Strange Adventures #136
February 22, 2010
I guess "Ludicrous Adventures" doesn't have quite as catchy a ring to it.
(Linkara is seated on his futon, reading from a book called "Computer Viruses, Worms, Data Diddlers, Killer Programs, and Other Threats To Your System". Part of his head is wrapped in bandages and his arm is in a sling, made out of his coat)
Linkara: (startled that he's on camera) Oh, hey, folks, welcome to Atop the Fourth Wall, where bad comics burn. Turns out that after I powered down last time, all my injuries returned, so, uh, just hang on a second. (pulls out his Power Rangers button) It's Morphin Time!
(The Power Rangers power-up sequence is shown)
Linkara: Internet reviewer!
(His attire appears on him, after which he appears as normal on his futon)
Linkara: I love that sequence. (puts button away) Anyway, I know the schedule said I was going to review "The Wanderers #5", but after last week, Pollo told me that I should review something that shows that robots aren't necessarily trying to annihilate humankind.
Pollo: (offscreen) Also because it was not that bad.
(Cut to a shot of a cover for a comic of "The Wanderers")
Linkara (v/o): What my blue friend means is that actually the comic had an incredibly stupid premise and story, but after I finished reading it, it actually wasn't that badly executed. The characters were convincing, and while I found plenty of joke opportunities in it, I just felt uncomfortable mocking it. Plus, it was written by the same guy who brought us "I Spy", and I didn't feel like going through that again.
(Cut to a shot of the poster for The Terminator)
Linkara (v/o): But, yeah, robots! Robots get a bad rap. The Terminator...
(Cut to a shot of a Cylon from Battlestar Galactica)
Linkara (v/o): ...Cylons...
(Cut to the Mystery Science Theater 3000 gang watching Robot Monster)
Linakra (v/o): ...Ro-Man...
Ro-Man: To think for yourself is to be like the hu-man. (cut) Yes! To be like the hu-man! To laugh! Feel! Want! Why are these things not in the plan?
(Cut to shots of more robot characters in pop culture, with Linkara mentioning them by name)
Linkara (v/o): Add in the robot duplicates from "Ultimates 3" and we have a deep-seated fear that the machine uprising will come and destroy us. Let's face it, there are only so many good-guy robots: Optimus Prime, Johnny 5, Crow T. Robot, Tom Servo, K9...
(A clip of K9 from Doctor Who is shown)
K9: Your silliness is noted.
(Cut to a shot of Robby the Robot from the "Forbidden Planet" comic)
Linkara (v/o): And even then, there are still more evil robots than good ones.
(Cut to footage of Bender from Futurama)
Linkara (v/o): Or then there's morally ambiguous robots like Bender, who's cool, but he'd still steal your stuff 'cause he felt like it.
(Cut to a shot of a comic for "Neutro #1")
Linakra (v/o): Neutro...
(Cut to a panel showing Machine Man)
Linkara (v/o): ...Machine Man... Yeah, Machine Man is like Bender, but with built-in weapons.
Linkara: Which is why today we're digging into (holds up comic of review for today) "Strange Adventures #136", a comic from the Silver Age that shows how robots can truly help mankind. Mind you, this story is only one of three, but hey, since this is a Silver Age comic, it's probably going to be the only one that makes sense. We'll be right back with that after the theme song.
(Opening title with theme plays, followed by title card; cut to a closeup of the comic's cover)
Linkara (v/o): The comic of course is weird because this is a Silver Age comic. We have a headless robot approaching a parts rack with spare heads, a rather large marital aid, and a bunch of Thighmasters. And judging by that robot's legs, he needs to go work on them right away.
Robot: (thinking) Only one of these heads can help me save the Earth from destruction! But how can I tell which one it is--when I can't see or feel anything?
Linkara: Ooh, boy, bit of a logical problem there, bud. First, your memory circuits and whatnot are obviously stored in your chest. Fine, I can buy that. So, you can function... without a head... buuuut...
Linkara (v/o): In order for this thought bubble to be accurate, that means that the robot cannot tell if it's crushing something with its hands. Otherwise, how would it "feel" how much pressure it was applying, or just generally the shape of something? Next, it obviously knows there are a bunch of heads in front of it. A human's memory is sketchy and can be difficult to remember things. In this case, a robot's memory banks should easily know which head is stored where from left to right. And even if you can't "feel" the heads, you obviously able to navigate over to the shelves there in order to get to the heads, so you must be able to at least detect where an object is, so once again, summon up your mighty robot brain, locate the head, and save the Earth!
