Limp-Asparagus Lad #4 Revelations By Saxon Brenton Editing by The Mystic Mongoose ---------------------------------------------------------------------- Cover: Scene is looking down the barrel of some fearsome-looking death-ray type machine, which is aimed at Limp-Asparagus Lad and Fourth Wall Lass. They are standing in a circle of lighted area, with the rest of the cover being black. Lying on the floor behind them, extending part way into the dark, is the prone form of a non-costumed man. ---------------------------------------------------------------------- "Hi. Kid Recap here. I've been asked over to tell you that this story picks up directly from the end of last issue, where Limp-Asparagus Lad and Fourth Wall Lass were gathering information about W.I.R.E.D. (We Intend Rule and Eternal Domination) for Ultimate Ninja, so that the latter could properly assemble a strike force to deal with the sinister, Hydra- like, world-girding conspiracy. Limpy and FW Lass had been about to call it a night when they had learnt that part of W.I.R.E.D.'s plan to recapture Limpy to be used in their plans for domination over both world governments and other W.I.R.E.D. factions involved kidnapping Limpy's cousin Joe, the orders for which they have just observed being given. Since using Fourth Wall Lass' powers means they are watching past events, they are naturally greatly afraid that Joe has already been captured back in their subjective present." "Come on," said Fourth Wall Lass as she began to move off through the forest of panels that floated on the other side of the fourth wall. "What do you plan to do?" asked Limp-Asparagus Lad. "We return to the present, collect Joe, get him out of harms way, then report to Ultimate Ninja." "Can't we save time by going in now, when they first kidnap him? Or better yet, before they kill Bob?" [Bob Melwizcht, the reformed Exclamation!Master! - SB] She stared at him incredulously. "Have you lost you mind?! You know I can't do that without the power of some type of plot device to avoid a time paradox..." Then she stopped, as something occurred to her. She glanced over her shoulder at the readers. "But they don't." Limp-Asparagus Lad nodded. Fourth Wall Lass massaged the bridge of her nose, sighed, then said to the writer, "Look, do we have time for that sort of exposition? And I don't mean for pacing, either." So who expects proper pacing from a newbie? It's nice if it turns up, but the readers aren't going to curl up and die if it doesn't. Anyway, I think you'll have to make time. Otherwise your actions really aren't going to make much sense. If you keep it short, I think I can string out the pacing of the villains' actions, so it shouldn't make much difference in the end. "I'll hold you to that," she warned. Then she made a face and swore, then tried to compose her thoughts to try and make the explanation as quick as possible. "Okay, c'mon Limpy. I'll exposit for the readers as we go." The two of them started moving back up the storyline towards their subjective present, passing the panels that gave onto past events. "It's like this," she began, explaining to her partner rather than the audience itself from force of habit. "There's nothing inherently wrong with time travel stories. They're just stories after all, and telling stories is what we're here for. But they do have some peculiarities that require them to be handled carefully. "Now, the most obvious problem is changing history. That's not a problem in a single author continuity, or a multi author one with tight co-plotting. But in a multi-author continuity like the Looniverse, where there's enough problems with trying to keep history straight under normal circumstances, it's not a good idea to go pulling the rug out from under people. Normally you can get around that problem by either diverging an alt.ernate timeline, or changing history back to 'normal' at the end of the story. But even so, there are certain comic book conventions, not just for here but for other shared universes as well, that have been engrained into the very laws of nature, that basically dictate that mucking about with time will be a Big Deal. It can be done, but you need a plot device of some type, okay? "The next problem with time travel is the risk of using it as a deus ex machina. Now, if that's the sort of story an author wants to write, then fine. But if it's used too often, or is used in place of other means of resolving a story's plot, and it makes it too easy, then it _really_ screws dramatic tension, y'know?" She paused, and for the first time actually addressed the readers rather than acting as though the monologue was