Channel Awesome
The Hobbit #3

At4w the hobbit 3 by mtc studios-d89e6iy-1024x452.png

December 15, 2014
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Gandalf the Grey: wizard, mentor, ruiner of lives!

(Linkara is sitting on his futon again)

Linkara: Hello, and welcome to Atop the Fourth Wall, where bad comics burn. Last week, I did the review next to my Christmas tree, but now I'm on my usual set again! Why? Because I was (gestures off-screen) there and back again! (smiles, pauses awkwardly) You see, because it's a thing with the book... (becomes upset) SHUT UP!

(Cut to black)

Linkara (v/o): (dramatically) Previously on "The Hobbit"...

(A recap of the first two "Hobbit" comics is shown)

Linkara (v/o): Bilbo Baggins, the bravest little hobbit of them all, departed on a journey to steal treasure from a fire-breathing dragon. Hijinks ensued. To be specific, he got his hands on a not-sinister-at-all magic ring that let him turn invisible, escape death while helping set a forest on fire, flew first class without tipping the Eagles who had transported him, murdered a group of spiders who were just trying to find food in the crappy forest of Mirkwood, accompanied a party of dwarves as they trespassed on elvish territory, escaped their rightful imprisonment, and stowed away in wine barrels on their way to their final destination.

Linkara: So let's dig into (holds up today's comic) "The Hobbit #3" and see how many more living creatures Bilbo can kill with his (makes a stabbing motion) face-stabbing sword!

(Title sequence plays; title card has "The Prophecy", composed by Howard Shore for Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, playing in the background. Cut to a closeup of the comic's cover)

Linkara (v/o): I think the movies have spoiled me. The cover features Smaug, and his size is... kind of unimpressive. Sure, he's big, but he's honestly not that much bigger than the Eagles. It seems difficult to imagine that he singlehandedly forced out the dwarf kingdom when he's not that huge. I suppose it's a bit more realistic compared to the impossibly huge chambers that the movies have that allow him to move around, but nothing else is realistic, so why the hell should dragon size and buildings be? I do love the looks on everybody's faces, Smaug especially. It's like he just turned the corner after going for a walk and suddenly there are these dwarves about to sneak into his home and he's like, "What?! What the hell?!" Bilbo and the dwarves seem equally flummoxed.

Linkara: (as a dwarf, looking flummoxed) Oh, Smaug! Uh... D-Didn't expect to see you out here! Um... uh... We're door-to-door jewelry salesmen and (pretends to hold up a jewel) we'd like to show you this lovely ring.

Linkara (v/o): We open where we left off last time, with the dwarves inside of the barrels and on their way to Lake-town. Oh, and Robin Hood is apparently one of the guys steering the barrel route. See, you talk a big talk about robbing from the rich and giving to the poor, but in the end, even you need a job, man. Unfortunately, as I mentioned at the end of the last episode, we're given a crap-ton of narration captions to give us the backstory and general exposition and character stuff. Some of this stuff, like the narration saying that Bilbo didn't believe that "any water not the sea could look so big," could've just as easily been done in thought balloons. But anyway, Lake-town. Naturally, it's built on the lake itself, with most of the support structures sitting on very solid rock under the water. Upon arriving in town, the elves leave the barrels in the water while they rest up and prepare their own things, giving Bilbo a chance to get all the dwarves out of their uncomfortable containers. Thorin, as you can see, has been twisted into a horrible mess from being crammed inside of one.

Linkara: Ever wonder how they get superheroines in comic books to contort their spines in bizarre shapes? I imagine it's something very similar to this.

Bilbo: Well, are you alive or are you dead?

Linkara: (as Thorin, imitating his uncomfortable position) I feel dead. Does that count?

Bilbo: If you want food, and if to go on with this silly adventure – it's yours after all and not mine...

Linkara: (as Thorin) Well, in that case, I'll take your share of the treasure if it's not your adventure, too!

Bilbo: had best slap your arms and rubs your legs and try and help me get the others out while there is a chance!

Linkara: (as Thorin) I would, but I don't think my arms are capable of moving in those directions anymore.

