February 15, 2010
The conclusion of the Mechakara arc is here!
Linkara: Hello, and welcome to Atop the Fourth Wall, where bad comics burn. It's anniversary time again, and this time for my first text review of "Youngblood #1" back in 2007. So what better way to honor than by digging into (holds up comic of review for today) "Youngblood #2" and–
Mechakara: (standing over him) Excuse me! I'm still standing here!
Mechakara: You came in, I laughed, you sat down and started reviewing!
Linkara: Oh, right, you're still standing there. Uh...
(He looks around briefly, then brings out his magic gun, which he uses to fire on Mechakara, knocking him down; he then puts the gun in his coat pocket)
Linkara: Uh, where were we? Oh, right, uh... (holds up comic again) Let's dig into "Youngblood #2"!
(Title sequence plays; title card has the song "Young Blood" playing over it; cut to a closeup of the comic's cover)
Linkara (v/o): Oh, Liefeld, Liefeld, Liefeld, how I have missed thee! I missed all the various bland covers of "Ultimates #3", or that "Hey, it's just my face cover of 'Pitt'". We've really been missing out on just a stupid, poorly-drawn cover, and you deliver the goods! Or rather, the awfuls, in this case. (a second cover is shown) Like before, we have two covers, though this time, we don't have the idiotic flip-the-book-over for the other half of the story. No, this time, we just have an idiotic backup story for the flipping. Introducing Shadowhawk! Hey, Rob, it's only the second issue. Maybe you want to make us give a crap about the characters you already have before you introduce Wolverine knockoff number 79, okay?
(Editor's note: "Actually Shadowhawk was created by Jim Valentino, but it still makes no sense for this to be here.")
Linkara (v/o): And really, try to extend your arms back like that and see how it takes for you to hurt yourself. (the first cover is shown again) And the other cover just hurts the eyes: random wavy lines everywhere; most of the characters are in this dizzying green shade that contrasts with the rest of the page. Oh, and here, we introduce this loser. (reads text) "A Prophet Cometh!" What's really funny is that looking at him with the swords and that stupid wrestling helmet...
(Cut to a cover of another Liefeld comic "Shatterstar")
Linkara (v/o): ...he actually looks like a ripoff of one of Rob's own characters, named Shatterstar.
Linkara: And let's not forget that Rob believes that the human anatomy is basically broken up into various solid chunks of roasted ham, wherein your thighs are wider than your head!
Linkara (v/o): And where the hell are they standing? It's like they're in some kind of lava bubble bath and Prophet there can just hover above it, while some of them are knee-deep while others are crouching in it.
(The endings of the last issue are shown)
Linkara (v/o): When we last left our protagonists, the home team of Youngblood had successfully done, well, nothing other than whine and bitch to each other. The away team of Youngblood had successfully assassinated a Middle Eastern dictator and then covered up their murder.
Linkara: The next generation of heroes, ladies and gentlemen!
Linkara (v/o): We open to a prologue, because I'm sure "Youngblood" really needs a friggin' prologue. Our location: "Otherwhere". Huh. You know, Rob, if you can't be bothered to make a place up, don't even bother. I didn't even care where these losers were, but since you brought it up, now it just makes you look even stupider. Now, at first glance, you might think these morons are just Youngblood again, but noooo, this is in fact an entirely different team called the Berzerkers. They just happen to look exactly like the Youngblood. Why, there's Badrock up there, Shaft shooting some gun, Vogue on the lower left, and of course, Wolverine knockoff #134. All this just further illustrates that Rob Liefeld, even with his own new universe and continuity, had to rip off himself for ideas. Oh, and this is all dedicated to Jack Kirby, as if Liefeld was anywhere near the same league as Jack Kirby! Anyway, they're lead by Cross, who says they have to reach Kirby in time. Huh, dedicated to Jack Kirby, and there's a character named Kirby. Anyway, Otherwhere is made up of metal hallways that are full of faceless goons that decide that physics are for dorks and just kind of float around without regard to where anything is. The Wolverine knockoff, named Wildmane, has hair twice as big as his head.
Linkara: This man singlehandedly keeps a company that makes hair gel afloat with that do.
Linkara (v/o): Also, the guy must be a shapeshifter or something because he keeps growing or getting smaller. Look at this! Suddenly, he's three times as big as Cross; in the previous page, he was hunched over and looked like the same size. Perspective? Foreshortening? These are fruits Liefeld can only dream of.
