June 6, 2011
He likes his war cold, his champagne colder, and his stories idiotic.
(Open on Linkara walking up to a locked door. He holds up a device and scans the door with it, the device lighting up and beeping crazily. He closes it up and then takes out a glowing stick, which he scans the doorknob with. It makes a buzzing sound. He then pulls it away and looks at it closely. He sighs)
Linkara: (looking toward camera) Hey, everybody, and welcome to Atop the Fourth Wall, where bad comics burn. You know, the promise of the future is that technology is going to make our lives easier and better. It's something I truly believe in. Unfortunately, progress is not a guarantee of results. I have some of the best made-up technology available to me, from Star Trek and Doctor Who and even some crap I made up myself, and I still don't know what the heck happened last week. (he starts walking toward his futon) Luckily, however, we can say that I've certainly made progress since December of 2008, when I released my review of "SCI-Spy #1". (finds and sits down at futon) It was only my eighth video at the time, so, of course, in the 100+ episodes since then, things have certainly changed.
(Cut to a clip of Linkara, circa 2008, who is much skinnier then than now; the video quality is somewhat different, too)
Linkara (v/o): For example, I've gained about 20 or 30 pounds. I've also discovered how to edit a video without audio glitches and also learned the important lesson of rerecording that audio if it is screwed up. Then again, in those days, I was using tapes, and the process was a pain in the ass.
(Cut back to the present, more portly Linkara)
Linkara: Oh, and hey, another thing I've changed is that I no longer have poorly-made James Bond parodies at the beginnings of my videos, (looks around shiftily) though I do still have the Charlie's Angels theme on my mp3 player.
Linkara (v/o): And one final thing that I've changed since then is that I recognize is the name of the man responsible for this thing: Doug Moench.
(Shots of Moench's comic "JLA - Act of God" are shown)
Linkara (v/o): You may recall him as the guy who wrote a three-part love letter to Batman and his methods in "JLA - Act of God". However, we're working with original characters here, so unless Batman makes a sudden cameo, I think we're safe there.
(Cut to shots of the first "SCI-Spy" comic)
Linkara (v/o): In "SCI-Spy #1", we were introduced to Sebastian Starchild, who obviously comes from the Not-Subtle-At-All School of Character Names. He's a secret agent – in the James Bond sense, not any actual espionage work – who was recruited by some organization or person or something called Motherbank, who tells him to assassinate a terrorist named Attila Lazlo. He does so, as well as taking out Lazlo's... whatever the hell she was supposed to be. According to an article I read about "SCI-Spy", apparently, in the future, everyone's all into genetic engineering, which is why everyone but Starchild looks so weird, though that's debatable, given how a lot of the shots of him still look badly drawn. He flies off to his vacation planet, some sugar cubes in space unleash bugs that consume a naked woman, and then a bug assassin shows up.
Linkara: So let's dig into (holds up comic of review for today) "SCI-Spy #2" and find out just how much dumber the future can get.
(Title sequence plays, followed by title card for this episode, with the theme for Charlie's Angels playing in the background; cut to a closeup shot of the cover of this comic)
Linkara (v/o): I'm reading from the trade, and yes, last year, for some bizarre reason, it was suddenly decided that "SCI-Spy" needed to be collected in trade EIGHT YEARS LATER, so no deep analysis of the cover, though I admit it does look a lot less stupid than the first issues, but that's just because I like the cool effects of the background. We open to the assassin [Chaxx] firing his gun at Starchild while the intruder alert alarms blare.
Chaxx: Guess WHAT, Starchild? You're dead!
Linkara: (as Chaxx, holding up a gun) Ah, damn it, that was terrible! Here, give me a second and I'll think of a better line. (Linkara is shown slumped over with his eyes rolled up and tongue hanging out, apparently dead; back to Linkara with the gun) Aw, nuts. Next time, I gotta have something better planned.
Linkara (v/o): Nah. Actually, Starchild is ready, using his wristwatcher to erect a force field to protect himself. He then activates some auto-guns that quickly blasts the assassin apart.
Orb: Intruder eliminated.
Starchild: More like exterminated, orb. He was starting to bug me.
(Cut to a clip of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 gang watching Agent for H.A.R.M.)
Crow: (hums the James Bond theme, then stops) No, no, maybe not.
(Cut back to the comic)
Linkara (v/o): We cut to the techno-womb of the Motherbank, where Agent [Isis] Nile is arguing with Motherbank, not wanting them to recruit Starchild to stop the metallic insects from the last issue.
Nile: He's a notorious loner. He breaks all the rules and refuses any enhancements...
Linkara: (as Nile) I mean, how could he ever live without breast implants?
Nile: But Motherbank, you know he's a flesh-pure whack-ass who--
Motherbank: Is the best agent in the history of S.C.I.-Spy, and perhaps I should be lecturing you on the facts of his life. By old-Earth biological clock, his story began some twenty-seven years ago...
