Wild Thing #1
April 29, 2013
Inside: the virtual destruction of a crappy comic!
Linkara: Hello, and welcome to Atop the Fourth Wall, where bad comics burn. Where to start with this one? Okay, well, next month, we're gonna be focusing on four issues of a Marvel line called "2099", featuring recreations of Marvel heroes set a hundred years in the future from when they were published. So, did you know that there was actually kind of another line like that from Marvel, but set in 2020?
(A montage of covers of comics from Marvel Comics UK is shown)
Linkara (v/o): And if you haven't, there's a very good reason for that. See, unlike the "2099" line, these comics were a lot more loose in their connection to each other, aside from taking place in the year 2020, on top of which, the reason why most of you have never heard about this is because it was a bunch of books that weren't published in the USA. No, these were the creations of Marvel's UK division. Today is not the day to discuss the UK's comic industry...
(Cut to a shot of the cover of another UK-originated comic: "Judge Dredd 2000 AD")
Linkara (v/o): ...but needless to say, it's got quite a diverse market for material, and I still get requests to do issues of "2000 AD" or the like.
(More UK-based Marvel comics are shown)
Linkara (v/o): American superheroes have had a market in the UK as well, mostly in the form of reprints. In 1972, Marvel set up an official UK division., once again handling reprints of the material, sometimes with new covers and a lot of stories condensed into larger magazines to help play catch-up or just to compete with other UK comics that were longer than the standard 22 or 24 pages that Americans usually have. It was also helped by putting in new characters into backup features, like Doctor Strange in "Spider-Man Comics Weekly". Speaking of, a lot of the books were weekly as opposed to monthly, the reprint nature also assisting with that.
(Cut to a montage of original UK-based Marvel-published comics, including "Captain Britain" and "Star Wars Weekly")
Linkara (v/o): Original material did start to get published, or at least material for franchises like Star Wars and Conan. However, it was in the late '70s when they launched...
(Cut to a shot of a Doctor Who comic, part of...)
Linkara (v/o): ..."The Marvel Revolution", wherein they would print more original material with already established characters or branching out to more franchises, like "Doctor Who Weekly".
(Cut to a shot of a Transformers comic from the UK)
Linkara (v/o): In the mid-'80s, one of the most popular comics was the "Transformers UK" comic, which, aside from reprinting the U.S. Marvel series, had its own content that took place in between those issues or went off in their own direction. Since it was weekly, it lasted for 332 issues, as opposed to the American comic's 80 issues.
Linkara: (his head resting on his hand in disappointment) Can I tell you just how depressing it is that it's rare to find an American series these days that lasts past a hundred issues.
(More U.K.-based Marvel comics are shown)
Linkara (v/o): Anyway, the point of all of this is that a number of UK-only Marvel books were created that seemed to be focused around the same time period, the idea being that in their own universe, the Marvel heroic age took place in the '80s, the world got taken over by evil corporations, and now a new wave arising, usually cyberpunk techno stuff going on, with titles like "Machine Man", "Death's Head 2" and "Warheads". There was an "Iron Man 2020" as well, who first appeared in the '80s and made subsequent appearances along a lot of other books.
(Cut to a closeup of the comic of review for today: "Wild Thing #1")
Linkara (v/o): Today, we're looking at a book that's focused on one of the looser-connected "2020" books: "Wild Thing". And oh, me, oh, my, is this a book hip-deep in '90s comic book tropes, my friends.
Linkara: So, let's dig (holds up today's comic) "Wild Thing #1" and see what this then-brand-new character had to offer.
(AT4W opening titles are shown; title card has "Wild Thing" by The Troggs playing in the background. Cut to a closeup of the comic's cover)
Linkara (v/o): I've got to admit, my desire to review this one is based mostly on the cover. Yeah, comic books are the one place where it is okay to judge a book by its cover, because chances are, if they didn't give a rat's ass about the cover drawing, chances are they didn't give a rat's ass about what was inside of it, either. The presence of Venom and Carnage on the cover is nothing less than a transparent marketing gimmick to get people to buy it. The characters were still insanely popular at this point, though compared to how Venom and Carnage were drawn in the 2000s, I have to admit how much restraint they actually showed back then. I know, restraint from the '90s. Although, maybe it's just they have problems drawing actual human beings compared to ones that don't have defined facial features and skintight outfits. Which brings us to Wild Thing herself! We've talked a lot on this show about costume designs from the '90s.
