Hi, Iâ€™m Matti Mali aka HedonisticActor and I continue Old Shames in text form and chronicle the unfinished part of my old superhero comic series Energycore of Power. Previously I talked about the unfinished issue #19 that took place in Marseilles, France where the villains Chemist and Witch got married, superhero team United Heroes of Europe fell apart and the Prime Minister of United Kingdom Tony Blair went insane, among other things. From this article onward I tackle with issues that were never even partially made and have been haunting my head for such a long, long time. First itâ€™s time for issues #20-22 that continue Energycore of Powerâ€™s world tour.
Originally meant to be published in April 2006 this issue takes place in the jungles of Afghanistan. You read it right, jungles in Afghanistan. You see, in issue #10 the main character Stormkiller realized he can control weather so he gave some plant seeds superpowers and made it rain all around the world causing majority of Earthâ€™s deserts vanish. It would be interesting to explore all the changes in society this would bring but what kind of self respecting superhero fan wants to read about that? No, what the readers truly want is to see is George W. Bush and Osama bin Laden beating the crap out of each other and causing mayhem.
I can feel your â€˜this is going to be either really awesome or really stupidâ€™ senses tingling but before we go to the main story letâ€™s introduce all the new characters. Here Energycore of Power is spending their time with the local superhero team Super Trio of Asia who are:
Jane Goldurock/Ninjawoman â€“ The leader of the team has actually seen before in the series as in issue #9 she freed Time Empress from the influence of Liar who by the way used to be a member but was kicked out when he used his powers for wrong purposes. She was born in China to two American missionaries who both died in an attack done by Taliban terrorists so she swore vengeance. Besides the unusual back story she doesnâ€™t have much to go in personality vice and even her powers arenâ€™t well defined (it has something to do with being a skilled ninja and thatâ€™s it).
Chung Chi-Wa/Worker â€“ Now hereâ€™s a character that actually works (no pun intended). This Chinese farmer is a devout follower of Chinaâ€™s Communistic Party and honestly believes that the governmentâ€™s several restrictions against freedom of speech are a right thing to do. Not only this brings possibilities for interesting debates between him and Lucky Guy it also manages to make a character who despite frowning to democracy is a respectable human being. What clashes towards this intriguing fellow is his stupid superpower to draw weapons out of his sleeves (due to being a communist his preferred weapons are sickles and hammers).
Nokoru Sogunasa/Animegirl â€“ The least developed member of the trio is Japanese thirty-something who is a fan of anime. Thatâ€™s it. Even her powers are vaguely define energy bursting attacks because thatâ€™s what they do in Japanese cartoons, right? Oh, and guess who of these three is going to be the most featured in this series.
Unlike with United Heroes of Europe though Super Trio of Asia has a proper villainous counter part, Asian Order. Their core members are:
Osama bin Laden/Electryfield â€“ The infamous real life Afghan terrorist somehow gained the power to cause electro-magnetic pulses and is now spreading chaos in the name of Allah. Because of being a high concept character (Itâ€™s Osama bin Laden in a superhero comic, ainâ€™t that cool?!) his motivations are left rather thin and â€“ as I mentioned in the video series â€“ they basically amount to â€œJihad justifies my hateâ€.
Wong Huang/Chi-Master â€“ This spry Chinese man who can shoot laser beams out of his eyes (and do those standard energy burst attacks) is 91 years old and thus the oldest (non-undead) character in the series. While this incarnation of the character is a standard â€˜yellow perilâ€™ stereotype I submitted a revised version for the webcomic Heroes Alliance where everyone can submit their own characters and story ideas. So if you are interested to do a story where Chi-Master is involved then go ahead and let me know how that turned out.
Mao Zedong/Lich â€“ Seen briefly in the alternate future flash forward in issue #18 the former leader of China got resurrected after a red thunderbolt hit toâ€¦ wherever his last resting place happens to be. Now he has power to turn people into zombies but unlike Zombie Granny his victims need to be dead before it can be done. His goal is to turn China back to more communistic direction, I think.
