The Culling: Teen Titans #9
September 2, 2013
This story would have been much better if it had... you know... been good.
Linkara: Hello, and welcome to Atop the Fourth Wall, where bad comics burn. It's the final issue of "The Culling"! (flatly takes out a party blowout and blows on it)
Linkara (v/o): What is there left to say about this pitiful excuse for a crossover? Why does even need to be a crossover? Except for the fact that Harvest is taking teenagers, there is no reason why these characters should be interacting with one another like this. And even that just makes you scratch your head because there's no reason why it only needs to be teenagers. Wouldn't taking teenagers actually attract a lot more attention than adult heroes? And yeah, I guess adult superheroes would be harder to break or get to fight each other, but we've already seen how these stupid methods do nothing to make these characters want to join up with Harvest, so there's still no point! Just give Superboy his original origin, not the convolute crap they ended up doing to tie him into Harvest. Have N.O.W.H.E.R.E. be some other evil organization targeting metahuman teenagers. It didn't need to be the crazy asshole from the future! At least the Batman crossovers had legitimate reasons why they were involved in those events. There is no reason for a Titans-and-Legion crossover before either book has hit ten issues!
(Cut to black)
Linkara (v/o): Ugh! Anyway, let's recap.
(Shots of the first three comics are shown as Linkara gives his recap)
Linkara (v/o): Harvest, a dumbass from the future, created a dumbass organization called N.O.W.H.E.R.E. to kidnap dumbass teenagers and make them fight to the death so that the winners would join his dumbass team called The Ravagers, who are apparently such dumbasses that despite hating being a part of the Ravagers, like one member's expressed, they never thought of just NOT JOINING THEM!! Harvest has a super-awesome force field and scythe and power that makes him completely immune to harm, thus making any point he had in having a superpowered army completely null and void, since he's already more powerful than them all!! And because of the range of abilities he has and is able to shrug off so much, it's very unlikely that his defeat will be satisfying.
Linkara: (listlessly, with his head resting on his hand) I swear to God, they're gonna beat Harvest by throwing a rock at his head. Let's dig into (holds up today's comic) "Teen Titans #9" and finally move on from this nonsense!
(AT4W title sequence plays, and the title card has "Little Miss Can't Be Wrong" by the Spin Doctors playing in the background. Cut to a closeup of the comic's cover)
Linkara (v/o): The cover is okay: Harvest standing over the broken bodies of the teenagers and holding up Wonder Girl for some reason. Of course, it's ruined by the color filters put on the thing like the first issue, which we can finally give blame to Andrew Dalhouse for. Brett Booth doesn't do the interiors like he did in the annual and on this cover, but the coloring remains consistent from there, so enjoy the orange and red gradient filters put over everything, because it feels so nice to read a comic where the art is actually kind of hurting your eyes after a bit! Speaking of Brett Booth's artwork, I really have no idea what the hell expression Wonder Girl is conveying here. Anger? Confusion? Constipation? I don't know.
Text: HARVEST WINS!
Linkara: Of course he does! Frankly, with Harvest continually saying that everything is going according to plan, you could cut off his head, burn his body, and his ghost would still be claiming that (gives a thumbs-up, smiling sarcastically) everything is going swimmingly!
Linkara (v/o): We open with Harvest holding up Wildfire's body with one arm in a very awkward manner. Look at that, the head is resting on his ring finger and his pinkie is extended out. Does he think he's drinking tea or something?
Harvest: (speaking in the voice of Paradox from Yu-Gi-Oh!: TAS) This is why I started N.O.W.H.E.R.E.!
Linkara: (as Harvest) To kill teenagers fwom the futuwe! (beat) When I say that out woud, it does sound kinda dumb actuawwy.
Harvest: When the most powerful of you have fallen beneath little more than a shrug of my shoulders... it should be clear to even the most foolish among you that everything I have done--everything I have failed to do-- has been in your best interest.
