Limp-Asparagus Lad #11 A Meeting With An Unknown Past Acquaintance Written by Saxon Brenton --------------------------------------------------------------------- Cover shows Limp-Asparagus Lad facing away from an overweight young man in an unfamiliar spandex costume. L-ALad his arms folded, and is clearly ignoring the other, who is standing with an arm outstretched and a pleading look on his face. --------------------------------------------------------------------- The mind-croggling threat to the continued existence of alt.fan.pratchett had been averted, albeit at great cost. The Footnote Fiend had been revealed to be the mind-controlled Petina Witherington-Brown, and freed. However, in the process of drawing back the footnotes that had been destroying the newsgroup, she had overreached herself severely. When the net.heroes - Fourth Wall Lass, Kid Not Appearing In Any Retcon Hour Story, Librarian Lady, Limp-Asparagus Lad and Retcon Lad - had evacuated her back to the medical centre of the LNHQ in alt.comics.lnh, the diagnosis of Dr. Bad Bedside Manner had been that she'd blow a gasket and would never be able to fire on all cylinders ever again. When Librarian Lady had glared at him and extracted an explanation, it turned out that this meant she had crippled her footnoting powers, and would never again be able to operate at the level of ability that she had before. Limp-Asparagus Lad suspected that Petina would be concerned by this only insofar as her powers hadn't been totally lost. Now L-ALad was walking though the LNHQ, thinking. The data that had been collected from the Fiend's fortress had proven inconclusive, and they seemed to be no closer to identifying the ultimate villain behind the affair. Was this a plot danger? Or was the Writer merely being lazy? Time would tell, although he should probably arrange to consult with LLady on the matter. Then someone said, "Hello, Limpy. Long time no see." Limp-Asparagus Lad turned to find a pudgy young man in a spandex costume sitting in a chair. And he wasn't Cheesecake-Eater Lad. That much was obvious from the fact that he was munching on a chocolate bar rather than on a slice of cheesecake. The net.hero recognised him. "Lipid-Artery Lad," he said by way of acknowledgment. Meanwhile: Subplot Lad gratefully accepted a cup of coffee off Chris. They were at the latter's dorm not far from Dave Thomas Deluxe University, following SLad's attempts to talk the young normal out of trying to find his criminal father. The simple fact was that Exclamation!Master! was too dangerous and erratic to try to reason with by using appeals to kinship. He also used too much Drama to be considered sane; after all, multiple exclamation marks weren't the only sign of a deranged mind; mere excessive use counted too. The net.hero was glad that Chris had listened. He wouldn't have liked to have brushed Chris off to another Legionnaire if he had chosen to persist in trying to find E!M! He found that he rather liked Chris - but something like a confrontation with a supervillain rarely constituted a subplot, so SLad would hardly have been in a position to help him if things had gone wrong. "So, you still haven't said why you wanted to try to find him," SLad prompted. Chris stared down into his coffee. "Because he's my father. That's all. He's a good man. Well, was a good man. Whatever. The point is, I just can't desert him like this. When he was going through therapy, just before he relapsed, he was stressed out over what his absence and crimes had done to the family. Mom took it real hard. And... I know there's still good in him. I... I'm scared that if I don't try and talk to him then I'll be passing up the only chance to bring him back, and then it'll be gone forever..." "Oh, how sweet. How very _Return of the Jedi_. Diddums loyal son seeks to redeem Daddy from Evil," came a mocking female voice. Subplot Lad was up from his chair and into a defensive position before Chris' dropped cup even hit the floor. Standing before the ajar front door that neither of them had heard open was a woman dressed in a _very_ revealing green and black spandex costume. She was standing in a dramatic looking pose, facing the two men at a three quarters angle, her right arm raised and extended forward, while her left hand was clenched by her side and surrounded by a green glow and Kirbycrackle. But what SLad found really amazing