Daredevil vs. Vapora #1
May 21, 2012
Gasoline: fuel source, highly flammable, and summoner of demons.
Linkara: Hello, and welcome to Atop the Fourth Wall, where bad comics burn. And welcome back, my friends, to "PSA Hell Month"!
("PSA Hell" title is shown, with the word "Month" superimposed over the title)
Linkara: This one has been sitting on my shelf for quite a while. I really should have gotten to it sooner, and it probably requires an explanation, because until I saw RiffTrax make fun of a short about this, I didn't know this was a thing: using gasoline for cleaning purposes.
(Cut to footage of the film in question: More Dangerous Than Dynamite)
Linkara (v/o): Okay, here's the thing: dry cleaning came about when, in the mid-19th century, Jean Baptiste Jolly noticed that one of his tablecloths got cleaner after kerosene was spilled on it, and in the early days of the 20th century, gasoline and other petroleum-based solvents were used in the process. By the 1930s, however, petroleum-based solvents were phased out because, well, petroleum-based solvents tend to have this little problem of being extremely flammable. The dry cleaning industry replaced it with chlorinated solvents like perchloroethylene, which is nonflammable. These days, there are a number of different dry cleaning methods, but I can guarantee you that nobody, NOBODY uses gasoline anymore for that, and if they do, they're friggin' morons! And it's probably a good bet that nobody was doing this in 1993, when today's highly flammable comic came out. Today's PSA is about the dangers of gasoline vapor and how STUPID you are if you're seriously using gasoline for anything other than a fuel source! And of course, we needed a supervillain based around this. Well, okay, I mean, I guess it could be some thief trying to cleverly use gasoline vapor to blow up a house or a vault or... (laughs) No! It's some kind of supernatural being! Of course!
Linkara: So let's dig into (holds up today's comic) "Daredevil vs. Vapora #1" and see if it can give us any reason why we shouldn't douse it in gasoline.
(Opening titles play; title card has "Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger" by Daft Punk playing in the background. Cut to a closeup of the comic's cover)
Linkara (v/o): The cover is goofy. The titular Vapora is holding onto Daredevil by the throat, which is stupid, since, you know, SHE'S MADE OF VAPOR! Hell, she's semitransparent since she's reaching over Daredevil towards the gas can, and you can see right through her! How is Daredevil having a problem here?! And no, I'm not gonna let anyone get away with anyone saying, "She's replacing the air in his lungs," or something. That kid down there seems to be doing just fine! And let's talk about this dumbass kid. He looks to be about nine, ten years old or so. He's got a perfectly good toy down there, but no, gasoline cans are apparently a thousand times more interesting!
(Cut to the inside cover)
Linkara (v/o): The inside cover warns us to "Keep Vapora In The Can!"
Linkara: (pointing at screen) Screw you, I'm having bottled Vapora!
Text: It dwells in gasoline cans, waiting to escape, waiting for a chance to cause destruction and pain.
Linkara: Jack-in-the-boxes for gasoline cans proved to be less popular than anticipated.
Text: Gasoline is dangerous because of the invisible flammable vapors it produces. Gasoline vapors can ignite at temperatures well below zero. The tiniest spark from a match, a pilot light – even turning on a light switch – can trigger a devastating explosion!
(Linkara looks up and looks toward his light switch, which is flipped up)
Linkara: (pointing at switch) I'm watching you, you bastard! (points to his eyes and then to the switch, several times)
Linkara (v/o): We open on Daredevil carrying a child out of a burning building. The narration captions talk about the normal home and the little girl, named Angel Jusko, who was sent to bed that night.
Narrator: Before Angel fell asleep, she saw her father carrying some rags and a can of gasoline.
(Linkara sits with his head resting on his hand in annoyance while holding a black rag in his other hand)
Linkara: (as father) My damn wife is nagging me again about burning my oily rags collection, but I don't want to get rid of them. (brightens up as an idea comes to him) Oh, I know! I'll store at the Centennial building where I work. Nothing can possibly go wrong storing them there!
