Action Comics #593
August 30, 2010
Anyone who says "bow-chicka-wow-wow" to what's happening in this garbage will be punched in the face.
(Open on a black screen)
Linkara (v/o): Previously on Atop the Fourth Wall...
(Fade in to reveal Linkara's past review)
Linkara: So let's dig into (holds up...) "Action Comics #592".
(Cut to Sad Panda holding a knife)
Sad Panda: And then, after I've killed Benzaie, I will be the only Frenchman on this site! (laughs evilly)
(Cut to The Cinema Snob)
CS: Previously on Manimal, the day was saved when Dr. Jonathan Chase turned himself into a bull to fight off the dastardly karate experts in the china shop.
(Cut to JewWario)
JewWario: Yanki J, you're in my mind!
Yanki J: I ain't in your mind. I'm your brother!
(JewWario looks surprised; cut back to the Snob)
CS: But somewhere in the transformation, a rope was tied around Manimal's junk! And on this episode, Manimal returns to the scene of the crime to find out just who tied that rope around Manimal's parts. Mostly, though, he just turns into a shark and chases down Dennis Quaid.
(Cut to Linkara, who is clutching at his forehead in frustration)
Linkara: For the last time, Cinema Snob, it's Animal Man, not Manimal!
(Cut to JewWario and Yanki J again)
JewWario: But wait! If you're really me, then that means that the sword's not really in your hand. It's... in mine... (looks at his hands, which are empty)
Yanki J: What, are you trying to do a Fight Club on me or something? (holds up a sword) I still got the sword, now shut up!
JewWario: (subdued) Yes, sir.
(Cut to Bennett The Sage holding a knife)
Bennett: (laughs evilly; French accent) With Benzaie and Sad Panda out of the picture, I will be the only Frenchman on this site! (laughs evilly as he runs the blade across his tongue) Oh, oui, Monsieur Coquette! Bonjour!
Obscurus Lupa: You better watch out, Linkara, because I'm coming for you next.
Linkara: (pulling a taser of his own on her) Don't mess with me, sweetheart.
(Cut to Linkara Prime sitting on the futon)
Linkara Prime: Huh, I wonder if I should have warned my former self about the gun? (shrugs) Ah, it's only my sanity.
(Cut to Pollo and Tom Servo on the futon)
Pollo: (to Servo) Do you ever feel, you know, not fresh?
(Shocked by the remark, Servo runs off; cut to Servo with Linkara on the futon)
Linkara: Dammit, Tom Servo! If I've explained this once, I've explained it a thousand times: we only do "previously on..." segments on two-parters! (Servo shakes his head)
(Cut to ToddInTheShadows)
Todd: I can't let you live, Linkara. You've seen what I look like! No one can know that all this time I've secretly been...
(Todd removes his hood, then cut quickly back to That Jewish Guy, still eating his sandwich, which is revealed as nothing but two pieces of bread, which he continues to eat anyway; cut back to Linkara again)
Linkara: Pollo, dispatch a subspace message to Admiral Ensign. We have engaged... the Borg.
(Cut back to That Jewish Guy once again, who now eats a peppermint – including the wrapping; cut to black)
Linkara (v/o): And now, the conclusion.
(AT4W title sequence plays; title card has the theme from Masterpiece Theater playing)
Linkara: Hello, and welcome to Atop the Fourth Wall, where bad comics burn. So, let's catch up on last week, shall we?
(A recap of last week's comic review is shown)
Linkara (v/o): Big Barda, all-around ass-kicker from Apokolips was mind-controlled by the waste of fat called Sleez to dance for a while. Superman, meanwhile, learned of a bunch of old people that were really old and decided to investigate. He proceeded to insult Big Barda before they fell into a conveniently-placed trapdoor.
Linkara: So let's dig into (holds up today's comic) "Action Comics #593" and try to figure out how this story got past the editors.
