Τετάρτη, 16 Μαΐου 2012

What I Think About Stuff-The Metabarons Retrospective, Part 4

Part 4-Aghora the Confusing

DISCLAIMER: Due to Aghora’s peculiar gender issues, this Metabaron will be referred to with the personal pronoun hse (he/she) and the possessive pronoun hir (his/her). If this confuses you, it’s because you only have one set of genitals.

With the Steel Head Party Platter finished, you lean back and take a sip of club soda, in a desperate attempt to quell the waves of self-pity rising up from your gut and washing over you.

Ah, product placement. Sweet, shameless, degrading product placement.

Just as you’re about to pay and leave the restaurant, all the while rubbing your belly and holding back some very audible burps, Jodorowsky leans over you and tells you that since you’re one of the select few to have braved the previous dish, you are to be treated their specialty dessert.

Nodding in agreement despite your stomach’s angry protestations, you stare in horror as you are presented with a gigantic bacon-vanilla shake, complete with a huge novelty straw.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you the Drink that Should not Be!

Holding back your tears, earnestly wishing not to hurt his feelings, you lean in and take a sip. It tastes exactly like all bad ideas should taste. Too salty and too sweet both at the same time, with just a hint of ‘what the fuck where they thinking’ gently tickling your frontal lobe as it cackles menacingly.

This, in a nutshell is what Aghora’s tale feels like. To be fair, presenting a character with a nature as strange as hirs, let alone using him as a protagonist for your narrative is way harder than it seems. After all, hse is a male brain trapped in a woman’s body, raised by a barely human parent into becoming the toughest, roughest, strongest and deadliest warrior rolled into one. Hse is also the last Metabaron, the product of a half-mad caste of killers richer than the Hindu Pantheon with way too much time in their hands.

This smug little shit right there, lying amid the spoils of a lifetime of hoarding is a goddamn amateur compared to the Castakas. 

Face it: when your dad’s a bitter killer robot in the grip of depression, you aren’t exactly gonna come out normal, sugar. Especially not when he pushes you to your very limits so you can impress your mom into admitting she was wrong in the first place.

I’ll only trap you into a perpetual state of dying until you admit you were wrong, okay?

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Before I continue shoveling creepy imagery into your poor exposed brains, some backstory:

With Gabriella dying from some combination of ‘unspecified disease’ and ‘bullshit complications’ (i.e. losing her will to live), Steel Head pleads with her to allow him to save her children. Gabriella informs him at the last minute that she willed her womb into producing twins, instead of a son (wombs being the understanding, logical organs that they are). She also forces Steel Head to promise her that she will raise the daughter, thus trying to put a stop to the Metabarons once and for all.

Steel Head of course disagrees, but as the children are delivered, Tonto makes a stunning medical diagnosis:

Original sound effect of Tonto tapping the girl’s skull so he could verify his findings were removed from the printed edition.

So yeah. Apparently Gabriella’s womb is capable of performing stunning feats of infant development, besides of course manipulating the development of a zygote. There’s also the matter of the ease with which she performed these feats. From the top of my head, the following questions arise 

a)Has she done this before? If so, with whom? 

b) Was she trained to do this or 

c) did she develop these abilities after exposure to cosmic rays? 

d) Is this some sort of super power? If it is a superpower, then can it be used to fight crime?

Answers: a) Not that we know of b) No c) NO d) Yes

With Gabriella’s life teetering on the edge, Steel Head performs a brain switch surgery, thus saving the girl in the hopes of saving his super-powered bitch of a wife, who dies anyway. Steel Head pulls a fast one however and suspends her in stasis (see above).

Lacking a mother to feed and nurse the child, steel head does the next best thing and captures a Tarantuwolf (part tarantula, part wolf, part acid trip), which he tames and trains into both breastfeeding the child and caring for it. Aghora, already fucked up beyond belief, just shrugs, and rides it around the metabunker so they can frolic in the vacuum of space.

Sure as hell beats shitting on hirs ass all day playing xbox.

But the time comes when daddy Steel Head calls the twisted little product of his loins and puts hir to the test to prove whether hse is worthy of the Castaka name. He does this in the most sensible, least serial killery, Yog-Sothothiest way possible.

By asking the kid to stick hirs hand inside a goddamn ham slicing machine.

I and your mummified mom talked about this and we decided that we should not impale you on a rusty pole before you turn 16.

