April 18, 2016
Blackest Night 1-8
As much fun as having darts thrown at you!
Linkara: Hello, and welcome to Atop the Fourth Wall, where bad comics burn. Patreon-sponsored reviews exist for a reason: namely, that I need money to live, and there are a lot of things that people have wanted me to review over the years, and they've grown impatient waiting for me to just do them.
(A shot of a comic entitled "Protoplasm: The Untold Secret Origin of the Human Water Balloon")
Linkara (v/o): Now, other people are content to merely send me a comic via my P.O. box, handily found on the contact page of my website, and hope that the sheer "what the hell" factor will get me to do it, which, a lot of times, it has.
(Cut to a shot of "Star Trek Special: Flesh and Stone")
Linkara (v/o): The "Star Trek: Flesh and Stone" review from a few weeks ago was one of those, in fact. Sometimes, however, there is a bizarre overlap.
Linkara: I received "Dart #1-3" in my P.O. box, along with $100 and a note that said, (makes "finger quotes") "Review these". And since you can see the title of the episode, I chose to do so. However, here is why I'm talking about this in the introduction: in the future, don't do this.
(Another montage of comics is shown: "Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines", "Crimson: Vampire - Bloodlines", "Power Man and Iron Fist")
Linkara (v/o): From now on, if you send me money outside of Patreon, along with a request to do something, sorry, but I'm keeping the money, and it's a crap-shoot whether I'll actually review it. When I first started the Patreon, there were four review slots that were relatively cheap. And I soon realized the mistake of that and limited it to two and just doubled the price. They filled up so often that if I didn't restrict it to that, I wouldn't be able to look anything that I wanted to review.
(Cut to a clip of the video game "Overdrive")
Linkara (v/o): A lot of you guys really want me to look at stuff, some of which is stuff I would never have contemplated to do for the show, and rest assured there are more to come this year.
Linkara: And it's okay to look at different stuff here. This may be (makes "finger quotes") "where bad comics burn", but breaking away from the regular routine is fun and helps keep things fresh. And hey, didn't we all need to know about the pedophile dog from a visual novel? (beat) The answer is no.
(Cut to a shot of a Green Lantern comic)
Linkara (v/o): But yeah, the Patreon slots are in very high demand. I get messages every week from people asking me when the slot will be open for them to make a request.
(Now cut to a shot of the Japanese comic magazine "Cho Dengeki Stryker")
Linkara (v/o): But of course, the answer is it's first come, first serve. The best time to look for an opening is the beginning of the month, since that's when Patreon charges people...
(Cut to a shot of the comic "Popeye: Borned to the Sea")
Linkara (v/o): ...and those people usually can't keep paying me $80 a month for extended periods of time, especially when they're only allowed a single request every six months.
(Cut to footage of the Japanese equivalent of Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, known as (translated in English) Dinosaur Squadron Zyuranger!)
Linkara (v/o): But the point is that a lot of people want to use the system I have set up to do this, and just sending me money cheats those who have been very patient for their chance.
Linkara: So yes, in this one instance, I will take the money and do as asked, from now on, you can send me a thousand dollars and a bunch of My Little Pony comics to review, but unless it was through the Patreon, I'm not gonna be reviewing 'em. (beat) Spoilers: Later this year, I'm gonna be looking at some "My Little Pony" comics.
(Cut to a shot of the cover of "Savage Dragon")
Linkara (v/o): And with that reminder that I am a windbag out of the way, let's talk about Dart. Dart first appeared in the pages of "Savage Dragon", Erik Larsen's book when he and the others first started Image Comics.
(Cut to a shot of the cover of "Freak Force #1", where Dart appears)
Linkara (v/o): We've technically already seen her before on this show, sort of, in "Freak Force #1".
Linkara: And sadly, I don't remember a thing about it, not because "Freak Force" is unmemorable, which it is, but rather because 90s Kid did that episode. Where the hell is 90s Kid, anyway?
(A montage of shots of Dart follows)
Linkara (v/o): Since I still haven't looked at anything related to "Savage Dragon" yet... Yeah, that's something I should rectify, given all the other Image books I've covered. ...I have to rely on Wikipedia and other online sources to find any info on her. What I can say is that, unlike Liefeld's stable of interchangeable, generic characters, she actually has a gimmick that's kind of interesting: she possesses deadly accuracy with throwing objects; in particular, darts. The miniseries, of which the first issue I'm reviewing today, gave her a backstory that was apparently declared to be non-canon by Erik Larsen, which makes me wonder why one of his characters was allowed to have an origin he didn't approve of, given how I understand Image worked even in 1996, but whatever.
