Thursday, 8 June 2017

The V.C.s Back In Action: Book 2 (2000AD #1327-1335)

"I love it when odds pay off" - Smith

Time to return to Dan Abnett's noughties revival and sequel series of early 2000AD space opera series the V.C.s. That told the story of a motley group of humans from the various planets in a federation of planets.  We followed viewpoint character Smith, from Earth as they fought an aggressive alien race nicknamed the Geeks.  All bar Smith and the Sergeant Jupe were killed off as the story progressed but in the end humanity was victorious.  Fifty years later and Smith is working as a maintenance worker who has visions of his old comrades he talks to and who keep him company. At Peace Day to commemorate fifty years of peace between humans and geeks a radical faction of geeks attacked and it turned out the only equipment and ships that could stand against them effectively was the fifty year old stuff.  As a valued veteran of that first war, Smith was promoted to Major and put in charge of a team of his own, Diderot, Lin-Fu, Ryx, Kali and Geege who is a geek from the geeks who wish for peaceful relations between humans and geek. Book one saw Smith train up and forge his team into a formidable fighting force with Geege especially overcoming the prejudice of the rest of the crew.  Now it's one year later and the war is still raging so we join the V.C.s (stands for "Vacuum Cleaners") in the midst of battle.

We begin Book 2 with Smith and two others outside in space taking cover on an asteroid which is bobbing about inside the orbit of Mercury and experiences intense and lethal five minute days every three hundred seconds.   So they have to duck and cover to avoid being broiled alive in their suits which can only survive twenty-three seconds in the glare.

Smith:  "All we hear is our own scratchy breathing and the accelerating pip of our suit counters. Then it's night again. Because that's what we do...  We're vacuum cleaners"

They are hunting for a Geek ship that went to ground two hours ago and they "ain't leaving till it's cleaned".   They crest a hill and find their lander, poly-shielded against the glare and bristling with gun-pods.
Smith dares to be badass.
They end up exchanging heavy weapons fire against it, but realise they'll never get close enough to their armour. Smith thinks fast, when day comes they are both blind so he times a jump out of cover just over four minutes into day, "one second safety margin, and I'll be blind".  The sun comes up and he blasts into the air and flies towards the Geek ship and drops a powerful explosive onto the ship before the sun goes down and the Geek ship explodes.  Lin-Fu is amazed but he modestly says, "all in a day's work."

We then cut to the V.C.s ship responding to a distress call from a civilian ship The Celestine under heavy Geek attack.  There is also another military ship captained by a complete asshole called "Veto".   When Smith tries to coordinate their attacks to best protect the Celestine he just snarls, "don't you presume ta give me orders!  You stinking V.C.s think your God's frickin' gift!"

Veto's ship take out a Geek one. Smith yells at him that it is no time for feuding even if the loathing is mutual. They blast a Geek ship, declare one all then Smith asks him to protect the damn civilian ship.   But Veto's ship goes wide chasing after "another loose kill".  Smith desperately orders his crew to target the ships closest to the Celestine but they can't cover them all.  
The V.C.s try to save the Celestine.
The Celestine is blown apart with no survivors. Veto sneers that it's "a shame the colonial half-breeds got vaped."  He pegged two kills to their one though, "better luck next time" and his ship departs with Smith swearing ".... God help me, he'll pay".

We then rejoin the V.C.s in power down mode.  They are holding pattern with everything bar Smith's scanner and basic life support switched off.  We are invited to enjoy Ryx's thoughts on the matter. He ponders what Smith has said to them about "tickover".

Ryx: "Major Smith says that prolonged periods of waiting are an integral part of any combat tour. Major Smith says the build up of tension is good, because it keeps us sharp.  Major Smith also says we should look upon tickover as a chance to focus our minds and enjoy a moment of self reflection. We my mind is real focused, and in the spirit of self reflection I can say Major Smith talks out of his butt".

He's bored and hates the silence.   His scopes are off so he is staring at nothing and with the air-scrubbers off they all get to enjoy each other's stale odours.  He's been holding in a massive fart because he doesn't want to spend the next three hours smelling it.
Ryx ponders the boredom of tickover.
The others cope in their own way.  Lin-Fu meditates, he had asked her in the past if it was tantric and got a slap in the face for his trouble.  Keege reads books on how to interact with humans. Diderot and Kali play rude versions of rock-paper-scissors.  And Smith just hunches over the tac-scope, "just stares at it like it's going to show im the future.  Or maybe the past".

Ryx ponders how Smith, being a veteran of the first Geek war is treating this new war as "unfinished business.  A score he's been waiting a fricking long time to settle."  Then Smith spots a Geek ship and the power back up with the waiting over, "time to clean up".

We then rejoin them in the midst of another firefight along with a friendly ship captained by a man called "Spense".  They collect their targets and "vape 'em!" They catch some heat though, but Spense flanks them and protects them as they get ready to chase down the remnants of the Geek ships.  They discover that there are two concentrations of Geeks, in front and straight down below.

Smith's ship goes for the wide target as Spense's goes for the dive.  But something odd happens, the reading Smith has keeps disappearing "just hazy, like it's not really there."  Then it is upon them and it's no Geek ship.  It's a huge ship belonging to the mysterious organisation called "The Polity".
The Polity appears.
The ship doesn't respond to their hails, but doesn't appear to be hostile. Lin-Fu worked in the diplo-corp before the war and confirms that it is most likely a Polity ship.

Smith: "The Polity.  They've always been there. Long before us naked apes roamed the vacuum.  A massive federation of superior races. Advanced, elitist, considering themselves above such petty things as war.  They stood by and watched as man and Geek slugged it out first time."

