Superman: Distant Fires
February 7, 2011
As in you want to set fire to this thing from a distance.
(Open on Linkara walking up to Harvey Finevoice)
Linkara: Harvey, what's your status on retuning the phasers?
Harvey: (holding up a phaser) Bada-bing, bada-bang, kid. But if you ask me, you don't need this fancy crap. (holds up his tommy gun) You need to stick to something that works.
Linkara: Bullets aren't going to win this battle, Harvey. We just need to hold them off for as long as possible. 90s Kid, what's your status?
90s Kid: (excitedly holding up the BFG) Duuuude! I will pay you to let me use this thing in the fight!
Linkara: No, you're going to stay out of the way until you're needed.
90s Kid: Dude, you are such a bummer, you know that?
Linkara: (matter-of-factly) Yes, I do. Were you able to make the modifications?
90s Kid: No can do, dude. This thing's already maxed out to the AWESOME! You'd need, like, a magic wand or something in order to make it shoot any bigger.
Linkara: Let me worry about that. Just go clean the chain gun. And try not to shoot up the walls this time when you do it.
90s Kid: No promises. (leaves)
Linkara: (to Ensign Munro on a TV screen) Temp Munro, I don't suppose we can expect any help from the Starfleet of your universe, can we?
Munro: I'm afraid not. Starfleet's kind of busy at the moment with these anti-crown terrorists. But I'll try to stop by for the party if I have time.
Linkara: Understood and appreciated. Linkara out.
Munro: (saluting) Munro out.
(Iron Liz walks out into the room)
Linkara: Any luck?
Liz: No, I can't find the Ninja-Style Dancer anywhere.
Linkara: He probably had a gig or something. We'll have to proceed without him. Relay my instructions to our little secret.
Liz: So, what are you going to be doing while I'm risking life and limb?
Linkara: Don't worry, I'll be doing the most important job of all: reviewing a crappy Elsewords comic.
(Linkara leaves, while Liz stands there, not quite believing what she just heard; AT4W title sequence plays; title card has "We're Family" from James and the Giant Peach playing in the background)
(Shots of that comic are shown)
Linkara (v/o): Awful dialogue, moronic plot points, screwing up the entire ethical center of the main character, and having a bizarre moral essence message behind it that isn't substantiated that led up to it. That is the core of "Superman At Earth's End". That, and twin clones of Hitler. It's probably one of my most famous and yet very early episodes. Why am I bringing this all up? Well, I couldn't help but think of it while reading today's kindling...
(Cut to a shot of the comic of review for today...)
Linkara (v/o): "Superman: Distant Fires". It's a post-apocalyptic Superman story with awful dialogue and moronic plot points. It screws up the entire ethical center of one of the main characters, and if there is a moral message in this, it sure as hell is lost on me. I've been sitting on this one for a while now actually, not that I have any fear of it, but rather, I just kept pushing it back because there were other comics I wanted to talk about.
Linkara: So, let's dig into (holds up comic) "Superman: Distant Fires" and see if it's any better or worse than "Superman At Earth's End".
(Cut to a closeup of the comic's cover)
Linkara (v/o): The cover depicts Superman riding on the back of some giant cat off of a flaming cliff, with tons of superheroes flying behind him and a single bolt of lightning on the side. If I didn't know any better, I'd actually think we were looking at an album cover here. The only way this could be more metal is if he was riding a shark.
(The comic opens to the first page)
Linkara (v/o): We open to a prologue, since we know those make your comic more classy, right?
Narrator: Back in the dawn of the computer age, an IBM executive was quoted as saying that he envisioned a worldwide need for no more than a dozen* computers--ever.
- NOTE: It's actually "a half dozen", but Linkara failed to say "half".
Linkara: We shall refer to this person as (makes a "finger quote") "Nitwit" from now on.
Narrator: Maybe if we'd listened to his prediction and taken a different route into our own future, perhaps things might have turned out differently-- but perhaps not. There is, after all, simple human error.
Linkara: And then half a dozen technological leaps that make our lives better may not have happened, and I'd be out of a job.