for the benefit of L-A Lad alone. "If you've been hanging around this newsgroup for any length of time, then you should've read the LNH FAQ by now. And like it says there, we're not here to be omnipotent munchkin power fantasies who can do anything at the drop of a hat. We're here to do stories and _entertain_ you. And that requires a bit of suspense. Which means we're constantly putting our butts on the line to do things the hard way so you lot don't get bored. "Right," she said, and started moving on again. "That's basically the rational for why my powers work this way. I _can't_ change the past. I can't even enter the past, or the future for that matter. At least, not without a pretty powerful plot device to enable the change. It can be done, but I can't do that myself, and if I do do it, there needs to be a good plot reason." She turned to L-A Lad. "Is there anything I've missed?" "You might want to explain about how time passes at the same rate for the people on this side of the fourth wall as it does on the other," he observed. "Oh yeah. Although I can jump about, forwards and backwards in time, and cut across between two panels that are far apart so that it looks like I've teleported, that's all really just taking shortcuts across compressed space. Kinda like hyperspace. But time spent on this side of the threshold passes at the same rate it does back in the Looniverse. Basically, it means that since we left our subjective present at around three o'clock this afternoon, and spent eight hours or so, when we get back to what is our subjective present again, it'll be 11 pm rather than still at 3. That's for dramatic reasons again; it really makes things tense during chase scenes or races against the clock. Ah, here we are." The two of them stood outside the panels that showed the outside of the cell that Joe was being held in. "You readers probably didn't notice while you were paying attention to Fourth Wall Lass' explanation, so I'll tell you how we arrived here," said Limp-Asparagus Lad. "Normally we might have simply found the point where the W.I.R.E.D. operatives would return to their base, and run forward to the point when they did so. But we couldn't be sure that they would be returning there." "Though in this case they did," put in FW Lass. Limp-Asparagus Lad nodded. "So instead we went to the place where we last saw Joe..." "Which is when he left me after taking in a movie earlier today." "...and followed him forward along his plot thread until he was captured. Then we followed them all back here to the cell he's being held in, and finally we ran forward in time to our subjective present." "And _now_ we can rescue him." "Remember, a quick snatch and grab. Ultimate Ninja wants no fights until he's ready to deal with them out thoroughly." They crossed the threshold into the cell, where they found Joe sitting in the corner, staring wide-eyed at nothing. "Joe?" asked FW Lass. "Hey! We're here to rescue you. Joe?" Limp-Asparagus Lad approached, and was a little surprised to see, in the half light, that the figure before him was younger than his cousin was. But other than that it was still the spitting image of him. Suspecting a trap, he waved Fourth Wall Lass closer so that they could retreat in a hurry. "Joe?" he asked. The youth finally seemed to acknowledge their presence as his eyes swivelled to L-A Lad. "Josh," he sobbed. "Joe," L-A Lad said, giving the boy the benefit of the doubt, "what have they done to you?" "Josh It's terrible I remember everything It's all my fault The others are screwed up And you too I put the memories of Shiva in his head And forced the baby into the future to save him from the villains and come back before he was born with his clone You're not even really my cousin..." He collapsed sobbing in L-A Lad's arms, continuing to babble and mutter about cosmic redhead clones and magically corrupted time travelling mutants and body swapping with telepathic butterflies and other things, none of which seemed to make the slightest bit of sense to the others. "Let's get him out of here before we check to see what they have done to him," L-A Lad decided. "Okay. Here, let's get him up. Now... uh oh." "What's wrong?" "I'm being blocked. I can't cross the threshold." "How is that possible?" "There are certain technological and magical ways. I've, uhm, come across a few before. And then there's always plot devices, of course. I smell a trap." "Yes," L-A Lad agreed, gently setting Joe back down and examining the door. He found it unlocked. "Definitely a trap," observed FW Lass. "Looks like we're going to get yelled at by UN." Limp-Asparagus Lad glanced