September 14, 2015
Reminding you that every single person who participates in a race cheats in some capacity.
Linkara: (wearing a cowboy hat and speaking in a cowboy drawl) Hello, and welcome to Atop the Fourth Wall, where bad comics burn. I reckon it's time for truckin' again. I'm just sorry I'm not wearing my trucker headband.
(Cut to black)
Linkara (v/o): Previously on "US-1"...
(A montage of clips of the fourth issue of "US-1" is shown)
Linkara (v/o): Ulysses Solomon Archer, AKA U.S. 1, was challenged by Baron Von Blimp, an agent of the demonic Highwayman, to a race. Naturally, with a name like Von Blimp, you shouldn't be surprised that his vehicle was... a biplane. Nah, I'm kidding. He had his own dirigible, which he used to try to kill U.S., but we got to see U.S. actually intelligent and plan ahead, creating new technology to prepare himself for the battle, making his already ludicrous rig into a full-fledged battle wagon, with surface-to-air missiles, radar tracking technology, and even use his CB skull to hack into radio transmissions. Also, chickens were involved somewhere in there.
Linkara: So let's dig into (holds up today's comic) "US-1 #5" and see what sort of ridiculousness we have in store for us this time.
(AT4W title sequence plays, and title card has "Uptown Funk" by Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars playing in the background. Cut to a closeup of the comic's cover)
Linkara (v/o): Nothing like seeing a comic from the '80s to make you really appreciate classic cover design that actually informs you of what's going on in a comic. Don't get me wrong, this cover is not the most spectacular thing ever, but it tells you exactly what to expect in this: a giant maze that U.S. 1 will have to traverse that features glaciers, tornadoes and volcanoes. It's not just the characters' posing or something; it actually tells you what to expect in this comic.
Text: FACING THE MAZE!
Linkara (v/o): Yyyyeah, and speaking of facing the maze, is the truck falling into the maze? Because it's at a weird angle and I'm pretty sure his rig can't fly.
Linkara: Yet, anyway. I know, it's coming up eventually. We haven't reached peak insanity for this series yet.
Linkara (v/o): We open on Baron Von Blimp's dirigible floating over the North Atlantic shortly after the last issue... and apparently flying higher than a passenger jet. I would critique this fact, since blimps, while capable of rising up to 10,000 feet, normally would not do so, since it would mean releasing so much fuel that the return trip down would be a lot bumpier, so it's usually more than 2,000 to 3,000 feet. But, this is comic book science, in a book where a guy can control a truck with a silver dollar, so really, this is the least of its problems.
Baron: Ulysses Solomon Archer vill pay for subjectink my beautiful zeppelin to za ravages uf nature--
Linkara: Dude, that water damage was (points to camera) your fault. This is what happens when you don't clean out your gutters.
Baron: --und from za ravages uf zose escaped chickens...
Linkara: Not a good sign for your recurring villain when he's easily bested by poultry.
Linkara (v/o): Back over to U.S., he and Retread are trying to do what I suggested last time: pick up the signal of the homing device planted on the Baron, but either it's been knocked off or it's out of range. And since they can't find the Baron, they might as well finish the job they had started with their little contest and drop off the cargo of chickens, who are probably all very spooked by now thanks to all the bombs dropping.
Linkara: Oh, yeah, and of course, there are all those chickens who were left out to die in the desert. Good work with that.
Narrator: The hours pass and the miles rumble by, the time chewed up by the conversation, the distance gulped down by the hungry wheels...
Linkara: Oh, right, so the wheels ate the chickens. That works, too.
Linkara (v/o): And so they roll in and meet up with the checkered-coat-wearing Foghorn Leghorn guy [the Great Chicken Colonel]. He reassures U.S. that the contest was indeed legit, but U.S. is confused as to why the reporters aren't here for the publicity stunt then. Foghorn says the reporters were here, but they left after they got their story.
U.S.: Got what story?
Great Chicken Colonel: The story, I say story, of the person who won the race-- a person who wasn't even supposed to be in it.
Linkara: My God, Retread has been playing us all for fools this whole time, and he won the race!
Linkara (v/o): No, as it turns out, it was Taryn O'Connell, that other love interest for U.S. that might be Midnight. And yes, I could just look ahead and find out, but I want to be surprised at the same time as all of you... except for those of you who have read ahead already and told me. Whoops. Anywho, she explains that when they announced the race, she asked the Colonel if she could participate, too, and just nobody told U.S. or the Baron she was in it, although I'm confused how the hell nobody would notice her driving up behind them.
