Air Raiders #1
August 24th, 2009
This comic is full of air! No, seriously, there's a lot of air in this comic.
Linkara: (seated on his Futon) Hello, and welcome to Atop the Fourth Wall, where bad comics burn. People may not have noticed this, but I do try to alternate the companies that I review from with each episode.
Linkara (v/o): As in, I'll do a Marvel, then an independent book, then a DC, then an independent book, then a Marvel again, and et cetera. Exceptions are made for multi-part episodes and something I haven't talked about yet: company imprints.
Linkara: Yeah, thing is, Marvel and DC actually have owned more than one company before. Not so much Marvel these days, but definitely DC.
Linkara (v/o): For example, DC owns Vertigo and Wildstorm. While officially owned by DC, they are their own separate imprints, with their own rules and books and styles; hence, why I count them as independents when I feature some of their stuff.
(Cut to the logo for another company owned by another comic company, Star Comics, which was owned by Marvel)
Linkara (v/o): Now, Marvel once upon a time owned an imprint called Star Comics.
Linkara: (holding up arms) Whoa! Ease up on the creativity with the company names, Marvel! Next, you'll be calling a line "Super Comics"!
(The Star Comics logo is seen again, on a comic called "Air Raiders")
Linkara (v/o): Star Comics published mostly toy and television tie-ins that Marvel had licenses to. In this case, we have "Air Raiders", based on a toy line of the same name. I can't speak to the quality of the toys themselves, since... well, I never heard of them until this comic, but they look okay for kid toys of the late '80s. That being said, the premise of the series is really kind of stupid.
Linkara: But I'll get into that once we dig into (holds up comic of review) "Air Raiders #1"!
(AT4W title sequence plays, followed by title for this comic, with Poison's "Ride the Wind" playing in the background; then cut to a shot of the comic cover again)
Linkara (v/o): This isn't really a bad cover, and certainly more lively than the standard pin-up nonsense we've been seeing the last few weeks. That being said, I do have a few complaints. First of all, this caption: "Swashbuckling super-action on a far-out fantasy-filled world!"
Linkara: I love alliteration.
Linkara (v/o): It's such an educational statement! I never knew swashbuckling involved laser guns, hovercrafts, and missiles. Next is the tagline: "The power is in the air"! While that statement is indeed true, it's not true in the way they intended. With that tagline, you'd assume it's in the "The power is yours!" kind of crap, like in Captain Planet, or maybe a vague, metaphysical thing like the Force, before that turned out to be germs.
Linkara: No, it's that those who control the air have power, much like how in Dune...
(Cut to a clip of Dune)
Baron Harkonnen: He who controls the spice, controls the universe!
(Back to the comic)
Linkara (v/o): I don't know, maybe it's just me nitpicking, but the statement feels a little misleading, is all. Both good guys and bad guys fly, so it's not like the Air Raiders are unique. Also, that logo is freakin' huge! Don't get me wrong, it's a great logo, but it takes up a third of the page! Anyway, we open to (dramatically) Airlandia!
Linkara: "Airlandia". Hey, everybody, welcome to my room, now known as "Futonopia"!
Text box: A highly technological world where air is more valuable than gold.
Linkara: So, they're technologically advanced, but they don't know to produce air in large quantities.
Text box: And on Airlandia...
Linkara (v/o): "Airlandia"? Seriously?
Text box: ...this valuable commodity is controlled by the evil ruler Aerozar and the Tyrants of Wind.
Linkara: It's not that surprising, though, that he got elected. The opposing party was "Soilazar and the Stormtroopers of Dirt". At least Aerozar had a useful commodity at his disposal.
Text box: The only opposition to these oppressors is the heroic band of rebels known as the-- (page turns to the first panel) AIR RAIDERS!
Linkara (v/o): And so the story begins properly, with these big purple robot things harassing a guy in tattered rags.
Guard: Now, you ungrateful air hoarder...
Linkara: (pretending to grab something) Oh, excuse me, I just need to hoard some air.
Guard: ...you'll give as much air to Aerozar as he wants or it'll be off to the air mines of Tyrrex with you!
Linkara: (puzzled) How exactly does one mine air?
