July 28, 2014
Chickens, blimps, barons, and trucks. I've had fever dreams that made more sense than this.
(Open on Linkara sitting on his Futon)
Linkara: Hello, and welcome to "Atop the Fourth Wall", where bad comics burn. No need for an intro to this, it's "US-1". Break out the CB radio, remote-controlled silver dollars, and metal plate in your skull; we're digging into "US-1 #4"! (awkward pause; becomes nervous) I thought I had a copy of the issue, but, uh... I didn't. (another pause) Roll the theme song!
(The theme song rolls, after which we are treated to the title for "US-1 #4", while "Truck Drivin' Song" by Weird Al Yankovic plays in the background. Cut to shots of previous "US-1" comics)
Linkara (v/o): Okay, okay, quick recap if you've never seen the previous reviews... which you totally should by now; this series is hilariously stupid and awesome. Ulysses Solomon Archer – yes, seriously – dreamed of being a trucker and got into an accident with his trucker brother, thanks to the demonic trucker supervillain known as the Highwayman. Have I mentioned that this involved truckers? The accident left Ulysses, or U.S., as they call him, with a metal plate in his head that let him pick up CB radio transmissions. His rig was then upgraded with James Bond-esque weaponry and gadgets that he can totally afford on his trucker pay scale. He also put a big-ass sign that said "US-1" on it, because when you're a truck-driving superhero, subtlety is a thing that happens to other people.
(Cut to a shot of the comic to cover today: "US-1 #4")
Linkara (v/o): Speaking of, that leads us to the cover of issue 4, and dear Lord in heaven. I don't know if this cover is good or bad, because... well, just look at it! Soak it all in, my friends! Where to even begin? Oh, how about the big guy right on the front? Big red military uniform, full-on mutton chops, and even has a sash... although all his medals are pinned to his uniform, so the sash just seems kind of unnecessary, but whatever. Maybe he's just jealous of the Miss America pageant winners and wanted a sash of his own. Ho, but then, right next to this Herculean figure is a blimp with what appears to be Bullet Bill painted onto it. I'm taking a wild guess here that this Captain Monocle Von Sashypants [actually, it's Baron Von Blimp, as will be revealed shortly] rides around in the shark-teeth zeppelin.
Linkara: And really, if you had the power to do so, wouldn't you dress up in a fancy red uniform with a sash and a big hat, and ride around in a giant blimp that had a shark painted onto it? I know I would.
(Cut briefly to a clip of Kickassia, in which Linkara becomes temporary ruler; cut back to the comic cover with the monocled man in the sash on it, along with a flock of chickens)
Linkara (v/o): And finally, the chickens: thousands, if not millions, of chickens; a sea... no, an ocean of chickens. For the chickens to be so numerous that they go up to the cab of US-1's truck, would probably require an entire country's worth of chickens to be carted to one location. This, my friends, is the true Birdemic. No one expected the chickens would be our downfall. (reads caption on cover) "Just when you thought it was safe to hit the open road again..."
Linkara: The Jaws ripoff, (makes "finger quote") "Beaks", did not do as well as hoped.
Linkara (v/o): We open with Retread, the guy introduced last issue, running out to U.S. to tell him there's trouble in the diner.
U.S.: Eh?! What is it, Retread? What's wrong?
Linkara: (as U.S.) What's that, Retread? Papa Wheelie fell down a well?
Linkara (v/o): No, like the second issue, there's a fight in the diner. I don't get it, this place isn't a bar. What the hell sets people off enough in a diner to make them want to kill each other? Hell, a guy gets tossed out a window! Well, actually, I say that, but frankly, it looks more like he's levitating out of it. Oh, yeah, and upon seeing Mr. Floaty, Retread decides to stay out of the fight and let U.S. handle things.
Retread: Man, this place gets more fights than Madison Square Garden! I suppose should get in there and lend a hand. After all, I was a professional bouncer once...
Linkara: What he means is that the people in the bars would (makes a basketball bounce motion with his hand) bounce him off the countertops.
Retread: Though I never was very good at it.
Linkara: This is a weird sequel to Roadhouse.
Linkara (v/o): However, his train of thought is interrupted by the arrival of a large shadow looming over him.
Linkara: On that day, trucker-kind received a grim reminder.
Linkara (v/o): Whatever it is, Retread runs inside into the massive brawl where we see U.S.'s head-butting people right in their skulls... which has got to cause at least a concussion since they don't have metal plates protecting their skulls, Wide Load dual-wielding a wine bottle and a frying pan, some dude with a pie on his head, and Poppa Wheelie just looking on in complete confusion at this. How the hell is he supposed to narrate with all this going on? Retread tells U.S. he needs to get outside quickly. However, U.S. turning to look at Retread apparently upsets a guy.
