Cosmos: Old School (2001) – part five

Last time, on Cosmos: Old school – following another of his ‘brilliant ideas’, Gene decided to see if it was possible to give himself superhuman powers; with reluctant assistance from artie. After several false starts, the pair paid a visit to Cosmos’ greatest mad scientist, Professor Phineas Percival pod: possibly just to shut him up, Professor Pod bombarded Gene with Sub-gammatron Blast-o-Rays, whose effects were well-known and easily-reversable – you turned into a blob of goo for an hour. However, some novel quirk in Gene’s DNA causes a further, more dramatic transformation…. he is now Genezilla, King of the Cosmonsters!

2001-5_1
Above: Gene is right – the ‘monster rampage’ sequence of this story really is rather truncated compared to what it could have been. Looking at it now, there are oh-so-many Japanese monster movie tropes I could have packed into successive strips (sci-fi MASER cannons, stock footage, the military’s hilariously ineffective counterattacks, etc.) – possibly I was wary of rehashing gags from an earlier (and longer) non-Cosmos story I did a year or so earlier, ‘Lo, there shall come…. a Lizard!’; in case the former ever got published anywhere. It didn’t though, so, oh well….

2001-5_2
Top: I found myself unable to answer this question back in 1999, when I attempted to represent bad dubbing in a singularly non-audio medium (i.e, Cosmos)…. and failed miserably. This strip, in addition to being a nice gag, was my tongue-in-cheek acknowledgement of the difficulties of such an endeavour.

Bottom: Introducing…. Robot-X! Unnamed in this story – and rather abruptly introduced, I have to say – the giant mechanoid is pilotted by Professor Pod and Artie (or at  least, by Professor pod while Artie watches), and provides any giant monster exactly what it needs during a good rampage: an even more equally gigantic opponent! His appearance has changed a bit over time (in his second appearance in 2005, I clearly forgot what he was even supposed to look like), but I’ve at least TRIED to be consistent. The reference to ‘The Boss’ in panel four is, quite obviously, a little dig at me….

2001-5_3
Above: Giant Kaiju battle! Whenever I incorporate a Sunday strip into a long-form Cosmos story, I always attempt – based on the teachings of Calvin and Hobbes creator Bill Watterson – to make it both an integral part of the story, and complete in and of itself; so you can still understand it if you see it on its own. The ‘Ding Ding!’ sound effect is an (off-screen) boxing match bell, signalling a welcome break between one round and the next – however, would actually showing the bell have made this strip make slightly more sense? Hmm, not sure…..

2001-5_4
Top: a bit of an eyewitness view of the battle of the century, from the Cosmosian-on-the-street. These two also made an appearance in the 2005 sequel, suffering an equally ignominous fate – and then, as now, their remarkably deadpan reactions to the utter chaos raging above them suggests these events are hardly a rare occurrence….
Bottom: Probably one of the simplest and most effective strips in this whole story, both in terms of layout (although not detail) and succinctness of dialogue – I really am happy with it even now. Wouldn’t change a thing. The monster judges are, from left to right: Rodan, (Toho) King Kong, and Baragon.

2001-5_5
Above: Did I write myself into a corner here? I’m thinking I did, judging by the very sudden (and equally confusing) conclusion to this story. There’s nothing fundamentally wrong with the first strip, as the reasoning is obvious: engaging Genezilla in combat burns through his sub-gammatron reserves much faster, causing him to abruptly change back when they run out. But as to what he changes into? Clearly based on absolutely no research at all, it appears to be some hideous mish-mash of Hippie, Saturday Night Fever, secret agent agent, and…. I don’t know what. In the second strip, the dialogue (and sudden reveal in panel four) is fine, but the actual premise makes utterly no sense: did Professor pod simply abandon both Gene AND Artie in the middle of the city, to be chased out by an angry lynch mob? And despite living in a city, said lynch mob is threatening them with pitchforks and…. Beach balls?! Honestly, I’m tempted to make this last strip non-canon, just so I don’t have to try and kludge an explanation for it….

TO BE CONTINUED….

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