Battle for Bludhaven #5 and #6
July 2, 2012
The battle is over, Bludhaven is silent... save for the angered cries of anyone who bought this miniseries.
Linkara: Hello, and welcome to Atop the Fourth Wall, where bad comics burn. Well, here we are, the final two issues of "Battle for Bludhaven". Will there be a point? Will this suddenly become really good, thanks to this ending? (beat) Okay, think for a second: just how many stories that suck during the first two-thirds suddenly do a 180 at the end?
(Cut to black)
Linkara (v/o): Previously on the "Battle for Bludhaven" review...
(A quick recap of the first four issues in the series is shown)
Linkara (v/o): The government controls the city of Bludhaven, because they're idiots. The Atomic Knights are running around Bludhaven with no clear end goal, because they're idiots. The Secret Society of Supervillains send two teams of nuclear-themed characters into Bludhaven, because they're idiots. Firebrand... is an idiot.
Linkara: So let's dig into (holds up the last two comics in the series) "Battle for Bludhaven #5" and "#6" and get this over with.
(AT4W title theme plays; title card has "Love Is a Battlefield" by Pat Benatar playing in the background. Cut to a closeup of the recap page of the fifth issue)
Linkara (v/o): In the recap page of issue 5, we learn that Reactron of the Nuclear Legion is DEAD! (a dramatic sting is heard)
Linkara: (horrified) OH, MY GOD!! IF I KNEW WHO THAT WAS... (no longer horrified) I still wouldn't care.
Linkara (v/o): Also, there's a question mark over the Black Baron, indicating it's not certain whether he's alive or dead.
Linkara: Spoilers: the Black Baron never appeared in anything else ever again. And even if they did have plans for him, (raises hand) show of hands: who was so interested in this pimp-turned-megalomaniac that they wanted to know what happened to him? (scowls) Put that hand down right now!
Linkara (v/o): Also, why isn't Lady Liberty crossed off? She got the business end of a sword through her chest. I'm pretty sure they haven't developed a cure for that yet.
(The comic proper begins)
Linkara (v/o): We open where left off last issue: Firebrand and Monolith facing off against Freedom's Ring, while the Teen Titans lie unconscious. For once, Firebrand is not ranting about the government.
Firebrand: (in Superboy-Prime's whiny voice) Monolith, please tell me you have a whole bunch of neat superpowers we haven't seen yet.
Monolith: I hit things and they break.
Linkara: You know, with the fact that Monolith killed off the Black Baron subplot last time before it could get any more irritating, has the interesting backstory, and is capable of saying funny lines, it seems like we finally have someone we can root for in this comic.
Linkara (v/o): And he continues to prove that by being noble, protecting Firebrand and telling him to go get help while he holds off Freedom's Ring. They play Rock 'em Sock 'em Metahumans, which Monolith starts losing his head over. Fortunately, Monolith is so awesome that it doesn't even faze him. His headless body grabs Major Force by his neck, but before he can do a repeat of the Black Baron's death, the good Major shatters his body once more. While Major Force calls for S.H.A.D.E agents to come and collect the Teen Titans... Green Lantern shows up. Yep, completely out of nowhere, Green Lantern is here and wants to know what's going on.
Linkara: You can't do that! You can't have characters that haven't appeared before this show up out of the blue without any foreshadowing or context!
(Boffo stands off to the side, honking his horn)
Linkara: You said it, Boffo.
Linkara (v/o): Anyway, Major Force, being the rational kind of guy that he is, immediately attacks the Green Lantern and sends him into a wall. Phantom Lady wants to know what's up with that and Doll Man... Yes, seriously, Doll Man. He's basically a guy who can shrink or is usually just, well, action figure-sized. ...explains the backstory that Major Force has with Green Lanterns. I'll explain that a little later for those who don't know. More fighting, and then we cut to the Atomic Knights, who are examining Captain Atom. He's in a coma, thanks to all the crap he went through. Long story short: check out the awesome "Captain Atom: Armageddon" miniseries. And they think they can wake him up if they put him in a containment suit to stop his radiation leak. However, there's also another issue: the Nuclear Legion and the Nuclear Family are going through a disused tunnel that will lead to the Atomic Knights' base. While they're traveling through the tunnel, we learn that the android dog in the Nuclear Family can talk and it has a potty mouth.
