April 23, 2012
Hey, kids – rub the blood on the cover and maybe the comic will stop sucking!
(As he sits on his futon, Linkara looks rather glum, with his head resting on his hand)
Linkara: Hello, and welcome to Atop the Fourth Wall, where bad comics burn. Rob, you couldn't make one team interesting, so why the hell did you think you could make half a dozen teams interesting?
(A montage of shots of superhero comics by Rob Liefeld is shown)
Linkara (v/o): Seriously, I don't get this at all. It wasn't enough for Rob Liefeld to invent "Youngblood". Oh, no. He had to keep on creating characters and then not actually do anything with them! Aside from "Youngblood", we had "Doom's IV", "Newmen", "The Berzerkers", "Brigade".
Linkara: And even then, I really shouldn't call them teams. They're the same damn team, except he's (moves his hands around) rearranged the paint-by-numbers coloring scheme!
(The poster for The Avengers is shown)
Linkara (v/o): There are a lot of reasons why groups like the Avengers get to have their own movie...
(Cut to a shot of a Youngblood movie that is apparently in production (or at least, it was))
Linkara (v/o): ...but that Youngblood movie that everyone keeps wanting to tell me about has been in development hell for years.
(Cut to a shot of Rob Liefeld's Twitter account, showing a tweet from him that says that "after 3 years of dealmaking [they] are moving forward")
Linkara (v/o): And yes, I know he tweeted a while ago that "progress was finally being made on that thing", but I'll believe it when there's an official poster, or better yet, a trailer.
Linkara: (trying to think) I had a point somewhere... Oh, right. I do have to wonder if he actually did have anything to do with these books. Most of the time, he's just listed as (makes "finger quotes") "creator", but he did nothing to indicate that he did anything else with them.
(Cut to a shot of the credits of "Bloodstrike", showing that Liefeld is not only the creator, but also credited with plot and layout)
Linkara (v/o): Although, that's not quite the case with today's comic: a book that he created, plotted and apparently did layouts for, but otherwise was not involved with, though he did ink the cover.
Linkara: Oh, and what a cover we have today! Let's dig into (holds up today's comic) "Youngblo–" (stops abruptly and lowers comic, stammers) Let's dig into (holds up comic again) "Doom's IV–" (stops again and lowers comic, looking irritated) Let's dig into (holds up comic one more time) "Bloodstrike #1" and we'll talk about it.
(AT4W title theme plays; title card has "Escape (The Piña Colada Song)" by Rupert Holmes playing in the background. Cut to a closeup of the comic's cover)
Linkara (v/o): This has got to be one of the weirdest cover gimmicks for a comic ever. In fact, I have, like, five copies of this book, mostly of them donations, simply because people were mystified by this cover. What do you do? You rub the blood on the cover and it disappears, eventually returning. That's it. That's the gimmick. Unfortunately, I'm guessing due to how old this thing is, it doesn't quite work on this particular copy. I tried for, like, three minutes to make it vanish, and the best I can do is to make it partially disappear. Again, it's probably because of the fact that it's almost twenty years old. Hell, the blood on the cover is pink. Last time I checked, we do not have Pepto-Bismol for blood.
(Cut to a clip of Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, showing someone holding up a glass with some pink Klingon blood on it)
Linkara (v/o): Or maybe it's actually supposed to be Klingon blood.
Assassin: (having killed Colonel West and spilling his blood) This is not Klingon blood.
(Cut back to the comic)
Linkara (v/o): This gimmick, though? There is nothing else to say about this cover. It's the team standing with their arms to their sides, and it's in black and white. Hell, you can mistake most of these characters for others that Liefeld has worked on. That's how generic his artwork is! In the middle, we've got the Cable ripoff. The lower-left has a Wolverine ripoff. Lower-right is a Dove ripoff. Upper-right, while looking unique with her mask, that's the same weird-ass hairstyle that Liefeld uses on most of his characters. I don't even know how you describe that hair. Broccoli top? I don't know. The only one that looks halfway original is the robot or the mech-suit, whatever this guy is in the upper-left, but he's still got other Liefeld-isms, like the huge V thing on the front of his face that we've seen in "Youngblood" before.
