New Guardians #2
May 25th, 2009
Sex-crazed international clichés vs. the awesomest villain ever!
Linkara: Hello, and welcome to Atop the Fourth Wall, where bad comics burn. I've talked before about how the most recent Blue Beetle spun out of the crossover event "Infinite Crisis", so it should come as no surprise for you guys that lots of comics have spun out of other summer crossover events.
(Cut to shots of the comic series "Millennium")
Linkara (v/o): For example, there's the crossover event "Millennium". It featured two main plots. One was that the Manhunter robots were secretly infiltrating Earth and disguising themselves as friends of heroes within the universe. The second plot was the stupider one: ten human beings who will be the next stage of evolution in the universe. Yeah, because that's how evolution works. Some of those ten were dead or evil by that point, but the few that were still alive were imbued by the guardians of the universe with powers.
(Cut to a shot of the cover for an issue of "The New Guardians")
Linkara (v/o): The series lasted only twelve issues. Supposedly, the idea was that since most of these characters were original creations, they could explore themes that weren't touched on in regular mainstream books, and the characters could change significantly within the book over time.
Linkara: Editors, however, quickly squicked out at the idea of having these superheroes deal with sexuality and drugs and etc. It doesn't help that the team was a pastiche of new foreign characters that were basically stereotypes from the get-go. And what was the team's mission? (holds up index finger) To have lots of sex so they could pass on their genetically superior genes to the next generation, and ensure mankind's survival! (beat) So, let's dig into (holds up comic of review for today) "New Guardians #2"!
Linkara (v/o): The cover is a little better than the usual garbage that graces the show. We get a scene of the New Guardians in a blizzard, but I should point out that while we do get a jungle in the book and a villain with the word "snow" in his name, there is no snow to actually be found. They're all showing how much in pain they are, reflecting the number of responses people had to this comic. We open to a splash page of the team in front of a silhouetted leg.
Text: "Life is hard, then you die."
Linkara: (confused) I'm pretty sure there's some stuff in between there, actually.
Narrator: I don't know where I last* read those words of inspiration...
- NOTE: The narrator actually says, "...I first read...", not "...I last read..."
Linkara: (looking at a fortune from a fortune cookie) Huh. "Life is hard, then you die. Lucky numbers: 5, 7, 14..."
Narrator: We were chosen, you see. Chosen by a cosmic pair of higher powers to ensure mankind's survival throughout the next millennium.
Linkara (v/o): Ladies and gentlemen, we have a crossover title! So, the Guardians of the Universe the fate of all mankind for a thousand years to, looking at the image of our stalwart heroes, the following: some Chinese woman in a cleavage-exposing number [Gloss] with red hair that's so long that she's got Starfire asking her for showering tips; some guy in a Doctor Strange cloak [Extraño] with a spherical earring that's larger than both of his eyeballs and a hairdo that screams "I just discovered hair gel!"; some woman [Jet] whose green hair appears to be on fire – plus, she's running around in a bikini top and loincloth; a guy [Ram] with more than half of his body replaced with see-through plastic that shows off the fact that you could take him out with a refrigerator magnet – for that matter, he is a walking computer, in a jungle, with no visible fans to cool off his systems; Jason Woodrew, the Floronic Man – a bad guy; and finally, Harbinger from "Crisis on Infinite Earths", who was once taken over by the most powerful bad guy in the history of the DC Universe.
Linkara: Let's face it, people, our species is doomed.
Linkara (v/o): And what massive supervillain are they facing off against? Well, apparently, it's David Carradine in an armless Santa Claus suit and white face paint over his eyes [it's Snowflame]. He proclaims...
Snowflame: First freak who comes any closer is a dead freak.
Linkara (v/o): Hey, cool, I've got someone to root for! Each of our heroes gives off a line that's meant to be reflective of their character in response to this threat.
Jet: Freak? 'E callin' us freaks? De mon be higher den a kite!
Linkara (v/o): ...says the woman with flaming green hair. You gotta love the Jamaican accent, too. You might as well have Miss Cleo doing this.
Linkara: (as Miss Cleo) CALL ME NOW!
Linkara (v/o): Harbinger proclaims...
Harbinger: The man has obviously never heard of the New Guardians!
Linkara (v/o): Yeah, I mean, how can he not have heard of you after you... um, did that... thing...? Yeah.
Ram: I can take the heat, Snowflame. They call me Ram...
Linkara: As in, "ram it"?
