July 12, 2010
Two times the grimacing! Two times the plot holes! Two times the utter stupidity!
Linkara: Hello, and welcome to Atop the Fourth Wall, where bad comics burn. Well, I'm back from being imprisoned on board Lord Vyce's ship, and I'm ready to review again! That's why today we're digging into (holds up today's comic) "Cable #2"!
(But then he takes a second, harder look and his expression turns sour)
Linkara: I quit. (throws down comic, gets up and leaves)
(AT4W title sequence plays; title card has "Takin' Care of Business" by Bachman-Turner Overdrive playing in the background; cut to a montage of shots of "Cable #1")
Linkara (v/o): Well, about a year ago, I reviewed "Cable #1". Surprisingly, for forty pages, not a lot happened. A group of mutant terrorists was breaking into museums and stealing ancient Egyptian artifacts.
Linkara: (holds up fist) Damn you, Ancient Egypt! When will your evil tendrils let go of present-day America?!
(Cut to the obligatory shot of the Egyptian pyramids, with the Star Wars Imperial March playing in the background; cut back to the comic again)
Linkara (v/o): We got to see some of Cable's past, wherein he was in a mercenary group with a bunch of gun-toting losers that had changed their name to "Six Pack", because they were no longer legally allowed to be called "Wild Pack". And no, I'm not kidding about that. The flashback ended when they encountered Stryfe, a guy who was also Cable, but don't even try to get involved with that. Apparently, it's like a time travel thing or a clone... thing... or... Hell, does anybody actually give a damn about Stryfe? There was apparently some incident in Cable's past that led to a falling-out with Six Pack, and now one of them, Kane, has come back with robot arms and finger beams to kill Cable at the behest of the military. The issue ended with Kane revealing to Cable that Stryfe had his face!
Linkara: I know that might sound like a lot happened, but trust me, it really didn't.
(Cut to a closeup of this comic's cover)
Linkara (v/o): Issue 2 has another wraparound cover extending to the back. And it looks even dumber than the first issue's cover. Don't get me wrong, the positioning is perfectly acceptable, going for a sort of La Pieta-esque pose, but it is completely ruined by the anatomy and a very silly image of Kane's arms apparently missing and all the cyborg bits stretched out. It's made no easier by the fact that the colorist used the same arms for Kane and Cable, so when I first looked at that, I was confused as to why Cable's arm had all the odd bits poking out like that. And frankly, with the pose being what it is, along with the goofy, snarling expression and the gun extended out, it just makes it look like a parody of this kind of scene.
Linkara: (as Cable, imitating his pose) I loved my dead, gay son! (roars)
Linkara (v/o): And what the hell is with Cable's pose? Why is his leg extended out like that? Is he doing stretching exercises before he uses Kane's body for weightlifting? I really have to wonder about comic book artists sometimes. Do they understand how human beings stand and place their limbs?
Linkara: (imitating Cable's pose, with his arms and legs outstretched) And does this look like the most natural pose for someone to be standing in?
Linkara (v/o): And I'm sorry, but when your shoulder pads are three times bigger than your head, they have stopped being shoulder pads and have become your entire shirt. And why? Somebody actually tried to trace the anatomy of someone like this. Where are their arms connected to? And when will they be suffering heart attacks from a metabolism that can't support this body structure?
(Cut to this comic's credits)
Linkara (v/o): It's the same creative team as last time. Poor Fabian Nicieza. I pick on his stuff far too often on the show. And John Romita, Jr., a good artist who was shafted by '90s-style artwork at the time. And then there's... wait, Dan Green is the inker?
(Dan Green pops up)
Dan: Yes, I'm Dan Green, voice actor extraordinaire, and apparently, I ink comic books, too. Yeah, that's it.
Linkara (v/o): We open to the...
Narrator: ...Yashida ancestral stronghold in the hills overlooking the city of Agarashima. Today.
Linkara: Oh, joy! We're gonna have more skewed timescale like the last one, aren't we?