Linkara: I'd make a drinking game out of his artwork, but you'd be dead by the second page due to alcohol poisoning!
Linkara (v/o): And according to the top, "Bloodstrike #1" is the prelude issue to "Blood Brothers".
Linkara: I don't get it! What is it about the '90s and their obsession with the word "blood"?!
(Cut to 90s Kid)
90s Kid: Dude! Blood is hardcore, man! Nothing shows your story is adult and mature like LOTS OF BLOOD!
Linkara: What the hell does "Bloodstrike" even mean? I admit, I probably shouldn't have made fun of "deathblow", since while that is a silly-sounding name, it is at least an actual word, referring basically to a killing stroke. That was my mistake. But what the hell is "Bloodstrike"? (makes a gun shape with his finger) Are they aiming their guns at their enemies as blood?!
Linkara (v/o): Anyway, we open on the leader of Bloodstrike, named Cabbot.
(Cut to the Mystery Science Theater 3000 gang watching Outlaw of Gor)
Watney Smith: (seeing Tarl Cabot unconscious) Cabot! Cabot! Cabot, are you okay? Cabot, speak to me! Cabot! Cabot, are you all right?!
(Cut back to the comic)
Linkara (v/o): He gives some brief exposition to... I don't know, his computer? Someone over a communications line? Basically, he got a call about a heavily-armed scientific research laboratory called "G.A.T.E." and that there's some sort of "problem" developing at it. And no, we don't get told what this problem is, only that if there is a "slip-up", it could be a threat to national security.
Linkara: Wonderful! No need to tell us what this problem is, why Bloodstrike is being sent in, what Bloodstrike actually is, or why we should give a damn!
Cabbot: Later on tonight our fine friend at G.A.T.E. won't know what hit him-- and I guarantee he'll wish he never had the pleasure o' tanglin' with Bloodstrike!
Linkara: (as Cabbot) We'll make a whole lot of collect calls and then charge them to the company in his name! (laughs and clenches his fist) Bloodstrike!
Linkara (v/o): So we immediately go to Bloodstrike members climbing the side of a mountain without kind of climbing equipment, with one member actually riding on the back of the robot guy. Oh, wait, now there's suddenly a rope for them to climb, even though that clearly wasn't there a minute ago!
(Cut to Linkara with Phelous)
Phelous: Great continuity! (gives a double thumbs-up)
(Back to the comic again)
Cabbot: (narrating) Fourplay and Deadlock go ahead of us to run recon and we meet with 'em at the top of the peak.
Linkara: I would point out how stupid the name "Fourplay" is, considering they probably only did it because she has four arms, but frankly, with the naming conventions of early '90s Image Comics, I was actually shocked that they didn't spell it with an X or something.
Cabbot: (narrating) I give the traditional pep talk-- buys time for Roam to juice up again.
Linkara: (wearing a soldier's helmet and smoking a cigar; gruff voice) I want you to remember that no poorly-colored, ill-conceived, generic character ever won a war by dyin' for his team. He won it by shooting lots of guns and making the other poorly-colored, ill-conceived, generic villains die for their team.
Linkara (v/o): You know, maybe it's better that the characters were in black and white on the cover. Our happy little team of commandos are dressed in bright purple, bright red, and... Hey, wait a second. This blonde woman (...wearing multicolored armor) is supposed to be the same one as in this panel, right? The one who's climbing on the back of the robot guy? (said panel shows blonde woman in a purple jumpsuit) When did she get shoulder pads? And how did she get to the top of the mountain ahead of Cabbot when he was ahead of them originally? Great, I already used up the "great continuity" clip. Cabbot's narrative captions explains that the Roam... person... computer... whatever... can teleport them places. However, that makes me wonder why the hell they didn't just teleport there, instead of trying to climb the damn mountain! And yes, I know it says that...
Cabbot: (narrating) ...she's extended herself beyond her limits...
Linkara (v/o): ...and that they...
Cabbot: (narrating) ...need her in top form to 'port us into the heart of the compound...
