Santa the Barbarian #1
December 22, 2014
Nothing spells Christmas like murder and mayhem.
Linkara: (glumly, with his head on his hand) Hello, and welcome to Atop the Fourth Wall, where bad comics burn. You know, some things are too good to be true, like (holds up three fingers) three weeks of good comics, suggesting that maybe we'll have more good comics for a while. (chuckles, then becomes upset) Well, screw that merry Christmas, and let's dig into (holds up comic of review today) "Santa the Barbarian #1".
(Christmas version of the title sequence plays; title card is displayed to Judy Garland's version of "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas"; open on a trading card on which this comic is apparently based)
Linkara (v/o): "Santa the Barbarian" apparently began life in 1993 as a Wizard magazine trading card.
Linkara: If it had been Mr. T on that trading card, maybe this would have had potential, but nobody else thought that, and this is why we can't have nice things.
Linkara (v/o): And somehow, this one-off, stupid joke of an idea of Santa looking vaguely battle-hardened was enough to justify a comic book released THREE YEARS LATER! And it was a Rob Liefeld idea, too. I'm shocked that anyone cared enough to keep the idea alive for a single year, much less three. However, aside from his creation of the character, he's not actually on the book in any capacity. You'd think that'd be a big plus in its favor, but of course, this was the mid-'90s, and it was Rob Liefeld's company Maximum Presss. So while he himself was not working on it, everything else about the artwork resembles his style.
Linkara: I bring this up every time with "Youngblood", so naturally, I'm bringing it up here. What makes Rob Liefeld characters so appealing that it makes people want to work on them, especially when THEY'RE ALL THE SAME CHARACTER?!?
Linkara (v/o): Except, it's hard to even call Santa the Barbarian his character, because, of course, he didn't invent Santa. Hell, we can't even say they're working on his character, since it's not a character; it's a trading card photo with some dumb text about people not using chimneys anymore, somehow justifying him running around killing people!
Linkara: But I guess we should just get this over with now! (sings) Have yourselves a miserable Christmas... (scowls)
(Cut to a closeup of the comic's cover)
Linkara (v/o): The cover, as you'd expect, is bland. It's the titular barbarian walking the snow, carrying an axe. Oh, and of course, his feet are knee-deep in the snow in order to avoid drawing them. You know, I think the only reason the Liefeld brand of artwork avoids feet is because they look so ridiculous with these proportions unless you made the feet huge.
(The trading card, which does show his foot, is displayed again)
Linkara (v/o): Hell, just look at the trading card's foot. Did his ankle muscles just suddenly suck in right at the end to make that thing? It's even smaller when you realize he's wearing a damn boot, and probably a thick, heavy-duty one at that.
(Back to the comic cover)
Linkara (v/o): And why the bandages on Santa's arms? Would his muscles explode out even more unless they were braced like that? Did he cut himself on all the sharp blades by accident, so he needed that many bandages?! One of his numerous, unnecessary pouches has the number 23 printed on it. Why? Is he a big fan of that number 23 conspiracy theory crap? Or are his pouches actually an advent calendar?
Linkara: Surprise! Today, (holds up his hand, shaping it like he's holding something) it's a grenade!
Linkara (v/o): We open at the North Pole, where the moon is huge and Santa lives in a rather humble-looking cottage. Man, no wonder he's so pissed off on the cover. Nobody shoveled the front walk. And of course, we have narration for this happy little tale.
Narrator: Know, O Putz...
Linkara: (confused) Know what, O dickhead?
Narrator: ...that between the time that the oceans drank Atlantis and the gleaming cities, and last Tuesday afternoon at three o'clock, there was an age undreamed of, when big, ugly brutes ruled the earth and stunk up the place real good.
Linkara: It's fascinating when comics from the '90s are self-aware without even realizing it. (looks up in thought)
Narrator: Hither came Santa the Barbarian, white-haired, cherry-nosed, sack in hand, a giftgiver, a milk and cookie eater, a chimney freak...
Linkara: ...spokesman for Coca-Cola, sometimes a samurai...
Narrator: ...with gigantic girth and a big fat butt, to spread good cheer and reindeer poop across the shining kingdoms.
Linkara: I don't think those two things go hand-in-hand.
