January 21, 2013
The Decepticons' most evil scheme yet – CLEANLINESS FOR VEHICLES!
(Linkara is studying the battery chamber of a Transformers toy, that of Soundwave. He then looks up to see he's on camera)
Linkara: Oh! Hello, and welcome to Atop the Fourth Wall, where bad comics burn. Well, it's finally time for us to get into an issue from Marvel's regular "Transformers" series, and it's the one that everybody wants me to do: "The Car Wash of Doom"!
(Cut to a montage of shots of "Transformers" comics)
Linkara (v/o): Well, okay, if you count my live show a few weeks ago, this is the second Marvel "Transformers" comic I've reviewed, but I don't count the live shows as part of the actual series. There's really not much more I can say about "Transformers" that I haven't brought up in the Dreamwave] or "Generation 2" comics I've reviewed. The only thing left to say is, buy the Marvel series! Sure, it was goofy as all hell; the fact that this comic is called "The Car Wash of Doom" is evidence enough. But it honestly was really damn enjoyable, with twists and turns that never really happened on the cartoon.
(Cut to a closeup of "The Car Wash of Doom")
Linkara (v/o): For example, this robot on the cover? He's called Ratbat.
Linkara: Ratbat was a cassette tape Transformer that emerged from (points to Soundwave) this guy, Soundwave. Well, not exactly this guy. This is a Chinese knockoff that looks like him because I couldn't find the original at an affordable price, and while the MP3 player remodel is, um, um... Anyway, Ratbat, for a time in the comics, was the leader of the Decepticons!
Linkara (v/o): Yeah, the comics had constant power struggles on both sides, and the balance would often shift, as we'll see in this comic, too. But if it can get insane enough that a cassette tape Transformer got to have Megatron's job, isn't that incentive enough to find out how the hell that happened? Hell, if you haven't seen the live show review of "Transformers #24", Optimus Prime is not the leader of the Autobots right now. Dude got killed because of his own bottomless stupidity by playing a video game with Megatron! Seriously!
Linkara: So let's dig into (holds up today's comic) "Transformers #31" and see what makes "The Car Wash of Doom" so infamous.
(AT4W title theme plays, and title card has Rose Royce's "Car Wash" playing in the background. Cut to a closeup of the comic's cover)
Linkara (v/o): The cover is pretty good, with a very eye-catching image of Ratbat attacking two people in the titular Car Wash of Doom, which seems to have all the car-washing action in the background. Hey, any of you familiar with the Tumblr, Escher Girls? It chronicles artwork, usually comics, that features malformed women, whose upper bodies are twisted around so the artist can show off both their chests and asses at the same time, despite how extremely uncomfortable that is and, in some case, improbable. Well, here, we have an odd case of the reverse: the woman is drawn from normal angles, but the guy seems to be twisting himself into uncomfortable poses, seeing as his torso is off to the side from where his legs are. I guess he just doesn't have the bone structure that women do to pull that off completely. Also, the Transformers logo has this odd striping pattern for it, almost as if this was the Barber Shop of Doom.
Text: It's wet! It's wild! It's...
Linkara: (dramatically) ..."Transformers on Spring Break"! Yes, see the hottest robots without their chassis!
Linkara (v/o): We open on an oil tanker under attack by Decepticons. Bizarrely enough, the title of the comic is done in faux Indiana Jones text as "Buster Witwicky and the Car Wash of Doom".
Linkara: I am so hoping that we see a Transformer rip a guy's heart out! (gives a thumbs-up)
Linkara (v/o): The all-white crew is panicking as the robots blow stuff up, which is naturally what you'd want to have happen when you're trying to harness energy and fuel: ignite the flammable liquids. We also see these tiny Insecticons attacking the crew of the tanker.
Linkara: The Decepticons are truly diabolical! They figured out how to weaponize the Transformers toys!