Linkara (v/o): By the by, the omniscient narrator is bringing up this quote as reference to a nuclear war that has occurred, making the quote. I've heard this before, and unless I've missed my mark, it's referring to the idea of having personal computers at home. If we had "listened to his prediction", it wouldn't have made a crap bit of difference, since computers used to coordinate and utilize nuclear weapons would still be in use. Right off the bat, a quote is brought up for no other reason than to sound profound, but instead, it just comes off as pretentious and stupid. Well done, comic!
Narrator: There wasn't even any time for either side to lay blame on the other. Before anyone knew it, the missiles were in flight-- without a human eye to watch the arc of green and red blips across a computer screen.
Linkara: And this is what you get when you take a bathroom break while playing Missile Command.
Linkara (v/o): Basically, nuclear war devastates the planet.
(Cut to a clip of Superman's big speech in Superman IV: The Quest For Peace)
Superman (Christopher Reeve): And there will be peace. There will be peace when the people of the world want it so badly that their government will have no choice but to give it to them.
(Back to the comic again)
Linkara (v/o): Huh, I guess we just didn't want it bad enough. Anyway, cities are reduced to rubble, especially coastal cities, and Africa is basically vaporized. I'm not sure why so many nukes were targeted there, but what do I know about nuclear war? However, instead of a nuclear winter, the natural result of so much dust and evaporation, the world actually calms down pretty quickly to a mildly temperate state. Hey, the end of the world looks neat! After the prologue, we cut to Superman in the ruins of Metropolis.
Superman: (narrating) I started this journal on the day after doomsday.
Linkara: (as Superman, pretending to write something on a piece of paper) Day one: canceled dentist appointment.
Linkara (v/o): Superman talks about how everyone he knew is dead.
Superman: (narrating) Even Clark Kent is dead-- but I don't have to bury him. Kal-El. Clark Kent. Superman. As far as I know, I'm it. The sole survivor of a holocaust... for the second time in my life.
Linkara: (as Superman) Man, do I have crappy luck or what?
Superman: --And the price for survival is the loss of all those powers and abilities far beyond mortal men.
Linkara (v/o): Um... Wait, why? If it was because of the sun being blocked out, yeah, I could see that, but we're gonna see later that other superheroes lost their powers, too. How exactly do nuclear weapons remove your powers, but leave you still able to survive in what is surely an environment filled with radioactive fallout?
Superman: Perry-- I'll have that exclusive interview with Superman on your desk in the morning. Jimmy-- don't lose the signal watch again-- Like I said-- I used to be all seeing, all knowing.
Linkara: Superman wasn't either of those things. I know we like to do the "Superman is Jesus" metaphor a lot, but I didn't think people were interpreting it literally.
Superman: (narrating) Now I'm talking to myself... loud enough to drown out the pitter patter of not so little feet.
Linkara (v/o): Yes, people, we have literal rodents of unusual size here. So, in a few short days after the apocalypse... and yes, it had to be a few short days; otherwise, why the hell did it take so long for Supes to bury his friends and loved ones? ...animals have mutated, thanks to the radiation, to be giant-sized?
Superman: (narrating) In the old days... the old days!!...
Linkara (v/o): Um, why the repetition there? The repetition there?!
Superman: (narrating) ...I would have sailed through this with a clever crack and jaunty aplomb...
Linkara (v/o): You know, wisecracks aren't exactly what I think of when I think of Superman.
Superman: (narrating) They come at me like rapacious wolves...
Linkara: I see that Superman has had time to work on his vocabulary since the end of the world.
Linkara (v/o): Once again attempting to be deep, Superman narrates part of an interview he did once about Superman's code of not killing human life. Okay, that's nice and all, but why are you bringing this up when he kills a giant rat? In the months that follow, Superman decides to keep his sanity in check by working on a garden. It doesn't really help, since more hallucinations come to visit him, this time of his dead parents. The hallucinations come on even stronger now, with giant-sized versions of Lois, Perry and Jimmy.
Hallucination of Lois Lane: You know what, darling.
Hallucination of Perry White: You're a hero.
Hallucination of Jimmy Olsen: Not a sod buster.
Linkara: Hey, don't undersell him on the farmer thing. After all, he's managed to produce a viable garden despite irradiated soil.