Taryn: (Irish accent) They don't call me "Taryn Down the Highway" for nothing, U.S.!
Linkara: I thought they called you that because they were really bad at nicknames.
U.S.: But I still don't see how you can beat me in a race I didn't even know were in! You probably want the contract for chicken shipments that was the prize for winning this contest-- but you could have at least tried to win fair and square.
Linkara: Technically, she did. She's the only person in this race who wasn't trying to cheat with deadly weapons.
Taryn: What?! Are you accusing me of cheating?!
Linkara: (as Taryn, shaking his finger) Just because I took advantage of a cheat that turned on "no clipping", doesn't mean that I was cheating!
Linkara (v/o): Before any fists can start flying, Mohawk McChicken suggests another race to settle this: to deliver chicken parts to their distributor.
Great Chicken Colonel: The winner, Ah say winner, will get that lucrative chicken packin' contract and we get that much more free publicity. What, Ah say, what do you say?
Linkara: I say the publicity stunt was a truck versus a blimp. I don't think trucks racing other trucks is really gonna be that much more a pull.
Linkara (v/o): I mean, how do you even advertise that kind of a thing?
(Cut to the Angry Video Game Nerd doing a mock commercial for the game Big Rigs)
AVGN: And we got trucks! Yeah, trucks.
(Cut back to the comic)
Linkara (v/o): So the chicken parts are loaded up and the race is ready.
U.S.: Okay, Taryn, this is it. Good luck! But don't think I'm gonna take it easy on you just because you're a girl.
Linkara: Wow. Dick. Not him saying he wouldn't go easy, but just that he felt the need to bring that up at all. What the hell, man?
Linkara (v/o): I mean, why exactly did he need to go out of his way to point that out, especially when we established in the second issue that she's kind of got a thing going on about gender equality in the trucking industry? And yeah, she does not take that remark well at all.
Taryn: I'm gonna beat that bozo six ways to Thursday! He's gonna be eating so much dust he'll think he's a vacuum cleaner!
Linkara: See, now, "vacuum cleaner vs. truck" would have made for a better promotional stunt.
Linkara (v/o): Unfortunately, her truck won't turn over. She looks at her engine and discovers that somebody disconnected the distributor wires.
Taryn: And I guess I know who that somebody was.
(Cut to a clip of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 gang watching Riding With Death)
Tom Servo: They don't call me Karl for nothin'!
(Back to the comic again)
Linkara (v/o): Yeah, she suspects that U.S. did it, but it's easily fixed and she's on the road, already planning to make up for lost time with a shortcut she knows about. Meanwhile, over to U.S. and Retread...
U.S.: That's funny, Retread, I was sure we'd have seen Taryn barreling down on us by now, trying to get in the lead.
Retread: Well--ah-- maybe she was delayed.
Linkara: My God, it was Retread who did it! (clenches fist) That diabolical mastermind!
Linkara (v/o): Retread wonders why they're even bothering with this race when they should be looking for The Highwayman. U.S. explains that since they don't know where to start looking, they'll have to wait to be attacked.
U.S.: Besides, since this whole crazy business with The Highwayman started, I've hardly hauled any freight.
Linkara: (as U.S.) I need some cash to pay for the lawsuits against for all those caltrops I've left behind on the road.
U.S.: I was beginning to forget what being a trucker was all about...
(Cut to another clip of the AVGN's review of Big Rigs)
AVGN: Drivin' around in fuckin' trucks!
(Cut back to the comic)
U.S.: ...life on the open road, and a kind of freedom most men only dream about.
(Patriotic music starts playing in the background)
U.S.: It's helping to haul the goods of a great nation--keeping it moving and growing. It's hard work, sure, but if it's the right work for you, it's the greatest job in the whole world. I've always loved this life, Retread, I guess I always will.
Linkara: (pointing at camera) Take that, Denny's! America doesn't taste like pancakes, it tastes like trucker! (beat, then becomes confused) Wait...
Linkara (v/o): There's a sign for a detour, which confuses U.S., since they didn't spot that when they first came in.
U.S.: Man, this is the worst stretch of roadbed I've driven in a long time.
(Yet another clip of the AVGN's review of Big Rigs is shown)
AVGN: Off-road traction! More power for nonstop driving action!
