Power Pachyderms #1
April 8th, 2013
No, no, seriously what's the comic REALLY called?
Linkara: Hello, and welcome to Atop the Fourth Wall, where bad comics burn. We've got a weird one today, my friends: "Power Pachyderms". (pauses awkwardly) "Power... Pachyderms".
(The cover for "Mightily Murdered Power Ringers #1" is shown)
Linkara (v/o): And to be honest, I really did consider not reviewing it after reading through it. It's a parody comic, and we've been hit or miss with those on this show. Some people thought "Mightily Murdered Power Ringers" had some good jokes and I was unfair to it.
(Cut to the cover of "Marville #1")
Linkara (v/o): Others thought my reviews of the first two "Marville" issues were too harsh on the satire and parody bits.
Linkara: I think the succeeding issues of "Marville" have pretty much proven why I needed to look at those comics, though. (smiles smugly) Or do I need to remind you all about how dinosaurs died out because of their spines?
(Cut to the cover of "Power Pachyderms #1")
Linkara (v/o): So naturally, looking at this one-shot parody seemed a bit iffy, and hey, I do want to look at more issues of "US-1". After all, unlike "Power Pachyderms", "US-1" is funny. But "Power Pachyderms" is such a bizarre creature that I think I'm gonna take the risk of this episode not being laugh-out-loud hilarious in the hopes of exploring one of the strangest things Marvel has ever put out and quietly shuffled away. So, the question naturally arises: where did this thing get conceived? Why did someone want to do this?
Linkara: Well, the answer to that is simple: "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles".
(Cut to a closeup of the original "TMNT" comic from whence the cartoon series came)
Linkara (v/o): Not the original animated series or the massiveness of the franchise. Oh, no. This book was actually conceived before TMNT became a household name. No, it was in response to the growing popularity of the original Mirage Comics' "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles". Apparently, around the Marvel offices, they were rather entertained by the thing, which at the time, was a parody of a bunch of Marvel comics, although particularly Daredevil and his mythos. According to Roger Stern, Frank Miller had a good chuckle over the book and said something to the effect of "If these guys could draw, they'd be a real threat."
Linkara: Yeah, not like you, Frankie! Everything you draw is a masterpiece! Isn't that right, (A shot of Wonder Woman's rear on the cover of "ASBAR #5" is shown) armless, 90-degree spine and ass of Wonder Woman?
Linkara (v/o): Well, Marvel tends to be good enough sports to not take themselves too seriously and have released their own parody comics of their own stories before. As such, they decided that they could parody themselves better than "TMNT" could, but based it on the same premise of mutated animals. It was going to be called "Adult Thermonuclear Samurai Elephants"...
Linkara: Which, by the way, is a much more awesome title than (makes "finger quotes") "Power Pachyderms", and I demand that someone form a metal band with that name.
Linkara (v/o): And Roger Stern was brought on to plot the story. Aaand here's where things get a bit hazy. Apparently, a few different artists were going to draw it, but eventually, it found its way into the hands of Adam Blaustein, AKA the late Maddie Blaustein, the original voice of Meowth from Pokemon; she was multitalented. Unfortunately, it took them about a year to draw the story, and that year made all the difference.
(Cut to a montage of shots of "TMNT" parody comics, starting with "Cold Blooded Chameleon Commandos")
Linkara (v/o): By that point, releasing a "TMNT" parody wasn't original. There was a slew of parodies out there, like "Adolescent Radioactive Black Belt Hamsters" or the crap that Solson Comics was shoving out. What? Don't remember Solson? They're the guys who put on "Sultry Teenage Super-Foxes", its own title a "TMNT" parody, even if the contents weren't. Hello, Solson's "How To Make Comics" guide...
(The following text appears on the screen: "I might be thinking of a different comic since I couldn't find that quote in it, but the book DOES advise you that one viable option is to screw over your creative teams out of their money.")
Linkara (v/o): ...suggested that ripping off "TMNT" was a surefire success. Guess what? It wasn't!