Linkara (v/o): Now he gets some hallucinations from Luthor and Batman, who tell him needs to drop his holier-than-thou attitude.
Hallucination of Batman: You were always bigger than all of us-- always trying to let us feel like we were your equals-- even though you could wipe the floor with all seven billion of us with one hand tied behind your back.
Linkara: (as Batman, pointing to camera) You could've rid the world of rock 'n' roll long ago, damn you!
Linkara (v/o): Oh, looky, he's holding a gun. Yeah, I don't care. Powers or not, apocalypse or not, it's just wrong to see Superman holding a gun. He encounters a bunch of giant rats, ape-men, and a giant bird... So the radiation affected all animals the exact same way? ...fighting over a source of clean water. Equally surprising, considering the bomb annihilated most cities, yet apparently this one stream survived untouched?
Superman: Lois... What have I become...?
Linkara: Well, since you haven't shaved, I can tell you exactly what you've become: Bearded Idiot. (smiles smugly)
Linkara (v/o): Giant Lois Hallucination tells him he needs to leave Metropolis and see if he's truly the Omega Man or not. A month passes, and he continues writing his blog. There's a thought: would pens and paper survive the apocalypse?
Superman: (narrating) The same biogenetic mutations that made enormous monsters of sewer rats... that cruelly perverted the once human survivors of the Holocaust... has turned the lush vegetation into grotesque mockeries that dwarf the Earth that spawned them.
Linkara: (offended) Hey! I like celery, you jerk!
Linkara (v/o): Supes comes across a colony of mutants that have formed a primitive society, domesticated rats, and now plan to eat a giant cat.
Superman: (narrating) Something snaps in my head at the idea of these grotesques tearing this noble creature apart.
Linkara (v/o): As such, he takes out his machine gun and starts a-shootin'. Supes goes down to the cat, but the ignoble creature attacks him, too. He gets on the thing's back, and on a montage page, tames the cat, naming it Kryptonite because it's...
Superman: ...such a damned menace...
Linkara: (as Superman, laughing) Naming it after a radioactive mineral that could kill me in the wake a nuclear holocaust! I am the king of ironic wit.
Linkara (v/o): So now it's time for more traveling. The deserted rubble eventually gives way to forests, and, well, it's only appropriate that I give this the right kind of travel music.
(During the montage in the comic, a tune called "Setting Off", from the Pokemon series, plays in the background)
Linkara (v/o): They stop by a river, and Clark decides to take a swim. Ah, a shot of his super Speedo! Yes, it was very important for me to know what kind of underpants Superman wears after the apocalypse. When he emerges from the water, he is immediately tackled by a woman, who also manages to ensnare the cat with a lasso.
Woman: Surrender, mutant...
Linkara (v/o): Okay, he's very muscular, he has hair, and you saw him speaking perfect English earlier. Why do you think he's a mutant, exactly? What's even better, this is Wonder Woman, having traded in her armor for a tube top and a lengthy loincloth. She explains that there are others who survived along with her.
Wonder Woman: Others like us-- who survived the war-- and lost our powers in the process.
Superman: And good riddance.
Linkara: (incredulously) WHAT?!? Why would you say "good riddance" to losing your powers?!
(Cut to a shot of a panel of "JLA - Act of God", showing Clark Kent and Lois Lane breaking up)
Linkara (v/o): Look, I know I was grouchy when Supes' reaction in "JLA - Act of God" was to sit on the couch and get drunk...
(Cut back to "Distant Fires")
Linkara (v/o): ...but that doesn't mean I want the complete opposite! For crying out loud, Clark, your powers would allow you to help repair a lot of damage to the Earth, look for survivors easier, and better protect yourself against the mutant hordes. For that matter, why are Wonder Woman's powers gone? Her powers are MAGIC! Did Themyscira get nuked, too? Anyway, Supes takes the first opportunity to use Diana's knife to shave off his beard, so I can't refer to him as Bearded Idiot. I will still call him an idiot, though, since I'm pretty sure shaving like that is gonna hurt like hell. Wonder Woman brings Superman back to their village, where they're met by Wally West, the now-one-legged Flash. Later, they go to a council meeting, and we run into the Martian Manhunter, who has been elected president of the village.
