Comic Book Quickies 2
January 13, 2014
Goblins are scary, but fruit pies aren't!
Linkara: (groaning and clutching at himself) Oh, geez... (sounding rather tired) Hello, and welcome to Atop the Fourth Wall, where bad comics burn. And between the mind-bending that was "Marville"'s conclusion and the soul-crushing that will come next with "All-Star Batman and Robin", I think we'll need something of a breather, which is why today, we're having another edition of "Comic Book Quickies".
(Title theme plays; title card has "Hip To Be Square" by Huey Lewis and the News playing in the background. Cut to a recap of the first "Comic Book Quickies" video)
Linkara (v/o): So, last time, we got to see the Hulk's distaste for both terrorists and the Postal Service; Spider-Man taking on a living computer that may or may not have been named Chip, and may or may not have been a living computer since it was also a guy in a cardboard box who hung out at arcades; and the continuing adventures of Qui-Gon Jinn, worst Jedi ever.
Linkara: And unfortunately, there were plenty of people who just weren't into how many excerpts from the Super Dictionary I had, so this time, I'll only have (holds up two fingers) two of them, and as bumpers for the mid-roll. But first, the joke that never gets old: Hostess Fruit Pies!
Title: The FANTASTIC FOUR in "WONDERS OF NATURE"!
Linkara (v/o): Not surprising that they're in nature.
(Cut to a shot of the "Sunday Punch" comic, which Linkara also covered in "Comic Book Advertisements")
Linkara (v/o): Last time we saw the Fantastic Four in a city, a building turned into a giant robot until the Thing gave it a Sunday punch. We also discovered how jaded the Marvel Universe was at that point, since people only fled in terror after being given the aforementioned Fruit Pies.
Linkara: I also find it kind of ironic that they're espousing the (makes "finger quotes") "wonders of nature" regarding a product that probably used artificial flavoring.
Linkara (v/o): We open with the Fantastic Four, plus one, who I'll explain in a minute, riding in canoes and river rapids, no doubt on their way to an OfficeMax to get some crime-fighting supplies. What's greatly amusing to me is that they actually felt the need to put their logo on the canoes. How many missions do they go on that actually require a canoe? Or did they just put the logo on it so Mr. Fantastic could write it off for his taxes? Anyway, the fifth person with them is Franklin Richards, the son of Reed Richards and Sue Storm.
(Cut to a panel of a Fantastic Four comic, further explaining Reed and Sue's offspring)
Linkara (v/o): In fact, the two have two children: Franklin here and a daughter named Valaria.
Linkara: But wait, Marvel! That can't be right! Having them married and with kids will age them! And who wants to read about a married couple and their kids going on superhero adventures? It's just not relatable. Better get Satan in on this fast. (nods)
Linkara (v/o): I joke, but there have always been rumors touted about various points that Marvel will split the two up just for a quick sales boost. And while, admittedly, Spidey's marriage to Mary Jane was rushed when it happened, and that turned off a lot of the creative folks...
(Cut to a shot of the title for a Marvel story: "The Wedding of Sue and Reed!")
Linkara (v/o): ...the marriage of Reed and Sue is almost as old as the Fantastic Four themselves. It happened only four years after they premiered. The story itself is a classic, with an all-star guest cast of the Marvel Universe, fending off multiple supervillain attacks orchestrated by Doctor Doom so that the two could just have their damn wedding in peace.
(Cut back to the "Wonders of Nature" comic)
Linkara (v/o): But hey, enough about that; let's talk about canoeing.
Johnny Storm: This trip was a great idea! I can really relax!
Linkara: (as Johnny, making vigorous paddling motions) Look... at how... relaxed... I am! Oh, God, when is it over?
The Thing: Out here even super heroes...
Linkara (v/o): (seeing an asterisk) Asterisk...
Thing: ...feel kinda humble!
Linkara (v/o): Curious about that asterisk? Well, that's because "super heroes" is a trademark co-owned by the Marvel Comics group. Yep, the term "super heroes" is actually owned Marvel. Who is the other co-owner? Why, DC, of course. But wait! Then why doesn't anybody else get sued when the term is used?
Linkara: Well, that's because they're not saying (slowly, with a pause) "super hero", they're saying (quickly) "superhero", as in "one word instead of two". Totally different. (gives a double thumbs-up)
(Because Poor Literacy... and good literacy... are all about semantics.)
Sue: Sure is peaceful... No super powers needed on the river!
