Batman: Jazz #1
September 24, 2012
Batman hates rock and roll, but what does he feel about jazz?
(Open where the last episode leaves off: Linkara is aiming his gun at Holokara, the gun that disproves Holokara's invincibility)
Holokara: Ah, good, you're here! Uh, listen, this probably requires some explanation.
Linkara: Pollo has gotten me up to speed using his short-range transmitter. I presume you're responsible for the (holds up communicator on his wrist) communications breakdown?
Holokara: Ah, no, actually, we lost contact with you about a month or so ago. We suspect it's some sort of malfunction on board Comicron-1. The Cybermats are looking into it.
Linkara: I see.
Dr. Linksano: (struggling to his feet) Be careful, Linkara! He knows how to use his hologram form!
Linkara: Computer, deactivate emergency reviewing hologram.
Holokara: Wait, let me explain! (but it's too late; he disappears)
Dr. Linksano: (dumbfounded) Eh? WHAT?!?
Linkara: You guys did know you could just do that, right? (Dr. Linksano wiggles his fingers nervously) Is everybody okay?
Harvey Finevoice: (getting to his feet) I've been better. (groans) Good thing that idiot doesn't know how to set the bazooka.
Linkara: How is he?
Harvey: (looking down at floor) I think he'll be fine.
90s Kid: (lying on the floor; weakly) Don't worry, Funshine Bear... We'll stop No Heart...
Harvey: I take it your magic piece is working again.
Linkara: (looking at his gun proudly) Yep. And I think the same can be said about the enchantments on this place. Otherwise, I presume we'd be seeing a lot more bullet holes in the walls.
Harvey: It's good to have you back, kid.
Linkara: Well, it's good to be back. Wait, it's Monday, isn't it?
Harvey: Yep, all day.
Linkara: (removing communicator) Then I have a review to do. Linksano, do what you can for Pollo. (walks off)
Dr. Linksano: I'm on it.
(Linkara sits down at the Futon, with the camera out of focus briefly before coming in properly)
Linkara: Ah... So, hello, and welcome to Atop the Fourth Wall, where bad comics burn. Say, do you remember how Batman hates rock 'n' roll?
(Cut to a shot of the comic in question: "Batman: Fortunate Son")
Linkara (v/o): If you don't, here's a quick refresher. A few years ago, I reviewed a comic called "Batman: Fortunate Son".
Linkara: It sucks. A lot.
(More shots of that comic are shown)
Linkara (v/o): The story is about a rock 'n' roll star who is haunted by the ghost of a stand-in for Elvis. He goes on a drug-induced rampage across the United States, where he threatens people, rants and raves about how it sucks that he "lived a privileged life" instead of starving on the streets, about how music used to be so much better and meant something, destroyed public and private property, and was eventually shot down by police for absolutely no reason. He was an annoying-as-all-hell whiner who I'm pretty sure we were supposed to sympathize with, despite having no redeemable qualities whatsoever. It turned out that his death was orchestrated by his manager, who wanted to turn him into a legend. It was, in a word, DUMB! How does Batman fit into this? Well, we get some interesting revelations about Batman's history, like how Bruce Wayne's father told him rock 'n' roll was evil, right before he got shot to death, because lazy writers like to inject pathos into Batman by having lots and lots of meaningful bullcrap happen right before his parents died, as opposed to it just being a senseless tragedy that could've happened on any night. If that wasn't bad enough, apparently, in between training to be the best crimefighter in the world, Batman spent some time as a groupie for a Sid Vicious knockoff, and said knockoff murdered his girlfriend. Thus, "Bruce discovered the horror that is rock 'n' roll music!" I am not kidding! And thus, it gave us this memorable quote...
Batman: (audio from review) "Punk" is nothing but death...and crime...and the rage of a beast.
Linkara: And I didn't even get into half of the insane pieces of dialog about Batman and "the beast". The review was running long, and (rolls eyes) I was just getting so infuriated that I started skipping dialog segments in my recap of the story.