(Back to the comic again)
Linkara (v/o): Taryn contacts them over the radio and lets them know she set up the detour as revenge for her engine... Must be some really good shortcut if it gave her time to set that up. Or does she just keep detour signs in her truck? ...although U.S. is confused about what she's talking about. They soon suspect that The Highwayman has something to do with this, first from rocks falling down the side of the mountain, then a downed power line... and then an iceberg blocking their path. Plus, hail.
Retread: Hale [sic], U.S.! Now it's haling on us!
Linkara (v/o): (laughs) That's not how "hail" is spelled.
Because Poor Literacy is... Roger That, Good Buddy, 10-4.
Retread: It's The Highwayman, it must be! Remember when he disguised himself as an old man--told you he'd gained strange powers by selling his soul to the Devil. It must have been true!
Linkara: So the Devil is interested in truckers' souls and marriages? Comic books teach us so much more about Satan than any religious text does in this regard.
Linkara (v/o): Retread calls for help on the radio without success as the snow... Well, they say "hail", but as someone who actually does experience hail in the Midwest and all, it doesn't really pile up like snow. ...continues to fall and make it difficult to drive. They realize they're being herded somewhere. U.S. tries to use his CB skull to see if he can detect any signals.
U.S.: (thinking) Wait... I'm getting something. It's fuzzy, but it's there. A very definite signal. It's got a pattern to it, but it's not like anything I've heard on the airwaves before.
Linkara: (as U.S.) Uptown funk gonna give it to ya...
Linkara (v/o): After they're hit by an earthquake, U.S. accesses the satellite hookup to the truck to try to get a better picture of the area, discovering that they're actually inside of a huge maze, with natural disasters all along the path.
U.S.: At least now that I know we are being herded, I can do something to break us free of this pattern. First I'll use my built-in flame thrower to melt us a passage through this iceberg!
(Cut to a clip of The Thing)
George Bennings (Peter Maloney): Mac wants the flamethrower!
Childs (Keith David): Mac wants the what?!
Bennings: That's what he said. Now move!
(Cut back to the comic)
Linkara (v/o): He realizes that these disasters are a bit weird, since the flamethrower was far more effective than it should have been. Next up is a volcano, which he happily dispatches with a BIG-ASS CANNON ON THE FRONT OF HIS TRUCK!! Look at that thing! Where the hell is he keeping the engine if that's right there?!
Linkara: I would just like to remind you all that this series began as a toy tie-in to slot cars.
Linkara (v/o): As lightning bolts start striking near them, U.S. releases the smokescreen to hide them for a bit until they reach their next obstacle, which is... well... uh...
Linkara: You may have noticed that this issue, despite containing stuff like the maze and the weapons and all, is rather tame for what we've seen of this series. Well, here's where we go off the rails!
Linkara (v/o): My friends, U.S. 1 encounters an alien spaceship!
Narrator: This is not The Highwayman! For whatever else The Highwayman may be, he at least is of this Earth.
Linkara: I don't know. Is Hell technically part of Earth? I feel like there's a research paper in this.
Linkara (v/o): Apparently, Retread was knocked unconscious by everything that happened. U.S. thinks he should probably try to leave after this latest bit of insanity, but the truck won't start.
U.S.: (thinking) At least that thing out there hasn't done anything to us since we escaped the maze. And, come to think of it, nothing that happened to us in the maze really seemed aimed at harming us.
Linkara: Except for the rockslide, the hail, the volcano, the lightning bolts and the earthquake. (slaps his own head in frustration)
Linkara (v/o): U.S. gets out of the truck to say hi to the alien.
Linkara: That's funny, this isn't how I remember the UFO ending of Silent Hill: Origins going down.
U.S.: I'm U.S. Archer. Who you?
Linkara: (as alien) Who me? Me me.
U.S.: Do you speak English? Do you speak?
Linkara: (as alien) I do. Uh, say, I'm looking for these plants that I left behind that I heard some gangsters were using in crimes.
Linkara (v/o): No, no, no. The alien's dialogue is... well, enjoy.
Alien: Breaker, breaker, good buddy. That was one fine ride you just hauled. Really put yer put the pedal to the metal!
Linkara (v/o): Yes, the alien speaks in CB lingo.
Linkara: I eagerly await this guy's cameo in Guardians of the Galaxy 2.
