April 21, 2014
Place your bets! Which will there be more of: Athena’s ass or her talking?
Linkara: Hello, and welcome to Atop the Fourth Wall, where bad comics burn. So, in 2010, I reviewed the first issue of a comic called "Athena". (strokes chin in thought) Hmm, I wonder what other critics thought of that book?
(A montage of reviews of the first issue of "Athena" is shown, with Linkara reading them, set to "Pizzicato Playtime")
Linkara (v/o): "Athena is able to offer readers a different take on a female warrior with a title that not only develops the character for the future, but also celebrates her past." "With fantastic artwork and a respectable hero, Athena's debut is a success." "It nonetheless looks like it might be a fun and relatively intelligent read, with the potential for some good stories as well as some super powered [sic] heroics."
Linkara: (upset) This is why we can't have nice things. "Athena #1" was horrible!
(A montage of shots of the first comic is shown as Linkara gives a recap)
Linkara (v/o): The book was more concerned with showing the title character, naming her Athena Olympios – real subtle, guys – in skimpy clothing and showing off her ass than actually displaying characterization. We are told things about Athena, how she's a great cop and is never wrong – and that's pretty much it! We know nothing else about her! Instead, the perspective of the book is from Zeus and a owl, who have to continually rescue her constantly-shown-off ass from danger. There's a really lame recreation of the Golden Apple story from Greek mythology in the form of an American Idol contest, which basically consisted of gyrating on stage and having no cameras and so not like American Idol, despite their protestations that it is, and then Athena gets put in the hospital again, and she's transformed into her horrible costume here. And upon fresher examination, her breastplate is held on with a few strips of gauze. Looking back on the comments from the first episode, there was stuff that even I missed, assuming that they're correct; I have to take their word for it. Stuff like the Parthenon ruins being in the wrong place, and the fact that they were unguarded in the comic when the real-life ones have soldiers with assault rifles stationed there to protect them, or the Olympios surname not making sense, because in Greece, the "-O-S" is for male surnames, so more likely, her last name should be "Olympio".
Linkara: But that would be a bit too subtle for this comic, which assumes the readers are drooling morons who only want to see sexy women in their comic books, despite being printed in an age when anyone can get free pornography with a Google search.
Linkara (v/o): Although, two commenters did say Greek hospitals really are as bad as depicted in the book, so points there, I guess. Oh, and another point where I screwed up: her getting shot in the arm is still just as serious as if she had been shot anywhere else. My mistake. But I maintain that the thing just grazed her, so she doesn't need to be bedridden for days. But then again, spending more time trying to be accurate would be too much trouble when we need to shove in a backup story featuring President Obama, because that was what you did in 2009.
Linkara: So let's dig into (holds up today's comic) "Athena #2" and see if maybe they actually try to put in less butts.
(AT4W title sequence plays, and the title card has "Polkas On 45" by Weird Al Yankovic playing in the background. Cut to a closeup of the comic's cover)
Linkara (v/o): And like the first issue, Dynamite saw fit to print a crap-ton of variant covers for this book. My copy features this cover, which would be a really cool-looking one, with a low-angle shot displaying Athena, powerful and towering over everyone, except for the fact that her outfit is still horrible, the thong proudly displayed at the forefront, especially in the low-angle shot, just to really highlight how out of place it looks next to the rest of the armor. And taking a closer look, I see that her breastplate features boob socks with extrusions for her nipples. For the record, armor that is specifically molded to have breast shapes in it like that is terrible and in fact is less protective than normal breast plates would be. Now, some might say, "Well, Athena's a goddess and doesn't need the protection of actual armor." I say Athena is the goddess of wisdom, just warfare and strategy, and is not a moron. Also, that thigh armor she has? That wasn't part of the ensemble she wore at the end of the last issue.
(A shot of Athena's ensemble from the first issue is shown)
Linkara (v/o): Then again, that outfit had no thigh protection, so why am I complaining about an improvement?
