Monday, 17 October 2016

Dead Space Liberation (OGN)

"This is just not my fucking day" - John Carver

And so we come to the final comic in the Dead Space videogame exapnded universe and thanks to the failure of Dead Space 3 it's unlikely we'll be getting any more in the future.  This one takes place between Dead Space 2 and 3 and gives us background on Carver, the co-op character from Dead Space 3.  Now if you've read my previous looks at the Dead Space comics you might be expecting another moan about Dead Space 3 and how much it sucked.  But no, I changed my mind.  Didn't expect that did you?  My mistake was to treat it as a horror game, when really it's much more of an action game.  Readjust your expectations and it's actually pretty good, despite the last piece of DLC torching the franchise and rendering all of Isaac's struggles for naught.  And if you're wondering what the hell I am talking about well here's what the Dead Space franchise is all about: Dead Space (the first game) saw you as a space engineer called Isaac Clarke, whose ship is damaged after it receives a distress call from the "Planet Cracker" mining ship the Ishimura. He is sent aboard to repair the Ishimura and get it moving again while both investigating the disappearence of the Ishimura's crew (and the colony on the planet below) and simultaneously fending off mutated, alien zombie creatures.  It turns out those alien zombie creatures are the crew, resurrected and deformed by an alien artefact called "The Red Marker."  This Marker is also the focus of a particularly zealous religion called Unitology who worship it as a means of bringing them together in peaceful coexistence, while it actually causes madness and death to those close by, and finally brings those dead back to life as homicidal "necromorphs".

The first Dead Space comic was a prequel, Dead Space Salvage was set just afterwards.  Dead Space 2 (game) saw a "Black Marker" induced outbreak on a huge city complex on Titan called The Sprawl, and Dead Space 3 (game) saw an investigation into the real motivation of the markers which was to create and bring enough necromorphs together to form "Brethren Moons" which then begin attack Earth in the final moments of the Dead Space 3 post-game DLC to the horror of Isaac and Carver who thought they had saved the day at the end of the main game.  Phew, that's a lot of backstory for a series of games about space zombies, I've had to summarise a story in a couple of paragraphs that takes place across four games themselves, three comicbooks, two anime films and a novel of dubious qua-li-tee.  So lets enjoy our final visit to the franchise with this story, by the same team behind Dead Space Salvage, writer Ian Edginton and artist Christopher Shy.
John Carver.
We start on the planet Uxor and EarthGov sergeant John Carver is having an argument with his wife Damara over his commlink.  She works with the Black Marker they have there (if you're wondering why people keep making Markers despite them being the cause of space zombies, it's because they're disguised as generators of free energy as this Earth civilisation is desperate for renewable energy) when suddenly the Marker shield is pulled back.

Damara urgently calls him back and tells him to grab their son Dylan and get down to the blast shelters.  Then someone fires on the Marker, exposing it.  An EMP pulse follows.  Carver desperately tries to call into Central but gets nothing.  Then a ship that was in low orbit falls from the sky, the EMP pulse having taken them out.

Carver starts making his way to the Marker to find Damara and Dylan.  Necromorphs have started to be born and he has to fight his way through.  He makes it inside and says to himself:

Carver: "God.. if you're watching over this hell... I never asked you for anything in my life... I'm begging you now.. let them be safe."

He hears some people ahead and stops to listen.  They are Danik, a high ranking Unitologist and his minions.  They sabotaged the Marker, but the crashing spaceship wasn't in their plans.  Then over Carver's commlink comes someone slurring, "Jjjohn..." and the Unitologists here that and capture Carver.
Captured by Unitologists.
They tie him up and beat him to find out who was working on the Marker.  John manages to spit out a "Your mom" reply.  Danik is unamused and tells him minions to shoot him, but then one of them discovers who he is and that his wife is one of the scientists they are after.  This incites a rage in Carver and he manages to bust his way free and runs off to find his wife and kid.

He arrives at their quarters and sees Damara standing with his back to him, she turns and reveals she now a necromorph, as it their son Dylan.  A distraught Carver has to shoot them both.  He then puts his gun under his chin to commit suicide so he can be with them when a call comes over the commlink for Damara.
Carver's distress at killing his family.
Carver picks up the call and tells the person on the other end that Damara is dead.  The person asks if the "data stick" is still there and he says yes.  Then the voice recognises him and introduces herself as "Ellie Langford", she is with her boyfriend Captain Robert Norton, they met when they were stationed together at Haven. Damara contacted her during her Marker research:

Ellie: "She discovered that Marker tampering went way back, past Earth-Gov to the old Sovereign Colonies Administration."

