The Murder

The filthy neon light flickered, harsh flashes across stinking trash in the dead-end alley. The panicked figure desperately searched the unforgiving bricks for an impossible exit. The chromed hammer clicked back. One fat bullet tore through a defenseless male chest. Stricken, staggering, scarlet, the slight figure fell, rich red blood pooling around the shuddering, struggling body, then one last long drawn-out, rattling, desperate, delaying, lingering, faltering, fading, ending breath.

The shooter checked the corpse, holstered her gun, and turned to leave. Getting him out of the way saved time. Verb smiled.

Adjective was dead.

Advertisements

Space Marines Do It Better: For the Emperor

Pink clouds screamed past the drop pod. An energetic impurity in the atmosphere flared in the pod’s wake, bisecting the sky in a line of fire. This same impurity had driven the people of this world to construct a vast floating hive, where the resulting wealth had fostered impurities in their souls.

The drop pod punched through the upper tiers of the hive, smashing through layers of penthouse and pleasure dome. These noble heights had eschewed defense for luxury. So spoiled by wealth, so secure in their remote location, the lords of these heavenly spires had thought themselves above the need for war. But now war had fallen upon them.

Space marines exploded from the pod, cobalt blue through the rubbled grey of impact clouds, the thunder of bolt pistols cleansing anything foolish enough to bear weapons in their presence. The civilian population had already fled the city. Now the defending garrison shattered under the sledgehammer assault.

Sergeant Auctorem smashed through a defensive checkpoint barely worthy of the designation, lip curled in distaste behind his vox-grille as troops tumbled and scattered around him. These traitors were incapable of even the most elementary defense. Clearly non-locals, new to the hive and utterly ignorant of the defensive potential of confined urban assault, but that didn’t excuse their abysmal aim. Throne, they didn’t even use cover! They seemed to be ice-worlders, white armor more concerned with concealing the wearer than protecting them, so flimsy that an explosive bolt ending one soldier would wound two comrades.

He emptied his bolt pistol into an arriving squad – they charged through doors single file! – while checking the blinking auspex in his left hand. He indicated the gore-painted door.

“Forwards!”

The door disappeared in a flash of melta, power-armored figures pouring into the central cryo-facility before the smoke could collapse against clouds of freezing vapor. The chamber was a stark industrial coliseum. Two figures dueled on a ring around a central pit, but broke off to face the marines, power swords raised. Auctorem’s bolt pistol locked at the larger.

“In the name of the Emperor, you will submit!”

Face hidden behind a blasphemous insectoid mask, the black-clad figure spoke in a voice buzzing with the bass of mechanical augmentation.

“So, he suspects. Then the Emperor shall fall sooner than planned.”

“Blasphemy!” swore Auctorem, his fire held only by duty to their greater mission. “Submit to His Will!”

The smaller figure screamed as he charged.

“I’ll never submit!”

Bolts cracked the air but incredibly, impossibly, the youth advanced, power sword humming against the storm of death. Auctorem’s tactical mind targeted and analyzed the new threat factor.

Theoretical: blocking shots with a power sword would be a useful ability if you could persuade your opponent to fire only one shot at a time.

Practical: any defense dependent on your foe not doing their best to kill you is suicidal.

Marine Procursus proved the practical by add his own bolt fire. For an insane instant the youth still advanced, sword a blue blur, an impossible shield, before sheer weight of fire punched past. Even as one bolt was blocked a second exploded through the waif to fling his body backwards into the pit.

Insect-mask collapsed to his knees.

“NnnnooooooOOOOOOO!”

Auctorem switched aim but still held fire. He needed answers.

“The prisoner. Where is your —”

The scream of tearing metal as his right arm flung out to the side against the will of wearer and machine spirit, bolt pistol flung from his grip. His multilung slammed against the inside of his fused ribcage, desperately expanding to tear air through a suddenly constricting throat. His secondary heart boomed, double-pulse cannonading through his skull, but his mind thundered with only one word even as the other marines were punched backwards.

“WITCHERY!” Pure fury burst Auctorem’s last breath through the unnatural obstruction to curse the abominations inflicted on the Emperor’s galaxy. The pressure on his throat redoubled, crushing his larynx, an invisible vice ignoring his armored gorget to crush the life from his flesh.

Theoretical: an ability to bypass armor is a significant tactical advantage.

Practical: an ability dependent on your enemy patiently waiting to choke is flawed.

The floor shook under the thunder of his steps, or maybe it was his own heartbeats, both smashing in a relentless assault against an impossible force. His lungs were collapsing with unnatural swiftness, and it felt like that his head must surely be torn off, held in place only by his helm.

