"U.S. 1, Part Two"
Ten-four, good buddies! In our last pulse-pounding edition of Tales From the Longbox, I gave you a rockin', rollickin' tour through the senses-shattering first six issues of US-1, a comic series that is truly akin to the timeless work of William Shakespeare. If you haven't read part one, go check it out now to get yourself up to speed. In the meantime, the rest of us will continue down the open highway.
After defeating Midnight, U.S. stuffed her, mounted her (wink, wink) and turned her into a hood ornament.
Our seventh issue opens with U.S. and Wide Load returning to the Short Stop, but it also introduces a bizarre new narrative device that was never used before or since: the truck itself narrates the story to us, sharing its thoughts and feelings on all the action so far. Yes, trucks have thoughts and feelings too.
Picking up prostitutes on the open road is slim pickins--you take what you can get.
Wide Load is of course still mesmerized by Midnight's whip, so she seems a little out of it on the trip back, but U.S. doesn't really take much notice, taking her word for it when she explains that she's simply tired. When U.S. and Wide Load get back, they are greeted by all of their friends, and "Jobber" (cuz he hands out jobs) Carosella, who hired them to take the shipment to Peaceful Vista. He hands U.S. a big fat wad of cash along with a nice bonus for a job well done.
Some of these characters had their faces obscured during the drug deal scene to protect their identities.
U.S. immediately hands the cash over to Poppa Wheelie and Wide Load so they can make their payments on the Short Stop lease. Just as they're commenting on how it's a good thing that U.S. got Wide Load out of town for a while until all the drama with Phil LeGreed blew over, who should show up at that exact moment but... PHIL LEGREED!! Escorted by police, he storms up to Wide Load and demands that "the female" (what is he, an alien?) apologize for hitting him before. On top of that he insults her, causing all the Short Stop regulars to get ready for her to dish out a severe ass beating.
Wide Load can't bring herself to get mad just now--all she can think about is douuuuuughnuuuuuuuts.
But she's still under the mesmerizing spell of the hypno-whip, so she responds in a rather docile manner and apologizes to him, much to everyone's surprise!
Phil LeGreed can't help but notice her beauty up this close--the way her chins just roll so delicately one right into another.
Satisfied, LeGreed leaves, but not before threatening to foreclose on the truck stop the very next time they miss a payment. We then cut to the US-1 sitting outside of the Short Stop at night, thinking to itself and reflecting somewhat sadly on the fact that it can't join in the humans' fun and camaraderie. Just then a fight breaks out inside the restaurant and the big rig decides maybe it ain't so bad being a truck after all. Poppa Wheelie and Retread run outside to avoid the brawl, but they bump into that naughty minx Midnight and quickly find themselves under her control.
If you catch a couple of fish like this you throw them right the fuck back, am I right ladies???
She commands them to go inside and retrieve Wide Load, and for the three of them to then bring U.S. outside to her. They have no choice but to follow her orders, so they drag U.S. outside and away from the fight, much to his confusion. When he discovers Midnight outside waiting for him, he tries to attack her but his friends restrain him.
"Man, I never knew you guys were all so kinky! You should've told me this years ago!"
She explains that since he managed to resist her whip before, she has taken control of his friends, knowing that he will not struggle strongly enough to hurt them. U.S. thanks his lucky stars that she didn't use the whip on him this time, since she didn't know about his little gum wrapper trick that saved him from her control the previous time. She decides that she's going to try controlling him with the whip again, but not before softening him up with some physical blows to make him less likely to withstand the mental control. And all the while his friends are forced to hold him down--oh, the humanity!
And thus, U.S. has felt the "stroke" of Midnight (and Retread).
US-1 witnesses this whole event taking place but is powerless to do anything to stop it. It yearns to help out, and becomes very excited when it sees U.S. pulling out his special remote control silver dollar.
"How much'll that be for the whipping, then?"
Unfortunately, just as he pulls it out of his pocket, Midnight whips his hand and he drops the silver dollar to the ground!
"Don't worry, U.S.! The coin wasn't magical at all! The magic was inside you the whole time!"
And yet, much to everyone's surprise, US-1 leaps to life and starts attacking Midnight all on its own! U.S. isn't even touching the coin to control it! How can this be?
Though she has hypnotized many trucks in her day, Midnight finds this particular opponent's resistance to be most formidable indeed.
US-1 employs lots of its gimmicks to stop Midnight from getting away, but she's so good that she manages to always stay one step ahead of the truck.
"I'll just ramp to safety off these word balloons!"
She starts driving off into the distance, but the joke is on her when US-1 launches its missiles, which appear to blow her up, but they only find her wrecked bike with no body when they go check the site where she fell. After US-1 breaks his friends free of the hypno-whip's (which she has dropped and left behind) control, they all ponder briefly on how and why the truck was able to act of its own accord, but they quickly seem to forget about this.
Meanwhile, the US-1 is thinking to itself how upset it is that somebody tapped into its systems and forced it to reveal all of its information about U.S., which I would think would contain nothing more useful than how often he stops for gas, how frequently he farts on the road, and whether or not he sings along to the radio, but apparently the truck's computer--let me say that again, the truck's computer--contains incriminatingly useful information.