Said guy: Hah! Turn your back on me, will ya?! Take that!
Linkara: (as this guy) How dare you allow a momentary distraction in the middle of our honorable duel! Have at thee!
Linkara (v/o): Naturally, the guy tried to punch the back of U.S.'s head and got nothing but a broken hand for his efforts. Everyone runs outside to behold a massive blimp flying over the place. And as seen on the cover, it has giant shark teeth and eyes painted on.
Linkara: Man, are they already doing promotion for Sharknado 3? The second one isn't even out yet!
Title: (with Linkara reading dramatically) U.S. 1 in a tale of HOT AIR AND CHICKEN FEATHERS.
Linkara: Considering people think that the only food I eat is chicken tenders, it wouldn't surprise me if (makes "finger quotes") "hot air and chicken feathers" are what they think my insides look like.
Linkara (v/o): The zeppelin lowers a rope ladder and the guy from the cover [Baron Von Blimp] quickly descends it.
Baron: (pronounced German accent) Zo!
Linkara: (confused) Um... well, "zo" to you, too, I guess... (shrugs)
Baron: I am looking for U.S. Archer! Is he present?
U.S.: Uh, yeah. I'm U.S. And who might you be?
Baron: I am Baron Von Blimp!
Linkara: Aaaaand he takes out his glove and slaps U.S. with it.
(Cut briefly to a clip of Doctor Who, where the Doctor slaps a soldier with a glove; cut back to the comic)
Von Blimp: I challenge you to a duel. Your truck versus my zeppelin.
Linkara: Unless they both change into giant robots and start punching each other, I don't see a very interesting fight developing between a blimp and a truck. Please tell me they transform into giant robots and start punching each other.
U.S.: But why, Baron?
Linkara (v/o): Kind of an underplayed reaction to all of this, frankly, although I suppose after demons and a woman with a mind-control whip, some over-the-top dude and a blimp isn't really gonna faze you.
Baron: My motto has always been: "Financial victory through air power".
Linkara: (holds up index finger) Ah, so he's the arch nemesis of The Airzone Solution.
Baron: Ever since za Hindenburg disaster, people haf mistrusted lighter zan air craft.
Linkara: Well, that, and the top speed ever recorded for an airship was about 69 MPH in 2004, and there are much faster ways to travel nowadays.
Baron: I plan to make zese marvelous creations thrive again. Zey shall replace za trucking industry as za major mover uf goods in zis country und -- eventually -- za world.
Linkara: Yes, and there are absolutely no flaws in your plan to capitalize on an outdated and less efficient method of transportation. You are not only a baron of the sky, sir, but a business.
Linkara (v/o): He's arranged for a contest between him and US-1, who rightfully asks what the hell's in it for him. And indeed the Baron says he'll provide information on the Highwayman.
Poppa Wheelie: Sure as my name's "Poppa Wheelie", that Teutonic twerp was lying, U.S.!
Linkara: (as Wheelie) I'm pretty sure he's Italian!
U.S.: I know, Poppa.
Linkara (v/o): And now they're inside the diner, continuing their conversation.
(Cut to a clip of an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000, in which Mike Nelson, Tom Servo and Crow are watching The She Creature)
Mike: Space is warped and time is bendable.
(Cut back to the US-1 comic)
U.S.: So many strange things have happened to me in the last few months I'm not sure what the "truth" is anymore.
Linkara: (as Wheelie) For the last time, U.S., it happens to everyone when they get older. It's not that strange.
Linkara (v/o): U.S. proceeds to recap the events of the last few issues, though he mentions a few other details, like how his brother Jeff was missing from the truck wreck, and even admits the very James Bond-esque nature of the enhancements of his vehicle. In addition, he knows that the Highwayman is actually behind the Baron, since in the last issue, a zeppelin was raining bombs on him, and, well, what are the chances that there are two blimps flying around wherever the hell this desert diner is? Wheelie thinks he shouldn't do the contest then, but U.S. is adamant about participating.
U.S.: I didn't just grab the Baron here, because then he never would have told me anything about the Highwayman.
Linkara: (as U.S.) And let's face it, I'm not exactly all that intimidating when (points to his own head) I'm wearing this headband.
Linkara (v/o): He figures that by playing along, the Baron might accidentally give away information about the Highwayman. And hey, since they know it's a trap, they can prepare for it.