Linkara (v/o): And here's a question: if air is so important to these dorks, why don't they plant a tree or a shrub or maybe a bush or something? Just saying. But then again, this entire concept doesn't make any sense. Dialog states that they're in a protective dome, so they're getting oxygen from somewhere, or else they'd all be dead!
Hoarder: We need air to live!
Linkara (v/o): (sarcastically) No, really?
Hoarder: Free air for free men!
Linkara: (raising his fist in the air) Slave air for slave men!
Linkara (v/o): We also see other parts of the marketplace, where, actually, people seem quite content despite the lack of air. It's a veritable renaissance festival out there, with a juggler, people dressed in medieval clothing, despite this being a technologically-advanced society and all, and a street vendor selling air burgers. Wait, WHAT?!
Linkara: Uh, you know, guys, Spaceballs was kidding when they had stuff like air in soda cans.
(Cut to a clip of Spaceballs: President Skroob opening and drinking a can of Perri-air; back to the comic)
Linkara (v/o): As more people start shouting, "FREE AIR FOR FREE MEN!", we learn a very important fact about this "far-out, fantasy-filled world": they feel compelled to shove the word "air" into every aspect of their lives. Consider: "Aerozar", "Airlandia", "air burgers", and now "air lancers".
Linkara: (annoyed) Okay, guys, we get it: air is kind of important. How much do you want to be that half the women on this planet are named "Air-iel"?
Linkara (v/o): Behind the scenes, we see the Grim Reaper, or rather, this guy wearing a very conspicuous robe. You'd think by now evil overlords would've outlawed face-concealing cloaks so this kind of thing wouldn't happen. Anyway, this introduces us to Rokk and Hook, Air Raiders working with the local resistance movement to fight the "evil local Baron". Several miles outside the village, a few more of the Air Raiders await the signal from Rokk to begin an attack.
Saira: See anything, Con?
Con: Yeah, Saira, don't get yourself all over-inflated...
Linkara: Get it? 'Cause they're all into air and stuff. Ha.
Linkara (v/o): After a signal flare is shot into the sky by Rokk, the rest of the Air Raiders fly out on their ships.
Con: AIR RAIDERS RIDE THE WIND!
Linkara: (as Con, holding up his fists) Our resistance force is sponsored by the band Poison! (raises one fist out into the air) Ride the wind! Never coming back until I reach the midnight sun! (makes a swooshing motion and sound)
Linkara (v/o): Despite the fact that these Air Raiders are several miles away, the leader of the Air Lancers spots the approaching ships and tells his troops to take to the skies. Back in the alleyways, Rokk and Hook make their way to a rendezvous with the local resistance.
Hook: The signal flare is launched. The Air Raiders should be on their way--
Rokk: Sounds like they've arrived...
Linkara: (as Rokk) And judging by that explosion, they are creating lots of collateral damage and civilian casualties! (holds up his fist) Excellent! (nods)
Linkara (v/o): The resistance leader gives our heroes a tour of the slums, expositing about how Baron Sunder demands excessive tribute from air farmers.
Linkara: (frustrated) Make up your mind, comic! Is air mined or farmed?
Linkara (v/o): Come to think of it, what kind of economic system is this where the only form of compensation is AIR?!? And is air some sort of all-purpose commodity and bartering tool? They say in the comic that they need to sell leftover air to air distributors, and we see there are air miners and air farmers. Are there air accountants? Air video game designers? Air prostitutes? And again, I remind you, everyone seems to be breathing quite well, despite the lack of any visible oxygen tanks, so why exactly is air such a prized resource? You may have also noticed that I haven't mentioned several character names. Well, I figured that since they don't contain the word "air" or have any puns or words based off of air, they probably weren't important. Anyway, we learn the mission of the Air Raiders.
Hook: Aerozar and all the Tyrants of Wind will be overthrown. Then we'll rebuild Airlandia to what it was before the Great Disaster.
Linkara: (shocked) Great Disaster?! COUNTDOWN!
(He runs off, screaming, then returns moments later, with a look of frustration)
Linkara: (sighs) I knew I shouldn't have installed a window there.
Linkara (v/o): So, the jet attack is a distraction to get the two Air Raiders to "the Galvanic air tanks!" The resistance leader walks off, telling the two...
