Bill and Ted's Excellent Comic Book #1
April 28, 2014
A most non-bogus comic about two excellent dudes!
Linkara: Hello, and welcome to Atop the Fourth Wall, where bad comics burn. (makes air-guitar-playing motions, but it's silent; he sighs in disappointment) Damn. I'll figure out how to do that at some point. In the meantime, though, let's talk about Bill and Ted.
(Footage of Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure is shown)
Linkara (v/o): Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure is a movie about two slacker surfer dudes kidnapping famous historical figures from their proper time so they can get an A on their history report.
Linkara: The movie that puts the "high" in "high concept".
Linkara (v/o): And if you haven't seen the first movie, here's a more slightly detailed plot summary: In the future, humanity lives in a utopia, thanks to the philosophies espoused in the music of a group called Wyld Stallyns, spelled with a Y instead of I's.
BECAUSE POOR LITERACY IS... EXCELLENT!!!
Linkara (v/o): However, there's a bit of a problem. The two main band members, Bill S. Preston, Esq., and Ted Theodore Logan, are from 1989 and are really crappy students in high school. If they don't pass their history report, Ted is going to get shipped off to military school and the band will be over and the utopia will cease to be. And thus, Rufus, played by the late George Carlin, is sent back in time to ensure that the two pass their history test.
Linkara: And because they would have failed without his intervention from the future... the very future that would not exist without his intervention from it... we have created a predestination paradox, and I am my own grandmother.
Linkara (v/o): This seems like a smart idea, doesn't it? Letting the two idiots have control of a time machine. The space-time continuum is getting its head repeatedly slammed into a wall at this point. But hey, it all works out. They kidnap historical figures to help them with their report, and the two even get hot girlfriends from medieval England who would have been otherwise forced into arranged marriages. So instead, the two end up in Wyld Stallyns – because history says that they do – thus arranging their marriages anyway, thanks to destiny and crap.
Linkara: (waving dismissively) I kid. The movie's great, but I actually like the sequel more than the first one. Much like how I am a heretic in liking Ghostbusters 2 more than the first film. (beat) You may now begin stoning me and swearing that you'll never watch my videos again.
(Cut to footage of the sequel, Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey)
Linkara (v/o): And because today's comic takes place after the sequel, I need to get into that, too. In Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey, an evil teacher named De Nomolos hates the utopia created by the two... Considering the fashion sense of the future, I don't really blame him... and sends two evil robot duplicates of Bill and Ted back in time to kill them and prevent them from winning a battle of the bands that would be the first stepping stone for Wyld Stallyns to change the world. And... they succeed! They kill Bill and Ted! However, it's not the end, for the two then go through the titular "bogus journey", wherein they go through Hell itself, defeat and befriend the Grim Reaper, and then travel to Heaven to recruit aliens who would build good robot versions of them to defeat the evil robot versions of them and win the battle of the bands.
Linkara: The only way this plot could have been more insane and awesome was if Mr. T was somehow involved in it.
(Cut to a shot of the comic adaptation of Bogus Journey)
Linkara (v/o): Now, you may have noticed that originally I solicited we'd be reviewing the adaptation of the movie. And that was my mistake. I thought that the "Bogus Journey" comic was the movie followup to the movie, even though it clearly says right at the top: "A Most Excellent Movie Adaptation".
Linkara: Apparently, someone needs to go back in time and teach me how to read.
Linkara (v/o): But no! Today, we're actually looking at "Bill and Ted's Excellent Comic Book". It seems the adaptation of "Bogus Journey" was actually popular enough to warrant an ongoing series... that only lasted for twelve issues, but hey, that's more than some comics get, so kudos.
Linkara: And hey, they were done by Marvel, so... considering how the rest of their licensed work tends to get put into continuity, congratulations! "Bill and Ted" exists in the same universe as the Transformers, 2001: A Space Odyssey, and Godzilla! (beat) Yeah, we'll get to Marvel's "Godzilla" comics at some point.
Linkara (v/o): The adaptation and the ongoing series were done by Evan Dorkin, who has done comic work for both of the Big Two, did some episodes of Superman: The Animated Series, Space Ghost Coast To Coast, and less well-known was his brief time owning and operating a circus.
(Cut to a clip of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 gang watching a movie involving a circus parade, with a truck in it with the words "Dorkin's Circus" written on the side)
Tom Servo: Yes, "Dorkin" means great entertainment.
