Hello, Spongey here
Now that I finally did Monster blood for Breakfast, it’s time to get back on track!
We’ve seen dummies, masks, and zombie pirates. So far, I’m having fun And now we look at the first non-sequel. It has no connections to any previous book, so it has to stand up on its own.
Is it any good? You’ll see…
This, is Dr Maniac Vs Robbie Schwartz
We open with Robby and his family on a camping trip. Yep, actual camping. Haven’t seen that since Legend of the lost legend…ugh. . He has an annoying older brother, and a Tara-ish younger sister.
They all hate camping, but the parents made them go anyway. On top of that, Sam, the brother is the middle kid, and has to try harder and stuff. While this isn’t explored, I like the idea of the brother getting actual character.
Robby trips, and the others mock him a bit for it. And just then, mom tells them all to stop, which I love, seeing as Goosebumps parents don’t normally do anything useful.
See, Robby makes a web comic. Yes, a 12 year old has enough art talent to try a web comic. He usually deals in superhero stuff, but his siblings typically mock him for it and give him dumb ideas for heroes
“Robby is superclutz!”
They stop set up camp. More mocking ensues for various reasons
“Why can’t anyone in this family take anything seriously?”
Why so- *shot*
Robby tries to take out his laptop, but can’t get online. You mean there’s no wi-fi in the woods? What a shock!
Robby then tells us about his newest, and best creation
Dr Maniac: the totally mental maniac of mayhem
The awesomely amazing alteration of actual awesome-ness.
Dr Maniac wears an leopard skin cape, and is a cloud cuckoolander. Seriously, you’ll see it more later, but I’m warning you. He’s crazy awesome.
Robby walks off to think, but quickly gets lost. Then…Dr Maniac shows up. No explanation. He just walks into the scene.
“You’re not real!! I made you up!”
His reaction is alight ,though understated. He doesn’t question it as much as he should. Seriously.
“I’ll show how real I am. Eat this DEAD SQUIRELL!”
“I’m not crazy, I’m a MANIAC!”
He said that too. It gets weirder later on, trust me. He then shoves the dead rodent into Robby’s mouth. And then..
“Hope I didn’t confuse you. That last chapter was just a comic strip I drew”
…Okay, two things.
1. Did someone just break the fourth wall in goosebumps?!
2. Did they spoof the series’ nature of fake out openings? THIS BOOK IS AMAZING
I can’t get over how dumb, yet great that was. But let’s move on. The story really starts with the family in their SUV, heading to go camping. Robby is showing off the strip we just read about from his computer, to his family.
All the details are the same, so no need to explain the characters again. He tells us camping sometimes gives him “good” comic ideas. One such idea features a tongue attacking. Context is for wimps
As they ride, he talks to Sam about the comic, and other such topics. His mother is not pleased
“There’s some interesting shrubs over there”
Even Robby questions that line. They end up at the woods, and set up camp. Boring stuff later, Robby is sent to get firewood.
“What’s Taylor’s job?”
PARENTS OF THE YEAR.
So he heads out to get firewood and bumps into Sam. They banter, until Robby sees something.
“NO! IT’S IMPOSSIBLE!”
DARTH VADER: Search your heart you know it to be true.
Robby finds a cloth made of leopard skin of a tree branch. DUN DUN DUN! Sam thinks nothing of it, cuz you always find that kind of thing in the woods.
So after a campfire, they go to sleep. We also find out Taylor sleeps with her eyes open. …I didn’t even know that was possible. Anyway, Robby can’t sleep cuz he keeps hearing sounds.
Eventually he goes outside and finds…Dr Maniac. Yay! And once again, he has a dead squirrel. A thing so gross they used it twice in the first few chapters. Robby refuses to eat it so Dr Maniac does it instead.
After that, Maniac says Robby failed the “brave” test so he has to help defeat his enemy, the purple rage. Oh god, we’ll get to him later. So Dr Maniac drags him away and…
the next chapter shows Sam reading all this as it too was all a webcomic Robby just made. ‘
Wait…so it’s a webcomic within a webcomic. WEBCOMIC CEPTION.
