Battle for Bludhaven #1 and #2
June 18, 2012
Some battles are fought over things that matter. This one is fought because lots of people are stupid.
Linkara: Hello, and welcome to Atop the Fourth Wall, where bad comics burn. A few years ago, I promised that, at some point, we'd be looking at the miniseries "Battle for Bludhaven".
(A montage of shots of "Battle for Bludhaven" is shown)
Linkara (v/o): And that time has finally arrived. Why did it take so long? Honestly, compared to stuff like "Cry for Justice" or "Ultimatum", this is pretty small potatoes. Oh, rest assured, it's bad, but unlike those books I just mentioned, it really had no far-reaching consequences; it was just a stupid, bad miniseries that had no reason to exist. As such, it's difficult for me to even muster a lot of true hatred for this thing. Indifference? Certainly. Irritation? Oh, most definitely. But hate? Eh... After the DC relaunch, so much character ruination, and just stupid, stupid things have happened in mainstream comics, this thing has even less impact than when it first came out. I should probably explain more about this, starting with the city of Bludhaven itself.
(Cut to a montage of shots of "Nightwing" comics from which Bludhaven had originated)
Linkara (v/o): Bludhaven is a fictional city just south of Gotham. The way it was described was that in Gotham, the crime starts from the street and works its way up, whereas in Bludhaven, it starts at the mayor's office and works its way down. It was a hellhole of a city, full of corrupt cops, gangsters, and was supposedly just worse than Gotham in every possible way. Dick Grayson, Nightwing, wanting to establish his own presence in a city, decided to be its protector, just as Batman protected Gotham. His own solo series, for over a hundred issues, helped build up how the city worked, its history, and its many citizens. Like a lot of good comic series, Bludhaven itself became kind of a character in the book, too. It was a unique setting, with a lot of thought and effort put into how it worked and who the major character players were in it.
Linkara: And then, in 2006, DC decided, "Well, screw that! Why the hell would we want anything unique and interesting, when instead we could just blow it the hell up!"
Linkara (v/o): And blow it up they did! Issue 4 of the miniseries "Infinite Crisis" saw the secret society of supervillains dropping a monster called Chemo into the city. Chemo is essentially a giant vat of toxic, dangerous chemicals suspended in a humanoid shape. They rigged Chemo up to explode, wiping out 100,000 people and turning the place into a ravaged wasteland of destroyed buildings and dead bodies, in the process also killing a bunch of supporting characters and villains from Nightwing's series.
Linkara: Which actually kind of makes sense when you consider that one part of the original ending for "Infinite Crisis" was that Dick Grayson was going to be killed! Yep, the first Robin was going to be killed off in a rather unceremonious fashion, and this was one of those deaths that they actually intended to stick to, rather than having a plan for his return six months down the line.
Linkara (v/o): Fortunately, somewhat smarter heads convinced Dan Dedio, then executive editor for DC, that such an idea was stupid, and so he was spared. I actually really like "Infinite Crisis", despite the flaws of it. It's a pretty solid event, all things considered, but the destruction of Bludhaven was a major misstep. The only things to come out of the destruction of Bludhaven were: one, this stupid miniseries; two, a minor plot hiccup in friggin' "Countdown"; and three, minor plot and setting details in "Final Crisis". And really, it could have taken place anywhere in that book.
Linkara: So what makes "Battle for Bludhaven" a stupid, disjointed mess of a miniseries? Well, let's dig into (holds up today's comic) the first two issues and find out.
(AT4W title sequence plays; title card has "Revolution" by The Beatles playing in the background. Cut to two covers for the series, one after the other)
Linkara (v/o): We're reading from the trade, and we've got multiple issues to look at, so no cover analysis. What I will say about them is that they're all done by Daniel Acuña. I have no legitimate complaints about his artwork, just that it's not my cup of tea. It always seems like he's trying to color and shade it like it's an Alex Ross or Greg Horn piece; you know, seemingly realistic paintings. But he misses the mark in that the coloring just looks like real images run through a filter instead of the detailed paintings of the latter two I mentioned. Like I said, it's not bad, it's just not thing.
(The comic opens to the first page)
Linkara (v/o): We open on a three-panel recap of Bludhaven being destroyed by Chemo, which somehow causes a shockwave that kind of resembles a nuclear blast.
Linkara: (sarcastically) Great, now we've got to spend the next two hours listening to Justin Timberlake narrate about the end of the world.