Linkara: Then why are you all wearing your superhero costumes?
Linkara (v/o): However, a rock slide occurs ahead of them, and they quickly get into action. Mr. Fantastic gets out and hangs onto both canoes with his stretchy powers, probably to let the rock slide end naturally on its own. Invisible Woman creates a force field around the canoes to protect them, and the Thing and Human Torch blast the rocks. Any one of these plans would have been perfectly fine to execute, but apparently, we needed to do all of them. Why? Because they have some Hostess Fruit Pies to protect, as Franklin informs us.
Franklin: Mmm! Real fruit filling and light, tender crust!
Linkara: Hmm... Okay, so maybe not artificial flavoring. It's that legitimacy as a product that makes everyone protect them without any regard for their own lives.
Linkara (v/o): And so, they make it to shore.
Franklin: Wow! You guys were great! You saved us!
Johnny: But you were even smarter, Franklin.
Franklin: Yeah, I saved my Hostess Fruit Pies!
Linkara: (as Franklin) With them, I can make you all perform my bidding. (throws out arms) OBEY WITHOUT QUESTION, FOR I HAVE THE FRUIT PIES!
Linkara (v/o): This is actually one of the tamer Fruit Pie ads we've seen, but I do love how the Fruit Pies are actually their lunch. They brought no other picnic supplies except for the Fruit Pies. That can't be a healthy diet. But enough about unhealthy obsessions with Hostess products. Let's talk about unhealthy video game materail in our main feature, shall we?
(Cut to a clip of Linkara's panel at MagFest, where he discusses the comic book character Johnny Turbo)
Linkara (v/o): So, two years ago at MagFest, I hosted a live show where I looked at Johnny Turbo. What was Johnny Turbo? Well, the American team for the TurboGrafx-16 video game console...
(Cut to some shots of the Johnny Turbo comic)
Linkara (v/o): ...were basically getting their asses kicked by Sega and Nintendo in the early '90s. The console itself was good, but it just wasn't capturing people's attentions like it was in Japan as the PC engine. One last-ditch effort to market the thing came in the form of the three Johnny Turbo comics, featured in Electronic Gaming Monthly. There, we were introduced to Jonathan Brandstetter and his roommate/heterosexual life partner, Tony. They fought off the evil Sega– erm, I mean, FEKA Corporation that was desperately trying to trick kids into believing that FEKA's CD add-on for their gaming console was the first and only one of its kind!
Linkara: Aaaand... really, that was their only sticking point, that they were evil because they claimed to be the first and only one to do that... which Sega never did. Also, instead of selling the console in stores, they sold it on the streets, like they owned a friggin' lemonade stand.
Linkara (v/o): Naturally, little kids carry hundreds of dollars around on them and are eager to buy up the console being sold by the Blues Brothers here. Hell, the FEKA goons are even offering free games.
Linkara: Mind you, the kids would probably change their attitudes when they realize that the (makes "finger quotes") "free games" were just multiple copies of Night Trap.
Linkara (v/o): What's even better, the FEKA goons, with their sunglasses off, are actually some kind of demonic creatures. The people behind the TurboGrafx were actually portraying their competition as LITERAL DEMONS.
(Cut to a shot of the cover for "Captain Tax Time #1")
Linkara (v/o): The last time we saw something like that was in "Captain Tax Time", and we all saw how well that worked out for the business hocking the comic.
(Cut back to "Johnny Turbo")
Linkara (v/o): Anyway, the point is, I covered two issues of "Johnny Turbo", but left out the third, because unlike the first two, this is not about FEKA goons. It's far trippier.
(Cut to a shot of the cover of said third issue: "'Sleepwalker': Episode #45'")
Linkara (v/o): And we start it with a pseudo-cover claiming that it's "episode 45", as if anyone would tolerate this after more than a handful of issues. For some reason, it's homaging one of the posters for Star Wars, with Johnny Turbo as Luke, Tony as Leia, and a FEKA goon as Darth Vader. As you'll see, there actually isn't any of FEKA in this one, so that really just makes me scratch my head. Also, two random kids as C-3PO and R2-D2. And everyone's holding up CDs like they were friggin' He-Man proclaiming they have the power of Grayskull. Maybe that's how Johnny Turbo got his powers: he's actually an outcast from Eternia because he wasn't as chiseled as everybody else. Hell, even Tony is looking at the reader, holding a Turbo Duo in his hands and wondering, "The hell is even going on here?" And up above, CDs and jewel cases flying around. I always thought CDs were actually just UFOs.
