February 13, 2012
A double feature of Atop the Fourth Wall episodes and the end of the "His Blue Soul" storyline!
(Onboard Comicron 1 IN SPAAAACE, following the events of the "Star Trek: Wrath of Khan" review, Mechakara, in Pollo's new body, is reactivated and goes through the ship and comes across the Shade containment area. Mechakara's Pollo eye glows red. Then cut to black to the AT4W title sequence; title card has "Youngblood" by Frankie Addiego, formerly of The Dying Ego, playing in the background)
Linkara: Hello, and welcome to Atop the Fourth Wall, where bad comics burn. We here at Atop the Fourth Wall love anniversaries, probably because there's always so much crap and misery in the world that we feel we could use some celebrations.
Linkara (v/o): And that's why I celebrate the first review I ever wrote of "Youngblood #1", back in February of 2007. Sure, nobody cares about the written reviews I did before videos, but I know how a causality works, and if I hadn't started writing those reviews, I probably wouldn't have started doing the show. And that's why it's important for me to celebrate a really crappy book made by Rob Liefeld in the early '90s. I say "the early '90s" because, while the first issue was released in 1992, 1992 only had three issues released. No, I don't mean one in each month of October, November and December. I mean, the first issue came out in April, then the second in July, and the third in August. Admittedly, the "zeroith issue"... "Zeroith"? Is that even a word? ...came out in December of that year... An "issue 0" after three issues have already hit. ...but that was it.
(Cut to a shot of the cover of the fourth issue, today's comic)
Linkara (v/o): To make it worse, issue 4 didn't come out until February of 1993.
Linkara: Where am I going with all this? Well, it's just I've seen a lot of praise for "Youngblood" coming from creators, and I really have to ask, "What the hell book were they reading?"
Linkara (v/o): "Youngblood" sucks. There's no tiptoeing around about this. It is awful. This is the fourth issue of this book, and what has happened so far? Pretty much jack all! There are at least twelve members of Youngblood, and aside from a few names, I couldn't tell you a damn thing about them: their personalities, their backstories, hell, not even their real names for a few of them. And if that wasn't enough, there are actually more than just those twelve. We have some previous team, we have this Prophet guy, we have the villains. It's just a mess! And releasing each issue so far apart makes it easy to forget what the hell happened in the previous ones! Let's face it, comic books are easily consumable media, especially when there are a once per month kind of things. You need to really make your book memorable to keep people interested.
(Cut to a shot of some text by Mark Millar in the remastered "Youngblood" collection)
Linkara (v/o): Mark Millar in the remastered "Youngblood" collection talked about how edgy "Youngblood" was, with books about celebrity superheroes with endorsement deals and talk shows and crap. Um, maybe that's more explored in later issues, but it's sure as hell not going on in the first few issues. And what, superheroes treated like celebrities, with, like, toys and crap?
(Two more comics are shown: "Watchmen" and "Booster Gold")
Linkara (v/o): Uh, yeah, "Youngblood" wasn't the first to do that by a long shot.
(Cut back to the "Youngblood" montage)
Linkara (v/o): And even then, it hasn't exactly been an integral part of the series. You know what has? Action scenes! Lots and lots of action scenes! Really bad action scenes! If you pay attention to my theme song's visuals, you'll note that one thing that has remained throughout all versions of it is the visual of Diehard attacking somebody with their [sic] crotch. It's not just because it's poorly drawn, though that is a big part of it, but rather if you see this, you've seen every Rob Liefeld action scene.
Linkara: Now, since a lot of you aren't comic book fans, let me try to explain this with an analogy to another niche market that more people care about: wrestling. And in particular, our old pal, the Ultimate Warrior.
(Cut to footage of The Self-Destruction of the Ultimate Warrior)
Linkara (v/o): I am not a wrestling fan. Any information I have on it comes from other people who care about wrestling.
(Cut to a clip of The Spoony One)
Spoony: WRESTLE! WRESTLLLLLLLLLLE!!!
(Back to the Ultimate Warrior video)
Linkara (v/o): However, I have watched a documentary called The Self-Destruction of the Ultimate Warrior. I don't know how accurate it is, because, again, not a wrestling fan, but they talk a lot in that documentary about the Ultimate Warrior's wrestling style: high-impact moves, big hits, big swings, colliding with the opponent, etc.
(Cut to a shot of a comic involving a fight between Green Arrow and Roy Harper)
Linkara (v/o): In comic books, because all we see are individual panels and not things actually in motion, artists have to find other ways of conveying energy and motion, but in a still frame.