(Cut to a clip of Wayne's World, where Wayne and Garth do their dissolve effect to trigger a flashback; cut back to the comic again)
Motherbank: (narrating) ...when the trade ship Ceres came upon a mystery capsule drifting through our Arcturus System--the discovery of a Neo-Moses in the "cosmic bullrushes."
Linkara: Yeah, "Neo-Moses". It's like regular Moses, but THE FUTURE!
Linkara (v/o): Motherbank explains they don't know where came from originally, but he was fully human and trained to become the best agent possible. He resisted any attempts to be augmented and is now their best agent.
Nile: The best agent, Nile. End of story.
Linkara: Great! End of story! Can we go now?
Linkara (v/o): Starchild teleports in, carrying the assassin's corpse with him. He wants to find out who he is, but Nile says she already knows. He was an assassin named Chaxx, who usually works for Shadow Black. Starchild asks who the hell she is.
Motherbank: Meet Agent Isis Nile, Sebastian--your partner for the duration.
Starchild: You know damn well I work alone, Motherbank-- just Orb and me.
Nile: Look at you-- not a single fascia implant, nothing but retro ultra-vi lenses. Probably won't accept so much as a hyper-dyne jolt.
Linkara: (irritably) Okay, comic, it's the future! We get it! Stop throwing around random technobabble as if it's supposed to mean something!
Linkara (v/o): By the way, for someone who apparently lacks genetic modifications, Starchild has really huge eyes. Motherbank tells the two to be quiet while she briefs them.
Motherbank: Very well, and to brace yourselves for a major mission with the fates of entire worlds hanging in the balance, et cetera.
Linkara: Yeah, fate of the universe, billions of lives at stake. Who cares?
Linkara (v/o) Apparently this Shadow Black organization has formed a terrorist group called Blackside, which may be unofficially sanctioned by some of the outer worlds. Furthermore, the little robo-bugs are most likely the work of Blackside and have landed on multiple worlds and attacked strategic regions of them. The only way to stop the bugs from multiplying is to cut off the radiation frequencies that triggered them to life. The SCI-Spy organization is looking into it, but they suspect they won't be able to determine the correct frequencies before it's too late. Starchild and Nile's mission is to infiltrate Shadow Black and try to find the frequencies.
Nile: Which means we go undercover.
Linkara: Wait, they're gonna do actual spy stuff?! Wow! This might actually get interesting! But somehow I doubt it!
Linkara (v/o): They go to their tech guy who has enhanced Starchild's Magic 8 Ball with dimensional tesseract, making it bigger on the inside. Insert your own TARDIS joke here. But the downside is that it's limited by the entrance, meaning that while the Orb has near-limitless space inside of it, there's no way to get big things through it because of how small the entrance is. He puts in a whole bunch of medicines and chemicals as well as spares of his gun, which must be a pain to pull out of there unless the gun is, like, a noisy cricket or something. They fly off to some... space station... spaceship... whatever the hell this thing is, since Nile apparently thinks this is where Shadow Black recruits... I guess; it's not made clear.
Nile: That's it, Starchild, but you sure don't look like its hardbitten mercenary clientele... more like some skin-pure galactic pimp.
Starchild: With you distracting all attention as my cat-eyed bitch.
Linkara: Our heroes, ladies and gentlemen: whiny, argumentative assholes!
Linkara (v/o): The two walk into a bar and immediately, Nile yells out...
Nile: We're looking for work. Any of you scabrous scumbags hiring?
Linkara: Yeah, because these people certainly look like they've studied up on their vocabulary words enough to know what "scabrous" means.
Linkara (v/o): By the way, could you be any more conspicuous in your approach to this? This is like an FBI agent walking into some sleazy bar and then loudly proclaiming, "Pardon me, good sirs, but do you know where I might acquire some drugs? Perhaps of the methamphetamine or crack varieties?" And of course, this works, with them saying they want to hurt the inner worlds, and someone tells them he'll introduce them to Shadow Black. The two follow the man who recruits them to a nearby moon called Inferno. We give such happy names to places in the future. However, it turns out their clever plan backfires, since the guy who lead them there tells the guards that the two are probably spies.
Linkara: Well, why the hell did you lead them to your base?! There are so many ways that this can backfire for you! Just knock them out and take them secretly!
Linkara (v/o): No, this is a much better plan, with the guards being told to torture them until they talk. They demand that the two hand over their weapons, but the two quickly shoot down their attackers.
Linkara: Well, that didn't take long for them to drop the whole premise of this thing being about, you know, spies.
Linkara (v/o): The two run into the base, and they come across a computer console. Nile manages to hack into the computers, while Starchild kills anyone that tries to stop them. However, she discovers that the information they need isn't there.
Nile: The nanotech frequencies are encoded in something called "The Lucifer File".
(Cut to a clip of The Exorcist III, showing George C. Scott's character Kinderman)
Kinderman: It is NOT in the file! It is NOT!
(Back to the comic)
Linkara (v/o): She discovers it's stashed in a cave of ammonia ice on a world called Naga, and she's memorized the coordinates. Instead of just trying to fight their way out now that they've got a lead, they instead decide to... uh, surrender.