Resistance leader: Ride the wind, Air Raider!
Linkara (v/o): Seriously, this society needs a marketing consultant. Or if you're gonna have a song by Poison, why not just go all out and have your battle cry, "Every rose has its thorn!" The two Raiders walk down to the tanks' guards and pretend to be beggars.
Rokk: Spare a credit for a couple of veterans down on their luck?
Linkara: (incredulously) Credits?! I thought you people sold air! How does this economy work?!
Linkara (v/o): When the guard refuses, Rokk pulls a gun.
Rokk: Are you sure? It's tax-deductible!
Linkara: (as Rokk; aiming a gun at the screen) Care to buy a gun?
Linkara (v/o): So then he hits him with a stick– Wait, huh?! Just a panel ago, he was holding the gun! And how is that stick knocking him back when he's in full armor?! Hook, living up to his name, take the other guard's gun away with his, well, hook. Rokk takes this one out with his bare hand! Is their armor made of purple tinfoil? More guards show up while the two wait for their hover ships to arrive and pick up the air tanks. Hook suddenly gets ponderous with his dialogue.
Hook: These guys--hmm--are crawling--hmm--out from under every rock--hmm!
Linkara: (ponderously) I think the writer – hmm – didn't know what they were – hmm – doing!
Rokk: We have to hold them off until the rest of the Air Raiders can get to us!
Hook: They better get here soon!--hmm--There are just too many of these guys for us to handle with these blasters!--hmm!
Linkara (v/o): Blasters?! You guys are hitting them with a stick and your bare hands! Air Raider Jad – Come on, Jad, really? – shows up and grabs hold of the tanks.
Jad: Why don't we see how Kronax's goons feel about some--freeze breeze!
Linkara (v/o): Said freeze breeze is pretty darn precise, icing up the guns of the guards, but not the guards themselves. Hook and Rokk activate their boot jets to fly up.
Rokk: Let's give some cover to Hook and then--let's liberate some air!
Linkara: Oh, the Air Raiders work for PETA! People for the Ethical Treatment of Air!
Linkara (v/o): The Air Raiders, after spouting off some majorly lame air puns, are continually chased by the Air Lancers.
Air Raider: Just a little bit further, Air Raiders. Soon we'll be in the--petrified cloud forest.
Linkara: (more than a little annoyed) Clouds are water vapor. THEY DO NOT PETRIFY.
Air Lancer: No! They've made it into the forest. It would be foolish to follow them onto their home ground, even if we could follow them through that maze.
Linkara: (as Air Lancer) No! They're in a forest of, quote-unquote, "petrified clouds". Our advanced weapons and jets could never hope to shoot through those!
Linkara (v/o): So, navigating through the maze of clouds, the Air Raiders arrive in an actual forest. We do learn through some exposition that the cruel dictator Aerozar has prohibited trees from being grown. Well, I guess that does explain why there weren't any plants in the village, but this just begs the question of "why?" Of all the resources a dictator could use to maintain power over society, he chose AIR, of all things! Seems to me food and water would do the job more effectively and with a lot less plot holes, but I guess "Food Raiders" doesn't have quite the same punch as a title, does it? After some clumsy exposition that's meant to give characterization to some bland people, Rokk meets up with the Air Raiders' leader, simply referred to as "Admiral" in the book. Rokk is upset that while their mission was successful, the people in the town are still being oppressed.
Rokk: While I was in Sachbar I saw a town of impoverished people barely able to survive for the lack of air.
Linkara: Again, I remind you, in this town, we saw...
Linkara (v/o): ...a juggler, two street merchants, several yelling people, several resistance fighters standing tall, ready to fight, and maybe, like, two guys crawling around. But even though two guys crawling around, look more like they're sick because of a lack of food, not air! Everyone else seems to be breathing quite comfortably.
Linkara: I'm not even that much against the story concept of controlling the population through air. I'm just asking for some CONSISTENCY here!
Linkara (v/o): At the castle of Baron Sunder, a group of barons meets with Aerozar himself, who bears an uncanny resemblance to Gaston from Beauty and the Beast. Aerozar asks the various barons if they've had any problems with the Air Raiders.
Baron #1: I can assure you that we are not troubled by them in my southern barony.