Linkara (v/o): The alien explains that he was the one who jammed the communications and forced him through the maze.
(Cut to a clip of an episode of The Tommy Wiseau Show)
Wiseau: (to an alien) Alien, why you bring me here?
(Back to the comic again)
Linkara (v/o): His logic was that anyone who was smart enough to get through all that would be the type to ask some questions rather than attack him outright.
Linkara: I don't know, seems to me that if I was just put through a bunch of hellish natural disasters as a test, I'd be inclined to start shooting things right away.
Linkara (v/o): So, why's he here?
Alien: Well, truth to tell, son, my rig broke down just this side'a Alpha Centauri.
(Cut to another clip of the MST3K gang watching Riding With Death)
Mike: Damn you, Karl!
(Cut back to the comic)
Linkara (v/o): It just so happens that U.S. is carrying the thing he needs to repair his intergalactic spaceship: chicken parts. Yeah, the ship actually uses organic integrated technology, so he needs some chicken parts to augment some of his systems.
Alien: Works a whole lot better than that stuff you folks use. Cheaper, too.
Linkara: You know, I never thought of using chickens as alternative energy, but there you go.
Linkara (v/o): And so, with the few bits of chicken, he repairs his ship and flies off. U.S. is a bit distraught, not even getting any answers to questions he has, plus being sad that Tamryn is gonna win the race, which you'd think would be the last thing on his mind after MEETING AN ALIEN!! U.S. returns to his truck, where Retread is finally coming around. He has a hard time believing U.S.'s story about an alien, but not for long. The alien transmits a message to him, saying how he realizes he was in the middle of a race and the whole maze thing kind of put a delay on that, so as thanks for the help, he uses a tractor beam to lift the truck up and carry them the rest of the way.
Narrator: The airborne semi soars over the countryside, soon losing altitude as it approaches the Finger-Lickin' Chicken headquarters.
(Cut once again to the AVGN's review of Big Rigs)
AVGN: Over-the-road racing, above the road, under the road, who knows?
(Back to the comic again)
Linkara (v/o): What's more, they even get there ahead of Tamryn [sic], who rolls her truck in and is shocked to see them get there first. U.S. asks her why she thought he had messed up her engine. She tells him how the distributor wires were pulled, and Retread admits that he was the one who did it!
Linkara: Wait, my joke was accurate?? Retread is a diabolical genius?!
Retread: I just thought you got a raw deal in that first race with Baron Von Blimp. You probably would have beat Taryn then, if the Baron hadn't attacked you.
Linkara (v/o): He apologizes, and rightly so! To be fair, everyone is a cheater here in one way or another, but this all started because of Retread doing such a dickish thing like that. And yeah, the contract was lost initially because of fighting the Baron, but fighting the Baron was more important than a contract with frickin' chicken!
(Cut to a clip of Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines)
Offscreen voice: 'Cause that's some good f***in' chicken!
Linkara (v/o): And so, our comic ends with Tamryn still wanting an explanation how they got her first, and Retread says the alien did it, and of course, U.S. knows the explanation is silly, so he denies any knowledge of that.
Linkara: (holds up comic) This comic is so wonderfully stupid.
Linkara (v/o): I think we can count this as the official point where the creative team just decided to throw any semblance of rational plot points out the window and just go nuts: an alien that speaks in CB radio lingo forces a truck-driving superhero with a massive battle wagon to go through a maze full of natural disasters so he can supply him with uncooked chicken to repair his spaceship, and then levitates him the rest of the way on his journey. This is what makes for the stuff of legend, my friends. Why U.S. 1 does not have his own series now baffles me. And it's not like Marvel forgot the character existed or doesn't have the rights anymore, like ROM. He's come back several times renamed as U.S. Ace. Give us a new series!
Linkara: Next time, more aliens, as we return back to a galaxy far, far away... and a script draft revised many, many times, with the next issue of "The Star Wars". (puts down comic, gets up and leaves)
(End credits roll)
Only now, while I work on the end credits do I realize I could have made a Fury Road joke somewhere in this.
So the alien travelled [sic] billions of light years across space... but didn't bother to bring any spare organic material?
(Stinger: The panel showing Taryn's post-race confrontation with U.S. is shown again)
Taryn: U.S. Archer, how on Earth did you get here ahead of me?
(Cut to one last clip of the AVGN's review of Big Rigs)
AVGN: Never lose a race again. You're always winner!