Linkara (v/o): Next, we see a bunch of people in protective suits going through the wreckage.
Narrator: Amid the chaos and carnage, survivors tried as best they could to grasp the magnitude of what had happened.
Linkara: (as one of those people in protective suits, putting his hand over his mouth) And you said it was stupid of me to buy these protective suits off of Craigslist, honey. Who's laughing now?
Narrator: The President declared a state of emergency and relief began pouring in, first from the nation, and then the world. Due to the toxic nature of the Chemo blast, a wall was erected around the city within the first thirty-six hours.
Linkara: (sarcastically) Yes, this chain-link fence will stop any chemicals from getting out! (gives a thumbs-up)
Linkara (v/o): Inside the city, the Teen Titans are sent in to try to take control of the situation and help as best as they can. Oh, and Robot Man, too, for some reason. Wonder Girl comments on this whole thing.
Wonder Girl: For the firs time I feel like we're actually making a difference in people's lives instead of dealing with our problems.
Linkara: (as Robot Man, pretending to hold up a wall) Yeah, that's nice, Cassie, but I'm holding up a wall right now, and children are panicking over their lost parents! Little help?!
Linkara (v/o): The Titans try to advance more into the city to help people, but they're suddenly stopped by... (sighs) the Force of July. The Force of July are a team of meta-humans who work for the government and, of course, are super patriotic to the point of absurdity and are just idiotic. They were regular antagonists of Batman's team called the Outsiders way back in the '80s, as well as the Suicide Squad. It was a goofy idea best left forgotten, but as we'll see as this miniseries continues, someone thought bringing back a lot of stupid ideas and modernizing them would be a good idea. In reality, they're still stupid no matter the fresh coat of paint you put on them. In this case, they say they've now been renamed "Freedom's Ring". Yeah, that's not really any better than "Force of July", guys. And they say that the U.S. government has created a restricted zone inside of Bludhaven and that the teen heroes can't enter without direct authorization from the White House.
Robin: (addressing the leader, Major Victory) I understand you have orders, Major, but we can help in ways most people can't.
Linkara: (as Robin) I mean, we're the Teen Titans! How many other superhero groups can take down drug dealers, while former drug addicts give testimonials?
Linkara (v/o): By the way, one of the members of this team is named Lady Liberty, and she really showcases how stupid an idea like this is. Patriotic superheroes can work. Hell, Captain America is the best example of this. But a government-controlled one? Lady Liberty's outfit works fine as a superhero costume, but not as a government agent! There are several reasons why special forces don't dress up like superheroes! An actual government team has no reason to wear costumes, especially one that features a headband of spikes like she does, and I can't tell if she's wearing armor or a cloth outfit, but either way, one bullet to the face can take her down! Don't get me wrong, I love colorful creative superhero outfits, but these guys are going to be presented in this series as the goon squad of the U.S. government, and there's no reason... except for maybe public relations, but as we see later on, no one seems to give a crap about public relation... why an actual government outfit would be in superhero costumes! Anyway, the Titans continue to argue.
Robin: You can't lock us out of the city!
Lady Liberty: Bludhaven-- what's left of it-- has been declared a national disaster area. You--all of you--are subject to this nation's laws.
Linkara: (confused) Okay, then, just start taking orders from them? Offer to help clear the civilians, but leave whatever they want to protect alone? Let them just be in charge while they direct all the efforts? There are several solutions to this.
Beast Boy: Superman left us in charge...
Major Victory: Superman, like you and the rest of your kind, has no authority here.
Linkara: Excuse me, but you're not allowed to call them (makes a "finger quote") "your kind", when you have a big, white "M" on your stomach.
Linkara (v/o): Hell, even Raven comments about the absurdity of calling them "your kind". So, here's a dumb idea: why don't they call one of their many superhero friends... or hell, call Oracle, who can hack into the government databases... and get them to contact the White House and get them clearance? Anyway, yeah, they get kicked out and warned that if they attempt to gain access to the restricted area, they'll be arrested. Not even a cover story about sensitive materials or telling them to get civilians out, just jackbooted thug behavior. Good work there, Freedom's Ring! We cut to "an undisclosed location", where the cast of Prometheus is waking up from cryogenic suspension. Also, two of them look like the exact same guy, but maybe that's supposed to be the case. We then shift ahead one year later, which ties into what was going on at DC at the time: all the books jumped ahead by one year in order to create some mystery for readers, give some jumping-on points for people wanting to check out new books, and give a convenient excuse for the awesome maxi-series "52" to take place in real time. Apparently, one year later, a large concrete wall with guard towers and the like has been set up around Bludhaven, and all the remaining refugees from the city are stuck in camps, unable to go back into the city to retrieve property and bury the dead. This is probably meant as an allegory for the Hurricane Katrina disaster in New Orleans, but don't expect this to be a profound commentary on then-current events. It doesn't work, because instead of this being about the mismanaging of relief efforts after a disaster, it's about the government being evil for no adequately-explained reason! Let's meet one of the "exciting new characters" created by this: Firebrand. Guess what his shtick is.
