Batman: A Word to the Wise
May 28, 2012
Zellers teaches you why reading is important! Also: cowboy hats.
Linkara: Hello, and welcome to Atop the Fourth Wall, where bad comics burn. And thank you for joining me on the final episode of "PSA Hell Month".
("PSA Hell" title is shown, with the word "Month" superimposed over the title)
Linkara (v/o): This month, we've talked about bullies, drugs and gasoline elementals. (holds up index finger) However, we wouldn't have been able to learn about these various evils if we weren't able to read.
(Cut to a shot of a comic from the store Zellers)
Linkara (v/o): And who better to teach kids about reading than the Canadian discount store chain of Zellers? I know absolutely nothing about Zellers beyond that and what I can find on Wikipedia. Subsequently, I couldn't find information on the whys and hows of this comic's creation...
(Cut to the inside cover, showing the mascot, Zeddy the teddy bear)
Linkara (v/o): ...but the inside cover of the comic does invite kids to join the Zeddy's Cub Club and get free milk and cookies!
Linkara: (excitedly) Oh, gee willikers! I get to be taught how to read and get free milk and cookies?! Boy howdy! Let's dig into (holds up today's comic) "Batman: A Word to the Wise" and learn more!
(AT4W title theme plays; title card has "R.O.C.K. in the USA" by John Mellencamp playing in the background. Cut to a closeup of the comic's cover)
Linkara (v/o): This will be, I think, the third time we've traveled to Canada on this show. And strangely, it only seems to be for comics that are PSA- or propaganda-oriented.
(Cut to shots of those comics, including "The Amazing Spider-Man: Skating on Thin Ice #1"...)
Linkara (v/o): Spider-Man went there to track Electro and his drug-filled hockey pucks...
(...and "Captain Tax Time #1")
Linkara (v/o): ...Captain Tax Time taught us how the Canadian government was full of demons and managed to stop all crime forever and ever...
(Cut back to "Batman: A Word to the Wise")
Linkara (v/o): ...and now, it's Batman that's taking us there. Our cover is just kind of average: Batman and two kids in one corner, the Joker and his goons in the other, though the artwork is a little confusing on the placement of the kids. How big is Batman's cape here if the girl is that close behind him? Also, the placement of the boy's arm is... eyebrow-raising.
(Smiling smugly, Linkara raises his index finger in the air)
Background singers: The Ambiguously Gay Duo!
Linkara (v/o): There are also some weird proportions on the boy. Is it just me or does he have pipe cleaner legs compared to the average build above the waist? Also, with the way the boy is positioned, I'm not sure how Batman is supposed to be standing. It's like he's leaning himself over a bit too much. Or maybe the boy is elbowing him in the stomach?
(The comic opens to the first page)
Linkara (v/o): We open in Montreal, where Batman is swinging around.
Narrartor: Montreal, Quebec: At the height of summer's heat--
Linkara: (as narrator) Hot time! Summer in the city! Back of my neck gettin' dirty and gritty...
Narrator: --on a night made hotter still by the pyrotechnics of the city's famous fireworks festival...
Linkara: (as Batman, pretending to make a slapping motion with his hand) Oh, God! My cape is on fire thanks to the fireworks! Why did I clean it with gasoline?!
Linkara (v/o): On the streets below, a bunch of kids are watching the fireworks. One kid, Billy, complains about how they can't see the fireworks very well. He spots a nearby fire escape on a nearby building and says they should go climb it to see the view from the rooftop. However, one of his friends spots a sign that says the building is condemned and they should keep out.
Billy: Hey, what's keeping you guys? Aren't chicken, are you?
(Cut to a clip of The Room)
Johnny (Tommy Wiseau): Cheep-cheep-cheep-cheep-cheep-cheeeeeeep!
(Cut back to the comic)
Linkara (v/o): Kid must be The Flash or something, since he gets, like, three or four stories up before they call up to him, but none of them actually bother to yell at him that the building has been condemned, only that "it's not safe." Billy proclaims that it's perfectly safe, and of course, fate shakes its head at the kid and causes the fire escape to collapse. Billy falls over the edge, but Batman swings in and saves him.
