Thursday, June 30, 2022

Sudden death at the Bar With No name

I wasn't able to get my hands on many old Marvel comics in the 1980s, when all I cared about in the world was Marvel comics, so I ended up relying heavily on getting my information from The Official Handbook Of The Marvel Universe: Deluxe Edition, and in the entries for the dead characters it seemed like every second villain was gunned down in the Bar With No Name, so I was always expected Captain America #319 to be an unrelenting bloodbath, with page after page of characters like Firebrand and Shellshock and the Vamp getting bloodily blasted with explosive bullets, but then it's 10 years later and I'm actually reading the issue in question and it's all over with in two pages and it was pretty fucking shocking, (even though I know that's nothing new now - hordes of supervillains are getting massacred every month, but will be back in the next reboot or whatever), just total hardcore how fast and horrible and final it is.

 Gruenwald could be fucking brutal, man.


Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Vivat the Spar Grendel, always

Nobody seems to talk about Grendel anymore, but that last space series was tight as fuck, and the promised next series of Grendel Prime in a Grendel hell is the one comic I'm looking to forward most in the next year (that doesn't have Luther Arkwright in the title).

I've heard they adapting it for aTV series, and maybe it will be successful enough to get to the desperate and wonderful horniness of he Christine Spar. The devil willing, it might even make it into that future world where Grendel rule. That might be something to see, as long as they keep the bananas.

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

The Lancaster shark

Forget Jaws. In the Sweet Smell of Success, directed by noble Scotsman Alexander Mackendrick in 1957, Burt Lancaster is easily the scariest shark in cinema.

I could never find a video copy or DVD release of this film, and it never played on local TV, so even though I've read a hundred reviews extolling its virtues, I only just got to it last year. It's been built up in my head for decades as one of the great achievements of 50s cinema, but it was always more of a reputation that an actual movie.

And then it was on late night TV and I stayed up to watch it, and holy shit, it's just as good as everybody claimed. 

It's a fascinating slice of space and time - such a weird, lost world of PR agents, schmoozing with high-class gossip columnists in jazz bars at 2am. Nobody is on their phones, but that doesn't mean anybody is listening to the band. The trolling is just there, out in the open.

And through this world of wanna-bes and never-weres, through the thick fog of corruption and lust for power, Lancaster moves like a fuckin' shark. Always moving, even when he's just sitting at your booth staring you down, sniffing blood in the weaknesses of lesser men, and not bothering about the detritus and debris left behind. Dragging along parasites like Tony Curtis' Sydney in his wake.

For his time, Lancaster's JJ Hunsecker may have been as much a toxic influence on men as Tyler Durden did for me 40 years later, because he is such a fucking alpha male in this film.

But like Fight Club, that's the wrong lesson to learn from JJ's story. Ultimately, the sharks are left swimming alone in the cold, cold ocean, because everybody runs away from them, and he's left with a terrible hangover and nothing else as dawn breaks.

Monday, June 27, 2022

No fear like a nuclear fear

The sirens of Temuka - the ones they'd use to call the volunteer fire brigade to go fight another hay-bale fire - would always ring out over the small town at midday every Saturday. Nobody could ever explain to me why they had to do it at that time, it was just the way things were.

When I was only 12 years old, I really wished they wouldn't, because I was absolutely terrified of nuclear war.

The threat of nuclear Armageddon was everywhere in pop culture in the early eighties, seering itself onto the public consciousnesses like a radiation burn. The Soviets and Americans had both been a hair trigger away from killing the whole fucking lot of us for several decades, and it was getting a bit much.

They showed us Threads and The War Game at school, and the familiar and cozy British accents just made the dull horror of the apocalypse all the more terrifying. Everyone watched The Day After when it was on TV, and the most horrifying thing about that film was the sombre end credits that said it would be even worse than that.

All the cartoonish post-apocalyptic nightmares - especially the Italian Mad Max rip-offs - didn't help, showing how fucking horrible things can get if you're unlucky enough not to die instantly in the atomic fire.

Even dear Raymond Briggs, who created the enormously popular Snowman and Fungus the Bogeymen books - the only graphic novels you would ever find in the local libraries at the time - came at us all with Where The Wind Blows, with the nuclear conflict seen from the perspective of a bewildered and blind public who think a door nailed to a wall will protect them from the end of everything.

Maintaining a sense of decorum even as they cough up their own rotting livers, it's the quietness of their demise that still haunts.

After all that, I was shit scared when I heard those sirens, convinced that a nuclear missile somewhere in the world had my name on it, even though I lived in a tiny town on the arse end of the planet.

I honestly can't imagine what it was like for people actually lived in places like America, having that loaded gun pointed at their head. My country told the US to fuck off with its nuclear weapons a long time ago, and has no legitimate targets. (Although that didn't stop arrogant colonialist fuckheads blowing up their bombs in the local South Pacific.)

The fear slowly died away over the turn of the century, but resurfaced in the past decade after finally reading the absolutely brutal Barefoot Gen, which shows the real horror at ground zero. There is a disgusting attitude amongst morons and meatheads that nuclear fire is cleansing, like thousands of people aren't burned so bad the skin is sliding off their bones. Or people feeling fine at dawn, spitting up blood at midday, and dead by dusk. All those children, trapped in their flattened homes as fire comes closer and closer

Barefoot Gen should be required reading in all schools, as much as Where the Wind Blows, just for the good of the human race. We shouldn't have to rely on fucking comic books to tell us of the horrors of the world and maybe do everything possible to stop them happening, but they're better than nothing.

I haven't lived in Temuka for many years now and have no idea if they still need to do the siren these days. But that fear is still there in the mournful wail of any such siren, and the echo of it in my head is still the most terrifying thing I can imagine.

Sunday, June 26, 2022

Therapuetic Skin Jobs #4

A decade after I wrote this, I actually did find myself in a deserted London, on my first overseas trip with the lovely wife. We got into town at 6am and there was literally nobody around. We had Trafalgar Square to ourselves. I'd just seen 28 Weeks Later the month before and it was all fucking creepy.

