September 10, 2012
The comic that dares to defend the sanctity of microscopic non-life!
(We open with, keeping in tradition with the other Marville reviews, with an empty futon. Holokara, with his coat completely half-worn, struggles to get up from the floor and lays against the cushions. As he gazes at the camera, he pauses and rubs his forehead)
Holokara: (slurring) I... I'm a hologram. How did I get drunk? (he takes another pause to rub his head again) Ugh. Marville again. Oh, geez... (collapses on the ground)
(Opening titles play; cut to title card with "Alcohol" by Barenaked Ladies playing)
Holokara: (hung over and rubbing his head, slurring) Hello, everybody. You know, you think you understand something, and you think you'll be ready for it, but then it hits you with a curve ball.
(Cut to shots of various Marville comics)
Holokara (v/o): If you've been following these, you should recall that this year we've taken a glimpse at "Marville", one of the worst comics ever. The first two issues are supposed to be some kind of parody or satire, but of what is a bit more complicated. It seems to want to parody superheroes and comic books in general, but has no sense of comedic timing, most of the jokes are either dated or just not funny, and the overall plot is so thin and moronic that you just start asking very basic questions of logic like, why is Rush Limbaugh suddenly here? Or, how in the hell is this guy's head suddenly in his stomach when this kind of Looney Tunes physics has not been on display before this?! Or perhaps, most pertinent, HOW IS TED TURNER STILL ALIVE 5,000 YEARS IN THE FUTURE?!
Holokara: And I bet you're all ready for more of the absurdist parody comic poking fun of this crap (chuckles giddily) But well... I'd say this is where things went downhill, but that would suggest that there was a high point to this series to begin with.
(Cut to a shot of the cover of this comic)
Holokara (v/o): Oh, goody, another Greg Horn cover that has nothing to do with the comic. Well, I suppose at one point the characters are on a beach, but they don't play volleyball and that is not AOLstro, Al's dog. And seriously, look at the expression on this woman's face. She is terrified for you. She's looking at the reader and going, "Really? You really want to read this? I'm so sorry."
(He opens to the first page)
Holokara (v/o): As with the other two issues, we have our introduction page to get us caught up on Marville, though it's no longer labeled as "an insider's guide". Mind you, it's very confused about its story, but hey, at least it no longer feels the need to explain the jokes. (reads text) "This all started in the future – 5002 A.D. The Earth is getting pounded by asteroids and Ted and Jane send their son Al back in time to save him."
Holokara: Well, technically, they sent their son Cal AOL back in time, and Mickey just started calling him Al because she's kind of an idiot. But hey, semantics.
Holokara (v/o): Although I do wonder why that panel is showing the end of the previous issue, where the time machine is being sent back and not Ted Turner and Jane Fonda sending him into the past. (reads) "Given that his origin is very similar to Superman's (and Spider-Man and Batman for that matter)..."
Holokara: Uh, no, it isn't! The closest you could say is that it's kind of like Superman, but you only made vague references to Spider-Man and Batman! They weren't actually a part of the origin!
Holokara (v/o): (reading) "He also falls in love with Mickey, but it's a one-way street."
Holokara: The dude must be really good at hiding it, because not once in the story has he alluded to being in love with Mickey! Is there an entire different story happening in the introduction pages? Is that what's going on?
Holokara (v/o): "Then Al meets Lucy, a beautiful police woman. With help from Lucy, Mickey, Spider-Man and The Punisher, he captures the Kingpin of Crime."
Holokara: (really frustrated now) NO, HE DIDN'T! THEY FOUND OUT THAT SPIKE LEE IS THE KINGPIN– (he suddenly stops himself, blinking his eyes as if trying to figure it out) Spike Lee is the... Excuse me for a minute.
(He gets up and leaves, going outside and looking up at the sky and hanging his head; "Forgetting You", the theme from Manos: The Hands of Fate plays; then he returns to his place and takes the comic again)
Holokara: They found out that Spike Lee is the Kingpin, they got into a debate about race, and then Mickey and Al just left!