(Cut back to the "Power Pachyderms" cover)
Linkara (v/o): So yeah, the original point of the comic no longer applied. Roger Stern suggested changing the name to "Power Pachyderms" to parody another comic series called "Power Pack", while shifting the contents to more of a parody of classic X-Men stories. Marvel didn't really end up doing all of that, and instead sat on the comic for two years before releasing it in an edited form, changing a lot of the gags that Stern had written in it, but in his words, he had been "exiled from Marvel" by that point and was writing Superman, so he had no say in the matter.
Linkara: Personally, I would have just shoved it in a drawer and forgotten the whole thing, buuut Marvel published it. So let's dig into (holds up today's comic) "Power Pachyderms #1" and try to figure out what the hell this thing's deal is.
(AT4W title theme plays, and the title card has "Time After Time" by Cyndi Lauper playing in the background. Cut again to the closeup of the cover)
Linkara (v/o): The cover is basically an homage to the original "X-Men #1", which we've covered before, but the confusion starts right here, with some of the choices made with the characters. Now, the guy on the bottom is supposed to be their Wolverine parody. That's fine. He wasn't on the original cover, but given Wolverine's continued popularity, it's not unexpected to put him there. Although, what is confusing about him is that he's clearly not even going towards the Magneto parody; he's just kind of off to the side, staring at the little Spider-Man in the bottom left. Why did comics used to have those again? He's just staring at that thing like he was friggin' Popeye and going, (as Wolverine) "If you know what's good for you, you'll clear out, Spider-Man!" Above him is the Cyclops parody who shoots concussive beams out of his trunk. Because of course he does. But then, above him is the next confusing choice: Elektra. Elektra is not and never has been a member of the X-Men. Now, admittedly, this probably made more sense when this was supposed to be a Turtles parody, but when they went the X-Men direction, why keep the Elektra thing? This will make even less sense later, trust me. And finally, there's... uh... Silver Samurai elephant?
(Cut to a shot of the cover of "Marvel Team-Up #74")
Linkara (v/o): You remember Silver Samurai, right? He was the guy menacing the cast of Saturday Night Live in that issue of "Marvel Team-Up".
(Cut back to the Silver Samurai elephant)
Linkara (v/o): I guess he could be Colossus; that would be the X-Men connection, but then, why the hell is he using a sword? Even the Magneto parody is looking at the reader, going, "What the hell is going on?"
(The comic opens to the first page)
Linkara (v/o): We open on a circus train traveling through the desert. Hey, look, watch out for snakes! Anyway, one of the circus cars comes loose, possibly due to this monkey right here... And the moral lesson of the story is: never trust monkeys. ...and it goes off towards a different split track. I'm pretty sure that's not how split tracks work, but whatever. It enters an atomic testing ground and is noticed by a wormy scientist in a nearby bunker.
Scientist: Ivan, you must delay the countdown until I warn them off!
Linkara (v/o): Yes, they're spoofing the Hulk's origin.
Linkara: Because a comic that's spoofing the X-Men that was originally intended to spoof the Ninja Turtles, which itself was a spoof of "Daredevil", would naturally be doing a spoof of the Hulk. (nods, then becomes confused) What?
Ivan: Da, comrade, it will be done! N'yah-ah-ah!
Linkara (v/o): And a narrative caption informs us...
Narrator: In case you hadn't noticed, this gentleman is an enemy spy.
Linkara: Yeah, as the Soviet Union's economy really started to tank, the KGB's budget for hiring convincing spies really got slashed.
Narrator: You can tell by the way his monocle switches eyes!
Linkara: That's something they don't teach you in spy school, my friends. The true way of identifying if someone is an enemy agent is monocle teleportation.
Linkara (v/o): Also, I can't help but notice that this dangerous atomic testing ground has what looks like an oil tower. Plus, a sand castle. I guess the soldiers really do get bored out here sometimes, although I doubt dry arid climates are that conducive to sand castle construction. The scientist guy – I guess, instead of Bruce Banner, we'll call him Moose Pennant or something – tries to wave down the train car, but it just goes past him. Actually, how in the hell is that thing still moving? Momentum only carries it so far before it would finally stop. Anyway, Evil Russian Guy activates the bomb while distracting the others in the bunker by tossing a bunch of playing cards into the air.
