April 7, 2014
Remember when SCI-Spy was about spy stuff? Yeah, I don't either.
Linkara: Hello, and welcome to Atop the Fourth Wall, where bad comics burn. We've had (holds up two fingers) two weeks in a row of comics that make me feel like spending the next three months just showering them off. So I think it's time for a bit of rest from such awful. Unfortunately, today's comic is "SCI-Spy".
(Cut to black)
Linkara (v/o): Previously on the "SCI-Spy" reviews...
Linkara (v/o): Sebastian Starchild is the last Son of Krypton– er, Earth. Earth was invaded by aliens, and a computer exiled what it could of the human race to the farthest reaches of space, and then all of humanity decided to conveniently forget that there were hostile aliens out there and instead spent their time getting cosmetic surgery to look like birds, lizards and (Lazlo's bodyguard, the big-eyed, big-lipped female robot, is shown) whatever in the tenth circle of Hell that's supposed to be. Our brave hero, being a complete moron incapable of expressing an emotion, decided that the best plan was to go back to Earth – with no plan to actually fight the aliens or defeat them. Naturally, such a well-thought-out idea resulted in him and his fellow not-actually-a-spy, Isis Nile, getting stranded on the ruins of Earth. And yet, this comic is still not just over yet.
Linkara: So let's dig into (holds up today's comic) "SCI-Spy #5" and see how they can stretch this garbage out some more.
(AT4W title theme plays, and title card has "I've Got You Under My Skin" by Frank Sinatra playing in the background. Cut to a closeup of the comic's cover)
Linkara (v/o): The cover's okay... for an action movie book involving guns and explosions and of the likes of Alien or Predator or something else. Not so much for a book called "SCI-Spy". I just don't get it. Why did Doug Moench go with the spy thing for the title if he absolutely refused to do anything spy-related in it. Was this not supposed to be called "SCI-Spy"? Was it supposed to be called, like, "Star Child" or something? I can't see any evidence of that, but at least with that, there wouldn't be any dashed expectations. Oh, yeah, and behold Nile in the background, or at least a poor facsimile of her; her head is too big and she looks nothing like Nile has in this book, aside from having white hair. And being female.
(The comic opens to the first page)
Linkara (v/o): We open where we left off last time, with Starchild and Nile under attack by the aliens.
Narrator: Humanity's homeworld, a thousand years after occupation and genocide...
Linkara: But still on the bus line, so that's a plus.
Nile: Remind me, Starchild-- your love for this planet is based on what?
Linkara: Well, if I recall the last issue correctly, some kind of stupid genetic race memory thing, but why would I expect you to remember things you were there for?
Linkara (v/o): And check out her body as she's falling. This is an artistic phenomenon that's recently been pointed out. It's not even just the Escher Girls posing of her twisting the front of her body one way while her legs are twisted another, but just the way her legs are compressed together while she jumps. It's been called "Subway Sandwich Thighs". Artists are apparently under the impression that women's thighs and calves naturally sandwich together without any kind of pressure making them do so. It's because the artist, as a shortcut, is basically drawing the woman as if they're kneeling in the air as opposed to how a leg would naturally go while bent and flying – or in this case, falling. It has the advantage of sexualizing things by pushing out the ass a bit more while also making your comic reader kind of hungry for a sub.
Linkara: And Lord knows I would rather go to Subway right now than continue reading "SCI-Spy".
Linkara (v/o): Also, ridiculously big high heels, because why not? In addition, there's the title of this issue: "NEW EARTH".
Linkara: I think, at this point, it's (makes a "finger quote") "Slightly Used Earth", or at least "Not-Getting-the-Warranty-Back Earth".
Linkara (v/o): Despite the fact that Starchild tells Nile to take cover, the two immediately start making a run for it. I'm guessing it's because this is not a video game and thus, chest-high walls made of brick are not going to be very effective at stopping laser cannons. Still, they're running and gunning, trying to shoot as many of them out of the sky as they go, even though it's pretty clear there are simply too many of them.
Nile: Spike-skulled bastards.
Linkara: (confused) Is that where you draw the line, Nile? With all the genetic modifications we've seen in this series? Oh, sure, you can look like an insect, even have the mandibles for it, but don't you dare have spikes in your head! Freak! (shrugs)
Linkara (v/o): And apparently, that's enough to change Starchild's tune, because now he says they will make it through this. He must have realized the winning strategy: shoot the enemy, and they will be dead. Starchild, you mad genius!