at Joe, assessing whether he was likely to be a hindrance if they tried to take him with them. "Joe," he asked, "are you capable of walking by yourself? Quietly?" Joe looked at him, took a deep breath, and said miserably, "I think so." "Then please come with us." The three of them left the cell, and made their way out through the building with the general knowledge they had collected from the earlier reconnaissance. Suspiciously, they met no opposition. Until they got to one particularly large, amphitheatre-like room, that is. As they crossed the darkened area, lights came on, clearly indicative of a carefully laid trap. Armed thugs stepped forward, while backlit shapes of a group of individuals stayed unidentifiable. "So, Limp-Asparagus Lad, we meet again," boomed the voice of Renwit. "How kind of you to drop in. We have been waiting for you." One of the silhouettes walked forward into the light, resolving into the form of the W.I.R.E.D. leader. .o(Yep. Definitely going to be yelled at by UN) thought Fourth Wall Lass. "Now, to save us all time, I'll exposit W.I.R.E.D.'s fiendish plan. We, of course, want to regain the use of your powers to bring the world to its knees. This, of course, will require you being seduced back into darkness, both so that you are under our control and so that your powers increase in potency. We could have simply gone through another few months of brainwashing to turn you back into Dark Limp-Asparagus Lad, but thanks to some recent aid we procured we have gained the expertise to create... this!" The lighting at one end of the room increased to reveal a huge contraption, looking something like a cross between a mobile but bulky TV studio camera and an anti-tank gun that had then been covered in bizarre, almost Kirbian technology. It was pointing at the three of them. "This is... the Reversion Ray Projector! Anyone who has had a previous comic book incarnation will immediately be regressed back into that persona when subjected to its power. You have already seen its effects on your cousin," he said gesturing at the miserable looking Joe. "With it we intend to immediately regain the services of Dark Limp-Asparagus Lad, and set you to work at once. Bwhahahahaha!" "How did you know he even had a previous incarnation? We certainly didn't," demanded FW Lass. She threw a look at L-A Lad, who nodded in agreement. "Our source of information is the same that aided us with the Projector, and incidentally, the technology that blocks you from crossing the fourth wall. Among other things," said Renwit. "They are... very talented. Now, you will submit to our will, hero, or your cousin will continue to suffer from it!" "Foolish, DEFEATED hero!" exclaimed one of the other W.I.R.E.D. leaders. .o(Does _every_ faction of W.I.R.E.D. have members who do that?) wondered FW Lass. Limp-Asparagus Lad turned to take another glance at Joe, then at the Reversion Ray. His face was impassive, as usual, and his thoughts could not be determined. "Very well, use your ray on me." Cackling fiendishly, the Projector operator aimed at L-A Lad. The Man With No Personality stood impassively, as the hideous machine revved up, crackling with energy and making other mad scientist type gizmo special effects noises and lights. Fourth Wall Lass gasped in horror at L-A Lad's decision, and at the last moment threw herself before the evil ray. "Fool!" screamed Renwit. "Your sacrifice is worthless! You cannot save your companion. You cannot even achieve an angst-filled final appearance, dying from the energies of the Ray, for it has no effect upon people who have not had a previous incarnation." But belying those claims, the ray did seem to be having an effect on her. Fourth Wall Lass's form began to change. She grew in stature, gaining both height and bulk as massive muscles coalesced as if from nothing. (Well, they weren't that massive. We're taking solid, impressive build rather than grotesquely Liefeld-esque here, okay?) No longer was she wearing her red, brown and grey costume. A navy, black, white, and azure bodysuit took its place, topped with a cape of navy and azure trim. And, L-A Lad noticed, she was now most definitely male. "No! Not you!" exclaimed one of the W.I.R.E.D. members. "Yes, it is I! Kid Not Appearing In Any Retcon Hour Story!" proclaimed the hero in a dramatic Kirby-style pose on a full page spread. "Destroy him!" screamed Renwit. Thug-like W.I.R.E.D. operatives began shooting frantically at KNAIARHS, to no effect; both the bullets from their machine guns and the energy rays from their absurd BigGuns(tm) simply bounced off. Kid ignored them, turning his attention instead to the