Welcome back, everyone. We are entering the darkest, most
cynical point in time of NOW! Comics's version of Astro Boy. The comic will become nightmare fuel to a certain aspect, shortly
before the plot dives into mediocrity. I've never been more excited to read a comic book.
You have to cut some slack for Michael Dempsey, though.
If it weren't for the advancements in computer technology and video games, the rise of racial and sexual equality, and the
worldwide period of awesome in music, movies and animation, it would be just known as a miserable decade. There was a constant
threat of cocaine, America-to-Russia nuclear war, AIDS, greed, bigotism...it's hard not for all the classic 80's cynicism
to seep into the comic. Sure, it poisoned the adorable and infallible icon that is Astro Boy, but damned if it isn't fascinating.
When I hold a NOW! Comics Astro Boy comic, I feel like I'm holding a time capsule. A cynical, hysterical, unauthorized-by-Tezuka
There sure is. This comic still exists.
We open in the middle of town, at the Institute of Science,
where a large portion of the military is camping outside the building. Apparently something is trying to get into the building,
and that is...
...Astro and the Island of Misfit Robots. Astro attempts
to taunt the military, but neither side backs down. A hillbilly robot named Cotton Joe (and I am not making that up) tells
Astro that the robots should kill everyone. Astro says that violence is not the answer, disregarding half the things he's
done in the comic. As well, humans and robots can either live with or destroy each other, just like "Brother" Simon said.
So, like, Astro now runs a delusional robot cult.
I'd pin that on the eighties but it doesn't deserve that.
In the meantime, some of the soldiers are going stir-crazy,
thinking that an "alien force" is the reason all the attacking robots have turned on humans. But one of the soldiers
points out that the humans haven't been that nice to robots, and that soldier is Pepito the Gay Mustache, whom is calming
down the Red Scout.
RARRR, I IZ SCARY BIRDMAN
In the sub-meantime, Boynton is hiding in his office,
having a breakdown and staring out through a crack in the window blinds. General Hawkins runs in and demands that Boynton
throw himself out to the masses of robots. Boynton obviously doesn't want to do that, so Hawkins gets in his face as Tas Tamil
enters the room.
What the hell is Tas doing? Is he lighting a
cigarette, or picking his teeth because he ate a whole chicken between panels?
Tas and Hawkins immediately get friendly (which is where
I assumed Tas was cheating on his wife with Hawkins, explaining the huge priviledges Tas gets, but NOW! doesn't
make character dynamics that layered), and Hawkins begins to appoint Tas as the Director of the Institute of Science. Boynton
tells them they're forgetting something...
...So then he pulls out a giant machine gun and murders
Holy crap, I didn't think he'd pack that much heat on
two people. When I first saw the above picture in issue eleven (which was a flashback issue), I thought Boynton
went hard-ass and mowed down the military singlehandedly, Kenji Murasame style. Well, Boynton may not be as badass as Kenji, but Boynton does take
a moment to smoke a pipe and lament "if only all the world's problems were so easily
They can be! Somebody get Boynton and make him mow down
Tony Hayward, everybody with the Westboro Baptist Church, and all the politicians who voted for martial law at the G20!
I want purple dress shoes, too!
Boynton runs into the hallway, hyperventilating and hysterical,
when he runs into everybody's favorite hockey-playing midget and his dog. They criticize the fact that Boynton is tripping
balls, and I.Q. claims Boynton sabotaged I.Q.'s campaign to become Director of the Institute. When Boynton realizes I.Q. was
trying to get him fired all along, I.Q. pulls out the Full Metal Taboo to slap Boynton in the face. I don't care how mad you are, but telling someone
you even wanted to sleep with their ex-wife isn't cool.
If you do, Boynton will have to choke a bitch.
In the super-meantime, Lance, Rebecca and Elmer are in
the hallway, and...wait, I feel I need to take a moment to pose the question of why these three are always walking
around fighting and never actually working when we see them. Anyways, Lance still smells bad, following his run-in
with the magnificent slimewad. Rebecca hears the sound of someone being strangled in the janitor's closet
and opens the door.
