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Episode Studies by Clayton Barr

"Return of the Screw" Part 2
Buckaroo Banzai: Return of the Screw #2
Story: Mac Rauch
Adaptation/New material: Joe Gentile
Pencils: Stephen Thompson
Inks: Keith Williams
Covers: Dave Ulanski (A), Stephen Thompson (B), Dave Dorman (C)

Whorfin lives! Plus: Lectroids!


Read the TV pilot script this 3-issue mini-series was based on, "Supersize Those Fries", here


Characters appearing or mentioned in this issue



Buckaroo Banzai

Penny Priddy (mentioned only, deceased)

Hanoi Xan

Dr. Emilio Lizardo

Widow Oh

Perfect Tommy

Old Dan

Tumblin' Tumbleweed

Lady Gillette

Mrs. Johnson

Happy Wiener


pickle mascot

Professor Hikita

Diablo Brothers (mentioned only)

New Jersey

Red River Daddy

Jimmy Oh (mentioned only, deceased)

Rumproast (Weldon Rumproad)

Perfect Tommy's mom (mentioned only)

Glenda (mentioned only)


Sonny Bono (mentioned only)

Lord Whorfin

Xan Hen


the Archbishop 


Didja Notice?


On page 1, from what we can see of it and from the description in the narrative balloons, the sign behind Perfect Tommy's head says "PAINTED TOILET CACTUS SOUTHWESTERN ART COMPETITION".


The narrative on page 1 reveals that Buckaroo's horse is named Old Dan. Possibly the name was borrowed from that of the dog called Old Dan in the 1961 children's novel Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls.


On page 2, Tumblin' Tumbleweed is broadcasting the weekly episode of Buckaroo Banzai's Radio Ranch, live on TV and the worldwide web. The mention of a live broadcast on the worldwide web suggests this story takes place in the 1990s or later, not the '80s as might be imagined by Buckaroo's continued mourning of Penny.


The song Lady Gillette sings on page 2 is "To Know You (Is to Love You)", originally known as "To Know Him Is to Love Him", written by Phil Spector about his father. In terms of Lady Gillette, the song is obviously about her unrequited love for Buckaroo.


On page 2, panel 2, we see that the radio show is broadcasting from the International Esperanto Conference & Classy Chassis Car Show. Esperanto is a constructed international auxiliary language invented by L.L. Zamenhof in 1887 as a non-political, easy to learn language for use internationally; there are approximately 2 million speakers worldwide as of 2011 and an international conference is held in a different country every few years. "Classy Chassis" car shows are held across the U.S.


On page 4, Perfect Tommy remarks that Lady Gillette sure does "make my motor run". Possibly he is referencing a line from the 1979 song "My Sharona" by The Knack.


Also on page 4, a sign for Pete's Pickles is seen at the convention, possibly as a sponsor. Although there is a Pete's Pickles brand in Australia, the name seen here is probably meant to be fictitious.


On page 5, Perfect Tommy explains to Dr. Hikita that his breeches are made of leatherette. Leatherette is an artificial leather.


On page 6, Tommy promises to keep Reno's secret by the "oath of the Flying Fish". The Flying Fish is a god worshipped by the Lectroids of Planet 10, as revealed in the novelization of Across the 8th Dimension.


Also on page 6, Reno and Tommy mention the cities of Odessa in both Russia and Texas, and Moscow in both Russia and Idaho. These all actually do exist in those locations.


Again on page 6, Reno tells Tommy that a crazy Moldavian smacked him with her fake leg. Moldavia is a region of Eastern Europe in what are now the nations of Romania, Moldova, and Ukraine.


After losing the Jet Car, Reno asks Tommy to activate the Lo-Jack on it so he can locate where it is. Lo-Jack is a tracking device and system which can be installed on vehicles, and some other types of high-theft property, so that it can potentially be relocated by police and returned to the proper owner.


Reno tells Tommy he will give him his Webelo badge and a fishing lure of his choice if he'll keep it secret that he lost the Jet Car. A Webelos badge is the first badge earned at the Webelos level of the Cub Scouts division of the Boy Scouts of America.


On page 9, Buckaroo enters the hospital, where the widow Oh is being held in quarantine in a level 4 biosafety room. There are four levels of biosafety, 4 being the level of precautions used for the most dangerous biohazard agents, such as the Ebola virus. And yet, Buckaroo enters without an ounce of protective covering!


On page 12, the Institute receives a call on the NORAD hotline. NORAD is the North American Aerospace Defense Command, a joint operation of the U.S. and Canada to provide early warning and defense against air and space offenses against the two nations.


On page 13, New Jersey is taking the dead Lectroid to MRI. MRI stands for Magnetic Resonance Imaging, a technique used in radiology to photograph details of internal structures of organic bodies.


On page 15, Buckaroo mentions Botox and the fact that it's a commercial brand of botulism toxin. This is absolutely true and though the botulinum toxin can cause botulism poisoning, a life-threatening illness in humans and other animals, it is also used for cosmetic purposes in reducing wrinkles on the skin in humans. In the case of this story, Buckaroo is using the neurotoxin effects of Botox to reduce the involuntary muscle spasms being suffered by the widow Oh.


