Limp-Asparagus Lad #5 Who is Retcon Lad? By Saxon Brenton Editing by The Mystic Mongoose ---------------------------------------------------------------------- Cover: Shows Joe, dressed in a gaudily coloured spandex costume, in a situation similar to the cover of #1: alone in a white cover. Rather than Limp-Asparagus Lad's look of mild surprise however, Joe simply looks embarrassed as he reaches to adjust the material of his costume. ---------------------------------------------------------------------- In the computer centre of the LNHQ, five people were present, trying to resolve the mystery of Joe's past comic book incarnation, revealed last issue when he was subjected to the Reversion Ray Projector by W.I.R.E.D. (We Intend Rule and Eternal Domination). Present are Joe, Limp-Asparagus Lad, Fourth Wall Lass, wReamhack, and Doctor Stomper. Doctor Stomper began. "I've called you all here because I believe I have an explanation. I had wReamhack run a universal systems search for references to Joe that may throw light on this situation." "I found something in the archives of the other comics related newsgroups," wReamhack explained, and brought up part of an article by Tylendel, posted to rec.arts.comics.xbooks in early March: Here's a challenge for all you creative X-Fans! Come up with your ideas for the members of the new x-team, Generation X!!! Include codenames, real identities, powers, origins, appearance, and personality traits! Maybe we can send the best ones to Scott Lobdell? who knows? We could influence the future of Xbooks as we know them! Put on those thinking caps true believers!!!!! "So what's that got to do with me?" Joe asked after reading it. "Take a look at what one of the follow-ups in the same thread was," replied wReamhack. The screen now showed another post, this one by Saxon Brenton: Retcon Real Name: Joseph "Joe" Forsythe Power: Retcon has the ability to alter past history to conform to his desires. His greatest limitation is that he cannot change something that has already happened (is "real") without explaining why it was not/ is not now real, or in other words he must give an explanation of the misunderstanding/dream/hoax/whatever that led to the original interpretation of the now false history. This means that the histories of people, creatures, items, and places that he changes tend to become horribly convoluted. In Generation X a continuing mystery about his power should be an uncertainty about exactly how much and how far he can affect things. Personality. Retcon has a potentially awesome power that scares him stiff. Before manifesting his mutant abilities Joe was a happy outgoing, reasonably well-adjusted teenager. He was also a fanboy, and could discuss and theorize about the most esoteric of topics with the best of them. After gaining his power he was shocked to find several things from real life reconforming themselves to his musing. He has since become slowly more taciturn, withdrawn, and brooding as he tries to control himself and not change anything else. He has worried friends and family by his apparent loss of interest in social activities (including fandom), his hermit-like lifestyle, and his steady loss in weight (from worry rather than physical reasons). In Generation X Retcon should be written not so much as a combatant (although he could easily win most fights by simply "rescripting" bits of an opponent's recent past) but as a mutant who needs training with a dangerous power desperately. Despite the fact that he remembers what the past "really" was, he feels lost among the tangled knot of pasts he creates. The problem is, however, that as a member of Generation X he has learnt all the various complications of Psylock/Kwannon/Revanance; Rachel/Phoenix; Illyana/Darkchild; Cable/Nathan/Stryfe; etc ad nauseum. He is therefore paranoidly afraid that not only could he screw up his companion's lives, but in some way he doesn't understand already has. Thus, despite the opportunities for help and training available, there is a good chance he could withdraw completely. Appearance: White American male, 15 years old, 5' 3", long dark brown hair, green eyes, currently badly underweight. Joe stared at the screen. "That's me," he breathed in amazement. "Except, I'm not that young. Or bordering on catatonic withdrawal." "You aren't currently that young," clarified Doctor Stomper. "But as the Reversion Ray's effects clearly demonstrated, your previous comic book incarnation," he tapped the screen, "was." "And