Tales to Offend #1
August 5, 2013
If Tales fail to offend within 30 days, you may return Tales to manufacturer for a full refund.
Linkara: Hello, and welcome to Atop the Fourth Wall, where bad comics burn. (looks up in thought) Say... (reaches into his coat and takes out a huge wall clock) it's Miller Time!
("Miller Time" title is shown)
Linkara: Welcome back to "Miller Time". And yes, I know it's a bit soon after the last one.
(A shot of Linkara's last "Miller Time" review is shown: "All-Star Batman and Robin #6")
Linkara (v/o): Primarily, it's a scheduling slip-up, but I figured this will help make up for the lack of "Miller Time" last year. So, why this comic and not yet another issue of "ASBAR"? Well, I think it's important to remember that Frankie Boy has indeed written other stuff besides "Batman".
(Shots of Miller's other works are shown, including "Robocop vs. the Terminator #1"...)
Linkara (v/o): And sometimes those things can be really good...
Linkara (v/o): ...or really stupid...
(...and "Holy Terror")
Linkara (v/o): ...or really offensive and racist.
Linkara: Aaaand speaking of offense, that's where we are today. Let's dig into (holds up today's comic) "Tales to Offend #1".
(AT4W title theme plays, and title card has "Spam" by Weird Al Yankovic playing in the background. Cut to a closeup of the comic's cover)
Linkara (v/o): I actually couldn't find anything about this comic. No one ever seems to talk about it, so... I guess here I am. Released by Dark Horse in 1997, the comic seems to have pretty much slipped under everyone's radar. Is it that it's boring or just not interesting enough to attract anyone's attention? Well, we're gonna find out. But first, the cover. If it looks familiar in style, it should. This is clearly an homage to the classic EC Comics of the '50s.
(A montage of shots of covers from EC Comics is shown)
Linkara (v/o): I've discussed this briefly before, but it always helps to give a bit of a reminder. It's important to note that back in the late Golden Age and early Silver Age, superheroes were not really the dominant force in comics. Pretty much every other genre was. And of course, EC Comics had very popular horror anthologies like "Tales from the Crypt", "The Haunt of Fear", and "The Vault of Horror". On top of that, EC also published a number of other books at the time for other genres, like "Crime Suspense Stories", "Frontline Combat", and of course, sci-fi and fantasy titles like "Weird Fantasy" and "Weird Science".
(Cut briefly to a clip of the music video for "Weird Science" by Oingo Boingo)
Oingo Boingo: (singing) Weird science...
Linkara: I would say that was an inaccurate reference, but actually, the movie Weird Science was a loose adaptation of a story called "Made of the Future" from issue 5 of the "Weird Science" anthology. And despite that movie being about creating a woman with '80s computers and a Barbie doll, the original story was actually a bit weirder than that.
Linkara (v/o): Anyway, the point is that stories like these had some formulaic elements to them that made them enjoyable, usually featuring a jackass getting a comeuppance or at least a tragic twist ending. Sometimes, the bad guys won or they could just be gruesome. Well, as gruesome as it could be in the '50s. But they worked and ultimately died off because of the now-defunct comic code.
Linkara: So why am I talking about all of this? Well, that's because "Tales to Offend" is supposed to be an homage to EC Comics' sci-fi books. (holds up today's comic) And boy, does it fail there, my friends.
Linkara (v/o): Well, anyway, let's get back to the cover and even the title of the thing. The name just kind of makes me scratch my head since I'm not exactly sure what the point is in calling it "Tales to Offend". I mean, yeah, you can just make it some kind of hyper parody designed to upset everybody, but why bother? If you're just trying to get people angry and troll them, fine, but you actually have to put forth effort to write, draw and color a comic book! Wouldn't the joke kind of wear thin after some time while you were working on it? And if you don't live up to the title of "Tales to Offend", then you were just wasting your time anyway.