(Cut to an alternate cover of the second issue)
Linkara (v/o): Speaking of improvements, one of the alternate covers depicts far better-looking armor and protection for the entire body. Mind you, it's still seems to have a thong, but it's an armored thong, so take your victories where you can get them, I say. You know, a recent address by the publisher of Image Comics talked about variant covers and how the reason so many of the dumb things are made is because the people are buying them. But then I looked at the sales figures for this book, and I have to wonder, is that true? Are people really ordering these? Because "Athena #1" had about 8,000 sales. And #2's numbers dropped in half. And yeah, Dynamite isn't one of the Big Two, but really? Four covers for this series? Are people really buying this many variants in this day and age?
Linkara: Then again, I think comics should be like those soda machines, which have, like, every flavor imaginable from a company and you just pick whichever cover you want from them. Hell, let's pick the interiors that way. Let's make comics into choose-your-own-adventure books.
Linkara (v/o): The other covers? Dude gets a spear through his head, still armored thong, aaand a closeup of Athena, but with golden eyes; neat but pointless.
(The comic proper begins)
Linkara (v/o): We open where we left off last time: the newly transformed staring down a would-be assassin.
'Assassin: How the hell...?!
Linkara: (as assassin, holding gun) How the hell did you get your hair that perfect?!
Zeus' owl: (narrating) Father Zeus did not anticipate this! I hope he can reverse it – or his plan will be for naught!
Linkara: (as owl) I mean, she's got to have a better outfit than this, right? Right?!
Linkara (v/o): Oh, and check it out: it's covered up, but another ass shot. It's Vicki Vale talking out of her ass all over again.
Athena: What do you want here? What is that strange thing you hold in your hand?
(Cut to a clip of Short Circuit)
Johnny 5: (crushing gun) Colt .45 semi-automatic... Play-Doh.
(Cut back to the comic)
Assassin: The sisters told there ain't but one God... and you sure ain't Him!
Linkara (v/o): Oh, so many questions, so little time. First of all, "the sisters"? What? Were you raised in a nunnery or something? Secondly, nothing about what she said suggested she was implying she was a god. The only reason for that dialogue is for us, the audience, because Athena is a goddess. Why did you say that? Oh, and he opens fire. He didn't even ask any questions about what the hell just happened; it's just "I am a good Christian boy! Eat lead!" Our owl has more narration for us.
Owl: (narrating) At least the armor keeps her safe.
Linkara (v/o): And the next panel shows the bullet stopping midair right in front of her. So, what, the breast plate... Actually, you know what? Not gonna call it that. The boob plate creates a force field around her? Why the hell is it armor then? I mean, I get it's magical, but that's your excuse for why it doesn't cover all of her? That it can pull a Matrix and just have the bullet stop?!
Linkara: I mean, if you're gonna go stupid, go all out! Have it just be like Starfire from last week and only cover her shoulders!
Athena: I've dealt with balls of lead like this before... Slingers used them to attack their foes from long distances...
Linkara: (as Athena) I used to eat them like Cocoa Puffs!
Linkara (v/o): Naturally, the assassin is rather perplexed by this and just stands there while Athena walks up to him and says he's gonna tell her everything he knows. And since we already established in the first issue that she can compel people to tell the truth, people speculated last time time it was because she was also a goddess of justice, and we get to see a condensed version of this guy's life story. It pretty much involves him being a douchebag and killing lots of people. And... he starts crying. What, did we suddenly have a "Christmas Carol" thing, where the dude got to see his lost childhood innocence or something? Is Athena's butt the Ghost of Christmas Past?
Athena: So. A killer of innocents. Who sent you here?
Linkara (v/o): Aaaand just more tears.
Athena: Who sent you to kill me?!?
Linkara: (as assassin, holding gun, about to cry) L-Look, lady, just give me a second here. That little mental thing you did made me crap my pants, and it's very embarrassing!
Linkara (v/o): I mean, if she made him see the error of his ways or something, fine, but we don't get anything out of this guy. And even she seems perplexed by his silence. I would think she knows her own abilities and this wasn't some special case.
Athena: I will send you to my uncle. Hades. Tartarus is the proper place for one such as you!
Linkara: (as Athena) The rent is ludicrously expensive and you get no amenities! You don't even get renter's credit towards your taxes!
Linkara (v/o): Aaand she stabs down and all that remains is a swirling green mist. Huh. Well, at least the room now has a minty freshness.
