer of %N #3 (Now pay attention, there'll be a quiz at the end of the reviews batch), lets this episode focus on the various and sundry members of her crew as they suffer mishap to mishap. Three find out why FAE's are called poorman's nukes. Two others find out how technophobic an area they're in. Ted may be dead by electrocution. And Buddha may have uncovered.... a Plot!

Gina does a good job of moving each of the snippets along. However, simmply because of the current distances invovled, there is very little cohesion to the post. Hopefully, as the connecting factor (CCrash, in all likeliness) is brought in, this problem will go away. The other probelm is a little more stylistic. I found it took two diffrent readings to figure out who precisely was who at spots. Especially in series that episodes do not come regualarly or aren't fully established, connecting nicknames with real names helps extremely. For an example, I almost mistook "Stinky" and "Brian" to be two different people.

Overall, nice ep, and I'm looking forward to the further (mis)adventures of this crew.

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

Total: 6.375

Spotlight on... #24 -- Chris Angelini
A group of six teenagers out camping have one of their number eaten by a magical 'bloodhound', meet up with an old man who was the one the bloodhound was hunting, and are given the "shards of Millenium" -- powerful artifact items which can give their users great power -- as their only hope of beating the bloodhound. Of course, the side effect is that the shards aren't exactly people-friendly...

Yes, that was a short summary, but this episode is hard to summarize, because it does not contain a great deal of action per se, but rather a great deal of characterization and background. This post apparently ties into two of Chris's previous stories relating to the shards, and the plane they come from... which leads one to wonder if this isn't all part of some subtle uberplot that Chris is building towards. Hmmm...

One of Chris's most impressive abilities as a writer is the way he can create characters who are real and believable in such a very short span of time, and this post is an excellent example of that. He manages to introduce five very detailed characters in less time than it takes most Authors just to lay the groundwork for one. This is done, however, without sacrificing the flow of the story or by wandering off into irrelevant digressions. And, to top it all, the story blends both deadly serious and rather silly moods in, without seeming to jar in transition between the two.

Highly, highly recommended.

Stirge: 8 Mason: 7.5 Jesse: 9 James: Abst. Chris: Abst.

Total: 8.2

Adjusted League Unimpeachable #108 -- Eric A. Burns
We open in this issue upon the neuberization of Alanna, transforming her into Oracle, a powerful precognitive whose visions give us hints as to what might happen in future issues of ALU (then again, don't count on them too much, as this is the same Author who writes Scholarman, and if there's anyone whom Alanna is begging to meet, it's the breaker of destiny). Back in space, the penultimate frontier, Alec Guinness confronts Coye about the Magestrix, apparently spooking the 666NASTYNASTYNASTY out of her with his knowledge and insight into her mission. He reveals that her mission could have extremely dire consequences, making her writhe on the end of yet another enigmatic warning. Back on Earth, which isn't a frontier so much as a nice place to visit, the Adjusted League disembarks after another successful mission, and Transit's condition is revealed. Dianna mopes and angsts for a bit. Eric reveals his strange and frightening speculations about his nature to Mandy and then, his love for her. Back up in space, Fox, Lien and Picardo approach Planet Seattle only to discover a flotilla of warships parked in orbit. Fox announces that he has a plan to get down to Seattle. Somewhere, I'm sure three sets of insurance premiums just skyrocketed. The Primus Fleet and Primus Martial discuss the state of the universe, helping to foreshadow some issues of loyalty. Finally, back on Earth again, Captain Marvelous (Hey! The Defence Squad! I remember them! Wonder where they've been...) detects through the power of his Elvisness that aliens are on their way to Earth to capture its Fritonium. He flies off to talk to Superuser, eschewing DS's leader Smartman.

Whew. There's a Heck(sm) of a lot going on in this issue, and all of it is up to its usual ALU standards, which are Pretty Darned High. The Dianna/Spandex Babe scene is especially nice, avoiding pointless angst and going straight for a very affective mood. Also, it seems as though a great deal of this is going to be tied together eventually, though I'm certainly chomping at the bit for the author to weave it together soon. My only real nitpick with this issue is that it largely resembles an airplane by an airport in inclement weather: circling and waiting to land. There's obviously going to be a big payoff for our patience in this arc, and I hope that we get to see at least a glimpse of it sooner than later. Still, there are enough hints and teasings here to keep the reader busy for a while longer.

