In terms of bad comics, there are two kinds – the bad ones and the painful ones.
Comics like say, Spidey Super Stories, are just bad. They’re horribly written, yes, but that’s the fun. The jokes that fall flat, the indecipherable dialog, the lame situations, it’s all good laugh fodder, and it sates that weird part of us that makes us stop and stare at a car wreck.
Painful comics, however, aren’t like watching car wreck – they’re like being in one. And if I had to pick one of the most excrutiating, this one would definitely be up there.
See what I mean? Avengers Unplugged #3 doesn’t even wait to start hurting you. Just look at this monstrosity of a comic cover. Everything you need to know is right there. The weird muscle structure, the pointless misspelling of the word ‘night’, the impossible curve of the ladies’ backs…yeah, it’s that sort of comic. I’d also like to note that, judging from the perspective, their butts seem to be rubbing against each other quite hard. If the picture didn’t look so ugly, I’m sure that would arouse me.
Anyway, the background on this? Avengers Unplugged was basically a miniseries featuring the Avengers in more self-contained stories; no big events, just focusing on certain characters and situations, going more in-depth than the mainstream’s willing to go. Because, as you well know, when something is unplugged,it loses all power and becomes virtually useless. That’s more extreme. Right.
This particular issue follows the merry adventures of two prominent Avengers, Crystal and the Black Widow. You probably know enough about the Black Widow from just watching Iron Man 2 – if you haven’t, then that means you’re not giving money to things that support my habits, in which case I despise you. Crystal’s a little more obscure, and while I could get into detail about her history and her connection with the Fantastic Four and the X-Men, all you really need to know is that she’s one of the Inhumans, a race of beings that live on the Moon because humanity hates them, or they hate humanity, or something. I forget. It’s not relevant to this story, anyway.
Oh, and she can control all the elements, like Captain Planet without the Heart. She can also make clothing out of thin air. Somehow. It’s that sort of comic.
We start with Black Widow and Crystal faces covering the page, looking straight at the reader in surprise. Or Crystal seems surprised, anyway; Black Widow’s face seems to be…
…shock? Amusement? Mild confusion? Dull surprise? Whatever the case, you’re left to wonder just what would have these women, these seasoned Avengers, so seriously stunned, and the narration makes a few guesses on the front.
What egregious shocker faces our heroines? A gang of superpowered thugs? A pack of slavering, rabid dogs. A subversive alien threat from another world?
Question: Number 1 and 3 make sense, but why would these two ever be around a pack of rabid dogs? Do the Avengers normally deal with dog fights or sled races gone horribly awry?
Anyhow, we turn the page and see the crazy sight that’s stunned them so, the thing that Black Widow’s never seen in all her years with the KGB.
Little known fact – Russia doesn’t have a single strip club. Now you know.
And yeah, I know they say it’s a go-go bar/pizza parlor – called ‘Bimboyz’, which is wrong for so many reasons that I’d need to write another review just to cover them all – and while a little Wiki-walking shows that go-go bars do exist outside of 1970s blaxploitation films, I think sanitation issues would keep one from existing near any pizza.
So, yeah, to summarize: Black Widow, respected and disciplined Avenger, is hanging out with Crystal, loving wife to Quicksilver and gentle mother from the Inhuman’s royal family, in a strip club called called Bimboys, while both of them are dressed like, let’s be honest, hookers. And if that weren’t enough – which it so is – this guy comes along.
First – what self-respecting stripper would dress up like Quicksilver, the world’s fastest jackass? Captain America I’d understand, Iron Man I’d understand, but Quicksilver? Nobody wants to be Quicksilver. Quicksilver doesn’t want to be Quicksilver, half the time. It’s not even practical; who ever heard of a stripper wearing a giant spandex one-piece?
Second- how is this hero-nite night, when this guy is the only one dressed up?
Third- What is up with this guy’s anatomy? All the muscle-men in this comic look odd, but this guy in particular…it’s like he’s walking around with a pile of rocks stuffed in his suit? Are women in New York really into horribly malformed and naked versions of superheroes?
And we’re only on page two. Two. This is the third reason I held off on this for a rainy day; there’s so much stupid on every page that I need a few hours of free time just to do it all. Pure, concentrated idiocy in its rarest form.
Mercifully, we move away from this scene and get the actual plot of the story going, as we see the T-1000…I mean, the Super-Adaptoid forming on top of a roof next to a pigeon coop. To make a short story even shorter, the Super-Adaptoid was created by a Fantastic Four villain called the Mad Thinker, who the Thing defeated by pouring alcohol all over him. Somehow.
At any rate, it took him a few weeks, but true to his name he adapted to the stuff and he’s reforming, and yeah, he’s not in the best of moods.
Yes, such is the measure of his hate that he transforms into an image of the person that killed him in the first place, because…he just does, that’s why.
We cut back to Crystal and Squicksilver at the go-go bar, but before she can give the guy a tip – no clue where she would even stuff the bills on his costume, by the way – a car comes crashing through the ceiling. Or the wall. Hard to tell, see if you can make it out..
Know what draws me here? Not the ridiculous perspective which makes it looks like the wheel on the car is bigger than Crystal’s entire body, not the wash out pink shadow that’s covering them. No, what gets to me is that stripper at the bottom of the panel, who somehow finds the time to comment on the car that’s coming through the wall before it even hits the ground. Comment at length; he even has the time to identify the exact sort of car it is, like that makes a different. I think my words in this situation would either be a horrified scream or something along the lines of ‘SWEET CRAP THERE’S A CAR COMING STRAIGHT AT US!’