(Cut to the well-worn clip of the title character in Patton, looking out through a pair of binoculars)
Gen. Patton (George C. Scott): You magnificent bastard, I read your BOOK!
(Cut back to the comic)
Linkara (v/o): He tells Nile, who's bending over like this for some reason... You can't even say it's to leap. Who the hell jumps like that? Erm, he tells her to go and that he'll finish them off.
Nile: Like hell you will.
Linkara: (as Nile) There's no way in Hell I'm letting (points to camera) you beat my high score!
Linkara (v/o): And apparently, that's the end of their pursuers because Starchild's computer orb thingy says that the "last of the Xenos" is roasting and they're clear.
Starchild: Far from the last one, orb--and we're far from clear...
Linkara (v/o): And we see a gigantic ship hovering over the ruins with dozens of smaller ones converging on it.
Nile: My God, Starchild--a ship cannibalized from the city itself...
Linkara (v/o): Um, what? What the hell about that thing screams "taken from pieces of the city"? Not to mention, it's a pretty dumbass approach to building spaceships. Buildings are not usually made from titanium. I don't think that concrete is gonna quite hold up to snuff when you go to lightspeed or whatever.
Nile: ...big enough to transport millions...
Starchild: And they're boarding, Nile-- ready to abandon trashed Earth just as they junked their own ruined world more than a thousand years ago.
Linkara: (as Starchild) I know all this because... (stops awkwardly as he tries explain himself, then speaks normally) Because it's bad writing. Why pretend it's anything else?
Starchild: My home... The planet of my birth... destroyed by invaders from the other end of the universe...
Linkara (v/o): Seriously, why do you care? You don't remember Earth! I could give a rat's ass if the hospital I was born in was destroyed!
Linkara: I mean, yeah, I would care about the destruction of Earth, but that's because Earth is where I keep all my stuff!
Linkara (v/o): Starchild has zero reason to care about the dried-up husk of a place he doesn't recall! It's like being pissed off that the first apartment you lived in as a baby was destroyed, but like you only lived there temporarily until your family got a better place and you don't even know what color the carpet was! This is just stupid! And yet, it could be fixed so easily: let Starchild not leave Earth as a baby, but as, say, a three- or four-year-old, during a time when he might have a few brief memories, but nothing solid and sure. That would be at least some vague connection. And then have him explore the ruins of his home and have it all start coming back to him. But no! We needed a poorly-rendered action scene! You know, it's been thrown out often that I should be looking at good comics, that reviewing good stuff does more to promote comics. Plenty of people do that. They don't need me for that. I'm here to show you all that if you want to be a writer, don't be an idiot! There are much easier and much better ways of making us connect with your protagonist and developing their character than making them a vacant, big-eyed loser who somehow has feelings for a place he can barely say that he lived on! Anyway, Nile speculates that there are probably more ships like that one...
Nile: ...above every major city on the planet...
Linkara: (incredulously) What major cities?! Everything has been wrecked and ruined! Have they just been partying for the last thousand years and now the place is too trashed to enjoy?
Linkara (v/o): Otherwise, why wouldn't the cities be in a much better state if the aliens were actually utilizing them?
Starchild: (narrating) So much for our recon mission, Nile...
Linkara: This was a recon mission?! Well, great job just sitting out in the open in space without any attempt to hide yourselves, morons!
Linkara (v/o): They realize that even if they did have a ship, they wouldn't be able to reach the Arcturus system again in time to warn everyone, so Nile suggests that they just try to stop the invasion.
Linkara: This is gonna turn into Battlefield Earth, isn't it?
Linkara (v/o): Starchild suddenly gets angsty as he starts thinking about his parents and wondering what happened to them after he was sent out into space. It's a legitimately good emotional moment... except for the fact that Nile has to snap him out of it for the equally legitimate fact that now is really not the time to be worrying about that because of, you know, the impending alien apocalypse. So, what is their ingenious plan to stop the aliens?
Starchild: We wait for cover of darkness, spot our opening... and kick alien ass.
Linkara: (applauding sarcastically) The savior of humanity, my friends!