Crow T. Robot: Dorkin under the big top!
Linkara: So let's dig into (holds up today's comic) "Bill and Ted's Excellent Comic Book #1" and see if this concept can party on for an ongoing series.
(AT4W title sequence plays, and the title card has "God Gave Rock 'n' Roll To You" from the Bill and Ted movies playing in the background. Cut to a closeup of the comic's cover)
Linkara (v/o): The cover is... crowded, and I don't know if that's necessarily a good or bad thing for this book. It features our heroes on a stage, rocking out, while several historical figures – and the Grim Reaper – are in the audience. Rufus is in the corner, holding a wedding invitation for the two to marry the fabulous medieval princess babes, and for some reason, he's sticking his tongue out. Um, does that mean something in the future than it does now? Because in the present time, that would be a sign of disgust, and I'm pretty sure you wanted them to get together, dude.
Linkara: (slurring, with his tongue out) Perhaps in the future, that's the kind of thing that's just common. (gives a thumbs-up)
Linkara (v/o): I think my real problem with how crowded and busy everything is comes from the title. It's not very well separated from the rest of the cover and is kind of hard to look at. However, I will give props to the issue number: "Totally Resplendent, Triumphant, Stellar, Non-Heinous, Non-Bogus, Most Classically Excellent First Issue!"
Linkara: The two may have sucked at history, but you cannot fault them on their vocabulary.
Linkara (v/o): We open with Abraham Lincoln walking down a hallway full of portraits. At the end, he comes to a set of doors guarded by two knights in full armor and a jester.
Linkara: Dear Lord, I love comic books!
Linkara (v/o): Upon entering, the Great Emancipator has a new proclamation to give...
Lincoln: PARTY ON, DUDES!
Linkara: Turns out the Civil War was never about slavery; it was about how much we should be allowed to party.
Linkara (v/o): Also, Lincoln's love for partying is well-documented, as well as his brief affair with copious amounts of hair gel to make it stand up straight like that.
Linkara: Lincoln never actually wore a top hat, it was just his hair that he had shaped into that form.
Linkara (v/o): So, the party is in full swing, though I've got to admit, I'm not fond of the yellow and orange coloring that makes it difficult to make out anything without searching. Maybe this was actually supposed to be some kind of "Where's Waldo?" thing. I can't find Waldo, but I think that's Jughead right there. Bill and Ted spot Lincoln approaching.
Bill and Ted: How's it goin', Mr. President?! We're totally honored by the presence of the way cool dude worth $5.01 at our wedding!
Linkara: Yeah, but after the speculator boom, he's not worth that much anymore. Sorry.
Linkara (v/o): Lincoln apologizes for being late, wondering if he missed the ceremony, but the two explain they decided to throw a party before the actual wedding ceremony so they'd have two parties.
(Cut to a clip of a Doctor Who episode, showing a Cyberman)
Cyberman: There is... logic... in what he says.
(Cut back to the comic)
Linkara (v/o): Truly, these two are the greatest visionaries of the world. They do ask where the missus is, however.
Lincoln: Mrs. Lincoln is resting. We have tickets tonight for a theater opening.
Linkara (v/o): And then a bunch of people go up and want to autograph their five-dollar bills and pennies.
Lincoln: Ah! Groupies! Excuse me, boys!
Linkara: (laughs uproariously) He's gonna be dead in a few hours.
Bill: Ted, this was a truly stellar notion--a full out wedding for our most excellent friends and family-types!
Linkara: (stroking chin) That raises an interesting question: are there friends and family members who they don't consider to be "most excellent"?
Ted: Well, we did marry the babes in a most atypical fashion! We never got their dad's blessing and nobody got to see it happen, but with twenty-five-grand, we can party bodaciously, Bill!
Bill: True, Ted... The money we got from winning the "battle of the bands" bought a most sterling affair!
Linkara: Exposition that the two are already well aware of, courtesy of 90s Kid. (beat, then looks at comic) Wait a second...
Linkara (v/o): Orange hat, green plaid shirt, black T-shirt... It is 90s Kid!
(Cut to 90s Kid)
90s Kid: Cha! As if! While the Wyld Stallyns are indeed most triumphant, they do not possess my keen fashion sense when it comes to sunglasses!
Bill: Bands, foods, beverages... friends... folks...
Ted: Robots, aliens... the personification of mortality... ex-Pretzels-N-Cheese coworkers, scenesters, hangers-on, and even worse, rock "journalists."