Batman: It's O.K., kid, I can't fly either!
Linkara: (as Batman) Unlike that stupid Superman! (beat) I'm not jealous or anything!
Linkara (v/o): Batman tells the kids he was just passing through and spotted what was going on.
Batman: So what were you thinking of-- climbing up that crumbling deathtrap? Didn't you see all those signs?
Linkara: (as Batman) Didn't it open up your eyes, you saw the sign? (points to camera) No one's gonna drag you up to get into the light where you belong!
Billy: Sure I saw the signs! I...I just didn't bother reading them.
Batman: Those signs are put there for a reason!
Linkara: (as Batman, pointing to camera) Do you think "no parking" signs are put there for fun?! Do you, you little punk?!
Linkara (v/o): Anyway, Batman swings off... aaaand that sequence had nothing to do with anything, other than the sign-reading PSA, because we cut to Toronto, where two teenagers [Joey and Joanie] are talking to one another.
Joey: Come on, Joanie--the Canadian National Exhibition won't wait forever!
Linkara: Considering that you're already in Canada, isn't calling it the (makes a "finger quote") "Canadian National Exhibition" kind of redundant?
Linkara (v/o): The girl, Joanie, tells the guy, Joey, that they'll go right after she picks up some history books from the library.
Joey: But it's the middle of summer! We don't have to go back to school for weeks! Why waste time reading when you could be out having fun?
Linkara: (as Joey, pointing to camera) Reading is never fun in any context whatsoever!
Joanie: Okay, Joey, I'll try explaining it for the thousandth time... as far as I'm concerned, reading is fun! In books, I've been to places I may never get to see in real life...
Linkara: (as Joanie) Imagining other places is much more interesting than actually visiting them.
Joanie: ...spent time with fascinating people I may never get to meet!
Linkara: (as Joanie) I've written erotic crossover fanfiction about the people I may never get to meet! (looks up) Oh, Harry Potter, you are Eragon's one true love!
Joanie: Reading has opened up a million new worlds and new vistas for me, Joey--it can do the same for you!
(Linkara dances to the Reading Rainbow theme)
Background singer (Tina Fabrique): I can go anywhere... / Friends to know, and ways to grow / A Reading Rainbow...
Linkara (v/o): Joey says he'll try it sometime, but wants to go to the exhibition.
Joanie: Joey Ferro, you are absolutely hopeless!
Linkara: Oh, yeah, wanting to go to an event that's only around for a limited time is such a waste! He should spend all his time reading books, which will still there when he gets back from the exhibition. (beat, then looks away) Wait...
Linkara (v/o): Anyway, the two go inside, and the librarian there mentions that they've been taking inventory of a bunch of rare books. She then asks what Joanie needs.
Joanie: Just checking in to see if those books I reserved have come in yet, Mrs. Lasalle.
Librarian: But you only ordered them yesterday, dear.
Joanie: I'm sorry. It's just that I'm so anxious to start reading!
Librarian: Give the books a little time to get here--!
Joanie: You know how it is, Mrs. Lasalle, when you get yourself completely lost in a new book and--
Linkara: (as Joanie) And I just gotta have my fix, lady! I need my fix! (hyperventilates) I need chapters! CHAPTERS!
Linkara (v/o): The librarian gets called away, and Joanie accidentally picks up a book that said librarian had put on the table. I do actually like how subtle the motions are: the librarian sets down the book; Joanie, while talking to her, sets her books down on top of it; and then Joanie picks up the stack. Mind you, I'm wondering why she doesn't have a backpack for her books, but whatever. Meanwhile, Batman is driving between Montreal and Toronto in one of the sillier-looking Batmobiles that I've ever seen. Admittedly, it looks nice and roomy, but on the other hand, I can't seem to see any doors to get into the thing. Speaking of silliness, here's what Batman is thinking about...
