Ultimate Power #4
July 17th, 2017
Why do I feel like I could skip half of this comic and not miss anything?
(The video opens with the following message: "For those who do not care for the storyline segments, the review portion of this episode begins at 4:37". We then truly open on a new spaceship orbiting Earth: Comicron Two. We cut inside where Linkara and Erin stand)
Linkara: Erin, welcome aboard Comicron 2!
(They marvel at the ship's bridge they're on, but Erin doesn't seem all that impressed as she looks confused)
Erin: This is, um...
Linkara: (cheerfully) Unimpressive and confusing, I know.
Erin: You seem happy about it. It's just a room with gridlines.
Linkara: 'Cause now I can show off why it is like that. (looks up) Computer, decloak console!
(The ship's consoles appear in the room out of nowhere and Linkara walks up to them)
Linkara: With everyone else on the team gone, I decided to go back to the original console style for Comciron 1: a single control port that, well, handles everything.
Erin: And what if it gets damaged?
Linkara: There are other consoles inside of the walls that will come out if this one is damaged. Otherwise, in standby mode, it's cloaked from view, as you saw, but the real fun thing about this bridge... is holograms!
(He pushes some buttons and a screen appears, showing a color bar test, which is immediately replaced by an image of the bridge)
Linkara: Using the holodeck technology we salvaged from Comicron 1, I can make the bridge look like anything I want. So, if, say, I'm feeling nerdy...
(He pushes a button, and the bridge turns into the bridge on the Enterprise. He pushes another button)
Linkara: Or, if I'm feeling nostalgic for the old bridge...
(The bridge turns into that of Comicron 1)
Linkara: Or if I just want something weird...
(The bridge turns into the set for The $100,000 Pyramid (whose theme plays briefly). Linkara pushes some more buttons)
Linkara: Or if I just want the comforts of home...
(The bridge turns into Linkara's apartment)
Linkara: And we are in good shape. The console will always remain, regardless of the setting. And if power requires the setting to be switched off, the console will remain intact. (pushes some more buttons)
Erin: (arms crossed) I'm beginning to wonder why you don't just turn your house into a spaceship.
Linkara: I've had bad experiences with that. Still, everything seems to be ready for our maiden flight, so have a seat.
(A montage is shown of Comicron 2 leaving Earth orbit and heading out into space. Its wings spread out, an armada of smaller ships appear to give final preparations, and the ship starts to head out into deep space)
Linkara: And now, to truly christen things, my first review from Comicron 2! (looks over to see Erin seated on the futon) I'm gonna need you to get out of there.
(Erin gets up and leaves, and Linkara sits down in her spot)
Linkara: Hello, and welcome to Atop the Fourth Wall, where bad comics burn. Time for another issue of "Ultimate Power", where everyone gets a chance to be drawn like they're experiencing the worst constipation ever.
Linkara (v/o): For those of you just joining us, "Ultimate Power" is a crossover between Marvel's Ultimate Universe and the Supreme Power Universe, two lines of books all about reimagining Marvel characters in a modern, sometimes darker context. Usually, that means cannibalism for some reason. This nine-issue crossover miniseries has so far wasted about three issues' worth of time in one of the worst examples of decompressed storytelling ever, stretching a very thin plot so far even thinner. Reed Richards, desperate to find a cure for Ben Grimm's Thing-ness, sent out a few multidimensional probes into other realities, in the hopes that they would somehow allow him to find said cure. Unfortunately, one of those probes entered the Supreme Power Universe and brought along with it some kind of weird organic mass that is quickly consuming their Earth and converting the oxygen in the atmosphere into something more suiting it. Naturally, this might be kind of a major bummer for the people of their world, so they followed the signal the probe was transmitting back to the Ultimate Universe and engaged in battle with several superheroes. At the end of the last issue, Reed surrendered himself to them and went along willingly, although Nick Fury promised to assemble a team to retrieve him. It was also our first opportunity to look at the artwork of notorious artist Greg Land, known for tracing... and being so terrible about his tracing that he will constantly reuse the same shots over and over and over.
Linkara: Behold the equivalent of making entire comics out of stock clipart. Let's dig into (holds up today's comic) "Ultimate Power #4" and see what faces Land decides to use this time.