(Shots of the comic "X-Force" is shown)
Linkara (v/o): The excess of pouches, muscles, belts, guns, leather jackets, bandoleers, lasers, head condoms.
Linkara: What we haven't really talked about is the other side of that, best exemplified in Wild Thing herself.
(The "X-Force" comic is shown again)
Linkara (v/o): During the '90s, there were two extremes with superhero design. There was the previously-mentioned Liefeld-esque pouches and guns, but on the other side of that was the lazy superhero design. This was the design where instead of creating a hero with a unique look, symbol, iconography or anything like that, they basically slapped together one or two colors on an outfit, usually in the shape of a triangle or something, and call it a day. Or maybe it's a big stripe down the middle of one color. Or maybe it's just one color throughout.
(Now cut to the cover of an X-Men comic)
Linkara (v/o): Now, I've got to admit that on some heroes, it looks perfectly fine and, in my own humble opinion, better than others. For example, I actually like Jim Lee's X-Men design much more than any other design they've had, but no one is looking at these outfits and saying they're the height of creativity, is what I'm getting at here. They're very basic, very boring outfits. Character design, especially for superheroes, is very important if you're trying to put together something that's instantly recognizable and memorable.
(Cut to a shot of the comic "New Krypton", showing Superman on the cover)
Linkara (v/o): At your most basic level, you've got pre-2011 Superman, whose colors are balanced exactly perfect, and a great big S on his chest catches your eye and keeps you locked on it.
(Now cut back to the Wild Thing comic's cover)
Linkara (v/o): Wild Thing's outfit, however, just makes me scratch my head, because I'm not sure if the red/violet parts of her outfit are armor or just really shiny spandex. Hell, it took me a minute to actually realize that there were violet or pink or whatever color that is, because it's blended into the parts that are definitely red. Also, she's wearing a scouter from Dragon Ball Z.
Linkara: If I were to rate this outfit, it would definitely not be over 9,000.
Linkara (v/o): Aaaand in this corner [the upper-left corner, under the Marvel UK label], we have the greatest example of an Escher Girls drawing, wherein Wild Thing is twisting her spine around to show both her ass and her chest at the same time. I see Wild Thing's superpower is her contortion skills. Aaaand in the other corner [the lower-right corner]...
Text: Inside: The Virtual Destruction of the Entire Marvel Universe!
Linkara: Why do we need a virtual one? The actual publisher does a fine job of it already. (a rim-shot is heard)
Linkara (v/o): Open in New York, AD 2020, where a bunch of heroes, and Venom, are all dead in the streets, including the lovely image of Captain America impaled on his own shield. Well, thank you for that. I'm sure there are lots of people who wanted to see that.
Narrator: You can't believe it...
Linkara: (as narrator) Peanut butter and chocolate together? That's insanity!
Narrator: They threw everything at you – and you just swatted them aside...
Linkara (v/o): Oh, except for Reed Richards down there. Dude got stretched around several objects. I'm pretty sure that required a little bit of planning beyond "swat them aside".
Narrator: You have no idea how long you've been here, how you arrived...
Linkara: Ah, the same questions that run through my head every time I review "Marville".
Linkara (v/o): And thus, we reveal this armored loser [who has the word "SENDAK" on his chest] who has somehow killed pretty much all the heroes of the Marvel Universe. The text above the title informs us of the premise of the series.
Narrator: A virtual reality black marketeer and games addict before her arrest, the authorities discovered that the disruptive Nikki Doyle had a special gift...
(Cut to a clip of the MST3K gang watching Devil Doll, showing the doll, a ventriloquist dummy named Hugo up on the stage, standing by itself)
Mike: He can sit endlessly for hours.
(Cut back to the comic)
Narrator: ...the ability to jump into any VR game in use and interact with it.
Linkara: (as narrator) When you get right down to it, it was a pretty stupid gift, seeing as the extent of her ability was to not be able to load from a previous save.
Narrator: With such power she is able to save the lives of many VR addicts. With such power she will find herself in worlds that only exist in the mind...
Linkara: So she's a social worker who interacts with make-believe environments so in order to get video game addicts away from their Virtual Boys. (slaps his knee, then holds up his fist) Let's green-light the hell out of this comic!
