The A-Team #1
March 3, 2014
Mr. T ain’t got time for this crazy fool comic.
(Open on the title card, which has the theme for The A-Team playing in the background)
Linkara: Hello, and welcome to Atop the Fourth Wall, where bad comics burn. If you've been watching this show for any amount of time, you know of my love of Mr. T and how I always use the theme song to The A-Team basically as his theme song.
(Cut to a shot of the first issue of "Mr. T and the T Force")
Linkara (v/o): So this year, instead of doing another issue of "Mr. T and the T Force", why don't we look at the show that made Mr. T a household name.
(Footage of Mr. T in The A-Team is shown)
Linkara (v/o): His first major may have been Clubber Lang, but as B.A. Baracus – "Bad Attitude", as it was said, but all knew it as "Badass" – he became an endearing cultural icon, who was afraid to fly in an airplane, could kick your ass seven different ways, but still give Mr. Rogers-esque advice to children. The A-Team is a ridiculous, over-the-top, testosterone-fueled action-adventure series where logic takes a backseat to explosions, and by God, is it gloriously awesome! The premise is that four Vietnam officers were ordered to rob the Bank of Hanoi in order to help bring a quick end to the war. Unfortunately, after succeeding in the robbery, their superior officer and all records of them being under orders to commit the robbery were destroyed by an attack by the Vietcong, so they were branded as war criminals. After escaping, they became a ragtag mercenary group, with the only stipulation being that, instead of, say, assassinating political figures or anything unsavory, they went into business helping people who couldn't go to the police with their problems. They still charged them, of course, but they got results, occasionally going pro bono for special circumstances. B.A. Baracus is pretty much what you'd expect from Mr. T: badass with a heart of gold, the team muscle, mechanic, and friend to all children, like Gamera or something. The leader is John "Hannibal" Smith, played by the late George Peppard. He was always chomping on a cigar and wearing black gloves. In addition to coming up with plans for the team, he was also a master of disguise, some disguises more racist than others. Dirk Benedict of Battlestar Galactica fame was Templeton "Faceman" Peck. If the A-Team was a group of "Dungeons and Dragons" characters, Face was the guy who put all his stat points in charisma. He could woo any lady and scam people out of the material that they would need for their missions. And the final member was "Howling Mad" Murdock, played by the ever-talented Dwight Schultz. He was the team's pilot, particularly for any aircraft they required. However, his nickname was the most apt because he was friggin' nuts. He was the only member who was still incarcerated – in a mental hospital. That being said, his actual level of insanity is questionable, since when they absolutely needed to be serious, he was completely focused and on task. There was also a female member of the team: Reporter Amy Allen, who assisted them in finding cases and writing up stories about said cases. She only lasted one-and-a-half seasons, was replaced briefly by another reporter, and then the concept was just dropped. I didn't mind her presence, but in many cases, she was a pretty superfluous character, other than getting the plot started for the team. She did serve a bit of a purpose in being the straight man, for lack of a better term, to the more overt personalities of the others. My favorite episode of the series is probably "Children of Jamestown", where John Saxon plays Jim Jones. Well, Martin James, but the same principle applies: crazy religious leader who holds a group of people hostage. "Jamestown"'s end is a lot happier than the real-life events that inspired the episode.
Linkara: You could say that's disrespectful, but I say it's wish fulfillment, much like Captain America punching Hitler. And the entire series is wish fulfillment.
Linkara (v/o): People fire guns ten feet away from each other in a New York alley and not a single person is hit. Vehicles and buildings explode and send people flying, but no one is anything more than a few scrapes and bruises. It's glorious, hilarious, and fun!
Linkara: And in 1984, they had themselves a comic book published by Marvel. Let's dig into (holds up today's comic) "The A-Team #1".
(Cut to a closeup of the comic's cover)
Linkara (v/o): The cover is... not very good, unfortunately. More than a bit crowded, actually, but hey, it gets the point across: the A-Team standing there with guns, except for Murdock, who's holding a walkie-talkie.