If you look very closely, you can see the truck's tears. Can you see the tears?
We then cut to the Highwayman, viewing the truck on a monitor, cackling madly about how he can truly destroy U.S. Archer once and for all now that he knows what makes a man and his truck work so well together.
U.S. looks like he's up in the corner saying something like "Howdy pardner! This comic is full of LADIES, so pop on in for a spell!"
Issue 8 provides us with a tantalizing teaser on the cover--could this finally be the book that solves the age old mystery of Midnight? Could it really be feisty Taryn O'Connell? Or perhaps the sugar sweet Mary McGrill (named thus because she was destined to work in a grill)? Or could it be Retread, the man who makes U.S.'s heart beat faster than any other? Fortunately for you, good reader, I have taken it upon myself to crack the cover and find out.
Our story opens with Poppa Wheelie and Retread running for their lives from US-1, with U.S. himself clearly behind the wheel! Oh no! Has our hero gone mad? Is he under the control of Midnight?
You ever notice how whenever two people are being chased by a vehicle they keep running in a straight line and they don't split up?
Take heart, gentle reader, for U.S. has not turned into some dastardly ne'er-do-well after all! No, he is merely testing out some of the new gadgets and systems, and apparently he requires live guinea pigs with the real potential for spilled blood in order to be satisfied. He deliberately skids out of control in the truck and would have killed his friends if not for the special grappling hook which he latched onto a nearby tree.
Like a dog gone mad, US-1's pursuit stops when it reaches the end of its leash.
After a hard afternoon's work of almost killing and/or being killed, the gang retreats back into the Short Stop to grab a cup of Mary McGrill's famous coffee and discuss the Midnight situation, recapping how she managed to get away just in case someone's mom wouldn't drive them to the drug store and they missed the previous issue. Right as they're discussing this, who should walk in with suspicious timing but Taryn O'Connell herself, complete with mysterious wounds!
The editors decided that Taryn needed to be more "white trash", and so...
Trying to start a scene, she doesn't even explain how she got all banged up and just walks right up and plants a big ol' kiss right on U.S.'s lips! This causes Mary McGrill to storm out of the room in a huff, and U.S. then sits with Wide Load for a spell and tells her that he doesn't understand girls.
BEHOLD the classic look of sheer terror U.S. sports when touched by a girl!
Just as Taryn is planting another kiss on U.S., Mary comes back into the room holding Midnight's costume, pointing at Taryn and saying she found it in the back of her rig!
Mary vowed to return the favor of having her Halloween costume spoiled by Taryn all those years ago, and she has done it. In spades.
Taryn denies that she's ever seen the costume, but the Short Stop gang doesn't look so convinced... but just then we cut over to the realty offices of Clutch, Grab, and LeGreed (seriously), where Phil LeGreed and two of his associates are discussing an evil plan to buy up the Short Stop land and sell it to a condominium builder to make money! The fiends!
"Yes, Christmas will be canceled for all of the Short Stop crew this year! Muhahahah!"
After this pointless interlude, we cut back to the Short Stop, where the gang is pressing Taryn pretty hard to come clean about being Midnight. Taryn freaks out and looks for the closest weapon, spotting the hypno-whip (natch) resting on a nearby chair.
"Yes! I can finally put those lion-taming lessons to practical use!"
She escapes the Short Stop restaurant by crashing through a window, with U.S. and his entourage in hot pursuit. Fortunately for her, a biker (of course) happens to be pulling into the rest stop, so she uses the whip to yank him off the bike.
The young men of the village are all aware that when Taryn wants to mate with you, you will know. You will know.
Using the writer's poor understanding of physics, Taryn hops onto the bike (which has stayed perfectly upright due to its momentum and swerves around people in the way) and manages to hightail it out of there, leaving U.S. and the gang in the lurch!
She rides a motorcycle the same way Ewoks rider speeder bikes.
U.S. stands there lamenting the fact that his truck is so far away, because he'll never have time to go back to the truck and catch up to her, when suddenly, as if by command, US-1 turns on by itself and rolls forward! U.S. immediately pieces together the fact that Midnight's hypno-whip hitting his silver dollar control coin somehow caused a direct mental link between him and the truck. And you can take that shit to the science fair.
"It's all so clear now! Everything's explained in the little boxes above my head!"
We then cut to the Highwayman, who is somehow viewing this whole scene on his monitors, with the video cameras that he apparently has mounted everywhere, as he cackles to himself that just as he suspected, U.S. has a mental link with his truck now, and boy howdy their final confrontation is looming on the horizon in which he will destroy U.S. Archer once and for all!
When he's not busy trying to kill U.S. Archer, the Highwayman likes to kick back and relax by watching his favorite show, "Renegade".
U.S. hops into his truck as it rolls right past him and manages to slow down Taryn with his gadgets, finally stopping her with a well-placed oil slick.
THERE'S STILL MORE MADNESS TO SEE!
CLICK HERE TO CONTINUE TO
PAGE TWO OF U.S. 1!
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