New Guardians #1
January 30, 2012
The comic that dares to talk about things that no other comic does! Mostly because other comics aren't stupid.
(Behind Linkara's futon, Snowflame sneaks up, looking around)
Linkara: Uh, hi, everybody, and welcome to Atop the Fourth Wall, where bad comics burn. You may recall that two weeks ago, I had to delay the New Guardians review. (suddenly, Snowflame pops in front of the camera briefly) This is why: I found Snowflame.
(As he speaks, Snowflame throws several random objects on Linkara's futon, while he tries to ignore it)
Linkara: I admit, I wasn't exactly sure what I was supposed to expect out of the guy, but, uh...
Snowflame: (popping in front of the camera again) Snowflame is your tour guide on this expedition into your mind.
Linkara: Yeah. (Snowflame appears behind the futon again) So, let's talk about the New Guardians.
(Cut to a shot of the cover of "Green Lantern: New Guardians", an installment of "New 52")
Linkara (v/o): No, no, not that one. The old team. About 140 episodes ago...
(Cut to a shot of the cover of "New Guardians #2")
Linkara (v/o): ...we talked about the New Guardians, a group that spun out of the DC event comic, "Millennium".
(Cut to a montage of shots of "Millennium")
Linkara (v/o): For those not familiar with the Green Lantern mythos, the Green Lantern Space Cops were put together by beings called the Guardians of the Universe, big-headed blue guys that were one of the first intelligent lifeforms in the universe. And despite them failing and making critically stupid mistakes over and over and over in their careers as Guardians of the Universe, they still pretend like they're wise and know better than everybody else. However, in one of the few instances where they actually had kind of a good idea, they left our universe and one left behind decided to create new Guardians of the Universe by recruiting ten people from Earth. Now, one might think that it's head-scratching that Guardians of the entire Universe are only picking up people from Earth, but bear in mind that pretty much every single major occurrence in the DC Universe is centered around our insignificant little blue-green planet that is mostly harmless, so it's probably not a bad call on their part.
(Cut back to the cover of "New Guardians #1")
Linkara (v/o): What was a bad call, however, was that they chose ten specific people to be the New Guardians, who would also give birth to a race of immortals. And according to Wikipedia, since I have not read "Millennium", of those ten people, one was already dead, two died over the course of "Millennium", one was a racist, and the rest were incapable of breeding with one another to give birth in the next step of human evolution for various reasons. That's the Guardians of the Universe for ya; they can create a super-powered ring powered by strength of will that can create anything that you can imagine, but they want to recruit dead people and racists into their new super-awesome club.
(Cut to a shot of a description article by the author, Steve Engelhart)
Linkara (v/o): Behind the scenes, Steve Engelhart, one of the writers, hoped that the spin-off book, "New Guardians", could explore tons of adult themes that he felt weren't touched on very often in comics, like drugs and sex and etc. Editors, however, changed their minds about the book and apparently a lot of these aspects were cut down or changed significantly, leading to this horrifying mess of a book. And get this: Apparently, the book was originally going to be titled "The Trumps". That's straight from Steve Engelhart. And no, he does not explain why it was going to be called that, only that they decided not to because they feared that they'd annoy Donald Trump.
(Cut to shots of the characters in the series)
Linkara (v/o): You know, the series features a cocaine-powered supervillain, a floating head with green all over it, and a team whose goal is to get the female members pregnant, yet this is the strangest I've ever heard about this book.
Linkara: I did the second issue, mainly because I didn't have a copy of the first issue. Well, that has since been rectified. So let's dig into "The New–"
(Suddenly, just as Linkara holds up today's comic, Snowflame runs in again)
Snowflame: Are you the passport man?
Linkara: Yes, I am the passport man. Say, Snowflame, why don't you go make yourself a cup of coffee?
Snowflame: Coffee's cocaine in liquid form! (runs off)
Linkara: (after an awkward pause) So let's dig into (holds up today's comic) "The New Guardians #1" and see if the first issue is as cracky as the second.