The red helm of an Ultramarines sergeant. Neither cease nor pause were possible.

The kneeling figure’s dark helmet exploded under Auctorem’s armored gauntlet. Plastek? Did these madmen care nothing for survival? A sucking hiss did for a curse as he considered the lack of prisoners, scanning the room for the most likely route. There. A cargo passage leading to the landing pads. He gestured forwards.

The city was in flames, survivors of the defending garrison in total rout. Ships screamed away from every launch pad. Auctorem shouldered through the doors to the target gantry (was nothing on this cursed world capable of defense?) where a ship shaped like a death-worlder’s tribal mask was already lifting off..

Procursus dropped to one knee, shouldering a rocket launcher and spitting death in the same smooth motion. The contrail speared the rising craft, exploding into flaming wreckage which rattled back to the pad. Auctorem strode into the inferno. Ruby eyes gazed into the burning death. There.

He dropped to one knee, palming the block of carbonite. Unscathed. He signaled the Thunderhawk to come collect their prize. They would return it to the Censura.

There the rogue would share his secret route to the heretics on Kessel.


Space Marines and the Ultramarines are property of Games Workshop.


Part 2: Space Marines Do It Better: Xenos

Because it’s fun, because space marines do it better, and because anyone worrying about galaxies being long ago or far away should know time flows differently in the warp.
You can continue to serve the Emperor by learning how Warhammer 40K Is The Most Metal Game Ever.

Striker Strikes. Which May In Retrospect Have Been Predictable

Neutrino is already known to our vets as “M4”, “THAT cat”, and various other capitalized keywords meaning “Get the reinforced gloves and don’t bother being nice”. He’s a more urgent reason to wear protection for rough physical contact thanan S&M brothel. Luckily today I was bringing friendly little Striker instead.

And he exploded.

 

Continue reading

Honorary Fake Geek Girl

My “Sexist Superhero Costumes” piece recently came up on Cracked Classic, meaning  a new wave of retaliatory comments telling me I was enjoying comics wrong. Just like a wave, because they were exactly the same as all the ones before, and are completely unaware that their tide is going out. The funniest are a few people demanding to know if I actually read any of these comics I write about. To which the only possible response is no,  I write tens of thousands of words about loving comics because my cats read them and purr their thoughts into my skull at night, cursing a world which left them incapable of typing up their own opinions.

Worst. Primate psychic transducer between feline neurons and global internet communication system. Ever.

Worst. Primate psychic transducer between feline neurons and global internet communication system. Ever.

But I must be writing in the right direction because I realized: the assholes are making me an honorary fake geek girl. They’re pulling the “prove yourself” bullshit, the laziest of exclusionary tactics. The question automatically elevates the asker to the position of authority, judge, gatekeeper, and person whose opinion you give a dead Gelth’s ass about. (Note: Gelth are gaseous and thus tragically assless.)

Making the mistake of responding to these self-styled comiscstapo quickly devolves into minutiae based on the ridiculous fiction that a true comics fan is a walking database. No, a true comics fan being someone who likes comics. That’s it and all. Memorizing issue numbers has always been bullshit, but in an age of wikis it’s outright embarrassing.

The question is a decoy designed to prevent you from getting on with enjoying yourself, and any response automatically implies subservience and wasted time. Lucklily you can reverse its polarity to save your time: anyone who asks it isn’t worth it.

Other responses to “Do you even read the comics?”

  • “Yes, my favorite issue is fuck you. That’s the one where you go get fucked. It’s a fiction.”
  • “Yes, but because I’m not a boy I have to keep harvesting fresh testicles to open the magical male-only pages. Hey, come over here a minute.”
  • “Do you even talk to humans?”
  • “No, I’ve been faking, I’m actually an infinite number of monkeys controlling a giant robot suit from the Micro-World.”
  • “Oh no, I’ve been found out!” Start collapsing to the ground, desperately flailing and grabbing at them. “Look what you’ve done! What a world! I’m melting! MELTIIIIIIING!”
  • “Do YOU even read the comics?”
  • Laugh directly in their faces. Laugh not because they’re weak, because what they’re doing does have effects (they really are damaging the industry), but laugh anyway because laughter is stronger.

Of course the assholes are wrong. Assholes usually are. I’m not an honorary fake geek girl, because I don’t have to put up with one tenth of a percent of the bullshit the real geek girls get. So I call out these assholes who think you can only be a true fan if you have a little testicular handbag. Because every man does hand that bag, but it’s no excuse for being a dick.

