February 9, 2015
Truly there is nothing more exciting for lovers of superheroes than skiing, shower scenes, and nightmares about overeating.
(Linkara is looking quite depressed, with his head cradled in his hands)
Linkara: Hello, and welcome to Atop the Fourth Wall, where bad comics burn. "Youngblood #7". SEVEN! I've looked at six issues of this series beforehand, and I technically did the first one (holds up two fingers) twice! And yet I am still no closer to finishing it than when I did that first text review in 2007!
(A shot of the "Youngblood" characters is shown)
Linkara (v/o): I don't know what's weirder: that I still care enough to look at this piece of crap every year, or that you people haven't abandoned me or rioted in the comments section over how I'm still reviewing it!
(Cut to black)
Linkara (v/o): In either case, (dramatically) previously on "Youngblood"...
(A recap of the first six issues is shown)
Linkara (v/o): Backgrounds and feet take far too much time to draw when you're trying to invent sixty new characters at once, all of whom look alike in some capacity. As such, Rob Liefeld decided to do both by inventing new members of Youngblood, even though we still don't know anything about the old members. What's that? There was a Team Youngblood book and a crossover called "Extreme Prejudice" that might have expanded upon the characters?
Linkara: (holds up index finger) One, they had the same creative team as "Youngblood". Do you really think they did that? (holds up two fingers) Two, if you can't be bothered to put character development in your main book, why should I bother with the other books?
Linkara (v/o): We'll probably get to "Team Youngblood" eventually, outside of my annual look at this book. Oh, and Badrock was on David Letterman in a recreation of a real-life stalker of his, so you know "Youngblood" is all class. And the worst part is that Issue 6 is probably the best issue of "Youngblood" so far. Seriously, it actually felt like "Well, those first six issues were garbage. Let's try a do-over, where one of the heroes is doing the superhero-as-celebrity shtick while there's an exciting – well, 'exciting' in quotation marks, anyway – fight at the White House." And it was still utter garbage! Now, I lay most of the blame on Liefeld's feet, both for the artwork and for the overall "story" – again, quotation marks – but the script writer and editor was Eric Stevenson, so maybe he actually has some inkling of talent on display.
Linkara: So let's dig into (holds up... nothing) "Youngblood #7"... (looks down at his hands to notice they're empty) Uh, hasn't arrived in the mail yet... and see if maybe, just maybe, some tiny bits of quality will elevate this series. I mean, we can look past bad art if the story is good, right? (silence) Right?
(There is still no answer. Linkara becomes nervous. The AT4W title theme plays, and the title card has "Somebody's Watching Me" by Rockwell playing in the background. Cut to a closeup of the comic's cover)
Linkara (v/o): Look at this cover. Is this not a perfect representation of "Youngblood" right there? Badrock winding up to punch the reader in the face! That is what this book is: the comic trying to hit us over and over. Also, great cover design. Really illustrates what to expect when it's just a dude's face and fist.
(The comic opens to the first page)
Linkara (v/o): We open with Shaft standing in front of a giant refrigerator. I mean, massive! Look how far back that thing must go, given this perspective and relative body sizes. I guess it makes sense given how huge some of the Youngblood members are that they would need a fridge that size. This is a horror movie fridge right there! Didn't the Cinema Snob review a movie with a killer fridge?
Shaft: (narrating) Mm-mmm...I don't even know where to start...!
Linkara: I'd start by putting on some pants or a shirt or something. You have both the fridge and freezer door open! Your nipples must be hard enough to cut glass at this point!
Linkara (v/o): Let's look at the contents of this fridge. Let's see... O.J., soda, purple stuff... Ooh, Sunny D! Also, we see why this fridge is so huge: someone just made a gigantic sandwich and left it in the fridge. If they were in such a rush that they didn't actually eat that sandwich, how did they have enough time to put it back in the fridge? Geez, look at this! Nobody wrapped up anything in tinfoil or put anything in Tupperware; they just left food with maybe a single bite taken out of it right on the shelves! Who does that?!
Shaft: (narrating) I might as well start strapping slabs of meat onto my body if I'm going to eat any of this stuff.
Linkara: So... you'll look like every other member of your team.
Shaft: (narrating) Maybe just some ice cream...and some cake...yeah... A hot dog or two... or three.
Linkara: (shrugging in confusion) Shaft, are you pregnant? What the hell?
Shaft: (narrating) NO! What am I thinking?!! I can't do this! I need to stay healthy-- need to look healthy. The public--they're always watching me.
