MiSTed: Dreams of a Lost Past/Loss, Part 3 of 4


Thanks for joining me on another day of reusing a late-90s Mystery Science Theater 3000 fan fiction. This continues Doug Atkinson’s “Loss”, a story about talking Brainiac-5 out of doing something really dumb, which the Legion of Superheroes gang had to do a lot back in the day. Probably still does. I don’t know; I haven’t read a recent Legion of Superheroes book except for the crossover issue they did with Batman ’66, which was everything I had hoped for. Nothing against comic books, I’m just not very good at reading new ones. At heart, I like the Silver Age Nonsense parade.

So the mid-show host sketch here is inspired by some Silver Age Nonsense. I’d picked up a collection of Silver Age Superman story reprints from the closing sale of a comic book shop in the legendary Latham Circle Mall. So that’s where that sketch comes from, and I’m happy to say I was ahead of the curve on the Internet noticing Silver Age Superman was like that. Of course, nobody cared that I was there ahead of time. All the references are accurate and unexaggerated.

I regret the line that just assumed obesity was by itself a health threat. I accepted uncritically the social consensus about that. I stand by the thesis of the sketch; I would hope I’d write it better today.

Part 1 of the MiSTing covered the incomplete “Dreams of a Lost Past”. And then Part 2 started “Loss”, set in the aftermath of the death of Supergirl in the Crisis on Infinite Earths.

I haven’t decided what to do after this is done. I’m leaning toward bringing out another MiSTing. If you dimly remember an old piece of mine you’d like to see reprinted and maybe apologetically explained, please let me know. I’ve got stuff I forgot I ever did. Not sharing the Lynn Johnston piece.


[ SOL DESK. JOEL is sitting behind the desk, playing with the courderoy starship. ]

JOEL: [ Looking up ] Welcome back, folks. It’s quiet right now, but I expect my youthful wards Tom Servo and Crow T. Robot to come to me momentarily with some silly but endearing crisis of faith in our pop cultural world.

TOM: [ From offscreen ] JOEL!

CROW: [ Also offscreen ] We need to talk!

JOEL: [ Calling ] That’s what I’m here for, guys.

[ TOM and CROW suddenly enter on opposite sides of JOEL. TOM is holding "Giant Superman Annual" #1. ]

CROW: OK, we were reading this bunch of old Superman stories.

TOM: And there’s this sick one where Lois Lane witnesses a murder but can’t give a good description of who did it.
[ JOEL picks up TOM’s comic book and shows it to the camera. ]

CROW: But afterwards she gets accidentally zapped with this experimental ray that’s supposed to make plants grow better and it makes her enormously fat.

TOM: And it turns out Metropolis is basically worldwide headquarters for ways to embarass fat people.

CROW: And after a month of feeling horribly ashamed at Superman seeing her overweight Lois runs into the murderer and he gets ready to shoot her when Superman comes and catches him. Turns out he was watching her the whole time for the muderer to show himself.

JOEL: [ Nodding ] I’m with you so far.

TOM: OK, but then Superman reveals Lois *wasn’t* accidentally zapped with the fat ray. He arranged for it to happen on purpose while he used her — without *telling* her — as bait to drag out the bad guy.

CROW: And he knew how to get her back to normal anytime he wanted.

TOM: So why did Superman want to do anything that changed how she looked?

CROW: The fact is, putting aside his non-consenting use of her to trap a crook, the Supester subjected the putative love of his life to an experimental ray that did all sorts of screwball stuff to her metabolism, inflicted who knows what long-term trauma to her cardiac and skeletal systems, and blasted her self-esteem into subatomic pieces, without even thinking to ask her…

TOM: And for absolutely no comprehensible reason other than he wanted to watch her being fat!

JOEL: Well, hey, nothing wrong with liking a heavy-set girlfriend, right?

TOM: Nothing wrong with it, except what kind of *creep* do you have to be to *mutate* your girlfriend to please your own eye?

CROW: Yeah! Where’s the consideration? Where’s the respect? What kind of animals raised Superman anyway?

JOEL: That would be his foster parents, Jonathan and Martha Kent.

CROW: And could they not take a moment to explain to Clark he should ask someone before transmogrifying her?

TOM: Isn’t this basic, common courtesy?

JOEL: Guys, it’s just an old comic book…you shouldn’t try to read too much into it.

[ MOVIE SIGN. General alarm. ]

JOEL: We gotta run, guys!

CROW: Oh, and don’t get us *started* on the comic where Lois gets turned into a witch!

TOM: Crow, come on!

[ 6.. 5.. 4.. 3.. 2.. 1.. ]

[ ALL enter theater ]

TOM: And then right here in the back of the book, Batman and Superman play this duel of mind-warping games in pursuit of some mad birthday prank!

CROW: Not to mention the mermaid!

JOEL: I wouldn’t.

> Whacked-out Querl Dox,

JOEL: [ Singing ] Querl Dox…a little dox’ll do ya!

> who builds the machines
> that go berserk."