Linkara (v/o): Being as stealthy as a drunken howler monkey, the two walk up to the front door, which has...
Kane: A pretty modern security system for an ancient house.
Linkara: Damn! A key padlock! What will modern science think up next?
Linkara (v/o): And of course, the keypad has an access port that Cable's cybernetics can wire into, and he's able to disable the building's perimeter defenses. Convenience! And with that, they're attacked by ninjas and a two-page spread that I have to turn on its side. Dear Lord, even the ninjas have huge shoulder pads! What function do they have with ninjas?! How do huge shoulder pads let you be stealthy?
(To the Venga Boys' "We Like To Party", the Ninja-Style Dancer appears, holding up a sign reading "These shoulderpads [sic] do not make me feel like dancing". After a few seconds, he holds up another sign reading "...Aww, what the heck" and starts dancing; cut back to the comic)
Linkara (v/o): Did I mention we're never given an explanation for why these two are working together now? At the end of the last issue, Kane seemed pretty heavily motivated on the whole "kill Cable" thing, and now they're buddy-buds again. Anyway, a fight with ninjas. Naturally, this comic screws up a concept that's simple by having it just be Cable firing his gun and Kane electrocuting the rest.
Cable: (narrating) That momentary panic-mode of his slides through him like greased adrenaline.
Linkara: "Greased adrenaline"? Is that what happens when you eat too much bacon?
Cable: (narrating) Then he takes care of business.
Linkara: If it was easy as fishin', you could be a musician.
Linkara (v/o): However, Kane is quickly overwhelmed, and their leader, the Silver Samurai, raises his sword to kill him. Unfortunately for us, Cable has broken through the ninja hordes and threatens Silver Samurai's head with his gun. The samurai agrees to talk with them, the ninjas all lying at their feet.
Linkara: (as ninja, clutching his arm) Uh, boss, my ribs are broken in three places and I can't feel my legs. (as Silver Samurai) Shut up! You are not getting vacation time and that is final!
Linkara (v/o): It seems the two are actually there for an ancient Shogun mask. They want to hold on to it and replace it with a fake so that the mutants from last issue steal that one. The Samurai agrees, but this just raises the question of why the hell Cable didn't just contact the Samurai and ask him instead of storming in and beating up his ninjas.
Narrator: The Khyber Pass, Afghanistan. Seven years ago...
Linkara: Say it with me, everybody... (audience joins in as he says...) NOBODY CARES!
Linkara (v/o): Time for a splash page of Stryfe that is bizarrely tinted yellow, because when you think colors that strike fear into the hearts of your enemy and make the reader intrigued by the villain, you think yellow. And then, a two-page spread! You know, I'm starting to think that John Romita, Jr., didn't really invest that much of his energy into this comic.
Stryfe: Futile, in its own way, Nathan, that you'll die... before you were even born... with nothing but questions on your lips... and the taste of blood in your mouth!
Linkara: Dying before he was born, with questions on his lips, and the taste of blood in his mouth. How is that futile, exactly?
Nathan: The only way I'll taste blood today, Stryfe... is by kissing you goodbye!
Linkara: (as Nathan) Seriously, Stryfe, you need to do something about your gingivitis.
Linkara (v/o): Stryfe reveals that Tolliver, the guy with, like, one panel appearance last issue and is the one that hired Cable's mercenary band, actually works with him. Then we get a confusing-as-all-hell page where Cable apparently takes some explosives and throws them at Stryfe, but I can't tell because the artwork is so bizarre. We a shot of him holding the band of explosives, then the explosives in the corner, with Cable's arm back on his huge-ass gun, then... Stryfe was holding them?? The entire concept behind sequential art is to be able to use single snapshots, individual panels, to show movement and tell a story without animation. How come actual professionals fail SO BADLY SOMETIMES?! Anyway, Stryfe teleports away, then Cable and his group teleport away, the explosives blowing up the base they were in. One Cable's many mercenary buds that we don't care about asks what the hell just happened, echoing the audience. All that he says is that they need to trust him, and we cut to Mexico, today. Once again showing a complete lack of understanding of sequential art, we have a shot of Guadalajara, Cable putting on a shirt, and then a headshot of Cable's eye glowing.