was that she was appearing in a splashpage; he wouldn't have thought there would be room enough for one in this subplot. "I am... Splashpage!" she announced. Ah. That explained it then. "Your Daddy wants to talk with you," she told Chris with theatrical menace. That didn't sound good. SLad moved to position himself between her and her prey, but noticed to his horror that his worst fear had been realised. "No!" he cried as he began to vanish again. The subplot was clearly on the verge of becoming, or at least merging with, the main storyline. "Chris! Run!" he yelled, swinging his arm across in what he hoped would be assumed to be a dramatic gesture. And then he disappeared entirely, the sound of Splashpage's Evil supervillain- type laughter echoing in his ears. "I take you are here to continue our fight from our last meeting," Limp-Asparagus Lad stated. "Nope," the other said, shaking his head. "Then why are you here?" he asked pointedly. The one called Lipid-Artery Lad grimaced, as if embarrassed, and then squared his shoulders. "I've come to apologise." Surprise actually registered on Man of Dull's face. "I do not understand," he said. "The last time we met you were trying to kill me, with the help of Lean-Apples Lad. In fact, that has been the pattern of nearly all the meetings your team has had with mine. I find this sudden change in heart suspicious." A look of irritation past across Lipid-Artery Lad's face, and he jumped up of his chair. "Yeah, well, that's because you don't know us particularly well, do you?" he retorted hotly. "I should think I know enough." Just then, Fan.Boy came wandering down the corridor. "Hi, everybody. Hey, you're Limp-Asparagus Lad, aren't you?" he said, recognising him from the description of his costume. After all, few people had a stylised asparagus symbol on their chest. "Yes. And you, I take it, are Fan.Boy?" Limp-Asparagus Lad replied, recognising Fan.Boy from the roster. L-ALad had found that one of the advantages of having almost no social life was that he had time to read most of the items put out by the LNH's computers, and as a result was one of the few people besides List Lad who actually knew who was on the membership roster at any particular moment. Fan.Boy's face lit up with a pleased grin. Wow. Not only had someone recognised him, but _he wasn't being chased away_! This was just too cool. As he glanced about, still beaming, F.Boy spotted Lipid, and since he didn't recognise the him asked Limp-Asparagus Lad, "Hey, who's your friend?" "He is not my friend," Limp-Asparagus Lad replied bluntly. "He is, perhaps, my mortal enemy. Fan.Boy, this is Lipid-Artery Lad, my counterpart from the Oddball Legion." Fan.Boy's eyes widened. "Wow! You mean the group that was created from Particle Man's subconscious during the last leg of his interdimensional trip back in _Particle Man_ #6, and who then turned up in _LNH Comics Presents_ #s6, 11 and 12 to find some of their missing members, such as Liable Lad in _Pliable Lad_ # 9, Cig.Lad in _Constellation_ #18, not to mention Easily-Dejected Man of the Deadly Faux of Easily-Discovered Man in _Substitute Lad _ #s1 and 2 ?," the Fannish Freak burbled enthusiastically. "That Oddball Legion?" "Yes," concurred Limp-Asparagus Lad. "Hey, I'm really pleased to meet you Lipid. Let me be the one to shake your hand," he said, doing just that, "since I know that if an LNHer and his Oddball counterpart touch something dreadful is supposed to happen, even though your Van Damme Stranger did reveal in _LNHCP_ #12 that it wasn't the formation of a giant vortex that would suck up a huge part of the Looniverse like was originally thought, so I know Limpy here won't be able to shake your hand himself." Lipid-Artery Lad had a glazed look on his face as he finally managed to disengage from F.B's handshake. He turned to his counterpart. "Geez, he's as bad as Tan Boy back home." Fan.Boy's mouth pursed in irritation at this, but he decided to say nothing. Then, something occurred to him. "Hold up. If you know him, how come I don't?" Both of the others looked at him. "Well, I can read all the past postings to a newsgroup. If you two have met before, I should have read about it," Fan.Boy said defensively. "We met in the _Limp-Asparagus Lad of Two Worlds Special_," Limp- Asparagus Lad replied. "I don't remember that," Fan.Boy began, then paused as he recalled a farewell-for-now