Hey gang, how are your shocks? Are they ready for the future? Because there's a future shock in your future, and believe you me it's shocking! Or will be shocking. Not now, but in the future.
No, it's not one of those Future Shocks dispensed by Tharg, the Rigellian editor of venerable UK comic 2000AD, which featured a series of short stories under this title. This here is a completely different, all-American set of Future Shocks, designed to hold up to the toughest future road conditions and deliver a comfortable ride through a future filled with lights we shouldn't stare into. And that's good advice, fool!
San Clemente! Former home of disgraced former President Nixon and current headquarters of the Hellfire Laboratories, which specializes in interviewing dopes, stacking silver balls on top of silver blobs, and insulting their dopey research subjects. Now put on that 45 of Dale Hawkins singing "Suzy-Q!"
We now learn that the silver ball is a lamp that projects images of sexy ladies and/or sexy men. Finally, science has discovered that men like to look at scantily-clad women! But hit the wrong switch and it's gay panic time.
Gym locker rooms across the nation are filled with exploded heads. Men simply cannot stand to see other men without shirts on, especially if they're buff! Now send that lamp to Dr. Langdon and let's get this future shock on the road.
Trying to control a woman who's paranoid about everything and does whatever her husband tells her to do? You need a Hellfire Mind Control Lamp for that? Maybe they're overthinking this whole mind control lamp thing.
Remember the one on the cover of this comic book? That lamp at least looked like it was a prop from a low-budget direct to video science-fiction movie... as it should. More on that later. Now, stare into the round thing on top of the rectangle.
Paranoid, repressed, and prone to exaggerate the monster wolf tendencies of neighborhood dogs, Jenny Porter definitely needs some care and attention! Oh well, see you later honey, I'm off to Miami. That cocaine isn't going to traffic itself!
Men. Married, unmarried, rapist, potential rapist, whatever - they're all diseased, that's all there is to it.
The thin barrier between good and evil is no match for the 12-gauge shotgun Mrs Porter was wishing for three pages back and apparently already has!
Surprise, it was all a dream. Now let's watch some TV and adjust the windows and follow the directions on the air hand dryer.
Well, it's... um... well, I don't know what that is in the second panel there. A bowling ball in a shag carpet? Cousin It's elderly relative? Whatever that thing is, you're probably better off without it.
I dunno about you, but MY deepest fear is turning in some finished artwork and forgetting there's some kind of a hair stuck to the paint on a character's face. That would be awful!
And in a ritualistic frenzy the fear-feeding hell-hounds switch gears to gnaw upon Jenny's actual flesh, as seen her by four easy to draw silhouettes. Look, we saw what happened when they tried to draw a cat, let's not push things.
So it's ten or eleven at night in Malibu, which means in Miami it's, what, two or three in the morning? But Jack is up, making those big business deals, calling his wife on the pay phone, getting a snack. Miami never sleeps! (it's because cocaine is a powerful stimulant)
These weren't hounds from hell, it was one hound from next door. Hey, I don't blame you, I'm hesitant to accept this reality too.
Okay, wait a minute, if that was all a dream, what about the dream she was having inside the dream? Is this lamp really just the spinning top from "Inception"? Or is this beginning to feel like one of those cheap anthology-story horror movies made up of unconnected stories all linked together with some sort of weak framing device? Because it really is, for some reason!
It's really looking like that lamp is creating nightmares based around the subjects' worst fears, which in the case of George here is having "Matrix"-era Keanu Reeves as a deadbeat roommate.
Yep, that tiny ponytail hairstyle for men is definitely in my top ten nightmares. Maybe I'M staring into the Future Shock Lamp.
We learn a lot of things in this sequence of panels; Vince has a huge forehead which attracts women in their underwear, and that George works in a morgue. Did the comic mention that before? Nope. Just drop it in there in a caption and hope the reader catches it. Do you lazy readers want this comic to do all the work?
Hey, Vince won first prize in a car decorating contest that pays off in giant sacks of cash! Honestly Vince is starting to grow on me. What's that? The forehead-digging chick visiting Vince was called "Satan's Slut" and is now a headless corpse in the morgue? Slow down, Future Shock!
If you aren't sure how to end your dramatic comic book story of a meek nebbish pushed over the edge, just draw the outline of some figures in the background hollering "freeze" and then throw in one of those panels that's just an explosion and sound effects.
I'm kind of on Team Vince here; he may be a mooching creep but at least he didn't try to shoot his way out of his problems. Sadly, Vince was merely a manifestation of George's deep-rooted sense of helplessness. Except... here we see Vince getting another roommate, so I guess he was real after all? I am not so much Future Shocked as I am Future Confused.
Well, let's move on to our next horrific story of ironic terror. Gee, I really think this sort of thing worked better when the Crypt Keeper or the Old Witch was introducing things.
Check out Steve here who asks "what if your chute doesn't open and you plunge thousands of miles to the hard earth" while Marshall is choking to death. How high does Steve think airplanes fly? Does Steve think people parachute from geostationary orbits?
Steve is obsessed with things that will kill him, while the rest of us are obsessed with how the lettering changed to this weird minimalist scribble.
Demonstrate proper earthquake preparedness by finding a reinforced shelter, stockpiling food and water, and keeping a light source handy. Then throw it all away to go running out in the street to get killed by a minivan. It's all part of Steve's Danger Dodger Salute: Aware, Alert, Killed By A Minivan.
These are three of Wally Wood's "Fifteen Panels That Beat Those Deadlines Fast." So there you have it! Three shocking tales of troubled minds forced to face their greatest nightmares, thanks to a poorly drawn lamp! Surely there are no more shocks awaiting us in the very near future? Surely?
WHAT it turns out Jenny Porter was running this Scary Lamp experiment all along and everything we just saw - er, read - was all Langdon's lamp-induced nightmare! What a twist ending, certainly worthy of a forgotten direct-to-video thriller, which this definitely was a comic book adaptation of!
Before (or maybe after, there's no date) it was a comic book, Future Shock was a 1994 film that kinda came and went without making an impact, in spite of what Cinefantastique and WYBZ Radio would have us believe. But let's look a little closer at some of the names involved. Bill "Titanic" Paxton? Brion "Blade Runner" James? And Vivian "Soultaker" Schilling, right there on the poster, making us think we're watching Mystery Science Theater 3000 experiment #1001? Unlike "Soultaker", Schilling only wrote a third of this movie, so it isn't quite the self-insert fan fiction it could have been. But who's that with a segment direction credit? Matt Reeves, the guy with a Batman movie coming out next year, that's who. I guess everybody's got to start somewhere.
but enough Future Shocks. Where can we find more Schilling shocks?
Just call this toll free number and get your very own copy of "Sacred Prey" which, sadly, is not about hell-hounds working themselves up into a ritualistic feeding frenzy. It comes with a complimentary videocassette of "Soultaker", though. Order now, they only have two or three thousand of those left!
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