operator of the Reversion Ray, as the villain prepared to blast Kid again and transform him back into the less powerful Fourth Wall Lass. Kid glanced at the machine with an irritated expression, and bolts of blinding force pounded from his eyes, reducing the Projector to scrap in an impressive pyrotechnic explosion. Some of the operatives began to run. To those that didn't KNAIARHS raised a clenched fist, sending out a blast of concussive force which dispatched them into unconsciousness. "You are beaten, W.I.R.E.D." he proclaimed, "Surrender now." "No! We will not accept defeat!" < You Will. > came a booming voice from both nowhere and everywhere around them. KNAIARHS frowned at this interruption; how was he supposed to righteously pummel the villains when new menaces kept appearing to distract him from finishing his task? The members of W.I.R.E.D. (or their silhouettes for those still hidden in shadow) suddenly looked less arrogant, almost fearful. Limp-Asparagus Lad was as impassive as ever. "No! Wait!" exclaimed Renwit, his voice taking on a desperate tone. "We can still beat them. We can still use the heightened drama dampening field of Dark Limp-Asparagus Lad to stun the world into apathy and conquer it! We can still fulfil our contract!" < No. You Have Failed. You Have Not Lived Up To Terms Of Your Agreement. > The hierarchy was consumed in a eerie glow of yellow light, and vanished, screaming. "Who are you, to judge both heroes and villains, and adjudicate the affairs of worlds?" demanded KNAIARHS. < I Am The A.A.A. > Kid puzzled. "The Argentinean Automobile Association?" < No. The Authority On Absurd Acronyms. Seek Not To Dispute My Jurisdiction Kid Not Appearing In Any Retcon Hour Story, For Although You Possess Cosmic Might In Excess Of The Pre-Crisis Superman, You Have Not The Power To Stand Against Me. > "We shall see about that." The Authority did not reply. It had gone. KNAIARHS turned back to Limp-Asparagus Lad and the still shell-shocked looking Joe. "So, our foes are taken from us by a deus ex machina. A most dramatic one, true, but a deus ex machina nonetheless." "Yes," agreed L-A Lad. "But now we should arrange help for Joe. With the Reversion Ray destroyed, he will likely need treatment." "I think not," smiled Kid. Without looking he gestured towards the ruins of the ray, which promptly reconstructed itself. "We can restore young Retcon Lad, then destroy the machine afterwards." "Perhaps it would be best to leave it intact, and store it in the LNHQ trophy room. It might come in useful as a future plot device," suggested L-A Lad. KNAIARHS nodded. "There is wisdom in your words." Then they both stood back from Joe as Kid activated the ray, restoring the young man to his proper age and state of mind. "Arrgh," moaned Joe, clutching his head. "Ow, that was _not_ fun. Maybe I should think about becoming a net.hero, just so that I don't get used as the obligatory victim in future," he complained. "The ranks of the Legion will be the better for it, should you choose to do so," affirmed Kid, failing to see the sarcasm. "Yeah, right. Sure, Terri... uh... " Joe did a double take as he realised that, though technically the same person, he was not on terms quite as familiar with Kid Not Appearing In Any Retcon Hour Story as he was with Fourth Wall Lass. "Terry will do fine when I am like this," Kid acknowledged. "Uhm, okay." "Now, Limp-Asparagus Lad," Kid said, "kindly tell me why you were so willing to return to slavery as the brainwashed thrall of W.I.R.E.D. Surely you knew that as Dark Limp-Asparagus Lad you would have eventually brought the world to heal for your villainous masters, endangering Retcon Lad again, even if those curs had restored him at all." .o(I wish he'd stop calling me Retcon Lad) fumed Joe. "There was no danger of that," L-A Lad replied simply. "My incarnation prior to my current one was not Dark Limp-Asparagus Lad. W.I.R.E.D could not have gained control over me, at least using that method." "I am not aware of you having had any intermediate incarnation," stated Kid. "It was a subtle change," L-A Lad explained. "The version of me that appeared in the exposition at the end of issue 3 of the Coma Kid and Continuity Champ limited series was actually capable of saying 'Wow!'