Solson Christmas Special Featuring Samurai Santa #1
December 9, 2013
Santa Claus is coming to town... WITH A KATANA!
(Linkara stands in front of his Christmas tree and wears his Santa hat over his regular hat)
Linkara: Hello, and welcome to Atop the Fourth Wall, where bad comics burn. Today, we're talking about the "Solson Christmas Special". What, don't you remember Solson Comics? Here, let me remind you.
Linkara (v/o): Yes, the makers of "Sultry Teenage Super-Foxes" made themselves a Christmas comic. Be very afraid.
(Cut a shot of Gary Brodsky, the original mastermind behind this crap)
Linkara (v/o): If you're not familiar with Solson, there's not much to say. It was run by the son of Marvel editor Sol Brodsky, the ever-sexist sack of crap, Gary Brodsky, who was cashing in on the black-and-white independent comic boom of the late '80s.
(A montage of shots of comics by Brodsky is shown)
Linkara (v/o): I've talked about this before. Basically, the rise of the direct market of comics – i.e., comic book stores – meant that pretty much anybody with a pen and a vague knowledge of what human beings looked like could create their own horrible black-and-white comic and try to make millions.
(Cut to a shot of the very first "Ninja Turtles" comic)
Linkara (v/o): After all, it worked for "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles".
(Cut back to the Brodsky montage, focusing on one imitator in particular, "Geriatric Gangrene Jujitsu Gerbils", and the montage continues from there)
Linkara (v/o): So, cash in on that with as many ripoffs as you can, particularly if it sounds similar to the name, "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles". Hence, why "Sultry Teenage Super-Foxes" is named how it is. Solson was the king of embracing '80s schlock culture: ninjas, brainless action movies, Ronald Reagan wielding a machine gun, and of course, various mail-order guides on ninjitsu and samurai and other things that they didn't actually know about, but it was popular, so sell what you can. And that brings us to today's comic.
Linkara: So let's dig into (holds up today's comic) "Solson Christmas Special Featuring Samurai Santa #1" and see if there's more Christmas stuff in here than with the Punisher last week.
(AT4W title sequence plays; title card has "Master Ninja Theme Song" by Joel and the Joels playing in the background. Cut to a closeup of the comic's cover)
Linkara (v/o): The cover is just bad, even ignoring the awful plain typeface and font for the logo and whatnot. It's just a guy who's probably supposed to be our titular Samurai Santa against an all-black background. I guess they figured the concept alone was all you needed for something like this. I do admit, though, that I kind of appreciate the red and green outfit for Samurai Santa instead of just red. Gives him the full Christmas look.
Text: SAMURAI SANTA ...WANTS YOU TO HAVE A MERRY CHRISTMAS... OR ELSE!
Linkara: (holding up comic, confused) Or... what, he'll kill us with his sword because we're not happy? Threats of murder do not make the season any jollier.
(Inside the comic are some backgrounds on some of the people who made "Samurai Santa", including... Jim Lee!)
Linkara (v/o): The most interesting thing to note about the comic is that it's actually the first published work of Jim Lee!
(Cut to a montage of Lee's work in DC and Marvel, starting with "All-Star Batman and Robin")
Linkara (v/o): Yep, Jim "Artist of 'All Star Batman and Robin'" Lee.
(Cut to a shot of "X-Men #1")
Linkara (v/o): Jim "My comic 'X-Men #1'is the highest-selling single issue of all time" Lee.
(Cut to a shot of "The New 52")
Linkara (v/o): Jim "I want all the characters in 'The New 52' to have the same stupid collar on their outfits even if their neckline doesn't go up that far, oh, hi, Wonder Woman" Lee.
(Cut back to the credits for "Samurai Santa")
Linkara (v/o): His first job ever was doing finishing work on "Samurai friggin' Santa"!
(Cut back to the comic's cover)
Linkara (v/o): And Jim Lee's a fantastic artist. Less so a creator, but that's neither here nor there. But you'd never suspect where he'd be going based on something like this. I've heard that the cover is drawn by him, too, but I haven't seen confirmation of it.
(The comic opens to the first page)
Linkara (v/o): We open on a street in the middle of December, where people are walking along, a Salvation Army Santa is ringing a bell, and retail employees are contemplating murder because of the constant barrage of Christmas music playing in their stores that they cannot escape from. The title of our story is "A Samurai On 34th Street".
