The Culling, Part 3: Legion Lost #9
August 26, 2013
The Legion is lost, the Titans are lost, the plot is lost...
Linkara: Hello, and welcome to Atop the Fourth Wall, where bad comics burn. "The Culling" continues. (beat, then scowls) ...Unfortunately.
(A closeup of the cover of the first "Culling" comic is shown, emphasizing the tagline: "Rise of the Ravagers")
Linkara (v/o): So, I've talked about the background and the crappy packaging for the book, but let's focus on one other thing related to that packaging: the tagline "Rise of the Ravagers". The Ravagers, as you'll recall, are the name of Harvest's superpowered flunkies. They're the ones who you get to join if you win the Hunger Games. Uh, I mean, the Battle Royale. Uh, I mean, the Most Dangerous Game. Uh, I mean, the Roman Gladiatorial Arenas. Uh, I mean, this stupid derivative premise they called "The Culling". Spoilers: When this crossover ended, a bunch of the characters introduced here, including Thunder and Lightning, Beast Boy, Terra, and etc., they all escape, along with that Ridge guy from last time and another character named Fairchild, and they get their own book called "The Ravagers". Because the first thing you would do after you escape from a bunch of murderous assholes is take on the name of the murderous assholes!
Linkara: Now, admittedly, I did not read that book, mainly because I wanted nothing more to do with "The Culling" or all of that crap, so I don't know if they actually called themselves the Ravagers... but I really hope they didn't. Why? Because that is possibly the dumbest name for a superhero group ever. For that matter, it's a pretty stupid name for a villain group, too.
Linkara (v/o): I mean, if they were really unrepentant villains, knew they were evil, and just didn't care, yeah, I could accept that. But consider that the "Ravagers" in the title seems to refer to the heroes of the group. And more spoilers: Harvest thinks he's actually doing a good thing with the Culling, N.O.W.H.E.R.E. and his evil plans, so as far as he knows, the Ravagers are a positive force in his mind. Forgetting that idiocy for the moment, why in the tenth layer of Hell would you ever name your group after something that ravages?! Ravaging is not a positive thing! You're either pillaging or you're bringing devastation and destruction!
Linkara: And even then, it just sounds stupid! (as a tough guy) And who are you supposed to be, do-gooders? (as one of the Ravagers) You can call us the Ravagers! (as tough guy, laughs) No, no, seriously, what do you call yourselves?
Linkara (v/o): It sounds like a really crappy, overcompensating football team. The Cleveland Ravagers, perhaps. Hey, here's a quick list of better superhero team names than "Ravagers"...
(A montage of comics featuring various other superhero teams is shown)
Linkara (v/o): The Justice League of America, Justice Society, Avengers, Titans, Legion, Champions, Defenders, Warriors, New Warriors, the Mighty...
(Editor's note: "Mighty Crusaders, rather.")
Linkara (v/o): ...Infinity, Inc., Seven Soldiers of Victory, the Power Force...
(Editor's note: "Power Company, rather.")
Linkara (v/o): ...Sovereign Seven, the Conglomerate, Shadowpact, Checkmate, the Sentinels of Magic, Demon Knights, Secret Six, the Deadpool Corps, the Hellsing Organization, the Dark Knights, Batmen of All Nations, the Sailor Scouts, the Scooby Gang, the Super Squad...
Linkara: ...and perhaps most damning of all, a name that is still better than "Ravagers"... (A shot of the cover of "Superman Meets the Quik Bunny" is superimposed) the Quik Qlub!
Linkara (v/o): Harvest, your team name is stupid, and you should feel stupid! And speaking of stupid, let's recap, shall we?
Linkara (v/o): Harvest kidnapped a bunch of teenagers to fight to the death. They didn't. Harvest sent in the Ravagers. They got their asses kicked. And now Harvest is sending himself in. Aside from a pointless death, that is all that has happened in an oversized issue and a regular issue. Technically, two-and-a-half normal comics' worth of material have just has a big fight scene, and that's it! I'm so glad we devoted four comics to this!
Linkara: So let's dig into (holds up today's comic) "Legion Lost #9" and see if anything new will happen.
(AT4W title theme plays, and the title card has "Don't Fear the Reaper" by Blue Oyster Cult playing in the background. Cut to a closeup of the comic's cover)
Linkara (v/o): The cover for this one is okay: Harvest standing at the forefront with his energy scythe and the Titans and Legion are hung up on... bones? Sticks? I don't know.