Linkara (v/o): ...but he could have teleported up earlier and let her rest for a few hours first.
Cabbot: (narrating) They call the place Jericho. It's as massive and impressive as its legendary namesake.
Linkara: Okay, (holds up index finger) one, Jericho is not only the Biblical location. The city is still around today, (holds up comic and points to it) and that facility is not nearly as big as the ancient one or the modern one. (holds up two fingers) Two, is there any actual reason why it's called Jericho? Anything? Anything at all?
(Cut to a shot of the DC character, Jericho)
Linkara (v/o): You know, at least the DC character Jericho kinda sorta has an ironic reason why he's called "Jericho".
(Cut back to the "Bloodstrike" version of Jericho)
Linkara (v/o): What the hell is the excuse here? (dopey voice) Durrr, it sounds cool! (normal) Yeah, that seems about right.
Cabbot: (narrating) Must've cost G.A.T.E. a fortune. Shame for them it's about to come to an end. Whatever the problem is here, somebody high up must really want to trash these guys... Otherwise, we wouldn't be here.
Linkara (v/o): So... what, are you mercenaries? Is that it? This whole situation stinks, by the way. They have very little intel beyond the location of the place. They don't even know what the problem is! Maybe the janitor slipped on some wet floor and somebody just panicked. Anyway, three of them teleport in, with the only objective being blow crap up. Outside, Deadlock, AKA Wolverine Ripoff #349, and Fourplay, whose second set of arms keep shifting up and down her side – sometimes they're right below her main arms and sometimes they're in the middle of her torso, create a distraction. Cabbot and the blonde woman, named Tag, go inside and just start shooting guards. Yeah, I'm sure these people had families they were just trying to provide for, but nah, just shoot and kill 'em all. After all, you have to deal with the "problem". Also, this poor guy was eating some gushers before he died. They run into some more goons and promptly kill them.
Cabbot: (narrating) Through it all, Tag doesn't say a word. She doesn't have to, either, 'cos she's about the closest thing to what they call "poetry in motion" I've ever seen.
Linkara: I get an angry sensation from my head to my toes. This narration is boring and this comic really blows. This woman is no different than a hundred others made. (shakes fist in a mock cheer) Whoo! This comic was worth every penny I paid.
Cabbot: (narrating) She's as swift as she is silent... and as deadly as she is beautiful!
Linkara (v/o): Yeah, it's the rubber spine of her that's the most impressive, what with how she's twisting her upper body while kicking at the same time, even though that should hurt like hell.
Cabbot: (narrating) Me? I'm nowhere near as graceful.
Linkara: (as Cabbot) Those ballet classes were a complete waste of time.
Cabbot: (narrating) I just take aim, clench my teeth and let the bodies fall where they may.
Linkara: Oh, really, you clench your teeth, huh? Yeah, I can see that that's a totally different expression for you.
Linkara (v/o): So yeah, they killed a whole bunch of people, and I just noticed that this guy has three belts around his arms. I just don't get it! Having numerous pouches? Yeah, it's dumb, but at least you can say he's carrying stuff in them! Why the belts?! Is cutting off circulation while you're shooting that important to you?!
Cabbot: (narrating) All of a sudden, though, I get this weird feeling-- like I'm doin' something I've done before--and I freeze up.
Linkara: (as Cabbot, clutching at his stomach) Oh, geez! The Taco Bell just hit me!
Cabbot: (narrating) Stupid flashbacks always hittin' me at the worst times...
Linkara: What flashbacks? Deja vu is not a flashback!
Cabbot: (narrating) ...remindin' me of things I did back when I was alive.
Linkara: Wait, is he a zombie? The story behind him being a zombie already sounds like it's more interesting than the comic so far.
Linkara (v/o): Apparently, the "flashback" distracts Cabbot long enough for the guards to regroup and the leader of the installation to arrive.
Installation leader: Good evening, my friends. I am Commander Corben...and you-- whoever you may be--have made the unfortunate mistake of trespassing on a G.A.T.E. installation.
Linkara: (as Corben) I'm afraid I'll have to ask you to leave without stopping at the gift shop.