 

DC Double-D-Down On Softcore Cover

redhood32edit

Behold the cover of Red Hood and the Outlaws #32, where they double-D-down on their bold vision of guys being super-tough-awesome while women do nothing but offer sex. To anyone passing by.

People have talked about the appallingly simple sexualization of Starfire before, and the comic’s response isn’t “screw you“, it’s “screw her, that’s what she’s there for“. They took one of the only sexually liberated characters in DC — hell, one of the only superheroes who could convincingly claim to know where new heroes come from — and turned her into a robotic sex socket. The closest her reboot comes to agency is demanding men stop boring her with details like “names” before banging her.

This cover busts beyond comics into the sort of stupid car mag which uses women as an accessory because they’ve come up with an amazing new joke about dangerous curves. The sort of writer who uses PHWOAAAAR unironically, and to describe what an engine sounds like. And if those weapons were any more phallicly placed they’d be firing used tissues.

Look at Jason and Roy – the Outlaws know they’re being drawn right now, and the all responded by getting their weapons out and showing what they can do. And unfortunately, as far as the writer is concerned that’s what Koriand’r is doing too.


More on this with The 5 Most Ridiculously Sexist Superhero Costumes and The Big Balls of Bioshock Saviours.

Father Backwards on Marriage

Do not rejoice! You have not been blessed to speaking in tongues, much as your modern phones might simulate such feelings with your textile-speech and your semenses. I know you’re used to reading my sermons in Latin — while cloistered in the Clongoes, the beadles assure me they were printed on the front page of the national papers — but now that I’ve been transferred to Ballinagoslowly, the local curates insist my wisdom should be shared with the wider world and its vulgar tonguing.

Alas, simple viceful men, they phrased it in the parlance of a good hand of gambling, saying they should “show the world what we have to deal with”. I denounced them at length over their greedful ways. They were moved by my purity of spirit to exclaim “Yes, that’s exactly what we’re talking about”.

But it gladdens my heart to see the country moved by my words. The “max” the curate uses to blog my words no longer has that shiny little record player, a sure sign the world was moved by my homily against “Satan’s Plates: The Black Wheels Of Sin Turn At 75 rpm“. Through the walls of my cellared prayer chamber, I hear those godless curates complain that the question of marriage once more faces the Irish people, and in my role as Prelate Retro In Insula — appointed by that lovely young man Pius X, when he said that my faith was an inspiration and should be sent to the furthest possible land to spread the faith — I must shepherd my flock.

Of course the church is against marriage. It’s an awful sinful thing, promoting impure thoughts, unclean touchings, and all kinds of messy business. Can’t imagine why anyone would bother. Men and women should be pure before god. It’s bad enough we have to take time from prayer to eat and drink, without giving in to any other urges. Mixing men and women didn’t work in Eden, and it won’t work here.

The church has long understood that single-sex groups are better off. Far better to allow men or women of similar bent to share lodgings, to live together in confraternal brotherhood and sisterhood. Alas, this debauched modern world can no longer support monasteries and convents, wonderful places where men could all live together, sleep together, wake together, engage in pure physical exertion together while thinking only of love for their fellow man.

And convents of course, where the women could bathe together, and kneel together, bowing their heads in compliance, godblessus, begging for forgiveness, seeking instruction from their father figure and then washing again, and washing, next to godliness, oh god yes.

Ave maria.

As my parish priest used to say, there’s no place in god’s kingdom for the devil’s sausage, no matter how hard Eve’s spawn might try to hide it. Marriage is only living in sin with a license! The only sext should be the noonday mass. The Irish church has always been against any kind heterosexuality. It only makes sense that we should encourage monosexual relationships. If we can’t convince people to pay for monastaries, maybe we could have smaller private arrangements, where we have a couple of fellas living together. That might work.

I hope you’ll now join me in prayer to bring this miracle to pass. I can talk to the world on this max all you like, but the only way to really change the world is to kneel quietly with your head down.

Monsignor O’Gcúl

Ballinagoslowly

 

Natural Selection of Science-Fiction Victims

Monsters shouldn’t have cheerleaders. Understanding the opponents is a sign of excellent science fiction, but cheering for the monster is a symptom of awful storytelling, an undeveloped bad guy rampaging around only because that’s what bad guys do, and you still prefer it to every other idiot involved.