(AT4W title sequence plays and the title card has "Polka Power" by Weird Al Yankovic playing in the background. Cut to a closeup of the comic's cover)
Linkara (v/o): While we're reading from a trade, if the other episodes were anything to go by, it's probably going to be a shorter episode, so might as well look at the cover. It's actually fairly decent compositionally, featuring a battered Reed Richards in shadow up front, his arms locked in high-tech handcuffs, which admittedly looked like they came off of an industrial typewriter, but still, while four Supreme Power characters stand behind in the light, passing judgment on him. Man, everyone is giving Reed the thumbs-down. How bad a reality show contestant could he be? Admittedly, this cover might have a little more impact if these were people Reed actually knew and cared about, but it's still good regardless.
(The comic opens to the first page)
Linkara (v/o): After the recap page, we open with, well, a direct first sighting of Greg Land's tracing. How do I know? Because the Wasp up there has the exact same face as Power Princess from the cover.
Linkara: Did Greg Land hope that we would forget what the cover looks like in the time it would take to flip two pages? Or in the case of the trade, (holds up the comic pages, shown side by side) from left to right?!
Linkara (v/o): So anyway, we pick up right where we left off last time. And by that, I mean, the last issue ended with the heroes asking Nick Fury, "What's the plan?" And he held up a gun and proclaimed...
Nick: I'm thinking about it.*
(Editor's note: "Yeah, yeah, not the EXACT same lines, but that just makes it even worse that they screwed this up.")
- NOTE: Fury actually said, "I'm working on it."
Linkara (v/o): While this one has those lines, only now everyone's crowded around Nick Fury, who is neither holding up a gun nor looking at everyone else, with everyone else now looking at something besides him. How do you screw up the continuity of one issue to the next when it's the same writer and artist?! At least "Countdown" had the excuse of multiple creators not being able to keep things straight.
Linkara: And yes, I am still citing "Countdown" this many years later. Unlike this comic, (leans in close to camera) I CAN REMEMBER STUFF THAT HAPPENED BEFORE!
Spider-Man: So, uhm... what're we looking at?
Linkara (v/o): The implication is supposed to be that everyone's looking at Spidey, except clearly everyone is looking above him. Like, you can't match the eyelines at all. Anyway, what are they looking at with such awe and reverence? Or in the Wasp's case, dull surprise? The S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarrier. Yeah, not being familiar enough with the Ultimate Universe to know whether or not its appearance here is meant to be such a big deal or not. But regardless, Nick Fury justifies its presence.
Nick Fury: With Reed's equipment damaged, we need to move fast. The helicarrier will take a strike team to whoever can show us how to follow Reed--
Spider-Man: Uhm, Nick--
Nick: --into whichever dimension the others took him. We--
Spider-Man: Nick? Mr. Fury? Nicky-poo?
Linkara: (as Spider-Man) Sorry, that was my subtle way of telling you I need to go to the bathroom.
Linkara (v/o): Just... what the hell is this scene? Why is Spidey interrupting Nick Fury? He says it's because he needs to get his attention to tell him his idea, to use Thor to transport them to the Supreme Power universe. Here's the problem, though: Nick Fury hadn't said that he didn't know how to transport them to their universe yet. Spidey interrupted to offer a solution to a problem before anyone said it was going to be a problem. Oh, sure, Nick implied that they didn't know by saying, "Whoever can show us how to follow Reed," but why didn't he just wait for him to stop talking before suggesting it?
Spider-Man: See, when I saw you looking up and we were all looking up, and I looked up, I thought we were all looking at the same thing, but--
Nick: What is your point?
Spider-Man: I wasn't looking at the helicarrier. (points to Thor) I was looking... at him.
Linkara: (as Spider-Man) I mean, I am a teenager under this mask. (leans in close; sotto voce) Isn't he just a heartthrob?
Linkara (v/o): Holy crap, Land! I know Peter is still a teenager in this continuity, but I'm pretty sure at this point, his head should not be so tiny compared to Thor's. Thor still just resembles a very strong-looking dude in this continuity. Why is you could fit two Spider-Mans inside of him?
Spider-Man: You're the God of Thunder, right?
