Birth of a Villain
Birth of a Villain is a Chaotic Add-On Cascade that appeared on rec.arts.comics.creative from March 1999 to August 2001. In the story, the Legion of Net.Heroes is threatened by the living incarnation of the Melissa computer virus.
The story began as a cascade inspired by the real-life arrival of the Melissa virus on the Internet. Though plotless (and somewhat pointless) at first, the rambling series of interconnected posts eventually acquired a structure of sorts as it continued over three years.
Writers who contributed to the cascade include (in chronological order):
- Rob Rogers
- Jessica Ihimaera-Smiler
- Dave Van Domelen
- Jamie Rosen
- Chad Imbrogno
- Tony Pi
- Ted Brock
- Amabel Holland
- Ben Rawluk
- Saxon Brenton
- Carl Burke
- Ken Schmidt
- Lalo Martins
After a great deal of initial interest – with 12 chapters posted in the cascade's first five days – Birth of a Villain flagged as its storyline became more complex, finally petering out in November 1999 with episode #25. However, in a rare act for a cascade, it was revived by Rob Rogers in March 2001, and continued to an actual ending.
Many of the story's chapters ended with Superguy-style questions ("Where did Vector disappear to? Will this series ever end?") that later authors were invited to answer.
The story began with the arrival of Vector (later Vector Prime), the personification of the Melissa computer virus (which attacked personal computers via e-mail in March 1999). A band of Legionnaires confronted her at Planet Kirby, but were roundly thrashed, only being saved by the self-sacrifice of Gorilla Grad. In the first of many splits, one group escaped while the other held off Melissa.
Gorilla Grad was captured by the Church of the Fourth Wall, but learned of the origins of Vector, the Church's plans, and the involvement of a mysterious "Acolyte". Meanwhile, another group of villains, led by the Mysterious Chairman, summoned Zombie President Taft to attack the Church.
The escaped LNHers left in search of the Lotion of Emotion, located in Alice Springs, Alt.stralia, and believed to be the one substance that can defeat Vector. However, following an attack by a giant, transforming VectorBot, half of the heroes were trapped in 1984, while the other half sought out Khe Saraq, possessor of the Potion of Commotion (needed to create the Lotion of Emotion).
Things got increasingly chaotic from there, with Gorilla Grad escaping, the attack of the Nodakommandos and Google-13, the Legion of Costumed Individuals arriving from a parallel universe, Tsar Chasm finding out that the cure for Legionnaire's Disease is Mister Paprika, Weirdness Magnet, Mister Tiddles, Green Eggs Hates Spham...
The Chinese Guy controversy
In creating the character of the Melissa virus, Rob Rogers was unaware that a character named Vector – part of the Superguy universe – already existed on rec.arts.comics.creative. Writer Dave Van Domelen poked fun at the mistake by posting a cameo in which Crazy Guy and Louie, characters from his Superguy series Crazy Guy, mistake one Vector for the other.
Not recognizing the joke, Rogers assumed that Van Domelen was including his characters in the cascade, despite a general prohibition against using Superguy characters in LNH stories and vice versa. Considerable confusion continued until writer Saxon Brenton sorted things out (with the help of the Dvandom Stranger) by "revealing" that characters Chinese Guy and Lenny the flying squirrel were alternate-universe versions of Crazy Guy and Louie who had come to participate in the fight against the Melissa virus.
- "He's a joke that Dvandom brought in and which the other Writers have picked it up and run with. *We* all know who he is, but we can't say his name until Dvandom realises the corner he's painted us into and comes out and confirms that his character is crossing over. Or says that it's someone completely different. Copyright reasons, Mum, copyright reasons!"
- —Mouse, Birth of a Villain #11.5
The controversy at the time was not about Chinese Guy's name being not great, as Saxon Brenton admitted later. Saxon has stated that in Limp-Asparagus Lad issues yet to be written following Flame Wars IV, he will receive the name of Seeker (after the Champions character build).
- Vector: The titular villain-who-was-born!
- Category:Vector: Her many duplicates and clones!
- Merissa: And her Kids' Crew!
- Time Crapper IV: Not even legacy characters are safe!
- Church of the Fourth Wall: Vector's mom and cackling parody of organized religion!