Linkara (v/o): Within a few minutes, all the humans have been cornered, and the Decepticons want information out of them. We also learn that the Insecticons have mind control technology that allows them to easily take over one of the humans to instruct them on how to move the ship. I never understood this: if you have mind control technology, especially when it's as simple as a tiny injection that we see here, how could you ever lose? Anyway, once they have the tanker, they very nicely dispose of the humans by letting them get on rafts. Seems to me they'd just have everyone jump overboard, but hey, credit where credit is due on the evil robots. They bring the tanker back to the Decepticon base, where Shockwave, another Decepticon who's in command of the group, claims to Ratbat that since the operation went successfully, the results speak volumes about his leadership skills. Ratbat, however, is skeptical.
Ratbat: As chief Decepticon fuel auditor of Cybertron, that is what I recently came to this planet to find out!
Linkara: Yes, even the Decepticons are crushed under the iron boot (clenches fist) of bureaucratic oversight!
Linkara (v/o): Aaaaand Ratbat proceeds to take a big bite out of an oil pipe. He even makes a chomp sound effect. I now have this image in my head of Ratbat going "Om nom nom!"
Ratbat: My mechafangs have sampled all types of fuel from many worlds, Shockwave... but this vessel carries fuel of a vintage yet to be distilled...
Linkara: (as Ratbat) We will call it Crystal Pepsi, and it will be an instant success!
Linkara (v/o): Actually, it seems that the pipes are empty. They ended up taking the tanker after it had delivered its cargo. Ratbat does the math and reveals that Shockwave's command is far too energy-wasteful for the troops, so instead, they should use the humans to obtain the fuel for them.
Shockwave: My experience with fleshlings reveals they are unpredictable, illogical. Don't use them.
Linkara: (as Shockwave) I mean, for crying out loud, they produced Transformers: Armada. Do you really think we can trust them?
Linkara (v/o): However, Ratbat reveals he's already using them, and we cut to Portland, Oregon, and the Witwicky Auto Shop. In the Marvel Comics continuity, Buster and Sparkplug Witwicky have already encountered the Transformers a few times before, and are currently trying to avoid any more encounters with them. Buster isn't really interested in the mechanic's life, but is trying to help out his dad's business anyway. And as it happens, business is busy for the shop, especially thanks to the giant car wash sign that now hangs over the place. Hell, I think the car wash sign is actually bigger and more impressive than the auto repair shop sign. Anyway, Buster's girlfriend Jessie shows up and is hoping to go to Dairy Queen– uh, er, Dairy King. Because, I guess in the Transformers universe, the Dairy Queen and the Burger King eventually did produce an offspring who grew up to helm their mutant franchise. Jessie thinks that Buster would be happy that his father's business is going so well, but Buster is concerned because of this newspaper that he was apparently just keeping in his back pocket for no reason. The paper says that the massive gas consumption in the Pacific Northwest is causing a fear of a shortage. And that's apparently the end of the conversation, because he then goes into how the business is preventing him from having any free time. Well, that was an abrupt shift. Why even bring it up then? He also is missing his time with the Autobots, but he had promised his father not to get involved with them anymore.
Linkara: (as Sparkplug) Yeah, the Autobots are a bad crowd, son. First, it's just a bunch of friends acting cool. Then the next thing you know, you robbing a liquor store and getting into knife fights with them!
Linkara (v/o): We cut to Blackrock Industries, another staple of the Marvel Transformers series. Its owner, G.B. Blackrock, was basically a nicer Tony Stark; no Iron Man suit, but he was a good guy who cared about the people in his businesses and wanted to help the Autobots, since, unlike most people on Earth, he knew that there were two factions of robots, one good and one evil. He's responsible for the new car washes.
Board member [Miss Dunkin]: Why the sudden move into this area, Mr. Blackrock? Your company is primarily known for aerospace, oil drilling and gas stations.
Blackrock: Because Blackrock Enterprises has always prided itself in exploring new technologies in all fields, Miss Duncan.
Linkara: Yes, there have been serious advances in the field of car wash technology.
Blackrock: And when we find something good, whatever it is, we bring it directly to the people.