Linkara: (holding a CD, imitating the Wicked Witch of the West) Fly, my pretty! (throws CD, which flies across the room and lands on the floor)
Linkara (v/o): We open at Jonathan and Tony's home. Tony's going to bed in his pajamas that... are covered entirely in hearts, while Jonathan is spending the evening with cookies and a book. But Tony seems to be heading to bed early.
Tony: Yeah, well spending the whole day in the kitchen can really make you tired...
Linkara: He wasn't cooking; Jonathan had just replaced all their silverware and dishes with CDs. He was trying to figure out how to replace them all again. And then Jonathan replaced all the food with CDs. And then the microwave with a Turbo Duo.
Linkara (v/o): I joke, but that little line implying he's a homemaker or something doesn't really help the situation. See, I'm not the first person to review the Johnny Turbo comics, the most famous being from the old website, The Sardius Experience. He pretty much broke down the fact that this comic is filled with so much homoerotic subtext that it would actually fit in with the Masters of the Universe stuff.
Linkara: Not that there's anything wrong with having homoerotic subtext, just that I don't think that was the intention when the goal of this thing was to sell a video game system.
Linkara (v/o): Don't believe me? Well, let's move on to see Tony in bed, and his wonderful reading collection, with titles such as "Lace and Leather, II"...
Linkara: (rolls eyes) Ugh, the original "Lace and Leather" was so much better before they made it into a franchise.
Linkara (v/o): ..."The Pokey Little Puppy", "Good Boys and Bad Girls", "The Feminine Mystique", "The Joy of Wax", and then "American Psycho" and "Guerrilla Warfare", just to really make you tilt your head.
Linkara: This whole thing is gonna end with Tony chopping up Johnny Turbo while listening to Huey Lewis, isn't it?
(Cut to black as "Four Seasons (Spring)" by Vivaldi plays, while the following text, read by Linkara, fades in...)
Linkara (v/o): And now... An excerpt from "The Super Dictionary" with That Guy With The Hat: "Goblin".
(Cut to The Guy With the Hat, reading from the Super Dictionary)
That Guy With the Hat: "Hawkgirl met a goblin. She met a bad fairy who could do magic. (removes glasses) Goblins are scary." We'll be right back.
(The screen goes black as we got to a commercial break. Upon return, "Four Seasons (Spring)" plays again as the same text from before appears...)
Linkara (v/o): And now... An excerpt from "The Super Dictionary" with That Guy With The Hat: "Mouth".
(Cut to The Guy With the Hat, reading from the Super Dictionary)
That Guy With the Hat: "Batgirl is trapped in the giant animal's mouth. She is trapped in the part of its body that takes in food. People have mouths, too, Batgirl. YELL FOR HELP!!" (smiles) And now we're back.
(Cut back to the Johnny Turbo comic)
Linkara (v/o): Let's delve deeper into Tony's psychology, shall we? We're going into his dreams; namely, his dreams featuring him in his bed, floating in the vacuum of space while surrounded by various items. What items? Well, aside from a pair of lips and an eyeball, there's also a cat-o'-nine-tails whip, a high-heeled shoe, a rose, lipstick, and what appears to be a Madonna bra, though that could just be some spaghetti melting underneath two gray ice cream cones. And yeah, to be fair, there's stuff like a frog or a die or teeth or... a finger pointing that probably have no significance, and sometimes a cigar is just a cigar...
Linkara: ...buuuuut then again, the guy has a book called (makes "finger quotes") "The Joy of Wax" on his bookshelf, and sometimes it's fun to read into things. (gives a double thumbs-up)
Linkara (v/o): Tony hears the voice of Johnny Turbo calling out to him.
Johnny: You must tell the world about my newest games...
Linkara: (as Johnny, spreading out his arms) I am Johnny Turbo, god of video games, and you, Tony, are my emissary and prophet!
Linkara (v/o): Also, Johnny Turbo makes the games now? I thought he was just really, really enthusiastic about the games. Apparently, he's the manufacturer, too. And seeing a door into the Twilight Zone, Tony enters it and beholds screenshots of a game.
Tony: Holy microprocessors!!
Linkara: (as Tony) Holy forced expletive!
Linkara (v/o): In the next panel, his eyes are literally popping out of his head in shock at this game. I would criticize that, but it is a dream, so you win this round, Johnny Turbo.
Tony: Just look at those graphics!! I've never seen anything like it before!