Nile: ...We'll meet Shadow Black himself before our big miracle escape.
Linkara: (confused) Or... you could do that big miracle escape now. You do know that people are being killed off by these bugs while you speak, don't you? (a shot of a panel showing what he describes appears in the corner) I mean, we see a panel right here featuring them under siege by the things.
Linkara (v/o): They're taken by clones of that Chaxx assassin from earlier and brought to Shadow Black.
Shadow Black: Sent by holier-than-thou Motherbank, then, immortal founder of the Arcturus System more than a thousand years ago...
Linkara: (as Shadow Black) I am Shadow Black, lord of unnatural exposition!
Linkara (v/o): Nile debates with Shadow Black about whether the outer worlds are being exploited by the privileged inner worlds, and this is all well and good, but I don't really give a crap because this is supposed to be some sort of sci-fi take on James Bond, and no one really gives a damn about sympathizing with terrorists who have no evidence that they've been exploited, other than their word for it. However, when he mentions that Motherbank isn't what they think she is, Starchild wants to know more.
Shadow Black: I don't answer my enemies' questions. I let them die in darkness and ignorance. Eject them into space. Naked.
Linkara: Yeah, clearly, surrendering was the best thing to do. (gives a thumbs-up) Way to go, morons.
Linkara (v/o): They're led away by the Chaxx clones, who must have been cloned from one of Chaxx's dumber cells. Starchild asks for permission to keep wearing his wrist watcher since it was a gift from his mother, and the Chaxx clone demands that he hand it over. And then he requests that they don't press the upper-right button.
Chaxx clone: This button? (pushes button)
Linkara: (as Starchild) And whatever you do, don't shoot yourselves in the head. (as Chaxx clone) What, like this? (points gun to his own head and fires)
Linkara (v/o): So, naturally, the button summons his Magic 8-Ball, which shoots down the guards. They steal their guns and run off. Starchild leaves behind some miniature explosives that are evidently powerful enough to destroy the entire moon. They make it to their ship and fly off, the entire moon exploding behind them, though since Shadow Black was listening in on their conversation, he manages to escape with the real Chaxx as well. And so, our comic ends with the two deciding they work well together, even pushing their fists against each other.
Linkara: (holding out his fist) Spy fist-pound, yo. (holds up comic) This comic? It sucks, but it's way better than the first issue.
Linkara (v/o): What saves this thing from being boring dreck is that the relationship between Nile and Starchild actually does kind of work: two professionals with different philosophies working together. Where it fails is the actual story. There are a lot of contrivances here to get them to Inferno, and the villains come across as idiots. The artwork ranges from passable to just downright bad, primarily when it comes to the pencilers' inability to draw human eyes consistently. And for a book about spies, there's a definitive lack of anything spy-related. When you make Agent for H.A.R.M. look like a better spy, you're doing something wrong!
(Cut to the MST3K gang watching Agent For H.A.R.M.)
Tom Servo: He maintains an appliance. (hums the James Bond theme exaggeratedly)
Linkara: Still, it could've been worse. It could have been another nonsensical three-part series praising Batman. (beat) Hey, wait a second.
Linkara (v/o): Sebastian Starchild is a human without parents who is said to be the absolute best at what he is; spurns any kind of enhancements or abilities, AKA powers; uses gadgets and tech to supplement his natural talents; and is treated like an absolute badass that we should admire? Oh, my Lord! Sebastian Starchild is Batman!
Linkara: I can't believe this! Even when he's not writing Batman, Doug Moench is still writing Batman! (slams down comic, gets up and leaves)
"I don't answer my enemies' questions! ...even when they show a clear interest and surprise about preconceived notions they had and I may gain allies instead of enemies."
Sooo, what was the point behind the first issue where the metal bugs came out of a naked guy? That was the best method of deploying their terrorist weapon they could think of?
Harvey: Hey, kid, I'm takin' 90s Moron and the puppet to a karoake bar. You in?
Pollo: I will rock the house with my awesome voice.
Linkara: Thanks, but I've got a lot of work to do.
Harvey: Okay. Hey, wait a second, isn't that the book you got during that whole brouhaha with your magic piece?
Linkara: Yeah. I'm starting to think it had something to do with the Entity.
Harvey: Entity? You mean that thing Vyce was after?
Pollo: I thought you decided it wasn't real.
Linkara: I'm starting to think otherwise. I've been hearing things lately. People in places just vanishing. Then the Ninja-Style Dancer shows up and tells me that a piece of the world is missing and then disappears when my back is turned. (becomes concerned) I think something's going on. (long pause, then picks up and uses a calculator) Pollo, when you get back, I want to start running some upgrades from Comicron-1. I'm thinking an artificial intelligence to help run this ship and better secure it.
Pollo: Very well, though it won't be as good a singer as me.
Harvey: Well, good luck, kid.
(Harvey and Pollo leave while Linkara does some more calculations. He then looks offscreen, worriedly)