Linkara: They digitally edited the gun out because they were afraid kids would be traumatized if one of the A-Team held a gun. (smiles briefly) What?
Linkara (v/o): Also, you know Amy is a reporter and not a mercenary because apparently, she felt one should grab the magazine on her submachine gun, which could potentially disconnect it or the recoil will cause her to accidentally turn the thing on herself. Then again, one person on Twitter suggested that the gun looks like a modified MP-40, and in that case, there shouldn't be a danger of holding it like that. Fortunately, I have another thing I can critique with her: mainly that her belt is so tight that it has constricted her stomach to the point of being the same width as her head. Amy, that is not healthy.
Text: 1st collector's item issue!
Linkara: You would think (points to comic) this, of all comics, would have a trading card with Mr. T on it to signify its collector's value, but nope. Go figure.
Text: All the ACTION! All the THRILLS! Now in their very own MARVEL COMIC!
Linkara: All of the action, all of the thrills, in all of (holds up three fingers) three issues! (shrugs)
Linkara (v/o): Also, there's apparently some bright glowing rocks underneath Mr. T. I'd like to think there is eggs that he's protecting, much like a penguin, only in this case, they hatch more gold jewelry.
(The comic opens to the first page)
Linkara (v/o): We open to B.A. buying a hot dog on the street.
Narrator: In 1972, a crack commando unit was sent to prison by a military court for a crime they didn't commit!
Linkara (v/o): Well, to be fair, they did commit the crime, they just didn't have proof it was military orders. But whatever; brevity over accuracy for our opening narration.
Narrator: These men promptly escaped from a maximum security stockade to the Los Angeles Underground!
Linkara: I've never understood that. What the hell is (makes "finger quotes") "the Los Angeles Underground"? Do they mean the subway system? (as B.A.) Hannibal, we're on the run! We gotta get to the subway! We'll blend in perfectly with all the homeless people!
Linkara (v/o): I mean, it's possible they meant like a criminal underground or some subculture of people living there, but the best I could come up with on a Google search was a club called The Underground. Maybe Mr. T was banking on his former career as a bouncer to let them escape through the place?
Vendor: One hot dog-- with everything!
Linkara (V/o): And apparently, "everything" means, like, "two or three toppings". Must be a really crappy hot dog stand.
Narrator: Thomas Wolfe wrote that "you can't go home again..."
Linkara: He also wrote "The exquisite smell of the south, clean but funky, like a big woman."
Narrator: In the case of B.A. Baracus, that's painfully true! As part of the A-Team, he's wanted by the government! Rather than risk being captured by returning to his old neighborhood, B.A. has come here!
Linkara: To someone else's old neighborhood! If he can't have his own sense of home, he'll take someone else's.
Narrator: The street evokes a flood of memories!
Linkara: Wait, I was just kidding! Is he seriously stealing other people's nostalgia?
Narrator: A woman and her children remind B.A. of his family...
Boy: Mommy, can I get a haircut like that?
Mother: Hush your mouth, boy!
Linkara: (as B.A.) You listen to your mama, boy, or else I'm gonna sing you a song about (clenches fist) respecting your mama!
Linkara (v/o): He spots a kid stealing hubcaps off a car and promptly picks him up right off the ground, one-handed.
B.A.: You're lucky I'm not the law-- or you'd be in deep trouble!
Linkara: (as B.A.) Instead, I'm gonna recruit you into my T-Force! (points off-screen) Now let's go find a crack baby, fool!
B.A.: Stealin' hubcaps ain't the way outta the ghetto! Any fool can do that!
Linkara (v/o): The ghetto? Looks like a really nice ghetto if that's what it is. Not sure why the kid wants to get out of it.
B.A.: Why don't you learn how to fix a car-- become a mechanic-- instead of a thief?! That's what I did! Get a skill, then get a job!
Linkara: Are we sure this isn't just a lost segment of Mr. T's (makes a "finger quote") "Be Somebody" video? With this scene, I honestly do expect him to start rapping about getting a job any second now.