(Cut to a closeup of the cover)
Linkara (v/o): The cover is okay. We once again have that classic "what the hell is going on" thing that entices readers to buy, but the problem with this one is that while the conflict from the last cover could conceivably work, with this one, you know they're going to truly break up Big Barda and Mr. Miracle... who is strangely being carried off by bums. Maybe they think he's food.
(The comic opens to the first page)
Linkara (v/o): And, oh, yes, I should probably get into some backstory. You'll recall that the New Gods come from two planets: New Genesis and Apokolips. To keep the two worlds from engaging in all-out war, they agreed to exchange their sons with one another as a peace agreement.
(Cut to a clip of the Justice League series)
Batman: (to Wonder Woman) Sounds wacky to me, too.
(Back to the comic)
Linkara (v/o): Darkseid put the child he received into the care of Granny Goodness. The child, named Scott Free, learned to become the greatest escape artist of the universe so he could flee Apokolips and eventually came to Earth, adopting the moniker of Mr. Miracle, from a circus performer who mentored him. Big Barda also grew up on Apokolips and was taken to become one of Granny Goodness' Female Furies, but eventually rebelled and came to Earth, marrying Mr. Miracle. They lived happily ever after, until DC decided that interesting and good stories were for dorks, and maiming and killing all the creations of Jack Kirby (getting angry) in friggin' "Countdown" and recreating them without the magic and wonder of the New Gods was a far more interesting usage of the characters than, you know, not sucking on toast!
Linkara: What's sad is that "Countdown"'s little tie-in garbage wasn't even the worst thing that could have happened to Big Barda. No, that would be today's subject!
Linkara (v/o): We open to Mr. Miracle entering his home with one of the coolest and yet completely impractical security systems ever. He has to get past small laser tripwires using a bunch of tiny mirrors, input a password, pull out one of those pneumatic tube cylinders that you find in a bank, take the top of that, and then insert the key into the lock to become the doorknob. And all of that has to be done in nine seconds or something detonates. I'm just saying that it seems like there's a lot of room to screw that up and have your house blow up by accident.
Linkara: (as Mr. Miracle, calling out offscreen) Honey, I left the tiny mirrors inside the house! We're gonna have to sleep on the lawn again!
Linkara (v/o): Mr. Miracle walks into his home, and who should be waiting for him but our old pal, Darkseid, and his favorite place to be when entering someone else's house: the couch. Okay, it's a comfy chair, not a couch, but still, it's Darkseid in a big, pink, comfy chair! I love how he's even holding a brandy glass and crossing his legs, like he's a guest host on Masterpiece Theater.
Linkara: (as Darkseid, as Masterpiece Theater theme plays) Today on Masterpiece Theater, Darkseid brings you Laurence Olivier in Richard III.
Linkara (v/o): Oh, and I should also mention that Mr. Miracle's height-challenged pal Oberon is also with them. I can't really remember what he actually does for him. I don't know, his manager? Whatever. Point is, he's there, too. Mr. Miracle demands to know what Darkseid has done with his wife, but Darkseid says he's done nothing directly. Darkseid says that he has something that will explain some of it...
Mr. Miracle: ...A...videotape...??
Linkara: (as Darkseid) It's a personals ad. Being the ruler of Apokolips is really getting lonely.
Linkara (v/o): Oberon tells Mr. Miracle to play the tape.
(The opening to The Ring is shown)
Linkara: (waving dismissively) Nah, of course not. Let's face it, if Big Barda ever watched the Ring tape, any future copies of it would just feature the Ring girl (makes a punching motion) getting her face smashed against the well by Barda over and over.
Linkara (v/o): Though, not certainly in this story. We get to see Oberon and Mr. Miracle's reactions to the tape.
Oberon: Hmph! What is this tape? Can't say much for the production values!
Linkara: (as Oberon) Is that a cardboard MRI machine?
Oberon: Looks like it was shot in a sewer... Scott! Is that Barda?? It is!! I hardly recognized her under that awful make-up. What's she... Scott...!!