Wildman: The Death Squad has never proven a match for Wildmane!
Battleaxe: --or for Battleaxe!
Linkara (v/o): Yeah, right, Battleaxe. Don't you mean "Great Knife"? Anyway, tossing aside the goons, they meet Kirby. And yes, Kirby is exactly what you think he is: Jack Kirby, cigar-chompin' and all, as an over-muscled, pouch-sporting, huge gun-wielding Liefeld monstrosity.
Linkara: (smiling) Rob, Jack Kirby helped invent the Fantastic Four, he helped create Captain America, he invented the New Gods! (becomes upset) This isn't a tribute, it's a mockery of the man and his work! YOU FAIL!!
(To a buzzing sound, the word "FAIL" pops up over the image of Kirby)
Kirby: ...But, as usual, it's up to the little guy to mop the mess up. Where's Darcangel?
Wildmane: We lost him.
Kirby: Just one more reason to nail Darkthornn.
Linkara (v/o): Naturally, "Darcangel" is spelled with a C instead of a K, and "Darkthornn" with two Ns, and neither name is separated by spaces.
(Because Poor Literacy Is... Kewl!)
Linkara (v/o): Anyway, the gang of dumbasses charges out to attack people whose names I've already forgotten so they can take on a Darkseid ripoff.
(Cut to a shot of a panel of a DC comic showing Darkseid towering over the DC superheroes)
Linkara (v/o): And before anyone wants to call me on the (in Superboy-Prime's voice) "But Darkseid is spelled incorrectly, too!" (normal again) thing with Jack Kirby, I would remind you that the New Gods are, well, gods, and Kirby wanted a genuine "good vs. evil" feel out of them. He didn't spell "Darkseid" like that simply to be "extreme" or "cool" or any other '90s cliche. I'd actually be more inclined to cut the misspelling some slack if they weren't done simply because things normally wouldn't have been hardcore enough.
(Cut back to the Youngblood comic and their version of Darkseid)
Linkara (v/o): Speaking of Darkseid, here's the Darkseid ripoff: Darkthornn. He's got the same bullet-shaped head as Darkseid, he stands in the same pose, and he's all mysterious and restrained and crap. And what a poorly designed ripoff, too.
(Cut again to DC's Darkseid)
Linkara (v/o): Darkseid was genuinely reflected in his namesake, with dark blue, gray and black tones to him. So how is Darkthornn dressed in reflection of his character?
(Cut back to Darkthorn)
Linkara (v/o): In purple, red, light blue and gold.
Linkara: Or maybe this is just his Mardi Gras costume, I don't know.
Linkara (v/o): Oh, but to really emphasize the goofy here, he has, of course, huge shoulder pads, a golden helmet with little wings on the side, and feet that are smaller than his head. Yeah, I'm really terrified of the guy who probably could be defeated by just shoving him hard enough. Oh, and one more note about Liefeld's artwork: for a guy who hates it when other writers make his characters into homosexuals, he seems to spend an awful lot of time outlining and putting little lines around to emphasize crotches. Just saying. But enough of that; I guess the prologue must be over without learning anything interesting, because we now cut to a splash page of this guy's face, and the title, "Prophecy", along the top. According to the dialogue captions, ol' Green Eyes here is named Prophet, and he's in a cryogenic chamber.
Dr. Horatio Garnett Wells: (narrating) His name is Prophet. Jonathan Taylor Prophet. And by our calculations he's at least 80 years old.
Linkara: Oh, yeah, cryogenic chambers were all the rage back in the 1920s. The idea was to go to a speakeasy, get drunk, get in a cryo-chamber, and sleep off that hangover.
Linkara (v/o): And as if I didn't have enough reason to hate this garbage, we then get a two-page spread that has to be flipped on its side in order to be read properly. And again, I must ask what the hell is it about this sequence that required this? In fact, it's all the worse because it's been put like this. Everybody's been shoved in there to fit the panel restrictions, and it just looks like the room they're in is too cramped to fit everybody. What the hell is Riptide even doing? She's not looking at the cryogenic chamber; she's just shoving her chest out and staring at the reader. Then again, I'm not sure how anyone can see anything when nobody has any eyes! And now it's time for some exposition, courtesy of the telepathic scientists, since Rob couldn't be bothered to draw stems for his word balloons to connect them to who is speaking.
Scientist 1: He is the product of a groundbreaking bio-genetic experiment conducted under the supervision of Dr. Garnet Wells sometime around the Second World War.
