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NOW! Comics Speed Racer - Issue Seventeen

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Update: Following my email correspondance with Brian Thomas himself, I have found out that this story was actually made before the comic series started. Brian was assigned to draw this as a warm-up excersize, since he was slated to be the main artist for the whole series. Ken Steacy was hired because he was cheaper.
 
So, please disregard my jabs at his writing in the following article. This story was just something he did as an experiment in 1987, and the only reason it was published here was because Tony Caputo is a sick bastard.

Well, dear readers, I still haven't been able to get a hold on issues eight and nine of Astro Boy. But do you know what? A donator, who prefers to remain anonymous, has supplied me with a copy of Speed Racer #17, in which there is a six-page Astro Boy story. All of you should be happy this guy is around; it's also because of him that I've been able to put the Canadian Astro Boy dub on the internet.
 
So, we're going back to February 1989. You can no longer buy semi-automatic weapons in L.A., the Soviet Union has pulled out of Afghanistan, and Europe is getting Sky Television PLC. But most importantly, this is the month Osamu Tezuka died. It's already becoming well known that NOW! Comics had no legal right to use Tezuka's characters, but with this issue, was this a tribute? There's no way to tell, but we need to look at this story very well.
 
Also, look forward to the art of Brian Thomas, who later took over the whole comic. This story is of slightly better quality than those issues, and some the character designs are more accurate, but Thomas's writing is a little...
 
 
 
He told us he had a screw loose.
 
We open with Astro watching a scene from The Colossus of New York, which to an unbeknowing younger reader, looks like a cyberpunk Max Headroom instructing Astro to kill. This makes me wonder if years from now, people will read my Cinderelliot and not get the references to things like Lupin III and Conway Twitty. But anyways, Astro decides he can't watch anymore and goes outside, with Elmer and Rebecca worriedly eating some bento.
 
Allow me to direct your attention to something right at the bottom of the page...
 
 
Copyright 1988 Suzuki Associates International Inc. Have you heard the story of how an unlicensed man sold NOW! Comics the english rights to Tezuka's characters? This is the only evidence that it was a Mr. Suzuki and his associates.
 
Do you notice that       white-out spot in the dialogue?
 
Astro goes to the Institute of Science to get a check-up from Dr. Elefun. The doctor informs him that there's nothing wrong with him, but Astro asks if his rationality systems could ever glitch and cause him to hurt someone. Elefun says it's happened before, but takes a sample of Astro's memory data and feeds it into the big computer.
 
Frank the Sentient Dog Head loved his job.
 
Astro's wating outside the lab for the results, when he notices a bunch of canine police cars rushing down the street. In one of them is Chief McClaw, who leads him to the scene of the crime. It turns out there's a guy in a shopping plaza, shooting at children.
 
No, really.
 
Isn't that shooter Lily's dad from Lily On Peligro Island?
 
Now, the guy's already shot six kids, whom all have second-degree electrical burns. While the police get a video of him, Dr. I.Q. Plenty shows up out of nowhere and is enfuriated that the shooter - his assistant whom he fired a week prior - stole Plenty's forcefield generator and Proton Cannon. I.Q.'s mad that the shooter seems to be claiming creation of the weapons, but really, that pales in in front of the fact that a bunch of kids are hurt.
 
Far left: Inspector Moomin
 
We briefly get a look at the shooter, whom is hiding behind the plaza tower and mumbling "Ghosts! Ghosts!" Why ghosts? Well, apparently, he accidentally killed some kids in a traffic accident and has gone a little crazy. The group chooses to send Astro in to get the guy, which doesn't work. While Astro dizzily recovers on the ground, I.Q. only brags at him about how great an inventor he is. He's not really the most empathetic person in this comic, huh?
 
He's going to take off his shirt!
 
Astro is suddenly inspired after hearing only "specially-charged" molecules, like the ones fired by the gun, can get through the forcefield. The shooter begins murmuring about ghosts again and fires at Astro, incinerating his clothes. Unrelenting, Astro pulls a Kenji Murasame and pushes himself through the forcefield in order to blow it up.
 
Albeit, with less pink trenchcoats.
 
The police anxiously watch for Astro, who soon flies back to them, carrying the shooter. Astro's plan was to stay in the gun's electric stream long enough to be charged with the special molecules, and be able to break the forcefield from there. The police put the shooter in a straightjacket and load him off, I.Q. and Spud stare at the broken ray gun, and Astro is hosed down. Then Elefun returns with his report...
 
"You be crazy, son. Dun' come by my house no mo'."
 
Disturbingly enough, Astro just exhausted his entire system, putting him at risk immediately But Astro thinks of the results like this...
 
 
Er, this means you can go crazy like a human, but an out-of-control robot is three times more dangerous. Astro, why are you so happy about this? You just said you were scared it would happen and you'd endanger someone close to you.
 
And then Tezuka died. The end.
 
You know how I feel about this comic?
 
 
NOW! Comics...I know you drew and wrote this before he died, and you had no idea you weren't supposed to be using his characters in the first place, but is this the best you could do for a six-page insert? The art is much more consistant and design-faithful than any of the preceeding comics, but no, you go with a story about a guy shooting little kids and Astro realizing he can go crazy. You had one last chance to redeem your endeavor, and this is what you do.
 
You are NOW! Comics. I am not surprised.
 
Readers, stay tuned for our upcoming coverage of the eighth and ninth issues, where Astro will be slightly more crazy than usual.
 
 
 
 
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