January 16, 2017
The Star Wars 4
Nothing more romantic than watching people be jerks to their friends.
Linkara (v/o): Hello, and welcome to Atop the Fourth Wall, where bad comics burn. And you know, for a show about bad comics, so far this year, we've had an okay adaptation of the first episode of an anime's dub, a good but not for me artsy comic, and a pretty good origin for a beloved franchise. This year so far has been about fairly good comics overall. (brightens up) So, let's see how we can fix that, huh?
(Cut to a shot of the cover of the second issue of "Trouble")
Linkara (v/o): (dramatically) Previously on... Wait, did I really not review an issue of "Trouble" in 2016? This is the first one since August 2015? Huh. Erm, anyway, (dramatically) previously on "Trouble"...
(Shots of the second issue are shown)
Linkara (v/o): We learned that a young Aunt May had a Mickey Mouse fetish, that she wanted to buy the Mystery Machine from Scooby-Doo, and that she once ate a stack of Post-It Notes on a bet.
Linkara: One of those three things did not actually happen. If you haven't watched the previous "Trouble" review, I bet you'll be surprised which one it is.
Linkara (v/o): After watching the characters show some redeeming qualities to their relationships and not just a bunch of annoying teenagers banging, although there's plenty of that, May is harassed and insulted by a guest of the resort, leading to Richie comforting her... and the two making out, meaning both are now cheating on their respective partners.
Linkara: Also meaning that Spider-Man's dad cheated on his mom with Aunt May. So, let's dig into (holds up today's comic) "Trouble #3" and see how much farther this rabbit hole goes, shall we?
(AT4W title theme plays, and the title card has "Eat It" by Weird Al Yankovic playing in the background. Cut to a closeup of the comic's cover)
Linkara (v/o): The covers for "Trouble" never fail to disappoint in being slightly skeevy. This one is admittedly better than the other two in that instead of weird, kind of squicky expressions on the faces of two potentially preteen girls, it's just a photo model of a girl of indeterminate age blowing a bubble. It's still a garbage cover, but it doesn't make me feel really uncomfortable looking at it. No, the pain here is from me hitting my head repeatedly and thinking, "You know, there are successful romance comics out there, and I think I could put money down on saying that Marvel never bothered to ask a single successful publisher of them how to market a romance story!"
(The comic opens to the first page)
Linkara (v/o): We open on a recap page.
Narrator: (high-pitched, almost girly) Oh my God! Did you hear what happened last issue?
Linkara: (as narrator) We became extraordinarily confused about what year this is supposed to take place in!
Narrator: Okay, you remember those two I told you about?
Linkara: Who is narrating this to us, and how can we politely excuse ourselves so we don't have to keep listening to it?
Narrator: You see, Richard was seeing the angelic Mary and Ben was dating the vivacious May, but Mary wasn't delivering the goods and Richard's eye started to wander and, well, I'm sure I hardly need to fill you in on what happened next.
Linkara: Well, obviously not! May went on a murderous rampage while singing "O Canada". I mean, they were telegraphing that from the first panel.
Linkara (v/o): Why is the issue's preview image a little kid being dragged around by someone while ice cream spills on his shirt?
(The comic proper begins)
Linkara (v/o): We truly open with Richie on top of May.
May: Is that it, Richie? You done?
Richie: Are you kidding, May? I'm only just getting started here, baby.
Linkara: (as Richie) Now could you please get out from under me? I have a lot more pushups to do.
Linkara (v/o): While the two are banging, Mary and Ben tell some kids or fellow coworkers about how awesome their cheating significant other is.
Ben: (to a coworker) What do you mean I'm always talking about May? Ah, you guys are just jealous because you've only got Mrs. Palm and her five lovely daughters for company.
Linkara: (shrugs) Eh, say what you will. At least they're loyal.
Mary: (serving some customers) No, no. I'm not in an especially good mood at all, folks. I actually always sing to myself when I'm serving up London Broil and mashed potatoes.
Linkara: (as the customer she's serving) Well, it's just that you were singing Weird Al's "Eat It".
Ben: (to a flower shop vendor) A dollar ninety-nine a bunch? Aw, what the hell! Gimme that five dollar bouquet over there, ma'am. You're only young once, right?