Of course, hse pulls through like a boss, voluntarily slicing hirs own arm all the way up to the elbow, thus proving hirself a true Metabaron. After that, Steel Head pimps Aghora out, by decking hirs body with half a war fleet’s worth of guns, because they both watched every season of Pimp My Ride and decided that the East Coast guys had a great idea going on.

Yo dawg, we heard you like mass murder, so we put WMDs in your body so you can kill everybody while you’re killin everybody!

With hirs Dakka officially on, Aghora scours the galaxy slaying its most powerful villains in the service of the Emperoress. But all is not well back home. Because while Aghora is away, daddy Steel Head goes officially bonkers and decides that he’s had enough of this humanity bullshit. Replacing every living thing on his body with a polymer counterpart, he officially turns into a cold, unfeeling automaton.

“Also, can we do something about the downstairs equipment? Perhaps replace it with a minigun or something?”

Joking aside, this is a fitting scene and a logical progression to Steel Head’s tale. Having lived his whole life as a cyborg, briefly tasting the joys of human emotion then losing everything in a tragic turn of events, Steel Head finally decided he has had enough of this whole humanity bullshit.

Switching his body to that of a robotic facsimile and choosing to become a machine is, essentially, the end of Steel Head’s tale. After all, there is not one little bit of him left that can claim to be the Castaka warrior that he was born; there are just wires, processors and a shitload of guns fuelled by sheer hate, wrapped up in a polymer casing. 

Note my use of the words ESSENTIALLY and how NOT ONE TINY BIT OF HIM can claim to be a Castaka warrior. Let’s face facts, boys and girls. You can’t turn yourself into a gleisner robot and still have the audacity to claim you’re the same person. But, apparently Steel Head’s dickishness survived the transmogrification process unscathed and hung on so he could torment Aghora just a while longer. Inside his new body, he challenges Aghora to a battle to the death, according to Metabaronic tradition.
Which essentially means dooming his only offspring to certain death, since invincible deathbots tend to scoff at puny sword blows:

Aw, I'm sorry, is my indestructible polymer casing too much for your widdle sword?

Pinned against the wall, Aghora chooses to stab hirs undead mom and uses the advantage to trap Steel Head inside the stasis gel and then shoot him into the vacuum of space for good measure.
With Steel head out of the way, Aghora enjoys hirs wealth and waits in vain for the Imperial Court to summon hir to their aid. But no one comes. Aghora, having had enough of their shit, decides to present himself (and his badass surrogate mother-mount) to the Emperoress, so he can request an audience.

Those of you who have read the comic books are by now fully aware of the third recurring theme in the Metabarons saga, the periodic slaying of the current Imperial Court by the hand of the current Metabaron. This shit only happens because every thrity years or so, the people there apparently forget that everyone in the room was violently killed exactly thirty years ago, on the eve of a Metabaron’s visit. This mostly happens because they provoke him.

Guess what they do when Aghora shows up to present hirs case. Then try to guess what follows.

\ At this point, I was convinced that every nobleman in the Capital hired hobos specifically for the task of replacing him for exactly this scenario.

With Aghora having made hirs case, hse is immediately hired to face the first great threat to the cosmos. Quick question: remember how Steel Head fixed that hole in the space time continuum that allowed invincible space vampires to creep in, killing a million people?

Well, he didn’t. What actually happened was that he did so shitty a job at it, that it actually drew the attention of an entire UNIVERSE full of the things, which immediately rushed in to kill everybody and replace the current universe.

Murphy’s law of Cosmic Crisis Escalation: If something from a parallel universe broke once into your continuum, then another far worse thing from the same universe will follow.

Aghora of course fights the invading universe and kills it, making hir the Metabaron with the biggest kill count in the series, which raises a very important question: was this necessary?

I understand that Jodorowsky was aiming at creating a character that would be the exact opposite of Steel Head, something akin to Aghnar only bred for battle and far more ruthless and that he aimed to present a challenge befitting it, but this seems terribly inappropriate. We already know that the Metabarons are killers, so how is the slaughter of an entire universe worth of lives supposed to phase us? How does this exactly contribute to Aghora’s story.

It doesn’t. A lot of stuff that takes place in Aghora’s story don’t. They’re just used as segways, as short impressive stories that pave the way for the Nameless Metabaron (who was obviously the focus of the creative team’s project). All in all, Aghora’s tale is just a transition montage.

With the universe save, the Emperoress presents him with the Super-Awesome Medal of High-Fives

Like this, only with a tiny little laser show and more tits.

And then this happens:

                               Look who’s wishing they’d sent their spare hobos instead…WHO’S LAUGHING NOW?