Danik and his people are here to find the data she accumulated.  Her ship was in high orbit so escaped the EMP, they land and pick Carver up.  But unbeknowst to them, the Unitologists are monitoring their communications and are lying in wait.

Ellie reaches the rendevous point but Carver isn't there.   He tells her he thought they might be listening in so used her as bait.  He sees them on her flank and snipes them with a sniper rifle.  He's attacked by necromorphs but fights them off and the ship the Eudora collects him and Ellie safely.
Suddenly necromorphs.
On board with the data secure, Carver asks what it is and why did he have to shoot his wife and kid?  Norton says it's need to know only, but Ellie says he has a right to know.  Damara was working for them but couldn't tell anyone not even her husband.  As a "data archeaologist she was able able to locate, retrieve and rebuild information from countless redundant systems."
Ellie then plugs in the data stick saying maybe it's better if Carver heard it in her own words.   Damara appears on screen saying is anyone is hearing this she is most likely dead and the information must not fall into Unitologist hands.  She found evidence that pre-Earth Gov a master signal that controlled all Markers was found.

The Soveriegn government built three markers to triangulate the parent signal, then soon after purged all data from their systems about it, but she was able to repair some of it.  She found the location of the triangulation station "the Ptolemy Array" which is in the files.  She admits it's been hard keeping this secret from John, "if he knew the danger, he'd try to stop me."  But she has to do this, for their child, for all children.

Ellie says if John wants to honour her memory and avenge her, he should join up with them. He agrees and they fly to the location of the Ptolemy Array. They find it derelict with no life-signs and they board it.  Ellie manages to reboot the two-hundred year old system, John thanks her but Ellie says it was Damara who came up with the "restart protocols."
The Ptolemy array.
She starts triangulating the master signal and tells Carver his wife was a "brave and intelligent woman.  None of this would have been possible without her."  The Markers deploy and the signal triangulates.  It's too far out to "shock" (FTL travel) to.  They need to shock a beacon out first and follow that. Carver says "Keyhole station" has that facility and they leave but not before destroying the Ptolemy Array to prevent others using it.

As the ship travels to its next destination Ellie tells Norton that she has checked the data and big chunks of it are in "Marker language".

Ellie: "Without a primer we can't read them.  Robert, we need this information.  It's the largest target cache. We - "
Norton: "I know where this is going.  Save your breath.  The answer's no."

The only person who can read Marker language is Isaac Clarke, Ellie's old boyfriend.  Norton says the Unitologist  will be watching "that lunatic's" every move.  Ellie says Norton needs to get over himself.

Snippily Norton tells her to check on Carver, "that's what your into right?  Screwed up basket cases?"  He says now they have the files they don't need Carver, he has plenty of soldiers on the ship.  Ellie calls him an "asshole" and goes to find Carver.
He is sad and beating himself up about Damara and Dylan deserving someone better than him, that his inability to keep his temper meant he never got promoted and dragged her from one "shit-hole posting to another".

Carver: "I got angry, bitter for not giving them the life they deserved.  For having my boy grow up on a bleak barracks world.  For watching Damara side-line her career.  Most of all I was angry at myself for letting it happen.  I'll never see them again.  Never be able to tell them I am sorry."
Ellie comforts him as he says he'll finish what she started, it's the only thing he can do for her.

They arrive at Keyhole Station, but no one is responding to their hails.  They decide on a low impact incursion to see what's going on in there.  Inside, it turns out the place is overrun with necromorphs.  There is a mass attack, confusion and Carver sets off a grenade to take them out.
More necromorphs on Keyhole station,
Norton says they are going to go through the main access.  Carver says they should go around and Norton's plan will get them killed.  Then more necromorphs attack, and Carver says they need to do things his way. They open a door and are confronted by a huge necromorph.

Then the Eudora calls in, it is under attack from an unidentified vessel. Then a shot misses them and hits the station.  The resulting explosion seperates Norton and Carver from Ellie. She and a woman called Jennifer Santos fight off the necromorphs.  She tells Norton she'll make her way to the command room and they can meet there.
Dare to be badass Carver.
The attacking ship belongs to Danik and the Unitologists.   Danik says to keep targeting their ship while a boarding party travels to the station.  They had tagged the Eudora and the fact that it's are here means they've discovered co-ordinates.  "We move with holy purpose now" says Danik.