Athena: So be it.
Linkara (v/o): So be it what? I don't think he can hear you anymore. With that out of the way, she wonders where she is and considers leaving, but the owl starts talking to her.
Owl: (speaking in Zeus' voice) Hold, daughter.
Linkara: (confused) Wait, the owl is also Athena's parent? (shakes head) Geez, Zeus! Were you really that desperate that the owl looked good?!
Linkara (v/o): Actually, it's apparently Zeus speaking, which is confusing because all this time, it seems like Zeus and the owl were two completely different characters. Or is he speaking through the owl? But why would he need to do that when the owl could speak on its own? Oh, whatever. She asks what's up, but his only response is...
Owl: (in Zeus' voice) Later, daughter. Much later.
Linkara: (as Zeus) We need to pad out the comic some more; make sure everyone's good and bored.
(Cut to Linkara wearing a Starfleet uniform and a soldier helmet on his head while holding a cigar)
Linkara: (in a voice like Gen. Patton) All right, everybody, it's time to discuss our battle plan: (AT4W logo appears in the corner) namely, that we'll be right back after these commercials!
(He puts up the cigar to his mouth to smoke it, and we go to a commercial break. Upon return, we see Linkara again in his uniform, still holding the cigar)
Linkara: Audience, (points to camera) you magnificent bastards, we're back from the COMMERCIAL!
(The AT4W logo appears in the corner as he puts his cigar to his mouth to smoke it. Cut back to the comic again as the review resumes)
Linkara (v/o): We cut to the next day where Athena is back in her civilian form. The doctors are amazed by the fact that she's healed up so quickly, and she's released to get back to work. She's met by her partner, Pretty Boy McMullet or whatever the hell his name is*, who explains that the gunman had already slipped away by the time they sorted out everything. Aaand apparently, the first thing Athena decided to put on after she got out of the hospital was the red sleeveless party dress she was wearing for the undercover operation, along with thigh-high boots. Did no one think to get her a change of clothes or at least a jacket? She looks like a Jessica Rabbit cosplayer walking into the grayest neighborhood in the city. She stands out, is what I'm saying. Anyway, she thinks she can identify the shooters, so they split up so she can change and he can start pulling mugshots and we can cut to another bronze-tinted flashback of Greek mythology: in this case, a retelling of the "Apple of Discord" story... that was being recreated in the previous issue, so why the hell are they giving us this now?
- NOTE: A coworker in the comic calls him "Ully".
Narrator: It all started with Father Zeus' celebration of the marriage of Peleus and Thetis. Eris, Goddess of Discord, was uninvited.
Linkara: Well, maybe if she got herself a job and paid off her tab...
Narrator: Eris threw a golden apple into the room, upon which was the inscription "For the Fairest One."
Linkara: Unfortunately for the fairest, they didn't remain that way for long due to the gold paint used to make the apple gold.
Narrator: Three goddesses claimed the apple: Hera, Athena and Aphrodite.
Linkara: (as narrator) And all three quickly realized that the apple didn't go with their outfits.
Linkara (v/o): But yeah, it goes on to say that Zeus didn't want to piss off any of these three by picking one, so he chose Paris, the Prince of Troy, to choose between them. You know, in some retellings of the myth, particularly in artwork, the three goddesses appear nude before him. I'm actually kind of surprised they didn't go that route with the comic. But yeah, Aphrodite bribes him with the love of Helen, wife of King Menelaus of Sparta, who went to war with Troy with his 300 Spartans after kicking a dude into a well and creating a meme, and then Frank Miller made a stupid comic about it, and that's why Batman doesn't use guns.
Linkara: Or something like that, I don't know, I just got all that off of Tumblr, so I'm pretty sure it's accurate.
Linkara (v/o): Back to Athena and her oddly pale green-tinted police station, she's looking over the mugshots and is particularly drawn to one burly guy in sunglasses, pointing out that he seems familiar to her.
Ully: He's new to the system. This shot came from the club's surveillance system.
Linkara: The surveillance system was apparently at chest level and liked to zoom in on people's faces like a headshot.
