Neathery Week-and-a-Half, Concluded

Guest commentary by Aaron Neathery:

Bleak, even for me.  Dave’s modest longings in the face of such unimaginable carnage are very, very human.  In the original Albert outline, Al was to attempt to hold together his bland, predictable daily routine despite the fact that the population of the city he lived in was more than half dead…trying in vain to pay for gasoline as the cashier lays dead behind the counter or resorting to making his own Big Macs in a deserted McDonald’s.

Shaenon comments:

Shortly after this strip ran, a friend of Aaron’s contacted me to point out that nearly every storyline Aaron writes ends up more or less like this.

Guest commentary by Aaron Neathery:

I don’t believe for a second that any such “peaceful agrarian society” would truly result from the loss of four billion (billion!) people and the collapse of our infrastructure even if the only survivors were peace-loving hippies…but it does here just to spite Helen.  My personal favorite of this sequence.  I love the image of Helen wandering alone across North America, unarmed, trying in vain to convince the random people she meets that she should be allowed to rule them.  Her plan worked too well; she’s made herself irrelevant. HA!

Guest commentary by Aaron Neathery:

General rule of thumb for just about everything I’ve ever written: the results of any character’s grand scheme is the complete opposite of what they’d intended.  Naturally, a character setting out to brutally conquer the planet would inadvertently create a peaceful paradise they’d be incapable of ruling. The soundtrack for this strip would have to be the Talking Heads’  (Nothing but) Flowers.

Don’t leave me stranded here
I can’t get used to this lifestyle…

And I scramble to set right what Aaron has left so gloriously wrong. The “we’re all really just clones” line is a direct reference to the much-reviled “Clone Saga” storyline that ran in Spider-Man comics in the 1990s. The Clone Saga strangely fascinates me, as do many other bad Marvel plots of decades past (ask me about the Superia Strategem!), and I refer to it more than once over the course of Narbonic.

When something goes awry, it’s almost always safe to blame John Byrne.

31 thoughts on “Neathery Week-and-a-Half, Concluded

  1. Neeeat. I think I’ll become a mad scientist when I grow up. Oh, wait, too late now… the entire world population’s kicked the bucket due to Helen’s fantastic supercola!

  2. Monday’s Comic: “The smell of death hangs heavily.” All throughout this storyline, I and possibly a few other people have been thinking about the ramifications of death by freezing. Since, even post-life, the miraculous Narbonicola molecules continue to maintain refrigerated coldness in their hosts, the onset of decomposition ought to be slowed at least somewhat, right?

    Furthermore! An enticing possibility is that a significantly voluminous intake of Narbonicola and a comically swift death just might be enough to cryogenically freeze the victim solid, stopping decomposition in its tracks. And all one would need to do to awaken these Sleeping Beauties would be to feed each of them “Narbonicoffee – the coffee that keeps itself hot.” Final scene is a small army of the reawakened, led by Dave, all holding steaming mugs of coffee, advancing out into the world as the sun appears over the horizon and the words “Good morning” appear onscreen as the music reaches its crescendo. Roll credits.

    (Not to say that the current Day of the Triffids-esque ending doesn’t work as well, might I add.)

  3. It says the scent of death, not of decomposition – presumably, being around a mad scientist gives one a really sense of smell.

  4. “I love the smell of death in the morning. It smells like week-old socks, turpentine, melting plastic, and coffee. No, wait, that’s my breakfast.”

  5. For mad biologists, growing up need not be something that happens but once! Take that as you will.

    Tuesday’s Comic: Conclusively demonstrating that Helen just doesn’t have a full grip on this world domination business. Alas, it seems that far too many would-be overlords are so addled with psychopathy that they regard complete subjugation of humanity as something that will just fall into their open hands sooner or later – which is why they oftentimes omit the “During the chaos, I step in and take over” step altogether.

  6. Rulling is Hard boring work.

    That’s why every mad scientist knows enough to KILL THEM ALL.

  7. This, right here, is why I love this sequence… so rarely do the mad scientiists actually get to this point in their plans, it actually seems perfectly logical that someone like Helen would have neglected to actually have any idea of what to do next.

  8. “Ruler? We don’t have a ruler!”

    “Bloody civilian!”

    “Help, help! I’m being repressed!”

    Am I the only one who’s thinking it? 

  9. Hoo-yeah! Imaginarity, rEditing, and Crecreation combine to make one heck of a Dea Ex Machina (DXM)!! P.S: First.

  10. Without taking any blame from Johh Byrne I usually blame Tom De Falco.

    I’ve always felt Byrne peaked with  ROG2000.