U.S.: Besides, since that aerial attack on me, I've been busy installing some weapons that will come in real handy against the Baron. That's a little surprise I'll have waiting for him!
Linkara: Anti-aircraft guns and surface-to-air missiles, no doubt. (smiles) And both on the back of a semi. (puts hand on heart) God bless America!
Linkara (v/o): The next day, the contest has apparently attracted a whole lot of people, as well as music and a whole general carnival atmosphere. And we even attracted this guy [the Great Chicken Colonel], who's apparently the major sponsor of the race.
Great Chicken Colonel: Welcome... I say welcome... one and all to the Great Chicken Colonel's "Fowls of a Finger-Lickin' Race".
Linkara: I don't think races are usually associated with "finger lickin'".
Great Chicken Colonel: I am... I say... I am the Great Chicken Colonel, and it is with pride... pride, I say... that I present this finger-lickin' chicken race.
Linkara: Before Chick-Fil-A settled on the whole (makes "finger quotes") "cow superheroes" thing, their marketing campaign was a bit more ripoff-y.
Linkara (v/o): So as Colonel Foghorn Leghorn continues to go on, and I just realized he's sporting a Mohawk and a nose that could shield you from a nuclear blast, U.S. wonders where Retread may have gotten to. Buuut enough about the obvious plot point tinting; let's get down to nitty-gritty.
Great Chicken Colonel: So let's shake hands and may the best man win!
U.S.: Sure. Put 'er there, Baron.
Baron: Never!* Zis sportsmanship iss for fools and losers! I refuse!
- NOTE: The "never" part was added in by Linkara; it's not in the actual comic itself.
Linkara: Mmm, okay. (punches the screen)
Linkara (v/o): Also, asshole, you're the one who challenged him out of the blue, and you did not have to accept at all, so up yours! And so the race begins, and naturally, U.S. pulls off into the lead instantly. His friends and family watch as they go off, hoping he's made the right decision. Mary, the waitress who you might recall may or may not be the supervillainess Midnight, thinks to herself about it.
Mary: But I can't help worrying about just the same. U.S. doesn't know it, but I want him for myself.
Linkara (v/o): Yes, you've been very subtle about your attraction to him, what with you kissing him on the previous page.
Mary: If anything happens to him I don't know what I'll do.
Linkara: I would criticize the book for having her define her existence solely on a man, buuut she is correct; as a supporting character, she will fade into the ether without him. Or, if this was an '80s D.C. book instead of an '80s Marvel book, she would become US-1 herself.
(Cut to the Nostalgia Critic wearing Linkara's hat and coat)
NC: (nasally voice) Yeah, this is Linkara. (gyrating his fingers) We'll be back soon. Don't take this the wrong way because so many people like to get upset when I talk like this, and when other people imitate me and don't have a sense of humor, they're like, "Oh, poor Linkara! You can't make fun of him, he is Jesus, he is everything, he is–"
(Suddenly, he stops abruptly as he sees Linkara glaring at him)
NC: Right there.
(He runs off as we go to commercial; upon return, we see Linkara wearing the NC's cap, jacket and tie, while the NC stands there crossing his arms in frustration)
Linkara: (poorly imitating NC) Hello, I'm a Nostalgia Critic! I just swear a lot! That's the joke! (looks at NC) Bat Credit Card! (NC scowls) Bat Credit Card! Bat Credit Card! (cackles) I'm gonna repeat the same memes over and over again! It gets funnier every single time! I'm just Daffy Duck! That's me, ha ha! I'm gonna make funny faces to the camera as if my audience is babies!
(Linkara makes a funny face to the camera; NC can't take it anymore)
NC: KNOCK IT OFF!! (Linkara stops abruptly and scowls toward NC)
(Cut back to the US-1 comic)
Linkara (v/o): And so the two are off, with U.S. even thinking to himself how he managed to slap a tracking device onto the Baron's back so he hopes he can later use it to follow him to the Highwayman.
Linkara: No doubt he will pursue in the truck, which at this point I'd be shocked if it didn't have a cloaking device.
Linkara (v/o): I do have to give major props to U.S. as a character here. The past few issues have not left him an idiot. While knowingly walking into a trap is probably a bad idea, he is still learning from what happened before and taking some initiatives for his long-term goals. Hell, as the Baron starts dropping bombs on him as he did before, he remarks that he can dodge them just as easily as before, although now... we start getting weird...
U.S.: (thinking) As if the President's new "user's fee" on gas wasn't bad enough, after Baron Von Bozo gets finished tearing up the highway the cost of repairs'll triple our taxes.