As Carver and Norton move through the station, Ellie calls them and says they are trapped on the hanger deck.  If Norton and Carver can get to the control deck they can activate the shock gate and she can take a sub-light flyer through it to the destination co-ordinates.  Norton and Carver are faced with another huge necromorph on the way to the control deck.  They blast it to bits and continue on their way.

They make it to Command and Control  Ellie and the others with her are in the flyer.  She has a shock beacon, when they get to Tau Voluntis (where the third game is set) she'll activate it and they can follow in the Eudora.  She tells Norton, "you're still an ass.  But I love you anyway."

On the Unitologist ship they detect the shockpoint generators cycling up. Danik says it's the "light and the way, the key to what lies beyond".

Danik: "Such a priviledge belongs to the faithful not these heretic filth.  Shoot down any ship that departs for the gate."

He's then told the station's weapons grid has just gone live and is targeting them.  All weapons fire on the Unitologist's ship.

Ellie's ship is finally prepped and after she admits to Norton that she is scared it shocks through the gateway.  The crippled Unitologist ship tries to follow, and Carver and Norton start shutting the gateway down.  They can't shut it down in time so blow the gate up instead.
Ellie departs for Tau Volantis.
The damaged Unitologist ship withdraws for now.  Carver and Norton travel back to the Eudora as the station is starting to fall apart. Back on the ship Norton says "we won".  Carver responds that Ellie is trapped on Tau Volantis, everyone on Uxor and Keyhole station are dead or worse, "how is that a victory?"
Norton says denying the Unitologists his wife's data was a victory or Uxor wouldn't have been the only world to fall. "Hundreds died to save millions" he says.  However without Damara they can't translate the Marker language, Carver asks if there is anyone else?  And Norton reluctantly says yes, a man called "Isaac Clarke".  And with that the story ends.
Isaac Clarke and a looming Marker.
And so with heavy heart I finish my final journey through the Dead Space EU.  Dead Space 3, a victim of ridiculous sales expectations sank a franchise that still had much potential and interesting stories to tell.  If you are wondering what happens next, Isaac does indeed get inviegled into joining them as they uncover the history of the Markers on Tau Volantis. Unfortunately Carver is only playable if there is two of you and so I guess I'll never be able to complete his side missions where he deals with the PTSD caused by having to shoot his wife and kid during the necromorph outbreak.  Annoying stuff.  Once again I like the artwork in this book, I run hot and cold on painted artwork, but sometimes it works for me and it does here, capturing the claustrophobic nature of the ships and the things that will come squirming out of the darkness to attack people.  I really, really hope one day the Dead Space fanchise gets resurrected.  The comics have been entertaining and have provided useful additional backstory to the games.  It seems a shame to waste a vibrant universe of bizarre monsters, religious maniacs, evil artefacts, ace female pilots and gruff soldiers but what do I know? I only, like own everything to do with this franchise, the only videogame EU in which I do so. Anyway, this comic will mean nothing to a non fan of the series (and really I commend your patience if you aren't and got this far because you're probably very confused), but for those who do like the games this is well worth a look as are the rest of the comics.  And that's it for Dead Space... for now.


  1. "it's because they're disguised as generators of free energy as this Earth civilisation is desperate for"

    I knew those hippies were up to something.

    If you'll excuse me, I need to go torch a wind farm.

  2. I wonder what kind of monster a wind farm would create? You've got me thinking now...

  3. When I get my donkeys I'll probably go tilting at them just in case.

    We have a lot of farms down here with the big 150 feet ones. I quite like standing under the blades as they swoop round. It's quite exciting.

    (Oh, historical polemic on previous post btw)

  4. I don't think it gets windy enough round here, I've never seen a windfarm in my travels round this bit of the country.

  5. They're pretty ubiquitous down here (I can see three wind farms just looking out of my window now). That's partly a matter of location. We have a landscape that suits them and we're on a peninsula that sticks out into the Atlantic. And also renewables is a big thing down here; were a bit of a hub for that. Not just wind, but geothermal and tidal. I read through a friend's doctoral thesis and it was literally 200 pages on which was the best knot to use to tie a wave motion motor to an anchor.