Also, …really? Another damn false opening? The first time it was cute, but the 2nd time it was stupidly pointless! Seriously, no Goosebumps book has had this much filler to start out.
Robby and Sam are joined by Robby’s friend Brooke. He also shows off some of his sketches for his villain characters, as he loves villains as much as I do. His newest one is the Purple rage who is always purple faced cuz he is doomed to be angry.
BRUCE: That’s my secret. I’m always angry
Screw you, I had to.
Sam is then mocked a ton by Robby since he’s a dick and Sam brushes it off. Sam and Brooke actually get along since they both love a game called Battle Chess. Wasn’t this game briefly mentioned in How I got my shrunken head?
…First, I just showed how much of a geek I am when I mention a throwaway line. Seconded, I love a good callback.
Bored, Robby heads downstairs to watch TV. Then he hears a scream He runs back to up to find Brooke saying that Sam….is gone. Time to employ the three D’s. DUN. DUN. And my personal fave, DUN!
Then we cut to later, as Brooke has told Robby’s parents the story of how Sam got taken but they don’t buy it. She says Dr Maniac flew in at random and took sam without warning.
I’m glad we’re getting the “Horror” right out the gate. But I hope we get for an explanation for why Robby’s comic character suddenly exists and…stole Sam.
Anyway, the parent obviously don’t belie her, though she is kind of…crying. So maybe they should pay attention to that. Thankfully, Robby finds two feathers from Maniac’s cape on the bed.
But just then, the police show up, saying they found their son. Holy shit, COMPETENT police guy’s in a kids book? WHAT SORCRERY IS THIS?!
“They stood on the front stoop with with a boy I’d never seen before!”
take it back.
Yep, the police found a kid named Jerome with his flat tired’ bike They took him home and Jerome says he kept telling him they he’s not Sam, but they didn’t buy it. Wow, these are the DUMBEST police ever.
Chief Wiggum would be proud.
So after that bit of pointless nesss, Officer Rawlings comes in to talk. Also, Taylor shows up but that’s not important. Brooke is forced to launch into her story again. This is close to realistic, with how the police is showing up and Brooke is tearfully explaining this.
Only it’s ruined by….well hows dumb the police are. Anyway, Robby gets bored and hangs out in the den. The TV is on showing a talk show with a guy named Red Martinson.
“I hate Red Martinson. He laughs at this own jokes. He thinks he’s a real riot. Mom thinks he’s cute”
Why do I love that line?
On today’s episode, Red is interviewing the purple rage. /…Wait what? …Yes, Robby’s other made up super villain is on the TV.
Okay, get ready for a piece of Rage’s character.
“How do I feel about things? I’m ANGRY! Know what really PINCHES my PIANO? Everything! I’m angry about EVERYTHING! I’M ANGRY!”
“Most of our viewers won’t believe you’re real. Do something super to prove you’re the real deal”
‘That BURNS my BUBBLE BLOWER! That makes me even ANGRIER! How could I be on TV if I’m not REAL? “
The Purple rage may very well be the best thing in this entire book. Nay, ANY BOOK EVER. I LOVE this guy. But I won’t go into detail…cuz he shows up again…AND HE GETS BETTER!
Robby is amazed by this, so he calls in Mom and the cop to see it. But when they come in, the purple rage is no longer there. Instead, Red is talking to some other guy.
Man, that show works fast if they had time to get another guy in like 5 seconds after Purple rage left. Just saying.
Of course they think Robby is crazy. But they brush it off and go back to doing whatever. The fact that the purple rage is on TV IS a plot point…but no one else in this whole town looked in awe at a SUPER VILLAIN in real life.
Seriously, for the rest of the book, everything is normal. Even when Robby meets up with him it’s like NO ONE saw this and reacted like a normal person. If it wasn’t a plot point for Robby, it would be a BLAM!
Robby talks to Brooke about this, and how no one believes either of them. So they both head to the TV station to find the purple rage. I guess the cop and Mom are okay with them stepping out, since It would be heard to NOT hear them walking out in a normal house.
They bump into Red right away as he just finished filming. They ask him about the purple rage, and Red says he thought he was a joke but the rage turned out to be the real deal.
