Channel Awesome
OnStar Batman Auto Show Special Edition #1

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January 18th, 2016
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Batman – the world's greatest detective... presuming his OnStar is working.

Linkara: Hello, and welcome to Atop the Fourth Wall, where bad comics burn. If you saw the solicitation for this episode, you have noticed that there was a question mark next to the label of (makes "air quotes") "PSA Hell" for it.

(Cut to shots of "Brain Drain", the Spider-Man/Fantastic Four comic promoting OfficeMax)

Linkara (v/o): That's because this is a promotional comic, which usually means that it's a PSA as well, since otherwise it's just kind of silly having a superhero promote a product if it's not going to try to be educational. But nope, this is not a PSA.

Linkara: Buuut since the fact that "NFL SuperPro" a couple weeks ago turned into an unexpected PSA, let's make up for that and call it even.

(He snaps his fingers and the "PSA Hell" title is shown. Then cut to a shot of the OnStar logo)

Linkara (v/o): OnStar, in case you've never heard of it, is a subscription-based service owned by General Motors that provides assistance to cars: hands-free calls, navigation assistance, security, etc.

(Cut to footage of an OnStar commercial featuring Batman in his Batmobile)

Linkara (v/o): From 2000 to 2002, six Batman OnStar commercials were made to promote the service, using props and stock footage from the Tim Burton films, even getting Michael Gough as Alfred again in one. The original stuff they filmed for it was still pretty impressive, though. But of course, one form of promotion wasn't enough, so two short comic books were created to tie into it, too: the one we're talking about today and one slightly longer comic that I don't own.

Linkara: So let's dig into (holds up today's comic) "OnStar Batman Auto Show Special Edition #1", which might not even be the name of it, and see if OnStar can find a way to make this good.

(AT4W title sequence plays, and the title card has audio of an OnStar commercial playing in the background. Cut to a closeup of the comic's cover)

Linkara (v/o): The cover is okay in theory, but the more you look at it, the more it falls apart. It seems fine at first – Batman leaping at a car the Riddler is driving – but then you realize his pose is kind of weird. It looks like he's supposed to be running instead of jumping, especially with his fist behind him, and he looks completely nonchalant about how he's about to slam into that windshield. The foreshortening for his hand seems a little weird, but not too off. His legs, on the other hand, apparently have been sliced off at the knee. Also, one of the promotional aspects of all this was about how no one could steal the Batmobile with OnStar inside of it, how useful it was for a crimefighter... except it's the Riddler driving the car with OnStar in it, meaning either he was able to steal it or that OnStar can be used for evil as well. And as I hinted at, the comic's cover says the name of the book is just "Batman #1". Obviously, we really can't label it that because of how misleading that is, but fortunately, the copyright information informs us of the true title of the book: "OnStar Batman Auto Show Special Edition". Just rolls off the tongue.

Linkara: Plus, being a special edition available only at auto shows... I presume, since why else call it that? must be worth a ton of money! Not as much as if it had a Mr. T trading card with it, but still...


Linkara: Well, he can't, because it is the Riddler who has the dark magic of OnStar to use.

Linkara (v/o): The comic is only five pages long, which would normally mean that this would be saved for a "Comic Book Quickies" episode...

Linkara: Buuut due to some technical difficulties, I apparently have to refilm and reedit my review of (holds up a "Blood Gunn" comic) the "Blood Gunn" comic I did months ago. You know, during my birthday? And I need to have it put on a DVD or something. So I'm swamped, and a shorter comic would be nice.

Linkara (v/o): So here's a weird thing about this comic: there's no writer credit for it. There are credits for everybody else: artist, colorist, inker, letterer, but no writer? I'm half-tempted to believe this was ghost-written by Frank Miller. Why?

Narrator: It's past midnight in Gotham City as the Bat-Signal flashes across the night sky to summon... BATMAN!

Linkara: I eagerly await the scene where Batman calls people who don't use OnStar (makes "air quotes") "dense" or "retarded" or something.

Linkara (v/o): Someone once told me in a comment that the random emphasis of words thing wasn't exclusive to Miller, that some writers just do that as a stylistic choice, but off the top of my head, I can only recall Frank Miller and this comic doing it. I don't doubt they're correct in that assertion, it's just more than a little weird to run into it in a comic made in the 2000s. What's the point? It's not stylistic, it's distracting. Anyway, with the Bat Signal lit, Bruce calls police headquarters using OnStar.

Batman: Commissioner?

Voice on phone: No, Batman-- this is Acting Commissioner Rayburn.

Linkara: (as Batman, wearing his mask) Dammit! I knew this OnStar thing wouldn't work. It's already connected me to the wrong person.

Linkara (v/o): Rayburn informs him that Gordon's been kidnapped and they suspect the Riddler's behind it.

Rayburn: But it looks like he used Gordon's PC to get your classified e-mail address and send you messages.

Linkara: (as Batman, stroking chin) Hmm, I was wondering why I was suddenly getting more messages about increasing my penis size.

Linkara (v/o): He even left a note for Batman with the police, even though Rayburn just admitted that he had Batman's email. And said message is just basically there to tell him, "Check your email." How is it that a five-page comic has padding in it?

Narrator: And, after Rayburn reads the note, Batman accesses OnStar's virtual advisor service:

Batman: Get e-mail.