Before the latest war broke out they had been considering letting humanity join. An invitation that was quickly rescinded when war kicked off.

Didirot wonders wonders what they want, they seem to be just silently watching them. Smith thinks how they've come to watch the "primitive creatures" fight, observing them like goldfish in a tank.   Smith wonders how advanced you have to be not to "lend a hand and stop people dying?"

Then a swarm of Geek ships appear and Spense contacts them saying he needs help. He's got twenty-nine hostiles on his ship's back. Smith tries to get a response from the Polity ship saying he's begging them to help, to at least scare away the Geeks on top of Spense, "silence. They don't budge."

So Smith and his crew go in full tilt and start taking out Geek ships, but it's not enough and one Geek hit blows Spense's ship apart.  The rest of the Geeks high-tail it back into hyperspace and the Polity ship warps away as well.  Bitterly Smith thinks how the Polity say they can't get involved because it would "compromise their enthical values".

Smith: " Well, answer me this. You've got a ship so powerful you can stop worlds spinning and restart suns.  You watch living sentients die right under your nose.  What the frick does that say about your ethical values?"

We then join Ryx and Lin-Fu engaged in some planetary jungle warfare.  Ryx once again narrates.  Ryx takes out a Geek that had surprise Lin-Fu and she thanks him.  He admires her boobs and quips "I love when a girl falls for me."  She tells him he won't want her reporting him for sexual harrassment in the workplace.  "Be a P.C V.C. Gotcha" Ryx responds.
She retorts that this is a two-person operation "not a date".  She then tells him to contact Smith as they have cleared the Geeks out.  The ship can't make it to them for at least an hour so Ryx and Lin-Fu have some time to kill.  But then Lin-Fu detects a Geek signature so they decide to go and check it out.

Ryx keeps looking at her boobs and getting even more hot and sweaty, while Lin-Fu is somewhat oblivious to his lustful thoughts towards her. Then she realises and accuses him of being "transparent".  Anxiously he responds, "and cute? Just a smidge?".  Then they reach their target, a Earth-Gov terraformed farm, and they discover Geeks there possibly poisoning the food supply. They blast the Geeks and go and investigate closer. Lin-Fu examines the stuff being stored there and says it's not of Geek origin. Then yells at Ryx for calling her "sweetcheeks".

Back on board and on patrol again, inside Geege is checking over the stuff they took from the planet and says although the boxes are of Geek design the devices are not of Geek manufacture.  He says he's not exactly sure what they are but thinks that they, "were designed to seed toxic pathogens into the 10 food farms."  Smith tells him to keep examining the devices and see what the micro-spec will show up.

Smith congratulates Ryx and Lin-Fu and asks if they ran into any trouble.  Lin-Fu says she was "bothered by something small and hairy, sir."  Smith asks if it was persistant? "Not after I aimed a weapon at it" she says while Ryx looks guilty.

Smith says they are going to head for Mars and get G.C.C Tech to examine the devices. Diderot then says he is picking up a weak distress call.  They boost ot through the speakers and it turns out to be Jupe which is out of the system beyond Pluto. Smith tells Kali to set course, the visit to Mars can wait, "Jupe was my first C.O. in the first one, Kali.  I ain't gonna leave him begging... not for anything!"
On a rescue mission.
They arrive at the scene and find two other ships have answered the call, one of them being Veto's ship.   He sneers over the comms that "it looks like your old buddy got vaped but good." This angers Smith, but before he can unload on Veto, Diderot says he's picking up a call from inside the automated mining platform which is crawling with Geeks.

Everyone gets suited up, they are going to peform an "Evac and Extract". They burn in and drop onto the platform.  Ryx queries why they are doing this after having the mantra "you're hit, you're dead" drummed into them.  Smith says Jupe knows the saying wel, but if he is calling for help that means there is more going on than meets the eye, "there is more at stake here than his neck."

Leaving Kali piloting the ship, the rest start making their way across the mining platform, vaping Geeks as they go. They work their way to the depot area picking up a weapon signal that isn't Geek so it much be Jupe.  They blast there way over there and find an injured Jupe, the last one of his squad left standing.
Saving Segeant Jupe.
He apologises and says it wasn't him they needed to come for, it was some vital information he has stored on a small computer in his hand.  The Geek's are building something out past Pluto, "A mass driver weapon big enough to spit out meteors the size of Africa. Spit 'em out.  Straight at Mother Earth!"

With Jupe, they start fighting their way out of the depot. Smith calls Kali who doesn't respond right away.  But she is there she has some Geeks on her tail she needs to shake before she can evac them.  Veto's ship has split, but the other one captained by a man called Laker shoots the Geeks chasing her and she is able to land to pick the team up.

They all board safely and Kali blasts away as fast as the ship will take them.  But then Laker's ship is blasted to smithereens leaving Smith's ship the last one standing. Jupe is desperately trying to find find a com-band he can upload the information on the Geek weapon to but the Geeks are jamming all comm traffic.