(Cut to a clip of a Silent Hill game, where Frank is seen trying to light some rags on fire as a door closes. Suddenly, fires leap from the rags as another door locks, trapping him in. Then the room gets sucked away into nothingness. Frank takes a crowbar as he runs through an open door)
Frank: Oh, God... not again!
(Cut back to the comic)
Narrator: So--he [Angel's father] was finally going to remove those kitchen tiles her mother had been nagging him about.
Linkara: (annoyed) Dude, a bottle of Goo Gone and a sponge! At least, I'm assuming the gasoline is for removing the residue underneath the tiles. I mean, I guess if he's dumb enough to use gasoline for that, maybe he thought he'd pour the gasoline on the tiles, and it would magically dissolve them.
Linkara (v/o): So yeah, the gasoline vapors are what caused the place to erupt in flames. Daredevil manages to evade the collapsing building, thanks to his enhanced senses, and get outside.
Narrator: In front of him, a drop of 20 feet to the street. Alone, it would be nothing. A puddle-jump.
Linkara: Oh, yeah, jumping down to the ground from twenty feet is perfectly safe. Allow me to demonstrate.
(Cut to Linkara falling to the ground from a height of twenty feet, hitting it hard)
Linkara: OH, GOD, MY LEGS!!
Linkara (v/o): However, he gets outside with the girl and hands her off to paramedics. Daredevil hears someone laughing and "looks", and I say that with the largest possible quotation marks, back at the building, sensing Vapora emerging from the building and proclaiming...
Linkara (v/o): Well, at least somebody's having fun, I guess. Anyway, Daredevil's radar sense is confusing him a bit, since it says she's there and then she isn't.
Narrator: Like smoke, blowing in the wind.
(Linkara is wearing dark glasses and smoking a cigarette)
Linkara: (as a hippie) All we are is dust in the wind, my friend.
Linkara (v/o): A fireman tells Daredevil that they got everyone out who's still alive, and all Daredevil can do is stare at the inferno. And we, in turn, can look at his goofy expression and the overabundance of cross-hatching on his face that makes him look like he has a five o'clock shadow. A week later, Matt Murdock is speaking to the landlord of the building, who is being accused by the district attorney of arson.
Matt: They say the little girl rescued by Daredevil is not doing well. 3rd degree burns over 75% of her body, severe smoke inhalation... Doctors don't expect her to live.
Linkara: (shocked) Third-degree burns over 75% of her body?! The fact that a little girl in that condition is still alive at all is pretty miraculous!
Linkara (v/o): And by the by, the artwork doesn't make it look like the burns are on over three-fourths of her body. Anyway, the landlord denies having started the fire and wants Matt Murdock's services in defending him. Since Matt Murdock's enhanced senses apparently make him into a friggin' lie detector, he takes the case and assures the landlord he'll do his best.
Matt: (thinking) Heart beat a little fast, but he's angry, not scared. He meant what he said. Voice didn't quaver, didn't skip a beat. He's telling the truth.
Linkara: Lie detector tests are not an accurate assessor of truth, since not only can they be fooled, but you can read things differently. Fear and anger? You can interswap those; he might be angry because he doesn't want to be found out. Fear could mean he doesn't want to go to jail for something he didn't do.
Linkara (v/o): A few more days after that, Matt Murdock goes back to the burned-out building with a police officer to investigate. Oh, yeah, the burned-out building has got to be a hundred percent safe, especially for a blind person. And yes, I know, enhanced senses, but other people don't know that. He's looking for anything to prove that the landlord didn't commit arson. He thinks it may have been gasoline vapor responsible.
Police officer: You can smell it?
Linkara: Smell what, gasoline vapor? Yeah, gasoline has a pretty distinct smell. Being able to smell it is not that impressive.