Linkara: Tony's the kind of guy who would look at the Highlander game for the Atari Jaguar and get a heart attack from the graphics.
Johnny: My chosen one, you haven't seen anything yet...
Linkara: (as Johnny, spreading out his arms) Wait until you see this fresh new game: Sewer Shark.
Linkara (v/o): No, instead, he shows Lords of Thunder with some more screenshots that snap his tiny little mind and make it look like he's wearing 3D glasses. And then he's spinning inside a vortex from Hell or something, I don't know. This is kind of a weird dream.
Tony: Oh my gosh, this game is so incredible, I've got to tell Jonathan!!
Linkara: Have you accepted Johnny Turbo as your lord and savior?
Linkara (v/o): Aaand more random objects floating in space, now including the green planet from the "Hitchhiker's Guide To the Galaxy" book covers, a window, a bolt, and a hex screw – analyze the symbolism for yourself – a banana, a fish, and a key going into a lock labeled "Sugar". I don't even know if this is even homoerotic anymore or just showing deep signs of repression on Tony's part. And on yet another page, we have a bow tie, another mouth with a tongue – you really got an oral fixation, it seems – a woman's leg in fishnet stockings, a toy rocket, and what I really hope is a nose, because the alternative is far too disturbing.
Johnny: On your 3 in 1 game disc, there's a secret game...
Linkara: It's not really a (makes "finger quotes") "secret game" if the disc is labeled "3 in 1". It's just the third game.
Linkara (v/o): And after inputting the code, he [Tony] gets BOMBERMAN! Yay... (loses enthusiasm quickly) I don't care. And after he's attacked by the Fruit Stripe zebra, he wakes up, screaming for Jonathan. However, Johnny Boy can't even be bothered to get his ass out of his chair when his roommate is calling for help. Tony has to run out to him to tell him about the dream. And so, our comic ends with him talking about it.
Tony: The games, the graphics, the secret codes...
Jonathan: Now just relax, Tony, and tell me all about it...
Linkara (v/o): And we see on the table two discs for the games, the Johnny Turbo goggles, and a Bomberman code book!
(A dramatic sting is heard)
Linkara: Wait, does Johnny Turbo have the power to invade people's dreams? In fact, where the hell was Johnny Turbo during this whole thing?
Linkara (v/o): For a comic about Johnny Turbo, it's only implied that the disembodied voice was him. Instead, we are just left feeling really weirded out by Tony's apparently insanity. Oh, well, let's move away from that insanity and instead move to a different insanity.
(Cut to the title for a Captain Marvel story: "Flea Bargaining")
Linkara (v/o): Another Fruit Pies comic! It's Captain Marvel in "Flea Bargaining"! And just to clarify for the non-comic readers, this is the Marvel Captain Marvel and not DC's Captain Marvel.
(Cut to shots of DC's Captain Marvel, AKA Shazam)
Linkara (v/o): DC's Captain Marvel got renamed Shazam in the reboot, after the wizard who gave him his powers, because of course, now, after, like, thirty years of using the name for the character, even if it wasn't the title of the series, would Marvel raise a stink about them doing so. Or so I presume, because I have no other explanation for that.
(Cut to Marvel's Captain Marvel)
Linkara (v/o): Anyway, we've never run into this Captain Marvel on the show before. There's a long story with his backstory, but here's the important part about him: he's dead.
Linkara: (dramatically) And what event comic was he senselessly killed off for? What villain stabbed a sword through him, due to some editorial mandate?! What vile being is responsible for THIS?! (beat, then speaks more calmly) Cancer. (another beat) Yeah, I'm not kidding. Cancer.
Linkara (v/o): It was a pretty big deal at the time. As you may have noticed during the course of this show, death is not usually treated in that kind of subject matter, usually preferring something gruesome and horrible to happen. Then again, they have made up for it later. It's a common comic book joke that Jean Grey keeps dying and coming back, but it's more true for Captain Marvel, who has legitimately come back to life, like, three times and died each time. It's kind of silly. And as such, let's get some more silliness out there, shall we?
(Cut back to the "Flea Bargaining" story)
Linkara (v/o): We open at...
Narrator: The world's largest flea market...
Linkara (v/o): ...where we see... uh... what I presume is the world's largest flea. (sounds confused) I... I don't think that's what a flea market is, creators.
Person 1: Good grief! It's the giant Flea-Market-Eating Flea!
Linkara: (dumbfounded) What?!
