I'm so sorry it's taken me so long to finish this article! I've had some school projects to
do, and it's not easy to write about this comic when the art no longer looks as appealing as the fetid lung tissue runoff
of someone who drank Paraquat.
We are now entering the Brian Thomas Era, a short yet beautiful era of the comic when the man
in power believed in the power of Astro Boy, and everything he drew was soft, streamlined and adorable, with 80's
era pastels. Brian, if you ever find this article, I must let you know that because of my exposing the series to the Tezuka
fandom, you now have fangirls.
In the past few issues, we basically watched Ken Steacy take the story to an insane, unresolvable point and then murder Astro. But not
only does Brian do hs best to retcon the death, but he actually finds a way to turn the story around. Way to go,
Tony Caputo and Eighties Greed, for making us lose a guy this mindblowingly-awesome until the very end.
In fact, there's only one time in this whole issue where I can jive Brian's art, and that's
in the opening sequence introducing the readers to the history of the Cybots. What's that guy on the far right holding, a
piece of wood, or one of those red stir sticks you get with those little pre-packaged crackers and cheese kits? I don't really
give a damn, because the next page features I.Q. Plenty, the clones and a team of Cybot engineers putting Astro back together!
I.Q. is leading the whole event, but the clones doubt his legitability, since he sort of showed
up out of nowhere. I.Q. begins to doubt his own ability, while King Cosmo declares it shouldn't take too long to fix Astro
if the Cybots work together to enhance and repair Astro.
Stop for a second and look at that first panel. Here, we see a crack in I.Q.'s arrogance and
character staticity, showing that he knows inside that he isn't truly perfect. Brian, I doubt you even know what you did here,
but you made I.Q. a little human, and that's the best alternative to wanting to see Boynton strangle him. And I must thank you.
In the meantime, Melvin and one of the Cybot guards, Axel, are walking through the "Fire Pits". You may recall Steacy
claiming these Fire Pits were nuclear, but come on, Thomas knows cheese when he sees it.
Axel tells Melvin that the human workers have been transferred to stable living quarters, and all guns they carry have
a shock frequency that only does damage to robots. This is demonstrated when Axel fires at Melvin, effectively tickling him.
Also, the planet is called Rossum by the Cybots, after the first Cybot to live there. Thomas, I just did a search on that,
and you're awesome.
But Boynton, you're a REAL man now.
Astro is floating in his subconsciousness, wondering who his father is - Elefun,
Boynton, Elmer, or...Mr. Pompous. I'm willing to set that aside because Thomas had told me Pompous was his favourite character.
Plus, Boynton appears pretty handsome by surprise.
Astro wakes up, finding himself surrounded by the clones, Cybot
engineers, Spud and Astro Girl, while I.Q. has passed out on the floor. One of the engineers informs Astro that he now takes
energy refuels through a slot in his hip. You older fans may remember how Astro was refueled in the first anime series, but
now it's in his hip, not butt. It's cool. King Cosmo makes an announcement to the populace that he, the humans and any Cybot
who wants to are going to Earth.
Four ships are preparing
to launch, the expedition led by Captain Delta, whom I ABSOLUTELY SWEAR is a Thomasized Rock from Phoenix. King Cosmo
says that with Delta around, things will be pretty awesome for the six years that they'll be in motion. The Astro kids and
humans proceed to melt down, and it comes up that only their other ship had an experimental warp drive that helped them get
to the planet in a few hours. Delta orders some workers to put it on the new ship for the human occupants, while the robots
will presumably have to wait over half a decade to arrive.
That night, two kid Cybots are in the process of trying to put a bomb on the side of the
ship, when Delta comes across them. The kids jump him and attempt to smash his brains out with a wrench, but Astro shows up
and throws them aside. Axel takes the two in for arrest until after the launch, and then suddenly, the ships are launching.
Astro warns the crew to be careful while launching the Warp Drive, and one of the clones
tells him that with so many people monitoring it, it'll be fine...
Dammit, we saw this coming.
The control panel starts on fire, and after Astro deals with that, the crew realizes the Warp Drive is permanently
useless, and the ship has now wound up in a secret dimension that resembles a New Wave album cover.
I.Q. explains that they are in "Inbetween", the transitional zone between warp speed and actual space, and their engine
doesn't have enough power to propel the ship in this zone. The only problem is how the portal that will take them back into
Earth's solar system is right ahead of them, and they can't move. Cosmo suggests that the ship is able to disconnect from
its lower half to make a smaller ship, which would give them enough thrust to drift through the portal ahead. But...
Let me say this only once...dammit, Thomas.
So knowing he'll have to wait six years to return to Earth, Astro agrees to go help King Cosmo open the connection
on the lower half of the ship. As they go, two of the clones basically go, "Well, screw them. It was their idea." Astro prepares
to man his control switch when someone shoots him with a metallic dong.
In ten minutes, he's gonna feel like a total moron.
Cosmo hears the penisgun go off, and finds an armed Melvin trying to drag Astro back into the other ship. Confused,
Cosmo helps him, realizing Melvin wants to take Astro's place because he's suddenly having an identity crisis and suicidal
urges. According to the above, he's completely replaceable, when he was really the one individual member of the clone group.
So instead of sending one of his Ed clones, he...Melvin? Melvin?!
Wasn't Horray the name of the lizard dude from Oliver's Adventures?
So Astro wakes up a moment later, as the ships drift apart. One of the clones assholishly ask where Melvin is, but
the sight of Earth up ahead distracts them all. We end off on the single happiest image I've seen in this comic series for
OBLIGATORY REACTION IMAGE!
Thomas, you're like the Gold Bond to our Steacy-induced back rash. The cigarette after a car chase. The lining
paper to our unsightly wall paint! You get to work with one fifth of the entire series' run, but damned if it doesn't make
all who look at it feel good. I'm gonna enjoy winding these reviews up with you.