All of the three persons above have an army of mooks (Taliban terrorists, killer ninjas, and zombie commies) that are great cannon fodder for the action scenes. Despite being well-organized though Asian Order has had inner schism for long as all the three leaders have different vision how Asia should be ruled.
The issue starts with Chemist and Witch adopting a former United Heroes of Europe member Sizer. How convenient, we donâ€™t need to wait for nine months before getting to see how they work as parents and Sizer is already a shy teenager with trust issues! Eventually they would get their own children as well because this issue features the only sex scene in the series (at least the only one significant to the plot). Thank God this issue was never made, picture naked people shown in my sub-par art work.
The main plot is of course Energycore of Power and Protectors of Humankind trying to prevent George W. â€˜Warmachineâ€™ Bush and the other members of Worthy And Stupendous Persons â€“ Vladimir â€˜Cheererâ€™ Putin and the former United Heroes of Europe leader Gerhard â€˜Superleaderâ€™ Niffenkoff â€“ from causing unnecessary casualties while theyâ€™re hunting for Asian Order. Wait, there are four superhuman teams who all want to bring the same three super villains to justice so why they donâ€™t work together and effortlessly wipe the floor with those bastards? Oh right, because Georgie-boy is reckless, Republican and wants to boost his popularity which is always a wrong motivation no matter what the cause. This is the amazing duality of Energycore of Power; the characters can be both complex and simplified at the same time.
The first important event in the battle is that bin Laden uses his EMP powers to disturb Stormkillerâ€™s energy vibes which causes him to produce red thunder bolts and some of the people affected by them will be met later in the series. Then arrives the deus ex machina in form of Kaldreans (those small, reptile-like, creationistic aliens in case you donâ€™t remember). They want to drain powers from super humans but only from villains so most of them are safe. In fact this is the fate of Mao Zedong who gets ambushed by Kaldrean energy drainers and collapses to dust. Like Eric â€˜The Stromâ€™ Morrone and Anthony Furriotti before him he just comes by only to be instantly killed off and never to be seen again. At least he canâ€™t now kill Gravity Girl.
The previous sentence referenced to issue #18 where the heroes got to witness the bad future where several of their members died including Stormkiller who was gunned down by George W. Bush. After a most likely awesome battle where Doubleua causes chaos a tank the same thing is about to happen but Hedgehogboy â€“ whose death by Stormkiller was prevented two issues ago â€“ manages to save Stormkiller just in time. After the battle has ended they make peace with each other. The same canâ€™t be said from Chemist who offers peace between the teams but Stormkiller is too bitter for all the terrible things Chemist has done to them. Sure this is just to keep the conflict between the two teams going but at least there are understandable reasons this time around.
So what about the two remaining members of Asian Order? They go to their different ways thus officially dissolving the team. Chi-Master joins in Protectors of Humankind and becomes their seventh member while Osama bin Laden escapes to Japan where the next issue will take place. However that wonâ€™t be the main focus as much important things are going on.
Taking place in some big city in Japan (most likely Tokyo) this issue is notable for giving Time Empress, one of the blandest members of Energycore of Power, character development. About time, she has been around since the very first issue. Anyhoo, Lei-Jan Feiâ€™s Chinese family had moved to Japan after her big brother had died during Tiananmen Square protests when she was only three years old. When she came to age her father Koe was about to arrange a marriage for her but Lei-Jan didnâ€™t accept this which caused her father to disown her. She moved to USA while the husband who she didnâ€™t even know was arranged to her little sister Ming. Guess who this husband is? Just by me asking it you can guess itâ€™s someone significant. Here it goes: Shigeru â€˜Liarâ€™ Yakunome.
Yes, the same guy who had Time Empress sentenced to jail for a crime she didnâ€™t commit is her brother-in-law and neither of them knew about it. From all the â€˜sudden relativeâ€™ twists Energycore of Power has pulled off this is the most effective of them as it gives both characters a new point-of-view towards each other but unfortunately other revelations arenâ€™t that stellar. The reason why Liar has used his powers for wrong purposes is to get money for treating his wife who is a kleptomaniac. I donâ€™t understand why thereâ€™s a money problem as lawyer is a very well paid profession, plus after all the things he has done during the series itâ€™s a miracle heâ€™s still allowed to have a license for this job. Iâ€™ll talk about the other stupid twists later.
