Blood Pack #1
September 14, 2009
Thrill as they sit around and bicker using terrible dialogue!
Linkara: Hello, and welcome to Atop the Fourth Wall, where bad comics burn. What is it about the word (makes "air quotes") "blood" that suddenly makes things seem EXTREEEEEEEME?!
(As always, loud rock music plays while random words flash on the screen; cut to a collage of comics called "Bloodlines")
Linkara (v/o): Back in 1993, there was a company-wide crossover at DC called "Bloodlines". The idea was that a group of aliens came to Earth to feast off the spinal fluids of humans. However, in some, it awakened the metahuman gene, turning them into superheroes.
Linkara: What? You don't think having spinal fluids drained can give you superpowers? It could happen.
Linkara (v/o): The event was used as an excuse to start off a few new titles as well as give some "new blood" to the DC Universe. Hence, why the new heroes were called New Bloods. The event ran through all of the annuals of the time before culminating in a two-part finale. I admit, I've never actually read any of the annuals or parts of the crossover, so I don't know if it was any good.
(Cut to a shot of a comic called "Hitman")
Linkara (v/o): The only lasting effect the crossover had was the ongoing series "Hitman", which lasted for about 60 issues. The other New Bloods haven't appeared in very many titles since then.
Linkara: Still, many of them are quite worthy of ridicule, so let's dig into (holds up comic to be reviewed today) "Blood Pack #1".
(Title sequence plays; title card has "Canon Rock" playing over it; cut to a closeup of the comic's cover)
Linkara (v/o): This cover is claustrophobic! The "Blood Pack" title isn't capitalized, and its colors scheme matches most of the rest of the cover, so it's barely noticeable. Furthermore, instead of having the standard team shot that would have been just fine, if a little boring, the normal shot is cramped down the middle of the cover and showing monitors all around it, featuring guys with Liefeld-like proportions and bizarre orange armor. The bottom screen features an odd image of the character Jade and two others whom I can only presume to be Quicksilver and some bald guy.
Linkara: Seriously, what is it with all the mysterious bald heads on covers?
Linkara (v/o): We start off with this scene of a purple alien with a cow skull head and orange butterfly wings slicing up one of the New Bloods.
Linkara: (closing comic and putting it down) Whew, this comic took forever. See you next week! (gets up and leaves)
Narrator: They were a new breed of heroes-- empowered by a band of feasting alien parasites. These New Bloods sent the aliens packing. But not this time.
Linkara: (having sat back down again, as narrator) This time, it'll be DC's normal stable of heroes that does it.
Linkara (v/o): The purple alien stands over the dead body of who we later learn is appropriately named Mongrel, and it talks to itself.
Purple alien: The revenge is sssweet... Yesss... and complete...
Linkara (v/o): Apparently, they hired the Beast Wars Megatron to play the alien.
(Cut to a clip of Transformers: Beast Wars, showing this version of Megatron)
(Back to the comic)
Linkara (v/o): A caption box in purple informs us that...
Narrator: --Here comes Loria. Get the whole steel morphing bit.
Linkara (v/o): And of course, the woman named Loria does come down and her skin transforms into steel. Colossus– er, I mean, Loria charges at the alien as the caption box says nonchalantly...
Narrator: Cool. We can't buy effects like that.
Linkara: Actually, in 1995, I'm pretty sure you could buy effects like that.
Linkara (v/o): Anyway, Loria gets her arms around the alien's huge neck and somehow manages to snap it. How do we know it snapped? It makes a "SKNCH" sound while the neck and head remain perfectly straight forward. Also, the thing seems to have chocolate milk for blood, since all the blood that comes from this thing is brown.
Off-panel voice: Bra-vo.
Linkara (v/o): ...comes a voice from off-panel. We suddenly switch to a nondescript room where we see the two members of Blood Pack, along with a third, the confusingly-attired Ballistic all wearing weird-looking visors and wires attached to various parts of their bodies. So it seems that entire thing was a virtual reality simulation.
Linkara: Yeah, you can't buy effects like that. (shrugs)
Linkara (v/o): Before I return to the crappy dialogue, let's just comment on Ballistic here. Ballistic is apparently a Korean-American, according to Wikipedia, and is "an armed and dangerous vigilante". So... what, did the alien bite grant him the power to buy guns and choose ridiculous costumes? It's an all-red ensemble with a head mask that opens up for his hair and face, which is also red, by the way. On his torso, he has various grenades, pouches, and a pointy, multi-layered shoulder pad.
