February 14, 2011
It's the double-sized finale of the Vyce Arc! Will Linkara prevail against the interdimensional conqueror?
(Open on Linkara scanning Mechakara's severed arm)
Linkara: Joe, this isn't something I can negotiate on. Without the assistance of the AngryJoe Army, this plan has no hope of succeeding!
(The following below alternates between AngryJoe on his ship and Linkara in his room)
AngryJoe: And how can I be certain your contact will come through if he needs to?
Linkara: He's just as frightened of Vyce as the rest of us. Look, Joe, if it looks like he hasn't fulfilled his end of the bargain, you can call off your forces. But for now, I need your support.
AngryJoe: (thinks briefly for a bit) Okay, Linkara. This is gonna be a risky operation. Many brave soldiers' lives are gonna be at risk. If this gets FUBAR'd, you're gonna regret it!
Linkara: (solemnly) If Vyce wins... we're all going to regret it. (holding up scanner to screen) Linkara out.
(Title sequence plays; title card has "Battle In the Sky" by Bloodhound playing in the background)
Linkara: Hello, and welcome to Atop the Fourth Wall, where bad comics burn. Well, it's that time of year again: the time where we look back at when I first started doing text reviews a few years back that eventually led to this show. (excitedly) It's time for (spreads arms out) "Youngblood" again! (expression then turns sour as he is clearly not looking forward to this)
Linkara (v/o): In the last two "Youngblood" comics, we've seen a bunch of steroid-abusing jerks pretend that a plot is happening when, of course, nothing of the sort has been. The home team of Youngblood dealt with their own bickering while facing off against a bunch of supervillains we know nothing about. The away team went off to a foreign nation and assassinated a guy, and for some reason, in issue 2, they were handling the transportation of a guy named Prophet, stuck in a cryogenic suspension. When the guy woke up from his cryo-sleep, he was attacked by guys who wanted to rip off the Borg from Star Trek. Oh, yeah, and there was also this guy who was supposed to be an homage to Jack Kirby, but it really just came off like all of Liefeld's characters, which wasn't made any easier since the team Kirby was leading was pretty much just another team EXACTLY like Youngblood, right down to the character designs!
Linkara: So let's dig into (holds up comic of today) "Youngblood #3" and watch this series degrade in quality with each passing issue.
(Cut to a closeup of the comic's cover)
Linkara (v/o): You know, there is nothing quite like the refreshing crappiness of a Youngblood cover. It's never something I can say is okay or give any praise for. No, this is the best kind of cover for this show. It is absolute garbage. We have Shaft, Diehard and Chapel shoved into the cover and taking up as much room as possible, even to the point where they're partially obscuring the Youngblood logo. Actually, the one surprising thing about this cover is Shaft's sword. Rob Liefeld has a reputation when it comes to drawing swords, that he can't draw them straight on, so seeing this is actually pretty impressive, though the fact that Shaft is not holding the sword properly kind of makes it lose points.
(The comic opens to the first page)
Linkara (v/o): We open to Prophet slouching over like a hunchback while blood leaks out of his massive biceps and face.
Prophet: (narrating) Approximately nineteen minutes have passed since this struggle began.
Linkara: (listlessly) Certainly feels that way, although this is only the first page.
Prophet: (narrating) The Disciples have overwhelmed us. Systematically they have wiped our numbers out. They are everything I was told they would be... and more.
Linkara: Does someone want to get around to telling (points to himself) us everything they are?
Linkara (v/o): On the next page, Prophet decides to moon us while making his hands glow. This once again demonstrates Rob's inability to tell a story sequentially, particularly when it comes to fight scenes. Okay, we have this charge-up attack... but then, the next panel, he's punching a robot, no special glow around his hands, and I can't even begin to tell you what the hell it is he's hitting. Look at this thing! Can anyone tell if this thing is backwards or forwards after he punches it? Then we get a panel of his face, then one of him in a bright light, then holding up one of the attackers, then him punching another one. If this was a montage, this would be fine, but it's not! This fight scene is supposed to be taking place in real time. The panels have to flow from one to the next. If you cut away to something, sure; then you can have whatever pose you want in the next panel, but that's not happening here! Prophet talks about the others who fought valiantly beside him, despite the fact that he wrongly thought they were foes when he first woke up. He doesn't even know who any of them are! And you know what? Neither do I! This is the third issue of "Youngblood", and I can't even remember who half of these people are! The first issue has been the only issue to actually be about these characters. And maybe issue 0 is about them, too, but I haven't read that one. Issues 2 and 3 are about Prophet and a bunch of other people who aren't Youngblood! The cast is already huge by most team book standards, and yet here we are, giving the focus to people who aren't main characters, yet we've seen more backstory on them than the whole of Youngblood itself!