Linkara: And like "JLA - Act of God", we must now question what the heck happened to their superpowers.
Linkara (v/o): At least in "Act of God", J'onn reverted to what Martians look like when not shapeshifting. Here, he looks... human, but green. Why? What exactly did the nukes do to him that prevented shapeshifting? This is a biologically natural part of his species, it's not an actual power. If he has lost his shapeshifting, why didn't he revert to his Martian appearance? Is it like an Animorphs thing; he got stuck in that shape too long? The council is in the middle of debating about the mutants, who have been making raids on their village and stealing food and supplies. J'onn wants to make peace with them, but others are not quite on board with the Neville Chamberlain strategy, preferring to fight the mutants. Guy Gardner also has this insightful bit...
Guy: Might be better if we realized we're the problem--and they're the normies.
Linkara: No, they're not.
Linkara (v/o): Oh, and it turns out that Joker is also living in the village. As they later explain, the Joker was made sane by Armageddon.
Linkara: I don't think that form of therapy is going to catch on.
Linkara (v/o): Along with Mister Miracle and Big Barda, also among them is Billy Batson, AKA Captain Marvel. Um, not the one in "Cry for Justice", who some people tell me wasn't called Captain Marvel either at the time. Comics are very confusing.
Billy: And I say we put these freaks into the ground before they multiply and devour us.
(Cut to a shot of Batson with Captain Marvel together)
Linkara (v/o): For the record, Billy Batson is more of a Boy Scout than Superman, so that's a weird statement coming from him. What's really sad is that this isn't even as bad as it gets with him.
(Cut back to the comic)
J'onn: Haven't we learned anything from the death of this planet?
Billy: Yeah-- There just isn't enough for everybody--and I'm not sharing my cut without a fight.
J'onn: It doesn't have to be this way.
Billy: Grow up, J'onnz--and join us in the real world.
Linkara: (as Billy, pointing to camera) In the real world, we're violent, self-centered jerks!
J'onn: The real world is dead...
Linkara: (as J'onn, holding up fist) Long live American Idol!
J'onn: ...and we've been given the chance to remake it!
Scott Free: Bill's right. We can talk endlessly about doing right-- but it's still a matter of survival--us versus them.
Big Barda: And I'm telling you it's not that black and white.
Linkara: (calling out, with his hand cupped over his mouth) GIVE SANCTIONS MORE TIME!
Big Barda: We have to learn to live with them--just like they had to learn to live with us!
Linkara (v/o): Um, isn't this meeting about how they aren't learning to live with you? Anyway, Superman's arrival causes the discussion to be tabled so they can welcome him back.
Superman: (narrating) Instead, the welcome gives me one of the gifts of my newfound vulnerability-- an anxiety attack.
Linkara: Let me get this straight: Superman's invulnerability was the only thing keeping him from panicking in crowds?
Linkara (v/o): Superman's latent insanity strikes again. I love this. The end of the world made the Joker sane, but drove Superman bonkers.
Hallucination of Batman: You can't trust anyone, Clark-- least of all, yourself.
Linkara: (as Batman) Yep, you better start setting fire to things.
Hallucination of Martha Kent: We were the only ones who ever really loved you, Clark--
Hallucination of Jonathan Kent: We're your family, Clark--
Hallucination of Lois Lane: These people are the ghosts-- not us.
Hallucination of Bruce Kent: We're reality.
Linkara: (as Bruce Kent) Our giant, haunting semitransparent faces are reality.
Linkara (v/o): And by the way, Lois, you were the one who told him to go look for people, so what the hell? Clark runs and discovers Matrix, AKA Supergirl.
TIME 4 BACK STORY
(Shots of Supergirl from an earlier period is shown)
Linkara (v/o): Back in the early '90s...
(Editor's note: "Correction: 1988")
Linkara (v/o): ...the writers wanted to bring back Supergirl, who died in "Crisis On Infinite Earths" in 1985. DC policy at the time was that Superman was the only survivor of Krypton, so they got around it by having this being, Matrix, assume the body and form of a girl named Linda Danvers, who in turn became Supergirl.
(Editor's note: "It's a little more complicated than that, but that's all we have time for.")
Linkara (v/o): Clark loudly proclaims to Matrix that...