Linkara (v/o): Now, with all of this talk about Batman hating rock 'n' roll, about rock 'n' roll stars who murder and threaten legitimate businesses just because they're selling CDs, and even throwing grenades into crowded rooms, you'd think that the creators of the comic actively hated rock 'n' roll, were the kind of people who made the Christian propaganda film...
(Cut to footage of said Christian propaganda film...)
Linkara (v/o): ...Rock It's Your Decision, which stated that rock 'n' roll leads to devil worship and mind control.
Linkara: But here's the thing that'll make you tilt your head. The creators of "Batman: Fortunate Son"? They don't hate rock 'n' roll. They made the book as a tribute to rock 'n' roll.
(More shots of the comic follow)
Linkara (v/o): There's some brief behind-the-scenes information in the book that explains their motivations and their own love for classic rock. They honestly thought this was something insightful about the music they enjoyed. It's fascinating in a way just how out of touch they actually were. Bear in mind, "Fortunate Son" was made in 1999, but you wouldn't believe it with the references they kept making. They seem to celebrate rock musicians from, like, the 1960s or so, as if they were still the same kind of music that was in 1999! Hell, the most out of punk rock that we might've gotten in the book was the Sid Vicious stand-in, but that's it. They talk about Elvis a lot, the Beatles, I think even Buddy Holly gets an appearance. The residents at Arkham bring up Nelson Riddle and ABBA – yeah, ABBA as rock 'n' roll; wrap your head around that. Maybe Black Sabbath, but no grunge rock. Not a lot of heavy metal. It's mostly just the guys responsible for the foundations of rock. It's mind-boggling how completely not in tune it was with music, despite supposedly being a book about music! Oh, and don't get me started on the horrible artwork, or the writing that allows Batman to understand everything there is to know about rock 'n' roll by locking himself in a room for a few hours and studying it!
Linkara: So, why am I bringing all this stuff about "Batman: Fortunate Son" up? Well, that's because today's comic has the same writer. Let's dig into (holds up today's comic) "Batman: Jazz #1".
(AT4W title sequence plays; title card for this episode has "Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini" playing over it; cut to a shot of the cover for this comic)
Linkara (v/o): Before we begin, a disclaimer: I am not a music expert. I know, right? Shock of all shocks! What with the many times I've had to call upon my fellow music reviewers on ThatGuyWithTheGlasses for assistance. As such, it should be pretty obvious that I am not on the up-and-up about jazz music or its history or the like. I don't "get" jazz.
(Cut to a clip of the MST3K gang)
Joel: How would you describe jazz, anyway, Tom?
Tom Servo: Oh, man, if you have to ask, you'll never know.
(Back to the comic again)
Linkara (v/o): The only thing I can say is that when I was younger, there used to be a radio station that played smooth jazz, and I liked that music. So we're walking into this strictly on its own merits and not as some insightful piece about jazz music.
Linkara: Not that I actually believe that this has anything meaningful to say about jazz; I'm just pointing out that some stuff might go (runs hand over head) right over my head.
Linkara (v/o): Our cover is... bizarre. Batman is frickin' huge! It's like if Batman was the Hulk or something! Now, sometimes, this art style can work to depict him like that. What immediately comes to mind is (images of Batman and Superman are shown in this style) Ed McGuinness, who manages to make it work, in my opinion anyway, by the fact that the art is a bit more cartoony. The same can probably be said about the bulkier version of Batman from the Brave and the Bold cartoon. Here, however, they decided to put in gritty, rather painted artwork, and it just makes it look ridiculous. And at first, I thought Batman had some kind of weird spider symbol on his chest, but then I took a closer look and I realized that this is all supposed to be his blood! There are glass shards imbedded in him all over, but there are black outlines on the blood as well, making it look like it's a stylized emblem instead of, you know, BLOOD! Hell, the blood is coming out so cleanly and flowing in almost symmetrical arcs with itself that it's ridiculous. The only place where it actually looks like blood is the stuff dripping off his hand. And yeah, a massive Batman bleeding from glass shards embedded in his chest and arms; that screams jazz, right? And as if in answer to that, they just Photoshopped a bunch of blue-tinted saxophones into the background. When I first saw this, I thought they were wrecked buildings. Good job integrating those saxophones! (the comic opens to the first page) We open on a park, where someone wearing a very loud and poorly-drawn coat is accosting an old man playing some loud and poorly-drawn music.
