Limp-Asparagus Lad #13 How The Looniverse Works: A Partial Explanation To One Of The Uninitiated Written by Saxon Brenton --------------------------------------------------------------------- Cover shows Limp-Asparagus Lad, Lipid-Artery Lad, and Chris Melwizcht all held prisoner, with Exclamation!Master! standing triumphantly before them. Although there is no sound effects indicated on the cover, it is obvious that he is laughing maniacally. --------------------------------------------------------------------- Eventually the effects of Splashpage's power had worn off, and Limp-Asparagus Lad and his Oddball counterpart Lipid-Artery Lad had changed back from being printed-on pieces of paper to what was (for them) normal. Unfortunately, in the meantime Splashpage and Butt Kickin' Guy had brought them back to Exclamation!Master!, who had made preparations for the two heroes to be imprisoned when they morphed back. It was predictable that the master villain would want to gloat at the two of them. It was, after all, a major and rather obvious adjunct to the way E!Master!'s power worked. It also seemed that he wanted to gloat at Chris as well, or at least with him present, since he had been imprisoned by his mad father within the same room as the two heroes. They did not have to wait very long before E!Master! entered, with Splashpage and Butt Kickin' Guy following in his wake. Limp-Asparagus Lad had to admit that supervillainy seemed to have had good results for E!Master!'s body, at least. He was certainly looking a lot more fit than when the net.hero had seen him during the period when he was going through rehabilitation. For a moment L-ALad mused on the fact that costumed superbeings - heroes and villains alike - always seemed to be in top physical condition. Well, almost always. The Looniverse in particular had a slightly greater than normal number of overweight costumed characters. But as a general rule most superbeings kept their tummies trim. It was probably a combination of strenuous exercise for and during fight scenes, the egotism of dressing in spandex in the first place, and the influence of the artists who needed to draw all the beefcake and cheesecake shots to keep sales on the up and up. It was a pity that more normal people didn't put the effort into keeping similarly healthy. But the alternative, that everyone become a costumed superbeing in order to increase the average fitness of the population, was fraught with peril. That direction led to the possibility of recreating Levram, with the implicit threat that the constant fight scenes could escalate to the point of world destruction. Meanwhile, Chris was watching his father with what were clearly mixed emotions. Hope warred with doubt while fear sat in the umpire's seat and directed proceedings. "Dad?" he whispered. Exclamation!Master! smiled. "Hello, Chris." "Dad, what's going on?" "It's simple," his father replied in a friendly voice. "I'm going to kill you. Slowly and painfully, of course." "WHAT!?" "I'm going to kill you," he repeated patiently. "Possibly in some sort of hideous death-trap," he added after a second's thought. The young man just stared, mouth agape. Disbelief now reigned supreme on his face - with hope, doubt, and fear all now sitting on the benches muttering among themselves. "There's no need to stare like that," E!Master! said defensively. "I'm an Evil supervillain now. I have a reputation to build and maintain. If I kill my own child, then it's sure to get me extra points for being ruthless and beyond redemption among my peers in the villain community." "Chris had been hoping that he could recall you to Good with filial love," Limp-Asparagus Lad said. "HA! You'd like _that_ wouldn't you!?" E!M! declared angrily, slipping into dramatic pontification mode. "To convince me to go back to being a helpless little nobody! Well, forget it! I am wise to your tricks! And those of your Writer!" "Pardon?" "Your Writer! Don't think I don't know! I've been slaving away to build my reputation as an Evil mastermind capable of callously slaughtering millions, and your Writer has given me no support whatsoever! I could have gotten a guest shot in another title! But nooooo! He has to go and write about Retcon Lad moaning and wringing his hands and exuding X-angst all over the place about Sig.Lad's death during his guest appearance in _Dvandom Force Annual_ #1, and doesn't even consider letting me go after Continuity Champ in 'Fall >From Space'! Damn it, even Barry the Grinning Purple Nightmare got to appear in _Continuity Champ_ #19, and he's got the brains of lint! ( not surprising I suppose, considering that in his inert state he is a plush toy. )" "You gotta make your own opportunities," Lipid-Artery Lad yelled at E!Master! Exclamation!Master! gave the Oddballer a frosty smile. "I am," he said, dropping back into a more conventional form of speech. "As you can see, I'm putting together other villains into an elite team. I call them the Hellish Half-Dozen. Of course, you've already met Splashpage and Butt Kickin' Guy, haven't you Lipid and Limpy." And he gave Limp-Asparagus Lad a nasty grin. "Or should I say... Joshua?" It is at this point that the hero usually thinks something along the lines of: .oO(Gasp! He's discovered my secrit identity!). But, well, you should know what the star of this series is like by now. He didn't react at all. The only thing that happened was that Lipid said, "What?" Exclamation!Master! gave the latter a look even nastier than the one he'd given his analogue. "Oh, of course, you wouldn't understand, would you, Lipid?" he said, dripping malicious sarcasm. "When Splashpage captured the pair of you, you were transformed into pages of your own biographical information, which I've copied into my own databases. I know