Professor Madblood and the Doppelganger Gambit: June 2-7, 2003

This may well be the wordiest week of Narbonic, which is saying a lot. Man, I wish I’d picked a more legible font for the computer. I did reletter it for the print collection.

Dave is, of course, unconcerned about the immanent robot attack because he’s so delighted by the coolness of Madblood’s computer system and his own awesomeness at getting into it. This is yet another indication that Dave is a lot more suited to his job at Narbonics Labs than he may first seem to be.

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I remember Andrew liked this one for some reason. I just thought it would be funny to establish that the androids are really well designed and have this cool wireless network hive-mind thing going, but they’re still not very bright. This comes up again later in “Mad Science Is Decadent and Depraved.”

Also, I really liked drawing Mell in that outfit.

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I don’t have much to say about this strip, except to note that I did a bunch of strips in a row that are just Mell talking to the Madblood robots and/or Madblood. Again, I really liked drawing her in that outfit.

Obviously, the funniest part of this strip is the robot’s line in the second panel.

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On one hand, this plot development is ridiculous. On the other hand, it does follow logically from elements set up in the previous strips: Madblood arrogantly believes he can take back his army unassisted, Mell has complete confidence in her ability to beat Madblood, and the Madblood robots are pretty stupid. So actually I’m a genius for writing this strip. Thank you.

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You can tell I really liked the dialogue I wrote for this installment because I didn’t cut any of it and IT FILLS THE ENTIRE STRIP. The best part is Mell’s greeting to Madblood in the first panel, which was inspired by the fact that I really don’t know how to pronounce French words.

Readers often described Mell as a mad genius or tried to figure out what mad discipline she fit into, which always bothered me a little. (Same with ANTONIO SMITH.) She really isn’t any kind of genius, or even especially mad. As I hoped to explain with this strip, she’s a budding evil overlord. This comes up again in “Dave Davenport Has Come Unstuck in Time,” where the Mell of the future manages to amass considerable power (and, as a still later storyline mentions, wreak a whole bunch of destruction).

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This strip came out of a conversation on the Narbonic message board about Madblood’s pistol in this week of strips. It appears to have a flintlock, because I never thought very hard about how the devices in my strip actually worked, and people started speculating about why a super-science weapon would need such a thing. I stole their snarky suggestions and incorporated them into this awesome exegesis on the nature of mad genius. It’s ridiculously wordy (my poor, poor artwork), but I love Mell’s cockeyed, yet accurate, explanation of the way the mad scientists in Narbonic work, so I’m still very fond of it.

[SPOILERS] “…and probably Dave someday” is an astute and, later on, extremely important observation on Mell’s part. She may not be a mad genius, but she ain’t stupid.

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51 thoughts on “Professor Madblood and the Doppelganger Gambit: June 2-7, 2003

  1. Monday:

    At this point, a reader might mistake Dave’s blinding fixation with further suauve confidence in even more plans and schemes he’s somehow set up from that terminal. Sadly, his grip on the Competence Ball has loosened.

    I refuse to believe Mell’s read enough of 1984 to institute a Five Minutes’ Hate. (However, I can believe that she maybe saw the John Hurt film during one lonely night of channel-surfing.)

  2. I don’t know much about immanent robot attacks, but this one certainly looks imminent. (though not eminent)

  3. John Campbell wins.

    Mell has probably read 1984 at some point, since she did manage to get into college and all, but she doesn’t need some book to tell her how to whip a mob into mindless rage.

    • So which one would make the better Evil Overlord: Mell, or Kerr Avon? (My money’s on Mell, and not just because I have a massive fanboy crush on her. Avon is still my fave of the Blake’s 7 cast, but Mell just has him beat hands down for sheer evil IMHO. She has his brains and megalomania, but she also possesses a drive to succeed that could give Haruhi Suzumiya a run for her money!)

      Come to think of it, maybe it could be put up to a vote over on the forums?

  4. I like this one because of Mell’s endearingly disturbing priorities.  That last line is very memorable.  I kinda wish I had more opportunities to use it.

