Dollar Comic Super Spectacular: The Saga of U.S. 1, Part Two!
When we last left Ulysses Solomon Archer and his CB Skull, he'd just taken his super-truck on a cross-country race against a zeppelin painted like a shark and piloted by Baron Von Blimp, narrowly defeating him after a swordfight amidst a cargo of poultry.
And now, in Part Two of my death-defying drive to the last issue of U.S. 1--The Greatest Comic Book Series of All Time--things start to get crazy.
Yes, believe it or not, the Great Chicken Race was a story too big for Milgrom & Co. to wrap up in one issue, and in #5, U.S. and Retread have to complete the second leg of their journey against the unexpected competition of Taryn Down The Highway herself, who, despite being one of the book's major characters, is fairly incidental to the plot.
What, you may be asking yourself, could possibly steal the focus from U.S. and Taryn puttin' the hammer down in a flat-out race to secure a lucrative trucking contract?
A GIGANTIC MAZE WITH A TORNADO, A GLACIER, AND A FRIGG'N VOLCANO IN IT!
Yes, in retribution for Retread disconnecting her distributor lines to give U.S. a jumpstart on the contract, Taryn sends them on a fake detour, because apparently the store was out of birdseed and ACME brand wrecking balls that day. The Terrifying Labrynth Of Doom, however, wasn't her doing at all.
It was built by aliens for the purpose of testing U.S.'s driving skills.
Aliens who need uncooked chicken parts to power their warp drive.
Aliens... who speak trucker lingo.
If you are not freaking out at this point, buster, see yourself to the door. I've got seven more issues of pure madness to get through and I don't have time for shenanigans!
Fortunately for the sanity of all concerned, the next issue's a pretty standard story where U.S. and Wide-Load Annie take on Iron Mike, King of the Bike, a member of the "Heaven's Devils" motorcycle gang, who I'm almost certain fought Firestorm once. Regardless, he's dealt with pretty handily and never seen again, paving the way for the second half of U.S. 1.
Which, as it turns out, is a lot like the first half. Not only does U.S. fight the exact same villains from the first half, but he even runs into them in the same order. But this time, there's even more crazy.
Midnight makes her swash-buckling return in #7, an issue narrated in its enrity by U.S.'s truck, which refers to itself at least once as an inanimate object during the course of the story. It's slightly disconcerting, especially when Poppa Wheelie and Retread start poking around under its hood and casting aspersions on its gender identity.
But that's beside the point. In between the rig's thought balloons complaining about how it never gets any credit, Midnight manages to hypnotize a good chunk of the book's supporting cast and have them drag U.S. out to the truck stop's parking lot so she can work her whip-related mojo on him. But in a shocking turn of events, the signal from the whip reacts violently with the secret remote control to U.S. 1, and... wait for it...
U.S. Archer gets the ability to control his truck through the metal plate in his head.
From here on out, brother, it's non-stop insanity as U.S. 1 chases Midnight out into the desert and blows her up with anti-aircraft missiles. Or so it seems. See, in the next issue, Mary McGrill, whose secret crush on U.S. is mentioned in literally every issue, finally gets tired of Taryn O'Connell tarting around in her daisy dukes and reveals that Taryn is actually Midnight!
But then Midnight shows up and fights Taryn, and since the cast of the book only includes two (2) attractive young ladies, it's revealed that Midnight is actually (and I mean it this time) Mary McGrill, who was completely unaware of her villainous double-life as she was hypnotized by her own whip. Taryn doesn't take these baseless accusations well, and so she and Midnight step out to the parking lot to settle things the only way they can:
But alas, before Midnight can rip off Taryn's halter top, only to realize that fighting won't solve this problem nearly as effectively as making out with her (an idea that, if I know the internet, will already be explored in three pieces of fan-fiction before I finish typing this sentence) it's time for Baron Von Blimp to make his return.
And this time, he's brought friends.
And by "friends," I mean AIR-NAZIS!
Pretty soon it's just one big slugfest: truckers are fighting Nazis, Taryn's fighting Mary, U.S. is fighting the dastardly and mysterious Highwayman, and the punching doesn't stop until the aliens show up to break it all up and give everybody their origin story.
I'll try to keep this brief: Outer Space needs truckers. Therefore, a bunch of aliens monitor CB broadcasts and come down to find one totally honest and totally fearless trucker (!) to haul their stuff across the galaxy, but instead of getting U.S. like they intended, they accidentally contact his brother Jeff, outfitting him with futuristic technology so he can train himself, which he then uses to fake his own death and equip an army of henchmen composed of roughly two people.
That's right, surprising absolutely nobody, the Highwayman turns out to be U.S.'s brother Jeff, who's jealous of his brother's accomplishments and mad about having to work to put him through college only to have U.S. return with adesire to be a trucker, so he wants to go off into space on his own. There's a lot about how Jeff doesn't understand the real meaning of trucking, and how the open road represents freedom, but seriously? All you need to know is this:
The aliens decide to pick who gets to go to space by having a race around the world in flying big rigs that shoot missiles at each other.
And it's all drawn by Steve Ditko.
Not that you really need me to tell you, but U.S. wins and gets taken out in space along with Poppa, Wide-Load, and Mary McGrill, who start up an intergalactic truck stop. And presumably, everything works out okay.
In 1989's The Sensational She-Hulk #6 and 7, John Byrne did the unthinkable--or at least the unthinkably awesome--and brought back the cast of U.S. 1 for a rip-roaring adventure in Outer Spaaaace that sees Taryn O'Connell and Razorback hijacking a space shuttle, inadvertenly kidnapping She-Hulk, and heading off to help U.S. Archer wage a cosmic battle against XEMNU THE TITAN
That's right. U.S. 1 and Xemnu the Titan. Your collection wants these issues, sport.
And of course...
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