as for the catatonia. Well, you were near that when we found you," Fourth Wall Lass reminded him gently. Joe shuddered at the memory. He'd tried to put that aside, the feeling of utter helplessness and despair. FW Lass put her hand on his shoulder sympathetically. "I barely remember any of that," he said, squinting at the screen. "Which is strange, considering the way my powers work. In both versions," he added, pointing out the section that described how the powers of his 15 year old self. "All I can recall are the memories that I had yesterday, and they're all... hazy. I remember the memories of the events, but not the events themselves. It's all second hand. What happened, do you suppose?" Doctor Stomper spoke up. "I can theorise that you truly originated from this particular universe," he said, indicating the screen again. "The worst case scenario described occurred, or something close too it, that caused you to not only withdraw, perhaps mentally, from your environment, but definitely physically. You retconned yourself out of your home universe, which you were afraid of damaging more, and into another one. Since the Looniverse is far more flexible because of its inherent absurdity, you ended up here as a place less likely to be damaged. Moreover, because you were, effectively, running away from your problems, you retconned your memories of your past existence away when you inserted yourself into this continuity. It may be that you also aged yourself, in order to gain better control of your abilities." "Okay then, why did he retcon himself into being Limpy's cousin?" asked Fourth Wall Lass. "Apart from the most obvious, meta-continuity related answer that they're both being handled by the same writer?" said Doctor Stomper. "Possibly he was diverted to Limp-Asparagus Lad because of the recent increase in his weirdness factor." [L-A Lad #3 - SB] "Yeah, well. I guess that would do it. But aren't there heroes who're even greater weirdness magnets? Wouldn't Joe have, you know, gravitated towards them first?" "I think people like Swordmaster and Easily-Discovered Man Lite have enough problems as is without having to deal with more," observed Doctor Stomper. "That would explain it, I suppose," mused Joe, who had had his eyes closed in thought. His opened them again, but they still had a distant quality. "And since I now know what's going on, there's no need for mental blocks, and all my memories can return." He closed his eyes again as his rational for why his memories should come back was retconned into reality, and his recollections of his first past flooded back. "Yes," he said quietly. "I remember it all now." He had a pained look on his face as he turned to Limp-Asparagus Lad. "I'm sorry Josh. I guess this means I was right when I was prattling yesterday. I'm really not your cousin after all." "Only if you choose not to be," observed L-A Lad clinically. "You weren't originally, but you are now. The most recent retcon takes precedence, does it not?" Joe nodded, abashed. "Yeah, you're right. Geez, now I've got two families." Joe paused as a thought occurred to him. "Hold up. Is that universe still there?" Doctor Stomper looked puzzled by his question. "There's no reason why it should not be. I doubt if you inadvertently retconned it out of existence when you left. If you left because you subconsciously wanted to protect it, then it should still be whole." "No, that's not what I meant. I remember now, my mutant team is totally different to Marvel's Gen X comic. Different universe entirely." "That's correct. A divergent fanficiverse," agreed Doctor Stomper. "Yeah, right. So what I mean is, is anybody writing fanfiction about it over on r.a.c.xbooks?" wReamhack shook his head. "There's nothing in the archives." "What are you getting at?" asked FW Lass. "I just had this horrible thought of what happened to the Legion of Occult Heroes' universe. You know, without contact from writers or a supportive readership the whole place just withered up and died. Is that sort of thing likely to happen to them?" Doctor Stomper paused for a second as he thought about that one. "I don't know," he admitted. "Logically it shouldn't. The nature of the mainstream Marvel multiverse is to have many divergent realities, all connected at some point to the main continuity. Your fanficiverse should be able to sustain its existence by being treated as simply another offshoot, thus drawing on energy from general xbooks interest as long as it remains within r.a.c.xbooks. But