Linkara: And once again, only on one shoulder. Extreme? No, STUPID!
Linkara (v/o): Ballistic berates Loria.
Ballistic: You killed it but it killed us-- thanks to your showboating.
Linkara: What showboating? All she did was leap down from somewhere and hug the damn thing!
Linkara (v/o): Seriously, is this a prerequisite for any team book? One member must be yelled at by the leader, be it for legitimate reasons or not?
(Cut to a shot of a "Youngblood" comic)
Linkara (v/o): They did it in "Youngblood"...
(Cut to a shot of a "Teen Titans" comic)
Linkara (v/o): They've done it in "Teen Titans" numerous times.
(Cut to a shot of a "Star Trek" comic)
Linkara (v/o): Hell, even "Star Trek" did it!
(Cut back to the "Blood Pack" comic)
Linkara (v/o): Loria tries to defend her attempt at hugging the creature who killed her loser teammates.
Loria: My objective was to...
Linkara (v/o): But Ballistic interrupts her.
Ballistic: ...Cover your teammates, Loria!
Linkara: And yet, she was the one who managed to subdue the big monster. So the one who actually managed to beat it in ten seconds flat gets reduced to "covering duty", while you and Alice Cooper over there get your entrails splattered on the floor! Good thinking, Patton!
Linkara (v/o): You should also notice the round golden cameras floating around, recording everything. Yes, it seems that this is a superhero reality show, except not in a slightly campy yet entertaining manner. And yet, I doubt Stan Lee would want anything to do with these nimrods. Anyway, Loria says she'll take his orders under advisement and walks off. Ballistic laughs it off and says he's got her...
Ballistic: ...eating out of my hand. Only took six weeks.
Linkara (v/o): Mongrel, the Earthwild, long-haired guy, is not impressed by his attempts at being macho and suggests that Ballistic is only interested in Loria for a relationship.
Mongrel: Like your freak self got a chance with her.
Linkara (v/o): "Freak self"?
Linkara: Not since the 1960s "Teen Titans" series has a group of superheroes failed so miserably to try to talk like (in old man voice) "those young people today."
Linkara (v/o): Ballistic continues to talk "the street".
Ballistic: Same chance as you, homeboy--none. You down for some pool?
Linkara (v/o): He puts his arm around Mongrel and even pinches his cheek after Mongerl tells him not to touch him. Mongrel, in a completely legitimate move after Ballistic's manhandling, shoots an energy burst at Ballistic and knocks him away. Cut to a different camera feed, where apparently, three more members of the Blood Pack are emerging from a portal. The first two that come out include a guy in a mask named Geist and a guy with a Pop-O-Matic on his chest named Nightblade. They talk about how excited they are about the show, and Nightblade pops in with this philosophical gem...
Nightblade: Y'know, Geist, after you help guys like Superman save the world-- how can you go back to a normal life?
Linkara: Oh, come on, it's the DC Universe. The end of the world isn't even an excuse anymore to get off of work.
Linkara (v/o): Geist's thought bubble shows off his own deep thoughts about life as a New Blood.
Geist: (thinking) Not many options for a guy who turns invisible in bright light.
Linkara (v/o): So, be a superhero by day or by night. Big deal. If you want to be a hero during the day, you can take night classes or something. If you want to be a hero by night, you've got darkness on your side, and bright light's just gonna make you invisible anyway, so you're covered there. Nightblade interjects with some character development.
Nightblade: I'm doing this for my dad, I guess. A damn good NASCAR driver... died makin' his comeback.
Linkara: Well, if Civil War: Front Line is any indication, then it's a pity that Captain America knows nothing about him then.
(Suddenly, the Continuity Alarm goes off)
Linkara: Yeah, I haven't, uh, (reaches out and pulls in a battery) quite gotten around to fixing it yet.
Linkara (v/o): It seems that the third person who emerged from the portal is actually the director, since he yells "Cut!" He then tells him it was "BOR-RING!"
Linkara: Oh, wait, maybe that was.
Linkara (v/o): Nightblade is upset by this turn of events.
Nightblade: Rot you, man! My father meant a lot to me!
Linkara (v/o): "Rot you"? You know, at least when Battlestar Galactica made up the word "frak", it at least sounded like the word they wanted to get past the censors. "Rot" isn't exactly the kind of curse word I expect grown adults to be throwing at each other. The director obviously showing his experiences in such matters tells the two...
Director: Television is a visual medium! But hey--I'm "only" the director! You and the invisible man try the entrance again!
