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"Who Wants To Be a Superhero: Feedback"

by: Protoclown

Last summer, the Sci-Fi channel aired a hilarious "reality" show called Who Wants To Be a Superhero?, which featured eleven contestants competing for the right to have Stan Lee write a comic book about their character, and also they were to appear in an original Sci-Fi channel movie. I haven't seen or heard anything about the movie yet, but the comic book featuring last year's winner, Feedback, just came out a couple weeks ago, and it's ridiculous enough that I decided to feature it in a Longbox column.

Quickly! Better get to your local comic shop before this sells out!
Er, on second thought... take your time.

While Major Victory was definitely my favorite contestant on the show, Matthew Atherton's Feedback was certainly entertaining as well, for his extreme intensity if nothing else.

Whether he's fighting supervillains or simply heading down to the local grocery
store to buy some grapes, Feedback does everything with serious intensity.

The guy just made some of the best facial expressions I've ever seen; he was clearly foked on the task of being a superhero. It was obvious from the beginning that he wanted it more than anyone else.

Okay, not exactly at his most fearsome here, but I think
I'd still run the other way if I saw this guy coming.

Given that the comic book was written by Stan Lee, you'd be right to expect plenty of hilariously cheesy moments throughout the book, but before I get into that, we'd better go over Feedback's powers:

Imagine how much his video game powers would suck if he was running around in the "Pong" era.

Yes, that's right; he absorbs powers and abilities from video games. Given the wide range of video games on the market these days, you'd think this would make him pretty much unstoppable. Unfortunately, in this comic you will not see him use any video game powers, instead resorting to his simple lightning blasts. This is probably because it's very unlikely that Stan Lee knows anything about video games.

Our story just dives right into the middle of the plot with three mysterious figures standing over the broken form of our hero, who is doubled over in pain with lightning and electricity crackling all over his body.

Three massage parlor employees decide to give their customer a "happy ending" after all.

Naturally, as is required by the Villain's Code of Ethics and Conduct, they simply assume this potentially life-threatening situation will finish him off, and head for parts unknown so that he has plenty of time to escape this danger unobserved.

The Villain Code has been the bane of comic book and James Bond villains since time eternal.

As our hero Matthew is lying there supposedly dying, his mind goes back to his childhood, where after his father's death, he took refuge in comic books and video games.

Clearly he played video games a bit differently from how I do.

His memory then shifts to replaying the events that led him to be dying in the middle of a field. Matthew went into business repairing broken arcade machines, and earlier that night he got a call from a nearby arcade to fix a broken game. While he's working on the broken machine, a couple of thugs celebrate their video game victory across the aisle.

Just like in Hollywood movies, real life arcades are a favorite place for
the most vicious of cutthroat punks and murderous thugs to hang out.

Unfortunately for Matthew, these punks are so insecure that they walk across the arcade, demanding to know why he's minding his own business instead of joining them in their revelry. And regrettably, Matthew's big mouth gets him into trouble when he scoffs at their meager accomplishments.

Matthew cannot help but scoff at others when they suck, but deep inside he
yearns to tell them his greatest secret: that he is The Last Starfighter.

As can only happen in a 1980s teen comedy or a Stan Lee comic book, the thugs tell Matthew he'd better play the game as good as they just did... or else. Truly, this is a delicate tightrope that Matthew walks. If he doesn't do as well as they did, they'll kick his ass for making light of their achievement. If he does better and shows them up, they'll lose face and also be forced to kick their ass. It's truly a no-win tricky political situation he's found himself in here.

If only this comic could have featured a training montage set to some cheesy 80s song.

Matthew handily defeats the thug's high score, causing them to accuse him of cheating by rigging the game. A four-against-one brawl quickly ensues in the arcade, while a mysterious figure watches from the shadows. Turns out he was watching the whole video game competition as well, with great interest...

"Try to repair video games at our arcade, will ya!?"

Eventually, they crash through the window and the fight ends up in the street, where some cops just happen to be standing by. They even make a joke about coffee and donuts! Oh, Stan! You rascal, you!

Why is it that all brawls must inevitably end this way?

The thugs get hauled away by the cops while the arcade owner tells them that Matthew isn't guilty of starting anything. An ambulance arrives to take Matthew to the hospital while the same mysterious figure watches as they drive off into the distance.

In the hospital, Matt meets an attractive young nurse who finds out that he repairs electronics and computers, and uses that as a pretense to give him her phone number. Just in case you needed to be reminded that this is an unrealistic comic bookóbecause that shit never happens in real life. In reality, he would have had to ask for her number. That's just how the world works.

Sorry Feedback, but you can't possibly top the heroic
feat of getting this girl's number without even asking for it.

As he walks out of the hospital, the mysterious figure who'd been watching approaches him with a proposal. He says he works for the Pentagon and has developed a new military vehicle that he wants to hire Matthew to have a look at and test the electronics of.

Every time this happens to me, it turns out the guy's not wearing any pants.

Matthew agrees and rides along with him to where the vehicle is being warehoused. When they arrive at their destination, the mystery man takes off his hat and coat for a shocking reveal!

"I need yuah clothes, yuah boots, and yuah motohcycle."

Despite standing directly across from him while talking to him, and then riding in a car with him, Matthew has yet to notice that half of his body is made of metal. He tells Matt that he's horribly disfigured from his time in the marines, but that they managed to fix him up with prosthetics. Yes, apparently they replaced half of his brain with prosthetics too from the look of things. Also, his name is Ironside.

