Nov 6, 2016

The 40 Years of Comics Project - Day 620: Gammarauders #9, November 1989

One of the things I really love/hate about tomorrow's issue of Gammarauders (what? You expected linearity from me? Haven't you been paying attention?) is that we're given, at the end, a look at what would have happened had the series continued. That's not something one always gets in a cancelled comic, and after the chaotic events of today's issue, it's nice to see how things would have gone. And today's issue is chaotic for a few reasons.

First, Jok Tadsworth is made a member of the ruling body of the Gamma Age, partially as a result of his heroic actions saving the world, and partially because Allisdau Womba has a crush on him. Remember, this is a comedy comic. Jok doesn't want the job, but it turns out he's actually pretty good at it, which leads to his being targeted in an assassination attempt (topical, hmmmm?). The attempt fails, but does end up costing the life of Natasha Darkwest, the object of Jok's unrequited love, after which Jok goes on a rampage of revenge. But here's where the second chaotic thing happens, and its a direct result of what I was talking about yesterday, I'm sure. All of a sudden, partway through the comic, the art style changes. We then see Jok, piloting his 'Borg, leaping into the midst of a city and destroying things, taking revenge on the Crimson Moon, perpetrators of the assassination attempt, and the rest of the Bioborgs and their handlers trying to restrain him. And then on the next page, the conflict continues but has strangely been transplanted into a desert setting, and the dialogue suggests that Jok is on his way to destroy the very city that he seemed to be in on the previous page.

This chaos, no doubt, comes from the comic having been cancelled, the artists perhaps moving on to something else, thus the editor would have had to find a fill-in artist, and really, if the comic's being cancelled, why bother paying any attention to whether or not the issue makes any sense? I might be being harsh with this criticism, but I've read enough comics to recognize what happens when a company stops caring about a title, even though it still has a couple of issues left in it.

There is one lovely moment in this comic, though, one that spoke to me quite powerfully. While lamenting his new position, Jok is offered this pearl of wisdom from Nigel Battlebone, scientist and fellow 'Borg handler: " are the first Bioborg handler ever to attain the station and the honors and powers appertaining thereto...that are now convenable to the representation and protection of the liberties of Bioborgs and their handler, something the Cryptic Alliances have heretofore and with overwhelming effectiveness blocked. In short, Jok, we need someone to fight for our rights...but it's in the Alliance's best interest to keep us oppressed, working for lower wages than we might otherwise get, to keep our numbers under control, to keep us on the dread work-for-hire system." While I'm thinking that this lovely anti-Neoliberal rant echoes, at least for the creators of this comic, the working conditions of comics creators at the time, for me it speaks to some of the problems with the sessional teaching industry and the tenure system. I know, I know, I'm just bitter about my treatment I'm sure, but that doesn't make Battlebone's words any less relevant.


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