Man in loud coat: Old man, this is our park!
Sax player: I'm just playing my music.
Man in loud coat: Our park, we play our music.
Linkara: (as man in loud coat) Joey, play our music!
(Suddenly, "Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini" plays, while Linkara crosses his arms and nods his head to the music)
Sax player: You boys ever listen to jazz?
Man in loud coat: I say we listen to our--
Sax player: Jazz is our music!
Man in loud coat: Uh-huh. I heard this one. Jazz. African-American art music. Classical music of America. The glue that held black culture together.
Linkara: (pretending to be a robot) I am a robot... that studies the ways of the human...
Linkara (v/o): Seriously, did he memorize the dictionary definition of "jazz"? Who the hell talks like that? Speaking of... uh, speaking, the musician decides to throw this at the thug in response...
Sax player: You're not as dumb as you look.
Linkara (v/o): Dude, the guys just proclaimed that it was their park, and there are three of them. Does this seem like a smart thing to say? The thug, in turn, yanks the saxophone from the guy and tosses it away. I think he shoves him, too, but the artwork is so dark it's difficult to tell. However, this is the signal for Batman to come in, gritting his teeth and looking like an early '90s image character. And oh, me, oh, my, does he have some narration for us!
Batman: (narrating) It must be the music that brought me.
Linkara: (as Batman) I always hear my theme music when I attack. (hums a tune as Batman)
Batman: (narrating) Fast and fluttery as a bat's wings, but floating* as an owl over the cement darkness.
- NOTE: Batman actually says, "...floating weightless as an owl...".
Linkara: (as Batman) Ooh, I need to write that one down. I've got a poetry slam tomorrow.
Batman: (narrating) Full of mystery. And there may be other mysteries in life than "who killed who?"
Linkara: (as Batman) Like Twinkies – how the hell did they get the cream inside the Twinkies?
Batman: (narrating) This is Uptown, where sounds in the night usually lead me to violence and pain.
Linkara: (as Batman) People throwing their TVs out the window when they realize that Honey Boo Boo is a real show.
Batman: (narrating) Tonight I followed a sound for its beauty. And it leads me to the same.
Linkara: (as Batman) An old man getting beat up because he's playing his saxophone. Beautiful.
Linkara (v/o): And yes, I know he's referring to the "violence and pain" thing, but the sentence structure implies that he's referring to the remark about beauty. Anyway, one of the punks grabs a gun and shoots, but Batman easily bends his over-muscled body so he can kick the guy in the face. You want to know how messed up this artwork is? I can't tell if that's the back or the front of his leg.
Batman: I won't debate turf with you. Or music tastes.
Linkara: (as Batman) Unless you like rock 'n' roll, in which case (holds up fist) I'LL PUNCH YOUR FACE IN!
Batman: I will suggest you respect your elders.
Linkara: (as Batman) I'm Batman for American Seniors Insurance.
Linkara (v/o): The other punk scolds the guy for carrying a gun, and they make a hasty retreat under Batman's urging. The old guy picks up his sax and laments the growing amount of gangsters.
Sax player: Guess a young man's got to give himself a purpose.
Batman: There are better purposes.
Sax player: Like swinging around the city in a mask?
Linkara: (as Batman) Oh, my God. I never thought of it like that before. I'm gonna go home and rethink my life.
Batman: ...think you'd better find a safer place to stay*.
- ANOTHER NOTE: It's actually "play", not "stay".
Linkara (v/o): Seriously, why the pause after he says "I"? This is not some profound bit of wisdom, Batman. In fact, why the hell are you even still talking to him? Move on! Other people are in danger!
Sax player: I never liked it safe. And I found what I want here. I found myself here.