Linkara (v/o): Aaaaand Santa's face. (...which is in a raging snarl and covering the whole page)
Santa: I SEE YOU WHEN YOU'RE SLEEPING! I KNOW WHEN YOU'RE AWAKE!
Linkara: (as Santa, his face covering the camera in imitation of Santa) I INVADE YOUR PERSONAL SPACE!
Linkara (v/o): He's berating the elves, who are apparently complaining about being overworked, and that he demands they hand over the "nice" list.
Elf 1: That's what I've been trying to tell you, sir! That 3x5 card... contains the entire "nice" list!
Linkara: So the combined totals of almost every child on Earth were so bad as to not deserve presents? What sort of hellish nightmare world is this?!
Elf 2: (dopey expression, with his tongue hanging out) Didja check it twice? Heh heh.
Linkara (v/o): What is wrong with your face?! Were you originally a squash brought to life?! Why is your tongue hanging out?!
Elf 2: Little joke there.
Linkara: Very little.
Santa: And the "naughty" list?
Elf 3: We just finished it, Santa--and I've got the writer's cramp to prove it!
Linkara (v/o): And we see that the "naughty" list is so long that it's burying this elf.
Linkara: The end result of all Internet comment sections.
Elf 3: Looks like the old lump-of-coal-in-the-stocking shtick has lost some of its deterrent factor!
Linkara: That's what you get when you're providing people with an energy source. You want to punish naughty kids? Give them some ranch dressing in a paper bag or a used toothbrush or something.
Linkara (v/o): Santa decides he has to be a bit more radical in his approach and– Good Lord, Santa's NOSE! Was he in a fight or something? It's not like something out of the songs and poems and crap, it looks like he's sunburnt his nose or has some kind of infection or something. Anyway, his radical approach: to get weapons and stuff.
Santa: They should've watched out!
Linkara: Well, maybe if you didn't keep your existence a secret...
(The panel shows an elf smiling a dopey smile)
Linkara (v/o): Also, this elf is really into this. It's kind of creepy actually.
Santa: They shouldn't have cried!
Linkara: (as Santa) Your tears are weakness! Never express emotions!
Santa: I warned 'em not to pout!
Linkara: Actually, John Frederick Coots and Haven Gillespie did, but yeah, let's pretend Santa invented the song. (shrugs)
Elf 1: Look how his belly shakes when he's bloodthirsty!
Elf 2: Yeah-- just like a bowlful of jelly!
Linkara (v/o): Given their expressions, it looks like the elves are ready to embrace cannibalism.
Santa: Now Santa Claus is going to town on their sorry butts! Me and my sacred battle-axe-- "St. Nick"!
Linkara: (incredulously) You named your axe after yourself?! Oh, hey! (holds up Power Rangers dagger) Have you seen my dagger, "Lewis"?!
Elf: Shave 'em down with your mighty twin blade, Santa!
Linkara (v/o): Oh, come on! That wasn't even a holiday joke or a pun! What is this?! What even is this?!? So, Santa is gonna go murder some children?!
Elves: You da MAN!
Linkara (v/o): WHY ARE YOU ALL HAPPY ABOUT THIS?!?! Santa runs off to the reindeer... of which there is only one.
Santa: But what is this? Rudolph, where are your eight brothers?
Linkara: (incredulously) Rudolph was the brother of the other reindeer this whole time?! (shrugs) Hmm. Man, I'm learning so much about the canon that I never knew before.
Rudolph: We got a hold of some wicked bad chili, Santa!
Linkara (v/o): I guess that explains why instead of a red nose, Rudolph instead expels fire from his otherwise normal nose, unless Santa stole Rudolph's nose and put it over his own like a clown nose. It certainly makes more sense than anything else. Rudolph implies that he can get Santa around under the power of his flatulence. Yippee-skippee.
Linkara: Do we have Doctor Who and his magic box helping out Santa again? I miss that.
Linkara (v/o): And so, they fly off into the night.
(Cut to the Mystery Science Theater 3000 gang watching Prince of Space)
Crow: Goodbye, unfunny weird man!
(Cut back to the comic)
Rudolph: Same itinerary as last year, Santa? Uh... Santa?
Linkara: Oh, God, he's gonna sing, isn't he?!