Linkara: Geez, how different would Miracle On 34th Street have been if that had been a samurai in there instead of Santa Claus? (holds up hand) Instead of a cane in the corner at the end, there'd be a sword embedded in the door.
Narrator: Every December across the land, a magical thing happens...
Linkara: (as narrator) A Christmas Story gets played on repeat for 24 hours as if it was a friggin' Law and Order season. (beat) What? I didn't say it was good magic.
Narrator: ...people rush all over madly into stores in search of the perfect gift for their loved ones... Every year, as the snow falls and frost fills the air, people learn once again to love their fellow man...
Linkara: You'll notice that they added the qualifier "December" in there, mostly because if they tried to include November in that, well, they'd have to explain why there are all those pointless fights that people get into on Black Friday.
Narrator: This year, however, things will be different and people will learn a new message...
(Cut to a clip of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 gang watching Merlin's Shop of Mystical Wonders)
Crow: Remember to believe in magic, or I'll kill you.
(Cut back to the comic)
Linkara (v/o): Inside a department store, a manager [Mr. Osborn, as will be revealed later] is trying to figure out why the store Santa is going out to greet the children. His assistant, Endicott, shows that their Santa is not really in any shape for that, namely, because he's drunk. Other employees are trying to get him sobered up with coffee, but it's clearly not working. The boss, being an asshole, tells Endicott that unless he wants to get fired like the drunken dude, he'd better get a Santa out there in five minutes. He tries to get the other employees to do it, but they refuse.
Employee 1: I done Santa Claus last year and you ain't payin' me enough to do it this year!
Linkara: (as employee) I mean, you don't know how hard the Punisher can hit a guy! (clutches at his jaw) I'm not going through that again!
Employee 2: Yeah, and the kids don't dig a black Santa!
Linkara: Kids are so damn racist.
Linkara (v/o): They suggest that they get the new guy to do the Santa gig. I'm just wondering why the hell Endicott doesn't do it himself. He looks older, Santa's known to wear glasses, and it keeps the employees actually doing their own damn jobs. But no, they need Sam.
Employee 3: That new guy running the Jap robot counter.
Linkara: (making a "finger quote") "Jap robot counter". (beat) Well, it seems the kids aren't the only ones a little bit racist, eh, Solson?!
Linkara (v/o): Even if we ignore the historically offensive term there, I do have to wonder just how the hell big a section Japanese robots can be if they require a specific counter for all questions related to it. The hell kind of store is this, anyway? It's now a few minutes later, according to the caption, though I don't know why the hell it would take Endicott a few minutes to get over to the other part of the store. How big is this place?!
(Cut to another clip of the MST3K gang, this time watching The She-Creature)
Mike: Space is warped and time is bendable.
(Back to the comic again)
Linkara (v/o): We see Sam demonstrating the transformation capabilities of the Titanic bot that Phelous reviewed for "The Bootleg Zones". While two little kids fight for the chance to play with a Turbo Man doll, Endicott pulls Sam away.
Endicott: Sam...May I speak with you for a moment?
Sam: (pronounced Asian accent) You are boss. My time is your time!
Linkara (v/o): Yeah, he seriously talks like that in this comic. And, he's wearing a kimono-like robe for some reason at work.
Linkara: Solson Comics: If you don't like our sexism, try new sugar-frosted racism! (gives a thumbs-up)
Linkara (v/o): You think they're done with the stereotypes? My friends, they have not even begun.
Endicott: A problem's arisen, Sam, and I need a favor from you!
Sam: Say no more, Mister Endicott! If you need assistance from your humble worker, my blade and I anxiously await!
Linkara: This is gonna end with all the children getting decapitated, isn't it?
Linkara (v/o): And yeah, he's carrying a sword with him. This has stopped being stereotypes and is just about crazy people now. And soon he's dressed up in the full Santa gear. Endicott asks him if he's familiar with the Santa Claus lore, which he doesn't answer, but I have to presume he is, based on the way he answers questions later.
Sam: Hello, little girl... What is your name?
Girl: I'm Candy!
Sam: Candy! Like a 'candy' cane? Ho! Ho! Ho!
Linkara: (laughs) Oh, Samurai Santa, you're creepy as all hell!