post from January '95. "It wasn't posted, was it?" "No." "Darn! That sort of thing really gets up my nose! It's as bad as unrevealed back-history and retcons for keeping things secret." Then his face brightened. "Oh well. Your big fight scene'll make up for that." "I am NOT here to FIGHT!" exclaimed Lipid-Artery Lad, as he strode about in a hyperactive manner. "How many times do I have to keep saying that?" "Perhaps until we believe it?" suggested his counterpart. This time it was the turn of Lipid-Artery Lad and Fan.Boy to stare at Limp-Asparagus Lad. "Was that a joke?" F.Boy hazarded carefully. "No. It was a statement of fact." "Oh. Right. Well, that's all right then," said F.Boy. "So, like, what happened in this special?" "Essentially, Exclamation!Master! set in motion a plan to kill me. He used Lipid-Artery Lad and Lean-Apples Lad from Earth-I to kidnap me into another dimension where they would finish me off." Out of the corner of his eye, Fan.Boy could see a look of petulant defiance on Lipid-Artery Lad's face and guessed that he was using this as his only defence against squirming in embarrassment. "Why another dimension?" F.Boy asked. "Because it still hasn't been determined precisely what will happen if we touched. If something bad happened, then it would be safest for Exclamation!Master! that it occur at the remove of at least one universe away." "Okay, that makes sense," agreed the Nerd of Annoyance. "Go on." "The dimension had some unusual properties of symmetry, however, and to balance the number of villains..." "Hey!" Lipid protested loudly. "...my Earth-B counterpart was drawn there as well. There was the nigh-obligatory confrontation, and we escaped. I haven't heard from any of them until Lipid-Artery Lad arrived not ten minutes ago. In all honesty I would have expected a communique from Limp-Asparagus Lad-B before meeting one of the other two like this." Fan.Boy's face fell. Should he tell? He sighed. Yes, probably. "He's dead, Jim." "Pardon?" "The Limp-Asparagus Lad of Earth B is dead. He was murdered by Repulso in _League of Heroes_ #23." "Oh," said L-ALad neutrally. "I'm sorry," he said. "Me too," Lipid said quietly with unexpected sympathy. "We've all lost teammates and friends... Lost Clause Boy, Golden Receiver, Nameproof Lad, Trivia Monster, Comics Slob Boy, Unmentionable Bodily Functions Boy..." Fan.Boy turned to the Oddballer. "And what's your side of the story?" "What makes you think I've got a story?" he evaded, a touch sourly. "Well, you had to have _some_ reason," F.Boy persisted with morbid interest. Lipid-Artery Lad grimaced. "ALRIGHT! ALRIGHT! I was stoopid, okay!? E!Master! called me, an' offered me the chance to appear in a story. Since at the time it looked like that may well have been the last one your Writer ever did," he said, jabbing a finger at his counterpart, "I could hardly pass it up, even if I did have to be a jerk an' play the villain. Then the whole thing fell through. But just because the story wasn't posted doesn't mean that the events didn't happen! So here I am, lumbered with a black mark on my record, an' nothing to show for it." "Geez," commented Fan.Boy. He looked back to Limp-Asparagus Lad. "I know your Writer likes to labour on the theme of characters doing almost anything to get an appearance, but this is getting ridiculous." "If you found it so distasteful, then why did you agree to take part?" Limp-Asparagus Lad asked his analogue. "There are many characters who voluntarily withdraw into Comic Book Limbo rather than be subjected to mishandling of their personality." "If it was just a matter of my characterisation then maybe I would've," Lipid replied soberly. "But things are a little bit more complicated for us Oddballers. We don't just have to look out for promoting ourselves, we have to try an' keep a high profile for our whole world as well." "Could you explain that, please?" Lipid-Artery Lad nodded. "To understand why I'm here, you have to understand the predicament the Oddball Looniearth and Subliverse are in." "And that is?" Lipid sighed. "They're not real." "Strictly speaking, none of the Oddball Legion are real." "No! That's where you're wrong! We _weren't_ real, but that was then! Okay, basically we were figments of Particle Man's imagination, but we had enough self-awareness to know that, an' want more." "Which you attained by tricking Particle