We couldn't find any quaint little tearooms near Piccadilly Circus, but we did get some hotcakes at McDonalds, because there's always a McDonalds, no matter what London you're in.

THERAPEUTIC SKIN JOBS #4: Cruel Britannia! 

By Max Zero

    It's later than you think, but there's no need to rush.

    Doctor Jakob Q. Skin, professor of everything and defender of bugger-all, is taking a spot of tea in quaint little tearooms, just off Piccadilly Circus, right in the heart of one of the many Londons. Two sugars and a shitload of milk, just the way Mother used to like it. His companion, Kristina, settles for a glass of champagne, served in an original John Bull mug.

    Picture this, pilgrim! Skin is decked out in some fabbo gear - a tacky Union Jack waistcoat from Mrs Nuggin's Tourist Shoppe of Blackpool, (1953), black pants & a black long-sleeved shirt of impeccable quality from Forkits of London, (1887) and super-cool black boots from Cobbler's Inn of Timaru, (1992). All time high, man! Kristine is no wallflower herself, dressing up in an outfit too damn audacious and too damn time-consuming to be described here.

    Dr. Skin has had a full body exchange since he last appeared in public. Now his body is long, lean and pale. (Black hair, grey eyes). His improbably sharp face ends in a chin that is 50% Bruce Campbell, 50% Kirk Douglas and another (impossible) 50% Bolland Joker. Kristine is same as she ever was, with a slightly hedonistic name change.

    "That's odd," mumbles Kristine, gazing out the window.

    "What's odd?" asks the good Doctor, not bothering to look up from his newspaper.

    "Outside. I can't see anybody. You'd think you might find one or two people wandering about a major metropolitan area, but there's nobody. Nobody at all."

    Skin sniffs and tears himself away from The Times. A quick glance out the window and it's back to the funny pages.

"I wouldn't worry about it," he croons in his most soothing tone. "I'm sure you'll find we've wandered into the middle of some terrible emergency which has necessitated the evacuation of the entire population. I expect you'll see a Yeti wandering around the corner any moment."

     "Too late. There's already one in the toilet. I saw it when I went to powder my nose."

     "Really?" says Skin, deliberately not showing his considerable surprise at this odd comment. "Was he enjoying himself?"

     "I'm not sure," answers Kristina, producing a bottle of finest nail polish from nowhere and going to work on her fingers. "But he sure was making a lot of noise."

     Skin leaves it at that, and proceeds to read an article on a miracle cure for manic depression. He's in a spot of bother, because the harder he stares at the words, the more they ramble all over the page. Grammar goes out the window as sentences mix, meet, marry and raise a couple of darling rhyming couplets. 

Kristine obviously thinks Jakob is staring at the page too intently, and decides it's time to put forward a theory of dubious origins.

    "Maybe the streets are empty because we've stumbled into some kind of stylized London, a city that only exists in somebody's head. Maybe we've jumped into an England that only exists on television."

    Dr. Skin finally puts down his paper and considers this.

    "Y'know what I mean," continues Kristine. "Like 'The Avengers.' You never saw any riff-raff on that show. Pristine streets. No rubbish. No advertisements."

    "Damn," whispers Skin under his breath. "They're my favourite bits of the landscape."

    "So do you think my theory has any credence?"

    "Not at all," replies Skin, sipping his tea. "It'd be nice if that was true, but I think my evacuation explanation holds more water."

    Kristine sulks for a whole four seconds before changing the subject entirely.

    "How do you feel?"

    "Fine. Why do you ask?"

    "I was just wondering whether you were feeling okay."

    Skin glances out onto the street where a nasty looking wind has popped up out of the blue. "Well, I feel pretty darn good," he answers in his best Jimmy Stewart voice. "But I'm gonna kill somebody soon if I don't get some crumpets to have with this tea."

    "Oh dear," sighs Kristine, feeling the bad vibe in the air.

    "Crumpets and tea!" screams Skin, standing up on the table and doing a little jig. "Crumpets and tea! Is that too much to ask?"

   A waiter instantly springs forth from the kitchen area, bearing a steaming hot plate of crumpets, which he proceeds to lay at Skin's feet before scurrying off again.

    "Wow, did you see that?" asks Kristine.

    "See what?" snaps Skin, bouncing down off the table into his seat.

    "That waiter. He had no face. It was completely blank. Very 'Sapphire & Steel'."
    Skin's already scoffing his crumpets down, so doesn't answer, lest he be seen talking with his mouth full, a faux pas Matron beat out of him at a very early age.

    Kristine is still looking back towards the kitchen when there is a terribly uncivilized ripping sound, and the sky outside the window tears open, revealing a crack in existence itself. A hole into nowhere, an invasion of nothing, the intrusion of oblivion The end is now.

    "Oh dear," sighs Kristine. Again.

    Doctor Skin studies the catastrophic phenomenon. The end of existence. The final and complete destruction of everything, regardless of worth. The apocalypse in total. Skin looks back at his wristwatch.

    "Well. It's about fucking time."



1) Never, EVER argue politics with your significant other's father.

2) Never try.



     Newspapers have magically appeared on London's streets, there purely to show the invisible air movements the tear in the space/time continuum creates.

     In the tearooms, Dr. Skin & Kristine have chosen to deal with this problem the only way they know how - ignore it and hope it goes away.

    "It's still there," moans Kristine, when they both turn around after a few seconds of hardcore ignorance.

    "Christ!" blasphemes Skin. "This is more depressing than 'The Lakes'! Doesn't anybody know how to have fun anymore?"

    "We still do," purrs Kristine, doing unspeakable things under the table with her feet.


    "So what do we do in the meantime?" asks Kristine, running her hand through her short black hair and regretting, not for the first time, the severe haircut she got at some screamingly fashionable hair salon in another London.

    "Have a few drinks, I suppose," replies Skin. "Have a few laughs. See what happens."

