A reworking of individual comics from Randall Munroe's webcomic xkcd.com. Got questions? Go here

Friday, October 22, 2010

Comic #809

(NOTE: This was cross-posted over on the other site)

I'll give you some insight into my creative process here - sometimes, if I don't have an idea about what to do with the comic right off the bat, I'll just take out all the dialogue and see if something pops out. This is what popped out at me:


Does anything about that say "Los Alamos" or "Plutonium Bombs" or, hell, even "Science" to anybody? It looks like three guys having a conversation and one of them says something embarassing. I mean, hell, for as much as that art contributes he might as well have reused 701:


Here's how the no-dialogue version of 809 plays out in my head:

Panel 1 - So guys, let's take the development of the nuclear bomb (one of the most important events in world history) and sap all sort of emotion out of it!
Panel 2 - Yeah man, how can we make this as dull as possible?
Panel 3 - Let's set it in a nondescript room and make the characters nondescript people. They don't even need to look like scientists or soldiers!


And it's not like the situation is being misrepresented; it's more like the situation isn't even getting a say in what's happening (quite ironic). I mean, there's obviously no tension regarding the Los Alamos testing; it's not like he can end the comic with the earth blowing up because (spoiler alert) they didn't blow up the earth. So really, he doesn't get any traction out of Los Alamos, unless you think that a pointless reference to the events that inspired the modern classic Fat Man and Little Boy is somehow a meaningful contribution. Which it isn't. You could make the comic this and it would still work:

Well, work for what Randall is trying to do, which ain't much.

I'm going to say a couple nice things about the comic, just to change it up. One, I like some of the dialogue. "Unleash Heaven's Fire" and "Cleansing Conflagration" are both semi-decent phrases. Two, the impediment to becoming "as gods" is basic trigonometry. That's not a half-bad concept.

...On the other hand, the word choice is unbelievably clunky. "We have a decision." Okay, what is it? What decision? To withhold your research? To sell it to the commies? To kill everyone on base? What? All I see is a boom-bust proposition; either you become "as gods" or you kill everyone, including yourselves. But they never state the possibility that they won't go through with it; in fact, they seem rather set on the idea. "Okay, so Steve fucked up, we'll just redo his work and go on." Oh, wait, no, there's some weak opposition. "I don't know about it now guys..." I suppose I would be hesitant too if I found out you don't even need a high school diploma to work on the atomic bomb. OH WELL.

Moving on to the Grammar Nazi Lightning Round!

"As" is a bad preposition in this context. "Like" is a much cleaner choice; it flows better with "us". Also, the oxford comma in the second panel doesn't serve any purpose; you can safely delete that. "Cleansing" and "Destroying" don't make much intuitive sense in the same sentence. And for the love of god, will you people please stop saying "for the love of god"?

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