Man," Limp-Asparagus Lad pointed out without sympathy. "Yeah, but, look, you have to understand our position. Kid-To-Be-Or- Not-To-Be had already determined with his ShakespeareTech that, despite everybody's memories, we'd all only existed for a few weeks. An' that as soon as PMan left we'd all sublimate back into nothing. An' he had no reason to help us; he was already tired an' p*ssed off from being shunted around the multiverse, an' we were just hallucinations, man! So, yeah, we tricked him. A lot of us weren't particularly proud of that, but we thought it was necessary. "Anyway, Particle Man got wind of what we were up to, and the team was swept out into Astral Space when he turned the tables on us. But we did manage to get to exist in and of ourselves once he was gone. "But when we managed to get back home, Kid-To-Be-Or-Not-To-Be made a pretty darn scary discovery. _We_ might now be real, but apparently our world wasn't. Like, apparently it'd vanished after we'd left, an' then reappeared when we'd come back. Basically, our world an' everything on it depended on our presence. An' of course, in the long term that meant that as Legionaries died in battle or even of old age, there'd be fewer and fewer of us to keep things existing, an' eventually the whole show would just vanish forever. It was about that time that some of the team took it into their heads to try an' replace their counterparts on this world." "Why only some?" asked Fan.Boy, intrigued. " 'Cause Kid-To-Be-Or-Not-To-Be proposed the idea that perhaps we could rock our world back across to the other side of the line into full reality if we strengthened our links with the Readers. He's very good at existential stuff. Not surprising, I suppose, considering that being or not being is one of his fave pastimes after Shakespeare." Fan.Boy nodded. That made sense, since it accounted for the non-hostile attitude of the Oddballers in the _LNHCP_ issues, as well as that of Dayglo Dude in _Legion of Net.Heroes_ #68. He hadn't mentioned him, since Dayglo Dude's appearance had been simultaneous with a visit by three other of Deja Dude's counterparts, which Deja Dude has chosen to keep secret. Understandable, considering that they had included two villains: Psykeye from the Mirror Looniverse and the Evil Deja Dude from the Reverseworld Looniverse. Fan.Boy tried to keep his mouth shut about those sort of things, fearing that if he started blabbing the spoilers to other people's stories they might dump on him. Okay, okay, dump on him even more than they did now. And though he might be able to survive dying, that didn't mean he enjoyed the experience. He was beginning to appreciate Cannon Fodder's weariness with that particular schtick, and wondered why Aeneas Boddy didn't share the same level of reluctance. Maybe the reactions of his nerve endings had atrophied somewhat over the past few million years? "Anyway," continued Lipid-Artery Lad, "Kid's idea was based on the fact that, for various reasons, different worlds have different rest states of reality and levels of stability. Some are stable enough to exist without any help, but others have to be supported by various god-beings, while some are client worlds to other, more senior, dimensions an' need an exchange of life-force of some type to keep going." "We are aware of the theory," Limp-Asparagus Lad interjected calmly. Fan.Boy nodded. "Dvandom went over it in detail in _Constellation_ #7, and then we got a real good look at what happens when the link is cut in _Legion of Occult Heroes_ #4." Then he snickered, "And Limpy's Writer even went so far as to propose in issue 6 that if people got bored with us we'd all wither up and die slowly and horribly. Which would've put us all in a real tenuous position. But fortunately Dvandom came back in _DForce_ #42 and said, 'No, no, the Looniverse's Drama flow from the Writers and life-force from the Readers can only be cut off by a deliberate attack', which let's us all sleep easier at night, I can tell you." "Yeah, well, you're lucky. My world doesn't even have any Writers. Nor any link to the Readers. Yet. An' that's what the rest of us who decided not to bail out an' try to take up residence here have been up to. We've been brainstorming ways to try an' attract attention to ourselves an' our world. Unfortunately, that tends to compound the typecasting problem. These days, fight scenes are