    "Sounds like a plan."

    Unable to bear the extra-temporal stress, the moon explodes in the sky, showering the world with super-fast, super-hot chunks of ridiculously common rock.

    "Hardly," says Skin, knocking on the table. "Waiter! Bring us the finest wines known to humanity. We want them here. And we want them now."

    The Waiter With No Face returns, bearing wine. He places the bottles on the table and goes to leave, only to be stopped by Kristine.

    "Say, how do you end up with a face like that anyway?"

    The waiter whips out a pad and pen and scribbles an answer on it, throws it in Kristine's general direction and quickly makes his way out of the room.

    She catches the note and reads it.

    "What does it say?" asks Skin, genuinely curious.



    "It says 'Just lucky, I guess'."

    "Hh," retorts Skin in a splendid impersonation of the caped crusader.

    The sky bleeds red, the ground gives up its dead and the sea screams.

    Kristine cracks open a nice bottle of red, and guzzles it down. The bottle is empty in less time than it takes to tell, and the resulting burp is full, rich and satisfying.

    "Crikey!" laughs Skin, opening a bottle for himself. "Take it easy, love. We've got some traveling ahead of us."

    "What? Where are we going?"

    Skin waves his arm in a complicated manner, managing to point to everywhere at the same time. "Oh, you know. Here and there. I was thinking of going back to J Street."

    The hole in space pulses, and half the known universe ceases to exist, consigned to unending oblivion.

    "Well," ponders Kristine, her future an open book. "Anywhere's better than here. We've been stuck in this godforsaken place for long enough."

    "Quite!" hollers Skin, leaping to his feet and clearing the table of it's contents in one fell swoop of his long, bony arms. "Let's go out! Make new friends! Have adventures!"

    "Sounds good to me."

    The sun turns black, shrinking as it's power is eaten away by forces from beyond this particular universe.

    Kristine stands up, and our two protagonists pull on coats, sunglasses and evil looking black gloves. Skin strides toward the door.

    "But what about the bill?" asks Kristine, momentarily hesitant.

    "Fuck 'em. Feed 'em fish."

    The wind tears at their bodies as soon as they step out the door, threatening to rip them away from reality. But it's a few short steps to the Car With No Name, and they clamber inside at a reasonable pace.

    Doctor Skin turns the ignition key and the big fuck-off engine roars into life. He hits the gas a couple of times as he waits as the Jump technology, their ticket to the multiverse, warms up.

    "So," yells Kristine, desperate to be heard over the considerable din. "What time is it anyway?"

    Skin makes the last of his preparations, sits back and grins at his improbable audience before delivering the inevitable punch line.

    "It's much later than you think."

NEXT - "BoomCrashBoom"!!!!!

Saturday, June 25, 2022

Should you choose to accept it

I have friends who have an irrational hatred of Tom Cruise going back decades, which means they haven't ever seen a Mission Impossible movie.

But as the wonderful paulina so eloquently shows up there - brother, you are missing out.  

My sphincter still ain't recovered from the Burj Khalifa stunts.


Friday, June 24, 2022

Still Moore to find

Even after happily following Alan Moore's career since falling hard for DR and Quinch 40 years ago, and spending the following decades tracking down all the diverse stories he did for Raw or Aargh of whatever, it's still possible to crack open an 2000ad annual, and be a little startled to discover a strip by Moore I've never read before

After the DR and Quinch introduction, I most definitely thought I'd read all his 2000ad comics, especially with the frequent reprinting of all the writer's work- I have the gorgeous and haunting 'Red Planet Blues' in multiple formats.

But there it was - 'Old Red Eyes Is Back', a Ro-Busters story in a 2000ad annual that I had to buy from overseas, with some typically rock solid artwork by Bryan Talbot. It ain't much of a story - Hammerstein gets bonked on the head, goes crazy and has to be shot through the head to reboot -  but there's a couple of good gags with Joe Pineapple's lingo and Talbot is always fantastic, drawing every speck of dirt in the rubble left behind by the rampage.

It's early in the writer's career, but it's still new to me, and just an absolute delight that I can still find unknown comics like that, that somehow managed to pass me by.

After completing an actual life goal of getting every 2000ad prog, I'm close to getting all the specials and annuals and other ephemera, so it's highly unlikely I'll come across a buried gem like this again. But then again, that's what I thought that before red eyes came calling again.

Thursday, June 23, 2022

Tyler Durden is such a jerk

Twenty-something years later, and Fight Club is still fun as fuck, full of weird touches and a unabashed love for the medium it's wallowing in. It's stacked with great performances - Helen Bonham Carter's acting is straight-up seminal, even if nobody seemed to notice it over the grunts of the boys - and that soundtrack is still like nothing else in the universe.

But watching it again for the first time in years the other night, something became clear to me - I am now old and cynical enough to realise how much Tyler is just such a fucking jerk.

He's that guy who was two years older than everybody else in your peer group, who was always shifty and could never be trusted. He wasn't dumb, but just didn't like being told what to do at all, and had a ruthless disregard for their own safety, or the safety of others. 

They always had some kind of charm when you struck up conversation with them at a bonfire party under the bridge, and always knew to flatter your mum. And then they got their drivers license first and you nearly died twice when they were driving through controlled intersections before telling them to go fuck themselves.

I knew plenty of guys like that, and some of them are even still alive. I don't really know them anymore, because who needs that kind of toxic drama in your life?

It's not a revelation to say Fight Club has lots of weird lessons, with all the wrong ones always getting picked up by the biggest meatheads in the world (the same kind of mindless thug who thinks its cool to pretend to be the Punisher), but thinking Tyler is a good role model worth watching is a foolish thought.

Although I remain in absolute awe of Pitt's ability to pull off that wardrobe, Tyler is only getting less charming the older I get. Who knows how I'll feel when I'm 90, if space monkeys live that long.

