Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four in... Brain Drain!
February 21, 2011
Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four in... an advertisement for OfficeMax!
(Open on Lord Vyce's spaceship orbiting Earth. Inside, Linkara, wearing a Star Trek Redshirt uniform, stands around with his arms crossed)
Linkara: (narrating) Captain's log stardate... uh, Monday. I have my own spaceship. Once you have a spaceship, really, any other argument comes to a close, because, hey, spaceship. Still have no idea what I'm going to call it, though. All the good names are taken: Megaship, Defiant, White Base... Well, that doesn't work anyway unless I want to call this "Green and Gray Base". Anyway, things are settling nicely. Dr. Linksano, for the moment, has agreed not to take over the world, thanks to being pacified with a Junior Chemistry Playset. That'll keep him busy for a few months. Pollo is still working on disabling all the Shades under Vyce's command, though for the moment, there don't seem to be any left aboard this ship. But this is a big ship, and we still haven't explored all the levels of it. I hope owning a ship won't go to my head. I'd hate to start walking around in a Starfleet uniform and...
Pollo: (calling from offscreen) Excuse me, but you still review comic books, don't you?
Linkara: (remembering with a start) Oh, crap, you're right! (runs off)
(Title sequence plays; title card has "Working For the Weekend" by Loverboy playing in the background)
Linkara: Hello, and welcome to Atop the Fourth Wall, where bad comics burn. And welcome once again to "PSA Hell"!
(PSA Hell title is shown)
Linkara: Why is it that so many PSA comics have Spider-Man in them? Now, the obvious answer is, Spider-Man is popular, and as a well-known hero, he is a perfect role model for children to listen to. The problem is that I wonder if any of these PSA writers have actually read Spider-Man.
(A shot of Spider-Man is shown)
Linkara (v/o): Spidey is not exactly a person whose life I'd like to emulate.
(Cut to a shot of a Dilbert comic that Linkara describes...)
Linkara (v/o): I'm reminded of a Dilbert strip, where the pointy-haired boss hires a motivational speaker, not realizing that the speaker has to have overcome his problems in order to be motivational.
(Cut to a montage of Spider-Man comics, showing that Spidey is not the best role model because his life is not that great)
Linkara (v/o): That's what it's like when I see Spider-Man trying to tell kids to straighten out their lives. Spidey's life, quite frankly, is a living hell. When his friends and loved ones aren't getting off or whatever cheap pathos has to be wrung out of an already-jaded audience, he's moping about the problems of everyday life and the constant issues he has with being Spider-Man. Spidey has gone through the death of his surrogate parents; the death of his longtime girlfriend; reclaiming his birth parents, only for them to be part of an elaborate revenge scheme involving robots; being cloned and told he wasn't the real Peter Parker; faces continual ridicule and scorn from regular people because somehow he's a bad guy, but everyone praises other superheroes; being unmasked; and having constant financial difficulties. Man, I'm just glad the poor guy has a loving, caring, supporting wife he can come home to. Oh, wait...
Linkara: Spider-Man is only motivating for others in the sense that we're motivated to do whatever is necessary so that we don't have a life like his.
(Cut to shots of the Fantastic Four)
Linkara (v/o): Providence has struck once again in the timing of my reviews, though. For you see, this is not just a Spidey PSA, but the Fantastic Four are along for the ride. At the time of this video's release, the Human Torch has just died. However, unlike Lian Harper, I'm not going into rage mode, because the Fantastic Four are more mainstream than a little girl. I give Johnny Storm a year, maybe two, before he's brought back to life.
Linkara: Hell, if we really want to be technical about it, every member of the Fantastic Four has died at least (holds up index finger) once.
(Cut to a closeup of the cover of today's comic: "Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four in... BRAIN DRAIN!", which was sponsored by OfficeMax)
Linkara (v/o): Anyway, we're getting off-track. PSAs! Oh, but we've got ourselves something special today. This one's another heavily requested comic, and it's easy to see why, for you see, this is not a mere PSA, but an advertisement for OfficeMax.