CROW: Just ’cause they accidentally blew up seventeen planets you think I’m the problem.

> He pointed the electronic spanner at Jo
> viciously.

TOM: Heh…you know what he’s *really* saying…

CROW: No, actually, I don’t.

TOM: [ After a pause ] Me neither.

> "Supergirl died to save the universe from the
> Anti-Monitor.

CROW: Isn’t that always the way?

> She was always risking her life to save
> others.

TOM: And vice-versa.

> That devotion…that selflessness shouldn’t be
> allowed to perish from the universe before its time! She was
> only in her twenties…

JOEL: Oh, but that’s actually in dog-twenties.

> who knows how long she could have
> lived, fighting all the time to save others."

TOM: Uhm…I’ll say eight. No, ten. Definitely ten.

> He dropped his head and arm abruptly. "Not like me. I
> try to good, and what happens?

CROW: Maybe if he tried to great instead, things would average out?

> People die. I build the
> Earth’s most powerful AI, and it rampages through Metropolis.

JOEL: That’s Metropolis’s fault, though, for not enacting those no-rampaging-AI ordinances a few years back.

> Pulsar Stargrave uses my genius, and I channel all the
> universe’s evil into Omega."

TOM: I set the VCR to tape "Pokemon" and it melts Spain.

> A broad arm gesture took in the
> Exchanger, the two flat bed with the powerful apparatus
> connecting them.

CROW: So this exchanger is pretty much your generic Two-Victim Bad Guy Machine.

> "Once this is working again, I’ll be able to
> transfer my life energy into Kara and bring her back to life.

JOEL: Even though everything else I’ve ever tried has screwed up in horrible, terrifying ways.

> I’m willing to die to bring her back."
> _Dr. Frankenstein has entered the headquarters_, thought
> Jo. "Don’t talk like that, Brainy.

TOM: Let’s just cuddle instead.

> You don’t really want to
> die. Is it really worth it?"
> "Ask Matter-Eater Lad,

CROW: Oh, he’s the guy with the power to turn anything in the world into garlic bread.

> who went insane because of me.
> Ask Duo Damsel, whose third body was killed by Computo.

JOEL: Fortunately Duo doesn’t hold grudges.

> Ask
> the people whose homes were leveled by Omega, or whose loved
> ones he killed. They’d say it’s a fair exchange."
> Jo held his hands up in a T. "All right, time out.

TOM: Offensive holding; ten yard penalty.

> Enough with the death talk for a moment, and for God’s sake
> put down the spanner."

CROW: You have no idea where it’s been.

> Jo’s blue eyes met Brainy’s yellow-
> and-green ones, and locked with them. Finally Brainy lowered
> his gaze and placed the spanner on a table.

TOM: Secretly unknown to Brainiac 5, Jo is his older brother Rex who disappeared in the mountain ranges of Krypton several years earlier.

> "Now. I understand that we aren’t the best of friends.
> You’ve never been the type to pal around, and we tend to move
> in different circles.

JOEL: Plus there was that time you tore my brain out of my skull and planted it in a large wolverine.

> But I know that it’s difficult losing
> a loved one, and that’s it’s good to talk things out.

TOM: Yes, a bland, impersonal conversation with a casual acquaintance helps you recover from losing the love of your life.

> Especially for someone like you,

CROW: Such as Benton Frazier’s boss on "Due South."

> who keeps his feelings
> bottled up all the time.
> "Why are you having so much trouble accepting her death?

JOEL: ‘Cause I wasn’t there to sign for it and the delivery company’s a pain.

> Not to sound insensitive, but it wasn’t exactly a surprise."
> Brainy kept his eyes on the floor for a while.

TOM: Hey…the wood trim isn’t level.

> When he
> spoke, his voice was hoarse. "I loved Kara from the time we
> first met, at her membership trial.

CROW: I told her so after she got her first twelve CDs for a penny.

> I never stopped loving
> her during all the time she hardly ever came to the Thirtieth
> Century. I valued the short times I spent with her, knowing

JOEL: That if we stand on tippy-toes the times would seem taller.

> I wouldn’t have very many of them.
> "It hurt when she decided not to pursue our romance any
> further.

TOM: It was like she had the idea I was some borderline-psychotic mad scientist who keeps accidentally unleashing destruction on the world.

> I went a little crazy then…you remember the
> Supergirl robot I built in my sleep?" Jo nodded.

CROW: Did you ever build a Supergirl robot in your sleep, Joel?

JOEL: I’ll talk with you about that when you’re older, dear.

> "And all
> that time I had to keep my distance a little, because she was
> living under a death sentence. It was like loving someone
> with a terminal disease, except that she didn’t know it was
> coming…and I couldn’t tell her.

TOM: Mind you, it is really hard to work into casual conversation.

> Knowledge of the future is
> a curse…it’s why Superboy quit for a couple of years.

CROW: Er, why he’s going to quit, next year.

> "I never learned to let my feelings out as a child–
> Coluans aren’t encouraged to.

JOEL: And, by the way, I’m Coluan.

