“I wouldn’t let ’em make me no admiral — I work for a living.” — Captain Dace Golliard
“The Reaping” Part 2
The latest masquerade of the Hot Prospect and its crew has been discovered!
One of my favorite Carl Barks Uncle Scrooge stories was “The Doom Diamond,” pitting Scrooge and his supposedly invincible ship against the Beagle Boys and a ship specially designed to counter every feature of Scrooge’s vessel. (The Beagles had a spy steal the blueprints, naturally!) Scrooge uses one device after another against the Beagles to no avail — and it is only when he resorts to a weapon so silly that he never included it in his official plans that he escapes their clutches. It’s a fun sequence, and it works.
For “Dueling Ambitions,” I wanted to depict a space combat sequence between vessels that captured a bit of that same punch-counterpunch feeling; something where improvisation would be rewarded. The result is this issue’s battle between the massive warship Gladiator and the mining ship Hot Prospect, rendered by Bong Dazo. It struck me that while it was a mismatch on its face, a mining ship might have quite a lot of unorthodox weapons at its disposal. The scene depicted here is, in fact, why I came up with the Hot Prospect in 2008 to begin with, as opposed to some other kind of vessel.
Space battles are sometimes challenging in comics because mechanical motion is not always that easy to convey — but at least we’ve got it easier than the old auto-racing comics, where some panels looked as static as parking lots. Motion lines in space don’t always work, but at least you’ve got thrusters to work with. Space also gives you an added dimension, too, so often you can convey frenetic motion simply by putting ships at odd angles to each other.
The giant centrifuge, first mentioned and engaged in #43, hearkens back to my high-school days and my science fair project on rotational motion and angular momentum inspired by the films 2001 and 2010. We see the great centrifuge in the Discovery in those films; it is a plot point (at least in the novel) that Discovery is sent tumbling out of control when the internal centrifuge seizes up, transferring its spin to the ship instead of some flywheel as it’s supposed to. I would argue that the second film, otherwise wonderful on most physical points, actually gets it wrong if the location of the centrifuge as seen in the 2001/2010 Star Frontiers modules is correct: the axis of the centrifuge is right down the main line of the ship, so a sudden stop should actually make the ship spin like a top, rather than tumble like a baton. (I would argue it, but no one else in the world cares!) But here it solved the problem at hand — how to get a fixed gun emplacement to point at multiple enemies at once when the attitude thrusters are out. You move the ship!
We also got to see a lot more of Dace Golliard this issue. Dace I imagined as a bit of a rumpled, ruined figure, someone who botched his career badly but who refuses to give up. He’s that Texas hold’em player who’s played all night to get two fives — and he’s going to make you pay to see them out of spite. It’s the sort of role you see played by guys like Billy Bob Thornton and Tommy Lee Jones — whoever plays Golliard, figure on him having three names!
We did another little time-jump here for the wrap-up, just as we did at the end of the Covenant sequence. While hearing Jarael and Zayne explain what they were up to to Gryph and Rohlan would have been interesting (and uncomfortable!), it was information the reader already had. What the reader did not know was how Gryph and Rohlan would react — which is what we showed.
And, finally, at last, this issue kicks open that big bag of Demagol-brand hornets, heretofore sleeping soundly in their hive since #10. More to come on this score…
“Anyone else here got a secret past? Is Rohlan really a Bith bandleader using us to get to his next gig?” — Gryph
Flashback time! Where the prologue fits into the timeline will become apparent as we move along.
We haven’t said what Dace Golliard’s real rank was during his impending courtmartial, but it is largely implied that it was NOT fleet captain. As Dave Sim once said of Elrod of Melvinbone, Dace “lives in a world all his own, folks…”
The organic look of the skreaper droids is Bong’s creation, and it makes them look really creepy. I can tell you that if some flying robotic poinsettia came after me, I wouldn’t wait around long!
Gladiator, an eagle-eyed reader on the boards spotted, is a ship design we picked up from the background of the Foerost Shipyards sequence of Tales of the Jedi. It was seen only once and very small, but I liked the profile of it — the wings and engine being beneath it gives it a different look from the familiar Star Destroyers (this vessel is on a smaller scale than those, anyway).
Note the presence of the Crucible tattoos on the alien bridge crew; that’s not just their natural coloring!
It took us a while to figure out where on the mass of junk that is the Hot Prospect the gun actually was! We knew it was in there somewhere…
A couple of notes to the colorist made it through to the printed page — enjoy them now, because I bet they will be magically gone in the reprint.
The Hot Prospect, as Dace says, is a “Calipsan 560” (though we have not said what that model number refers to). It is, however, another little nod to LST-560, which my late grandfather operated in the war. Both the Hot Prospect and Carth Onasi’s cargo ship, which also had a 560 connection, are definitely in the spirit of the “Large, Slow Target” that was the LST.
Another fix-it-in-the-trade moment — Chantique’s vanishing tattoos. Maybe that’s how the Crucible hides so well!
Bar’injar is a Sanyassan, though he favors the fellow in the Ultimate Alien Anthology a bit more than the Ewok movie version.
Demagol’s helmet is sitting loose on the table, obscuring the patient — we figured they Republic might keep the helmet in the room, and it’s a nice reminder of who we’re referring to.
Finally, there had once been an additional Crucible member scripted to appear in the epilogue — but I learned the series was ending with #50, so I dropped the character so as to streamline the issues that followed.
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