Brute Force #2
November 29, 2010
Brute Force is back! More cybernetic animals duking it out for contrived reasons!
(Shots of this comic are shown)
Linkara (v/o): For those coming in late, "Brute Force" was an attempt by Marvel to create a franchise that a toy company would immediately buy up and produce action figures for, thus gaining more profits than from their other toy-licensed series. I can't help but think that the problem that stopped the plan from working was actually the timing. This series came out in 1990. If this had come out five years earlier, I wouldn't be surprised if there was a retro movement to bring "Brute Force" back into the public eye, like "Transformers", "G.I. Joe", and any other '80s franchises have had. Then again, as I've said the last time I've reviewed it, the name probably didn't have any staying power. "Brute Force" is just so... generic. Why not something like, oh, I don't know, "Metalamos" or something? In any case, the plan failed, and sadly, all we have are four issues of "Brute Force" to let this forgotten marvel of this insanely stupid yet epically awesome idea to live on. In the first issue, hippie scientist Dr. Pierce had his research into equipping wild animals with machine guns and spikes interrupted by mercenaries dressed as fast food clowns.
Linkara: It was a sadly futile effort by Ronald McDonald to try to make us all forget that the Arch Deluxe ever existed.
Linkara (v/o): On the infallible logic of "why the hell not", Dr. Pierce equipped the rest of his test animals with cybernetic armor and weapons that enhanced their intelligence so that they could stop an evil corporation from clearing rain forests for grazing land... aaaaand in the process ended up doing just as much damage to the rain forest, once again proving that science is unintentionally its own worst enemy. In the aftermath of the group's attack, Dr. Pierce discovered that the evil corporation responsible for all of this was, in fact, the same corporation his research group received funding from. This of course begs the question of why the parent company felt it needed to steal its own property, but then again, this is a story where enhanced intelligence gives an eagle laser eyes.
Linkara: So let's dig into (holds up comic of review for today) "Brute Force #2" and continue the fun!
(The theme song rolls, followed by the title card for this episode, set to "We're Not Gonna Take It" by Twisted Sister; cut to a closeup of the comic's cover)
Linkara (v/o): Unlike the last "Brute Force" cover, this one is just a bit too crowded. We have all the members of "Heavy Metal", the villainous counterparts to our environmental terrorist animals down at the bottom and holding up Dr. Pierce. We get a nice, good look at Heavy Metal, despite them all shoved together like that. At the bottom is a rhino with its horn covered, which seems to defeat the purpose of the horn. Next is the gorilla, who looks rather odd with his mouth open like that. I can't quite put my finger on why it's weird, only that it doesn't look right. Maybe it's just too wide open. The octopus looks very cool, the eyes in particular looking very creepy, maybe if only because...
(Cut to a shot of the Anti-Monitor)
Linkara (v/o): ...they look like they're the eyes of the Anti-Monitor, the biggest, baddest and most powerful villain in the entire DC Universe... though this is a Marvel product.
(Back to the Brute Force comic)
Linkara (v/o): Up top is a metal vulture given a mohawk. And finally, there's...
(Cut to a clip of Austin Powers, showing Dr. Evil)
Dr. Evil: Sharks with frickin' laser beams attached to their heads!
(Back to the comic again)
Linkara (v/o): Yes, a shark with frickin' laser beams on its back, plus buzzsaws for good measure. We open to the eagle, who was named Soar, but I don't really care, and we'll simply call him "The Eagle", flying near a pollution-spewing factory.
Narrator: He's one of a new generation of animals: his body bio-enhanced with super-strong body armor, weaponry and a helmet that gives him human-level intelligence.
Linkara: That's a pair of headphones, not a helmet.
Narrator: He's very, very angry-- and he's not going to take it anymore!
Linkara: We've got the right to choose, and there ain't no way we're losin'!
Linkara (v/o): The eagle picks up a huge rock, and he exclaims his anger at humanity.
Soar: All morning. Pump, pump, PUMP!
Linkara: (as Soar) Your human exercise videos will be the death of us all!
Soar: Pumping dirt and foul-smelling chemicals-- clogging the air, strangling the world! Pump, pump, pump-- all morning, all day... every day!
Linkara: Hey, let's be fair here. We're not just pumping, we're also churning and spilling and breaking and pillaging and various other things. We do try to keep it interesting and diverse, you know.