Linkara: (as Blackrock) We've already bought out this new device called a Virtual Boy. (gives a thumbs-up) We think it'll be a big hit!
Linkara (v/o): He's revealing the new model 2 of his car wash facilities to the reporters and says he'll be unveiling them to his franchisees that evening.
Narrator: After a few more questions and answers, the press vacates the premises... and, apparently, so too does G.B. Blackrock's mind.
Linkara: (as Blackrock, staring off into space) Yes, now that I think of it, Brickleberry is a hilarious show.
Linkara (v/o): Blackrock returns to his office.
Narrator: ...where he pulls a small tape cassette from his jacket. But this is no ordinary cassette.
Linkara: (as narrator) It was a copy of Weird Al's "Off the Deep End" album. Blackrock would spend hours at a time just listening to it.
Linkara (v/o): No, it's Ratbat, of course, and we can see that with the "his mind going blank" statement from earlier, that obviously Blackrock is under the Decepticons' mind control. That night, Jessie returns to the station with her brother's car and offers Buster a chance to take a spin in the car wash.
Jessie: I hear it's supposed to be wild!
Linkara: It's a car wash. What, do they bounce your car around like the friggin' Mystery Mine Ride or something?
Jessie: C'mon, Buster, get in--it's time to lather up!
Linkara: Well, so far this is less "Car Wash of Doom" and more "Bikini Car Wash".
Jessie: Wow! This is great! Look at all the colored lights!
Linkara: Jessie's the kind of girl who thinks colored Christmas tree lights are worth having a fangasm over.
Jessie: And music! Heavy metal! It's like having a disco in your shower!
Linkara: (holds up index finger) One, those are two completely different musical styles. (holds up two fingers) Two, no, it isn't. (holds up three fingers) Three, how can you even hear the music over the sound of everything else? I've tried to listen to the radio while getting my car washed before and it gets pretty loud.
(Cut to Pollo standing in front of the bookshelf)
Pollo: We'll be right back in a moment. Maybe. We'll see.
(Pollo leaves as the AT4W logo appears in the corner and we got to a commercial break. Upon return, Pollo returns)
Pollo: And we're back. Good times.
(Pollo leaves as the AT4W logo appears in the corner; cut back to the comic as the review resumes)
Jessie: This is totally awesome! I never thought going to a car wash could be so much fun!
Linkara: Oh, please, Rose Royce figured that out in 1976.
Linkara (v/o): During all this, Buster's been grumpy, despite Jessie's enthusiasm and she realizes that, well, he spent all friggin' day at the car wash and really isn't finding his own damn job that enjoyable or fun. Natually, Jessie realizes this and apologizes the best way she can: jumping him and making out! However, for no reason whatsoever, she opens her eyes just when a new bright light hits and starts hypnotizing her. She says she has to leave now and lets him out of the car.
(Cut to a clip of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 gang watching The Undead)
Mike: He's not hypnotizing her, he's just merely boring her.
(Cut back to the comic)
Linkara (v/o): Realizing that her behavior is bizarre, Buster gets into a truck and follows her for an hour, where she arrives at Blackrock's factory. After she fills up her car on gas, she tries to leave, but Buster stops his truck in front of her to hold her off. However, she just gets out of the car and starts walking away. When she doesn't answer his calls, he turns on his high-beams, which snaps her out of the hypnotic daze. Unfortunately, another cassette Transformer, Laserbeak, spots Buster and starts shooting at him. Buster subsequently recognizes the Transformer and decides he can't shake him off. Instead, he drives in behind all the other cars.
Buster: (thinking) I was right! He didn't come after me because he recognized me, but because I didn't get in line!
Linkara: (sarcastically) Wow! It's almost like they're really stupid or something! Seriously, considering how everyone else was behaving and the fact that he was yelling out to her, why couldn't Laserbeak tell something was wrong?