    One place that does a lot of that sort of thing is the old 'Camborne School of Mines". I've begged to do some lecturing there just so I can have that on my CV. Is that not the coolest university name ever!

  6. Well I definitely trust a windfarm over an exhumed alien structure that radiates free energy and cause people to build a weird Not-Scientology religion around them!

  7. I quite like Scientology. Not as an organisation; but the fact it originated as a pub bet.

    'Made up religions' would be an interesting topic (not withstand that arguably even the 'real' ones are made up)

    I'm a big fan of Bokononism from Kurt Vonnegut's Cats Cradle. I could subscribe to that (just for the foot massage stuff)

  8. The religion I vaguely follow isn't sure it is a religion, although it is definitely a philosophy (it's Daoism). It's about the only religion I can get away with without being disowned by my atheist mother!

  9. Taoism (sorry I'm one of those guys :-) ) certainly has a lot going for it. There are certainly some concepts I use in my own life. I'd crudely over simplify them as 'you might not be able to swim against the current but you can still choose where you go within the current'. (Which is also the advice for escaping rip tides funny enough)

    As I think I've mentioned I'm an atheist pagan (I live in an undetermined quantum superstate so holding contradictory views isn't a problem for me). My paganism though isn't a religion either, it's just a world view (like string theory or the Copenhagen model) so there's no ethical or philosophical component.

    I fill that from elsewhere. Funnily enough it's a very JKD/Krav approach. Mix and match borrowing from multiple sources (hey, maybe we could form our own MMA based religion!)

    My biggest influence is Marcus Aurelius. To be honest I think 'Meditations' contains 99% of anything you're ever likely to need. But of course there's a lot of overlap/parallel development with other philosophies, including Taoism.

  10. I think I started out with paganistic views, but as my interest in Far Eastern spirituality grew I found I had more in common with Daoism. I wouldn't say I'm devout or anything, it's more where the teachings have matched thoughts and feelings I've always had. Even though I have to put up with darkly sarcastic remarks from the rest of the family, who are also all atheists. Bah humbug. I like the fact you don't worship a supreme being so it feels less patriarchal than most religions. It's also the reason I turned vegetarian as well, to further annoy my mum. :D

  11. Heh, it's so funny to compare your experience to say, someone from an Amercian family. It reminds me a bit of that Monty Python sketch. "No son of mine is going down the pit, it's art school for you me lad"

    I get what you mean about something marbling your existing views. My paganism developed very early, it's funny cause I went to a really religious school. It wasn't a backlash or anything, the Jesuits were pretty cool about that. We used to have long chats, just from an academic pint of view. Funnily enough there was a little group of us who were groomed in theology (we got to take the theology a level a year early, yay) and all of us are either pagan or Buddhists now. The only 'pressure' I ever got was that I was very keen on astronomy and the Jesuits pointed out that going to seminary could set me up for life with that (they'd pay for all the study for the rest of my life and there's a big astronomy thing within Catholicism)

    When I pointed out it might be problematic what with the whole not believing in God thing they just laughed and said "theology is what allows atheists to become bishops"

    I do believe in a goddess though; it's complicated. :-)

  12. I love that Python sketch! One of my faves.

    My Junior school was C of E so not really very religious, then my secondary school was about as religious as most state schools in the 80's. Morning assemby, hymn, Lord's Prayer and that was it. I wasn't much into spirituality back then I was more into extreme lefty politics as a teen and young woman. The beliefs came later as I teased out the mess that was my mind through extensive counselling and therapy.

  13. Well CofE is just what you put on forms if you can't spell atheist.

    Spiritualty or lefty politics; tough choice. An incoherent mishmash of idealism and hippy beliefs; or spirituality? *ducks* :-) (sorry, I can never resist an old classic)

    There's probably an analogy between messy minds and messy kitchens or laboratories. It's never the tidy places where great things are created.

  14. I enjoyed the joke, it has some truth to it like all jokes. Although my mum is and always has been an old socialist I was radicalised by a comic, the 2000AD spin-off CRISIS. I've covered a couple of stories from it, I think the first "Third World War" strip was the one that set me off which I think I admit to in my post on it. I also started supporting Amnesty when they did a special about it too.

