As you will remember from our last episode, we were discussing the short career of "live-action anime girl" Apollo Smile who burst upon the nerd culture scene in the mid 1990s, did a voice for a video game, performed at several conventions, and then vanished along with the 20th century. As a pop culture phenom, naturally she had her own comic book, and when we left off, Apollo and the crew of her space ship were blasting through outer space, alternatively blasting and being blasted at. Let's watch!

It's laser-blasting pew pew pew excitement as the full potential of the comics arts waits feverishly to erupt in all its glory. Sorry, the "manga/comic" arts.

The quality inherent in Apollo Smile's publisher "Eagle Wing Press" is evident here, where they misspell their own name. Twice.

Now, if you suffered a traumatic brain injury or failure of the "back" button on your web browser and have no knowledge of what transpired earlier, helpfully the comic has provided a page detailing all the characters we met in issue #1.

It really seems like a lot is happening in the world of Apollo Smile, what with artificial sentient computers and evil jewel siblings and dedication concerts and all. Hopefully this issue will slow down a little and really let us savor the rich characterization and complex themes inherent in the narrative.

Or maybe we'll just get a lot of full-page spreads of zooming spaceships going "whoosh"

The bridge of the 'Starseeker' is equipped with the latest in high-tech carnival ride chairs for the ancillary crewmembers, and as the captain, Apollo Smile's head has been removed from her shoulders and placed in a rectangular box. For safety.

See, the manager is the comedy relief and gets to make crazy faces and over-react. We call this the "Reuben Kincaid" effect.

The bridge of the 'Starseeker' ALSO has the greatest, most awesome holographic "Asteroids" coin-op game in the galaxy. Who's got a quarter?

So when you're flying around in space and you spot some other spaceships you just make your arms a little longer than they typically would be and grab those spaceship handlebars and start barking orders out to your crew because they've got to stand by for tactical scan pulses and enable those swarmer launchers and initate evasive manuevers.

you need to remember to keep that first word of every dialogue balloon isolated on its own line, just as they did in the first issue. Because that isn't distracting or annoying in the slightest!

Hey, I hope you were ready for lots of spaceships zooming and PEW PEW PEWing and activating forward thrusters and reporting shield percentages and like that because by golly there's a lot of that going on here.

Remember we have not been told who these other space ships are or what they want or why they're trying to zap Apollo Smile. It's outer space, that's what spaceships do, they zap each other. That's what they're for.

Wait, there are more ships out there? Ships they can't just zap like the first ships? Looks like Apollo Smile's going to have to take that 1990s up a notch and get into "virtual reality"! All we're missing is some Zima and a truckload of free AOL discs and we'd be fully 1990s enabled.

Basically what this means is that Apollo Smile is now going to control the spaceship through dancing. Which is a tremendously silly SF concept that honestly is more interesting than the five or six pages of PEW PEW PEW and techno-babble we've had to endure. In fact, they could have just led with this from the get-go instead of wasting our time.

That's not to say they aren't going to waste our time with full-page spreads of Virtual Apollo controlling the space ship virtually through virtual dance. Because they are. It's at this point that the writer said "we have HOW MANY MORE PAGES TO FILL?" and just threw up his hands and started virtual dance spaceship controlling.

We're getting some bloo-bla energy readings in the zeta quadrant that are off the zoinko-blasty scale and will, uh, beta, delta, zero fifty Q-unit something something. This is why people hate science fiction, by the way, because so many times it's nothing but people staring into computer screens and hosing the audience with nonsense jargon. It really makes one long for the good old days of space monsters carrying off our women. At least that made sense.

I can't think of a better way to kill a few more pages than to waste one page with an angry monster head being shot out of a Klingon Bird Of Prey, and waste another page with Virtual Apollo Smile raising her hand to ask permission to leave the classroom. This is manga/comic storytelling at its finest.

Turns out in the amazing star-spanning high-tech world of the future, some genius invented guided missiles. What will they think of next?

The great part about space ships is that they travel at hundreds of thousands of miles an hour, minimum, and so everything is happening really quickly, I mean faster than human reaction time, really, and that means that when something bad happens, every member of the crew gets plenty of time to express their dissatisfaction in their own personal way.

But when imminent destruction threatens and things get not so groovy, Apollo Smile and her brave crew can initiate "Spartan Shield", which, if we're lucky, will result in this comic book being cancelled immediately.

Wasting a full two pages, the 'Spartan Shield' does indeed bring this saga to a close. There would be no more Apollo Smile comics. We are never told who the bad guys were or why they released that space monster on board that spaceship or who the evil jewel siblings are or how Apollo Smile became a space soldier dancer singer. This comic would much rather waste everybody's time on full page spreads of PEW PEW PEW and swimming holes and Virtual Apollos. As the year 2000 dawned, Apollo Smile herself would vanish into the wilds of Connecticut to abandon her "live-action anime girl" persona and return to normal regular Earth, where rumor has it she teaches dance. Actual dance, not any sort of virtual anything.

What's that, you don't believe us, that Apollo Smile was a real performer and everything? Well, here's her first CD, released in 1991 when she wasn't so much a "live-action anime girl" as she was what we called a "Madonna-wannabe".

Thanks again to Sean for locating these comics and to Goodwill for serving up that CD and for whatever bad publishing decisions led "Eagel Wing" to waste their money on this artifact of a time when all you needed to be a con guest was a jumpsuit, ponytails, and stone cold moves on the dance floor. So long, 1990s. Don't come back. We've changed the locks, and we have a restraining order.