  5. Wow, 10,000 Friends on your network.  It’s the wePhone.

    How do they keep track of the minutes?

  6. (TUNE: “Runaway”, Del Shannon)

    Robots searching through my Moon base,
    For a guy with Dave’s face;
    They found two of three!

    They communicate by WiFi;
    Though their I.Q.’s not high,
    They all worship me!

    Now I’m plotting on the Moon!
    Earth will be my plaything soon!
    I will travel ev’rywhere
    In my robot-carried chair!
    And I love them …
    Love love love love love them!
    And to …
    To to to to to … Earth they’ll be sent!
    And my empire … they’ll implement!
    My robot regiment!

  7. Wednesday:

    It’s sort of sad that the world-famous mad genius loose in his home base is regarded as the least capable of effective resistance.

    Mell looks nice in epaulets, despite completely lacking the figure to do them traditional justice.

  8. Mell’s last line puzzles me a bit. Is there any combination of Artie, Dave, and Madblood that she <i>wouldn’t</i> be totally confident of her ability to take?

  9. (TUNE: “The Great Pretender”, The Platters)

    Yeah, rawk!  I can handle Madblood!
    The weakest of all of those guys!
    His butt I’ll erase,
    Reconfigure his face!
    My knuckles need some exercise!

    Yeah, rawk!  I can handle Madblood!
    There’s no need to sweat, it’s all cool!
    He’s no match for me!
    And just like Mr. T,
    I actually pity the fool!

    I’m fine!  I’m divine!  All the Earth will be mine!
    Won’t stop!  I’m the top!  I’m the cream of the crop!

    Yeah, rawk!  I can handle Madblood!
    ‘Cause Artie and Dave are no threat!
    Once Lupin’s done,
    I’ll resume my fun!
    Those two other guys I’ll forget!
    (An error I soon will regret …)

  10. I like how easily Mell identifies the various Daves. Also, the idea that Dave and Artie are freaking the Madbot out.

  11. Mell might be concerned about her ability to take out Artie. She has some respect for him.

  12. Mell might just be pleased that she doesn’t have to show any restraint against Madblood, since he’s not a fellow Narbonic Labs employee. Abusing Dave and Artie is Helen’s job.

  13. “The doughy ones with the scraggly facial hair.”

    Yeah, that *really* narrows it down… [/sarcasm]

  14. I’d like to think that Mell prefers to fight Madblood because she already recognizes the latent danger in Dave’s abilities.

  15. Thursday:

    It’s ambiguous whether the Madbots are still acting under Mell’s command and ignoring Madblood, or accepting authority from Madblood and taking his ‘orders’ as dictated by Mell.

    And Madblood is once again scandalously deprived of the chance to increment the “You must obey me!” counter (currently still at 1).

  16. (TUNE: “Do You Believe in Magic”, The Lovin’ Spoonful)

    We gotta tie up Madblood!
    Throw him in a cell!
    We’re obeying the orders
    Of General Mell!
    Yeah, Madblood
    Told us, “Execute –“
    Mell filled in the rest
    ‘Cause she’s smart and astute!

    Obey the Gen’ralissima ’cause she knows best!
    Then come back and continue with our world conquest!
    Oh, lockin’ up Madblood …

  17. I still think that the Madblood robots would actually be stupid enough to interpret that as “Execute me!”

    But that would ruin all of our fun.

  18. You know, if you tilt your head just wrong, it looks like Madblood is shaven and nonplussed in the last panel, instead of gagged.

  19. No, no, Mell has to leave Madblood alive long enough for her to gloat. For all her protestations to the contrary, she really does have the soul of a supervillain.

  20. Interesting. I’ve been meaning to ask if Mell was mad, but I keep coming down on the side that she’s not quite. There’s something else weird going on with her, but I don’t know how to describe it.

  21. (TUNE: “Go Your Own Way”, Fleetwood Mac)

    Hello there … I thought I’d stop in and gloat!
    That’s dee rigger … for all us evil overlords!
    I’ll declare … this massive speech Shaenon wrote!
    And with vigor … I’ll monologue this mass of words!