(Cut to a shot of the book "How To Draw Comics the Marvel Way")
Linkara (v/o): Hell, the Marvel guide to drawing comics actually tells people that it's more exciting and more energetic if characters are drawn with their legs farther apart.
(Linkara stands up and spreads his legs apart)
Linkara: (pointing to his legs) THIS IS EXCITING!
Linkara (v/o): And they're not exactly wrong, but bringing this back to my point...
(Cut back to the "Youngblood" comics)
Linkara (v/o): ...Rob Liefeld's artwork is exactly like the Ultimate Warrior's wrestling: it's all about big, high-impact punches and gestures. It's good sometimes, but when every fight is like this, it gets dull quickly. Anyone who actually fights like this is going to get exhausted pretty quickly, and it's exhausting for readers who are trying to get into the moment.
(Cut to a clip of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi: the lightsaber battle between Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader)
Linkara (v/o): Let's compare again. Return of the Jedi features Luke, angry and adrenaline-fueled, just whaling on Darth Vader at the end. It's only as exciting as it is because it built up to that moment, and he's doing it because he's emotional at that point. It complements the character.
(Cut back once again to the "Youngblood" comics)
Linkara (v/o): Not so much Rob Liefeld fights, where everyone looks pissed off 24/7 and is always scowling and straining themselves as if they're constipated.
Linkara: (his head resting on his hand) And yet... (suddenly laughs) the man still gets work! At the time of this video's release, (holds up index finger) one more book that Liefeld was on got cancelled! And DC turned right around and put him in a creative position on (holds up three fingers) three other books! (shakes head) We live in a strange, strange world. So let's dig into (holds up today's comic) "Youngblood #4" and... maybe we'll see what the hell DC executives see in this junk.
(Cut to a closeup of the cover for... "Youngblood #3")
Linkara (v/o): The cover depicts a group of Youngblood members standing around and looking angry.
Linkara: Oh, wait, I'm sorry, that was the cover to issue 3. Let's try again.
(Cut to a closeup of the cover for "Youngblood #4". That's better)
Linkara (v/o): The cover depicts a group of Youngblood members standing around and looking angry.
(The comic opens to the first page)
Linkara (v/o): We open in the air over Berlin.
Diehard: (narrating) Diehard, personal log entry. Location: Berlin, Germany. Time: 10 hours later.
Linkara: (looking offscreen to the left) Hey, what time is it? (cut to him looking offscreen to right, holding up his watch) Uh, ten hours later o'clock.
Linkara (v/o): They're approaching the laboratory from previous issues where that Prophet guy was thawed and the Borg ripoffs were fighting.
Badrock: Can't we just park somewhere nearby...catch a shuttle?
Diehard: (narrating) Try as he might, Bedrock [sic] can't lighten the mood.
Linkara: Come to think of it, I don't think I've seen a single one of these characters smiling. Ever.
Badrock: Did I mention I'm scared of heights?
Linkara: (as Badrock, gritting his teeth in imitation of him) Can't you tell how scared I am?
Diehard: (narrating) Youngblood consists of only the finest super-operatives. When an entire team goes down it's no laughing matter.
Linkara (v/o): I'll tell you that there is something to laugh about, though, and once again, it involves Diehard's naughty areas. Look at the way he's holding his hands behind his back and where his hands are located. We really should not be seeing the back of his hands like this unless he was doing something very inappropriate for a mission of this seriousness. Despite Bedrock's earlier complaints, he happily leaps out of the plane while yelling out his "YABBA DABBA DOOM" catchphrase. (sarcastically) I can't imagine why Rob ever had to change his name to "Badrock".
Diehard: (narrating) Half the lab has already been destroyed. Another broken window shouldn't bother anyone.
Linkara (v/o): Um, wait, what? You're going through a window that's already broken. And where's all that debris around you coming from? Diehard goes in first, deciding to save crotch-based attacks for something other than the cyborg robot whatever thingies he's fighting.
Diehard: (narrating) Bedrock. It's easy to forget that inside that stony exterior he's just a kid. He carries himself like an old pro. He's a prankster at heart. But when it's time to get down to business-- he's one of the best.
Linkara: (as Diehard) You can tell he's a pro by the way he... uh, scowls? Stands there?
Linkara (v/o): The two run into Prophet, who's in really bad shape. I mean, look at him! He's like a Stretch Armstrong doll that's been pulled one too many times, with his arms completely straight with no elbows and his poor elbows that are three times as long as his calves and... Oh, wait, that's just the art. He tells the two that he figures they're with the missing Youngblood members and that he has to fight the Disciples.
