Limp-Asparagus Lad #16 Two More Helpings of Culinary Disaster Written by Saxon Brenton --------------------------------------------------------------------- Cover is split vertically in two. On the left the angle of view is looking up at Footnote Girl and Kid Not Appearing In Any Retcon Hour Story from the top of a table. Kid NAIARHS looks grimly determined while FGirl looks shocked and nauseous. On the right Lipid-Artery Lad is twirling pizza dough in the background, while Retcon Lad bemusedly inspects jars and packets of toppings. The label on the jar in his hand reads 'peanut butter', while others still on the workbench include pickled herring, liver, and broccoli. --------------------------------------------------------------------- [Continuity Note: These two stories take place during the montage of Culinary Disasters in _LNH Comics Presents_ # 29-32, and a few other titles - Footnote Girl] Culinary Disaster: First Helping "I don't believe this!" said Petina. "I've only just barely gotten here, and already I've been drafted into kitchen duties?!" "It is an almost unique occurrence," Kid Not Appearing In Any Retcon Hour Story assured her. "It is seldom indeed that all of the Legion's cooking staff are absent." [_LNH Comics Presents_ #26 & 29] said Petina. "Pardon?" "Hmm?" "Why did you say that?" "Say what?" " '_LNH Comics Presents_ #26 & 29'," he repeated. "Did I? Oh crud. It must be these powers. Dr. Stomper seems to think that whenever I footnote something I get a flash of omnicognizance to get the details right, and then forget it all. Most of the time I don't even remember creating the footnote." She made a face. "Then it seems that it is for the best that you are here to receive training to control your powers, Footnote Girl." She gave him a sour look. "You do realise that the only thing worse than being called that would be 'School Girl', don't you?" He gave her a blank look. Petina sighed. She was coming to realise that although KidNAIARHS was noble, brave, and good, he didn't actually think the way normal people did. Which was not to say that he was in any way mentally defective; he had a versatile and quite powerful intellect. The problem was that it was totally constrained to the superhero paradigm, and thus he was utterly incapable of imagining anybody gaining superpowers and _not_ dressing up in spandex to fight for Good or Evil. There were several others like that in the Legion of Net.Heroes. Virtuous people of at least above average mental ability who were nevertheless completely mad by the reckoning of normal human beings. Easily-Discovered Man and Writers Block Woman sprang to mind immediately. How EDM Lite and Mouse ever managed to go on adventures in street clothes was a mystery to Petina. She threw her arms in the air. "Okay. Okay. Fine. Call me Footnote Girl if it makes you happy. Let's just get the cooking over and done with." "What do you suggest for the menu?" "How about something relatively easy to make in bulk, like maybe worms in gravy?" she suggested. "I beg your pardon?" "Worms in gravy. You know... oh, sorry, maybe you don't. It's school kids slang for spaghetti bolognaise. Just like tapioca pudding's called frog spawn or cauliflowers called bits of brain." She shrugged. "It's just what kids call it to be silly and try and gross each other out." He inclined his head with an amused smile. "Worms in gravy it is then. You'll forgive me if I don't write that on the menu though." She grinned at him. A frantic hour or so later Footnote Girl at last had the chance to take a breather for a moment. Most of the Legion were eating, and the remainder of the spaghetti was on simmer to keep it warm for any late arrivals. "It certainly smells appetising," KidNAIARHS remarked. "Well, thank you. I..." Then she was interrupted by the cries of disgust and sounds of hasty exit coming from the cafeteria. Peering out through the doors from the kitchen they found that the entire cafeteria had been emptied. Half eaten plates of food were left on the tables, or in many cases spilt over the floor. And the food itself... The food itself was _wriggling_! "Oh gak!" FGirl said, covering her mouth with a hand. Kid Not Appearing In Any Retcon Hour Story knelt down to inspect the wriggling spaghetti. He picked a piece up between two gloved fingers, and stood to examine it. It was a worm. Covered in gravy. His face hardened. He scanned the cafeteria, then