Snowflame: (calling out from offscreen) Snowflame has secretly replaced your coffee with Folgers Crystals! Wait a second, this is decaf! NOOOOO!
(AT4W title theme plays; title card has "Canned Heat" by Jamiroquai playing in the background. Cut to a closeup of the comic's cover)
Linkara: It's been a long while since we got to enjoy a generic group shot. I give this one some credit, though; they're not running at the reader or just standing there doing action poses. While they're still standing still, it's a closeup shot and they're at an angle. Most of them are out looking towards the sky, and the background gives the impression of a rising sun, as if signaling a new tomorrow. Or perhaps, since the Floronic Man is standing there and looking at them all while grinning, he's actually written something horribly obscene in the sky and is laughing his ass off as the others are speechless about it.
(The comic opens to the first page)
Linkara (v/o): We open to the New Guardians checking out their new headquarters.
Narrator: See, 1988 is a tough time in America!
Linkara: Hey, not just in America.
(Cut to footage of an episode of Doctor Who)
Linkara (v/o): In 1988, in Great Britain, an ancient Gallifreyan metal is returning to Earth, and the Cybermen are trying to get their hands on it.
Linkara: Things are tough all over.
Narrator: The right wing's had eight years and Reagan's non-renewable, and the results are a country that says no to Latin American drugs but can't quite get there on Latin American wars!
Linkara: Yeah, (points to camera) burn you, Reagan! (stops suddenly, confused) Wait, was that even supposed to be a burn?
Linkara (v/o): I don't get it. Reagan was in office for eight years, War on Drugs, and Latin American war is going on at the time? Are they referring to scandals? That's... insulting? Also, if that was supposed to be a burn, nice job alienating conservative comic fans. So, they're at their new headquarters, which consists of... a motel with eight little pink huts.
Harbinger: What a great headquarters, Gloss!
Linkara: In case you're wondering, no, she didn't say that sarcastically. She actually thinks this is awesome.
Linkara (v/o): Although, I suppose, considering their goal is to become pregnant, a cheap motel was probably the right call here.
Jet: The Green Lanterns built a citadel on a hill and look where it got them--!
Linkara: A vast intergalactic police force with over 3,600 representatives from various planets, species, and lifeforms? (shrugs)
Linkara (v/o): Also, they built their citadel on a planet, a planet they themselves owned, and it was a beautiful, awesome place, with vast buildings that stood for billions of years. This is eight pink shacks in the middle of Los Angeles. They win!
Gloss: As long as we're going to live in a land of diversity, we might as well live!
Linkara: As opposed to... dying?
(Cut to a clip of Camelot)
King Arthur (Richard Harris): It is far better to be alive than dead.
Guenevere (Vanessa Redgrave): Yes, far better, hmm...
(Cut back to the comic)
Linkara (v/o): Let's go through our cast real quick: Gloss, the big-haired lady from China; Ram, the green cyborg from Japan; the Floronic Man, or Floro, as he's called – by the way he was originally a supervillain; Extraño, from Peru; Jet, from the United Kingdom via Jamaica; and Harbinger, from "Crisis on Infinite Earths". If you recall, "Crisis on Infinite Earths" was one of the first big, massive crossover events that eventually resulted in all parallel dimensions in the DC Universe getting compacted into one. Harbinger's presence is kind of a big deal, since she was one of the few people who still remembered all the original parallel universes. And then she got shoved into this book! Why? Not a clue. And like any team that's made up of international stereotypes, it's time to reinforce those stereotypes.
Ram: I have seen this site in seven movies-- "Los Angeles in the 1920s" sorts of things!
Linkara: Or they can speak complete gibberish. That works, too.
Gloss: Of course you've seen it, Takeo! In a land where fantasy is king, why should we not be part of it?
Linkara: Oh, yeah, I recall that great Japanese fantasy movie, Sword of the Eight Pink Bubbles.
Linkara (v/o): They decide to purchase the area for fifteen million bucks... Seriously, fifteen million for this garbage hole? ...and they get ready to move in.
Harbinger: We'll finally be together, as a group-- the chosen!