Person 2: He devoured the Englishtown flea market last month... Run!
Linkara: (even more dumbfounded) WHAT?!?
Linkara (v/o): (stammers) I ju– CONTEXT, PLEASE!! Where the hell did this thing come from?! And who the hell would make it devour flea markets?!
(Cut to Dr. Linksano, cackling madly, then cut back to the comic)
Linkara (v/o): Erm... So, anyway, Captain Marvel arrives to save them from... the Flea-Market-Eating Flea, and he quickly gets to work grabbing various supplies around the flea market.
Vendor 1: He's takin' stuff off our stands without even bargaining!
Vendor 2: Knock it off, he's trying to help!
Linkara: (as Captain Marvel) Nope, just stealing stuff. (waving) Sucks to be you!
Linkara (v/o): Captain Marvel constructs a net trap, but the people wonder how he's gonna make the flea fall for the trap.
Captain Marvel: (holding up some Hostess Twinkies) With the help of these golden Hostess Twinkies Cakes, I'll make him an offer he can't refuse!
Linkara: (nervously) Considering it's a creature that eats flea markets and not confectioneries, I'm guessing it probably can.
Linkara (v/o): Although, apparently, there is a question about how big this thing is. In previous panels, it looked like it was bigger than Captain Marvel, but in this panel, where it falls for the trap, the thing is smaller than this one flea market attendee.
Captain Marvel: These Twinkies Cakes...
Linkara (v/o): Uh, I'm sure, because of the naming, that's technically correctly, so I won't call a poor literacy on it, but it still sounds weird to not refer to the singular as "Twinkie".
Captain Marvel: These Twinkies Cakes are irresistible! The light, golden sponge cake and creamed filling are delicious!
Linkara (v/o): I will, however, call bullcrap on "creamed filling" as opposed to just "cream filling". The fact that it is cream already implies that it was creamed. Anyway, the trap works, and the net falls on the giant flea, allowing Captain Marvel to take it.
Linkara: I guess Twinkies are okay to lose if you really have to, (points at screen, voice turns stern) but don't you dare sacrifice a Fruit Pie!
Woman: We're saved, thanks to some ingenious flea bargaining--and these Hostess Twinkies Cakes!
Linkara: (stunned) WHAT?!?!
(Cut to the cover of another comic: "Amazing Ghost Stories #14")
Linkara (v/o): And our final bit of comic book quickiness comes to us not from a normal comic, but from a little health PSA from all the way back in 1954. Specifically, I found it in the pages of "Amazing Ghost Stories #14", the first comic I reviewed on my DVD.
(The comic opens to a page inside, showing instructions on polio precautions)
Linkara (v/o): My friends, let's learn about some polio precautions. (music plays in the background as Linkara speaks in an announcer voice) Now, polio does exist, but it's not as prevalent as it once was. So, kids, take these handy steps to avoid getting the plague: (reads text on page) "DON'T mix with new groups."
Linkara: That's right, kids, avoid contact with anyone you don't know. (holds up index finger) Never make new friends. (leans in close to camera) Trust no one.
Linkara (v/o): "DON'T' get overtired." Yes, don't tire yourself out by pinching your face so that you have no nose and your mouth is an odd, miscolored triangle. "DON'T get chilled."
Linkara: Avoid entering the polar vortex.
Linkara (v/o): "BUT DO keep clean."
Linkara: Scrub yourself 3,000 times a day just to be sure.
Linkara (v/o): You'll know you're clean by the hideous, doll-like face that greets you in the mirror.
Linkara: (normal) And that was another edition of comic book quickies. Remember everything that we've learned here today, kids: to prevent polio, avoid goblins and entering giant animal mouths. Your mouth should be used to eat Fruit Pies, but not Twinkies, lest Johnny Turbo will enter your dreams and make you his High Priest. (beat) There, I think my brain is properly configured for Miller Time next week. (gets up and leaves)
(End credits roll)
Yes, I know it was a woman speaking in the last panel of the "Flea Bargaining" comic. I wasn't looking at the page when I did the voices and completely missed that.
The Super Dictionary is truly a goldmine of hilarious asides from its makers trying to make sense of an insane universe.
(Stinger: The Fantastic Four comic is shown again)
Sue Storm: Sure is peaceful... No super powers needed on the river!
Linkara: (as Sue, making paddling motions) Except for you, Ben Grimm, because your powers altered your appearance and made sure you will never have a normal life! Wheeee! This is fun!