Linkara (v/o): Ram is a Japanese cyborg. A Japanese man whose superpowers are based around computers; that's not remotely stereotypical. And he attacks. The white-haired guy roars...
Snowflame: I am Snowflame! Every cell of my being burns with white-hot ecstasy. Cocaine is my god--and I am the human instrument of its will!
Linkara: (surprised beyond belief) Ladies and gentlemen, I can say without a hint of irony that that is the CRACKIEST thing I've ever seen in the comic! And I've seen jet-pack Hitler and an ancient Kandarian book being used as toilet paper by zombie superheroes!
Linkara (v/o): In fact, that statement is so bloody ridiculous, insane, and BAD that it is friggin' AWESOME! Snowflame, the man powered by cocaine, is win of the highest level!
(To a ding, "WIN" appears on the screen, while a Hallelujah chorus is heard in the background)
Linkara (v/o): Ram and Snowflame exchange blows for a bit, Snowflame taking the time to expound how awesome he is.
Snowflame: A blow like that would have sent an ordinary man reeling! But I am no ordinary man!
Linkara (v/o): Dude, you just said that cocaine was a god to you; saying you're not ordinary is just redundant.
Snowflame: You see before you a man on fire!
Linkara (v/o): Well, a man on drugs anyway.
Snowflame: A man who craves any excuse to burn brighter!
Linkara (v/o): Or a man who craves any excuse to snort cocaine.
Snowflame: I feel no pain, Ram--although I relish your feeble attempts to inflict it!
Linkara: (pointing at camera) Snowflame feels no pain!
Linkara (v/o): The other New Guardians, not doing anything to actually help their colleague, simply comment on the fight. Gloss, the Chinese woman of the group, who channels the mystic dragon lines of the Earth – nothing racist there, by the way – comments...
Gloss: That means he's getting down to business! Serious business!
Linkara (v/o): Yeah, just look at that expression on his face. That kind of confused, puppy-dog look is so clearly meant to convey seriousness. Our helpful narrator, the Vincent Price lookalike with ludicrous hair named Extraño, informs us of how serious he really is.
Extraño: (narrating) Ram's eyes were now apertures of cold light, as the human side of nature yielded...
(Editor's note: "My Spanish accent sucks.")
Extraño: (narrating) ...and gave way to an advanced electronic fighting machine wielding an awesome might with computer-calibrated precision.
Linkara (v/o): Just to be clear, he says the whole "eyes were now apertures of cold light" right next to a panel of showing that his eyes look just fine. I fear the artist wasn't really paying that much attention to what he was reading, but then again, neither was the writer, apparently. And by the by, this "advanced electronic fighting machine" apparently consisted of turning Ram into a Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robot.
Extraño: (narrating) Snowflame had the gall and bad manners to remain singularly unimpressed.
Linkara: (as one of the New Guardians) How dare our enemy not be impressed by repeated punching! We worked really hard on that!
Linkara (v/o): Snowflame regales us with more of his Ultimate Warrior-esque ranting.
Snowflame: How long do you think your silicon chips can stand up to my psychokinetic flames? Don't you understand yet? I burn with thought-- accelerated thought generated by my fantastically heightened mental senses!
Linkara: Take note of this, kids: cocaine improves your senses.
Linkara (v/o): Apparently, according to Snowflame, the more the people fight him, the bigger his high becomes and the stronger he gets. This is illustrated by knocking down Ram and his speech starting to accelerate, removing the spaces like he's the Flash or something. The Floronic Man laments...
Floronic Man: Erythoxylum coca-- what new spore of madness have you released upon the world this time?
Linkara (v/o): You know, with dialogue like this, I am seriously wondering how much cocaine the writer was sniffing when he was writing this. Snowflame's goons suddenly pop out of the brush and open fire on the team, apparently killing them all. Huh, that was quick. Snowflame orders the New Guardians to be buried.
Snowflame: With all their personal effects intact! In my jungle we respect the dead!
Linkara: (as Snowflame, looking offscreen) So don't put them into any humorous poses or anything– Steve! Steve, I know it's funny, but get his hand off of there!
Linkara (v/o): Well, folks, that was an interesting read, but at least it was short and– Oh, son of a... Extraño's still talking in his caption boxes!
Extraño: (narrating) Death. How often over the course of a lifetime does one entertain colorful fantasies of a swift and noble demise?
Linkara (v/o): Well, considering how many bad comics I've had to endure...