Linkara (v/o): Following along with the charade, he gets out to fill up his car... but then realizes the hose isn't giving gas, but rather siphoning the gas from his truck into a storage tank. Buster doesn't let it finish, and Jessie gets into the car, not remembering any of what happened. Buster puts it together and decides to haul ass so he can warn the Autobots, but then he spots his father arriving. And instead of going for help, he turns around and follows. The two exit the car and go to a higher point in the plant to observe things, because that's the dumbest thing they could do, especially since they already know they're dealing with flying Transformers. They see Blackrock and Ratbat in front of a crowd of hypnotized people. And naturally, what does Blackrock do to a crowd of hypnotized individuals? Make a speech.
Blackrock: Ladies and gentlemen, as Wash and Roll franchise owners, you have heeded Ratbat's orders, through me, to come here tonight so I may introduce you to the next phase of our operation.
Linkara: (as Blackrock) We call it the eye wash, and it will be completely compatible with all your previous Apple products.
Blackrock: (narrating) The history of Wash and Roll began only recently when the Decepticon Astrotrain used a portable Stroboscopic Opticon...
(Cut to a clip of an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation)
Data: ...using multi-modal reflection sorting.
(Back to the comic again)
Blackrock: (narrating) ...to put me under Decepticon mind control.
Linkara: (as Blackrock) And since all of you are under mind control, it's essential for me to tell you how I was put under mind control.
Blackrock: (narrating) As per its instructions, I awaited delivery of cargo from Cybertron, home planet of the Transformers, by Astrotrain and his fellow Decepticons Octane and Blitzwing, to an isolated site I own.
Linkara: (as Blackrock) We've decided that the Transformers actually have a future in package delivery as opposed to car wash owner ship.
Blackrock: (narrating) I watched as it transformed... into the first, prototype Wash and Roll!
Linkara: If it's just going to transform into an inanimate object of the same size, why go through the trouble of having it transform at all?
Blackrock: (narrating) I quickly turned my corporation's industrial capacity to the mass production of more Wash and Rolls. ...Which I then sold prefabricated to you.
Linkara: It's necessary for me to explain all this to you, because... (stops and pauses awkwardly for an extended period of time before smiling awkwardly)
Blackrock: (narrating) As you and your customers went through them, you all succumbed to the hypnotic Stroboscopic Opticons within... which command all to come here and empty most of the gasoline in their cars into these two storage tanks... helping the Decepticons achieve their goal of stealing all of Earth's energy resources.
Linkara (v/o): And yet they're not trying to steal the plutonium from the car in this picture that is clearly a DeLorean? He then explains that the hypnosis effect isn't lasting as long as anticipated, but the new model of the car wash has been designed to create a permanent effect. Blackrock points out Sparkplug in the audience.
Blackrock: You, sir-- what is your name?
Sparkplug: Irving "Sparkplug" Witwicky.
Blackrock: Mr. Witwicky, you have the honor of becoming Wash and Roll Mark II's first customer-- right now!
Linkara: (announcer voice) Sparkplug Witwicky, you're the next contestant on... Wash That Brain!
(Price Is Right music plays briefly)
Linkara (v/o): Seeing that his father is about to be permanently hypnotized, Buster tells Jessie to leave and get help, while he stays behind to try to stop them. Buster drives his truck in front of his dad's car to stop him, but unfortunately, all the other cars surround him to cut off his escape. Ratbat decides to deal with Buster himself and forces him into the only place he can go: the car wash itself.
Buster: Oh no! With all these gadgets around me, this pick-up can't do better than crawl through here!
Linkara: Yeah, it turns out this whole comic is an advertisement for SUVs with four-wheel drive.
Linkara (v/o): Ratbat follows him inside and starts ripping up the car, draining its remaining fuel. He then tries to kill Buster, who arms himself with a tire iron and runs off.
Ratbat: How wasteful! Conserve your energy!
Linkara: Well, you got to give Ratbat this: he's truly dedicated to his conservationist philosophy.