Linkara (v/o): They manage to get everyone out, and Thorin is actually quite complimentary of Bilbo for rescuing them all, despite the uncomfortable ride. Bilbo, by this point, has earned massive respect from the dwarves, so they invite him to plan their next move: to head into Lake-town proper and get supplies, since they were all taken away by the wood elves. They head straight to the main hall and demand an audience with the master of the town, known as... uh... the Master.

(Cut to a clip of an episode of Doctor Who showing The Master, who laughs evilly, then cut back to the comic)

Linkara (v/o): No, he's not quite that over-the-top, though you wouldn't think that if you'd just seen the movies. For some reason, the movies saw it fit to make the character comically villainous as opposed to just a shrewd, if somewhat cowardly, businessman. But anyway, for some reason, the comic, despite all the swaths of unnecessary narration they left in concerning the layout and geography of the area, leaves out that there were old legends and songs told of Thror, the original dwarf king and Thorin's grandfather, returning to reclaim the mountain one day. As such, when Thorin arrives to speak with the Master, the narration states that he did not "think much of old songs."

Linkara: (confused) What old songs is it talking about, then? Or does the comic just want us to know that the Master doesn't like '80s new wave?

Linkara (v/o): The raftsmen claim that Thorin and company are just a bunch of escaped vagabonds, but since the people believe that Thorin, who of course entered by loudly proclaiming his heritage, is the one whom is prophesied to come and restore the riches to the mountainside to all, the Master figures not to piss off the people.

Narrator: That it was Thror's grandson not Thror himself that had come back did not bother them at all. And no explanation of where Bilbo came in – no songs had alluded to him even in the obscurest way – was asked for in the general bustle.

Linkara: Well, don't worry, Bilbo has his own song to celebrate him.

(Cut to a clip of Leonard Nimoy singing "Ballad of Bilbo Baggins")

Nimoy: In the middle of the earth, in the land of the Shire / There's a brave little hobbit whom we all admire...

(Back to the comic again)

Linkara (v/o): After a fortnight of staying in the town, Thorin decided it was finally time to move on to the mountain itself. The Master, only too happy to let his expensive guests leave, supplied the company with as much as they could carry on their journey and sent them off in boats. The countryside surrounding the mountain, once lush and green, had been desolated by the dragon's fire some time ago, making for a gloomy little area surrounding their destination. They pass by the ruins of Dale, a city that had also been destroyed, as well as peeking at the front entrance to see black smoke emitting from it.

Linkara: Okay, Smaug, if you have that much smoke coming out of just the one entrance, I think you may have a ventilation problem, man.

Linkara (v/o): The party is a little worried about all the crows and ravens that seem to hover over the area, even briefly considering turning back even after all they've been through, but of course decide to soldier on and try to find the hidden entrance. Eventually, they do finally find the entrance... except there's a bit of a problem, since no one seems able to find a keyhole or any other way of actually opening the door. They try smashing it with weapons and forcing it, even trying some minor spells they know, staying there for a week to try to get it, but without success. And they know from the map that the door can only be opened at the end of autumn, so unless they want to wait another year to try, they have to do something.

Thorin: What is our burglar doing for us? Since he has got an invisible ring, and ought to be a specially excellent performer now, I am beginning to think he might go through the front gate and spy things out a bit!!

Linkara: No, you fools! Smaug is a living flamethrower! He'll be doing spy checks!

Linkara (v/o): On the last day of autumn, as the sun begins to set, Bilbo finally catches sight of a single ray of red light that hits the door entrance and reveals a tiny keyhole. Thorin uses his key and unlocks it, finally getting the secret door open. And now it's time for Bilbo to finally do what he was brought on this trip to do: go inside and start stealing treasure out. Of course, he's pretty much been the only one to actually succeed at anything on this trip, so naturally, the riskiest job is his. Enjoy having your thumbs up your asses while he confronts the dragon, guys. Actually, it's even worse: it looks like they're making him do this before he's had a chance to shave. Balin does volunteer to go with Bilbo – and to be fair, he's one of the few among the party who has actually had any specific lines, like in the last issue, where he was very complimentary of Bilbo for the rescue from the spiders, so he's less of a dick than others – part of the way. Then again, that's actually rather unusual, according to the text.

Narrator: There it is: dwarves are not heroes, but calculating folk with a great idea of the value of money.