Dog: Quit your #$%& whining.
Linkara (v/o): Okay, questioning on that censoring. Since I don't say more colorful four-letter words in my videos, I will say "funk" in place of, well, you can guess, but the dog only uses four letters right there. So the dog just said "Quit your funk whining," instead of, well, "effing"? Or was he saying, "Quit your damn whining"? And if he was, why would they bleep that out? They use "damn" all the time in comics.
Dog: Listen $%^# weed, maybe you'd like to know that there are several humans in the tunnel ahead who appear to be transporting exotic animals.
Linkara: No... No, they wouldn't. The entire point of you guys being there is to track down the source of the radiation leak. Who cares about exotic animals?
Linkara (v/o): Back in the city, the Teen Titans are being restrained and put into a S.H.A.D.E van, which, of course, has their logo plastered across it and on their uniforms. Because when you're a part of a shadowy government organization, you need to make sure your name is splashed across everything! Ravager arrives and beats them all up, getting to the last guy and putting her sword up to his throat.
Ravager: After you release my friends we're going to have an intimate and possibly painful conversation about just what the hell is going on around here.
Linkara: (as Ravager, holding up a sword to his own throat) I mean, the plot has just gone completely off the rails. I want to see my agent and I want to see him now!
Linkara (v/o): Meanwhile, Firebrand is crawling out of a sewer and realizing that he kind of sucks as a hero. However, the narration captions start talking to him.
Narrator: Ah know lots about ya, kid. The real question ya gotta be askin' yerself is who will carry on the spirit of Rod Reilly?
Linkara: You know, the Golden Age Firebrand, the guy whose name you stole when you put on your stupid-looking costume.
Linkara (v/o): Yeah, I just noticed, Firebrand's outfit is kind of lame. Aside from the leather jacket and inexplicable red shoulder pads, he's also got a big white star on his chest despite lacking any reason to have a star on it! Hell, he seems to be wearing a leotard with black chaps around his legs, and I'm not even certain what the hell his mask is. It seems to wrap around his entire head like goggles. Aside from the red in his outfit, he has nothing about his look that makes him seem like a fire-based character. The voice, which is the voice of the Uncle Sam character we've talked about before, tells him to head south to the Mississippi River.
Firebrand: Right...and then I'll throw myself in the river and drown like Jeff Buckley because I'm hearing voices in my head.
Linkara: What a great idea, Firebrand! (gives a thumbs-up) I am a hundred percent behind this plan!
Firebrand: Who or whatever you are...you can forget it. I'm staying here and reporting what I've seen to the media.
Linkara: (as Firebrand) And then these two women with glittery bras suicide-bomb themselves, then their Gollum friend tossed the Black Baron into the sky, and then a big purple guy attacked us, along with a woman in yellow underwear, and also the Statue of Liberty, except she was black, but the one-eyed lady stabbed her through the chest... Why are you all looking at me like that?
Linkara (v/o): The voice of Uncle Sam tells him that it isn't the government he should be fighting, just certain factions within it. Furthermore, he says that he's not going to be any more help for Bludhaven and needs to be ready when conflict spreads out from it.
Uncle Sam: (narrating) Andre Twist, yer the only one whose heart is pure, an' you'll have ta be my firebrand.
Linkara: Ah, yes, Firebrand is pure of heart. I forgot about the other miniseries that spawned from this: "Uncle Sam and the Planeteers".
Linkara (v/o): Firebrand doesn't buy any of this, so Uncle Sam shows him a vision of the future.
Uncle Sam: (narrating) This is someone's idea of America. It's a land ruled by a single leader...
Linkara: I hate to nitpick, but technically, America is already a land ruled by a single leader.
Uncle Sam: (narrating) ...backed by an army a' metahuman soldiers.