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Trash Theory is my jam

There are literally millions of video essays on YouTube, for any goddamn subject you can think of, and that's certainly true for essays about the history of music. Most of them are easy to ignore, because they're too amateurish, or just so basic, talking about the same old shit that everyone else is. And some are just too niche, fixated on things I can barely follow, full of the gossip on decades-old feuds and the most arcane technical info.

But I never miss a Trash Theory, which hooked me in with usual focus on punk and the world it created, but kept me coming back with its ongoing examination of the British canon of pop music over the past 40 years, from Ian Dury to the Spice Girls.

They're compulsive viewing for any fair-weather music fan, entertaining and informative even when talking about music you couldn't give a damn about. They're impeccably edited, with the finest snatches of music backing up the new analysis. And the crew behind these videos have shown impeccable timing, with a hardcore Kate Bush appreciation video coming out just before the diva herself scorched back into the public consciousness on the back of Stranger Things.

Whether it's the eye-opening video on the mysteries behind Andrew WK, or telling us how Take Me Out was inspired by a really awful war movie but inspired a musical legacy anyway, it's always a terrific slice of pop history, if you can hear it above all the other noise.

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Bepp the fucking Meep will not be the big bad

If I'm really looking forward to some new entertainment coming down the endless pipeline, I'll stop reading or watching anything about it a few months in advance, because it sucks all the fun right out of it. I don't watch the last trailers, I don't read the reviews, and most of all, I don't listen to the endless and dull speculation about what's going to happen, based on blurred set photos and desperate fan entitlement.

But I might have to extend it further than a few mere months, because the dumbness is starting so early now.

Consider Beep the Meep. I am, Rassilon help me, a total fucking Doctor Who nerd, and for the past couple of weeks I haven't been able to avoid Who dorks talking about this fucking furry. He's a character from some early Doctor Who comics by Mills, Wagner and Gibbons - a super-cute bundle of fur who was also a ruthless intergalactic despot.

He got his just desserts, of course, because this is Doctor Who and that's how it works. He's returned a few times in more comic strip tales and the inevitable audio adventures and that's where he belonged, until blurry photos of someone in a Meep costume started showing up online.

It took minutes for the intense speculation of what it all means to start, and how it ties into the grand canon and all that rubbish. It's obviously important and a sign of the future times.

Or it's just a two-second joke in the background, a tiny easter egg that will mean absolutely nothing to 98% of the TV show's audience, and all the desperate theories and badly-written articles about it are just a lot of wasted air.

It's still a while away, but I am looking forward to the next era of Doctor Who and am frothing to see what Ncuti Gatwa will bring to the series. Russell T Davies knows how to go big with the show and has only become a sharper and more sensitive writer in the years he's been around. But I'm checking out, as much as possible, on the dumb rumours.

There's a chance that the Meep actually is the big bad guy, because Davies' Doctor Who might be just ridiculous enough to try that on. But everything isn't important, and everything doesn't have to be a fucking clue. 

Sometimes it's just some silly shit, and we could all use more of that in our lives.

Monday, June 20, 2022

Long live the old Legions: Getting the jokes after 30 years

The future is always unknown, but you can still find ancient slices of it in the back issue bins.

For a story set a thousand years in the future, I came into the Legion of Super-Heroes in the most backwards way possible - stumbling across an issue of the Five Years Later period that was absolutely incomprehensible, with characters I didn't know talking about a lot of shit I didn't understand.

Superhero comics are always accused of being too daunting for regular readers, but sometimes a bit of a challenge is welcome, and I fell hard for it. This was before we had the world on our phones, and it literally took me years to work out who the mighty Salu Digby was.

As a comic reader since I was 3, I had always been aware of the Legion, having read few of the Levitz/Broderick/Giffen period and some of the digests reprinting their exploits from their days of Adventure.

But the 5YL series was something different, with the goofy old silver age stories paying off in a very post-modern universe. There were weird depths in the misadventures of the original team, and the galaxy of broken characters they encountered.

I didn't get the vast majority of references or in-jokes and still find new ones every time I revisit that series, because I'm still catching up on the originals.

I always knew about the Super Moby Dick Of Outer Space story and its dire consequences for Lighning Lad, but I only just read the actual story this week, and it's shining new light on stories I read 30 years ago, which were published 30 years after the earlier tales first appeared. Some sort of circuit had been completed here.

And right now I'm also just slightly obsessed with the 70s stuff right now - the Cockrum/Grell issues, which I've been picking up, an issue at a time, from a local comic shop. Not just because it's the Legion at their absolute sexiest, but because of all the mini-adventures, with Chemcial King punching out some Skarlian pirates or something. Stories I've never seen reprinted, filling in the future knowledge.

We're a few years closer to that shining future of the United Planets, and I'm still a Legion kid - I always get one regular monthly superhero universe comic and it's currently the Bendis Legion, even though it's far from regular. I just like the optimism, (even when it gets really dark), and the costumes, and the sprawling cast, and all of it.

And I love having tiny parts of its sprawling mythology reveal themselves in new ways. Even after all these years, that unknown future can still surprise me.

Sunday, June 19, 2022

Therapeutic Skin Jobs #3

This is still the late 90s. Nothing ever changes, except for the parts I had to change because they were too horrible.. 

Therapeutic Skin Jobs #3

By Max Zero

    Turned out nicely again. Old songs still spiral down the corridors of time, in search of an audience. Sometimes they find one. Most of the time they don't.

    But that’s neither here nor there.

    Hope for the future, because the present never lasts. Long for the past and the glories forever gone because now is just a dream.

    A stray thought shot down like a plump pheasant: A time machine is the scariest thing in the world. Contradictions galore as the call is made to forget the past, ignore the future and embrace the present. It's the only one that truly matters.

    Two separate schools of thought. Two different ways of thinking. Needless to say, Doctor Skin and Claudia subscribe to neither. No time for thinking about important matters like that. Not when there's too much stuff to do.