Gloss: No, no, Lyla, we can't walk around like gifts from the gods--even though we are!
Linkara: I think what I love most about this team is how reserved and humble they are.
Linkara (v/o): Elitist claptrap aside, Extraño starts wondering about what they're actually here to do.
Extraño: Well, Celia-- we're evolutionarily advanced by the Guardians of the Universe-- with powers to protect us from danger...
Linkara (v/o): Yeah, evolution has dictated that our hair be on fire, our bodies replaced with circuitry, or that we should have really silly mustaches and oversized earrings. Or we should be plants. You know, I get what the writers wanted to do with this series, with different people and different looks, but please don't start throwing around words like "evolution", as if you know what the hell you're talking about!
Extraño: Basically, my darling ones, we're here to pass along our new D.N.A.--or to put it on a more practical level--to have kiddies! Or you are-- I'm certainly not!
Linkara: So... what do you bring to the team, then?
Extraño: I don't know what I'm here for! But you're here to breed-- and let's not forget, Floro's a plant!
Linkara: (shrugs) There you have it, people. The characters in their own book break down why this entire premise is idiotic.
Linkara (v/o): The Floronic Man gives everyone a child molester grin and responds...
Floronic Man: We may not see all the colors of the new dawn yet, Gregorio!
Linkara (v/o): Yeah, that's not creepy at all. Remind me again why the supervillain is on the team? This is gonna be like Dr. Light all over again.
Extraño: Maybe--or maybe the aptly named Ram gets his choice of the ladies!
Linkara: (sighs, massaging his forehead) They just made a sex joke about the name "Ram". I really don't have to say anything, do I? This thing makes fun of itself without any assistance from me!
Linkara (v/o): Also, do we know if Ram is actually... "fully functional" and all that? Is this really the selection they made for proliferating their "superior DNA"? A living vibrator; a gay guy – i.e., someone who does not sleep with women; and a plant?? We're only three pages into a forty-page book, and already the entire premise has collapsed! There's more really stupid dialogue, with such gems as telling Harbinger that, despite her real name being Lyla, they're now going to call her "Lily"... Is that common? I have never heard anyone use "Lily" as shorthand for "Lyla"... that Gloss wants to bang Robocop, and finally that...
Ram: We Japanese have the tradition of pillow girls...
Linkara: (confused) "Pillow girls"? Do you mean prostitutes? "We Japanese have the tradition of prostitutes"? Or do you mean those giant pillows with anime characters on them that some people have sex with?
Linkara (v/o): Harbinger wisely tells them they should change the subject. She and Jet decide to compare powers, and they discover that they pretty much have the exact same powers, meaning it's redundant to have them both on the team, considering that team books are supposed to have a variety of powers, and while, of course, characters can be different from one another, it's just kind of silly to do it in this book. Frankly, it feels more like Harbinger got shoved in there after the fact, since she doesn't really fit with this team at all. For one thing, she's one of only two of them who doesn't have green in their outfit.
Harbinger: (her word balloon is over Jet's for some reason) But why would the Guardians make a copy of me?
Jet: (her word balloon is likewise inexplicably over Harbinger's) An' why would dey want chu wit' us, aftah dey created me--?
Linkara (v/o): Oh, yeah, good job, editor, for putting the dialogue balloons on the wrong people. We cut to South Africa, where we meet up with that racist chosen guy... who's an overweight, balding man. You know, I'm just gonna throw this out there: the Guardians of the Universe were just screwing around with people and the New Guardians are not special at all. Anyway, this guy, [Janwillem] Kroef, is in charge of a laboratory that's making weapons to destroy the New Guardians. And their first one is a doozy: a creature called the Hemo-Goblin. And just to remind us that these are the bad guys, they shove a man inside and he gets promptly – and messily – killed as the thing feasts on his blood and flesh. Kroef goes inside to congratulate the Hemo-Goblin, who has blood all over his face.
Linkara: (pointing at camera) Hey, this is a civilized group of white supremacists, damn it! We use napkins around here!
