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NOW! Comics Astro Boy - Issue Twenty

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I'm in a weird place in my head right now.
Almost four years ago, I had no idea what the hell I'd gotten into when I bought some copies of the Astro Boy comic series. I thought it was just some conspiracy to insult Astro Boy fans, or something stupid a preteen thinks in that situation. Now that I'm closing the final chapter on this journey, I know I'm responsible for uncovering all sorts of information that no one else would have tried to go for. But what I need to stress is the fact that I started writing these reviews and researching the series when I was in eighth grade.
And each picture was taken in the exact same spot in that room.
I feel like I should be making some sort of site celebration for finally finishing this review series, but I know it would come down to applauding everyone for not killing themselves from looking at the worst of Steacy's art. Or, just celebrating that I stopped looking like a greasy monkey child, according to the above. In super-short, I'm an adult now, and I wasted part of my adolescence writing about how much I hated Ken Steacy's lack of enthusiasm. Hooray.
And so, Toontown readers, I'm about to finally finish this. What's going to happen in this week's issue? Will Astro do something awesome? Will fan favourite characters return? Will the series just end in an irritating cliffhanger? I'm hoping for a combination of these, but let's go!
Scans for this issue were graciously donated by Tawashi Bus Hat.
We open with a nine-frame sequence showing some stranger in a space suit heading through a desert on Mars, while Thomas tells us about all the wacky things that can kill you on said planet. The man in the space suit is suddenly discovered by a backpack-clad Astro.
Everybody in the military gets a sweet hipster goatee as part of their promotion.
We get a sudden flashback to days before, when Astro was working on his science project only for he and Dr. Elefun to get a call from Delta/Rock Holmes (at least to me). He informs them that there's been a distress call from an archaeological base on Mars about a virus, begging the question of what could possibly be worth digging for on Mars, aside from some rocks and water traces.
Either way, Delta wants Astro to go down to Mars and help because the human crews won't fare well and the robot crews...well, that possibility's never brought up, and we wouldn't have a bloody story if we followed logic. Elefun comes along in a command module with some extra energy dispensers.
They sure are, Astro.
Astro attempts to help the spacemen walk, but winds up dragging him a bit. He calls Elefun, determining the guy is running out of oxygen, and the idea of returning to the Mars camp makes the guy shit his pants and pass out. Astro takes the guy to his "drop ship" and lets him sleep in the "AutoDoc", which looks like one of the freeze tubes from Futurama except with medicinal benefits.
This also happens.
Astro flies out in the middle of a sandstorm to find the Mars base camp, but sand clogs his jets, bringing him to the ground and ultimately forcing him to have to walk. Eventually he finds the place, but all the robots are offline, no humans are around, and there's too much interference to use the communication systems. But Astro sees a crack in the side of a mountain up ahead...
Yes, it's the ancient Chapter of the DAMMIT I CAN'T BREATHE WHY ARE WE ON MARS
So Astro goes deeper into the cave, passing through a thin force field that someone must have installed to keep oxygen in. Now THAT is a commendable detail - any other author would have just said, "Yeah, there's some oxygen in there, and...yeah."
Astro follows the sound of machinery, and discovers dozens of Futurama tubes in a large room, each tube holding one of the researchers. He goes to open one, but a woman drifts out.
"Gosh! I've never copped a feel before!"
Astro attempts to talk to her, but gets a brief freak-out about the "monsters". She calms down and introduces herself as Leslie Francis, one of the archaeologists whom had been looking for "ancient civilizations". Led by Professor Pigeon (note: what) who deciphered the ancient language, the group figured out how to turn on some of the ancient machines, accidentally unleasing a malevolent supercomputer called "The Monster" that shut down the base, put some of the group in suspended animation and expermented on the rest.
This is hopefully the last time these guys take scientific directions from a man named "Pigeon".
In typical cartoon fashion, Astro finds The Monster standing right behind him. They suddenly engage in combat, with The Monster talking in broken sentences that all the humans are invaders, and it's a being of pure energy that used to be part of the planet's biggest computer, but all residents of the planet "joined" with it when the atmosphere outside depleted.