Text: REVEALED! THE SECRET BEHIND HARVEST!
Linkara: What secret? The one where he's not very good at his evil plans? Yeah, we kinda figured that one out already.
Linkara (v/o): Yeah, that secret of his? Already told you. It's that he thinks he's a good guy. We don't even learn his origins here. In a comic built around a giant fight with a villain, we don't even know the villain's backstory or motivation! They don't reveal that for at least another ten issues, long past "The Culling" and long past the point that anybody cared!
(The comic opens to the first page)
Linkara (v/o): We open with a big blue explosion sending the Titans and the Legion flying.
Narrator: Barely ten seconds have passed since they stood triumphant.'
Linkara: Actually, everybody seemed pretty down and depressed at the end of "Superboy #9", because of people who (becomes awkward) apparently died, except they didn't. Consistency! (scowls) That's what an editor is for!
Narrator: Ten seconds since they dared believe they might survive the Culling-- a battle to the death pitting metahumans, victims of the Hypertaxis virus and normal teenagers against one another.
Linkara: Yeah, it doesn't get any less stupid the more you explain it.
Narrator: Ten seconds since hope flickered in their hearts and they imagined escape from the Antarctic complex of N.O.W.H.E.R.E.
Linkara: (as narrator) Well, I mean, I assume it's ten seconds. I have to imagine that a lot more seconds have since I started my pretentious narration.
Linkara (v/o): We see that the source of the explosion is actually Harvest's weapon here. Aaand no one else is reacting to the explosion anymore, so that splash page was especially pointless. It'd explain why the narrator suddenly decided to go for a coffee break instead of pushing his "ten seconds" crap. So, what does Harvest have for us now?
Harvest: I anticipated your momentary victory over my loyal minions-- and ordered them out of the Crucible so that we could get better acquainted.
Linkara: Um, bullcrap! The Titans knocked them all out! It's hard to order unconscious people to do what you want!
Linkara (v/o): And this pretty much shows why it didn't matter if you skipped the "Superboy" issue. Nothing was accomplished! Hell, this pretty much shows that the people who wrote it didn't pay any attention to it!
Harvest: I need new Ravagers for the great battle that is yet to come-- but only the bravest and strongest may serve me.
Linkara: (exasperated) Do you have a really good benefits package? Do you offer flex time or telecommuting from home? Paid vacations?! Give me something here, Harvest, because you have not given any reason why the hell anyone would want to work for you!!
Linkara (v/o): Okay, we've been really negative so far in these last three parts concerning Harvest, so let me give you something positive. I actually really like the design of Harvest. He's got this Grim Reaper or Angel of Death thing going for him, with the black wings, the scythe, tattered rags, all that. To go with that, he's got a very skull-like face without it being evident that it's skull-like; the lack of visible eyes or nose, only seeing the teeth. It's actually a damn good villain look.
Linkara: It's a pity, then, that Harvest thinks that he's a good guy, so that the entire scary "Angel of Death" thing actually just makes the character all the more baffling!
Linkara (v/o): We've got Pete Woods and Brad Anderson on art and colors, respectively, this time, and like the "Superboy" issue, it's a marked improvement over Brett Booth's art for the annual, where everyone pretty much looked the same, except for their outfits... which still looked the same. That being said, the colors here are still a bit muted, so back to the colors being boring, but at least it's not as dark-looking as before. Anyway, Wonder Girl charges at Harvest, but Dawnstar and Robin tell her they need a plan. And I guess she listens, since suddenly, the next paenl has Tyroc ordering that telepathic link from last time be extended to the Titans, and Wonder Girl is nowhere to be seen. Don't you love it when sequential doesn't actually follow a sequence? Hey, want more examples of that? Tyroc says that Harvest is behind some kind of protective force field when he tries to fire some kind of sonic attack. But then Bunker charges in and gets in a few punches on the dude!
Linkara: The editing is so bad that they forget things that they just said!! GOD, I HATE THIS WHOLE STUPID–
(Cut to a calmer Linkara)
Linkara: I love this comic. The editing is great.
Linkara (v/o): Bunker launches his attack, acting full of himself for no reason, and yet it is refreshing because he's not angsting like Robin or Superboy was last issue.
Bunker: (thinking) I like this group-thinking* thing. 'Cause I know you're all checking me out with your minds.