Linkara (v/o): Athena digs through the photographs and finds the guy who was judging the contest, asking if anyone knows what happened to him since he was the one they were trying to kill. McMullet seems shocked by this. Or upset. Or angry. Or he needs to pee, I can't really tell, mostly because his expression is, of course...
(Cut to a clip of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 gang)
Crow and Servo: (in unison) Dull surprise! (both pretend to cheer)
(Back to the comic again)
Linkara (v/o): We then cut over to the dude, whose face looks... odd. I can't pin down what it is. I think that it's trying to be photorealistic, but the end result makes his face look kind of like melted butter. Anyway, he's meeting that one girl from the club last time, the one with the overly possessive boyfriend. And in the bushes, some dude in sunglasses reports to "Manny" that indeed, she's meeting with him.
Linkara: (as this man in sunglasses) Man, I've been waiting in these bushes for, like, three days. Glad they finally showed up.
Linkara (v/o): Manny is apparently some kind of crime boss or something. Oh, yeah, and the guy who's supposed to be Paris in the modern version of the myth? He actually is named Paris. I think that was brought up in the last issue, but it's still stupid here. Seriously, nobody noticed the connections, especially when one of them was actually named Athena?! Anyway, he says he wants the woman back. I guess he's supposed to be Menelaus. Get it? Manny? (fake laughs, then stops) Wait, wait, the woman was actually on stage with them. She wasn't Helen, she was representing one of the goddesses. How do you screw up your own stupid mythology and metaphor?! Anyway, he says to kill Paris, too.
Manny: You're supposed to be my expert on this sort of thing– do you have a plan?
Henchman: I always have a plan...
Linkara: (as this henchman) We wait until he's sleeping (reaches hand out, fingers down) and then dip his hand in warm water! (clenches fist) He'll be so embarrassed that he'll leave and never come back!
Linkara (v/o): And just to follow up on the Trojan War stuff, Mene-Manny-aus sends out pretty much the entirety of his crew. Like, a dozen cars' worth. Subsequently, they all have the same car. I guess they're cheaper to buy in bulk. Anyway, Manny-Mene is a little reluctant to proceed with this plan.
Manny: You're sure this will work? I want the girl back–I don't want a war!
Henchman: We'll overwhelm Paris with our numbers...
Linkara: (as this henchman) He will be mesmerized by my mathematics skills.
Linkara (v/o): The cops quickly learn of Manny's men are on the move – I love alliteration – and Athena, looking through files, sees that Paris has a brother with a mansion on Staten Island, meaning it's likely that's where they're headed.
Ully: You'd think he'd be stupid enough to take her there?
Athena: Only one way to find out...
Linkara: (as Athena) We wait here patiently, and if he's dead tomorrow, we'll know he was stupid enough to take her there! (as Ully) Athena, you're brilliant!
Linkara (v/o): They quickly race off to try to reach the mansion before Manny does, but it seems Paris has been informed of the approaching forces, too.
Paris: Tell my brother– and get everyone else ready.
Linkara: (as Paris) We need this place spick-and-span before they get here! I'll get the Windex!
Linkara (v/o): Up high, Zeus and the owl – assuming Zeus isn't the owl – are monitoring things, although in particular pointing out that that she's speeding towards "a certain confrontation with her brother".
Linkara: There's more than one kind of confrontation that could occur here? How specific are we being with this (makes a "finger quote") "certain" confrontation?
Linkara (v/o): And naturally, being some kind of music producer or something, Paris possesses an arsenal of weaponry at his brother's mansion. Said brother also shows up and tells him not to start shooting unless they're forced into it. And so, the forces quickly arrive, with lots of "CHIK" and "KLIK" sound effects.
(Cut to the MST3K gang watching Time Chasers, where people are cocking their guns)
Mike: Wow, people are opening a lot of beers in there.
(Cut back to the comic)
Linkara (v/o): Manny gets out of the car and demands the return of what's-her-name, but before Paris' brother can try to negotiate, the cops show up and announce their own presence. They order the forces to lay down their weapons, Athena also recognizing the guy from the club, and of course, the two forces start opening fire, in particular at the police.
Zeus: (narrating) So many weapons! Athena is sure to be killed! I cannot let that happen!