Spider-Man: So I'm guessing that hammer of yours--
Spider-Man: Majohlnar? Maj-jongner?
Spider-Man: How do you spell that?
Linkara: Well, in English, you spell it M-J... (becomes exasperated) Oh, for the love of God, would you shut up and move on already!
Linkara (v/o): Anyway, Mjolnir has the ability to take Thor anywhere, and since the energy trail for the Squadron Supreme is still fresh, they can open up a dimensional portal and follow them to their Earth.
Captain America: Good idea.
Thing: Kid's smart.
Iron Man: Makes sense to me.
Nick: You're standing on my foot.
Iron Man: Sorry.
Wasp: So what're we waiting for?
Spider-Man: How did he spell that?
(Cut to a clip of Monty Python and the Holy Grail)
Bridgekeeper (Terry Gillian): Get on with it!
Tim the Enchanter (John Cleese: Yes, get on with it!
King Arthur and his knights: YES, GET ON WITH IT!
(Cut back to the comic)
Wasp: Fury got owwwwned.
Linkara: How? D-Did we turn over two pages at once? How did he own him? And who gives a crap right now if he was or not? Why do you people care?! Why am I even reading this?!
Mr. Fantastic: Spidey's got a point, Nick.
Linkara (v/o): He has a suggestion. Why are they pretending this is him showing up Nick Fury when it's just him being helpful? So what is Nick Fury's reaction to this?
Nick: And once Thor opens the dimensional portal, we're going to need the helicarrier to get everyone to the other side, aren't we?
Nick: So I was right, wasn't I?
Linkara: Right about what?! There wasn't any argument! Is there some special edition of this comic that includes the deleted scenes that explain this exchange?
Linkara (v/o): Anyway, with everyone coming on-board the helicarrier, they get to work.
Nick: Can you pick up the energy signature, Thor?
Spider-Man: What's his deal with verily all the time? I--
Nick: Shut up.
Captain America: All right, then. We've got everything buckled down--
Spider-Man: And some things webbed down.
Nick: I said, shut up.
Linkara: (exasperated) And I'm saying it, too! Enough with the completely useless babbling in this issue! We'd be there by now if not for it!
Linkara (v/o): Thor warns them that the energy of the hammer might be too much for them to take, asking if they still want to proceed, but Fury gives it a go-ahead.
Thor: Then let the heavens be torn asunder, let us be carried by lightning and storm, let the world fall asunder, the sky be ripped away-- and this world be left behind!
Linkara: See? Now, if the superfluous dialogue was more like a thunder god ripping a hole in the space-time continuum into another universe, then I wouldn't have much to complain about.
Linkara (v/o): Mind you, the awesomeness is kind of undercut by the next page immediately showing a very traced Thor travelling through the portal with the helicarrier behind him, but still, credit where credit is due. Wonder where Thor was traced from originally. A wrestler maybe? I don't know. Over in the Supreme Power Earth, the military leaders have already figured out that if the Ultimate Universe was able to casually send interdimensional probes out, they probably have a way of following them back to their Earth, and they need to be prepared for another incursion. Fortunately for them, they have Hyperion standing guard in orbit. Reed is of course working on finding a way to fix this catastrophe and has a theory on what the biomass is.
Reed: The cellular structure is similar to a spore I've discovered on other extra-dimensional expeditions, but it was a simple one-celled organism, biologically inert.
Linkara: Wait, it's a spore doing something nonsensical? We are actually dealing with a new spore of madness?
Reed: My only guess is that as it passed through the interdimensional rift, the energies surrounding the probe interacted somehow with the spores, which hitchhiked onto the probe as it passed through them. Sped up their evolutionary process, so that when they got here--
Linkara: (as Reed) And then... well... do they have moldy Jell-O in this universe?
Linkara (v/o): Reed asks how many people have died, thanks to this, and another official says they estimated in the tens of millions, much to his horror.
Reed: ...I was sure I'd compensated for this possibility. I took every precaution to guarantee that nothing organic could adhere to the probe's skin and avoid contamination. I don't understand.
Linkara: Hey, man, it happens. Mildew can strike when you least expect it. That's why I trust Vincent Price with this stuff.