(Linkara glares at the camera, then cut to a clip of RiffTrax on The Star Wars Holiday Special)
Kevin Murphy: Well, what do you know? It's not every day you've seen the stupidest thing you've ever seen.
(Cut back to the comic)
Harvest: Understand, I take no joy in my actions.
Linkara: That's fine. Nobody else does in superhero comics anymore.
Harvest: Every child who dies here in the Crucible is like a dagger in my heart!
Linkara: I have to believe that they didn't actually have Harvest's backstory written by this point and were just making it up as they went along. Nothing of what people have told me about his motivations matches that he would give a rat's ass about these kids.
Linkara (v/o): I suppose you could say he was lying, but why the hell would he ever think that would convince them. What the hell would he expect the kids to say? "Oh, you mean you do feel bad about all the kids who have been killed when you kidnapped and imprisoned for months? Oh, our bad! Here, let me fill out that recruitment form! Want that in triplicate?" Let's look at the other part of the page: the character portraits. At this point, all the little character heads on the opening splash page are just starting to look at the reader in complete disapproval. If this was animated, they'd be shaking their heads at anyone who bought this crap.
Linkara: Which means they'd be ashamed (gestures toward himself) me for doing so. And they'd be right.
Linkara (v/o): Superboy calls bullcrap on him actually caring about the kids, and Harvest naturally proves that right by telling Superboy hold his tongue.
Harvest: ...lest I tear it from your failure of a mouth.
Linkara: (confused) What the hell is it about his mouth that failed?
Linkara (v/o): Tellus confirms that Wildfire is still alive, but he needs time to recover. All the while, Harvest continues to whine that he has (sarcastically) such great vision and seeks a better world (suddenly angry) and oh my God, shut up, YOU STUPID WASTE OF A GOOD CHARACTER DESIGN!! Robin calls him out as being stupid freakin' nuts... and really, that's the best you can come up with to justify why Harvest's plans are so idiotic; that he's so insane that he doesn't realize how little sense they make.
Kid Flash: Right?! If we got a vote, it would have been a unanimous "nah!"
Linkara: Ooh, sick burn there, Kid Flash. (again blows party blowout)
Linkara (v/o): Kid Flash continues to ramble for a bit while Robin and Tyroc converse over the psychic link... the same psychic link that, last time, Harvest was easily able to invade and thus know all your plans. Again, why doesn't the writer remember things that he wrote?! This is not complicated! It's not like it's some obscure fact you wrote ten years ago; these comics were written side by side with each other! Ergh! They learn that most of the other teenagers have escaped, and Robin plans out a strategy. The Titans will throw everything they've got at Harvest... because it's worked so well so far... and the Legion will find and destroy the facility's central power core.
Robin: I speak on behalf of my team when I say...it has been an honor.
Linkara: (as Robin) It's been a real honor only knowing you guys for an hour tops and not believing that you're from the future.
Linkara (v/o): So the Titans attack Harvest, who's still shrugging off attacks and going, "It is your destiny! Join me, and together, we will wule the galaxy!" and crap. Over to the group getting the teenagers out, they're loading up escape pods... Wait, why does an underground facility have escape pods? They're not in the water or in space! They're in Antarctica!!
Linkara: Sure as hell would have helped out MacReady and the rest of the scientists from The Thing if Outpost 31 had had escape pods!
Linkara (v/o): Fairchild says she initiated the emergency alarm to clear out the scientists and support staff, too, but some guards show up to stop them. Thunder and Lightning hold them off while Dawnstar gets a message from the other Legion members for her and Bunker to withdraw. By the way, I just realized Harvest actually took the time to cut out the boob hole for Dawnstar's outfit. I'm really starting to think this is less about saving the world from metahumans and just being a really pervy supervillain. Anyway, both note that they have team members missing, like Skitter and that Gates guy from last time, but enough of the plot points to ignore completely later; time for more fighting, because we haven't seen anything else lately, have we?
Harvest: Do you truly believe you've outsmarted me, Red Robin?