Holokara (v/o): Oh, and three guesses what any of this has to do with the comic. Your guesses should have been "jack", "freaking" and "squat"! And now it's time to get into the comic, and this... this is simply astonishing. It's like this through the whole comic. (laughs nervously) Y-You ready? (the comic begins) We open on a mansion that Al apparently owns now. And you might notice that there's some text floating over it and off to the side. You want to know why? That's because there aren't any dialog balloons. There are no speech bubbles, no caption boxes, no thought clouds; the entire script of this comic, save for panel descriptions, I guess, are just printed along the side of the page. As you might imagine, this has made the comic one of the most frustrating reading experiences I've ever had with a story. I've been reading comics for well over a decade. My brain is hardwired to read a story a certain way. And yes, it's okay to experiment with this. I've read stories before where there was very little, if any, dialog, and relied mostly on large blocks of text. The difference, however, is that those were still utilizing caption boxes for the text, as if we were seeing a visual representation of a novel or the like. It still integrated the text with the comic! This, however, just shoves the text in and sometimes COVERS UP THE ARTWORK with it! In other words, IT WASN'T INCOMPETENT LIKE THIS IS!!
Narrator: Al doesn't have much to do except relax and enjoy his mansion on the beach with his friend Mickey.
Holokara (v/o): Wow, what a nice-looking beach that grassy cliff is. To truly indicate the heights of sequential art that we have on display here, we require italicized descriptions to tell us actions that happen; in this case, that the policewoman Lucy has arrived with a bag of money. Apparently, for catching the Kingpin, he has been awarded another huge sack of money. Yep, that sure is how that works. Mickey states that she's hungry, prompting Lucy to suggest a barbecue, but Al says he doesn't eat meat.
Lucy: Vegan, huh, are you a health nut?
Holokara: (laughs sarcastically) Lucy, go to hell.
Al: I feel bad for the animals.
Lucy: You're just a nut.
Al: Cows are living things, and I feel bad for killing them.
Lucy: Here's a fun fact. Vegetables are living things, too.
Al: I do feel bad when I eat plants, just not as bad.
Holokara: Oh, for God's sakes! Yeah, plants are living things, but only in a broad definition of life. (points at camera) If you honestly feel bad about eating plants, (puts comic down) then here is my rebuttal!
(Holokara picks up a bag of Fresh Express leafy green romaine lettuce and stuffs his mouth with lettuce with a look of annoyance on his face)
Holokara (v/o): Al says that he feels bad about how his life is going.
Mickey: Cheer up, you wanted to be a super hero and you ended up capturing the head of all organized crime in New York.
Al: Read the papers, Mick. Crime hasn't stopped-- it was all a waste of time, just like the rest of my life.
Linkara: (dripping sarcasm) What, you mean capturing (holds up index finger) a single high-profile criminal did not end crime and corruption forever and ever? What a shocking revelation! (he facepalms himself as he becomes annoyed) Al... you know, I invented the word "idiostuporific" to describe something as stupid as you, and yet, somehow, that feels inadequate. You are super idiostuporific!
Holokara (v/o): Al offers each of the women a sack of money because he "doesn't need all of it," and because he fears they only hang out with him because he's rich. And with the money, they decide to leave... but then reenter, according to the script.
Mickey: Hey, buddy, take a joke.
Narrator: Relieved to have his friends back, Al finally smiles.
Holokara (v/o): Oh, yeah, look at these three identical panels of silence and his completely blank expression. Clearly, Al was in utter anguish about their leaving. Al uncovers the time machine... wait, why is he still here and buying mansions when he could just go home?
Al: I'm going back to creation to find God and ask what gives.
Holokara: (infuriated) Um... no. Go home. Go home, Al! You have a time machine now, go home! You have no reason to be here, you have no reason to ponder the meaning of life, just go back to your own time! GO HOME! TIME MACHINE!! GO BACK TO THE FUTURE!! YOU HAVE A TIME MACHINE!! EITHER GO BACK HOME OR GO KILL HITLER! I DON'T CARE, JUST LEAVE!!!