Batman: (thinking) What a truly beautiful drive this is... Beautiful farmhouses and lovely countryside...
Linkara: (as Batman) I'm Batman, and I appreciate the natural beauty of the Canadian landscape.
Batman: (thinking) It's no wonder that even a lunatic like the Joker would find his way here eventually...
Linkara: I'm confused by that statement. Does he mean that only crazy people like it, or does he think that the Joker is just a big fan of the beauty of nature?
Linkara (v/o): He thinks to himself that the Joker's first move was to go to the home of a rare book collector in Newfoundland, specifically looking for a copy of the 1867 edition of "The Geography of Canada". (deadpan) Yeah, sounds like a real page-turner. (normal again) He ransacks the house, found the book, and then left while laughing hysterically at his find.
Batman: (thinking) When he struck again, this time in Nova Scotia-- the R.C.M.P. invited me up here to help them track him down!
Linkara: And just how did the Mounties contact him, exactly? Did they create a giant Bat-signal with a maple leaf cut out of the bat?
Linkara (v/o): I guess the Canadian authorities have Batman on speed-dial, since they contact him on the Batmobile's videophone, Superfriends-style.
Canadian police sergeant [Sgt. Grant]: Hello, Batman. Yes, the R.C.M.P. have reports of the Joker and his gang being spotted in Toronto!
Batman: Not surprising! According to the data from my Bat-Computer, there's another copy of "The Geography of Canada" owned by a local Toronto collector!
(Cut via a Superfriends transition to the next page)
Linkara (v/o): Anyway, the Joker arrives at the library Joanie was at earlier. Some of the people in the library recognize the Joker and decide to confront him, but Joker... uh, mega-punches them? I'm not exactly sure what's going on in this panel, but in the next panel, he's tossing away a giant fist? The hell did he just do?! Anyway, he demands the book.
Librarian: You, sir, are disrupting the peace and quiet of this library! If you cannot keep it down, I suggest you leave immediately!
Linkara: (deep voice) Librarians do not know fear.
Linkara (v/o): Batman arrives and makes short work of the Joker's thugs. However, the Joker then pulls a gun on one of his own goons and threatens to kill him unless Batman lets him leave. He does so, but then Joker wonders what he'll do with Batman.
Joker: Well, if I just leave you here, you're going to follow me-- so I guess there's only one thing for me to do--!!
(Linkara aims a gun and fires it)
Linkara: (as Joker) Heh! That was surprisingly simple. Kind of funny, actually.
Linkara (v/o): Actually, he does shoot, but the gun is filled with pink smoke. Man, pink smoke?! Now we know how serious this comic is!
Joker: You didn't really expect me to put an end to our little game of wits, did you? See you in the funny papers, Batman!
Linkara (v/o): And naturally, the next day, we hear about the Joker's biggest boner. The librarian tells Batman about how Joanie must have taken the rare book by accident and she says that she overheard the two kids talking about going to the exhibition. The Joker, however, has stayed nearby and decides to follow Batman to get the next copy of the book. Meanwhile, back with Joey and Joanie...
Joey: Come on, Joanie-- tell me the truth! Why do you bother with all these stupid books when you don't even need most of them for school?
Linkara: Kid, you've got to be, like, sixteen. Is the concept of reading purely for enjoyment that alien a concept to you? And why the hell are you obsessing over it?
Linkara (v/o): Joanie continues to preach the message of all the glories of reading when the two arrive at the exhibition.
Joey: Man, this place is absolutely fantastic! It really makes you proud to be a Canadian!
Joanie: Yes, it is incredible, isn't it?
Linkara (v/o): Yeah, I mean, look at that one booth about skiing. Truly, there is nothing that fills a person with Canadian pride more than... skiing.
Joanie: All the diversity... All the information... and all those wonderful pamphlets they're giving away to read!
Linkara: (frustrated) Okay, Joanie, now you're starting to get creepy. Reading books? Yeah, I get how exciting a novel could be. Reading pamphlets? Seriously?!
