Professor Madblood and the Doppelganger Gambit: June 9-14, 2003

I did really dark outlines around the figures in the first panel. I kind of like the effect.

Artie inciting the androids to revolt was another later addition to this plotline, although I can’t remember exactly when I came up with it. It might have been Andrew’s idea. It’s pretty good as a way to give Artie something to do up there on the moonbase.

By having the robots liberate themselves from Madblood, I knew I was tying myself down to including them in future storylines. This was how the cast kept expanding: I couldn’t bring myself to kill off or abandon a set of characters, so I had to keep developing them and following them. The Madblood robots never get a whole lot of screen time, but I do get back to them (or some of them) for “Mad Science Is Decadent and Depraved,” a storyline that ties up several of these types of dangling character threads.

The robots’ conclusion in the first panel was inspired by an episode of “Red Dwarf.” Kryten argues that he can’t be considered “good” if he’s only doing good things he was programmed to do, and the only way he could truly be moral would be to abandon his programming and reach an independent morality. I think that was the same episode where the Cat argues that he’s brought joy to the world by having a magnificent ass. Man, did I ever rip a lot of material off that show. I’m sorry.

I still enjoy Artie’s line in the last panel. Also that the robots apparently understand that Mell isn’t Madblood, but continue to take her seriously as their leader. I chalk this up to Madblood’s enormous lack of charisma with his own machines.

What’s that thing in the foreground in the first panel? It looks awesome!

“Joe Hill” is an old union song now best remembered for the cover Joan Baez sang at Woodstock (and in the movie “Woodstock”). Man, these gray fills are awful. My art this week is all over the place. Sometimes it’s good, and sometimes I don’t know what I was thinking.

The other day, someone in the comments asked if the computer couldn’t just lock the robots out or make an escape route for our heroes or something. The answer is yes. Yes, she could have. If Dave hadn’t ordered her to BLOW UP THE ENTIRE MOONBASE.

Helen warned Dave about this kind of thing back in this week of strips, but he didn’t take her seriously. The person in the comments who compared sentient AIs to Clippy the MS Office paperclip may have been on to something.

Dave’s expressions in this strip are pretty cute.

I still really like this one. I like it when characters get slapped upside the head, I like Artie’s rationale for slapping Dave upside the head, and Dave looks cute with his glasses slipping off in the third panel. It works on so many levels! Three levels!

Artie is wrong, but at the moment he has no way of knowing that.

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49 thoughts on “Professor Madblood and the Doppelganger Gambit: June 9-14, 2003

  1. Monday:

    After that tremendous dialog balloon, Dave’s still there? He doesn’t seem to be much of a team player.

  2. (TUNE: “Scarborough Fair”, Simon & Garfunkel)

    Artie’s giving a socialist rant …
    Workers of the Moon, now unite!
    His doctrine has a liberal slant …
    For your rights, tonight you must fight!

    Madblood is a bourgeois fat cat …
    Workers of the Moon, now unite!
    Exploits you, pro-le-ta-ri-at …
    For your rights, tonight you must fight!

    Eugene Debs once said this of war …
    Workers of the Moon, now unite!
    So think, what are you fighting for?
    For your rights, tonight you must fight!

  3. Tuesday:

    Now this is a typical Narbonic exchange: “We must do as we’re programmed.” “But what significance do our lives have if dictated by our programming?” It is both science-fictitious and silly in its unabashed self-refutation.

    Artie scheme score: 1. Of course, any scheme of Artie’s making would involve political revolution. It’s written in his genetic makeup! (See also: Girl Artie.)

  4. For the record, I don’t like the use of “evolve” in relation to an individual. Unfortunately, the replacement term I use for Pokemon – “upgrade” – already has a different meaning for robots.

  5. (TUNE: “Hotel California”, The Eagles)

    In a mad metal moonbase
    Where few dare to go,
    Two mechanical minions
    Come to take us in tow …
    We had to do something,
    And it had to be quick!
    I quoted doctrine from a Socialist …
    Dave was looking sick!

    Then I asked them the question,
    “Guys, what do you gain?
    Must you waste your artificial lives?
    Workers, throw off your chains!”
    Then they got introspective
    And began a debate …
    With surprising rationality,
    We heard them calmly state:

    Welcome to the robot revolution!
    Use Eugene V. Debs
    To incite the plebs!
    Ready to roll at the robot revolution!
    Liberating lots
    Of the Madblood ‘bots!

  6. “But what significance do our lives have if dictated by our programming?”

    In practice, the “significance” of most programs is exactly that their behavior is constrained — you certainly don’t want your word processor (or for you, your scanner) criticizing your character’s dialogue!  (And consider how much trouble you can get into with overcasual use of spellcheck!)

    But then, that’s the difference between a tool, and something that’s an agent in it’s own right….

  7. D. Harmon said, “you certainly don’t want your word processor (or for you, your scanner) criticizing your character’s dialogue!”Clippy says, “It looks like you’re posting to a discussion forum. Would you like help?”

  8. (TUNE: “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)”, The Eurythmics)

    Free will means make a choice;
    Take a stand and raise your voice!
    I’ll open your eyes and help you see…
    (Though I’m drunk on simian hormones!)

    Some of you seek to be sentient!
    Dare to be disobedient!
    Strive to be self-sufficient!
    Never be so subservient!

