Malibu was a slipshod comic imprint that could have only existed in the gimme-gimme-glut of ‘90s comics. Malibu’s entire business model was “mom knows you’re sick so she picks up comics and you appreciate the gesture too much to tell her to fuck herself for buying The Ferret.” And yet, because there is no justice in this world, Malibu did get a TV show out of the deal. That show was Night Man — Batman for people who did not understand what was cool about Batman.
Here’s a real quick breakdown explaining everything you need to know about Night Man:
His name is Johnny Domino and he’s a saxophone player, two things that would definitely get you fucked in the ‘90s and then never, ever again.
He was struck by a lightning bolt while playing saxophone on a cable car and obviously he deserved it. That let him tune into — no shit, the show’s words — “evil radio.” Now he can sense evil, but that’s such a worthless power he also stole a suit that can do anything.
Here he is kicking a guy off of a motorcycle and into an explosion.
Now, it’s not everyday you’ll hear me say that a costumed man kicking a guy off of a motorcycle and into an explosion is not awesome, but that’s because I don’t watch Night Man every day.
Instead of a Batmobile, Night Man drives a Plymouth Prowler.
A crude drawing of a Plymouth Prowler is how you say ‘erectile dysfunction’ in hieroglyphics.
Basically Night Man sucks and everyone knows it except for Night Man, and he will never listen no matter how urgent or well-reasoned your arguments are. The whole show is a manifesto about why we must never allow the ‘90s to happen again, but I want to focus in on one episode. The rollerblade episode. You know: The one where Night Man fights a gang of super rollerbladers who have rockets on their skates.
This is because every ‘90s show was required to have a rollerblade episode, and they all drew the same conclusion: Rollerblades are definitely the coolest, but they can only be used for evil.
From Prayer of the Rollerboys to Hackers, pop culture loved to depict rollerblades as, at best, the tools of misunderstood criminals. This particular shot of dangerous teens rollerblading in formation was everywhere:
Hollywood genuinely thought that shot was terrifying. They thought you’d turn and flee if you saw that on the street, rather than gently inquire if they were training to display the pride flag in a synchronized sucking competition.
It was a crazy thing to do – depict this slightly novel method of conveyance as inherently evil, or at least bursting with the potential to be. Pop culture saw the very first pair of rollerblades and immediately thought “how will this affect the world of crime?” That didn’t happen with anything else: There was no wave of segway movies where roving gangs used them to encircle frightened seniors. There was no flurry of hoverboard villains immediately cracking their skulls open and ending the film on a downnote. But somehow the three primary fears of every old person in the 1990s were: Brightly colored gangs, carjacking, and different ways to make rollerskates.
This, then, was supposed to be horror:
It was bold of them to cast a young black man in the role of ‘racist old white woman.’ Right down to-
And all this because the gang really wanted his… Jeep Grand Cherokee?
Nobody wants a Jeep Grand Cherokee. It’s the least stolen car, right behind active-duty police vehicles and the Power Wheels Jeep Grand Cherokee. Kelley Blue Book lists the average retail price of a Jeep Grand Cherokee as “[heavy sigh] yeah I guess I’ll take $200 and a dog for it.” That’s depending on condition. If the paint’s faded, you won’t even get the dog.
Anyway, that driver was Johnny Domino’s best friend because — as I mentioned — Johnny Domino sucks and takes what he can get. He’s on the case of the stolen Jeep Grand Cherokee when I’ve already solved it – they used it to drive to a better car and then stole that. They left it in an Arby’s parking lot because it blends in.
Johnny’s keen detective skills take him to… the first rollerblading shop he sees. He basically just asks the clerk if he solved the case:
But no. No is the answer.
Luckily the nerd friend uses computers, because no plot advanced in the ‘90s without somebody saying “the computer!” After computering it, the nerd sees an old coworker’s name crop up.
Man, I do not know what to tell you If you blow all your cash on rollerblade contests. That is a firm commitment to not surviving the ‘90s. If you met a person who sucked dick to buy Slap Bracelets from KB Toys, they would use the brief respite between cocks to question the longevity of your investment plan.
Anyway, that’s why Night Man has to enter a rollerblading competition. Here’s the teenager that signs him up for the contest, and the actual dialogue that stayed in the script despite desperate margin notes that read, “please change this, I have been beaten up by every teenager I have ever met for asking if the word ‘cool’ is a sex thing, and even I can tell you this is not how teens talk.”
Johnny Domino of course gets his only friend — the one who still flinches when Johnny refers to them as “the Best Pals Club” – to rig up a Good Rollerblading device.
And yep, you guessed it: The sign-up kid — the one who talks like surfers making fun of the way old people impersonate surfers — turns out to be the villain. So no, the very first rollerblader Johnny Domino ever met did not turn out to be evil. But the second one did.
Here we see the gang with no name, so I’m going to call them The Rollerbuds, using their elite technology and futuristic weapons to….
Rob one of those chintzy crystal stores in the mall. The ones that sell like, jumping dolphins and pegasus statues to ten-year-old girls.
They actually steal the pegasus statue! It is worth eight dollars! And only because that’s what Stephanie will pay for it!
Here’s the villain, whose name I forget so I’m just going to call him Billy Bitch-Storm, badly lying to the new recruit in his teen gang — 37-year-old Johnny Domino — about how fast they are:
We see many shots of these rollerbladers going all out. It’s like half the episode. It should be noted that even with altered footage, their top speed seems to be about twenty miles an hour — a speed easily achieved with just normal rollerblades. Their main adversaries are any car or bicycle. Their only weakness is moving aside suddenly so they run into a stationary object.
I’m not joking. That’s how Night Man defeats the villains of this entire hour-long episode.
Only Billy Bitch-Storm remains, and now the writers found themselves penning a tense standoff between a guy they’ve established is bulletproof, superpowered, flies, and fires lasers… and a guy with skates that are up to 20% faster than normal skates. I really have to give Night Man credit here. The fight goes exactly how you’d expect.
And so ends the episode, wherein Night Man proved that at least half of all rollerbladers are evil, rollerblading is so super easy that even the olds can do it, and anyone can beat up a rollerblader. In short: Perfect accuracy.
2 replies on “Nerding Day: The Night Man Rollerblading Episode”
Wait, he can sense evil? That should have cut down on the guessing which rollerblade dude was the evil one. He would have better served humanity as an expert witness at criminal court or interviewing clowns for birthday parties. “Jojo is better at juggling kittens and he’s only about thirty-five percent evil–forty tops. That’s about as good as you’re going to find. Now the magicians are all comically incompetent and strung out on budget narcotics, but not super evil–as you would expect. Just remember with birthday magicians, if they ask for a twenty for a disappearing bill bit, tell them to fuck off. On the plus side, you can pay then in coke.”
I know, he never uses it!