  15. I quite liked Crisis; although it was Pat Mills at his most preachy. Even amongst my pagan and animal rights friends it was like "FFS Pat, give it a rest!" :-)

    But you have got me thinking about how comics might have influenced my world views. Not sure if that bodes well for someone brought up on 'Action'.

    In the 80s though there was a gang of us who looked like we'd teleported in from Mega City One. Heh, I had a t-shirt that pronounced me as a member of the "Margaret Thatcher Block Citi-Def Unit". Funnily enough I still occasionally wear knee pads, but that's more a practical thing.

    On a related note, I used to frequent the pub where Amnesty International started when I was an impoverished law student. I used to go there with my equally impoverished artist girlfriend. That landlady felt sorry for us so she'd sneakily cook us up sausage and chips. I'd eat all the sausages and my veggie girlfriend would eat all the chips.

    Happy times. :-)

  16. The first Third Wolrd War strip is good, but books two and three are very poor as Pat Mills does get very preachy indeed and his portrayal of the black characters gets troubling too. I really loved Garth Ennis's first strip "Troubled Souls" amazing to think he was only 19.

    Mmm sausages, must say I still get the occasional cravings for them every now and then. I still donate to Amnesty to this day.

  17. Ha yeah, I remember the "True-brary" bit; mainly because it lead to this exchange.

    "Your point about stereotypes would carry more weight if you weren't smoking a spliff whilst listening to Steel Pulse"

    Although as someone from an Irish background I was a bit bemused by the character who was practically a leprechaun (until I moved to London and discovered the Kilburn High Road is full of them)

    Yeah, I miss sausages. I agreed the following exceptions with my vegan oppressor.

    1. Unsolicited food where it would be rude to make a fuss.

    2. Dire emergencies. (I was thinking 'filling station only has scotch eggs' but she insists it means plane crashes).

    3. Eating defeated enemies to gain their souls.

    So basically I need to pick a fight with a sausage.

  18. I do make exceptions for family dinners. Mum's pretty good at cooking up veggie food but sometimes she wants meat and there's no way I'm sitting out a lamb stew and dumplings!

  19. Mmm, dumplings. *drowns in own drool*

    Generally speaking I keep on the straight and narrow. Possible because every morning I get sent a picture of some ripped vegan athlete/body builder/MMA fighter as 'inspiration'. Funnily enough though the most effective effort was just a plaintive text that said "Please stop eating piggies"

    I probably shouldn't have let her know that as I also now get bombarded with piggy related stuff. Today's was a pic from the "Piggies for Peace" sanctuary (I am not joking!)

    To get back vaguely on topic, comics at least, do you remember the Inspector Ramm strip from 2000AD? It was a great idea (talking animals enforcing vegetarianism) but so badly done. Even my veggie friends at the time said they'd be quite happy to eat the lead character just cause he was so annoying.

  20. I've been told that tommorrows family lunch is stew and dumplings whatta coincidence. I'll have to apologise to the chicken's spirit though.

    Oddly I haven't actually eaten any pig related product since I was 18 when I was hospitalised with a severe stomach infection (also the last time I ever drank alcohol). After I got better I found myself unable to tolerate pig meat of any kind without well.. (to be indelicate) puking it right back up again. So when we had toad in the hole I got beef sausages instead. Damn now I want toad in the hole as well. >_<

    Now where were we? Comics yes. No, from a quick google search I see I had stopped reading 2000AD by then. I'm actually working my way through my collection which runs from roughly 1985 to very early 1991 right now looking for self contained series to run on my blog. I can see the appeal of the idea, and from the picture, the main character looks pretty cool but also I can see how it could be insanely preachy and annoying. Like teenage vegetarians usually are, heh.

  21. "I don't dig on swine"

    Don't worry, that was very delicately put. Nancy Mitford couldn't have done better "When one is puking (one should never call it barf)...." etc.

    Hmmm, that was towards the end of when 2000AD was good. Just before comics started taking themselves too seriously and pretending to be 'adult'. Which really meant appealing to the masturbatory fantasies of teenage boys. (I can remember the exact scene where 2000AD 'jumped the shark' in tjat regard).

    But, yelling at clouds aside, is the story "Freaks" covered in that period? We loved that. It's the one where the flash human boy gets stuck with the 'alien' girl. (Trope) ensues.