Sam: Well, Candy, have you been a good little girl?
Linkara: (laughs) Still not making it any less creepy, dude.
Linkara (v/o): So, while Candy lists off the various toys that she wants, the boss goes to see Endicott.
Mr. Osborn: I'm impressed, Endicott!
Endicott: R-Really, Mister Osborn?
Mr. Osborn: In all my years as manager of Krueger's, I've never seen a Mongolian Santa Claus!
Linkara: It's Christmastime, so why should the writers get all the racism? The characters can have it, too! RACISM FOR EVERYBODY!
Linkara (v/o): He [Mr. Osborn] says he'll call an agency and get a new Santa tomorrow, but that this is working out just fine for the moment. Meanwhile, this kid, who somehow has a larger head than Sam, is listing off the things he wants.
Boy: ...and a Rambo M-15 and a Rambo Skicopter and a Rambo hunting knife...
Linkara: (as this boy) ...and a Rambo grenade and a Rambo action figure and a Rambo post-traumatic stress disorder counselor...
Linkara (v/o): We cut to several blocks away, where a bunch of kids are throwing a football around.
Linkara: A young Tommy Wiseau read this scene and thought to himself, (imitating Wiseau) "I've got half a movie right here!"
Linkara (v/o): And to continue on our theme of creepy Santas, a creepy Santa is standing in the shadows of an alley and calls out to one of the kids. And just take a look at this warm, inviting face, eh?!
Creepy Santa: Hey, little boy... Ho! Ho! Ho! What are you three doing out here in the cold, little boy?
Linkara: (as little boy, cowering at the sight of this Santa) Needing an adult!
Little Boy: Are you really Santa?
Linkara: You are a very stupid child.
Linkara (v/o): The Santa wonders why the ball they have is so old, and the kids say that their parents have said that they couldn't get a new ball and will instead be getting clothes for Christmas. Because of course parents would openly tell their children what they're getting! They ask the Santa why he can't bring them new toys like he's supposed to... I guess these kids are supposed to be much younger than they look. ...and Santa says that his sled is pretty full this year.
Linkara: (as kid) But aren't you supposed to be magical; hence how you have flying reindeer, can go down chimneys, and visit every child in the world in one night? (as Santa, wearing a Santa beard) Ho, ho, ho! Shut the hell up, kid, or you'll get my magical boot up your ass!
Santa: The reason why your folks don't buy you new footballs is... because they don't love you!
Linkara: (stares, then shrugs) I really have nothing to add to that. That just happened.
Santa: It's true, I'm afraid. I've seen this happen before. If your parents really loved you, they'd buy you new footballs and trains and bicycles and all the toys you'd want!
Linkara: It's true, you know. Love is dependent upon material possessions. Hence, how you can show your love for me by buying...
(An image of a cartoon Linkara dressed as a wizard with the caption "It's Magic – I don't have to explain it" appears in the corner)
Linkara: ...an Atop the Fourth Wall t-shirt. Or perhaps...
(Another image appears in the corner, this one of the artwork for the DVD, "Atop the Fourth Wall, Vol. 1: Secret Origins")
Linkara: ...the reduced-price DVD. (points down) Links down below the video.
Santa: I wish I could tell you boys otherwise, but you could always tell how much folks love you by how many presents they give you!
Linkara: I'd call these kids morons for believing this crap, but they already think that some random asshole coming out of an alleyway is Santa Claus, so... (shrugs) I already had low expectations of their intellects.
Santa: Didn't they buy your sisters and brothers better presents than they gave you last year?
Linkara: (as a kid) But I'm an only child. (as Santa) Well, then, obviously your parents didn't love each other enough.
Linkara (v/o): And thus he tells them to go and cry that if they really loved them, they'd buy as many gifts for them as possible. I name this jerkface "Ass Santa". Subtlety, thy name is Ass Santa. Back over to the store, it's closing up for the night, and Sam isn't done being a racial stereotype.
Endicott: Sam, you really don't have wear the suit home with you...
Sam: On the contrary, Mister Endicott! When a warrior takes on a role, he must do so twenty-four hours a day!
Linkara: It's true, you know. My real name means "Warrior", which means I devote 24 hours a day to my (clenches fist) every activity. (beat) Which is why I spend all day reading comic books, playing Pokemon, and watching Power Rangers.