Kali tries a desperate manouvere to get the Geeks off their butt by sling-shotting the ship round Pluto's moon Charon. Smith tries not to think that it's the name of the ferryman of the dead.  But the ship takes a hit, Smith thinks tha means they're dead and Earth will never know what the Geeks are up too as the ship falls through Charon's atmosphere....
The end of the V.C.s?
And that cliffhanger bring Book 2 to an end.  This is huge fun still. Epic space war sprinkled with genuine moments of humour and humanity.  It's nice seeing the crew interact and bond under the brooding command of Smith.  Ryx and Lin-Fu's growing attraction to each other is cute stuff and quite understandable given they are living in very close proximity to each other under constant threat of death.  Future plot points are seeded here with the mysterious Polity still an unknown factor in the war and the mystery of the devices found being used by the Geeks to poison the Earth's food supply. Dan Abnett's writing keeps the style of the original V.C. comic very well, and Anthony Williams art has a real heft and weight to it, with some wonderful renderings of space battles.  I real like the "blue collar" soldier vibe this series has always had, a gang of disparate people working as a team with even a Geek fully accepted because he's proved his loyalty in the forge of battle.  It's nice to be invited into the thoughts of someone other than Smith who remains an imposing prescence even at his pensionable age. Ryx is kind of goofy and likeable with his clumsy flirting with Lin-Fu and his lack of awe at Smith's advice on how to treat downtime.  All-in-all this is a fun continuation of the modern storyline which also keeps the spirit of the classic original.  Now do they all survive the crash onto Charon?  You'll have to wait until the next UK comic month to find out.  Oh what a tease I am!


  1. I still can't make my mind up about this one. I'm enjoying the story. It's fine as it stands. I still have that thing though that I thought the original ended up on the perfect note, so maybe it should have been left there. Bit like Bad Company.

    I do like the geek character though. In my head I imagine him a bit like Abe Sapiens from Hellboy. Sort of mild mannered bookish badass. One thing that is amusing me is how I sometimes go into 'mammoth mode'. I'm looking at the relationship between ryx and lin-fu, and going 'tsk, how dare he harrass her in the workplace' :-)

    I love ryx being totally unimpressed with Smith. It's such a nice deconstruction of the 'i was a naive newcomer just like you once' thing. It's great that he doesn't give a toss. It's like no hugging no learning.

    The polity aspect is shaping up well. I like first contact stuff (I know technically it isn't) but I'm always intrigued by how that would play out. You know my view that chances are any actual aliens would be so far on the evolutionary ladder from us we probably wouldn't even recognise each other as actual cultures. Even if they did it'd be like cortez and meso America. For the sake of fun I'm happy to suspend disbelief that humans and geeks have almost identical technology levels, but if we're going down the 'galactic federation' route then that opens all sorts of possibilities. The fact that humans almost qualified would suggest the polity isn't that far advanced. I'd like to see that explored more. It's a subject I think about a bit. Is there a sort of plateau for development? Have we got nearly as far as it's possible for organic creatures to get? Is the next step transmogrifying beyond the physical? Personally I think we just don't have the brain wiring to go further. Like how dogs can't count above five. Real aliens, even the ones only slightly more advanced, probably have kids who intuitively understand how the universe came into existence and make time machines for their junior school projects. And that's just the technical stuff. Who knows how their ethics would be different. I can actually understand why the polity would sit this one out. We don't pick sides when ants are fighting. But that would presume they're that far advanced. That doesn't tally with us almost getting an invite. Hmm, will that inconsistency be explored I wonder?

  2. I know the original was perfect, but reading the intro to this edition Dan Abnett basically was so inspired by the original he basically got into comics so he could do a sequel because he was such a fanboy and I think he does a pretty good job of not just retreading stuff from the first but making it feel like an organic continuation.

    The stuff between Ryx and Lin-Fu I am probably giving a nod because she is totally sassy about it and it ends up paying off nicely for both of them.

    One thing I have to warn you about now, the next book is the final in the collection and deals with getting off Charon, then that's it. No more collections of the new series have been done and this collection has gone out of print. They have finally released the original now, so I am hoping they'll rerelease this and carry on. If not I may have to start tracking down the issues involved as I wanna see what comes next with The Polity and all that too.

  3. Gawd I'm knackered! Stayed up for the election results, then work today. Think a bit of a nap might be in order. Then a quiet night in watching Raid 2. Poyfect.

    I can see Dan Abnett is a fan, and he does treat the work with the appropriate respect. Didn't know that's what motivated him to get into comics. Glad it worked out for him. Bit like David Tennant and Dr Who. Hmm, have I got time to pop of to RADA so I can be Tarzan?

    Yeah, I'm happy for Ryx and Lin-fu. I'm not actually bothered by stuff like that. It's funny though how things like Mammoth and more influentially your blog do get me thinking. Does give another level of appreciation.

    Charon is just one of at least five moons of Pluto btw. It's much smaller than originally thought, so you could probably jump off it. Ooh, so we don't yet know what the polity are up to. Not to worry, I'm enjoying the underlying story, and it'd probably only complicate things anyway. I'm perfectly happy with a good old shoot em up. I'm a bear of simple tastes.

  4. Oh FFS post eaten again. Nevermind it was a lot of justifications for not voting which you probably saw on Mammoth. I did predict a Hung Parliament, I seem to be better on UK elections that other votes. I didn't check the results until a certain black and white furry bastard woke me up at 0530 wanting to go out for a poo. So I looked at the beeb's website and was pleasantly surprised.

    As for the V.C.s, the next book is pretty much an action-fest, then I'll have to start badgering Rebellion to put the rest of the new V.C. strips back in circulation.

  5. That description of Biff made me giggle, it's also so adorable though. I had a lovely nap. Back on the opiates (popped my knee) so cool dreams too. Nice one about sassy. Managed to stay awake long enough to watch raid 2 and a rather interesting chat with aerynn. So that'll count for a productive weekend and I think I'll just slob for the rest of it. Stocked up on food so theoretically don't even need to leave the house if necessary. Cool.

    "Where did he go?" "Nowhere"
    "What did he do?" "Bugger all"

    Pity about your post getting eaten. I'm interested in what you have to say. I have a weird 'fate' approach to stuff like that though. If Mammoth eats a post I assume it's a sign best not to actually say it.

    Anyway, time for "Nap 2 the sequel". I'll try for something darker and edgier.