Linkara (v/o): Well, okay, he's actually talking about the fact that he can still smell the gasoline despite the smoke damage, which would be a stronger scent. The officer states that, indeed, the forensics team has uncovered that it was gasoline vapor, which points towards arson&ndash erm, wait, no, it doesn't. It all depends on where the fire started and how. Maybe a gas pipe got damaged and started leaking. In fact, we never learn any other details in this case or its investigation, probably because stuff like this can get tracked down and we'd have to go into the other criminal matters for how he did it and why he'd want insurance money now or... oh, whatever. Why bother having an episode of Law and Order: Daredevil Unit when instead we can focus on the gasoline vapor ghost who's watching Matt Murdock and the police officer talk.
Narrator: There is a presence here. The same thing he felt before. It's tied into this fire somehow. Into Angel Jusko's pain.
Linkara: Because it wouldn't be "Daredevil" without unnecessary melodramatic narration.
Matt: I see you! You won't hurt anyone else?
Linkara (v/o): Wait, why is that a question?
Police officer: You talking to me?
Matt: Don't you see it? It's some type of vaporous thing,-- a vapora.
Linkara: (as Matt, looking over the comic) This is some type of comic thing-- a comica.
Linkara (v/o): The police officer is even more confused by his choice of words.
Police officer: Did I-- see...?!
Linkara: (as Matt, wearing dark glasses like he's blind) Um, uh, I mean, did you hear that? I'm totally not faking being blind or anything.
Matt: Never mind. It's gone now. Probably just my imagination.
Linkara: (as Matt) It was totally just my imagination, which is why I explicitly pointed it out and even gave it a name.
Narrator: Though it is not human, it is a living thing, cut from the patterns of humanity.
Linkara: (confused) "Cut from the pat–"? The hell is that supposed to mean?!
Narrator: Though it has no brain, it is knowledgeable...
Linkara (v/o): So it's like Neutro? It doesn't know the difference between right and wrong?
Narrator: ...aware of human carelessness, feeding on human misery and anguish.
Linkara (v/o): Actually, wait a damn minute! It has no brain, but it has some kind of vapor intelligence? And vapor hair, of course. But then, why does it express emotions at all? How does it have rudimentary language and can understand concepts like death and pain? Is it a Michael Myers thing?
(Cut to a clip of Halloween)
Loomis: No reason, no conscience, no understanding in even the most rudimentary sense of life or death, of good or evil, right or wrong.
(Back to the comic again)
Linkara (v/o): Well, hell, that can't be it. Michael Myers* had a blank, emotionless face, whereas Vapora is sadistic and we see her displaying emotion. Wait, how does Vapora even have a gender?? You know what? I'm thinking about this too much.
Narrator: Like a genie in a lamp, it emerges from it's [sic] metal home seeking an outlet to gain strength.
Linkara (v/o): Wait, no, dammit, I can't stop thinking about this! "Its metal home"?! You mean gas cans? Is there more than one Vapora?! I'm assuming it's the same one, since the narration doesn't suggest that there's more than one, but then, why is Vapora still hanging around the burnt-out house and stalking Matt Murdock? Where the hell did Vapora even come from? Oh, right, it was "cut from the patterns of humanity," whatever the flying hell that means. Anyway, we cut to a mother trying to get gum out of her carpet... with gasoline in front of her... baby in a crib? OH, COME ON! Lady, I know OxiClean hadn't been invented yet, but there have got to be better carpet cleaners than FRIGGIN' GASOLINE! Oh, and of course, the baby is attracted to the open can of gasoline instead of the teddy bear, because, like its mother, it's kind of stupid. Vapora is there, too, and encourages the spread of gasoline vapor in the room. And the mother, being the negligent sack of crap that she is, decides to LIGHT UP A CIGARETTE!! Even ignoring secondhand smoke to the baby, YOU ARE LIGHTING A CIGARETTE NEXT TO AN OPEN GAS CANISTER AND NEXT TO THE CARPET WITH GASOLINE ON IT!!! Even if gasoline fumes weren't an issue, you could drop the lighter or the lit cigarette into the area you cleaned and SET YOUR HOUSE ON FIRE IN AN INSTANT! Oh, and guess what? It ignites the vapor and sets her on fire!