Linkara: (as Ben) Also, hi, doggy.
Mary: Look, the bridal magazine was the last thing they had at the store! What was I supposed to do? Pick up Popular Hand Drill?
Linkara: I would! Have you seen the foldout of Black and Decker's latest? (points to screen) Nice!
Linkara (v/o): Also, why does everyone on this page have their eyes closed? Anyway, after they finish banging, Richie and May discuss how weird it is that they're doing this.
May: I don't even particularly like you all that much, Richie. I actually kind of find you arrogant and obnoxious.
Richie: Yeah, well, you're not exactly my type either, May. To be honest, I think you're pretty cheap and slutty.
Linkara: It's almost like this situation has been contrived together in order to create drama in an otherwise boring, annoying romance comic.
Linkara (v/o): They continue to be pissed at each other.
May: Oh, drop dead! I come to you for a little support after those idiots back there, and you're hitting me with this?
Linkara (v/o): Wait, this is just after their first time screwing? What the hell is with that montage showing what Mary and Ben were doing? How long have these two been having sex in the pool supply closet?! Apparently, long enough for Ben to do dishes, go to a flower shop, and for Mary to be talking with kids, do her waitress shift, and gossip with some other girls on the staff!
(Cut to a clip of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 gang watching The She-Creature)
Mike Nelson: Space is warped and time is bendable!
(Cut back to the comic)
Richie: Those tears were as fake as you are, honey!
Linkara (v/o): He's got a point; her tears did magically disappear between panels in the last issue. Aaand then they start making out again.
Linkara: Yeah, this is totally how romance works – if you're a weirdo. Or a sitcom writer.
Linkara (v/o): We cut to some time later, where it seems May has revealed to Mary that she's cheating on Ben, just not telling her who with.
May: Besides, sex twice last night and once again this morning is hardly tantamount to an affair.
Linkara: Yeah, but she didn't say (makes "air quotes") "affair", she said "cheated", which what ya did, ya jackass!
May: This isn't a relationship we're talking about.
Mary: Like that thing you have with Ben, you mean?
May: Oh, Ben's getting too serious for his own good anyway. And besides, it's not like he's even going to find out about this if you be a good girl and cover for me.
(Cut to a shot of "Phonogram: The Immaterial Girl")
Linkara (v/o): You know, two weeks ago, I rightfully called the characters in "The Immaterial Girl" unlikable, but the thing about them is that they were at least self-aware of their awfulness. They were pretentious and pompous, but they owned it, even admitted it and recognized that it's not a good thing to be. There's plenty you can read into that about self-loathing or the characters realizing they have to change in order to move forward.
(Cut back to the "Trouble" comic)
Linkara (v/o): And then there's May here, not only cheating on her boyfriend, but cheating on her boyfriend with her best friend's boyfriend, while lying to her about it, trying to excuse it, and is going to manipulate her best friend into covering for her to the guy she's cheating on so she can sleep with said best friend's significant other!
Linkara: And of course, I'd just like to remind you all, Peter Parker picked this woman over his own wife. So, poor romantic decisions are part of the family charm, I guess.
Linkara (v/o): Mary refuses to help at first, but May tries to argue that Ben is gonna get hurt otherwise if he finds out.
Linkara: Yeah, May, I can tell you really care about Ben's feelings in this, what with how you just said you didn't want to get serious with him. (shrugs)
Linkara (v/o): May says she just wants to get her secret boyfriend out of her system, and she'll never ask her to cover for her again. And Mary inadvertently reveals that Richie got Ben to cover for him, too, claiming that he was taking him to the Museum of Modern Art. Anyway, we cut to Ben and May having se–
(He stops short, however, as he spots Ben having an orgasm during sex, with perspiration on his head and his lips pursed)
Linkara (v/o): OH, DEAR GOD, THAT FACE!! What the hell is that?! You know, the Dodsons have been rightfully praised for their work, but what the hell kind of face is that?! I know it's supposed to be his orgasm face, but it looks more like all those clouds in the background are some gaseous form of Botox stiffening his muscles into this twisted expression of inhumanity! The little sweat drop on his head, lack of teeth, and saying "Oh God..." do not help!
