Saturday, 23 April 2016

Top 20 Atop The Fourth Wall Episodes

If I had enough of a leaning one way or another, I could probably bring up how Linkara kind of takes the notion of being a Capitalist to slightly abrasive levels. Or I could bring up how he has a bit of a spiteful streak, like when he openly quotes detractors on his DVD covers. Or maybe how despite him wanting nothing to do with his… let’s say, less than admirable past life where he used to hang around forums, finding out about such things actually improved his standing with me, as such a history made him out to be a lot more human and, dare I say, relatable to a degree. But no, as I’ve said many many times before this month, this is meant to throw away whatever grievances I may or may not have with the creator in question. Instead, I’m here to look at the guy who is the closest that anyone has been able to get in terms of legitimizing the existence of storylines and plot in their reviews. That statement may make you love the guy or hate him, but regardless, I’m here today to count down my picks for the top 20 best episodes of Atop The Fourth Wall.

Special Mention: Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers #1 (Hamilton Comics)

Done as an April Fool’s Day gag review, this doesn’t make it onto the list proper as it isn’t an official episode. That said, given how the entire video is one massive piss-take of hack reviewers like the Irate Gamer, I would be doing a disservice if I didn’t include this video somehow.

#20: Bart Simpson’s Treehouse Of Horror #2

If I’m being perfectly honest, I think this review is solely on here because it gives Linkara a chance to sing some Gilbert & Sullivan. Sure, him covering one of the first comic book series I ever read gives it some definite props and his talking points concerning the material are solid, but I can’t stop giggling to myself thinking back on him singing as the multi-headed Sideshow Blob.

#19: Lady Gaga #1

Without a doubt, this features one of Linkara’s single best reactions of the entire series, which considering how the main character’s dream concerning the titular pop star turns out, I can’t exactly say I blame him. While there’s some merit to be given in terms of how the comic tries to promote Lady Gaga, as a throwback to the glam rock days of pop music, the execution just plain sucks between the ugly artwork and writing that makes the main character out to be somewhat mentally deranged.

#18: Marville #4

With a series that’s as consistently awful as Bill Jemas’ Marville, how do you pick just one review to represent all of them? Well, how about the issue that is so bad, it reduces Linkara to just agonized wailing by the end of the review? The amount of sheer idiocy on display here in terms of what the comic is trying to “teach” its readers about science, palaeontology and human nature is mind-numbing, and seeing it all get taken down several pegs by Linkara is all kinds of glorious to watch.

#17: Batman: Fortunate Son

Batman hates rock n’ roll music. Thanks to this one-shot graphic novel, that little bit of characterization is officially canon with the Caped Crusader now. As if that notion alone wasn’t ridiculous enough, the way it keeps trying to preach some kind of musical gospel about rock n’ roll music, complete with visions of a blond Elvis like this was some wrong-headed re-write of True Romance, allows itself for heaps of comedic possibilities at the hands of Linkara, all of which get taken advantage of.

#16: Silent Hill: Dead/Alive #5

After fully admitting that his previous finale to a look at a Silent Hill mini-series didn’t really honour the franchise as well as it could have (read: shooting up Pyramid Head with a handheld Gatling gun), he proceeds to bring out the full psychological aspects of the series with this finale to his three-part look at an especially head-scratching addition to the canon. It works with the usual subtleties that the games made a healthy reputation for themselves with, and the ending note is surprisingly touching, especially considering where his relationship with his magic gun would end up leading him in future episodes.

#15: Secret Defenders #9

I might not know all that much about sequential art, but even I can see that this might have some of the worst character proportions of any comic book. Admittedly, this does lead to a lot of fat jokes at the characters’ expense, but it’s kind of unavoidable when they are drawn like you could take them all out with a single thumb tack. This video probably had a lasting impact on how I read comic books nowadays in terms of artwork, as this gave me a rather emphatic look at just how bad it can get in the visual department.

#14: Catwoman: Guardian of Gotham #2

While the review itself showcases one of the more wrong-headed Elseworlds tales out there, and the opening might be the funniest iteration of Linkara’s “Previously On…” segments, the ending comprised solely of storyline elements is just that good that it alone ranks it up here on the list. It defines magic within the terms of the AT4W universe (or perhaps the Channel Awesome universe, given how some reviewers like to link show continuities together), brings a very satisfying development in the character arc that had been built up for Linkara over the last few months of videos, and bonus props are due for managing to re-define past character moments in a new light to lend credence to the idea that, despite how much he may argue the point, Linkara as a character may not be as altruistic as he may think he is.

#13: Doctor Who Classic #7

The finale to the All That He Sees He Conquers plotline with Lord Vyce, a villain that honestly took a while to really grow on me, and it’s kind of fitting that he would close it out with a review of a Doctor Who comic because I’d argue that the way Linkara wins the day here would fit right up there in the DW canon. While the ending fight between Linkara, Iron Liz and Vyce is all well and good, it’s the actual conclusion that finally established that, you know what, maybe Linkara is onto something with this whole storyline thing.

#12: The Avengers #200

A comic that he would later consider to be the second worst comic he’d ever reviewed (the number one spot, we’ll get to a little later on), and it’s not hard to see why when you consider just how much narrative wrong is in this thing. Based on a basic premise that I seriously wish wasn’t nearly as prevalent as it is, that being the alien that wishes to father itself through an unwilling female host, Linkara takes ample time out to show just how much not only Ms. Marvel was disrespected in this issue, but also the Avengers and the audience as a whole along with her.