Superman: We're family!
(Cut to a clip of James and the Giant Peach)
James and bugs: (singing) We're family...
(Back to the comic again)
Linkara (v/o): Matrix is playing with Mister Miracle and Big Barda's children and... Wait, what? Okay, they don't have kids in regular continuity, so the implication here is that they had kids during their time in the village. However, all the narration has implied that, at most, a year or so has passed since the apocalypse. If it's been several years, why the hell was Clark's beard so small? He said earlier that he hadn't had a chance to shave at all until then, so if it had been years, his beard would have been much longer. Furthermore, does that mean Billy Batson has actually grown into his current appearance? Or was he Captain Marvel at the time he lost his powers and thus stuck in an adult body? And again, how exactly did he lose his powers? THEY WERE COMPLETELY MAGIC! Now we get to see how it's even worse for poor Billy, who holds Wonder Woman as if they were a couple, but she shoves him off, saying that they're not together anymore. Okay, this just raises a ton of questions: when were they a couple? If he was stuck in Captain Marvel from when he lost his powers, then he should've retained his more adult, heroic attitude, and I can see Diana getting together with him, but given her facial expression and what she says, they clearly ended very bitterly, except I can't imagine what circumstances would then lead to them breaking up, not to mention never, NEVER in comics have I ever seen the implication of any romantic interest between the two.
(Cut to a shot of the ending of "JLA - Act of God", showing Superman and Wonder Woman's new baby)
Linkara (v/o): As redundantly stupid as it is in Elseworld stories, there have at least been a few stories talking about Wondy and Supes getting together. It's not often and nothing ever actually happens in it, but at least they're something.
Linkara: It's like the writer decided that he wanted a love triangle and just resorted to lazy writing.
Linkara (v/o): A lot of bad writers define characters solely by their powers, Superman and Wonder Woman especially. Thus, why we have a lot of Elseworlds stories about Superman and Wonder Woman getting together; world's strongest man and world's strongest woman. But who could be involved in this love triangle? Why, how about Captain Marvel, who was arguably just as strong as Superman? No, we wouldn't want any members of Wondy's supporting cast. They're not super-strong. There is no other reason why Captain Marvel is in this story. And in case you thought I was exaggerating, Diana immediately goes over to Clark after shoving Billy aside and grabs his arm like she was his date at a red carpet event. We get another montage, this time showing J'onn and Billy organizing peace with the mutants, despite Billy earlier being against peace with the mutants; the Joker working on building an electrical generator... Shouldn't his newfound sanity hitting him with suicidal guilt over all the pain and suffering he's caused? ...and Superman standing with Wonder Woman on a cliff like this was a superhero rendition of Pocahontas.
Linkara: (as Superman, pointing offscreen) And if you look over there, honey, you'll see the giant hallucination of my dead wife.
Linkara (v/o): And now, we start really getting into the pure silliness and stupidity. In a mere two years' time, the village, now named "Champion" for some reason, has been enhanced to the point where they have electricity, plastic outer walls for their dome-shaped buildings, and futuristic manufacturing techniques and designs. Look, the first half of this book wasn't too bad, but it's right here where any suspension of disbelief we had for this premise is now officially broken.
Linkara: I've read some reviews for this book that say that they absolutely loved the post-apocalyptic premise of this story. Except, what's the point of having it be post-apocalyptic if they're now living in a futuristic city?!
Linkara (v/o): Anyway, Wondy and Supes are now a couple, raising the ire of Billy Batson.
Billy: (thinking) I knew it! The old ways* were bad enough... Superman, Superman, Superman.
- NOTE: Billy actually said, "old days", not "old ways".
Linkara (v/o): Okay, what the hell?! He was jealous of Superman before the apocalypse? This is bullcrap. Captain Marvel was kind, sweet and didn't care about who was more popular. It's especially telling how ridiculous this is, since Billy's powers come from uttering the word "Shazam"...
(Cut to a shot of a Shazam comic showing Billy uttering the word "Shazam" and turning into Captain Marvel)
Linkara (v/o): ...both the name of the wizard who granted him his abilities, as well as an acronym for the various gods and people that his abilities are derived from. First and foremost, there is "S", for "Solomon", as in, he was granted the wisdom of Solomon. This comic is telling us that the wisdom of Solomon had to be completely and utterly jealous of Superman!
