August 17, 2015
This is the comic equivalent of your elderly relatives telling you all about the sex they used to have.
Linkara: Hello, and welcome to Atop the Fourth Wall, where bad comics burn. My friends, we are in trouble. Expect me to say that multiple times before this series is over.
(Cut to black)
Linkara (v/o): (dramatically) Last time on "Trouble"...
(Shots of the first issue of "Trouble" is shown)
Linkara (v/o): In the wake of "Marville", Epic Comics was launched, and it made a book called "Trouble". Ostensibly designed to bring back romance comics, its true purpose was to annoy, irritate, and then force the words "What the hell were you thinking?" to travel up our throats. The plot of the first issue involved teenage versions of Peter Parker's elders heading to a resort in the Hamptons for the express purpose of getting laid.
Linkara: Behold the answer to the question that nobody asked: (holds up hands) What did Aunt May say to Uncle Ben when they first boned? So let's dig into (holds up today's comic) "Trouble #2".
(AT4W title sequence plays. The title card has "Trouble Me" by 10,000 Maniacs playing in the background. Cut to a closeup of the comic's cover)
Linkara (v/o): We're back, with Uncomfortable Covers Theater. Yeah, still got the real-life, potentially underage models on the cover, only this one is actually a bit more disturbing than the first. I feel dirty looking at this cover, with one staring right at the reader and biting down on her sunglasses, while the other, with her eyes hidden, looks like she's breathing into that girl's ear and reaching down someplace the camera can't see! Mind you, you could say I'm just seeing things that aren't there, but it's hard not to when the book is all about these people HAVING SEX!
Linkara: You see why it takes me so long before I (points to comic) get to the next issue here. Each time I look at this, I need to take a thousand showers!
Linkara (v/o): We start things off with a text recap.
Narrator: Ben and Richard were just a couple of ordinary teenagers heading for the Hamptons in search of a summer job filled with sun, sand and sex.
Linkara: Turns out there aren't a lot of jobs that offer all those perks at once, so instead, they got a job at a resort.
Narrator: Best friends Mary and May had taken a job in the same resort for exactly the same reasons, but didn't really care so much about the sun and the sand.
Linkara: They're very one-dimensional characters.
Narrator: When they met, something sparked.
Linkara: And then they all died from the gas leak explosion. (makes a "hurry up" motion) Comic over?
Narrator: Between the cooking, the cleaning and being measured for some seriously ugly nylon uniforms, these four people realized that the sun isn't the ONLY thing that comes out in the warm weather.
Linkara: (fingers crossed, eyes closed, hopefully) Change the focus to a groundhog! Change the focus to a groundhog!
Narrator: Last issue, they staggered back to their rooms in the hope of doing something they'd regret in the morning.
Linkara: (as Richie) Oh, God! We binge-watched Heroes on Netflix last night! Why did we do that?!
Linkara (v/o): We open on a closeup of May, with her hair and makeup looking absolutely fabulous after sex.
May: Ben? You done?
(Cut to a clip of Resident Evil)
(Cut back to the comic)
Ben: Yeah, May. I'm done.
Linkara: (as Ben) Don't know why I had to reorganize your clothes drawer before we could sleep together, but here we are.
Ben: That was incredible.
Linkara: Yeah, it sure is the best sex ever when your partner isn't sure if you're done or not.
Linkara (v/o): But yeah, if you ignore who these people are supposed to be, it's actually kind of sweet: him apologizing if he was too fast; she says not to worry, that if that did happen, it would be a compliment because he's so into her. It's rather endearing, actually.
Linkara: (stroking chin, looking up in thought) Oh, wait, aren't I supposed to be sex negative? (speaking somewhat halfheartedly) Uh... I-I hate this because they engaged in consensual fornication and not because they're annoying stupid and uninteresting. Yeah, we'll go with that.
Linkara (v/o): Ben asks May if she's got a cigarette. He doesn't smoke, but he figures he should play by the post-coital cliches in movies.
May: I've got a packet of Reese's Pieces.
Ben: That'll do.
Linkara: (as Ben) I'm gonna smoke the hell out of this candy.
Linkara (v/o): Ben explains that originally they had planned to go to Disney World to work.
May: Really? I've always fantasized about doing it with a guy in a mouse outfit.