Linkara: After this adventure, the new dwarf kingdom was founded on savings-and-loan businesses.

Linkara (v/o): After slipping on his ring, Bilbo finally enters the bright red main chamber of the mountain.

Narrator: The glow of Smaug!

Linkara: Smaug, the radioactive dragon! (beat) If "Radioactive Dragon" isn't the name of a band, it needs to be.

Linkara (v/o): This is a great shot, probably deserves a two-page spread, though, again, I'm kind of miffed about the size of Smaug. Seems like he should be bigger, but still, splash page of a sleeping dragon on a massive pile of gold? Hell, yeah, that's impressive! Of all the baubles and trinkets he sees, Bilbo decides to take, of all things, a two-handled cup.

Narrator: Smaug's snoring changed its note.

(Cut to a clip of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade)

Grail Knight: He chose... poorly.

(Cut back to the comic)

Linkara (v/o): Everybody celebrates Bilbo's victory of... stealing a single cup, but their celebrations are interrupted by hearing Smaug's roar shake the entire mountain.

Narrator: His rage passes description–the sort of rage that is only seen when rich folk that have more than they can enjoy suddenly lose something that they have long had but have never before used or wanted.

Linkara: (confused) So... it passes description... except for that description you just gave.

Narrator: Dragons may not have much real use for all their wealth, but they know it to an ounce as a rule, especially after long possession; and Smaug was no exception.

Linkara: So dragons just have OCD? This seems like a serious medical problem that the doctors of Middle Earth should look into. (holds up index finger) There's a research paper in this.

Linkara (v/o): I'm just confused about the dragons-and-treasure thing. Magical world, yeah, yeah, but even the story seems to admit that Smaug has no real use for treasure. I'd understand if he, like, traded it for food, since I imagine it's slim pickings after so many years and how much he would probably have to consume, but seriously, he just sits on it all day? Just seems like it'd be kind of boring after the 300th time he counted it.

Linkara: Plus, even at the size he is now, can you imagine Smaug physically trying to count it all?

(He makes a motion like he's moving imaginary coins onto an imaginary stack as if trying to count them. He then shrugs in confusion)

Linkara (v/o): But yes, Smaug is aware of every single bit of his treasure, so he's pissed that one part of it is gone. So he starts flying around the mountain, burning stuff up left and right in a rage. The dwarves hide inside a tunnel, their ponies they had ridden part of the way making a quick getaway and stranding our heroes inside the mountain. The next morning, they contemplate what to do, looking to Bilbo for wisdom yet again.

Linkara: Good to see that Thorin has such great leadership skills when everyone keeps deferring to the burglar.

Linkara (v/o): There's simply too much treasure to try to steal one piece at a time, so their only hope of claiming it is of course to kill Smaug. Bilbo volunteers to go back down the assumption that the dragon is asleep again and try to figure out some weak spot on it. Unfortunately, Smaug and dragons in general have a strong sense of smell, so it pretended to sleep and instantly knew that Bilbo was back inside despite the ring's invisibility trick.

Linkara: You know, if the ring doesn't hide your smell, it makes me wonder what Sauron smelled liked. You think he used cologne?

Smaug: Well, thief! I smell you and I feel your air. I hear your breath. Come along! Help yourself again, there is plenty and to spare!

Linkara: (as Smaug) Yeah, I gotta be honest, the gold market isn't what it really once was. I've been meaning to pawn most of this.

Bilbo: No thank you, O Smaug the Tremendous! I only wished to have a look at you and see if you were as great as tales say. I did not believe them. Truly songs and tales fall utterly short of the reality.

Linkara: (as Bilbo) I-I just know that a movie would never do you justice, O Smaug the Magnificent. (as Smaug) Oh, I don't know. (strokes chin) Maybe if they got Benedict Cumberbatch to play me...

Smaug: You have nice manners for a thief and a liar.

Linkara: Well, if he's a liar, then he can't really have good manners, Smaug the Contradictory.

Smaug: You seem familiar with my name, but I don't seem to remember smelling you before. Who are you and where do you come from, may I ask?

Linkara: (as Bilbo, nervously) My name is... uh... uh, uh... Otho Saxville Baggins. Yes, you should totally hunt me down in the Shire while I try to steal my good cousin Bilbo's home. Yes, that'll do.