Linkara: Have we just decided that Cable getting dressed is more interesting than the plot? I admit, I can't argue with that logic, but... (shrugs)
Linkara (v/o): Oh, wait, it turns out to be Stryfe, who takes the mask to someone who can authenticate it. Apparently, we didn't get to see the mask getting taken. The man confirms that it's a forgery and finds a tracer on it. With the knowledge that Cable is on to him, he starts setting a trap. Meanwhile, Cable and Kane are back at Cable's little ski resort house when, for no particular reason...
(Editor's note: PATENTED KIRK SHIRT RIP)
Linkara (v/o): ...they start arguing over stuff that I could care less about. Back to Flashback Town of six years prior, where evidently the Six Pack – I could go for a six-pack right about now – have been on the run for eight months. Oh, looky, two-page spread that I need to turn on its side!
Linkara: (angrily holding up comic this way) Seriously, why?! You wanna make me feel more ashamed that I'm reading this thing?!
Linkara (v/o): Blah, blah, blah, banter, banter, banter, kaboom. Flashback wasted a couple of pages, thanks. Back at present day, we cut to Cancun, where our two, quote-unquote, "heroes" are prancing through the jungle. I'd say they were trying to be stealthy, but it's hard to be inconspicuous when you have the physique of a hippo and dressed in bright primary colors without any kind of camouflaging whatsoever. They make their way to a temple in the jungle, where Cable resumes narrating.
Cable: (narrating) The rest of the way is covered in silence-- save for the sizzle of the lasers cutting the undergrowth.
Linkara (v/o): Yeah, shooting lasers is the best way to ensure nobody knows from what way you're coming.
Cable: (narrating) The sound works my spinal column like a piano--
Linkara: (dumbfounded) What in the hell does that even me–
(Suddenly, he stops himself as a thought comes to him. He puts the comic down and reaches his hands behind his back, where he runs his fingers along his spine, which inexplicably plays Scott Joplin's "The Entertainer", much to his surprise)
Linkara (v/o): They enter the temple, but a cube-shaped piece of the structure falls down right at Cable!
Linkara: Oh, God, the companion cube is out for revenge!
Linkara (v/o): They blast the cube and realize that it was a diversion. The Mutant Liberation Front comes running at them.
Cable: (narrating) Mutant Liberation Front, Stryfe's super-powered cannon fodder. A telekinetic adjustment of the EMPS hand-cannon creates a wide-screen bioelectric dispersal effect. Enough to take them out without killing them. Why hold back?
Linkara: More importantly, why the hell didn't you do that the last time you fought them, nimrod?!
Linkara (v/o): They realize that it's a trap and they're attacked by the remaining MLF members and the guys in orange, who hold them back as Stryfe appears and grabs Kane. By the way, check out Stryfe's hand here on this stupid-ass double-page I-have-to-turn-on-its-side spread. Have I mentioned how much I hate that?! Just how big is Stryfe's hand?! The fingers are all curled up on either side of his neck, yet his thumb is wrapping around, too! Stryfe must have the biggest, sweatiest palms in all of the Marvel Universe! Cable asks why he waited until now to try to kill him. Stryfe's answer?
Stryfe: Because time's up, Nathan Dayspring. I am now prepared to set my life aright.
Linkara: That didn't answer his question, dude.
Linkara (v/o): Stryfe takes off his helmet, confirming that he does indeed have Cable's face. We flash back to six years ago again. Hopefully, this time, the flashback will actually have a point. The Six Pack finds one of Stryfe's bases and sneaks in. Ah, good to see his stealth skills have always been finely tuned, what with them exploding the door down and carrying around about a hundred pounds of worthless body armor, since none of it protects their head or arms. Of course, being stealthy wouldn't be nearly as extreme enough for the comic, so they just start shooting everything in their path and yell like idiots, because that's a surefire way to get Stryfe to stick around so you can kill him.