your counterpart's real name, and family, and other juicy bits of information. But _you_, Lipid, had much less detail, since _you're_ pretty much still a cipher. _You_ don't even have a real name yet. There is nothing to you _except_ being Lipid-Artery Lad." Lipid visibly winced , then gave E!Master! an absolutely filthy glare. Clearly his status of less than complete reality still rankled him, and E!Master! had hit a nerve. By this time Chris had had enough. "What the F@ are you talking about!?" he practically screamed. Exclamation!Master! sighed. "Try to keep up with me boy. I know this is hard, but trust me: believe it or not we do know what we're talking about. Now, it's really quite simple. There are a number of fringe benefits to being a costumed superbeing in this dimension, and one of them is knowing that you're a fictional being in an imaginary universe. You, of course, aren't aware of this, because you're a normal. That's because as a general rule of thumb the weird stuff usually happens to the heroes and villains. Dressing in spandex tends to make us all weirdness magnets to some degree or another. Normals, on the other hand, usually only encounter that sort of thing in the role of innocent, and often bewildered, bystanders. As a result, _we_," and here he gestured to include himself, the two imprisoned net.heroes, and his own two villainous minions, "gain a greater understanding of the metaphysical structure of reality and many of its more esoteric contents than the great majority of people. Stuff like magic, alien invasions, psychic powers, hidden civilisations, et cetera." "He may perhaps have been confused about the references to Sig.Lad's death," Limp-Asparagus Lad suggested in a helpful monotone, The master villain snapped his fingers. "Yes, you're right." He turned to his son. "You see Chris, this universe is actually a 'shared writing universe', with multiple Writers working with - and occasionally against - one another to define its history. The series we're currently in, his series by the way," he added, pointing at Limp-Asparagus Lad," is currently running behind in continuity at the moment. This means that we who are aware of our own fictional existences are also aware of certain events that have already been written and submitted for public consumption, but which from our point of view have yet to happen yet. Chris's eyes went wide as saucers. "You mean you know that Sig.Lad's going to die and YOU'RE NOT GOING TO DO ANYTHING ABOUT IT!?" "Well of course not," E!Master! said reasonably. "I'm a villain after all. And they..." Again he indicated the two imprisoned net.heroes. "... won't do anything about it because his death was being written by a different Writer. It's the consensual history thing again. If they interfere all they can hope for is to get Sig.Lad's Writer majorly p*ssed off at them and their Writer. Even if they succeeded in making changes to history, the best they could hope for is to diverge an alt.ernate timeline, and nobody wants that since it's common knowledge that everybody always dies in 'What Ifs...'." This was madness as far a Chris was concerned. The conversation - or rather, extended exposition from E!Master! with occasional input from the other two prisoners - was veering back and forth between the unbelievable and the incomprehensible. He decided to make one last attempt at steering things towards trying to reason with his wayward parent. "Why are you doing this?" Chris asked in an anguished voice. Exclamation!Master! was tiring of being reasonable, and felt the need for some dramatic exposition with exclamations coming on. He drew himself up. "If I wasn't such an Evil, Evil man, I'd give a short and pithy answer that could easily be fit into the dialogue! But I am Evil, and therefore any answer I'd select must be fit to that Evil! And also, it must mention cheese! Twice! Definitely has to mention cheese twice!" Chris stared, wide-eyed, at the man who he had once known as his father. There was only one explanation. They were all, alleged heroes and self-proclaimed villains alike, completely mad. Totally psychopathic. It explained a lot. Only mad people would try to settle their differences dressing up in spandex and throwing empty buildings at one another. Moreover, their utter disregard for the welfare of others, their total indifference to the vast amounts of property damage that was inevitably caused by running fight scenes, was evidence enough of their sociopathic behaviour. And seeing the interaction between Exclamation!Master! and the two 'heroes' up close, Chris could only conclude that they were prime examples of the rest. The worst of it was their blatant self-interest. It was quite clear that they were in it only for themselves. Superheroes. Ha! They claimed that someone was going to die and they _weren't_ going to do anything about it? The hypocrisy of it all! The Chris's attention was drawn back to what E!Master! was saying. He had tuned out the villain's most recent exposition - it wouldn't have made any sense and all those exclamations were really beginning to grate on him. But now something actually seemed to be happening. Butt Kickin' Guy was holding an almost absurdly technical-looking cannon-like weapon of some type, but had hesitated over something, and gave E!Master! a quick and slightly startled look. E!Master! in turn was yelling at him, "Well, don't just stand there! I said kill those heroes!" Splashpage elbowed BKGuy aside and grabbed the energy cannon. "Let me do it," she snarled with a dreadful eagerness. Then Lipid-Artery Lad burst free of the standard-issue transparent tube that had been holding him prisoner, a wild grin on his face. .oO(A good thing that these bozos don't know how long it takes for my sugar-boosted strength to