  6. Now Biff is an Old Man he refuses to spend time outside unless it is boiling hot. He does have a litter tray but it's for wee only he's very fastidious about not pooing in it. So I am Official Opener Of Doors, whatever the time -_-

    The post wasn't interesting just a winge about how we had a 14% swing to Labour here and the incumbent Tory still won by bloody miles so I'm effectively disenfranchised.

    Opiate dreams are the funnest. I don't get them on the co-codamol but the fentanyl patch gives me some very vivid and cool ones I always remember. Hopefully you wake up refreshed and ready for a fun weekend. I plan on doing some more writing this weekend. Turns out mum isn't going away until much later in June so I might be able to slip in an extra UK comics post, I'll see how motivated to write I feel.

  7. Ah, the number of times I would open a door for Sassy. Then she'd just stand there looking out (or in). I do think though cats were behind our Brexit strategy "Let me ouuuttt!", "Changed my mind"

    I'm feeling refreshed but out of synch. I did briefly exit the house though. Albeit to buy biscuits. I think I might just be channeling the general feeling of disorientation the country as a whole is feeling.

    I hope you're having a nice weekend writing. That's also a selfish motivation. I'm looking forward to seeing what you've got lined up next. The 2000AD posts trigger some strange feelings in me. I can tie certain stories to particular periods of my life quite vividly. I literally grew up with that comic.

    (For a certain value of 'grew up')

  8. If I open the door for Biff and he stands there sniffing the air before walking back into the flat it usually means it'll start raining in about fifteen mins. Otherwise he's pretty good at going out when the door is open.

    I would like to say I have been writing, but I have ended up playing Vampire The Masquerade: Bloodlines rather a lot. I should have the next one ready in a couple of days though.

    I do need to get my arse in gear and read my way through my ten year stack of 2000AD's for some more classic strips. I've mined CRISIS for all it's usable stuff and mainly have more recent 2000AD stuff because of the random way the collections are released.

  9. I do love your Biff stories. I've got such a clear picture in my head. You're very good at evocative imagery. I can make myself smile just by thinking of you trying to prod him out of that tree. I soooo understand that. You can really love a furry friend but still be driven to mutter "Ill swing for you, you little shitbag". Especially cats. Dogs can be equally frustrating at times, but unlike cats they never seem to impune it's somehow your fault or you're being unreasonable. For various reasons I had to dig out a photo of me trying to get a pack of dogs together for a group pic. Needless to say chaos ensued. You ever seen that Dali picture with the water and the cat? Ended up looking like that.

    I'm envious of your 2000AD collection. A couple of years ago I finally adopted a gypsy friends advice to get rid of just about everything I owned (although I went down the charity shop route rather than fire). I sometimes miss my comics, although everything was in storage and I never looked at them. Wish I'd known you then. You could have had them. I even had a couple of annuals signed by *everybody* who worked on the comic at the time. Eek.

    Ah well, moving on. Do you have that 'Freaks' story in your collection? That was a nice one off. I'd also like to see your take on Slaine. Some very interesting women in that.

  10. Biff doesn't climb trees anymore. He went through a phase of pretending he couldn't climb down off the nearby garage roofs. At one point me and an old lady who provided a ladder and some treats managed to get him down. But when I spotted him jumping down when he thought I wasn't looking I realised it was time to stop playing along. You're right about the difference between cats and dogs. Having had a dog as a kid, they always seemed racked with guilt compared to cats who just look at you saying "yes.. and?" when you're done shouting at them.

    My 2000AD collection spans roughly from 1984-94. I inherited the 84-85 issues from my mate. I don't remember Freaks, but it's been a while since I read the whole lot, I plan to do so before my next UK comics month as I need more material. I am tempted by Slaine, but where to start? I am tempted to jump straight to the Horned God, because while I love the art, it sparked off so many awful imitators and artists whose strengths where not in colour art it basically ruined 2000AD for me.

    I could never get rid of everything I own, my quite large bedroom is packed full of comics, books, dvds, magazines, videogame games and consoles old boxes of VHS tapes. And stuff has crept into the living room via two bookcases of comic trade paperbacks. Oh but to own those annuals you had.... ah well :)

  11. You've epitomised cat attitudes there. It's that total aloofness. Dogs are always like "Eh, but this is fun!". What I particularly love about dogs is, no matter how daft and reckless you get, dogs just go "Wow, brilliant idea, wish I'd thought of that".

    It was hard getting rid of everything, and even now just writing about it I get a sort of queasy feeling. But overall I'm so glad I did it. I just had stuff packed in boxes for years, so really I obviously didn't need it. And I love the fact I can pretty much put everything I own in two holdalls and a rucksack. And in an emergency I've got one of those leather document wallets with my passport and a few essential bits of paper in. It allows me the opportunity to just take any opportunity anywhere with no baggage, literal or metaphorical. In a way the net helps with that. If I get nostalgic about a comic or book or DVD I can just find it online somewhere. And your blog brings back happy memories. Also I'd much rather chat to you about stuff than have it tucked away somewhere. Before I ditched it I did have a binge read. It was like running through my life since the age of nine on fast forward. In the same way I have a visceral memory of some gigs, it brought back so many thoughts in an almost physical recollection.

    But moving on again.

    I loved the early Slaine. You know I have slight pagan tendencies. They developed really early. So the Slaine stuff was especially relatable. Pat Mills can perhaps over do it at times "Yeah, you're a pagan, we get it", but it was nice to spot all the references and influences. It's funny, I went to Catholic school. A little gang of us were groomed (not in a bad way) into theology. We even did the RE A level early. But all of us in that gang ended up as either pagans or Buddhists. Go figure. I do thank the Jesuit influence there. They encouraged us to really think for ourselves and test every argument and assumption. I think that's maybe one of the influences on my ultimate career choice too.