announced in a loud voice, "All right, I know you are around here somewhere. Reveal yourself." "Who are you talking to?" FGirl asked. "An aspect of being a Superman parody," Kid replied grimly. He pointed across the room, where FGirl saw that a small, leprechaun- like man had just appeared. He was dressed in a bowler derby, as well as tights and coattails in a violently clashing rainbow of colours. He was also floating in midair. "Footnote Girl, this is Mr Net.zptlk; a pesky other-dimensional imp who is not quite as malicious as R, but nevertheless is rarely as well-meaning as Squid-Mite." "And how does he compare to the Improbable Man?" "Actually, the Improbable Man is extraterrestrial, not extradimesnional." "Oh." "Hi Nappy. Did you miss me?" called Mr Net.zptlk. "Not in the slightest," KidNAIARHS replied. "So, what do we do with him?" she asked. Kid Not Appearing In Any Retcon Hour Story sighed. "We have to trick him into saying his name backwards so that he will be exiled to his home newsgroup for a period equivalent to 90 of our days." "Why did I just _know_ he was going to say that?" FGirl lamented to herself. "Ha! You can try, O Big Blue Cheese," taunted the imp. "But I'm wise to your tricks. I intend to stick around and have fun with you for at least a three issue story arc, with crossovers and merchandising tie-ins." "Great Vathlo Net.zptlk, be reasonable! This is only a filler issue. There is a second story already awaiting for us to finish," KidNAIARHS explained patiently. "Tough. Let them wait," pooh-poohed Net.zptlk. "Why are you even bothering with this ninny?" asked FGirl in exasperation. "I mean, look at this. He's gone and turned the spaghetti into worms? That's absolutely juvenile! I bet he can't even spell C-A-T." "Ha! Try 'cat'. Don't assume that everywhere has schooling standards as lax as where you come from." Footnote Girl scowled. "A-A-R-D-V-A-R-K," she challenged. "Aardvark," he sneered back. "H-E-F-F-A-L-U-M-P!" "Heffalump!" "K-L-T-P-Z-.-T-E-N!" "Kltpz.ten... Arrgh! No fair, you tricked me!" he cried as he vanished in a puff of smoke. "I can't believe he fell for that," she mused. "I would have expected that at the very least we'd have to paint his name on the front of an ambulance." "He was expecting the trickery to come from me. That was quick thinking," Kid approved. "Thanks. Hmm, the spaghetti hasn't turned back to normal," she observed. "His enchantments do not always break when he's forced back home to alt.pests," Kid observed by way of explanation. "I suspect that it is some form of plot device." She nodded in resignation. "So, do we have to do the cleaning as well?" Then there was a rumbling sound. The cafeteria doors burst open, and a hungry green tide flowed into the room. "KI-WI!'" chorused the kiwis. ['Worms! In gravy! Yum!'] translated Footnote Girl reflexively. "I think me that this takes care of the leftover problem," KidNAIARHS smiled. --------------------------------------------------------------------- Culinary Disaster: Second Helping "I don't believe this!" said Lipid-Artery Lad. "I've only just barely gotten here, and already I've been drafted into kitchen duties?!" He threw a look at Retcon Lad, who was rummaging about taking stock of what was available in the kitchen. "Is this some form of subtle revenge by Ultimate Ninja for me turning up on his doorstep or something?" "Nah. If he wanted revenge he'd just cut you to pieces." "Sounds like Penultimate Ninja." Retcon Lad grinned. "Yeah, I guess. Anyway, all of the regular cooks are away at the moment. Cheesecake-Eater Lad is off with Bad-Timing Boy and Good-Timing Girl..." [_LNH Comics Presents_ #26-32 - Footnote Girl] "...Steak-And-Potatoes Man and Frat Boy are in Alt.stralia..." [_LNH Comics Presents_ #26 - Footnote Girl] "...Limpy's visiting his parents, and Leftover Lad is supposesdly chasing after something that escaped into the sewers in the first issue of his own net.comic." [These are two of the LNH cooking staff that Jaelle overlooked. Limp-Asparagus Lad was first mentioned as being on the LNH cooking staff in _U-Force Annual_ #1, and Leftover Lad's skills were recruited by the LNH in _Leftover Lad_ #1 - Footnote Girl] "Limpy's on the cooking staff here?" Lipid said, surprised. "Yeah. Does the salads and stuff." "Weird. I don't do anything like that back home." He shook his head. "Oh well. If they want food, they'll get food. So, next