(We then cut to another bookshelf. Linkara suddenly appears in the room out of thin air, as he is fiddling with a teleporter on his wrist)
Linkara: Oh, uh... (looks around nervously) Sorry, guys, teleporter malfunction. (AT4W logo appears in the corner) We'll be right back while I suss this out.
(He resumes tinkering as we cut to black to go to a commercial break. Upon return, Linkara is still there)
Linkara: (excitedly) And now we're back, and I think I've got this all worked out.
(He pushes a button on his teleporter and there is an explosion, which turns him into an old man)
Linkara: You no-good Cinema Snob... (stops and looks around in confusion while the AT4W logo appears in the corner) Where the hell am I?
(The review resumes)
Linkara (v/o): You know, maybe we should hope for a Battlefield Earth turn, where they find fully functional Harrier jets a thousand years disused. It'd at least make things more interesting, and it's still a better plan than that one. Fortunately, we do have a bit of a better plan: namely, that at night, they spot cargo containers similarly shaped to that D-100 back in issue 3. You know, the Lucifer file or whatever it was. They figure they can sneak on with them... by clinging to them? I don't know. I guess no one's paying attention for that very thing, after some rogue humans managed to kill a whole crap-ton of them before. How did these people eradicate humanity, exactly? Anyway, Nile brings up more continuity: namely, about the sugar cubes that released the walking Cybermats and robo-bugs and other nasties that they had encountered along the way. However, Starchild says a mystery remains: namely, how the hell did the aliens know where to send all this stuff? But we'll worry about that later. In the meantime, they somehow open up and get inside one of the containers. Aaand apparently, they're just carried through the vacuum of space like that. I guess the aliens made sure to install oxygen generators inside the cargo containers. Hell, what's even supposed to be inside of them? The smaller one was a computer file. Why the hell isn't this a sugar cube, like the ones from the first issue? Anyway, they wait a whole day inside of the thing, giving the aliens ample time to possibly already be on their way, considering it took you guys, like, an hour to go through the wormhole. Anyway, that night, they leave and begin exploring around and discover some old friends: that Shadow Black and the alien bug Chaxis or whatever the hell his name was from a while back. It seems they were the ones who sold out the Arcturus system. Good job holding that mystery out, "SCI-Spy"! Lasted all of two pages. Anyway, they watch the outer planets for themselves, but the Xenos – I guess that's what we're calling the aliens – are pissed off that their emissary got assassinated by that one guy back at the end of issue 3. As such, they toss Shadow Black and Chaxx into a cell. Starchild and Nile go to rescue them and to get some info and help. The orb robot burns through the bars and attacks the guards.
Orb: Hyello! And goon-bye!
Linkara: Okay, so far, the little robot orb has done a better job of telling James Bond-esque quips than the actual James Bond stand-in.
Linkara (v/o): Shadow Black is less than convinced that our heroes will be able to stop the aliens.
Shadow Black: The whole two of you?
Starchild: Bad math aside, you're looking at everything humanity needs.
Linkara: I can think of, like, twelve things off the top of my head that humanity would need instead of you, Starchild. Top of that list is a more interesting protagonist.
Linkara (v/o): After some back-and-forth about the two of them selling out humanity, they agree to join forces and come up with a decent plan. They can blow up this ship easily enough through the ship's engine core, but there are a bunch of other ships that need to be taken out, too. First stop: find the ship's main weapon systems.
Nile: Lead us to the main weapons system--and I mean the big guns.
Shadow Black: Ooh, you nasty bitch.
Linkara: (confused) Does "nasty" mean something different in the future? Dear Lord, the future is dumb.
Linkara (v/o): They quickly make their way to the ship's bridge.
Starchild: Remember, Nile... the rest of the armada won't suspect one of their own. So do it fast-- and don't blow the element of surprise.
Nile: Unknot, Starchild...
Linkara: (making a "finger quote") "Nasty"? "Unknot"? At this point, I wouldn't be surprised if someone does yell "Sewing machine!" as legitimate slang!
Linkara (v/o): Nile is able to figure out the ship's weapons systems... somehow, and they're able to cripple every one of the other ships. The next problem is the core, which is conveniently close to them. Unfortunately, it's heavily guarded by dozens of very pissed-off aliens who have realized that something is wrong with their weapons systems.