Linkara: I think the truth is, he knows exactly where the head is; he's just trying to get something out of the humans. (looks around, as robot) Oh, yeah, I can't remember where that important head is, unless someone gave me a lifetime supply of robot booze. And, uh, maybe some nice tech manuals. (chuckles) Those IMATs really know how to put out for the metal men.
Linkara (v/o): (dramatically reading text on screen) "Featuring 'The Robot Who Lost Its Head!'" (normal again as the comic opens to the first page) We open to... the robot getting its head pulled off.
Linkara: Huh, short story, but accurate title, I guess.
Alien: This robot knows how we aliens can be defeated--but I'll make sure it never puts that information to use--by depriving it of its all-knowing head!
Linkara: Huh, the first version of Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots was a lot of work.
Narrator: When the alien commander from another world...
Linkara (v/o): Thanks for the clarification, or I might have thought it was the alien commander from Circle Pines.
Narrator: ...yanked the head off robot J-9--he destroyed the sole hope of Earth defeating the invaders!
Linkara: (as narrator) And now I just feel like rubbing it in! I don't get paid nearly enough as the narrator to bring you hope and joy!
Narrator: For while everyone on Earth was in suspended animation--a sleep from which none of them would ever awaken--robot J-9 was being rendered completely useless!
Linkara: (as narrator) I never liked you people anyway! (looks up dramatically) Now cometh the rise of the narrator!
Narrator: Well, almost useless, that is...
Linkara: (as narrator) I mean, I guess we could just use him as a paperweight or something. Or maybe a cool modern art piece.
Linkara (v/o): The story proper begins with nuclear physicist Steve Thorn. He's all sad because he'll never see his robot buddy J-9 ever again.
Steve: I've come to say good-bye, Jay! Take-off time is roughly ninety minutes from now!
J-9: Yes--and then we'll never see one another again!
Linkara: (as J-9) As established two panels ago. Did I mention that my name is J-9 and that you're sad? Oh, and let's not forget that my head is gonna get taken off. Also, you're never gonna see me again.
Linkara (v/o): Really makes you wonder about the attention spans of people in the 1960s.
Narrator: Who is this mysterious figure that speaks in such harsh metallic tones to Steve Thorn?
Linkara (v/o): I guess, in this comic, "slightly italicized" equals "harsh metallic tones". Anyway, our harshly metallic J-9 exposits that he was created to save mankind from the effects of a nuclear war.
Linkara: Huh, bit of a design flaw; I don't think we can all fit in there.
Linkara (v/o): No, actually, the idea is for J-9 to preserve all human knowledge. And how is this knowledge stored? In alternate robot heads, of course! Yeah, J-9's basically a Lego man; pop one head off and replace it with another. Seems like it'd be easier just to have a couple of sets of the Encyclopedia Britannica, with maybe some data files, but hey, that's government spending for you.
Steve: The finest medical, legal and engineering brains worked on the many heads stored in the space-satellite which will be your future home! If there are any survivors, you will be on hand to teach them...
Linkara: Yes, it will be vitally important that survivors of a nuclear apocalypse know about HMOs, tax laws, and how to use a T-Square
Steve: You will be doctor-- judge--mechanic-- to those people who will remain alive...
Linkara: Boy, is he gonna feel stupid when it turns out they needed a cook.
Linkara (v/o): And apparently, we get a series of panels showing off the potential scenarios J-9 might face, with the only hint that that's what's going on being the wavy lines around the panels.
J-9: Only one human survived the bombing of this city! I must restore him back to health!
Linkara: (looking up in thought, as J-9) Hmm, maybe I should've actually studied that medical information instead of playing Operation. Aw, whatever, same thing, really.
Steve: You will prevent human learning from disappearing in a radioactive holocaust...
Linkara: (pretending to hold something, as J-9) And that's how many licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop.
J-9: By following my instructions, you will be able to rebuild your factories...
Linkara: (as J-9) So get to work, humans! I'm gonna knock off for the day; maybe find some species that wasn't dumb enough to nuke themselves!
Linkara (v/o): And so they launch the satellite, or rather, the revolving restaurant, up into space with J-9 on board. The military staff says that...
Military Staff Member: Once every 24 hours, this gold button will be pressed -- to keep J-9 orbiting around the Earth! Should an atomic disaster prevent any of us from pressing the button, Jay will automatically be returned to Earth and begin its assigned duties!