Linkara (v/o): And so Sam randomly accosts children as he walks home, asking what they'd like for Christmas or if they've good this year. Mind you, he doesn't actually stop to listen to them, so he's really just being some kind walking jukebox of Santa phrases instead of actually helping children or anything. He also says this...
Sam: Well, it is time for me to feed my seven tiny little...
Linkara (v/o): Seven tiny little... what? I'd say he's referencing the reindeer, but not counting Rudolph, there are eight reindeer. Or does he consider one of them to be blasphemous to the canon and refuses to acknowledge it? Anyway, he comes across a purse snatching and decides to step in.
Thief 1: Wise guy, huh?
Thief 2: Gonna getcha bad!
Thief 3: He's got a knife!
Linkara: (as Crocodile Dundee) That's not a knife! (struggles to hold up Pyramid Head's huge-ass knife) This... is a knife! (knife weighs down, he falls to the floor)
Linkara (v/o): And after that obvious joke, Sam pulls out a pair of sais. Wait, is that the blade he was referring to earlier, and not a samurai sword? Because, well, samurai were known to utilize several different weapons – but not sais! My only explanation for this is that Solson was still riding high on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle love and thus gave Sam a weapon to remind people of that, as opposed to anything relating to actual samurai. Or, seeing as how they were already being pretty offensive, they just didn't give a crap and assumed that all Japanese weapons and concepts were the same. Ninjas, samurai, magical girls? (scoffs) All the same thing, really. Anyway, despite being a walking stereotype, Sam is actually pretty badass, kicking one guy's ass and then taking out a guy who was wielding some nunchucks.
Thief with nunchucks: You're dead, Santa!
Sam: If I were not a true warrior then it would be you who would die! Instead, I let you live to see the evil in your ways!
Linkara: No, no, no! What kind of an action zinger is that?! You need something like, (as Sam) "I just stuffed your stocking!" or "Now you know what happens to those on the naughty list!"
(Cut to Dr. Linksano wearing a Santa hat and hovering over the Christmas tree, giggling crazily)
Dr. Linksano: We'll be right back after these messages from people even less reputable than myself! (cackles)
(The AT4W logo appears in the corner and we go to a commercial break. Upon return from the break, we see Dr. Linksano hovering over the Christmas tree)
Dr. Linksano: Happy Holidays from Atop the Fourth Wall! I hope you've enjoyed your last Christmas WHERE YOU'RE NOT UNDER MY CONTROL!! (cackles)
(The AT4W logo appears in the corner and we resume the review)
Linkara (v/o): And of course, the fight attracted a lot of people, who cheer Sam on in his victory. The next day, it's made the paper, and Endicott is worried that this will piss off Osborn, but it turns out to have been a huge promotional gimmick for the store. Sam arrives, and in case you were thinking I was exaggerating about Sam wearing a kimono, we've got a full body shot here that proves he's wearing one, though it could just mean he's working on his Arthur Dent cosplay. And he wants to return the Santa suit, thinking he drew undue attention on the store by his antics. Endicott, of course, tells him that he did the right thing and to stay on, since the children are all anxious to see him. And indeed, there's a news broadcast talking about "Super Santa Claus". Wait, he's not even called Samurai Santa in-story?! Lame! We soon see Ass Santa approach some kids again, but this time, he's being less of a douche about his activities, telling the children that unfortunately, he can only bring one or two toys to each kid this year, so they need to encourage their parents to buy more toys.
Linkara: Because as we all know, parents will automatically obey their children when they demand more toys at Christmas. Go ahead, try it, kids! (gives a thumbs-up) It's a scientific fact.
Linkara (v/o): A few days later, Sam talks to Endicott and asks him what exactly the meaning of Christmas is. Uh, the makers of the comic are aware that Japan celebrates Christmas, too, right? I mean, from what I understand, it's not really a religious celebration, but there's still an element of friendship and love and togetherness and crap. And hell, Endicott doesn't bring up the religious aspect either.
Endicott: Well... er... the meaning of Christmas... is about love and joy and good will [sic] to fellow men...
Linkara (v/o): Sam says he's confused about what the toys have to do with goodwill to others.
Endicott: By giving someone a gift, you show that you care for them. Toys and games are given to children.