Diehard: Disciples? Who or what--
Prophet: There is no time for talk! Only action!
Linkara: (massaging his forehead in frustration) Oh, for the love of crap! PLEASE! There is time for talk! No more action! (gnashes his teeth) Can we please get an explanation for what the hell is going on?!
Diehard: (narrating) This Prophet is quite a character.
Linkara: You say that as if he has a character. I'm still waiting for that to appear.
Linkara (v/o): The two join Prophet in fighting off the Disciples... Yeah, I completely forgot that's what they called. Do you see what I mean about this comic? Diehard thinks that it's time to activate his "personal arsenal".
Diehard: (narrating) I motion for the disc attached to my back.
Linkara: (as Diehard, reaching behind his own back) This is the motion for that. I sure hope it doesn't look silly or really uncomfortable.
Diehard: (narrating) In seconds the disc is transformed into my own persona battle shield.
Linkara (v/o): Huh, red, white and blue guy with a shield. Diehard is clearly a ripoff of...
(Cut to the cover of...)
Linkara (v/o): ...Archie Comics' The Shield.
(Cut back to the Youngblood comic)
Linkara (v/o): Diehard's shield also seems to change shape since it goes from being oval in this panel to being perfectly round in the next one. Oh, and by the by, if you think that's just a coincidence, Diehard then throws the shield at one of the Disciples, and it instantly returns to his hands. Subtle.
Diehard: State of the art computer guidance system returns it instantly to my hands.
Linkara: (as Diehad, holding up Captain America's shield in one hand and the comic in the other) So... So it's not like any other character's shield. It's all computers and stuff. It's totally different. Shut up!
Diehard: As usual, Bedrock dishes out his own form of punishment!
Linkara (v/o): Yes, Bedrock has a very unique fighting style: punching the enemy. So unique! Shaft and Chapel arrive and say that the Disciples are everywhere in the lab.
Diehard: His name is John Prophet.
Linkara: Miss Jackson, if you're nasty.
Diehard: He claims to have fought alongside Sentinel and the away team against the Disciples.
Shaft: Prophets and Disciples, huh? Sounds like the Biblical equivalent of Armageddon to me.
Linkara: (as Shaft) And unfortunately, we don't have Jesús, Christian martial artist, handy.
Linkara (v/o): Actually, what he just said doesn't even make any sense. I don't recall the Disciples being on hand in the Book of Revelations. I don't know, maybe I haven't read it in a while. Anyway, Shaft just demands to know what's going on, and we finally, FINALLY get some plot exposition.
Prophet: The Disciples are a product of futuristic science. Neither they nor I are supposed to be here in this time or in this place. I was designed by Doctor Garnet Wells to combat them in their many forms.
Linkara: Yes, they have many forms, like "big". And "bigger".
Linkara (v/o): He says that they're traveling back in time via teleportation device called a Crash Tunnel, and that one such Crash Tunnel is underneath the building they're in. Not sure how the hell he knows that, but hey, at least we have something to go on. Sort of. Why are they traveling back in time? And what the hell does Prophet mean he's "not supposed to be here"?
(Cut to a panel of issue 2 showing Prophet's beginnings)
Linkara (v/o): The backstory in issue 2 was that a mad scientist enhanced the guy...
(Cut back to issue 4)
Linkara (v/o): ...and put him in that stupid-looking boxing headgear thing. How is that thing even staying on? Is it just clinging really, really hard to his head? Is that why he's always gritting his teeth?
(Cut back to issue 2)
Linkara (v/o): Anyway, he was put in cryogenic suspension. He's not from the future!
(Cut back again to issue 4)
Linkara (v/o): But whatever. He says that if they don't close the tunnel, the Disciples will just keep pouring out. As such, Shaft sends Diehard down to locate the tunnel.
Diehard: (narrating) Sending me into the tunnel was a good call. I'm expendable. If something happens to me, Project: Born Again will just issue a new model.
Linkara: (as Diehard) I'm under warranty for five years. After that, you can trade me in for the newest model at half the price. (points to camera) Get your Diehard now!
Shaft: Bedrock, follow Die-Hard [sic]!
Linkara: (as Shaft) I have decided that you are expendable, too!
Linkara (v/o): Vogue arrives with Sentinel, the Iron Man guy from the away team. He's still alive, but his Youngblood's Disease has entered stage two: the eyes completely vanish, leaving nothing but a black void! Vogue says that Photon, the green-flame-haired guy, found the other away team members and is still fighting more Disciples. Sentinel lays some exposition on us that there are some other characters called Berzerkers, who are resistance fighters that follow the Disciples through the gateway and that the Disciples are after Prophet.