(Cut to a clip of a commercial for Tilex, hosted by Vincent Price)
Price: Spray on Tilex Instant Mildew Stain Remover, and mildew stains vanish with no scrubbing. Try Tilex and escape the torture of scrubbing.
(Back to the comic again)
Linkara (v/o): With them is Dr. Emil Burbank, the Squadron Supreme version of Lex Luthor.
Dr. Burbank: Question, Reed. I've always wondered what it must feel like to kill millions of people all at once. Since I'm never going to have the chance to meet a Hitler or a Stalin, I was wondering if you could tell me what it's like to...
(Cut to a clip of an episode of Scrubs)
Dr. Cox: (to J.D.) Newbie, if the next two words out of your mouth aren't "See ya," then the third word will be "Oh, my God, my crotch, you've punched me in the crotch."
Linkara: By the way, spoilers, in case you cared: the guy who is transparently evil and would love to ask dictators what it's like to murder millions of people is one of the real villains of the story, so this question is in reality more superfluous dialogue.
Linkara (v/o): I mean, given what we later learn in "Ultimate Power" about the guy and his part in this, it just makes me wonder why they didn't help set up that reveal other than "So, who else has got a murder boner right now?" Reed is of course pissed at him. Ironic, given what apparently happens to the poor kid in the Ultimate Universe. But Reed has been set up with electrical devices that Burbank can use to shock him if he tries to escape.
Dr. Burbank: Now, as I was saying, before you're put on trial and convicted of crimes against humanity and introduced to a far more powerful jolt of electricity than the one I just showed you, tell me-- how do we stop that stuff from adding even more numbers to your already quite astonishing body count?
Linkara: That's what you were gonna ask Hitler and Stalin? (shrugs) I don't know, just seems like they wouldn't care all that much about it.
Linkara (v/o): Reed says he honestly doesn't know how to fix this and naturally is breaking down a bit as a result. Fortunately, the cavalry is almost there. On board the helicarrier, they page Nick Fury, but he's not answering. As such, Captain America sends Shadowcat to go look for him. She finds him, phasing through walls to do so. By the way, nice slight ass shot of the teenage girl, Land. Admittedly, we've seen worse underage panty shots in comics, but one has to question why she was drawn in this way to do so in the first place. Also, randomly phasing through walls seems like kind of a bad idea here, especially when you're in the middle of a dimensional tunnel and could wind up phasing out of the ship. Anyway, she finally finds him inside of an odd room, talking to someone in shadows. I'll talk about this room in a moment. But first, dialogue.
Voice: You're sure Richards suspects nothing?
Nick: Affirmative. So we're going to go in, get him, clean this up, and get the hell out before any of this can bounce back on us.
Linkara: (as Nick) And I'm absolutely certain they can't follow us back to our own reality like they've done once before because... well, it isn't very well written.
Linkara (v/o): He also mentions that they can't let Reed take a close look at any of the probes because he's smart enough to recognize what he and the mysterious figure did to them. But enough about that; let's talk about this room. Nick Fury is in some secret room, talking with some mysterious person whom we don't see in this issue. Well, I can see you'd want to hide someone in this space. After all, no one else in S.H.I.E.L.D. can be allowed to learn that this is where he records his Star Trek fan films, because THIS ROOM IS THE BRIDGE OF THE ENTERPRISE-E!!
(Cut to a shot of the bridge on the Enterprise-E in an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation)
Linkara (v/o): Seriously, take a look! THAT'S WHAT IT IS!
Linkara: Behold Greg Land, who couldn't draw a freaking wall without tracing it!
Linkara (v/o): Fury walks out of the room to find Kitty standing there. She says Cap sent her to find him.
Nick: Come on, let's get to the bridge.
Linkara: (confused) But you just left the bridge!
(Cut to another clip of a Star Trek: TNG episode)
Worf: Two bridges?
(Back to the comic again)
Linkara (v/o): Even Kitty is confused by this. Look at her turning around and staring at it as they walk away.
(Cut to yet another clip of a Star Trek: TNG episode)
Worf: The ship has one bridge. One bridge!