Linkara: And I mean that quite literally. Let's dig into (holds up today's comic) "Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four in... BRAIN DRAIN!"
(The cover is shown again)
Linkara (v/o): This cover is lazy. Oh, sure, there are some good elements to it, like a giant, looming Doctor Doom, but the rest is just a clutter of random people and superheroes. Then again, we needed to make room for all the various logos shoved in everywhere.
Text: Also starring the 2006 OfficeMax Superhero Teachers of the Year.
Linkara: Okie-dokie, let's get something out of the way here first: teachers are underpaid, and it feels like administrators in higher levels are overpaid. I read about school superintendents who have six-figure salaries, or at least have severance packages that are six figures.
Linkara (v/o): Now, don't get me wrong: a superintendent is an important job. I mean no disrespect for them or any other administrative position, and I know things like are the exception rather than the rule, but with all the crap teachers put with, they deserve better than what they get. Now, the reason I say all of this is that "superhero teachers of the year" sounds incredibly lame. I'm sorry, but it just does. Teachers deserve to be treated with respect and honored all the time, not just in some award sponsored by an office supply company.
(The comic opens to the first page)
Linkara (v/o): With that out of the way, let the silliness begin! We open to Peter Parker in his classroom at Midtown High.
Linkara: His classroom, you ask? (dramatically) Well, it's TIME 4 BACKSTORY!
(Suddenly, the Continuity Alarm goes off)
Linkara: You couldn't have waited until I started explaining it?
Continuity Alarm: VERY WELL.
(Cut to a shot of a Spider-Man comic where Peter Parker becomes a science teacher)
Linkara (v/o): Anyway, during J. Michael Straczynski's run on Spider-Man–
(Linkara is suddenly interrupted as the Continuity Alarm goes off again)
Linkara: (annoyed) That's NOT what I meant!
(Cut back to this comic, followed by shots of others like it)
Linkara (v/o): During his run on the book, Peter Parker changed his vocation from a photographer to a school science teacher. This is a point of contention for some readers, but to me, it makes perfect sense. Often, writers forget the fact that Peter's a scientist, and a damn smart one. And let's face it, the fact that he gets such good photos of Spider-Man is something that can raise more than a few eyebrows among people. Plus, the change at least opens a lot of storytelling opportunities, while also being a growth of the character himself. In case you're wondering, though, he's not a teacher anymore. Why is that?
(Cut to a shot of the cover of the infamous Spider-Man story "One More Day", while the "Star Wars Imperial March" plays in the background)
Linkara: Sometimes, I wish I owned a copy of "One More Day" just so I can throw it against a wall.
Linkara (v/o): Anywho, we open to Peter being confronted in his classroom by a large robot [later revealed as a Doombot].
Linkara: (as a student) Hey, Steve, what happened in your classes today? (as Steve) Giant robot attack. (as the first student) Hmm, neat. Ready for that history test tomorrow?
Linkara (v/o): Peter instructs one of his students to stay behind him while he confronts it.
Linkara: (as Peter) "Puny"?! I'll have you know I'm a science major, bud!
Linkara: (as Doombot) I-know-I-could-just-easily-shove-you-aside-and-take-the-girl-but-I-like-to-give-you-the-chance-to-fight-back.
Linkara (v/o): While Peter wonders what Doom would want with the "sharpest student in his class", the robot is engulfed in flames and melted into slag by the arrival of the now-deceased Human Torch. Huh, you'd think that Doctor Doom, who fights the Fantastic Four all the time, would have designed his robots with better flame protection. The Human Torch says he needs to talk with Peter alone, making me kind of raise an eyebrow about why no one else was in the class at the time. After the kid leaves, apparently, no one else in the school heard the robot punching its way through a wall. Furthermore, I love how we have this big hole in the wall of a school, but they want to leave it to the custodians to deal with.