Now we're entering Asuka Langley levels of crazy.
As desirable as it would've been, it dawns on us all that
Boynton didn't strangle I.Q. to death, and nor did he punch holes in Tas and Hawkins. Boynton starts to yell at the three
for plotting against him when we get one more shoot-up of insane...
Hallucination Jean is not my lover...she's
just some girl that thinks that I am the one...
Rebecca morphs into Boynton's ex-wife (in his mind) and
tells him that neither she nor Astor can forgive him, prompting him to burst into tears and rush off, yelling that he can
"build a new one". He leaves the three gawking at each other in confusion.
There is no realistic reason that Boynton should
be seeing things this vividly if he's gone crazy, because that's a special type of crazy that takes more than eight issues
to develop. Maybe he dropped a quart of peyote, or is having an awesome dream sequence, like that scene in El
Mariachi where Carlos Gallardo goes to pick up the boy's basketball but it turns into a human head.
IN 1988 WAR HAS BEGUN.
Outside, the robots and military have officially snapped,
and are charging towards each other. Pepito has allied with Astro, and the two are the only ones trying to stop the battle.
Astro proceeds to mutilate a tank and steal everyone's guns. Right before he can give his speech again, Boynton runs out in
a Power Loader and interrupts him.
Yes, that's what I said; a Power Loader. Are you shitting
me, NOW! Comics? Are you packed so full of 1980's nerds that the idea to rip off the Power Loader from Aliens and
give it retarded grabby hands seemed like a good one? It doesn't look like a badass machine that you could confront
a giant mutant with. It looks like Boynton goes to some kinky adult shops with a robot section.
Ah! A flashback!
Nothing good can come out of this.
We cut to two years prior, with Boynton leading Astor
out of the Institute. Boynton has a meeting to go to, but he programs the robot car to automatically drive home, and go past
the zoo. Because if you can't go on an outing with your son, you'd might as well half-ass it. Boynton lets him go, calling
out, "We'll talk more on Saturday, Astor!" No you won't, because he is deaaaaad...
In the typical Tobio Death Scene format, Tenma rushes
out of a crowd and finds Tobio dead in the shell of the car. Only problem with this incarnation is how Ken Steacy half-assed
the crowd at the top of the panel, and there's a messily-drawn little man holding his hat over his heart, whom is positioned
directly between all the points of interest in the picture. When I look at this, my eyes go BOYNTON >> BOYNTON'S HAND
>> LITTLE MAN every time.
In real time, however, Boynton has faded into another
hallucination and is weepily hugging Astro. This would be cute, but we only see them from an awkward back angle.
That soldier is totally dancing. Look at him.
Boynton is stripped of his Power Groper and led off to
a mental hospital. General Hawkins reappears and assumes the position of power. She orders Astro and his "army"
to disband, or the military will pretty much blow up the block. Astro demands she listen to their demands, causing her to
turn all-purple for one panel, and before she can rage hard, a wild Elefun appears!
ELEFUN used AGREEMENT! It's super effective!
The good doctor appears, telling Astro that he's been
"keeping track of your situation", which a lot of people in this continent get arrested for. Elefun proceeds to shut down
the robot war, resulting in a lot of pleased robots and Hawkins passing a stone about it. She stomps off the yard, complaining
about peaceful resolution, because Mutually Assured Destruction would probably be more fun.
The boy in the what?
When I first saw that picture of Boynton packing heat,
and given all the things that happened in previous issues, I had the impression that this issue would end with the start of
a citywide robot-human war, Boynton killing a lot of soldiers, and Astro having a breakdown and unsure of which side to support.
A bunch of robots dared a bunch of soldiers to step
across a line, and they did, so everybody ran around a little. Boynton hallucinated and cried a lot. And I.Q. and Spud lived
to see another issue.
I have a headache again.