Linkara: His virtual advisor suggested that he check his email. (shrugs in confusion)

Linkara (v/o): The more amusing implication there is that Batman is actively defying the narrator. OnStar's email service informs him he had two messages from the Riddler. The first is...

Virtual Advisor: "Why is a balcony like a careless detective?"

Linkara: Well, that's easy: they're both related to Ace Ventura.

(Cut to a clip of Ace Ventura, showing a clip of the title character yelling while standing on a balcony and sliding a glass door open and shut repeatedly. Cut back to the comic)

Batman: Because it overlooks something.

Virtual Advisor: Second message: "When is a map like a Greek god?"

Batman: When it's an Atlas.

Linkara: (as OnStar virtual advisor) Incorrect, Batman. The answer is: "OnStar's new Olympian GPS system." (as Batman) There was no second message, was there? (as virtual advisor) No, but that's what you get for ignoring the narrator.

Linkara (v/o): He deduces that he's supposed to leave Gordon's ransom money at the Atlas Statue in Overlook Park. However, he's soon sidetracked by road closings that will delay him in getting the money there on time.

Batman: (narrating) That would really slow me down...if it weren't for OnStar!

Linkara: (as Batman) Where we're going, we don't need... roads. OnStar, flight mode! (as OnStar virtual advisor) Batman, I do not have that capability. (as Batman, he hums the Back To the Future theme)

Voice on OnStar: This is Karen Boyd at OnStar. How can I help you, Batman?

Linkara: Don't assume she knows who it was. Karen is just so bored at her job that she calls everybody "Batman".

Linkara (v/o): Batman arrives at the park and spots two goons waiting for him. You'd think with how strapped for cash villains are, one easy way to save on expenses would be to not have custom uniforms for their henchmen, but there you go. Batman allows the goons to think they threw him off a ledge so that he doesn't have to waste time fighting them. Instead, he clings to the side of a cliff... Credit where credit is due; Overlook Park actually is an overlook... and contacts OnStar to unlock the doors of the Batmobile.

Narrator: What? Why would Batman want to use OnStar's remote door unlock feature now?

Linkara: (as narrator) Batman is way off-script at this point! What am I even supposed to do?!

Linkara (v/o): And yes, OnStar's "remote door unlock feature". Batman could never just have a remote control lock. Such technology is only available with OnStar. The goons spots the Batmobile's doors are unlocked and decide to steal it. However, Batman was counting on this, climbing up a few minutes later, and calling OnStar to track it.

OnStar technician: Batman, using satellite data, I show your vehicle near the railroad tracks crossing Schiff Avenue...

Linkara: (as technician) And by the way, since we're able to track the Batmobile, we know who you are, Bruce. In retrospect, this was a really stupid feature for you to put into your car.

Linkara (v/o): Naturally, the Riddler's hiding out in a warehouse owned by a company that makes puzzles and games, because when you're a criminal with a theme, you really go all in. Batman crashes through a skylight to find the Riddler and the tied-up Commissioner Gordon. After dealing with the thugs, Riddler jumps into the Batmobile to try to escape. However, Batman uses a batarang to knock over some barrels in front of the car, crashing the Riddler into it and deploying the airbag in his face. Oh, boo! The airbag in the commercial was...

(Cut to a clip of an OnStar commercial with Batman, showing the Batmobile's airbag is...)

Linkara (v/o): ...bat-shaped!

(Back to the comic again)

Linkara (v/o): It didn't just have the logo on it.

Voice on OnStar: Batman, this is Gloria Liu at OnStar. I received a signal that your air bag has deployed. Do you need assistance?

Batman: I'm fine, OnStar. Just send a squad car to this location, please.

Linkara: (as Gloria Liu) Dispatching a member of the OnStar secret police to your location, Batman. (puts hand over heart) May the OnStar never come off.

Linkara (v/o): And so, our comic ends with the Riddler in custody and... Commissioner Gordon just kind standing off in the background.

Batman: Game over, Riddler! From here on in, the only brain-teaser you'll be posing is, "How do I reduce my sentence?"

Linkara: That is a terrible brain-teaser. (holds up two fingers) Plea bargaining and good behavior. Come on, Batman! (closes comic and holds it up) This comic is... ehhh...?

Linkara (v/o): There's nothing offensively wrong with it, it's just really kind of lame and stupid. Half of these features that OnStar put in the Batmobile seem like things Bruce would have put into the car himself. Plus, the plot depends on the goons stealing the Batmobile instead of Batman just putting a tracker on them, which seems like a safer bet. The weird emphasis on words is dumb, but not too distracting in this case, and the plot is okay for what it needs to be: a quick little book about Batman using OnStar to help solve a case.

Linkara: Next time, we return to the Kingdom of Monsters to see if we actually get some plots that don't involve people dying pointlessly. (throws down comic, gets up and leaves)

(End credits roll)

I eagerly await the day that the Riddler takes on Gollum or Bilbo Baggins.

I imagine the spam messages the Riddler sends out are STILL in riddle form, so only Batman can comprehend them. Everyone else just deletes them without reading.

(Stinger: An OnStar commercial with Batman is shown. He is driving along in the Batmobile)

Batman: Riddler.

(He pushes a button on his dashboard with the OnStar logo on it)

OnStar Virtual Advisor: Virtual advisor.

Batman: Get email.

Virtual Advisor: "Riddle me this: What do a river and money have in common?"

Batman: A bank.