    Case in point - yet another absurdly sunny day on J Street. Nothing to do but sit on the bonnet of your Car With No Name, dressed like two extras from Barberella, and argue two entirely different arguments.

    "No, you're wrong and I'm right!" hoots Doctor Skin with untainted joy. "Battlestar Galactica has a far more important role in the development of the young people of today than Star Wars ever could."

    "You know perfectly well I'm never wrong," says Claudia in a tone that would turn hellfire into strawberry flavored ice cream. "Individuality is the only truth. The idea that when we die we become part of God is a strictly asinine idea. Why should I give up all my thoughts, experiences and memories in order to become part of our creator? I prefer things the way they are."

    "Yes," retorts Skin, reading a lot more in Claudia's mad ramble than you or I ever could. "But good old Glen A. never made any pretense about his story being the ultimate saga. It was simple fluffy fun, constrained only by the budgetary constraints that humble all television shows."

    Claudia's excellent reply remains the knowledge of your humbly arrogant creator, (though I will tell you that it involves extreme violence to a number of cute little bunny rabbits,) for at that moment the conversation is interrupted by a noise behind them. To Skin's delicate ears, it sounds like ten thousand thousand people burping at the same time.

    Together, our dastardly duo turn to see a white wall of energy rushing down the street towards them, eating everything before it.

    The Doctor jumps to his feet and hollers his delight.

    "Brilliant! Crises after crises! Does the fun ever end? Can you find a more gratifying and delightful place than this? Nothing is sacred! No taboo exists! And one can't even take a moment to reflect on more important matters without a battle for life and death striking its blow!"

    "I'm happy for you dear," whispers Claudia, hating to interrupt her lover in the middle of his rant. "But don't you think we should try to get away?"

    "Absolutely!" replies Skin with a grin larger than that damnable red spot that defaces the perfect surface of the largest planet in our solar system. "WE MUST OUTRACE OBLIVION!"

    "Darling," purrs Claudia as they get into their orgasmotronic car seats (Ad Hook - 'For When You Don't Just Want To Drive Really, Really Fast') and strap themselves in, pulling the seatbelts tight. Remember kids! Safety first! "You're not in a Bob Haney comic now."

    Skin sulks for a nanosecond before noticing how perilously close the wave of destruction is getting.

    "No time! No time! Prepare for vaporous velocity, rapturous rapidity and spectacular speed! Fire up the cronoton particles, kick in the axle grease and let loose the dogs of war! Sit back, relax, let me do the driving & you just do the thinking for both of us! Smile when you say that! Get ready for pure pleasure! Fun, fun, fun! Prepare for the ride of your innumerable lifetimes!"

    And so Doctor Jacob Skin, professor of nothing and lord of all he surveys, pulls his head out and stamps his booted foot down upon the accelerator, sending the Car With No Name leaping ahead of certain non-existence.

    Zero to Infinity in less time than it takes to tell, but the energy wall keeps up with them, every step of the way.

    "Damn, blast and bugger!" curses Skin just loud enough for the nuns in the van they're passing to hear. Catching the eye of the saintly driver, he comes up with an idea that can only be described as splendorous.

    "Hang tight, baby!" screams Skin at his companion, who is still finding time to apply her cherry red lipstick in a pleasing fashion. "I'm going to try something splendorous!"

    Doc spins the steering wheel, sending the Car With No Name slamming into the nunmobile. The van swerves and flips, sending penguin impersonators flying in all directions. Not to worry, for any broken legs and necks are soon forgotten as the nuns are swallowed up by the wall of nothing, along with all the other sinners.

    "Well, that didn't work," sighs Doctor Skin, glancing back. "I was sure God might intervene, if only to save his own, but it appears we can't count on any divine intervention this time."

    "We're divine enough as it is," replies Claudia, leaning out the side window and letting off a few shots with the Testosterone XL they keep for emergencies. The bullets hit pure energy and fade away.

    Pull back, get a clearer sense. There's the Car With No Name screaming along J Street at considerable speed, deftly avoiding a dozen collisions a second. The wall straight out of a horribly expensive comic book threatens to swallow them up at any moment. Strange thing is, nobody else seems to be worried about the danger. People walk along the sidewalk, oblivious to the blankness bearing down on them, and are swallowed up without a sound.

    Dr. Skin realises he hasn't been looking where they've been zooming for a minute or so, and turns around just in time to see a heavily pregnant woman push a baby's pram out in front of them. Collision, it seems, is utterly unavoidable. But it isn't and the Car With No Name slides around the pram at a gazillion miles per hour, almost ripping it from the mother's clutches and sending it flying into the air, but not quite.

    Claudia ceases fire and watches the wonderful grace of the arc and feels the need for toast with some innocent raspberry jam.

    "Oh wow," utters Claudia. "I still had some hope for a favourable spin on the karmic wheel, and after that little incident it seems that maybe I am not doomed to live the next few lives as a worm with no taste."

    "Quite right," replies her companion, gritting his teeth, squinting his eyes and doing his best to look just like Clint Eastwood, despite the fact his chin in far too pointy. "But did something change just then? Was that right?"

    "Nothing changed. Nothing ever changed."

    "Well, we're still screwed, good and proper. Only one thing for it. Claudia! Endtime music!"

    In one swift movement, Claudia kicks the stereo into full gear and the very last Manic Street Preachers album, stolen from the future, roars into life, drowning out our subject's cries with white noise, too loud to be understood.

    And with that, Doctor Skin turns the car around and drives straight into the oncoming wave; a laugh torn from his lips as everything fades away.

    Everything must go.


    The sensation of entire physical being melted down into pure thought stuff and sent screaming through the void is a strangely pleasant one. Destination unwise.

    Reconstitute! Reimburse! Revitalise!

    Reality, again. 


    Doctor Skin untangles himself from Claudia’s naked raw clutches and stares about in confusion. All is ending, with only two men sitting nearby (All lecherous grins and popcorn) to break the monotony.

    "This isn’t right," murmurs our hero.