Linkara: Cable, how is it that your body is so big, yet your brain is so small?
Linkara (v/o): Oh, and what the hell's going on in this panel?! I get the two guns Cable is holding, but where the hell are those blasts slightly off to the side of him coming from? What are they?! They hack the computers and download all the data they can before setting charges. However, before they can escape, Stryfe teleports behind Kane and sets up a force field so that their guns won't hurt him. He further blocks their own teleportation ability and says that he'll exchange Kane's life for the information they took– Okay, seriously, what the hell is up with Stryfe's cape?! What is holding it up like that and why did he even bother?! I know I talked about this last time, but I figured it may have been just been a trick of the angle or just bad artwork in its depiction, but seriously, there's actually something holding the damn thing up like that?!
Linkara: Is it like an animal instinct thing? (holds up his arms) Make yourself look big?
Linkara (v/o): One of the Six Pack agrees to the exchange, but Cable refuses, saying there's more going on than they know. However, the guy starts transferring the data, so Cable shoots him in the back! Our hero, ladies and gentlemen! Oh, and Stryfe gets the information disc anyway. Smooth. As the base starts to explode, Stryfe teleports out and Cable is able to get away, but leaves the other members of the Six Pack, thus explaining why Cable is a prick: because he is. Back in the present day, Stryfe says that he wants Cable's computer, which used to belong to Apocalypse. Non-comic fans are probably scratching their heads, especially since in the DC Universe, we already have a planet called Apokolips, spelled differently because spelling things normally is for dorks, but you'd probably be bored with a history lesson about a supervillain, so instead, enjoy these clips to demonstrate the awesomeness of Apocalypse!
(Cut to a montage of clips of the X-Men cartoon series showing Apocalypse)
Apocalypse: I am as far beyond mutants as they are far beyond you! / You dare challenge Apocalypse again?! Blasphemy! / I AM... APOCALYPSE! Look upon the future... and tremble!
Linkara: (smiling) I love that cartoon. (leans in close) CABLE DOESN'T SUCK IN IT.
Linkara (v/o): Stryfe offers Kane's life for the computer just as they had done in the flashback. Ah, see how the crappiness is coming together to form a big pile of crap? Cable narrates some more with the same amount of subtlety we've been expecting from this comic, realizing the dilemma he's been placed in that the reader figured out already. He says he'll give the computer over to Stryfe if Kane is let go, and so he does. Aaaaand Cable promptly destroys the computer disk. Seems to me it'd be easy to me to fake someone out with just a spare blank disc, but no, this is a comic where the villain is stupid – why did he even bother with this nonsense instead of just knocking Cable out and taking the computer; the hero is stupid – he's not stealthy, subtle, and doesn't know how to bluff; and the entire plot is stupid – we never learn why Stryfe was stealing this crap, other than it being connected to Apocalypse. Thus, the entire miniseries is pointless! Now enjoy this two-page spread of Cable getting blasted with telekinetic energy. Wow! Look at the dynamic posing of them, just kind of standing there, and Cable dancing around like he needs to use the bathroom.
Cable: (narrating) Telekinetic fury-- dwarfing my own feeble teke abilities-- and I realize-- I accept-- that he is me and I am him-- only he is more of me--than I am of him...
(Cut to a clip of Doctor Who)
Third Doctor: (to Jo, about the Second Doctor) He is me, and I am him.
Jo: And we are all together, goo goo g'joob?
(Back to the comic again)
Cable: (narrating) And my body falls apart-- both blood and metal...
Linkara: Yeah, with that explanation for it, I can see why they were embarrassed by the tagline to the point of making of it tiny on the front cover.
Cable: (narrating) --stripped bare--naked to the core...