Linkara (v/o): Speaking of virtual reality, yeah, of course, all the dead Marvel characters are in fact a complete and utter fake. The dude suddenly has an overload or something in his virtual reality helmet and he apparently dies, because this is the Matrix before The Matrix existed. One of the employers of the VR HUD or whatever the hell this is, is this muscle-bound guy wearing a wrestling singlet, because when I think of virtual reality arcade, I imagine people who are in good shape.
Linkara: (looking up in thought) Although, maybe since he's wearing a wrestling singlet and somebody's brain just got fried, this might actually explain what happened to the Ultimate Warrior to make him the way he is.
(Cut to the Ultimate Warrior nodding his head vigorously as he describes his virtual reality experience)
Ultimate Warrior: You can feel it, too! You can feel it!
(Back to the comic again)
Linkara (v/o): They dump the body, and we cut to the poorly-drawn comic version of Blade Runner.
Nikki Doyle: (at a door) Effy, are you going to let me in, or has the password been changed to pneumonia since I've been away?
Linkara: Have you tried "swordfish" yet?
Narrator: ...It has only been months, but it feels like long years. You feel the old thrill, that illegal buzz at the base of your skull, at the thought of new games to play.
Linkara: Pokemon: Cyberpunk Edition awaits. By 2020, Val finally releases Half-Life 3!
(Cut to 90s Kid)
90s Kid: Duuuude! We'll be right back after these messages!
(He makes devil horn signs with his hands as the AT4W logo appears in the corner, and we go to a commercial break. Upon return, 90s Kid is seen again, as he shucks his buttoned-up shirt to reveal his black "WYSIWYG" t-shirt underneath)
90s Kid: What you see is what you get, and what you see is more of the show because WE'RE BAAAAAACK!
(He makes devil horn signs again as the AT4W logo appears in the corner again. Cut back to the comic again)
Linkara (v/o): And oh, dear, Nikki, is this ever some ugly artwork on you! I blame the perspective, which can't decide if it's a front shot of her face or a bird's eye view, combined with rather puffy lips. This is our Wild Thing, in case you haven't guessed. We also see that nearby, there are two cops in a car complaining about how letting Nikki go into the VR parlor is a bad idea.
Cop: ...Six months ago, she was one of the worst cases of virtual reality addiction I'd ever seen... an' I've seen plenty... Back in the late nineteen-nineties, when it really got started, virtual reality was just another games system...
Linkara: (as cop) A really stupid, terrible game system, but...
Cop: (narrating) ...Instead of using a screen, this system wrapped itself around your head... Gave you 3-D thrills and stereo sound, all in a package no bigger than a Walkman...
Linkara: (as cop) But then it turned out to be the scheme of some crazy artificial intelligence named Arcade, who was trying to take over the world. (nods, then becomes awkwardly silent for a moment; normal voice) What, am I the only person who still remembers the movie Arcade? Dear Lord, I'm a nerd.
Cop: (narrating) ...For most kids, that's all it was – just a game. But, for some of them, it became more than a game. It became their life... School, work, family. Nothing mattered as much as the bright new worlds served up in VR.
Linkara (v/o): And we see that this shirtless teen is playing VR games while, nearby, he has a report card with all Fs on a stack of DVDs, with one even just labeled "Sex". Okay, I get what they're trying to convey with that image, but all it says to me is that the kid actually bothered to go to school and bring the report card back, and he apparently still can't get porn in virtual reality.
Linkara: But oh, yeah, remember how this was a huge problem in the 1990s, what with reality as an addiction for people?
(Cut again to 90s Kid)
90s Kid: Duuuude! Virtual reality is AWESOME, with the most cutting-edge video game technology, man! The only thing that's better than virtual reality is (makes devil-horn signs) the SEGA ACTIVATOR!
Linkara (v/o): Continuing his exposition that his partner probably already knows about, the guy says that eventually, kids went to the black market to get illegal VR programs and that a whole new crime culture grew up around feeding the VR addictions.
Cop: (narrating) Some of the black market programs were just modified copies of old programs...
Linkara: He's right, you know. I once got a black market VR game, and it just turned out to be Mario Tennis.
Cop: (narrating) ...but, from somewhere, new programs were hitting the streets... These programs do something to the brains of the user. They make the programs more real, more intense... These babies kill.
