Saturday, March 16, 2013

Book 10: Captain Underpants and the Revolting Revenge of the Radioactive Robo-Boxers

Well, I've finished book ten and I'm confused. The first piece that baffled me was the title. Other than the fact that Captain Underpants rips the robo-pants off of the third and final incarnation of Tippy Tinkletrousers, leaving him to give chase in a pair of boxers for a couple of chapters, robo-boxers weren't much more than a footnote. I suppose the "Radioactive" might have referred to the abundance of nuclear bombs used in this particular epic novel. The "Revolting Revenge" part might refer to the crazed acts of the three Tippy Tinkletrousers when they each discovered that in order to beat Captain Underpants they might have to blow themselves up and seriously effect the fabric of history in the process.

I hope that by now you're as confused as I was. If you've been reading along in my challenge up to now, you know that in my last post I mentioned the sudden and rather graphic demise of Tippy Tinkletrousers. Well, like many readers, I was tricked. I bought into the red splatter explanation for the end of Tippy. I thought things were looking bleak, not only for the world of Captain Underpants, but for the tenth epic novel. His creativity and cleverness were back, but his plot was running into one roadblock after another. Well, Dav Pilkey has a new trick up his sleeve. What I call retraction he calls misdirection. I'm not sure most magicians would agree with his label since most of them have made their entire career by building an act around real misdirection, but if he wants to call what he does misdirection, who am I to judge?

Anyway, it turned out that the world of Captain Underpants hadn't rid itself of Tippy Tinkletrousers (aka Professor Poopypants) just yet. He still was out to seek his revenge with some more robotic-man-to-superhero-man combat, all courtesy of more outlandish and contradictory time travel loopholes. If you're familiar with book nine, you're aware that a major undertaking of the plot was not to violate the Banana Cream Pie Paradox. If you're not familiar with this paradox, basically it means that you can't go from the present into the past and somehow change that past without seriously messing up the present that you left behind; furthermore, if you mess up the present you left behind, that messed-up present might mean time traveling to the past wouldn't have happened and time and all the events connected to time make no sense anymore. If that explanation confuses you, read the comic strip in chapter two of book nine and it will all become clear…or not. Bottom line, time travel is really messy business no matter how you look at it. So bring on the comic hi-jinx and throw logic into another dimension because this epic novel is intended to blow your mind.

Pilkey decided that the best way to make things really interesting was to have Tippy continually jump back and forth through time as he tries to avoid destroying the world while still attempting to destroy his arch-nemesis, Captain Underpants. Along the way, he meets up with a past version of himself who eventually multiplies through more time travel into a third version of himself. All three then set out to complete their task. The funniest part of the work of these three is that they don't work well together. Throughout most of their time together, they are their own biggest obstacle on their road to successful destructive behavior. They regularly attempt to one-up each other, slight each other, sabotage each other, and basically prevent each other from being the one that experiences the joy of finally defeating Captain Underpants. In a lot of ways, they beat themselves. By my calculations, their collaboration is also a complete violation of the Banana Cream Pie Paradox. However, if you look past that, it's not too hard to spot the better qualities of the story.

This is the first Captain Underpants epic to incorporate Ook and Gluk's cave people, thanks to some more time travel. This is also some of the more creative Flip-O-Rama in the series. You have the cave people to thank for that. I liked that he dabbled in alternative history, though the explanations for the start of the universe, the end of the dinosaurs, and the ice age were a little bit redundant. Nuclear bombs and ray guns can't be responsible for every important event in our history. Well, they can, but that gets boring after a while.

The ending was kind of predictable for anyone who had been reading all of Captain Underpants past encounters with Professor Poopypants/Tippy Tinkletrousers. He did go out with a bang at least. I won't say that I think he's really gone since that really seems to depend more on whether Dav Pilkey needs to squeeze a bit more mileage out of the villains he already created. At least Tippy is gone for now, and another adventure involving Melvin Sneedly seems to be in the works. Who knows what the future holds? For now, I'm all caught up.

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