Shaft: Why? Who is he?
Sentinel: Some sort of futuristic super soldier specifically designed to combat the Disciples.
Linkara (v/o): And that was exposition given to us by Prophet only two pages ago, so that was useless filler. Bedrock and Diehard enter the tunnel, because, why the hell not, I guess? And Diehard figures it's some kind of wormhole that leads to another place or time. They arrive... someplace, where the Darkseid ripoff from a few issues ago, Darkthornn (emphasizes the "N" sound), is waiting for them.
Darkthornn: Congratulations. You have successfully breached the passageway that joins our two worlds.
Linkara: (as Darkthornn, pretending to hold up a piece of paper) Here's a coupon for a free yogurt at the concession stand.
Darkthornn: This is the planet D'Khay. I am Darkthornn, it's [sic] ruler.
Linkara (v/o): And thanks for the poor literacy there, Rob. I don't mean the extra "N" in "Darkthornn"; I already talked about that. I mean the misspelling of "its". With the way it's written here, he's saying, "I am Darkthornn, it is ruler." And wait, they're from another planet? I thought they were from the future!
Darkthornn: Your trespass here is not welcome!
Linkara: (as Darkthornn) Which is why I congratulated you when you arrived... (looks around, confused)
Linkara (v/o): The two heroes quickly strain their neck muscles and attack, demanding Darkthorn-n-orn stop sending the Disciples through. Dark Thermometer is not and... um... does something to Diehard that makes his blood come out in a big long trail of... Carnage Symbiote? Blood does not work like this! Dark Thong tells Bedrock he doesn't stand a chance, and we cut back to the lab, where the remaining Youngblood members along with Prophet gather outside the portal. They think the two have been gone for too long and decide to go in, but all of a sudden, Dark Thespian emerges.
Darkthornn: There will be no more Disciples! If the struggle continues, it will not be against those who serve my cause-- it will be against yourselves!
Linkara (v/o): And so, our comic ends with the reveal that Bedrock has joined forces with Dark Thorp! Dun-dun-DU... Oh, who the hell buys this for even a second? And even if they did, who cares at this point? Oh, and the best part...
Text: To be concluded in... "BRIGADE #4"!!
Linkara: Four issues in, and they can't even complete their storyline in their own book. (closes comic and holds it up angrily) This comic sucks!
(Cut to a closeup of a second story in the comic, "Pitt")
Linkara (v/o): Oh, but of course, we're not done yet. Like previous issues, they decided to shove in an extra story, this time a prologue for "Pitt"!
(A shot of the cover of "Pitt #1" is shown)
Linkara (v/o): You remember Pitt, right? That completely boring comic I reviewed at the start of 2010? The one whose cover boasted that it was the "Rippin' 1st Issue!" Because "rippin'" is suddenly an adjective that means "cool". I don't think the '90s were ever that stupid.
(Cut to 90s Kid)
90s Kid: And that, dude, is why you're totally not RIPPIN'! (makes devil horn signs with his hands)
(Cut back to the "Pitt" prologue)
Linkara (v/o): I'm gonna do this really quickly because frankly, it's about as interesting as it sounds. Some characters are in space! Pitt is a prisoner and the ship is carrying him to a space station. They claim that Pitt can't escape. ZOMG! Pitt has escaped! Cut to Earth on a subway train. A gang is hassling a woman. A child is with his grandfather.
Gang member: (to the woman) It's skanks like you that make my bulbous knotty parts all tingly!
Linkara (v/o): Human beings, even street thugs, do not talk like that! The grandfather tries to intervene; he fails. The kid tries to intervene, hitting the thug with a hockey stick so hard it breaks it in half. Damn strong for such a little kid. He fails. Pitt teleports into the subway car. The thugs take one look at a naked, clawed, overmuscled alien and their first idea is, (dopey voice) "Dur, let's try to fight it!" You can guess what happens next. And nothing of value was lost. Pitt hands the kid back the broken hockey stick and says he's a good fighter, then walks away.
Kid: I'd call that a natural hat trick!!
Linkara: Well, he may be a good fighter, but he's not very good at his quips.
Linkara (v/o): Pitt runs away into his first issue. THE END!
Linkara: Actually, "Youngblood" and "Pitt" were kind of a match made in heaven. They both featured boring, badly-drawn stories about overmuscled fighters. Oh, and neither one of them could keep to a monthly schedule.