Linkara: No, but I'm sure he's outsmarted the writer. (suddenly looks thoughtful an idea comes to him) Actually, there's a philosophical conundrum for you: could a writer create a character who's truly smarter than they are? And I don't mean like in a genius-level kind of thing, just obviously has more sense and skill than the person who created them.
Harvest: That I couldn't discern you sent the Legion to sabotage the power core-- hoping to force me to flee?
Linkara (v/o): I don't even know what to say to this, because this is all that Harvest's dialog is: blatant exposition that we already know about while reinforcing that he's just so super awesome and unbeatable! It's so boring! The action is the same repetitive nonsense: charge at Harvest, Harvest kicks their asses again and again!
Linkara: This is the kind of comic that makes you just really stop and think you could be doing something more useful with your time. I could be... (looks at bookshelves behind him) dusting the bookshelves behind me. I could be (makes a sewing motion) sewing together a new jacket or-or building yet another Cybermat! But no, instead, I'm wasting my time recapping the story of a dumbass and the dumbasses he's fighting!
Linkara (v/o): Wonder Girl wraps her lasso around his arm.
Harvest: Just as you were supposed to, Wonder Girl!
Linkara: (as Harvest) And now you have wipped my awm fwom my body! Evewything is going accowding to pwan! My pwan is gweat!
Linkara (v/o): Hey, comic, any more superpowers you want to give Harvest? How about he's got super ventriloquism and can mimic anyone's voices? How about he can shoot rainbows from his hands that emit tiny versions of him? Ooh, ooh! How about he has a metal plate in his head that allows him to pick up CB radio transmissions?
Linkara: (depressed) I could be reading "US-1" right now. And instead, I'm reading "The Culling". This is how sad my life has become.
Linkara (v/o): Wonder Girl says he doesn't know everything about her, for no reason.
Harvest: Of course I do! I come from a time and place where you have long been consumed by your own power! A power that means nothing to me!
Linkara: (crying out in despair and bafflement) THEN WHY DID YOU KIDNAP HER TO TRY TO MAKE HER JOIN THE RAVAGERS?!?!?!
Linkara (v/o): Also, there's a narrative box in black and yellow that says, "If I hit this wall, I'm dead!" Who the hell is that supposed to be, Wonder Girl?! Why would her narrative box be black and yellow?! Superboy catches her, and after some verbal sparring and mistrust that amounts to nothing really within the series... Yes, believe it or not, I'm still reading this comic, despite this story and the abysmal recreation of the Trigon arc, though the most recent issue was fairly decent. Superboy comes up with a plan, focusing his telekinetic powers through the lariat into Harvest.
Linkara: And, uh, here's something that I know is gonna really shock and surprise you guys... (leans in close to camera; sotto voce) It doesn't work.
Linkara (v/o): Meanwhile, the Legion arrives in... uh, the Eye of Harmony from Journey to the Center of a TARDIS?
(Footage of that episode of Doctor Who is shown)
Linkara (v/o): Seriously, it's almost the exact same damn thing! I'd say that they were ripping it off, except this came out before that episode of Doctor Who, like a year or so! I guess big rooms with glowing orange balls and a single catwalk are just universal concepts. Still, Doctor Who at least had the sense to add railings to their catwalk.
(Back to the comic again)
Linkara (v/o): OSHA's gonna be really pissed about this place, Harvest! Anyway, Wildfire starts recovering and they attack what they say is the power core for the facility. Back over to the escapees, the remaining heroes and teenagers leave so they can have their stupidly-named spin-off book. And in yet another sign that the editor was asleep at his desk, Caitlin Fairchild calls this woman with purple hair Terra, despite the fact that we've already established who Terra is and she's standing right behind her. You know, the blonde-haired woman?! Ugh! Back in the complex, Rose dispatches Warblade and a "retrieval squad" to go and get them back.
Linkara: (exasperatedly throwing his head around) Why the hell do you people care?! (sighs) Harvest is got to have, like, some kind of chocolate-making machine in this place. It's the only explanation why anybody still works for the guy.