Linkara (v/o): Kroef, charming guy that he is, talks to the Hemo-Goblin about their sacred duty as white people to build a perfect society.
Kroef: But the world that doesn't share it doesn't understand it! They're too blinded by leftist "brotherhood" to realize that once the white race is swept into the multitude, the quality of life for everyone goes down the drain!
Linkara: (as Kroef) "Leftist 'brotherhood'..." Bah! (waves dismissively) We believe in right-wing "sisterhood"! (holds up his hand) Give me some skin, girlfriend!
Linkara (v/o): We cut to Shangri-La, where we meet one of the potential New Guardians [whose name is Tom], who recaps for us that he was chosen to become one of them, but decided not to because of his wife and family. Next scene! We cut back to Los Angeles, where Hemo-Goblin and one of Kroef's flunkies [Piet Broem] get a room at the airport Hilton. However, it turns out that room isn't their real room and instead go to the room right next to it, where there's a pet carrier on the bed. Wait a second. (reads label on carrier) "Slifer Kitty-Karry"?
(Cut to a clip of an episode of Yu-Gi-Oh)
Yugi Moto: (holding up a card, summoning a pink light in front of him) SLIFER, THE SKY DRAGON!!
(Suddenly, Slifer the Sky Dragon dramatically appears behind Yugi)
Linkara: (holding up Slifer card of his own) Of course! It all makes sense! An ancient Egyptian god monster working with a supervillain! (holds up index finger) It all comes back to the sheer evil of ANCIENT EGYPT! (shakes fist)
(Cut briefly to a shot of the Egyptian Pyramids, while a snippet of John Williams' iconic "Imperial March" from Star Wars plays briefly before the comic resumes)
Linkara (v/o): The guy recovers a hidden document that has surveillance on the New Guardians while Hemo-Goblin eats the cat.
Piet: (thinking) The man's an animal!
Linkara: (as Piet) Damn it, Hemo-Goblin, what am I going to have for dinner now?!
Linkara (v/o): And now, back to the New Guardians, where Harbinger has her own high-rise apartment, apparently having the good sense not to live in the pink motel.
Harbinger: (thinking) Jet's gained the same powers that I've been reduced to, and we don't know why! We haven't chosen a name--so to speak! Is this really the group I'm going to join? Is this what living on Earth is always like?
Linkara: Vague nonsense, redundancy and indecisiveness? Yeah, I guess that is life.
Harbinger: (thinking) The rest of them are still learning their powers-- not me! The rest of them came up together-- not me! They know far more than I do about sex!
Linkara: Considering your team's mission statement is only about procreation, you really don't need to know all that much. Insert A into B. Repeat as needed.
Linkara (v/o): Hell, considering this is only about procreation, you don't actually even need the emotional baggage of sex. Artificial insemination would solve this WHOLE DAMN ISSUE! Extraño arrives to be Harbinger's really stereotypical gay friend.
Extraño: Listen, honey, your old auntie's here to tell you, sex can be highly overrated!
Linkara: (confused) "Auntie"?? I was born in 1987, so I wouldn't know, but did people seriously talk to each other like that in 1988?
Linkara (v/o): Meanwhile, Jet and Gloss head to a dance club, and people immediately start staring at them.
Gloss: Can you feel it, Celia? Every eye in the place, all over us! Princess Di, in duplicate!
Linkara (v/o): The implication is that they're staring at them because they're celebrities, but I think it might have more to do with the fact that YOUR COSTUME'S NECKLINE EXTENDS SO FAR DOWN THAT THEY SHOULD BE SEEING YOUR NAUGHTY BITS!
Gloss: We can't save the world until it needs saving, but we need to pass on our D.N.A.! Or at least perfect the technique!
Linkara (v/o): You know, I keep reading about how this book was supposedly slashed to pieces by editors, yet this is a superhero book where two heroines are talking about how they need to get better at the technique of "bow-chicka-bow-wow". For some reason, I really can't imagine the subject was all that enlightened and intelligent before the rewrite. The Hemo-Goblin's assistant, a former boxer named Piet, approaches Gloss and asks her to dance. Jet decides to walk out, feeling pissy that Harbinger has the same powers as her.