wear off,) he noted in an expository thought balloon for the benefit of the readers so that they'd know what the hell was going on. Then he added another for some character- building angst. .oO(A pity _I_ don't know either, what with my powers not being properly defined yet.) Then, returning to the original train of though .oO(Of course, it's not as though holding back to see what E!Master!'s plans were did much good. The longwinded blowhard barely let loose _any_ details of his schemes.) And all of the above internal monologue occurred in the space of a single panel, wile Lipid was dodging shots from Splashpage. Exclamation!Master! stepped forward to stop him with some exposition. "Halt, foolish hero! You cannot possibly..." "Aww, shuddap bigmouth!" Lipid yelled, and aimed a generous helping of foam from a conveniently placed fire extinguisher at him. E!M! took a mouthful and began to hack and cough. "You owe me a rematch," BKGuy yelled, throwing himself into the fray. He swung a punch (which Lipid ducked) and for a second had his hand stuck in the resulting hole in the wall. It was a second that Lipid put to good use. He grabbed and threw down a smoke pellet, and using the resulting obscuration as cover freed Limp-Asparagus Lad. "Grab the kid," he told his counterpart, and then was gone back to the fight. Limp-Asparagus Lad did so, and all the while with Lipid tearing about, and tearing up, the room. Energy blasts were fired, punches were traded, and pieces of wall were torn out and thrown about. And Lipid was loving every minute of it. "Ha! Have at you, varmints!" he yelled, lobbing chunks of masonry at BKGuy and Splashpage. Splashpage was forced to duck out of the way; she was hardly invulnerable. Butt Kickin' Guy, on the other hand, just swiped the projectiles to one side with red-faced fury. The little sh*t wasn't taking this seriously. He was _laughing_ at him! BKGuy _hated_ being laughed at! Things weren't supposed to be this way any more! Bellowing incoherently, the leather-clad lout rushed at the Oddballer. Lipid took one look at the charging behemoth, said " oopsie ", and dived out of the way. The impact as BKGuy hit the wall behind where Lipid had been was, to put it mildly, a trifle excessive. Especially in light of the fact that there was - or rather, had been - a structural support there. As the groaning ceiling began threatening to give way, Limp- Asparagus Lad called out over the sound effects, "We must go, Lipid- Artery Lad," and activated a plot device. He vanished, taking Chris in tow. Lipid made a cursory glance around the collapsing room. Exclamation!Master! and Splashpage had already fled, but Butt Kickin' Guy was still present, snarling and oblivious to any danger. Lipid threw a quick look to the ceiling, then back to BKGuy. "You'd better leave," he said gently. Then he activated a plot device and vanished as well. Then the roof collapsed. Lipid reappeared in the foyer of the LNHQ. Limp-Asparagus Lad and Chris were already there, and he arrived just in time to hear the latter snarl, "...Don't give me that crap! I know what you're all about! Just get the f#@% away from me! I don't want anything to do with your hypocrisy!" before he stormed out of the building. "So what was that all about?" Lipid asked. "I think he's upset about failing in his attempt to return with his father," the Man of Dull speculated calmly. "He also seems to think we are partly at fault in that, though I cannot fathom his reasoning on the matter." "It's probably just disappointment making him tense," Lipid said off-handedly. "Possibly," Limp-Asparagus Lad conceded. Epilogue: Back at his headquarters, Exclamation!Master! gave a maniac laugh in anticipation of hideous revenge. "Yes! That's it Limp-Asparagus Lad! Run! But no matter how far you go, you cannot escape me! I will have my revenge, and when I'm through with you, what Doctor Oblivion did to Decibel Dude will pale into insignificance! Bwahahahahahahahahahahaha!" --------------------------------------------------------------------- Characters Credits: Chris, Butt Kickin' Guy, Exclamation!Master!, Lipid-Artery Lad, and Splashpage created by Saxon Brenton. Limp-Asparagus Lad owned by Saxon Brenton, created by Mystic Mongoose (Robert Armstrong) and wReam (Ray Bingham). All characters copyright and tm 1995 their owners and/or creators NWC Villain Team: HELLISH HALF-DOZEN Type: NWC villain team CREATED BY: Saxon Brenton ADD NOTES: A team of villains formed by Exclamation!Master! The concept is flawed, however, in that it is a parody of Prince Evilo's Devil's Dozen (from the '60s LSH stories in _Adventure Comics_) which means that he'll never be able to form a team with the full six members. MEMBERS: Butt Kickin' Guy: (1st version) Super strength and invulnerability. Splashpage: (1st version) Spectacular poses and special effects to awe opponents into submission; can transform people into their Official Handbook Of The Looniverse entries. --------------------------------------------------------------------- Add Notes: Dvandom points out that the reference to those Obnoxious Post Brothers, Jeff and Jon, made in _Adventures on the Letters Page_ #4 (last issue) should have been to the Crosspost Brothers. As ever, thank you for your nit-picks Dave. The Levram referred to is the alternate Earth depicted in Valentino's _normalman_ series back in the mid 1980s. It was a world where almost everyone was a superbeing, and the constant fight scenes were escalating to the point were the world would be destroyed. However, Dark Fluffy pre-empted this by destroying Levram himself before that world's self-destruction could contaminate others. The 'I'm Evil and have to mention cheese twice' dialogue was lifted from Badger's (Matt Rossi's) _R.A.C.Challenge_ #15.Back to the Index.