(Cut to a clip of Rockwell's "Somebody's Watching Me" video)
Rockwell: (singing) I always feel like somebody's watching me...
(Cut back to the comic)
Shaft: (narrating) People look up to me, I'm a role model...
Linkara: (childish voice) Mommy, when I grow up, I wanna kill people with a bow that doesn't have a string!
Linkara (v/o): But Shaft decides, screw that, he's hungry, and thus begins eating every single thing in the refrigerator, Homer Simpson-style. And enjoy this lovely image of Shaft the Hutt as he licks his rather disgusting mouth, all the while ballooning up more and more.
Shaft: Oh my God, I'm a BLIMP!
Linkara: I wish you were a blimp; then you wouldn't be talking.
Linkara (v/o): Even though, in this panel, he's not holding anything, the next panel features him now holding an ice cream bar. I'd criticize the continuity, but this is pretty evidently a dream, so continuity issues like that get a pass. Instead, I'll simply enjoy the mocking laughter of everyone around him, not because he's fat, but because at one point, this book sported the tagline, "The next generation of heroes". Shaft wakes up, having dozed off on his couch, next to his girlfriend, who, in this panel, looks absolutely tiny next to him. Also, sphere boobs in boob socks.
Shaft: Shelly! Oh my gosh, I just had the worst dream!
(Cut to a clip of Real Genius)
Chris Knight (Val Kilmer): (to Mitch) a dream where you see yourself standing in sort of sun-god robes on a pyramid with a thousand naked women screaming and throwing little pickles at you?
Mitch (Gabriel Jarret): (laughs) No.
Chris: Why am I the only one who has that dream?
(Back to the comic again)
Shelly: A dream? Then it must've been a doozy, Jeff-- You were screaming like a crazy person!
Linkara: (as Shaft) The worst! I dreamt that "Youngblood" actually did become that Teen Titans book it was initially supposed to be!
Shelly: You sure everything's all right?
Shaft: Yeah, yeah, everything's fine... Nothing a good forty minutes on the treadmill won't fix.
Linkara (v/o): Yeah, he needs to go and sharpen his face some more. Look at that thing! Yeesh! We cut to Vail, Colorado, an actual place. It's a famous ski resort town, the third largest in North America.
Narrator: Though slightly less famous than Aspen, Vail remains a virtual paradise for skiers, shoppers and anyone eager to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life.
(Cut to a clip of the computer game Ski Free)
Linkara (v/o): It's also famous for abominable snowmen emerging from nowhere and eating people.
(Cut back to the comic)
Narrator: And like Aspen, Vail is always a popular spot for vacationing celebrities. Movie stars. Media moguls. Pop singers. Presidents.
Linkara: (as narrator) All come from far and wide to hear their legendary timeshare presentation.
Linkara (v/o): And of course, superheroes, too, as we see this two-page spread on its side of Badrock skiing, with the composition designed to attract your eye towards his crotch. Or maybe the page separation was supposed to hide that, but obviously Rob had to draw it like this to begin with before it got put to paper. Thanks, Rob, I'm sure Diehard appreciates how you're taking attention away from his crotch.
Narrator: Unknown to the world at large, Badrock is, in actuality, a mere seventeen years old.
Linkara: Oh! Underaged crotch, too! (massages forehead in frustration) That's... That's just frickin' brilliant!
Narrator: And though his life is usually filled with all the trappings and concerns that come with being the most popular member of the world's greatest super-team...
(Cut to a clip of an episode of Futurama, showing Bender laughing at Leela, who glares at him)
Bender: ...Oh, wait, you're serious. Let me laugh even harder. (laughs uproariously, to Leela's annoyance)
(Back to the comic again)
Narrator: ...there are still times when he enjoys doing the one thing that comes more naturally to him than anything else:
Linkara: (as narrator) Scarf knitting.
Narrator: Being a big kid.
Linkara: (as narrator) He can use his Pull-Ups and everything.
Linkara (v/o): At the base of the hill, Badrock meets up with some teenage fans of his, who of course want an autograph.
Badrock: Sure thing, but one at a time, okay? And after this, I've gotta jet! My buddy Robert Steiner's stomach is growling so loud I thought he was gonna cause an avalanche out there!
