Wonder Woman: Radio Shack Shill

Bloggified by Jake on Monday, April 3, 2006

Holy crap! Another of these damn things? Based upon my thorough research, I've come to the conclusion there were eleven comics starring the TRS-80 Computer Whiz Kids, though they eventually become the Tandy Computer Whiz Kids and the DC heroes stop hanging out with them.

I have six of those issues sitting here on my desk and will eventually get to them all, despite the fact a majority of my regular readers have said, "Oh, I just don't have it in me to read another of those Radio Shack things..."

Superman and Wonder Woman and the TRS-80 Computer Whiz Kids in The Computer Masters of Metropolis is the last Radio Shack/DC crossover. Excuse me... sniff... this is like the last day of summer camp...

Obviously, Flash, Green Lantern and their ilk were intimidated to share page space with the dynamic "Smart" Alec, Shanna, and Supergirl's mistress, Ms. Wilson--who in this issue appears to have come to class directly from her dinner theatre portrayal of Laura Ingalls Wilder.How did an entire classroom of kids walk in, sit at their desks, and not notice the bank of sixteen new computers behind them? Also, speaking as someone who went to an American public school in 1981, what kind of budget does the Metropolis Unified School District have? I assumed "computers" were only in movies until I was in second grade, didn't actually see one until 1983, and, even then, that one was shared by all the first through sixth grade classes.

Maybe when Superman tunnelled into their classroom, he hit an oil gusher and now the school is super rich like that very special episode of "Saved By the Bell" where Becky the Duck died we all learned a lesson about environmentalism. Holy crap, Becky the Duck has her own Wikipedia entry. The internet is the greatest thing there ever has been or ever will be.

As you can see, Radio Shack's obligatory product-placement-that-has-nothing-to-do-with-the-story for this issue is the controller that networks a bank of computers together. This allows Ms. Wilson to neglect her teacherly duties and conduct class simply by pressing a button, giving her ample opportunity to kick back and fantasize about Supergirl. She promises the kids if they get their work done on time and don't ask questions about the the low buzzing noise coming from under her desk, they'll get a surprise.

A surprise? I wonder if it could be related to a superhero™ visiting and lecturing them about computers, giving Alec and Shanna a chance to hog the spotlight by showing off their ability to write BASIC programs or look stuff up on the "not yet the internet"? Only time will tell.

Sure enough, they finish on time, being "old pros with the TRS-80 Color Computers," and get their surprise.A stripper dressed like Wonder Woman! This is the best birthday party ev--what? Oh... she's the real Wonder Woman? I guess that's cool too.

Since apparently all the world's criminals are safely behind bars, no houses are on fire anywhere, all international strife has been quelled for the afternoon, and no one is going to bed hungry tonight, Wonder Woman announces she's going to spend the afternoon taking the kids on a field trip to the Metropolis World's Fair... where the kids just might meet someone both they and Wonder Woman know.

Someone influential from Metropolis who has been seen hanging out with both Wonder Woman and the TRS-80 Computer Whiz Kids... hmmm... can I get another clue? Edwin Meese?

Uh-oh, I spoke too soon about that "all criminals being behind bars" thing. Lex Luthor he's pissed at the Metropolis World's Fair. The theme for this year is "the advancements of science and technology in the 1980's," yet the fair rejected all of Lex's submissions for display because they didn't want to stroke his ego, despite admitting "he's the greatest scientific mind in the world."

Frankly, I'm on Luthor's side. I'd be pissed too. I mean Linus Pauling once stabbed a man in the face with a broken beer bottle, but you don't see people rejecting the principle of molecular biology. Who are the organizers of a glorified county fair to judge his contributions to the world of science?Okay, hang on, "greatest scientific mind in the world." I need to get off track here for a second and tell you a little bit about me. Those of you who don't care can skip ahead to the bolded part four paragraphs down.

As I've mentioned here before, I graduated with my Masters in Business Administration last December. I also teach prepratory classes for potential MBA students and conduct "how to get into business school" seminars at Arizona State University.

As part of the class, we cover the topic of argument analysis--which isn't important, but is the source of the following example. One of our discussions in class covers an argument someone made that all commercial airliners should have transponders on them to broadcast their position to other planes, reducing the odds of midair collisions. Since neither a budget estimate nor the present ratio of midair collisions per flight are presented, those becom a focus of the analysis.

For example, let's say there is one midair collision every five years and the cost of a midair collision in terms of property and life is $20 million dollars. Developing, installing, and maintaining the transponder system will cost approximately $4 million dollars a year and reduce the odds of a midair collision by 90%.

That means it will cost you $44 million dollars per decade to install the system or $40 million to do nothing and let two midair collisions occur every ten years. Therefore, the correct decision, given this information, is to let them crash.

With that said (this is the part to start reading again):

A billion dollars? You want a billion dollars or you'll shut down the fair that's probably worth, at most, $100 million? In the most optimistic projections, this fair is going to generate $5 million in revenue. Screw it, Luthor, destroy the damn thing and see where it gets you.