Crystal and Black Widow run out to investigate the commotion, somehow managing to contort ther spines into impossible angles in the process.
They grab a random man and ask him what’s going on, and after a strange exchange where he tries to hit on them and flee for his life at the same time. It’s weird, out of place, and the only real purpose it serves it making me wonder what’s wrong with Black Widow’s eyesight, because when you can’t notice a ten-foot tall screaming orange rock-man with claws tearing up the street right behind you, it’s time someone checked out your peripheral vision. And your hearing. Maybe even your sense of smell; those giants pits have got to be kicking up a little odor.
The Super-Adaptoid immediately attacks the duo by throwing a street sign at them, but Crystal melts the sign and makes the slag wrap back around him, trapping the creature for a moment. You know, with her elemental powers. Earth, wind, fire, water…metal? Metal control’s in there somewhere, I’m sure.
To their credit, Crystal and Black Widow quickly figure out that this guy isn’t the real Ben Grimm – the way he kept screaming ‘HATE THING, HATE THING’ was apparently a tipoff – but before they can make any more moves, the Super-Adaptoid super-adapts and melts into goo, slipping out of Crystal’s trap. Black Widow leaps over him, giving him a good peak up her skirt and allowing the Super-Adaptoid to make a stunning revelation.
Created by a scientific genius, ladies and gentlemen.
Anyway,Black Widow says nuts to the laws of physics and lands on a lamppost, which sends a car smashing into the Super-Adaptoid. It doesn’t hurt him much, but as luck and really poor plotting would have it, he goes crashing into a nearby perfume store and the alcohol in all the bottles causes his body to dissolve…you know, far be it from me to question the common sense of a man called the Mad Thinker, but I would think creating a robot that immediately dissolves on contact with one of the most common substances on the planet might be a bit of a design flaw. A brewery could defeat this guy.
With the Super-Adaptoid momentarily disabled, we switch over to a page where the Absorbing Man, a classic Thor villain, talking about his upcoming marriage to Titania, a classic She-Hulk villain, which is what the issue after this one is all about. It serves no purpose other than to remind me of a better comic, I could be reading, so lets move on…to another scene that has nothing to do with this comic, where Lyja Lightfist is show up at FF headquarters for a date with Johnny. Only she’s not. See, Lyja’s a skrull, parrt of an evil shapeshifting race of aliens, only she’s not evil, she’s good, and she was dating Johnny, only they broke up, and now she’s shapeshifting as an entirely different person to fool him and take him out and I just wasted this sentence talking about what amounts to a one-page ad for another, better comic book that I could be reading. So I’ll just cap it off by saying that I wasn’t aware that Johnny Storm was into steroids…
…and we now return you to your regularly scheduled comic.
While we were dealing with meaningless scene changes, Super-Adaptoid reformed himself and started ripping off the Hulk’s moveset, slamming his fist into the street knocking away the ladies into a nearby pane of glass, shredding their clothes. Fortunately, Crystal has a little known super-tailoring ability that she’s never displayed in any comic before or after this one, which lets her create their costumes out of thin air. While the Super-Adaptoid runs off into the distance, our heroines take a moment to jut out their hips and pose for the nonexistent camera.
Before they can go after him, a policeman rolls up and has a nice little chat with them for a full page, because, you know, it’s not like the nigh-unstoppable insane killer robot is anything they need to hurry and deal with. No, they have plenty of time while he’s storming about to talk with Random Policeman #1 about another attack by an Adaptoid that happened in Unplugged #1. There, Captain America fought a being that had the combined powers of certain Avengers, and that Adaptoid has absolutely nothing at all to do with this one. So why bring it up? Because this comic can’t go five pages without getting down on its knees and begging you to by the rest of these issues.
Actually, make that one page. We cut back to the Super-Adaptoid as he passes by a cluesless Lyja and Johnny, and the narrator takes the time to remind us that we can follow their story in Fantastic Four Unplugged #4, on sale in 30 days!
So, back to relevancy, Crystal finally has an idea for actually doing something to stop the Super-Adaptoid…not a good idea, mind you, but we’re fifteen pages into this thing, so I’ll take what I can get.
She uses her power of elemental control to actually control an element this time, warping the street and creating a perfect replica of the Thing. Except its colored asphalt-grey. So not perfect. She has the construct engage the Super-Adaptoid, but she has to take care, since any wounds that the rock creation take transfer over to her. Psychically. Just roll, just roll.
Really, Black Widow? The killer deathmachine ‘means business? I thought he was just playing around, what with all the wanton destruction and the endangering of innocent lives. All in good fun! Oh, and before I forget to mention, the Super-Adaptoid apparently spent the last five minutes taking a class in English literature, because he’s moved from sub-leet-speak to Shakespearean.
Super-Adaptoid destroys the construct and Crystal falls with it, leaving Black Widow to deal with the mess on her own. She flips over away with her butt sticking out for maximum viewing pleasure, and tricks him into plowing straight into a McDonald’s sign, causing electricity to flow straight into him, and since this comic just wouldn’t be complete without one last middle finger to physics and character knowledge, Crystal controls the electricity and amps the wattage, frying the Super-Adaptoid into an extremely well-cultured puddle of goop.
Then the police come, take a way what’s left of him, and Crystal and Black Widow walk off into the night. That’s it. An underwhelming ending for a thoroughly underwhelming comic. Oh, if only ¼ of the comic wasn’t dedicated to making you buy better comics. Alas.
This might not be the worst comic I’ve ever read, but it is the worst put together without a question. Everything about it just feels so sloppy, so poorly put together; never before has a story about two skimpily dressed women going down on a machine been…so…boring.
Tags: Avengers, Marvel Comics