Linkara: Hello, and welcome to Atop the Fourth Wall, where bad comics burn. It's time for us to once again to look at an issue of Jack Kirby's interpretation of the science-fiction masterpiece 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Linkara (v/o): If you haven't seen the first review, go watch it. I've got this shiny new archive page on the website and take advantage of it.
Linkara:(smiling) And then in five years, when the website gets redesigned, this episode will be horribly outdated! (beat) Why am I smiling about that?
Linkara (v/o): Whatever. Point is, these comics are weird, and they're going to keep getting weirder the further we get from the initial premise of the novel and movie.
Linkara: So let's dig into (holds up today's comic) "2001: A Space Odyssey #2" and see what Jack Kirby dreamed up for the second issue.
(AT4W title sequence plays; title card has "Blue Danube Waltz" by Johann Strauss II playing in the background. Cut to a closeup of the comic's cover)
Linkara (v/o): The cover is full and crowded, which might seem like an odd thing to say, considering the majority of it is taken up by a head. Or rather, two heads split down the middle. But then we have a caveman on the left, whose fur coverings are the same color as the mountain behind him, and on the right, a big-headed orange alien... thing. At first, I thought the alien was holding a gun, possibly as a counter to the caveman holding a stone axe, but look, that's clearly the thing's eye, so instead, it's holding up a fork in front of its face. A fork with a finger hole.
Text: Begin a new journey to the stars – and beyond!!
Linkara:(dramatically) But whatever you do, don't fly United when you make that journey.
Text: SECOND STARTLING ISSUE!
Linkara (v/o): And I can believe that this issue is startling. Just look at the reaction on the faces of the people on the cover. "Startled" is probably an understatement, given how they look.
Text: A fiery female makes the centuries' trip-- from the caves to eternity!
Linkara: She went on a trip across centuries from caves to eternity?? I hope she brought a lunch.
Linkara (v/o): We open with Vira the She-Demon! See? Right there in big letters. (reads text dramatically) "VIRA THE SHE-DEMON!"
(Cut back briefly to the cover)
Linkara (v/o): That being said, I'm wondering if Vira the She-Demon is supposed to be the green-skinned woman on the cover, though that seems peculiar if she is, considering, well, she's clearly not green.
(Cut back to the first page)
Linkara (v/o): Gray or purple, maybe, but not green. Anyway, to show off how badass she is, she's waving around a giant stick with a flaming skull at the end of it. I think this is what some assholes out there think feminists look like. Feminists – this is what we should look like! Anyway, let's get to the narration.
Narrator: ARE WE THE END OF THE LINE!? Are we the last stop in the journey of human evolution?
Linkara: Well, obviously not. Star Trek: Voyager proved that if eventually we will evolve into orange lizard things that returned to the water. (beat) That episode will never not be stupid.
Narrator:The answer could be that the voyage is far from over!! Each of us could be a stepping stone to the New Seed!!!
Linkara (v/o): That was so exciting that it required three exclamation points! I just imagined Jack Kirby furiously typing this and stop himself from covering half the page in more exclamation points.
Narrator:But, let us not leap to the future before we explore the dim past...
Linkara:(as narrator) They should really change the light bulbs.
Narrator:...for one who began her odyssey in a cave of skulls!
Linkara (v/o): And a cave of monoliths, it would seem, since there's one glowing right behind Vira. So, in the movie and novel, there is only the one Monolith in Africa. In this version of events, this is our second on Earth. And spoilers: we're gonna be seeing quite a few more before this series is over. The comics have been questioning what the Monoliths are and throwing out a few possibilities, but considering how many of these things there are, I'm gonna start assuming they're actually some kind of alien fast food chain or Starbucks. So, on the next page, Vira is blue. Perhaps she's not Vira the She-Demon, but Vira the She-Chameleon.
Narrator:Vira is a non-submissive female who is trying to survive in a primitive world swarming with males who dominate or kill!!
Linkara:(as narrator) You go, girl! (snaps fingers)
Narrator:Having wandered into a "ritual cave," reserved for the storage of enemy skulls...
Linkara: Okay, if you get enough enemy skulls that you actually need a "storage cave" for them, I think you've got enough enemy skulls.
Vira: I seek only food here!! I have not eaten for a full day!!
Linkara:(as Vira, making a jabbing motion) And that's why I'm waving this flaming skull in your faces! I'm gonna have barbecued caveman for lunch!
Linkara (v/o): The cavemen are naturally idiots, believing she has brought the dead back to life with the flaming skull. And for the record, it's not because they haven't discovered fire. If they hadn't, how the hell would they know what fire is and that the skull is flaming?
Narrator:Vira has merely used what she's found in the cave... tar, fire, a wooden shaft and a ritual skull!
Linkara: Vira was the MacGyver of prehistoric times.
Linkara (v/o): The cavemen flee, fearing the touch of the Ghost Rider effigy.
Narrator:Rudimentary religion has come to men!
Linkara:(as narrator) Rudimentary tax-exempt status would soon follow.
Narrator:The fear of the unknown is alive in their hearts! The blazing skull which moves in unison to Vira's screams shatters their sense of logic--and their nerves!!
Linkara: They clearly had spears themselves, knew about fire, and knew about skulls and screaming people... and still they thought she had brought them back to life. I don't think their sense of logic was really there to begin with.
Linkara (v/o): Figuring that the morons will come to their senses soon enough, Vira decides to head out and try to find a safe place, thinking that the other cavemen won't follow her to a nearby "fire mountain".