(Cut to Linkara putting on a blue coat. He looks to the camera with a startled look)
Linkara: Oh... You caught me in between costumes here... Uh, we'll be right back.
(He walks off as the AT4W logo appears, and we go to a commercial break. Upon return, we see Linkara again taking off his blue coat and replacing it with a silver one)
Linkara: Uh... Qapla' or something. We're back. (the AT4W logo appears in the corner) I'm running out of costumes!
(Cut back to the comic as the review resumes)
Linkara (v/o): And back to the fight.
Harvest: You arrogant fools think you accomplished something worthwhile-- when you stopped the Culling.
Linkara: You know, he's got a point. The entire (makes a "finger quote") "Culling" thing stopped being relevant (points behind himself with thumb) back in the annual. Why is this crossover called that? Wouldn't calling it "Harvest" make more sense?
Linkara (v/o): The Titans try to use some more strategy on him, like attacking from multiple sides, keeping a good watch on each other... In fact, they seem to actually seem to be coordinating themselves better than the Legion, who are supposed to be a paramilitary group. Robin proclaims that they're taking this guy down.
Solstice: I was wrong to question your actions earlier, Red Robin. I will follow you to Hell and back.
Linkara (v/o): What Solstice is referring to is from Issue 7, where it was decided to throw in some forced conflict that made Solstice look like an idiot. They broke into the N.O.W.H.E.R.E. facility to rescue Superboy, and Robin went off on his own to hack into their files and download all the data they had on the kids who were taken by N.O.W.H.E.R.E. and experimented on. Solstice was apparently pissed off because (mocking voice) Robin knew that other kids had been kidnapped and he did nothing. Except, there was nothing he could do! He's a single person who still needed all the others in the group to break into this place to begin with, and that he didn't know, he had suspicions, and that getting this info could help them stop N.O.W.H.E.R.E. from doing it ever again, and rescue all the other kids!! And with that line of dialogue from Solstice in this issue, it just proves that they created a contrived conflict for drama and then created just as much of a contrived resolution for it, even though she acted no differently to him in the intervening issues!
Linkara: (exasperatedly) Why did you create a conflict if you weren't going do anything with it?!
Linkara (v/o): The facility starts falling apart, thanks to the Legion's attack on the power core.
Harvest: The Legion is right on schedule.
(Linkara repeatedly slaps himself on the face with the comic)
Harvest: Now, if only Caitlin Fairchild has played her part--and I do not doubt her--my former charges will be spread across the globe-- creating fear, chaos and confusion in their wake-- and fanning the public's desire for an organization like N.O.W.H.E.R.E..
Robin: Y-You conned us--!
(Cut to a clip of an episode of Doctor Who)
Castellan Spandrell: A clever stratagem, Hildred. You're trying to confuse him, I take it?
(Cut back to the comic)
Linkara (v/o): And of course, Robin calls bullcrap on this, saying what I've been saying this whole time: that Harvest is just playing spin doctor!
Linkara: Ironic that he's playing "spin doctor", since Harvest also happens to be Little Mr. Can't-Be-Wrong.
Linkara (v/o): While Harvest flies off, Gates meets back up with the Legion and reveals the Time Bubble to them.
Gates: --and then we can use this time machine to return home!
Linkara (v/o): And an editor's box tells us...
Text: Find out how badly that goes in Legion Lost #10.
Linkara: (sarcastically giving a thumbs-up) Well, thanks for spoiling to us that things don't go well, because building suspense and intrigue (waves dismissively) would just be stupid! Then again, what should I expect from the editors who can't even remember things said on the same damn page?
Linkara (v/o): Red Robin pursues Harvest, still wanting to take him down.
Harvest: I won this battle-- long before you uncovered the first hint of my existence.
Linkara: (as Harvest) My huge faciwity is destwoyed, my Wavagers awe in shambles, the Cuwwing has stopped, and evewybody now knows I'm awound. Yep, pwetty much a hundwed percent victowy for me. My pwan is gweat!