Bilbo: I come from under the hill, and under the hills and over the hills my path led. And through the air. I am he that walks unseen. I am ringwinner and luckwearer and barrel-rider!

Linkara: (as Bilbo) I am also champion beer-drinker three years running.

Narrator: This of course is the way to talk to dragons, if you don't want to reveal your proper name (which is wise), and don't want to infuriate them by a flat refusal (which is also very wise). No dragon can resist the fascination of riddling talk and of wasting time trying to understand it.

Linkara: Again with the bizarre compulsions of dragons! Are you telling me I could defeat a dragon by asking it about the sound of one hand clapping?

Linkara (v/o): Smaug is, of course, intrigued, but doesn't buy any of his talk, being able to tell the smell of dwarf from all the time he spent with them. The narration also implies that dragon-talk has a bit of a hypnotic effect on people who hear it, kind of a compulsion to speak with them and at least admit a little bit of truth, so Bilbo admits the treasure as an afterthought and they're actually after revenge, especially since even Smaug admits it'd take a hundred years to sneak out all the gold at the rate he's going.

Smaug: Revenge! REVENGE! The king under the mountain is dead and where are his kin that dare seek revenge? I laid low the warriors of old and their like is not in the world today.

Linkara: What the hell do you know? You spend all day on a couch of coins, and I'm betting that anytime a paper boy stops by with a copy of Middle Earth Today, you burn them.

Smaug: My armour is like tenfold shields, my teeth are swords, my claws spears, the shock of my tail like a thunderbolt, my wings a hurricane, and my breath death!

Linkara: (as Smaug) My eyelids are like daggers, and my lower-left thigh is a cannon!

Linkara (v/o): Also, I just noticed that Smaug is sporting a goatee. Weird. Anyway, Bilbo spots a patch on Smaug's chest that's not covered by a scale and thus is a weak point that could be taken advantage of. As such, he makes a quick exit back down the tunnel where the dwarves are in the middle of talking about more birds; in this case, thrushes that used to live in the area, a long-lived and magical race that the men of Dale used as messengers and could communicate with.

Linkara: Lord of the Plot Points!

Linkara (v/o): Bilbo informs the dwarves of what happened. Balin thinks that Smaug will figure the people of Lake-town helped them, and he'd be right, and that when he fails to find them again, he'll turn his attention towards the innocent people there. The dwarves contemplate their options... which are not many, and talk eventually brings them to various specific shinies they want to find in the treasure, since dwarves are apparently easily distracted, I guess, like a necklace of emeralds or, most precious to them, the Arkenstone, a shining, bright stone that is more precious to Thorin than any other treasures. The discussion is interrupted by the arrival of Smaug, forcing the dwarves to hide further in the tunnel and shut the magical door, sealing them in. Smaug, of course, decides to head to Lake-town since he can't find Bilbo. The group stays in the tunnel for a few days, not sure how to proceed, but since they can't open the door again, they decide to risk the dragon and head into the halls. But nothing happens. Bilbo finds the Arkenstone and decides to keep it, since Thorin had earlier said Bilbo, for all his troubles, was allowed to pick his fourteenth of the share, but of course doesn't tell anyone he has it. But yeah, days have passed, and there's no word of Smaug. The dwarves get to work arming themselves with the weaponry and armor, including mithril armor that is given to Bilbo, but even Bilbo has to point out that none of these fine accessories were any use against Smaug originally.

Linkara: Well, at least you'll die looking fabulous.

Linkara (v/o): They head to an old lookout on the mountain and try to spot where Smaug is, but of course, there's no sign of him. At all. What happened? Well, fortunately, it's time to have a big side deviation to explain it. The people of Lake-town spot the approaching Smaug and start preparing defenses, mostly thanks to the gloomy warnings of this guy, Bard.

Linkara: For the record, Bard has not been mentioned or seen until this point, and now he is suddenly a major player in the events, with his lineage just told to us here, as opposed to actually establishing him earlier and fitting him into a more natural part of the story. Point: movie.