  22. I think Toxic was the worst comic for that purile tendency. I remembered it as a cool comic albeit one I had a letter printed in moaning about the painted artwork and lack of black and white strips. Some things don't change. When I reread it this year I was humiliated at how bad it was. I did a shortlived tumblr mocking it, maybe I should scan in my letter to finish it off.

    "Freaks" sounds familiar. I've been jumping forwards and backwards becuase I have been following stories in order. I'm currently reading a Garth Ennis story that is AWFUL. I am not sure how to cover it except with a selection of panels and the words "Garth, this is bad and you should feel bad" repeated over and over. I stopped reading 2000AD a few issues later...

  23. "But they have to be mushroom atoms"

    (How to make an atomic bomb according to the hero in Freaks)

    Ooh yes, Toxic really tried too hard. Especially that Marshall Law strip. S&M as a short cut to edginess.

    That was the 2000AD thing actually. There was a Dredd strip that featured some lass in a dominatrix outfit blackmailing a chap by allowing him to 'worship' her. There was nothing wrong per se with it, it was actually quite well done. It just felt out of place in that particular comic.

    Deadline on the other hand handled 'adult' themes very well. It had a nice tongue in cheek attitude. Never forgot it was just a comic. There was a great strip called Johnny Nemo. Silly over the top violence and a nice deconstruction of anti heroes, before deconstruction was a thing. Our hero is about to have his wicked way. Then it just cuts to a panel "37 seconds later" with him lying smugly in bed next to a very dissatisfied looking girl. Brilliantly done.

    What was the Ennis strip?

  24. Actually the Toxic Marshall Law strip didn't get that far, it stopped halfway through a zombie story when Marshall shot himself and like 85% of Toxic's storys, was never complete. I still need to buy the complete Marshall Law to read the infamous BDSM story. I've covered the original Marshall Law and the two Toxic Presents Marshall Law very positively though. The orginal ML miniseries really inspired me, more than Watchmen did. I even painted a T-Shirt with Marshall on and the words "Fear and Loathing". I must dig it out of the huge sack of clothes it's in.

    I thought CRISIS had some good early stuff in it despite going badly off the rails about halfway through. That was properly adult, politically I mean. I blame Rob liefeld for the coarsing of comics on both sides of the Atlantic in the early to mid nineties. He's my blogs Official Enemy although I have only covered one comic he drew because madly enough it was a collaboration with Alan Moore of all people! It's called "Judgement Day" and it'll be under the Rob Liefeld tab if you fancy seeing me really unload on a comic :D

  25. Oh and the Ennis strip is called "Time Flies" and it's just trying for random comedy for the sake of randomness. I'm writing up Hewligan's Haircut which ran at the same time and the weirdness in that has a real point to it. The art in "Time Flies" is great though.

  26. I don't know why I spelled Marshal with two "L's". Time for bed I think >_<

  27. I'd never heard of Rob Liefield, but I've just read your Judgement Day review (obviously to me the only Judgment Day is the Dredd one. And the second Terminator film)

    It's funny but everything you say about him mirrors exactly my thoughts on Simon Bisley. Don't get me wrong, I liked the occasional poster he did, but I was a bit bemused when he was treated as some sort of wunderkind and the future of comic art. We were suddenly in a world where everybody existed on a diet of protein shakes and heavy lifting.

    It's funny though because I grew to love Mike McMahon's anatomically impossible style. Well, the huge feet anyway.

    But it was around that time that the artists became more important than the art. Don't get me wrong, it's right that they should get credit for their work, but I think their growing status allowed them to be a bit self indulgent. A lot of the time it was art for art's sake at the expense of the story. (And yes, I am looking at you Messrs Helwlett & Milligan). Where were Tharg and Mek-Quake when you needed them? They'd have kept those art droids in their place.

  28. Hmm, re-reading that I find a lot of things funny. I am easily amused though.

    And don't worry about the spelling of Marshall. Both the single and double L variants are correct.

    Interestingly (for a certain value of interesting) the 'martial' in court martial is derived from Marshall (the office) rather than the 'pertaining to to god of war/military' thing,

  29. Actually I had huge complaints about SImon Bisley's work too, mainly because so many artists unsuited to painted artwork HAD to do painted artwork because Slaine the Horned God had been so huge. That said I still think Bisley is superior to Liefeld because he does have an underlying grasp of anatomy and knows how to exaggerate it properly. But yeah he had a bad influence to I'll agree to that. As someone who's always preferred "cartoony" styles the stuff by Liefeld and his ilk and the Bisley impersonators left me cold and were pretty much my reason for abandoning comics for as long as I did.