Linkara (v/o): A guy comes up behind B.A. and taps him on the shoulder.
Man: Hey! Why don't you pick on someone your own size?
B.A.: I pity the fool who messes with me!!
Linkara: (as B.A.) I only mess with children! (stops abruptly) Wait, that didn't come out right.
Linkara (v/o): However, it turns out that the guy is just an old friend of B.A.'s named Mario Ronda.
B.A.: I don't believe it! And you're still wearin' them crazy hats!
Linkara: (as B.A.) Fedoras and trilbies? What a weird-ass hat! Who the hell wears something like that?
Linkara (v/o): They head to a local bar, where, of course, Mr. T drinks milk. The two reminisce about the good times they've had, like breaking into a girls' gym or B.A. rigging Mario's car to break down while he was dating a girl. Ah, potential sexual predators and potential car crashes. Gotta love 'em. But apparently, the fact that B.A. drinks milk upsets an asshole at the bar, who keeps yelling at B.A., but he ignores them until they go right up into his face. They're also pissed off that Mario is wearing his hat indoors and grab it off his head. And naturally, this results in them getting their asses kicked.
B.A.: Get out of my face, fool!
Mario: Nobody touches my hat!
Linkara: I would say I have the same reaction when someone touches my hat, but... what hat? (grins)
Linkara (v/o): I love how Mario seems to karate chop this one dude. Plus, doing apparently gives a massive glow that's not present during any other part of the fight. The two say their goodbyes, but both have their own thoughts about this encounter.
Mario: (thinking) B.A. doesn't suspect that I know he's part of the A-Team! Maybe it's better that way!
Linkara: (thinking as Mario) And he doesn't suspect that I know he's been cheating on them with another team!
Linkara (v/o): Also, fix your damn crooked hat, dude.
B.A.: (thinking) Mario was packin' a gun! I spotted it when we was tossin' them clowns around! Why didn't I ask him about it?
Linkara: (exaggeratedly) A gun?! Who would dare use a gun, B.A.?!
(A clip of an episode of the show is shown: B.A., hidden in a window, fires a gun at a motorcyclist, which causes him to lose control of the motorcycle and go tumbling over a car. Meanwhile, the motorcycle, hit with bullets, explodes and hits the car, causing it to explode as well, which causes the man to catch on fire as he rolls over the car. Cut back to the comic)
Linkara (v/o): Later, the A-Team is meeting in a hotel room, with B.A. mentioning that he had run into an old friend.
"Howling Mad" Murdock: If B.A. ran into an ol' friend, they're probably still pickin' up the pieces! They'll have to hire Dr. Frankenstein to put 'im back together!
Linkara: Ooh, I can get behind that movie: Frankenstein Meets the A-Team.
Linkara (v/o): Before B.A. can bite Murdock's head off for his remarks, Hannibal tells them to knock it off so they can get to the business at hand. Well, their security has gotten really lax in picking their clientele. Usually, it's a long drawn-out procedure with them drawing the clients to a specific location and then, you know, making sure they weren't following all that. But no, just, uh, invite him into their office and they'll hire them. Anyway, he explains that their new client is Roger Townsend, the owner of a massive diamond mine empire.
Hannibal: He owns more diamond mines than the Colonel has chickens!
Linkara: Yeah, but I don't think the diamonds taste as good.
Linkara (v/o): He met with Townsend in his office, where we also meet his sister-in-law, Lucille Priss, and his son, the goateed Paul. We also see that the son and father have a bit of a rocky relationship, as he yells at his son to not interrupt the meeting with him. I'm guessing it's because he doesn't like the goatee. Makes him look like the villain. However, he says that he plans on letting his son take over after he retires. And then Miss Priss goes back to her office.
Linkara: (abruptly holds up hand) Oop! I'm calling it before the comic ends! All bets are on: the sister-in-law's the villain! (gives a thumbs-up)
Linkara (v/o): All righty, here's the deal: one of Townsend's employees is a thief, and he wants the matter resolved before he retires.