Linkara: In the future, Rolling Stone Magazine was apparently obliterated. Go figure.
Ted: All in all a very "Brady Bunch" wedding!
Linkara: (confused) You both had three kids? What?
Linkara: Oh, it was a "not" situation. (laughs) Seriously, though, "Brady Bunch"? Huh?
Linkara (v/o): They exposit further that Rufus has gone back in time to get the parents of the two princesses, as well as their favorite medieval music group since they're afraid the parents won't be hip to their music. Meanwhile, we spot the rest of the party guests, like Socrates in a mosh pit, Genghis Khan munching away on hot dogs, and Joan of Arc looking rather uncomfortably at a rotisserie chicken that's burning over a flame.
Bill: Weird babe, Ted.
Ted: Truly unstable.
Linkara: (laughs uproariously) It's funny because she was burned to death at the stake! (laughs) Seriously, though, could we stop with the jokes about their tragic deaths?
Linkara (v/o): And then the Grim Reaper pops up, scythe and everything.
Grim Reaper: Hey, dooooooods!
Linkara (v/o): Also, he's a skeleton. Yeah, the adaptation in the movie had him in the traditional skeleton look, and it kind of works for the comics, I think.
Grim Reaper: My funny friends! I am so happy for you!
Bill: Oh, man! Dude--your breath! Have you been to the bar?
Grim Reaper: No comment.
Linkara: (as Grim Reaper, drunk tone) I wanna play you again for your lives. Have found new game. We play Angry Birds, yes?
Ted: Take it light, Death. Don't drink and reap.
Grim Reaper: I no work today, today I'm off for a wedding! See you later, dooods!
(Cut to a clip of one of the Bill and Ted movies)
Bill: Don't fear the reaper.
(They both make air guitar motions, then cut back to the comic again)
Grim Reaper: Lincoln! Dood! Good to see you again! How's the head? Ha Ha Ha!!!
Linkara: (looking thoughtful) Okay, that was funny.
(Cut to King Arthur, played by Lewis)
Arthur: Hello, my friends. While we wait for these commercials to pass, (AT4W logo appears in the corner) I will entertain you all with a song.
(As Arthur opens his mouth, we cut abruptly to a commercial; upon return, we return to King Arthur)
Arthur: And now we're back. I hope the song... (AT4W logo appears in the corner) entertained you.
(We cut back to the comic as the review resumes)
Linkara (v/o): Meanwhile, in the past... Now, there's a weird thing to say... Rufus is bringing the royal musicians along for the wedding and... Good Lord, what the hell is he wearing? You know, Bill and Ted's philosophical teachings about being good to one another are just fine, but maybe they should have written a song about not wearing weird-ass techno-collars and shoulder pads that say "Bestest Man" on them or the power boots that look like they have their own mini-white tuxedos on them.
Linkara: Oh, what the hell am I complaining about? Still a better future than "SCI-Spy".
Linkara (v/o): The two remaining of the royal musicians, lute players, have been attacked and their clothes stolen. As it turns out, their attackers, named Geoffrey and Linus, are the ones who the princesses were originally betrothed to against their will. They suspect that the two are in danger and are hitching in the time machine to get them back. Back at the party, Napoleon is complaining about a dessert being named after him that's too small and light. Freud naturally is nearby to take notes. Socrates is accosted by... Sweet merciful crap, what the hell? I... A clock with arms and a face and... and...
(Cut to a clip of Don't Hug Me, I'm Scared II, showing an anthropomorphic clock with a face and hands)
Clock: There's a time and a place for mucking around.
Linkara: (nonplussed) No, Don't Hug Me, I'm Scared is not nearly as frightening as whatever the hell that is.
Linkara (v/o): I mean, did Mr. Computer from "Captain Electron" breed or something?! What in God's name am I looking at?! Actually, no, not God's name! I have a sneaking suspicion that God had nothing to do with this! Meanwhile, our heroes are showing off their kids to their parents. Yeah, long story short, they travel through time briefly to become expert players, and the intervening time allowed them to get married and have a kid each. Rufus arrives with the musicians, saying he'll be right back with the parents, and the lead player warns that if they're not approved by said parents, heads will roll.
Ted: Whoa...frosty reception. What's with that "head rolling" deal?
Bill: Not sure, Ted, but I think we're going bowling...
Linkara: Yes, you will, and your decapitated heads will be the balls.