Linkara (v/o): Yahtzee of Zero Punctuation put this best: "You can have your stupid-ass army of super-soldiers and crap, but in the end, a nice, big, powerful bomb is always gonna be more effective than any schmuck that you give laser vision to." But hey, maybe Uncle Sam is right. I mean, look at just how horrible this dystopian America is! (dramatic music plays in the background, while Linkara speaks in a mock terrified tone) Why, there are two guys in S.H.A.D.E. uniforms floating in the sky! Oh, and there's another standing on the street! Oh, my God, the oppression is terrifying! And look, a political poster of some guy named Knight! People don't have political posters up now! Oh, my God, ordinary people walking down the streets! It's just like Nazi Germany! And what's this? A random sign across a building that says, "Mission Accomplished"?!
(Cut to a clip of an episode of The Daily Show, showing a blackboard reading "Conservative" and "Libertarian")
Jon Stewart: (flailing his arms around exaggeratedly) OH, MY GOD! OH, MY GOD! OH, MY GOD!
(Cut back to the comic)
Linkara (v/o): (continuing his tone of mock alarm) This is truly the end times, my friends! Even though we have no idea what the mission is, and it's probably a vague, completely contextless reference to the early declaration of victory in Iraq, this sign just appearing on a building for absolutely no reason is the greatest indicator that AMERICA IS DOOOOOMED!! Anyway, that's the last we see of Firebrand until the very end of the series. Glad we wasted so much time with him, but at least in this issue, he wasn't rambling like a hobo who thinks the government tracks you through the magnetic strips in your money. Back to the Teen Titans, Robin is chewing out Ravager for torturing the S.H.A.D.E. agent for information and she's sarcastic about it.
Cyborg: Cut the sarcasm. I'm glad you didn't kill anyone.
Linkara (v/o): (yelling in frustration) LADY LIBERTY GOT IMPALED ON A SWORD!! STOP PRETENDING THAT DIDN'T HAPPEN! (calmer) She briefs the others about the military base when they spot Green Lantern and Major Force fighting in the sky. Cut to the two women who were with Firebrand and Monolith at the beginning of the comic. I really don't remember their names and they barely count as characters. They want to sneak into the city to find them, and the one with brown hair suggests that they dress up in camouflage gear to pretend their military officers.
Linkara: (waves dismissively) Oh, that'll never work! When do we ever see any female soldiers or goons?
Linkara (v/o): I also find it kind of interesting that these soldiers are wearing forest camouflage gear instead of urban city camouflage, but whatever. Back to the fight: Green Lantern creates an energy construct of a refrigerator and smashes it on Major Force. Okay, some people were confused by a phrase I said last time: "Women in refrigerators." So, let's get the backstory here.
(Cut to shots of a prior "Green Lantern" comic, issue 49)
Linkara (v/o): After the time Hal Jordan went nuts and murdered the entire Green Lantern Corps, the last Guardian of the Universe took a Green Lantern ring and gave it to the first person on Earth he could find: an artist named Kyle Rayner. Kyle had a girlfriend named Alexandra, and Major Force, while looking for Kyle, found Alexandra, murdered her, and stuffed her body in a refrigerator. Writer Gail Simone, then just a comic fan, came up with the term "women in refrigerators" to describe the tendency of female characters to be killed, raped, depowered, maimed, or otherwise just have a bunch of crap happen to them, not for the advancement of their own story, but to propel a male character towards action of some kind.
Linkara: And that's why Green Lantern just made a refrigerator construct and stomped on Major Force with it. (beat) And why it's actually kind of a really inappropriate thing for him to do.
Linkara (v/o): When Major Victory tries to intervene, Major Force rips off his arm and beats him to death with it! Yep, putting him on the team was a genius move there, Father Time. Down in the sewer, the Atomic Knights fight the two supervillain groups, and the stupid dog continues to swear a whole lot. Up above, the Teen Titans fight Freedom's Ring, and the issue ends with the ground exploding and the fight with the Atomic Knights spills upwards. Naturally, Robin says it best...
Robin: This is completely insane.
Linkara: This kind of line keeps happening in bad comics. It's like the writers reached the final issue and they just have a brief moment of clarity where they realize, "My God, what have I done?"
Linkara (v/o): Issue 6 begins with Captain Atom recapping what we already know: he landed in the series after his miniseries; he was attacked by something that cracked his armor; and later, the government found him and put him in a containment unit to prevent his body from exploding. We now cut to the Atomic Knights' laboratory, where they're putting Captain Atom within a new containment suit... which, for some reason, is the Monarch armor. Seriously!