- NOTE: Bunker actually says, "group-think," not "group-thinking".
Linkara: (thinking as Bunker) Damn this telepathy! He knows!
Linkara (v/o): Harvest backhands Bunker away, though, and the group start coordinating their plans. Dawnstar is ordered to get all the other teenagers away.
Tyroc: (thinking) If that madman's troops can leave the Crucible-- your tracking abilities should be able to find their exit point...
Linkara (v/o): Good idea, except we already established that they have teleportation capability! That's how they got in beforehand! But why would I expect the writers to actually remember things that they wrote? Bunker, Chameleon Girl, and a Legion member named Gates are sent off to lead the teens away. What, now all the teenagers are awake, too? For crying out loud, they were unconscious! The entire point of the end of the annual was to get them all knocked out so they wouldn't be killing each other! These comics came out within mere weeks of each other! Did no one actually read them back-to-back to make sure they maintained their own inner continuity?!
Linkara: I am utterly convinced that the editor and the assistant editor took one look at the premise for this and spent all the time they should have been doing their jobs playing XCOM or something!
Linkara (v/o): Meanwhile, Ridge of the Ravagers wakes up.
Ridge: (thinking) B-Blasted Wildfire! Cracked me bleedin' skull, I'd wager. Couldn't join the others when Harvest ordered us to faff off.
Linkara: I wish everybody involved in these comics would just faff off.
(Cut to 90s Kid)
90s Kid: Duuuude! We'll be right back after these messages!
(He makes devil horn signs with his hands as the AT4W logo appears in the corner, and we go to a commercial break. Upon return, 90s Kid is seen again, as he shucks his buttoned-up shirt to reveal his black "WYSIWYG" t-shirt underneath)
90s Kid: What you see is what you get, and what you see is more of the show because WE ARE BAAAAAACK!
(He makes devil horn signs again as the AT4W logo appears in the corner again. Cut back to the comic again as the review resumes)
Linkara (v/o): Chameleon Girl refuses to go help the escapees, instead charging at Harvest and saying she answers to a higher authority.
Harvest: AT LAST! I was wondering when or if you would dare reveal your true allegiance. Your masters at Echo will be very disappointed in you, Yera Allon.
Linkara (v/o): Wow! I'm sure that'd be a shocking revelation if I actually read this book instead of just reading it because of the crossover. I sure hope they explain that reference so that new readers will be able to understand its significance. Hell, Wildfire seems to reflect my sentiment there.
Wildfire: How does Mr. Monster know Chameleon Girl's real name? And what the hell is Echo?
Timber Wolf: Of course! That explains the 30th Century tech he uses.
Wildfire: Maybe to you. I could use a bit more clarification.
(Cut to a clip of Garzey's Wing)
Chris: I must somehow make sense of our convoluted situations.
(Cut back to the comic)
Linkara (v/o): But why bother explaining things for new readers? After all, nobody involved in the entire damn reboot seems to care about explaining things for new readers. Anyway, back to the fight that never ends. Wildfire says he can take out the force field with some anti-energy.
Harvest: Such power is precisely why I wish to recruit you, Wildfire.
Linkara: Is it in their contract that they can't be fired for five years? Is the starting salary in the six-digit range?! IS HE ALLOWED TO BE AS RUDE TO CUSTOMERS AS HE WANTS?!? HOW DO YOU GET PEOPLE TO WORK FOR YOU?!?!
Linkara (v/o): But yeah, they're knocked away, and then Kid Flash tries to run in, and he gets smacked away. Tyroc tries to use telepathy on him, but his mental defenses are too strong. And then, just to add insult to injury, it turns out that he's telepathic, too, since he's able to get into their telepathic link. Prometheus from "Cry For Justice" is looking at Harvest right now and thinking this is getting ridiculous. And it won't stop being ridiculous, my friends. Meanwhile, Dawnstar, Bunker and the escaping teenagers manage to escape the Crucible... somehow. They run into a character named Caitlin Fairchild, formerly of the comic "Gen 13". I know absolutely nothing about "Gen 13", so don't expect any criticisms there, only that, unlike half of the other characters, she's actually still a good guy and wants to help them escape from the facility. Of course, she says that she did work for N.O.W.H.E.R.E. until they betrayed her, so yeah, how nice that your morality only counts when it affects you. Oh, and speaking of heroes turned villains, Rose Wilson has arrived again with more guards. Caitlin shoves Thunder and Lightning aside and goes in headfirst to fight her and try to get her to change sides.