Linkara: Or to giant man-children like myself who try to relive the nostalgia of their youth through foam walking lizards (holds one up by a wiry leash) found at carnivals. (pauses) I'm not kidding, this thing had a major impact on my youth. I'm kind of a weirdo.
Linkara (v/o): Sam says he has to think about this, but then Osborn comes in to let them know that their business is doing so well that they can afford to do a toy giveaway to the underprivileged. Plus, the CEO of the store chain, Jonah Kruger, is flying in to see the store. Later that night, Sam is walking home in a poncho... probably the least stereotypical thing about the guy, unless Solson is under the impression that ponchos are big in Japan... and he comes across a homeless beggar. In a surprisingly good silent sequence of panels, Sam gives the guy all his money and gives him his poncho and shoes so he has something warmer to wear. Wow, look at that! His generosity was so potent that it made the homeless guy's beard disappear! The next day, Kruger welcomes everybody to the store and the giveaway... that was organized rather quickly, it seems... and they start handing out free gifts to children. Privately, Osborn and Kruger talk about what the gifts actually are: mostly toys that they haven't been able to sell, so... they're kind of being assholes. However, when the kids open the presents, it seems they've all been replaced with books! In particular, one called "The Religious Soul". Couldn't find if this was a real book, but considering Gary Brodsky's books are about picking up women, I have a hard time believing he'd be promoting a religious book.
Sam: I arranged the gifts to be switched! I have chosen to give the children something a little more appropriate than shallow toys! Instead, I have chosen to give others knowledge and love!
(Linkara glares at the camera, his fingers drumming on the comic book's edge)
Linkara: Okay. I acknowledge that your heart is in the right place, but (holds up index finger) one, these were gifts meant for underprivileged kids, AKA poor kids whose families could not afford toys for their children. Those (makes a "finger quote") "shallow toys" would have meant a lot for the kids and brought them a lot of happiness! (holds up two fingers) Two, you know nothing about these families. You don't know if their parents even want them to have any kind of religious text. (holds up three fingers) Three, given what you're about to say about the content of the book, well, it makes this idea even dumber.
Sam: It is a book written by a simple man named Carpenter...
Linkara: (as Sam) Ironically, he was actually a waiter.
Sam: It breaks religions down to its simplicities. Explaining how they are all the same... Are all* based on love.
- NOTE: Sam actually says, "All are...", not "Are all...".
Linkara: No! No, they really aren't all the same, and it's pretty insulting to discard all the details! Global harmony and love are about accepting that which is different, not by pretending that difference doesn't exist!
Linkara (v/o): And I reiterate: kids aren't really gonna give a crap about your philosophical book about religion, dude, because they're friggin' kids and they just want to play with their damn Gobots! But whatever, it's a message of love and the true meaning of Christmas, so props there, dude. Osborn, however, does not see it that way.
Mr. Osborn: It's not right! This isn't what Christmas is about! It's about presents and decorations... and more presents!
Linkara: What sort of childhood did you have, dude?
Mr. Osborn: Mustn't panic. Things can still be saved! I can do it! I can! I MUST!
Linkara: This guy is like some Christmas-themed supervillain for an after-school special. (sinister voice) Yes, children! Reject Christmas being about love and family and togetherness! (clenches fist) Embrace the commercialism! (cackles evilly while shaking fist)
Linkara (v/o): He walks into the back room... and then emerges again as Ass Santa. Yep, apparently, this was Osborn's insane method of getting people into his stores: dressed like a creepy, evil Santa who told kids that their parents didn't love them. And if that wasn't proof enough that this guy is nucking futs, enjoy this next bit.
Mr. Osborn: (as Ass Santa) Santa's going to give the first present to the phony Santa Claus who tried ruining everyone's Christmas! Straight from Kruger's sports department we have the Omni Starburst... Crossbow!
Linkara (v/o): Yes, he seriously pulls out a crossbow and tries to kill Sam for this! And so Sam pulls out his katana... that he has now and I guess was storing in another dimension... and charges at Ass Santa!
Sam: I have sensed an evil in you unlike anyone else and on this day... this evil will end!
Linkara: (as Sam) I have a coupon for 20% off, which means I'm taking 20% of (holds up fist) your flesh, evildoer!