TOM: You know, when in Colua, you should do like the Coluans do.

> My parents were dead, and the
> other children resented my intelligence so much that I never
> made any friends.

CROW: The only guy who’d play with me was that Keith Aksland guy.

> I’d never had someone I could let myself
> open up to before. But I resented having this barrier
> between us,

TOM: And it hurt all the worse that it was the Cone of Silence.

> that I always knew we wouldn’t have much longer,
> and she didn’t. Perhaps if she had, she’d have visited more
> often, I thought, but telling her would be far too cruel.

JOEL: Unless I broke it to her with sock puppets. They make anything fun.

> It
> might also cause a paradox, and even I couldn’t predict the
> results.

TOM: Heck, who couldn’t call *that* one from miles away?

> "I hate feeling powerless, Jo. My whole scientific
> career has been devoting to pushing the limits of natural
> law.

JOEL: Except for that sabbatical year I spent developing new flavors for Velveeta.

> Science tells us that time only moves forward, so I
> work on time travel.

CROW: Actually, it tells us the most probable sequence of events is one which maximizes entropy, which is commonly interpreted to represent the forward flow of time.

> Science tells us that tons of material
> can’t be stored in a closet,

TOM: Unless you try.

> so I invent the storage
> tesseract. Science tells us that inanimate materials can’t
> think–Blok notwithstanding–so I design a supercomputer.

JOEL: Science just keeps calling up late at night, snickering at me, and hanging up.

> I
> don’t like thinking that there are forces behind my control
> that I can’t harness.

TOM: If we could just make the forces of nature run on a really *big* hamster wheel…

> "I especially don’t accept the idea of ‘fate,’ or
> whatever you want to call it.

CROW: OK. I want to call it "Destiny."

TOM: I want to call it "Thor."

JOEL: How about "Mookie?"

CROW: On second thought "Fate" is fine by me.

> Projectra or the White Witch

JOEL: Hey, they were bit characters on H.R. Pufnstuf.

> would call me hopelessly hard-headed and small-minded, but I
> can’t accept that Kara had a predestined time to die, and
> that nothing could have been done to stop it.

CROW: I mean, c’mon, she’s a superhero. They never die for more than maybe two months at the outside.

> It’s in my
> hands to reverse that." He cast a glance at the Exchanger.
> "Perhaps you don’t understand–you and Phantom Girl have been
> together for years now."
> "I understand losing a loved one.

JOEL: I still have a shrine to my dead hamster Benny.

> Maybe you remember An
> Ryd? Y’know, the woman you killed and framed me for the
> murder?

TOM: [ As Brainiac 5 ] What, you’re not over that yet?

> I know it wasn’t your fault, but I still loved her
> once." Brainy bit his lip, and Jo decided to change the
> subject.

TOM: [ As Jo ] What do you think of ginger ale?

> "What about the paradox problem? I’m no temporal
> scientist like you, but I thought the history books couldn’t
> be changed. History says that Supergirl died in 1985."

JOEL: ‘Course, History also says Jay Ward was the 14th president of the United States. I think it’s drunk or something.

> "First of all, I don’t think history is all that
> trustworthy. Supergirl was seen to die,

CROW: But heck, who hasn’t been seen to die at least a couple times?

> but we all saw you
> killed in an explosion, too. As I recall, you returned in
> Superboy’s body and calling yourself ‘Reflecto.’

TOM: So he lost his sense of dignity in the explosion.

> While I
> don’t pretend to understand that convoluted series of events,
> it tells me that Supergirl’s perceived ‘death’ isn’t
> incompatible with her living under an another name."

JOEL: As…uh…Superlady…woman…hero. Or something.

> Brainiac seemed to animate with the argument.

CROW: Sketch Quick Draw McGraw in only four easy moves.

> "Secondly,
> who says history is immutable?

JOEL: R. L. Stein, that’s who.

> The Legion decided early on
> to go back in time and meet Supergirl, invite her to join us.
> Later on we did the same thing with Superboy.

TOM: Still later we traveled back in time to warn our younger selves not to request "Clyde’s Car Crusher" as a birthday present.

> Later on we
> found historical evidence that they’d time travelled
> occasionally.

CROW: The evidence for this being that the Sphinx suddenly resembled Gleek the Wonder Monkey.

> Were the time trips predestined? As I said, I
> don’t accept that. I believe history would heal itself,

JOEL: Or would wipe us out of existence. Whichever.

> and
> we’d come to accept that Supergirl miraculously returned to
> life, after she was thought dead. Alternatively, she could
> live in our century, causing no conflict with our history
> books."

TOM: Alternatively, she could move to Long Island and come into the city for special occasions.

> Jo realized that Querl could run circles around him in
> temporal arguments. He decided to change his tactics.

CROW: [ As Jo ] If I invade Russia in winter it’s bound to impress him!


[ To be concluded … ]

Author: Joseph Nebus

I was born 198 years to the day after Johnny Appleseed. The differences between us do not end there. He/him.

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