  30. Heh, fancy donning a green wax jacket and joining me at a roadside yelling at cars to "slow down!" (For full effect we can borrow a black Labrador)

    I first noticed that painted artwork wave when I read that Arkham Asylum book (which I really liked) but then it was everywhere. I'm generally a 'photo realistic' fan; but that might be a Brian Bolland influence. I remember in art class our teacher (whom we all fancied, even (especially?) the girls) had a real bugbear about anyone putting black outlines round things, but I like that.

    Boris Vallejo writes some interesting things about anatomical accuracy (although I've seen his work described as 'artistic taxidermy'). Mind you, when you see some of the more juiced up peeps in bodybuilding, maybe the humans are catching up with the artists.

    (A photographer mate got into trouble doing some bodybuilder work because he asked 'which is your best side?'. He then got a two hour lecture on how it's all about 'symmetry' :-) )

  31. Sounds like a plan :P

    I like all artwork when it's good and especially when a writer is playing to their artists strengths. For example Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely or Garth Ennis and John McCrea. Even the term "painted" can cover stuff like this comic and Arkham Asylum to the ink and watercolour stuff of the amazing "Blacksad" series.

    I think learning anatomy is an important step for any comic book artist no matter what style they use. When I was teaching myself I bought loads of books on anatomy and on nudes. When I started using a more cartoony style I found it made my drawing more fluid and easy being able to understand those underlying dynamics.

    That's why Rob Liefeld has my contempt, I don't believe he's ever looked at an anatomy book in his life, the fact DC had employed him in 2012 and he had managed to get WORSE just showed me all the mocking articles were right (Seriously, google "The 20 Worst Rob Leifeld" article and it's sequel and have a good horrified laugh).

    Ah bodybuilders. I used to read Gay Times back in the 90's. Not really for the quality of it's lesbian coverage but for all the pictures of hunky blokes. I have to admit I liked drawing hunky, muscular guys (and oddly found men much, much easier to draw than women!) although they tended to have the heads of cats as I wasn't much into their faces. Anyway got some interesting insights on men and their attitudes to male beauty and men seriously into the bodybuilding scene really do know their stuff when it comes to the artistry of sculpted bods.

  32. That's like some parallel universe version of "I only read Playboy for the articles" :-)

    Functional strength versus aesthetic considerations is an interesting topic. It's axiomatic that bodybuilders are as weak as kittens by competition time (so you were making more of a statement than perhaps you knew with your art?). We'd occasionally have 'swole' guys working at gigs. After 5 minutes theyd be ready to collapse but guys who looked like rejects from Trainspotting would be running up steps with half tonne flight cases (whilst smoking)

    Then theres that '25% gym/75% kitchen' thing. Its a topic I could go on about forever. But to get back to comics and fiction generally, it ties into my whole thing about realism. Assuming lack of supernatural powers, what would a "badass normal"s body look like? (I'm glad we have tvtropes as a common reference pool, handy for shortcuts)

    I suppose it depends on what their skillset is meant to be. But if we're talking general badassery whilst no one is more of an advocate for the view that body type is almost negligible when it comes to fighting and survival skills the one body type that *wouldn't* be any good is the typically over muscled comic hero.

  33. I can honestly say as well that having enormous hooters would be something of a drawback in a superheroine as well. Modern comicbooks have got a bit better with toning down men's bodies into more varied "atheletic" shapes (Spiderman is lean, Cyclops slim, Wolverine stocky, Thor very muscular), but still seem to have trouble with more variety in female body shapes, which I think is another reason women readers prefer manga and non-super stuff like The Sandman, they don't get such a limited and alienated vision of themselves.

    I suppose the ultimate badass normal is Batman but I do recall reading somewhere that given the wear and tear on his body he'd only be able to operate at peak capacity for at most five years with a really rapid dropoff after that. I have also found myself ponering why Superman is muscular. He's strong enough to juggle planets without breaking a sweat how do his muscles get so big? Bring on chubby Superman I say!