Extraño: (narrating) And how often, I wonder, does the reality turn out to be a slow and agonizing nightmare?
Linkara (v/o): Look, you're dead, Extraño! Stop making a big production out of it and just die! We suddenly shift to the New Guardians in what appears to be a... doctor's office... Yeah, but whaa? There's no text box to indicate that this is in the past or the future or just a hallucination brought on by Extraño's refusal to just die already and end his melodramatic monologue! But here's the real kicker of this scene, which is apparently referencing the events of the first issue... (softly) not that we get a text box to tell us this; simply speculation on my part with help from Wikipedia.
Doctor: The results of the autopsy were conclusive. The monster died of AIDS.
Linkara: Huh, there's something else this comic has taught me: monsters die of AIDS almost instantaneously, and not after months of treatment and being bedridden from the various infections and diseases that crop up as a result of it.
Linkara (v/o): The doctor explains that the enemy they fought called Hemo-Goblin probably picked up AIDS from one of his other victims, but that the results on the team are inconclusive. Harbinger points out that they've already been tested as negative, but the doctor points out, accurately as well, that there's an average two-month window where HIV won't be detected. What I find fascinating about all this is that they're giving a lot of accurate information about HIV and AIDS here, but the jaw-dropping moment is what the doctor thinks may have caused an infection.
Doctor: This creature that bit was highly contagious-- perhaps due to his accelerated metabolism.
Linkara (v/o): Okay, first of all, if Hemo-Goblin just bit the New Guardians, they're in no danger. The only way a bite could possibly infect them would be if this thing had bleeding gums or something that caused the infected blood to mix with him. Saliva doesn't carry the virus; their own blood getting spilled won't get them infected. I know this was 1988, but come on! Following this, there's more technical jargon about how AIDS works and transmission and blood cell count and... (sighs) Frankly, all I can think of is... well...
(Cut to a clip of Team America: World Police, showing Lease: The Musical)
Singers: Everyone has AIDS! AIDS, AIDS, AIDS!
(Cut back to the comic)
Linkara (v/o): Extraño laments about how he's gay and how he's already familiar with all of it, since he's in a high-risk category. Harbinger expresses her own angst about their not-possible infection of AIDS to Jet.
Harbinger: Oh, Celia...how on Earth will we be able to go on...with this hanging over us?
Linkara (v/o): Jet's response is equally drama-free.
Jet: Day by day, girl. We haveta learn ta live day by day.
Linkara: Speaking of which, this comic feels like it's been going on for days now! Come on, give me some Snowflame already!
Linkara (v/o): It gets better with Harbinger's next question.
Harbinger: And our glorious mission? What becomes of that?
Linkara: (dramatically) Yes, their glorious mission to become pregnant, (holds up fist) the goal of any great superheroine!
Linkara (v/o): The doctor points out that women can pass on the virus to their children, much to the horror of the group. You know, this whole genetically superior thing about them and the idea that somehow they need to pass off that DNA, there's just something strangely familiar about it...
(Cut to a clip of a Nazi propaganda film, showing Adolf Hitler addressing a crowd in a loud voice about how genetically superior they are; cut back to the comic again)
Linkara (v/o): They walk off, saddened by the news, but Ram speculates that some guy named Kroef is responsible, another thing I assume happened in the previous issue, but no editorial boxes to indicate this. The group rush [sic] off to the airport, but are stopped there by CIA agent Twerlinger. (suddenly laughs) Our little CIA agent here is dressed in an ugly brown suit, with an even uglier yellow plaid shirt beneath the jacket.
Linkara: Because nothing says "Central Intelligence Agency" more than the outfit of a used car salesman.
Twerlinger: Ever since your well-documented rift with Janwillem Kroef last year, the agency has been keeping tabs on the six of you. We don't presume to know all the particulars of the split. Our goal here is to prevent six aliens from causing an international incident.
Linkara: (holding up one hand) Okay, let me stop you right there, Mr. CIA man! You just admitted that these six are not United States citizens. As such, if they should go to South Africa and confront this guy, it won't be on the U.S.'s plate.
Linkara (v/o): Furthermore, it's not like a country tends to be held accountable for the actions of a citizens of that country acting on their own volition. If an American travels to China and murders a Chinese citizen because the American was a sociopathic freak, the Chinese government isn't going to hold the entire United States responsible for the actions of one psychopath. These six people, none of whom are citizens of or agents of the United States or its government, are traveling to a foreign country to confront a criminal of their own free will and decisions. No one ordered them to do so. What exactly is the international incident you're worried about here? That the U.S.A. will be embarrassed that the people who helped save the planet earlier now want to go around having lots of sex? In any case, more posturing from the CIA follows, and the New Guardians responds that they need to see him for what they've done, and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.