Linkara: So (holds up index finger) it's likely not funny, (holds up two fingers) likely to piss people off, and (holds up three fingers) likely it won't live up to people's expectations. Yep, sounds like Frank Miller to me.
Linkara (v/o): The picture on the cover depicts some jackass [Lance Blastoff] selling weapons to an alien. Dear Lord, this guy looks goofy, too. He's supposed to look like some kind of badass, but all I can focus on are the silly little antennae on his Naboo star fighter helmet. Oh, and the tubes that go from the oxygen tank on his back... into his harness. Okay, either he breathes out of his straps or that's a jetpack that gets its fuel from the harness. Either way, the guy looks like an idiot.
Alien on cover: With these weapons you have sold to us, we will torment the innocent! We will subjugate every soul in the galaxy!
Lance: Whatever you say, buddy! If your money's good, your money's good!
Linkara: How very Zen.
Linkara (v/o): We open with the name of our– (gets a better look at Lance) HA! Okay, he looks even worse on the first page! Looks like he glued some chess pieces and egg whisks onto his head!
(Cut to a clip of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 gang watching The Undead)
Mike Nelson: (as knight) There, I'm sure glad I don't look stupid in this.
(Cut back to the comic)
Linkara (v/o): We learn his name is Lance Blastoff. Yeah, whatever, dude. When you make Space Lancer Steve look dignified, there's something wrong here.
Lance Blastoff: Here's a beefy little yarn -- with an important message for you, kids!
Linkara: Well, if it's beefy, then I imagine it's an advertisement for a steakhouse.
Linkara (v/o): A space tour group is observing a planet that's full of dinosaurs – just roll with it – and actually, I'm wondering if this is actually...
(Cut to a shot of a panel of the dinosaur planet from "Battlestar Galactica: Journey's End #1")
Linkara (v/o): ...the planet they landed on in the "Battlestar Galactica" comic from a couple weeks ago. It wasn't Earth, it was the self-titled...
(Cut back to the "Tales to Offend" comic)
Linkara (v/o): ..."Dinosaur Planet".
Tour guide: Nature untainted! Unspoiled by war or pollution or strip malls or emphysemic factories coughing out toxic waste!
Linkara: The hell is your problem with strip malls?
Tour guide: Unsullied by fast-food restaurants spewing forth burnt animal flesh to fill the bellies* of sweaty obese people!
- NOTE: The tour guide actually says "bloated bellies", not just "bellies".
Linkara: Dammit, comic! Stop making me hungry!
Tour guide: People! We used to frighten our children with tales of the dinosaurs! We said they were belligerent! Violent!
Linkara: Well... the predators were. But I'm sure the plant eaters were okay. (voice turns sarcastic) Also, the duckbills were apparently quite sophisticated and could even talk! (smiles sarcastically) Some were Jewish! (rolls his eyes)
Tour guide: But we were only projecting our own horrid, human personality upon these magnificent creatures! Look at them! They know nothing of envy or greed or hatred! They live in harmony! They live in peace!
(Cut to a clip of the MST3K gang watching Gamera vs. Guiron)
Aiko: They may be very civilized up there – more than we are here on Earth. (Joel smirks) With no wars or traffic accidents...
(Back to the comic again)
Linkara (v/o): Aaand then a t-rex arrives and chomps down on their ship. Irony – you're soaking in it! The tour guide sits down on the ground and watches her fellows get devoured. And you'd think the reason why she's not trying to get away here is that she's just in a state of shock, but, uh, no, she's just stupid.
Tour guide: (thinking) So huge! So merciless! So utterly ruthless! And now it pauses, its hot, blood-soaked breath filling my lungs... its glare icy as it relishes the moment... as it slavers and savors the imminent kill...
Linkara: Hey, lady, you want to finish narrating to yourself and make a run for it? You've already got its attention, so I guess these dinosaurs don't require movement to see you. You could probably get away. You know, not die? Just saying.