Linkara: (as Ivan) In America, you play 52 pickup. In Soviet Russia, you pick up 52 of clubs. (beat) Because of the, uh, exchange rate and the devaluing of Russian currency and the, uh... Did I mention that my monocle has switched to the original side?
Linkara (v/o): So the bomb goes off, and Scientist Guy is charred and broiled but good, despite being a few miles away from the blast. Man, that was a fast run. However, the train car has somehow gotten even farther away in that short amount of time and is just exposed to a much healthier dose of radiation, only enough to make amazing colossal men or giant grasshoppers. Apparently, the elephants slept through all of this, too, and by sheer luck, the train car comes back around again and reattaches to the original train. (dramatically) "Plot Convenience Playhouse" presents... "Power Pachyderms"! And I guess the elephants were pregnant, since several months later, they give birth to mutated abominations... or rather, pink-skinned elephants with blond hair. Yep, exactly how the X-Men did it.
(Cut to a clip of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 gang watching The Horror of Party Beach)
Tom Servo: So, radiation has a sense of humor.
(Cut back to the comic)
Narrator: Thus were born these freaks of nature...these elephants...of the atom...shunned and rejected by a world they seek to protect! (You'd think they'd learn, but nooooo!)
Linkara: (confused) You'd think they'd learn what? That it's not worth helping people if people suck? Well, then, you just basically undermined the premise of every single story in the Marvel Universe, then.
Narrator: They are the most preposterous heroes of them all!
Linkara: No, this is still less stupid than "Youngblood".
Linkara (v/o): And thus, we meet the four Power Pachyderms.
Narrator: Electralux-- Martial arts mistress of mayhem!
Linkara: Even in stupid spoof comics, I love alliteration.
Narrator: Mammoth-- Beneath his steely wool exterior beats the heart of a poet...not a good poet, but--!
Linkara: That is actually funny, but the problem is that plenty of poets throughout history have been complete dickweeds, so having the heart of one doesn't actually help.
Narrator: Trunklops-- He of the devastating nose-beams!
Linkara (v/o): No snarky comment necessary; I think that pretty much speaks for itself.
Narrator: Rumbo--He's short and he's mean. He has retractable razor-sharp tusks! When you get right down to it, he's just not a good role model!
Linkara: I eagerly await the live-action Power Pachyderms movie where Rumbo is played by Charles Barkley.
Linkara (v/o): Speaking of Rumbo, he apparently has become our narrator. He explains that the circus went belly-up when they were kids, and the elephants all went their separate ways, because, of course, in addition to their superpowers, the elephants also gained the ability to speak, have humanoid hands, and walk on two legs.
Rumbo: (narrating) Mammoth headed for the Orient to find true enlightenment... but the only thing that got 'lightened was his pockets, eh?
Linkara: Why was that a question? Or, like his original character, is Rumbo supposed to be Canadian, and this was his way of saying, "Eh?" (gives a thumbs-up)
Linkara (v/o): Also, seriously with that guy? What nationality is he supposed to be? Viet-Korean-ese? Electralux lived with a a Greek family at a restaurant.
Linkara: It's funny because... (pauses awkwardly) It's not funny.
Linkara (v/o): Trunklops wound up in an orphanage, while Rumbo went far up north and took Wolverine's place for the first X-Men movie. He worked as a bouncer until somebody bonked him on the head, which somehow turned his skin purple. He woke up in the middle of nowhere with the Adamantium tusks in his face.
Rumbo: (narrating) It was pretty clear that somebody had given a pair of class-A blades! Why? Beats me! Maybe I'd been used in some experiment... Maybe the writer just wanted to put a little mystery in my life.
Linkara: (as Rumbo) Maybe I'm a crappy Wolverine parody, and somebody thought retractable would be funny.
Rumbo: (narrating) With a little practice, I figured out which muscles I had to flex to make those tusks retract. (Do me a favor... don't ask me where they retract to!)
Linkara: Too bad, I'm gonna ask anyway: WHERE THE HELL DO THOSE THINGS RETRACT TO?! There is NO PLACE on his body they could fit!