Linkara: (incredulously) Then maybe you shouldn't have let her set up her secret identity as a COP! Dear Lord, you're an idiot, Zeus! Well, I mean, I guess we already knew that, but come on, it's been, like, thousands of years! You are bad at this!
Linkara (v/o): And so, our comic ends with the owl swooping in, a glow, and then Athena and Ares appear in their regalia. Oh, and check it out. Nothing like an Escher Girls pose where we can see both Athena's chest and her ass in the same shot together.
Athena: Ares! What are you doing...?
Linkara: (as Ares) What are you wearing? (normal, as he closes comic and holds it up) Anyway, this comic sucks... but I will say it's a lot better than the first issue.
Linkara (v/o): Not that would have been too difficult. The cardinal sin of this one is that it's just boring. We still know barely anything about Athena's civilian form, the Judgment of Paris stuff is lame and keeps deviating in places for seemingly no reason, and while the artwork at least is kind enough to not focus on Athena's ass as much this time, the story is still trying to maintain some kind of mystery instead of getting on with it already!
Linkara: So, overall, good second effort, but not surprised you lost half your readers over this crap. (throws down comic, gets up and leaves)
(End credits roll)
The Greek pantheon is really just a bunch of high school stereotypes.
Yeah, sure, Aphrodite won the Golden Apple, but the joke was on her when she realized how tacky the thing actually was.
(Stinger: Linkara walks out into the middle of his home, meeting Pollo. A scanner beeps)
Pollo: Are you ready?
Linkara: Yep. Let's do this.
Pollo: Power engaged at your discretion.
Linkara: IT'S MORPHIN' TIME!
(He holds up his Power Rangers Morpher to start his morph)
(But it suddenly explodes in his hand and he falls over)
Pollo: Are you okay?
Linkara: (face down, sarcastically) I feel like a rainbow!
Pollo: That's the third morpher in a week. Perhaps we should abandon this line of research.
Linkara: (getting to his feet, groaning) I'm not ready to give up on this, dude. It took me forever to get the Zeo Morpher working the first time. Speaking of, have you seen the Zeonizer? I haven't spotted it since that battle with Insano.
Pollo: Nope. I'll get a Cybermat from the ship to look for it.
Linkara: (waves dismissively) Nah, leave 'em be. I need them working on the refit. (groans) It's around here somewhere. It'll turn up. Anyway, we need to be working on new weapons. If Vyce shows up again, I want the Arsenal of Freedom more powerful than it's ever been before. Oh, and I'm assuming no luck with the latest scans?
Pollo: Unfortunately not.
Linkara: (facepalms himself in frustration) God bless it! I thought for sure we'd get it with that scan of the Shade's metallic composition. There's nothing else like it on Earth. The fact that he can move that Shade around without any source of power is impressive enough, but we don't know the full extent of his abilities in his data form.
Pollo: I hate to say I told you so, but I told you so. We should have destroyed the Shades.
Linkara: (stretching arms) Waste not, want not, dude. If we destroyed everything that could be used against us, we wouldn't have Comicron 1 to begin with.
Pollo: And our lives have been enriched so much since you got that ship. How many times have we nearly died because of it?
Linkara: (stares, then pulls his glasses down his nose) Someone's a bit touchy today.
Pollo: Yeah, I am not sure what it is. I have been feeling rather uneasy lately, and I can't figure out why.
Linkara: Well, I'm not taking any more chances. Let's run a full diagnostic on your systems (takes his scanner) and see if there's anything wrong.
Pollo: Right on. It almost feels like something's pushing me.
Linkara: Hmm, it could be Vyce trying to possess you. The fact that you're able to resist shows that that new software works. Remind me to think Linksano at the next meeting.
Pollo: Could be, though I don't feel any different aside from the push.
Linkara: Still, better to check. Come on, dude.
(Linkara and Pollo leave. Meanwhile, a Cybermat rolls up to the missing Zeonizer that Linkara was looking for and runs into it. It gives off an electrical zap and explodes, destroyed. The Cybermat rolls off, leaving the Zeonizer smoking. As we cut to black, a dramatic sting plays)