Big ideas, y’all. That’s the name of the game here. Where we had sort of pretty alright ideas in the first two comic stories (or more accurately we had a good idea in “Rapture,” and we had a bad idea in “Armada” [okay, fine, a race of two-dimensional people is a good idea, but “Armada” was otherwise totally bad]).
Anyways, now we have a three-part extravaganza. A quote-on-quote “tour de force” of the Sliders Comics canon. Or, we just have a ‘long story.’ With some really far fetched ideas. But we have just a little less SKRATATATOOM-ing. So, y’know, points.
Anyways, this comic starts with the Zercurvians, lost in the void (or wherever, I wasn’t paying attention), making one final stab at ridding the multiverse of the sliders once and for all (because everyone knows that a motley crew of rag tag nobodies is THE DARKEST THREAT to a huge multidimensional/dimensional empire). So he does some weird ass shit like killing one of his own dudes and distilling his hatred into the Vortex that is inside all of us.
No, I’m not kidding. This comic posits that sliding also opens a gateway in our souls. Which, if you ever read my potential fanfic Season 7 (and the wrap-up miniseries Season 8 [yes that’s right, I went that far, once]), you’ll know that I’m way into. Like, wayy into. This sort of harks back to the kind of thing I was talking about in “As Time Goes By”— the sort of ‘is Sliding random’ kind of ‘fate/destiny’ thing, but taken in a far more theological direction. Well, maybe not theological- God doesn’t enter into it- but the soul does, and what the Sliders’ souls have to say for them is kind of interesting.
Sure, I understand that they are infused with Vortex-Hate, but damn these people have some dark sides! I mean, we all understand Rembrandt’s dark desires (he tells us about them every damn episode), but Quinn full of Spite? Wade full of Rage? Arturo full of… Strife?
It all actually makes more sense that you’d think. Quinn’s the de facto leader of the group, putting him as the Papa Bear of the Sliders— which in turn, angers Arturo, who technically is older and should be smarter (but, crucially, isn’t)— but this feeds into Quinn’s “Father Issues,” which aren’t ever really telegraphed on the show. His dad’s dead, but that’s the last we really hear about it. So it makes sense that he would feel Spite at the world. He’s got to be what he never had, what was taken from him. It’s dark stuff.
Wade, who we don’t really know too well (and never really will, wah-wah), instead is imbued with what I’ll argue is some meta character commentary. Well, that’s a stretch, but I’ll argue that it’s meta because otherwise I’d have to say “Wade feels vulnerable and powerless because she’s a girl, duh,” and that’s ridiculous and offensive (RECURRING COMIC ANTI-FEMINIST TROPES UP IN HERRE). But still, I guess it’s points for having her “rage” against it.
Though maybe not points for having her use that “rage” to beat a Man’s head in with a flower pot?
OH GOOD THING IT WAS A ROBOT PHEW.
So then the comic goes bananas, and they’ve slid into Surrogate-World (sort of). Or at least they slide into a world where people have transferred their consciousnesses into robo-bods (IE, Spock’s Brain on Drugs [/more drugs]).
Naturally, Joe Robot offers the Sliders their own Proxys, and they naturally tell him to get stuffed. Rembrandt, being a dick, decides he will betray them so he can look great forever (this relies on him actually looking great now, which, I mean, sure Remmy, whatever you say).
So that’s part one. Part two starts with a pretty fair summation of Part One that involves rad skeletons and makes me feel like they shouldn’t have even bothered with the first issue in the first place.
The beginning of Part Two has the sliders as guests in the Proxy Fortress (I mean it seems like one, so whatevz). There’s some actually really nice bits in here, like the Hologram Attendant telling the bizarre and tragic story of her kids who became lost in the iCloud:
And then Wade, who now establishes herself as an ALMANAC HACKER (instead of Arturo being an Almanac Haggler, I guess), looks up the alt-history. Instead of hard facts, though, she spits out a bizarre metaphor that’s actually totally thrilling and kind of sums up how I feel about internet culture:
But of course, we can’t focus on things like that, we’ve got to focus on the Sliders and their Dark Souls (or whatever). So Quinn tries to molest Wade, and she lays into him:
Which is actually totally awesome of her. Quit it, Quinn! Rembrandt continues his journey to try to get everyone to become Robot Slaves, and is treated to Mr. Proxy re-skinning himself. Which leads to a pretty darn terrifying sequence of melting flesh, robotic skeletons, and nude flesh being pulled over a hideous chrome skull.