Linkara (v/o): He started walking in hopes of finding civilization and came across a mountain.
Rumbo: (narrating) I could've gone around the mountain, but that woulda been too easy, an' I never do nuthin' easy. Wait... isn't that a double negative? I always do nuthin' easy? Naw, that ain't right either.
BECAUSE POOR LITERACY... is supposed to be a joke now, I guess.
Rumbo: (narrating) I never do anything easy. Yeah... that's it!
Linkara: Yeah, that's wasting our time.
Rumbo: (narrating) An' climbin' a mountain barehanded sure wasn't easy.
(Cut to a closeup of the carpeting on the floor. A Cybermat rolls across several times, making beeping noises as it does so, creating this message in the floor: "We'll Be Right Back", along with the AT4W logo appearing in the corner. We cut to a commercial. Upon return, the Cybermat rolls across the floor again, this time leaving the message, "And Now We're Back", with the AT4W logo appearing in the corner again. We cut back to the "Power Pachyderms" comic)
Rumbo: (narrating) By the time I'd made it to the top, I realized it wasn't too smart, either. Now I'd have to climb down the other side! At least there was nobody around to see how stupid I was.
Linkara (v/o): Except for whoever you're telling this story to, idiot. Suddenly, someone starts climbing behind him and narrating with their own caption boxes, encouraging him to go on. Rumbo even points out that the guy is interrupting his flashback. Said person flips over Rumbo and reveals herself to be Electralux. She explains that, coincidence about coincidence, she's climbing the same mountain he is so that she can get enlightenment from the "Four Perfect Masters". And who are the Four Perfect Masters? It's all four members of the Three Stooges: Moe, Larry, Curly and Shemp. Naturally, their names are modified versions of that*, but it's them.
- NOTE: The Stooges' modified names are Shpritz, Shlep, Shmoe, and Shtick.
Shpritz: It's right here in the script!
Linkara (v/o): (stammering) I... I just... I don't...
(Cut to a clip of Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny, as watched by the RiffTrax crew)
Kevin Murphy: We came through time, space, and the boundaries of fiction to see that?!
(Back to the comic again)
Linkara (v/o): Electralux says she wants to learn all they know, and the Stooges proceed to do their shtick to each other until they've fallen down in the snow. And I just have nothing. I have no reason to this. I don't know how to feel about this; I just feel... utterly confused. Larry tells Electralux to do the opposite of what they do, meaning "don't fall in the snow". Really, they're just covering their asses in how they're not really wise or anything. And they state that they need to get the other two Power Pachyderms and fight evil and stuff. They supply them with the addresses of the other two and... that's the end of that segment.
Linkara: Do you see why I was considering not reviewing this? I don't even know how to react to this. It's not "Marville"-level painful, but it is me writing down over and over again in the script: "Why? Why?? WHY?!?"
Linkara (v/o): The two travel to Hong Kong in search of Mammoth and find him fishing. He doesn't want to come with, because he's at peace or something, but when his fishing line hits a snag, he transforms into Colossus.
Electralux: Wh-Where did his pants go?
Rumbo: Probably the same place as my tusks go!
Linkara (v/o): My vote is for Z-space, frankly.
Rumbo: (narrating) Then a screwy thing happened. There was this big release of energy and Mammoth turned to solid steel!
Linkara (v/o): Except, of course, he can move and stuff, so... not exactly solid. Mammoth jumps into the water and finds sunken treasure. Great, now he can fund Titans Tower. (notices some words written on a fish's side) Wait a second, "Acme Fish"? The hell?
Linkara: The Acme Corporation: detective agency, maker of fine gadgetry, and fish distributor.
Linkara (v/o): Mammoth brings up the treasure and... well, I guess decides to join up with them, even though he doesn't say it. So now they have funding. Rumbo runs into the last of the group being emo on a pier and staring off into the water and feeling crappy about the whole nose-beam thing. Like Cyclops' ruby-quartz glasses, Trunklops has a ruby-quartz noseplug. I can see why he'd be feeling depressed. That does not look comfortable in the slightest. He refuses to join up as well, but then he spots Electralux and, well, horniness does tend to override emo. We then get to see a cutaway for the Power Pachyderms' headquarters: a boat that houses a completely impractical underside that's seven stories down.
