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. In the three previous issues the titular superhero team travelled around the world teaming with other superhero teams to kick some villainous ass while their nemesis team Protectors of Humankind was tagging along in the background. They also found an extraterrestrial they need for getting Stormkillerâ€™s powers out of him without it endangering the balance of Earthâ€™s water cycle. I shake my head every time I have to write that sentence. Anyway, issues #23-25.
Originally meant to be published in July 2006 this issue opens with George W. Bush his team Worthy And Stupendous Persons interrogating a ten-year old. The mentioned child is Ann Mailton, the little sister of superhumans Hedgehogboy and Muscleboy and who was one of the last persons to talk to Jenna Bush â€“ unknown to everyone involved a member of Energycore of Power â€“ before her disappearance. Nothing bad happens and this scene is rather pointless but at least it adds menace points for one of the main antagonists.
Speaking of antagonists this issue introduces a really important one plus few old ones return after a long absence. These morally dubious persons have formed a team/political party called Psion thatâ€™s agenda is to get everyone superpowers, not just the chosen few. The inner circle consists of:
Daisy Masterson/Mutant Queen â€“ The current Governor of Massachusetts (well someone had to replace the previous governor Lucky Guy during his absence) will be a major antagonist for the next six issues and is one of the better characters (not a better written, mind you). Currently sheâ€™s the only villain who has a clear goal although sheâ€™s not yet sure about the way to achieve it and she proves to be more cunning than people usually are in this series although that doesnâ€™t require much. Her powers are based on a satirical, dystopian role playing game Paranoia where superpowers are mutations (I havenâ€™t decided which powers she would have had but most likely pyroknesis and teleportation) and like her powers even the team she founded is a secret society taken straight out of it right down to the name and core agenda. She was one of those who got her powers after the events of issue #20 when Osama â€œElectryfieldâ€ bin Laden used his EMP powers to disturb Stormkillerâ€™s energy flow that caused him to blast a new batch of red thunderbolts (another headshake).
Lena Frindt/Pistol Gal â€“ This German bodyguard doesnâ€™t really have other role than being Mutant Queenâ€™s right hand woman. Even her powers â€“ that he got by the same method as her boss â€“ are vaguely defined skillful dual wielding of two pistols.
Vladimir Lenkonevsk â€“ Last seen in issue #14 this Russian gangster and his band of multinational crooks make their reappearance as Mutant Queenâ€™s enforcers. How she contacted them and how they can work for her without anyone getting caught is anyoneâ€™s guess. He doesnâ€™t have much of a personality than being a strong willed and determined boss of the gangsters.
Igor Jetsjovsk â€“ A short Russian gangster. More about him later.
Jon Derdov â€“ A Romanian gangster who is kind of Vladimirâ€™s second-in-command but the series is rather vague about that.
Boris Boskoveski â€“ A Russian gangster whose blandness knows no limits.
Luigi Mariotti â€“ An Italian gangster who is a skirt chaser. I guess thatâ€™s something. Also his name is purely meant to be a joke.
Addition to that Psion has several politicians from both liberals and conservatives plus a youth group where Hedgehogboyâ€™s big brother John Mailton is involved with. On the grander scale that information has no relevance to the plot.
Before we continue further letâ€™s talk about an under used story element involving Mutant Queen. She discovered that trying to develop oneâ€™s powers from the preset set can cause physical changes when she tried to master polymorph (Paranoia allows two mutant powers at maximum and she tried to get a third one). She did return back to her form after imposing as someone important for some reason except for her skin so now someone who used to be Caucasian has permanently African American skin color. First of all the readers wouldnâ€™t have seen that change so instead of being an essential part of her character this skin tone switch is just a weird curiosity. Added to that while this story element has some importance â€“ Smokerâ€™s death in issue #11 and Stormkillerâ€™s down spiral to madness are implied to be direct causes of it â€“ it often isnâ€™t well integrated, for example Hedgehogboy hadnâ€™t have any negative consequences about it. Retcons â€“ they make your story even more confusing.