Linkara: (as Oberon) Geez, look at her! She's dancing like a maniac! A maniac! But she's never danced before!
Darkseid: My agents acquired this televisual feast from a small shop in Metropolis. A shop which specializes in such fare.
Linkara: So Darkseid routinely has his agents scouring Earth porno shops for videotapes?
Linkara (v/o): And joking aside, yeah, I'm serious. That's what the tape is: it's a friggin' porno tape! Now, of course, they never actually show the contents of the tape itself, so we can't know for certain what actually happens on it, but even then, this is what Barda was talking about when she said she suffered two days of indignities! She was either raped while under Sleez's mind control or was some sort of "solo act", which is still a sexual assault in its own way.
Linkara: And for the record, Jack Kirby, the guy who created not only the New Gods, but also helped create Captain America and the Fantastic Four? He supposedly based Big Barda's character on his own wife! (smiles smugly, beat) I'll let that thought sit with you for a while.
Linkara (v/o): Mr. Miracle demands to know what Darkseid's role in all of this is, but Darkseid just tells him to calm down and that his rampant emotions won't help his wife. We suddenly cut to Grossman Pictures – subtle – where Sleez comes in. And yes, this is the porno studio where Big Barda apparently made her film debut.
Grossman: I've never hadda produce so many copies so fast, but it was worth it! Word of mouth is bringin' in orders in th' thousands!
Linkara: IT'S BEEN TWO DAYS! I know porno movies have high turnover, but mass distribution and word of mouth spreading before the Internet in just two days??
Linkara (v/o): Come to think of it, how the hell did Mr. Miracle not notice that he hasn't seen his wife in two days? Was Darkseid sitting there the whole time, and Mr. Miracle just came home too tired and kept accidentally thinking Darkseid was Barda, and never looking at him when he went to bed? Anyway, Sleez has found a way to make the porno movies even more lucrative. He's brought in Superman! At first, the poor producer doesn't really believe it's him, but as a demonstration, Sleez has Supes destroy the man's desk.
Linkara: Yeah, that's a good way to continue conducting business: break your business partner's stuff!
Sleez: I take it you are convinced? You can imagine, then, the profits to be made out of the proper exploitation?
Linkara: (rolls eyes) Oh, goody, an exploitation Superman porno movie! This is like something the Cinema Snob should be reviewing!
(Cut to the Cinema Snob, who suddenly clutches his head in head in pain)
CS: My Snob sense is tingling!
Linkara (v/o): Sleez also mentions that the money made from these porno movies will be used to create an army, no doubt to get his revenge on Darkseid. The good Mr. Grossman doesn't really give a crap.
Grossman: I don't know what your game is*, but I think maybe you're overlookin' somethin': there ain't much market f'r solo acts...
- NOTE: Grossman also adds "Smith" here, but Linkara doesn't say that.
Linkara: Ah, the days before Internet porn, when we learned that every conceivable fetish – namely, everything – had a viable market for it.
Grossman: Any co-star's gonna wind up looking like my desk!
Sleez: You forget, Grossman. I have already acquired the perfect co-star for the Man of Steel. The one and only BIG BARDA!!
Linkara: Aaaaand it's right here where I can't ignore this point any longer: this is rape, plain and simple. For both of them!
Linkara (v/o): I do not have the time – and neither do you, audience – for me to get a lengthy diatribe on why using rape or any other kind of a sexual assault in a fictional story can be a really, REALLY bad idea. However, I will link to someone smarter than me on the subject and read an insightful little bit.
(Cut to a shot of the website from the (now-defunct) website, http://www.girl-wonder.org/insideout, which has a guide on how to – and how not to – write about sexual assault in comics)
Linkara: (reading) "Take a good look at your story. Why do you think rape is what you need for it to progress? Is there something else that could fill the same function? Unless you have a damn good reason to include rape in a story, you probably shouldn't. Using sexual assault as a motivation-in-a-box or an equivalent trope will do nothing but steal credibility and respect from a really serious, really important subject. Plus, you'll look like a twit."