Linkara: So let's dig into (holds up today's comic) "Dart #1" and see what was so awful and see what was so awful about a mid-'90s Image comic. Can't imagine what would be wrong with it.
(The title sequence plays, followed by the title card for this episode, set to "Polka Face" by Weird Al Yankovic. Cut to a closeup of the comic's cover)
Linkara (v/o): The cover is... a bit odd in its coloring. It looks very washed-out and light, which admittedly makes it look different from a lot of Image's other output at the time, where the name of the game was dark or incomprehensible. But no, we can see this cover just fine. And it's a pity that it looks like crap. Aside from the fact that Dart's eyes look huge...
(Cut to a clip of an episode of Power Rangers RPM)
Flynn McAllistair, Ranger Blue (Ari Boyland): (to the other Rangers) Big, googly, anime eyes!
(Cut back to the comic)
Linkara (v/o): ...something seems off about her proportions. The head seems bigger, thanks to the massive amount of hair flowing everywhere and the giant eyes and lips but tiny nose. I think this would actually look fine if those were reined in a bit. Just look at how much hair that is! Starfire is jealous about the personal blanket she's sporting. Then again, the cover itself does not exactly impress, even if the artwork was good. It's not a good sign for your first issue when it featured your title character literally sitting in garbage. I'm not fond of the logo, either. I give it points for looking unique, and I think the idea is to give it a pointy look for, you know, darts and all, but it ends up just looking more techno-y, especially with how some of the letters are stylized to look like the number 1.
(The comic opens to the first page)
Linkara (v/o): We open in Detroit.
Narrator: Detroit--1990. A soiled playground of crime and corruption...
Linkara: Don't worry, I hear that Robocop is coming in to fix all this.
Linkara (v/o): Now, at first, it may appear that the artwork is just really amateurish, but what we're actually seeing in these panels is a bunch of kids playing with action figures. Aaaand then when we pull back, we see that the art is bad, just differently, as we see a bunch of big-eyed children playing.
Girl #1: Can we swap now, I'm tired of bring–
Linkara (v/o): Erm, nice typo.
Girl #1: I'm tired of being Meteor I want to be Shaq.
Linkara: Why do you want to be Shaq? Be Charles Barkley! He's Earth's greatest warrior!
Linkara (v/o): Also, not just that one typo; she's also got a run-on sentence. Two girls in particular are playing with a doll called Sirene, whose legs pop off.
Girl #2: Oh, you've broken her!
Girl #3: It's alright... Sirene's legs come off so you can put her tail on.
Linkara: (as this girl) Man, I can't wait until I get the mechanical spider legs attachment for my birthday.
Linkara (v/o): We soon see that the children are being observed in a high-tech laboratory behind some one-way glass. Now, here we get a better idea of the problems of the art: distance shots look fine, but when we get close up, they're very cartoony, except I'm dead certain they weren't going for cartoony, just that their features are bigger and more exaggerated because they didn't know how to scale things. So, what sort of research are they doing?
Researcher #1: Alright. These toys will inevitably promote violence, sibling rivalry, nihilistic and truculent behavior...
(Cut to a clip of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 gang watching Jack Frost: one person goes into a house)
Mike: This is the factory where they make Beanie Babies.
(Cut back to the comic)
Researcher #2 [Mr. Brockman]: Look... just give me the bottom line.
Researcher #1: They'll be a big hit, Mr. Brockman!
Linkara: (as this researcher) ROM Spaceknight is gonna just print money!
Linkara (v/o): Also, the one thing all toy manufacturers need in their research: a dominatrix [Mistress Brouhaha]. But let's unpack this look, shall we? Pink skin. Okay, it's a superhero universe; I'll grant that. Beehive hairdo that is taller than her face. With how Dart looked on the cover, apparently, her and this woman are apparently gonna get into a hair fight, a la Uzumaki. And let's not even get into how her corset has condensed her stomach to the width of her head. She's also standing wonderfully by kinda sorta leaning over, but not really, since her upper body is straight up, but her ass is pushed out behind her, while her legs are twice the length of her upper body. And really, what the hell was the deal with her pants-dress-skirt-thing? It's forming around her, but then just stops being a dress when it reaches her knees, then splits off completely into useless pants, since they expose her calves and then turn into high heels. Good Lord! It's like she's a rubber bendy doll that's been stretched beyond recognition! What is this?! What the hell is this?!
(Cut to another clip of the MST3K gang watching another movie, this time The Undead)
Mike: (seeing someone in knight attire) There. Sure glad I don't look stupid in this.