Linkara (v/o): Geoffrey and Linus have snuck away from the musicians and inspect the party, shocked by the madness before them.
Geoffrey: Aye, madness it is... a cacophany [sic] of sadistic debauchery!
Linkara: I know, right? Even they can spot that that weird-ass creature should not be!
Linkara (v/o): Genghis Khan is just as disgusted as me and throws up all over the creature, who runs– er, rolls off. Bill's father steps up to say something about his son, but then Death runs up and grabs the microphone.
Linkara: (as the Grim Reaper) Yo, dog, I'm-a let you finish...
Grim Reaper: Okay, dudes! Time for a few jokes, eh?!
Linkara (v/o): But the crowd starts throwing things at him.
Crowd: DEATH'S NOT FUNNY!!
Linkara: And yet, that didn't stop this comic from making three jokes about people dying.
Linkara (v/o): While Napoleon takes a few swigs alcohol, we cut over to the princesses, Joanna and Elizabeth, as they put on the wedding dresses the two Station aliens have created.
Linkara: Robotics, bongo-playing, and now dress-making? Is there nothing that Station fails at?!
Linkara (v/o): However, the scene is crashed by the arrival of Linus and Geoffrey.
Geoffrey: Stifle thy need for jubilation... The matter at hand is now and foremost your means of escaping this infernal ceremony!
Linkara (v/o): And naturally, the women laugh at the two and proclaim...
Linkara (v/o): The two can't accept that they don't actually love them and... Wait, why is there a bird there? Did John Woo suddenly show up at the party and release a bunch of doves or something? Erm, anyway, they once again say they need to leave, but the women say they're already married; the ceremony is just to renew their vows.
Linus: Be still, my sweet orchid. It does not seem to dawn on you that what has been made can be unmade...
Geoffrey: Especially that which arises from wizardry and even more is snatched from our hands after much troubled lengths.
Linkara: Take a good, long look (panel is shown of their dialogue, showing Linus and Geoffrey scowling) at this panel, everybody! This is (makes "air quotes") "nice guy syndrome" personified perfectly. Any time now, they're gonna complain about being put in the "unchivalrous zone of friendship".
Linkara (v/o): And indeed, the princesses say that the guys are frightening them.
Geoffrey: Frigh-Frightening you?!? We frighten you?!?
Linkara: (as Geoffrey) HOW CAN YOU BE FRIGHTENED WHEN WE ARE ANGRILY SHOUTING AT YOU SO NICELY?!?!
Geoffrey: You must be enchanted! You calmly stand behind these freaks of nature and say you fear your intended?!
Elizabeth: Intended? Never! We were merely friends, Geoffrey!
Linkara: (looking at his cell phone) Oh, look at that, I called it.
Elizabeth: Father pushed for a romance, not us! He was eager to see us happy after betrothing us to those two old men!
Joanna: When you two appeared after they met with accident–
Geoffrey: Accident?! Ha!! Killed!!! Yes, killed!! The king was a fool! 'Twas no mishap! Unless Linus and I bashing in their heads and hurling them in the moat is called a "mishap" these days!
Linkara: Uh, dude, romance tip: Admitting to the women you want to marry that you murdered their first fiancees... (grimaces) not gonna win you points.
Linkara (v/o): They admit that they'll happily murder lots more people to win them back, but they'll be satisfied with just killing Bill and Ted. Fortunately, Station saw fit to equip their veils with steel lining or something, since the two use them to promptly knock the two assholes out. Back at the party, Death is talking to Socrates.
Grim Reaper: Hey, Socrates! It's Thanatos, 'member? How's it goin'? Hey, I got a joke-- how many cyclopes does it take to screw in a lightbulb?
Linkara (v/o): Aaaand no punchline; he just drinks so much, it even comes out his eye sockets.
Grim Reaper: Hey, I got another one... Seems that the Erymanthian Boar walks into this bar, see--
Linkara: Oh, dear Lord, I want the Grim Reaper at any party I'm at! (grins)
Linkara (v/o): Bill and Ted walk out in oversized tuxedos that even they admit are too large.
Ted: Yah! A bit too "new wave" for me, but it's all the rental had!
Linkara: I guess the David Byrne-themed wedding just isn't popular this year.
Linkara (v/o): The two go up to the altar and the princesses arrive. And so everything goes well until, naturally, the "speak now or forever hold your peace" part, and the assholes have returned, now wielding fencing swords. They challenge the two to a duel, but Bill and Ted are not quite understanding.