    Also Slaine involves lots of fighting and lethal hot women. So it's got that going for it too.

  12. I'm perfectly off topic, but... I want to talk about the latest (last month's) Squirrel Girl with someone, and I don't have anybody. Especially as it's a giant spoiler. /o\ I don't know what to do.

  13. I love squirrel girl, in no small part due to your influence, so if it's OK with Varalys I'd be happy to hear more.

  14. @Malitia: I'm not up-to-date with Squirrel Girl, I've only got as far as the first trade of the relaunched series. But if your desperate to talk about it and Alan doesn't mind spoilers you can here. Whether I can formulate any useful responses is another matter!

    @Alan: Yeah, dogs are great. Our Afghan Hound we had when I was a teen was so adorable and fun. We had a very aloof little brown female cat then, and they couldn't be more different, but actually got along rather well. Wasn't unusual to find them curled up together hogging the living room fire :)

    Now it may sound odd, but I find living in a roomful of clutter to be actually soothing. Like it's my nest. Also having a lot of time to fill, I will reread those issues of Select magazine, I will play those old videogames, I will marathon those dvd boxsets and so on. But it is nice being able to chat about comics with you (and anyone else too!) especially Brit comics. Annoyingly my hits drop down quite a bit when I do these parochial months, but I care not, at least twice a year and people will learn to like 'em.

    Slaine is such an epic. I got into first via the Best of Monthly which reprinted the early stuff, but The Horned God was the one that actually ran when I was reading. It also feels a bit more standalone, once you provide a little background to the characters like Ukko, it works pretty much on its own. Decisions,decisions...

  15. Oh snap, ninjaed by Alan, yeah go ahead Malitia!

  16. I don't mind spoilers as I'm only going to hear about the stories from you anyway. There is a theory that spoilers make a story more enjoyable anyway. Something to do with allowing you to focus on the plot more. Hmm, I'm having a deja vu moment here. Have we covered this before? Pretty sure I've mentioned the "You'll enjoy this, turns out Bruce Willis is a ghost" incident.

    The worst spoiler I came across was in that "Night of the Doctor" minisode. IPlayer managed to illustrate it with a picture of Paul McGann. Well done Beeb.

    Hah, poor Ukko. Always the underdog. Mind you, isn't he the only person to survive the series?

    I'm mixed with clutter. On one hand I completely understand your 'nest' thing. Used to live like that. But then I went totally Japanese style minimalist, and it was interesting what an effect that had mentally. Like having a clear physical space allowed me to have a clearer mind. I told you about my big bonfire of files the other day. There was still about 50 ring binders left that I have to keep. But I've stuffed them all away in a basement room in the new building. Out of sight out of mind and all that. So now I've just got literally one box of relevant current paperwork. Mind you, I've temporarily hidden that too. I do keep promising myself I'll unpack it, but I'm enjoying the currently empty shelves they'll ultimately have to spoil.

    Oh, if you do cover horned God it'll allow me to rant about how Bisley ruined everything by making it all about the artist rather than the story :-)

  17. Yes, I'm generally not too fussed about spoilers, there are exceptions but sometimes it's nice to have something to anticipate.

    I strike a balance in my home, my living room is fairly neat. The books and trades are all in book cases, my action figures dusted on the shelves, really the only clutter are two bicycles. Why two, well one is a painstakingly restored Chopper that still needs work doing on it after twenty-five years (I yanked it out of a second-hand bike dealers literal pile of old bikes and he let me have it and a box of bits for a fiver). The bedroom is my private space and no one is allowed in but me and the cat!

    Hmmmm, now I think I will pencil The Horned God in for the next UK comics month, because I while I loved the art (with the reservations I previously stated) I see Bisley as a UK version of Rob Liefeld and Co. superstar artists in a backlash against the domination of the writer driven comics of the eighties.

    I am have a rough schedule for the years now, two months on UK comics, one Ladies month, around two each per series I cover and the rest filled in with random picks from the rest of my comics.

  18. On those very rare occasions I've been in churches I've always wanted to yell "spoilers!" when they do the 'jesus died for our sins' bit. But I figure that's a way to get disinvited from future weddings.

    It's so cool you have a Chopper. That's so definitively 70s. Like Bovver Boots. Hope you can get it restored. They're also quite valuable now apparently. They'll never make them again because they're so inherently dangerous. Especially for boys. Emergency stops plus that gearstick lead to many a falsetto singing career I'm given to understand.

    I'll save the writer vs artist debate until your actual post. I always appreciated the artwork of course, and I especially loved Brian Bolland. But there were some great artists generally back then. Nobody drew a miniskirt like Steve Dillon (weird that that's what I remember, maybe just my age at the time). I also had a soft spot for Mike McMahon. Those ridiculously large feet. And of course Carlos Ezquerra. He really deserves a lot of credit for creating the world of Dredd. Don't know if you know but originally mega city one was just meant to have a 20 minutes in the future vibe (not unlike the recent film). But John Wagner saw one panel he'd drawn with all that high rise twisty architecture in the background and decided that should be the look from then on.

  19. Yeah it just needs new inner tubes which is something I just haven'y got around to yet. It's ridable although I couldn't get middle gear to work, but the tyres go do down after a while. You'll be pleased to know I also have Dockers that come up past my ankles, I can be super seventies then.

    I always try and say something about the artwork in each post, because it is so easy to concentrate on just the writer. Of course I hope the images also speak to people as well. Ah Brian Bolland, like Glen Fabry both amazing pen and ink artists doing mostly covers now.

