In My Humble Opinion #7


Basically, I’d really like to shoot someone in the kidneys.

I’m not picky. I’m not asking for Bill Clinton, or Jerry Falwell, or Todd McFarlane to wreak my vengeance upon. Just someone who deserves it by even the tiniest of margins. Why, you may ask, has this formally quite balanced, though borderline alcoholic, reviewer snapped and is desperate to cause pain and anguish on another human being?

Well, you see, I lost something very important to me recently; my heart. And, due to circumstances beyond my control, had it mangled and returned to me in a ziplock. That’s right, the foibles of romance have dealt me an emotional kick to the groin, one from which I’m not even sure I want to recover. Self pity is not my usual style, however, sometimes it is the only thing that keeps you from acts of wanton violence. Even in my current alcoholic haze, that ‘poor me’ mentality is preventing me from creating a ‘poor you’ situation on some blameless bastard. My death came at an appropriate time.

You heard correctly. My death. Thanks to a hacker and my address book, a good number of people were informed of my recent suicide. Naturally, the police notifying me of this came as rather much of a shock. I was dead, yet still in class? I wonder of Jean Grey has the same trouble? So, why am I gushing pointlessly on-line to you hapless readers about all of this? Simple...

Welcome to my wake.

I have a collection of stories under review. I have a fridge full of beer downstairs. I have a case of fine cuban cigars. Folks, I’d like to kick off my own wake. Now, how do you come in, you might ask? Simple. I’d like to hear your favorite works; ones that fill you with joy and sorrow and laughter and pain. I’d like to celebrate who we are and why we do what we do. So, ‘IMHO’ will be taking a number of submissions, from you, about your favorite piece. I want to know why it is, how you found it, and any sort of story or thought you have that’s associated with it. I’ll be accepting these from Mar.12th to Apr.30th at this address (DexCon crew, I still have yours and will be adding them to the list.). 500 word limit. Please, let me know what you read that makes it worth coming back for. Selections will be posted in a special May.1st edition. Well, now that the wake is in affect, let’s slide into my dark fancy to the world of fanfiction...

After The Storm is yet another in a long line of holocaust future tales of the X-Men. Most of these stories exist in well deserved obscurity due to a Laersyn-esque glee in wiping clear the canvas of former X-Men, and a dose of fanboy/girl-ism in the choice of survivors. However, in the hands of Dana Night it becomes something more subtle. It’s not the Marauders or the Brood which bring down the X-Men this time, but a new viral strain of the Legacy Virus. Laced with realistic pain and helplessness against the disease, the story takes an agonizingly close look at the X-Family. Jubilee serves as the voice and tortured observer throughout, her emotions colouring the work. The only real trouble I have with this story is that it incorporates a number of common plot devices that have been so mangled in the hands of poor writers, that it almost brings down the story, no matter how skillfully told; Jubilee and Logan together a final time, her latent telepathy, Sean and Emma married. However, they are kept nicely and, above all, logically in hand during the story. A closer examination of the interaction of Cecilia Reyes with the dying X-Men, and Jubilee’s pregnancy will hopefully serve as the anchors for future chapters.

In the opposite direction, Thomas Wilde looks at the hope of mutants in the future, via the ballot box. In Change The World, Scott is crippled by a bullet in a fight with the Marauders, and turns to the political system to fight for the dream. Running for Governor of New York, Scott uses the resources of Xavier’s estate and the X-Men to assist him. Wilde has a real skill in the subtle plot exposition. Issues like Scott and Jean being separated or Xavier’s death, which could be angsted over retroactively, are handled like events in the past and not dwelled upon. The emphasis is on the current plot, and the story has a cheerful energy to it. The language is a touch halting, and Wilde’s flow is shaky in sections, but it’s compensated by strong characterizations, a genuinely entertaining and fresh story idea, and excellent dialogue between characters. The story brings parallels to the old ‘Captain America for president’ storyline from the mid-eighties. An excellent beginning for what could become a fascinating addition to fan fiction annuals.

Monile is one of those bright moments when you’re not sure whether to congratulate the writer or lock them in a room until they write more. Sequoia Swennes is one of few writers on the net who has a total grasp of emotive fiction. Avoiding maudlin or painfully turgid sequences so common of the style, Swennes deftly crafts a tale of loss and pain and repressed emotion fighting to be free. An Elseworlds tale that feels no need to explain itself, Scott and Emma face a moment when things end, as their relationship is ended with all the kindness of a scalpel swipe. Emma is tightly controlled, pained in her need to harness and bury her pain, even as Scott finds his way out of her life. Swennes uses their twinned histories of pain and abuse to tighten the scars over their souls. The story is a bitter-sweet mix of emotions and tensions, rarely matched on-line.