Scientist 2: Garnet Wells? The "mad" scientist?
(Cut to a clip of Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, showing the antagonist Dr. Putrid T. Gangreen)
Dr. Gangreen: I'm not MAD, just ANGRY!
(Cut back to the comic again)
Linkara (v/o): The telepathic scientists continue with purple text boxes.
Scientist 1: (narrating) Dr. Wells began his experiments in 1937 despite ridicule from his fellow colleagues that he was mad.
Linkara: (as colleague) Damn it, Wells, I don't care what the formula says, peanut butter and chocolate simply don't go together!
Scientist 1: (narrating) He hired the downtrodden and the indigent to submit to his controversial experiments and research.
Linkara: (as Dr. Wells, German accent, like the Hitler clones in "Superman At Earth's End") Someday I will prove to the world that Wonderbras should shoot laser beams!
Scientist 1: (narrating) It was rumored that Dr. Wells was using equipment and technology far beyond the capabilities and limitations of his time.
Linkara: (as Dr. Wells) Damn you, Adobe Premiere! Why did you crash again?!
Scientist 1: (narrating) He developed John Prophet's natural athletic abilities beyond normal capabilities... enabling him to perform super-human feats such as enhanced stamina, strength and speed.
Linkara: (as Scientist 1) He could stand endlessly for hours with his chest puffed out.
Scientist 1: (narrating) Eventually Wells outfitted Prophet with an outlandish uniform.
Linkara: (as Dr. Wells) It wasn't outlandish, it was (waves hands around) FABULOUS!
Scientist 1: (narrating) ...and equipped him with weapons far beyond the limits of even today's science.
Linkara: (as Dr. Wells) Excellent! The Twinkie cannon is completed.
Linkara (v/o): The history lesson finishes with the scientists finally talking and explaining that Wells disappeared during the war. Youngblood's task is to ensure the transport of Prophet back to the States for further experimentation. So, let's see if we got this straight: In issue 1, the team invaded a foreign power and blew the head off a dictator; in issue 2, they're delivery boys.
Linkara: You get the feeling Liefeld was just winging it?
Cougar: I will do my job as an escort for this man's property, but I loathe the fact that his work will be exploited and exposed. Of course it will be under the blanket of betterment for mankind, hah!
Linkara: Ooh, that must sting, getting a lecture from Cougar, AKA Wolverine knockoff #47.
Linkara (v/o): Combat says that on his planet, they do no less than get him there. Yeah, remember Combat? He was the dork in issue 1 with the pink frosting gun as his weapon, who thought war was a game. Apparently, between issues 1 and 2, Rob gave him an alien warrior culture shtick. Cougar moves in closer and notices that there's some sort of timer on... uh, I don't know, his crotch, I guess, that nobody noticed before and that is ticking away. Cougar looks down for more information and then... um, it explodes, I guess. I wonder why the timer was set for 80 years in the future. Anywho, Prophet walks out and we see that his hands are quite stumpy, almost as if the artist didn't know how to draw fists and wrists in proportion to the ridiculously huge arms he was sporting. Oh, and once again, two-page spread that I have to flip over.
Cougar: Maybe that wasn't the right button to push...
Brahma: Aye! It appears we have awakened the sleeper!
Linkara: Crap, you're really gonna make me do it, Combat? (raises finger in the air)
(Cut to a clip of Dune)
Paul: Father, the sleeper has awakened!
Linkara: (dramatically, raising his fist in the air) Long live the fighters!
Linkara (v/o): Cougar, being the most rock stupid of this bunch, instantly attacks Prophet, even though all he's doing is just standing there. Prophet mistakes Youngblood for some group called Disciples or something. While Combat manages to put up a good fight, Prophet keeps rejuvenating during it all. However, we also learn that witty repartee is not Combat's strong suit.
Combat: From unconsciousness you came, and, if necessary, to unconsciousness shall you return!
Linkara: From artistically disinclined and dialogue challenged this graphic text came; to artistically disinclined and... Yeah, you get the idea; awkward dialogue is awkward.