    "Of course not," comes the breathless reply from below him. Skin glances down to see Claudia lighting up her post-coital cigarette. "It never happened. This isn’t real."

    "It never is," winks Doc, already knowing the sensation of distruth.

    In again, out again, gone again.


    Know this truth. The love Doctor Skin shares with Claudia is extraordinary. You know that feeling you get when you’re with your own love, where you know you are two who belong together? You know that feeling that burns like lava deep, deep within your chest? You know that feeling that leaves behind an empty void when you’re apart for any length of time?

    If you don’t know it, the author of this shoddy work implores you to go and find it.

    For those who do, try this: Take that feeling, add two sugars, a lot of cream, pump it full of pure nitro and set it on fire. That’s as close as us mortals will ever get to knowing the bond between our two protagonists.

    This has absolutely nothing to do with the matter at hand. But it was worth pointing out, wasn't it?

    Stay on target.


    Different track. Oblivious and obnoxious levels.

    Doctor Skin is sitting on a throne, listening calmly as a list of crimes are read out in the courtroom before him by a man in a freaky mask. Black and white and read all over.

    "The Prisoner has been charged with the most serious breach of social etiquette: Total defiance of the elementary laws which sustain our community; questioning the decisions of those we voted to govern us; unhealthy aspects of speech and dress, not in accordance with general practice; and the refusal to observe, wear or respond to his number!"

    Confident that this heinous list is dispensed with, Doctor Skin rises, pulls the Testosterone XL handgun out from behind him and shoots his accuser, William Burroughs like, straight between the eyes.

    The accuser falls back without a sound, seemingly unwilling to accept this deviance from the script. Either that, or he's annoyed that his death is so rudimentary.

    To tell the truth, he's actually horribly disappointed. To bring a gun into the proceedings is frightfully predictable. To once more interrupt the cerebral with pure, untainted violence is only to be expected, but it wasn't a necessity. Still, only the remarkably stupid bring a knife to a gunfight.)

    "Don't knock yourself out," whispers Skin, blowing the sweet smelling smoke wafting from the gun barrel.

    The audience standing behind Skin rise to their feet to applaud their champion, who bows humbly before them.

    Everything starts to fade away again, but at the last second before zenith point, the Doctor turns and sneers to his audience.

    "Thanks for the trip, Dad."

    Then you went and gone.


    Skin’s spectacular spirit, despite being free of any earthly constraints, feels a pulling in another direction. Another truth. Less real than the last, but a truth nonetheless.

    Skip the tracks! Switch the characters!

    Try something new!


    "Max? Are you okay?"

     Doctor Skin opens his eyes, and finds it horribly difficult to focus. He’s lying on a sticky floor that smells bad – all vomit and oysters and beer.

    And someone is talking to him. But they don’t know his name.

    "C’mon, Max. On your feet."

    Skin is helped to his feet and leans against a bar. With concentration, he finds he can focus his eyes and he looks at his companion.

    "Do I know you?" asks Doc, looking at the young, dark-skinned man wearing a leather jacket.

    "I should hope so," comes the reply. "I’ve saved your ass more times than I can remember."

     The good Doctor knows this is all wrong. This body isn’t his. His voice has changed. And his thoughts are as clear as exceedingly thick porridge. (Just like Matron used to make.)

    "I feel like a pig shat in my head."

    Skin’s current comrade sneers and opens his mouth to say something when he freezes.

    Everything stops.

     Dr. Skin feels himself disengage from this strange, dull point of view and float away. His primary feeling is one of utter relief. Obviously.

     He is once more without a body, but still manages to voice his thoughts on the matter.

     "About bloody time."


    Fiction within fact. Dreams within reality.

     Worlds without end, forever and ever.



    And so on…

     It’s getting boring, so let’s just look at the edited highlights. And so on…

     Doctor Skin runs through a forest full of sentient trees, knocking over a small, ugly person and stealing his precious ring. It will go nicely with Claudia’s earrings.

     He finds himself in a dark place, all smoke and blood and thick, red wine. Skin laughs as he realizes he's switched mediums yet again and is now living in an Angelo Badalamenti album.

     The Plagiarizing Police publicize their presence and Skin is forced to defend his right to exist by partaking in a Sergio Leone graveyard gunfight: Facing off against Luther Arkwright, Gideon Stargrave and Jerry Cornelius, all wit, charm and itchy trigger fingers.

     Claudia joins him and they sit on the deck of the most fabulous ship ever constructed, sipping martinis as chaos erupts. No escape for our heroes, so they sit and debate which fiction they’ve been forced into. Skin is sure it’s the recent abomination, whilst Claudia insists it’s the dry fifties version. The presence of a bunch of dwarves sitting nearby in fine evening dress is clue enough, if they’d only care to look.

    A climax is looming.

    Change channel! Change channel!

    Nearly time to go!


     It's hotter than hellfire in the desert. Dr. Skin finds the idea of perspiration upsetting, so moves off towards the only shelter available - A small hut sitting all on it's lonesome.

    Walking in, it takes an eternity for his eyes to adjust to the gloom inside On the table in the middle of the room sits the obligatory pack of cigarettes, bottle of wine and long lost comic books. Someone is seated behind all that.

    Skin knows instinctively who it is

    "You took you time," bemoans the creator, pausing to spit upon the dusty floor. "What kept you?"

     "You should know," yawns Skin, sitting down and examining the label on the wine. It's nothing more than cheap gut rot. Anybody can pick it up at any self-respecting supermarket for $5.00. But in the circumstances, it's perfect. "What do you want?"

    The creator fidgets and runs his hands through his hair.

    "I'm losing it. I think I'm going mad. And it's a horrible feeling."

    "So that's what that white wall was? A metaphor for the deterioration in your own mind? The loss of self? Writer's block? A symptom of growing old?"

    "No," replies the creator, looking a tad confused and sucking on the cigarette that somehow ended up hanging from his lips. "It was just a cheap plot device. But that's beside the point! You must help me!"