Linkara: (irritably) I can't even remember the names of half of these people! (holds up a bunch of Youngblood action figures in both hands) I had to get action figures to remind myself who the hell they are! (drops them in frustration while scowling at the camera)
Linkara (v/o): We cut to the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., where Badrock and Shaft are walking down a corridor with some loser wearing a pink, polka-dotted shirt. In what universe does any human being wear this outfit? Polka-dot suspenders and a bow tie?! And don't get me wrong, bow ties are cool, but not one combined with polka-dots and visible suspenders! And what the hell is with this guy's hair?! This person is named Timer, and he's apparently Shaft's secretary or something. I feel good that that's his name, since like last issue, this one's dedicated to an actual comic creator, as opposed to the man who gave us this garbage...
Text: Respectfully dedicated to the memory of Joe Shuster.
Linkara (v/o): I was worried at first that Timer there was supposed to be the Joe Shuster stand-in, though frankly, be prepared if we suddenly have a new character appear named Shuster that has muscles ten inches across and wields massive guns, just like every other Youngblood character! Timer is telling Shaft about his new action figure line, since apparently, he's popular.
(Linkara holds two of the action figures he had dropped, which are both of Shaft, and looks at them)
Linkara (v/o): Evidently, his toy has four variant figures.
Shaft: Geez! Isn't that going a little too far?
Timer: They paid millions for the lisence [sic] alone!
Linkara (v/o): Oh, good, it's not enough to misspell people's names; now they have to misspell real words! Swap the S and the C in "license", and you've got yourself a whole new word!
Because Poor Literacy is... for people who can't spell.
Linkara (v/o): The three suddenly arrive at the cell of Strongarm, that one criminal from back in Issue 1. Wait, why the hell are they keeping him at the Pentagon?! Isn't that a disaster just waiting to happen?! PUT HIM IN A FREAKING PRISON! And don't tell me he's too strong for a normal prison! Clearly, they had to build this one specially suited to hold him! This scene is pointless, too. All it establishes is that Strongarm is pissed at Shaft for putting him in the cell. What, a villain is angry at a hero? What other bold new concepts shall the next generation of heroes present us with? While he keeps making pointless threats, the three walk off, passing by a guard. Here, we see the real problem with Youngbloods Disease: since their vision is so poor now that they can't tell that the security guard is actually this guy in an armored suit and Power Rangers helmet. We cut to Earth orbit, where a few Klingon Birds of Prey... er, I mean, alien spaceships are hanging in orbit. These are members of Combat's race. Yes, Combat, that guy from the away team of Youngblood that apparently was an alien with a warrior culture shtick – just like Klingons! If that description wasn't good enough, he was the guy with the huge pink gun. The ships are looking for Combat, and WOW! The similarities with Klingons end here!
(Cut to a clip of an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, showing a Klingon from that show)
Linkara (v/o): Why? Well, Klingons actually look like warriors: metal armor, a wide variety of weapons...
(Back to the comic again)
Linkara (v/o): These guys? Tell me, at what point did this race decide, "Our line of honorable warriors will wear skintight, sky-blue spandex, with crimson highlights, big golden shoulder pads, and tusks on our stomachs?" In fact, this looks so undignified and un-warriorlike that I need to inject this with a fresh bit of real Klingons!
(Cut to another clip of The Next Generation, again showing a Klingon)
Klingon: Your blood will paint the way to the future.
(Cut back to the comic again)
Linkara (v/o): Anyway, this guy, an admiral, says he's personally trained Combat and doesn't believe that he's dead.
