S.C.I. Spy #1
December 15, 2008
"Do you expect me to talk?"
"No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to be more entertaining than this comic!"
(Dressed like James Bond, while the James Bond theme plays in the background, Linkara makes his way through his house, his gun drawn. He sees a guitar case at the end of a hall. He puts on a ring and aims it at the case. Nothing happens, and he ends up putting the ring back in frustration. He takes out a colorful Slinky and plays with it near the case. Again, nothing happens and Linkara withdraws the Slinky. Finally, he walks up to the guitar case and struggles in vain to open it. At last, he gets it open. Inside is a copy of "S.C.I. Spy #1".)
Linkara: Aha! (takes comic) Now we've got!
(The James Bond theme now is replaced by the theme for Charlie's Angels as Linkara disco-dances back through the house with the comic in his hand. It is also revealed that the song is playing on his iPod. At this, Linkara rolls his eyes. Cut then to Linkara sitting in his usual attire on the Futon.)
Linkara: D.C.'s Vertigo imprint was originally started in 1993. The imprint has been home to several books that have been praised for their originality, unique artistic sensibilities, and their mature storytelling that helped make comics less of a children's medium in the minds of the general populace. But then again, not every book can be "Sandman" or "Why the Last Man". Take, for example, today's subject. The solicitation for it reads...
(The solicitation for the comic of discussion is displayed)
Linkara (v/o): (reading) "Sebastian Starchild, like all great secret agents, is a stubborn lone wolf with a penchant for the ladies and a knack for saving the world..."
Linkara: (smiling and shaking head) No, they're not.
Linkara (v/o): (reading, but the text is not displayed, oddly) "He's got a flashy ray gun, a floating cyber-sidekick, and a galaxy-hopping starship. In short, he's a new kind of secret agent, for a new era of comic readers."
Linkara: Or rather, he's the same kind of secret agent in James Bond films, except he's in space, and he's even stupider.
Linkara (v/o): "In the genre-bending first issue, Starchild is off to battle space pirates."*
- NOTE: It actually reads that Starchild is "trail[ing] an intergalactic terrorist."
Linkara: I'm pretty sure they meant "gender-bending". In any case, let's dig into (holds up comic) "S.C.I. Spy #1".
Linkara (v/o): The cover is busy, and annoyingly so. There are patterns on the walls and robots and buttons, and really, the cover tells us nothing about the book, other than, this guy is a lazy jerk who can't be bothered to pour his own champagne. I don't know what it is about this cover. Maybe it's the guy's posture here, with his leg crossed and what appears to be a rather uncomfortable position, or that demon dog, or the bizarre disconnect with the pencils on this guy's face, with those of the spacesuit-clad women outside, but it just looks weird. Speaking of the fishbowl-wearing women, they never appear in the story, so what the heck are they doing on the cover? Heck, we don't even see the fishbowl costumes as spacesuits anywhere, either. (reads title) "S.C.I. Spy – He likes his war cold...and his champagne even colder".
Linkara: (confused) Who likes their war hot? For that matter, who likes their champagne hot?
Linkara (v/o): We open with an expository page. Look, for a longer series, it's nice to have this, but this is a six-issue miniseries. If you can't be bothered to include the backstory in the comic itself, then just don't bother. The gist of it is that the Earth was destroyed "a thousand years ago", and what remains of humanity lives on seventeen planets in the Arcturus star system. By the way, I've checked, and nothing I can find that Arcturus has any more than one planet, if even that much. Anyway, of these seventeen fictional planets, only five of them have been terraformed. The other twelve, now referred to as "the outer worlds", see the lack of terraforming on their planets to be a sign of oppression. By the way, interspersed through this are stupid little computer lines about "seeing other files" or random number arrangements, as if having to read this crap wasn't annoying and tedious enough.
Linkara: When I buy a comic, I want to read the text and look at pictures! If I wanted to read just text, I'd have bought a novel!
Linkara (v/o): Anyway, there's lots of tension, blah, blah, blah, terrorist factions, and some agency called S.C.I. Spy helps prevent further tension. The comic itself opens to an arc of light traveling through space, or rather, fake space that's purple and has lots of CGI planets in it that could not conceivably be so close to one another. Our hero, Sebastian Starchild, orders his computer to link up with "Motherbank".
Starchild's computer: Oh hell, must I?
Starchild: If we're going to nail this terrorist Attila Lazlo, seems to me you need his I.D. field.
Linkara (v/o): So, our stubborn lone wolf secret agent is an idiot who forgot to get the information he needed until he was already at his destination? He contacts the Motherbank, who scolds him for not getting any artificial enhancements. Apparently, the S.C.I. Spy organization is just a company that makes those creepy Inzeit commercials. After some back-and-forth on the issue, they get back to, you know, their jobs!
