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NOW Comics Astro Boy - Issue Six

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Welcome home, folks! It's been an obscenely-long absence, thanks to Tripod's server migration disaster, but now that I'm back, things are back on-course. Astro will be leaving the Robot Circus very soon. A major character is going to show up, and I.Q. Plenty is going to do lots of stuff no one cares about, so the whole comic would make an unprepared Tezuka fan do the eye thing the wolf does in Tex Avery cartoons. Let's go, kids!
We re-open with Astro sitting on the hill behind the robot circus, of which looks a lot like the one from the 1980's series. You may remember that series as being retconned by NOW!, making the similarity a little ironic and insulting. More to the point, we are re-introduced to the fact that Astro is having a mental morale clashing.
"I shake my fist at you, giant butterfly! I shake my fist!"
Then we cut to Astro fighting, then being backstage, and...wait, what the crap? Let me detail something...
This is from a stadium crowd scene. What the hell is wrong with you, Ken Steacy? Did I really need to see Angry Granny staring at the robot Astro knocked out of the ring?
Following my cardiac arrest, the stadium robots are repairing a dude, and Astro is drinking oil from a can for some reason. Simon tries to lighten Astro's spirits, but it just results in Simon answering questions with questions, and Astro angrily bursting the oil can in his hand.
That's pretty out-of-character, Astro.
This goes on for another page, then Simon tells him to lead the robots to a revolution. He begins the story of Cybotics. Now I'm pretty sure these are just really, really advanced robots with a name NOW! Comics made up in place of "android", "robot" or "cyborg". The Cybots either were destroyed or escaped into space, with a remaining few pretending to be humans.
That's a pretty bad disguise, sir. That bald guy is onto you...or he might be distracted by the cop arresting Shaggy, the lady's detailed butt, or the ugly kid.
Astro doesn't like the idea of being a destructive revolutionary, so he punches a hole in the wall. I've asked this before, but...why, NOW! Comics? Why have you made the hero boy into an angry, angsty wreck? This page was so depressing, I had to listen to the Assemble Insert soundtrack just to boost my morale.
Tas contemplates adopting that sweet little Rock boy and moving to Metropolis.
In the meantime, Tas Tamil's kids are ugly. They insist they go to the Robot Circus, and after being shooed away by Mrs. Tamil, she tells Tas to stop worrying about General Hawkins and take the kids to the Robot Circus. Tas sees Astro on the circus flyer and craps himself in amazement.
I like how the orange-haired dude on the left is pulling a Horatio.
In the meantime, Boynton has returned to the Institute of Science as if nothing happened, but people are still intrigued...or perhaps this frame captured him in the middle of walking like Dr. Frank N. Furter or something. (Holy crap, Tim Curry should've totally played Tenma in the new movie!) Anyway, Boynton's routine is interrupted by Elmer and Lance fighting loudly in what is possibly a broom closet.
Atom splitting kills you, but y'know...you're Lance.
Boynton tells Lance to get the hell out of Dodge, and asks Elmer to come to his office. Lance calls him a scarecrow, but suddenly, that mojo is killed when Rebecca shows up...
Somehow, Rebecca figured out that she wasn't supposed to get the necklace, and there's a bit of "romantic" exchange while Rebecca starts to look like Lois Griffin. They almost kiss, but then an awful smell fills the hall and I.Q. Plenty appears. He also happened to bring Sludge with him...
How did he get that into the building without alerting someone?
His name is Sludge, simply because he is sludge. Oh you, NOW!. If a character had a leopard, it would be named Kitty. If they had a death machine, it would be named Death Machine 3000. Anyhow, I.Q. has engineered Elmer's Magic Slurry into some sort of walking monster, and that's the last we see of it for the whole issue. Uh, yeah, that was all they were gonna wind the subplot up to.
All. Those. Pages. And all we get is a slime monster.
Both of these panels are dedicated to AstroboyGF.
In the meantime, Astro is being sent out to fight a robot that kinda looks like Vyvyan, and Cacciatore urges him not to beat him up so fast. Astro basically acts like a prat the whole time, yawning at the robot's taunting, whistling while cracking each of his knuckles...wait, wouldn't that destroy hundreds of valuable circuitry in his fingers? Why am I looking so hard into this? Astro punches the guy's face in, with the crowd urging him to "FINISH IT!" and Cacciatore threatening him with the electrocuting button. But then...
Like the dove descending upon Noah's arc, Dr. Elefun dives down to the arena ground floor, urging everyone to realize that robots have feelings and are suffering under Cacciatore's abuse. Cacciatore sics the arena guards on him, and Elefun is promptly dragged out kicking and screaming. Astro is threatened with the button once again, but then Simon drops the remote, shattering it.
What's he pulling o-- OH DANG IT'S A TONGUE.
Astro and Simon strut out of the arena while Cacciatore menacingly stomps on his hat. He threatens, "Just you-a wait 'till (sic) I tell-ah your father! Just you-ah wait!"
While the antici...pation is certainly not killing me, the story's going to stop scraping the ocean floor. The letters column brings nothing interesting to the table, but NOW! has asked its readers to name the letters column, something they did in the next issue. Here are this month's suggestions:
  • Astro-Projections
  • Astro-Philes
  • Astronomical Inquires (sic) and Replies

Well, those are kinda bad. But anyway, reading their letters reminds me of a darker time in North American cultural history...anime was just expendable material noticed only by children with Nickelodeon, and the middle-aged black-and-white TV viewer. Everything was un-Japanesed to the point of despair...remember the dub names for Tetsujin 28? (or, Gigantor, with Jimmy Sparks and Dick Strong?) The only really good case of name localization was with Macross...but then Carl Macek mashed two unrelated, innocent anime into it and made Robotech.

A little worry from William Mezzano from Addison, Illinois... "Personally, I forsee only one problem that will become apparent in future issues. Astro Boy is just too powerful. You're going to have problems creating villains in Astro's strength capacity, and retain an interesting storyline."

First of all, William...the current storyline is dropping faster than Astro with a low battery. Secondly, I wish you guys had acknowledged the 1980's series after all...Skunk Kusai had everything you'd want in a recurring villain. It's a shame you guys never got far enough to even find out about him.



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.