    I could spout off all day!  (I could spout off all day …)
    You got no choice but to listen when I say …
    I could spout off all daaaaay …!

  22. Friday:

    Mell, wouldn’t the technical definition of a short circuit mean that it it’s more apropos to say that it is yours which short-circuits, while theirs runs the full circuit of possibilities?

    But that ain’t your fault.” ? This isn’t very effective gloating, mad moselle.

    I can’t help but feel that Mell would be extremely effective if there was a greater harmony between her goofy capricious tomfoolery and her moments of plain-speaking steel-sharp cunning. Most of the time it’s hard to keep both sides of her in mind: as someone perpetually watching cheesy action movies in her head instead of paying attention, and simultaneously as someone perpetually ready for the moment to sell everyone down the river and get the promotion. She’s hardly ever regarded as threatening, is what I hope I’m saying. Consider, for instance, how many times she’s tried to kill Dave vs. how many times Dave’s just shrugged it off (…well, okay, 1 and 1).

  23. Sarge, I hate to contradict you, but… Mel is most certainly mad — she’s even in the DSM!   (Psychopathy, even comedically-rendered psychopathy is most certainly a madness.)  And despite her own demurrals, genius lies not only in fancy words… Mel certainly is briliant at grasping the opportunities of the moment, and using them to completely rearrange the gameboard.

  24. David, Mel is mentally ill, possibly legally insane, but she’s not Mad in the sense that Mad Science is a specific genetic condition in the Narboniverse.

  25. And as a budding Evil Overlord, she has to practice the ‘gloat to the captive’ scene.  That would make Artie the Bond Girl … hmmm…

  26. The best way to deal with Lord Julius is to just ignore him and do what you were planning on doing anyway.

  27. We should be very glad Mell seldom listens.  Just think of what she could do if she gave it 100 percent.

  28. (TUNE:  “I’ll Follow The Sun”, The Beatles)

    Earth’s cool!  I rule!
    I am the one!
    But I’m busy today, so,
    I’ll borrow your gun!

    Your ‘bots … are lots …
    Of violent fun!
    Since you’re now in my way, bro,
    I’ll borrow your gun!

    But now your time has come!
    I’m putting you in your place!
    This gun is genius dumb,
    And blows right up in your face!  (E-rase!)

    You dreamed … mad schemed …
    But now you’re done!
    Will it help you to pray?  No,
    I’ll borrow your gun!

  29. Saturday:

    It’s really quite unfair that Madblood has to endure this while gagged. Then again, Mell never gets any other opportunity to voice her opinion of her boss’s occupation to a captive audience.

    Mell doesn’t deserve the following suggestion, but it’d really service her demonstration of the idiocy of the gun if she executed poor Lupin by pulling out a convenient mirror… and then aiming the gun at Madblood’s reflection.

  30. This is one of my favorite strips in the whole of Narbonic, and definitely my favorite Mell strip. She sums it all up so eloquently. Also, she looks fantastic in that outfit.

  31. Gagging Madblood is the only way for Mell to get in a good monologue. Otherwise he’d constantly be interrupting her.

  32. That wouldn’t demonstrate the idiocy of the gun, Leon. Being able to shoot around corners is actually a really useful feature.

    I wouldn’t put money on it working without a special very-high-quality mirror, either. 

  33. Now, now, my dear John, you can’t deny the flaw in a gun which can’t even break through such common materials as shiny glass, water or silvery body-paint.

  34. I love when Mell’s in control and actually paying attention – those moments when you see the person who you normally discount as the cute, somewhat dangerous but overall not super smart loose cannon suddenly reveal that she’s pretty dang competent and your threat rating of her shoot up exponentially are just amazing.


    Saturday: I love that this comic gets kinda paralleled in Everlasting Ices/Madness, with Mell/Madblood holding a mad genius with a gun to their head and monologuing about the flaws of their madness.

    And hey, both storylines even involve a member of Narbonics Labs becoming the big threat to the world for a while! It’s like poetry, it rhymes!

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