    There might be some Carlos Equerra later this month, shall see how I feel :D

  20. OK. So Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #20 is the final issue of an arc featuring a villain with a very "creative" interpretation of the Spider-Man motto ("With great power comes great responsibility"), and an incredible back-up strip starring "Chef Bear and Alfredo the Chicken". Squirrel Girl won and the villain got sent to jail, which isn't a spoiler given Squirrel Girl's adjective. :D

    Okay so the last page (before the letters page and back-up strip thank goodness) is this:

    DAMN IT! I was not (almost wrote: nut) prepared for this series hitting me with Surprise Creepy. (Enhanced by the fact that I read digitally, so I was only presented with THAT panel after scrolling down while reading.)

  21. Ratatoskr's back! Awesome, she was a really cool villain. And yeah that reveal is pretty damn creepy you're right.

  22. The person she visits in jail is the villain of the issue, so this implies villain teamup. (Also possibly more Loki, and/or the dubious gifts of Loki.) I can't wait. :)

    Last month all of the Un~ Girl* comics had memorable cliffhangers but Squirrel Girl's managed to be the creepiest.

    * Marvel has currently 3 ongoing comics featuring young heroines (Squirrel Girl, Gwenpool, Wasp) whose adjective starts with "Un" (Unbeatable, Unbelievable, Unstoppable) for some reason so I began grouping them by it. ^^;

  23. I have no idea who the characters are, but that last image was really creepy!

    If was naming a rat themed villain though I'd have gone with Rat-atat-tat.

    There was a rat character briefly in 2000AD. He was called Agent Rat. Didn't really go anywhere. Started off as the twist ending in some Future Shocks type thing, which was ok. But then they tried to make him the protagonist in further stories. Now buried somewhere in Tharg's filing cabinet.

  24. Don't you remember my write up of the Squirrel Girl trade which included Cat-Thor? Ratatoskr is an ancient Asgardian mythical being who comes to Midgard to cause trouble, but Loki, Thor, Nancy, Tippy-Toe and Squirrel Girl send her packing to Asgardian prison. She's also a squirrel, despite the name.

  25. Squirrel themed (and mythological) villain. Also a returning one. She appeared in the 2nd Squirrel Girl collection. :3

  26. You might appreciate this. The plot could be better but the techniques for filming are amazing. Also has that south african bloke I like in it.

  27. Something on IPlayer you might like. First of a three part series on Japanese art. What's particularly fascinating is the 15th century Zen wash paintings. They were all about 'abscence' and space. It's hard to put into words (although the presenter does a good job). It's suggestion rather than explicit.

    But what immediately struck me was how much they reminded me of manga. Remember how I felt they looked 'unfinished'. Well it all makes sense now.

  28. You need a TV Licence now to watch iPlayer. I legitimately don't have a licence as I have no TV service and no reception of any kind. It does sound interesting, maybe I'll try and catch up with it when I go to mums if it is still on.

  29. In other news, had a genuine squee moment the other day. Latest Dr Who. Ice Warriors episode by Mark Gatiss and such an original series vibe it was like a lost episode from the 70s. But the best bit was at the end. A crackled signal from outer space. An "I recognise that voice" moment, then the picture clears and it's Alpha Centauri!

    They even got the original actress back. :-)

  30. I just noticed that I forgot the picture I wanted to use to illustrate the dubious gifts. So here is it more than a day too late:

  31. Ooh, I'd just been searching for a picture for a friends birthday on Facebook. I could have used that. I'll save it though for another comic obsessed friend.

  32. If asked for source: Unbeatable Squirrel Girl v2 #16

    It's an anniversary/birthday issue so it has a party and some glimpses into Doreen's backstory. *Resists urge to post baby Squirrel Girl picture :D *
    And yes, Loki was invited:

  33. I never reveal my sources. I'm like Woodward and Bernstein.

  34. Aaaaand. I couldn't resist to post, if not baby but small child SG (and Monkey Joe)!

  35. D'awwww I love that last picture Malitia. The next trades are high on my priorities list, I enjoy them so much.

    Sorry I am being abit rubbish posting and commenting right now, I have a killer combo of insomnia and extreme lethargy. And when I do sleep, I wake up just as tired as before. I had six hours last night and still walked around today in a sleepy daze. It was probably a bad idea to try and write up Devlin Waugh in such a frame of mind, maybe done Megacity Undercover instead, but eh.. I've started now. Will try and get it up tommorrow.

  36. "Will try and get it up tommorrow."

    F'narr f'narr

    You get some well earned rest. We can wait. If the worst comes to the worst I can always read the papers for tomorrow's trial.

  37. Oh lordy, so tired I missed a double entendre. This will never do. Right, 11.30 I am putting on a Joan Hickson Miss Marple to lull me into a state of sleepy nostalgia (actually met her when they spent a week filming at Buxton Opera House, front and backstage ["They Do It With Mirrors" 1991) she was a very cool lady) and shut off distractions like the laptop and hopefully by about halfway through I'll be mellow enough for my sleeping pill to actually work for a change and I can get a good 8 hours in.

  38. Also I can't type very easily right now as Biff is sleeping with his head on the laptop touchpad -_- why do I allow this?!

  39. I once drove from London to Cornwall with a Belgian Shepherd snoring on my lap. Had to do the entire journey without changing gear. We allow it cos we love them (really).

    (having animals you'll understand snoring was a polite euphemism)

  40. Hah, yes I must admit cats are a little quieter than dogs when they sleep. Dogs are the slobs to cats neurotic neat freakiness. I must admit Jemima the Afghan Hound was pretty good at staying on the back seat. I recall a couple of holidays where six of us crammed into mum's best mate's ancient Skoda with her son's dog which was that mongrel type that has a doberman coat gene dominant and every single time the car backfired she dived under the driver's feet. Fortunately mum's friend only drove at about 30 miles and hour, it once took us over five hours to get from Buxton to North Wales. Ah happy days.