Firebrand: This doesn't look like America to me. Our own government pushed us out and built a wall to make sure we didn't get back in.
Linkara: Yep, Firebrand likes to rant about the government... and that's about it! He rants and rambles like a crazy person, and he's supposed to be one of our heroes.
Linkara (v/o): He narrates to himself about how the relief funds dried up a few months ago, and anyone who was still around to help is doing so out of their own pocket.
Firebrand: (narrating) We're kept out here in this internment camp and everyone is getting desperate.
Linkara (v/o): Um, are you allowed to leave the camp? If so, then it's not an interment camp, it's a refugee camp. True, you're not being allowed to go back to your homes, but if one has the ability to go somewhere else other than the camp, they can!
Firebrand: (narrating) Instead of the Justice League or the Teen Titans helping to keep the peace, we have a pair of social workers and a Golem from New York.
Linkara: (as Firebrand) The New Guardians offered to help, but they kept insisting that everyone getting into orgies would make everything better. (shrugs)
Firebrand: Someone has to do something. Someone has to stand up and challenge these fascists.
Linkara: (massaging his forehead irritably) Who are you talking to?!
Linkara (v/o): I was caught in the blast for a purpose. At first I didn't understand, but now I realize this power was given to me to illuminate the truth, to be a firebrand.
Linkara: (confused) So, destiny insisted that you get fire powers so you could rant to yourself about fascists?
Linkara (v/o): Also, I don't think you get what a firebrand is. It's not someone who "illuminates the truth". It's just someone who causes unrest and strife. By that definition, your destiny is to make an already-bad situation worse! Back inside the city, a black helicopter lands and drops off Father Time, some government spook, who... I want to say looks like another character inexplicably, but I can't pin down who he looks like. Snowflame with a beard? Sean Connery in The Rock?
(Cut to a clip of an episode of Saturday Night Live, showing Darrell Hammond as Sean Connery on a Celebrity Jeopardy sketch)
Hammond as Connery: My day has come! (laughs)
(Cut back to the comic)
Linkara (v/o): I dunno, an older Green Arrow? It bugs me and I don't know why. He demands to see who's in charge.
Man: That would be me. I'm General Stanton, who the hell are you?
Father Time: You'll address me as Father Time. You and your team are now under my supervision.
Gen. Stanton: On whose authority?
Father Time: The President wants to see results. That's why I am here. I get results.
Linkara: (as Father Time, pointing to screen) Your standardized testing scores are appalling! We don't grade on a curve here, General!
Linkara (v/o): And then, suddenly, the General just decides to follow his instructions. Nope, no need to see any kind of proof of his identity or anything. The General then takes Father Time on a little tour of this little installation, explaining that they've encountered a number of radioactive anomalies in the city. The first thing is some kind of fetus in a huge tank. Notice that in this panel, the General is pulling back a cloth; then the next panel, they're in front of the tank. Was the cloth covering the tank? Why would it be covered? Where did it disappear to in the next panel? Was it supposed to be a curtained-off area? In a big military complex, WHY WOULD YOU BLOCK OFF A LAB WITH A CURTAIN, INSTEAD OF A FRIGGIN' DOOR?!?
Gen. Stanton: What we do know is it's not from this Earth. It is part machine and part organic.
(Cut to a clip of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi)
Hologram of Obi-Wan Kenobi (Alec Guinness): He's more machine now than man.
(Back to the comic again)
Gen. Stanton: The lab coats are calling it the Astronaut Fetus.
Linkara (v/o): "The Astronaut Fetus"? It's like they wanted to use the words "Star Child", but were afraid that Arthur C. Clarke's estate would sue them. Father Time says that they've had to repeatedly stop meta-human insurgents in the city.