(Linkara is surrounded by (obviously fake) flames in the room)
Linkara: (flailing his arms around) OH, DEAR GOD! THE BURNING! THE PAIN! THIS WAS COMPLETELY AVOIDABLE!
Linkara (v/o): And there's Vapora again... suddenly becoming... a giant face...
Linkara: Oh, come on, Vapora! You just ate! You are such a pig!
Linkara (v/o): There must be a competition going on in the city over who can be the dumbest person in the world, as we cut to two teenagers cleaning their motorcycle. The mother of one of the teens [Seth, as the comic explains] asks them to watch his four-year-old sister for a bit, and she comments that he smells.
Seth: That's 'cause we're cleaning the bike with gasoline.
(Linkara stares at the comic, horrified and mouth agape, then cut to a clip of an episode of Scrubs)
Dr. Cox: (writing a letter) "Dear Incompetent Dumbass..."
(Cut back to the comic)
Linkara (v/o): I mean, seriously?! What the hell do you do, kid? Go to a gas station, fill up the tank, then see a little spot of dirt on the side and just SPRAY IT DOWN WITH GASOLINE?!? While you're at it, I don't think you quite rinsed enough shampoo out of your hair during your shower! Better just the extra dollar at the pump AND RINSE YOURSELF DOWN WITH THE STUFF!! Anyway, after they finish that stupidity, it's time for fresh stupidity! Despite the fact that the garage is clearly closed... Maybe that's the problem: the lack of oxygen is getting to them... they decide to kick-start the motorcycle! And the spark from that naturally sets the room ablaze, trapping the little sister next to a pile of... I don't know, more oily rags? The brother yells out his sister's name [Laura] in horror, but then immediately turns himself around on that.
Seth: Don't sweat it, pal, I got it under control.
Linkara (v/o): Yeah, don't sweat it like you were A SINGLE PANEL AGO! Of course, throwing water on it makes it worse, further demonstrating how much of an idiot he is and that... Wait, little Vaporas?!? There are multiples of the thing?! Did everyone fill their gas tanks at a demonic cult ceremony?! WHERE THE HELL DID THESE THINGS COME FROM?!? So all the Vaporas merge into a regular-sized Vapora, which even has a dress, because modesty means something to a gaseous entity that has no social interaction with other beings! Despite it being the afternoon, Daredevil's just hanging out on a rooftop in full costume. Yeah, that whole investigation thing can wait, I guess.
Narrator: There is a sudden scent of napalmed smoke coming from the southeast... the waterfront. It's probably nothing. Just the sputtering of someone's outboard motor.
Linkara: Considering how stupid everyone seems to be acting, I wouldn't be surprised if Daredevil smelled the smoke and then thought the Surgeon General was attacking him with a scalpel!
Linkara (v/o): As the scent grows stronger, Daredevil decides to make his way over to its source. When he arrives, he tells the kids to get out and they inform him about the little girl trapped behind the flames.
Narrator: Radar sense bounces off walls. A standard, rectangular garage. Storage shelves to his right. A washer/dryer along the back wall. The sister has crawled beneath them.
Linkara: (confused) She crawled beneath the washer and dryer...
Linkara (v/o): Yes, I know it means she crawled under the storage shelves, but here's a thought: ARRANGE YOUR DAMN SENTENCES PROPERLY! Daredevil can sense Vapora, though, of course, he's confused by just what the hell she is. You're not the only one.
Linkara (v/o): Oh, for crying out loud, why the hell can't anyone else hear this thing?! The enhanced senses only allows him to detect that it exists! It doesn't mean only he can hear it! SOUND DOESN'T WORK THAT WAY!!
Linkara: (singing) Harder, faster, better stronger...
(He then raises his index finger in the air as Daft Punk's "Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger" plays briefly)
Daft Punk: (singing) Work it harder / Make it better / Do it faster / Makes us stronger / More than ever / Hour after / Our work is / Never over...