A billion dollars. You might as well threaten to eat the 3 Musketeers bar in my desk drawer unless I deposit eighteen dollars in your Swiss bank account.

In the classroom, Wonder Woman's still not done talking about computers and Alec isn't done reminding us that he's an obnoxious little shit.Sadly, the warrior princess doesn't punch her fist through Alec's skull nor threaten his family if he opens his mouth again. She doesn't even tie him up with her lasso and make him confess that he wets the bed or that he takes a little more time than necessary while folding his mother's panties on laundry day.

Instead, Wonder Woman politely explains that revealing her computer use doesn't threaten her secret identity as millions of people "come into contact with computers on a daily basis." Then it's time to get on the bus for the science fair.What a little kiss ass. Then again, if you were in a class where Alec and Shanna were the only two kids who ever got to say anything of substance, you'd probably be starved for attention too.

Alright, I'm going to skip the next ten pages. Sufficed to say, they go to the science fair and walk through a exhibition that is almost exactly the same as the one Supergirl missed at the science museum. So, computers used to be really big, now they are small because three American scientists invented the transistor and were jointly awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics, which led to the invention of integrated circuits and the silicon chip. Keyboards are input devices; monitors are output devices. Blah blah blah.

Meanwhile, Superman is flying around the fair in circles looking for Lex Luthor, but coming up empty because Luthor is in a secret hideout beneath the fair--one with lead-lined walls. Personally, if I were Superman, I think a huge vault I couldn't see into, curiously built directly beneath the place Lex Luthor had promised to strike, would catch my attention. It's not like lead-lined walls make the hideout inivisible. If anything, it would make it more noticeable.

Think about it. Superman can see through anything, the way we can see through clear water. Assume I told you I'd hidden a dollar in my pool. You look in the pool but don't see the dollar. All you see is a metal box resting on the bottom of the pool. Would you assume the dollar is too well hidden or would you fish out the box and crack it open? A lead-lined cave would look to Superman the way a metal box at the bottom of the pool would look to you.

After the fair visit, Wonder Woman and the class return to the school to talk more about computers right up until the final bell.Ooo, Supergirl's going to be jealous. Some people like hero sandwiches, but Ms. Wilson is thinking about a superhero™ sandwich.

I'm going to have to Photoshop a Supergirl, Ms. Wilson, Wonder Woman menage a trois one of these days. I'll include captions of the kids saying "Oh, wow! Far out! Super!"

Sexualization of Radio Shack promotional materials aimed at children aside, the fair rejects Luthor's demands because they have the one man smarter than him: Superman. So Luthor comes out of hiding and flies past Supes, baiting the Man of Steel into chasing him.Okay, according to the yahoo running the fair, these two are the smartest men in the world. Superman is the only person on Earth capable of locking wits with Lex Luthor, yet is there anyone other than Superman who who doesn't recognize this as a trap?

Luthor lures Superman into the planetarium with the temptation of the quick and easy nab, but flips on his red solar power generators which he's moved from the casino in the last issue to here. Powerless, Superman dies when Lex puts a gun to the hero's temple and blows his brains all over the floor, leaving Luthor free to conquer the world.

Or maybe he just rigs the door with explosives and locks Superman inside... with a phone.Superman knows Luthor will strike at the building where he wanted his creations displayed, but can't remember where that is with his red solar-faded memory. When he can't get through to the Daily Planet, where does he turn? Batman? The police? Green Lantern? The Justice League switchboard?Good Christ...

You're telling me Superman couldn't remember that Luthor wanted the computer and electronics exhibit named the Lex Luthor Pavilion, but he could remember Alec's home phone number?

Alec calls Shanna, who calls the fairgrounds to have Wonder Woman paged over the PA. Wonder Woman, who was there in her civilian identity, hurries to the planetarium, but can't open the door without setting off the bomb and killing the non-invulnerable Superman inside. Instead, she lassos the building, rips it off its foundation, and hurls it into the sky.That'll teach Luthor! He'd threatened to tear this place to the ground one building at a time, but Wonder Woman and Superman sure showed him by... um... destroying one of the buildings.

Damn, that Luthor is good.

Armed with the important information Shanna provided by looking up a Daily Planet article about Luthor and the fair online, they quickly find Luthor. Of course, even without the information from Shanna, how long could it possibly have taken for Superman and Wonder Woman to spot a bald man in a purple and green outfit flying around the rooftops of the various World's Fair buildings?You know what, "greatest scientific mind in the world?" Maybe you should use the goddamn things instead of just pointing them out. Did you expect Superman to say, "What? Power gauntlets? Wonder Woman, untie him!"

I fully believe Lex wanted to get caught. Maybe it's pizza night at the county lockup.Alec makes a good point. For that matter they didn't do anything anybody couldn't do without a TRS-80 Color Computer. They made two phone calls and used the computer to look up a single piece of information that ultimately proved superfluous. Superman could have dialed seven digits at random and the results would likely have been the same.

0 sarcastic replies:

Subscribe to: Post Comments (Atom)