Linkara: Oh, and there's another thing we never friggin' needed to see: Uncle Ben's "oh" face!
Linkara (v/o): The two are screwing in a sand trap on a golf course at the resort.
Ben: Poor Richie. How did the horniest guy on Earth end up with a girl who draws the line at first base? Is it true Mary won't have sex because of some old fortune-teller back in Brooklyn?
May: Oh, yeah. Mrs. Grey told her if she gave it up while she's still in her teens she was going to be a Mom by the time she was twenty, but it's really just a crock.
Linkara: (as May) I mean, Mary's 35 now. It's starting to get silly.
May: I mean, she's supposed to come from this amazing line of psychics and all that, but the old bat said I was never going to be a mom. Can you believe that? What she didn't know was that I come from an amazing line of breeders, and you only have to look at a woman in my family to fertilize our eggs.
Linkara: (as May) Someday, I hope to give birth to a Shiny!
Linkara (v/o): The two lay in the sand trap, Ben wondering if they'll still be together after the summer.
Linkara: This is the worst remake of Grease ever.
Linkara (v/o): Ben is hoping to continue the relationship after they get home, but May just tells him to live in the moment and enjoy themselves. It's something that continues later, when Mary and Ben are together, hanging up decorations for an oldies dance at the resort.
Ben: Just the fact that every time I try to talk to her about us going steady, she changes the subject to Richard Nixon or Evel Knievel or whatever the hell else pops into her head.
Linkara: (as Ben) I wouldn't mind so much, but she keeps talking about Richard Nixon while we're having sex and it's getting kind of weird.
Linkara (v/o): When Ben suggests May could be seeing someone else, Mary denies it, although accidentally drops a disco ball.
Mary: Well, y'know, she's had a weird week and everything. Maybe she's still a little freaked out by what happened with those jocks back at the swimming pool a couple days ago.
Linkara: Yeah, that was a weird pool party.
(Cut to a clip of A Nightmare on Elm Street, showing Freddy Kreuger popping up out of the ground and terrorizing a pool party, then back to the comic again)
Linkara (v/o): Ben hadn't heard about May being harassed by the guys from the last issue.
Ben: You mean those clowns who're in town for the polo competition?
Mary: Yeah, the fat, little creep with the really bad shirts.
Linkara: Ooh, I wouldn't say that in front of Richie, Mary. (shots of Richie wearing a similar shirt to said fat creep is shown alongside him) He owns the same shirt as that guy.
Linkara (v/o): Ben storms off to confront them over this, passing by Mr. Shelby, who is dealing with a customer who spilled his food.
Mr. Shelby: Ah, Ben, just the fellow: This gentlemen [sic] dropped a roast potato down his shorts-- could you escort him to the men's room?
Linkara: (smacks lips) Well, I'm pretty sure this romance comic is about to hit us with a huge swerve in the relationships. I just don't know if turning it into a gay porno was really the right way to go about it.
Linkara (v/o): Ben naturally says, "Screw that!" and runs into the guy who insulted May, shoving him into the bathroom. Unfortunately, Mary and Richie catch up to them, and it turns out the polo player is the one who ended up laying him out.
Richie: Ben's pretty much the worst fighter in the history of man.
Linkara: Just as a reminder, the canonical backstory for Richard and Mary Parker is that they were CIA agents.
Linkara (v/o): Later, May and Richie are once again in bed together, with May expressing how she feels guilty about Ben's beatdown.
Richie: Obviously, not that guilty, sweetheart.
Linkara: You are both terrible!
Linkara (v/o): May talks about her conflicted feelings.
May: It's just I've always been pretty judgemental about this kind of thing in the past. I didn't even think you could love two people at the same time.
Linkara: It's perfectly possible, but I'm pretty sure all the parties need to be in on it. And that it probably shouldn't involve two brothers. (points to camera) This is how we got the Jedi forbidding people from falling in love, you know.