  41. Also that's an impressive drive you did especially when you consider the fact the roads past Exeter get shittier and more crowded the further west you get. We once did a drive down to Plymouth, me and both sisters, just after Chloe got her licence. We had Biff too and he HATES cars, he's Team Train all the way. He wailed his little furry head off as far as Bristol, while I was doing what I always do when being transported, slept soundly (seriously I even have the hang of catching 20 mins between Manchester and Macc down pat now). We've never done that journey together again. I blame Biff entirely.

  42. This was in the wee hours so luckily no real traffic. I love nighttime driving. Especially listening to the shipping forecast. It's just so, well, romantic seems the nearest; although that's not quite right. Hopefully you'll get my drift.

    As for trains, I took sassy on the underground. Once.

    I actually partly did it just so I could pretend to complain to the staff that it seemed inconvenient to require people to carry a dog if they wanted to use the escalator. I also thought she might enjoy it. Nightmare. I got on and she just stood on the platform looking dopey. Then the doors shut. Me on the train. Sas outside on the other end of the lead. Luckily a couple of 'scary black guys (tm)' yanked the doors open for us. Cheers guys.

    Fun fact: if the doors on a tube train detect a fault, the brakes lock on and have to be reset manually.

  43. Hee, dogs can be funny about public transport. I was house and dog sitting a mates house and dog a good few years back. I have Views on dog ownership she didn't share. She basically neglected the animal and then wondered why it acted out. This was her third dog btw, after ditching the previous two for acting out. She ended up getting rid of this one too. Now she has a new one she's treating as a novelty toy again, I have run out of evens. Anyway, I stuck to my view that routine is best for a misbehaving dog, and by the time my friend got back she was super well behaved. I had also taken her into Manchester on a train and bus to my sister's and she'd coped very well. Then on the way back the driver of the Magic Bus told me I needed a ticket for her. She was a bloody King Charles Spaniel! I refused to board and caught the Finglands bus that turned up five minutes later. The cheek...

  44. I'm not a fan of people who treat animals as accessories as you can imagine. Some arty farty hipster friends of a friends' daughter (think I got that right) had a wolf. Poor thing was pretty badly behaved and aggressive. But that was because they just didn't know what to do with him. And you know, wolf. I nearly ended up with him. We actually got on ok after a while. But I suggested they hand him over to a sanctuary. Better for everyone. Must confess though I was tempted. And I bet he wouldn't have got any crap from bus drivers. He probably would have eaten sassy though.

  45. She had three cats as well and never let them further in the house than the garage. They weren't locked inside to be fair, but I couldn't understand why she spent all the money needed to feed them etc and not get the cuddlesome benefits. And they were three very cuddly cats, because when I looked after her house I'd let 'em upstairs and they'd all come and sleep with me at night. It was lovely. Her black and white cat was a real Greebo. A big, fat, cocky, smug beast that chased cars and rolled it's eyes at dogs. He was the main reason I decided I wanted a black and white cat of my own. There does seem to be some slight correlation between coat colours and personality types with cats, eg: all tabbies I have ever known are hopelessly neurotic.

    From what you've written Sassy sounds like she was a lovely dog. I do sometimes wish circumstances allowed me to have my ideal dog, a bull terrier. Maybe when Biff passes (which I hope will be a good while from now obviously) I'll be in a situation when I can, in which case I'll get a cat and dog together. Can't not have a cat. Unthinkable. But I'll probably wind up with two cats instead.

    I must admit I was super tempted to take on my friends second dog which was a Springer Spaniel. Took that dog on so many walks when I was having a tough time of it mentally, something very therapeutic about walking a dog. We used to explore a lot and I'd bring her home covered in mud. I missed her a lot when she was handed off to someone else.

  46. My friend Chloe has a cat called Bernard Orange, because he's orange. He's very reserved. (Technically he's Bernard Orange 2; unfortunate tractor accident)

    I love spanners; they're just so daft. Think it's the ears.

    Sassy did have a lovely temperament. Completely non aggressive. People used to use her to get their kids used to dogs. She'd stand there patiently whilst they prodded her in the eye, so placid. Funny how dogs know people don't mean harm. When we played football I'd often end up booting her in the head and she'd just wag her tail.

  47. This comment has been removed by the author.

  48. *nods* My sister Chloe (!) had a ginger cat called Bill who was one cool cat. He also suffered a fatal vehicle accident so now she has a rescue cat called Magnus who is a big fat white and grey patched cat who likes to festoon the living room with rat guts but is adorable with her kids.

    Jemima was a total softy as well. Very patient as well, while me and Chloe's mates would play with her. Because she was quite big friends would be a bit nervous approaching her first time, but after a short while realised she was as gentle as anything. Awww. I miss her.

  49. I've probably mentioned it means 'little green shoots'.

    I do like cats. Some friends have one called Henry. He's some really sleek posh looking thing. But he's one of those incredibly talkative ones. He likes sitting on me and just chuntering away. He literally never shuts up.

    Curvey Cat was a big believer that etiquette demanded you should always bring a present of mouse parts when waking you up in the morning. I know the theory that it's because they're disgusted by your hunting skills. She did have a bit of a contemptuous look about her. Even when you fed her. That 'about bloody time' eye roll.

    Like the saying goes "Feed a dog, they think you're a god. Feed a cat, they think they're a god".