Linkara (v/o): I wouldn't worry too much about his stomach, Badrock, but I would worry about his eyes, which have shrunken to tiny, beady little things. The good Mr. Steiner is more than happy to let him, since according to his thought balloons, he's worried about the newfound popularity of Troll and the other new members. We cut to Youngblood Headquarters and its raspberry orange, where–
(He stops abruptly, however, when he sees what the panel shows: Troll taking a shower. Linkara screams in utter horror at this sight. Then a montage begins, set the Wurzels' "Combine Harvester", in which Linkara has a meltdown. He is first seen slumped over on his seat and hitting himself on the head with his hat)
Linkara: (crying) I don't wanna do it!
(Now Linkara sits up, holding up his hands, wide-eyed)
Linkara: OH, GOD, NOW I'M BLIND!!
(Next, Linkara is holding up a Pikachu doll and staring at it. Then he holds up his hands, as though holding the comic, which is not there)
Linkara: It's not even in my hands, but I can still see it!
(Next, Linkara slumps over again, crying and hitting himself on the head with his hat. Then he sits up, with his glasses askew)
Linkara: (sobbing) Mommy, I don't wanna review comics anymore! (falls over)
(Now Linkara is staring at the Pikachu doll again)
Linkara: (softly) Tell me your secrets...!
(Next, Linkara's head is inside a bag full of colored balls, still crying. Now Linkara holds up a doll of Pollo)
Linkara: Pollo? Pollo, we have to get out of here! We have to– (he drops it accidentally and freaks out) POLLO! (he looks over to see the Pikachu doll on the back of the futon and points at it accusingly) YOU DID THIS!!
(Now the montage ends as Linkara takes a sip of water from a water bottle and then looks into the camera with a rather sickly expression on his face)
Linkara: Why, Liefeld, why?! Why do you do this to me?! Is it because you're insulted in the theme song? Not even Gary Brodsky pulls this kind of crap! If you wanted to get to me, you didn't have to hurt so many other people!
Narrator: A little known piece of super-hero trivia: they can't sing.
Linkara: Oh, yeah? Well, what about Nightcat? (suddenly stops as he ponders what he said) Okay, fair enough.
Narrator: Unless, of course, the hero in question happens to be a 3,000 year old troll.
Linkara: Funny, I always imagined most trolls to be twelve-year-olds. (a rimshot is heard)
Linkara (v/o): Dear Lord, thank you for obscuring shower doors. What do you think is worse, this or Tommy Wiseau's ass? Ugh! Troll gets out of the shower, but is confronted by that government agent who acts as liaison for Youngblood, Graves.
Graves: Some words of wisdom, Bartholomew.
Linkara: (as Graves) Never start a land war in Asia.
Graves: Fame can be equally as dangerous as it is fleeting should one become too absorbed in it. Have fair warning--I am watching you...
Linkara: (as Graves) Although, I admit I really wish I hadn't been watching you a minute ago.
Bartholomew: Yeah, what are you-- some kinda pervert?
Graves: ...and I will continue to watch you.
'Linkara: (as Graves) In fact, I'm watching you right now! (beat) Wait, where are you going? I can't watch you if you leave the room!
Linkara (v/o): Why does Troll wear his goggles in the shower? Ugh, whatever. Now over to Knight Sabre, who I should probably just call "Australian Incompetent", given that's his characterization.
Knight Sabre: (narrating) Now this is certainly something we never 'ad back in Melbourne! Guess what Damon always said was true-- real life ain't good enough for the Americans-- they gotta go 'n create more stuff from scratch!
Linkara: (as Knight Sabre) Have I mentioned I'm from Australia yet? Kangaroos, dingoes, shrimp on the barbie!
Linkara (v/o): Knight Sabre is doing some training on some robots because we needed an action scene.
Knight Sabre: (narrating) Before I hooked up with Youngblood--hell, before I took onna name Knight Sabre-- all me trainin' was done onna streets.
Linkara: (as Knight Sabre) You'd be surprised how many robots you find on the mean streets of Brisbane.
Knight Sabre: (narrating) Back then, fightin' was part 'n parcel o' survivin'. I could absorb the anger n' aggression o' those around me n' harness it into concentrated energy blasts. Lucky fer me, though, I 'ad an advantage over the other wankers tryin' to make it...
Linkara (v/o): Yeah, you had massively flared boots. No one messes with someone when they have boots like that.
Knight Sabre: Sorry 'bout that, mate!
Linkara: (as Knight Sabre) Crikey! Koala bear! Fosters!
Knight Sabre: (narrating) Bloody amazing alla money the U.S. government throws 'round.
(Linkara raises his index finger to argue, but then stops himself when he realizes Knight Sabre has a good point)
Linkara: Yeah, pretty much.
