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NOW! Comics Astro Boy - Issue Five

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Well, readers. We're approaching the end of the original story arc in this series. In case you missed last issue, Astro is being pursued by the army because of Boynton's unpaid loan from them, and Astro was hastily sold to Cacciatore's Robot Circus. Also, the scientists Lance, Elmer and I.Q. just switched gift boxes on Rebecca's desk, so we're probably gonna see some more of that. It's January 1988 tonight...the Dow Jones has dropped 6.85%, the Soviet Union is restructuring, and Super Mario Bros. 3 will be coming out in October.
This issue also has the honour of having the worst cover ever. I mean, is the above image relevant at all? Try and imagine being in 1988, standing in a comic book shop's checkout line, clutching this issue while absorbing all the stares around you. And is Astro getting fat?
Now 35% less manly.
This issue starts with Boynton running up the hall like a maniac, screaming that his "son has escaped". However, we know from last time that he's just sold Astro to Cacciatore, A.K.A. Hamegg, and is only acting like he's just shat his pants in terror.
What is with Ken Steacy and drawing soldiers with phallic noses?
The above image is on the same page as a shot of Astro flying erratically over the city, so maybe Boynton made the hole and the flying picture is just imagery, or maybe this damn comic is harder to follow than Neon Genesis Evangelion.
In this comic, if you're evil and mean business, you need to smoke cigars. Cigarettes and hookahs don't count.
We cut to in General Hawkins' office, where Tas Tamil is nervously informing her of the situation. The problem is that the original Duke Red used to be a man of brilliance and action, but now he looks like he's going to pee his pants if the General makes any sudden movements. And now look at him! His head is shaped like a cashew...
I died.
The General offers to promote Tas to Director of the Institute of Science if he can retrieve Astro (codenamed "Mighty Atom"), and he perks up like a tropical bird. Also, the General turns out to have grenade earrings, which would be cool if she didn't look like a gnome with PMS. Oh, hey. Time to check on the morons down at the Institute.
I wasn't around in the eighties to know, but were necklaces always that ugly?
Like, sharp chunks of plastic that you could cut yourself in the boob with?
The day after her date with Lance, Rebecca has acquired enormous anime eyes and a necklace made out of remote control battery chamber casings. Turns out that in last month's issue, the box Elmer switched with Lance's box actually contained something foul-smelling, the ultimate plan to make Rebecca mad at Lance so she'd turn to Elmer. This only makes sense if you're nine years old.
Elmer runs into Lance further in the hall. Lance is mad that there was a necklace in Rebecca's present, rather than whatever he originally gave her. Thank I.Q. Foola, good sir. He has saved you from giving your date a box of shit.
In the meantime, I.Q. is brooding about not hearing any word of lusty, appreciative affection from Rebecca. Spud makes some bad jokes, and...hey, in case you haven't noticed yet, Spud looks like Doug from Up, except Doug's speech comes out of his collar, not from his mouth in a horrifying, David Lynch-esque fashion. Spud also claims his "cousin Morty" can write, which is pretty dumb.
In the meantime, I.Q. opens Elmer's box and looks in, causing some blobby, yellow and black gunk to spray all over them. I.Q. claims he smells worse than "Friday's fish fry on Monday", which doesn't apply if they freeze the fish. The quality of those lines captures the quality of every scene these two are in, and I'm not afraid to say that they suck.
There is a quick flash to Boynton's house, where he is in a bathrobe with some sort of alcohol, staring at a picture of Astor, all the while having more bags under his eyes than Fujimoto. In Cacciatore's circus, Astro is informed that he can't leave, and then Astro freaks out and gets shocked. This is the point when my mother looked over the comic and asked "Why does Astro look angry all the time?" An excellent question; we'll have to take it to Steacy and his talent for making everyone in the comic look like crap.
Also, I think Dempsey is just randomly sticking "ah" in Cacciatore's dialogue, not really following any kind of real accent. The above line would come out more as "That's-a no way forra robotta speek-a to 'ees mastaa!"
"I'm Simon, and this is Bob the Annoying-As-Hell Droid."
When Astro wakes up from a near-epileptic fit, he meets the robots Bob and Simon. Simon is a silver version of C3PO that would probably sound like Peter Gabriel. Bob does a bad impersonation of an old TV character whose name I can't remember. Simon has to explain what a circus is, because if you read the first issue, Astro gave an elaborate description of how long it would take to get around a game board, but doesn't comprehend many basic words. Then we cut to during the circus, with Cacciatore introducing the robots, still putting "ah" after words that wouldn't work. Check out the first battle.
Hunk Studley actually makes me want to Barf Violently.
After introducing the most one-sided fight of 2030, Astro ducks behind stage and says "Poor Bob, is being destroyed!" Then Simon tries to calm him down by showing us his shiny metal ass. (Also, Astro is writing E=MC2 in that picture! Ha-ha! It's so hilarious because he is a robot!) Cacciatore introduces a big yellow robot called Ugh, whom Astro will be fighting. But Astro refuses to go and fight, so Cacciatore takes out the remote and shocks him.
Those some damn fine heels, Mr. B.
Astro gets up, hallucinating, and sees Ugh as Dr. Boynton. Astro charges forward to punch him, but Boynton only says "Give it your best shot, son." And then Astro loses his shit.
After using the sound effect "GUNCH" and both of them coming close to the legal definition of murder, Astro flies forward weepily and punches off Boynton's head. It bounces around like an action figure head, then Astro comes back to reality. Ugh's head is on the ground, making that "he knocked my block off" joke. Cacciatore hoists Astro's arm in the air and basically says "The-ah winner-ah is-ah Astro-ah Boy-ah!" Seriously though, this is the first time Astro is called Astro in this comic.
And Astro actually looks like Astro up there!
Later, Astro is moping offstage when he comes across the well-off Bob. Bob says that the crowd loved him and that he won against Studley, which is either him being egotistical or true. Remember the scene in The Blues Brothers when the Nazi car goes over the broken highway ramp, goes fifty feet in the air, and lands on the pavement with a huge hole? Well, that scene - like this one - breaks my suspension of disbelief. I can comprehend Elwood driving over that drawbridge (or Astro being able to sneak out of Boynton's lab and get back just in time), but not this.
Right here is a funny caption about Astro having eyeshadow.
The end.
Having gotten through 1/4 the series now, I can tell you that the problem is not the story, but the artwork. Aside from everyone looking ridiculous at best, Steacy's art doesn't know if it wants to be cartoony, realistic or cubist. And it's too detailed; if Steacy draws a silhouetted crowd scene, he makes sure someone's throwing popcorn, someone's throwing a drumstick with a bite out of it, and someone's got a tiny flower in their hat. Or like in last issue, there's an entire room of soldiers and just one has a slingshot. There are too many inside jokes in all of NOW! Comics's comics; I read a Speed Racer not too long ago, and in an alley scene, a wall is decorated with graffiti that could pass as notes and jeers to other artists.
Sick thing is, Speed Racer had more people working on it, and as scratchy the art was, the story was easier to follow and more in-depth. I guess with NOW! Comics, you either get bad art and good writing, or good art and bad writing, tolerable art and tolerable writing, or neither. What a miserable world to be a comic.
This letter was in the end of the book...
HORGUS HORGUS HORGUS. Wow. As my friend Sailor Kitty said, "Either someone needs a brain, or this might be the live work of a pre-internet troll."
If anyone knows William Bernard Vogel in real life, hit him. Then hit him again. Then show him this page. Then hit him again.

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.