Starchild: Looks like Plan B's coming under heavy assault, Nile.
Nile: Yep-- good thing I'm a one-woman army.
Linkara (v/o): And it seems she's not kidding. Chaxx says it's over because they're outnumbered and overwhelmed, but it seems they've had an ace up their sleeve this whole time.
Starchild: All right, Nile--time to turn off and open up.
Linkara: (as Nile) Well, I always felt resentful of my mother for the expectations she forced on me. (as Starchild) Yes, Nile, yes! Our psychiatry sessions are just what we need to combat the aliens!
Linkara (v/o): No, as Shadow Black points out, Nile's not real. Starchild uses a laser pistol to burn a hole down Nile's front and pulls it open, revealing in fact that she's an android duplicate of Nile. And fully-armed soldiers start pouring out of the android!!
Starchild: A "Trojan robot" of our own--fitted with an internal tesseract... extradimensional transport for a small camouflaged army of S.C.I.-Spy agents...
(Linkara, totally nonplussed, drops the comic and hangs his head)
Linkara: Okay... I've got to admit, I didn't see that twist coming. And it's kind of awesome and brilliant!
Linkara (v/o): They had already established this TARDIS-like technology in a previous issue, and considering how sophisticated Starchild's orb thing must be, they probably had advanced robotics. Combining the two is really kind of ingenious and would be a logical thing to use for espionage and undercover operations. Oh, but how can we make this stupid, hmm? Well, for starters, the hole he makes is clearly not big enough to let this big dude through. Secondly, there's this woman down here who appears to be wearing no actual armor or protective garments whatsoever. Smooth. Next, what the hell would have happened to them if the android had been damaged or its head knocked off or it was vaporized or something? Would they have stayed in an extradimensional pocket forever with no escape?
Linkara: (smiling sarcastically) So I guess this explains the Subway sandwich legs at the beginning. She was a robot this whole time! That totally makes it okay and not an unnatural pose at all! (rolls his eyes)
Linkara (v/o): So while the battle rages with the Xenos, we also learn that the agents have been following along on what's been happening. In addition, the real Isis Nile has been using a "mind-chip meld" to keep in control of the robot body, so she's been following the mission, too. And thank goodness for that explanation. I was worried it was going to turn out that she was a robot with a dozen people inside of her the whole time, which would have just made the earlier sex between her and Starchild kind of creepy. And I had my fill of creepy sex last week! The android gets its head kicked off after one more agent, who looks like a little kid with melted conical spiral seashells on her head, jumps out. Starchild explains his overall plan: they'll destroy the ship at the mouth of the wormhole, hopefully destroying the wormhole's entrance to keep the ships from ever going through. Unfortunately, they've just arrived on the other end of the wormhole, and thus they need to work fast.
Starchild: Pop your tesseract, orb!
Orb: I'm open, baby--so just be gentle, huh?
Linkara: What did I just say about the creepy sex stuff, dammit?!
Linkara (v/o): And so, our comic ends with reaching into Orb and pulling out an explosive, specifically a false eyeball containing an antimatter bomb that the Xenos were paying Attila Lazlo in the first issue to smuggle onto a world.
Starchild: And once its viridiol shell is cracked--
Shadow Black: The released antimatter will chain-react with the core's positive matter-- as we commit atomized suicide.
Starchild: Precisely, Black--except good guys call it atomized sacrifice.
Linkara: Other heroes would call it "unnecessary sacrifice", Starchild. (closes comic and holds it up) This comic sucks... but I've got to admit, it's the best issue so far.
Linkara (v/o): And that's only because of the twist with Nile, which actually did something kind of clever and logical, using the technology established in this universe. It's a pity this idea is being wasted on this crappy series. The art is still awful, the story overall is still blecch, and our main character has all the charisma of a moldy dishrag.
Linkara: And the next time we visit "SCI-Spy", it will thankfully be the last. (throws down comic, gets up and leaves)
(End credits roll)
Isis Nile: redefining "Army of One."
I suppose there is one good point to being trapped in another dimension – you wouldn't have to be in SCI-Spy.
(Stinger: The upcoming final issue's title is shown in the corner of the last panel: "Part VI: INVASION")
Linkara (v/o): So, will Starchild succeed in closing the wormhole? Well, the final issue is "Invasion", so that's a big no.