Linkara: (cradling his head on his hand) Man, I just really miss Snowflame.
Linkara (v/o): The CIA guy agrees to make a deal with them: if they go to Colombia to put Snowflame out of business, the CIA will keep the Kroef file open and give them time to build a case against him. We cut back to the scene that we just saw seven pages ago, when another member of the New Guardians, Betty, speaks up about how Snowflame's troops are in the brush. Betty, according to Extraño, is...
Extraño: (narrating) ...the cosmic Aborigine with whom I share my soul...
Linkara (v/o): So, what, Extraño's soul is on a timeshare? Betty, by the way, is a floating ball with a face on it, a huge nose, and more green hair. What was the colorist for this and his obsession with green? We have Ram, whose technological bits are shown as green; Floronic Man, who has plants all over him; Gloss, with the green costume; Betty and her bizarre whatever the hell that is; and Jet, with the flaming green hair. To make matters worse, Extraño's powers apparently manifest in the form of green energy. I suspect that if Harbinger didn't have a costume already, that that would be bright green, too! Anyway, Extraño says that the heightened senses of the others give them precious little time to prepare for the danger. And now we cut back to... hell, I don't know, they've abandoned all pretense of time making sense. Anyway, we're back to the New Guardians being dead, except it turns out they're not dead. Even more to my surprise, Snowflame's men, who were supposed to be building graves for them, have apparently made a huge-ass trench to bury them! I mean, look at how freakin' big that thing is!
Linkara: I mean, at this point, you might as well just make it a house!
Henchman #1: They are demons!
Linkara (v/o): ...one guy shouts. Gloss responds...
Gloss: No. Superior beings.
(Cut to footage of Adolf Hitler addressing an audience in a loud, ranting tone of voice, presumably about Aryan superiority; cut back to the comic again)
Linkara (v/o): Gloss uses her earth powers to bury the soldiers in the huge freaking trench. And no, we don't get any explanation about how the hell the New Guardians survived being shot repeatedly, beyond "We're superior beings" and "Thank goodness Betty warned us about soldiers". Yet another thing we can all learn from this comic: you are immune to bullets as long as you know that they're coming. Ram comments that he has been disgraced, and...
Ram: There is but one way for me to regain my honor.
Linkara: Yeah, because, you know, the Japanese are all about honor and stuff when it comes to battle, since they're all samurai ninjas who know computers, inside and out, and are really good at math.
Linkara (v/o): Extraño ends the dialogue in the group with not only a cliche, but a cliche that makes no sense!
Extraño: By the end of this long jungle trek, you will find revenge is a dish best served cold, amigo.
Linkara (v/o): (sighs) Just let that line sink for a moment and remember that somebody actually wrote that, and was paid to write it, in fact. The group makes its way through the jungle and discovers Snowflame's compound. Snowflame himself is lounging around a pool, reveling at how they only need to sell a paltry ten bags of cocaine in order to afford a Rolls-Royce, while women in bikinis drape themselves over him.
Linkara: This could be a great new kids' show: Math with Snowflame! (announcer voice) Hey, kids, how many bags of cocaine do you need to afford a luxury sedan?
Linkara (v/o): The New Guardians knock out the guards with what Jet refers to as "alpha waves", which makes no sense to anyone who even bothered to look up what an alpha wave is! They point out that his guards aren't a match for him, and his guests are too high to care.
Ram: You cannot take on the six of us alone!
Linkara: Oh, those poor fools! Don't they know they're going up against the awesome might of Snowflame?!
Linkara (v/o): And that Snowflame charm quickly ramps it up after the offer and the chance to give up.
Snowflame: Give up? Give up the ultimate exhilaration-- the divine rapture-- the euphoria of electricity that now surges through every molecule of my body?
Linkara (v/o): You know, that feeling of euphoria he gets right before the drug wears off and all? To enhance the rich insanity of Snowflame, he buries his face in a whole bunch of cocaine and just starts snorting like mad!
Snowflame: Ahhhhhh! May this fire burn everlasting! Now I am a true god--!
Linkara: BOW DOWN BEFORE THE SNOWFLAME! HE IS CUCKOO FOR COCAINE!