ultimately..." "You don't know for sure." "No. I'm afraid not." Joe's face took on a determined set, and he said, "Well, I think that's as good an explanation as any, and I _know_ it's right." Doctor Stomper looked at him with surprise, knowing that comment was far more than just an expression of faith in the Doctor's own ability to make sense of the unintelligible. "It's understandable that you should make the attempt, but we do not know the range of your abilities. It seems unlikely that you could reconnect an entire universe in another newsgroup to second hand readership interest." "It's worth a try," Joe countered. Then, "I wonder if I should go and check them out." "Well, I can certainly get you there," offered FW Lass "As long as there's a plot thread to follow back..." wReamhack looked at her in surprise. "You sure you're not a Crossroads character?" "Uhm, not that I know." "That may not be a good idea in any case," interjected Doctor Stomper. "Why not?" "Part of the charter of this newsgroup is that there will be no appearance by licensed characters from other companies." "Poet did in his 'Sudden Impulse' arc," countered wReamhack. "He asked for and received permission," replied Doctor Stomper. He turned back to Joe. "If you return to your fanficiverse, it's almost certain that you'll encounter trademarked personages, leaving you open to attack from Lethal Lawyer. At that point only Copyright Kid and Trademark Lass could help you." "What, they'd save me?" "No. They'd instantly blast you into Legal Oblivion ((c) and (tm) United States legal system). But at least they'd make it quick and painless, and not run you through the mud in an insane attempt to discredit the rest of the Legion." Joe swallowed. "Uhm, right. Okay, scratch that idea." "Anyway," continued Doctor Stomper, returning to what he believed would be a less contentious subject, "this would all explain why you generally avoid using your powers on people, and have avoided joining any hero teams..." "Hey! Stop trying to psychoanalyse me! Okay. Fine. I don't like using my powers much 'cause I have screwed up in the past. And that includes making Logan a wolverine superevolved into human form and Raven Kurt's father instead of his mother. But I still want to finish high school and get a real life!" "Joe, from the point of view of this newsgroup this _is_ real life. Superheroes, and particularly the Legion, are the focus of this entire universe, and everyone else are just background characters," FW Lass pointed out. "I tend to agree with Joe," put in L-A Lad with typical tonelessness. "There has to be more than simply running around in spandex fighting villains. Why can not the normal people have lives of their own? Real lives, that mean something, rather than just being background crowd scenes and helpless victims?" Joe threw L-A Lad a grateful look, and said. "Okay, look. How about we compromise on this Terri? I'll join the Legion, but only as a reservist. I've got my own life to lead, and I'm not going to let superheroing ruin a career in accountancy the way it disrupted, say, Coma Kid's life." He paused for a second and added, "And _no_ spandex." "Mmm. Okay." She put her arms around him. "I guess I don't need you in a tight costume to know what your buns look like." They kissed. wReamhack shook his head ruefully. "I'll start typing up a roster entry." "I'll go get an application form for you," noted Doctor Stomper. Limp-Asparagus Lad watched the couple snuggled for a moment, then interrupted. "May I ask you something personal?" "Sure." "Do you plan to do anything about the subplot?" "Uhm, I would've thought that searching out the Golden Age Asparagus Lad was more your role, Limpy," replied Joe. "It's your comic, after all." "I mean the one from last issue," L-A Lad said. They looked at him blankly. "How you were going to have to deal with Fourth Wall Lass having been male?" he tried prompting them. They continued to look at him blankly for another second, then comprehension dawned in Joe's eyes. "Oh. That. We've already dealt with that." "I don't think Subplot Lad will be pleased at such a quick resolution. And off panel too," observed L-A Lad matter-of-factly. Joe shrugged. "We decided to get it out of the way as quickly as possible, so that I wouldn't have worry about it while we were busy sorting out my origin." Limp-Asparagus Lad nodded his head. He should have thought of that. Joe wasn't one to leave untidy ends loose if he could sort them out. No matter how