Linkara: And he can't go to the police with this because... (pauses awkwardly and looks around shiftily) Uh... (wiggles fingers nervously) Well, then we wouldn't have a plot.
(Cut to a closeup of the carpeting on the floor. A Cybermat rolls across several times, making beeping noises as it does so, creating this message in the floor: "We'll Be Right Back", along with the AT4W logo appearing in the corner. We cut to a commercial. Upon return, the Cybermat rolls across the floor again, this time leaving the message, "And Now We're Back", with the AT4W logo appearing in the corner again. Cut back to the comic as the review resumes)
Linkara (v/o): He [Townsend] thinks that whoever is stealing the diamonds is selling them to a fence in Puerto Rico and that Miss Priss will accompany them on the mission to investigate.
Townsend: I trust her implicitly!
Linkara: She is so the thief! The only way they could make it more obvious was if they put a big sign over her head that said, "This is the thief!"
Linkara (v/o): Amy has been able to identify the fencers: the Lopez Brothers, Angelo and Salvadore. But their delivery boy is none other than... Bayou Billy? No, it's Mario, of course, wearing a different hat than what he was wearing before, so I guess that one fedora he wore wasn't that precious to him, so as not to be touched since he has other ones. B.A. is pissed off at this assertion.
B.A.: Mario is my friend! He ain't no crazy diamond smuggler!
Linkara: (as B.A.) He's a perfectly sane and rational diamond smuggler!
B.A.: I grew up with that man! And believe me he's straight!
Linkara: (as B.A.) I mean, it'd be pretty weird for us to break into that women's gym to spy on them if he wasn't straight, though I suppose he could be bi.
Linkara (v/o): Hannibal tells him to calm down and they'll learn the truth about Mario before this mission is over.
Hannibal: The question is--will you be able to see this through to the end, no matter how it turns out?
B.A.: You can count on me, Hannibal!
Linkara: (as B.A.) If I'm wrong, sucker's gonna be drinkin' his milk through a straw when I get done with him!
Linkara (v/o): B.A. is convinced he's a good man and not a diamond smuggler, though... which is immediately disproven as we see him selling diamonds to a sheik. He also beats up the thugs of the sheik when they try to get the diamonds without paying. He then travels to Puerto Rico to meet with the Lopez Brothers. Also, is this the 1920s or something? What's with the bizarre clothing style and the woman here straight out of film noir? On the plane ride to Puerto Rico, he decides to catch a quick nap while some movie plays. And what movie is that?
(Audio from Rocky III is heard)
Clubber Lang (Mr. T): Prediction?
Interviewer: Yes, prediction.
Clubber Lang: Pain!
Linkara: He really should be paying more attention to this movie since his best friend is starring as the villain of it.
Linkara (v/o): So, in this universe, did B.A. Baracus play Clubber Lang and not Mr. T? Anyway, Mario meets with the Lopez Brothers, but I'm more interested in that woman with the bikini in the back, not because it's a woman in a bikini, but rather because this is Puerto Rico...
(Cut to a clip of Frankenstein Meets the Space Monster)
Linkara (v/o): ...so any second now, I expect her to get abducted by Martians.
(Cut back to the comic)
Linkara (v/o): Meanwhile, the A-Team prepares to fly out to Puerto Rico themselves, but B.A. of course is refusing to fly. Their "pilot" arrives, looking rather a bit like Tom Baker, surprisingly enough, and B.A. doesn't think he looks like a pilot. And he proves he's a pilot by taking out a medal and waving it back and forth of B.A.'s face. Yep, he's actually a hypnotist who puts B.A. in a trance so they can get him on the plane.
Linkara: True friendship and camaraderie are about constantly drugging and screwing around with the mind of your friend to make your lives easier.
Linkara (v/o): They meet with Miss Priss, and she expresses how she can't cope with all the intrigue of this situation.