Gen. Stanton: Yes, they're very curious about this installation and the radiation in the area.
Linkara: (irritably) Then maybe you shouldn't have set up your big military base IN THE MIDDLE OF A FRIGGIN' CITY!!
Linkara (v/o): I'm serious here! We're gonna learn the cause of the radiation later on, since Chemo was chemically toxic, not radioactive, and this base was set up after the government found the source of the radiation. There is absolutely no reason why the hell they built this place in the middle of a city! Hell, they've (?) off this entire city just for this installation, which would've made more sense to be located in the friggin' desert! Oh, and the "Astronaut Fetus"? We're never told where the hell that came from! It's just one of the many things that's just spontaneously in this comic for no reason other than the plot decided it needed it to be! This installation is a massive plot hole in this story, since putting it here creates so many problems that you'd think the government was full of absolute morons who couldn't tie their shoes on their own if they needed to! People can't go back into the city, creating a PR nightmare! It's a waste of money and resources to place the MASSIVE WALL around the city and have troops constantly patrolling and going through the city! And we've established before in the DC Universe that there are government labs that already existed, where they could've taken this stuff and did not need to create an entire new facility just to house all this! And hell, why would you keep the installation here after you've just admitted that it has been attacked multiple times by people trying to get inside?!
(Cut to a clip of Batman Forever)
Bruce Wayne (Val Kilmer): It just raises too many questions.
(Cut back to the comic)
Linkara (v/o): Anyway, the General also explains that there's some kind of underground railroad trying to liberate their experimental test subjects and "raiding the internment camps". Again with calling them "internment camps"! This facility is about radiation and meta-humans. Why would you be holding ordinary civilians in internment camps? It's not like they're being experimented on or anything, though what they're raiding the camps for is never explained, since this "underground railroad" has their own high-tech base and we later learn they're good guys. Back to the exposition dump...
Linkara: Wait, wouldn't Father Time know all of this already? Why the hell wasn't he briefed on everything before he came to take charge of it?
Linkara (v/o): Back to the exposition dump, we also meet a scientist named Andy Franklin, whose body has transformed because of the chemo explosion so that anything he touches explodes. Thus, he's "some kind of human bomb." We'll get more into this in another part, but it's something very contrived about this miniseries. Father Time orders them to focus on finding the underground railroad, and we then cut to a bunch of guys in radiation suits looking through the city. They're talking to each other about just how messed up the DC Universe has gotten in the previous year.
First person in radiation suit: There is a bright side...
Second person in radiation suit: What would that be?
First person in radiation suit: I just saved a bundle on my car insurance.
(Linkara glowers at the comic, then cut to an episode of Robot Chicken, showing a 300 sketch, with Leonidas sitting in an apartment room watching TV)
Leonidas: (jumping to his feet in rage) This... isn't... FUNNY! (kicks TV over)
(Back to the comic again)
First person in radiation suit: Sorry ...bad joke.
Third person in radiation suit: You're an idiot.
Linkara: That guy who called him an idiot is my new hero.
Linkara (v/o): They pick up a radiation spike, revealing a team of supervillains called the Nuclear Legion.
Linkara: Guess what they all have in common! Hydroelectric power. (stares silently)
Linkara (v/o): They kill the scientists and exposit about how the Secret Society of Supervillains wants to know what the source of the radiation in the city is. I don't why the hell they care, but Freedom's Ring shows up... with a new Major Victory from earlier; what the hell was the point of that? ...and beats them up. A guy watching from above reports that Freedom's Ring is getting too close to something, and a cloaking device is initiated to hide a building. A riot breaks out at one of the camps, which also has TV crews covering it, and they hurl Molotov cocktails at the wall, climbing over it with makeshift ladders. Leading the charge is Firebrand, of course, because he knows just how to make things better. The soldiers guarding things say they can't come in because of lethal radiation levels, which, we'll see later, is complete bunk.
Soldier 1: Why can't these people understand this is a hot zone?
Soldier 2: They shouldn't even be allowed to camp down there.
Linkara: "Allowed to camp there"? I thought this was an (makes a "finger quote") "internment camp". Make up your frickin' mind, comic!
Linkara (v/o): Oh, and get a load of Firebrand here. He starts rambling again about how America is a free country and not a dictatorship! Yeah, yeah, but you're the one leading people with guns and Molotov cocktails. Oh, did I not mention that? Firebrand yells out, "No guns!", and immediately afterwards, a guy pulls out a handgun and shoots one of the military guys! Naturally, after one of their officers has been shot dead, the military starts shooting back. But then Firebrand leaps up to the guard towers to insist that they don't shoot back. What a dick!