Rose: Stop trying to appeal to my better nature, Caitlin. I don't have one!
Linkara: What goes through the heads of some writers? (as a writer) Hey! Here's this character people love because of their constant struggle with the temptation to do evil but trying their damnedest to be a good guy. (voice turns annoyed) Well, better make them unrepentantly evil! (looks disgusted)
Linkara (v/o): Bunker and the aforementioned Gates have somehow lost track of the teens following them. I have no idea how the hell you do that when the corridors are this small and there was a pretty damn big group, but whatever. As they turn back to look for them, Gates comments about the stupid Tron outfit, but is interrupted when he discovers a time bubble. For those who don't know, those are the TARDISes of choice in the future, though it's less "bigger on the inside" and more "boy, it's really crowded in here". Back in the Crucible, it's time for the big reveal about Harvest's idiocy.
Harvest: I wish we could dispense with this nonsense.
Linkara: Seriously, the bad comics keep doing this, becoming self-aware and making the critiques for me!
Harvest: Instead of wasting time in a futile attempt to resist me, you should all embrace my cause.
Linkara: (as Harvest) Free donuts in the employee lounge every Monday!
Harvest: I am not a madman, nor do I seek power for its own sake. My only desire is to save the future!
(Cut to a clip of an episode of Yu-Gi-Oh!: The Abridged Series)
Paradox: I am not trying to destwoy the world, I am twying to save it.
Jaden Yuki: So explain it!
Yusei Fudo: Yeah, explain your great plan!
Paradox: All I had to do... was invent time twavel, then go back in time... and then the future would be better.
Linkara: Actually, you know what? That clip has inspired me. (holds up hand) Screw the dark, evil voice for Harvest. His plan is so stupid and nonsensical that I'm gonna give him the Abridged Paradox voice.
Harvest: (speaking in the voice of Paradox) Instead of wasting precious time in a futile attempt to resist me, you should all embrace my cause.
Linkara (v/o): And now Robin points out every single fricking flaw with the idea that Harvest is a good guy.
Robin: If your goals are so noble-- why kidnap teenagers? Why experiment on them-- and subject them to all manner of torture? Why stage a culling that forces them to kill each other?
Linkara: Good questions!
Harvest: Because I need Ravagers...
Linkara: Not a good answer!
Harvest: ...and will sacrifice a few hundred lives to save quintillions.
(Cut to a clip of an episode of Scrubs)
Dr. Cox: Any other day, I'd say no, but today, I'm gonna ahead and just say no.
(Back to the comic again)
Linkara (v/o): I think at this point, I've pretty much shown how completely idiotic this entire idea is, but yeah, people have said Harvest's actual backstory is being an asshole who fought a war with metahumans in the 31st century, and so he decided to go back in time and wipe them out in the past.
Linkara: Genocide: the most noble of goals.
(Cut to another clip of Yu-Gi-Oh!: TAS)
Jaden Yuki: Does that sound like a hero?
Paradox: Well, when you put it like that, not weally, but, uh...
Jaden Yuki: Then what the hell, man?! What the actual hell?!
(Cut back to the comic)
Harvest: I have made countless sacrifices to make certain we have all come to this moment in the here and now!
Harvest: Did you really think you met the Titans by happenstance? There are no coincidences. Only the strings of a great puppeteer.
(Cut to yet another clip of Yu-Gi-Oh!: TAS)
Paradox: My plan is great.
Yusei Fudo: Also, a lot of innocent people die!
Paradox: Yes, there was a little cowwatewal damage, pwobably not important. My plan is great.
(Back to the comic again)
Linkara (v/o): Yeah, just keep telling yourself you totally planned all this, dude! You planned for people to escape and just happen to run into others. You planned for Robin to turn down your offer of joining you. You planned for him to attack your headquarters with a group of inexperienced teenagers, instead of contacting the Justice League and letting them know what's going on. And you planned for them to knock out all the other teenagers and your army of Ravagers! You are a strategic mastermind!
(Cut, of course, to the obligatory clip from Patton)
Patton: You magnificent bastard, I read your BOOK!
(Cut back to the comic)
Linkara (v/o): Wonder Girl states that she and the Titans are gonna kick his ass.
Harvest: Well said, Wonder Girl. Such spirit and dedication will make you a worthy Ravager-- if you survive this day!