Linkara (v/o): Batman runs into the two, and of course, they're amazed to see him. However, before Batman can ask about the book, the Joker's goons arrive and seal off the area. Our hero calls out for the Joker to show himself.
Joker: No need to shout, old friend-- I'm not hard of hearing, you know!
Batman: In another minute, you're going to be hard of movement, psychopath!
Linkara: (as Batman) Which is why I'm going to spend the next five minutes just standing here and not actually punch you or anything!
Linkara (v/o): Seriously, Batman doesn't lift a finger to actually try to stop the Joker! And it's not like we see any of the goons carrying guns or anything. That gun we saw earlier that shot out the pink smoke was it for weaponry! Joanie refuses to hand over the geography book, but Joker threatens to use his poison laughing gas on everyone in the building... though, of course, Batman should know he's bluffing he's bluffing. After all, it's not like he had time to set anything up. The Joker takes the book and rips out a page from it, irritated that what he's looking for isn't in that copy of the book either. He leaves, repeating the threat about killing everybody in the building if Batman tries to follow.
Batman: THAT'S TWO STRIKES, FREAK-- I PROMISE YOU WON'T GET A THIRD!
Linkara: (as Batman) The next time you try this, I'm going to stand here and do nothing EVEN HARDER!
Linkara (v/o): Batman wonders aloud where the Joker will strike next. Joanie has an idea about it and leads our hero back to the library.
Joanie: When the Joker was leaving, he said he was going to "saddle up and ride out"-- which has a definite cowboy Western sound to it--
Linkara: As opposed to a cowboy... slasher movie sound to it? (shrugs)
Linkara (v/o): Also, those are phrases used outside of cowboy slang, anyway, so it means nothing.
Joanie: --and from what I've read there are a lot of cowboy-Western events coming up-- in Alberta!
Batman: I have to admit--it's a possibility!
Linkara: Or there's a possibility he might go to Texas. This doesn't mean anything!
Linkara (v/o): Batman starts to leave, but the teens insist on coming along.
Joey: If it wasn't for us, you wouldn't even know where to look for him!
Linkara: Nnnnoooo, if it wasn't for Joanie, he wouldn't know where to look. You stood there gawking in amazement that she learned all that from reading! And wait a second! Why did they have to back to the library for this?! All they did was look at a map!
Linkara (v/o): And it's not the fact that Joanie reads books that did this. It's that she knew that there were cowboy-themed events occurring in Alberta at that time of the year.
Batman: The two of you do know a lot more about Canada than I do... If your parents allow it, you can come along for the ride...
(Linkara holds up his pinkie and thumb like a phone)
Linkara: (deep voice, presumably Joey's father, pretending to talk into "phone") What's that, son? You want to ride around with Batman halfway across the country to pursue a murderous supervillain? (strokes chin in thought) Yeah, that sounds okay.
Narrator: Thus, the following day, after a quick flight to Alberta by Batplane--
Linkara (v/o): Oh, great, they're hanging with Batman for more than one day. Oh, yeah, and because time is of the essence, what with these cowboy events occurring in Alberta, they decide to stop at Zellers.
Joanie: It's terrific that there's always a Zellers nearby when you need one...
Linkara: (as Batman, stroking chin) I still say we should've stopped at OfficeMax. Reed Richards once told me that was the place to go for anti-supervillain gear.
Linkara (v/o): So why was it so important to make this little stop?
Joanie: ...So we could pick up some Western clothes to wear!
Joey: I feel like a sheriff in this getup!
Linkara: Yeah, it's a good thing you kids got those clothes, because... (stops abruptly and stares silently at the camera for a long time, blinking and smiling)
Linkara (v/o): They decide to head to a rare books store to try to get ahead of the Joker.
Narrator: And, minutes later, after the bat-computer has triangulated the exact location on a city map-grid...
Linkara: You don't know what the word "triangulate" means, do you, comic?
