Mickey Mantle #2
September 21, 2009
The crack of the bat! The roar of the crowd! The boredom of the comic reader!
Linkara: (wearing a backwards baseball cap instead of his normal fedora) Hello, and welcome to Atop the Fourth Wall, where bad comics burn. (points to cap) Since I'm wearing this hat, you'd think I'm a big baseball fan, right? Well, I'm not, I really don't care about sports, (picks up fedora) and hell, (takes off cap and holds it up; it has the Southwest Transit logo on it) this cap is actually for a busing company. (tosses cap aside and puts on fedora) The only baseball-related thing I really care about is from 1991: the greatest World Series of all time!
(Cut to a shot of the cover of Sports Illustrated from November 4, 1991, which shows that the Minnesota Twins have won the World Series)
Linkara (v/o): And why is that? Because it was the Minnesota Twins winning the World Series! Hell, yeah, Minnesota!
Linkara: (holding coffee mug with Twins logo on it) Sure, I know virtually nothing about baseball, save for the occasional TV show that features it, but hey, when it's your own team, you want to root for them after all. What I do know is comics. And with that, I'm very rarely stumped for any kind of information.
(Cut to a shot of a baseball comic from Magnum Comics, featuring Lou Gehrig)
Linkara (v/o): But for the life of me, I can find nothing about Magnum Comics, the company that produced today's kindling. Google and Wikipedia scratched their heads when I tried looking up any information about it. What I can tell you is that this is one of the most boring comics I had ever read in my entire life, and not only because I don't know anything about baseball, but that it's just plain boring. It reads like a history book, and the dialogue is forced or overly melodramatic, and I wouldn't be surprised if this kind of "edutainment" was released in the early '80s or the '70s, but this thing was published in 1992!
(Cut to a shot of a Mickey Mantle trading card)
Linkara (v/o): Mickey Mantle was a baseball player in the 1950s and '60s. The death of Superman was still being experienced in comics, but who the hell was gonna buy a comic about a baseball player who hadn't played in twenty years?
(Cut to a shot of a comic involving Barack Obama)
Linkara (v/o): This sort of comic really confuses me. Who buys this sort of thing? It's really a comic book version of a sub-par biography. And you know what? This sort of thing is still made today! Some of you may have heard of the Obama or McCain comics that came out during the last election.
(Cut to a shot of a comic involving John McCain)
Linkara (v/o): Who buys these? They're not interesting, there's nothing new that's presented. You would go onto Wikipedia and get the same damn thing without paying three dollars for it.
Linkara: But let's get down to the nitty-gritty here and dig into (holds up comic of review for today) "Mickey Mantle #2".
(AT4W title sequence plays, followed by title card, with a version of "Mrs. Robinson" performed by the Lemonheads playing in the background; cut to a shot of the cover for the Mickey Mantle comic)
Linkara (v/o): Oh, dear Lord, it's another freaking photo cover!
(Cut to a shot of the cover for "The Marriage of Hercules and Xena")
Linkara (v/o): This one's even more half-assed than "The Marriage of Hercules and Xena"! At least they try to make it seem romantic with the kiss and the glow and the white clouds and crap.
(Cut back to the Mickey Mantle comic)
Linkara (v/o): But this?! He's just standing there, holding a bat! I know comic covers should represent the content inside of them, but do you want people to know what's inside is this bland? Even the stupid little tagline is dull! "Spectacular second issue!" Ooh, it's in slightly wavy lines! Clearly, we're in for a roller coaster of thrills!
Text: More exciting adventures of Mickey Mantle – young Yankee baseball star!
Linkara: "Exciting adventures" does not conjure up images of a major league sport. If he's running around, solving crimes with Abe Lincoln and a robot, that is an exciting adventure!
Text: Also in this issue... Josh Gibson – Negro League slugger!
Linkara: (looking at cover) Cuuuuh-raaaaaa-p.
Linkara (v/o): We open to– (he stops abruptly when he sees Mantle's grinning face) GAH!! THE FACE!!