Linkara: J.J. Abrams read this book and yelled proudly, "I found my second season of Lost!"
Linkara (v/o): Two years pass in the span of a narration caption when suddenly, people just start giggling and laughing uncontrollably.
Linkara: You know, when I said that Saturday Night Live needed to be funny again, this wasn't what I had in mind.
Linkara (v/o): They listen to the radio and learn that an alien spaceship has landed and is converting the oxygen and nitrogen in the atmosphere into nitrous oxide, or laughing gas. Admittedly, I'm not a scientist, but that just seems impossible, especially the fact that it's making them all laugh uncontrollably. It's just supposed to make you more euphoric and maybe give you the giggles before it knocks you out. Oh, here's a funny thing: I don't know if it's true or not, but Wikipedia says that nitrous oxide is actually a worse greenhouse gas and carbon pollutant than carbon dioxide, so the aliens are kind of screwing over the planet they're trying to conquer. (dramatically) POLLUTERS FROM SPAAAAAACE!!! (normal) Anyways, people start falling unconscious. Steve makes his way to his laboratory, but eventually succumbs to the gas. Since the aliens apparently have the power to affect the ENTIRE WORLD this way, no one puts up any resistance, and most fall unconscious. When J-9 fails to get the signal from the gold button, the satellite descends to Earth.
J-9: I better switch to my medical head...
Linkara: Wow, this situation is really getting serious. (takes off his hat) I'd better switch to my serious hat! (puts on another hat, this one with ear flaps)
Linkara (v/o): J-9 instantly determines the problem and revives the General. They restore the crew of a bomber to go and make an attack on the aliens. J-9 comes along, since, of course, you want to put your only hope into a dangerous situation a foe with unknown abilities and power.
J-9: General Mallon has instructed me to come along, wearing my seeing-eye head to observe all I can about the invaders from space!
Linkara: Yeah, I'm sure they couldn't do this with just a camera and a radio. They really needed the robot. They relay the information they get back to the base.
Narrator: Though frozen in a state of suspended animation, Steve Thorn is able to see and hear the report J-9 is making...
Linkara: I'm pretty sure nitrous oxide doesn't work that way.
Linkara (v/o): The aliens are mining platinum, for some unexplained reason, and they use a tractor beam to bring the bomber down to the ground before it can attack. Using a truth ray on the General, they learn of the robot's purpose and how it saved them earlier. Good going, General Moron! The alien commander laughs at this revelation and decides to tell J-9 all about them.
Alien Commander: We come from a planet of the star-sun Altair!
Linkara (v/o): Thanks for the redundancy there. Otherwise, I may have thought you came from the planet-sun Altair.
Alien Commander: Actually, we are very helpless against omega radiation! But your people couldn't be expected to know that valuable piece of information!
Linkara (v/o): Before you think that the alien commander was a total dumbass for spilling the beans, his underling remarks on the same thing, but it turns out that the alien commander had a plan: it rips off J-9's head and destroys it!
Alien Commander: I could have destroyed the robot--but it pleased me more to tell the robot how to defeat us--and then see it helpless to do anything about it!
Linkara (v/o): And then he just lets the headless robot walk away. My God, this alien is a diabolical tactical genius!
(Cut to a clip of Patton)
Patton: (looking out through a pair of binoculars) You magnificent bastard, I READ YOUR BOOK!
(Back to the comic)
Linkara (v/o): Naturally, this is the aliens' undoing...
(If they took out the "seeing-eye head," then where is this footage coming from?)
Linkara (v/o): ...since the robot was programmed to go back to the ship if any of its parts were tampered with. However, because of the way its head was forced off, it's apparently stripped the screws of the head or something, so his only chance is to jam on a single head, thus bringing us to our dilemma from the cover: he can only do this once, so if he puts on the wrong head, humanity is screwed! Steve, still conscious but unable to move, wonders why J-9 is having such a problem determining which head to put on.
Steve: (thinking) The radiation head is the square one...
Linkara (v/o): Wait, the radiation head?!?
Linkara: (incredulously) Why did you give him a radiation head?! What possible function would a head that emits radiation have?! He's supposed to be rescuing mankind AFTER the nuclear apocalypse!! Did you think we wouldn't have quite enough radiation after nuclear war?!