Soldier: Stand down or be shot down!
Firebrand: Shoot me and the whole world will see it! You'll have more metas coming and the truth will be revealed. This wall needs to be torn down!
Linkara: (swaying head in annoyance) Oh, for the love of crap! Look, I know that there aren't really radiation levels in there, but the people in the camp don't know that! They are trying to break into an area that, as far as they know, will KILL THEM!! I AM NOT SYMPATHETIC WITH STUPID PEOPLE!
Linkara (v/o): Back with Freedom's Ring, Major Victory just asks out loud for no reason why the government is experimenting on metas, and Lady Liberty suggests that they're trying to build a meta-human army using the radioactive thing they found in the city. I don't know why they'd do that since other comics before this one have shown that the government can do that whenever the hell they want and don't need some stupid radioactive thing to do it, but whatever. To make a long and stupid story short – too late – the Nuclear Legion wakes up, they uncover the cloaked building, kill the remaining members of Freedom's Ring, except for Major Victory, and the issue ends with the reveal of who's behind the underground railroad: THE ATOMIC KNIGHTS!
Linkara: Okay, this requires some explanation. Unlike the Force of July, the Atomic Knights are actually a really awesome concept!
(Cut to the cover of a comic featuring the Atomic Knights)
Linkara (v/o): The anthology book "Strange Adventures" from the 1960s tended to have a lot of bizarre and creative science-fiction concepts.
(Cut to a shot of a panel of "Strange Adventures #136")
Linkara (v/o): You may recall my review of just a single issue of that, which included time-traveling, big-headed future people, a robot that saves us from alien invasion, and other wacky stories.
(Cut back to the Atomic Knights)
Linkara (v/o): The Atomic Knights were introduced in that series. After an atomic war, most of civilization had collapsed into baronese and other medieval-esque systems, with the exception of having advanced weaponry, like ray guns. A group of survivors discover that six suits of armor over the years had changed to become immune to energy weapons. And thus, they formed the Atomic Knights, a group of freedom fighters in suits of armor who rode on giant mutant Dalmatians and helped the helpless. I have never actually read them, but I've heard about them, and they are glorious!
Linkara: (uncertain) And now, for some reason they're in Bludhaven... in modern times... I throw up my hands, people.
(Cut back to "Battle for Bludhaven")
Linkara (v/o): And that was all just the first issue. If we're gonna get through this in any reasonable amount of time, I need to start summarizing a lot more – not that you're really missing anything in the second issue. Three of the Atomic Knights get killed in the fight... Thanks for bringing back an awesome concept, only to murder them outright, DC! ...and the remaining ones retreat. Father Time, for some reason, goes to the edge of the wall, where the military have suppressed the riot.
Father Time: I wish we could throw a little mustard gas down there and be done with it.
Father Time: Look at them...maggots squirming in the mud. We need the boot of a war god to stamp down upon the weak sycophants that are eating away at this country.
Linkara: Hey, Father Time, Glenn Beck called! He thinks you're being a tad extreme, don'tcha think?!
Linkara (v/o): I mean, come on! How cartoonish do you need to make this guy?! For crap's sake, they were forced out of their homes because of your moronic military base! What the hell do you want from them?!
(Cut to a shot of the cover of "Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters")
Linkara (v/o): Well, I guess I shouldn't be complaining about that. You see, it's revealed in another series called "Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters" that Father Time is actually a good guy pretending to be evil so he can get a group of awesome heroes together to oppose a robotic supervillain that he himself installed into a position where he could hurt America and then get a bunch of superheroes together to stop him...
Linkara: And all of you stopped listening to me when you realized just how unbelievably dumb and convoluted that sounds, right?
Father Time: (narrating) I want a complete media blackout. If you see anyone in a costume, you shoot to kill. I don't give a damn if it's Green Lantern, Superman or the whole Justice League riding magic ponies.