Linkara: (pointing at camera) You are going to stab them in the back, and they will be forced to build some kind of battle wagon in someone's garage! You are not fooling me! (points to his eyes, then to the camera, in an "I'm watching you" expression)
Linkara (v/o): Amy and Miss Priss sign in at the hotel as an aunt and niece as their cover, hoping that Townsend's diamond-hungry thief is in the area and will be attracted to the ones Miss Priss is carrying. Not sure why the hell they think the thief is there now, but whatever. I just realized that all the narrative captions are slanted. I don't get it. Oh, and check out what Amy's thinking when she sees Miss Priss in the hotel lobby.
Amy: (thinking) Lucy's in disguise with diamonds...
Linkara: You know, maybe they won't end up building a car, but they'll have to escape in some kind of quickly-built aquatic vehicle. (looks up, struggling to think) What was the name of that vehicle? If you know, just give me a yelp. (realizes) Oh! Submarine. (grins)
Linkara (v/o): Funny thing is, I have a feeling this entire premise was written explicitly so they could make that pun. Upstairs, Hannibal and B.A. spot Mario meeting with the Lopez Brothers, and B.A. wants to talk to Mario alone. And subsequently, he does so the next morning, except it's not really a talk as much as it is B.A. saying...
B.A.: Somethin's goin' down here and I'm not sure I like it! We're friends man! An' I wanna keep it that way! I'm warnin' you! Stay outta this!
Linkara: (as B.A.) You better stay in school, Mario, or else you're gonna end up like one of those diamond fences! (as B.A.) B.A., I'm 35. I haven't been to school in years. (as B.A.) Shut up, fool! Now go drink some milk and call your mama!
Linkara (v/o): Face, Murdock and Hannibal meet with the Lopez Brothers, and for some reason, Hannibal decided that he needed to dress like Lenin for this meeting. Or possibly Dr. Sex. Either way, I'm not sure why this was necessary. They claim to represent a "Communist superpower"...
Linkara: Were they not allowed to say (makes "finger quote") "Soviet" in 1984? Was that like a Comics Code thing?
Linkara (v/o): ...that wants to get lots of diamonds. The sample diamond they want of course matches the ones they've been getting from the thief. They agree to the deal, and that night, Amy is spilling the beans to Priss about the entire damn plan. Hell, she even wants Amy to tell her more and more about the plan.
Linkara: At this point, the only way her betrayal would be a twist is if turned out she was an alien.
Linkara (v/o): The next day, the team follows Mario, Hannibal and Murdock in a helicopter... that they have somehow, and Face and Amy in a tourist cab that they also have somehow. Amy is panicking because they can't find Miss Priss, who was supposed to identify the thief for them.
Linkara: (sarcastically) She's missing at a crucial time?! (pretends to look surprised) This is my surprised face!
Linkara (v/o): They follow Mario to a restaurant, Amy getting a table for herself to keep an eye on him, spotting that he's meeting with... Townsend's son, Paul. Okay, now I am confused. They make a move to get Paul since they've identified him as the thief, but it seems he and the goons planned for this, all quickly getting gas masks on and throwing tear gas on the ground to make their escape. What's worse, since the entire team got in on this plan, save for B.A., who remained behind at the hotel, they were able to swipe their car and their helicopter... Where the hell did they park that thing? ...in the confusion. Mario returns to the hotel to find B.A. waiting for him, having tied up two of the goons. Huh, he must have figured he would return to the hotel. Some kind of precognition ability... Hmm, add it to the count.
Mr. T Superpower Count: 14
Linkara (v/o): He warns Mario to give it up, but Mario is pissed because B.A. ruined months of work. The two get into a fight, and naturally, it's a no-name vs. Mr. T, so B.A. swings the guy around like a rag doll. No mushrooms for you, Mario. However, after getting his ass knocked around, and getting B.A. to punch a hole through his brand-new hat for some reason, Mario reveals he's actually an FBI agent. They had been setting up a sting operation on the Lopez Brothers. Subsequently, the rest of the team comes back to the hotel to find Miss Priss checking out of it. They think she tipped her nephew off that they were coming since she knew the whole plan, but she refuses to acknowledge the theory and storms off. However, Amy also finds something interesting in the maid's garbage, but we don't learn what it is right now. With all the facts together, and with everyone huddling in a big circle for some reason... and Hannibal twisting his head around, Exorcist-style, they come up with a plan for what to do next.