Linkara (v/o): So, J-9 figures out which one's the radiation head... Seriously, a radiation head?! And apparently, the radiation head is so powerful that it can send the omega radiation across the distance to kill the aliens without any trouble. He later explains to Steve how he determined which was the right head: since all the other heads were round, he just shoved the heads back. If they rolled, he found the wrong one. Since the radiation head was designed as a square, or rather, kind of bullet-shaped, actually, it wouldn't roll and he found the right one. Later, at the United Nations, Steve is making a big announcement with J-9.
Steve: We have learned our lesson! At last every Earth-nation will truly unite-- to fight against invaders from another world rather than against ourselves!
Linkara: Uh, Steve, you might want to work on getting that radiation head off. Superman's about to come in to make his big anti-nuke speech.
Linkara (v/o): Our next story into the realm of insanity is "LOST-- 100,000 YEARS!"
Linkara: Well, with all the time-travel in that show, I... Nah, too easy.
Narrator: 100,000 years from now, men will discover the way to travel through the long, dusty corridors of time.
Linkara: (as narrator) Their first mission: call the cleaning lady.
Linkara (v/o): So we have this flying car and two, bald, big-headed people in ugly jumpsuits. That's apparently what we're gonna look like in the future. Maybe we'd been better off with the nitrous oxide poisoning.
Big, bald-headed person 1: We came from the year 100,000 to prevent Alan Parker from committing a world catastrophe with his solar engine--
Big, bald-headed person 2: --only to have him cause a far greater one! Unless he turns his engine off in one minute--every living being on Earth will die!
Linkara: Al Gore fans of the future!
Linkara (v/o): Alan exposits that he's planted a solar engine into a car and plans to test it the next day. Our fashion disasters of the future arrive and tell him that they are...
Big, bald-headed person: ...officers of the Galactic Time Patrol--of the year 125,000!
Linkara: Huh, I wonder if man is still alive. Or if woman survived.
Linkara (v/o): So now we get a long, and I do mean long, sequence where they explain how friggin' awesome the future is, and especially how time travel basically allowed them to bring peace to all of future history, with them using their time travel technology to stop dictators from coming to power and helping miners find rocks that cure diseases. Yeah, I don't get it either. They start to explain also how they found out about how Alan screws up humanity.
Galactic Time Patrol officer: You see, in our world we have skyscrapers filled with electronic nucleocomputers!
Linkara: (as Galactic Time Patrol officer) Though, that's really not as impressive as you'd think it would be; they all run on Windows ME.
Linkara (v/o): Using their advanced computers, they determined that it was Alan's engine that caused the "Second Age of Barbarism". Why do they care about screwing with the timestream?
Galactic Time Patrol officer: By preventing the Second Barbaric Age--we may enable our civilization to reach its present state 100,000 years sooner!
Linkara (v/o): So, it's not really to save lives, but because you feel like history was taking its sweet-ass time in getting to your perfect society. Isn't that like someone ordering a package and then inventing a time machine after the package has arrived, just so he can get the package three days earlier, even the effects will be the same?
Galactic Time Patrol chief: All progress demands a risk! The Wright Brothers risked their lives when they flew the first airplane! When the atom bomb was first exploded, men wondered if it would cause a chain reaction and destroy the world...
Linkara: Yeah, but the difference is that their risks didn't involve taking the space-time continuum and beating it up for its lunch money.
Linkara (v/o): So, what is the Second Age of Barbarism, and how did this guy's flying car do it? Well, apparently, on the day Alan would take his flight, solar flares or something would overload his engine and emit a radiation that would undo evolution and turn people into savages all over the world.
(Linkara looks up, utterly dumbfounded; cut to a shot of the Hitler Clones from "Superman At Earth's End")
Hitler Clone: Of course. Don't you know anything about science?
Linkara: Yes, I do, which is why I'm so shocked. Evolution, radiation and solar flares do not work that way!
Linkara (v/o): No explanation is given of how exactly they got out of this barbaric age, but the point is, they bring the guy two days into the future so he can fly his car without fear of reenacting one of the dumber episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation. The guy also realizes that he forgot something else he was going to do that day. So the car takes off and... Oh, wait, it turns out the car wasn't supposed to fly, and this is unexpected. In fact, this guy's apparently such a genius that he has found a way to completely nullify gravity. And not just for the car, but of course, for the entire Earth! So now they fear that everything on the planet will soon fly into space unless he turns off the engine within a minute or so. However, the two start to dematerialize back to their own time period, unable to warn him. And this is why you don't screw with the past, dimwits! You'd think those giant brains in your heads would have taught you that. However, they do somehow return to their own time... well, actually, they arrive at the year 25,000 instead of 125,000, because... um, the Kool-Aid Man is red. So what caused Alan to turn off the engine? Well, apparently, he realized that the other thing he was going to do was to get his license renewed, and he was afraid he might get stopped if a cop saw him in his flying car. So, history is almost whizzed down the future people's legs, but saved by the Department of Motor Vehicles. Wow! (this story now ends and the next one begins) Our third and final story brings us to the 25th Century.