He never explains how this happened or why he let some unknown mad man on the show….but whatever. He says the purple rage had to leave, and he may be on the roof to fly off.
If he can fly, why would he go on the roof? He clearly doesn’t care that if anyone sees him. So with that, Robby takes off for the roof. Except he’s not allowed up there so some security guys give chase.
In the scuffle, he loses Brooke but he ends up on the roof anyway. He thinks he sees a flash of purple and walks over to check it out….but he winds up falling off the roof.
Before he can turn this into the darkest GB book ever, he is caught….by the purple rage. Yes, a villain saved hm. Now get ready….for…..a very odd villain.
“Know what PADDLES my PANKCAKES? Kids who fall off buildings! That puts me in a RAGE!”
Do you get it yet? Maybe more of him will help. Robby tells him that his brother was taken by Dr maniac.
“MY SWORN EMEMY? You say your brother has TEAMED UP with MY SWORN ENEMY?”
And later down the same page..
“How could your brother team up with that MANIAC? I heard that Dr maniac teamed up with the SCARLET STARLET!”
Every single quote from him is the way Stine wrote. Every single usage of caps….was all him. This is directly from the book.
RL Stine made Purple rage THE HAMIEST VILLAIN IN LITERATURE HISTORY! I am not kidding. Every single line feels like it’s coming from an overacting who is having WAY too much fine.
The Purple rage is clearly shown to be OVER THE TOP in how angry he is. Even The Angry Video Game Nerd would blush at this guy. Okay, he doesn’t’ swear but that’s too awesome, even for RL Stne.
It’s a good time to say that Stine has stated that this is his favorite of the “New” Goosebumps books. After seeing this character, I think I know why.
This book is the first one that makes it possible for someone to chew the scenery. IN A BOOK. He’s THAT over the top. Every line is so cheesy that he becomes one of the best Goosebumps villains ever.
Purple rage fucks around with Robby, thinking he may in cahoots with Dr Maniac..He even threatens to throw back to the roof without care. He does but he changes his mind and catches him again.
He is the greatest troll.
He decides he will help Robby find Sam, since he allows him a chance to stop his sworn enemy.
“Yes, I AM awesome! You know what really SNAPS my SHORTS? When other people tell me how awesome I am. Because I ALREADY KNOW IT!”
This guy is so angry he hates it when you COMPLIMENT him. I. LOVE. THIS. VILLAIN.
“Did you know I created you”
“NOOOOOOOOOO! YOU LIAR! I was created by a SCREAM from the mouth of the ancient god THOR!”
Great, you spoiled the ending of Thor 2.
“You know what really TWEAKS my TUTU? Dead leaves in my hair. How am I supposed to FLY with LEAVES in my perfect hair?”
He takes Robby to an underground cavern with some TV cameras in it. Then he takes out a glass case…full of scorpions.
“I’m going to feed them in a minute”
“What do you feed them?’
Wait, Robby CAN’T trust the angry guy who almost threw him off a roof? HOW UNEXPECTED!
“I shall keep my promise. Know what really HONKS my HORSE? People who get tense about me keeping my PROMISES!”
I think RL stine found a list of things that can do something to someone and put them all in this guy’s dialogue.
He turns on the cameras and addresses the world.
“I want you to watch me as I drop Robby into a seven foot tall case of scorpions”
Eh, it’s better than whatever bad reality show you interrupted.
“When your brother sees you area about to be stung to death by these scorpions don’t you think he’ll escape from Dr maniac and comes rescue you?’
If he happens to be watching TV, and also happens to have the power to even escape the mad man before you drop him. Anger isn’t good his brain , I see.
“Uh, maybe there’s a better plan?”
There is, but clearly this book gave up a long time ago. So, Robby is put into the glass case with the scropoins. While thinking in terror, he literally points exactly what I just said a second ago. As in, he says even if Sam happens to watching this and escape, it will be too late.
Wow, Stine is self aware today.
Desperate, Robby tries one plan to get rage to let him out.
“You GEEK! You CREAMPUFF! You WIMP! YOU DUMB CREEP! You FAT WIMP!
“What did you say?”