(Cut back to "Superman: Distant Fires")
Billy: (thinking) Now, even without powers, he still gets everything I want! He was always number one-- and I was always a distant number two!
Linkara: Well, I'll say one thing: this comic is indeed number two.
Linkara (v/o): For no real reason, Billy just yells out "Shazam!" and is restored as Captain Marvel. Okay, that confirms that he is indeed Billy Batson and this has been years and– Oh, dear God, I'm trying to untangle this comic's bizarre sense of time again, aren't I?
Background singers: (singing with Linkara grudgingly lip-synching along) Let's do the time warp again!
Captain Marvel: ...with enough power to kick Kent clear back to what's left of Metropolis!
Linkara (v/o): Okay, I could maybe buy that Billy Batson was jealous of Superman to an extent. I mean, he's only human. But now that he's in Captain Marvel, I would've expected him to be a little better.
(Cut to a shot of the cover of a comic called "Kingdom Come")
Linkara (v/o): And I know some of you more well-versed in comics might bring up one of the really good Elseworlds comics, particularly "Kingdom Come", where Captain Marvel and Superman do fight, and Marvel isn't playing a hero when they fight. The difference is that in that book, Billy Batson underwent years of brainwashing and psychological torture to get him to that point.
(Cut back to "Distant Fires")
Linkara (v/o): This is saying he wants to fight because he's an asshole! What a load. As if in answer to this nonsense, his powers just suddenly are taken away for no reason. After Billy mopes some more about his lost powers, Clark and Diana get married, saying they were meant to be together. Yeah, and I'm sure now Diana's gonna try suicide while pregnant with Clark's kid. Why not? It worked like that in "Act of God". And Clark writes in his journal that nightly, there are thunderstorms that seem to slowly return their powers.
Linkara: Let me try to explain something. There are two kinds of magic in the world: magic as a force that can grant the wondrous, and then there's narrative magic, the kind where we get the classic phrase, "It's magic, we don't have to explain it."
Linkara (v/o): This is narrative magic. It's lazy! Why are all the superheroes getting their powers back? Uh... wizards! We never get a real explanation for it, just a vague idea that Billy calling down the lightning every night is somehow responsible, which doesn't even begin to make sense! Anyway, time passes, Clark and Diana have a kid that they name Bruce... Even after all these years, Clark can't just get over his BFF. ...and Billy plots to take down Superman. What's worse, he plans to – you guessed it – take over the world.
(Cut to the obligatory clip of the Street Fighter movie, showing M. Bison saying that classic line...)
M. Bison: OF COURSE!
(Cut back to the comic)
Linkara (v/o): It's amazing how quickly this comic devolved from a story about Superman alone after the apocalypse to Captain Marvel insanely ranting to himself. And I think it's only appropriate that we bring out the Superboy-Prime voice for this.
Captain Marvel: (thinking; Superboy-Prime's voice) I will lead my people back to the way of our true destiny-- to inherit the Earth-- and master it in dominion. And I will lead that conquest-- with Diana at my side!
Linkara (v/o): You know, comic, there are some steps in between "jealous of someone" and "megalomania". At a later council meeting, we learn that the weather is increasingly growing worse as a result of Captain Marvel's efforts, making all of this even more ridiculous. Captain Cuckoo encourages others to join him in rejecting humanity.
Captain Marvel: Look where it got us-- reduced to savagery, fighting amongst ourselves over whether the human race is even worthy of our attention.
Linkara: (incredulously) "Savagery"?! You've got a futuristic city! Or did Superman just make up those new clothes of his with super-sewing abilities?