(Linkara stares for a brief period of time. Then, to the tune of "The Gonk", cut to a montage of fan artwork of the Justice League riding on the backs of the Mane Six (of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fame). Then cut back to the comic again)
Linkara (v/o): Also, how exactly do you plan to enforce that on the guys like Superman, who are bulletproof?! And by the way, ignoring for a second that the camera crews were already filming stuff live, as we see here with Firebrand getting interviewed, how exactly do you intend to enforce a "media blackout"? If anything, it's just gonna draw more media attention to what's going on. I don't care how shady and mysterious your stupid-ass government organization is! This was made in 2006! We already had a massive media oversaturation in place for people to find out about this stuff and have constant coverage! You're not gonna be able to hush up anything, dumbass! Oh, yeah, and back to Firebrand. He's doing his "the government is evil" stuff for a live audience.
Firebrand: Meanwhile, where are the so-called heroes? Where is Nightwing? Where's the Justice League of America? It seems to me they should be here because there's a huge injustice... right here at the wall. I'm telling you we need to do something!
Linkara: (as Firebrand) We need to cause more rioting and get more innocent people injured or killed!
Linkara (v/o): By the by, Firebrand, since everyone is basically living in a shantytown outside the city, would you mind explaining where you got your superhero outfit? Oh, and it looks a little different from the previous issue. Great job, editor. We then cut to Titans Tower, where the remaining members of the team after one year later are watching the live broadcast. (sarcastically) Man, that media blackout sure is going well! Robin, Ravager and Kid Devil want to go in and help while Cyborg and Wonder Girl don't think they should get involved. Really, this conversation comes down to... (as Robin) We should do something! (as Wonder Girl) Should we do something? (as Kid Devil) We should do something! (as Robin again) Should we do something?
Linkara: Actually, when you consider that this is a lead-in to "Countdown", that doesn't surprise me.
Linkara (v/o): Robin then brings up the good point of at least going to talk to Firebrand, since he could be starting trouble where none exists. Major Victory reports what happens to Father Time... Again, why did he leave the base? ...and is told that he's been absorbed into the "Super Human Advanced Defense Executive", AKA the organization S.H.A.D.E.
Linkara: (sarcastically) Get it?! They're shady! (beat, then sourly) Remember when secret organizations were actually kind of mysterious and cool instead of cliched and dull? Especially since the writer obviously thought of the name first before figuring out if the acronym made any sense?
Linkara (v/o): Hell, when your group is called "S.H.A.D.E.", why even bother with the acronym at all? Or if you really want to throw people for a loop, call yourselves... the Magical Fun Parade and Lollipops and Rainbows! At least that way, you're trying to covert about the fact that your group is nefarious and up to no good. Back to the Atomic Knights, despite the fact that they outright said three of them are dead – and there are only six Atomic Knights; they were the ones in the cryogenic pods – we see all six of them are fine and looking for some heat signatures. I don't know, maybe they were talking about scientists or some of the civilians they were helping? You know what, I don't care. They run into two parents and three kids, the parents holding baseball bats and saying they won't let "The Black Baron" take their children. After the Knights explain they're with the underground railroad, who has been stealing medicines, dried goods, and kidnapping children to see if they were mutated by the chemo disaster. I guess there are more Atomic Knights, because the lead Knight contacts Roundtable and says they should dispatch the Black Baron situation, as well as another detachment to get the people out of the city. So yeah, people can survive in the city just fine. Why did we need the giant wall when you could just hide your stupid-ass installation in one area and block off the smaller and more easily defendable location?!
Linkara: And just how many organizations are running around here? You've got the supervillains, the government, the Atomic Knights, normal people, some asshole called the Black Baron... You know, Bludhaven originally was just a really crappy city with a high crime rate. Why do we need all this horse hockey?!
(Cut to a shot of the Nightwing comic from which Bludhaven originated)
Linkara (v/o): I mean, who was demanding this miniseries? Not fans of Nightwing, that's for damn sure. He's not even in this comic, and Bludhaven was his friggin' city!
(Cut back to the Bludhaven comic again)
Linkara (v/o): Father Time meets with some other atomic mutation with low intelligence who is told he is going to be joining his super-special, awesome patriotic team. Goody. Oh, and his name is Bigfoot.
Linkara: (holding fist) One day, I'm gonna get that filthy animal!
(Cut to a screenshot reading "The End", then cut back to Linkara reading a Darkwing Duck comic)
Linkara: (reacting in annoyance) Oh, come on! Why does that only work in The Geek?!