Astro hurriedly puts on a space suit to block some of The Monster's electricity, but it keeps going on about absorbing knowledge and how frustrated it is that Astro refuses to die. Astro is chucked into a wall, and the impact knocks the sand out of his jets.
In typical NOW! Comics Astro fashion, he proceeds to punch it in the face.
Wait, I need to get a close-up on this page...
Here at Toontown, we make our own DAT ASS reaction shots.
So Astro ducks around a few corners and grabs all the energy canisters he can, and begins to attach them together with the intent of firing massive amounts of energy through himself. Instead, The Monster punches him, and while realizing he should shut off The Monster's power somehow, Astro orders Leslie to get everyone out of the building.
Astro puts all the energy together and creates an electromagnetic pulse, effectively killing The Monster and/or just making it yell "REEEEE!". Astro passes out, thinking he's dying too, but wakes up some time later in Elefun's ship. The doctor quickly explains that while The Monster's dead as hell, Astro wiped out his "power supplies".
You should probably deal with whoever yelled "GIGGLE".
Well Astro, the punchline is that your comic is dead, too. You're never going to win the science fair.
What won't leave me alone, however, is the fact that all the Martians banded together into that one energy being after Mars became uninhabitable. So does that mean Astro committed genocide? This is really upsetting me.
The letters column features a piece from ten-year-old Matthew Greenbaum in New York, whom suggests NOW! make his fan character into Astro's friend. Yes, the following guy may be the first Astro Boy fan character ever:
This kind of sounds like that angel robot boy from Tezuka's manga, except he looks like fog shaped like a tween. I find this bit from Matthew pretty interesting, actually. It also reminds me of when I was younger and thought kids could do anything for their favourite franchise if they asked politely. (Don't ever let me tell the story about my Spongebob Squarepants fanscript about Plankton rigging a game of baseball.) NOW! only has this to say about Negative:
What the hell does that even mean? That's like if you ask someone on the street for the time, and they just fart at you. Given what happened to Peta Little, I'm just going to assume Tony Caputo hates all the children in the world. Probably the only way he can get an erection is if he tells an orphan that the Easter Bunny is dead, and the only way he can climax is if the whole orphanage burns down.
And now the series is done.
I know this wouldn't have looked so bad if this weren't the last bloody issue ever, but I need to step off my Brian Thomas high and admit this is a depressing, forgettable issue. It's like he tried to be haunting and upsetting Neon Genesis Evangelion-style, but five years before Hideaki Anno even got depressed enough to make NGE. So in a way, it could be a landmark issue, but it makes me feel disturbed.
Plus, typing "The Monster" all the time made me think of The Monster from Monster By Mistake, which is something you really don't want me thinking of. Bloody hell.
This review series might be done, but I'll be starting on another one later this spring. It's another Americanized comic series based on a classic anime I hold with high regard, with less illegal circumstances of creation but equally ridicular art and story. This one is...
Oh, yes. This really happened.
In the meantime, I'm going to curl up in a corner, and pass my first semester exams before I start on deciphering this twelve-issue fart.
Now, more seriously, I need to tell you all some things. Everybody who's been reading along with these from the start, thank you so much. These reviews have been the central content of Toontown for three years, and it's been both fun and a pain to write all these articles.
Ken Steacy, I'm sorry I talked so much crap about you. I've seen your other work and I hold it with a lot of respect, and I understand how stressed-out you'd be while trying to deal with a comic you don't have the enthusiasm for. You're a good person, Astro Boy just wasn't your thing.
Brian Thomas, I'm sorry you couldn't get the comic from the start. It's amazing to know you love Astro Boy, and it was an immense honour to actually talk to you! Thank you for getting control at the last minute, and giving us issue nineteen, the fancy little top hat on this NOW! Comics pile of poo.
Tony C. Caputo, I have no words for you. Actually, I have lots of them in no cohesve order, but I need to stay on track here. I want you to take a steam iron, set it on Maximum Heat, place it on your hand and write out all the words that come to mind. That is what I think of you.
Thank you to everybody who's reading this right now. Now go relax and get ready; it's a new year now.

All written material here is 2007-2011 Fauna Crawford, along with any images identified as such. All other copyrights belong to their respective owners and creators. Permission is required to use any original material from this site.