Linkara: I'll take "Things I Needed To Know About Aunt May" for 200.
Linkara (v/o): The two talk about saving up money for things, with May in particular pointing out what she really, really wants...
May: You promise not to laugh?
Linkara: Difficult. I'm certainly not laughing, but I'm pretty sure the comic is laughing at me.
Linkara (v/o): She wants to buy a Scooby-Doo van.
(Linkara raises his index finger to say something, but stops and thinks briefly)
Linkara: ...Yeah, actually, I can respect that. The Mystery Machine is awesome.
Linkara (v/o): Yeah, some guy in her neighborhood has a similar van and she plans to buy it off of him. And Ben's trying to get a car, with features like... engine and aluminum and such.
Linkara: I don't know anything about cars.
Linkara (v/o): We get some character development for Ben, namely that he doesn't have a great relationship with his dad, who tends to play favorites with Richie. What's more, Ben's a little resentful of how good Richie has had it.
Ben: I was always in and out of the hospital as a kid, whereas Richie was the super-fit, super-funny guy. Growing up, I just got used to everybody liking him better.
Linkara: (as Ben) I'll show them! I bet few people even remember what Peter Parker's dad name was!
Ben: Which brings me to a question I've really got to ask: Based on the fact that you could have had either one of us, how come a cool chick like you settled for Little Richie's unspectacular big brother?
May: Why? Because that's a question Little Richie would never have asked me, baby.
Linkara: (as May) Mmm, you're adequate.
Linkara (v/o): Speaking of, we cut over to Richie and Mary. They did not sleep together and just spent the night talking. She's a little awkward about that, afraid he's going to call her "frigid" or "the Virgin Mary" behind her back.
Richie: Some things are just worth waiting for, Mary.
Linkara: (as Richie) Like "History of Power Rangers" or (holds up AT4W DVD) the next Atop the Fourth Wall DVD.
Linkara (v/o): He says he really likes her, and as such, is willing to wait as long as it takes. However, after she leaves, he bangs his head against his door.
Richie: Damn Bible-thumping, clap-happy, guitar-playing priests!
Linkara: (as Richie) That's it! I'm gonna go work for the CIA! (beat, then normal) No, seriously, Peter's parents were field agents for the CIA in the main continuity. Weird, isn't it?
Linkara (v/o): A week later, it seems Richie is a bit of a dick, since Ben refers to her as "the Virgin Mary", and of course, they haven't slept together yet.
Richie: I swear to God, she's probably the most interesting girl I've ever met, but I think I'm starting to grow hair on my palms here.
Linkara: You are now thinking about Peter Parker's dad masturbating. (anguished) Why does this thing exist?!
Linkara (v/o): We alternate between the two couples, Ben and Richie talking about all the sexity sex, while the women are talking about relationships.
Mary: How about you and Ben? Still in love?
May: Ben? Oh, he's such a doll, Mary. The sex could be a little more interesting, but I don't think I've ever dated anyone as generous as this before.
Linkara: (as May) He wears the Mickey suit in bed without me even having to ask.
Linkara (v/o): And back to the boys of the val...
Ben: Ten cents for carrying eight suitcases up three flights of stairs? Man, ten cents couldn't even buy us a freakin' Superman comic these days.
Richie: Yeah, can you believe those guys have the nerve to charge twelve cents for that crap now?
Linkara: Okay, assuming they weren't just being facetious with that statement... and why would they be? (laughs, then scowls) No! Comic books cost twelve cents from about 1962 to 1969 or so. No way in Hell does this comic take place during that time period.
Linkara (v/o): The clothing is wrong, the hairstyles are wrong, and while it's not impossible, given condoms were apparently used by about 42% of Americans in the '50s and '60s, the idea of teenagers or young adults like this being smart enough to think of using condoms during this time strains credibility, especially since these characters came to this place with the express purpose of having sex and thinking that working would just be a side thought. These people are stupid, is what I'm getting at. Again, not impossible, but highly improbable on top of everything else we've seen. But here's something a little more practical that's bullcrap, as was pointed out to me by a fan: Richie's father refers to their car as an old Mustang that he's restored. The Ford Mustang was not mass-produced until 1964, meaning they must have done a hell of a job running that thing ragged if this is the mid-'60s, and it already required restoration. Hell, that "twelve cents" remark implies it only happened recently, implying either 1962 or '63 before the damn car was even made! Speaking of things that didn't exist, May at the beginning with her packet of Reese's Pieces? (laughs) Yeah, introduced in 1978. Nice try. May also wants a Scooby-Doo van – 1969; closer, but 1969 was when comics started to cost fifteen cents. Disney World reference? 1971!