Linkara: (as old man) I found out I'm a homeless drifter who could play a saxophone semi-decently, does not have regular food or warmth during the winter, and I wear a coat that smells like urine.
Sax player: So what's with the mask, anyway?
Batman: I need it for my work.
Sax player: Oh yes. I fooled myself with that once. Over something worse than a mask.
Linkara: (more than a little annoyed) Hey, you wanna know why Batman Begins is my favorite of the three Christopher Nolan Batman movies? This scene. (snaps fingers)
(Cut to the clip in question)
Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale): People need dramatic examples to shake them out of apathy, and I can't do that as Bruce Wayne. As a man, I'm flesh and blood. I can be ignored, I can be destroyed. But as a symbol... As a symbol, I can be incorruptible. I can be everlasting.
(Cut to the comic)
Linkara (v/o): Is this guy suggesting that Batman is fooling himself over his need to wear a mask? Who the hell is this asshole?!
Sax player: It's about your past, isn't it? There's somebody you used to be--who you can't be anymore.
Linkara (v/o): And Batman actually has this shocked look on his face, as if, again, he had never thought about that before. This is probably up to individual interpretation of the character...
(The artwork of Batman and Superman together is shown again)
Linkara (v/o): ...but I've always felt that the primary difference between Batman and Superman is that Bruce Wayne is the mask for Batman, whereas Superman is the fake identity that Clark Kent puts on. Clark Kent was raised by loving parents who showed him a strong ideology and moral focus that he transferred into something inspiring. Bruce Wayne is a child, who died alongside his parents, and was reborn as a creature dedicated to ensuring that it never happened to any other child.
(Back to the comic again)
Linkara (v/o): What the hell is this comic suggesting? That Batman is just lying to himself about his crimefighting and that he should hang up his cape and play a saxophone?! For crying out loud, there are two kinds of people who make an analysis like that: one, the unimaginative who think far too much about Batman in comparison to the real world, or two... VILLAINS!! Anyway, the musician invites Batman to come to the Paradise Club, and that he's been told he plays like "Blue Byrd".
Batman: I've heard of him. He died in the '50s, here in town. The father of be-bop.
Sax player: Not "be-bop." Modern jazz.
Linkara: Which, according to Wikipedia, is pretty much synonymous with be-bop. And yes, if I get that wrong, feel free to correct me in the comments, but please just make sure someone else hasn't corrected me already on that. While we're on the subject, though...
Linkara (v/o): It's probably not a good idea to ascribe an entire musical movement to a FICTIONAL person! And again, I could be wrong, but I found no evidence of an actual Blue Byrd having existed and helping invent bebop. In fact, the people attributed with helping create early stages of it are Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Christian.
Linkara: And once again, I admit that I could completely wrong about this stuff, but at least I tried to look up a little information, instead of making up a completely fictional person responsible for it all!
(Cut to a clip of Doctor Who)
Linkara (v/o): This is like those sci-fi movies and TV shows that pretend aliens invented Velcro, because they don't actually bother to look up how the hell it works, and just assume it's some kind of "magic voodoo that humanity could never come up with on its own".
(Back to the Batman comic again)
Linkara (v/o): Hey, let's just invent a guy responsible for an entire genre of music, and not mention the actual people who helped usher it in! Anyway, the musician tells Batman that if he tells the door he's a friend of "Willie Little", they may even "waive the cover". Batman, of course, says he doesn't have time for that.
Sax player: So make time. Maybe you'll learn something.
Linkara: Maybe you'll learn that you're BATMAN, and you should've swung away about five minutes ago to keep on patrolling!
Linkara (v/o): Anyway, after Batman leaves, we cut to said Paradise Club, where there's apparently a large crowd of people who have come to hear Willie Little perform, although nobody actually knows anything about him, as a friendly bartender exposits.
Bartender: He shows up, says "My name is Willie Little and I play the alto saxophone," he plays... and ten minutes later the boss is hiring a trio to back him up.
Linkara: So... what, is it always open mic night or something? How do you even book this guy, with a poster outside and everything, if he just shows up whenever he wants?