Linkara (v/o): Snowflame orders his entourage to attack, who strangely obey despite the fact that they're all strung out on cocaine, too. However, knowing the New Guardians, I'm surprised this whole thing didn't turn into a huge drug orgy. The New Guardians are taken aback by the various people in swimwear that attack them.
Jet: All de coke 'as left dem crazed!
Linkara: (as Jet) Dammit, why couldn't they have had Pepsi instead?
Ram: They feel no pain!
Linkara (v/o): So, in addition to the superpowers cocaine apparently creates, it also destroys nerve endings. Got it. Floronic Man suddenly starts feeling sick while Ram goes to confront Snowflame again. Floronic Man starts commenting about the color of one of the attackers' eyes, and much to my complete and utter amazement, Gloss reasons what's happened to him.
Gloss: That photosensitive plant skin of his has given Floro a contact high!
Linkara (v/o): That's right, folks: Floronic Man absorbed cocaine into his skin via photosynthesis.
Linkara: (irritably) Not only does cocaine not work that way, plants do not work that way, AND PHOTOSYNTHESIS SURE AS HELL DOES NOT WORK THAT WAY!!
Linkara (v/o): Gloss uses her powers to extract the cocaine from Floronic Man's system. The two hit upon the idea using this to siphon the cocaine from the bodies of all the people who are attacking them. And no, nobody thinks to use this to help out real-life cocaine addicts, because that would actually make sense. Ram wrestles Snowflame into the swimming pool, which I'm sure is meant to extinguish his flames, even though I can't see any evidence of Snowflame's powers actually being flame-related. When they get out of the pool, his strength returns, but Ram punches him into a shed, which turns out to be the chemical shed. Said chemical shed subsequently EXPLODES!
Linkara: (anguished) Snowflame! (reaches his hand out, in slow-motion) NNNNNOOOOOOOOO!!
Linkara (v/o): Can anyone explain to me why the highly-flammable chemical shed was owned by the guy whose powers apparently involved bursting into flames, and furthermore why you'd put it next to the pool?! The New Guardians recover and get up, cracking a few jokes with one another. No one is apparently upset that Snowflame just went kablooey. Harbinger, however, will have no humor.
Harbinger: How can any of you laugh and make light of our situation? Don't you realize our mission has been aborted before it has begun?
Linkara: Geez, every party needs a pooper.
Linkara (v/o): Harbinger flies off, upset more about the fact that three of them may have contracted AIDS and all the people who were killed by that explosion. The various swimsuited people in the compound come to the New Guardians and state...
Swimsuited man: For so long... we permitted Snowflame... and the white powder... to be our gods. But you have shown us the folly of our ways! It is the six of you-- you who are the true gods around here!
Linkara: (exaggeratedly dramatic tone) Blasphemous! Snowflame will rise again in three days, amidst the marijuana leaves!
Linkara (v/o): And instead of giving an answer to the church of the snorters, our comic ends with a splash page of Extraño looking down at the plants as beams of light shine down around him.
Extraño: (narrating) ...Yet I do not know if my future is to be measured in months... years... or decades. I tell you something. Life is hard...
Linkara: I'll tell you something, too: the Prince look went out when... (stops as he looks up in thought, somewhat confused) Well, let's put it this way: the Prince look was never in to begin with.
(The following text pops up on a black screen: "Things this Comic has taught me")
Linkara (v/o): Okay, let's collect everything we've learned from this comic.
(To a ding, the following text pops up: "1. Cocaine = Superpowers! (See Underdog theory of superpower acquisition)")
Linkara (v/o): One: Cocaine not only lets you lucid after inhalation, but with super-strength and white face paint under your eyes.
("2. AIDS - More like a zombie plague, apparently.")
Linkara (v/o): Two: AIDS can be spread by biting people and kills you almost instantly.
("3. Guns don't kill people. The Matrix kills people.")
Linkara (v/o): Three: Being shot to death is really nothing than some kind of reverse placebo effect. If you know the bullets are coming, you won't get shot.
Linkara: (holding up comic) If that isn't enough to prove that this comic sucks, I don't know what is! (slams comic down, gets up and leaves)
Math With Snowflame - Coming to PBS this Fall!
(Stinger: Linkara returns, leaning in sideways toward camera)
Linkara: Wait a second! If their mission is to proliferate their DNA through procreation, why is there a gay guy in the group?!