Linkara: I would call this author proselytizing, buuut U.S. as a trucker probably would be having those thoughts right now, so... you win this round, comic. This round.
Linkara (v/o): As the bombs continue to drop, U.S. decides to retaliate.
U.S.: I told Poppa I had a few surprises in store for Fatso, and here's where I deliver them.
Linkara: (as U.S., pretending to push some buttons) He never figured I'd turn all those chickens into ammunition!
U.S.: Boy! Would the guys back at the University of Michigan Engineering Department flip if they could see the anti-aircraft mini missiles I installed in this rig.
Linkara: And that's why college in the United States is so expensive!
Linkara (v/o): And indeed, his anti-aircraft weaponry hits the zeppelin and knocks the Baron on his ass.
Baron: Ach! I am smitten!
Linkara: (confused) You're in love with him?
Baron: For zis inzufferable outrage I vill extract vengeance vun t'ousandfold!
(Cut to a clip of Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan)
Khan: Full power!
(Cut back to the comic)
Linkara (v/o): He orders his men to take the ship out of range of his weapons and deliberately try to kill him, openly defying the Highwayman's orders not to kill him. It starts working as he moves out of range of U.S.'s weapons... You'd think he would have planned for that eventuality... and the shaking causes Retread to fall out of the sleeper section of the cab. He had snuck into the truck to help out, figuring U.S. would need backup. In fact, he quickly comes up with a plan, asking U.S. for a weather report.
U.S.: It's easy enough to lock my rig's radar unit into an orbiting satellite and get a bird's eye view of this whole area!
Linkara: The University of Michigan also taught him how to hack into orbiting satellites and assume control of them. (beat) What, didn't your college teach you that?
Retread: I used to be a meteorologist--a weather forecaster--for a small radio station outside of Tucson. Now I wasn't too good at it...
Linkara (v/o): Dear Lord, diagram that sentence...
Retread: ...but I knew cumulonimbus clouds when I saw 'em.
Linkara (v/o): Okay, they established in the last issue that Retread has basically had every job under the sun, but he sucked at all of them. Is that his thing, just picking up random useful information from every single job he's ever done?
Linkara: (holds up index finger) I would just like to state at this point that cast-iron patio furniture will rust if the paint job gets scratched. That's just a little factoid I picked up from when I worked as a stock boy at a patio furniture store.
Linkara (v/o): Retread's plan is to force the airship into the storm clouds since blimps don't work too well in rough weather. U.S. decides to add his own special skills to the mix by using his CB skull to tune in on the radio frequency the Baron is using, actually catching a conversation he's having with the Highwayman.
Highwayman: US Archer is to be taken alive! I had planned to kill him, but when my agent, Midnight, failed to do so, and I, myself, let him slip through my grasp--I realized that with his resources he might be more useful to me alive!
Linkara: (as Highwayman) Look, my plans are just very flexible like that. It's not like I'm winging it or anything.
Linkara (v/o): U.S. decides to try the same trick he used on the Baron before, playing possum by releasing a smoke screen to appear as if he's been hit. He knows that the Baron will recognize the trick, but hopes it'll confuse him long enough to make him stop dropping bombs. As such, they limp into a tunnel near a mountain, and the Baron orders the airship to the other side and down at the mouth of the tunnel. However, the storm is approaching quickly, and with the mountain in the way, it's cutting off his escape. And thus, the trap is sprung. Retread takes the wheel, and U.S., in a surprising bit of action hero, takes a grappling hook and chucks it at the window of the zeppelin as they move out of the tunnel, breaking the glass window. The Baron swears that he'll kill U.S. for this, but it seems communication with the Highwayman is still online, and he's pretty pissed that he's hearing the Baron defy orders.
Baron: Ya! I am through mit following your orders! It vas bad enough vhen you forced me to take a cargo uff chickens aboard zis proud craft--but now zis U.S. person has broken vun uff mine luffly windows!
Linkara: Yes, and we certainly wouldn't want to impugn the honor and dignity that comes with that uniform as you command your zeppelin. (beat) Although I suppose it is hard to find window makers who will work on blimps.
U.S.: If you think you felt bad when I broke one of your crummy windows, tubby, wait 'til I get my hands on you!
Linkara: (as Baron) Ach! He's going to break my monocle!
Linkara (v/o): U.S. glomps the Baron and knocks him over. As they struggle, the blimp starts tossing about left and right from the storm. The Baron's men all get to work trying to keep the thing stabilized, so the Baron has to fight U.S. alone, although he has a sword, so it's not that hard.
U.S.: (thinking) Uh-oh! Looks like I might have overplayed my hand! I don't think the Baron is in any mood to follow his orders about bringing me back alive!
