Comics On The Can – Jurassic Strike Force 5

GameStop, Inc.

JSF5Jurassic Strike Force 5

Story – Joe Brusha
Writers – Joe Brusha, Neo Edmund
Art – Julian Aguilera, JL Giles-Rivera, Ryan Howe, Armando Rillo

Greetings ladies and gentlemen of the Whizzo Toy Company (a division of Mattel, which is a division of Petco Consolidated, which is a division of Time/Warner, which was recently acquired by Fox Productions, which is owned by Nefarious Star Chamber Holdings… an LLC). Ask yourself this question: What does everybody do multiple times a day?

Well… rolling naked in money and peach yogurt IS an answer, but not the one I’m looking for. How ‘bout pooping?

I’m proposing a line of toys based on the ‘Comics on the Can’ brand, a brand that demonstrates nothing but growth in the future simply because it can’t possibly get any lower. Here we see the main character, “Mike”, and his action plunger for when things get seriously out of hand. Mike is the leader of “Toilet Force Five”, a group of five cybernetically enhanced warriors that defend the jeweled throne from the evil forces of Count Stipation and his squad of evil henchmen, The Backsplash Gang.

Aside from Mike, there is Courtesy Flush, the comms guy/computer expert, Matchlight, the hotheaded fighter with some lessons to learn about friendship, Bounty, the wise old warrior, and Handle Jiggle, the spunky mechanic and token girl on the team (you can tell she’s a girl because she’s wearing pink). There is also an audience surrogate/wise-ass kid that winds up saving the team in the introductory adventure and becomes an unofficial member/future hostage or other plot device. I’m thinking of throwing in a cutesy talking animal as the kid’s pet.

The toy series will have the core characters, and there will be a few play sets also like the Bathroom Command Center and the Can Van vehicle. Each toy will come with a random comic that the kids can read while on the potty, just like Mike!

Of course these toys will have their own cartoon series to enhance the toy sales and other media presence, like a mobile phone app, a collection of pop songs “… Inspired by”, direct-to-video movies, and we just got the Benefiber people on board for a collection of limited edition “Mike and the Toilet Force Five” containers with seven different pictures across their entire line of fiber based products.

… Well, no, it’s the FIVE in the team, then the kid and maybe a pic of The Count or a group shot…

Ok, yes, technically there are six on the team if you count the kid but he’s not one of the originals…

Look, we do some sort of health angle, we can make PSA’s about good colon health or eating right. G.I. Joe did it all the time with not jumping over downed power lines and shit…

You’re walking away from a slam dunk here guys, just consider it…

Wait, what if we threw in some dinosaurs?

There are a lot of bad ideas out there and the people with the money and/or blind ambition to realize them. Some are just kinda clueless, like the trio of BLACK JACK COMICS I reviewed some time ago. At least those comics, as bad as they were, came from a place of honest enthusiasm/benign mediocrity.

Jurassic Strike Force 5 is in a whole different league; one of mercenary mediocrity. I mean, essentially, this book is a naked, pedestrian attempt at a pitch project for a toy line and all the pointless, cheap plastic made in China but now sub contracted to Korea thing-a-mabobs that come with it.

Shamelessly stealing the surface ideas from much better developed properties that include Star Wars, The Thing (sorta), Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, G.I. Joe, Transformers, and wait, lemme just pick some 80’s cartoon at random… Silverhawks? How bout Thundercats Sure… Thundercats; JSF5 only seems smart in knowing good properties to steal from.