Linkara: (pretending to talk on a phone) What's that, George? A hole in the wall? Well, I guess we'll just have to cut some more extracurriculars to pay for the repairs.
Linkara (v/o): Johnny tells Peter that he's been tracking the Doombot for a while and that he should suit up and join him at the Baxter Building, headquarters of the Fantastic Four. Once there, Mr. Fantastic explains the situation.
Mr. Fantastic: We have reason to suspect that he and his Doombots have drained the minds of some of the best and brightest students in the nation.
The Thing: You'd think the big creep would pick on someone his own size.
Linkara: Which raises a good question: Why is Doctor Doom going after kids? Sure, they might be smart, but why the heck isn't he going after, like, Stephen Hawking or something?
Mr. Fantastic: (showing off a group of kids) These six students have all been robbed of their knowledge, and I believe Dr. Doom is responsible.
Linkara: (as Mr. Fantastic) They've been reduced in intelligence to the point where they think that Disaster Movie was funny.
Mr. Fantastic: He's probably employing some kind of wireless technology to control his robots.
Linkara (v/o): Or... they're independently powered with artificial intelligence, since that one robot seemed perfectly capable of communicating with Peter. Mr. Fantastic explains that he's going to try to track the wireless signal to Doom's headquarters. Invisible Woman, in the meantime, brings Spidey over to... uh... meet the teachers of the students. Um... what? These six teachers are from all over the friggin' country, as Susan Storm points out. What the hell are they all doing here?
One teacher [Hermann H. Hoffmann]: Teachers don't usually stand on the sidelines, Invisible Woman. We're always juggling a million different tasks.
Linkara: (as Mr. Hoffmann) Got to make my lesson plan for the week, got to go coach the speech team, and then I got to go track down Magneto at 7:00.
A second teacher [Tina Reagan]: Can't we help find Dr. Doom?
Linkara: (stares) No. No, you really can't.
A third teacher [Kathryn Pariseau]: I'm sure my trusty laptop "Big Blue" can assist.
Linkara: (staring incredulously) No, it can't! You're in the flippin' Baxter Building! Reed Richards is a scientific genius with better equipment than just a laptop! You're of no help here! Go back home and teach kids math problems! You're not crime-busters!
Invisible Woman: Of course you can lend a hand!
Linkara: (as Invisible Woman) We needed someone to clean the break room.
A fourth teacher [Tony "The P" Pavlovich]: Excellent! We need some supplies.
A fifth teacher [Mario Guerrero]: I noticed an OfficeMax around the corner.
A sixth teacher [Karen Yingling]: They'll have everything we need.
Linkara: (staring in utter disbelief) YOU ARE NOT HELPING!
Mr. Guerrero: (going into an OfficeMax) We need compasses, maps, calculators, pencils, paper and more.
Linkara: (dripping sarcasm) Oh, yeah, they just put together a shopping list of everything you need to track down Doctor Doom! One of those essential items is, in fact, "and more". (looks both disgusted and confused at the same time)
Mr. Fantastic: Wow! OfficeMax has it all. We'll have no problem finding Doom with all these school supplies.
Linkara: (more stumped than ever) Okay, I take it back: Reed Richards is not a genius; he's actually a complete moron.
Linkara (v/o): Whatever happened to tracing the wireless signal? That was a good plan. You didn't need school supplies for that! And are we being serious here? School supplies?! That's how easy it is to track him down, huh? Yeah, that rubber band ball will really be the linchpin in the calculations, I can just tell. By the by, I don't even need the awesome power of school supplies to find Doctor Doom.
(Cut to a shot of Doctor Doom from a different comic, that of the Human Torch's death)
Linkara (v/o): Just a stab in the dark, but I'd wager Doctor Doom's hideout was... (inhales) oh, I don't know... IN LATVERIA?! The friggin' country that he's the ruler of?! Just a wild guess, I admit.
(Back to the OfficeMax comic)
Narrator: For several hours, computers, geography, mathematics and science are used to isolate Dr. Doom's wireless signal and track down his current hideout...