Linkara (v/o): Unfortunately, they arrive too late, and the Joker has already taken an old piece of parchment from this copy of "The Geography of Canada". The bookstore owner says that the Joker was boasting about a big announcement to the whole world.
Batman: What is important is where the Joker plans to make his announcement-- and there's only one place large enough to attract the right-sized crowd... at the rodeo!
Linkara: Must be one hell of a rodeo if the entire world is watching it.
Linkara (v/o): And the Joker has indeed gone to a rodeo that looks like it has... ooh, maybe a thousand or so people in the audience. He takes the crowd hostage, although how he does, I'm not quite sure. One of the goons appears to have a gun, but I really can't tell because of how undetailed the artwork is. He might be holding a hot dog for all I can see. So, what was it that the Joker was looking for this whole time?
Joker: Thanks to this recently-rediscovered land grant which gives my dear departed ancestors--and by right of inheritance, me--full legal claim-- I am now the legal owner of all of North America west of Cape Spear. I must be proclaimed rightful ruler of the whole continent within 24 hours. --Or I will have the entire population of North America evicted from my private property!
Linkara: (sighs, massaging his forehead in frustration) Okay, Joker, I'm not going to say that this was a dumb plan, since actually it's kind of a clever idea; leagues above the usual plans we see on this show. But there's one big, gaping flaw in it: your National Army consists of about six guys. You can make your claim, but it really doesn't matter. We'll recognize it and then immediately declare war on you and conquer everything back in fifteen minutes! End of story! O Canada and R-O-C-K in the U.S.A.! (shrugs)
Linkara (v/o): Batman arrives and the Joker makes his threat about gassing the audience, but since this is an outdoor arena, naturally, the threat is pretty toothless, a fact that Batman even points out. He starts fighting the goons, and even the kids decide to endanger themselves, with Joey tripping one while Joanie knocks out Dr. Insano here with a heavy book. Batman hogties the Joker, and all is well. While the villains are getting put into a prison van, the Joker continues to proclaim that he's the owner of North America. However, Batman points out he's not quite right there.
Batman: Well, according to this document, the option on the deed had to be exercised within 125 years of the date of signing-- but today is 125 years and one day since the signing! To put it simply, Joker--your so-called land grant is completely null and void!
(Cut to a clip of an episode of Superman: The Animated Series, in Brainiac is addressing Batman (or rather, Superman in disguise))
Brainiac: You're every bit the detective your followers on the internet believe.
(Back to the comic again)
Batman: Thanks for all your help, kids.
Linkara: What help? They read a map, put on cowboy hats, and took out two goons that you could have dealt with without them!
Linkara (v/o): And so, our comic ends with Joey stating that he sure learned a lesson about reading, and he's going to start reading a lot more.
Linkara: Hopefully, he'll be reading something a lot better than this, (snaps comic shut and holds it up) because this comic sucks.
Linkara (v/o): I will say, however, that it's enjoyably goofy. Joanie and Joey are complete opposites, one disbelieving of any reading having any kind of merit, while the other is obsessed with reading that she finds informational pamphlets to be the most awesome thing ever. The Joker's plan is insane, but then again, what do you expect from the crazy guy? It's always nice to see the Joker like this; psychotic, yes, but not to some extremes that writers make him out to be, where he'll be downright sadistic. He should be scary, yeah, but also funny and playful. And does someone want to tell me the point of the first few pages beyond padding?
Linkara: I especially love how reading actually contributes nothing to solving the situation. The only (makes a "finger quote") "information" it purportedly contributes is that certain phrases are associated with cowboys... which you'd probably pick up from a movie, not books. (throws down comic, gets up and leaves)
(Suddenly, a stranger teleports into the living room, with his hair in a ponytail and wearing a black coat, black gloves and a bowler hat. He is holding what looks like a pocket watch in his hand. He looks around. As Linkara enters the room, he spots the stranger)
Stranger: (seeing Linkara) You. You got a magic gun.
Linkara: (awkwardly) Yeah, I do–
(Suddenly, the stranger pulls a gun of his own on Linkara)
Stranger: I'll be taking that.