  34. In the interest of full disclosure I have average sized hooters and a fairly high level of muscle for a woman although due to back problems I am not in peak condition anymore. Anyway even with average sized jugs it was still necessary to wear a very sturdy sports bra to go cycling and workout at JKD. Spandex wouldn't have cut it at all :D

  35. Hey that's a brilliant point. The whole mechanism for increasing muscle is exercise actually breaks them (on a very small scale) and they heal back stronger. How does that work if Superman is indestructible at a molecular level? He must use krypronite kettlebells or something.

    I know perhaps more than the average straight guy should about sports bras and book related back pain. But you know I'm tied up with all that fitness world. I remember though when I first encountered boob protectors with one of my Krav friends.

    *bit of sparring*



    "I'm wearing these"

    "Oh wow"

    *tap tap tap*


    *other people wander over*

    *more tap tap tap*

    "OK, getting a little weird now"

    Disappointingly they were high impact plastic rather than bronze.

  36. My first experience with boob protectors was when I fenced as a teenager. I was always pleased by the much mightier bosom I got thanks to them. Man I would love to fence again, I had to quit once I went to Uni and I was pretty decent by then. Not supergreat but did the best out of my class in competitions and did the advanced lesson as well as the normal one every week. I always wanted to get good enough to graduate to eppe and then sabre, but alas, not to be.

  37. Ooh, you're the original "She devil with a sword"! Cool.

    Another of my Krav friends did eppe. He got into a bit of bother when his Krav conditioning kicked in and he push kicked someone.

    I can see how fencing and JKD would complement each other. They're both 'strong' foot forward if I recall.

    Krav is weak foot lead. Military knife fighting is strong forward though. Having said that I quite often go 'southpaw' even in Krav so I don't have a problem switching.

    We obviously wear groin protection in Krav ("No groin, no Krav Maga" to quote that lass in the Simpsons) so ironically we do have that Liefeld thing going on.

    They certainly help but (TMI warning coming up!) after one session with a women's aid group we work with I ended up needing medical treatment. As the Doctor put it "Any harder and I could have checked your prostate at the same time as your tonsils". I couldn't piss properly for a week. Glad I helped that woman resolve some issues though.

  38. Ouch, you have my sympathy!

    of course I still spent most of my teen years covered in penny sized bruises but that was the price you paid.

    Bruce Lee did incorporate a lot of "centre line" thinking in JKD, our teacher said having done fencing for years would give me an advantage and it did. I had so many moves drilled into me in my fencing classes I could pick up a foil twenty odd years later and probably put up a pretty decent fight.

    I did enjoy fencing with the electric foils and the wired up jackets. We used to have mini-competition within the group to get us used to them, always good fun that. I was the only girl in the class but I appreciated at least at that level boys didn't have any advantages they might develop later. Our JKD teacher also incoroprated boxing too. We drilled jab-straight- cross-uppercut so many times I can still do those moves as well. And we did Muay Thai elbow and knee fighting to, that was enjoyable. Amazing the power you can throw behind an elbow. I've always tended to having more upper body strength than is normal for a woman so all the punches, blocks and elbow attacks worked best for me. My foot work is good, my kicks are terrible.

  39. Heh, "jab, cross, left hook, duck" "Oww!" Yup, know that one.

    I like the 'straight blast' thinking from JKD. I always like to seek out things to add to my toolkit and that can be handy. Chain punching can be a good way of 'disrupting' the flow of a competent opponent even if isn't necessarily a finisher; follow up with a push kick though...

    There's a concept in Krav called 'retzev'. It's a Hebrew word that sort of means 'continuous action'. A lot of JKD concepts work well with that.

    I know how strong girls can be so you don't surprise me. Proportionately girls tend to be even stronger than boys in leg and thigh strength (Heh, it's amazing how girls love learning the scissoring stuff; and they say boys are the pervy ones!) but I think it's a bit of a myth that women can't get upper body strength. Plenty of girls can out do me in chin ups.

    70% of the power in a punch or elbow comes from below the waist anyway, so if you've got good footwork you'll always do well on that.

    Kicks can be tricky. I always kick really low though (usually kneecap level at most) so tjat makes it easier. Doing front leg roundhouse kicks is always a bit like that 'throw a ball with your weak arm' thing. I always look so goofy.

    I'd love to spar with you sometime. Bad back notwithstanding you'd probably join the ever expanding club of girls of whom I say "Well I just let it look like she'd won, you know, to be polite"

  40. meh, I still think it's a bad game horror or not, but I am sad that there wont be anymore. The comics look great though :)

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