Linkara (v/o): And yes, in fact, as we see, the rubber band balls were crucial to this entire operation. Thank God there was an OfficeMax around the corner. If this had been Office Depot, we would have been royally screwed!
Mr. Fantastic: (pointing to a spot on the map) That's it! That's where Dr. Doom is hiding. Thanks for pitching in! We couldn't have found him without everyone's help.
Linkara: YES, YOU COULD HAVE! What the hell was that big wireless tracking computer doing?! What did you need, like, nine people for?!
Mr. Hoffmann: I hope you weren't planning to leave us behind.
Mr. Guerrero: We're going with you.
Ms. Regan: They are our students, after all.
Linkara: (looking uncomfortable) Uh... okay, civilians... Come along on the dangerous mission...
Linkara (v/o): Is this happening during a weekend or something? Shouldn't these teachers get back to, you know, teaching?! Look, I know being a teacher isn't exactly a glamorous life, but you're not flippin' commandos here! You have other students that need you right now! So the group flies toward Doctor Doom's location.
Mr. Fantastic: According to our calculations, Doom is holed up in that distant castle.
Linkara: (pointing offscreen) Yeah, that distant castle in... what, New York? For a comic about educators, there's not very much intelligence on display.
Mr. Fantastic: (to the teachers) You stay here and we'll handle Doom.
(Linkara stares in disbelief, then slaps himself on the cheek)
Linkara: WHY THE HELL DID YOU BRING THEM ALONG IF THEY'RE NOT GONNA DO ANYTHING?!?!
Spider-Man: You have to give those teachers extra credit. They obviously care about their students.
Linkara: Yeah, they care a little too much about these specific students. This is going into stalker territory, not "legitimately concerned".
Invisible Woman: Yes, teachers are the real heroes in the war against ignorance.
Linkara: Ignorance of WHAT?! Teachers provide information on science, history, literature, and a variety of other subjects meant to prepare children for life in the real world as adults – not ignorance!
(Cut to a clip of an episode of South Park, showing Michael Jackson)
Jackson: No, ignorant! That's ignorant!
(Back to the comic again)
Thing: (smashing through the wall) I still remember my favorite teacher. She inspired me to pursue my dreams and become a test pilot. If it wasn't for her, I never would have become the ever-lovin' idol'a millions!
Linkara: (more incredulous than ever) WhhhhaaaaaaaaaAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAATTTTT?!?! THE ENTIRE POINT OF THE THING'S CHARACTER IS THE ANGST OVER NOT LOOKING HUMAN ANYMORE! Being a big, orange, rocky thing is NOT something that makes him HAPPY! My God, it's like this writer has never even heard of the Fantastic Four! Who wrote this thing?!
(He turns to the first page, displaying the credits for this comic, and notices that the writer is Tom DeFalco)
Linkara: Tom DeFalco? (looks up, utterly stumped) Former Marvel editor-in-chief, Tom DeFalco? (stammers in disbelief)
(Cut to a shot of a Windows blue screen of death, which temporarily stops the review after the comic apparently messed up Linkara's brain; after a few seconds, the review resumes)
Linkara (v/o): Anyway, the five walk right in and get electrocuted almost instantly. (sarcastically) Gee, I wonder if loudly bursting through a wall and then yapping for five minutes about teachers was the best strategy to fight your mortal enemy. (normal again) They're all knocked out and at the mercy of Doctor Doom and his robots. The teachers, thinking it's taking them too long... How would you all know exactly? ...decide to rush in themselves and investigate. Good work! Just give Doctor Doom some more hostages, why don't you? Now, believe it or not, this comic has not begun to be stupid yet. Here we go. This is Doctor Doom's plan...
Doctor Doom: Behold my dreaded-- BRAIN DRAIN! (a dramatic sting plays) Today's students are supposed to be tomorrow's leaders, but my device was designed to steal all the information from their young minds.