The most important character introduced in this issue is Liarâ€™s stepfather Hiriko Hundoke who owns a big car manufacturer. One of his employees is an undercover Taliban terrorist Koichi Winga whoâ€™s Osama bin Ladenâ€™s contact in Japan and is hiding him from the heroes and other authorities. Their plan is to kidnap Mr. Hundoke for reasons I donâ€™t remember but I guess bin Laden intends to use the ransom for getting somewhere where the law canâ€™t reach him. Where that place is I have no idea but heâ€™s offered a solution as World Order Coalition happens to have an operation in Japan at the same time.
For those who donâ€™t remember World Order Coalition is an American super villain team lead by none other than the famous British actor Christopher Lee who now thinks heâ€™s the wizard Saruman from Lord of the Rings movies (for those of you wondering he was replaced by Sean Connery Count Dooku in Star Wars Episode III). His previous proper appearance was in issue #15 where Stormkiller proceeded to kick his ass which diminished Sarumanâ€™s threat level but at least it gave Stormkiller a badass moment. This also marks the return of Garet â€˜Sodium Manâ€™ Lake who used to be an Energycore of Power member as Waterman but was later driven to insanity in issue #10 when Chemist caused him to constantly explode. They are in Japan to get some jewel for Sarumanâ€™s grand plan which I donâ€™t even remember what that would have exactly been.
Eventually the climax ensues with bin Laden holding Hiriko Hundoke hostage. However Mr. Hundoke manages to save himself with his energy draining claws. Thatâ€™s right, heâ€™s an extra-terrestial called Dreg Zeffres of Denerian race (purple imperialists) who arrived to Earth 17 years ago, disguised himself as human, married to Liarâ€™s mother and became the founder of a successful car manufacturer without anyone ever suspecting anything. As it happens heâ€™s one of the two aliens our heroes need to find in order to get Stormkillerâ€™s powers out without causing Earth to dry (insert complex, science abusing explanation how thatâ€™s possible, here). The other part of the climax involves Lucky Guy chasing Koichi Winga to a dam where he kicks Winga over the edge to the waterfall thus removing him from the series and paying homage to At Another Rainy Summer Day, the sequel to the story that inspired this whole series. And like in that story Koichiâ€™s body isnâ€™t found which leaves a possibility of him returning years later in the second series (just like Tony Blair who would eventually get his sanity back).
After that the newest addition to the team Shaman confronts Lucky Guy about the real shocker heâ€™s managed to discover with his powers: Lucky Guy has never had superpowers. Uh, what? This is indeed one of those retcon twists I warned about in my videos although I canâ€™t truly remember was this planned from the beginning and to the comicâ€™s credit luck based powers are really easy to fake because the only thing he needs to do is to not die. This twist doesnâ€™t work because he reveals his reason for lying was to get close his brother and watch his actions. Not only he did miserable job at it but it wasnâ€™t hinted from the beginning that he might be worried about his brotherâ€™s doings; he even admitted following his brother blindly was a mistake. Shaman promises to not to spill the beans, most likely because even he canâ€™t believe the idiocy he just had to hear.
In the end of the issue â€“ in addition of Time Empress dealing with her messy family â€“ Osama bin Laden makes a deal with Saruman and joins in World Order Coalition. Super Trio of Asia canâ€™t chase him because he goes out of their territory and besides they succeeded in destroying Asian Order so they deserve some rest. However Animegirl has started to date Shaman and she of course wants to follow her candidate as the love of her life so she joins in Energycore of Power thus becoming the teamâ€™s tenth member (I told you sheâ€™s going to be around for a long time). Her colleagues grudgingly accept her decision and later change the teamâ€™s name to Super Duo of Asia meaning this is the second time theyâ€™ve had to change it. Anyway itâ€™s time for the next issue with the last destination in Energycore of Powerâ€™s world tour, Los Angeles.
