Monday, February 02, 2009

Sliced Bread 2: Table of Contents

Here's something I've been meaning to do for a long time.

I once wrote a superhero novel. I wrote it in the form of a blog and posted new entries to this blog about four times a week for over a year. I stopped writing it because a) I had come to the end of the story and b) my second son was about to be born and I figured that I could do without a commitment so consistently time-consuming.

Anyway, I didn't have a huge readership, but I did have a readership, and most of them seemed to like it. I wasn't pleased with every part of the thing, but overall I'm proud of having written it. In my mind, it's every bit as much a part of my exploration of superheroes as Legion Abstract is. Originally I posted these entries as "drelser", for verisimilitude, but at some point the authorship got switched to my own name; I forget why that happened. One thing I didn't remember about this story but I notice now that I'm rereading it is how funny I tried to make it.

(I'd like to note that I'm far from the only person to do such a thing. Dave Campbell, who's a bigger noise in the comics blogohedron than I'll ever be, had a similar blog about the Velvet Marauder, and there was also one about a hero named Doc Tesseract. I liked them both.)

So what I want to do here is to post a table of contents for my story, so that if anyone (like, say, me) wants to read it, they'll be able to do so a little more easily than they used to be able to.

Without further comment, I give you Sliced Bread 2, the greatest thing since Sliced Bread. (Please let me know if you find anything wrong with any of these links.)


The first post.
Flashback 1.
Flashback 2.
Flashback 3.
Flashback 4.
Flashback 5.
Flashback 6.

March 2004
The Midnight Mover.
What Dennis is listening to.
Dennis doesn't understand Greyghost.
The Pioneers and Dennis's brother.
Greyghost's secret identity.
Ten words.

April 2004
A mysterious package.
Ms. Moxie vs. Scorch.
Dennis explores his surroundings.
Coffee with Erin.
Remember the John Caruthers thing?
Fill a garbage can with strawberry Kool-Aid.
Secrecy is hard.
Dennis is about to get fired.
Nick's party.
Mask Wars 1984-1996, Part One.
Dennis is a damn spy over here.
Mask Wars 1984-1996, Part Two.
Room 28.
Mask Wars 1984-1996, Part Three.
5 a.m. bus to Kitica.
Long-term parking.
Don't throw this out.

May 2004
Ten Commandments of poker night.
Greyghost vs. the Professionals, in haiku.
The fish.
In the mood.
Ingrid breaks it down for Dennis.
Answers from Greyghost., Part 2.
Greyghost and Torque vs. Marauder and Fade.
Greyghost vs. Skeletron: a long day.
Curiosity gets the better of Dennis.
The Underhand file.

Broadens the mind.
SPIA meeting, day 1.
SPIA meeting, day 2, part 1.
SPIA meeting, day 2, part 2.
A conversation with Ingrid.
The secret origin of Perseid.
This really did actually happen.
Perseid suits up.
Ron's blessed event.
The one-year mark.
Erin again.
Bob breaks it down for Dennis.
Greyghost vs. Caroline No.
Greyghost vs. shirtlessness.
Slow day.
Laboratory conditions.
Perseid, Cruickshank; Cruickshank, Perseid.
This actually really happened too.
Again with the Professionals.
Costume drop.
Sick again.
Someone tries to kill Perseid.

The Fantasy Arc
Who's buying, who's selling.
Postgame analysis.
Damsel in distress.
Dennis reports in from Narnia or someplace.
Much worse.
Dennis collects evidence.
Coming soon: the Ordeal of the Eft.
Vigils suck.
It's like that scene from The Empire Strikes Back.
Greyghost's briefing.
The subtle art of the gavotte.
Guest post by Shenaniga.
Dennis in a pit.
Malfunctioning keyboard.
And again.
What happened at the ball, part 1.
What happened at the ball, part 2.
What happened at the ball, part 3.
A whole new kind of malfunction.
Dennis vs. Shenaniga.
Camping in the dragon's den.
Well, this certainly is a revolting development.
Cockroach poetry.
Small talk, I said, and went away from there.
The best plan.
Well, that part's over.
How they got changed back.
Planning strategy against Redburn.
What Dennis is listening to now.
Aftereffects of polymorphing.
Torque and Perseid vs. Redburn.
Three conversations.
Wrapping up a few details.

September 2004
Costume drop in the ladies' room.
Greyghost's powers.
All-Star Team.
Another Underhand meeting.
Surefire's secret identity.
Jim Kacznyth.
Police blotter.
Relationship taxonomy.
Taxonomy of superhero flight.