Harvest: It is something of a tragedy-- two humans battling for the fate of the metahuman population of tomorrow.
Robin: Y-You're human? Then... why...?
Linkara: "How" is the better question here! How the hell is he able to counter all those superpowered forces if he doesn't have powers himself?!
Linkara (v/o): Harvest tosses Red Robin back down... because his wings turned to ribbon or something... I don't know, you make sense of this panel. And Harvest gets away. Yep, four issues of fighting, two of them spent against the main villain, and said main villain completely escapes, not even seemingly damaged by this experience!
Linkara: (massaging the temples of his forehead) I... I know I already used this clip from Code Ment back in the "Tales to Offend" review, but... frankly, it feels even more appropriate here!
(Cut to said clip of Code Ment)
Lelouch Lamperouge: (holding up a Twilight Sparkle card) What is the point of this thing?
(Back to the comic again)
Linkara (v/o): The other Titans convince Robin that they've still scored a victory here, despite Harvest escaping, and they need to focus on getting away from the crumbling structure. By the by, they're supposed to be at least a mile underground, yet they can see the sky from here, as if it was only ten feet away. Of course. Superboy and Wonder Girl wrap the other Titans up in a ball of earth to try to survive the collapsing structure and start flying up the complex seemingly explodes. I say "seemingly", because we don't actually see an explosion, just the surface of Antarctica.
Narrator: Mere moments later, the N.O.W.H.E.R.E. complex-- is consumed by flames and fury.
Linkara: (as narrator) We could not afford neither flames nor fury, so enjoy this giant "KWAKA-BWOOM" sound effect instead.
Narrator: What seems like an eternity passes...
Linkara: I know, right? It feels like ages since we started reading this comic.
Linkara (v/o): And so, our crossover ends with the Titans waking up on a beach and find a feathered dinosaur looking over them. A caption at the bottom tells us that next issue is, "The Mystery of Mystery Island!" Yep, that's seriously how this crossover ends!
(Cut to a clip of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 gang watching the end of The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies)
Crow: We hope you've enjoyed No-Moral Theater, ladies and gentlemen.
Linkara: You know, a lot of people in the comments have been debating about which is worse: "The Culling" or "Avengers Arena". What do I think? Well, that's simple: "Cry For Justice".
Linkara (v/o): Seriously, though, who the hell cares? They both suck, just in different ways. In "The Culling"'s case, it's a four-issue crossover where we don't know the villain's backstory and motivation; the heroes barely interact with each other, outside of fighting side-by-side; the villain escapes; and the only thing accomplished is that a fan favorite character, who could have been a new member of the Titans to tie into the "Young Justice" cartoon, was killed off in her first appearance! I know someone could say that the other thing accomplished was the "Ravagers" series, but why the hell would I call that an accomplishment?! Everybody who worked on this wasted their time. But most importantly, the audience's time was wasted! Hell, the entire opening arc of "Teen Titans" was leading up to this?! Resolution on N.O.W.H.E.R.E. and Harvest was handled in "Superboy" and the friggin' Legion books! If this crossover was to get me to read those series, I hate to break it to ya, but there was nothing here to make me want to pick them up! This is the "New 52" reboot, my friends: pointless stories that go nowhere in their own titles; needlessly changing character backstories and personalities; and crossovers that, at best, make you shrug and go, "That's it?" And yes, there are good titles. I've listed some of them, and I could have listed some more. Hell, just check out the comments and people have offered more titles that you could be buying right now. However, a lot of them didn't really need a reboot in order to be good, and others you just wonder what the hell they're smoking. Wonder Woman's Amazons as rapists, murderers, and slavers?! Thinking women readers are only interested in romances like "Twilight", so pairing up Superman and Wonder Woman?! The Lobo redesign?!?
Linkara: (holding up comic) This comic sucks, and a lot of other comics in "The New 52" suck, too! Needless to say, this won't be the last time we look at this reboot. That being said, vote with your wallets, my friends. Check out the recommendations, buy stuff that's good, and show DC that we're not gonna tolerate crap like (shakes comic) "The Culling" anymore! (throws comic aside, gets up and leaves)
(End credits roll)
Now you can stop asking me what I think of the New 52.