Bartender: Look at this now. When's the last time you saw white people in here?
Patron: Election time.
Bartender: I mean real people.
Linkara: (as bartender) Politicians are just figments of our imagination. (normal voice) Actually, come to think of it, what the hell does that even mean? Some random nightclub is popular during the election season?
Linkara (v/o): The two at the bar spot some famous countess or something, but everyone's attention gets diverted when Batman walks in... standing very awkwardly.
Linkara: (as Batman, his shoulders scrunched up) I'm Batman. Just go about your business.
Batman: I want a table. Non-smoking. And Willie Little said you'd waive my cover.
Linkara: Wait, dude's a mutli-billionaire, and he won't even pay a measly cover? What an asshole!
Linkara (v/o): By the way, how damn surreal is this? Why the hell is Batman even here? Why is he dressed as Batman in a jazz club?! Hell, this damn thing admitted that lots of yuppies and high-class people are coming into the club, so why isn't he here as Bruce Wayne? And if he thinks that that would attract too much attention, Batman's a master of disguise! Dress as Matches Malone or something. Why is he here in the Batman outfit?! And why the hell does everyone instantly believe he's the real Batman and not just some crazy person dressed up like him? Anyway, they tell him there isn't really a cover, and Willie was just pulling his leg. He's told he can sit wherever he wants, but the Countess invites him over to her table.
Countess: Tell me what brings you here. Does the world-famous lawman really listen to the music of the downtrodden?
Batman: I like to think I fight for the downtrodden.
Person at table: Of course. You would, wouldn't you?
Linkara: (as this person, waving dismissively) How dare you, Batman, presume to fight for the downtrodden. Why, you're just so posh in your cape and cowl and bat logo on your chest.
(Cut to Linkara dressed as an Aussie)
Linkara: The ball ain't movin', lads! (looks to camera) Oh, we'll be right back. (walks off as AT4W logo appears) Bloody 'ell!
(We got to commercial; upon return, Linkara returns)
Linkara: We're back now, mates. (drawing a bow and arrow and running off-screen) That pyro's a spy. (the sound of a raging flame is heard while the AT4W logo appears) OH, GOD, NO, HE ISN'T!
(Return to the Batman comic)
Batman: (to the Countess) Do you call it "Be-bop" or "modern jazz"?
Countess: In the beginning, be-bop was pure. Even the word was alien to the white-bread mind. Then it became a white man's fad. A silly word for jive-talk and musical clowning. Blue Byrd asked me not to use it.
Linkara (v/o): White man's fad, huh? You know, this comic keeps bringing up jazz, or at least "real jazz", as it were, in its relation to black culture, and the lack of white people in the jazz club, or, in this case, how white people have subverted terms for bebop and the like.
Linkara: Hey, for the record, Gerard Jones and Mark Badger, the writer and penciler, respectively? (cups his hand over his mouth) BOTH VERY WHITE DUDES!
(I COULD be wrong about Mark Badger, though. I was only able to find ONE picture of him and it might be a different guy.)
Linkara: Just saying that it's probably not very respectful to speak from a perspective and position that you are, by definition, completely incapable of experiencing.
Linkara (v/o): But hey, that's just my opinion when it relates to a story like this that features Batman going into a jazz club for NO GOOD REASON!! The entourage of the Countess state that she was the last one to see Blue Byrd alive and starts giving some backstory on the guy.
Countess: He could grab a tune by any white Tin-Pan Alley hack and with a touch of lightning burn a glorious new music from its banal chord-changes!
Linkara: So... you're saying he was a music thief, stealing other people's ideas and shifting them around to suit his own needs? Just saying, that's what it sounds like.
Linkara (v/o): She continues to talk about how awesome he was, how other musicians loved him, and recounts a tale about the management of a club not letting him sit in the audience during his break because he was black, and that led to him becoming a drug addict to try to cope with his life.
Linkara: (wearing dark glasses like he's blind) But the truth is that the only drug he needed... was jazz.
(Cut to a clip of The A-Team)
Mr. T: He's on the jazz... He's on the jazz...