Linkara: (holding up index finger) And that is what is happening here! What possible reason is there for this story to exist? Why did John Byrne think this was a good idea?! Furthermore, what possible reason is there for Sleez to be doing this?!
Linkara (v/o): He says he wants an army, but he's got friggin' SUPERMAN under his control! Superman's beat up Darkseid so many times his fist imprint is embedded in his skin! Why didn't you just take him to Apokolips and have him deal with it? For that matter, if you have mind control this whole time, why haven't you raised an army sooner? Or stolen money from people? Why is amateur porn your only solution to this problem?!?
(Cut to a clip of Batman Forever)
Bruce Wayne (Val Kilmer): It just raises too many questions.
(Back to the comic again)
Linkara (v/o): We cut to Mr. Miracle flying over Suicide Slum, confused about why Darkseid is helping him. We then get a three-page history lesson that I already provided at the beginning of the video, so we can just skip it and go back to him being confused about Darkseid's assistance.
Mr. Miracle: (thinking) Now, out of the "goodness of his heart," he comes to tell me Barda is in this awful trouble. Is it any wonder I smell this very large rat?
(Cut to a clip of The Princess Bride)
Westley (Cary Elwes): (to Princess Buttercup) Rodents of unusual size? I don't think they exist.
(Back to the comic)
Linkara: He checks his sentient computer, the Mother Box.
Mr. Miracle: (thinking) Hm... Mother Box senses no immediate danger.
Linkara (v/o): And IMMEDIATELY afterwards, a bum jumps on him! Then another four homeless people decide to just attack him, whack him on the head, chain him up, and toss him in a dumpster!
Bum: Garbage!! More garbage!!
Linkara (v/o): In true mob mentality fashion, they're all repeating each other. They then proceed to weld up the dumpster and toss him in the water. Well, that was... random. And once again, we immediately cut to him suddenly running on a rooftop! Look, I know Mr. Miracle is supposed to be the ultimate escape artist, but for crying out loud, it would have been nice to see the miraculous escape, especially since it would have been better than what we're about to get!
Mr. Miracle: (thinking) Mother Box was right... There was no immediate danger.
Linkara: You know, the hobos could have knocked you unconscious. That's still immediate danger!
Linkara (v/o): And now we cut to Superman and Barda on what is probably the tiniest porno set in existence. Look at that! It must be five feet long on either side! It also seems that Mr. Grossman and his porn productions are a one-man operation, since he's the only one on the set with them and Sleez.
Grossman: You call that acting?!? I want passion here! I want raw, seething emotion!!
Linkara: Then maybe you shouldn't have gone into porn.
Grossman: Superman's got all the sex appeal of a side of beef!!
Linkara: That's not what slash-ficcers seem to think.
Linkara (v/o): Sleez says that Superman is somehow resisting him.
Sleez: (thinking) I had not anticipated this. Just as a person under hypnosis cannot be compelled to do anything they would not normally do... Superman's strong moral fibre [sic] is making him resistant to my power!
Linkara: (smiling) Thanks for implying that Big Barda doesn't have a strong moral fiber, you prick.
Linkara (v/o): Fortunately, Sleez has brought his monologuing down to thought balloons.
Sleez: (thinking) But that makes my conquest of him only more desirable! I must break his will! I shall break his will! I feed on the emotions of others. The base emotions. The dark, hidden depravity buried deep in the core of every human soul.
Linkara: (as Sleez) You will eat the Häagen-Dazs, Superman! There is no resisting it!
Linkara (v/o): Fortunately, Mr. Miracle is overhead, watching from a convenient skylight. Wait, Sleez suddenly backs up, even though, a minute ago, he was in the shot with the two. Can Sleez teleport? While Mr. Miracle doesn't know what's going on, he's smart enough to realize that it's time to stop the two from making out and crashes through the skylight.
Mr. Miracle: (thinking) And there's no longer a point in being subtle!