Linkara (v/o): We then see Father Time meet the woman who will be the Phantom Lady. I don't care. Back to Firebrand, whose costume has changed again ever so slightly. We also learn the backstory of the Gollum guy named Monolith. It's actually kind of interesting, to be honest. Sounds like a much better story than this one. At least it's focused on one character, instead of about five different groups with their own agendas and stupidity. Firebrand rants some more about the government.
Firebrand: (to Tilt Shimura) Are you just so locked into the system that you can't see the machine? We have to fight the powers that be.
Tilt: Listen to yourself. Are you trying to start a revolution?
Linkara: (singing) You say you want a revolution? Well, you know, we all want to change the world...
Linkara (v/o): Firebrand also comments that he hears a voice in his head telling him the whole country is going to hell. Great, he's officially insane. Thank you, comic. Monolith says he can feel something's wrong inside the city and wants to go investigate.
Firebrand: I'm with this guy! We're going to tear down the establishment and bring back democracy.
Linkara (v/o): Damn it all, Firebrand! Do you know who you are?
(Cut to a clip of an episode of Dragnet)
Linkara (v/o): You're one of those hippies that would show up on Dragnet in the late '60s and act all smug and arrogant before Joe Friday slapped you down with common sense!
Sgt. Joe Friday (Jack Webb): (to the hippie in question) Don't think you have a corner on all of virtue vision in the country, or that everybody else is all fat and selfish and you're the first generation to come along that's felt dissatisfied. They all have, you know, about different things, and most of them didn't have the same opportunity and freedoms that you do.
(Cut back to the comic)
Linkara (v/o): Unfortunately, there is no Joe Friday in this comic, so instead we've got to listen to every stupid, paranoid, delusional thing you say, and I'm pretty sure we're supposed to be agreeing with you. Actually, I take that back. You look and sound exactly like...
(Cut to a shot of...)
Linkara (v/o): ...Izaak Crowe from "Batman: Fortunate Son". After being shot down by the police, he was buried in Bludhaven, then Chemo was dropped on the city, and the toxic chemicals resurrected him as a zombie with superpowers. Over to Father Time again, he's talking with the Force of Just Give It Up Already, including a new Lady Liberty and the new Phantom Lady, who, of course, is an even better example of why this team should not have costumes, but proper uniforms. Phantom Lady is a character that has lasted since the Golden Age and has always worn a very skimpy costume, even back then, so why in the hell is she wearing one when she's working for the friggin' government?! Oh, and Father Time announces that their new leader is Major Force, a character known to be uncontrollable, sexist, more than a little crazy, and is the villain responsible for the creation of the phrase, "Women in refrigerators." (sarcastically) I'm just ever so happy to see him here! (normal) They start talking, blah, blah, blah, evil, evil, evil, I could care less about this.
Linkara: (holds up index finger) Oh, no, I did not misspeak. I could honestly care less about what's going on. Would you like to see me care less about this? (snaps fingers) BOOM! I now care less.
Linkara (v/o): Look, the story is stupid, and I'm not gonna bother anymore. The Atomic Knights sneak into the military base, find meta-humans being fed lemonade into their brains, and the story ends with the revelation that the source of all the radiation is in fact a captured Captain Atom. Well, now it all makes perfect sense, except for the part where it doesn't.
Linkara: (holding up comics) These comics suck! But there's still oh-so-much more stupid to come, my friends. Tune in next week to see the titular battle for the city begin and my apathy grow even more. (scowls)
TO BE CONTINUED
(End credits roll)
Please, no semantics arguments over the use of "internment camps." The only reason it's used it's used is because "internment camp" has much more baggage and negative connotation to it than "refugee camp," and this comic thinks it's smarter than it is.
And yes, I know about the car insurance commercials joke. They're a lot funnier than in a crappy comic where a bunch of scientists are looking through dead bodies.
Also: the end where they sneak into the base? It takes up to six pages for me to summarize in two sentences.
(Stinger: Linkara and his friends are discussing what happened to his magic gun)
Dr. Linksano: How do you know that it isn't someone that he sold it to months ago?
Linkara: I don't know, it's just a gut feeling I have. If they had gotten an anti-magic field generator kit months ago, why did they wait until now to attack? (sighs) I don't think this is an anti-magic field. I mean, if it was, it would have to be one hell of a powerful one to affect me while I was going to see Insano.
Harvey Finevoice: Okay, so we're back to square one. Aside from a good ol' reliable tommy gun, is there anything we have around here that we can use to defend ourselves in case Mr. Long Hair decides to come (makes a knocking motion) a-knockin' again?