Which proves that the horrible spider monstrocity has brain cancer and attacked everybody, so they have to put it down. Aghora, facing hir own mortality, decides it’s time he put that vagina of hir to the test and have himself a baby. But let’s face facts, nobody wants to do a dude in an ugly girl’s body.
So hse opts for the next best thing, borrowing some stem cells from bro. But bro’s gone bad. Which leaves only one option: IMPREGNATING HIRSELF WITH HIR OWN BRAIN CELLS.

Because apparently nobody was even willing to jerk off into a cup for hir sake…

After some medical-genetic bullshit hand waving, Aghora somehow impregnates hirself, achieving the ultimate form of masturbation. With future savior of the universe and product of unholy incestuous self-sex in the oven, Aghora’s life seems to be going swimmingly.

When suddenly, SPACE WITCHES!

BwooOOO-oooo-WEEOO-ooo jum-jujuju-jum

The last remaining Shabda-Oud, after their defeat at the hands of Aghnar, retreated to the fathest corners of the galaxy where they set their plan in motion. It’s one of those great, fool proof plans, which is based on two premises: a) Killing the current Metabaron (which seems to be ill-advised. After all, they failed killing the last one when they attacked him en masse and the only weapon he had was his beloved) b) Making everybody worship a two-headed monkey psychic on the premise of following some obscure prophecy (and a direct reference to the Incal).

Pictured: a really good idea, without any flaws whatsoever.

Two-headed monkey and its space witches decide to attack the Imperial space prison and free their secret weapon against Aghora, Zombra. Presenting her with her secret weapon, Zombra regains her multiplication power, hoping against hope that the numeric advantage she’ll have over Aghora will be more than enough.

Nothing sexual about this scene whatsoever.

To their credit, they do attack Aghora when hse is at hirs weakest (i.e. when she’s giving birth) on some remote planet. Zombra cuts it close, sending wave after wave of her clone-selves-duplicates, pushing the Metabaron against the wall. I have to admit that the scene is both perfectly paced and does indeed consist the awesomest one hermaphrodite vs a gazillion attackers scene I have so far seen in a comic book

All this scene is missing is some Italian power metal lyrics and a solo from the guitarist of Dragonforce while in the throes of a seizure.

But Aghora cannot deal with such a large force. Outnumbered, but not outgunned, hse decides to fall back in the most metal way possible:


Sword. Turning into a jetpack. Oh God, yes! Yes! Yes!

You know what? Even if you HATED Aghora’s tale, you’re gonna love its fight scenes. Sure the character suffers from a severe lack of character development and hardly qualifies as a viable Metabaron, but goddamn does hse put up a fight. 

Mr, Jodorowsky, I forgive you. Mr. Gimenez, you have my deepest sympathies and my undying adoration. A team of people that has the balls to both write and present a jetpack-sword has the kind of balls other comic book creative teams WISH they possessed.

Nerdgasm aside, Aghora orbit-bombs the planet full of Zombras, turning it into a cinder and then rushes to the Imperial Capital, where the Shabda-Oud’s two-headed monkey god has killed its royal guard and is threatening the Emperoress. Aghora rushes at the scene, newborn in tow and unleashes the DISCO.

I keep imagining the OST to these scenes as a series of cleverly disguised disco covers, remixed Immediate-Music style.

But the space monkey god proves to be too powerful even for the mighty Metabaron. Falling on hirs knees, Aghora is soon to be destroyed, when her child (like Oda to Aghnar) comes to hirs aid. With their mind power combined, they kill the monkey-god and order is restored.

Thus, Aghora’s tale comes to an end. Was it any good, you’ll ask? 

The answer’s HELL YEAH. It’s always HELL YEAH.

While it does lack character development and Aghora simply comes off as the transgender weirdo of the family, it contains a lot of excellently presented scenes of battle, stunning visuals and, most importantly, it moves fast but with a proper sense of pacing. Aghora’s tale, action-packed segway that it was, served as an excellent punchline to the Metabarons saga.

This is the end of this retrospective, since the series was cancelled by Marvel Comics after the ending of Aghora’s tale. The following issues that covered Nameless’ tale did circulate in Greece, but unfortunately I do not possess any of them and therefore, I am unable to go into detail about Nameless.

I will, however, present you the part of Nameless’ tale that I have read, as well as make a couple short references to two of the series’ unsung heroes, Tonto and Lothar.

This sumbitch might not get a special reference here, but he does end up saving the universe by the end of the Incal.

See you again next week, when we wrap up the Metabarons saga!

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