“You BABY! You WORM! You’re not match for the incredible dr Maniac!”
“Know what CRUNCHES my CREDENZ? YOU do! How DARE you!
“You’re PITIFUL! You’re DIRT. You’re ROADKILL1””
“Face the power of my breath of fury!”
….This is the best thing in the whole book so far. This so so damn cheesy that it almost feels intentional. Clearly he is meant to be over the top angry and the same goes what everything said here.
It’s like Stine finally found out how to do a self aware parody of his OWN work!
He gets so angry he turns into a living hurricane that blasts the case open. Robby must be glad the rage didn’t just flat out kill him in anger instead. He should also be glad the shards of glass didn’t fly up to him and cut him.
Also, he should be glad the scorpions around him didn’t fly up and okay you get the point, this bit is contrived.
“This really GRIPS my GOATEE!”
Robby runs away but somehow ends up falling into the sewer. A couple pages later, he makes his way out and back into the city. He makes it back home to Mom.
Being a loving mother, her knee jerk reaction is to tell him he smells like shit and makes him take a shower.
“Take a shower! No, take two showers! You reek!”
Okay, it’s not as bad as I make it sound. But come on, at least let him explain where he was and why he left instead of being the best mom ever.
Her rant is interrupted by a call from Brooke’s mom. As it turns out…Brooke went missing too. Robby takes a shower after that and wonders if the guards took her somehow.
But then he figures if they did, they would call her parents. This is like the 3rd time Robby has lampshades something I question….wow.
He checks his computer and finds…a drawn web comic he did not write. Dun dun dun!
Here’s what the strip shows: Dr Maniac plans to kidnapped every kid in the city and make the ice skate 24 hours a day. He’ll make an actual ice show, make money off of it, and be the richest guy ever.
…Clearly, this is a flawless plan.
The strip also shows that he has kidnapped…Sam and Brooke! Dun dun dun! It shows him taking them to the local ice rink and making them skate
“For how long?”
“For as long as your NOSE!”
…Do I even need to be here anymore? This book clearly makes fun of itself!
Robby is so confused. How could his character come to life? My question is how did this strip happen? If Dr Maniac actually did this, did he draw this to tell him that? Cuz I imagine he didn’t have much time or good reason to do so.
But then the cop from earlier shows up at Robby’s house, asking where he was when he vanished. He thinks he knows more than he lets on.
Hey, that….makes sense! That makes up for that awful police work earlier! Almost.
Robby tries to show them the comic strip to prove that Maniac took Brooke and Sam but it has vanished. This makes no sense but for the sake of the plot, I’ll roll with it.
The cop is not happy. Wait, did NO ONE see Purple rage’s broadcast? Maybe this book realized that there’s no way he could connect to anyone’s actual TV with the minimal equipment he has.
He backs off and he talks to Mom in private and Robby hears the cop say this.
“You’re son is totally mental”
…Worst. Cop. Ever. Your tax dollars at work!
So the cop leaves without asking anymore questions. Again, worst cop ever. So a bit later Robby heads to the ice rink to see if the strip was correct.
Of course, it is. Only it’s not Sam and Brooke there, it’s two other kids. Either the strip tolled him or Robby has awful eyesight.
Then we get our 3RD villain, the aforementioned Scarlet Starlet. Robby says she is a young woman with a red mask, red boots, a red cape, red top…and “a very short red skirt”
He flat out says it’s VERY short. You know-for kids!
She is pretty much like if you had a vain alpha bitch get super villain powers. Yes, she is awesome. Not as crazy as Dr Maniac, or as fun as Purple rage, but she’s cool.
I’m actually skipping most of Dr Maniac’s insane dialogue, as it’s THAT weird. For example, he says this ice show will get them as much attention as a hamster in an encyclopedia factory.
“That didn’t make any sense to me”
“Please call me DOCTOR Maniac! I have a college degree in Maniacal studies”
PLANTKON: I went to college!
So Dr Crazy and Evil Sharpay have kidnapped Robby for the ice show. He is forced to skate for awhile….until the purple rage comes in,.
“Know what really BITES my GIRAFEE?”