Linkara: A visual medium?! (slaps himself on the head) And here I thought it was a smelling medium! Thanks for clearing that up, Mr. Director Pants!
Linkara (v/o): So Nightblade cuts off his own hand and– Wait, huh?!? But it's okay, since apparently his arm regenerates right after that. Steven Spielberg here loves it, but says it'll never make it past the censors.
Linkara: I'm sorry, but everybody's pretty nonchalant about the fact that he just CUT OFF HIS OWN HAND!! If you're gonna cut off your own hand, you better follow it up with this...
(Cut to a clip of Evil Dead 2, in which Ash cuts off his evil hand with a chainsaw, equipping himself for Deadite battle)
(Back to the comic again)
Linkara (v/o): Cut to women in their underwear.
Linkara: Ladies and gentlemen, the reason this comic was made!
Linkara (v/o): Even the camera's narration caption tells us...
Narrator: Check this out. Cool cheesecake shot in Razor-Sharp and Sparx's bedroom.
Linkara (v/o): "Sparx", spelled with an X instead of a KS.
(Because poor literacy is... KEWL!)
Linkara (v/o): Razor-Sharp complains about the outfit that they want her to wear, which is clearly a bathing suit in the same vein as "Sultry Teenage Super-Foxes". Sparx is laying on her side of the bed, obviously in a pose designed to imitate a swimsuit model as she giggles...
Sparx: I can't wear this one. My costume's built-in. But what'd you expect, Razor? This is a show about superheroes.
Linkara: (as Sparx, giggles) It's funny when we're objectified.
Linkara (v/o): Razor-Sharp's own superpower is demonstrated as her arm forms into a blade, and she rips apart her costume and– Hey, wait a second! The costume she's holding changes between the panels! And looking back at the credits page, I noticed no credit for an editor. That explains a lot. The women exchange confusing banter next.
Razor-Sharp: A documentary, Sparx. You know... reality?
Sparx: Granny used to say, "Superheroes are part actors... part boxers."
Linkara: (looking up in thought) "Part actors, part boxers"? Hmm. Always knew TMr. T was a superhero.
Sparx: Just because we've got identities to protect doesn't mean we can't get to know each other!
Linkara (v/o): What secret identity? You're pale with long, electrical hair, and you glow! Razor-Sharp grabs Sparx and leads her into the closet to get away from the cameras. She talks about how she doesn't want to broadcast her background, which Sparx instantly translates as meaning she's on the run from the law, but Razor-Sharp puts that theory down. She says that...
Razor-Sharp: The only reason I'm here is my friends thought it'd be cool.
Linkara: Well, at least we don't have a tagline across the cover that says, "The Next Generation of Heroes".
Linkara (v/o): The camera moves the closet door to the side, despite lacking any kind of arm or enough mass to move a folding closet door, and Razor-Sharp naturally gets upset about it.
Razor-Sharp: @$#!! Cameras everywhere!
Linkara: Paris Hilton finally fights back!
Linkara (v/o): Switch back over to Ballistic and Mongrel, and they're still fighting! And then over to a room with lots of computer screens tinted green, along with some bald guy in a business suit named Baxter. He talks to a woman and some guy in a (?). Baxter tells them to trust him since it was his idea to take advantage of the goodwill the New Bloods generated during the alien invasion.
Linkara: Ah, so we're looking at the DC offices.
Baxter: Now you've got New Blood bodies for your little science fair project-- plus a kickin' team that oozes Q-Ratings!
Linkara (v/o): Yeah, pop culture will never fall out of love with a guy named Mongrel. The other guy complains about Mongrel.
Man on screen: This boy went on a well-publicized rampage through Chicago! He's a criminal!
Linkara (v/o): To which Baxter waves his hand and responds...
Baxter: A known fact--teenage girls love rebels.
Linkara: Really? They love rebels, huh? (a shot of Edward Cullen appears in the corner) Well, if this guy constitutes a rebel, then Marlon Brando is spinning in his grave!
Linkara (v/o): The woman just wants Baxter's assurances that the Blood Pack will be under control "when the time comes." Meanwhile, Ballistic (?) goes on the prowl for Mongrel.
Ballistic: I'm on your tail, boy-- with my new dual-chambered tridium tazer...
Linkara (v/o): Wow! That means absolutely nothing to me! Ballistic wanders into a room with catwalks and technology all over it. All of a sudden, Ballistic sees a group of heavily-armored goons attacking Mongrel. One of the men confusingly shouts...
