Friday, December 25, 2015

Best Overall: Shifting Responsibilities

Schlock Mercenary is not a static comic.  Despite it's regularity that you can set a clock to and the fact that it's always my Best Overall, the only real constant storywise is that Schlock himself is in it somewhere.  Well, that and the humor which is always there.

The point is things move as the comic goes along.  Members of the Toughs leave or are killed pretty regularly, even with the ability to bring the dead back to life, there is a limit to who gets brought back or not.  More often the biggest change involves the ships the Toughs use.  There have been 5 singular ships until the end of the storyline Broken Wind.

At their core, though, Tagon's Toughs remained a mercenary group, they do what they do for money, and often try to get paid multiple times for the same job.  It's not that they can't be altruistic, they have on many occasions, but they usually get paid for their time and firepower.

Broken Wind changed that.  They have now become the defacto military of a resurrecting galactic power, one with a LOT of money on their hands, enough to buy a Battleplate just so they could scrap it and build a city with the remains.  That means the very core of what it means to be part of Tagon's Toughs and exposes a lot of the rather obvious limitations on them.

To be fair, they are superstars really, they STARTED multiple wars, fought in them, pulled off some amazing feats while fighting them (mostly surviving, AND getting paid), amongst a long string of other accomplishments.  But they are just mercenaries, so certain things get past them.

Like law enforcement, which they are wholly unequipped to perform.  Not the least of the problems is the fact that they are often on the ones which the enforcement is being placed on.  So they had to trade out their still active "kill the attorney drones" contract to an actually law enforcement mercenary group to handle the issue in the new city they built.

And still the issues keep coming.  Schlock just takes things without thinking of the concept of "theft," and their lawyer accidentally made himself Chief Justice of the new Supreme Court for the new city.  On top of all that they still have multiple ships, multiple captains, and a big honking space gun that can get them into way more trouble than they'd like.

They're also not really a military.  So then there's the crash course office work that all the senior officers had to take in a not-montage (Howard elected to skip it).  All this sums up to the very nature of the Toughs changing radically from what it had been before and things haven't finished changing yet.

It's one of the things that keeps Schlock fresh even after all these years.  With Sluggy it's more waiting for the loose ends to be tied up, Schlock prefers to use those loose ends to recreate the comic, the characters and the universe for as long as possible.

EDIT:  Just after I wrote this, Howard posted an interview where he states that the current incarnation of the comic will end 2018/2019 or so, then do a big time skip and pick up with a new cast (and Schlock will still be there).  So yeah, there's that.

Next time, Can't Live Without and a new year.  Exciting!  Also, MERRY CHRISTMAS!

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