Starchild: Then drop it, Motherbank, and give me the destination capsule-specs.
Linkara (v/o): Capsule-specs? Capsule-specs?!
Linkara: Crap, is this gonna be the kind of future like in Battlefield Earth, where they just slap two words together and think that makes it futuristic?
Linkara (v/o): Motherbank gives us the lowdown on the Pleasure Wheel, which of course looks nothing like a wheel.
Motherbank: Orbiting neutral Xenon between the inner and outer planets, the Pleasure Wheel offers three thousand casinos, theaters, bordellos, drug dens, sensory-jack chambers, bloodsport arenas, and whatever else the jaded heart craves.
Linkara (v/o): Disneyland of the future! Oh, goody, now we get some technobabble!
Starchild: Attune morphic resonance detector to the life-field frequency of Attila Lazlo.
Linkara: (as Sebastian) And make sure you reverse the polarity of the neutron flow using multi-modal reflection sorting while checking your compo gradients.
Linkara (v/o): Starchild docks his ship and goes off in search of Attila Lazlo.
Female alien: Welcome to the Pleasure Wheel, sir! We invite you to sample all our dark delights, sinning the entire circuit!
Linkara (v/o): (dramatically) Yes, such kinky delights as SPACE LACROSSE! (normal) You know, I don't get that. Why does the future always have such dumb new sports? What was wrong with the sports we already had? Starchild uses his "morphic field detector", whatever the hell that is, and finds Lazlo. Along with Lazlo's comically distorted features is some hideous aberration that's supposed to be a woman. She's pencil-thin, has comically large breasts, lips that I'm sure are designed to swallow a watermelon, and rocky, tumor-filled hands.
Linkara: The future is gross!
Linkara (v/o): Starchild makes an appearance beside Lazlo and bets on the blue team to win the game. He subsequently uses a floating robotic 8-ball to cheat, blinding the red team's goalie just as the blue team makes their shot. With the bet won, Lazlo invites Starchild back to his suite to collect his... (he is distracted by the female abomination's eyes and lips, both of which are GIGANTIC!) his... Oh, God! Those eyes! Those lips! SHE'S LOOKING INTO MY SOUL!
Linkara: (cowering) GET AWAY! GET AWAY!!
Linkara (v/o): The group walks to Lazlo's suite, and our hero introduces himself.
Starchild: Bond. James Bond.
Linkara (v/o): Er, no, wait...
Starchild: Sebastian Starchild.
Linkara: (starts to hum the James Bond theme, but stops midway through) Oh, who cares?
Lazlo: Never heard of you.
Linkara (v/o): Neither has anyone else, and we're thankful for that.
Lazlo: Phaedra, build me a drink.
Linkara (v/o): Build you a drink? Build it?! What, in the future, are drinks made out of Legos?
Phaedra: And one for Mr. Starchild?
Lazlo: Nope--he'd only spill it on the carpet... after he's gutted.
(The James Bond theme briefly plays)
Linkara (v/o): Wait, the future has collagen injections, but no carpet cleaners? (as Starchild) Hmm, I wonder if I should show a reaction here... Nope, not gonna do that. Too much effort. (normal) Anyway, Starchild's robot orb comes to his rescue, blasting a hole through Lazlo's bodyguard. Lazlo reaches for a gun, but in two confusing panels, it's apparently knocked away by Starchild.
Starchild: A bodyguard with no heart guards nothing.
Linkara: Oh, come on! Is that your quip? How about, (as Starchild) "Guess he didn't have the heart"? (normal) Hell, you could even make it about your stupid little orb robot and say, (as Starchild again) "The ball's in my court."
Linkara (v/o): Anyway, he questions Lazlo about why he's going to a world called Primus. Insert Transformers joke here. Lazlo says he's a courier for Shadow Black, but that it doesn't matter, since Starchild forgot about the...
Lazlo: CROC-CLAWED CREAMPUFF!
Linkara (v/o): Oh, and we hear this stupid bit of alliteration right along with a shot of that hideous woman's ass! Thanks, comic, you never know when you might need a (?).
Phaedra: (hoisting Starchild in the air) Gonna bang boredom BIG!
Linkara: (dumbfounded) Wait, what??
Phaedra: Gonna bang boredom BIG!
Linkara: (confused) How does that line make any sense? Yeah, she said earlier she was bored, but look at that phrasing! She's gonna sleep with boredom?! And she's not only gonna do so, she's gonna do it big? You know what, screw it! Just– Just screw it!
Linkara (v/o): The woman suddenly has really muscular arms, and she lifts him up by... um, kinda poking her fingers into him...