Narrator: Its breath--hot, heavy...
Linkara (v/o): IT'S MADE OF GAS!! HOW DOES IT HAVE BREATH?!? And what, it can control the fire now?! How is it doing this?! Ergh! Anyway, the ambient heat and fire starts to get to him... and doesn't seem to get to the little girl. Whatever. And he tries to figure out how to fight it. In the only bit of logic so far, he goes through his options: he knows it's a chemical fire, so water won't help; air could dissipate the vapors, but since oxygen fuels fire, it would just cause a backdraft. His radar sense picks up a fire extinguisher, while Vapora... grabs the girl, telling her they'll be together...? What the hell? (hastily) You know what, you know what? I don't care. He uses the extinguisher and takes her out, promising the little girl that the creature won't be coming back. Later, at the trial for the landlord, Matt Murdock makes his closing statements, that it was gasoline vapors that caused the building fire.
Matt: These people take big risks in using it to clean things-- to remove things.
Linkara: (exasperatedly) Does Windex not exist in the Marvel Universe?? Or Soft Scrub? Or a dozen other cleaning products?!
Linkara (v/o): He further explains that their investigation showed that the girl's father was using gasoline to remove the tile adhesive... and I just noticed that there's nobody in the audience of this trial. Wow, nobody cared about this one at all, did they? Erm, anyway, because of the father's bottomless stupidity, he's lost all his belongings and his daughter is clinging to life. And so, our comic ends with the landlord being declared not guilty and the news that it looks like that the girl's going to be okay, though, of course, it'll be a tough struggle.
Narrator: Angel Jusko will live. Abraham Rutowski will collect his insurance money and rebuild. The thing in the garage is gone, destroyed. But it's not. Daredevil knows it's not. It's only hiding, biding its time, waiting for its next victim.
Linkara: (narrator voice) Its next very stupid victim. (becomes angry as he snaps comic shut and holds it up) This comic sucks!
Linkara (v/o): This is mind-bogglingly idiotic! I sincerely hope that no one in the '90s was actually dumb enough to do the things we saw in this comic. If they did, nothing but my sympathy, but dear Lord, that is grade-A, all-natural, bottom-of-the-barrel DUMB! The only positive I can about the story is that at least it knows chemical fires can't be stopped with water. And geez, talk about a friggin', depressing-as-all-get-out story!
(Cut to a shot of "The New Teen Titans Anti-Drug Giveaway")
Linkara (v/o): Hell, "The New Teen Titans Anti-Drug Story" had a little kid DIE in it, and that left more hope than this burning garage of horror!
Linkara: All I can say is that this is some type of stupid thing. A stupid-a! (throws down comic, gets up and leaves)
(End credits roll)
For the record, unless one of his descendants watches this show, I really don't care if I mispronounced Jean Baptiste Jolly's name.
Vapora is always watching you, kids! SACRIFICE YOUR PARENTS TO APPEASE IT.
(Stinger: And now, a public service announcement from... SNOWFLAME. Cut to Snowflame grabbing Linkara by his coat and shaking him violently)
Snowflame: WHERE IS SNOWFLAME'S FUZZY SLIPPERS?! WHERE IS SNOWFLAME'S FUZZY SLIPPERS?!
(Cut to black)
Snowflame (v/o): This has been a public service announcement from... SNOWFLAME!
Linkara (v/o): Hello, friends. Do you think, like me, that Snowflame was killed...
(Shots of Snowflame in "New Guardians #2" is shown)
Linkara (v/o): ...too soon in the comics? That the DC reboot should have brought back this incredible character and have him fight against heroes who weren't complete losers whose only goal in life was to get pregnant?
(Cut to shots of a Snowflame web comic)
Linkara (v/o): Well, you're in luck! The incredibly talent Julie Sydor has made a Snowflame web comic, and you should check it out at...
(Cut to a shot of the website URL where the web comic is found)
Linkara (v/o): ...snowflamecomic.com! SNOWFLAME DEMANDS IT!