Linkara: Okay, backstory explanation again. I covered this waaaaay back in my "Top 15 Worst Heroes Becoming Villains", but here's a refresher course.
(A montage of shots of a comic called "Armageddon 2001")
Linkara (v/o): In 1991, there was a crossover event called "Armageddon 2001". It showed that in the future, a despotic being called Monarch ruled the world, was oppressive, and blah, blah, blah. The twist was that Monarch was a former hero who had turned evil. A man called Waverider went back in time to try to find out which hero it was and kill them before they could turn on everyone. Now, the plan was that it would be revealed that Captain Atom was the one who would turn evil. But something pretty extraordinary happened: the Captain Atom revelation was leaked. Bear in mind, this was 1991. These days, spoilers on the Internet are pretty prevalent and they're gonna happen, but back then, somehow it became widespread knowledge that this was going to be the reveal without the aid of the information superhighway. DC, panicking that their big reveal was going to be spoiled, rushed the conclusion of the story so that a different hero, Hawk, became Monarch.
Linkara: And for some ungodly reason, DC keeps trying to turn Captain Atom into Monarch!
(Cut to shots of another comic: "Extreme Justice")
Linkara (v/o): Seriously, "Battle for Bludhaven" is not the first time they tried this! In an issue of the oh-so-'90s "Extreme Justice" series, they came up with another explanation for Captain Atom becoming Monarch.
Linkara: Okay, on the slim chance that anyone at DC sees this and is thinking they should make Captain Atom into Monarch again, let me make this clear: nobody cares about Monarch. Nobody! You had a good story idea in 1991... but ya blew it. Nobody cares about "Armageddon 2001". Nobody cares about fixing "Armageddon 2001". Nobody... cares... about... Monarch! Let it die!
(Cut back to "Battle for Bludhaven")
Linkara (v/o): And just from a simple question of logic, why the hell would they make this "containment armor" look like this? Why the hell is he wearing shoulder pads if the suit was just supposed to contain his excess energy? Why does it have a big collar? Why is it painted blue and gold? Ugh! Anyway, Captain Atom wakes up, naturally confused and upset about the current situation. That Roundtable computer thing talks to him and... I guess gives him information on recent events, because out of nowhere, he suddenly knows that...
Capt. Atom: People have been using me. The government restarted the program that created me, and-- What's that--? Major Force is here!?
Linkara (v/o): And so he decides to "put a permanent end to this lunacy." He tells the computer to evacuate the city and flies up... and considering that we see the sky in this panel, it means the lab was directly underneath the streets with only a foot of concrete separating this lab from the city! Dear Lord, this is stupid! Back to the fighting nobody cares about, the Atomic Knights bring Green Lantern up to speed; more people fighting; Freedom's Ring joins forces with the Teen Titans; and Replicant tells Father Time that this whole thing is becoming a clustercrap. Father Time orders everyone to evacuate, and they're FINALLY moving everything out of the city. And then Monarch shows up above the city, kills Major Force to show that he's so serious, yo, and that everybody has ten minutes to evacuate the city. Green Lantern gets the Titans out, the government air-lifts Freedom's Ring out, and then Monarch blows up the remains of Bludhaven! I'm not kidding! All that's left is a big-ass crater!
Linkara: This is the comic book equivalent of "rocks fall, everybody dies".
Linkara (v/o): The next day, we have the President Bush analogue... I think he's President Rickard or something... speaking about the events of the city.
President: (narrating) One of our cities no longer exists.
Linkara: Yeah, the abandoned city with barely anybody inside of it because of the stupid covert black ops!
Linkara (v/o): He goes on to blame this whole thing on metahuman terrorists, even though none of the situation would have ever come about if they had just MOVED THEIR DAMN MILITARY BASE SOMEWHERE ELSE!! There wouldn't have been any Atomic Knights reclaiming Captain Atom, no Monarch armor, and everybody would be happy! Well, except Captain Atom, but he'd be unconscious.
President: (narrating) For decades, our greatest fear has been the atomic bomb. Now that fear is replaced by something new-- metahuman terrorists. They are weapons of mass destruction that walk among us. They go unchecked. They hold no official status.