(Back to the comic)
Linkara (v/o): During the session, he loudly accosted his bandmates and apologized to the audience, because what they were doing wasn't jazz, causing the other band members to storm off. He took comfort with the Countess, who won't shut the hell up about how damn angelic and pure his music was. I admit, this is well-written stuff during this sequence, but this is the same damn problem that we had in "Batman: Fortunate Son": comic books are a visual medium, not an auditory one. You can talk about how divine his music was, but in the end, I CAN'T HEAR HIS MUSIC! You know the phrase, "show, don't tell"? Well, if you're gonna make a comic all about music, then put it in a damn poly bag, along with a CD or a tape or something. Why not? This was 1995, after all; the speculator boom was crumbling, and you could try to milk a few dollars more at a poly bag gimmick comic with music inside of it. She finishes off by saying he decided one night to watch the Dewey Brothers on TV. Again, couldn't find any information on a real-life band of that name, so I have to presume they are not real.
Countess: (narrating) That white swing band! That commercial trash without truth or pain!
Linkara: How dare music have any other kind of emotional depth, aside from hardship and pain!
Linkara (v/o): She says he died in his chair shortly afterwards, and now she goes to clubs in the hopes of finding anybody who plays...
Countess: ...with a ghost of Byrd's truth.
Linkara (v/o): His "truth"? The hell does that mean?
(Cut to a clip of a Cyberman on Doctor Who)
Cyberman: That doesn't mean (?).
(Back to the comic again)
Linkara (v/o): Anyway, Willie Little appears and starts playing.
Batman: (narrating) One second the trio is pounding behind him, then a reedy wail rushes up out of some well of pain, and the trio dissolves...
Linkara: (as Batman) My God! He's using his saxophone to vaporize people!
Batman: (narrating) And he's out there all alone. All alone he turns the pain into something I've never heard before, something not bound by gravity or humanity or even music.
Linkara: (as Batman) He's... He's playing dubstep with a saxophone!
Linkara (v/o): However, the Countess sees him and the way he plays, and she screams out that Willie is Blue Byrd! In the confusion caused by that, he slips away and Batman spots him leaving. Batman follows, trying to listen in on the saxophone playing, as told to us by the melodramatic narrative captions. He tracks him and finds Willie again, who explains that he's been in Europe for the last few decades, studying modern European composers. Batman doesn't buy that that's the only thing he was doing.
Willie: There's always more to everything. You play one chord and you find a new melody in it. That's jazz. After all... isn't there more to you than just a shadow on the wall? No answer for that? Too bad.
Linkara: That's because it's a stupid analogy! A shadow is not an actual thing! It's what we call an area where there's an absence of light, because it's being blocked by an object! Of course there's more to Batman than just a shadow on the wall, because Batman is not a shadow ON THE WALL!!
Linkara (v/o): And I also noticed that you didn't answer Batman's question on what else you were doing in Europe. However, he does go on to say that he invented a new identity, basically to get himself away from the image people had of him as a junkie. Batman's tired of the bullcrap, but before they can continue, a random saxophone plays and release a gas grenade or something at them, the source of which is... (a group of strange green creatures covered in musical instruments are shown in the comic) these things. We have three Technicolor creatures with instruments who talk only in scat poetry.
Instrument creature #1: Who dat bat, cat? Dat bat-cat's wiggin', all reet all rat!
Instrument creature #2: Guess these cats ain't hip-cats, cat!
Instrument creature #3: Can't be a hip cat if the cat don't scat when his orbs do pop... on the brothers of the bop!
Linkara: (more than a little confused) Is... Is there another word out there that means "what"? Because somehow "what" just doesn't quite cover this.
Linkara (v/o): And one of them apparently has a drum for a stomach... And he launches out missiles or something from it that grays Batman and slows him down a bit... I'm just recapping this to make sure I'm not completely insane. Batman is confused about what it is exactly that's slowing him down, which allows the three to start chasing after Byrd. And so, our comic ends with the saxophone-playing creature letting out music that forms into a concentrated mix of glass shards that aim right for Batman...