Linkara: (trying to make sense of everything) So, you're trying to kill them now, so the only way they'll actually be worthy of joining you, is by defeating you... which means they'll just escape the same way the other teenagers did and not work for you.
(Cut to the obligatory clip from the one episode of Doctor Who)
Cyber Leader: There is... logic... in what he says.
(Back to the comic again)
Linkara (v/o): Tyroc tries a new attack formation with the Legion, which basically amounts to everybody charge at him at once, but that kind of thinking is exactly why Harvest wants them, he says. And he just knocks them all away with one slash of his scythe. Their paramilitary strategy has proven itself to be utterly useless against you, Harvest, so what the hell good is it?! He says that the hypertaxis virus, the reason why the Legion, came to the present time, is just going to evolve it loses its "mutagenic contagions", whatever the hell that means, but this is apparently shocking to the group, despite them not having any reason to believe a single word this says. Back over to Thunder and Lightning, since I'm sure you cared oh-so-much what about what happened to them, they knock out the remaining guards.
Thunder: N.O.W.H.E.R.E. is going to pay for what it did to us-- and especially to Artemis!
Linkara (v/o): And a narrative caption reminds us that she was killed in the annual issue!
Linkara: (sarcastically giving a thumbs-up) Thanks for the reminder, dickheads!
Linkara (v/o): While Bunker and Gates lead the remaining teens away, Rose and Fairchild fight and talk about lying to each other and drama and blah, blah, blah, I so do not care. And yet, this fight technically means that this comic passes the Bechdel test, so I guess there's another positive we can give to this idiotic story. Ridge suddenly shows up and knocks out Rose.
Ridge: Made me remember my time in the Colony. Hated it. Hate being a Ravager even more.
Linkara: (screaming in anguish) THEN WHY DID YOU JOIN THEM?!?!
Linkara (v/o): Back in the fight, Superboy's tactile telekinesis proves useless against Harvest. Of course it does. Nothing else has worked, because Harvest is a Gary Stu villain, wherein he's just stronger than everybody else for no reason! Wildfire of the Legion decides to sacrifice himself to try to take the guy out. See, his body is composed of pure energy inside of a containment suit. As such, he tells Tellus to create a force field around him and Harvest so he can unleash his full energy against him.
Harvest: Don't be so hasty, Wildfire! I anticipated this possibility-- and it will fail.
Linkara: This is the kind of villain who would claim that he planned for every possible permutation of what could happen while (pointing behind himself with his thumb) going out to get a cup of coffee, including a transdimensional portal opening up in his car and replacing his coffee with tea!
Linkara (v/o): And so, our comic ends with Wildfire unleashing all that energy, declaring that he's ending this now! And of course, Harvest unleashes his own stupid powers back at him and takes him down.
Harvest: Does anyone else intend such a vain and futile gesture? I suggest you indicate your answer-- by KNEELING before me!
(Cut to a clip of Superman II)
Zod (Terence Stamp): Kneel before Zo–
Linkara: NO! We're not doing that clip! I refuse to dignify this jackass by having him be associated in any way with General Zod!
Linkara (v/o): I don't get it! This guy is more powerful than all of the teenagers! WHY DOES HE NEED RAVAGERS?! This is really just indicated why this entire crossover is pointless! The villain is so powerful that he has no reason to be trying to recruit anybody! Sure, I get minions to do dirty work that you don't want to concern yourself with, but you've already GOT those! If something proves too much for your own forces, deal with it yourself! And the fact that he's so invincible really just makes me scratch my head even more! Why is he bothering to go in and fight them when it's clear he's already beaten them?! Make the job offer, kill them when they refuse, and then try again with all the other teenagers!
Linkara: (angrily holding up comic) This comic SUCKS!! But we've still got one final issue of this crossover, so let's how unsatisfying they can make the conclusion.
TO BE CONTINUED
(End credits roll)
Of course if a villain group WAS really unrepentant enough to think "The Ravagers" was a good name, they probably wouldn't care what they were called at all.
My Ridge voice started going Australian at the end there. I like to think I just stopped giving a crap about his character.
(Stinger: A shot of Harvest is shown)
Linkara (v/o): Well, you know what else ruins Harvest's mystique as a cool-looking villain? HIS INABILITY TO SHUT UP! We get it, asshole! Resistance is futile! You're the grand puppeteer! Blah, blah, blah, blah! GET A TWITTER!!