(The Ambassador is shown, an oddly-proportioned, shiny-looking woman in a revealing outfit and flaming hair, apparently)
Linkara (v/o): However, he's interrupted by an ambassador of– Stop! What the hell is that?! Let's ignore the bizarre proportions on this woman. Since this is Liefeld, there isn't a single person in this comic that looks normal, but what the hell is up with her head?!
Ambassador: Khm'bt deserves no honor! He is a traitor, and he will die in disgrace!
Admiral: The identity of the traitor has yet to be deter–
Linkara (v/o): (stammers briefly) N-No! I'm sorry, but I can't ignore it! WHAT ARE THOSE HUGE POINTY THINGS COMING UP FROM HER FACE?! Is every one of her species like that?! Why would evolution ever produce a species like that?!
Linkara: And does no one notice that (points to his own head) her head is on fire?! No wonder she looks so pissed off; her head is on fire, and no is trying to put it out!
Linakra (v/o): Anyway, the two exposit that Combat has apparently "betrayed their Emperor," and he apparently fled to Earth, trading alien technology for sanctuary. They're also looking for someone else who was with him called the Accuran, but the Ambassador's convinced of Combat's guilt while the Admiral believes Combat is innocent. Back with Youngblood, Shaft is holding a press conference, and with his own stupid hairstyle, he too looks like his hair is on fire. The reporter asks him about the death of the Saddam Hussein stand-in, but he denies any involvement, that Youngblood doesn't function as assassins. And I know you may have forgotten, because it was two years ago and all, but yeah, in fact, they did kill the Saddam Hussein stand-in. Well, okay, the one psychic guy did it, but they covered it up. So, yeah, the next generation of heroes: lying, assassinating, poorly-drawn morons who can't actually fight anybody and need some random guest character to do it for them. The reporters start rapidly asking questions about other Image Comics characters of the time, like Savage Dragon and Shadowhawk. Oh, look, there's our tribute to Joe Shuster: Clark Kent and what I think is supposed to be Lois Lane, but with a terrible haircut and collagen-injected lips.
Linkara: Was it just Rob Liefeld's dream to become a hairstylist, but he got rejected and ended up as a comic book artist? Because if that's the case, it would make far too much sense.
Linkara (v/o): As the group leaves the conference, we get another spelling error, misspelling "brief" as "breif". This is just starting to get sad! Someone yells out to Shaft that there's a jailbreak in progress at the Pentagon. Gee, suddenly, having a big prison underneath the Department of Defense seems like a really bad idea! We cut to the Pentagon where– OH, COME ON! Maybe using Ninja Turtles logic, I could believe that a simple helmet behind the guard uniform would have disguised this woman from sight, but look at the enormous Y on her face! Those would have gone up past the guard cap! Are you seriously telling me that none of the three notice that?! On a two-page spread, we see Chapel, Shaft and Badrock suddenly bursting through a glass window to confront the woman. A few thoughts come to mind with this scene: one, Shaft's bow still has no bowstring; two, I did not know that the vault where they're keeping Strongarm had a nice big glass window that someone could drive their motorcycle through. Otherwise, we'd have to believe that Chapel drove that stupid purple bike through the hall of the Pentagon before coming up on this window that he could dramatically crash through. Three...
(Cut to a clip of Resident Evil 2: Apocalypse, showing a motorcycle similarly crashing through a windown)
Linkara (v/o): ...Milla Jovovich did the motorcycle-through-glass thing a hell of a lot better than you, Chapel.
(Cut back to the comic again)
Linkara (v/o): The woman in the armor catches Shaft's arrows without a problem. By the way, 17 pages in, and I don't think we've had a single panel that had any actual backgrounds until this one: a brick wall, which would not make much sense for what's supposed to be A HIGH-SECURITY VAULT UNDERNEATH THE FLIPPIN' PENTAGON!! Shaft and the woman exchange banter, just making me wonder why the hell Chapel hasn't started shooting the woman, since I doubt she can catch bullets as effectively. However, instead of something making sense, we have something completely out of left field: ninjas!
Linkara: Normally, I would showcase some ninja-style dancing here, but for some reason, we can't find him. Instead, we have some commentary on this fight from another ninja.