Linkara (v/o): May asks him if he's only sleeping with her because he can't stand Ben having something he doesn't. It's an interesting character angle to go with this, though honestly, I kind of roll my eyes since none of these people have shown any particular levels of depth. However, Ben suddenly walks in. Fortunately for them, he doesn't see who's in bed with him, only that he's with someone who isn't Mary... who comes running up after Ben bolts out of the room in embarrassment. Ben gives a clearly bullcrap excuse about the hockey team changing in his room, even though she easily spots said team on the field. But she doesn't question it and they walk off. Possibly feeling guilty about everything, Richie tells Ben he can borrow his anachronistic car anytime he wants... while May decides to go to a midnight party.
May: It's not a party. It's more like Poker Night, Mary. And besides, if I sleep in for work I'm sure one of these lovely boys here'll give me a poke. Right, guys?
Linkara: (laughs) Now you're joking about cheating on Ben with random strangers! (chuckles) You're kind of a horrible person. So much for (makes "air quotes") "loving two people".
Linkara (v/o): And just to make it clear to avoid misinterpretation, May is not awful for sleeping around, she is awful for continually lying to her friend and partner about all of this. Mary admits to Richie that May is cheating on Ben.
Mary: Yeah, but you've got got [sic]...
Linkara (v/o): Nice repetition there...
Mary: ...to swear not to tell. She says he's a jerk and it's only a physical thing, but now I'm worried about all these other guys she's been hanging out with...
Linkara: Oh, my God, May is starting a street gang!
Linkara (v/o): Or rather, she's playing strip poker with them while other people party and get drunk. Outside, Mr. Shelby and his wife look in as if this was some kind of '80s college comedy, but a really lame one.
Mr. Shelby: I knew it! I knew these little sleaze-bags were getting up to this somewhere! Let's kick in those doors and fire the whole damn lot of them, Patty!
Mrs. Shelby: Oh, lighten up, Peter. If you put as much effort into our sex lives as you do with other people's, I might actually crack a smile from time to time.
Linkara: Really, what I'm getting from all of this is that everyone at this resort needs couples counseling.
Linkara (v/o): The next morning... Well, there's no timestamp, so who knows when it is, but a morning later, Mary wakes up to see May on her bed. She admits she hasn't gone to sleep yet.
May: My period's late, Mary.
Mary: Is that what this is all about? God, my period's late every other month.
Linkara: (as Mary) Really gotta fire that secretary. She's terrible at scheduling appointments.
Linkara (v/o): She [May] reveals that she's two-and-a-half weeks late. Mary doesn't think there's anything to worry about, but they could always go in for a pregnancy test. And so, our comic ends with May revealing why she's been up all night. She already did go get tested. She's pregnant.
Linkara: Well, I promised something bad at the start and hopefully I didn't disappoint, (closes comic and holds it up) because this comic sucks.
Linkara (v/o): Admittedly, May acting so awful is meant to be part of her character arc throughout the entire story, but when I say it's awful, I mean she's pretty horrendous. Her motivations seem pretty unclear, too, since she claims at one point it's a matter of loving two people, yet the rest of the book is about her just being on the wild side, while not admitting to her boyfriend that what they have is just a fling. The thing with Ben and Richie having some kind of rivalry doesn't really go anywhere, aside for a scene in the next issue, and it really hasn't been established, other than Ben telling May about it last time. They don't act all that much against each other or anything. The story itself remains pretty damn dull: people having sex and going through fairly boring and uninteresting conversations. The artwork for the most part is competent, but for some reason, a lot of scenes feature characters with their eyes closed for no reason.
Linkara: Next time, we head back to the world of "The Star Wars" to see what other silly names we can read off. (throws down comic, gets up and leaves)
(End credits roll)
The back of the comic advertises a sound card for gamers, specifically that "Lara SOUNDS as HOT as she looks." So, you know, clearly the makers of Trouble understood what women wanted out of their romance comic.
"Hey, I got an idea, let's have the character who's supposed to be the most relatable in the Marvel Universe have parents who were super secret agents."
(Stinger: A panel showing May talking to Mary about her relationship with Ben)
May: He's only going to get hurt otherwise, and you wouldn't want a sweet little guy like Ben to get hurt now, right?
Mary: Oh, shut up and stop being so evil!
Linkara: My God! Aunt May was in on the deal with Mephisto the entire time!