(He throws the comic down, gets up and leaves. He walks out into the middle of the room, but to his shock, the glass case containing Tom Servo is empty! As Linkara puzzles over what's going on, he hears Nimue's voice)
Nimue: Information: My senses have located the intruder who entered this vessel in December of last year.
Linkara: You found Mechakara?!
Linkara: Where is he?
Nimue: Level 6 science lab.
Linkara: He's back on a ship?!
Nimue: Analysis suggests that the intruder never left the ship.
Linkara: Then why did we never find him?
Nimue: At the time, internal sensors were damaged by engine imbalance. (Harvey Finevoice walks out into the room) After they were reset, they defaulted to last used settings to for intruder alert status (Dr. Linksano walks out into the room, scanning a Cybermat) and had to be recalibrated. This was done, but the recalibration did not account for the possibility that the intruder was not still on board.
Linkara: Still... I would have thought that he would cause more trouble by now.
Nimue: Speculation: The intruder was damaged during its encounter with security sentry and has only recently become operation again.
Linkara: What do you mean?
Nimue: Internal sensors detected an entry into a Shade storage chamber on level 5 two hours ago. The intruder reactivated a single Shade and has taken it with him to the science lab.
Harvey: Kid, we gotta get up there! If the mook's hurt, this may be our only chance to whack him while he's vulnerable!
Dr. Linksano: Agreed! As soon as he's repaired, he'll try to take control of the ship again!
(Linkara does not answer. He is still trying to process what's going on)
Harvey: Kid, are you there?!
Linkara: He didn't show up when the intruder alert was reset. That doesn't make any sense.
Harvey: (snapping his fingers) Kid, wake up!
Linkara: There's something I'm not seeing, something that's staring me right in the face. Let's get up there!
(He takes his coat and leaves. On Comicron 1, Linkara, Harvey and Linksano appear on board and walk through the ship)
Harvey: Okay, kid, how are we playing this?
Linkara: That body can shoot energy bolts out of its eye. However, it takes up a lot of power, and I'm guessing they haven't had enough time to find a substitute power system. It used the bolt a lot the last time we met, so really, our biggest threat is the Shade.
Dr. Linksano: The Shades are powerful en masse, but individually, they are not very strong. The single one should not be too difficult to deal with. (holds up ray gun of his own)
Linkara: All right, on the count of three, we storm in. One... two...
(Suddenly, before Linkara can finish, the ship shakes violently, not a long time, but long enough to throw Linkara's party off balance)
Linkara: Nimue, what the hell was that?!
Nimue: Information: Propulsion system activated. The ship is now moving.
Linkara: (to Linksano) I thought you said you installed the new safeguards!
Dr. Linksano: I did! And triple encrypted it! There is no way that Mechakara should have been able to gain control!
Harvey: But how did he do it?!
Linkara: It doesn't matter how he did it! Nimue, what's our new heading?
Nimue: Our projected course appears to be the most direct route out of the solar system.
(Linkara and his friends are confused)
Linkara: "Out of the solar system"?
Harvey: Kid, if I was the toaster, especially after what happened last time, the first thing I'd do is bring this thing down to a big city and start smashing stuff!
Dr. Linksano: And it wouldn't even need the weapons systems. With the shields raised, this ship could just steamroll through anything in its path and not scratch the paint job.
Linkara: Linksano, get down to engineering and regain control of the ship! We'll take care of Mechakara!
Dr. Linksano: I'm on it! (turns to leave)
Linkara: Oh, and if there's a radiation leak, don't be a hero!
Dr. Linksano: (calling out as he leaves) There is a risk of that, I can assure you!
Harvey: (to Linkara) Kid, there's something about this whole kit and kaboodle that stinks, but I can't put my finger on what.
Linkara: Then let's start at the source. One... two... (turns sharply to door) three!
(Inside the room, a Shade is tinkering with Pollo's new body with Mechakara in it. The door opens, getting the Shade's attention. Linkara and Harvey fire their guns at the Shade, who fires back. Linkara and Harvey duck to avoid getting hit and they fire back. The Shade tries to shoot at them, but eventually, Linkara and Harvey have hit it so many times that it ultimately falls over, but not before it flips a switch on the body on the way down)
Voice: Voice module online.
(Harvey aims his gun at Mechakara)
Linkara: All right, Mechakara. (aims his gun at Mechakara) Surrender now, and you won't get hurt.
(The body lifts into the air and the voice starts to speak. Surprisingly, however...)
Much deeper voice than Mechakara: That is not my name.
Linkara: (stunned) Vyce!