Linkara: (as U.S.) Worse yet, I don't think those chickens are gonna make it to the fast food place!
Linkara (v/o): The weather starts getting rough, and the tiny ship is tossed. The cargo hold of the zeppelin is damaged, releasing a crap-ton of chickens from it, who all start flapping about everywhere. To make matters worse, U.S. and the Baron are hanging on for dear life on the side of the blimp.
U.S.: Looks like that new Steven Spielberg movie to me, Baron. You know--Poultrygeist.
Linkara: (listlessly) Dear Lord, just imagine if those were your last words.
Linkara (v/o): Even the editor's boxes call out the bad pun – by making their own.
Editor's Box #1 (Bob H.): This one's too fowl--even for you, Milgrom.
Editor's Box #2 (Ralph M.): I'm afraid we're gonna have to pullet.
Linkara: Aw, don't be afraid of puns! What are you, chicken? (smiles)
Linkara (v/o): In the confusion caused by everything, U.S. goes over to the communication console and warns the Highwayman that he's beaten the Baron and that he can't hide forever.
Highwayman: Nor do I wish to!
U.S.: Huh? Don't try to confuse me!
Linkara: (as Highwayman) I'm... not trying to. (as U.S.) WHAT?! I'M SO CONFUSED NOW! (as Highwayman) Well, that's not my fault. (as U.S.) WHAT IS EVEN HAPPENING?!? (as Highwayman) I think that metal plate is squeezing your brain a bit too tightly.
Linkara: U.S. manages to climb back down the rope to the truck. And from the looks of things, there is a stream of millions of chickens coming down from the blimp. You know, in all the stupid chem trail conspiracy theories I've seen, I don't recall one saying they were actually chickens. Also, if you're expecting me to reference the turkey drop scene from WKRP In Cincinnati, sorry, but no. Chickens and turkeys are completely different. For one thing, according to this comic, chickens can fly since... well, check it out. They just fell from a blimp high in the air, and they're perfectly fine.
U.S.: Darn! At the rate the blimp's being carried out to sea it'll be out of range of my tracking devices in no time. My whole plan to track the Baron back to the Highwayman is in the dumper.
Linkara: Um... why? You still have the tracking device on him. Just keep driving around until you spot it. Or perhaps do it in a less conspicuous vehicle.
Linkara (v/o): And so our comic ends with Retread congratulating U.S. on beating the Baron on his home turf.
U.S.: It wasn't all that tough, Retread. The Baron wasn't as tough as he let on. In fact, you might say he just sort of... chickened out!
Linkara: (laughs uproariously) Those chickens are gonna starve to death in the desert! This comic is stupid, and I love it!
Linkara (v/o): Despite how goofy and dumb it is, I really did enjoy the comic. Lots of intelligence on the part of our heroes, a lot of goofiness in the premise, and the sheer amount of chickens, and a lot of great action, I have to say.
Linkara: Although, I do love how we've already run out of truck-based activities to perform, so we have to start bringing in other vehicles for this.
(Linkara gets up and leaves; credits roll)
(Stinger: Pollo is looking at a ThinkPad computer)
Linkara: (on computer) One final check: I don't want this to end up like that retirement home we accidentally attacked last month. I'm pretty sure one of the old ladies from it is stalking me.
Pollo: It is confirmed. I also have corroborations from at least three other locals about strange phenomena, electrical outages, and a dark figure always covering his face.
Linkara: We gotta move quickly. Mobilize everyone from your end, and I'll start coordinating things from up here.
Pollo: I am on it.
(Various beeping noises are heard, then 90's Kid walks up)
90's Kid: Dude, what's with all the wiggin' around here suddenly?
Pollo: Have you seen the ninja-style dancer lately?
90's Kid: Well, come to think of it, no, but he's usually on tour, doing, like, backup dancing for bands and stuff.
Pollo: Unfortunate. He has not answered his communicator for some time. We must redouble our efforts to contact him.
90's Kid: Are we having a major head trip or something? What am I missing?
Pollo: 90's Kid, contact Harvey Finevoice and tell him to come to the apartment.
90's Kid: He's here, man. I just passed him in the hallway, talking to himself.
Pollo: Then get him. I will issue the recall order for all cyber-nets in the apartment on anyone else we can locate.
90's Kid: Dude, you wanna tell me what's going on?!
Pollo: We found him. We finally found him.
90's Kid: Who?
Pollo: Lord Vyce. We found him.
(To a dramatic sting, a blue lizard is seen in the room, then scurries out)