Linkara (v/o): Despite their defenses, Smaug is pretty much immune to their small arms. People start fleeing, including the Master, who goes off in his "great gilded boat" and tries to save himself. Bard encourages the remaining soldiers, getting them to fight to the last man and even tries to shoot off some arrows himself.

Thrush: Wait! Wait! The moon is rising. Look for the hollow of the left breast as he flies and turns above you!

Narrator: It was an old thrush. Marvelling Bard found he could understand its tongue, for he was of the race of Dale.

(Cut to a clip of Into the Woods, the 1987 filmed stage version, showing Little Red Riding Hood talking to Cinderella)

Red Riding Hood: You can talk to birds?

(Back to the comic again)

Linkara (v/o): Yep, Bard is a descendant of the people of Dale, so this is kind of personal for him. He spots the exposed point of Smaug and takes aim with a single black arrow passed down from his elders from Dale.

(Cut to a clip of Jaws, showing Brody (Roy Schneider) aiming his gun at the shark)

Brody: Smile, you son of a– (fires)

(Cut back to the comic)

Linkara (v/o): He hits Smaug's weak point for massive damage, killing him in one shot.

Linkara: Thank you, character who was only introduced in the last (holds up book version) 55 pages of the book!

Linkara (v/o): It really does bug me that neither Bilbo nor any of the dwarves are responsible for taking out the dragon. You knew Smaug was going down. You're not gonna have a story about an evil dragon with a treasure and not slay the dragon, but none of our heroes were responsible for its downfall! WHAT WAS THE ENTIRE POINT OF THIS TRIP?!? YOU HAD ONE JOB!!

Linkara: And here we come to the point where I really have to argue, yes, The Hobbit had to be at least two movies. And better still that it's three. You see, if this was supposed to a simple treasure hunt, simple little story that some people claim it to be, didn't need to be expanded out, one movie only... IT SHOULD BE OVER NOW!

Linkara (v/o): The dragon is dead; the dwarves and Bilbo have their riches! Quest over! You leveled up! You now have an additional four points in charisma! But it's not over, because, of course, actions have consequences, and you can either ignore those consequences or you can give some time to explore them. And that's kind of been my entire point of these reviews: "The Hobbit" is not just a simple little story. It's complex plot stuff, with lots of events transpiring, and if you want to have a faithful adaptation that touches all those points, you either give it room to breathe or you cut stuff out. The failing of the original book is not giving enough room for its characters to develop. Yes, it's Bilbo's story, but like I said, the great hero who slew the dragon isn't Bilbo, it's some random-ass guy we've never met before! I applaud the movies for actually bothering to expand his character, give him more of a point; hell, to give subplots to the other dwarves! And yeah, I liked the addition of Tauriel. I don't care if she's not in the damn book. Yes, I would have preferred for a new woman in the story who is not in it for a romance subplot, but at least it's something more with the dwarves, who have so far done nothing but get captured and rescued by Bilbo! Hell, the addition of any women into this plot is welcome! I mean, I'd have to read the book again, but I don't think there's a single damn woman in this entire book! Best we get is talking about Bilbo's mom, who had her own adventures!

Linkara: (holding up hand in defense) But this is becoming a rant, and as I have pointed out many times now, (holds up comic) story ain't over yet.

Linkara (v/o): The people are kind of pissed at the Master for turning tail and running at the first sign of danger and want to elect Bard as their new king.

(Cut to a clip of Monty Python and the Holy Grail)

King Arthur: You don't vote for kings!

(Back to the comic again)

Linkara (v/o): The Master is shrewd, though, and talks them down while Bard is just concerned with actually helping fix the town up. He sends out messengers to the neighboring lands for help, in particular to the wood elves. However, the wood-elves have already gotten word of the situation and are on their way for a different purpose: namely, "Hey, wait a second, the dragon is dead, and as far the rest of us know, Thrandoo-oo... uh, Thrandy even comes along since he's a greedy sort, but is nice enough to realize that maybe they should actually help the victims of the dragon before they worry about the money. So, for five days, they get to work rebuilding the town and a deal is struck between the two groups to send a joint party up to the mountain to investigate. The dwarves have not been idle either. The birds, like the thrushes and ravens who used to council the old dwarf kingdom, come to our heroes to inform them of what happened with Smaug and of the fact that a lot of people are keen to get the gold. However, they advise to make peace with the Lake-town, and specifically say to trust Bard and not the Master, whose greatest crime so far in this story is not wanting to die. However, Thorin is not so keen as to let the gathering forces steal their gold... and I mean, yeah, you did so much to earn it, Thorin... so he bids the birds to send for help to his cousin, Dain, in nearby Iron Hills so they can get reinforcements, should it come to battle. They, in the meantime, work to create a reinforced wall at the only entrance, which I suppose is a testament to their skill as craftsmen, since... look at this, you got perfectly shaped stones that they have been able to build into a giant brick wall.