Linkara (v/o): Also, I just noticed that the coloring on the blood is really weird. Apparently, the guards were actually full of melted candy canes.
Corben: Ordinarily, I would ask you to drop your weapons and take you into custody for questioning... The circumstances being what they are, however, I'm afraid I'll have to forego any such decorum in favor of simply disposing of you...immediately.
Linkara: (as Corben) Which is why I just spent a minute saying that to you instead of having my guards open fire on you right away, with you at point-blank range. Cliched characters, cliched villains.
Cabbot: (narrating) There's something like half a dozen of 'em and it's enough to make me laugh. Six guards or six hundred -- it doesn't make a damn bit of difference when you're shooting at a dead man.
Linkara: (as Cabbot) I'll just use my (reaches out hand) magical zombie powers on them. (wiggles his fingers) Zombies do have magical powers, right?
Linkara (v/o): However, before Cabbot can demonstrate his magical zombie powers...
(The next panel shows Shogun crashing in through the skylight in the ceiling, accompanied by the sound of crashing and the sound of the Kool-Aid Man saying, "OH, YEAH!")
Cabbot: (narrating) Shogun looks like an angel of destruction as he crashes through the skylight...
Linkara (v/o): Or like an oversized ham with metal pieces sticking out of it, but whatever. So Shogun releases all the guns contained in his armor... aaaand two-page spread that I have to turn on its side. Ugh, I can see they were trying to make Shogun look huge and intimidating, but he barely covers one page, much less two to try to convey hugeness.
Corben: Am I to presume this is supposed to intimidate me?!!
Linkara: (as Corben) I mean, sure, I've wet my pants, like, three times now, but that's perfectly normal for me.
Linkara (v/o): And then Shogun opens fire, killing them all. Yippee-skippee. However, it turns out that the evil Corben was really a hologram! The hologram vanishes, taunting the team and even acknowledging Cabbot by name, which confuses him. I guess his narrative captions say he's confused by it, but his expression is the same as before.
Linkara: (clutching at his temples) I do not understand the '90s. Was it so impossible to have the main characters display any kind of emotion, other than pissed off?!
(Cut to 90s Kid)
90s Kid: Dude! The heroes can't smile, man! That would show that they aren't serious! Only evil people smile! Or if they're totally bodacious like (points to himself) me!
Linkara (v/o): And wait, Corben said a few pages ago that he didn't know who they were, so how did he recognize Cab– Aw, screw it! Cabbot wonders what they should do for the moment, then decides to regroup with the others, so he and Tag... uh, do the Wonder Woman pose? Why the hell are they standing like that?
(Cut to a clip of an episode of The Simpsons, showing President Bill Clinton crossing his arms in the same pose)
Clinton: End communication.
(Cut back to the comic)
Linkara (v/o): Oh, it's because they're attached to Shogun's back. It seems Roam is still recharging and can't teleport them, so we have the much sillier idea of having Shogun fly them out on his rocket feet. Back with the other team members, more people are getting killed. And you notice how you never see any female goons in these situations? Why is it that the heroes are the only ones who are equal opportunity employers. Fourplay wonders if the Wolverine ripoff likes his work a little too much.
Fourplay: After all, look where your devil-may-care attitude got you the first time around...
Deadlock: Hah! You're one to talk. Least I don't got playing it safe to blame for my current state of affairs, darlin'. I mean--!
Fourplay: Shush! I thought I heard something--!
Linkara: (sarcastically) Oh, yeah, sure, stop telling us character backstories and whatnot! I mean, why the hell would we want to learn any of that? It's not like (becomes angry) WE DON'T A DAMN THING ABOUT ANY OF YOU!!
Linkara (v/o): For crying out loud, give me something! What are your hobbies?! What are your real names?! What are your turn-ons and turn-offs?! Do you like pina coladas?!
Linkara: We are nearly two-thirds of the way through this thing! Twenty out of 32, and I don't know anything about these people! Were creative teams at the time just allergic to anything in their comics except (makes punching motions) random violence?!