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

Total: 7.125 -- "Because... I decided you didn't want to go. Right? I decided you love it here. And... I don't want to go without you."

Spotlight on... #25 -- Chris Angelini
Poor Bill. It's been a pretty lousy week, and, just when it couldn't possibly get any worse, Murphy drops into his life.

Yes, *THAT* Murphy.

It starts out innocently enough, with them meeting at the tape store, with her looking over an Erasure CD and asking his opinion. It moves on to an ice cream parlor for breakfast (as an aside, I agree that a chocolate-chip sundae float is *the* breakfast of choice), then into traffic. It's after he mutters prayers to every deity, author, and cosmic power (including a few that he made up on the spot) and she responds that he starts to understand who he's with (not that she'd hidden the fact, of course). Naturally, he does what nearly anyone in his position would do, and starts railing against her...

...until he starts to understand why she does it, and why she can't apologize for it.

Christopher Angelini is, as has been reported in this column before, a god. He can take something ordinary and make it extraordinary, find a laugh in a bad situation... and make one of the most hated cosmic forces in the universe a sympathetic character.

Stirge: 8 Mason: 9 Jesse: 7.5 James: 7.5 Chris: Abst.

Total: 8 -- "When you're surrounded by crazed superbeings to the south ready to rip a magic weilder apart for being able to Abracadabra up a rabbit from a top hat and insane megalomaniacs in your own capitol trying to add you to a mass-mind, you give a lot of thought to what you'd do if you ran into a paranormal."

Starcruiser Anonymous #4 -- David Menendez
In the fourth installment of _Starcruiser Anonymous_, the biggest thing missing is the ship itself. And if you think this is a complaint, check again. David Menendez has done a fine job of caputring the "Space Opera Absudria" feel of SFStory, as he sets up intrigue (Okay, the governor tries to play both sides of the fence to stave off his power hungry Military liason), heroics (well, heroes in search of captured comrades and a Minor Study in Heroism, and Threatening Space Fleets (Well, coming up.) It's nice to see the spirit of Sfstory alive an kicking in the right form.

One thing that Menendez asked about via Author's note is his formatting. Overall, I think it works. If there's any complaint, it's that I'm still getting a grasp on the characters overall. This _is_ a sweeping epic, and probably will be enhanced whrn read in lump sums than the episodic style. But that's part of Space Opera's charm and bane. Hopefully, I'm in the minority, and others are enjoying the crafting that's been happening in this tale.

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

Total: 6.75 -- "I'm wondering where you think this 'home' for the Zakavians is? Do you think there's some planet Zakav somwhere that we all came from?"

Series With No Name #12 -- Jon Robertson
Michael Dasher goes in search of the elusive potion of Sillee which seems to hold the key to freeing his organic body from the control of Van Rice. He travels through one of the most under budgeted deathtraps ever on his quest, only to wind up buying out the underground chamber of horrors. Michael recovers the potion, makes a humorous discovery about its true nature and returns to his father to develop toys.

This is a fairly solid issue, well written and funny throughout. It suffers from one major and sadly unavoidable problem: after the previous excellent issue, this one almost feels routine, which is a disservice to it. Judged on its own, however, this is a good, Superguyish story which has a good series of antagonists and doesn't lag at any point.

Stirge: 7 Mason: 7.5 Jesse: 7 James: 6.5 Chris: 7

Total: 7

Spotlight on... #26 -- Chris Angelini
In the continuation of the storyline from Spotlight On #24 (which still isn't finished by the end of the episode, and might not even be finished by the end of the next episode, for that matter), Dianna faces down a dark creation of evil magic, and does the only logical thing, which is to run away bravely. However, concern for her friends, who are still passed out behind her, quickly gets the better of her, and she goes back to distract the thing. Using her budding necromantic abilities, she's able to distract it for a bit, and to talk to the Millenium Fragments that are currently inhabiting her friends, persuading them to not kill her friends (always a good thing). The Fragments are bound to her and her friends in some way that makes them inseperable at the moment... and each of the Fragments 'marks' its host with changed appearance, in addition to giving them powers. This they discover after fighting with and fleeing from the thing chasing them. Appearance wise... they are not even close to human, any more. This disturbs them, obviously, but they're cut off in mid-angst by the realization that there's still a big ol' mean thing chasing them, and it might be a good idea to run away bravely again. After a very very badly termed request for a lift, they get on a boat that comes up out of nowhere, and from there, the situation goes straight to Hell(tm).