Linkara (v/o): So... let me get this straight: instead of crack houses that you can hide behind the veneer of a normal building and otherwise have no means of identifying them, these criminals instead created large warehouse-sized areas, with full-body virtual reality capsules that probably are a massive drain on power and thus are much more easily identifiable. Also, you've gotta love a drug-like product that turns its users into the Cryptkeeper. Some pushers actually want to string their addicts along for months or years to keep the money flowing. These guys just say, "Eh, screw it and fry 'em up real good!"
Cop: So here we are, staking out our first lead for months, and we've gotta rely on an ex-addict to get us inside an illegal VR den... After six months without it, she's probably screaming for somma that action herself...
Linkara: So... the den itself is already illegal, you know where it is, and if Nikki can get in, chances are you have evidence to corroborate that. Why did you need to send her in, exactly?
Linkara (v/o): You know what? I'm still on a Dragnet kick from last week. Friday and Gannon wouldn't have settled for this kind of stupidity in you cops. They'd have busted this up in no time.
(Cut to a clip of an episode of Dragnet, where Joe Friday and Bill Gannon bust a crime ring)
Friday (Jack Webb): Police officers. You're under arrest for grand theft.
Gannon (Harry Morgan): Okay, line up over here. (several men get up and stand by the wall) Get those hands behind your head. (sees one guy trying to sneak away and aims his gun at him) Hold it, mister! Don't make me stop you the hard way.
(Cut back to the comic)
Linkara (v/o): The VR drug dealer, whatever they are, tell Nikki that they can't really trust her since she was so desperate to use the VR machines when they last met, but now she's got muscles, and rumor has it she was picked up by the cops.
Cop: Where'd you get these muscles, Nikki? What game are you playin' now?
Linkara: (shrugs) Yu-Gi-Oh, obviously. (holds up a Yu-Gi-Oh device) You build up real muscle strength having to hold up one of these things for hours at a time.
Linkara (v/o): Nikki, breaking her cover, swings the dude into Muscle Guy and she hits a button, which is apparently the signal for the police to come storming in. And by storming in, I mean THEY RAM A VEHICLE THROUGH A WALL! There's no kill like overkill, I guess. Oh, and because this is a story from the '90s, involving cyberpunk antics, naturally, along with the police is a 14-year-old kid [Liddel] who is a computer whiz and super-smart and builds battle wagons and stuff, because of course there is.
Linkara: By that same token, did you know that (gestures to his right with his thumb) 90s Kid is actually a technological savant?
(90s Kid is seen once again, this time holding up a clock with a screwdriver in it)
90s Kid: Dude! I put a clock on a screwdriver!
Linkara: He has his off days.
Linkara (v/o): Also, these people are apparently so incompetent at their job of grabbing the VR addicts that the kid needs to tell not to just shut off the machines, since some of them have had their brains screwed around with by the machines, and thus they need to ease them back in or else they'll be messed up when the machines are shut off.
Cop: Liddel takes some getting used to, but nobody knows VR like he does...
Linkara: I think the VR Troopers would strongly disagree with that statement! (beat) At least, I assume they would; I barely remember VR Troopers.
Linkara (v/o): Overweight Cop Guy [Trout, as Linkara explains moments later] tells Nikki she did a good job and... Dear Lord, this artwork is horrendous! I especially love the unnecessary lines along her nose and cheeks. Anyway, Nikki is a jerk and smacks the overweight cop for making her do this. Uh, the cop was complaining earlier about how he didn't want to do this. Who the hell's idea was all of this? In fact, what did they need her to do? What was so difficult about her pushing that button that no one else could have done? Anyway, Overweight Cop Guy – His name is Trout; I think my name is more dignified – says that she will be doing this again, since it's part of their arrangement, once again giving awkward exposition. He was the one who offered her a chance to take on the evil black market VR assholes. Thanks for that backstory, dude. It was really necessary for you to spell that out when she already knew that. Anyway, they hook up to the VR machine, since one guy is so far gone they need her to bring him out.
Linkara: So she has this (makes "finger quotes") "special power" to jump into any VR program already running, but she still needs all the equipment in order to do it? It's not a special power, that's just running a single-player game in multiplayer mode.
Linkara (v/o): And apparently, "Wild Thing" is her password into the VR setting. Why? We don't know, because that would actually be kind of useful exposition. And now she's inside, in her ridiculous outfit, in an equally ridiculous pose. Yeah, just have your legs completely straightened out like that, with the most uncomfortable high heels in the history of ever! Behold the avatar of Nikki Doyle! She fights for the users! Also, for some reason, virtual reality makes her talk in lower-case letters.