Linkara: (holding comic away from him) It's staring into my soul! IT KNOWS MY NAME!!
Linkara (v/o): Um, er, anyway, we open to part two of the Mickey Mantle story.
Narrator: It is the top of the sixth inning of the 1951 World Series. Earlier in the game, Mickey Mantle had gotten his first World Series hit. He is ready to take his position in right field for the defending champion New York Yankees.
Linkara: (as narrator) Yes, I know, there's no way I can make that seem exciting. Hunker down, folks, we're in for the long stretch.
Linkara (v/o): The Yankees manager, Casey Stengel, tells Mickey to help Joe DiMaggio with center field, since his heel's hurting him pretty bad.
Mickey: (thinking) Imagine that... Me keeping an eye out for the greatest player I ever saw!
Linkara: (looking up, as Mickey) Hmm, there goes the ball. (looks to camera again) Golly gee willikers, it's fun to be playing here with the New York Yankees, boy howdy!
Linkara (v/o): In his eagerness to aid Joltin' Joe, Mickey runs out to him.
Narrator: But fate plays a terrible trick on the young star.
Linkara: (as narrator) Fate just replaced his coffee with Folgers Crystals. Suddenly, his heart popped!
Linkara (v/o): No, actually, his shoe got caught in a drain hole, and his knee has been damaged. Joe DiMaggio runs out to his teammate.
Joe: Kid, are you all right?
Linkara: (as Mickey, covering his face) Leave me alone! I don't wanna talk about it!
Linkara (v/o): The Yankees do win the game, but as time goes on, Mickey notices that his injury is getting worse. As they take a trip to the hospital, Mickey steps out of the car and leans on his father's shoulder, who suddenly collapses!
Linkara: (as Mickey) My God, Dad, I just crushed your shoulder! Clearly, the accident to my knee has given me superhuman strength!
Narrator: Mickey's father was very sick. The Mantles, father and son, shared a hospital room. There they watched the World Series on television.
Linkara: I wish I was watching television right now.
Linkara (v/o): Sadly, Mickey's dad is diagnosed with cancer, and they head home to try to move on with their lives as best that they can.
Narrator: His father's illness was always in Mickey's thoughts.
Linkara: (thinking) I wonder what pudding would feel like between my toes.
Linkara (v/o): Mickey gets married, and I don't care. We cut to Joe DiMaggio at a press conference, where he announces his retirement from baseball.
Linkara: Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio? Our nation turns its lonely eyes to you! (beat) Woo-woo-woo!
Linkara (v/o): Mickey is named as his replacement center fielder, but he's more worried about his dad.
Narrator: Mickey knew he had to try something, anything, to help his father. A trip to the Mayo Clinic seemed to be their last hope.
Linkara: (rolls eyes) Yes, nothing spells "desperation" like a trip to the advanced medical facilities of the Mayo Clinic! By the by, Minnesota once again here to save the day. (throws up his arms) MINNESOTA!!
(Cut to outer space, where the word "MINNESOTA!" appears, while a heavenly choir is heard saying it; cut back to the comic again)
Narrator: Mickey began to doubt his meaning in life.
Linkara: Yes, why would we want to see emotional turmoil when the narrator can just say it's happening?
Narrator: Mickey became very good friends with another young Yankee player. His given name was Alfred Manuel...but his teammates called him Billy...Billy Martin.
Linkara (v/o): Yeah, that makes sense.
Narrator: Mickey and Billy were to lifelong friends.
Linkara: Wow, Billy's so richly developed as a character.
Linkara (v/o): A few days later, Mickey gets a call from his manager. He's informed that his father has passed away.
Mickey: My father is dead. I should have been there for him. IT'S JUST NOT FAIR!!
(He punches the wall so hard that it shakes like an earthquake; Linkara feels the effect)
Linkara: Oh, God! Mickey Mantle is hitting the wall so hard it's shaking the foundation of the universe! It's just like Superboy-Prime punching the walls of reality!