Linkara (v/o): Furthermore, are they implying that Champion only has meta-humans and superheroes in it?? Because that would be a whole new layer of dumb that was never stated! Anyway, Captain Marvel leads out his band of idiots, nearly half the city's population, and go form their own city. And like Champion, Marvel City is a technological wonder, with obvious gun emplacements on it, making me wonder once again about this purported savagery. As we once again are hit by a montage... That's, like, what, our third or fourth one now? ...we learn that Marvel City is different than Champion, for reasons that the comic does not wish to tell us. Also, Superman, in exposition, tells us how Aquaman survived the apocalypse, but mutated into some sort of sea monster. Also, one of his old enemies, Metallo, has organized the mutants into a fighting force that is devouring everything in its path. And he's doing so because... I have no idea, and it will have no significance on the story later. Captain Marvel and his forces, now wearing hoods because... because, intercept Wonder Woman, Martian Manhunter and the Cheetah, killing the latter two. Marvel boasts about how the three with him are his children... WHAT?!? Look at them! Superman's journal said it had only been three years since Marvel left! Did the end of the world bring about super-fast aging?! ...and said children were conceived from three different mothers. Who and why, exactly? Captain Cuckoo has also teamed up with Metallo, because he's evil now and wants to offer the chance to join him.
(Cut to a clip of The Empire Strikes Back, showing Darth Vader advancing towards Luke Skywalker)
Linkara (v/o): Cue Darth Vader clip, blah, blah, blah.
(Back to the comic again)
Linkara (v/o): She naturally refuses, and they all kill her. Superman comes upon her body later, and for some reason, her body has turned grayish purple.
Linkara: Careful, Superman! It looks like she might rise up as a zombie!
Linkara (v/o): Superman flies off in rage, and in the sky, he realizes that the Earth has continued to tear itself apart over the last few years... Erm, no. Admittedly, the comic says that the magic lightning plot convenience nonsense has contributed to it, but NO. This is an occasion where it's actually appropriate for me to really do this...
(Cut to the well-worn shot of the Hitler Clones from "Superman At Earth's End")
Hitler Clone: Don't you know anything about science?
(Back to the comic again)
Linkara (v/o): When people say "the end of the world", in reference to Armageddon, what they really mean is the end of all human life, the end of civilization, or the destruction of the ecosystem. The thing is, despite what Captain Planet might say, the ecosystem is not the planet. The planet itself is a mite tougher than that.
(Cut to a shot of the Earth, displaying its layers from the crust to the core to show how thick it is)
Linkara (v/o): Earth's crust is about twenty to thirty miles thick, and that's not even getting into the mantles or the core of the planet itself.
(Cut to an image of a man drilling through underground rock)
Linkara (v/o): To put it in further context, the farthest mankind has been able to drill is roughly about seven miles or so into the planet at best.
(Cut to an image of a nuclear explosion)
Linkara (v/o): Above-ground nuclear bombs release a lot of energy, but it's not directed at the ground. Let's really put our science caps on now, because I prefer talking about something intelligent and not the stupid-as-all-hell comic.
(Cut to an image of a nuclear weapon)
Linkara (v/o): There are an estimated sixty to 70,000 nuclear weapons in the world. Even if you directed all of those weapons to a single spot on the planet at the same time...
(Cut to an image of the Earth, with an atomic explosion appearing in one corner, wisps of smoke appearing in another, and a hurricane forming in yet another)
Linkara (v/o): ...and directed all the energy downwards toward the planet... it might scratch the surface – a little bit. More likely is that all that directed force might slightly move the planet out of orbit, like, an inch or two. Maybe.
Linkara: (putting down comic) I'm going by a specific tweet I received when I asked about the subject, from one Dirty K. (putting on a second pair of glasses) I do apologize if they, and by extension, me, turn out to be wrong about this, but I like this, because it really sounds good. (picks up a piece of paper and reads it) "Using the most powerful nuke ever made, the Tsar Bomba, as a baseline, you would need roughly 400 quindecillion Tsar Bombas in order to completely destroy the Earth." (takes off second pair of glasses) That's four and fifty zeroes on the end of it.
(Cut to an image of another nuclear explosion)
Linkara (v/o): Others made similar calculations, like Metal Hero Damien coming up with 875 quadrillion of the United States' strongest nukes to do it.
Linkara: (holding comic again) So, what's the point of that lengthy little bit there? Yes, nuclear war would most certainly devastate most, if not all life on Earth. BUT IT CANNOT BLOW IT UP! AND IT SURE AS HELL WOULDN'T SUFFER FROM DELAYED REACTION SYNDROME!