The plot is basically lifted from any kid’s toy commercial… Er… Daily afternoon cartoon on your local FOX affiliate. One hundred and fifty million years ago, some cosmic bad guy, Lord Spiky Armor or some convoluted name with a lot of sharp consonants, I don’t remember his name and frankly it’s not worth reading again to find out so I’ll just call him Russell…Anyway, Russell, who’s character design comes from the question “What if Sauron and Shredder met on Grindr, and after a night of techno dancing at the local fetish club decided to collaborate on some mean looking armor?” discovers dinosaurs and figures he’s got himself bad-ass raw material to make a galaxy ruling army. An ok idea in itself, better comics have been made with weaker concepts (none really come to mind, though). But for some reason he only makes, like a dozen of them, and half of them decide the evil henchman life doesn’t score the chicks like they were told and they become good guys.

Then they all crash-land in our Antarctica and take an one hundred and fifty million year nap.

Skip ahead to modern-day and a pair of excavation sites in Antarctica that simultaneously uncover two spaceships; Alpha site figures that cutting their way into ancient alien technology that has been dormant for eons with little or no precautionary measures is a swell idea. Out pops Russell and five mutated Dino soldiers that have the subtle character design of gluing dinosaur heads to WWF action figures, and then equipping them with Masters of the Universe weapons. Russell is a proactive kinda guy, so he naturally asks where the ruling body of Earth is. The guy being questioned tells Russell “Washington D.C.”, which is a punk-ass move on generic scared guy’s part. He could’ve easily told him Detroit, or Saskatchewan, or The Marianas Trench and Russell would’ve been none the wiser. If Russell is gonna believe what he’s told without any research he, like the American people, could have most likely made a bad choice. By the way, thank you Generic Scared Guy… Right under the frickin bus! You know Russell is going to kill you in a showy example of how evil he is… That’s bad guy shit 101… The least you could have done is buy the human race some time.

Jerk.

It doesn’t come up in conversation, but somehow Russell knows that there is a submarine base nearby AND they have nuclear weapons. This must’ve happened in a deleted scene where Generic Scared Guy spilled his guts about that, our general fear of big spiders and his personal lactose intolerance. So rubbing his hands in glee and carrying on about ruling the Galaxy, Russell and his group of Dino stock characters head off to steal nukes.

Meanwhile the stock character of the spunky kid is hanging out with his dad at the other excavation site. This is puzzling because this kid is obviously school age, 12 or 13, just a little bit older than the prime demographic for the toy sales; what is he doing hanging around an alien spaceship dig at the bottom of the world? Granted that would make for a killer “What I did this summer” essay. Teachers dig that traveling shit and it’s better than the “Getting my first hand job behind the funnel cake shack at Six Flags” that Tommy Dulcemeyer wrote (he said it was “Some Canadian chick”… right). But let’s be honest; Antarctica isn’t the safest place to take your kid and letting him run into a potentially deadly ancient alien spaceship pretty much puts you straight out of the running for “Parent of the Year”. I know kids need some fresh air and exercise but how ‘bout tossing the ole pigskin around for crissakes!

Spunky kid stock character/audience surrogate almost immediately runs afoul of a frigging alien robot mosquito… Not making that up. The alien robot mosquito is gonna kill the kid, but the kid tells it he’s a friend. Somehow this makes sense to the 150 million year old alien robot mosquito just out of hibernation and they become besties.

Next time I’m facing down certain death by ANY alien robot thing, I’ll pull this move and hopefully get the same result… But I’m not ditching my Plan B.

The alien robot mosquito somehow knows that little Timmy that fell down the alien spaceship well here needs even more friends and takes the Jurassic Force 5 out of hibernation. I’m assuming that the Alien Robot Mosquito was going to throw a party or at least break out some 150 million guacamole and chips but the JF5 leader, A mutated T-Rex, because it would have to be the T-Rex, already knows Russell and his team of bad dinos are up to their usual shenanigans. They run off in their Jurassic Tank (da fuq?) to confront their enemy oblivious to having nil information, a consideration of weather conditions, or even anything resembling a plan. But they do take the kid because obviously he’s gonna be a help.