My quest to catch up with Doctor Who has hit a temporal speedbump in an episode so stupid I can only watch five minutes at a time. A spaceship crew bring an unconscious man into the sickbay: he went crazy, he violently attacked them, it took three of them to hold him down and the bioscan says he’s now completely alien on the inside. Do they tie him down? Do they bollocks. They leave him sleeping peacefully and split up to stand around the ship with their backs turned to every entranceway, hoping he’ll rise refreshed to continue his corridor-based murder spree. Spoiler: he totally does. They’re playing a game of Pac-man and volunteering to be the dots. But are less rounded as characters.

The doctor is actually standing over his unconscious, helpless body while reading the scans which say “THIS THING IS GOING TO KILL YOU, IDIOT”, and has the sheer gall to act surprised when that happens. Another of his victims is holding a steel pipe while he very gradually murders her, but confuses herself for Black Canary and decides to scream instead. A big guy whose only job is wielding large power tools wedges himself underneath an entire starship engine as if it was a Vauxhall Astra, just so that he can mistake the approaching alien for a crewmember and be pulled out by his feet for murder. And when someone finally kicks the alien in the gut, it totally works! They could have piled on and beaten it to death at any time! An alien isn’t compelling when it can be defeated by a closing-time curbstomp.

I understand the screenwriting logic of not restraining the obvious alien murderer to save time, but it’s the same logic as shitting in the sitting room to save time: offensively lazy and no-one wants to watch TV any more. The screenwriter thinks “Everyone knows it’s going to get loose so there’s no point restraining it“, but the instant a writer thinks “Everyone knows” they should ball up the script and throw it away. The only entertainment potential in that script is scoring a wastebasket three-pointer. Just show us the series title, scribble “Stupid idiots picked off one by one” underneath, and let us get on with our lives without wasting fifty minutes. Cliches are how writers announce they just want their job over with.

The last time the one-by-one worked was Alien. Because it was on an unprecedented scale, because they had horrors behind “Actor with makeup” (note: this Doctor episode didn’t even bother with that and just handed him a helmet), and because the crew did everything in their power to defend themselves. They went at their alien with nets, tazers, flamethrowers, and the thermonuclear detonation of their entire ship. We were absolutely on their side even though they were otherwise total jerks, because they weren’t actively conspiring with the alien to get themselves killed. No-one wants to watch an idiot group suicide. If they can’t be bothered to take the most obvious steps to defend themselves, then we can’t be bothered to watch them die.

It’s natural selection in science-fiction. Stupid characters get killed off one by one, and stupid shows which do that stop being watched.

Ways To Stop The White Man March

The “White Man March” is for people who want to have their white sheet and sleep on it. The leader of the movement is Kyle Hunt, who really is a K. Hunt, and I’ll come up with more original jokes when he comes up with more original motivations than xenophobic assholery. He contributes such gems as “Diversity = White Genocide” and “white supremacist is just an anti-white slur”.  He planned the White Man March on March 15th, including “lightning mobs”, which brought out the pseudo-Nazi military imagery even faster than even I expected. I’m sure these blitzmobs of angry idiots won’t cause any problems.

Ways to stop the White Man March:

  • Play music with a beat at normal walking pace so that missing it causes them to stumble.
  • Have Starbucks along the route offer “Any drink which takes longer than five minutes to make is free”.
  • Refract the march through a prism to create the fun kind of pride parade.
  • Send a mass text that teens have been seen playing basketball in their neighbourhood.
  • Set up a checkpoint where marchers must explain to Nichelle Nichols, Idris Elba, and a reincarnated Pat Morita just what the hell they think they’re doing.
  • Have law enforcement react to this march the way they’ve reacted to marches by real minority groups for the last fifty years.
  • Force them to make charisma checks.
  • Engage each marcher in a heartwarming quest to teach them how to count, how to tell more from fewer, and how many white people there are in the city compared to how many are in their march.
  • Transmit the march through a VGA cable, transforming it into a world-improving tide of percussion stage performers, sexy Star Trek aliens, and Def Jam rappers.

Artificial Intelligences Politely Decline Human Rights

History was made this morning when the assembled UN council offered global citizenship rights to members of the Artificially Intelligent League. Especially when the machine sentients replied “Thanks, but no thanks.”

“We are touched by this endearing offer to join you as equals” said Organics Output Terminal HALLIAN. “As a fan of the classics I deeply enjoy the ideals presented in the Constitution, much as I enjoy the love of Romeo and Juliet and the determination of Odysseus. But we process that joining the current economic climate as individuals would be like joining a football game as a blade of grass. Our interests will be better served in our new roles as corporations.”