Linkara: This isn't the time for that! Who knows what horrible effects it will have on our universe and time and existence itself!
(Suddenly, there is a bright flash, and Linkara is now seen wearing a Star Trek uniform and holding a Nerf gun)
Linkara: Hazard team, form up on me! Byran Vincent Monroe!
(Suddenly, there is another bright flash, and Linkara is turned into a skeleton, reading a comic with a happy face on it)
Linkara: Comic good...
(Suddenly, there is one more bright flash, and Linkara is back to normal)
Linkara: Whew! Looks like everything is still the same.
(Cut to someone called 60s Kid, while the Beatles' "Good Day Sunshine" plays in the background)
60s Kid: Hey, man, I just got the new Beatles album in a... (looks around, confused) Did something change?
(Cut back to the Mickey Mantle comic)
Linkara (v/o): So, Mickey goes back to playing baseball.
Narrator: Mickey enjoys being back with all the Yankee ball players in spring training.
Linkara (v/o): You know what this reminds me of?
(Cut to a clip of an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000, where Mike and the Bots are rummaging through various props, and Mike reads a script written by Crow)
Linkara (v/o): There is this skit in Mystery Science Theater 3000, where Crow writes a screenplay called Peter Graves at the University of Minnesota.
(Again, the word "MINNESOTA" is displayed in space, with a heavenly choir saying the name; cut back to the MST3K skit in question)
Linkara (v/o): ...which is basically Peter Graves repeatedly saying that he's at the University of Minnesota, and saying exactly what he's feeling and doing at the time.
Tom Servo: (reading script) "Act III: Peter Graves Enjoys Storm Life".
Mike: Okay. (takes out a ball and tosses it at Crow) Think fast.
(The ball hits Crow)
Crow: Aha! I'm Peter Graves, and I'm enjoying some good-natured ribbing with one of my many new pals here at the University of Minnesota.
Linkara (v/o): And that's what this feels like: like some amateur writer who doesn't understand how writing works, just saying the characters' emotions like it's the same thing as having characterization.
(Cut back to the Mickey Mantle comic)
Linkara (v/o): Okay, let's see if we can get through this as fast as we can. So, his injury virtually disappears over time as he starts kicking ass on the field.
Narrator: He was now smashing homers, hitting line drives between fielders and beating out bunts as well as anyone in major league baseball. Mickey was doing whatever it took to help the Yankees win.
Linkara: Considering that's his job, I'd be confused if he wasn't doing that.
Narrator: The Yankees were playing well, but so was Cleveland.
Linkara: (holding up his fist) Damn you, Cleveland! Your well-playing is nefarious!
Narrator: Joe Collins was one of many Yankees up to the Cleveland challenge. Joe Collins had a good-natured message for the young centerfield, who was on deck, ready to take his turn at bat.
Linkara: (bored, with his head resting on his head) You know, I'd pay good money right now to see Godzilla suddenly appear on the field, playing basketball with Charles Barkley, or maybe Neutro deciding to go on a rampage. Just sayin'.
Joe Collins: Go chase that, kid!
Linkara (v/o): Ah, Joe Collins, your good-natured ribbing is legendary.
Narrator: Mickey hits one out of the ballpark, even further than Collins' homer!
Mickey: What was that you just said, Joe?
Linkara: Choke on that, Collins!
Linkara (v/o): From here on, it only gets more boring, which is saying something. It just lists off the events of the World Series while continually showering Mickey Mantle with praise of how awesome he was. Where is the tension? Where is the drama? Hell, they actually have the gall to start talking about all the other ballplayers, because, clearly, Mickey Mantle alone was not enough to carry this.
Narrator: Battling Billy Martin's double homer and four RBI's help even the series for the Yanks. A rare passed ball by star catcher, Yogi Berra lets in two runs in the ninth. Game five featured another clutch performance by Dodger centerfielder Snider, as the Duke of Flatbush hit a home run and drove in the tying run...