Linkara (v/o): Also, the foreshortening on those two lower arms sucks! LEARN TO DRAW!! The group reunites and Cabbot says they're getting out of there and I just noticed that neither his mask nor Tag's mask make any friggin' sense! I mean, look at that! Are those eye things attached with spirit gum?! Cabbot's distorted face really shows how his mask doesn't make any damn sense! It's not even like a stylized domino mask! THE TWO HALVES AREN'T CONNECTED AT ALL!! But yeah, Cabbot says they're leaving because he draws the line at people knowing about his team or some bullcrap like that. Corben arrives and reveals that HE was the one who hired Bloodstrike for this job, that his superiors felt he was slacking off in his job of protecting the installation and was probably going to get fired. That's just stupid! How frequently does this place get attacked if you can tell he's been lazy at his job?! So he felt that if he could stave off an attack by Bloodstrike, then it'd demonstrate to the higher-ups that he wasn't just a waste of space!
Linkara: So, this is the comic basically admitting that this whole thing has been a waste of time!
(Cut to a clip of an episode of Blake's 7)
Avon (Paul Darrow): What a very depressing thought.
(Back to the comic again)
Cabbot: You hired us to--That's insane!
Corben: Insane?! My plan is flawless...
Linkara: (irritably as he massages his temples) Your plan is dumb, and so are you!
Linkara (v/o): Corbin shoots Cabbot through the head, but hey, I guess he's a special zombie, so he gets back up again and tells the others to take him down. Corben gets shot down from his hover... thingy... whatever the hell he's wearing, and the two start fighting. Before Corben can hit Cabbot with an inanimate carbon rod, Tag goes in behind him and taps Corbin.
Cabbot: (narrating) There's a reason why the girl's called Tag-- anything she touches freezes in place, just like in the game.
Linkara: (confused) Wait, what? Okay, it's probably just a different version of the game, but (points to himself) when I played it, tagging someone meant that that person started tagging everyone else, not that they were frozen! That's why we have the phrase, "Tag! You're it!"
Linkara (v/o): I'll give some minor credit to the comic, though. That is actually kind of a neat power and a decent code name. Pity that it's in "Bloodstrike". And with Corben frozen, Shogun perforates his body with bullets. Our heroes, everybody. Also, the force of those bullets should have knocked him over. Why is he still standing? Anyway, Cabbot narrates how so totally awesome Bloodstrike is, and they all teleport away. And so, our comic ends with Cabbot narrating to that Roam thing, which I guess is the computer, but who can tell with this dumbass comic? The computer mentions that G.A.T.E. has started up their own strike force, including another character Liefeld invented called Supreme. Supreme only became good when Alan Moore took over. And yes, Alan Moore and Rob Liefeld worked together for a while. Wrap your head around that. Roam also tells Cabbot about what I think is Prophet from "Youngblood", since it doesn't say him by name, just mentions "Youngblood" and Project Born Again. The final page shows Cabbot looking at a photo of an old superhero team, because that's really what Image Comics needed at the time: another team! And he swears that he'll finally settle his score with Battlestone, who was a previous leader of Youngblood or something. The story of Bloodstrike, however, is to be continued in "Brigade #1", the same series that "Youngblood #4" was going to lead into. What, was "Brigade" an anthology series for concluding other comics' plots?! And I'm sorry, but it's gonna be quite a while before I look at anything involving this crap again.
Linkara: (angrily holding up comic) This comic sucks! Even the story itself admitted it was just wasting everybody's time with some asshole. We learned absolutely nothing about the characters of this series, and the supposed (makes "finger quotes") "heroes" of the book are just a bunch of murderous jerks! And that's all there is to it! (throws down comic, gets up and leaves)
(End credits roll)
Some chunks of this were hard to edit because a lot of the panels are just big, long rectangles with caption boxes separated by a great distance. Great layouts, Rob.
Yeah, I'm sure they were referring to FREEZE tag, it just weirded me out since that's not how *I* played tag as a kid.
(Stinger: 90s Kid is seen wearing a soldier's helmet while holding his baseball cap in his hand)
90s Kid: I love it. Dude help me, I do love it so.