As an educational tool comic books are second only to television in their ability to transmit important information quickly and clearly. Well, maybe movies might be better. Powerpoint slides and interactive computer programs are pretty effective, too. And what about old-fashioned lectures? Those seemed to get the job done.

ALL RIGHT. As an educational tool comic books are THIRD OR FOURTH behind TV, movies, PowerPoint presentations, and maybe Talking View-Masters. That's not the point. THE POINT IS that you can use comics to educate about important social issues and health challenges facing America's youth. Okay?

These dangers include smoking, being caught smoking, and killer robots lurking behind unsuspecting children. THE INSIDERS was not, as I first assumed, a John Birch Society pamphlet warning us of the conspiracy behind the Communist drive to conquer America, but an educational comic series published by "Syndistar Comics", the only comic book publishing company to also be a giant outer space battle station that was programmed to destroy spaceships while intoning "I HUNGER."

So! Let's meet the Insiders!

The best part about these little character introductions is how we're given a quick look into everybody's personality flaws. Late, stubborn, too trusting, programmed to kill all humans. Everybody's got problems!

The origin of our mechanical friend Alpha? A bolt of lightning struck their computer and suddenly there he was. Funny, when that happened to us, all we got was a dead computer.

How can you have jobs? You're 11!! Do child labor laws mean nothing to "The Insiders?"

Just look at this computer work station, filled with toys, littered with comics and posters and model kits hanging from strings. It's shocking how well this comic has been able to duplicate the exact conditions present in the homes of most of our readers.

Tired of comics full of cute, child-like children? THE INSIDERS has you covered! All THEIR children are portrayed as androgynous 21-year olds.

Skateboarding while wearing approved protective gear, Sammy (he's always late!) is just late enough to spy suspicious activity behind the library. Sometimes being late pays off! That's the message I'm getting here.

What's this? Unruly tweens sneaking into the storage room of the library to enjoy illicit cigarettes? I am shocked. Has this town no barns or sheds? No abandoned factories or junked streetcars or drainage culverts?

THIS IS GONNA BE GREAT AND NO ONE WILL EVER FIND OUT!!! Can't wait for the commemorative Brownsville Station song, "Smokin' In The Library Storage Room Amongst The Flammable Periodicals And Microfilm."

Whoops, turns out other people use the library from time to time and they heard us exclaiming loudly how no one would ever find us. CURSES! Perhaps I can hide the evidence by... let's see... putting my hand behind my back. DAMN!

"You library employees can't tell us what to do here in the library! Besides, look at these paid advertisements showing glamorous smokers leading fascinating and exciting lives! They've made smoking great! Now shut up and let us set fire to things inside the library! Nothing can go wrong!"

Sound arguments from the pro-smoking camp, to be sure, but there's one thing they didn't count on - advanced learning projected humanoid advisors!

See, an advanced projected learning humanoid advisor. What did I tell you?

A.L.P.H.A. begins his anti-smoking lecture by criticizing the boy's relatives.

Sammy relates the story of how his dad smoked to relieve stress until he got sick and went into the hospital, and boy was he stressed out - and they wouldn't let him smoke! Which made him even more stressed out! Better to just go with the stress and not even try to relieve it. You'll be better off.

Here we have what's known in the literature as 'the money shot' - full color photos of diseased lung tissue for your edification and enjoyment. Also of note is how even when old and dying of emphysema, our smoking couple here maintains their color-coordinated outfits.

But you may ask, what about chewing tobacco? There's no smoke, so it has to be safe, right?

EW GROSS!! Yes indeed, that remarkably discreet patch of bandage on the young man's face is covering a surgical scar that is very gross indeed. You know what's also gross? Cleaning up the bleachers after a high school football game where half the audience has spent the evening spitting their wads of chewing tobacco into little cups. It's remarkably disgusting. Amazingly painful cancers of the mouth, jaw, tongue, lips, soft palate, and throat? Serves you right.

Remember kids, tobacco contains dangerous drugs, and drugs are illegal, so tobacco is illegal, and unhealthy, and you're a better person if you say 'no' to unhealthy things, and you want to be a better person right? Listen to the robot. Now go bug your dad about smoking. Tell him the robot sent you!