Linkara (v/o): Shaft, up in the control booth for the... why don't we call it unsafe room... tells him they're heading to Nevada. It seems Diehard's team is down there from "Team Youngblood #10", and they're going in to get the ones responsible.
Knight Sabre: Right on, mate! I've been itchin' for some real action!
Linkara (v/o): I bet, given how a few panels ago, your eyes seem to be trying to migrate off your face in order to escape for this proverbial "action".
Shaft: (thinking) I have to admit, I had reservations about this one at first... but it looks like he's shaping into a fine addition to the team.
Linkara (v/o): Yeah, I mean, his legs look to be just as ridiculously long as yours, Shaft. Over to Badrock in Vail, who's continuing to act as if he's in the middle of an old Mountain Dew commercial. However, his extreme skiing gets interrupted by an energy blast that knocks him into a snowbank. And the blast comes from... this guy. His name, according to the comic, is Overtkill.
Linkara: I don't know if that's clever or stupid, so I'm just gonna groan. (groans heavily as he massages his temples)
Linkara (v/o): And naturally, this character has his backstory in an issue of "Spawn", and he is rambling about killing Badrock. Because why would we want to establish a rivalry or mortal enemy or anything like that in the pages of the book Badrock actually is in? And he's got the headphone tube thing that Liefeld puts on his characters whose function still completely eludes me. Steiner spots Badrock in trouble and calls out to him, causing enough of a distraction to allow Badrock to punch Overtkill in yet another two-page spread turned on its side. I'll give it credit. At least this one tries to create motion in Badrock sending Overtkill flying. It's just it is, like all of the comic, badly drawn, and it honestly could have been done with just a splash page. And in fact, the next two pages are also turned on their side, but not for a spread, but for random panels of Badrock punching the crap out of Overtkill. You know what I just realized? In any other story, all the noise they're generating would have caused an avalanche by now, but nope! Need to have these super sweet punches that look more like Badrock is just kind of swinging his arms up and down.
Linkara: (also swinging his arms up and down) See? Even I could be a member of Youngblood!
Linkara (v/o): Overtkill shoots an energy beam again, this one much more powerful. This causes Badrock to Hulk out. I'm not even kidding.
Badrock: Okay, buddy. Now you've made me MAD!
Linkara (v/o): And so, our comic ends on a final two-page spread unnecessarily turned on its side while Badrock is now even more huge and muscly than before, which I didn't even think was possible.
Badrock: LET'S ROCK, DIRTBAG!
Linkara: (as the Incredible Hulk) How is Hulk one with more realistic physique?
Linkara (v/o): Oh, and naturally, this fight ends in "Team Youngblood #11". Are they just competing with the Spider-Man books at the time in how many different series you need to pick up in order to get a complete story? Speaking of, there's also an epilogue where Chapel – haven't seen him in a while – is running through Washington, D.C., where he references events in "Bloodstrike", puts on his own stupid headphone chin brace thing, grabs some ridiculous sci-fi guns... and we learn he's on his way over to the pages of "Spawn".
Linkara: (feigned excitement) Oh, man, I'm really excited to see that long-standing rivalry between Chapel and Spawn come to fruition! Remember how that was established before this? (expression turns sour) Yeah, unsurprisingly, this comic sucks.
Linkara (v/o): And yet, once again, I have to give it at least a tiny bit of praise. Why? Well, we don't get much, but "Do Over Youngblood" here actually bothers to try to give character development and explore the idea of them being celebrity superheroes. Sure, nothing about what we learn of these characters is all that interesting, but I give Eric Stevenson credit for at least trying to turn this thing around into something presentable. It's not working, mostly because of the Liefeld touch, but hey, it's still better than the first few issues, so kudos.
Linkara: And after something that bad, we need an example of something really awesome. Come back next week and the week after for (dramatically) the ROMTROSPECTIVE, (clenches fist) a look at ROM Spaceknight! (beat) And those comics have actually arrived already.
(End credits roll)
Apparently solicits for this comic hinted at Shaft having an eating disorder. The idea of Rob Liefeld covering a topic like that is terrifying.
My guess is that DieHard's team was shot down over Molossia. I hear their space program advanced into surface-to-air missiles.
(Stinger: The huge fridge from the beginning of the comic is shown again, emphasizing a hamburger with a single bite taken out of it sitting on a shelf)
Linkara (v/o): Seriously, who takes a single bite out of a burger and then just sets the whole thing in a fridge?!