Linkara: So, here's a nice one to break out again? (clears throat, then shouts) WHAT TIME IS IT?!
Linkara (v/o): Next, we have one of the most bizarre scenes in this comic, which is saying something. The four are on a double date... and their date consists a fancy clothing boutique... and trying on expensive clothes.
Linkara: I admit, I'm not exactly an expert on dating, but... is that a thing? Is that something couples do on dates? Pretend to be rich and then act all snooty and crap? They even do this at an art gallery and a jewelry story in front of other customers. And frankly, the way they talk is so ridiculous, the store clerks have got to know they're exaggerating, right? And what's with Richard trying to do the Vulcan neck pinch on the saleswoman? Oh, and the next thing they do? Test drive some fancy convertible and going at ludicrously fast speeds.
Ben: Now how much did you say a deposit for this little beauty would be again?
Car dealer: Oh, you don't have to lie to me, son. I knew the second you walked in the showroom your salary couldn't stretch to the ashtray in a vehicle like this.
Linkara: (as Ben) I'm a bellboy at a resort. (as car dealer) Oh, my mistake. It couldn't stretch to the inside of the car at all, then.
Ben: You did? So how come you let the four of us take a ten grand car on a test-drive, man?
Car dealer: Well, it's a lot more fun than sitting in an office, right? Floor it, kid.
Linkara: (laughs) You are so fired!
Linkara (v/o): Later, they're talking about what they did spend their paltry paychecks on: some bargain shoes, a Gonk toy, and... wait. Oh-ho-ho, dear. See, Ben says he also bought a Gonk for May as a gift. In case you're unaware, a Gonk is a little furry toy that was popular in the '60s and '70s with googly eyes on it. It's a cheap little thing, kind of amusing... except that is a Troll doll. Now, to be fair, I kind of understand the confusion here. Mark Millar is Scottish, and in the UK, Troll dolls are known as Gonk Trolls. And Troll dolls were also popular in the '60s, so if they were going for this being in the '60s, it'd make sense. But I can guarantee you that no Americans would refer to it as a Gonk.
Linkara: Congratulations, guys, you traded one poorly-researched anachronism for another!
Linkara (v/o): Later, at a rather romantic-looking sunset picnic, the two couples are enjoying each other's company with food stolen from the resort. Ah, our characters are so likeable. And by the by, does anyone else notice just how creepy it is that not only is Aunt May made to resemble Mary Jane, but Mary made to look like Gwen Stacy? What is the comic trying to imply? That Peter Parker is attracted to his mother and/or mother figure? Look, I'll criticize the character for a lot of crap that's heaped on him, but that is just... moronic. Anyway, while Ben and May bang behind a rock, Mary explains what her thing is about not having sex.
Mary: A palm-reader said if I ever had sex before I got hitched, I'd be a mom before I was twenty.
Linkara: The sad thing is that I really, really want to say that that is monumentally stupid... but this is the Marvel Universe, where it's not only likely that she is legit, but that she was probably a Doctor Strange villain at some point.
Richie: Are you kidding me?
Mary: I know. It's terrifying, isn't it?
Linkara: (as Mary) Then she told us about the big house we were gonna live in, plus the swimming pool!
Richie: No, I mean the fact that you actually believe that garbage? Are you telling me we're living the celibate life here because of something a fortune-teller said?
Linkara: Keep being judgmental and angry at your girlfriend, and you'll be living the celibate life for different reasons, Richie.
Mary: Well, everything else came true.
(Cut to a clip of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 gang watching The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies)
Tom Servo: Well, they die horrible deaths. Ten dollars.
(Back to the comic again)
Mary: She even said May was going to head across the country in a camper van. How could she know something like that?
Linkara: (stroking chin) Wait, I think I may have heard of this fortune teller.
Fortune teller: Was it a zombie prostitute?
CS: (covered in blood; anguished) WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH EVEYRONE?!
(Cut back to the comic)
Linkara (v/o): Richie is still aggravated by this, wondering, if this is true, why May is going to town on his brother.