    I do seem to get on very well with dogs. Even the slavering hell beast ones. Once jumped down into a yard (makes sense in context) to find two dobermans staring at me (why are there always two of them), but just said hello and let them have a sniff and they were as good as gold. Sometimes you encounter the classic 'scrap yard alsatian' type who just snarl and bark at you. But I just stand there smiling and then they just get embarrassed. Then they have to pretend they weren't barking at you. Like when you miss the bus you were running for and have to pretend you're just jogging.

  50. I keep telling Chloe that if she lived in the middle ages Magnus and his pest control skills would mean he was worth lots of money. She moans that they don't live in the middle ages. That said their garden backs onto a railway cutting which are notorious for being riddled with vermin and she is secretly quite pleased he keeps the place mouse and rat free. So are her neighbours, they feed him the occasionally chop as a thankyou, no wonder he has the body shape of The Moog from Willow The Wisp.

    I had heard that saying re: feeding cats and dogs. It definitely rings true. Dogs are always so pleased at everything you do for them, it's so sweet. Cats make you work a bit harder.

    I've always got on very well with dogs too. I've learned since a kid the best body language to use when dealing with cats and dogs and so have never had a bad interaction with either. Pro tip with cats, they do all their communicating with their heads, so best approach is to hunker down, let them come to you and present your forehead and you can usually get them rubbing up against you fairly soon. Also some cats are funny about having the tops of their heads touched, but none can resist the chin tickle, let them give your hand a good sniff and go for it, once again they'll usually pretend to put up with it while secretly enjoying it then you can go for the full body stroke. Of course some cats just don't want to have anything to do with humans that are not their owners, but these are my guidelines.

  51. The fine/compensation for killing a cat in the middle ages was enough corn to cover its body. Reflecting their value in vermin control. There are also some examples of expensively mummified cats from the same period.

    I love how dogs and cats interact. Someone sent me a video of a cat bullying a German Shepherd. Then when the dog totally surrenders the cat just licks its nose. It's so cute.

    Cats do seem to like it when you press your forehead against them. Like you say, body language is important. I got told off by an alleged dog whisperer for going down to floor level all the time with Sas. Apparently that's giving up my alpha pack leader status. I always saw us as more of a partnership though. She was very clingy, but I liked that. When she was a pup I was like one of those north London middle class parents. The sort who give their kids certificates for an oxfam donation instead of proper presents. I used to frequent a posh pet shop in Hampstead and buy her 'educational' dog toys. There was one that was like a puzzle box you put biscuits in and she had to line up shapes to get them out. I could never resist saying "Such delights we have to show you".

  52. Ah that's a great titbit of info. I shall tell Chloe she can now calculate Magnus's olde worlde worth. It would be a lot of corn, he's a big fat bastard. He'd totally stay still while it was being poured over him too. Apparently he was sleeping on the car bonnet the other day and refused to get off as they pulled out of the drive. Chloe and partner actually wondered if they could get to the shops with him still sitting unmoved on it, but felt people at traffic lights would judge them, so got out and pushed him off.

    I tend to kneel to meet a dog, because I'm not their alpha so I don't want to threaten them. I was also told not to show teeth while smiling at them as that can be miscontrued by more nervous animals too.

    Cats have scent glands all over their heads so when they rub you they are marking you as Friend. I'be noticed low nonsense talking seems to make cats more relaxed as well. You can't train a cat like a dog, but you can at least understand them a bit better. I also have never actually seen a bad interaction between a cat and a dog. I saw a clip (might have been on Mammoth) of a labrador lying on a sofa and suddenly a tabby cat launches itself from off screen and necklocks the dog, who stays still and just lets the cat get it out of its system. Adorable.

  53. Also those toys you brought Sas sound pretty cool (bonus point for Hellraiser reference). Cat toys are the biggest con ever, best thing you can give a cat is an empty cardboard box with some holes in. This image pretty much sums it up.

  54. Sassy was perfectly happy with sticks and random things she found on the beach or in the Thames ("Please don't be a body part"). She had an especial fondness for plastic bottles. She liked to crunch them in the noisiest fashion possible. Our joint favourite though was just a bit of old rope for tug of war. That's how she lost her first puppy tooth. Aww.

    Apparently blinking very slowly is a way of ingratiating yourself with cats. Showing your throat to a dog is a sign you want to be friends (so long as you don't meet the one dog who goes "Ha, sucker" and rips your throat out). And horses seem to like that thing where you blow up their noses with your nose. Heh, I'm a bit of an animal diplomat.

    It's funny when animals stand their ground and refuse to move regardless. Sas did have a bit of a thing in winter of just plonking herself in front of the fire and staying there even as she started smouldering. They used to use burning dog hair as smelling salts. Can see why.

    Like your sister's cat I once had a couple of drunk mates jump onto the roof of my truck. So of course I set off. I was going to one of the raves at our local tin mine. Pulled into the car park. Which was full of police. Cornish police are pretty cool anyway but on this occasion it was burlesque night. So they were distracted by hot girls in lingerie projectile vomiting in the car park. Ah I miss those raves.

  55. D'awwww. Yeah our dog was well into sticks, and a rubber ring we also played tug o'war wth. Surprisingly strong Afghan hounds are. And yeah you can have whole blinking conversations with cats. They really like to study your face and size you up.

    As for standing ground, Biff likes to sit outside the bedroom door and meow like a mother fucker until I come and see what he wants. He'll stand there while I implore him to tell me what he wants then very slowly goes and starts daintily nibbling his food. ARGH. I asked my mum if her cats are on a specific feeding schedule, and she said nah, just if Binky starts standing right in front of me then I am to refill the bowl. It's going to be a fun few days, me and three cats. I plan on doing some writing, hopefully I won't get distracted. Talking of writing I finally got a new post up. Like pulling teeth, but I feel a bit more motivated now.