sloppy he may leave his room, he preferred his lifestyle nice and tidy. "Still, you're probably passing up an opportunity for angst." "Hey, get off my case. I angsted myself clean out of my home universe. That should be more than enough for anyone. Real Olympic class stuff, that." "Anyway," continued FW Lass, "we sat down immediately after we reported back to LNHQ, and talked it over. Like adults. Sensibly and rationally," she added, knowing how much the last would appeal to L-A Lad. Doctor Stomper returned and handed the form to Joe. "_Attempted_ to deal with it sensibly and rationally," sighed Joe as he filled out the membership application. "That's hard to do when you still don't understand all the ramifications." "Like what?" asked wReamhack, who had been trying not to intrude on the conversation, but found himself intrigued by it nonetheless. Joe made a face. "The writer's playing head games. I still don't understand it all, but apparently she both is and isn't Kid Not Appearing In Any Retcon Hour Story, depending on how you look at it." "How's that possible?" the Master Hacker asked. "Is a photon of light a wave or a particle?" she quizzed. "Erk! Don't start getting philosophical on me, please," wReamhack begged. "Well, actually it's quite likely that when Kid Not Appearing In Any Retcon Hour Story became Fourth Wall Lass she gained an extensive back history as a new character," noted Doctor Stomper. "That would explain why they were able to met each other in past (albeit as yet unwritten) stories." "I had been assuming that it was time travel that accounted for that," said L-A Lad. "No," said the Doctor, shaking his head. "This is the Looniverse after all. We're frequently subject to an inversion of Occam's Razor: The simplest explanations are often the least interesting, and consequently turn out to be false because they contravene dramatic licence." He paused. "All that also implies that if Fourth Wall Lass gained back history, then equal but opposite reactions should cause Kid Not Appearing In Any Retcon Hour Story to gain a future history." "You mean he's still around?" asked wReamhack in surprise. "Almost certainly," replied Doctor Stomper. "In fact, isn't he due to accompany you on the mission this afternoon when yet another horrible menace threatens Net.ropolis?" Fourth Wall Lass snapped her fingers. "Yeah, you're right. I'd completely forgotten about that." "You see what I mean about _trying_ to work it out?" Joe said as he completed the form. Much later, a flight.thingee took off from the LNHQ on a mission. It contained Irony Man at the controls, with Kid Not Appearing In Any Retcon Hour Story, Fourth Wall Lass, and Limp-Asparagus Lad also present. Joe was not there; after he had put in his application for Legion membership as Retcon Lad, and Fourth Wall Lass and helped him pick out a costume of a loose brown and tan jump-suit, he had begged off doing anything else with the Legion that day, claiming he had classes to attend. "Perhaps we'd best go over the details of the mission for the readers' sakes," suggested Irony Man. "Very well," complied Kid. "Know that the Earth's crust beneath Net.ropolis has within the past few hours has exhibited signs of severe tectonic stress. Unless alleviated, the city and a significant part of the surrounding countryside will be destroyed as part of the mantle is thrust to the surface in geysers of fiery destruction." "That sounds a reworking of part of the 'Pocket Universe' storyline from Superman," Limp-Asparagus Lad observed dispassionately. "I hope the writer isn't planning on following up with the destruction of the Looniearth as well," FW Lass put in. "He'd have to do it in an Elsewhirl," said Irony Man. "The other writers would skin him alive if he destroyed mainstream Looniearth." "In truth, the possibility of the destruction of the Looniearth does exist. However, the effects are extremely localised, and triangulation does seem to indicate an identifiable, artificial source on the surface." "Well done, Kid," FW Lass said in ironic admiration. "I couldn't have said it better myself." "A strange comment, since I am yourself," he noted. "Although this is the first time we've met on panel since the dramatic revelation of our mutual past." "Actually it's the first time we've met on panel, period." "That is true." "Listen, I think the writer's getting overly cute trying to confuse people. Should we try and save them from that and just call ourselves brother and sister? It worked for