(Back to the comic again)
Linkara (v/o): And then there's Fish-Lipped Guy here [the aforementioned Mr. Brockman], looking in on the children.
Mr. Brockman: I'm not so sure... They're great toys but something's missing...
Linkara (v/o): Yeah, a comma for your two complete thoughts.
Spelling/Grammar Errors: 3
Mistress Brouhaha: Well, it's not us, Gregory! There's nothing wrong with Vogue Attack.
Linkara: (making a "finger quote") "Vogue Attack"? Well, I guess that explains your outfits since you're against anything fashionable.
Mr. Brockman: No... No it's not you, Mistress Brouhaha...
Linkara: Somebody woke up one day and said, "I'm gonna name a character 'Mistress Brouhaha' and get a paycheck for it."
Mr. Brockman: These characters are just unique, so different, to any other super-hero action figures that they need a bridging character...
Linkara: I get the impression they're trying to make fun of stuff as generic and lame as "Youngblood" – in a book that is itself generic and lame.
Linkara (v/o): Mistress Brouhaha says that Blood Chic will object to adding a new member for the toys, but Captain Mustache here says that it doesn't matter, since both Vogue Attack and Blood Chic signed away their likeness rights already for the toys. Yeah, and I'm sure you guys are really known for making good toy-based decisions, considering you decided Dominatrix Barbie here was gonna be the next Tickle Me Elmo. Anyway, Mustache Dude, AKA Mr. Brockman proceeds to ignore everyone who greets him and wants to talk about sales figures so he can go down to the basement and berate an artist under his employ.
Mr. Brockman: Leah! Put those Forest-Folk(TM) away, you, know we've finished with them.
Linkara (v/o): Nice comma splice, asshole.
Spelling/Grammar Errors: 4
Linkara (v/o): Also, she's just holding the damn toy. What the hell difference does that make? Anyway, Fish-Lips-and-Really-Pronounced-Cheek-Bones says that he needs her to make a new character for the toy line.
Leah: But the Forest-Folk(TM) are our bread and butter...It's not good karma for us to abandon them.
Linkara: Well, good to know that you're in charge of the company then, Conceptual Artist Lady. (shrugs in confusion)
Linkara (v/o): However, Brockman completely overreacts and grabs her arm and throws her papers aside! Dude, what the hell?!
Mr. Brockman: Get it through your thick head. Forest Gum(TM) is dead! These designs went out in the '80s. Nobody's interested in this crap anymore.
Linkara: (as Brockman) People will only care about this stuff again in the late 2000s, when it's profitably nostalgic!
Mr. Brockman: This is my deal. You have no say in the matter. Just because you can design a few simple toys doesn't mean you've got talent.
Linkara: (as Brockman) God, all I did was hire you at our major toy company as our only conceptual artist and told you to work on this design that will shape our product line. (points to camera) You have absolutely no talent whatsoever!
Mr. Brockman: Now you sit there...
Linkara (v/o): Comma splice...
Spelling/Grammar Errors: 5
Mr. Brockman: ...and don't leave this room...
Linkara (v/o): Comma splice...
Spelling/Grammar Errors: 6
Mr. Brockman: ...not even to ee [sic]...
Spelling/Grammar Errors: 7
Linkara (v/o): And another comma splice.
Spelling/Grammar Errors: 8
Mr. Brockman: ...until you design the character I want.
(Cut to a clip of The Room)
Mark (Greg Sestero): (to Johnny) Leave your stupid comments in your pocket!
(Cut back to the comic)
Linkara (v/o): Geez, if this guy's got fish lips, then she's got massive worm lips. Why are her lips so huge? In fact, why are her eyes so huge, too?
(Cut to a clip of Yu-Gi-Oh! Abridged)
Kaiba: What the hell is wrong with everybody's face?!
(Back to the comic again)
Mr. Brockman: Just remember if it wasn't for my entrepreneurial skills you would still be nothing... on the streets with the rest of this city's victims.
Linkara: Yes, she's truly avoided becoming a victim by... becoming a victim of your out-of-control, random abuse. You're lucky she doesn't shove that elf toy up your ass as her resignation.
Linkara (v/o): Speaking of potential victims, a woman with a giant head runs through an alley, pursued by some guys with knives.
Guy with knife: Hey, missy, got a quarter for my bus-fair? [sic] Hey!...Oh, screw off then, ya friggin' bitch.
Linkara: (as this guy) How dare you not give me a quarter! I'M GONNA STAB YOU! (normal) Seriously, what is it about guys in this book who overreact to women?