Tour guide: (thinking) But it's only understanding* what it was meant to do! What nature compels it to do! I must show understanding! If I must die-- it is nature's way!
- ANOTHER NOTE: The tour guide says "doing", not "understanding".
(Cut to yet another clip of the MST3K gang, this time as they watch The Touch of Satan)
Mike Nelson: (as Jodie Lee Thompson) You're kind of an idiot, aren't you?
(Cut back to the comic)
Linkara (v/o): But of course, it's our hero, Spear Knockoff, to the rescue, and we learn that indeed he is wearing a jet pack. He grabs her out of the way, and fortunately, she's not so stupid that she wanted him to leave her there, but she gets upset when he says he's going to fry the thing.
Lance: Don't be silly, cutlet! How'm I gonna eat him if I don't kill him first?
Linkara: I don't know. Zombies take bites out of living things, and they're still eating them. (holds up index finger) That's what you should do, actually: just go right up to the dinosaur and take a bite out of it. (smiles) See what happens. (raises his eyebrows)
Linkara (v/o): By the by, the noise that's made out of the guy's gun? "SPAM". I don't know if that's stupid or ingenious. So, anyway, Javelin Takeoff shoots the thing down, and the woman is naturally sobbing that the "poor creature" is dead now. However, when she gets a smell of the cooked dinosaur meat, she digs right in!
Tour guide: Oh, Lance--you were right! And I've been wrong, so wrong... All these years, I never realized! All I've ever needed is real meat-- and a real man!
Linkara: I'd get angry over this, but the thing is called "Tales to Offend". Of course, the problem with that is that I can't tell if he's serious with this or if this is just a parody. Why do I say that when it seems so obviously over the top?
(Shots of Wonder Woman in "The Dark Knight Strikes Again" and "All-Star Batman and Robin" is shown)
Linkara (v/o): Well, because this is pretty much the exact same characterization of Wonder Woman from "The Dark Knight Strikes Again" and "ASBAR": man shows woman the error of their ways; woman wants to hump man's brains out! Frankly, that's a recurring motif of a lot of Frank's characters, as I brought up in the last "ASBAR" review. It's hard to say that it's a parody when it resembles his other works so much!
(Cut back to "Tales to Offend")
Linkara (v/o): And by the by, Polearm Shoveoff apparently can't cook his meat very well. Look how much blood there is around the woman's mouth!
(Cut to a clip of an episode of Gordon Ramsey: Hell's Kitchen, as a bunch of cooks run around a kitchen, trying to sample food before it gets served)
Ramsey: I'm requesting it rare! It's bright white! That is fucking raw!
(Back to the comic again)
Lance: So remember, kids! Eat meat! And lots of it! It's nature's perfect food!
Linkara: (as Lance) Especially if it's raw! (gives a thumbs-up) The e.coli is nature's seasoning!
(Cut to Linkara wearing a blue suit and walking up to a bookshelf)
Linkara: (singing) Game on... Get your game on... (looks to see he's on camera) Oh. (adjusts his hat) We'll be right back, people.
(He leaves, humming, as the AT4W logo appears in the corner and we got to commercial. Upon return, Linkara returns)
Linkara: (singing) Tough times, hard climbs... (sees he's on camera again) We're back. (walks off, singing) We'll take 'em on together...
(The AT4W logo appears in the corner and we resume the video, on the next story, labeled as "A Sin City Yarn")
Linkara (v/o): As I said, this is an anthology, but here's where we get a bit headscratching. I mean, more than usual. See, the next story is not another sci-fi story featuring Glaved Cheese-It, but rather, a story from Frank Miller's "Sin City". Chances are, you at least heard of the movie based on the stories or that The Spirit ended up just being Sin City 2, because it had jack-all to do with Will Eisner's character. The thing about "Sin City", though, is that this is really where Frank's writing actually works. This neo-noir, gritty environment works perfectly with his stock characters and insane narration. And it's actually where his artwork is best suited, especially in the color department. "Sin City" is done primarily in black and white, and I do mean completely black and white. Negative space is Frank's most powerful tool. It makes the few splashes of color we do see much more distinct and beautiful.