Linkara (v/o): The eagle carries the rock towards the factory. He's talking to Dr. Pierce, who's working back at the Multicorp Ecology Center
Dr. Pierce: Now calm down, Slipstream-- and drop the rock, eh? I sent you and the other members of Brute Force out to observe--to see the ways in which mankind is polluting and damaging your native environments. The key word is observe! I told you all I want no action taken at this early stage!
Linkara: I don't suppose anyone on your team thought of, you know, reporting this to the EPA or something. I'm sure they'd love to hear about a factory that's not operating up to code.
Linkara (v/o): And by the way, Dr. Pierce, it's kind of difficult to tell them it's too early for them to do anything, considering you already field-tested them by slaughtering mercenaries.
Soar: And I told you-- the name's Soar!
Linkara (v/o): Are they really still keeping that silly argument about the eagle's name? How the hell are you supposed to have an official toy about this thing if no one could agree on what it should be called?
Soar: You may have created Brute Force, but as team leader I choose my own name and I have a right to interpret your orders as I see fit!
Linkara (v/o): So, in your view, "observe and do nothing" can be reinterpreted as "rocks fall, everybody dies".
Dr. Pierce: (thinking) I was worried about this. The eagle's own highly independent personality is coming to the fore. How* can I trust him not to go too far?
- NOTE: Dr. Pierce doesn't actually say, "How can I...", he only says, "Can I...".
Linkara: (as Dr. Pierce) I created Brute Force to be my unwitting slaves. How dare they use the intelligence I have bestowed upon them for free and independent thought!
Linkara (v/o): Pierce orders the eagle to drop the rock, which he kindly does – right into a smokestack. This one smokestack being blocked immediately causes all of the smoke to come billowing into the factory and forcing all the poor, innocent people working there just trying to make ends meet to come running out, coughing.
Linkara: Ha! Our heroes our environmental terrorists!
Linkara (v/o): Pierce tells the eagle that he hasn't decided on a team leader, then silently thinks that maybe this was a bad idea. Nah, really?
Dr. Pierce: (thinking) Bio-enhanced animals to protect the world from ecological catastrophe-- sounds like a bad sci-fi movie!
Linkara: Way to undermine the entire concept of the series in only (holds up two fingers) the second issue, Marvel!
Linkara (v/o): He checks up on Robo-Bear [Wreckless] who is playing with some bear cubs after he scared away some loggers. He's irritated by his distraction by the bear cubs instead of checking on how the animals have been affected by the logging, and then decides to look into the lion [Lionheart], who's about ready to attack some... what I think are supposed to be sheep.
Linkara: Truly, Dr. Pierce has brought good into the world with his cybernetic abominations.
Linkara (v/o): Next up is the kangaroo [Hip Hop], who's looking into an illegal dump. I don't quite know why anyone would bother with an illegal dump when there are plenty of perfectly legal dumps that have more than enough room for the garbage they're throwing away, and... Oh, I keep forgetting, pretty much every human being who isn't the main character in this sort of story is, well, evil.
Hip Hop: This countryside-- it's rad, like totally crucial!
Linkara: (confused) Totally crucial to the squirrels maybe.
Hip Hop: And you're dumping this garbage just... anywhere! Right in the middle of it! Uncool!
Linkara: Because if there's anything that's considered cool by the sunglasses-wearing surfer dude mindset, it was stopping pollution.
(Cut to 90s Kid)
90s Kid: Duuuuuude! I just figured out the best way to stop pollution: (pretends to shoot something) by shooting it with guns!
Linkara (v/o): Dr. Pierce gets a call from a man named Charlie Sutton, who has one of the most hideous hairstyles in comics I'd ever seen. He tells Dr. Pierce about an oil tanker in the Gulf of Mexico that has sent out a distress signal.
Charlie Sutton: If your little band of animals really are up and running, I may have a job for them!