(Cut back to the comic)
Linkara (v/o): Over in Supreme Power Land, Power Princess has decided to be traced as she goes to visit Hyperion. Having not read "Supreme Power" before, I looked it up and she apparently might have a thing about wanting to conquer the Earth, and her and Hyperion are together, but beyond that, I don't know much, so I don't know how out of character this is for her.
Power Princess: My love... they do not see you like we do. A star, compressed beyond imagination, needing only a single spark to light the fire, and then...
(Cut to a clip of Yu-Gi-Oh GX Abridged)
Yami Yugi: Arson!
(Back to the comic again)
Power Princess: ...it will be beautiful. We...will be beautiful.
Linkara: Oh, Power Princess, you're already traced from someone pretty.
Power Princess: Do not open your eyes, my love. But continue to listen...
Linkara: Nice save to cover up that he didn't draw someone whose eyes were open.
Power Princess: Listen to those that crawl across the broken rind of the world below, denied flight, denied the sky, denied the stars... listen... what do you hear?
Linkara: Well, I hear a woman who can talk in space. What's up with that?
Linkara (v/o): Basically, her spiel is that he should let most of humanity be killed by the biomass and only save those willing to let him save them, AKA together, they can rule the galaxy or whatever. Before he can answer her, Hyperion spots the arriving helicarrier. Now, you might think that this is hinting at some sort of betrayal by Hyperion against his world, or maybe Power Princess decides to let people die and turn her into a full-fledged villain. But you would be wrong, because nothing comes of this. At all!
Linkara: Which makes this scene...
(He raises his finger in the air and to a ding, the words "ENTIRELY POINTLESS" pop up above him)
Linkara (v/o): So, yeah, Thor and the helicarrier emerge from a portal. I don't know, every time I see one of Greg Land's male characters and the screamy face like this one, I just imagine them making that weird yell from the Garzy's Wing DVD.
(Cut to a clip of the DVD menu for Garzy's Wing, showing said scream. Then cut back to the comic)
Linkara (v/o): Fury tells the group to get ready, since it's likely they'll be detected quickly, but one of the S.H.I.E.L.D. officers, who looks like he may be diseased or something, given the splotchy coloring, proclaims they may not even have time for that. And so, our comic ends with a splash page showing Hyperion about to collide with Thor.
Linkara: Wouldn't it be nice if they hit each other, exploded, and then we were spared the rest of this series? (sighs) One can dream. (becomes upset as he closes comic and holds it up) This comic sucks!
Linkara (v/o): We're almost at the halfway point of this series, and it has proceeded at a snail's pace. This issue did not help matters, especially when so much of it was dedicated to padding. If the scene between Hyperion and Power Princess is in character for them, then it does nothing to advance then as characters, nor does it really give us any further insight into them. It's just wasting time. The opening bits of dialogue are just as useless since it feels like we're missing parts of it. The only things that actually happen in this issue are the Ultimate Universe heroes traveling to the Supreme Power Universe and Reed Richards speculating about what caused all this. And he's wrong, by the way. The best bit is Reed reflecting on just how catastrophic a mistake he's made. It's solid stuff, but that's the only thing of substance in this crap. The dialogue is trite and frustrating. The artwork gets worse the more you recognize the same repeated bits of tracing that Greg Land does nothing with to make it any more compelling than the last fifty times he used it. Why they stretched this thing to nine issues confuses when they haven't even made one issue compelling so far is anyone's guess.
Linkara: Next time, Patreon-sponsored review time, as we explore a recently-translated manga called "Delicious in Dungeon" that–
(Suddenly, he is interrupted by an alarm going off. He throws the comic and gets up from his seat to investigate. He pushes some buttons on the controls)
Erin: Uh, what's going on?
Linkara: Intruder alarm back home. It's the one I personally set up, which means...
Linkara: (frustrated) Of course. Get in touch with Seris. I'll need her coordination on this.
(Cut over to Linkara's friends)
Dr. Linksano: (scanning with a device) Right. I've gained access to the ground-based systems. (pushes some buttons) I'm uploading the virus now. It should slow him down considerably.
Harvey: Yeah, well, just hurry it up already! Can't stick around here in case he– (Suddenly, he hears a Cybermat) Aw, hell, we're made!