(Cut to a ninja in red standing outside in the snow as he engages in martial arts moves)
Narrator (Brad Jones): Greetings. Kung Tai Ted here. When you're a superhero who has been ambushed by a Kamen writer wannabe and her army of ninjas, it's natural for you to be taken by surprise.
(Cut back to the comic in progress)
Kung Tai Ted: You may also feel the desire to narrate about what they're doing to you, like how they're supposedly hitting you in the ribs, despite the fact that it most clearly is going for your armpit. Said ninjas may be dressed in white as opposed to the standard black, allowing them the true power of camouflage with drywall. The ninjas will attack your jaw with their knees, no doubt mocking your masculature or with an impractical way of flying through the air. However, all you need to do is get their sword away from them. Taking their sword away will dishonor them to the point where they won't even commit seppuku on themselves. So please, be a good guy and do it for them. And then when you... Holy crap! Uh, Shaft, you're supposed to be the good guy, right? Because that just looks scary, my friend.
(Cut back to the red ninja in the snow)
Kung Tai Ted: This is Kung Tai Ted, reminding you that ninja clothes come in all colors of the rainbow, not just black and white.
(Linkara resumes narrating again as we cut back to the comic)
Linakra (v/o): Badrock also confronts some ninjas, who are naturally dwarfed by his hugeness. Why does this high-security vault also have twenty-foot ceilings?
Badrock: That's it! I'm through holding back! It's time to cut loose!
Linkara (v/o): Cutting loose, it seems, means to hit someone so hard that their neck snaps back and kills them.
Badrock: YABBA DABBA DOOM!
Linkara: (massaging his forehead irritably) That had better not be his catchphrase.
Linkara (v/o): Chapel takes the more direct route simply shooting all the ninjas. Well, can't fault the guy for efficiency, I guess. However, the ninjas were merely a distraction while Purple Helmet Lady frees all the members of the four that the group had imprisoned. Chapel and Shaft fire on them, but only hit the one named Gage before the others teleport away. It does make me wonder where they shot him, though, since there are no arrows inside of him, but there's a big branching arc of blood coming out of his nose as he goes flying back. Did Chapel shoot a bullet into his nose? That's pretty impressive. Shaft interrogates the guy, but he refuses to say where the others escaped to. And so, our comic ends with a two-page horizontal spread of Diehard just suddenly appearing out of nowhere and saying they've got an emergency signal from the away team, which is still fighting those... whatever the hell they were from the beginning. Yeah, this pin-up shot really required me to turn the comic on its side! There's no way this could have been done on one page!
Narrator: Be here in 60 days as the excitement explodes!
Linkara: (dripping sarcasm) Oh, gee willikers! I have to wait a whole two months to find out what happened! (serious tone) You know, Rob, it probably doesn't make your company look like it knows what it's doing if you can't even get out a book (holds up index finger) once a month!
Narrator: As our team unites against the forces of Darkthornn and the Disciples of Doom!
Linkara: (as narrator) As we use more sentence fragments. (holds up comic angrily) This comic sucks! It is probably the worst issue of "Youngblood" so far, and that is saying something.
Linkara (v/o): Even after three issues, I still have no idea who any of these characters actually are. The artwork is atrocious, par for the course by now, but to add on top of everything else, we have real, legitimate spelling errors, not just the standard misspellings of words to make them "edgier". There's also a brief backup story in the standard Image style of "flip the comic upside-down" about another new character, Supreme, an unabashed Superman ripoff. I'd get into it like I did last time, but frankly, I don't want to look at any more of this artwork. What I will tell you, from secondhand knowledge, is that Alan Moore – yes, the Alan Moore behind "Watchmen", "Tom Strong", "League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" and more – actually wrote "Supreme" for a while and embraced the Superman ripoff concept by turning it into a book that was apparently entertaining and awesome – as much as it can be, since it was still drawn by Liefeld. While I was in Reno, I picked up a whole bunch of Alan Moore's run on "Supreme", but I still haven't had a chance to take a look at them to see for myself. However, I still feel I should offer more. At first, I was going to look at the letters page, like I did back in "Doom's IV #2", but seeing about twenty people praising the artwork and color caused my eyes to start bleeding.