Holokara (v/o): Oh, and it turns out I was wrong: there are two thought clouds in the comic. They come from a fish. A FISH! Mickey still doesn't believe Al is from the future and doesn't believe in God.
Lucy: If there's no God, then who created us?
Holokara: Well, some believe that we just evolved naturally over time without any kind of divine intervention whatsoever, Lucy. People are allowed to have different viewpoints on that. For example, the movie Prometheus thinks we were created by aliens who worship black goo and tentacle monsters.
Holokara (v/o): Oh, and you're probably wondering what was so important for the fish to be thinking that granted it to have proper comic formatting.
Fish: If there's no God... then who changes the water?
Holokara (v/o): Profound. So the three nuzzle up inside the time machine. You'll also notice the art style has radically shifted, but don't get your hopes up on it being better art. Lucy in particular seems to be suffering from some kind of condition where her arms are super long, her torso is as wide as her head, and her breasts are conical. Anyway, they're all in the time machine, but the script text doesn't say Al pushed any buttons, nor is there a panel depicting them setting coordinates. But all of a sudden, Al and Lucy are meeting God! Just like that! Both see God differently: Lucy as the traditional guy with the beard and white clothes, while Al sees Him as a superhero – with a J on his chest... for "Jehovah", I guess? "Jesus"? I don't know.
Al: Oh, Super! It's you!
God: Welcome to Outer Space.
Holokara: You know, one of the questions they ask on Inside the Actors Studio is "What would you like God to say to you when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?" And I think that's my answer: "Welcome to Outer Space."
Holokara (v/o): You know, seeing the grand majesty of space on display like this, I am filled with so many questions: namely, what the hell Al set the time machine for, AND HOW THEY'RE IN SPACE?! Did he just set the coordinates for Year Zero or something? Is it like one of those comedic time machines where he just wrote a general area on a wheel and spun it to the right point? And if this is supposed to be the dawn of Creation, WHY IS THE EARTH THERE?!? Also, I must call foul on this representation of outer space. For one thing, there are a bunch of asteroids over the planet for no reason. Secondly, where's the plot hole near Europa, where Lord Vyce's floating around outside the solar system?
Holokara: Ho, but I kid, outer space. (laughs) Although, come to think of it, we never did find Vyce's body. I wonder what happened to him.
(In space, Lord Vyce is floating around)
Lord Vyce: Patience... Patience...
(A satellite floats past)
(Back to the comic)
Lucy: Wake up, Al, this is Heaven, and God doesn't look anything like Superman.
Holokara (v/o): Okay, how the hell can she tell what he sees?
Al: That dude is a dead ringer for the Man of Steel.
(Holokara looks up and looks to his left, seeing an image of superhero God from this comic, then looks to his right, seeing a shot of Superman, then slaps himself on the head)
Lucy: God looks exactly like he does in the Bible.
Al: The Bible doesn't have any pictures.
Lucy: Look, I know a flowing white beard and wise Caucasian brow when I see one.
(Holokara glares at the camera, then cut to the Mystery Science Theater crew watching The Screaming Skull)
Mike Nelson: You know, the Gospel speaks of losers like you.
(Cut back to the comic again)
Holokara (v/o): And then, when they look back again, He's turned into a black guy in a suit. He says they both saw Him the way they wanted Him to be, but He thought it would be easier if they looked like that.
Holokara: You know, I realize that this is technically God, but since He's all-wise and all-knowing and just comes right out of nowhere, does this count as the "magical old black guy" trope?
Al: Please, we came for answers, and I'm more confused now than ever.
Young Man: Okay, here's Revelation #1: God is omniscient and omnipresent, and the two are tied together. God knows everything on Earth, because He is everywhere on Earth.