I'm starting to think I WOULD have been satisfied if they had thrown a rock at his head. At least they would have defeated him.
Come to think of it, why would Wonder Girl hitting the wall affect her at all? SHE HAS SUPER-STRENGTH.
(Stinger: Linkara is sitting on a couch, reading from a book, when Pollo approaches)
Pollo: Hey, Alan called. He wanted to know if you wanted to get drinks tonight.
Linkara: Yeah, sure, tell him no problem.
Pollo: I'm not your secretary. I also notice that you never ask me out to drink.
Linkara: Oh, sorry, dude, you're right. Uh, I call him and you can come along if you want.
Pollo: Nah, that bar smells funny.
Linkara: You have a sense of smell?
Pollo: No, I just presume it smells funny, what with all the drunk people.
Linkara: Ooookaaaay... But y-yeah, of course you can come along if you want. I'm sorry.
Pollo: It's all good. (looks at book closely) Isn't that the Entity book?
Linkara: Yeah, the "Absent Grimoire", what we called it.
Pollo: Why are you reading it?
Linkara: Well, I got to thinking about Nimue and I remembered something.
Pollo: You don't think the Entity is back?
Linkara: No, no, no, no, no, no, no. The Entity is dead, I'm convinced of that. But this book contains information about more than just the Entity.
Pollo: It can fix computers?
Linkara: (sways head in annoyance) No, I– (stops suddenly and becomes intrigued) Actually, there is a section on some maintenance, but that's not what I'm talking about. The Entity wasn't the only monster out there. It was just one of the big ones.
Pollo: You think another one is going to attack us?
Linkara: I doubt it. The Entity came here because Vyce chased it out here. A lot of the other big Outer Gods and whatnot aren't really concerned with us. We're smaller than ants in their eyes and they just don't care. It's more likely that they just kick us and not realize they'd done it rather than try an all-out attack.
Pollo: Then why are you looking at it?
Linkara: Because... Because I remembered a bit from when I was first studying the book. (looks at book briefly) The Entity had... cousins, for a lack of a better word; creatures similar to it, but not as powerful. There was this one in particular. Get this. (reads) "The youngest of its cousins also held many names, but was recognized by all who beheld it as 'the King of Worms'. It was so named for how it pursued its ambitions. The Lost Beast and its immediate family did not know fear, but the King of Worms knew it well. It knew it so intimately that it lacked what some would call the bravery or courage to confront its opponents directly. However, this explanation does not match with other legends about the creature, particularly the ones that say it never dared show its face amongst its subjects. They say that the King of Worms was so perverted by this alien emotion to its kind, its face was transformed into a personification of fear itself, a ghastly horror that any creature that knew fear would recognize and know it. Because of this instant recognition, the King of Worms instead acted through its clockwork servants, the ones that never questioned its commands and did not recognize fear. Among all the legends about this being, there is a consensus, that the King of Worms covets fear, wishes to command the power that fear wields and some day perhaps restore its face to its original, fearless state." (closes book) Clockwork servants – sound like anyone you know?
Pollo: And you think this "King of Worms" got a hold of Nimue?
Linkara: Well, it's a possibility, (puts book down) and frankly, we've exhausted everything else. Any luck with the temporal shields?
Pollo: Nothing, sorry.
Linkara: It's probably not this (makes finger quotes) "King of Worms" or whatever, but I'd like to be prepared for anything. Let's check Vyce's data logs. He's got to have information on how he fought creatures like The Entity. Maybe we can adapt our current weapons or build something new.
Pollo: Okay, let's go.
(Pollo leaves and Linkara follows. A moment later, someone else enters the room and picks up the Absent Grimoire book. It's 90s Kid. He looks around and then looks thoughtfully at the book briefly. Then he leaves, taking the book with him)