Linkara: Seems to me you guys could've just gotten rich in the construction business.

Linkara (v/o): Bard meets Thorin at the wall of the small company and explains that they'd appreciate some help for, you know, driving the dragon to their ruin, and maybe they can spare some change for the relief efforts. Thorin, however, is stubborn and says no one has any claim on the gold except his people, due to it being stolen by Smaug. And he's not wrong in that regard, but he did kind of make a promise to these people about flowing the riches down to the town.

Linkara: Thorin's been a politician for less than a week, and already he's breaking his promises.

Linkara (v/o): Bard says they'll give him some time to think about it and reconsider. A few hours later, they return and repeat the request, only to be answered with an arrow shot at them. And so the gathered forces decide that the mountain is officially besieged, figuring they can wait out the dwarves, since their money is kind of useless without food and supplies, especially with the approach of winter. However, all Thorin can concern himself with is finding the Arkenstone. The other dwarves are too beaten down by this whole experience and loyal to Thorin to question this enterprise, but Bilbo has come up with a plan. He sneaks out and heads to the campus of the elves and lake men, telling them he's tired of all this crap, but Thorin is going to sit, starve and wait it out. In addition, the reinforcements and winter are going to make this whole thing even worse, so he figures on a solution. He gives them the Arkenstone, figuring they can use it to bargain with Thorin for their rightful share.

King Thranduil: Bilbo Baggins! You are more worthy to wear the armour of elf-princes than many that have looked more comely in it.

Linkara: Damn right. Bilbo's pretty much carried this whole thing himself.

Linkara (v/o): Before Bilbo can head back, he's met by an old friend.

Gandalf: Well done! Mister Baggins! There is always more about you than anyone expects!

Bilbo: Gandalf!

Linkara: Hey, Shazam! Where the hell have you been?

Linkara (v/o): The next morning, after Bilbo has returned to the mountain, another party arrives to bargain with Thorin for the Arkenstone. Bilbo admits his part in giving it to them, much to Thorin's anger. Gandalf tells him to knock it off, and Thorin finally agrees to their demands, but expels Bilbo from the mountain and calls him a traitor. However, the next day, Dain's forces arrive, and Thorin decides to not honor the agreement. What a shock. The two forces begin attacking one another... but that stops when a darkness overcomes the area, Gandalf suddenly shouting to everyone.

Gandalf: Dread has come upon you all! The goblins are upon you! Bolg of the North is coming. Behold! The bats are above his army like a sea of locusts.

Linkara: (as Gandalf, wearing a long white beard) We must stop them here! It's bat country!

Linkara (v/o): Not only are the goblins accompanied by bats, but also an army of wargs. Gandalf gets the dwarves, elves and lake men to work together, since obviously the goblins are their true enemy. And yeah, the goblins are here for the same reason as everyone else: they've heard of Smaug's death and figure that if they can claim the Lonely Mountain, they'll have total dominion over the North. I should note that the goblins were actually already on their way. It's not depicted in the comic, and frankly, I'm hard-pressed to remember it happening in the book, but remember that goblin king from the first issue? Yeah, it turns out Thorin's dwarves killed him. Whoops. That pissed the goblins off but good, and they've been rallying ever since then. And thus, we have the Battle of the Five Armies: one side, elves, men and dwarves, and on the other, goblins and wargs. The artwork for this is pretty damn cool: a splash page first, with a border depicting parts of the battle, plus poor Bilbo way out of his depth. Thorin and the other members of the party finally leave the mountain and join the battle, Thorin himself trying to get to the lead goblin, Bolg, but he can't get past their defenses. And unfortunately, the battle does not go well. The goblins are just overwhelming in numbers. However, hope finally comes in the form of the tried-n-true deus ex machina of the "Lord of the Rings" franchise. No, not Gandalf – the eagles! Yes, the great force of eagles descend upon the goblins... and knock Bilbo out. Yeah, a rock or something drops on his head, and he's down for the count for the rest of the battle.