big question is: what to prepare?" "Actually, the next big question is: how good are you at cooking?" "I'm good enough to make my own pizzas an' burgers. The pizza bars just don't have a big enough range of toppings for me, an' takeaway burgers just aren't ever dribbly enough. Nowhere near enough beetroot, tomatoes, an' sauce on 'em." "You're better than me, then. I only ever delivered pizzas; didn't make them." "What made you give it up?" Lipid asked, curious. "Net.heroing pays better. And besides, you could end up possessed by a deranged Artificial Intelligence with ninjitsu skills if you work delivering pizzas in this town, like Malcolm did." [_Easily-Discovered Man_ #11 - Footnote Girl] "Uh-huh. Okay then. What sort of stores do we have?" "All sorts of stuff, and in huge quantities. We're fully stocked," replied RLad, sounding a little bit bemused. From what he'd heard about other people's attempts at cooking duty, the amount held in the larder varied wildly from next to nothing to more than enough. He suspected that it was some type of plot device. "Okay then, you up for pizzas?" Retcon Lad shrugged. "Sure, whatever." Lipid-Artery Lad grinned. "Cool. Pizza for several hundred, coming up." Later, RLad came back into the kitchen. "They're still not happy." "What didn't they like _this_ time?" "The Indian curry pizza with extra chilli. Frothing-At-The-Mouth Lad was game enough to try a slice, then had to go and stick his head in a bucket of water." "Okay, okay! So it's an acquired taste!" "I managed to distract them in the meantime with the pizza flambe." "But that's so bland! Only a cheese base with alcohol for burning on top. It's only there for visual effect!" "Maybe so, but it's about the only thing they're eating at the moment." "Philistines," Lipid muttered. "Okay then, I'll give 'em something normal. I've got a few dozen supremes in the oven at the moment, with just the boring toppings that takeaway joints put on theirs. Ick." "So no strawberry jam to compliment the anchovies?" "Nope," confirmed Lipid morosely. "And no hidden layers of chocolate underneath the cheese?" "Nope." "Okay, I'll give it a try." Later still, the pair of them sat around the now emptied cafeteria. "Well, I guess we managed it in the end," observed RLad. He was sitting on the edge of a table, his feet resting on a chair. "It took us long enough, but at least we _did_ finally manage to feed them. That's a lot better than some of the others did." "I suppose so," said Lipid around mouthfuls of unfinished fruit salad pizza. "How many were there left over in the end?" "Oh, several score. Mostly the good stuff from the early batches that they didn't want. I threw out most of them though, an' kept only a small sample of each type. There's no way I'd be able to eat them all before they go off, an' I guess Leftover Lad won't be back to mount a salvage operation in time either." Retcon Lad nodded, then stood up and stretched. "Well, apart from finishing the cooking chores, we also managed to catch up with continuity too." "That's good," said Lipid. "That joke was beginning to get old. So, what's up next?" "Well, The Flame Wars III are coming up soon, and next issue I've got a crossover starting in _Fan.Boy_ #9. First up though I've got an appearance in _Kid Kiwis Kommandoes_ #5." "Hope you enjoy yourself." "Well, it'll be interesting, at least. Apparently I'm scheduled to croak." Lipid-Artery Lad started at this, and almost choked on his pizza. "Oh, don't worry about it," said RLad. "I've got it on good authority that I'll get better." "Oh, well. That's all right then. Busy, busy, busy, huh?" "Ayup. Anyway, I'd better call it a night." "Okay, see you." --------------------------------------------------------------------- Character Credits: Kid Not Appearing In Any Retcon Hour Story created by Badger (Matt Rossi). Leftover Lad created by Eric Gearman, and thanks also for consultation on where LLad should be during the CDs. The Kiwis created by Descrii (Ian Porell). Footnote Girl, Lipid-Artery Lad, Mr Net.zptlk, and Retcon Lad created by Saxon Brenton. All characters copyright and tm 1995 their owners and/or creators. --------------------------------------------------------------------- Adventures on the Letterspage #5 It was a dark and stormy night. Up ahead, through the windswept foliage of the tangled thicket of forest, there's a light shining at the Frankenstein