There are other returning characters in this issue than just Lenkonevskâ€™s gang. The first of them is Wesley Nimbelton, an African American ex-gangster who after a near death experience in issue #14 changed his ways and became a cop. Also he now has superpowers, namely causing panic to his opponents and he indeed joins in Energycore of Power during this issue thus becoming its 11th member. Also returning is our favorite jerk Chris Maple who last time was seen in issue #12 when tried to hire Vladimir Lenkonevsk to kill his then-wifeâ€™s ex Pirate. And as I mentioned in that issueâ€™s review he turns out to be a FBI-agent and itâ€™s never explained why he hasnâ€™t been jailed because of that. He also has a new girlfriend Mandy Moore (meant to be changed into Monica Mandy when I found out thereâ€™s a singer/actress named Mandy Moore) but she has no relevance to the plot so I wonâ€™t talk about her anymore.
Also before talking about the actual plot it should be mentioned that both Energycore of Power and Protectors of Humankind have gotten new headquarters. Energycore of Powerâ€™s orange apartment building that was destroyed in issue #15 has been replaced with the Stromberg family mansion at the outskirts of the city and Protectors of Humankindâ€™s abandoned power station that was destroyed in issue #16 has been replaced withâ€¦ the exactly the same place except underground whereâ€™s this huge super villain lair type laboratory funded by Liar. Okay, I know lawyers get a lot of cash but thatâ€™s ridiculous.
The main plot involves our heroes searching for Kaffre Arnoff, a Kaldrean criminal who is supposed to be hiding somewhere in Boston so they could Stormkillerâ€™s powers out safely (check the previous blog for details) with help of the Denerian energy drainer Dreg Zeffres. It has many planned events although I donâ€™t remember how they connect to each other so I just list them. At one point they confront Mutant Queen and her cohorts, I donâ€™t remember how but itâ€™s meant to lead to two things: first Pirate has private confrontation with her and they notice they agree on certain things. This is the start to a romantic relationship. I wish I was joking but hereâ€™s another plot twist that is crammed here solely because the audience couldnâ€™t expect that. And so that it would bring some inner drama in Energycore of Power later on.
Then thereâ€™s the secret identity of Kaffre Arnoff who turns out to beâ€¦ Igor Jetsjovsk. The short Russian from of Lenkonevskâ€™s gang has been an extra-terrestial this entire time and believe or not but this has been foreshadowed. Igor is just as high as an average Kaldrean male, his hair cut is designed to hide the maleâ€™s forward pointing mane (female manes point to the opposite direction) and his goatee hides the rudimentary chin horn the Kaldrean males have for some reason. Good to know I managed to make at least one twist well.
The issue ends in a cliffhanger though as Chemist contacts Stormkiller so they could have the battle to end all battles which he agrees. However Chemist has apparently realized Lucky Guy is his little brotherâ€™s voice of reason as he has asked Ripper to kidnap him which he successfully does. Meanwhile the rest of the opposing teamsâ€¦ beat the crap out of each other, I guess.
If Energycore of Power was a TV-show this issue wouldâ€™ve be the second seasonâ€™s finale (issue #11 wouldâ€™ve ended the first season). Continuing straight from the end of the previous issue Stormkiller and Chemist are ready to match in an epic fight which would have basically been an homage to the final battle from Matrix Revolutions (say what you will about the movie, I still think that fight scene was awesome and fitting conclusion to the series). Thereâ€™s not much new going on so I just tell the most game-changing events.
Ripper is keeping Lucky Guy captive in their headquarters and he is starting to doubt does Lucky Guy even have powers. Ripper is going to test his theory by shooting at Lucky Guy with Zombie Grannyâ€™s rifle he had taken from her after her death. Powers or no powers luck is still on our heroâ€™s side as he somehow manages to free from his bindings, grab the weapon and shoot Ripper to the only part of his body that he canâ€™t rip, namely the link connecting his brain halves. Thus Jack Lepuzzi, the first super villain Energycore of Power fought as a team in issue #2 and one of the founding members of Protectors of Humankind, becomes a vegetable for the rest of the series.