As this issue takes place in Los Angeles it marks the return of the superhero team Los Angeles Hero Department who we saw briefly in issue #15. They are:
Ali Sendoh/Prayer â€“ An Afghan Taliban terrorist who reformed his ways is the leader of the most popular superhero team in the world? Sure, why not. To be even more ludicrous he was in one of the planes that hit World Trade Center in 2001 but was saved by the teamâ€™s second-in-command and after giving some information about his former Jihadist buddies he earned the governmentâ€™s trust. At least his past gives him a redemption arc which can be compelling if well used. His power is to get stuff done by praying Allah although he canâ€™t wish for stuff that would make things too easy like world peace. In theory though he could pray any god with the same results but heâ€™s not willing to test it due to his devotion to one god. This power is stupid because it unintentionally removes the ambiguity of red lightningâ€™s supernatural origin.
James Dreckholm/Priest â€“ The teamâ€™s South-African second- in-command used to be a Catholic missionary traveling through Africa until he and his company pissed off some Muslims in Algeria and got the rest of his company killed. He decided to travel to USA to start a new life but he happened to step in a plane that was hijacked by Talibans with Ali Sendoh among them. After a heartfelt conversation Ali decided to save them both and they jump out of the plane with a parachute before it hit its target. Since then theyâ€™ve been the best of friends although they both occasionally try to half-seriously convert each other. Priestâ€™s power is to turn any religious object into a powerful super weapon but as with Prayer he doesnâ€™t want to try it any other than a cross. Thereâ€™s a weakness however: if he grabs the cross upside down â€“ a common symbol for Satanists â€“ he goes into berserk rage and tries to kill anyone in sight.
Amy Wendell/Sketch â€“ Also called as 2D in early plans this political cartoonist has been turned into a sketch and therefore is two dimensional and can go to places where others canâ€™t. Sheâ€™s two dimensional personality-wise as well because aside from being one of the few super humans whoâ€™d like to get rid of their powers sheâ€™s nothing more than homage to my old drawing style.
Keanu Reeves/Neo â€“ Once again an actor who now thinks heâ€™s a character he played in a popular product, in this Canadianâ€™s case humankindâ€™s messiah figure Neo from The Matrix film trilogy. Heâ€™s convinced that our reality is just a computer simulation produced by the machines that have enslaved humanity and desperately seeks evidence for his claims. This obsession is actually relevant to the plot but Iâ€™ll talk about that later.
Alyson Hannigan/Willow â€“ An actress who thinks sheâ€™s a character from TV-series Buffy the Vampire Slayer because I happened to be a fan of that show. The extension of her personality traits is cheery and nerdy.
Eduardo Spizena/Matador â€“ Once a member of United Heroes of Europe this Spanish politician who can cause blind rage in his opponents moved to Los Angeles to join in another superhuman team. Heâ€™s just as bland and useless here as he was in there.
Their nemesis team is of course World Order Coalition that I introduced in the previous issue but they have one other member with superpowers, namely the actor Brad Dourif who now thinks heâ€™s Grima Wormtongue from Lord of the Rings movie trilogy. Those who have either seen the movies or read the books know that Wormtongue doesnâ€™t have any special abilities, heâ€™s just a skilled manipulator and is here just because Saruman needs a second-in-command. The rest of the organization consists of â€“ get ready for this â€“ the army of magically infused, computer generated orcs that have been created by imprisoned CGI-artists, one of them being an Asian American Ken Strecto who will be important later.
The issue opens when Energycore of Power (along with Dreg Zeffres) and Protectors of Humankind are arriving to Los Angeles on air planes when Saruman ambushes them while heâ€™s having a duel with Willow and sends their planes plummeting. This involves some free fall action which probably look amazing even with my sub-par art work. Miraculously no one (important) dies.HumHu
After that bit of excitement Energycore of Power goes to visit Los Angeles Hero Department where Gravity Girl gets crazy and attacks Prayer. Turns out her parents were killed in the World Trade Center attacks, father when the planes hit and her mother when Prayer who was jumping with a parachute lost control of it and dropped on her killing her instantly. To all aspiring writers: There are several ways to put a real life tragedy as a part of your story and still remain tasteful; the before mentioned unintentionally darkly hilarious moment is not one of them.