Ironside shows him the vehicle, which turns out to be a supercar kind of like the Batmobile. He also informs Matthew that the military is planning to use this vehicle against the Eliminator, a dangerous terrorist the government has just learned the location of.

Ironside shows off the new remote controlled car he totally got for Christmas.

Ironside takes Matthew to a "lonely area outside the city" where they can test out the car and show off what it can do. Matthew takes a look at the car and makes a few tweaks to it using electronics from his video game controller before Ironside makes a shocking reveal! Matthew asks him just who the Eliminator is, anyway, causing Ironside to call him a fool for not figuring out that it was in fact he who was the Eliminator the whole time, and then he punches Matt in the face. My god! Did you even see that twist coming from miles away!?

Never trust a man who looks like a killer cyborg from the future.

This is where we jump back that scene from the beginning of the issue. Immediately after punching Matthew, the Eliminator and two of his thugs are standing over him, ready to completely finish him off. At this point however, a bolt of lightning comes down from the heavens and zaps the shit out of Matthew, which of course causes the bad guys to leave him for dead and wander off.

While Matthew is recovering from his close encounter with lightning, the Eliminator embarks on a serious crime spree, using the vehicle to crash into bank after bank, until he's accumulated "enough money to carry out any plan". Apparently Matthew is lying there in that field recovering for a long damn time.

At long last, Eliminator finally gets that pearl necklace he's always wanted.

Eventually Matthew recovers and realizes that the lightning did not in fact kill him, much to his surprise. Realizing that his body is now coursing with electricity, he immediately surmises that it must be because he was holding onto his video game controller at the time. This has given him superpowers, and with this realization he finally achieves his childhood dream of becoming a superhero. Because of the nature of his power, he decides on the superhero name of Feedback and goes rushing off to stop the Eliminator!

You ever notice that these kinds of scenes always seem to happen in the rain?

On his way to find the Eliminator, Feedback finds a lost little girl in the middle of the street, and makes a point to take the time away from his mission to "do the right thing" and help this girl find her mother (just like in the "reality" show!). He takes her to a nearby police station and finds her mother waiting there, delighted to have her daughter returned to her.

"Is this the black market? I'm looking to sell this girl for twenty gees."

And now, back to the mission! But not before he gets himself a superhero costume! Unable to sew a stitch himself, he calls up the nurse who gave him her number earlier and makes a deal with her: he'll fix her computer if she'll sew him a costume...for a masquerade party he's going to, yeah, that's it! A short while later, his costume is ready and he's prepared to go out there and face the Eliminator (but not before kissing nurse Sarah on the cheek)!

"Sweet! I'm sure to get loads of candy this Halloween!"

In short order he tracks down the Eliminator's lair and peeks in from an open skylight on the roof, only to overhear the Eliminator planning his final assault with the supercar on a nuclear facility! But as he's eavesdropping on his foes, a couple of his thugs approach him up on the rooftop and a fight ensues!

You say "game on" and then you knock the guy out. That's more like "game over".
You need to whip out the "game on" at the beginning of the fight.

Feedback quickly finishes off the thugs and makes his way down into the Eliminator's lair, where... another fight ensues! A bunch of henchmen are pummeling the hell out of our hero and things look pretty grim, until he uses his feedback powers that he was saving for just the right moment to take them all down in one fell swoop! But during the fight, Eliminator has already sent out the supercar filled with explosives! It's too late!

You know he was waiting the whole issue to drop that line.

At this point it's just Feedback and the Eliminator left, and Feedback lures Eliminator under a giant hanging magnet (the same one the supercar was hanging from when he first saw it) while Eliminator is making some standard villainous threats. He turns on the magnet, and Eliminator is defeated with ease!

A robot man... defeated by magnets! Inconceivable!

Then Feedback heroically uses the remote control to direct the explosive-laden supercar back to Eliminator's lair. He hightails it out of there before the car returns and explodes, potentially killing everyone inside! Feedback even thinks to himself that they're probably dead, but he's not going to lose any sleep over them considering they were going to blow up a power plant. This is quite a far cry from the Stan Lee heroes of the 1960s!

"See ya! Have fun exploding into little chunks while I heroically get the fuck out of here!"

Our final scene shows Matthew and Sarah together after the battle. Sarah asks how Matt's masquerade party went, and he tells her it was a blast *wink to the audience*. They make small talk and flirt for a few moments before moving in for a kiss at the very end.

Ooh, do you suppose they will feel electricity when they kiss?

What gets me about this is that she's thinking to herself "imagine if he learns I don't own a computer!" but the assumption I made was that Matthew was fixing her computer while he was waiting around in her house all that time while she was making his costume. So apparently he was either a) hanging around her house and doing nothing for however long it took her to make that costume, or b) he thought he fixed what was her computer, but was actually not. Perhaps she craftily mocked up a cardboard box or toaster oven to look like a computer? Since this is almost certainly the only Feedback comic we'll ever see, we'll probably never know.

And thus ends the magnificent adventure! For those of you who missed the original Who Wants To Be a Superhero? series, Sci-Fi begins airing the second season on July 26th. If it's even half as hilariously cheesy as the first season was, I highly recommend watching it, as I found it to be extremely entertaining. The first season is also out on DVD, which I plan on getting and doing a feature on eventually, so stay tuned for that. Excelsior!

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Found any weird, bizarre, stupid or funny comics that
should appear in a future "Tales From the Longbox" column?

Email Protoclown and let him know!



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