While Lucky Guy makes his escape Stormkiller and Chemist are matching their strengths and exchanging insults. It turns out that Chemist has figured out a way how to destroy Stromkiller without it threatening the world: when he turns into gas form Chemist removes the airâ€™s oxygen atoms around him thus making him unable to change back that could cause him to evaporate into sky and becoming part of it (â€œOf course! Donâ€™t you know anything about science?!â€). Chemist escapes and leaves Stormkiller to his doom but he should have stayed because both Dreg Zeffres and Kaffre Arnoff arrive in time, drain Stormkillerâ€™s powers and channel them to the sky. Yes, Stormkiller lost his powers and the world is no longer threatened by his death.
After this turn of events Stormkiller decides to leave Energycore of Power and leave his brother Lucky Guy in charge. From the next issue on Lucky Guy becomes not only the teamâ€™s leader but also the narrator and the main protagonist. So instead of a selfish, immature sociopath we get a boring everyman. I guess thatâ€™s a step towards right direction. Also Energycore of Power is able to make peace between Kaldreans and Denerians, Kaffre and Dreg are taken back to their own species and the aliens leave Earth. Meanwhile Protectors of Humankind is mourning their now comatose comrade.
The first issue after the seriesâ€™ protagonist switch is also celebrating Energycore of Powerâ€™s two year anniversary. And like with the first year anniversary milestone it wouldâ€™ve referenced every issue after #12 so it probably would have forced dialogue. Set two months after the previous one this issue starts with two weddings. Yeah, if you remember from the last blog Lucky Guy and Time Empress found new loved ones and decided to tie the knot after three months of dating. Time Empressâ€™ wedding with a Hollywood special effects nerd Ken Strecto is quickly brushed off but in Lucky Guyâ€™s wedding with a Hollywood actress Dory Catharine has an interesting event as his father Oliver Stromberg confronts Stormkiller and has the typical â€œdo something with your lifeâ€ speech. Lucky Guy notices that Stormkiller is oddly secretive about what heâ€™s currently doing and he hasnâ€™t seen his little brother much after the wedding.
The main plot is put on move when a heavily armed SWAT team attacks Protectors of Humankindâ€™s headquarters.HumHu The team is armed with tranquilizers, electric weapons and a special member that has high speed. All of Protectors of Humankind is captured except for Chemist and Witchâ€™s adopted daughter Sizer who managed to hide. She contacts Energycore of Power and pleads for their help. After a lot of begging Lucky Guy agrees to help the people who have tried to kill them from time to time, probably with â€œwe are better than themâ€ justification. It really doesnâ€™t make sense considering that Protectors of Humankind members have broken the law several times, about time they were arrested.
The captured super humans have been taken to a secret laboratory in some location that is never specified so the U.S. government could make human experiments on them. Their capture was indeed organized by George W. Bush who gained help fromâ€¦ dramatic pauseâ€¦ Stormkiller! You see, he didnâ€™t completely loose his powers, only those that he gained after The Stormâ€™s death which means that he gained back his ability to dodge lightning. And he helped Bush only because he wanted revenge on Chemist after loosing his duel against him. With that out of the way heâ€™s willing to move on although no one has any idea what heâ€™s supposed to do with his life. Iâ€™m saying it now; Stormkiller is one of the most loathsome characters Iâ€™ve ever created.
After a series of events Energycore of Power manages to save their rivals of course which creates some sort of uneasy peace. The bigger effect of this rescue operation is that Psion gets two new members. First thereâ€™s the President of Russia Vladimir Putin aka Cheerer who has had opinion differences with Bush for a while and now decides to switch teams. Um, shouldnâ€™t he be doing something more relevant like being a president? Any case Pirate is forced to leave Energycore of Power after Shadowmind accidently reads his mind and finds out about his blooming relationship with Mutant Queen thus loosing the trust of his fellow comrades. Also Stormkiller gets back to the team although Lucky Guy refuses to give him back his leader status. In the ending Mutant Queen reveals to her new team members that she has developed a plan to get closer to her goal and has sent Lenkonevsk and his gang to do it.
Next time we finish the year 2006 with its three last issues. Expect more changes to status quo when Mutant Queen puts her plan in motion and several people die in the process. Also Agent Smith gets loose.
Comments from Previous Manic Expression Site
BigBlackHatMan: Interesting stuff. Good work