Linkara (v/o): I mean, I have to assume that's what's happening, since otherwise, they're using a really weird way of taunting her: by asking her for a quarter and then being shocked and calling her a bitch. Now, a more effectively creepy method of taunting is what they do next: spouting a nursery rhyme.
First guy with knife: Georgie Porgie puddin' and pie...
Linkara: Georgie Porgie, victim of cannibalism.
Second guy with knife: ...kissed the girls and made them cry...
Linkara: Georgie had mono.
Linkara (v/o): However, the rhyming doesn't actually make sense since they say the next line about the boys coming out to play, then stop doing it as they attack the woman, requiring Dart to appear and say the final line of Georgie Porgie running away. What was their endgame with the rhyme if they weren't going to say the final line? Might as well have just recited "Hickory Dickory Dock" if they were just doing it to be creepy. But anywho, here's Dart and her pointy nipples and shiny costume and, yet again, overexaggerated lips. Everyone in this comic has very clearly defined lips of some variety, and the women in particular have got collagen injections.
First thug: Hey, guys, check out this broad?
Linkara (v/o): Why is that a question? Eh, screw it.
Spelling/Grammar Errors: 9
First thug: Look's...
Spelling/Grammar Errors: 10
First thug: ...like the Silver Surfer's sex starved sister.
Linkara: Sick burn. And you look like the feces of feces. Probably because you are feces.
Second thug: Gee, Spider, that was a nice bit of litter... litter... litternation.
Linkara: If you don't know the word, why are you trying to say it?
Linkara (v/o): Dart, of course, attacks and kicks two of them with a rather impractical pose probably meant to show off her ass. But then she gets whacked in the head with a two-by-four.
Linkara: (as Dart) Wooden boards, my one weakness!
Linkara (v/o): We then get a flashback to her childhood, where her abusive father almost beats her after she attempts to call 911, but instead, her mother intervenes and gets murdered. The cops of course arrive from the 911 call, but it's too late. She is now the size of a baby doll. Or maybe that cop is a giant, I don't know.
Cop: If the kid'd spoken to the operator sooner, maybe we could've saved the mother.
Linkara: (as this cop) She's also the reason for all the suffering in the world, really. (holds up index finger) In fact, when you get right down to it, she's the reason God has abandoned us all.
Linkara: Hell, the other cop isn't any better, saying that she was long dead and eating carpet before that was a factor. You know, I understand that humor is a defense mechanism, but criminy, wait until the kid isn't around before you say that crap! What would Joe Friday say?
(Cut to a clip of an episode of Dragnet)
Joe Friday (Jack Webb): (to a policeman) Sit back and take a real hard look. Look at the victims of these crimes and try to have a little empathy. It might do you some good. That's what we're all here for, to serve these people. Now, if you can't see it that way, maybe you better look for some other kind of job. I'm sure the department can spare you.
(Cut back to the comic)
Linkara (v/o): For crying out loud, the corpse needs to tell them to knock it off! Wow, that is unfortunate word balloon placement. Geez! Anyway, Dart wakes up from her flashback and realizes there's no time for that now; she needs to leap around in a way that should get her hair tangled up before she kicks these assholes some more. But I think the real point of this is, look at how huge her breasts are! One of them runs off.
Dart: Isn't that a typical male response? Hit on you, then run.
Linkara: Really? Because from what I've seen, the typical response is, hit on you, then keep hitting on you, even after you told them to piss off.
Linkara (v/o): But perhaps he was just frightened of the fact that your body proportions have gone all over the place, with a giant head, a stomach thinner than said giant head, and you posing weirdly while you throw a dart. Aaaand dart in the ass.
(Cut to a clip of the MST3K gang watching The Final Sacrifice)
Tom Servo: You shot my butt! What the hell? You shot me in the butt!
(Back to the comic again)
Linkara (v/o): Another guy, this one with a Mohawk, grabs her by her hair and knees her in the ass.
Linkara: Hey! No fair taking advantage of the crappy artwork to do that!
Linkara (v/o): But she flips him over and darts him. Nearby... I think. Establishing shots? What are those? ...some guy is recording the fight.
Guy with camera: Oh yeah, that's it, do it to him, baby. Oh, that's hot. Too much.
Linkara: I'm not too fond of The Nostalgia Critic's new cameraman.
Man with camera: This is gonna make me a fortune. A person would sell their mother to get a hold of this sort of stuff.
Linkara: (mock surprise) Footage of a woman beating up criminals?! Hoo! Farewell, drug trade, we found the real moneymaker here!