Now I can almost forgive the gaping plot hole of 150 million year old mutant dinosaurs speaking perfect English… almost. BUT what I can’t get around is that the JSF5 talk in a slang that resembles what a 37 year old marketing executive thinks tweens use. Who cares what the stock characters (and I’m being kind in calling them any form of characters whatsoever) say; it’s fucking Dinosaurs with rocket launchers for fuck sakes! My 10 year old nephew is gonna eat this shit up!

Basically Russell makes a new mutated Ultrasaurus, which carries the stolen nukes and plans on… I guess blowing up Washington DC (thanks again, Generic Scared Guy) and this, somehow will be this first stage of an intergalactic takeover. There must be a few steps Russell hasn’t thought through yet, but he charges forward with a blithe sense of entitlement and a loud sort of belligerence. If this book wasn’t a few years old, I’d be tempted to draw some sort of current political allegory. But there is no Clinton approximation and it’d be a stretch to parallel the alien robot mosquito thing with Bernie Sanders so I’ll just skip it.

Too soon.

Look, the plot is generic and full of more holes than five pounds of Swiss cheese. The characters (once again… being charitable here) are bare minimum stock that speak in platitudes, cliches and standard 80’s song lyrics. The art is serviceable, but the only way to distinguish between some of the dinos is a pallet swap and that was old in Mortal Kombat 2. The layout is dull, the characters and other designs are weak and unimaginative; for example the Strike Force Tank looks like a shoe box. You get to design a frigging TANK for mutated dinosaurs, and the best you come up with is a rectangle? Does Alibaba.com give discounts if the toy design is basic geometric shapes? Russell looks like he wandered in from some World of Warcraft fan art page. The dinos look like something Sid from Toy Story might’ve had lying around in his backyard, early experiments discarded because he got better in mashing up toys.

The whole thing plods along with the barest minimum needed to qualify as a product. Essentially, Jurassic Force 5 is the trade paperback equivalent of an Adam Sandler Working Vacation/Netflix movie and about the same level of enjoyment.

Extinction is the only reasonable option.

Bits tangentially related to the main body but I couldn’t fit in organically…

If any toy company wants in on Mike and The Toilet Force Five HMU!

TMNT was a one time thing; a case where the kiddie-fying didn’t blunt the inherent charm of the idea. Even Michael Bay’s best attempts to drain the life out of the property have (slightly) failed.

The original TMNT comics had a darker tone and wore their obvious love of kung-fu movies like a badge of honor. It was utterly unique for its time.

Some of the toy commercials via daily animated adventures from the 80’s included Transformers, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, M.A.S.K., ZOIDS, Go-Bots, Thundercats, Silverhawks, Captain Planet, I’m pretty sure there was a space cowboy one but I can’t remember the name, G.I. Joe, and the lesser known adult themed spin-off G. I. Joe Nights, Twin Dragons, The McNeil/Lehrer adventure hour, The Toxic Avenger and the Toxic Crusaders, Motley Crue Babies, Godzilla with Godzookie (still get angry about that one), The Love Boat in Space and Ted Danson Mysteries.

As dumb as He-Man is, it has a dopey charm to it which buys some good will.

Jurassic Force 5 is completely devoid of charm, dopey or otherwise.

If you dig that dopey charm of He-Man you should watch Son of Zorn, trust me, it’s made for us.

JSF5 was part of my final re-up from Comic Bento. It was the animal theme; other titles in that months box were:

Homecoming – Cut what I was saying about a blatant pitch for a toy commercial/cartoon series and replace with “CW TV show” add moderately better writing and art. Forget shortly after reading. Not quite sure about the “animal” connection theme wise. Sam and Fuzzy Solve Your Problems Vol:1 – Pretty silly web comic to print collection that at least had a distinct voice and some cute snappy dialogue.
XOC: Journey of a Great White – An interesting, well written but odd passion project that ends in a bummer and a sobering look at the future for sharks.

NEXT – That Black Panther book is still sitting there.

LATER – Maybe something new.

Anytime Costumes

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