On page 17, the widow Oh reveals to Buckaroo that the Mir still exists. Mir was the Russian space station which orbited Earth from 1986-2001, burning up in Earth's atmosphere when it was intentionally deorbited at the end of its useful life. (In the TV pilot script, however, Buckaroo makes mention of Mir having been shut down and left uninhabited, which it was [except for a brief visit by two cosmonauts in April 2000] for about two years, from August 1999 to March 2001.)


It's a little hard to tell, but on panel 4 of page 17, Mrs. Johnson accidentally jabs Buckaroo with a syringe filled with Botox, temporarily paralyzing his right arm for the rest of this issue.


On page 18, the Cavaliers look at the MRI of the dead Lectroid and Perfect Tommy sees an object he thinks might be an IUD. IUD is short for intrauterine device, a form of birth control for human women.


Also on page 18, Buckaroo tells Tommy he holds himself to the Hippocratic Oath. This is the oath taken by western doctors to obey a certain code of ethics. The original version is believed to have been written by Hippocrates in ancient Greece.


On page 19, Perfect Tommy puts his arms around two intern babes, asking, "What's the story, Morning Glory?" Possibly he is referencing the 1995 music album of that name recorded by the English rock band Oasis.


Page 20 seems to suggest that Dr. Hikita's first name is Roshi.


On page 20, Buckaroo asks Hikita to contact the Very Large Array in New Mexico to get Earth's current coordinates vis 7000, 2237, 2264, 4755, and 5139 in the New General Catalog. The Very Large Array is a complex of satellite dishes that make up a radio astronomy observatory on the Plains of San Agustin in New Mexico; the array is used by astronomers to study objects in the cosmos. The New General Catalog (sic) is a reference to the New General Catalogue of Nebulae and Clusters of Stars, a catalog of deep space objects. The numbers given by Buckaroo correspond to known objects; 7000 is the North America Nebula (so-called because its shape resembles the North American continent); 5139 is Omega Centauri (a globular cluster of stars); and 2237 is Melnikov, 2264 is Sabrina, and 4755 is Nicky, asteroids in the belt between Mars and Jupiter.


Also on page 20, Buckaroo says he needs to set up a conference call with individuals at Max Planck and Mensa HQ. The Max Planck Society is a publicly-funded association of research institutes in Germany. Mensa is the largest and oldest high-IQ society in the world.


Page 20 reveals that others besides Buckaroo have sensed that things seem out of balance in the world lately. One of them is Sonny Bono. Sonny Bono was an entertainer and politician who died in 1998. That was before the Mir space station went down, so it casts a discrepancy in the timeline of this story; of course, in the Buckaruniverse, Sonny Bono may not have been killed in the skiing accident that ended his life in our world.


On page 21, a helicopter labeled KSPD is seen at Whorfin's tower site near Moscow, Idaho. These also appear to be the call letters (though they're partially obscured) of the radio station hosting the tower he's used to support his seismic resonator, as seen on page 26. The station is promoted as a golden oldies station in the comic, but in the real world KSPD is a Boise radio station of Christian talk.


On page 21, a beautiful woman named Xan Hen is sent by Hanoi Xan to see Lord Whorfin's seismic resonator in action in Idaho. Possibly, Xan Hen is actually Hanoi Xan himself in a female form. (The TV pilot script reveals that Hen is short for Henrietta, so it's possibly that she and Henry Shannon [seen in "Return of the Screw" Part 1] are brother and sister, unless they are both alternate identities of Hanoi Xan himself.)


Also on page 21, a young Blue Blaze Irregular snaps pictures of Whorfin's meeting with Xan Hen and Whorfin orders his men to "Get that kid, or we're all S.O.L.!" S.O.L.=Shit Outta Luck.


On page 25, a number of Red Lectroids are seen wearing jackets that say DEA. The DEA is the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. (In the TV pilot script, the Lectroids have misspelled the acronym as DOA, which traditionally stands for Dead on Arrival.)


The virtual pet that Whorfin admits he keeps in order to watch it die appears to be a Tamagotchi, made by Bandai.


On page 27, a word has been left out of Buckaroo's dialog as he's describing the anatomy of the Widow Oh, a Lectroid. He describes it as "kind of a cross between a sugar and a cricket..." The TV pilot script reveals he's supposed to be saying it's a cross between a sugar ant and a cricket.


The Blue Blaze Irregular called Rumproast is said by Perfect Tommy to have the real name Weldon Rumproad. But in "Return of the Screw" Part 3, he is referred to as Weldon Rumproast, as is his father, Weldon Rumproast, Sr.


On the last page of this issue, Lady Gillette suggests that Xan's personal assassin, the Archbishop, is the one who killed Buckaroo's wife (according to the TV pilot script, Penny, not Peggy). But according to the words of Reno in the DVD commentary track of Across the 8th Dimension, Penny was killed by Xan himself. 


Notes from the TV pilot script "Supersize Those Fries"


It's not that obvious in the comic, but the script states that the sombrero worn by Happy Wiener is an inflatable one!


The script describes Perfect Tommy as especially aroused by Lady Gillette's song, inspiring him to award First Prize to a particularly phallic-looking cactus entry. In the comic, it looks only vaguely phallic, but it's there if you look close!


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