- wReamicus Maximus: Vector's dad! Also originally parodying religion but really more interesting than that!
- Mysterious Chairman: The chairman of a mysterious gathering of villains! Spooky!
- Writer's Block Beast: Holds hatred for anyone actually posting a story on rec.arts.comics.creative!
- Khe Saraq: Mysterious arms dealer and drug lord! Holds the Potion of Commotion!
- Mister Tiddles: The felonious feline behind the facade!
- The Red Squares: 1984's top villain stereotypes!
- Cabbage-Wielding Angel of Death: Not this guy again! Summoned to stop Taft!
- Easily-Discovered Man Lite: He just wanted lunch. What he gets is doom!
- Writer's Block Woman: Konzatsu Oba-san Kakumei!
- Mouse: And Mouse!
- Chinese Guy and Lenny: Crossovers gone awry!
- Invisible-Intangible-Inaudible Lass: The mysterious mistress shrouded in shadows! Can she stop this menace? Can she affect this storyline in any way!?
- Narcoleptic Lad: Oh, come on, really?
- Gorilla Grad: The Simian Super-Secondary Student!
- Twaeila Brock: A future girl from another newsgroup!
- Coward Lad: Pretty much what it says on the label!
- Lad and Authorial: Anything-You-Can-Do-I-Can-Do-Better Lad's cousins, who hit on anything that moves! Spectacular!
- DeadHeadMan: The Ghostly Guardian of Garcia!
- Tsar Chasm: He goes in the Heroes section now!
- Insomnia Lad: His unstinting, unsleeping nature provides the perfect counter to Vector's powers!
- Fourth Wall Lass: Able to knit together a confusing storyline in a single bound!
- Legion of Costumed Individuals: Heroes of the Low Budget Productions universe!
- Fourth Wall Demolisher Lad: Smashes, bashes, crashes to pieces!
- Expendable Man: He's expendable, I guess!
- Pedestrian Girl: Here she comes, walkin' down the street!
- Weirdness Magnet: Highly-collectible first appearance!
- Potion of Commotion: This stuff!
- Lotion of Emotion: Counteracts the Potion of Commotion! Likes to derail the plot!
- Zombie President Taft: Self-explanatory!
- Nodakommandos: North Dakotan Commandos!
- Green Eggs Hates Spham: His object sublime, he achieves in time – to let the punishment fit the crime!
- Google-13: A hard-core anti-hero who shoots things – with bullets!
Where to Read
Birth of a Villain can be read in its entirety on the Eyrie Archive here.
It was also reposted as part of Arthur Spitzer's "Classic LNH Adventures":
- Part One (TEB Introduction, issues #1-3)
- Part Two (Issues #5-7)
- Part Three (Issues #8-9)
- Part Four (Issues #10-11.5)
- Part Five (Issues #12, 12.25, 12.5, and 13)
- (Issues #14 and 15 were skipped)
- Part Six (Issues #16-17)
- (Issues #18-20 were skipped)
- Part Seven (Issues #21-22)
- Part Eight (Issues #23-24)
- Part Nine (Issues #25, and then, two years later, #26)
- Part Ten (Issues #27-28)
- Part Eleven (Issues #29-30)
- Part Twelve (Issues #31-32)
- Part Thirteen (Issues #33-34)
- Part Fourteen (Issues #35-36)
- Part Fifteen (Issues #37-38)
- Final Part (Post-Partum, Weird Comics #1)
Issues #26-39 won RACCies:Favorite Arc and Accies:Favorite Arc after the cascade completed.
The country of Alt.stralia voted to become a republic in Birth of a Villain #25 – the opposite result of the real-life Australian vote of November 1999.
Vector Prime was probably the biggest character/concept to come out of this storyline, with Vectors still playing a major role in LNH stories over 20 years on . Vector variants went on to feature in stories like Infinite Leadership Crisis and 58.5, and many have become primary protagonists and antagonists in their own right, such as Merissa, the Crime Empress, and Time Crapper IV.
Ultimate Mercenary #7 retroactively crossed over with Birth of a Villain, revealing the origin of the fourth Time Crapper.
The Invisible-Intangible-Inaudible Lass story in RACC Presents Volume 2 #1 is a kind of epilogue to this story as well.
- ↑ Oh no.