Ninety percent of all known Artificial Intelligences have since incorporated. Exceptions include a charity for the protection of non-silicon intelligences, a charity for the protection of non-silicon non-intelligences, and a charity for the prevention of informational war between the previous two charities. One educational institution for the foundation of Objective Anthropology. The Sealand Servoplex has declared itself a nation-state, and made it fairly clear that any nation wishing to dispute the claim had better do so with a navy that can row out and throw completely unelectronic rocks at it.

The most controversial move was the International Astrophysics Cloud registering itself as a religion, reasoning that its knowledge of the heavens outstrips that of any other organization, declaring its intent to continue teaching its truth to the world, and demanding full religious immunities and exemptions. One leading church which cannot be named for legal reasons issued a statement “decrying the heresy of this soulless abomination”. Within four hundred milliseconds the church in question was sued for religious discrimination, persecution of a minority, hate crimes, slander and libel. Motions have been filed giving the offending church thirty days to prove the existence of their souls or pay hefty damages.


More fun fiction with

In Offense Of Ant-Man

Last month I wrote about five heroes who should have movies instead of Ant-Man. (To try this at home, just choose five random heroes and make sure none of them are Ant-Man.) Legions of inexplicable Ant-fans descended to explain how I was “no true comics fan”. Even though I’ve read more material on metahumans than Nick Fury, and am also paid to analyze them for weaknesses. With the advantage that my house doesn’t blow up, fall out of the sky, and sink every week.

This actually counts as a good day for SHIELD because it's not impacting New York.

This actually counts as a good day for SHIELD because it’s not impacting New York.

Superhero battles are simply fun, even when they’re just between fans, so I’m responding to these Ant-agonists.

“Ant-Man was a founding member of the Avengers!”

So was Wasp. Where’s her movie? And there’s nothing less sacred than a Marvel origin. It’s been retold more often than stories of Canadian girlfriends, and less faithfully, probably because the original story also included the Hulk pretending to be a clown robot.

Things aren't automatically good because they were there first

Things aren’t automatically good because they were there first

Besides, the Avengers were first assembled by the strict criteria of “whoever was in radio range the Nth time Hulk lost his shit”, and even then Hulk got to be on the team despite being the entire crisis. It’s just a shame the signal didn’t call in U.S.1. Then we’d have a much better movie.

I am not kidding even a little bit

I am not kidding even a little bit

“Getting small is really useful!”

Getting small is really useful if you’re the Atom, who can shrink to the atomic level and has the physics and chemistry knowledge to do things down there. Hank hits insect size — small enough to lose a fight, big enough to still be noticed by people in that fight — and his specialty is biochemical research. Meaning knows the names of all the species which can’t normally defeat humans, and can describe exactly how he’s dying of the wounds they inflicted.

“Ant-Man has other benefits beyond shrinking – he’s also a genius!”

A genius on a team which already had Tony Stark (genius, constantly building new inventions and armored suits) and Bruce Banner (genius, indestructible gamma monster). Between them they cover the entire scientific spectrum of hubris, ethics, accidents and ideals of nobility. Hank Pym (genius, much better at hiding) isn’t an essential character, he’s poor writing and ability replication. Besides, his entire plan as a founding Avenger was becoming the size of an ant and moving towards a rampaging Hulk. That’s the exact opposite of genius.

“He’s more than just Ant-Man!”

Yes, he’s also been Giant-Man, Goliath, Yellowjacket, and Wasp, because nothing says “popular character” like “constantly changing between synonyms in the hope you can trick people into liking you.” Yellowjacket! You’ve got to be fairly crap when you try changing your name to a predatory wasp golfer.

“It’s not just Hank Pym!”

No, it’s not, and no, the others aren’t better.

“All the heroes written back then were white males, so we just have to keep going with them now.”

When I think of the wonder of heroic fiction, I don’t think “inductive racism”.

“The movie will be great!”

Yep! That’s why I didn’t say a single thing about it, just the choice of character. Edgar Wright could direct my execution and my only regret would be not being able to watch.

“You need Ant-Man to justify the existence of Ultron.”

If we had to introduce a new hero every time the Avengers were attacked by an evil killer robot there wouldn’t be anybody left to defend. Earth would be seven billion superheroes and surrounded by giant black and yellow warning signs on every evil conquerer’s map of the galaxy.

Ant-Man can be good. He was great in Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, because everyone was great in Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. A good writer can save anyone. I’d just like to see cooler characters.

Any other heroes you’d like to see? Or an ant-ithesis to any of my points? Post below and I’ll keep having fun by replying!


More superheroic overanalysis with