Linkara (v/o): And yes, that is actually what is happening: the world is blowing up, and it will explode at the end of this comic! Let's make a long and very stupid story short and end this, shall we? Superman spots a green glow in a ruined city and finds the Green Lantern's power battery... Funny that Green Lantern did not survive the nuclear war... and Supes takes it and flies off to Billy Batson, where a war of the super beings has begun. Why has it begun? I have no idea. I'm not even sure how these people know it was Captain Marvel who killed Diana. But anyway, to heighten the goofiness, we see them all flying in an arc, because that's the absolute dumbest way they could run at each other and start a battle. Superman tries to convince Billy to stop the fight, but when Billy mentions Wonder Woman, he goes nuts. Everybody's dying around them as magma comes up from the surface and burning them all to death, and I'm sure this is supposed to be big and dramatic and poetic, emphasized by Supes' journal entry, which doesn't make any sense, as we'll see.
Superman: (narrating) ...our armies consumed by gouts of molten magma... as the sky itself is stained red by fire, lava, and the blood of champions.
Linkara: So, no one is noticing all the burning magma around them and trying to run??
Linkara (v/o): Anyway, like I said, this is supposed to be all dramatic as Superman finishes off Captain Marvel – or rather, a random lightning strike does. Don't ask me, it doesn't make any sense in the comic either. However, all I can think of when I read this is that I'm reminded of a similar scene in a much better story: world dying around two foes, one of whom has killed a loved one of the other...
(Cut to a clip of that better movie: Star Trek III: The Search For Spock, showing Admiral Kirk's climactic battle Kruge)
Kirk (William Shatner): (kicking Kruge in the face) I... HAVE HAD... ENOUGH OF YOU!! (one more kick sends Kruge falling to his doom into a pool of lava)
(Back to the comic again)
Linkara (v/o): Superman flies back to his home and finds his son, telling him to bring him the Lantern Ring and the power battery... Wait, when the hell did Superman stop off at his house to drop those off? We literally went from him finding the thing to him going into battle! But yeah, Superman uses the ring to create a spaceship for his son to escape the dying world in.
Superman: (narrating) Unlike my parents, who placed me in the tiny prototype of their escape ship, I can create a vessel that would carry us both... but no. I've lived a glorious, blessed, and fabulous life... I've survived the death of one planet... and the near-death of another...
Linkara: Actually, you're going two for two now.
Superman: (narrating) ...but it's time for another hero to carry on my family tradition.
Linkara: (as Superman) Yes, instead of coming with my son and guaranteeing that he'll make it out alive, especially since he has no flippin' clue how to use the Green Lantern ring to maintain the space construct, I'll deprive my son of growing up with his father and just hope the spaceship lands him on a world that won't dissect him for scientific curiosity. Damn, I'm a great father!
Linkara (v/o): And so, our comic ends with the Earth blowing up, somehow Superman's journal coming with his kid since it was important for him to write all the pretentious garbage before getting his son to safety.
Text: THE END / THE BEGINNING.
Linkara: No! The end! And thank God it's the end! (holds up comic) This comic sucks!
Linkara (v/o): Admittedly, the first half, while containing very goofy elements to it, like the lack of a nuclear winter, the giant rats, and the giant hallucinations, still had an interesting thing going for it, with Superman being the sole survivor of the apocalypse. However, as soon as he meets up with the others, it just becomes a confusing, shoddy mess. The story is all over the place, with a skewed timescale, characters being introduced and then never brought up again, and things that we're told are important are not actually important. The worst part in this thing is Captain Marvel, who turns from a good, heroic kid on par with Superman into a jealous, insane weirdo. This story is the "Superman: At Earth's End" equivalent for Captain Marvel, but with better artwork.
Linkara: Bottom line, if you want a good Elseworlds story depicting a dark future that results in Captain Marvel versus Superman, hunt down "Kingdom Come", (points to comic) not this crap! (throws down comic, gets up and leaves)
(End credits roll, to the tune of "Setting Off" from Pokemon)
So why was this thing called "Distant Fires," anyway?
Also, that outfit he's sporting on the cover? He never wore it, nor does he jump off of a flaming cliff on catback. I call false advertising.
(Stinger: An ominous message appears: "V-Minus 7". Next week, people, next week...)