Linkara (v/o): His wife... or girlfriend or whatever... asks him what he's doing, in particular, if he's "coming back to bed". This is in spite of the fact that he's wearing a towel and she appears to be coming out of a bathroom. I dunno, maybe they were just nude in bed and it's a sheet, but why does it look like they woke up, took a shower, and then decided to go back to bed? Anyway, the fight is still going on, especially with the arrival of a hero with a pencil-thin mustache who... Wait a second, that logo... (it reads "KC") Kaiba Corp?
(Cut to another clip of Yu-Gi-Oh! Abridged)
Kaiba: I'm the goddamn Kaiba-Man!
(Cut back to the comic)
Linkara (v/o): I mean, admittedly, the actual Kaiba Corp logo has an offset, but that is supposed to be a stylized K and C, so you can understand my confusion. So anyway, this is Kill Cat. Yeah. Both he and Dart tackle the last guy, and given that "SNAP!" sound effect, I'm pretty sure his spine is broken and he's quite dead. Kill Cat then hits on Dart, because that's what we needed in this comic: more weirdos. Back over to the toy factor, Brockman sees the news report about Dart, while the artist lady keeps trying to come up with superhero designs without success.
TV news reporter: This station has obtained exclusive footage of the actual assault videoed by a concerned citizen. We'd like to warn that some of the following bloody scenes of gut-wrenching carnage may be a little too disturbing to some viewers.
Linkara: (as the reporter) I'm not kidding, people. A man got a dart in his butt cheek! Viewer discretion is advised.
Linkara (v/o): Kill Cat even remained behind to be interviewed.
Kill Cat: Dart, if you're watching this report, call me...
Linkara (v/o): Comma instead of a period.
Spelling/Grammar Errors: 11
Kill Cat: ...I'm in the book under Kill-Cat.
Linkara: Of the Boston Kill-Cats, no doubt.
Brockman: Mmmm... Dart.
Linkara: Mmmm... badly-drawn, stubby hand.
Narrator: Morning... in a city that doesn't care.
Linkara: Trust me, it's not the only thing that doesn't care.
Linkara (v/o): Although, I'd probably care just for the fact that the sun is huge! Anyway, the artist, Leah, has fallen asleep at her art table as Brockman shows up to check out her designs, but he rejects them.
Brockman: They all look like Forest-Folk(TM) on steroids. You're hopeless. You can't draw to save your life.
Linkara: (incredulously) Then why did you hire her?! You are a crappy boss!
Linkara (v/o): He insists that they use Dart's name and likeness, despite not owning the rights to the name. When she points that out, he whacks her across the face with a newspaper! Apparently, he hit her so hard with that newspaper that it DRAWS BLOOD!! What the hell?!?
Brockman: I can do anything I want. This city is my playground...
Linkara: (as Brockman) I am Brockman, owner of a toy company! All shall bow down before me!
Linkara (v/o): Careful, lady, he's aiming an invisible gun at you! And so, our comic ends with him proclaiming that he has the solution to this.
Brockman: ...and they're called VOGUE ATTACK!
Linkara: (as Brockman) Witness their ultimate power of teleporting in when I say their name! (closes comic and holds it up) This comic sucks.
Linkara (v/o): Aside from the absolutely dreadful artwork, Dart feels like a side character in her own damn miniseries. The majority of the comic actually focuses on Brockman's toy crap and his inexplicable abuse of an artist for seemingly no reason. When we do see Dart, it's just for a lame fight scene and a backstory that got retconned by the actual creator of the character. It's bland, it's stupid, and it's poorly drawn. I think the funniest part of all of this is that while the story is centered around toys...
(Cut to a shot of the back cover of the comic)
Linkara (v/o): ...the back cover of the comic features an ad for a completely unnecessary toy crossover between Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Savage Dragon. (reads text) "Together, They're the Baddest Force For Good."
Spelling/Grammar Errors: 12
Linkara: Next time, we head over to Batman shenanigans for the conclusion of the "Leaves of Grass" three-parter, since marijuana seems like a good idea after this crap. (throws down comic, gets up and leaves)
(End credits roll)
"Hey, I've got an idea – let's focus our superhero miniseries on an abusive, megalomaniacal toy manufacturer instead of the titular heroine!"
Forest Gum – the short-lived Forest [sic] Gump tie-in product.
(Stinger: One panel in the comic shows Mr. Brockman without his mustache for some inexplicable reason)
Linkara (v/o): What the hell happened to his mustache in this panel? Is it actually some interdimensional parasite that can disappear at will?