….I don’t wanna know.’
The purple rage orders him to let the kids go. I think this is a case where he IS evil and will do bad things to kids, but he hates this enemy so much e doesn’t want him to do the same.
The purple rage …well rages, but Dr Maniac does nothing. At all. He just laughs like he isn’t raging.
“Feel my RAAAAGE!”
He rages so much….that he LITTERALY EXPLODES.
“He burst into a million yucky pieces”
….NOOO! NOT THE PURPLE RAGE! HE WAS THE BEST CHARACTER!
I love that gag.
So yeah, he’s gone and now Dr Maniac is free to do his plan. I’d call that scene pointless…but if it wasn’t there, I would wonder where Rage is. So it has a point.
A couple hours later, Robby has been skating for awhile. Eventually, there are tons of kids in the rink. Robby thinks and figures they outnumber Dr Maniac. If they made a mad dash for the exist, they could get a decent number out to get help.
…That actually makes sense. Granted, I don’t know who could help stop this crazy guy now that Rage is dead, but it’s a good start.
So Robby tells everyone to try to escape at exactly 8:30. That time comes but before they can escape….the ice starts melting.
Robby looks up to see Dr Maniac at a big computer that is somehow there without explanation, typing something. He is melting the ice….somehow.
I don’t get it but let’s move on. He keeps melting and freezing the ice to prevent their escape. Robby works hard but he eventually just throws himself at Dr Maniac to try to stop him.
By mistake, he grabs his face….and it comes off.
“It was a mask!”
Oh wow. Let’s find out who this maniac really is!”
WHAT A TWEEST!
admit, I did not see that coming. But that doesn’t make it good just because. Let’s see how they explain it. Wait, why Scarlet Starlet taking of….her mask?!
“Brooke? You too?!”
WHAT A TWEEST x2.
Didn’t see that coming either.
“Sam and Brooke are gone forever.”
“But why Sam, why did you choose to be evil?”
“You said it first Robby. You said the villains are always more interesting. I’m a maniac now. I’m not your pudgy kid brother anymore.”
“You were always the talented one. Mr Talented artist with his awesome comic strips. I was just the chubby joke. Well…not anymore. I’m evil, Robby—and soon I’m going to be RICH!”
That’s all he says. Okay, on one hand this is nice. Sam is now sympathetic. We’ve all been there, but he picked evil. This makes him kind of tragic and this is kind of deep for Goosebumps.
On the other hand…this MAKES. NO SENSE. They don’t answer the BASIC questions this Twist gives us.
How did he turn evil? Dr Maniac is a character Robby created so he did he become him? How did he get SUPER POWERS? He was clearly flying. How did he become crazy?
How did he make any of this crap? He did get a costume so good it makes him look like an adult? At no point in this part do we get how or even why this is even possible.
Actually, what about Brooke? Why is SHE evil? We get NO explanation from her. She’s just….there. Sam being evil is one thing, but being Dr Maniac himself is another. I don’t get how Dr Maniac is really alive and real since Robby created him.
But him being Sam makes even less sense. I like the idea a lot, but the basic plot the premise hings and the big twist….don’t make ANY sense. It’s almost as bad as that bit in Paranormal Activity 4. Okay, at least this book isn’t pointless.
I wish I could make sense so my final review will be better…but I can’t sorry.
…Wait, where did purple rage come from in all this?!
“Are you with us, or against us?”
“…AGAINST you. Now what are you going to do?”
As badass as this is, I thought Robby would be smart enough to try the ‘I know you’re in there” cliché. Ah well.
Just then, the cops swarm in. Wait, they have been at this rink for hours and it took them this long to trace the kids here? Again, worst cops ever.
Also, they assume they take can taken down a flying super villain. Dumbass.
The two villains vanish but appear on the big computer screen.
“The world will NEVER be safe from us!”
Okay, how can they do this? Now we know they are two normal characters. So it makes no sense. Also, this won’t save you. The cops could…trash the computer. You could escape but they don’t, as you will see.
Robby goes up to the keyboard.