the counterparts on Earth 1 and Earth 2 back when DC still had a multiverse," suggested Fourth Wall Lass. "Mayhap that would be best, though they will inevitably consider us half siblings," Kid pointed out. She made a face at the idea of the new complication. "Probably, but it's not unheard of for a white sister to have a black brother, so it's not going to be _that_ confusing." "True, 'little sister'." "Why thank you, 'big brother'." "Have you yet dealt with the romantic subplot you were embroiled in with Retcon Lad?" asked KNAIARHS, changing the topic. She sighed. "Yes, we have." "How is it that you know about that subplot?" queried Limp-Asparagus Lad. "You weren't there." "On the contrary. I was there, when she was reverted to me." "But you are two physically separate people. Simply by reverting to a previous comic book incarnation identical to you doesn't mean she became you." "Uh, no Limpy. Actually it does," FW Lass replied. "Yes, there were two of us, physically separate. But our identities were the same. So although he wasn't physically present, he remembers the confrontation with W.I.R.E.D. and the A.A.A. because I was him." Limp-Asparagus Lad pondered this for a moment, then said, "I think I begin to see why Joe was having so much trouble sorting your situation out." "Joe's being very supportive in simply trying to understand at all," FW Lass affirmed. "I think that's part of why I love him." "I think the writer must be finished trying to bamboozle the readers with that subplot," announced Irony Man. "We're approaching the source of the disturbance." Below, part of a formidable looking complex, miles from anywhere could be seem, only some of it extending partly above ground level. "So that's the source," said FW Lass. "Astute deduction. It _is_ a supervillain." "So it would seem." The net.heroes parked the flight.thingee and advanced towards, and then into, the building. They encountered no opposition. "Anything?" asked Irony Man of FW Lass. "Nope. The writer's playing it cagey. All the captions so far keep saying that the place _seems_ deserted." They continued on, eventually making their way to what seemed to be a control centre of some type. It was a huge room, with a gigantic Kirbian device suspended above a gaping pit. "Oh. How X-Men 150-ish," FW Lass noted. "Absolutely correct, heroes! But you are too late! My fiendish plan has already begun!" The net.heroes spun about, to spy the familiar form of a man clad in dark armour with silver highlights. "Exclamation!Master!" said Limp-Asparagus Lad in mild surprise. To be concluded in: If this is the last issue of the story, then we must be due for a fight scene. LNH Roster entries NAME: Kid Not Appearing In Any Retcon Hour Story (Terry) TYPE: NWC CREATED BY: Badger (though the revamping is Saxon Brenton's fault) POWERS: Various deliberately ill-defined powers of pre-Crisis Superman level. Includes: super strength, invulnerability, flight, optic force blasts, anthropic restorative abilities, unconsciousness causing concussive blasts. ADD NOTES: Revamped into Fourth Wall Lass. The fact that they coexist as separate people is purely to confuse people (like readers :-). They refer to themselves as brother and sister. STATUS: Alive WEAKNESS: Retcon Hour story poisoning APPEARANCE: Navy, azure, black and white bodysuit; navy cape with azure trim. NAME: Retcon Lad (Joe Forsythe) TYPE: NWC CREATED BY: firstname.lastname@example.org (Saxon Brenton) POWERS: Can create retcons, as long as he can fit it into continuity, or explain why past continuity is false. ADD NOTES: Reluctant net.hero. Inadvertently retconned himself out of his home universe into the Looniverse while in a catatonic depression. Cousin of Limp-Asparagus Lad. STATUS: Alive; Reservist in LNH. APPEARANCE: Brown and tan jump-suit, bandana mask; refuses to wear spandex. ---------------------------------------------------------------------- Credits: Limp-Asparagus Lad by Saxon Brenton, created by The Mystic Mongoose and wReam Exclamation!Master!, Fourth Wall Lass, and Retcon Lad by Saxon Brenton Doctor Stomper and Irony Man by Public Domain Coma Kid by The Mystic Mongoose Copyright Kid and Trademark Lass by The Stirge Easily-Discovered Man Lite by Rob Rogers Kid Not Appearing In Any Retcon Hour and Swordmaster by Badger Legion of Occult Heroes by Paul Hardy Lethal Lawyer by Mark Friedman wReamhack by wReam Quote from r.a.c.xbooks by Tylendel All characters (c) and (tm) their respective owners and/or creatorsBack to the Index.