Linkara: Well, I suppose we still have the BFG. I mean, that wasn't magic.
90s Kid: (holding up the BFG) Uh, yeah, about that... I kind of emptied the power cells by SHOOTING IT INTO THE AIR in celebration of "Youngblood" getting revived, dude!
Linkara: (shocked) YOU WHAT?!? (90s Kid jumps back at his outburst) 90S KID, I COULD WRING YOUR NECK–
Harvey: (sharply) KID!!
Linkara: (calmer) 90s Kid, (stammers) I don't know what came over me. (rubbing his temples) This whole thing is starting to get to me. I shouldn't have told Insano that my magic wasn't working!
Dr. Linksano: Don't worry about it. Comicron 1 is keeping a very close eye on him.
Linkara: Just like it's keeping a close eye on this place in case the Gunslinger comes back? Just like its sensors are continuing their scans for anything that could be causing all this? (becomes agitated) Just like all the other millions of things that the ship does on an everyday basis?! Nimue doesn't have infinite computer resources. We're already putting a strain on the ship. Linksano, haven't you had any more luck in tracking down the problem?
Dr. Linksano: I'm afraid not. Lord Vyce was very thorough in his databanks, cataloging very aspects of magic. Hell, raw magical energy is one of the fuel sources of Comicron 1. But his data is based on magic from other universes, with different physical laws. It doesn't necessarily work the same way that it does here. In addition, I'm only beginning to learn this stuff. It could take months or years before I've accumulated enough expertise to be of any help to you. You need an expert in this magic crap, and I am not that expert.
Linkara: Actually, I think I may know someone I can call...
(Cut to The Last Angry Geek, who is doing a critique on an issue of "Gold Digger")
LAG: Great art and terrific stories, "Gold Digger" is awesome, and anyone who refuses to read even a single issue is a no-good, dirty Commie!
(Suddenly, his cell phone rings, to the tune of the AT4W theme. He is confused at first, then picks up his phone)
LAG: I have to take this. Excuse me. (answers phone) Hello?
(The phone conversation alternates between Linkara and LAG)
Linkara: Oh, hey, LAG. Um, by any chance, is Cloak #1 around?
LAG: Oh, yeah, just a second. Uh, let me put you on video.
(He hangs up and walks off)
LAG: Hey, large ass, get off my ass and answer the phone!
(Then Cloak #1 pops up)
Cloak #1: Greetings, traveller.
Linkara: (embarrassed) Yeah, hi. Um... I guess you know who this is.
Cloak #1: Yes, yes, I do. What do you want?
Linkara: (hastily) Well, first of all, I want to give my sincere apologies about shooting you last year.
Cloak #1: Not only that, but I lost my job, thanks to you reviewers! There aren't a lot of openings for magical beings to guard the ancient mystical artifacts. Most of those are tenured positions, and those guys live for thousands of years! I'm only a temp now.
Linkara: Yeah, life's tough all over. I need some information.
Cloak #1: Why should I help you?
Linkara: Help me out, and you can use me as a reference when you're job hunting.
Cloak #1: (sarcastically) Oh, that certainly makes up for everything.
Linkara: I'll pay you.
Cloak #1: Much better! What do you need to know?
Linkara: I recently encountered an individual with another magic gun. After the fight, every single magical item I owned or enchanted went dead. Every attempt I've made to revitalize them have failed. Could this guy have put a curse on me or something?
Cloak #1: Possible. Certain very powerful magic users have been known to create curses that strong. And you say every magical item you use is disabled?
Linkara: Well, not exactly. Every item that I appropriated from someone else works just fine.
Cloak #1: Ah, then it's directed around your magic specifically. I can't help you there, I'm afraid.
Linkara: Then what am I supposed to do?
Cloak #1: If it is truly a curse upon you, you're not nearly experienced enough in magic to remove it, and neither am I. You need to seek out those whose magic is beyond any normal person: the wizards and witches, the sorcerers and sorceresses who have been around for thousands of years.
Linkara: Where can I find them?
Cloak #1: (shrugs) No idea. That's for you to work out, I'm afraid. I understand Malachite is working in a coffee shop in Wisconsin. Maybe that would help. (shrugs again)
Linkara: Okay. Thank you for all your help. I'll PayPal you ten bucks.
Cloak #1: Very well. (holds up remote control and pushes a button on it, ending the conversation with Linkara) Sucker! I would have told him for five.