    "Why?" winces Skin as the first mouthful of wine slides down his gullet.

     "Because I don't want to go mad!"

     "Oh, don't worry about that. We're all mad here."

     "Stop that!" cries the creator, standing up and pointing at Skin with a long index finger. "Enough of the endless fucking pop culture references! I know this is the ultra post-modernistic decade, but we should be above all that!"

    "Calm down, dear boy. Quite frankly, I don't give a toss about your mental situation. So if you'll just send me home again."

    "Yes, yes, I'm sorry," mumbles the creator, sitting back down again and shakily lighting a cigarette. "I just wanted to talk to you. You, my most perfect creation."

    "Really," mutters the good Doctor, glancing down at his watch.

    "Yes. Really. You're the one perfect thing I've come up with. The one thing I've created with no flaws, no doubts. You have extensive knowledge of everything. You have an utterly open mind. There is nothing you cannot do. Nothing you do not believe in. You are, in a word, perfect."

    "Not quite," says Skin, getting to his feet and slowly walking backwards to the door. "I don't believe in everything."

    "Yes. Yes, you do. I created you that way."

    Doctor Skin stops at the doorway and drinks yet again from the bottle, before letting it tumble to the ground.

    "Oh, I believe in just about everything, Robert. I believe in Santa Claus and UFOs and true love and the fucking tooth fairy. But there's one thing I can never believe in."

    "W-what's that?" asks the creator, suddenly strangely fearful.

    "I just don't believe in you."

    And with that, Doctor Skin turns on his heel and stalks out into the world outside, leaving an empty room behind him.


    Bright light.

    White light.

    Doctor Skin opens his eyes again. He's seated on the bonnet of the Car With No Name. It's a bright, breezy day on J Street and Claudia is seated next to him, blathering on about some ridiculous seventies movie.

    "Claudia," interrupts Skin right at the point where his female half attempts to replicate the noise of an Imperial Walker. "Did something just happen then?"

    "Well, yes," replies Claudia in tones so cold you could stick useless wings on them and call them a penguin. "I was entertaining you with my thoughts on the Holy Trilogy when you butted in."

    "No, no," says the Doctor, defusing Claudia's TNT temper before it can be lit with a single wiggle of his eyebrows. "Didn't we just get eaten up by a wall of white energy, sending us bouncing through realities, finally ending in a confrontation with creation?"

    "No," replies Claudia, looking at her lover like he just leaped out of the loony bin. "We've just been sitting here talking bollocks. It's been an entirely fruitless afternoon."

    Skin ponders this as he watches a convenient van full of nuns drive slowly by. The driver winks at Doc, letting him in on the secret.

   Doctor Skin leans back on the bonnet of his car and starts to laugh.

    It's a smooth laugh, full of the joys of infinity, a laugh which celebrates the existence of all things, a laugh that bodes well for the future and the paths not yet trodden.

    It's a fine, sunny day on J Street and things have worked for the best.

    Turned out nicely again.

Saturday, June 18, 2022

The sci-fi punk girls of Brett Ewins

Never mind the Sex Pistols or any of that rot, the sci-fi women Brett Ewins did for 2000ad will always be my punk icons, even if they worked for the fascist Judge regime or were a dirty Nort spy.....

Friday, June 17, 2022

They both cheer, then their celebration ceases, when Lewis with a gun blows Leon to pieces


I keep forgetting these exist which is absolutely criminal, because the 'cos they're all bad losers where the Predator comes from' is an all time champion line.

But it's also good that I forget about them because then I get to find them again every few years. 

Thursday, June 16, 2022

Starman: Such a great meal, even with the dodgy service

These days it's easy to completely pass by on genuinely great comics, movies, novels and TV shows, even though everything is now available everywhere all of the time. Especially when everybody is telling you to watch the new latest hot thing and you're still wondering how you'd tell your 8-year-old self that you couldn't even finish watching a bloody big budget Boba Fett TV show.

But I've had this problem since the 90s. After getting off the X-wagon, I was always more of a Vertigo kid, and only followed a select few superhero comics at the time. I saw a preview for the new Starman series by James Robinson and Tony Harris in an issue of the indispensable Comic Shop News, and it looked great, but I missed the first issue and figured I'd catch up later.

I never did. I read a couple of the trades and had a few issues, including a fantastic annual, but that was about it. And after a hefty write-up about the series in a recent issue of the equally indispensable Back Issue Magazine, I borrowed the collected series off my pal Nik and read the whole thing in a month.

And it was even better than I expected - so rich, so depth, so full of meat and flavour, and so well-made that it can make you get emotional about Solomon bloody Grundy. It gave personality to a city (the lack of suburbs in Opal City was one of a thousand beautiful little touches), and the way Jack's mind would wander in the middle of a fight was more true to life than a dozen contemporary autobiographical comics, you'd really feel worried for the dude. (And to be fair, he does actually die a couple of times.)

It had the best supporting cast, including the indomitable O'Hare family, the immortal Shade and a small army of previous Starmen. It was a very serious comic book, but also real deeply invested in the goofiness of the DC universe - the moment towards the end where Star Boy of the grokkin' Legion of Super-Heroes finds out he's an reincarnation of Scalphunter is a classic.

With incredible design work by Harris, an array of mighty talents to do the fill-ins and a rock-solid artist in Peter Snejbjerg to close out the series, the series looked even sexier than the plots. Just a goddamn delight to look at.

Despite warnings that the quality gets wobbly towards the end, I didn't find that at all, and thought it came to the only conclusion it could. I understand that it must have been hell to read in monthly issues - Robinson had an irritating habit of setting up a stunning cliffhanger, and then taking months to resolve it. Jack's loved ones are facing certain death, and it might be half a year before it gets resolved. 

But reading the whole series was like polishing off a genuinely great steak, and some of the latest Marvel and DC collections that I then read from the library were just so anemic in comparison. 