." Joe blinked in surprise. "You mean, with an exclamation mark and everything?" L-A Lad nodded. "You were a wild animal back then, Limpy," Joe told him. "I guess so." L-A Lad agreed. "But when did this change occur, and how?" queried Kid. "Objectively it probably happened when my new writer got his hands on me and started applying his vision of what I should be like. But in terms of Looniversal continuity it can most likely be back-dated to Retcon Hour." "But you weren't in Retcon Hour!" Joe protested. "No," L-A Lad corrected him. "Everybody was in Retcon Hour. Recton Hour Omega, at any rate. The Racc.tre transported everyone not otherwise occupied to wReamicus Maximus. Just because I wasn't mentioned doesn't mean I wasn't there." Joe mused on this. "Kind of like, say, Marvel's Contest of Champions? All the superheroes active at the time were there, which means that with the back-history he's been given Cable must've been there too." "Yes." "I am uneasy with all this talk of Retcon Hour," proclaimed KNAIARHS. "It reminds me of the time I was tricked into appearing in it, and collapsed most painfully of Retcon Hour story poisoning. May we not speak of something else?" "Okay then, while we're in exposition mode, how did you change from Kid Not Appearing In Any Retcon Hour Story to Fourth Wall Lass?" asked Joe. "It was a change I accepted when it was offered to me." Joe's mouth dropped open in astonishment at this, and even Limp- Asparagus Lad almost looked surprised. "But, why? I mean, as Kid Not Appearing In Any Retcon Hour Story you're one of the most powerful characters in the Looniverse!" "At the end of Retcon Hour, after my collapse [LNH Comics Presents #21 - SB], I was dispatched on a mission of great import," Kid explained. "In order to overcome the Retcon Hour story poisoning, thus allowing me to perform my task, and, incidentally, saving my life, I was transformed into another character. "But there was, and still is, another, more fundamental, meta-continuity related reason," continued KNAIARHS dramatically. "A reason that is known to almost all the inhabitants of the Looniverse who have ever played a bit part. It is the reason that Onomato-Puhweeha Person betrayed the Legion for the assistance of Lagneto, the reason Squid Boy was willing to risk death during the robot invasion, and the reason you cousin fell into the clutches of W.I.R.E.D. in the first place... " He paused for effect. "It was to become a regularly appearing character!" "Oh. Yeah, I see your point. No matter how powerful, no one would want to use a joke character like Kid Not Appearing In Any Retcon Hour Story too often." "That is so. Beyond the context of Looniversal continuity I was, for a lengthy period, unemployed. Thus, when I heard that auditions were being taken for parts in this limited series, I was willing to accept the offer to be revamped into Fourth Wall Lass, in the process becoming a less powerful but more interesting character, and," he paused, as if trying to think of a way to phrase what he had to say next, "in the process taking the role in the story of your love interest, Joe." "Uh, right." Joe boggled at the implications of this. "Well, uh. I suppose if Flood and Dot can work it out, we can too. But, like, will you be..." "I will be transforming myself back into my proper form as soon as we return the Reversion Ray to LNHQ for proper storage." "What does 'proper' mean?" probed L-A Lad. "The one best suited to the story being told, of course," Kid smirked. "In my case, the one that will get me appearances in a story." To be continued next issue in: Who Is Retcon Lad? Independents Roster Entry NAME: A.A.A. (Authority on Absurd Acronyms) TYPE: NWC CREATED BY: firstname.lastname@example.org (Saxon Brenton) POWERS: Good question ADD NOTES: What the A.A.A. is remains unclear; better understood is what it does; in order to further its own mysterious ends it gives benefits (power, technology, spells, knowledge, influence and/or whatever else is appropriate) to groups and individuals who use acronyms. Additionally, it can be bargained with for more at the cost of some specific service. It has recently grown more strict in enforcing its deadlines for the latter deals, supposedly the result of a deal that was reneged on. To the outside observer its activities may seem malign, benign, indifferent, or just plain weird. STATUS: Active ENEMIES: Acronym L.A.S.S. ---------------------------------------------------------------------- Credits: Limp-Asparagus Lad by Saxon Brenton, created by The Mystic Mongoose and wReam A.A.A., Fourth Wall Lass, and Joe (Retcon Lad) by Saxon Brenton Dot and Flood (Constellation) by Dave Van Domelen Kid Not Appearing In Any Retcon Hour Story by Badger Kid Recap by Josh Geurink Lagneto by Jef, via Martin Phipps Onomato-Puhweeha Person (now Vammo Woman) by wReam Squid Boy (now Squidman) by David Goldfarb, via Dave Van Domelen W.I.R.E.D. by The Mystic Mongoose All characters (c) and (tm) their respective owners and/or creatorsBack to the Index.