So what does it all mean? Is Mr. T Vs indicative of a deeper and more disturbing trend creeping through cybersociety. Probably not. Could it be that there are a large number of high school and college-aged young men who aren't doing as much studying as they ought to be? This may be closer to the mark. Still the recurring theme must have its meaning in their collective unconscious. Obviously the stories in general are cathartic in nature. The authors choose a subject that annoys them, like The Backstreet Boys and proceed to more or less decimate the object of their ire. They are also crude morality plays indicating dissatisfaction with society.
Though we are still doing research on exact dates and persons responsible, legend has it that the first of this genre was Mr. T vs. Superman. It actually violates some of the character traits that would become rules for later pages. Mr. T is not on the side of good, having been bribed by Lex Luthor to challenge Superman. He still however emerges victorious and is "helluva tough". It is impossible to tell just from looking at this page how it could have inspired not just one but hundreds of imitators.
Also typically mentioned as an inspiration is the Mr. T Ate My Balls page. It's possible that this page spawned not only the many Ate My Balls pages, but the Mr. T Vs phenomenon as well. The antecedents are clearly presented with crude humor and amateurish graphic manipulation. This is born out by the final graphic in Mr. T vs. Superman which has Mr. T declaring. "Damn them gold chains is good!"
Page Design and Production Values
These vary widely from page to page depending on the skills and intelligence of the creator. The most common is a multi-page design with three to five pictures centered on the page. Captions and dialogue are inserted either under the picture or with speech and thought balloons onto the pictures. One moves on in the story by clicking the linked words, "next page" or "page two" or words to that effect. There are simplified versions of this where only one page is used and Mr. T wastes no time in throwing his opponent "helluva far", as in the Mr. T Vs. The Brady Bunch mismatch.
Many of the existing pages use graphics and sounds made available on The Mr. T Resource Archive. And there is a guide to making your own at Mr. T vs. Pagebuilder Page. Though it isn't clear if this is used as a guide, or is merely noting already existing patterns. To sample many different designs visit the Mr. T Vs. Everything web page.
The Mr. T Persona
The Mr. T Vs character is an extremely simplified version of a complicated, and in fact deeply weird individual. It has some resemblance to the persona Mr. T has tried over the years, with varying degrees of success, to project to the public. The Mr. T of Mr. T Vs has more traits in common with the B.A. Baracus character Mr. T played on The A-Team. He is afraid of flying. He drinks milk. He works at youth centers. He doesn't (usually) swear. He can make tanks out of toasters. He speaks ungrammatically. He has little tolerance for crazy fools. However the Mr. T Vs persona has exaggerated, in fact super-human, abilities. To be specific, he can "throw helluva far" and, unaffected by most weapons, is "helluva tough". Also he is almost always hostile towards his A-Team compatriots in the rare times they appear in the strips. And he speaks even more ungrammatically than the B.A. character. Of course, that could be due to the authors' personal disregard for the English language and/or inability to spell.
Analysis: The superhuman Mr. T is the perfect choice as embodiment of the authors' aggression. He cannot be defeated. Hence victory and catharsis are ensured. Also the extra bad attitude with which the character is endowed further guarantees that someone is going to get wrecked.
Most of the language consists of lines quoting or adapted from Mr. T's on screen roles, like "sucka" and "I pity the Fool", but let's examine the non-canonical word, "helluva". It is a corruption, of course, of "hell of a" as in "he is a helluva fighter", meaning "very good". But in the Mr. T Vs universe it is more often used to mean only "very" as in "helluva far" or "helluva tough". So why is this particular word so often used? It's an application of the comedy principle that over-repetition + mild shock value + bad grammar = funny. Regardless of how well the formula may or may not work in any given strip, it has passed from amusing device to ingrained tradition.
Common Reappearing Elements
The Super Villain: Most of the Mr. T vs. epics begin with the introduction of a villain usually a popular singer or other current celebrity, who turns out to have evil designs to take over the world or at least harass Youth Centers. A good example of this type of villain is Britney Spears. The Villain usually initiates the battle by issuing a challenge to Mr. T or the Villain's victims call Mr. T for assistance, as in Mr. T vs. Hitler. It is however possible for the villain not to be deserving of Mr. T's wrath. Sometimes they have been falsely accused of their evil deeds, or can point out a larger threat that Mr. T should take care of before throwing them "helluva far".
Analysis: Though super-villains are often chosen on the basis of their comic potential, or the availability of usable graphics, they are almost invariably eminent pop-culture icons. This may be a simple desire on the part of those who create them to eradicate the symbols of this decade and return to the relative simplicity of the early 1980s as represented by Mr. T. Of course this doesn't explain things like Mr. T Vs. Wayne Newton, but then that really doesn't require an explanation.
Youth Centers/Kids: This is often the initial setting for the story, with Mr. T conversing with or teaching kids at a youth center. Also they are often a motivation for T to take action, when the youth center or children in general are threatened.
Analysis: As the milk below represents morality, so the Youth Centers and the resultant children represent innocence and a reluctance to enter adulthood. The Mr. T character displays the Peter Pan syndrome, not just in his protection of children, but in his own asexuality and fantasy freedom from adult rules.
The Gold: Mr. T's gold is often used as his motivation for action. The villain has touched/threatened to steal/stolen/insulted Mr. T's gold. The gold is sometimes magical in nature, being portrayed as the source of Mr. T's powers. It is also sometimes a weakness since Mr. T can be bribed or distracted by gold as in Mr. T Vs The Young Ones.
Analysis: It is interesting that "The Gold", which surely represents personal wealth in our society, is portrayed as both Mr. T's strength and his weakness. It seems to endow him with energy comparable to Austin Powers "mojo" (though somewhat less sexual in nature). But it also represents both greed and vanity and is often viewed as vulnerability, indicating some belief in the old adage that "money can't buy happiness".
The Milk: This is also often a motivation for Mr. T. If the villain has tried to alter milk in some way, as in Mr. T vs. Cows, or insulted the wholesomeness of milk, etc. Mr. T is usually portrayed as relaxing with a glass of milk after the adventure is over, and sometimes before it begins.
Analysis: The milk represents the wholesomeness and morality of the T character, placing the protagonist in a clearly ethically superior position over the super-villain. That he returns to the milk, at the end of the conflict, demonstrates that morality has triumphed.
The Van: It is practically a character in its own right. Though it bears a superficial resemblance to B.A.'s A-Team Van, it has considerably more capabilities. Not only can it go "helluva fast", it can easily traverse both time and space.
Analysis: Aside from the convenience of the Van as a plot device, it also represents the common male-computer-geek fascination with toys. Really, is there a guy in the world who can resist a big black van with a bright red stripe? It's some sort of primal instinct.