Goon: We're losing stasis!
Linkara: (amused) So there's a stasis leak then? (laughs) Oh, Red Dwarf! (laughs some more) I am such a nerd.
Linkara (v/o): One armored man, identified as Devlin, releases Mongrel and says...
Devlin: You were told this area's off limits, Ballistic.
Linkara (v/o): So, what exactly is the plot of this show anyway? A bunch of super-powered dorks hang around a facility in a limited amount of space and don't actually do anything but train? Yeah, I can see Nielsen boxes lighting up with this winner. Or they're just waiting for sweeps for them to actually act like superheroes. Flip to the next page, and here we see Ballistic being chewed out by Jenny Lynn Hayden, AKA Jade, daughter of the very first Green Lantern. She reminds him that it's in his contract that he's not allowed beyond the training and living areas.
Linkara: I can just imagine the promotional posters for this show.
(Shots of panels of the comic are shown)
Linkara (v/o): (announcer voice) Thrill as the Blood Pack spends a rainy day watching TV! Gasp as they don't fight any supervillains and just yell at the cameras! Watch their bone-chillingly predictable lives, completely censored for your protection!
(The comic resumes)
Linkara (v/o): Ballistic, horrifyingly enough, has discarded his costume and is now wearing a tank top and shorts, yet he's still as red as a Washington football team. Jade tells him that the reactor that powers the building might have been damaged in their brawl, while in the next room, the rest of the Blood Pack are all confusingly in the same room together. Mongrel hits on Loria, who is meditating in the tranquility, peace and quiet of a room where two other people are watching TV. Jade offers them help as both an actress and a superhero.
Jade: So I can guide you through this... if you let me.
Linkara (v/o): Mongrel responds, for no apparent reason...
Mongrel: Like a freakin' prison!
Linkara: Great, the comic is just randomly shouting lines now. Why don't you talk about punk being death and crime or shouting about how you need scissors?
Linkara (v/o): Jade lets them know that there are other New Bloods who would be interested in the show. But here comes the really laughable part, since Jade suggests this wonderful purpose for the show...
Jade: With this show, the Blood Pack can influence a whole new generation of meta-humans.
Linkara: Yeah, why would meta-humans want to be inspired by people like Superman or Wonder Woman when they can be inspired by Ballistic and his "dual-chambered tridium tazer"?
Linkara (v/o): Ballistic and Nightblade are unimpressed by this inspiration as Ballistic proclaims...
Ballistic: God bless America.
Linkara (v/o): And Nightblade starts singing...
Nightblade: (singing) We are the world...
Linkara: Jade, where did you scrape these idiots up from?
Linkara (v/o): Geist asks...
Geist: Uh... Jade... Exactly what am I supposed to be doing?
Linkara (v/o): Oh, geez, nobody read the script, did they? Jade walks off, telling him to meet her with her later, since she has to talk Adrian out of quitting. I... Huh? Razor-Sharp proclaims...
Razor-Sharp: Holy spit! We're on TV!!
Linkara: Holy lame swearing censorship, Batman! And furthermore, isn't the purpose of this team to be on TV?
Linkara (v/o): The team crowds around the television set, which starts its advert.
TV Announcer: What happens when you thrust seven young masks from different walks of life...?
Linkara: (announcer voice) Find out on Camp Loser: The Blood Pack Show!
Linkara (v/o): Jeremy Baxter, the bald guy from earlier, appears on screen, proclaiming...
Baxter: It's time for something new. We wanted only New Bloods--kids with no preconceived notions about being a hero.
Linkara: Yeah, that fills me with confidence about their likability.
Linkara (v/o): Next, we have some reactions from people, including Superman. Superman here is depicted in his mullet stage, but I still have to laugh since the way his hair is drawn with every separate strand like it's been freshly washed.
Linkara: It makes me think he's gonna shake his head and shout, "Pantene Pro V!"
Superman: What's my opinion on exploiting powers for personal gain? What do you think?
Linkara: Gee, Superman, you're right! By the way, how's that cushy job at the Daily Planet working out for you? You know, the one where you write up articles at the speed of light about Superman that only you were able to write because you're Superman? What a dick.
Linkara (v/o): The next reaction is from two members of the super team, the Conglomerate.
Conglomerate member: Get your own shtick, Blood Pack! The Conglomerate was here first!