Linkara: Instead, let's look at something a bit more visually rewarding. (puts down comic) Some time in 2008... Sorry I can't be more specific; I don't know any details about this book other than the book itself. ...Image released a new edition of "Youngblood" in hardcover format (holds up another "Youngblood" book) collecting the first five issues of the series.
Linkara (v/o): It's basically "Youngblood Remastered". The artwork itself is still as flawed and awful as it was originally, but the coloring has HUGE improvements. Redone with modern digital coloring techniques, the colors are brighter and make much more sense in areas. Sure, the alien warrior culture still has a pretty undignified uniform, but at least it's a consistent look to it: red and gold instead of bright blue, crimson and gold. In other areas, though, it's kinda confusing. Those white ninjas from earlier are now purple. I guess purple is closer to black, but still... In addition, the pages have been reordered and all of the dialogue redone. That bizarre bit with Kirby and his gang of misfits? That's a prologue now instead of being shoved into issue 2 for no reason. Issue 1 now has the plots for both teams happening simultaneously as opposed to half of it all lumped together and the other half lumped together, helping the pacing of each story. Also, that double-page spread from the first issue that the home team ended on? We actually have dialogue there now!
Linkara: But I know all of you have a real question about this new edition: does Diehard still attack Strongarm with his crotch?
Linkara (v/o): Oh, my, yes! In fact, the only thing reworked from this image, besides for brightening up the colors on them, is changing the background from green, yellow and white to orange and red. If you are morbidly curious, I'd recommend checking out this version as opposed to the originals, since it is a marked improvement over them. Hell, this one even comes with an introduction written by Mark Millar, whom you in the mainstream might know better as the guy who wrote "Kick-Ass", but to me will always be the guy who wrote "Superman: Red Sun". And it really shows how funny this guy can be: lavishly praising Liefeld's artwork and implying that naysayers of his artwork are just balding jerks who would criticize Jack Kirby back in his day. Now, that is funny!
Linkara: Unless, of course, he's serious, in which case, that would be very, very sad.
(He throws down the comic, gets up and leaves. He walks out into the living room, holding Mechakara's arm and scanning it)
Linkara: Pollo, report!
Pollo: It is confirmed: the energy trace is identical.
Linkara: Good. That's the last thing we needed to know.
Iron Liz: Are you sure this is gonna work?
Linkara: Mechakara summoned your doppelganger presumably from Vyce's ship, which means he must have some way of contacting Vyce through the time shield.
(All this time, Linkara was scanning Mechakara's arm; suddenly, the scanner beeps)
Linkara: (smiles) And now, so do we.
(Cut to Lord Vyce's ship in space, where Vyce is getting a massage as he vents in frustration)
Vyce: I shall rip his head from his neck and display it for the entire world. I shall drench his blood upon the Entity before I slice it down.
Judas Liz: Of course, but don't you think your emotions are impairing your judgement just a little?
Vyce: Do not presume to advise me, assassin! I allow you to fulfill your own goals only when they coincide with mine! Do not dare think you may speak to me in other matters! I shall–
(Suddenly, he is interrupted by a beeping sound)
Vyce: A signal! From the android! Shade One, put it on.
(The next part alternates between Vyce's ship and Linkara's house as the latter addresses the former through Mechakara's severed arm)
Linkara: This is Linkara, calling Lord Vyce. If you're receiving this signal, then you might want to take that huge-ass helmet off your head and listen for a minute. Listen, I just wanted to tell you how deeply honored I am. You see, I was once told that you were the stuff of nightmares for gods and monsters alike. And that's why I'm so honored, you see. You've seen fit to show me your true colors. And the main one is a big, bright shade of yellow! All that you see, you conquer, huh? Well, I guess you never really did set your eyes on me, then. You were too busy looking the other way and running for your life. And it's a good thing, too. You've shown just how inadequate you are. You're not up to the task of facing this... Entity that you're so afraid of. Tell you what: why don't you go tuck your cape between your legs and run home while I deal with it. After all, it's what your good at. However, if you want to prove me wrong... (voice turns serious) YOU KNOW WHERE TO FIND ME.
(With a grim look on his face, Linkara turns off Mechakara's arm)
TO BE CONTINUED