Jaya Mitai is an interesting girl. She drugs sheep with hashish, wields a lethal oboe, and looks great in a formal black gown. She also writes, and is damn good at it. Warriors And Little Girls is a look at the oft-ignored Bishop of the X-Men. Taking advantage of his stoic and disciplined nature, Mitai neatly sets him on the road of compassion with one little girl. After a rescue, Bishop is forced to open himself to emotions long buried to help a sick child, revealing a deeper and more complex man then ever explored. Mitai has a clean, honest form to her writing, adorned only with the essentials of story-telling. A far cry from the somewhat convoluted To Dye For, Warriors and Little Girls shows a style maturing into a bone fine ability with terse prose. Perhaps the best aspect of this story is the reactions of Bishop to the observations of a young Twentieth Century girl. Makes you think and smile at the same time; touching without melodrama, and wonderful in it’s simplicity.

Angela's Story is a new piece that very nearly went to the Trash unread. Mainly because I hate Spawn. I read it for four years, but I hate Spawn. Even in the hands of Neil Gaiman, I hate Spawn. The preachy, whiny, angst-ridden Todd McFarlane creation is the epitome of everything I loathe in comics, and Angela gets stuck in that option. Gaiman wrote a brilliant story, but Angela still came out as a second-hand Devil Hunter Yohko, only missing the kid sidekick. However, DarkMark needed something unique; he got rid of Spawn. Angela’s Story focuses on Angela working her trade throughout the universe, and it has a joyful, neurotic energy to it. With situations and action straight out of Smith’s ‘Lensmen’ or Howard’s ‘Conan’, Angela romps, sparkles and swashbuckles through inter-galactic daring and mercenary adventure. It’s hard to describe the appeal of the story since it seems to be a montage of over-used ‘Epic’ styled concepts. Yet, it works in a bizarre, wonderful way. A starry-eyed adventure that has that rare timeless edge to it. DarkMark is a self-pronounced retro-focused writer, but has a Busiek-like ability to make the work relevant and effective to today’s tastes.

Luba Kmetyk is good even on an off-day. However, when she’s on, she’s diamond brilliant, with work that cuts the unwary. Sheol is one of those ugly works that haunt you for hours after you finish it. Based several years after the marriage of Rasputin and Pryde, the story is a solo dialogue from Kitty to Logan about her life. With the tones of an abused woman, Kitty condemns and defends her husband in almost the same breath. With a subtlety which is almost insidious, Kmetyk weaves a tale of neglect, emotional abuse, hidden pain, and misplaced priorities. The characterizations are the usual Luba debate; argued against by Storm and Colossus fans, praised by the rest. Emma Frost and Logan are both extremely well down, Emma in Kitty’s perceptions of her, and Logan in the unheard questions that Kitty responds to. Not a piece to enter into casually, "Sheol" is perhaps one of the most painfully real pieces yet published in this genre.

And finally, we have one of the most fun pieces I’ve come across that hasn’t come from Poi Lass. Layla Voll’s Take A Mutant To Lunch is a wonderful, irreverent, quirky, and just plain fun romp with the X-Men. Bishop, Cyclops, Gambit, and Iceman are roped into a public relations program to be interviewed by grade 8 school children. The interviews do not go as planned, as the individual X-Men have completely different reactions with the students. Rather then preach the dream or council on tolerance, the X-Men are forced to be human, with amazing results. Some of the scenes are almost paralyzingly funny, such as Bobby showing his interviewer all the gross tricks he used to do in school, and Gambit’s impromptu French lessons. The story is a fresh breath of air, a reminder of the reasons that we love the X-Men in the first place. And, it ends with a twist that is nothing short of brilliant.

Well, that wasn’t so painful, now was it? Now, for the pointless suggestions of stuff to buy that I own. First, in the CD tray, we have a pair of comedy CD’s by George Carlin. "Parental Advisory: Explicit Lyrics" and "Back In Town" are vulgar, irreverent, and bloody hilarious. Carlin is often crude, but it’s to make a point, as opposed to the base humour of people like Clay or the Jerky Boys. He has a disturbing habit of making you nod along to what he says, muttering "You know, he’s got a point...". Highly recommended.

Recommended reading is Neil Gaiman’s "Neverwhere". A surreal journey into the London Underground, it’s full of the history and twisted mythology that is Gaiman’s strength. Almost a dark carnival feel pervades the book, uncomfortable due to it’s proximity to what is common for us. The real gem in the book is in Mister Croup and Mister Vandemar, two gleefully unrepentant psychopathic assassins. They wit, skip and kill their way to a bad end with style and panache. Go buy it...

And finally, the recommended website is Tapestry’s oft-times brilliant Sea Of Insanity, a comic strip based on a young woman sharing an apartment with her Muse. This leads to some complications when she’s forced to seek out a roommate, like explaining the lake in the middle of the living room. Tapestry’s art is to it’s usual quality, and the writing has a dry sense of timing to it’s punchline. I really think this comic has a future, but, then again, since I did one of them, I’m a tad biased.

Well, that’s the end of yet another sterling edition of ‘IMHO’. As always, questions, comments, flames, guest reviews and reviews of my work(you’d think 10 months of hinting ‘d be enough...) can be sent to this address. As well, look for yours truly and ‘IMHO’ at the Comic Book Fan Fiction Awards, coming this month. I’m the skinny good-looking one, if you’re not sure. Well, I have to go and find my bed for the first time in a week, so, until next time, kids...


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