Linkara (v/o): Also, this fight scene further shows that while Rob may be capable of drawing people in poses – may be capable, mind you, may – he really sucks when it comes to having a fight scene make sense. Take, for instance, the flow of this fight. Combat strikes Prophet twice. Okay, makes sense. Then Combat, I guess, strikes again... or something. His bow staff is glowing anyway. Then Prophet grabs Combat and hurls him against the wall by the side, then Prophet is looking down, then he's suddenly floating in the air, as if he was sitting with his legs outstretched, while Combat's on the ground doing aerobics! WHAT THE HELL IS THIS?! NO, REALLY, I WANNA KNOW! WHAT THE HELL AM I LOOKING AT?!? The dialogue balloon has Prophet exclaiming "Oof!" at the end of a sentence! Did he get kicked?! Did he realize how uncomfortable his stance is?! Is he just confused about the yellow bars in the background?! And then, just to compound matters, suddenly, Prophet is standing up and punching straight up, with Combat going flying, while there are dizzying lines all converging on his fist!
Linkara: This is not quite like Diehard hitting someone with his crotch, but it's up there.
Linkara (v/o): Oh, and a minor detail that just serves to illustrate Rob's laziness: the gauntlet that Prophet is wearing is clearly supposed to be three segments, all connected together, but instead, in this panel, it's two segments and layered. Not Iron Man tells Riptide to summon up some water, and she blasts Prophet back enough for Brahma to– AGH! BRHAMA'S MOUTH!!
Linkara: (looking closely at comic) Oh, God! (pulls comic away) Brahma's gonna eat me!!
Linkara (v/o): Brahma punches Prophet with enough force to SNAP HIS NECK, but hey, apparently, in the world of Youngblood, with spines made out of rope and body muscle taking up 90% of flesh, what's something like a snapped neck? All of a sudden, the Disciples themselves turn up. Turns out they're big robot things... so yeah, I can see why Prophet mistook Youngblood for them. Prophet tells the group that they're the harbingers of doom and are a threat to all humanity.
Disciple: We are the Disciples of Doom. Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated. Resistance is futile.
Linkara: Really, Rob? Really? You're really ripping off the Borg from Star Trek? Yeah, you can go to Hell.
Linkara (v/o): And so, the story itself ends with a splash page of the Berzerkers showing up out of nowhere, with Faux Kirby leading the charge. What a crock. As if that wasn't enough to piss me off, the friggin' thing is another two-page spread that I have to turn! That's, like, three of them in this stupid comic!
(Cut to another story in the comic)
Linkara (v/o): We now head to the backup story, which, shockingly enough, has yet another cover within the pages itself. And here, we see the cover, with gigantic Shadowhawk's head and shoulders next to a bunch of buildings.
Linkara: (as a construction worker) Uh, guys, I don't think we were looking at the right blueprints for Freedom Tower.
Linkara (v/o): Instead of a prologue, we get a prelude, 'cause that sounds so much cooler than "prologue"!
Shadowhawk: (narrating) Last night you threw down the paper in disgust.
Linkara: (as someone reading the paper) They stopped printing "Hagar the Horrible"?! (pretends to throw down paper) Those sons of bitches!
Linkara (v/o): Blah, blah, blah, the system has failed, blah, blah, blah, you are the night, blah, blah, blah– Holy crap, you broke that guy's spine!
Shadowhawk: (narrating) This one at least will never threaten an innocent man again. No matter what the court decides.
Linkara (v/o): See? I warned you Batman's war against rock 'n' roll would lead to this, but no one believed me!
Shadowhawk: (narrating) You are Shadowhawk. And you're taking back the night.
Linkara: (as Shadowhawk) Because the night belongs to lovers. (closes comic and holds it up) This comic sucks! Majorly sucks! The art sucks, the writing sucks, everything about it sucks! Well, another anniversary passes us by, and I can't help but feel–
(Suddenly, he screams and jumps out of his seat as Mechakara, having come to, tries to attack him. Ron Wasserman's fight music from Power Rangers plays as Linkara runs to the end of the room as Mechakara glowers at him. Linkara takes his magic gun and fires it at Mechakara, but his shields have adapted)
Linkara: (shocked) Well, crap!
(He puts his gun in his coat pocket as Mechakara continues to glare at him, breathing heavily)
Linkara: (pointing at Mechakara) I don't know who you are, bucko, but you're not human! You are an android, but me? I AM A MAN!
(As he often does while saying that, he punches Mechakara, but his fist smashes against Mechakara's hard metal exterior, doing no damage at all to Mechakara, but hurting his fist)
Linkara: (groans and clutches his fist painfully) Why, why, why do I always try to punch robots? It never works!
Mechakara: Oh, I've been looking forward to this for a very long time.
Linkara: Who the hell are you anyway?
Mechakara: What, don't you recognize me? It's me: Pollo!