October 2004
Hunting the Professionals.
Professionals back in the clink.
A play in one act.
Greyghost and Perseid vs. the Puppy-Kickers.
Good news that you're going to hate.
The superheroes of Empire City.
How many superheroes does it take to change a light bulb?
Dennis vs. Ingrid.
Summit meeting.
What's with cats?
Crush Camel!
The office was filled with mannequins.
What to call this place.
Costume pickup.
The Hallowe'en rush.

November 2004
Election Day.
Perseid vs. the Four of Shadow.
I miss baseball.
Mannequins playing baseball.
Perseid vs. winter.
The roots of anarchy.
Mannequin freedom day.
Icecap is helpful.
Perfectly good three-hole punch.
Art appreciation.
Greyghost vs. the Cool Ghoul.
Nobody got what was going on here when I first wrote it. It's a temporary parallel-world thing where women are men and men are women.
The Defense Posse.
Secret identity camouflage.
Perseid vs. Marauder.
Grappling-hook gun pickup.

Trivia interlude by the author
Twenty superheroes; name the source material.

The Space Arc
Aliens invade.
Now that's a plot twist if ever there was one.
Archie Fehnruller.
A foursome for bridge.
The Poplar Drive.
Ingrid Ratstar kind of has a ring to it.
How lovely are thy branches.
Fehnruller and Misty.
Planning is hard.
Ingrid acts.
Fehnruller notices.
Reconnaissance, part 2.
Malfunctioning keyboard: the revenge.
Dennis, space explorer.
What's so funny?
Life among the bullywugs.
Not out of the woods yet.
Sounds like a pretty exciting adventure.
Low battery.
Back into the normal routine.

February 2005
Scavenger hunt.
Itzhak and Kwu.
Greyghost vs. the ultimate menace.
I miss baseball, part 2.

The Intrigue Arc
Dennis is angry.
Why Dennis is angry.
Investigative reporting.
It's Valentine's Day.
Plan A.
A very special supervillain.
Disaster disaster disaster.
One-Eyed Jack.
Right on the tip of my brain.
Eureka. So what?
Greyghost vs. the Defense Posse.
Stuck in the elevator.
Cabin fever.
The usefulness of informants.
Dennis does something kind of stupid.
Captured again.
Cool hovercraft.
Boston Creme donut.
Dennis is a jerk.
Encased in ice, part 1.
Encased in ice, part 2.
Prowl is a superhero.

April 2005
Preparing for Scorch.
Bridge out.
Ron and Linnet.
McClay's Frozen Pancakes.

The Power Arc
Put your money where your mouth is.
This is so cool.
Greyghost knows something.
Poker game.
Torque and Frequent Flyer vs. Evil Danny Wilcox.
Icecap vs. Frequent Flyer.
Fountain again.
Greyghost and Prowl vs. Frequent Flyer.
Very happy.

May 2005
Back to Underhand.
The big wedding.
Taxonomy of superhero masks.
Big day tomorrow.
Ingrid's graduation.
Omicron's dossier.
Erin again.
Empathetic Dennis is empathetic.
SPIA meeting coming up.
Beautiful Sylvia.
You can't spell “Greyghost" without “host".
High score.

June 2005
SPIA meeting over.
SPIA meeting, part 1.
SPIA meeting, part 2.
SPIA meeting, part 3.
Useful powers.
Dennis2 is missing.
Job opportunity.
How Ingrid met Greyghost.
Fan interference.
Door number three.
Little Greyghost.
Bumper sticker.
Pros and cons.

The Thunderhead Arc
I don't know. Third base.
Road trip.
Fourteen years of picking apples.
New instruments for the school band.
The plot thickens.
The Defense Posse vs. the Professionals.
Thunderhead intervenes.
Didn't you just say that?

That guy.
Forty thousand details.
Suicide king.
Underhand update.
Greyghost vs. Alabaster.
Inkling and Omicron.
Not part of the job description.
The doctor will see you now.
Dennis uses his superpowers, part 1.
Dennis uses his superpowers, part 2.



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Legion of Super-Heroes #50 Review

What Happened That You Have to Know About:

Brainiac 5 figures out the way to deal with the mysterious enemy is to upload some Legionnaires into their virtual domain. One of those Legionnaires is Invisible Kid, who insists on having some modifications made to the version of himself that gets sent in there. Those modifications turn out to be really useful as a way for Brainy to get a handle on this programmed reality and just what's what in there, and he takes control of the whole thing and stops the attack. As he reconstitutes the Legion team into their bodies, he figures he might as well use the same technique to remanifest Dream Girl, complete with her eyes. And that's it for the threeboot.