Linkara (v/o): No, but we are gonna get silence, aside from narration. Although, look at Santa's eye in this panel. (it is blank white) That's the problem, he's been infected with Youngblood's Disease!
Narrator: Twas the Night before Christmas / And it was Santa's intention / To kill every last soul / Even those on a pension!
Linkara: (incredulously) So he's going after retired people?! What is your problem, asshole?! What did the old people do that was so naughty?!
Linkara (v/o): He first goes to the town of... Gamora? What, did Santa not like Guardians of the Galaxy or something? Oh, wait, I'm sure it's supposed to be "Gomorrah", as in "Sodom and".
Linkara: (giving a thumbs-up) Awesome! Evidence that the creators can't even spell correctly! (scowls)
Linkara (v/o): And what the hell time does this take place in then? Are we in Biblical times? Is this supposed to be a modern city called that? Why would you call it that?! What possible good would come from naming your city that?! What morons founded this place?! And what is even the joke here? Oh, it's the city of Gomorrah, even though it's not! And they must be sinful! And the rest of the world is like this?! What?! And if this is supposed to be the Biblical Gomorrah, I'm a little curious what actually qualifies them for the naughty list. Even scholars today argue what the sins Sodom and Gomorrah actually committed are. And I'm pretty sure Santa Claus wasn't involved in their destruction!
Linkara: At least, not in my copy of the Bible. Or perhaps I missed the part about the axe-wielding guy from the North Pole and his reindeer with fiery nostrils! Perhaps something in the Septuagint.
Narrator: He started with my house / Which was really bad luck / 'Cause Santa could hit you / Like a freakin' Mack Truck!
Linkara: At this point, I would not mind getting hit by a truck if it means I could stop reading this.
Linkara (v/o): On that note of "luck", did Santa just pick this house at random? For that matter, why the hell is he attacking adults?! Santa's a guy who delivers gifts to CHILDREN! You don't see Santa taking on international crime cartels!
Linkara: (looking up in thought) Although, come to think of it, we really should see that more often.
Narrator: When he swore to impale me / With his knives to the wall / I dashed away / Dashed away / Dashed away down the hall!
Linkara: That rhyme was lazy! It did hurt my head. Let this crap just end, so I'll go to bed.
Linkara (v/o): I would do the rest of the review in rhyme, but honestly, this thing doesn't deserve that amount of effort. Why does this guy have pouches? He's just random-ass guy in shirt and jeans! What is his crime?! Why does he deserve a freaking knife in his back?! Yeah, Santa throws a knife at the guy, then shoves a piece of coal in his mouth, lights it, and runs off!
Linkara: Look, I'm not against dark humor regarding a killer Santa Claus. I've used (makes "finger quotes") "The Night Santa Went Crazy" as the end credits music several times now on this show. But there's nothing funny here! It's just some asshole killing random people for no reason!
Linkara (v/o): And for God's sakes, in this panel, it even looks like the skin on his nose is missing, and we're looking at the muscle tissue underneath! Who decided this was a good idea?! Although, the coal thing kind of confuses me, since it looks like he's actually stuffing an Oreo in his mouth. So, yeah, Santa murders some people, whom we don't know who they are, and we end the stupid "Night Before Christmas" parody with him standing over a pile of bodies all impaled on a huge sword.
Santa: Happy Christmas to all... and to all a BIG KNIFE!
Impaled man: (dying) Just... what... I... wanted...
Linkara: (stunned) You... You wanted a big knife? You wanted to be impaled?! You wanted to be laying on top of a guy with his tongue hanging out (a shot of said guy from the comic is shown, looking suspiciously like Hitler) for some reason? WHY AM I TRYING TO MAKE SENSE OF THIS?!
Linkara (v/o): Oh, but it seems like I spoke too soon. Part two, "The Night Before Xmas", continues the "Night Before Christmas" poem parody. Or starts a second one, because this is so devoid of anything creative. Both writers apparently went to the well for the exact same material!
Narration: 'Twas the night before Christmas / And all through the land / Not a creature was stirring / Not even "The Man"...
Linkara: Who is the authority figure in this world when Santa can just go around murdering people?