Linkara: (recoiling and looking away, with his hands up) Please stop! We really do not want to see Cable naked!
Linkara (v/o): Kane comes to the rescue with his action figure hands launching out and grabbing Stryfe, electrocuting him in a two-page, turned-on-its-side spread– Gah! There's like four of them in this stupid book! Their injuries are too severe to be repaired in this century, so Cable has to choose whether to travel in time to the past to kill Stryfe once and for all, or go to the future to save Kane's life. Wait, he can time travel whenever he wants?! Why the hell doesn't he ever use it to travel back to himself after escaping from, say, the last time he encountered Stryfe and then just shooting him in the back?! Or travel into the far future to learn the history of the X-Men or something of... Gah! This stupid thing opens up far too many plot holes! Anyway, since the comic is desperately trying to convince us that Cable is likeable, he decides to go to the future to save Kane. We cut to the future, where Kane has been stripped down to his underpants.
Kane: My arms?
Linkara: (as Kane, looking down at himself) My pants!
Stryfe: Good as new-- better than that--as good as blood and metal.
Linkara: Yes, comic, we got it the first time, shut up.
Stryfe: (narrating) Courtesy of modern day science. Welcome to Applecrust. It used to be called Manhattan--until about seven hundred years ago.
Linkara: I'd like to know what exactly prompted the legislation to change the name to something that's stupid.
Linkara (v/o): By the way, if Cable could do this for his pals the whole time, why in the hell is he only doing this now? He's got a few other friends, including the guy Kane met last issue for no reason, who could have this a lot sooner! And so, our comic ends with them becoming friends again, talking about free will and choice and... Oh, hell, let's just end this nonsense.
Linkara: (holding up comic) This comic sucks! The art is painful, the plot confusing and nonsensical, and half the story is told SIDEWAYS! So, yeah, I'm back, people, but I don't know why you're so happy. (points to camera) You're along for the ride! (throws down comic, gets up and leaves)
(End credits roll)
So how many times have I referenced "I am the Walrus" on this show, anyway?
I have yet to come across a single instance where two-page spreads turned on their sides has [sic] actually been beneficial to sequential art.
(Stinger: Linkara is scanning the Shade debris)
Linkara: (looking at scanner) Aha!
Pollo: What? What are you detecting?
Linkara: I have no idea; I'm just kind of waving this thing around, as if I know what I'm doing.
Linkara: Well, I know a couple of things. When they had me on board their ship, they were mostly just scanning me. I think when Linksano teleported out of this universe, it got Vyce's attention, and that's why he beamed me to his ship. During an escape attempt, I managed to break part of one. Just how I learned that they were robots...
Pollo: But they're not just robots, are they?
Linkara: No, there's some serious hoodoo going on with these things. They're magically-charged robots. Their power supply is linked directly to Vyce's ship, even across dimensions. But it's the power signature that's interesting.
Pollo: It's not totally there. It's in flux.
Linkara: Exactly, which means the physical laws of our universe are different from the physical laws of Vyce's universe. However, en masse, these things could really be a threat.
Pollo: We'll need more tactical information if we're to fight them.
Linkara: Fortunately, it looks like we have time on our side at least. Pollo, I want every piece of Shade debris that we have broken down, taken apart, dissected, do whatever you have to. Figure out anything you can about them. When they come again, I want to be ready for them.
Pollo: I'll get right on it.
Linkara: Oh, by the way, never, ever let 90s Kid host my show ever again. Ever!
Pollo: Noted. Oh, wait, that reminds me, I'll be back in a minute.
(Outside, Marley's Ghost, the Ghost of Christmas Present and a Pyramid Head are standing outside Linkara's room, looking over scripts as they wait their turn to substitute as hosts. Pollo comes out and everyone looks at him)
Pollo: Sorry, everyone, but Linkara has returned. We won't be needing any more guest hosts.
(The would-be guest hosts all hang their heads in disappointment and walk off)