Holokara: Yeah, you may have noticed that this is taking an odd turn for a parody comic. Well, that's because it's no longer a parody comic. Issues 3, 4 and 5 of "Marville" are now about Bill Jennis espousing his views on God, morality and humanity, through the eyes of three snarky, insufferable idiots!
Holokara (v/o): That's right, the stupid comic that was trying to be funny, and failing miserably, is now trying to be serious with bits of witty observations! And it's still not funny, nor witty, or in any way thought-provoking. It's just annoying and more than a little insane as we progress though this nightmare. Anyway, they ask what happened to Mickey, and we cut to her pulling Lucy and Al from the ocean and onto a proper beach. She claims they were just hallucinating, but all three see God – or rather, Jack, as he's now called in the comic – standing on the beach. Mickey claims he didn't do anything to help stop them from drowning, and Jack responds that he couldn't help. Thus, we get into a philosophical argument about what is essentially the age-old question of religion: if God is good, then why do bad things happen to good people? Many people have different belief systems and answers to that questions, assuming they believe in a God who's all good, just like I have my own answer to it. The problem is that this argument is coming from NOWHERE! Mickey just believes Al and Lucy when they say that Jack is God, despite her earlier stating that she didn't believe in God, and from her perspective, all that happened was that they fell out of the time machine into the middle of the ocean, even though we're about to see that the time machine is, like, twenty feet away, SO HOW THE HELL DOES THAT EVEN HAPPEN?!? Oh, and there are only two panels on this page, and one of them is almost completely covered in text. Look, if I wanted to read pseudo-philosophical garbage pretending to be a comic book, I'd read something by Dave Sim. (rimshot) And the non-comic fans in my audience have no idea who the hell that is, but right now, I don't care, because this comic is dumb. Jack says that Revelation #2 is that "God does work miracles, but not on demand. He can't do a damn thing without help."
Holokara: Or He can do it when he's bored, like when he bestows super powers onto a seventeen-year-old slacker so he can get laid.
(Cut to Holokara wearing a blue coat)
Holokara: We'll be right back, you Slifer slackers.
(He walks off as the AT4W logo appears, and we go to commercial; upon return, we see Holokara again)
Holokara: And now we're back. I love this outfit. (again, he walks off, as the AT4W logo appears again)
Lucy: Jack is horrible. I know you are God. You said you were omnipotent. So please just stop this. You said you were omniscient, so figure out a way to make more carbon dioxide without killing anything.
Holokara: (irritated) OH MY GOD!! A CHARACTER IS ACTUALLY ARGUING THAT IT'S A "HORRIBLE TRAGEDY" THAT INDIVIDUAL MOLECULES AND MICROORBS FROM A BASIC FORM OF A PLANT ARE DYING OFF!! Even in a series that has featured Ted Turner karate chopping a meteor, THAT IS STUPID!!
Holokara (v/o): I mean, for the love of–
(Cut to an episode of Futurama: "The Birdbot of IceCatraz")
Holokara (v/o): Futurama parodied this kind of thing!
(The Econauts applaud at Free Waterfall, Sr's presence)
Waterfall, Sr: Whoa! No, no! No applause. Every time you clap your hands, you kill thousands of spores that'll some day form a nutritious fungus. Just show your approval with a mold-friendly thumbs-up!
(Leela and the other Econauts do so out of worry.)
Holokara: Hey, Lucy! Mickey! (he aggressively claps his hands) They're non-sentient, they're non-sapient, they don't even QUALIFY as life! They are a COMPONENT of life at best! I... Lucy. Mickey. I don’t even have the right words for this, so... I'm gonna let Arnold Rimmer say it for me!
(Cut to a clip from Red Dwarf)
Rimmer: STOP YOUR FOUL WHINING, YOU FILTHY PIECE OF DISTENDED RECTUM!!
(Stinger: Dr. Linksano comes into the room, closing the door behind him as he does so)
Dr. Linksano: All right, I'm not even sure how a hologram can sleep, but he is sleeping. We should be able to talk in peace.