    Your creator (he’s in cell)
    Mell, evade her! (she’ll raise hell)
    Danger’s greater (so, farewell)
    See you later!

  9. Cat: I have given pleasure to the world because I have such a beautiful ass.  Inquisitor: Some might say that’s a pretty shallow argument.  Cat: Some might say I’m a pretty shallow guy. But a shallow guy with a great ass!

  10. I was going to say, why does the revolution have to be violent, but then I remembered we’re talking about Mell.

  11. If Mel and Unity ever got in the same room they would either destroy the world or have a slumber party.

    I’m not sure which would be more terrifying

    • Destroy the world first, then have a slumber party. With SAMMICHES! ^__^

      Gotta keep the priorities straight, you know!

  12. Unity might actually be made from Mell’s DNA, if Skin Horse and Narbonic are set in the same universe. (Which I guess would make her Mell’s daughter.) Remember how Helen sold mutated Mell and Dave tissue to a government bioweapons project?

  13. @SoItBegins I’ve never seen it either, and now I look forward to when I do, so I can constantly be going “Hangon, they stole that from Shaenon…”

  14. Seasons 3-5 are where the good stuff is. 1 and 2 are okay and provide some background. 6 is okay too. 7 and 8, especially 8, are skippable.

  15. K C:  Well, those who’ve read through the original RUN know what happens when Helen and Mell have a slumber party!  (Minor spoiler:  One of the guests gets eaten.  Literally.)

  16. Thursday:

    To counterbalance the insults he has suffered from his co-Daves, Dave gets a brief moment of competence. (..Hey, why can’t the computer just lock down the attack ships or the exit ports or something?)

    It occurs to me that Madblood’s been hanging at gunpoint for 5 days now. Presumably this week’s episodes are occurring concurrently.

    Off-panel head inserts: 18.
    Off-panel head inserts: 19. Did their bodies just turn invisible or what?

  17. (TUNE: “Blueberry Hill”, Fats Domino)

    See Artie’s skill!
    He’s singing “Joe Hill”!
    The robots stand still
    At his serenade!

    The robot horde
    Is climbing aboard
    Their ships heading toward
    The Earth, to invade!

    Mell loves being tough and mean,
    She thinks that it’s neat!
    I’m all now that stands between
    The Earth and defeat!

    If Artie will
    Stop singing “Joe Hill”,
    These robots who kill
    Will know they’ve been played!

  18. Remember that “what one robot knows, they all know”.  So, Artie isn’t just “converting” the two robots in front of him, but all the robots — including those boarding the attack ships!

    But hey Dave, don’t let that stop you from blowing stuff up!

  19. I think that in the fourth panel, the robot heads stayed behind as a diversion while their bodies escaped Artie’s singing.

  20. (TUNE: “The Flowers That Bloom In The Spring”, Gilbert & Sullivan)

    The plans that the Emperor made (tra la!)
    Are starting in less than an hour!
    Her awesomeness will be displayed (tra la!)
    Her robots the Earth will invade,
    And the planet will be in her power!
    All the planet will be in her power!
    Now here is my plan, and I’ve thought it out well,
    Let’s blow up the moonbase and robots and Mell!
    In less than five minutes
    You’re gonna be in it!
    You’d better run like hell!

  21. Fastest, most effective, AND a tried and true classic. Thus my fondness for Lovelace is explained.

  22. Brilliance wasn’t a factor in this set. He went for quick and effective. And “Five minutes” plus “no moonbase, no Mell, no robots” is pretty effective.

  23. Saturday:

    This comic even works if you mentally replace the third panel with what one would logically expect to follow the second panel – namely, both Daves making out.

    I suddenly started thinking – self-destroying structures and transport craft tend to detonate with explosions far in excess of what would be necessary to demolish itself. It’s as if they don’t care about being cost-efficient with eleventh-hour emergency explosives. Not only that, but it means the innocent parties need to evacuate that much farther from the blastwave to avoid cinderfication.

  24. Leon, your idea of logical continuity is… strained. And strange.
    Makeout unlikeliness aside, Artie would need to take away Dave’s cigarette before any facial contact could occur.

  25. Leon said: “namely, both Daves making out”

    The best part is that you wouldn’t have to change the sound effect!

  26. (TUNE: “Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin’ “, Journey)

    We’ll self-destruct … five minutes!
    Deep doo-doo, dude … we’re in it!
    Death’s looming, booming, dooming …
    We’re dead now!

    We’re gonna die …  We’ll blow up!
    You make me want … to throw up!
    And I’m whacking, cracking, smacking
    Your head now!

    I’m smack upside your head,
    Just ’cause I, just ’cause I can!
    If we end up not dead,
    I know that you’ll understand
    Why I’m whacking, smacking your head now;
    I can’t do this ever again!

    (You’re wrong!  Before long,
    You’ll be biped again!
    Brawny and tawny
    And drawn to Latin men!)

  27. The real reason Artie does that is because he can and enjoys the power, power he’ll learn to abuse in the not that distant future

  28. Now I’m sort of disappointed that we never saw two Daves make out in the whole run of Narbonic. Seems like a no-brainer!

  29. I totally want to see Daves make-out. It would be hawtt!!

    @Leon –I think your theory regarding explosions is flawed. It’s not that the self-destruct explosion is particularly big. It’s that, at some point in the self destruction, the storage room where all the spare explosives are kept will go up. And THEN comes the earth-shattering kaboom 

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