Linkara (v/o): I don't know which artwork is worse, the more Liefeld-esque stuff from the first story, or the stuff here, which also has crappy proportions, but tries to stylize it with heavy inks to the point where everything looks muddy and splotchy. Anyway, Santa travels through the Arctic as the narrator tells us about how rhyming is hard.
Narrator: I'm almost out of synonyms / This rhyming's for the birds / If the rest of this is cheesy, / It's because I'm out of words...
Linkara: (angrily) I wrote a 3,600-word review of a "Star Trek" comic and did it entirely in rhyme! GET OFF YOUR LAZY ASS AND THINK OF SOME COUPLETS, YOU SLACKER!!
Linkara (v/o): Arriving at what I think is a small village, Santa is– OH, GOD, THOSE EYES!!! SANTA'S A TERMINATOR!! Of course! This all makes sense now! SkyNet sent him back in time to ruin Christmas for everyone! Unfortunately, I doubt we're gonna see his comeuppance! He's confronted by a large group of elves... who look suspiciously like very young children... who are protesting him as a tyrant who made them into slave labor.
Linkara: What's sad is that these guys came here trying to escape the greed and tyranny of the Mirkwood Elves.
Linkara (v/o): To be fair to the rhyming, even I complained about difficult rhymes at points, and this guy actually comes up with a few clever ones. However, it's completely undone by the artwork, either by the bizarre, glassy-eyed elves, or the scenes of what appears to be Santa literally tearing apart the elves! I mean, that's what it looks like with all these specks of ink! It looks like a blood splatter! Santa, being a friggin' behemoth, manages to beat the crap out of the elves until they unveil their secret weapon: a robot called TANK.
Narrator: As I've said before, / This rhyming thing really stinks / I think that I'll stop now / Talking this way worries my therapist / (a red arrow points to the word "therapist" with these words...) Heh? Shrink!
(Linkara glowers darkly at the camera before cutting to a clip of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 gang watching Hobgoblins)
Crow: If part of me is laughing, then it's the part of me that hates life.
(Cut back to the comic)
Linkara (v/o): So the two battle... I guess, since we never get to see it, of course.
Linkara: And that is just bullcrap! Christmas is not complete until (holds up index and middle finger) two killer robots fight each other!
Linkara (v/o): And next, we see an elf delivering presents to some kids, all with more ink specks everywhere to really make this look dirty. I haven't seen this much random splashing since "Holy Terror". And so, our comic ends with Santa on a throne and some woman sitting at the base of it, glowing and throwing her spine out of alignment.
Narrator: This is the end / Of this grand Christmas tale / Merry Christmas to all / Please don't send me hate letters / (a red arrow points to the word "therapist" with these words...) Whoops! Mail!
Linkara: (yelling) WHY DID YOU DO THAT TWICE?! YOU ARE DELIBERATELY SABOTAGING YOUR RHYMING SCHEME! Not that it matters anyway, (closes the comic and holds it up angrily) because THIS COMIC SUUUUUUCKS!!
Linkara (v/o): I don't think I can properly convey just how bad this comic is. I'm still not entirely certain what the hell I just read. There is no narrative structure to either story: Santa is pissed and kills people, and even then, it's only implied in the second story, which I'm even more confused about what's going on if it's the same Santa as the first story or an alternate take on the same idea. We don't even get to see him fighting the robot that's supposed to be their last hope! His actions make no sense in either case, since even the idea of Santa wanting to punish evildoers is lacking motivation since the naughty and nice lists are based on KIDS, not adults doing purportedly evil things that we never see!
(Cut to a shot of a poster for a movie called Super-Powered Revenge Christmas)
Linkara (v/o): Look, here is your holiday recommendation for something that both parodies and celebrates Santa in all of this time of the year: Super-Powered Revenge Christmas by MST3K alumni [sic] Bill Corbett. It's funny, it's exciting, and it's heartwarming.
(Cut back to the "Barbarian" comic one more time)
Linkara (v/o): As opposed to this piece of crap, which is not funny, not interesting, and most especially, is not fun.
Linkara: And I think, of all the things during this season, we really do need to remind ourselves of that point: Christmas and the holiday season should be fun. They should be a time when we are enjoying ourselves. And the first step to enjoying ourselves (holds up comic again, becomes angry again) IS NOT READING THIS GARBAGE!! GAH! (throws down comic, gets up and leaves)
(End credits roll)
If Santa DID steal Rudolph's nose, does it still light up? Or, if he's actually a Terminator, can his nose shoot lasers out of it?