I didn't actually get this issue until Sunday the 1st. But I'm not really a stickler when it comes to spoilers, so I was quite cognizant of the online reaction to this issue before I got my copy. Based on what, for instance, the boys and girls on the Legion World forums were saying, LSH v5 #50 was one of the worst comics every published by DC. When I opened it, I was expecting, basically, twenty-two pieces of used toilet paper, attached by two staples. My reaction after reading it?

Man, some people out there are overreacting.

First I'll talk about what is there, and then I'll get to what isn't there.

The art is by one Ramon Bachs. I was not previously familiar with this gent's work. Certainly, he's no Manapul, but I think there's only one of those around, so I won't hold that against Bachs. No, really, the art is above average for Legion fill-in art; I've seen way worse art than this in Legion comics. There's no problem with the job Bachs did. There were quite a few panels I liked... let me pick one out... how about the top of page 6, where the Legionnaires arrive in destroyerspace or whatever we're calling it?

The story, by someone of a shy and retiring disposition, focuses entirely on resolving the destroyers/intruder-planet storyline. And it does a decent job of this. Brainy and Lyle's solution to the invaders was perfectly plausible by superhero-comic standards.

I'd also like to note that the issue was fairly self-contained, which, as you know, I appreciate.

The trials and tribulations of Dream Girl have been an unsavory mess for way too long. Waid and Bedard and Shooter, in my opinion, completely mishandled the whole thing. There was a lot of potential there – neat stuff, a Legionnaire whose existence is purely theoretical – but we just got a lot of mischaracterization instead. Given what has gone before, though, her resurrection in this issue isn't a bad development, and the possibility of it happening occurred to some of us a couple of issues ago.

My biggest complaint: Gazelle was acting totally out of character all issue long. She's not recognizable as the character Shooter created.

One thing about these aliens: in their methods and goals, they're quite a bit like Brainiac (in the JLU and LSH cartoons, if nothing else), aren't they?

It's quite possible, even likely, that I didn't mind this comic so much because my expectations had been set low before I opened it. Because we had been promised a lot of stuff for this issue that we didn't get: Shooter and Manapul, Cosmic Boy, a Legionnaire dying, a resolution of the Projectra stuff... I guess the lesson is to never trust the solicits. It's not like this is the first time they've been inaccurate.

Here's what I thought happened. I figured that DC needed the threeboot Legion to match, at the end of this issue, the threeboot Legion shown on that splash page in FC:L3W #2. Therefore, they couldn't bring back Cosmic Boy, they couldn't do anything to get Jeckie off the team... et cetera. And that made sense to me. But why, then, do they allow Sun Boy and Gazelle and Dream Girl continued active membership, when those three weren't shown on that splash page? I dunno.

The Projectra storyline, in particular... that's the big one. One of three things is going to happen with that:
1.her insanity and crimes are going to be addressed in whatever Legion comic comes out of... uh... it'll be addressed someday.
2.the threeboot Legion isn't going to survive FC:L3W in any form that keeps the question of Projectra's actions relevant.
3.the whole thing will just never be brought up again.


I sympathize with everyone who wasn't happy with this comic book. It wasn't what we were hoping it would be. It was the last chance for LSH v5 to show the potential we had all seen in it over the last four-plus years, and DC's handling of this issue seemed to show less interest in achieving that potential than ever before.

And if anyone should be mad about that, it's me. I've been blogging, all this time, about how great this take on the Legion could and should be. I've been defending it on message boards. And it turns out, I can handle myself okay when talking up this Legion to just about anybody... except DC. I believed in this team more than they did, and now I'm just sitting here looking like a jerk. So, okay: nice one, DC! Got me that time!

But it's not worth making a big thing about. In a way, we all knew something like this was coming, right? As soon as we saw Dawnstar's arm on the last page of JSA #1, that should have tipped us off right there. Couple of years later, and now the threeboot is being chopped up for firewood to burn in the FC:L3W furnaces.

Man, the threeboot was abandoned by a lot of people, wasn't it? Steve Wacker quit on it. Waid and Kitson quit on it. DC cut its legs out from under it. All kinds of readers quit on it. Even Shooter and Manapul bailed on it before the end.

But I still like it.

Anyway, #50 was a competent comic book, but it's no way to say goodbye to the threeboot. So I'll try to put something together myself, sometime before the next Legion series starts. I suspect I'll have quite a bit of time to think. Meanwhile let me leave you with this:

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