There's not a whole lot we can say about this episode that we didn't say about the last one (#24). The humor is a bit darker, but it's still present. Very, very nicely done, and still not done yet. Looking forward to the next episode.

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

Total: 7.825

Starcruiser Anonymous #5 -- David Menendez
Somehow, the title 'Wherein Captain Mselt Arrives at Planet Gloom and Lots of Guards Get Shot' says it all without saying enough. Captain Mselt reaches Planet Gloom, and amazingly, seems happy to be there. He and the captured Blue Squadron make planet fall in the Fortress of Gloom and meets with Prince Lotekh where Mselt spills the beans about Rtali's allegiance too early, scooping himself. Meanwhile, Blue Squadron is led away to prison, but the guards discover too late the truth of the old maxim 'Never give the prisoners guns, especially your guns, you idiot!' Vtami changes sides, the squadron rushes off to find a ship, and guards are ventilated. While this fracas is taking place, Mselt and Lotekh play Guts Oneupmanship for the privilege of telling the king their news, only to be interrupted suddenly and without warning, by news of the jail break. Speaking of which, the great escape runs into a snag, leading to more guards being gunned. Dent reveals his warm and sensitive side - or at least reveals that it's nowhere to be found. Squad meets Lotekh who is unarmed and thus subject to ridicule and scorn. It's nice to see that royalty is the same all over. Finally, Blue Squadron makes its escape, quite possibly to the grave as their ship crashes to the ground.

Starcruiser Anonymous continues to be an intelligent, witty and a fun tale. The cast is large, but this issue shows that Dave knows how to handle this issue, changing focus and giving the microphone to those who need it. SA #5 could easily have fallen into the trap of long, boring exposition but manages to avoid this neatly by having the characters summarise only that which is absolutely necessary and attending to moving along the plot after.

Stirge: 7 Mason: Abst. Jesse: 7 James: 6 Chris: 8

Total: 7 -- "I'm a _prince_!" he shouted, waving an arm about. "I'll _harm_ you!"

Blorg Trek II #12 -- Jesse Taylor
Blorg Trek 12 is a cluefest, in that the peices to the NEXT major part of the plot are contained within. Of course, this supposes that this reviews knows what's going to happen next. Eh, flip a coin. But factor in: One former Invid hive-Queen, a certain alien race, and a few other hints dropped there. Or the obligatory barfight with the one true wandering moron. Oh, of course one mustn't forget that huge space fleet coming out with Morgan. Er, _Karl_ Morgan? Whups. We're off script again. Never mind. All bets are off.

Seriously, most of the episode seemed to be setting the stage for the future beyond the immediate crisis, or the next ep. Another set-up episode, but the breakwater finally gives way as the battle will inevitably commence next issue. The more I look over the ep, the more I'm sure that the next ep, while finishing this "arc" is merely the appetizer. I just hope the wait isn't too long.

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

Total: 7.125

Eeksburg Times and Daily Kazoo #3 -- Peg Fisher
Hmm. You know, there has been a dearth of the more silly side of Superguy fiction. Now, don't get me wrong. Some of the regular series have MUCH humor content, but aren't so flat out BIZARRE without having some form of serious backdrop or sweeping plot to work with or against at the same time.

And then Peg Fisher brings it back with gusto. Eeksburg is a random rapid assault of references and silly reactions, opening commentary and dialogue. The plot can be covered in three lines: Jason finds out that the other alien is a SPAM harvester. Jason hands over SPAM at description of how long the world had to live otherwise. Jason finds out that he's contaminated himself with the spam and now must face that terrifying fate.... an origin as a superguy.

This seems pretty basic, but Peg's prose takes it at a rambling pace, going for syllable stressing and over the top antics, especially on the part of the alien to play it all for laughs. Now, the only minus to this is the same fact. this isn't a high "move plot forward" kind of work, and it's hard for me to grasp a bit in concentrated silliness. Considering the rapid attack format, I won't be surprised if the next ep will take us through the origin willy-nilly, commentary and dialog heavy. I'm looking forward to seeing just what they will SAY, because that's almost more important than what they do.