Hannibal: Call the airport! I've got a plan!
Linkara: (as Hannibal, holding up a cigar) Tell the airport to leave all their spare parts on the tarmac. In ten minutes, we're building a battle plane! (dramatically puts cigar in his teeth while the A-Team theme plays)
Linkara (v/o): Later, Hannibal meets with Townsend in his office again. Townsend is pissed about what happened, that they had lost the diamonds he had provided them as bait, Miss Priss was scared half to death, and they've accused his son of being the thief. However, Paul then enters and has been informed of what's been going on. It seems that Miss Priss insisted that he go on vacation the last few days. And then Murdock enters, dressed as Paul and wearing a fake mustache and glasses. 'Kay... It seems what Amy found in the garbage were a fake beard and glasses, which fit perfectly on Miss Priss, and since they're family, there's a slight resemblance to him.
Linkara: So I was right all along and she was the villain! (awkward pause) So... why did Murdock have to walk in wearing the fake beard and glasses?
Linkara (v/o): Also, was he wearing contact lenses, too? Why are his eyes so different from one another? After a bit more prodding, Miss Priss confesses that she was indeed behind it all. She says that by all rights, the company should be hers; that she secretly loved Townsend this whole time, but he married her sister instead; and that she helped build the diamond empire, but he was giving it to Paul...
Linkara: And suddenly, this has become less "A-Team" and more "Days of Our A-Team".
Linkara (v/o): Townsend tells Hannibal to leave since this is now a private family member, and the group happily departs the now-broken family slightly richer than they were before.
Hannibal: I love it when a plan comes together!
Linkara: (as Hannibal) I love it when we can profit off the misery of others!
Linkara (v/o): And so, our comic ends with B.A. and Mario going on a boating trip with Mario wearing... whatever the hell that is*. Some kind of golfing outfit? On a boat? And B.A. is seasick. Ahh... Ahh...?
Linkara: (holding up comic) This comic... is sadly not very good.
Linkara (v/o): I don't want to say it sucks, because there's not really a lot wrong with it, aside from a few artistic flubs. However, overall, it's really disappointing. Don't get me wrong, it has some A-Team elements to it, like Murdock being crazy or them getting B.A. unconscious so they can put him on a plane. But it's the little things that ruin it. The most intense action scene B.A. accidentally beating the snot out of an FBI agent. There aren't any over-the-top scenes, no explosions, and their client is also pretty out of the ordinary: a guy who could have just as easily gone to the cops with his concerns about a thief in his company. There was no need for the A-Team to be doing this, and really, it all comes down to a few family squabbles as opposed to greed or just generally shady people that the A-Team usually contends with that you want to see get their asses kicked. In fact, it feels like all the stuff at the beginning with B.A. getting in a bar fight was added in to make it a bit more exciting, since there was so little else to work with.
Linkara: We might do the other two "A-Team" issues down the line, if only because they've got to be better (points to comic) than this. (holds up index finger) And that's a plan that hopefully we'll see come together. (throws down comic, gets up and leaves)
(End credits roll)
I always love how the A-Team always managed to find a way to lead a normal life despite being on the run, like B.A. teaching kids or Hannibal finding a movie to try to play a part in. It's just the right level of ridiculous and implausible that matches the tone so well.
I still haven't seen the movie from a few years back, but I heard good things about it.
(Stinger: A PSA by Mr. T is shown)
Mr. T: You can be with somebody every day and never really know them. So don't treat people like furniture. Don't treat a teammate like he's invisible, because everybody is important on a real team.