(Linkara is seen balancing the comic on his upraised fingers, while holding the comic in his other hand)
Linkara: Seriously, try holding something up like this. (starts to release his grip on the comic) Now try to do it with a 190-pound human being. (lets go; comic falls down)
Linkara (v/o): She tosses Starchild into a fish tank, and the orb once again uses its signature move of shooting holes through people. It declares...
Orb: No heart, no morphic field, no life. Warning: probable robot.
Linkara (v/o): I've seen cardboard box costumes that make better-looking robots than this woman! Anyway, the robot isn't as easily taken down and continues her assault on Starchild.
Orb: Unable to locate the synth-bitch's vital core.
Linkara (v/o): "Synth-bitch"?
Starchild: Then stop looking, orb, before you locate me!
Linkara (v/o): "Locate you"?! What the hell are they talking about?! Is everyone in this comic suffering from aphasia?!
Linkara: You clearly have a grasp of English, so JUST... SPEAK... ENGLISH!!
Linkara (v/o): Starchild grabs a gun and just keeps on shooting at the robot and finally putting her down. The orb scans her and detects something odd about her left eye. I detect something odd about her facial expression, but maybe in the future, this is how all robots will look when they die. Lazlo yells at them not to touch the eye, but nothing doing. Starchild uses... I don't know, some kind of garage door opener to pull the eye out of the robot.
Starchild: What's inside the EYE? Come on, Lazlo, help me SEE.
Linkara: Okay, better than the earlier quip, but how about, uh...
Linkara (v/o): (as Starchild) Eyes are poppin'. (normal) Or better yet... (as Starchild again) I've got my eye on you. (normal again) Hell, it'd be really good if he said... (as Starchild again) Here's looking at you, Lazlo. (normal once again) Two thugs spontaneously appear – seriously, they didn't come in through the door or transport in or anything; they're just suddenly there with no explanation – and start opening fire on the two. Starchild manages to run off, but Lazlo takes a couple of bullets in the head. And you've gotta love his expression here. (as Lazlo, who gives said expression, which is a confused one) Duuuuhhhh... (normal) Starchild calls for his ship, apparently called a Sliver. Those chips must really hurt. It flies through the Pleasure Wheel while the teleporting crooks grab hold of a small shuttle to pursue him. Oh, and you've gotta love this: as the shuttle starts to gain on him, what can the Sliver do? It's a freaking Transformer! Even better, the hole he makes in the outer shell seals back up again after he crashes through in "bullet mode". Sadly, the little shuttle that the goons had isn't so fortunate.
Thug: RESEALED! IT'S A TRAP!
(Cut to a clip of Admiral Ackbar from Return of the Jedi)
Ackbar: It's a trap!
(Back to the comic)
Linkara (v/o): So their ship crashes, and Starchild orders his robot orb to bring them to "Homebase Tesseract".
Starchild: And here's looking at you... soon.
Linkara: Oh, come on! It's too late for the quip now!
Linkara (v/o): Meanwhile, far past the Arcturus system, eleven glowing white cubes emerge from a black hole. I'd make a joke with this, but really, this is actually pretty cool. As a sci-fi concept, it's nice and mysterious and it builds suspense. However, since I know the suspense will be unfulfilled later, here's a lame joke to tide you over: (dramatically) SUGAR CUBES IN SPAAAAAACE! Back with the main plot of the story, our passes under a rock, and somehow, this makes everything glow and turn into a beach. I don't know, the future doesn't make any sense, and I'm not gonna try to figure it out now. You know, that would've been nice to have on the exposition page: tell us what the hell is really going on with this place! Rocks that teleport you to beaches? Robots that look like cartoon caricatures? "Synth-bitch" and "capsule-specs"?! I have never been more confused reading a comic than I am now! Just to add to your constant questions, Starchild walks out onto a beach, and there's a big, fat, bald guy there waiting to hug him.
Bald Guy: BABY! HUG ME, BABY!
Linkara (v/o): (as Fat Bastard) And get in mah belly! (normal) Oh, but wait, it's just a hologram. Starchild scolds the orb for leaving the holograms turned on.
Orb: With you, I get lonely.
Starchild: Get real, orb--and to hell with virtual.
Linkara: (puzzled) So, the computer gets lonely when he's with Starchild, so he created a hologram of a fat guy at a beach who wanted to hug people. (leans in close to camera; speaks softly) Somebody get Norton Antivirus up and running!
Linkara (v/o): Starchild enters what looks like a giant sandcastle, AND IS INSTANTLY ATTACKED BY A HUGE DOG!!
Linkara: (excited) Yes, good dog! Eat his boring, dull face off!