The rest of the smaller confrontations are classier though as the Energycore of Power member Pirate meets his ex-wife Liz Strong who is now a nun and finally reconciling with her while Lucky Guy meets an actress Dory Catharine and theyâ€™ll eventually get into romantic relationship. Also Sodium Manâ€™s mother Scarlett Wade makes an appearance but she wonâ€™t be important. But letâ€™s get in to the main plot.
Prayer has been worried about Neo who has been frequently gone for long periods of time and asks some Energycore of Power members to find out what is going on. Eventually it turns out he has been teleporting via phone booths just like in those Matrix movies whenever the characters returned to real world. He claims that he has definite proof that the world is not real and leads the characters to a room where many characters from the movie trilogy including Morpheus and Trinity are there. Except not, it was just a hologram created by Denerians who have used Neo to test their new teleporting equipment so they could attack Los Angeles Hero Departmentâ€™s headquarter and drain their powers (unlike Kaldreans they donâ€™t dissociate between heroes and villains). Our heroes manage to escape just in time to help their comrades to fight off Denerian energy drainers but they are too late to help Willow who gets her powers drained. She turns back to Alyson Hannigan and leaves the series, probably traumatized by the fact that she was another person for almost two years and remembers nothing about it. Neo almost experiences a mental breakdown because of this but in the end he pulls himself out of it.
Next Denerians attack World Order Coalitionâ€™s headquarter Isengard (a huge metallic tower built in the outskirts of the city) which gives the opportunity for our heroes to attack as well and ensure that the team gets put out of business once and for all. Besides them Worthy And Stupendous Persons are there to hunt Osama bin Laden so you can imagine thereâ€™s quite a chaos going on. Eventually Stormkiller faces against his former ally Sodium Man and during the battle he uses his fingers to make holes in Sodium Manâ€™s body which causes some of his explosive outer liquid go inside him making him explode in a spectacular way. Thus Garet Lake, one of the founding members of Energycore of Power who has been around since the very first issue, dies at the age of 37.
The final victory is achieved when Denerians pile up on Saruman and drain his powers transforming him back into Christopher Lee. Heâ€™s not seen again in the series either and I can only imagine that court battle where lawyers debate on should he be held responsible for the crimes he did as Saruman. This is not however the end for World Order Coalition as both Wormtongue and bin Laden manage to escape. Also their prisoners are saved including Ken Strecto whose importance is of being the love interest for Time Empress. And I though the romance between her and Lucky Guy was contrived.
The issue ends on a traditional funeral scene but before that thereâ€™s an interesting moment for George W. Bush who has chased bin Laden to an alley but it turns out to be a computer generated clone that was produced earlier to make his escape easier. The usually calm president just utterly looses it and randomly blasts places around him before his colleagues manage to calm him down. Heâ€™s also frustrated because his daughter Jenna has been missing for a while but as those reading the previous blogs know sheâ€™s a superhuman Shadowmind. He is intending to find her no matter what.
So that was Energycore of Power travelling around the world and solving the problems of even less competent superhero teams. Seriously, Super Trio of Asia and Los Angeles Hero Department hadnâ€™t accomplished any major victories before our main team showed up. Be sure to join in for the three issues where they settle back to Boston to find the other alien they need to save the world, celebrate the teamâ€™s second anniversary and have the one thing everyone has been waiting for: a proper duel between Stormkiller and Chemist.
Comments from Previous Manic Expression Site
T-kun Unusual Wordsmith III: When reading the story like this, doesn’t take away from what you’re trying to tell. It was a good read. Nice work.
HedonisticActor: I guess you’re rigth, sure my execution is lacking but under all that plot hole ridden mess there are shinig spots of heavy and compelling themes. Thanks for the read.