Linkara: (confused by he read) I have no idea what I just read, (closes comic book and holds it up) but it sucks.
Linkara (v/o): The artwork is all over the place, and a lot of the time, it's too dark to make out what's happening, or the colors are just dreary browns. Batman is the most out of place in this setting, and I don't just mean the fact that he just up and decides to go to a club, while in full Batman gear, but his overmuscled physique makes him look out of place with the more realistic-looking humans in the club. To be fair, the writing is better than "Batman: Fortunate Son". When the characters talk about how great a musician Byrd was, you really do get a sense of how it speaks to the souls, whereas in "Fortunate Son", it was just a bunch of dickheads talking about how great his music is, because it fights "The Man", yo. On the flip-side, however, like in "Fortunate Son", the characters are really damn pretentious about the music. Look, yes, music is meaningful and important to people, but sometimes people aren't looking for something artistic; they just want to enjoy something! And as I said, it has that same problem where, since we can't hear the music they're going on about, we just have their word that it's awesome. To compare this to something else...
(Cut to a clip of the Doctor Who Christmas episode)
Linkara (v/o): ...the Doctor Who Christmas episode of 2010 featured a hauntingly beautiful song performed by Welsh singer Catherine Jenkins, and when you hear that music, you can tell that it's something that can control the weather and tame sky sharks.
Linkara: Don't ask, it's Doctor Who.
Linkara (v/o): Point is, you can keep telling us that Byrd is this jazz musician whose work speaks to the truth of the human soul, but damn it, WE CAN'T HEAR THAT!! Just what in the hell of Michigan was up with those things at the end?!
Linkara: "Batman: Jazz" is a three-issue miniseries, and maybe we'll get back to it eventually. In the meantime, though, I need to clear my thoughts about that. (clutches the side of his head) Oh, my God, (throws comic book down and gets up) what the hell was that at the end?
(Suddenly, Holokara appears again)
Holokara: Emergency procedure five, execute!
Linkara: Locking us in?
Holokara: We need to talk. (suddenly confused by Linkara's lack of concern) You don't seem surprised that I'm online.
Linkara: You're based on my brain patterns and personality. It's in your nature to make backup plans.
Holokara: Oh, yeah, and I sincerely doubt you'll be able to undo this.
(A loud beeping sound is heard)
Dr. Linksano: (offscreen) Linkara, the hologram is online again. But don't worry, we've already figured out how we backed up his program. (Linkara smiles while Holokara becomes nervous) Pollo and I are working to shut him off permanently.
Holokara: Aw, hell. (snaps his fingers, but nothing happens)
Dr. Linksano: And I've blocked his signals to Pollo. (Linkara smiles smugly) We should have him offline shortly.
Holokara: Well... poop.
Linkara: Thanks for the update, Linksano. Keep at it.
Holokara: So, here we are. You know you can't take me in a fight.
Linkara: Maybe, or maybe the magic gun has become more powerful than you could possibly imagine. Now, just tell me what the hell you want.
Holokara: Well, that's the thing, isn't it? It's all about power. The power to do good. We have the power to do so much good! We have it sitting in orbit, but we're too afraid to use it!
Linkara: What are you talking about?
Holokara: What's your status?
Nimue: Comicron-1's weapons are charged and directed at the provided coordinates.
Linkara: What coordinates?
Holokara: New York City. Specifically, Marvel Entertainment.
Linkara: You're gonna murder everyone!
Holokara: No! We're not gonna murder anybody! We are going to save Spider-Man!
Linkara: (stunned) That ultimatum...
Holokara: We issue a very specific statement: they start working on a story to reverse "One More Day", keeping us apprised of its progress... or we level their offices. If Spider-Man can't be saved, then let him at least die with dignity!
Linkara: (hardly believing his ears) I...