Linkara (v/o): Oh, wait, it's his dog, and it just lands on him and licks his face. Yippee. Anyway, Starchild contacts the Motherbank, who expresses her concern for him.
Motherbank: I almost died when that robot-bitch jumped on your--
Starchild: You are dead, Motherbank, and I'm sending you a present.
Linkara (v/o): So, wait, it's "robot-bitch" now? What happened to "synth-bitch"? Hell, it even says "robot-bitch" again in the next panel! Look, I think both lines are awful, but at least have some consistency in your stupidity. Starchild sends the eye to Motherbank for it to be examined.
Motherbank: You have no idea what it is, Sebastian?
Starchild: I know exactly what it is, Motherbank. Something more than meets the eye.
Linkara: (annoyed) Are they doing this deliberately?
(Linkara raises his finger in the air and the Transformers cartoon theme plays)
Singers: Transformers! More than meets the eye!
Linkara: And by the way, you have used up your chances for lame quipping. You don't get make-up quips! YOU FAIL!!
(The panel showing Sebastian saying the "eye" line is displayed, with the word "FAIL" popping up in red letters to a buzzing sound)
Linkara (v/o): Back with the mystery cubes, they arrive inside the Arcturus system. Defense satellites open fire on them when they don't respond to communications. Like I said, these things are pretty cool when they first appeared, so let's move on. (speaks dramatically) BUTTER IN SPAAAAAACE! (normal) We cut to a S.C.I. Spy tracking station on the planet Primus. They detect one of the cubes heading towards Primus, so they send Agent Isis Nile out to investigate on her Hover Tricycle. We cut to a southeast jungle, where a woman is skinny-dipping. I'm censoring the nudity here, though I wonder who the heck this woman is supposed to be. None of the other establishing shots show anyone else besides the tracking station and jungle, so where did she come from? Anyway, the cube crashes next to her. Within the cube is some naked guy with green eyes.
Linkara: (excited) Hey, it's a male Starfire from "Titans #1"!
Green-eyed guy: Would you like to see what's in my mouth?
Linkara: Oh, I know this magic trick!
Green-eyed guy: (a swarm of bugs spewing from his mouth) It HUNGERS for you.
Linkara: Eh, I liked it better when Penn & Teller did it.
Linkara (v/o): So, the swarms of bugs come out of the guy's mouth and quickly make their way towards the naked woman. Oh, and of course, we get a nice shot of the bugs swarming over her breasts. Thanks for keeping it classy, comic. So the bugs completely devour her flesh, leaving her as a pile of bones that don't collapse until after the bugs climb down again. (dramatically) The SlimFast Plan: the horrible truth! (normal again) With the bugs done with their task, the naked man proclaims...
Green-eyed guy: Mission accomplished.
Linkara (v/o): So, what, the cubes' mission was to go to some deserted planet, find a naked woman, and have bugs eat her? The future is dumb! Anyway, Isis Nile flies over the scene.
Nile: You're not going to believe this... but we've just been invaded by what seems to be...feeder-breeder bugs.
Linkara: "Feeder-breeder bugs". I dare you to say that out loud and not giggle.
Nile: Very hungry bugs. Maybe even...world eaters.
Linkara: These bugs are known as feeders. They are the feeder-breeders. They eat their weight in liters. They even are world eaters. They measure things in meters. But hey, they ain't mosquiters.
Linkara (v/o): Back to our, quote-unquote, "secret agent"... Robin Williams would make a more covert agent than this guy! The analysis is complete, and apparently, the eye was a miniature explosive capable of destroying a planet. The Motherbank orders Starchild to come to its "techno-womb". As opposed to its "organo-womb", I suppose. And so, we end our comic with Starchild approaching its teleport station, but something's already arriving! Look at that sound effect! (said sound effect is a "BAW!" sound repeatedly) It's like they can't seem to get the song "Barbara Ann" started.
Being in station: I am ASSASSIN CHAXX... and YOU, Sebastian Starchild... you are SKIN-PURE MEAT.
Linkara: (holding up a plate and a salt shaker) Right, we're going to take our skin-pure meat and just (sprinkles salt on plate) add a little salt to it, give it some flavor, then add some chanterelles and wood ears, and it really just makes a wonderful dish you can have for friends or family on any occasion. (puts down salt shaker and picks up comic) This comic sucks. It's got some neat science-fiction ideas present, but the fight scenes are dull, the artwork and dialogue are bizarre, and the main protagonist isn't that interesting. And I'm sorry I have to say this, but I do: (leans in close to camera) REAL SECRET AGENTS AREN'T LIKE JAMES BOND! (throws down comic, gets up and leaves)