#11: Justice League: Cry For Justice #5-7

With how much anger gets thrown around in Internet videos these days, and how joyous it can be to see someone vent their spleen in vitriolic fashion, it can sometimes start to wear thin because it can start to feel a little too cartoonish in how much rage is expressed. This is a definite exception to that however, as Linkara doesn’t devolve into the high-pitched screeches of anger that he usually does. Instead, while keeping his voice low, he expresses a far greater height of anger than I think any of these reviewers have been able to manage. Given how it is triggered, with the senseless death of a character that he holds very near and dear to himself, you can definitely feel that this is no joke. And just to put into perspective how emotionally effective this turn is, it manages to outdo the narrative portion of the video which reveals a very surprising detail concerning Lord Vyce.

#10: Nightcat #1

The conclusion to a loose-knit theme of “The depths of which Marvel Comics will sink to”, and given how we’re dealing with a singing superhero (that’s based on an actual musician) written by Stan friggin’ Lee of all people, you’d couldn’t have found a better pick to explore such a notion. With how often he’ll just show clips of the show during his reviews, a big inspiration for Linkara’s style of humour came from MST3K (something true of pretty much every Internet critic out there to some degree, but this guy more so than others) and that definitely comes across here where his comedic riffing is in top-form, particularly with how shoehorned-in the cat motif is with the titular character of the comic in question.

#9: 2001: A Space Odyssey #1

The finale to the Ghost In The Machine plotline, this is yet another video where I’m ranking purely on its storyline content as opposed to the review proper. Don’t get me wrong, looking at how much the worlds of Stanley Kubrick and Jack Kirby just don’t mesh all that well together is good and all, but Comicron One’s shipboard A.I. Nimue’s crowning moment of awesome is the ultimate reason why I keep coming back to this one… despite how the afterthought of the episodes weakens the impact a fair bit.

#8: Bimbos In Time

Just in case the majority of mainstream comics highlighted start to kick start the hipster parts of the brain that make you want to check out more independent releases, here’s an especially strange movie adaptation comic to prove that the indie scene can be just as bad. Or, as is shown by the increasingly amateurish writing and artwork, even worse. Not only that, Linkara’s increased amount of references to other media (something that Linkara does a lot on this show) and his rationalization for such should ring true for anyone who has had brief thoughts of things they’d so much rather be doing with their time, like when watching a bad movie specifically.

#7: Silent Hill: Dying Inside #3-4

Even considering how nonsensical the plot progression would become later on in the overarching storyline with the Scott Ciencin Silent Hill comics, this still ranks up there with some of the more confounding panel-by-panel moments of the entire canon. As a result, Linkara’s bewilderment about people apparently being stuck inside a bowling ball and wanting the world to be run by evil clowns is palpable, and no, those statements make no more sense when you actually know the context in which they are mentioned.

#6: Holy Terror

I freely admit that, at least in terms of his work on series like Sin City, I still have a certain place in my heart for the works of former comic book titan Frank Miller. After this, a review that I actually read the comic book in preparation for, that place has noticeably shrunken down in response to the hideously sexist and racist views expressed within. Linkara’s speech about his own personal morality, how it was shaped and how much it abhors the content of the comic itself, might be one of his most defining moments as a critic.

#5: Uncanny X-Men #423

I’m pretty sure that this would rank up there among some of Linkara’s worst reviews for most people, considering his disregard for apparent fan favourite X-Men character Angelo, but the positives I find with this particular video are too great for something like that to detract from it. Along with featuring a quote that I love using whenever discussing religion (“Some of us believe in God…”), I can’t help but loudly cackle every time I hear his observations about Havoc’s appearance in response to a rather weird statement he makes to Nightcrawler.

#4: Future Shock #1

If I was to rank these reviews purely on how often I watch each individual video, this review would probably be at #1. From the weird scenes that don’t even work within the realms of dream logic, to the head-exploding bisexuality-detecting science lamp to the attempts at adapting a feature-length film into a 13 page comic book, this is easily some of the most confounding material that Linkara has reviewed yet and his reactions of utter confusion make perfect sense.

#3: Batman: Noel

You want a good dose of Christmas feels? Try this review that not only highlights a surprisingly solid Batman rendition of A Christmas Carol, but also twists that same story archetype in the narrative section by concluding the month’s look at the show character of Harvey Finevoice, a 30’s lounge singer who sports a Frank Sinatra accent and a Tommy gun. It genuinely can make you a little teary-eyed as you see Harvey complete his character arc concerning his connection with Linkara, not to mention when he finally reconnects with the kid at the very end.

#2: Spider-Man: Planet Of The Symbiotes/Pokémon: The Electric Tale Of Pikachu #1

I’m listing both parts of this particular storyline’s finale, that being A Piece Of The World Is Missing, because between the both of them, they represent the utter heights that this show can reach in terms of story. The build-up that always get recollected near the finale, the moments that seem more than obvious but only in retrospect, the character writing that makes for very compelling screen presences, not to mention the surprisingly clever climax; it’s all fantastic in my opinion. It also helps that this finale involves taking a rather innocuous part of many a person’s childhood and twisting it into this Eldritch abomination that, honestly, is more than a little creepy when it and Linkara finally face off here.

#1: Spider-Man: One More Day

While the last entry showcased Linkara at his narrative best, these videos are him at his critical best. A review that he had been teasing ever since the show first began, he more than makes up for the nearly four years’ worth of build-up as he breaks apart every single plot and character issue with this infamous four-parter, even taking time out to suggest perfectly logical improvements for the story that might have helped save the thing. Between his speeches about the nature of Spider-Man as a character, escapist fiction and how this storyline wound up affecting not only his enjoyment of the material but no doubt a lot of other people’s, I’d be hard-pressed to find another review of his that is this tightly-packed full of brilliant moments.

Next time, we’re stepping back into music reviewing as I take a look at an album published under a character name for a certain reviewer. And no, at least for this month, I’m not talking about the Harvey Finevoice Christmas album.

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