Linkara: (as Doom) Let's see what they're thinking... (holds up and pushes some buttons on a device, then looks into it) Yes, I see. Both the Keller twins are dating the same boy, and Melissa is failing gym. (nods)
Doctor Doom: Think of it! Now that I have possession of all the wisdom and facts these students have learned in school, there will be no limit to my power!
Linkara: Uh, yeah, there will be! The wisdom and facts that you speak of come from freaking high school students or younger! What exactly is useful in that? Or do you need a high school girl's knowledge of gel pens?
(Cut to a shot of Dr. Know from "Future Five")
Linkara (v/o): Huh, this evil plan is making Dr. Know's plan from "Future Five" look positively ingenious by comparison. At least he wanted to make people dumb.
(Cut back to the Spider-Man/Fantastic Four comic)
Linkara (v/o): This is saying kids are already geniuses and Doom will end up smarter with that knowledge. The teachers overhear Doom's plan and decide they need to help the five heroes. They start by distracting Doom by... uh...
Ms. Yingling: OHHH... DOOMSIE--! Gaze upon my radiant beauty... and despair!
Linkara: (bursts out laughing, then gasps for breath) Okay, okay, that's made this whole thing worth it.
Linkara (v/o): The other teachers rush in, and Doom, too dumbfounded by a bunch of schoolteachers suddenly appearing out of nowhere, is caught unawares. Some of them rush past the robots, saying incredibly stupid things like...
Mr. Pavlovich: Compared to the challenges of teaching, these guys are a breeze.
Mr. Guerrero: We'll have to go above and beyond the standard curriculum to beat them!
Linkara (v/o): Yes, and that means throwing a rubber-band ball at the machine holding the five superheroes... which somehow lets them go.
Linkara: You know, I might need to double-check, but I'm pretty sure Doctor Doom has officially conquered the Earth at least twice. And now he's being defeated by rubber-band balls. Words fail me.
Linkara (v/o): The five quickly destroy Doom's robots and the Brain Drain machine, and Spidey webs up Doctor Doom. I can only hope this embarrassing plan means that this guy is actually a Doombot in disguise. Doom says that it doesn't matter since he still drained the minds of the kids. Back at the Baxter Building, Mr. Fantastic explains it to the teachers.
Mr. Fantastic: I am afraid Doom's machine drained their minds of everything you've ever taught them. But there's a solution...and it depends on you.
Ms. Pariseau: That's right! We're teachers.
Mr. Hoffmann: We'll help them regain their lost knowledge.
Ms. Regan: That's who we are and what to do!
Linkara: (looking visibly uncomfortable) Better start with how to use a toilet.
Linkara (v/o): And so, our comic ends with the kids all reaching into the OfficeMax box – which I'm sure contains sharp objects; that's exactly what you want mentally-regressed children to be playing with – and the heroes all yelling out that...
Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four: (in unison) TEACHERS COUNT!
Linkara: (holding up comic) This comic sucks. Really sucks.
Linkara (v/o): Yes, teachers are important, but dear Lord, you had to denigrate superheroes and make them into idiots in order to get that point across! They don't even try to be subtle about the product placement, either. This comic would have you believe that the only thing standing in the way of millions of children's going stupid is OfficeMax!
Linkara: (holding comic upside-down) I noticed that they also forgot another little important factoid about that: THAT TEACHERS OFTEN HAVE TO PAY FOR THOSE SUPPLIES OUT OF POCKET! (throws down comic, gets up and leaves)
(End credits roll)
I think the unintended message of this comic is that teachers only teach ONE STUDENT at a time.
And yes, I know I was holding the comic upside-down in the last shot. It honestly was a better take than the others. Think of it as an artistic statement about how wrong the comic gets a lot of things. Yeah.
So, should I continue using the microphone, get a different microphone, or have any tips on how to improve the microphone?
(Stinger: The panel showing the teachers getting Doctor Doom's attention is shown)
Ms. Yingling: Gaze upon my radiant beauty... and despair!