Cosmos: Old School (2002) – part four

Winter, for those of you who live in the mountains – or just the Northern Hemisphere, come to think of it – means you get to experience the lovely phenomenon of snow. That cold, white stuff which is perfect for making snowmen, snow-angels, snow forts…. and having utterly epic snowball fights with your friends. Here in New Zealand, I would very literally have to tromp up a mountain to see snow; but in the northern parts of the Cosmosian landmass of Tectonica (home of the B-Team cast), they are lucky enough to have a ‘white winter’ once a year, most every year. The actual climatic logistics of Cosmos are too terrifying to even consider – the planet is shaped like a donut, for Bob’s sake; and its moon does figure-of-eight loop-de-loops through the hole in the middle – but since Tectonica is the Cosmosian equivalent of England, a winter snowfall they shall have….

I’m not sure what time of year Peter, Timmy and Jamie experience winter (it seems to show up on a basis of ‘whenever I remember to do it, if at all’), but they certainly look forward to it; and enjoy it immensely when it arrives. Especially since there’s so many creative things you can do with cartoon snow:

2002 4_1
Top: Is it just me, or do the snowmen (snow-Cosmosians?) in the first two panels have incredibly creepy eyes? One has to wonder what they’re made out of, considering how big they are – unless someone has gone to the trouble of cutting and shaping huge hunks of coal, or something. And in panels three and four, we see the inevitable return of Peter and Timmy’s structurally-implausible snow sculptures (Grimlock and omega supreme, respectively)…. although this is one strip that would definitely benefit from being in colour, because it’s not immediately apparent that that’s what they are. How do you tell Grimlock is made out of snow when EVERYTHING is in black-and-white? Exactly.

Bottom: Peter doesn’t normally do much planning ahead – he’s more of a “Sure it’s gonna work!” kind of guy – but when it comes to an event as important as ‘Snow Wars’ (the stuff of which legends are made), then an ounce of preparation will save him from a ton of public humiliation tomorrow! It’s interesting to note that due to the cold conditions, Peter has swapped out his standard Type-Four Cosmosian ‘ear covers’ (or whatever they are) for some actual ear muffs – so there must be something underneath them that needs to be kept warm / protected. Sure wish I knew what it was….

2002 4_2
Above: Hey hey! It’s the Tolstoy twins! Remember them from Cosmos: Old School (2000) – part 11? They were, technically speaking, the first members of the B-Team cast to appear (even though I didn’t know there was going to BE a B-Team cast at that point); but this was only their third appearance in the strip, period…. and their first interaction with Peter, Timmy and co. I added them in because A) they were wonderfully absurd characters, B) they wouldn’t really fit anywhere else, and C) I foresaw immense potential in having these egotistical child prodigies aiding and abetting the fevered imaginings of Peter and Timmy. Plus, as shown in the second strip, they have the ability to dethrone the terror of the schoolyard, Marco Zimmerman…. With Science!!

2002 4_3
Top: Uh oh – Timmy seems to have given Peter another one of his ‘brilliant ideas’…. and with the Tolstoy Twins in residence, what was once laughably impractical might  now have a chance of achieving actuality! I think Timmy has a bit of a steep learning curve ahead of him, figuring out the new status quo – a perfect example of how adding new characters to a strip can open it out to so many new opportunities; to say nothing of shaking everything up….

Bottom: Normally, Jamie is the B-Team’s Voice of Common Sense, attempting to steer her friends away from the Rocks of Disaster. This time, ironically, she appears to have made herself INTO the rocks; simply by showing up! Having the Tolstoy Twins become utterly smitten with Jamie was a wrinkle in the plot I couldn’t resist sticking in there – not only does it completely derail their former stance on the moral high ground, but it also means they are now utterly subservient to Peter’s will (Warning bells ahoy!); and represent – rather than a bulwark of scientific knowledge – just another source of frustration for poor Jamie. Oh dear.

2002 4_4
Above: The dynamic between Peter and Timmy, the Tolstoy Twins and Jamie is very interesting in this story, as their personalities bounce off each other quite nicely – Peter and Timmy are impulsive and easily swayed by their own hype, Warren and Tiberius are frighteningly intelligent but rather naive and self-absorbed; and Jamie – while not quite the Tolstoy Twins intellectual equal – is probably wiser and more mature than all her friends put together. The Twins’ romantic designs on her (they’re six, she’s ten – they must like older women), of course, is one thing guaranteed to rattle her composure…. but since both warren and Tiberius have a crush on her, does that mean they are united in their wooing efforts, or have they been sneakily trying to undermine each other so only one will emerge victorious? Hard to say, really….

Unfortunately, despite the various competing agendas, Peter is clearly the de facto project leader on-site; given that the Twins are deferring largely to him on all major strategic decisions. And Mr. Anderson is hell-bent on capitalising on their recent triumph over one Marco Zimmerman by tipping the scales irrecoverably in their favour! To arms, gentlemen! To arms! So, what happened next?

Er, well. Yes. Um.

As is common to the early Old School era,  this story is yet another ‘Unfinished Symphony’; a tale whose latter stages were visualised…. but then not actualised. While ink was not put to paper for the third act of Project: Snow Cannon in terms of finished comics, I envisioned a Sunday strip (for a bit of necessary plot-exposition and Peter-speechifying) followed by at least two further four-panelers for the denouement. And I can tell you exactly what happens in them – after sending Marco a note (supposedly from one of this thuggish friends) designed to lure him out to a certain sports field, Peter and his motley crew install themselves on the periphery with their cleverly camouflaged snow cannon. Mr. Anderson launches into his speech, alarming Jamie and Timmy but impressing the Tolstoy Twins (uh oh) with his ‘leadership’. Suddenly, they fall silent as a shambling figure stomps onto the wintry landscape – Marco Zimmerman! He is none too happy about the ‘meeting’, and is clearly only going to hang around long enough to determine whether or not someone is jerking him around. Scrambling into their positions, Peter and the others ready the snow cannon, aim, and let fly – Marco only has time to hear a distant ‘thump’…. before he is buried by a mass of snow the size of a small car! The snow cannon gang break into raucous celebration at the sight (even Jamie), certain that they’ve finally achieved ultimate revenge on their nemesis – but perhaps they should have done it a bit more quietly….

2002 4_5
Oops. Oh well. Perhaps it’s for the best I never finished the story, huh?

TO BE CONTINUED….

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