Narrator: Clip and save for future reference (and ruin the comic of your value for all time).
Linkara: Ah, yes, the most treasured and well-sought-after comic during the speculator boom: "Power Pachyderms". (shrugs and shakes head)
Linkara (v/o): What interests me more is all the junk down at the bottom of the ocean, which includes the Rosebud sled, the Lost In Space robot, the Moon lander, what appears to be the shadow of Mary Poppins on a bicycle, and then over to the other side, we have a sign promoting Walter Mondale's bid for Presidency, the Simpsons' purple car, and Jaws rising up from the ocean floor.
Linkara: Somehow, I doubt that the Little Mermaid would opt to sing a song about this stuff. Or maybe I'm wrong, and she's actually a fan of Walter Mondale.
Linkara (v/o): And so the Power Pachyderms train by doing the Wolverine/Colossus Fastball Special for no reason, other than...
Rumbo: I haven't had a decent closeup since page 8.
Linkara: Meta humor – you suck at it!
(Cut to Phelous standing there with a bored expression on his face)
Phelous: (flatly) Cut to cameo from Phelous to demonstrate what meta humor is. (suddenly rolls his eyes and walks off, waving dismissively) Whatever.
Linkara (v/o): And then they're attacked by the living mops from The Sorcerer's Apprentice.
Mammoth: Didn't I see this once in a movie?
Linkara: (sarcastically) Get it?! Because he did see it once during a movie! (laughs uproariously) I wanna die.
Linkara (v/o): And thus, they defeat them and end their training. Yep, that sure was necessary and made perfect sense for why they referenced Fantasia. The inclusion probably made more sense if we consider that the idea for "Power Pachyderms" was probably conceived around 1985, when Fantasia had another theatrical re-release. But since "Power Pachyderms" was released in 1989, that just makes it all the more baffling. Of course, what doesn't help matters is that this is basically operating in the Friedberg-Seltzer brand of satire that says, "It exists around this time, so reference it!" Anyway, Trunklops talks to Electralux and admits he's attracted to her, but says it's because she reminds him of his dead love. He hands her a picture of his lost love, but then she realizes that he actually handed her a mirror and storms off. I've got to admit, that's actually kind of a cute parody of Cyclops falling for Madelyne Pryor after Jean Grey's death, although since mirrors are more traditionally rigid in photographs, I'm not sure how the asshole thought he'd get away with it. Still, points for the fact that Electralux saw that the Cyclops parody was a dick beforehand. Madelyne Pryor got screwed over big time when she found out about Cyclops' douchiness. Electralux, though, has eyes for Mammoth, who rejects her because he's focused on their mission. Okay, again, good parody of the X-Men and the soap opera-esque dodecahedrons that form in the book. Their computer, which is apparently a boombox plugged into something else, detects evil afoot, and they're dispatched to Magneta's Conservatory of Music, where Magneta is scamming people out of tuition money for his school.
Linkara: Ah, true evil is afoot: colleges with ridiculously high tuition costs!
Linkara (v/o): The Power Pachyderms attack, and Magneta says there's totally nothing evil going on here. However, Mammoth stumbles upon a room full of Nazi regalia. Hmm, considering Magneto in the actual stories is supposed to be a concentration camp survivor... yyyyeah, that's kind of an awkward parody. Anyway, it's thus revealed that Magneta is in fact Clarinetto! Uh, er, wait, Magneta is his real name?
Mammoth: ...former head of the Brotherhood of Evil Musicians!
Linkara: Ah, the Brotherhood of Evil Musicians: recurring villains of "Nightcat".