Linkara (v/o): Wait, is Brute Force's existence common knowledge, or are they now just the scientific world's band of mercenaries? The dolphin [Surfstreak], of course, is conveniently close and heads out to the tanker, which is under attack by Heavy Metal! Cyber-Gorilla [Uproar] is apparently wielding Thor's hammer wrapped in a mace, since his blows to the deck cause a couple of guys to get electrocuted. The octopus [Armory] and rhino [Ramrod] are just causing random havoc, and the shark [Bloodbath] is going after guy, and they're all talking to each other. Really, I have to start scratching my head, though, about what's happening here and this entire concept. The animals on Pierce's team are basically unchecked in their emotional development, which is understandable; intelligence was just thrust upon them. You wouldn't expect them to act like sophisticated human beings that have had time to develop their intellects and sentience. It consequently explains why they're at least willing to work for good, since instinctively, they'll know that destruction to the environments they live in are a threat to them. But why are the members of Heavy Metal acting with sadism, enjoying causing terror and destruction? The gorilla says he's having more fun with live targets than with training sessions, and the octopus is focused on its task, even calling the rhino an idiot for not spotting which door it needs to attack.
Linkara: It's assigning human ethics and characteristics onto animals that otherwise don't possess them. A shark is no more "evil" than any other creature.
Linkara (v/o): These animals live by instinct necessary for their survival. The shark is a predator that needs to eat to survive, and it has evolved in a way that best suits that goal. Vultures tend to eat in warmer climates where food can be scarce and rarely attack living, healthy beings, and instead consume carcasses of the dead. Their habits and physiology in turn are developed from that. That's the thing: animals are mostly driven by instinct. They're not evil, it's just the way they are because it's the only things they understand and know. And yet, the vulture [Tailgunner] almost lets a guy shoot the gorilla from behind because...
Tailgunner: A sneaky attack from behind--I admire that in a man!
Linkara: The vulture likes cowardly fight tactics because it preys on the weak and the dead, a negative characteristic that is an invention of humans! It doesn't make any sense!
Linkara (v/o): So why are these animals evil? Hell, it's especially odd for the gorilla, which is arguably the most intelligent animals in Heavy Metal, to be acting like an enraged brute. Anyway, the cyber-gorilla throws the shark into the water, where it's attacked by the dolphin.
Narrator: Dolphin and shark--born enemies. Locked in an age-old struggle.
Linkara: No, they're really not.
Narrator: Under normal circumstances the shark would flee, the dolphin claiming the waters as its own.
Linkara: That completely contradicts the very last sentence where you said they were born enemies, since being enemies would suggest that they would battle it out for that territory instead of running away.
Linkara (v/o): Suddenly, an electromagnet comes down and grabs the shark. Why doesn't it grab the dolphin, too? Because... well, magnets, you know? How do they work? Turns out he was taken by the goofy-looking plane that Heavy Metal uses as its transport, which strangely enough looks like Scorponok from Transformers. That perception isn't helped by the scorpion claws, the color scheme, or the fact that the writer of this comic is Simon Furman, who is one of the writers of Marvel's Transformers series. The dolphin makes it to shore, but because of the damage to its communication systems, it's forced to go into town and use a pay phone to call Dr. Pierce. For the record, this plot point has nothing to do with anything; it's just there for not-funny, one-panel antics. The dolphin tells Pierce about the attacking animals having the same neuro enhancements given to him. Pierce pieces together what he already suspected and what the audience already figured out as soon as the evil corporate guy appeared: that the CEO of ConGlobal Multi-Incorporation, Incorporated, is in fact EVIL! (the Shock Horror sting plays) And of course, being the rock-stupid person that he is, he just runs off to confront him.
Linkara: You know, far-fetched as this whole situation is, you have the enhanced animals as evidence, along with the uniforms of the mercenaries! You could go to the police or the government.
Linkara (v/o): What's especially dumb about this idea is that he wants to try to confront him, knowing full well he's evil and has huge amounts of money and resources that would be able to kill you, and no one would be the wiser. Speaking of our evil CEO [Mr. Frost], who was evil for no good reason, he sits in the Flying Saucer Towers... Seriously, look at those things; how does this make any bit of architectural sense? ...and is being visited by the FBI. Oh, and there's even a helpful little caption that explains that the FBI is the Federal Bureau of Investigation, because anyone who would read this book seriously is sadly a moron. He denies any knowledge of the bioenhancement of animals, saying that he just writes the checks. He points them in the direction of Dr. Pierce and lets them out.
Mr. Frost: (thinking) Excellent! Their presence here must mean Heavy Metal's attack on Varda's tanker was successful.