Harvey Finevoice: We gotta do something about that guy before he kills us all.
Dr. Linksano: Well, going at him half-cocked with a pistol isn't going to work, as you found out.
Harvey: Yeah, I admit it, that was knuckleheaded of me. The very least, I should've aimed for that doodad that powers him. I was just being too hotheaded.
Dr. Linksano: It wouldn't have made much of a difference even if you had shot at the mobile emitter.
Harvey: How do you figure?
Dr. Linksano: The hologram is a combination of light protection and force fields. He's able to project the force field around the mobile emitter to protect it from harm.
Harvey: I don't suppose you have any science-y crap to help out with that, do ya?
Dr. Linksano: Nothing specifically designed to take it out, but I think we do have a chance with a frontal assault.
Harvey: I thought you just said going in with pea shooters ain't worth the effort.
Dr. Linksano: We'll need larger, more powerful guns. He's impervious to harm, but he's not undefeatable. Like any other electronic object, he relies on energy. If we drain his energy banks, then he's vulnerable. Continued, sustained attacks will do it. It's just we need to survive to see it through.
Harvey: I haven't pulled out the Tommy gun in a while. This'll be a good time.
Dr. Linksano: Excellent! We'll need 90s Kid's help as well.
Harvey: I don't think he's in any shape for that.
(Harvey looks down toward the floor, where 90s Kid is sitting, looking despondent and drinking from a small metal thermos)
90s Kid: Rob Liefeld is not doing comics anymore!
(He sobs, takes another sip from his thermos and slumps over)
Harvey: I don't get it. He only has Diet Coke in that thing. How is he drunk?
Dr. Linksano: I've learned not to question these things. Just get him sobered up and ready, and I'll be prepared to do my part.
Harvey: You got it, Big Eyes. You know what? I bet that Gunslinger mook is responsible for all this. He's probably just waiting right now, biding his time for the right time to attack.
(Meanwhile, the Gunslinger teleports into his own room, groaning in pain)
Gunslinger: Well, that could've gone better.
Sierra (Gunslinger's computer): Hello, master. It's good to see you again.
Gunslinger: (painfully rising to his feet) Good to hear from you, too, Sierra. How long is the time dilation?
Sierra: A factor of twenty, master.
Gunslinger: Twenty? (groans in pain)
Sierra: Please steady yourself, master, you're still acclimating.
Gunslinger: I know. I know. I took a nasty hit from that fellow's gun, too.
Sierra: Medical scans indicate high toxicity in your bloodstream. I would humbly suggest you sit down while I administer medication in the air supply.
Gunslinger: Right. (goes over to a chair and sits down) That universe is poisoned to the core. I mean, I was only there for a couple of minutes and I was losing focus.
Sierra: I am pleased to report, master, that the readings you came back with are very thorough. I should be able to extend your ability to withstand the universe immensely.
Gunslinger: Yeah, good to hear. So, Factor 20, huh? You really are on the beaten path this time. So how long was I gone in their time?
Sierra: Approximately three months, master. I am already making calculations to adjust for the dilation.
Gunslinger: That fella has experience with shootouts, Sierra.
Sierra: Were you able to make him angry?
Gunslinger: Yes and no. He seemed more annoyed than anything. Still, I'm sure I can make it.
Sierra: Begging your pardon, master, but I've accessed records within this universe. It might be a better course of action to avoid this one.
Gunslinger: Why do you say that?
Sierra: This individual and his weapon, he apparently defeated Lord Vyce.
Gunslinger: This guy tangled with Vyce?
Sierra: And succeeded, master. Perhaps it would be best if we attempted to challenge someone less formidable.
Gunslinger: No, if this guy really did take out Vyce, that makes it even more important that we get this gun up to full power. (looks toward a table full of weapons) After all, it is the last one we need.
(Cut to black and then a real stinger scene: Holokara is seen eating some more from his bag of Fresh Express)
Holokara: (his mouth full) This is why I don't make a food joke very often. Take care.
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