Baron #2: This is also true in my barony to the east.
Baron #3: The Air Raiders were crushed in my westerly land a long time ago.
Linkara: (looking offscreen) And you, Baron Harkonnen?
(A clip of Baron Harkonnen from Dune is shown)
Baron Harkonnen: (Linkara's voice) The Air Raiders will die before these eyes, and they'll know – they'll know that it is I, Baron Vladimir Harkonnen, who encompasses their doom!
Linkara: Yeah, I know, I keep cutting back to Dune, but it's honestly more entertaining than this. That's right, a David Lynch film holds my attention more than this comic!
Linkara (v/o): Aerozar is told by his right-hand man that Sunder's barony was just attacked by the Air Raiders, and his tribute was stolen. He commands Sunder to go back to the village and get a new tribute from the villagers.
Aerozar: And don't forget to collect all the Air Raider sympathizers... and put them to work in the air refineries.
Linkara: (incredulously) Are they air Swiffer sheets? Air vending machines? Do they play air guitar? I have so many questions!
Linkara (v/o): Back at the village, the Air Raiders have arrived again to play Robin Hood with their stolen air tanks. All of a sudden, the villagers are all wearing gas masks. Did the artist just screw up the first few pages? Why do they now have to wear these?! But here's what really confuses me: they spot Air Lancers on their way to the village, and we get a closer look at Rokk in his purple armor. Not only is his nose uncovered for the breathing mask, but there's no face plate! What's the point of wearing protective masks if they don't protect you and help you breathe?! So the Air Raiders take to the skies and engage the Lancers.
Rokk: Come on, Air Raiders, let's show the Air Lancers what a couple of twin lightnings and some froster torpedoes...
Linkara (v/o): (sounding dumbfounded) "Froster torpedoes"?
Rokk: ...can do to invincible Hawkwinds!
Linkara: Did you get that down, kids? Those are the toys you should buy!
Linkara (v/o): Rokk gets captured by the Baron's troops and is brought before him.
Baron Sunder: Rokk, I've waited a long time to catch up with you again! When last we saw each other I swore I would see you dead to protect your family's honor. Today I keep that vow! AIR LANCER, REMOVE MY SON'S BREATHER!
(A dramatic sting is heard)
Air Lancer: (thinking) Rokk--the son of Baron Sunder!
(Cut to the iconic moment in The Empire Strikes Back when Luke Skywalker learns the awful truth that Darth Vader is his father)
Luke: NOOOOO!! NOOO!
(Cut back to the comic)
Linkara (v/o): Yeah, turns out Rokk is Baron Sunder's son! Who'd'a thunk it? However, because we've seen just how effective these troops are, Rokk literally lifts the guy up over his head, takes his gun, and shoves the guard into some other Lancers. These Lancers continue to prove their ineptitude when they accidentally shoot Baron Sunder's breathing helmet!
Linkara: (as Air Lancer, waving his gun around with his eyes closed) Sorry, sir, we just can't see a thing in these helmets.
Linkara (v/o): So Rokk goes up to his dear old dad, who's suffocating.
Baron Sunder: Rokk... my breather (gasp)... it's damaged-- Please... give me air.
Linkara: Dude, just take off your helmet. No one else is having any problems breathing.
Rokk: Father, I have no air to give. But, perhaps if you vowed to leave this village and its air alone, now and in the future--
(Cut to a clip of Total Recall, showing Arnold Schwarzenegger as Douglas Quaid held captive by Cohaagen)
Quaid: Come on, Cohaagen, you got what you want. Give these people air!
Linkara (v/o): So Baron Sunder gives his word, and Rokk knows his father well enough to know that his word is genuine. And so, as more recitations of their idiotic catchphrases, Rokk and the Air Raiders fly off into the sunset. Next issue: "CASTLE INTRIGUE"!
Linkara: Finally, a comic that understands the potential drama and action that can result from real estate. (closes comic and holds it up) This comic sucks. There's no character development beyond cliche, their attempts at making this a unique world just make it silly, and the action is frankly sub-par. (points to camera) Bottom line: if you want to read a comic based on toys, go hunt down "ROM: Spaceknight". (slams down comic, gets up and leaves)