Linkara: How the hell did the FBI trace the super-powered cyborg to ConglomCo. MultiBiz anyway? Are they seriously saying this animal enhancement project is public knowledge?
Linkara (v/o): Because if it is, I've gotta say I'm shocked that we're not seeing a whole bunch of scientists and animal rights groups going nuts over this. I mean, devices that grant animals the ability to think, reason, and even speak to humans? The military isn't chomping at the bit to get this technology? PETA isn't desperately trying to get its hands on it and use it as propaganda? The Senate isn't starting legal hearings concerning the ethics of granting sentience to animals?!
Frost: (thinking) And soon, as their name darkens with the spreading oil, Varda will cease to siphon business away from my refineries!
Linkara: You know, you could just employ normal business tactics to fight your competition. Why do you need to resort to super-intelligent sharks?
Linkara (v/o): The CEO, Mr. Frost, is pissed to learn that the tanker wasn't sunk and that his badass animals was stopped by one dolphin. But he's interrupted by Pierce storming his way in. Does this huge-ass building not have any security? Before Pierce can lay his accusations on Frost, he in turn loudly yells that it was Pierce who unleashed Heavy Metal on the tanker.
Frost: I wanted ecological knights in armor--not terrorists!
Linkara: What I love about that sentence is that it is both stupid and accurate. Brute Force is acting very much like terrorists, and the very idea that it was the actual working plan for them to make animals smart and fight evil... is just dumb! This was actually in the proposal for this project! (dramatic voice) Yeah, we could have genetically-engineered plants or more fuel-efficient cars. No, says I! We must have wild animals in power armor!
Linkara (v/o): Frost fires him... one wonders why he didn't do that in the first place and just confiscate all his research... and has security him out of the building. Pierce realizes Frost's diabolical plan to pin it all on him and takes out the security guards off panel. Exciting, isn't it? Frost calls the FBI to frame Pierce for everything.
Narrator: Three hours later, and the balmy calm of a New Orleans afternoon... is shattered... by the sound of HEAVY METAL!
Linkara: I love how I hear that and I immediately want to air guitar. (pretends to play air guitar)
(Cut to a clip of a Bill and Ted movie, where the duo also play air guitar; cut back to the comic)
Linkara (v/o): While Brute Force goes to confront their evil counterparts, the FBI agents fly on a plane, not entirely convinced by what Frost said about Pierce. The two teams engage, and of course, it's time for the awesomeness of ROBOTIC ANIMAL FIGHTING!
Hip Hop: Okay, Brute Force--let's rock 'n' roll!
(Panels of the fight in question are shown, set to "Ghost Love Score" by Nightwish)
Linkara: Do you see this kind of action on Captain Planet?! "No!" I dare say!
(Cut to a clip of the episode of the show involving the handlebar-mustached Adolf Hitler)
Linkara (v/o): Although, you do see handlebar-mustache Hitler, who has the power of such extreme hate that he repels Captain Planet, buuut I'm still calling this for the cyborg animals.
(Back to the comic again)
Linkara (v/o): Anyway, Pierce heads down and confronts the gorilla head-on, suddenly slapping a metal disc onto its chest. The device immediately immobilizes the gorilla. Before Brute Force can continue, Heavy Metal gets orders to retreat and runs off. And so, our comic ends with the FBI flying in, telling Pierce that he's under arrest for attempted piracy.
Linkara: (nasally voice) Will Dr. Pierce make it out this time? Tune in for the next time I feel like reviewing "Brute Force"! (closes comic and holds it up; normal voice) This comic is still absolutely moronic, maybe even more so than the first issue.
Linkara (v/o): The first one at least had the job of setting up the situation, so it could be forgiven on some aspects, but the concept is still absolutely stupid, with forced dialogue and really cartoonish characters, and the only redeeming factor is the fight at the end, which even then is ruined by Pierce just hopping down and slapping a stupid little disc on our beloved cyber-gorilla to disable him without a fight.
Linkara: Bottom line: this series remains bad, but gloriously bad. It really is a guilty pleasure. I just wish we had seen better action out of the second outing. (puts down comic, gets up and leaves)
Yes, yes, I know – "Dolphin Punch!"
No, seriously, there's an episode of "Captain Planet" where they go back in time and meet Hitler. What the hell was up with that show?