A comic strip by Alasdair Wilkins and Joseph Shivers, as seen in The Harvard Crimson!

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Thursday, May 28, 2009

Astounding Annotations - Week 10

So here we go again with what I'm calling "Astounding Annotations." Basically, this is an opportunity to explain some of the more obscure references I threw in (and there were a bunch of them), and to give some idea as to why I did this in the first place. This is the comics equivalent of director's commentary, so if you've just stumbled upon our little site you might want to check out the story itself first (I recommend starting here). And yes, I'm aware this is all pretty damn self-indulgent, so I'll try not to go on and on. And away we go...

Day 28


Panel 1: I think that's one of the better recaps. If nothing else, it broke up the format a little bit. I was so glad to stop having to write those. Onto the actual first panel, this is another example of me seeing something cool and then incorporating it into Astounding in real time. In this case, it was the Comedian's armory from the Watchmen movie (which I thought was pretty good, for what it's worth).

Panel 2: Uh. So much text here. At least Nora keyed in on the important word. For the record, the Corpsman isn't in love with any version of Nora. He's not even particularly attracted to her, but that's mostly because he's so dedicated to the mission. Like I said, he's truly Batman (and not post-Hush willing to let romance into his life in the form of Catwoman Batman either. That was one hell of a tortured sentence, wasn't it?)

Panel 3: This is pretty much all you need to know about the Corpsman. His search for identity is his biggest insecurity, what with being a cosmic anomaly and all, but he's making himself far, far too busy to really deal with it. Oh, and I'll admit I wasn't crazy about Joe putting somebody in the room up above. The dialogue in Week 8 had meant to suggest Nora was the only person in the entire dorm, but since it never said that explicitly, well...no continuity error! Woo!

Panel 4: I'd be interested to know who people think is the hero at this point. I'd generally say I rooted for the Corpsman the whole way through, but I admit I made him do some pretty vengeful, hardcore stuff, and this is a pretty brutal line.

Day 29


Panel 1: This is maybe the craziest, most self-involved continuity possible, but for what it's worth I had this planned out the whole time (well...at least going to back to when I wrote week 5). But man, Joe sure does love roughing up our hero, doesn't he? I mean, he did get struck by lightning and plummet three stories, but still...between this and the burnt hand in week 6, you start to wonder what Joe thinks of the poor guy.

Panel 2: Since the dialogue pretty much speaks for itself, I'll just briefly discuss the Corpsman's look, as I've kept promising to. Basically, I'd been reading Paul Cornell's awesome (and, tragically, soon to end) run on Captain Britain and MI13, which features Captain Midlands, a gruff British superhero who has fought the good fight since World War II. I'm not exactly sure why I wanted a militaristic look. I suppose I thought that, in a world without superheroes, the Corpsman's outfit is fairly non-ridiculous. I threw in the gun as a nod to the new version of Captain America and we went for the full brim around the helmet - something I had erroneously imagined Captain Midlands having - mostly because it looks awesome. Oh, and the boots are pure old school Captain America. For what it's worth, the boots were made using the fabric of Mr. Astounding's cape from the outfit he left behind in week 6. Actually, I believe the entire outfit other than the helmet and the sewed-on symbol is made out of the Astounding costume.

Panel 3: This is where the Corpsman pulls the stupid fictional character cliched mistake of talking too much and giving away the solution to Mr. Astounding. I knew it was sort of lame for him to point out the full scope of his powers like that, since what happens next is really the only reasonable thing to expect. I justified it on the grounds that the Corpsman knew it was only a matter of time before Mr. Astounding worked it out anyway and decided he might as well risk it now than wait for his next reappearance. I don't know if you buy that or not, but that's my own theory.

Panel 4: Joe really nailed the transition here. By the by, I know this week makes it pretty ambiguous whether or not either character was planning on actually killing the other. I'd say, on balance, that neither character would cross that line, but both have been pushed to the edge and the thought has crossed their minds. If either were actually a killer - and I don't think they are - they might have gone through with it. Maybe. Honestly, even I'm not sure.

Day 30


Panel 1: "I'm just an aberration created to patch a hole in cosmic continuity." Ah, don't you just love self-referential humor? The "cosmic" part makes it meta without being too meta.

Panel 2: I think this panel is where the relationship melodrama part of Astounding gets it ass kicked by the superhero action movie part of Astounding. Very much as it should be.

Panel 3: Wow, this day is so meta that it almost hurts. Generally speaking, I wanted to avoid the whole "This is just like those comic books I read" angle, not because that doesn't interest me as because then you run the risk of the characters spending more time discussing the genre than actually being involved in a story within said genre. (I think movies in the late nineties had a tendency to fall into this trap. Or maybe it was the early 00's. I get those two mixed up. Also, seriously, what the hell are we calling this decade?) Anyway, I thought here was the perfect place to step back and have the Corpsman admit how ludicrous his life is, particularly by the standards of his otherwise normal universe.

Panel 4: OK, OK, "Fun With Copyright Infringement" probably beats "Stop Hitting Yourself", if I'm being honest. Oh, and I know what we see in week 11 is most definitely not what the Corpsman was talking about here, but what the hey. Next week is meant to be fun. And boy, is it ever. But we'll get to that tomorrow.

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