I'd like to think Terminator Santa is the real reason behind the changed timeline of Terminator: Genisys.
(Stinger: Linkara walks out in the middle of the room, holding his magic gun)
Linkara: Okay, is everybody ready?
Jaeris: (hiding around the corner) Ready, willing and able.
Linkara: All right. Nimue, beam her in.
(Pollo and Jaeris ready their weapons as the mysterious woman suddenly appears in the room)
Woman: (looking around) The hell?
Linkara: (aiming his gun at her) You are surrounded! Lay down your weapons or you will be fired upon!
Woman: (aiming her own gun at him) It'll be a cold day in Hell before I get stopped by a dirty trick like this. (Jaeris looks at the woman, surprised) How about this: you surrender, and I don't shoot this place so full of holes that you'll think it's an Uwe Boll plot.
Jaeris: (surprised) Joanna?
Joanna: (looking around and seeing Jaeris) Jaeris? (takes off her sunglasses)
(Jaeris walks up to Joanna and kisses her. Linkara stares, utterly dumbfounded)
Jaeris: How-How-How-How did– How did you– How are you– How are you–
Joanna: We won! We won! (Linkara and Pollo stare at them and each other) I tried to contact you, but the signal never got through. And there was this– There was this gun that fired Hitlers, and there was fire and cake, and–
Jaeris: Wait, wait, we won?!
Joanna: We won!
Jaeris: ...how did you–
Joanna: I missed you so much!
Linkara: (feeling uncomfortable) So, uh... am... I putting out an extra spot at dinner, or...?
Jaeris: Linkara, this is Joanna! My wife! (they cross their guns together)
Linkara: So that's a yes?
Pollo: I'm not buying any more presents; you'll have to share the George Foreman Grill.
(Later, Jaeris is seated on the futon with Linkara)
Jaeris: So with political support falling away, and the inability to pay for the military or police, the whole system just sort of fell apart. Members of the resistance got into office and we worked and fixed everything since then.
Linkara: So, you never needed to steal guns at all! That kinda sucks.
Jaeris: Well, I would go all angsty, but you have to forgive me if I don't give a damn because I get to see my wife again.
Linkara: What are you gonna do with all the other guns?
Jaeris: Well, I might not be able to stay in my home universe, but on the way back we're gonna stop off at every place I visited and leave a little gift under their Christmas trees. You know, all them guns I stole. (Linkara nods) Shouldn't be any problems.
Linkara: (holds up index finger) Ah! Yeah, about that whole "staying in your home universe" thing, man... uh...
(He digs into his pocket, pulls something out, and gives it to Jaeris)
Jaeris: (looking at what Linkara gave him) Is that...
Linkara: A new anchor? Yep. I've had Dr. Linksano working on it around the clock. I figure that when we found your home universe, you'd want to stay there. It should acclimate your body to your home universe again as soon as you step in.
Jaeris: Dude, I... (stares at anchor) I-I don't... I don't even know what to–
Linkara: Aw, it's no big deal, man. I just–
(Suddenly, Jaeris grabs him and hugs him tightly. Linkara looks confused, then awkwardly pats Jaeris on the back)
Linkara: You do realize people are gonna write fanfics about this?
Jaeris: The hell do I care? I ain't gonna be around to read 'em.
(They stop hugging and pull back; Linkara adjusts his vest)
Linkara: You're gonna stay for Christmas, though, right?
Jaeris: Well, Christmas Eve, anyway. You know, we want to be home the day itself to celebrate with our friends.
Linkara: Then I'll let you go for now. See you in a bit, sir.
(Jaeris gets up from his seat, then starts to walk away. He stares at the anchor, then looks back at Linkara)
Jaeris: Thanks. For everything, man.
Linkara: You do remember that I'm the guy who stranded you here in the first place, right?
Jaeris: Yeah. Up yours. Thanks, but, you know, mostly up yours.
Linkara: Merry Christmas, man.
(Jaeris stares silently, then holds up the anchor. He is then teleported out of the room)