Linkara (v/o): Clarinetto makes a run for it, and the Power Pachyderms follow. Clarinetto changes into his band uniform, which still looks like M. Bison's, and reveals his team of ne'er-do-wells: The New Musicians! This team consists of Bruce Springsteen, Madonna, Cyndi Lauper, Willie Nelson, and Prince. Sooo... are they supposed to be Nazis, too? The very least, it looks like Cyndi is Spider-Man, given her hand pose. Now, to be fair once again, calling the team "New Musicians" is a cute take on "New Mutants", but once again, we're following the premise of "it exists; therefore we must reference it"; thus, our cavalcade of '80s pop stars, although when it comes to how utterly baffling this thing's existence is, the lyrics of "Time After Time" make perfect sense.
Linkara: If you're lost, you can look, and you will find me, time after time. If you fall, I will catch you. I will be waiting, time after time.
Linkara (v/o): As such, let's try to navigate through this as best as we can, shall we? As it turns, the Power Pachyderms have discerned that they're not the real people. Don't know how they figured that out, but whatever. The nose plug gets pulled, and Trunklops lets loose, shooting out beams everywhere. Electralux dashes towards Clarinetto, but gets tangled up in a guitar chord and falls into a barrel of radioactive makeup. Why the hell was that there? What possible use would an evil clarinet player have with radioactive makeup?! Naturally, this transforms Electralux into The Phoenix– erm, I mean, Rogue Elephant... Because that makes sense... Also, based on that nose, it looks like she's actually an anteater now.
Linkara: (listlessly) I'm just rolling with the punches here, people. We're almost done.
Linkara (v/o): Rogue Elephant blasts the building apart and I guess kills Clarinetto and the New Musicians. And she starts singing.
Rogue Elephant: (singing) I am strong... I am invincible...
Linkara: Wait, is she singing a Power Rangers song that won't exist for another eight years?
Linkara (v/o): She then sings a high note that is heard in New York, the UK, and in the movie E.T. Because the '80s. The other Pachyderms decide that she's growing too powerful and she'll destroy the whole planet by nightfall, so they have to kill her. Yes, because becoming powerful equals "destructive". Maybe you should ask her not to do that. Just throwing that out there. Using a convenient feather, they tickle Trunklops' nose to make him sneeze and fire his nose-beam to kill her because he's unwilling to do so. The blast hits her, but instead of killing her, it removes all the radioactive makeup and restores her to normal.
Linkara: (holding a bottle of alcohol) Yeah, I started drinking about ten minutes ago, so this is all starting to make sense to me.
Linkara (v/o): So she's returned to normal, and the four realize that they could have gotten killed! Well, yeah, that's kind of what happens when you're fighting supervillains. However, that's the last straw for them, and they decide to go back to the Stooges and beat them up and force them off the mountain so they can become the new perfect masters. And so, our comic ends with Rumbo talking to us.
Rumbo: Surprised? What... Did ya expect us to go on riskin' our lives month after month? No way! This ain't the Avengers, ya know! This is a parody... a spoof...
Linkara: A waste of time.
Rumbo: A takeoff. So--take off, eh?
(Cut to a clip of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 gang watching Red Zone Cuba)
Mike and the Bots: (in unison) You shove off!
Linkara: (holding up comic) This comic sucks, but... not for the usual reasons.
Linkara (v/o): It's not painful to get through like other parodies can be; it's just so... lackluster. Yes, it parodies X-Men bits, but in such a bland way that I don't get the point. There are small bits here and there where I kind of smiled or half-giggled, but there's nothing that funny about it. The entire premise behind it as a Ninja Turtles spoof was completely lost by the time it was actually released, so the need to do this as talking mutated elephants just makes it all the more baffling. It's just... there.
Linkara: And because it's just there, I can't even bring myself to actually hate it. Just kind of forget about it and move on. (beat) What were we talking about? Whatever. (tosses comic aside, gets up and leaves)
(End credits roll)
In retrospect, the "Elektra living with a Greek family and working in their restaurant" could be a reference to Elektra being Greek, but it's still not funny.
Otherwise why the hell did we need Elektra to fill Jean Grey's role? Was it just for that one joke?
(Stinger: The cover for the comic is shown again)
Linkara (v/o): You want to know something else that's weird about this comic? There are no advertisements in it. So either "Power Pachyderms" was completely hated by advertisers, or Marvel was too embarrassed by it to put advertisements in.