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NOW! Comics Astro Boy - Issue Four

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Well, kids, we're back. Even though our last issue was so unbearably terrible that it insulted preteen Australian girls and the integrity of Osamu Tezuka, we are going forth. We'll probably end off on issue seven, because that's probably as far as I can go without feeling like I'm torching my money. That, and the art quality goes down dramatically after issue ten.

Speaking of issues, did you guys know that the first eight or nine issues (out of twenty) are based on only the first episode of the 1960's anime? It's insane, yes, but somehow it's the least disturbing thing about this comic.

Today we're going back to December 1987, on the verge of 1988. We should be feeling really nostalgic now; I feel like renting a tape of Project A-Ko and dressing like the little flash-dancing girl in the video for "Must I Always Remember" by The Box. On second thought, a Project A-Ko review would be better than one of this comi-- never mind, it's too late to stop now.
Dude, your mom is hot.
The issue begins abruptly with a beach scene, this featuring Astor Boynton and his mother Jean, who is totally based on Tenma's assistant from the 80's series. Astor really loves his sandcastle and wants to bring it home, wondering if he can coat it with glue. Jean plays along, and suddenly, Boynton appears on the beach and tells them to get the hell out of Dodge.
As the sandcastle gets washed away, Boynton starts to panic and begs Jean to send Astor home. Then, whatever's going on shuts off. It's not clear what Boynton was so worried about while reliving this family video, but I assume Jean got shot by the same schizophrenic soldier from the book Galapagos.
Suddenly, it turns out that it is a video, being played by Astro. Boynton is on the floor, and Astro asks somewhat coldly, "Are they dead?" Has he not seen his own TV show? Ashamedly, that page is one of my favorites.
Astro, still not comprehending human lifespans, asks if they're dead once more. Tenma gets hysterical and says "you are all dead!" Astro wonders why He couldn't create a new wife and son for Boynton, to which he goes a little nutzo.
And if you haven't clued in, the 'He' that Boynton mentions above is God Himself. This is a very powerful scene in the comic, and I really don't feel right making fun of it.
"Yeeeeek! Save me, Astro!"
And then it ends.
Countdown to implied mutilation, three...two...
We are treated to a four-page flashback of Astro facing the destruction he caused last issue. I know I covered the above page before, and as we all probably know, Astro stuck his entire hand into some bleeding orifice of that soldier's body. After rupturing his organs, Astro flies through Boynton's front wall, shoves past him and breaks into a room holding the super-computer Aries-Compu-IX.
Boynton tells him to get away from the computer, but Astro hooks himself up to it and selects "TRANSFER ENTIRE DATA PACKAGE", which could be anything from 1995 webpages about Robespierre, to Boynton's porn collection.
"I keel you vith my face."
Wow. Not only is Astro edgy, but Boynton resembles Jonathon Crane from Batman: The Animated Series. The point of this?
This is not the Astro Boy we remember.
He flies out though the ceiling and goes back to the soldier camp. Apparently the wounded soldier he "handled" earlier isn't "doing too good". Astro goes into the medical tent and prepares surgery on that guy, because evidentially, he downloaded a lot of Black Jack.
Boynton and Astro are greeted by a Blues Brothers-esque police stand off, including one unfunny bastard in the lower left-hand corner who has a slingshot. Astro tells them to stand back, because Boynton can explain (explain what?). Does anyone remember the part in Metropolis where Rock stabs Tima in the neck with a neutralizer pick? Boynton does that, then thanks one of the army guys for distracting Astro.
"Why, no, that gun's not phallic. Not phallic at all."
Boynton claims that Astro was holding Boynton hostage, then says something that probably shouldn't have been said with such an effeminate pose. ("You brave, strong men!") To make up for that, he stands over Astro's stunned body in a crazily badass pose.
That's right; women don't say "yes", they say " es".
Back to the Institute of Science...while Astro's body is being transported to the lab via helicopter, Elmer is watching Lance put a present on Rebecca's desk. I can't understand what these guys find so insanely-irresistable about her; she looks 17 half the time. But if anyone's ever seen her anime version, you'll know that she's very pretty. Even Jay Rath agrees.
I'm sorry, sir. You're going to have to top Boynton's dishevelled suit and fluffy 80's hair...and you should also lose the hockey stick.
In the meantime, I.Q. Plenty is roving the halls with Spud, complaining that Boynton resumed being the Institute director (which is applicable of "theft" if you're in I.Q.'s magic world). I.Q. plans to rename the Institute as the "Tower of Knowledge", make the collective scientists his minions, and do some creepy stuff with women. In the second panel above, it's revealed that Rebecca was one of I.Q.'s students, and he's now planning to make the song "Don't Stand So Close To Me" a reality. Go look up the lyrics, get the hell back here, and try to tell me that the song's not just about some hypersensitive guy.

I'm going to paraphrase three pages again...basically, Lance puts the gift box in Rebecca's office and mentions that they're going to the opera. Elmer comes in and switches his box with Lance's. I.Q. and Spud come in and switch their box with Elmer's. It's like every plot twist from the cheaper cartoons of this era. WOO.
"Welcome to the lion's den, tempation's on it's way, welcome to the House of Fun..."
When we return to Dr. Boynton's Chamber of Infanticide Delights, Astro is clamped to a table. He complains that Boynton tricked him...again...and warns that he'll be goin' wild on Boynton's face as soon as his strength returns. Then Boynton's nose gets huge for one panel. But then, he takes out a robot spider, and...
NOTE: Do not do this.
Bruno the Robo-Spider of Death moves into Astro's chest cabinet. Astro suddenly returns to normal and rips off the clamps, along with a crowd of really bad sound effects. As he prepares to turn around and beat the vinegar out of Boynton, the doctor presses the red button on his remote (which you can see above), which gives Astro a thorough electric shock. Turns out Boynton's going to stage it to look like Astro broke out of the lab, so the army will stop bugging Boynton for the rest of the loan. And guess who Boynton plans to hide Astro with...
Or, erm, Cacciatore. And he says "ah" at the end of every other word, just like how people used to talk to Gino. Because Cacciatore is Italian! Hilarious!
Looking back to the 1960's anime, I once thought that Hamegg/Cacciatore was given a cheezy French accent, which may have been not as bad. I now assume that someone at NOW! Comics hated Italians more than they hated the French.
NOW's version of Hamegg is also a sexual predator.
Boynton gives Cacciatore the Death Remote in exchange for a wad o' cash. As Cacciatore drags him away, Astro asks if Boynton would be coming to visit him, but Boynton says he'll be "extremely busy". Astro departs on this line...
"I'm gonna give you a kicking. An ass kicking. On your ass."
...Uh. Well, as we can see, Astro has gotten angrier and angrier, Hamegg is a pedophile, Tenma is crazier than usual, and I want to punch Dr. Foola in the face. Also, the wacky romantic hijinks between Lance, Rebecca and Elmer are getting old. Very, very old.
There's nothing notable in the letters columns; a few people show up and complement how wonderful a job Ken Steacy is doing, one guy saying Ken "knows there's more to Japanimation than big shiny eyes!" And someone else points out that Elmer looks like Astro's robot father. The editor hints that there's something in store for Elmer, this being that in issue ten, he and Rebecca are mauled to death by a Cybershark and Elefun rebuilds them as Astro's parents. OH, DID I SPOIL IT FOR YOU? I just saved you at least ten dollars, so be quiet. You should have totally seen that (or something similar) coming.

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