Holokara: (getting frustrated) Would you just think about it?! We have the power to fix things! (Linkara looks on worriedly) No more heroes making deals with the devil! No more proactive superhero teams! No more characters killed off for meaningless shock deaths! No more half-assed reboots or retcons! They keep claiming to be guardians and shepherds of these characters, yet do nothing but hurt them! Superman, Spider-Man, Batman, Blue Beetle, the X-Men – they're all bigger than us! They were here before us, and they'll be around long after we're dead. Superheroes are our mythology, with a life of their own, with power to inspire beyond even real people. But time after time, our heroes, the characters we look up to, get squandered or have injustices heaped on them! Well, it's about damn time someone corrected this! The creators have proven what they really are! They're the villains! So it's about damn time that WE be the heroes and SAVE THESE CHARACTERS!
Linkara: You... (hesitates somewhat before speaking) You want to save these characters. You want to show the world that superheroes mean something more than just something to be retconned or wrecked. But in the end, all you're doing is threatening people if you don't get your way. That doesn't make you a hero! That makes you a bully! You're trading one person's imposed stories for your imposed stories!
Holokara: Damn it all, this is too important! Look at what all these horrible comics have done to us, having to deconstruct these stories again and again, and NOTHING EVER CHANGES!
Linkara: No. We will win through eventually. We win hearts and minds. We convince people we're right! We don't force people to accept we're right, and we sure as hell don't put a gun to their heads and say, "Accept it or die!"
Holokara: Damn it, we have to DO THIS! WE HAVE TO– (he gets cut off by a beeping sound)
Dr. Linksano: Linkara, we've isolated his program and can short-circuit the emitter.
(Linkara glares at Holokara)
Holokara: They'll never change unless we make them change.
Linkara: Doc, fry him.
(Holokara has only a second to glare at Linkara before he disappears, his chip falling on the floor; Linkara looks down at it. Later, Pollo is addressing Linkara, who is seated on the Futon again)
Pollo: So, have we been able to figure out what was wrong with the hologram?
Linkara: (sighs) There was nothing wrong with it at all. It was doing exactly what it was supposed to do.
90s Kid: Dude, he reached inside my chest and squeezed my heart like a Madball!
Linkara: The hologram was based on my memories and my mental patterns. It's entirely likely that if I hadn't left and found out all this stuff about myself, that I'd be the one with my finger on the button, ready to shoot Comicron-1's weapons down. Fortunately, I have some good friends who know when to give me a swift kick in the ass.
Harvey: I got to admit, kid, I don't buy it. I mean, how many times have you saved the world now? You ain't evil.
Dr. Linksano: The road to Hell is paved with good intentions, Finevoice. The funny thing about morality is that you can justify anything if it's in the pursuit of a greater good. It's all a matter of where you draw the line.
Linkara: I'm not particularly happy about the things I found out about myself. But in the end, it has made me doubly determined to make sure that it doesn't happened to me. What I would like to know is why Nimue didn't shut off the hologram when all this started. Nimue, you're programmed to with ethical subroutines to prevent this kind of thing from occurring.
Nimue: This unit apologizes. There have recently been a series of malfunctions throughout the vessel that cannot be explained at this time. A diagnostic of this unit's core program may be advised.
Linkara: We'll get to work on that as soon as possible. The Gunslinger is still out there, and the fact that they've been so quiet lately worries me.
Harvey: So, this little journey of yours, that's it? You walked from one side of the country to the other, just to find the wizard who told you to get your act together?
Linkara: No, this journey has reassured me that I'm not going to turn evil.
90s Kid: How's that, dude?
Linkara: When the hologram started to turn on you guys, what happened? You all rose to the occasion, helped each other, and tried like hell to protect yourselves together. I can think of no people better suited to stand by my side and keep me from turning evil. Now, come on! I'm back, and I'm taking all you guys to Dairy Queen!
Pollo: I thought you spent all your money during your journey.
Linkara: And by me, I mean Pollo's taking us to Dairy Queen.
Pollo: And the seeds of evil are planted.
Linkara: (getting up and leaving) Oh, bite me, it's fun!
(Stinger: In the now-darkened room with the confrontation with Holokara, the Gunslinger walks up and picks up the chip containing Holokara)
Gunslinger: One man's trash is another man's treasure.