Linkara: And thus, the origin for (makes "finger quotes") "rocks fall, everybody dies."

Linkara (v/o): Well, actually, he's just knocked unconscious and soon comes to a little while after the battle is over. He's brought to Thorin's bedside since he was mortally wounded in the battle and wanted to see Bilbo one last time. He apologizes for everything he said before at the gate and wishes to be friends with him again at the end.

Thorin: There is more in you of good than you know, child of the kindly west. Some courage and some wisdom, blended in measure. If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.

Linkara: So... that's why the story kept bringing up food? It was part of a message?

Linkara (v/o): And thus, Thorin is dead.

Bilbo: You are a fool, Bilbo Baggins, and you made a great mess of that business with the stone; and there was a battle, in spite of all your efforts to buy peace and quiet, but I suppose you can hardly be blamed for that.

Linkara: (as Bilbo) I'm really sad about the poor choices I made. (beat, then brightens up) Oh, well, wasn't my fault.

Linkara (v/o): And just for funsies, we learn what actually happened in the battle after Bilbo was knocked out. The eagles helped turn the tide, but it wasn't quite enough. What finally won them through was the arrival of Beorn, who took on the form of a GIANT FRIGGIN' BEAR and killed Bolg himself. Without their leader, the goblins soon fell apart and scattered back to the north. Thorin is laid to rest inside the mountain with both the Arkenstone and the elvish blade, Orcrist, creating a legend that it would gleam ever in the dark if those approached so the dwarves would never be taken by surprise ever again.

Linkara: This would later inspire the elvish home security system industry.

Linkara (v/o): Dain became the king under the mountain, and apparently Fili and Kili were also killed in the battle. But they're not main characters, so nobody cared. Dain offered Bilbo his promised share of the treasure, but he said that even if he wanted all of that, there's no way in Hell he'd get it back to the Shire without murder and mayhem from people on the way. So instead, he takes two small chests of silver and gold and heads back along the path with Gandalf and Beorn. They stop in Mirkwood to the elves again to give the king a gift, part company with Beorn, and stop at Rivendell so Gandalf can explain where the hell he's been.

Narrator: It appeared that Gandalf had been to a great council of the white wizards, masters of lore and good magic; and that they had at last driven the Necromancer from his dark hold in the south of Mirkwood.

Linkara: And I'm sure that Necromancer will never bother us again. Yep, wrapped up that plot point nicely.

Linkara (v/o): From there, they picked up the gold they had taken from the trolls and dug it up, and finally, finally Bilbo arrives home... only to find all the hobbits of the Shire in the middle of an auction of all of his stuff, since he's been gone for a year and presumed dead. Whoops.

Linkara: You know, after this crap and what happened with Frodo and the other hobbits in "Lord of the Rings", it's really not surprising that Gandalf is considered a public menace around these parts since this is really all his fault.

Linkara (v/o): Eventually, everything got settled and most of his property returned, or bought back, just for convenience sake. He also starts writing his memoirs: "There and Back Again, a Hobbit's Holiday".

Linkara: It's already been optioned by a studio. The script turns Thorin into a woman who's wooed by the very human Bilbo, who's armed with machine guns and one-liners.

Linkara (v/o): Some years later, Gandalf and Balin arrive to tell of what happened in his absence. The old Master eventually died after fleeing with a bunch of gold, but things have become prosperous again. Bard has become the new Master and rebuilt Dale, and everybody is rich and happy. And so, our comic ends as it began, with Bilbo getting high with his pipe.

Linkara: As I've said this whole time, (holding up comic) these comics are great and very faithful adaptations of the book. My only faults with them are the same faults I have with (holds up original book) the book itself.