Linkara (v/o): Buster almost gets to the exit, but the hypnotic lights start flashing on him, which stop him from being able to advance. He still has some control, though, but it was enough for Ratbat to get in and grab him. However, Buster is able to swing his legs up and knock a water pipe open... And this is what you get when go with the lowest bidder, Ratbat. ...and a burst of water hits Ratbat and forces him to release Buster. Buster grabs the tire iron again and eggs Ratbat on to attack him, even though he's clearly outmatched. Fortunately, there's always time for badass girlfriends. Jessie comes driving through and runs Ratbat over, telling Buster to get in. Wait, I thought Buster's friggin' truck couldn't go through this place that well. Or is that smaller car really that much better than the pickup truck? Jessie says that this time, they need to get the Autobots, but Buster says he can't hope they'll get there in time, so he has to settle this now. Fortunately, the Wash and Roll has a ladder up the side of it, and all the franchise owners have gotten out of their cars for no reason and are staring up at Buster. Remembering how the lights from earlier got Jessie freed, Buster tosses the tire iron into the lights, which naturally causes enough flashing and sparks to free everyone from the mind control. Blackrock in particular recognizes the Decepticons and instructs everyone to hurl wrenches and hammers at the robots.
Ratbat: What?! The workers rebel against their superiors?!
Linkara: (as Ratbat) Curses! They're forming a union!
Ratbat: It's time we searched for a healthier economic climate, Laserbeak...
Linkara: Ha! Yeah! (gives a thumbs-up) Good luck with that one, dude!
Linkara (v/o): Buster and Blackrock explain what happened to each other, and Blackrock decides to be a fictional character once again.
Blackrock: Starting tomorrow, my people will dismantle all Wash and Rolls. And, I'll refund all purchase costs to you. I'll also use profits from the stolen gasoline in these tanks to help the poor people of the Pacific Northwest.
Linkara: (as Blackrock) And the enormous cost of all of this will bankrupt Blackrock Industries and put thousands out of work! (smiles and gives a thumbs-up)
Linkara (v/o): Buster and Sparkplug reunite, and of course, Buster is encouraged to not spend his time pumping gas. And so, our comic ends with Jessie saying that she may not remember much from the last few hours, but (suggestively) she does remember where they left off...
JewWario: Oh, my!
Linkara: (holds up comic) This comic... is incredibly goofy, but I wouldn't say it sucks.
Linkara (v/o): I do get why this comic is considered so ridiculous. The concept of the Decepticons using a car wash to steal gas from people is remarkably goofy. In addition, it's a hell of a lot of trouble to go through when, if they have control over Blackrock, they could just have him purchase all the gasoline they want or need and supply it directly to the Decepticons. Hell, there's nothing really stopping the Decepticons from doing this plan again with some other rich guy or even doing it again to Blackrock. After all, there's nothing here suggesting that the permanent mind control wouldn't still work the next time they tried it. And frankly, Blackrock's speech explaining the evil plan is completely unnecessary and is only there for Buster to learn the full details, which he could have pieced together anyway, based on what he was seeing. However, the character motivations still ring true and it utilized the human characters in better ways than other media. It's ultimately Buster's story of him trying to free his dad, and it has an impact on him, as opposed to other stories where the humans are just there because the creators feel the need to have human characters, even though what we want to see are the Transformers.
Linkara: Overall, "The Car Wash of Doom" is a silly story, but really enjoyable in that '80s cheese kind of way. (puts down comic, gets up and leaves)
(End credits roll)
Still disappointed by the lack of heart-ripping in this comic. Clearly it has betrayed Shiva.
NOTE: There have been like a bajillion Soundwaves and Linkara is an idiot who doesn't know how toy sales work.
Why the hell hasn't there ever been a proper reselling of Soundwave and the cassette transformers in stores? And I don't mean the limited MP3 player one – I mean a proper reselling available in lots of stores. Are they allergic to money or something?
(Stinger: The "dull surprise" expression from the Autobots in "Transformers: Generation 2 #1" is shown)
Linkara (v/o): And hey, at least in this Transformers comic, no one makes a "dull surprise" face.
(Cut to Blackrock giving the speech about dismantling the car washes)
Linakra (v/o): Well, except for Blackrock at the end, but it happens less frequently, is what I'm saying.