Narrator: Mike Dillon was the most-decorated officer in the Star Patrol of the 25th Century, but every one of his medals was of silver! Always he had come in second-best, always someone else has beaten him in completing an assigned mission!
Linkara: (confused) If he's the most decorated, then how the hell could he have silver medals for all of them? The only way that works is if there were medals that only had one place, which would mean he was the first, and people were just being dicks by giving him silver medals!
Narrator: Then his superiors sent him into deep space to find the lost planet of a race which had died out a million years ago--where he learned that unless he finished first in a race against time-- his universe was doomed to perish!
Linkara: If it's that important, why didn't they send the best guy?
Linkara (v/o): The story proper begins with a kid winning second place in a futuristic soapbox derby and being mopey about it. His dad brings him to the Space Museum to tell him about Captain Always-Second-Place. His life, which full of notable achievements, was always putting him right behind the people who did it first. Eventually, he's assigned to locate a lost civilization, and after years of research, he found a planet with a single metal structure remaining on it. The species, called the Llarn, were basically giant fruit snacks with arms that went around making people's lives better.
Llarn: We bring you new sciences to make your lives longer and happier!
Linkara: (as Llarn) We bring you the miracle of TiVo and XBox Live!
Narrator: But even centuries must end, and so the Llarn began experiments to see if they could extend their life-span! During one such experiment they ripped an opening in the space-time continuum...
Linkara: Eh, more likely that those big-headed future guys screwed the pooch on their time-travel mention.
Linkara (v/o): When they traveled through the opening, they discovered a warlike species that was determined to overrun of our universe. Most of the Llarn went to fight the alien race while 47 remained behind to create a machine to contain the opening, but the iron used to fuel the machine was running dry. However, time has run out, and the machine is going to stop, and the aliens are preparing to rush through, but are stopped by the structure's closed door. Apparently, the Llarn didn't have the foresight to actually tell someone else to replace the iron when it ran out, but Secondy McSecond thinks he can do it if only he knew how to open the door. Figuring that the Llarn would give a clue about how to open the door, he thinks about what he was told.
Dillon: What was it they did say, exactly? I "lack the substance of the secret"! A "substance" is the core of something, its basic element--element?! I wonder if some element will open the door? If only I had an atomic number--wait! In its entire message, the telepathic voice mentioned only one number--47! 47 of the Llarn were left in this universe! 47 is the atomic number of silver!
Linkara: (confused) Geez, that kind of logic makes Silent Hill puzzles look like kids' riddles.
Linkara (v/o): Of course, this means that all those silver medals that he won allows him to pass through the door and punch out the evil aliens. And so, our comic ends with a lesson that sometimes, plot contrivances can save the day, so don't feel bad if you got second place.
Linkara: (holding up comic) This comic is goofy, silly, and stupid. But hey, it's the Silver Age, so what do you expect? And after all I've been through, it's just a relief to review something where the robots weren't evil or anything. (puts comic down and gets up, heading for door) Though after all of that, I do have to wonder, who broke the continuity alarm?
(Linkara opens the door and leaves through it. Suddenly, a creepy laugh is heard, as a mad scientist type appears, dressed like Dr. Insano, only it's not, it's someone else (played by Lewis))
Insano-looking scientist: Indeed. Who could have broken it? (giggles crazily) Why, it's almost as if the continuity alarm knew that someone else besides the Mechakara had come through Hypertime. (giggles crazily) And now, there's an entire new universe to conquer! The world belongs TO DR. LINKSANO!!! (cackles)
(Suddenly, the door flings open and hits Dr. Linksano, silencing his laughter; it's Linkara who looks around inside through the door, but he sees nothing; Dr. Linksano is behind the door)
Linkara: Huh. I coulda sworn I heard something... Oh, well, time to make waffles!
(Linkara leaves, closing the door again; a pained Dr. Linksano slumps to the floor)
I'm still waiting for my own private flying car. I hate how the past built up the future like it'd be that damn cool.
(Stinger: Dr. Linksano comes into the room again)
Dr. Linksano: (looking around) Oh, bloody stupid dog!