Geoffrey: Cease your prattling, you filthy mongrel! I demand honor!
Ted: Huh? What'd you say?
Linus: Be still, foul spawn of warlocks! Your mere taking of breath bespoils the very air!
Linkara: Says the admitted murderers.
Ted: I can't understand a word you're saying, speak English, dude--
Linus: I speak the Queen's English, you fool!
Ted: "Queen"? Cool, dude! Bill, Queen does that "Bohemian Rhapsody" tune!
Linkara: Crossovers that never happened, but should have: Bill and Ted and Wayne's World.
Linkara (v/o): They reiterate they want to duel with swords, but Bill and Ted think they're safe because they don't have any swords. Unfortunately, Genghis Khan and Napoleon volunteer their own swords for the task. Bill's dad volunteers to just arrest the jerks. He even has a gun. But... Er, wait, he calls Ted his son, even though that's clearly Bill's dad from before. Erm, anyway, Ted says this is something they have to do, and they begin dueling, with Ted unfortunately not faring very well and Death just refusing to get involved.
Bill: (giving Linus a noogie) Dude! Check me out! Dueling noogies!
Linkara (v/o): Ha! Where's your Queen's English now, jackass?
(Cut to a clip of the MST3K gang watching The Undead, showing a knight being attacked)
Mike: (as knight) Me help! Attacked I am being! Hitting me, stop, you must! God, dear, bleeding am I! Break my leg think I did you!
(Back to the comic again)
Linkara (v/o): They manage to evade for a while, but eventually, the two are able to disarm Bill and Ted and get ready to kill them. Fortunately, Billy the Kid brings out his own gun and tells the two to scram. They admit defeat, and Billy offers to buy them a drink to drown their sorrows. The wedding continues, but there's another interruption, this time from Rufus, who has arrived late.
Linkara: Which is a pretty spectacular feat to accomplish, considering he has a time machine.
Linkara (v/o): He's arrived with the princesses' parents who admit to have seen the entire fight, and upon the fact that Bill and Ted are, well, scrawny idiots but were willing to risk their lives to protect the princesses, they happily grant their consent to the wedding. And thus, they are pronounced men and wives. However, Geoffrey and Linus can't admit defeat after this and try to stab them again with swords. But it turns out they accidentally stab the good robot Bill and Ted and are electrocuted. And now they're dead. Apparently, the fact that they're dead is the last straw for the Reaper, and he gets an idea.
Bill: I feel sorry for the dead dudes, even though they tried to make us dead dudes!
Ted: Yah, if I lost the babes I'd be kind of bummed out myself.
Bill: Ted, you mean you'd embark on a self-destructive path of murder and mayhem?
Ted: Nah... I'd probably fall into a morass of self-pity and torture myself by watching reruns of "Mr. Belvedere".
Linkara: Ah, '80s sitcom references. Some things will never become dated.
Linkara (v/o): And so, our comic ends with some bad news. It seems the Grim Reaper stole the time machine and has officially quit. And so no one is gonna be dying any time soon. And also, why is everyone bunched up like this really weird? And the two realize that they've got to go and find Death before he wreaks havoc with the time machine.
Linkara: (holding up comic) This comic... is actually pretty enjoyable.
Linkara (v/o): I mean, it's no great work of fiction, but it's "Bill and Ted". It's actually pretty funny for the most part, the plot is straightforward and logical and continues the characters' shenanigans in a cartoony manner. Speaking of, I think the art is the only real flaw of it, if you can call it that. The cartoony style is fine, but a lot of it looks crammed together and crowded, and the colors are not exactly pleasing to the eye in a lot of spots, although that's probably more the fault of early '90s coloring than anything else.
Linkara: So, anyway, yeah, let's try this one more time before the credits...
(He raises his hands to play an air guitar, but instead, Mozart's "Sonata, K. 331" plays, to his confusion)
Linkara: Eh, close enough.
(End credits roll)
I eagerly await people telling me about how Transformers isn't actually part of the Marvel canon instead of just letting me make my joke.
De Nomolos' true identity? Batman. He couldn't stand a future that was shaped by Rock and Roll.
(Stinger: A clip of Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey is shown: Bill and Ted are playing Battleship with the Grim Reaper)
Grim Reaper: A hit. You have sunk my battleship!
Bill and Ted: (in unison) Excellent! (high-five each other) Yeah!