  11. To Basil Jelly: Ok, we can’t understand each other’s comments… how ’bout we just try to destroy one another?

  12. Wednesday’s Comics: Ah, yes, the best place to end any story as gloomy as this one is under the spreading chestnut tree.

    And y’know, methinks it ought to be the cartoonist herself running into frame to preserve continuity, instead of delegating that responsibility to one of the characters. Except, of course, that would probably break the Other Fourth Wall, one that not even our good host would dare launch herself through. Presumably for fear of receiving much-deserved retribution from the characters within. (But hey, apparantly Hell on Wheels is fair game.)

    Finally: “We’re all just clones & the real Helen is stranded on an island somewhere“?

  13. Sorry, a little late with my perspective on our guest artist and thecurrent storyline, but after reading the last newsletter, I thought Ishould make my first e-mail to the newsgroup:

    I likewise assume the comics are canonical–as observed by Kevin Mowery,Sarge is endorsing the guest artist.

    However, given the considerable jumps in time required for the narration ofthe story (from the initial product roll-out to the “killing-cola wars” tothe non-soda-drinking agrarian society), I’d like to make my prediction:we’re reading a dream sequence dreamt by Dave Davenport.

    Why not? First, he’s the only one of the triumvirate who still has anagging conscience of sorts about what they do. Second, as observed byseveral artists on the doughy/non-doughy appearances of characters, itseems perfectly in line with Dave’s subconscious that he–after four yearsof being a couch-potato-like-CompSci student–wouldn’t mind losing a fewpounds. Third, jumping the timeframe forward raises questions about theprevious storyline about Helen Narbon’s mother and the gerbils… wouldSarge just let that one go, and follow Neathery’s version?

    I dunno. That’s my working hypothesis, for what it’s worth. BTW, as forthe doughy/non-doughy issue, I must admit I like Sarge’s characterisationsmyself, but in defence of Aaron Neathery’s style, I find it is remarkablyclean and precise: I wish I could draw like that myself.
    Hiroshi Nakazato, 4 March, 2001.

  14. Leon:  And y’know, methinks it ought to be the cartoonist herself running into frame to preserve continuity.

    I think she does that later on, when she brings out the RetCon Squad.

    OT:  Every time I cook with jalapeno peppers (like last night) I get reminded why I wouldn’t last long as a mad scientist.  Every effing time, I manage to Mace myself…  

    Re: art styles:  among other talents Aaron has clearly mastered Photoshop grayfills.  Sarge, you should send your monstrous henchmen to infiltrate his studio and steal his secrets!


  15. And y’know, methinks it ought to be the cartoonist herself running into frame to preserve continuity, instead of delegating that responsibility to one of the characters.

    I don’t think I ever drew myself into a panel with my characters. I was too afraid of what they’d do to me.

  16. Personally, I prefer to blame David Byrne. Think about it; he’s a Dave, right?

    Very true!

    David Byrne visited the Cartoon Art Museum bookstore one time. I caught a glimpse of him as he was riding away on his bike. It was awesome.

  17. 1  OF couse hell on wheels likes the cartoonist Dave likes being Dave and frankly loves Norb she does’nt beat him.

    2 Rog 200 Basil? showing your age there lad!

  18. The only reason I EVEN know that name is becuse my brother’s roomate made a champions charcter out of him.

    Byrne’s real power is in writting though that issue where Sue Richads A misscarge made throw at age 8 and frankly makes me a litle ill at 34

  19. Hi: After getting up to date I’ll make my 1st comment: 

    That peaceful agrarian society doesn’t need the windmill shown in Tuesday’s comic. They just need a supply of leftover Narbonicola cans & they can run heat engines off the temperature difference. Narbonicola does seem to violate the 2nd law of thermodynamics.

  20. Since no-one else did explicitly, I feel I need to ask: What about the Superia Stratagem?

    I quite enjoyed it myself, even if the plan had some rather obvious flaws. For one, had her weapon succeeded, her next step would have had to be to tell her army of most of the world’s female supervillains “Now, in order for humanity to survive, you too will all have to spend the rest of your fertile years churning out babies.” Not a proposition that would appeal to that carefree party-loving bunch, I think. And for being a supervillain aiming to bring about a feminist utopia, it seems backwards to focus one’s plan on the reproduction aspect of the female anatomy – that’s more in line with patriarchal thinking (but then mainstream comic-book writers often seem to find feminism difficult to comprehend).

    Moreover, her entire strategy for what to do after the first strike appears to have been to accept the calm surrender of all the world’s nations. Because surely there wouldn’t be any nations that would rather react by attacking her to seize the remaining fertile women for themselves? (It’s martians that do that.) So indeed in line with the concluding tone of the guest story here.

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