what sells comics best, so..." "You mean not all of the Oddballers who came to pick a fight necessarily wanted to replace their counterparts here, or were even belligerent towards them at all?" F.Boy tried to clarify, somewhat surprised. "Some are, some aren't. Which are which is left for individual Writers to decide as they come to post future stories. But my case is somewhat unique, since I don't necessarily have to fight Limpy here in order to justify an appearance." Limp-Asparagus Lad nodded as he saw the other's point. "My series isn't being written to pander to fannish tastes. If anything my Writer is bloody-minded enough to want to drive them away with anti-fan appeal." "Oh well, thank you very much," commented Fan.Boy with enormous sarcasm. "Nevertheless, it is true. The fans hate me. My action figure is the most poorly selling of the entire LNH range. Even the Fan.Dom of Alt.Ra only has one; for completeness's sake." "He's right," said Lipid. "Which is really to my benefit. If this were a usual net.comic, then the need for an obligatory confrontation an' fight scene would mean we'd be trying to kill each other by now..." "Within the limitation of not being able to touch each other," added Fan.Boy. "Within the limitation of not being able to touch each other," Lipid agreed. "As it is though, I can try an' talk to him without having to use my fists. An' though ultimately he might turn me down, at least I know he'll listen to what I have to say first. "So that's the situation," Lipid-Artery Lad concluded. "Now, if you don't want me around, then just say so, an' I'll take off and won't come back. But - for the sake of my world - _please_ Limpy, I'd like to be a member of your supporting cast." --------------------------------------------------------------------- Character Credits: Fan.Boy created by Jamas Enright Chris, Footnote Girl, Librarian Lady, Lipid-Artery Lad, Splashpage, and Subplot Lad created by Saxon Brenton Limp-Asparagus Lad owned by Saxon Brenton, created by Mystic Mongoose (Robert Armstrong) and wReam (Ray Bingham) Limp-Asparagus Lad-B and Lean-Apples Lad created by Ben Rawluk Dr Bad Bedside Manner created by the Tick (Peter Milan) All characters copyright and tm their owners and/or creators And thanks to: Jamas for help with the care and feeding of Fan.Boy And all the people who helped with the details: Jameel al Khafiz for consultation on the status of the Oddball Looniearth Martin Phipps for confirmation on the Deja Dude's Evil counterparts' homeworlds wReam and Steve Hutchison for followups to the dead Oddballers question --------------------------------------------------------------------- Adventures on the Letterspage #3 "But enough of me," declaimed Letterspage Man. "Who are you stranger, and how did you get to be in such a predicament?" "I'm called Cannon Fodder, of the Legion of Net.Heroes. The last thing I remember was being attacked by some guy calling himself Ultimate Ninja, who had come to kill Spelling Boy..." [see _The Origin of Ultimate Ninja_ - Footnote Girl] "What's that?" Cannon Fodder exclaimed in surprise. "That's just one of Footnote Girl's footnotes. Ignore them; they're like Ubiquitous Lad, and turn up everywhere. Normally they're invisible unless one can fourth wall, but text becomes visible in this world." "I see. Okay, anyway, I don't remember anything after that, nor how I came to be here." "I found you floating, injured and unconscious, in the letterspage dimension," explained LPMan. "There's no way of telling how long I was there for," mused CF. "I should get back to the LNH." "Well, actually, there is a way of telling roughly how much time has elapsed," noted LPMan. "By monitoring the letters columns of the LNH net.comics, I can tell you that Ultimate Ninja has been leader of the Legion for quite some time. Moreover, I have to inform you that there has been a Cannon Fodder active in the team for all of that period." "What! That can't be! It must be an imposter! I have to get back and warn them!" "By the constructive criticism of T.M. Maple, that presents no difficulty. If you are recovered from your injuries, then I can deposit you back on Looniearth by means of the Mail Chute. Follow me," LPMan said. "Thank you," said Cannon Fodder, following him and briefly assuming an Evil Grin(tm) on his face. Behind them, the still active screen continued to display an updated letter column: Mail on both Limp-Asparagus Lad #7 and 8 [from Jaelle (Jessica Ihimaera-Smiler] I'm sorry I haven't mailed you before to officially welcome you back but I have been busy like you wouldn't believe. Which is why WBW has been so choppy and late lately... - And for my part I'm sorry I haven't had the time to attack more people with my LOADSEs (Long And Over Detailed Story Examinations); not just you, but all sorts of other stuff I've been meaning to get my teeth into for a nice, juicy commentary, but haven't found time to do :-( Maybe I should just stick to short, first impressions (yuck, how boring :-) Anyway, I caught LALad #7 and #8 and loved them... although unfortunately it was impossible for me to follow Footnote Master dialogue... I just had to wait until the end of the story and read what he had to say then. Fortunately it wasn't excruciatingly crucial, at least I don't think it was. - I may've been bastard enough (as Jamas noted, with a smiley) to arrange the Footnote Fiend's dialogue like that in the first place, but I did deliberately keep it from being anything too important. Kid Not Appearing... etc seems to be developing nicely. I don't know, but Fourth Wall Lass seems to be awfully powerful, it's getting to be a bit of a trend, she breaks the fourth wall and saves the day. Limpy is... himself... his normal self I should say. It must be hard writing a series with a character with no personality. Yeesh. Scary. - I'm enjoying working on KidNAIARHS. And I also got a very nice letter from Badger about just that, (included below, even though it will make me look like an ego-maniac :-) - I concur about FWLass. I'm actually beginning to get a bit concerned about her. I'm afraid I may not have put enough thought into the development of her powers, and though I have some nice stuff for future character development, her powers are unbalancing to the rest of the cast. I have to think of some sensible way of restricting the use of her abilities beyond the cliche of blocked powers (which I think I've already done to death). - As for Limpy. No, it's not hard at all. I not sure why, since you're right that it would seem that way, but it's not. I'm having great fun with new ways to detail his blandness, and I've got several dozen issues worth of ideas on how to examine him. [from Badger (Matt Rossi)] Feel free to use this letter in any way you see fit...I just HAD to tell you how creepy it is for me to see you wringing life and lively stories out of a character I created solely for the purpose of a lame-ass joke. It makes me feel icky. Don't get me wrong...I like your take on all of the characters. Limp Asparagus Lad is indeed just that. He's got the personality of a lump of coal...or am I insulting coal? Fourth Wall Lass and Retcon Lad are amusing characters who seem to have possibilities. But Kid Not Appearing In Any Retcon Hour story? Written well? And not by me? Saxon, congratulations. You've done what, up till now, only John Byrne and Mark Waid were able to do...taken a loser and made a winner. Now, where's my damn check? - I'm pretty sure the coal won't feel insulted :-) - Well, I would like to include it in the lettercol., simply because I've got Long Term Plans for Letterspage Man and the letterspage dimension, and so I need a letters page as a pretext to post adventures about them. Yes, I know it's a silly running gag, but I hope it will be all worth it in the end. On the other hand, there is a major problem in including this letter, in that it's such a strong compliment that I'm going to look like an ego- maniac. My goodness, such high praise. I'll try not to let it go to my head :-) Thank you Badger. - As for the check, well, you're named as creator in the credits, and so get a hefty percentage of all royalties, including from the action figures. The problem is that these are net.comics, which don't produce a profit, so even a large percentage of nothing is still nothing :-) --------------------------------------------------------------------- Character credits (which, incidentally, were supposed to be included last issue as well, but somehow were left out): Letterspage Man created by Saxon Brenton Cannon Fodder is Public Domain, reserved by Specter The guy appearing here claiming to be Cannon Fodder was probably created by wReam. Or Possibly Dvandom. (Ha! That's gotten your attention, hasn't it? :-)Back to the Index.