Liddel: Nikki, respond. The program's logic curve has flattened out, but you should expect another warp...
(Cut to a clip of an episode of Doctor Who, showing a Cyberman)
Cyberman: There is logic in what he says.
(Linkara sits there with a look of surprise and confusion)
Linkara: (confused) What? That makes perfect sense in this context. The word "logic" appears in what he said. Nothing else about what he said makes sense, but still...
Linkara (v/o): After Nikki tests her weapon, she begins looking for the addict and... Good Lord, the faces are just getting worse! Look, it'd be one thing if the virtual world was really stylized and weird, but does this look like it's normal for the real world? And...
Linkara (v/o): So Nikki jumps up into one of those images that'll screw with your vision if you stare at it long enough, which causes her body to become warped. Doing this somehow disconnects her from Smarty-Pants Kid, who gives more exposition on her.
Liddel: (narrating) She's able to synchronize with the programs she inhabits, becoming the only real thing in the made-up worlds.
Linkara: Really not sure how the hell that works, but (waves dismissively) it's fine. Still makes more sense than when the female Doctor Octopus tried to merge the real world with virtual reality.
Liddel: (narrating) She even has the potential to take control of them...
Linkara: (as Liddel) And then everyone will have clothes as stupid as hers.
Linkara (v/o): She manages to synchronize with the new warped virtual reality, since that's apparently a thing, but she runs into virtual Venom... because! She uses her weapon right on his face, splitting it in half, but this just ends up forming the Carnage Symbiote from his body... also because. Well, I say that, but there is a reason for this: we had them cameo on the cover and thus need them to show up even though their appearance makes absolutely no sense. Hell, the virtual reality thing at the beginning made no sense. In the 2020 universe, all of those heroes have been dead for years, so why is there a black market virtual reality game about killing all of them? You know what? Screw it, that isn't a reason enough to put them in here! Why is there a virtual reality Venom and Carnage RIGHT THE HELL OUT OF NOWHERE?! Back in the real world, the other VR dealers apparently decided to launch an attack on the cops for absolutely no reason, and they decide they need to get her out. And so, our comic ends with the kid saying they don't know where she is, and we have the cliffhanger of Nikki facing off against virtual Venom and digital Carnage.
Linkara: (sarcastically) Oh, wow! It's so intense that she might have to fight off the completely not-real simulations! (closes comic and holds it up) This comic sucks!
Linkara (v/o): Forgiving the stupid and dated virtual reality premise, the book is just boring as all hell and badly drawn. We're barely introduced to Nikki Doyle, and all we really know is that she's addicted to virtual reality, has a crappy virtual reality avatar, and has got a chip on her shoulder the size of Venom. Speaking of, this is the most shameless of efforts of trying to milk characters. Not only do the two not appear until the very end, but it's not even really them, and there's no reason for them to be in the comic to begin with. It's pretty pathetic in its efforts to capitalize on the popularity of the characters. And again, the artwork is horrendous, not only on people's bodies and faces, but also lacking backgrounds of any reasonable type. It'd make sense if the virtual world was all weird patterns and stuff, but the VR facility is pretty blank.
Linkara: But the future does have some hope in it. Come back next week as we begin 2099 Month, and we'll see if the future is gonna be awesome (gives a thumbs-up) or it's gonna suck. (throws down comic, gets up and leaves)
(End credits roll)
Before someone tries to correct me that the "pile of DVDs" was actually a pile of VHS tapes, I know. I was just making a joke about how thin they look for VHS tapes.
Many people were upset over my remarks last episode concerning those who use adblockers. Obviously there are exceptions to why some people would need to use them or they just don't show up. If you have legitimate reasons for these things, I'm not angry, but whitelisting sites and video players is still a possible option for Adblock as I understand it.
Just be aware – this show is how I pay my rent. If I don't get ad revenue for it, I'm not going to be able to keep producing it. The same applies to those who take the episodes and upload them to youtube [sic] without my consent. And please don't try to give me any arguments about why it's okay to do so or why I should be doing it myself. I've heard them all before and I don't agree.
(Stinger: The cover for the comic is shown again)
Linkara (v/o): You know, I could have been saved a lot of trouble of people asking me which Wild Thing comic I was covering, if they had just called this comic "Nikki Doyle" instead.