“I didn’t want to do it. I really didn’t. But I knew I had no choice”
“I pressed the Delete key” And with another pop, Dr Maniac and the Scarlet Starlet vanished from the video screen—vanished for good”
Okay, I have two main comments:
- Why didn’t they exist the computer if Robby could delete them so easily?
- I know they were evil but….he just deleted his friend and brother from existence. …What a dick.
So, what now?
“Mom and I were in my bedroom. Mom leaned over me with her hands my shoulders, reading the comic strip on my laptop. It a long story. The longest I had ever drawn”
The….entire thing….was a comic strip? …Normally, that is the part where I rage….but nah. It’s a huge cop out, and it’s really lame, especially due to how the Horrorland books operate.
But compared to the other books that did a twist like this, I’m numb now. But I will say it makes sense now. A 12 year old boy WOULD write like that, and throw in twists that make no sense. So…he got that write.
Wait, the book opened with a scene that was a comic. Then the next scene…was a comic. So this whole book….is a comic within a comic….within a comic?
“I called it Dr Maniac Vs Robby Schwartz”
“It has such a sad ending. You deleted your brother and your friend Brooke?’
“I thought it was a perfect ending. Good triumphed over evil. But it was also sad”
So Robby loves it cuz it’s bittersweet? Okay, Robby is officially an internet man. A troper most likely. As dickish as it is to deleted your brother, he knows it’s bittersweet.
“I know you hate being an only child. So you invented a brother and sister for yourself”
And then he made the sister bitchy and pointless and the brother evil and gone from existence.
But this is not the end. They chuckle and Mom leaves. Robby looks back at his computer to see…a new drawing he never made.
It has Dr Maniac, the Scarlet Starlet, and Taylor the sister. They have word Balloons and everything.
TAYLOR: Listen Robby, next time I want a BIGGER part! I didn’t get to do ANYTHING in your dumb story.
Okay, is this book reading my mind?
SCARLET STARLET: We don’t like your ending. We have a better ending!
DR MANIAC: You won’t like our ending, Robby. But we’ll be showing it to you real soon! We’re be WAITING for you…in Horrorland!”
I love how Horrorland was mentioned in the story itself. I’ll get into that when I cover the Horrorland sections.
So….how do the fake characters end up as real at the end? I’ve read all the Horrorland books after this….and they don’t explain it. Spoilers, I know. You are so shocked.
But there’s the book, in all it’s odd glory.
This one was…mixed. On a critical level, it’s just okay The idea is interesting and to an extent, Stine did a good job homaging comic characters with how over the top they are.
Parts of the plot do work at times, and as I pointed out, it’s almost clever. They make fun of the bittersweet ending, they mock how pointless Taylor is, and Robby is smarter than most GB characters.
However, it has tons of plot holes that make no sense/ The ending explains it but that doesn’t make up for Stine’s sins in this one. The “twist” makes no sense and makes the entire premise a waste.
The ending is kind of insulting given what we went through, but I’ve seen worse. It’s just the inconsistent writing that plagues this one. It could have been flat out good if they went through with it and explained more.
But on a pure personal level….I LOVED IT! It’s so bad it’s great. Did I mention how much I love the villains? Their personalities are so over the top, and the dialogue is so cheesy that they steal the show more than in any Book i’ve read.
They are meant to be over the top, but they become even better due to how dumb the book is in the end. It’s a blast from start to finish, being the insane book in the Horrorland series.
Stine had fun with one, that much is clear. I also think it’s kind of a spoof itself. Notice how many times they lampshade something I mention, or how often a smart thought happens. I’m sure it was by mistake, and Stine had no idea this could be seen as “Self aware”.
But I’m not sure. I think this one KNEW it wasn’t high art, so it just mocked itself. So , it’s almost critic proof. I hope Troy Steele figures this out, cuz if he actually rages…he will miss the point.
Bottom line? Average on a critical level…fun as a guilty pleasure.
Critical Grade: C+
All in all, it’s the weakest Horrorland book in arc 1 besides Revenge of the living Dummy. But it’s not too bad.
There’s another one down. I’ll try to get the next one out before a month goes by. But you know, I’d like to see this crazy Dr Maniac again someday. Maybe in-
…Oh hell yes.