Linkara: (recoiling, with his hands up) Okay, okay! No need to worry. (opens his coat) Here it is.
(He suddenly, quite abruptly, takes out the magic gun – and fires at the stranger, who dodges out the way of the red blast of energy. The stranger fires his own gun at Linkara, who runs across the room and takes cover behind the couch)
Linkara: Hey, you have a magic gun?! Where did you purchase that?!
(The stranger fires several more blasts at Linkara, who ducks. The blasts hit the walls and objects, but to his surprise, they don't do any damage)
Stranger: There's explosions and sparks, but nothing's actually blowing up. What the hell's this dimension made out of? (sees Linkara hiding behind couch) Get up! You can't hope to stop me! I'm just gonna keep coming at ya, keep on attacking, and bring hell down on ya! Eventually, your defense will be weakened, your reserves will be gone. There is no hope for you, and I'll take your weapon and leave you to suffer–
(All the while the stranger has been rambling, Linkara takes out a communicator)
Linkara: Nimue, unleash the new Cybermat on him.
(The Cybermat crawls along the floor to the stranger and zaps him on the foot, startling him briefly. Linkara then comes out from hiding and fires his gun at the stranger. The blast hits the stranger and knocks him back)
Linkara: (angrily) I am so SICK OF THIS!
(He fires another shot at the stranger, knocking him down)
Linkara: I am so tired of assholes coming into my home and doing this! You think I'm afraid of you? You think I care about your backstory?!
(Linkara aims his gun at the stranger to fire another shot, but the stranger takes out his watch and teleports out of the room)
Linkara: I have fought conquerors, robots and monsters, and I have been victorious every time! There is NOTHING that can stop me now! NOTHING!!
(Suddenly, his gun flashes white, which startles and concerns him. His gun clicks as though empty. He tries to fire, but it does nothing. He becomes more alarmed about what's happening)
Linkara: What'd I do?! (taps gun in hand and tries to fire, to no avail) WHAT'D I DO?!?!
(End credits roll)
Yes, I know that Zellers is apparently closing or something at the time of this video's release. Sometimes I just don't care enough about a subject to comment on it.
If I said anything offensive to Canadians, you can feel free to tell me about it at ConBravo this July!
(Stinger: And now, a public service announcement from... SNOWFLAME! Snowflame is seen standing in a house kitchen)
Snowflame: Did you know that over 27 million people go hungry every second? Snowflame was told that, and Snowflame has the answer. (holds a paper plate with a small sandwich on it) This! This is why the people go hungry! It's so tiny! Snowflame would be hungry, too! (looks at sandwich) How are you so small?! Snowflame is ashamed.
(Snowflame sets out several pieces to make a sandwich, including peanut butter, jelly and some bananas)
Snowflame: Snowflame's gonna take care of this problem RIGHT NOW!
(Yelling incoherently, he throws some peanut butter onto one of the open slices of bread and then pours some jelly onto the other open slice of bread)
Snowflame: (biting open a banana) BANANA!
(He cuts the banana in half and puts one half on each slice of bread)
Snowflame: And finally, it's topped off by two heaping teaspoons of... (opens cupboard and takes out some powered sugar) SNOWFLAME!
(Holding a teaspoon of sugar over the sandwich, he shakes it and some bits of powder fall onto the sandwich. He looks into the camera as he does so. Then, yelling incoherently, he smashes the two sides together and holds up his new sandwich and starts to eat it. Suddenly, he has a trippy experience, as rays and flashes of light emanate from him while an ominous choir is heard in the background. He screams silently as he clutches at his head in agony. He continues to clutch his head as he tries to play chess with a teddy bear. The room starts spinning around him. Finally, it stops, with him covered in bits of powdered sugar and him holding up his hands, which are covered in bits of jelly)
Snowflame: What has Snowflame done?
(The screen goes black)
Snowflame (v/o): This has been a public service announcement from... SNOWFLAME!