Linkara: But the thing is that "Sin City" doesn't belong in an homage to EC Comics any more than some jackass in a stupid hat who has a woman eat a Tyrannosaurus rex and promote meat-eating does!
Linkara (v/o): It's a story called "Daddy's Little Girl".
Linkara: (sarcastically) How very different of Frank to be writing a story about a woman's relation to a man.
Linkara (v/o): Actually, the story is about a man who wants to kill his girlfriend's father. She's breaking up with him because the father doesn't want the two to be together and is threatening to cut her out of of his inheritance if she doesn't comply. However, she leaves him a gun and suggests that he go kill the father and they can run away together with the money. After a bit of soul-searching, he decides to do so, but it turns out the gun had blanks, and the guy just beats him to death, and it turns out the woman is messed up and seems to be having some kind of incestuous affair with her father, and he gets off on murdering guys like this.
Linkara: It's dark, messed up, and violent. It's "Sin City". Can't really fault it that much because it fits in with the universe already established. Hell, with how short it is, and with that twist at the end, it does seem like something that fits more in with the "Tales from the Crypt" story. They had similar stories with twists at the end like that, though, with less incest.
Linkara (v/o): The only reason it doesn't fit here is because it's not sci-fi, and the art style is all wrong for an EC Comic. It's only "offensive" for the incest angle, and even then, incest isn't offensive, it's icky.
Linkara: Maybe this should have been called "Tales to Squick You Our" or "Tales of Ewww!"
Linkara (v/o): And finally, we have another story with Naganada Jerkoff (meaning Lance Blastoff). It shows him running away from a woman he just slept with.
Woman: But, Lance-- you said you love me! You promised you'd stay with me forever!
(Cut to a clip of Army of Darkness)
Ash (Bruce Campbell): Well, that's just what we call "pillow talk", baby.
(Cut back to the comic)
Lance Blastoff: Got me what I was after, didn't I?
Linkara (v/o): Apparently, according to this tagline, he's "America's Favorite Hero!"
Linkara: They polled five people, and all the other options were convicted pedophiles.
Linkara (v/o): This is also apparently a continuation of the previous story since it turns out that the woman he slept with was that tour guide lady, who wonders how she'll get off the planet... before a t-rex stops by to eat her – a very poorly-drawn t-rex. She screams for help while Captain Kitchen Utensil Helmet flies off.
Lance: (thinking) I could've told her that thing was coming-- but then I'd never have gotten rid of her!
(Cut to yet another clip of the MST3K gang, this time as they watch The Horror of Party Beach)
Mike: You think a lot of guys who make movies have issues with women?
Crow: Could be.
(Back to the comic again)
Linkara (v/o): He passes by a brachiosaurus, and the exhaust from his jetpack instantly instantly kills it.
Narrator: That Lance! He's toxic!
Linkara: (as narrator) That comic! It's not funny!
Linkara (v/o): The guy returns to his spaceship, which somewhat resembles a car, and yet is larger than the Enterprise-D there.
Narrator: The mighty Starship Phallica!
Linkara: Ah, so he's overcompensating for something. Gotcha.
Narrator: It's the only spacecraft in the galaxy powered by the miracle of internal combustion!
Linkara: WOOOOOW! So he's not getting anywhere in space very quickly, is he?
Linkara (v/o): On board the ship, he has a collection of naked, yellow sex androids with very phallic objects sticking out of them, particularly their nipples. I'd say they were actual penises that I should be censoring, except for the fact that they're sticking out of their heads, too. Yet they still look less stupid than Lance does. Also, some little pink alien boy is his sidekick, who is excited that the guy's letting him carry his beers. This entire situation gets more disturbing by the second.