Place... uh, no, sorry... at Ghostwriter Manor. The front door opens, to reveal a man in formal attire. Although not exactly gaunt, he nevertheless has about him the sense of being sepulchral. One gets the feeling that the faint smile on his face is a grin of the type normally seen on bare skulls. The death's head tie-pin accentuates this impression. "Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. I am Mr Marrowbone, the butler here at Ghostwriter Manor. Please come in." He closes the door behind you, and takes your wet coats. "I'm afraid you are all a bit late, and have missed the start of the story. If you will permit me to be so bold, I will summarise this evening's proceedings as we go to the Uncommon Room to join the others." He leads the way through the dark, dusty, and quite cluttered manse. "The Queen of Hearts, she made some tarts, all on a summer's day; The Knave of Hearts, he stole those tarts, and took them clean away," he recites. Then he throws an apologetic look to you over his shoulder. "Of course, they weren't tarts. The Queen actually has a preference for blood pudding. The puddings themselves were cooked - and stolen - only earlier today. And as for who actually stole them... Well, that is what Miss Mayhem is about to reveal." He opens a large double door with disturbing but fortunately vague cravings on its wooden panels, and ushers you into the room beyond. Within are seven people, using that description in the broadest possible sense. None of them seem to notice the arrival of yourselves or your guide. The Queen of Hearts is immediately obvious, despite a complete lack of similarity to any Tenniel illustration of _Alice in Wonderland_. She is a tall woman, with eyes of fire (literally) and six arms, most of which bear scimitars. About her throat and waist are a grisly necklace and girdle from which she gains her name. "Of course he's guilty!" she roars. "Off with his head!" she cries, waving her various swords about, "Off with his head!" "That has yet to be proven," counters a small, wrinkled woman working with a bundle of knitting. She is sharp-eyed, and the lines of her face have fallen in such a manner as to give her a look of cool cynicism. "Miss Mayhem of Parva," Marrowbone explains. "One of the foremost amateur sleuths in the Writing, although there are some who maintain that her skills derive from being a professional busybody." "I trust we can proceed then?" asks a tall but rotund man with impeccable grooming and a cultured accent. He wears evening dress and has pointed canines. "Lord Wilberforce Upington-Smythe IV," notes Marrowbone. "A vampire, of course, and hence the prime suspect." "yES, PlEaSE prOceEd," says a glittering, multicoloured silhouette of... something... sitting in/floating above a comfortable chair. "tHeeSE OneS Are iNTErEsted IN the OutCoME." "A psychotrope. One of the many avatar's of The Madness, the creature of pure creativity that even after all this time still lies trapped near the centres of the Writing," Marrowbone informs you. The other three watch the proceedings with interests but without comment so far. One is an owl. He wears a hat of woven palm fronds and a T-shirt that proclaims 'The Land Where The Bong Trees Grow'. He also has his left wing in a sling. Sitting beside him on a sofa is a cat, who wears a gold ring upon one paw. "The Owl and the Pussycat," says Marrowbone. "They've just returned from he sailing honeymoon." The final member of the group is a human man, dressed in a white costume spangled with black letters, with a black cape similarly sprinkled in white. "Very well the, since we're all assembled," said Miss Mayhem, putting aside her knitting. "Earlier today, a crime was committed," she began without preamble. "A number of puddings were made by the Queen for the Faer tomorrow, and went missing around noon. The puddings, of course, were made with Life's Blood, and so are prized not only for their culinary value, but also for their longevity enhancing qualities. "Shortly thereafter Marrowbone returned from his trip for both provisions and to receive myself from the train. A thorough search of the grounds revealed the puddings sequestered in the old ice-house on the far side of the thicket, normally accessed via the service road; a roundabout trip of a good thirty minutes. Thereafter I impressed upon Marrowbone to call upon Letterspage Man to be on hand for the identifying of the