It even goes so far as to throw a little racial complication into it, as Mr. Proxy (now Mrs.) implies that one of the ‘benefits’ of becoming a robot is that you can whitewash yourself. It’s a subtle note, but it’s effectively creepy. Rembrandt, being a man of honor and integrity, reacts to this by tazing all his friends and serving them to Proxy.
But, of course, the Sliders are too savvy for that shit, and Quinn fakes out Rembrandt and throws a ROBOT SKELETON.
Which is awesome. The sliders escape in a brilliant series of Robot Explosions, dragging Rembrandt with them. The hologram secretary, being a fool, follows them through the vortex, where she soon discovers that she’s cut off from the iCloud.
She walks in front of a car, and since merely having the car run her over wouldn’t be fucked-up enough, the driver has his PERSONAL SAMURAI get out of the car and CUT HER IN HALF.
Bummer. Actually I remember being really disturbed by that the first time I read these things. Now, after the initial “Man, that is so dark,” I find myself with the reaction the Sliders have, which is to stare blankly and try to find some DRANKS.
After they get DRANKS, they chill out in a sandbox writing equations, and wondering why they’re all so dark. Quinn and Arturo have it out, trading quips like the show’s called Quippers (oof that was bad), and Quinn ends up ripping off the weird monocle that Alt-XXX-Wade gave him before melting in the last story.
But before they can discuss that tidbit, a bunch of kids get angry and bring their PERSONAL SAMURAI out to cut them in half.
That’s part two. Part three starts with Arturo smooth-talking some PERSONAL SAMURAI down with some honor-mumbo-jumbo stuff, and they slide to what at first seems like Toga Bennish World (which would be AWESOME), but instead turns out to be HOME?
I guess this comic is actually positing that they’re really home. But all that kind of stuff is actually dull, doesn’t really deal with what that really means for the show, and instead spends time dealing with their Darknesses. Their Darknesses basically amounting to “they all break some shit and make everyone feel bad.”
Eventually, they sit down in the Bat-Cave and discuss what happened to them. Quinn posits some Bat-Shit theory about how the Multiverse really works, and proves himself a huge Pink Floyd fan:
Arturo puts it best:
That’s actually so far ahead of any theory I could come up with about the nature of sliding that I’m kind of flabbergasted by it. I don’t even really have much further to add about it other than “Whoa, yeah. Sure, dude.” But, of course of course of course, we spend about a half-second on that and instead focus on the solution, which is more or less nothing. I mean, sure, Quinn fiddles with something, and they’re supposed to slide. But while I can see how in some way what they do would make sense, there’s no explanation. I would have even preferred some mindless technobabble than just “I’ve made adjustments.” That’s it, that’s all we get. Quinn makes adjustments, and they slide, for some reason assuming that it’ll just slide them right back home but they’ll be fine. Why would it ever have done that?
Of course, part of me doesn’t want to complain when the ending is actually beautifully played out. The solution was ridiculous, but the moment where Quinn silently says goodbye to his Mom (effectively giving him a small sense of closure on the subject) is beautiful.
The semi-ridiculous “elephant firetruck” world they slide to is instead just a nice touch than jarring. And the very end of the comic serves to build on the thesis I’ve believed in for years— that this show/story isn’t about alternate dimensions, it’s about this friendship these people have, what happens when it’s threatened, and what those threats do to strengthen it.
It’s a small, quiet ending to a Three-Part-Story that attempted to redefine bombast, and it’s incredibly satisfying. I’m as stunned as you are.
Next Week: Smoke Weed Every Day, Part I (Narcotica).