(They spot the Cybermat scurrying on the floor and Harvey fires his pistol at it. The bullets ricochet, however. Pollo also joins in, firing energy blasts. Dr. Linksano frantically pushes some buttons on his controller. Harvey and Pollo each fire two more shots, and the Cybermat seemingly stops, but it's revealed to have a force field over it)
Harvey: Doc, he's got the force fields back up!
Dr. Linksano: (pushes one last button, then puts controller) Got it! Now let's get out of–
(Suddenly, the Cybermat wags its tail and starts to move again, only to be stopped by a zapping, also causing it to flash white, finally stopping for good. The zapping is coming from a laser gun held by 90s Kid)
90s Kid: Dudes, c'mon!
(Everyone starts to run. Linkara, watching everything, gnashes his teeth and grunts in frustration)
Linkara: They're getting away! Tell her to work faster!
Erin: She's trying as fast as she can!
Linkara: (sighs and shakes head) I'll do it myself!
(He pushes some buttons. As Linkara's friends rush through the ship, they find themselves stopped by some force fields. Then 90s Kid takes something out of his pocket)
90s Kid: Hang on, dudes!
(He takes out a control and pushes a button. The room is suddenly bathed in a pale green light. Linkara sees what's happening and smiling)
Linkara: Oh-ho-ho-ho! Excellent move! (pushes some more buttons) The pawns are out of reach.
Erin: (stunned) What?
Linkara: Temporary setback. But the rooks are already on the move.
Harvey: (looks around) We're... still in the same place.
90s Kid: It's a temporary pocket dimension. It'll collapse in a few hours, but it allows us to move in and out freely without anyone noticing.
Dr. Linksano: (disgusted) Good Lord, who calibrated that teleport?! Feels like my insides took a weekend in Vegas!
(Suddenly, Lord Vyce appears beside the group)
Vyce: Clearly, the problem is your own weak constitution.
(Harvey, alarmed at the presence of a sworn enemy, aims his pistol at Vyce, but 90s Kid hastily stands in front of Vyce, shielding him)
90s Kid: Whoa, whoa, dude, no!
Harvey: You better explain what the hell is going on here and why you're working with the bucket head!
Vyce: We owe you nothing. We were just rescued because of your own poor planning. You should have anticipated additional defenses that he would have installed after your departure.
90s Kid: Both of you calm down! We're all in this together.
Harvey: 90s Kid, we were against Linkara because he was crossing lines we were not willing to, but you've been working with this jerkwad for months! Maybe years! And I think it's high time you owe us an explanation!
90s Kid: (confused) Y-You don't know? Oh, dudes, I... I thought you would have suspected by now.
Dr. Linksano: Suspected what?
90s Kid: I went to the future, guys. I saw what happens! I know what's going on with Linkara!
(We then cut back to Linkara as he becomes infuriated at what's going on)
Linkara: Cheap, stupid force field technology! Primitive garbage taken from that tin-plated dictator! (sighs) With the technology at my fingertips, I can do so much better. (pushes buttons on the console) I will do so much better.
Erin: (on her communicator) Yeah, yeah, I'll have Seris scan the area where they teleported out. Maybe they left a trace.
Linkara: She was pitiful! A worthless piece on the board among the others!
Erin: (offended) Excuse me! That's my friend you're talking about!
Erin: If you want my help, then you better apologize right now!
Linkara: The pawns do not get to speak for the players in this game.
Erin: "Pawns"?! "Players"?! This isn't a game!
Linkara: (his voice suddenly turning electronic) No, human, this is a game!
(Erin reacts in horror at his voice suddenly changing like that. He then turns to her, taking off his glasses, his eyes revealed to be very glitchy! Linkara has been possessed by The Entity!)
Linkara: AND IT'S ONE I INTEND TO WIN!!!!
(Dramatic music plays as we smash-cut to black)
TO BE CONTINUED
(End credits roll to the dramatic music)
I get the impression that the babbling is meant to resemble Brian Michael Bendis' own style used in his comics, including Ultimate Spider-Man... and it really doesn't work here. One could argue it doesn't work in Bendis' comics, either, but it REALLY doesn't work here.
Since the Squadron Supreme are expys of the DC Universe heroes, does that mean there's a version of the Tandy Computer Whiz kids on their world?