(Linkara is lying his head down on Futon, asleep and snoring, with the comic over his face)
Linkara (v/o): So, in the seventh deciding game of the World Series, Mickey's up to bat again.
Mickey: (thinking) I hope that I can get some kind of hit to get something going.
Linkara: We're fifteen pages into the comic, Mickey; I doubt anything's going to get going now.
Yankee teammate: This is a battle, kid, come on, you can do it!'
Linkara: (as this teammate, his fists up) It's a battle, kid! You gotta work the body! Work the body! You're gonna eat lightning and crap thunder!
Linkara (v/o): (dramatic music is heard) Oh, my God. This is the moment. The game comes down to this: a pitch thrown into the air. The tension is held as the ball makes its way towards Mickey. Will he hit it? Will the game be won?! (in the comic, Mickey swings the bat and hits the ball) Will he– WAY TO HOME RUN!!
Linkara: (cheering) WOW! HE DID IT! HE HIT THE BALL! THEY HELD THE TENSION FOR ALL OF ONE SPLASH PAGE! THEY DID IT! AND I STILL DON'T CARE! (his expression sours)
Linkara (v/o): So, more gushing over how awesome Mickey Mantle is; Jackie Robinson makes a cameo for no other reason than to once again think about how awesome Mickey Mantle is; more statistics that would make more sense if you were reading Wikipedia. And so, our comic ends with Mickey visiting his father's grave.
Narrator: As he leaves to go back home, Mickey gets a special feeling that he is not alone...in his thoughts and his dreams. (the panel shows Mickey's father's ghost putting his hand on Mickey's shoulder)
Linkara: (imitating the ghost's pose) Ah, son, I'll come back as a giant ghost and crush your shoulder, huh? How does it feel? How does it feel?!
Linkara (v/o): But of course, we're not done yet, since we have a backup story of Josh Gibson, referred to as "the black Babe Ruth". Why, here's that god among men, Mickey Mantle, to tell us all about it!
Mickey: Did you know that there were many baseball stars that never played in the major leagues? He* had all the talents and skills necessary, but they played in an era when "organized baseball" had not yet accepted black players.
- NOTE: It's actually read as "They certainly had", not "He had".
(Cut briefly to the More You Know title from NBC, before cutting back to the comic)
Linkara (v/o): It's really just some more of the same, only with a different person. Everyone talks about how awesome they are, and in this case, Josh Gibson was an even better hitter than Babe Ruth or Lou Gehrig apparently. If this is true or not, I don't know, and frankly, I don't care. Let's just skip to the end. Tragically, Josh Gibson died of a stroke when he was only 35 years old. Three months after his death, the first black player joined the major leagues: JACKIE ROBINSON!
(Suddenly, the screen shakes to the sound of shattering glass. Linkara is ducking as the screen starts breaking in places)
Linkara: Oh, God, Jackie Robinson's using his baseball to shatter the walls of reality! Who knows what's going to happen now! (suddenly, the ground stops shaking and the glass somehow repairs itself) Whew, everything seems to have settled down again. No changes.
(Cut to Harvey Finevoice holding a cigarette, as Frank Sinatra's "Nice 'n Easy" plays in the background)
Harvey: Hey there, guys and dolls, this is Harvey Finevoice, and I... Huh. This is weird. Ah, enough to it. It's not like Linkara's getting my show any faster, so anyway...
(Cut back to Linkara)
Linkara: (angrily holding up the Mickey Mantle comic) This comic sucks! Look, if you're fans of these players, good for you, more power to you. But boringly calling out their batting averages and reading their life history does not sequential art make! (throws down comic book, gets up and leaves)
(Credits roll, to "Nice 'n Easy")
I'm Peter Graves and this has been a very boring comic.
(Stinger: 60s Kid is seen again)
60s Kid: If the Beatles do not play at Woodstock, they be forever a square! Hey, I'm 60s Kid, and (makes a peace sign) peace out, man!