Jet: (thinking) I t'hot I was unique!
Linkara: You know, I could probably think of at least three other superheroines who have the exact same abilities as you. (melodramatic tone) Oh, no, I'm not special! (normal again) Grow up!
(Unbeknownst to him, all the time Linkara was speaking, Snowflame has been rising up behind the futon. Linkara turns out to spot Snowflame there)
Snowflame: Snowflame is watching you read!
Linkara (v/o): As Jet walks through the parking lot, the Hemo-Goblin makes his appearance.
Jet: You look lahk a vampire-- but onless you sprout wings, I could leave fah behind, you know! But not tonight! Tonight I gonna prove I can stan' on my own!
Linkara: Yes, attempt to beat the unknown assailant with unknown abilities with only your fists instead of taking advantage of your ability to fly! Clearly, you are a tactical genius, Jet!
(Cut to the usual clip of Patton, showing the title character looking out through a pair of binoculars)
Patton: You magnificent bastard, I read your BOOK!
(Back to the comic again)
Linakra (v/o): And she immediately proves how good she is by getting bitten in the side. Gloss hears her scream and runs outside.
Piet: Gloss, wait! We haven't finished our dance!
Linkara: (as Piet) Dancing is clearly much more important than the screams of terror! (normal) Actually, if they wanted to be smart, they could just fight and dance. Like a ninja-style dancer.
(Cut to the Ninja-Style Dancer dancing in front of this comic's cover to Jamiroquai's "Canned Heat". Then Snowflame runs in, dancing to Benny Benassi and Gary Go's "Cinema (Skrillex Remix)". The Dancer stops and stares in confusion)
Snowflame: Snowflame likes the bit that goes boom-boom-boom-boom-heurgh! (Dancer stares briefly, then turns and leaves)
Linkara (v/o): Gloss, seeing the Hemo-Goblin, draws up strength from those mystical dragon lines of the Earth to attack it. Unfortunately, the Earth must be having an off day or something because the Hemo-Goblin counterattacks. Jet rejoins the fray, her blood mysteriously vanishing in all these shots, and the two manage to repel him. They decide to follow after him. I'd personally call a doctor for the biting, but maybe not; she seems to have completely healed up between panels. They chase him to the fourth floor of a building, but he gets out a window and eludes them.
Narrator: Well, to tell you the truth...
Linkara (v/o): (confused) What?
Narrator: ...both these women wonder why they couldn't just Wonder Woman and not have their respective limitations-- but by the time they get home, they're reflecting on how well they worked together!
Linkara: (as narrator) I'm the casual narrator, making lame puns and giving you character development off-panel.
Linkara (v/o): Jet's wound has returned, with blood and everything.
(Cut to Phelous, who gives a double-thumbs up)
Phelous: Great continuity!
(Cut back to the comic)
Linkara (v/o): However, the more surprising bit is that Harbinger has developed the exact same wound on her side as well. The two tell them what happened and they figure that Kroef was behind the attack, but they can't be certain. Ram thinks they should go on the attack on Kroef, but Gloss asserts herself as the leader of the group, because... uh, she shows more cleavage than everyone else? However, the Floronic Man has his own solution to this.
Floronic Man: In the realm of plant-spirits I came from, there are elementals... Meat-people can't see them, except sometimes, on the very edge of their vision--! I'll call to the spot where my realm intersects South Africa-- Have the gnomes there see what they can learn!
Linkara: Wait, the Floronic Man has gnomes that work for him? Do they steal underpants, too?
Linkara (v/o): And coincidence of coincidences, Kroef just so happens to be talking two of his people about the attack and how he was responsible and everything. Floro then gets to work, having the local salamanders search for the Hemo-Goblin... because he can do that, I guess. Cutting back over to the guy who didn't join the New Guardians [Tom], he hears from a news report about the attack on Jet, and he's upset about it. His wife [named Tegra, according to the comic] does not help matters.