Mary: That's because she told May the exact opposite of what she told me, Richie.
Linkara: (as Mary) That if she didn't have sex before she was married, that she would be a dad before she was twenty.
Mary: Don't say anything to Ben or anything, but the palm-reader said nobody was ever going to call May Mom.
Linkara: Turns out what she meant was that she let her kids call her by her first name for funsies.
Linkara (v/o): Some time later at the resort, some of the other people who had witnessed May's little performance in the jewelry shop spot her and start mocking her. In particular, they mock her talking about if extra diamond rings would be tasteless.
Man: To tell you the truth, I really dunno, honey, but it's definitely gonna make cleaning out those bed-pans [sic] a whole lot harder.
Linkara: Hey, you're the idiot who chose to stay at a resort with bedpans instead of proper bathrooms.
Linkara (v/o): She tries to be polite and just pass through, but this guy is a dick.
Man: That's right, sweetheart. Go pick up all my dirty old socks, huh? Just don't let me catching waltzing around town again like you're something you're not...
(Cut to a clip of an episode of Scrubs)
Dr. Cox: (to another colleague) Say, Bob, did you happen to order any of the pain-in-the-ass?
Dr. Cox: We didn't order any of the pain-in-the-ass?
(Back to the comic again)
Linkara (v/o): May does make a snarky aside that she's got more class than this asshole has in his entire body, but he warns her to tread lightly or he'll get her booted out.
Man: What kinda stupid clothes are those anyway? Don't you feel even a little humiliated at stepping and fetching for people your own age?
Linkara: Big talk coming from the guy wearing a black hoodie next to a pool in the middle of summer.
Linkara (v/o): Speaking of, what the hell is with the yellow square thing? Richie has a t-shirt with the same thing going. Is that supposed to be a thing from the '60s, too? Or has it become so anachronistic that it's actually from the 2000s? Anyway, one of the guys' friends tells to stop acting like a dick.
Man: What are you doing defending this piece of trash, Ralphie? You could probably have her down in the men's room for five bucks, dude.
Linkara: Smooth, champ. I'm sure you're the expert on that, what with the numerous women whom you paid to do that before they then punched you in the balls and shoved your own Cheetos dust-laden five-dollar bills down your hideous maw.
Linkara (v/o): For that little remark, May socks him across the face. But unfortunately, it turns out to be just a fantasy of hers, as she explains to Richie here. She instead just walked away. He kindly offers to kick his ass, but she reminds him that it's not worth losing their jobs over it. However, she starts to cry over it and he offers a comforting hand and kiss on her head.
Richie: You okay, honey?
May: You mean besides looking like a Panda Bear?
Linkara: (confused) Okay, I'm sure that's just a reference to some obscure old phrase, but... was that actually a reference to a sad panda? (A shot of SadPanda (as in the online reviewer) is shown in the corner) Not him.
Linkara (v/o): Even Richie seems confused about this, considering the blank look on his face. But then, they kiss. And so, our comic ends with Aunt May making out with Peter Parker's dad.
Linkara: Yyyeah, as you can imagine from that, (holds up comic) this comic sucks.
Linkara (v/o): I'll give it this: the opening bits between May and Ben in bed do a lot to humanize them and be endearing, Aunt May's Mickey Mouse fetish notwithstanding. But the rest of it has them being assholes in one way or another, and then other people being assholes to them. Who the hell was this book made for? The timeline issues could be forgiven if the story was good, but honestly, I'm not invested in these relationships, and now May is going to cheat on her boyfriend, making me even less inclined to like how this goes.
Linkara: Next time, we return to Patreon-sponsored episodes with (becomes excited) "Pokemans"! (beat) Although, a very different sort of "Pokemans". (throws down comic, gets up and leaves)
(End credits roll, this time to the old instrumental AT4W theme)
I'm sure someone will tell me I'm wrong about Troll dolls being called Gonks in the USA, but I have NEVER heard of that before now.
Ending theme is still the instrumental version until I can work out a new plan there. I'll be looking into a new ending theme song this week.
(Stinger: A panel of a wide-eyed May is shown, after she and Richie kiss, tears in May's eyes)
Linkara (v/o): I think May is confused in this panel, because the tears from the previous panel just vanished after the kiss.