Narrator: That's right, kids! It's Lance's red-hot crew of ever-ready Slutbots! Buy one for you dad!
Linkara: Man, ever since that last sales quarter bomb, the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation's usual family-friendly standards have really gone downhill. Genuine people personality, indeed.
Linkara (v/o): On the bridge, we see that at least two of the androids have the Comics Code Authority logo stamped on their asses. Okay. Why? What is this a satire?! Anyway, they've come across an alien ship that needs help, but Voles Takeout isn't really interested unless they have something he can sell. To make a long story short, the aliens plead for help, offering technology and knowledge to end suffering and pain, while the sex droids all want to, well, have sex, and all he can think of is how to make money off the aliens. His final decision? Lobotomize them and sell them as pets! Of course! Also, Brainiac 5 and Saturn Girl from the Legion of Superheroes? What? And so, our comic ends with Varnish Jump-Muffin telling the kids to never let an opportunity pass you by.
Linkara: So I'll take advantage of this opportunity to say (closes comic and holds it up) that this comic sucks!
Linkara (v/o): What a complete and utter waste of time and effort! The artwork is only okay for the most part, better in the "Sin City" segments, but the Lance portions lack backgrounds, and most of the poses for the women are, well, in submissive positions to the jackass. I know it seems like I shouldn't critique something called "Tales to Offend", since offending people is the entire idea, but that just seems like a lazy way of trying to escape critique. The Lance "stories" are not really stories as much as Lance being a dickhead, and that's the joke! That's not funny, it's just one-note and dull!
(Cut to shots of the Deadpool story "Civil War")
Linkara (v/o): The reason why Deadpool works as a psychotic who is funny is because he does have those genuine moments of humanity behind him. Or because he tells actual jokes. He doesn't want to be a jerk to people. He's just amusing and wants to have fun while he's hired to kill people.
(Cut back to "Tales to Offend", and its comparisons to EC Comics)
Linkara (v/o): But even if we accepted the joke of the whole thing, this is supposed to be an homage to EC Comics, right? Well, let me know when the hell it got to that, since the sci-fi stories of EC Comics weren't like this! As I said in the introduction, they were still morality plays at times, and the jerks in them got what was coming to them. You can't even say the general format matched those stories since it wasn't about PSAs of the main characters' awesomeness, nor were they about assholes getting away with being assholes! Frank didn't even follow the artwork formatting of those stories, with multiple panels per page. Most of the time, it was two panels per page just to maximize the laziness!
(Cut to the credits page for this comic)
Linkara (v/o): In fact, the only thing that these stories seem to have to do with the EC sci-fi books is that the colorist on the stories was Marie Severin, who worked on several EC Comics back in the day.
Linkara: So, this is a story about an unlikable jerk who learns nothing, changes nothing about himself, is just plain horrible, it's not absurd, it's not clever, and it has nothing to do with EC Comics.
(Cut to a clip of Code Ment)
Lelouch Lamperouge: (holding up a Twilight Sparkle card) What is the point of this thing?
Linkara: Then again, I ask that question about most of Frank Miller's work. (throws down comic, gets up and leaves)
(End credits roll)
Man, I used A LOT of Mystery Science Theater 3000 clips in this episode. It wasn't intentional, it just kind of happened.
I guess Frank Miller's work is just that easy to riff.
Yes, I've heard Frank Miller is supposedly being asked to advise on the Superman/Batman movie. Just like with any Rob Liefeld movie project, first get the movie off the ground before I start caring about it. Give me a trailer. I'd settle for a teaser poster, even.
(Stinger: The back cover of the comic is shown)
Linkara (v/o): And on the back cover, Lance Blastoff promotes cigarettes to kids!
Girl: Man! These taste great!
(Cut to yet another clip of the MST3K gang watching The Incredible Melting Man, with two kids smoking cigarettes)
Servo: (coughing) It's alive with pleasure!
Kid: Hey, it's my turn!
Mike: (coughs) It's smooth!