Linkara: That hasn't seemed to stop the comic so far.
Linkara (v/o): He then explains how he was able to escape from Sleez's army of bums.
Mr. Miracle: It was easy to roll with your goons' attack. I was still conscious when they tossed me in that dumpster. So all I needed was the cutting laser of my Mutli-Cube... and the light of the welding torch hid the signs of my cutting out of your third-rate trap!
Linkara: That would've been nice to see. Or, if they wanted to build suspense, maybe they shouldn't have shown us that he was already out of the dang trap and just had him heroically jumping through the skylight! Sleez tries to use mind control on him.
Mr. Miracle: Wrong again! Granny trained all us cadets to resist any mind control less powerful than Darkseid's own!!
Linkara: (deadpan) Great, once again, Big Barda gets the shaft. She must have been sick the day they taught that.
Linkara (v/o): Sleez makes a run for it and sics his pink octopus on him. However, with him running away, Barda is free and promptly punches the thing right into its flesh and smashes its brain. Took us that frickin' long to finally see Barda kicking ass, and it's not even against the guy WHO FORCED HER TO DO PORN!! Superman, in the meanwhile, flies after Sleez in the sewers. However, since the pipelines are old and made of lead, he can't scan through them with his X-ray vision.
Superman: My other Super-Senses are still functional. I can track Sleez by smell if I have to.
Linkara: (as Superman, recoiling in disgust) OH, GEEZ! Aw, aw, man, that was a mistake! Oh, why I do that in a sewer?! Ugh!
Linkara (v/o): Superman manages to corner Sleez, but he decides to strike a match and... Well, with the methane in the sewer... Yeah. Anyway, the group compares notes, explaining about how Darkseid basically got them to do his dirty work. Barda then asks Supes why he stopped her from killing Sleez.
Superman: I'm afraid I can't really give you an answer on that one.
Linkara (v/o): Wow, Supes, you're a big help.
Superman: But... Barda... my memory of what happened while we were under Sleez's control is foggy... But it seems we... I mean, you and I...
Linkara: (as Superman, clutching at his head) I recall a goat, salad dressing, and a traffic cone. After that, it just starts getting weird...
Barda: Say no more, Superman. My recollection is as clouded as your own. I think it for the best we leave it that way.
Linkara: No kidding. I wish my memory was as foggy about this thing.
Linkara (v/o): Also, her memory seemed perfectly fine last issue. They depart, and Supes returns to the clinic, expecting the patients to be dead. He deduces that the radiation keeping them alive was coming from Sleez – not that he tells Barda and Scott that for some reason. But when he arrives, he finds them still in good shape, implying that Sleez survived as well. And so, our comic ends with this tagline...
Text: NEXT: BOOSTER GOLD. No kidding.
Linkara: (narrator voice) Next: the Booster Gold porno. (closes comic and holds it up) This comic sucks! It's an icky little thing! I can't possibly conceive what editor thought that implied rape for Barda or the idea of Superman into a potential situation involving friggin' porn ever made it out of the idea phase! (throws down comic, gets up and leaves)
(End credits roll)
No, I'm not saying Seven Soldiers of Victory was bad. Turning the New Gods into human "urban" equivalents, however, remains an incredibly idiotic idea.
I've had three houses explode already because of Mr. Miracle's new brand of home security products.
Coming Soong [sic] – "The Ring 3: Big Barda's Revenge."
Also: the Tom Servo was a birthday present from my brother.
(Stinger: The Cinema Snob is seen again)
CS: Just in case you're curious... (picks up some bootleg DVDs and shows them to the camera) Turkish Star Trek, Turkish Exorcist, Violent Shit II, and Hack-O-Lantern. (drops DVDs) Shit! (bends down to pick them up again)
(Cut to That Jewish Guy again, as he looks at the wrapper for the peppermint he was eating earlier; he shrugs, then starts eating the wrapper, but then he spits it out, looking disgusted)
That Jewish Guy: Disgusting! (coughs)