Tegra: You're a wonderful dreamer, but you're just not equipped to handle practical things! You need someone to take care of you!
Linkara (v/o): Wow! Don't you feel great that you sacrificed the call of heroism to protect and spend your life with this patronizing jackass? Anyway, back to the heroes who are sneaking into the hotel by wearing sweatpants and hoodies... except for Gloss, who felt that she needed to show off her toned thighs and just has on leg warmers and a hoodie. They locate where Hemo-Goblin is and get into position, with Harbinger and Jet outside the window to cut off their escape, while the rest sneak in through the hotel itself. Piet spots them coming up the hall and decides to wait and see what's going to happen, while Extraño and Ram storm into the room. Ram goes in first since the crystals that make up his body protect him from Hemo-Goblin's bite. After a struggle, the Hemo-Goblin slashes at Extraño, and the rest beat the snot out of him. They hear hotel security coming along and decide to leave, returning to the motel. Jet decides that their name is the New Guardians, and they all agree.
Ram: The old Guardians shepherded life for five billion years-- now they've passed the torch to us!
Linkara (v/o): Harbinger declares...
Harbinger: Maybe we'll live five billion years--!
Linkara: Harbinger later died a pointless death in 2004 in an issue of "Superman/Batman". Just another brilliant plot point from the man that brought us "Ultimatum".
Linkara (v/o): There's a knock at the door, and it's revealed to be Tom, the guy from earlier who chose his unsupportive wife over the superheroes. He's come to inform them that the Hemo-Goblin died in captivity.
Tom: It was his accelerated metabolism--he was already sick-- He had AIDS--!
(A dramatic sting plays)
Linkara: (sarcastically melodramatic) OH, MY GOD! THAT MEANS ABSOLUTELY NOTHING BECAUSE AT NO POINT DID HIS BLOOD INTERACT WITH THEIR BLOOD!
Linkara (v/o): Seriously, both this issue and Issue 2 raised up this AIDS point, but now that I actually read the story, it's complete bunk! Saliva doesn't carry AIDS, and unless he had really bad bleeding gums, he wasn't going to spread AIDS by biting Jet. Hell, it's especially not gonna happen to Harbinger unless her magical matching wound also transfers AIDS across the vacuum of nothingness. Well, guess what? I decided to look up some info on future issues, and it turns out that Extraño is later confirmed to be HIV positive. If the implication is that he got it from the Hemo-Goblin, then I call serious bullcrap! You could make an argument about Jet getting it, but Extraño wasn't bitten! He was scratched! If AIDS isn't transferred by saliva, then you can sure as hell bet that it isn't transferred by fingernails!
(Cut back to the cover of the comic)
Linkara (v/o): This comic sucks! The premise is silly and offensive enough in the eugenics experiment about some group of people with "superior DNA", but the dialogue is extraordinarily stilted, with them casually bringing up topics like sex, not in any realistic manner, but just an uncomfortable awkwardness. The villain is stock, with barely three lines, and the action isn't all that exciting. And also, where the hell was that giant floating head in the second issue [Betty Clawman], who was also supposed to be a member? Oh, and the worst part: the villain wasn't nearly as insanely awesome as Snowflame!
(Snowflame is seen sitting on the edge of Linkara's futon, looking outside)
Snowflame: Look! My God is outside! (runs toward the front door)
Linkara: No, Snowflame, that's snow, not cocaine!
Snowflame: Snowflame is stealing your shoes!
Linkara: They grow up so fast.
(He throws down the comic, gets up and walks outside. He sees Snowflame running around a stand of pine trees outside. He flops down on the ground and runs his arms up and down on the snow, making a snow angel)
(End credits roll)
Comic writing protip: unless it's vitally important to specify what year your comic takes place in, DON'T SPECIFY THE YEAR.
If I can say something about this comic, the ending fight scene, while rather one-sided, is put together pretty well and the New Guardians come off as a pretty competent group of fighters in it.
(Stinger: Linkara is seated on his futon again)
Linkara: Like, two or three years later, and I still can't do a Spanish accent for crap.