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

Total: 6.375 -- "_I_ don't KNOW! What, you think I ever did a rogue _SPAM_ containment before?"

Refractions #1 -- James Rinehart
This is something different. The main character, Melissa, is a normal high school girl... almost. She suffers from flashbacks -- bad ones. Which apparently she can only repress by taking medication. It turns out she also posesses either a split personality or some kind of... something else. And that split was also being supressed by the drugs. So when she skips the drugs for a while, the other personality/what have you surfaces again. Apparently, this other personality/what have you is a superheroine named Melanie (or Res-Q). Melanie, however, is NOT the cause of the flashbacks, although Melissa accuses her of it at first. After running away for a while, Melissa returns home and confronts her mother with Melanie, resulting in her mother fainting.

I can honestly say I don't know what the heck to make of this story. The writing is good, but the content is not at all clear, leaving it up to the reader to interpret. As was, perhaps, the point.

Perhaps most interesting is that James makes the storyline "public domain", in a sense, at the end of this episode, apparently laying the groundwork, and leaving it up to someone else to construct the rest of the series. This... should definitely be interesting.

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

Total: 7.75

Manman Returns #17 -- Dirk Myers
In Dirk Myers' next episode of _Manman Returns_, the plot is afoot, if in a still crazy way. Martha, Mindy and Fabulo zero in on candidate-ManMan. Invalid-ManMan, Jane, Andy, and Dadaman make it into RatherLarge. Juan and (kinda) DeadManMan start their journey out of the PIT. Ed continues trying to develop Authorial power. And we find out just what is behind Slam and the WallStore group. (Theeeeeey-reeee baaaaaack!)

A little bit confusing and wacky, Dirk continues adding layers and herrings and whatnot, giving this series a very good chance for the "Most Confusing" Grunion. I have the distinct feeling no one will know what the "real deal" is before Dirk finishes the arc. But it's fun trying.

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

Total: 7.4 -- Martha turned to Fabulo. Her eyes narrowed. "There is no Excellente way to die, Fabulo. However, there are many simple yet elegant ways to kill."

Most Totally Evil #15/Preteen Patrol #38 -- Jesse Taylor
A woman with a sword lurks on a big high thing. Her sword... any relation to the one in Blorg Trek, hmm?... and she have a nice, expository, utterly confusing chat. Then, after the obligatory continuity note, the scene opens on the Bwaharans sitting squat in Sol's asteroid field, waiting with bated breath for Admiral Morgan. Perhaps not bated breath... it seems as though it's been a while since she called, and no one is suffering from oxygen starvation. But on this day, Morgan calls, and seems intent on using her troops as a safety valve for her nefarious plan. Then, she and Trea, both made very cute by last issue's misadventures...

*sigh* Hold on. A mass driver seems to have been just aimed at my house. One moment...

...there. Back. You'll be happy to know that there were only minor casualties. And back to the capsule.

Morgan and Trea enrole in a rather familiar school in Dillweed City, with good old Ammy - from the Preteen Patrol series - teaching. They have an eye to capture Spoongirl, to use her to lure Spoonman to them. After a hilarious classroom scene, which really has to be read rather than summarised, Grounder and Zapper play 'tag' with Spoongirl. She proceeds to repay the favour with a quick game of 'kick the can'. Suitably annoyed, Morgan and Trea discover Astatine who admits that she was Spoongirl Prime the other day, and promptly kidnap her. Morgan makes her announcement to the world... and Dana Wader, whom we were supposed to have forgotten from last issue, prepares to join the fray.

As usual, excellent issue. MTE is shaping up to be better than its earlier incarnation as Wandering Morons. Very funny, kudos go to both authors for maintaining a high level of humour throughout. My only nitpick is with the meshing; I would have liked just a bit more bridging between last issue and this. However, this is a minor nitpick at best, and really doesn't detract much from the issue's fine points.

Stirge: 8 Mason: 8.5 Jesse: Abst. James: 7.5 Chris: 8

Total: 8 -- "Shut up and let me talk, or I'll have to think of a painful way to kill you,"