culprit." "Normally such a crime could be referred to the Lord of the Writing," Marrowbone explains, "but since his disappearance we've had to make do ourselves. It has been a trying century for all of us." "Now, the most obvious suspect was Lord Wilberforce. A little too obvious however." "And what of the bloodstain on his cuff?" asked Letterspage Man, playing the part of devil's advocate. "Far too old to have been from a noon theft. Rather, it was blood from the dinner party the previous evening. That can be corroborated by several witnesses. One will note that it wasn't even he who spilled the blood in question. Rather, it came from the glass of Miss Flaventine, who was by all reports a touch tipsy at the time." "Thank you at least for confirming my table manners," Lord Wilberforce said. Miss Mayhem inclined her head slightly. "And what of the time factor? He was the only one not present," said Miss Pussy. "Ah, but that is not entirely correct. He was, of course, the one who was absent for the longest period, in the chapel at mass." Lord Wilberforce nodded. "As any good Catholic should be," he said. "However, there were similar periods, albeit shorter, that all of you were gone. The Queen, for example, visited her room for approximately a quarter of an hour to touch up her woad. Owl went for a walk before lunch to work up his appetite for roughly twenty minutes. Miss Pussy went and changed her dress, ten minutes; and the psychotrope spent a period of roughly fifteen minutes watching dew drops evaporating off flower petals." "No-one who could not fly could have gotten to the ice-house and back in time," the Queen stated bluntly. "Owl cannot fly, and the psychotrope cannot carry material objects. It must have been Wilberforce!" Miss Mayhem looked disdainful. "Try not to let your blood-lusts blind you to the facts." "You forget who you deal with, woman!" raged the Queen. "I will make your heart palpitate and burst if you are so foolish as to try to baulk me!" "Your threats do not impress me," Miss Mayhem replied coldly. "Or have you forgotten that I have no heart?" The Queen gnashed her teeth in impotent fury. "That leaves the other guests," continued Miss Mayhem as if nothing of importance had interrupted. "While the psychotrope certainly had the opportunity - it can, after all, go anywhere - it lacks the means because of its intangible state. We will leave aside the argument that because it is a true immortal that it also lacks a motive. No-one has ever been able to discern why those creatures do anything." The psychotrope somehow contrived to look smug. "Are you saying that one of we two did it then?" asked Miss Pussy. "Yes, my dear. And the motive is quite clear. How much, precisely did that ring cost?" "Why, we got it off a pig... Oh Owl, you didn't!?" Owl looked morose. "I'm sorry, Pussy. I just wanted to make you happy." "But I told you we could call on my savings. And you didn't have to buy the ring if it were going to cost so much." "The route roundabout that piece of woodland is deceptively long, but can be traversed quickly by taking a shortcut _through_ it," observed Miss Mayhem. That will cover the discrepancy in time between the tennis match and lunch, I should think." "Very well then," said Letterspage Man. "Come along Owl. The King of Hearts will be waiting." "Off with his head!" cried the Queen, who LPMan choose to ignore. "Off with his head!" "Hmf," sniffed Miss Mayhem disdainfully. "I should think that the hysterical woman may actually have the right idea, for once. None of this would have happened if those two young fools hadn't run off to elope." She returned to her knitting, then added with a touch of nostalgia. "You know, I haven't seen a proper beheading since the Reign of Terror." Letterspage Man rolled his eyes. Owl would certainly be a lot safer once he was in the custody of the King of Hearts, and was far more likely to get a just sentence than he would from those two. As he was leading Owl away, the butler approached bearing a silver tray. "Excuse me sir, but a message has arrived for you." "Indeed? Thank you Marrowbone," he answered, taking the envelope proffered to him. He opened it, and this is what it read: Mail of Limp-Asparagus Lad #15 [from Ben Rawluk] Liked the issue. I can tell I'm not the only one who read Quasar :) - Thank you. I knew there had to be someone else out there who read _Quasar_. I know _I_ certainly