Linkara (v/o): And I've talked about them throughout these reviews: an overabundance of narration and a lack of characterization. This final section brings in the bizarre ending of this whole tale: the aftermath of Smaug's defeat; namely, that there is any. It's the same problem I had with "Return of the King": why did we need the scouring of the Shire? Going to the RPG analogy, it's like going through an entire game to defeat this giant, huge monster, who's supposed to be the final boss... but then after you defeat it, your final quest is to take out some random merchant who's kind of an asshole. What sort of narrative structure does that follow? Rising action, climax, second rising action, then falling action in denouement? The Battle of the Five Armies, as depicted in the book, is about six pages long. Now, don't get me wrong: the story is still well-told, and it's ironic and tragic that Thorin is destroyed by the same greed that stole the mountain away from his people, but at the same time, it overcomplicates the story and adds elements that aren't really needed for what was supposed to be a simple adventure. I feel it'd be a bigger injustice to the story if it wasn't in a trilogy, frankly. For those who say "The Hobbit" has a different tone from the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, honestly, I don't feel that. They read exactly the same, except that the monsters had more speaking lines than in "Lord of the Rings". They still both feel pretty epic in scope, especially when you have huge-ass battles near the end. Yeah, I get that it can feel slow, and there are elements that aren't really needed, but at the same time, it expands the story, offers new and frankly better potential for storytelling than what was given in the book, and it sets up elements that would come into play in the actual "Lord of the Rings" trilogy. But hey, we're all entitled to our own thoughts about these kinds of things, and if you hate the movies, more power to ya.

Linkara: But I think we can all agree that this comic at least is actually really good and has made this a pretty happy holiday season. Nope, nothing bad's gonna happen now that we–

(Suddenly, he gets interrupted as the room dims briefly. He looks around in confusion. Then the room darkens completely, and when the light is restored, the "Hobbit" comic has been replaced by another comic: the first issue of "Santa the Barbarian". He is shocked at what he is now holding in his hand. He looks at the title and becomes stunned)

Linkara: Oh, dear. (frowns, then speaks grimly) There are older and fouler things than orcs in the deep places of the comic world. (glares)

(End credits roll)

You could argue that Bilbo contributed to Smaug's defeat by the Thrush overhearing him talking about the weak point, but it's so indirect and passive to the whole affair that it doesn't feel like he genuinely contributed.

"There and Back Again: Bilbo's Reckoning" opens soon. Starring Mark Wahlberg as Bilbo and Kate Beckinsale as Thorin.

(Stinger: Jaeris teleports into Linkara's apartment)

Jaeris: What's up? Sounded urgent.

Linkara: Linksano was attacked by some woman. She mentioned dimensional anomalies and was specifically looking for you.

Jaeris: Is that so? Well, I figured something like that would happen someday.

Linkara: What do you mean?

Jaeris: Well, I did a lot of things before I ended up stranded here. I didn't make too many friends when I started taking people's magic guns. Well, maybe a few during the Contest of Champions, but I made a few of them rightly pissed off, too.

Linkara: I don't suppose an apology and simply returning the gun would fix things?

Jaeris: Well, then I guess we'd best be ready for her next strike.

Linkara: Actually, let's not.

Jaeris: What do you mean?

Linkara: Nimue's sensors were able to come back online just before she teleported out. As such, we got a teleport trace on her and know where she beamed to.

Jaeris: (holding up gun) You figure on a little raid?

Linkara: Oh, quite the opposite. Let's not give her a home turf advantage. We'll beam her back here and then have a bunch of guns aimed at her face in case she doesn't accept your apology.

Jaeris: (impressed) Well, I like this more and more.

Linkara: And afterwards, whether she accepts it or not, (points to him) you're coming over here for Christmas dinner.

Jaeris: Well, actually, I kinda had an appointment with a bottle of whiskey and a picture of my wife.

Linkara: Nuts to that, man. We're getting closer every day to finding the coordinates to your home dimensions so we can go there and help you fix things. You're gonna see it again soon, I promise.

Jaeris: Even if we did go back, I've become acclimated to this universe. I'll die if I go back home.

Linkara: Let's not worry about it just yet, man. We have been through a lot of crap lately, and I say we can use a little bit of Christmas cheer. What do you say?

Jaeris: (looking away briefly to ponder an answer, then looks back) All right. Let's get ready to have something to celebrate.