Linkara (v/o): Yeah, and you were forgotten first, too. Seriously, I never heard of them until this comic, and their Wikipedia page is smaller than Blood Pack's, surprisingly. Next is some random general who's worried about the connection between the New Bloods and the space parasites.
General: Yes, they saved the planet months ago-- but what have they done for us lately?
Linkara: (as general) Sure, they saved the entire world, but the statute of limitations on that is, like, a week!
Linkara (v/o): The camera caption brings us over to Germany, where a group of yellow-armored individuals called the Demolition Team attack a nuclear power plant. They talk for a bit about why they're attacking the place.
Demolition Team member: You forget seein' Coast City wiped out? Seein' your family-- your past-- obliterated?
(Cut to a shot of the "Death of Superman" comic)
Linkara (v/o): For those not aware, during the end of the "Death of Superman" and "Reign of the Supermen" arcs, Green Lantern's hometown of Coast City was destroyed by the alien despot Mongol.
(Back to the current comic)
Demolition Team member: Makin' you want to wipe out all the things that destroy the Earth...
Linkara (v/o): Yyyyeah, thing is...
(Cut to a shot of two nuclear smokestacks with happy faces on them)
Linkara (v/o): Nuclear power in and of itself actually seems to be just fine, environmentally speaking. The only problem that results are from spent fuel rods, which we wouldn't have if we were allowed to have breeder reactors – thank you very much, Jimmy Carter...
Linkara (v/o): ...or when there's some sort of accident. You know, an accident like somebody destroying a nuclear power plant like YOU MORONS ARE DOING!!
(Cut back to the comic again)
Linkara (v/o): Blood Pack suddenly arrives on the scene.
Linkara: Wow! They're actually doing something!
Demolition Team member: You wanna protect the Earth--? Recycle!
Linkara (v/o): Huh, five idiots with superpowers talking about recycling. This is just "Captain Planet" with an even more boring story. Nightblade yells...
Nightblade: The Demolition Team?! Figures these losers survived Coast City's destruction!
Linkara: Well, you'd know losers, wouldn't you, Nightblade?
Linkara (v/o): And here we actually see what Nightblade's other superpower is, besides self-mutilation: he can toss multiple throwing knives in a single arc. That's it. He throws a bunch of knives at a group of ARMORED TERRORISTS! Yeah, meta-humans across the world are just so inspired right now. Loria jumps into combat while Mongrel comments on his dating prospects with her.
Mongrel: Too psycho for me! Lights on and nobody's home.
Linkara (v/o): Yeah, I'm sure that's why she was the one who won your little Virtual Boy fight earlier, while you got your intestines ripped out. The camera switches over to Razor-Sharp and Geist, who are inside of the power plant. However, everything seems to have transformed into a green biological system with vein-like coverings everywhere. However, an earthquake starts up! The Blood Pack falls into a cavern that's opened up, and Loria grabs hold of Sparx's leg, asking for help. Sparx says she'll try, but before she can, a rock hits her right in the coconut, and she starts falling. Loria manages to grab hold of a rock, and Nightblade, for some stupid reason, thinks...
Nightblade: (thinking) Loria left her to die!
Linkara (v/o): No, she saved herself as quickly as she could, since there was no way she could have helped the falling woman who had a concussion!
Nightblade: (thinking) This is getting too real.
Linkara (v/o): Then Nightblade starts falling, and again, his thoughts reveal his utter stupidity as he thinks, for no particular reason...
Nightblade: (thinking) REAL--!
Linkara (v/o): Razor-Sharp tries to contact the others as the tremors stop, and she looks at some unseen computers, stating...
Razor-Sharp: This computer... No binary code I've ever seen--almost alien!
Linkara: My God, it's Linux-based!
Linkara (v/o): And so, our comic ends with somebody saying...
Unseen voice: Ballistic, I'm picking up some readings that are hard to miss.
Linkara (v/o): Readings from what, exactly? It's not like they're carrying tricorders or anything.
Unseen voice: The reactor's opening. You get the feeling this wasn't staged?
Linkara: Oh, great. So it turns out that the only reason that the Blood Pack actually DID something other than sit on their asses at their base, was because it was a staged battle?! (closes comic and holds it up) This comic sucks! It's stupid, the characters are dullards, and the idea that their fights are set up for them makes me long for the proactive (makes "air quotes") "heroics" of Youngblood! (throws down comic, gets up and leaves)
(Credits roll, to Laurie Johnson's "Gala Premiere")
Yeah, I know, Marlon Brando was in "Easy Rider" and not "Rebel Without a Cause." My mistake, it happens.