Linkara: The most volatile and destructive members of this whole thing were Captain Atom and Major Force, both of whom were AGENTS OF THE GOVERNMENT!
Linkara (v/o): He says that he's spoken with Congress about creating a new metahuman task force that's government-sanctioned to help provide better homeland security. Yeah, like that team that your government agency already created THAT CAUSED THIS WHOLE DAMN FIASCO! His speech is stupid and I really get the impression that this was DC trying to create similar circumstances that were happening at Marvel at the time: a Superhero Registration Act, superheroes under government control, controversy and stories of freedom versus security, but it doesn't work because the stories around it are weak and moronic! The "Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters" series that came out of this was completely ignored by the rest of the DCU! Oh, and we see Firebrand again standing on top of an anarchist A symbol. Man, Uncle Sam really got through to him when he said it wasn't the government's fault, just certain people in it. (sarcastically) Good job! And so, our comic ends with the Atomic Knights going to yet another base that was below Bludhaven, one that was even farther down and wasn't destroyed by Monarch.
(Cut to a clip of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 gang watching The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies)
Crow: We hope you've enjoyed No-Moral Theater!
(Back to the comic again)
Linkara (v/o): They [the Atomic Knights] arrive at a big chamber that's labeled "COMMAND-D". Get it? "COMMAND-D"? Kamandi? As in, that series about the kid who survived underground until the far future where apes ruled the world? That thing that came up in "Countdown" a few times? (gets frustrated) The basis for the "Kamandi at Earth's End" miniseries that also led to "Superman At Earth's End"?!
Linkara: (aggravated) Why is it that every crappy comic I review eventually leads back to Kamandi?! (snaps comic shut and holds it up) These comics suck!
Linkara (v/o): "Battle for Bludhaven" is a jumbled, incoherent mess! None of the characters – and I use the word "characters" loosely – are likable, it brings back stupid concepts from decades past that were forgotten for a reason, and the artwork seems very rushed at parts, especially in moments where things are inconsistent from panel to panel: the inexplicable tent containing the astronaut fetus; Robin laying down and then standing up again; the tube containing Replicant that has a door on it, and all the liquid drained in the next panel. And in the end, what is the actual plot of this story? Heroes come into a wrecked city where the government is up to no good, the heroes are confused about what's going on, and then another guy shows up and blows everything up. The end! It wants to be edgy and topical by bringing up parallels to real-world events, but does so in a completely different context and removed from reality, especially when they still want to have the goofy comic book stuff happening!
Linkara: And yes, I got pretty emotional and mad about it, but I can't say I care enough about it to burn it or anything. Every other comic except "Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters" ignored this thing. I got angry at it because I wasted my time reading something that isn't very good on its own and otherwise has no impact on anything else, ever. (throws down comic, gets up and leaves)
(End credits roll)
Yeah, yeah, the US Government has checks and balances and they probably meant America becoming a dictatorship, but we put more emphasis on the President as the country's leader than, say, a random senator or congressperson and saying "ruled by a single leader" is an idiotic way of putting it.
Couldn't find a good place to put in a "love is a battlefield" joke, but I think you get the idea. If you don't, it's that Pat Benatar is infinitely better than anything related to this comic.
...Why the hell was Green Lantern here?
(Stinger: Linkara throws his coat on the futon and pulls out a vest from the closet, which he puts on. He holsters his magic gun, puts a communicator on his wrist, and puts a pack over his shoulder)
Pollo: Are you sure you don't want everyone else around for this?
Linkara: (walking toward front door) Trust me, it's for the best. They would just try to tell me yet again to not leave.
Pollo: They're right. You shouldn't leave until you are more prepared.
Linkara: I have a warship in orbit with the most advanced scanning equipment tracking me. I know you'll come get me if I need help.
Pollo: And what about my new body?
Linkara: The hologram's gonna be working on that while I'm gone. Don't worry, I have planned for everything.
Pollo: Then good luck.
Linkara: Thanks, buddy.
(He opens the front door, but then stops and looks back at his apartment one last time)
Linkara: I'm coming back. And when I do, everything will be okay. (walks through door, leaving)