couldn't have been the only one keeping it afloat for 60 plus issues. I miss it now that it's gone (you can tell by the way I try to shallowly imitate it by referring back to all the past continuity :-), and in my wildest moments I imagine myself putting in for being the Keeper of the Quasar Flame, but I know I'd never be able to make the time to properly tend it on rec.arts.comics.marvel.universe :-( Mail on Limp-Asparagus Lad #14-15 [from Jamas Enright] I have to admit that these issues aren't so much "Retcon Lad coming to terms with angst", but "Explaining how Angst and Cosmic Entities work in the Looniverse, guest-starring Retcon Lad." Was there characterisation? Yes, but hurriedly. Was there exposition? Yes. Definite yes. Possibly over the top yes. Was there an actual story? Umm, I would have to say... no. While these two issues are good for explaining things, they aren't really entertainment. Saxon, you have written a thesis in LNH-comic book form. :) It was just too dry. - Okay, thanks for giving me some solid constructive criticism. I'll try to keep my response from sounding too much like whining self-justification :-) - I've know for several years now that if I get too wrapped in an idea that I *really* like, that there's a good chance that I'll overlook some vitally important fact in my enthusiasm and end up making a really stoopid error. I've done that several times before on alt.games.torg. - However, I had expected any faults with this story being with the logic of the metaphysics involved (especially in #15). It hadn't occurred to me that I may be missing something in the *story*. But looking back on it... well, yeah, it is a bit dry, ain't it? My habit of wallowing in the fact that it's a net.comic coming to the fore again, I'm afraid. And it's actually a lot better than the idea of original presentation. I've known for *ages* that I've wanted to do the metaphysical discussion that was presented in #15, but suspected that I'd simply have someone have a near death experience, they'd talk with Death, superscience would save them at the last minute, and the discussion wouldn't *mean* anything. It would simply be an aside with no emotional relevance to the participants, it's only purpose to let me show off and at the same time expand the cosmological structures of the Looniverse. This way there is *some* relevance to Retcon Lad's growth, since it shows him one possible method out of his situation. It's tenuous, yes. Moreover, he'd probably eventually have come to the same conclusion without having met and talked with Death; probably quite soon since he may well have gotten the same impetus from hanging around with Fan.Boy in the upcoming crossover. But it is there, nonetheless. In all honesty I think it may be more that I tried to shoe-horn too much explanation- exposition into those two issues, to the point where they overwhelmed what little story there was, than that there was no story at all. - Anyway, all I can say is, I'll try better next time :-) --------------------------------------------------------------------- Character Credits: The Queen of Hearts, and the Owl and the Pussycat are all nursery rhyme characters. Letterspage Man, Lord Wilberforce, Marrowbone, Miss Mayhem, and the psychotrope created by Saxon Brenton. All characters copyright and tm 1995 their owners and/or creators. --------------------------------------------------------------------- Add Notes: Mr Marrowbone and Ghostwriter Manor are takes on Mr Bones, the butler of Ghost Manor. He's a story narrator in the EC style, but I have no idea which publisher his stories were put out by. (Up until the mid 1980s the only colour comics available in newsstands in Australia (rather than in comics specialty shops) were Archies. Marvels appeared sporadically, while DCs and several others were reprinted as black and white anthologies. These were usually stripped of original publication data like the name of publisher, date, and cross referencing footnotes, etc. In fact, it was only in the last half-decade or so that many of the stories of ongoing series were printed consecutively, so I suspect that up until them many of the subplots were edited out as well.) Miss Mayhem of Parva is a distortion of Agatha Christie's Miss Marple. The name derives from Mayhem Parva, which is the name of the genre of detective fiction to which most of Christie's writings belong.Back to the Index.