Linkara (v/o): He slices open the suit, revealing that Osborn is indeed Ass Santa. After Sam knocks Osborn out, Kruger is... unimpressed.
Kruger: Now that...whatever this is... is over, how about giving out the toys like you were supposed to? Hmm?
Sam: Are you so blind that you cannot see what is before you?
Linkara: (irritably) What I'm seeing are a bunch of really disappointed children WHO PROBABLY CAN'T EVEN READ, DUDE!
Sam: How can you claim to have the spirit of Christmas in you, when you do not even know what it is? Presents under a green tree is not Christmas! Colorful bows and papers are not Christmas!
Linkara (v/o): You had to ask somebody else what the hell Christmas was, dude! Don't pretend you understand the damn holiday when you didn't even get it yourself! Wait, how the hell did he know about Santa Claus before if he didn't know what Christmas was?
Sam: Two thousand years ago a child was born who brought more to this world than you ever will! He brought LOVE! For this, we celebrate this day called Christmas!
Linkara: Unless you're an atheist or a part of a religion that celebrates Christmas secularly, dude. Being kind of a judgmental dick, aren't we?
Sam: Yet, now giving gifts to one another and being their friend one day a year is suppose [sic]...
Linkara (v/o): Eh... Erm, I'm sure he meant "supposed" and not "suppose", but given the broken English from earlier, I can't be certain.
Sam: ...is supposed to honor this man? You have all turned this special day into a FARCE!
Linkara (v/o): Why the hell are you yelling at all the people? It was Kruger who has telling you to give out the damn toys. All the adults are guilty of is running in terror from the crossbow-wielding maniac!
Sam: This 'good will to fellow man' should be given out everyday of the year, not just on one day! And one does not spread good will by giving out expensive gifts! It is done by giving out love!
Linkara: (as a child) Hey, mommy, do we get to have food this year on Christmas? (as the mother) No, you get to have love instead! Love is so much better to give when you're starving.
Linkara (v/o): Hey, dumbass, you do realize you can have expensive gifts and love, right? You know? It's perfectly okay to love people unconditionally while still giving each other presents.
Sam: I am not even of your religion, yet in many ways I hold the true spirit of Christmas more dearly than all of you combined!
Linkara: Not really, because being a pompous, self-righteous, moralizing douchebag doesn't really match the true spirit of Christmas, dude.
Sam: And if you still insist on gifts then behold my gift to all of you. A reminder of what you should be! Good night!
Linkara: What an important message, which is why this comic was given out and not charged for. (becomes angry) Oh, wait! (points to price on comic book cover) Two-dollar price tag! It's almost like this story is hypocritical or something!
Linkara (v/o): And so, our comic ends with Sam walking out of the store as Kruger chases after him to try to talk about this, but Sam has disappeared into the night. And the final panel shows a bright star in the snowy, dark night hanging over the city.
Linkara: (confused) Wait, (holds up index finger) was Sam... Jesus? (closes comic and holds it up) This comic sucks!
Linkara (v/o): I'll give it this: it has its amusing moments, like Sam taking on the muggers or Ass Santa and I'll give it credit that it's trying to spread a good message of love and peace for Christmas as opposed to commercialism, but it's done in such a ham-fisted and idiotic manner that it's pretentious at best, insulting at worst. And that's not even mentioning all the damn bizarre Japanese stereotyping going on with Sam.
Linkara: Racism, stupidity and martial arts – exactly what you'd expect from a Solson comic. (shrugs) Still, more Christmas cheer than last week. (throws down comic, gets up and leaves)
(End credits roll)
So the kids "don't dig" a black Santa, but they're perfectly okay with an Asian Santa?
Before anyone questions why I'm playing a song called "Master Ninja Theme Song" in an episode about a samurai, I decided to do it because the comic was equally confused about what a samurai was.
And I've never seen Samurai Jack so I don't know if the theme song to that would have worked.
(Stinger: The panel showing the kid listing off to Sam the Rambo-themed things he wants for Christmas is shown again)
Boy: ...and a Rambo M-15 and a Rambo Skicopter and a Rambo hunting knife...
(Cut to a clip of an episode of Invader Zim, showing Gir telling a mall Santa what he wants for Christmas)
Gir: ...and a chair made of cheese, and a table made of cheese, and a...