And many of them are still trying to mine the depths that this comic effortlessly reached. Those are meals I don't need anymore, and they can pass on by, like stars in the night.

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

I still miss you, Barry Shitpeas

Black Mirror is fun and all, and I will take all the Cunk I can get, but I just really miss Barry Shitpeas.

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Crashing into your trailers

There are a lot of issues with the state of modern film trailers, including the clumsy way they're edited together, and their naked grasp at emotional resonance by using a slow, sad version of an old pop song. But they've also become so thudding and thumping, punching everything up with loud bursts of drums, with barely any variation, that I can barely watching the fucking things anymore.

It first became really noticable in the trailer for Ad Astra - the 2019 'we had to go to space to find.... ourselves' movie from James Gray - where the opening part showed a disaster on a low-orbit platform that came with a crashing drum noise as each system is hit by an energy pulse in the vacuum of space. It was overbearing, and reduced the thing it was trying to sell to base obviousness.

If you're lucky, the crashes might match the mangled music that's been used. Or it might just be thumping for thumps sake - the sound of someone like the mighty Jason Statham slamming some poor fool's face into a identification pad obviously isn't loud enough, and needs to be augmented with a hugely obnoxious sound effect every time.

It was bad enough when everybody ripped off Christopher Nolan with loud foghorn blasts, but this thudding is getting maddening - reducing big moments to mush, stripping away any artistry with the obviousness of it all.

A good film trailer - a really good one - can be a piece of art in its own right, and can be more thrilling, funny and entertaining in 180 seconds than a two-hour-plus movie it's there to promote (I've never felt the need to watch Fincher's version of Girl with the Dragon Tattoo again, but I'll drop everything for its  trailer.)

But then you get something like this, where any mood or style that the long-awaited Sandman series might actually have is ruined by the constant fucking thudding:

This transparent attempt to give every moment some fake impact is so artless and graceless, and doesn't do a service, especially to mid-range films that don't need the punch. Because you don't sell people something by fucking thumping them with it.

Monday, June 13, 2022

The X that ended it all

There were several periods of intense obsession with all things X-Men in my life, when I was younger and dorkier and all I cared about were the misadventures of Marvel's merry mutants.

I got a dose of pure Claremont/Byrne as a kid, but I was a young teenager in the period between Fall of the Mutants and Inferno, and that was all the things I needed. The scratchy dynamics of Marc Silvestri, with the X-men hunkering down in the Australian outbreak, the completely unpredictable storytelling of Chris Claremont.  The sublime thrills of the X-Terminators and the first few months of Excalibur. The fucking sexiness of it all.

I fell off the x-wagon for a little while, but a couple of years later, when Jim Lee became the regular artist, I was definitely back on board with all things X. Just as the titles exploded in popularity, I was getting all the main X-titles, and that lasted for a few more years.

But I can pinpoint the exact moment they lost me, and it was X-Men #27. I can still remember reading it at the time, and the deep disappointment that it had all lead to this. There had been a significant drop in quality after all the Image boys fucked off, and not just because so much of the art was trying to ape those who had fled. Theplots and characters were circling the drain, instead of bursting out in brave new directions.

And #27 was it. Just such a nothing comic, with deeply unpleasant art and design, and a plot that was instantly forgotten. I didn't care about any of it, and didn't want to buy any more X-comics.

I still lasted a couple more months on the Uncanny title, because it had Romita Jr in his absolute prime, but that was soon over too. While these was a lingering fondness for the Madiera and Bachalo art that were coming, they were otherwise actively repulsive as comics.

I haven't bought a brand new X-Men comic in the years since then. I went all in on the Morrison/Quitely stuff ,but only in the collected editions, and there was a weird affection for the Bendis era (I just thought it was the strongest art line-up in many, many years). I also recently bought almost all the original Claremont comics in Essential form, and they're taunting me to get stuck into them.

But back in the 90s, it was so easy to let go. It was almost some kind of hushed disappointment, that the comics I loved had swiftly become something that was so easy to give up. But that freedom not to bother with this anymore, and the opening to new possibilities, that was the real thing

This is all well and good, and this is where I jumped off, but I have still read every issue of the X-Men ever published, because my mate Kyle never stopped getting it. Some of it was all right, but so little of it was very cool. And I'm just never going to buy something so ugly ever again.

Sunday, June 12, 2022

Therapeutic Skin Jobs #2

I'm still determined to fill my Sundays with these things, but oh fuck I really wasn't getting better any faster. I admit I've had to cut out on the ironic misanthropy because nobody can tell the fucking difference anymore and I'm not that awful.

But shit, I was 22 when I wrote this and that's more than half my life ago, and I think all the atoms in my body have been replaced three times over since then, so who the fuck am I anyway?

Damn it. This is what happens when you read your old fiction. You start talking like it's fucking 1997 again.

Therapeutic Skin Jobs #2: Kick. 

By Max Zero

     There is no time. What happened then happens still and will happen forever more. And yet, billions and billions of minutes ago, the universe still farted itself into existence.

    This was the absolute. This was everything. From nothing came reality. From the void came life.

    The first few seconds after creation were the most interesting. Creatures smaller than electrons danced together in the primal light of the universe, creating new ways of thinking, new ways of being.

    Flash forward to the here and now and nothing’s different. A group of atoms have joined together as one and called themselves Dr. Skin. And they still groove to the unknown beat.

    Dig it. See that dance floor? There’s the good Doctor with Claudia, his companion and other, dancing away the night. Pull back further and see the nightclub they find themselves in. It’s fast and clear and true.

     They’ve changed their clothes. Doctor Skin is wearing a wonderful purple velvet suit, with the frilliest shirt since Jon Pertwee hung up his Doctor’s cap. Claudia is wearing a short miniskirt, straight from Mary Quaint’s 1969 catalogue, with a wonderful optical art effect blemishing its surface and giving intense headaches to anyone who looks at her for too long.

     Our subjects of attention hadn’t been on J Street long before they found this place. It’s their happening. The music is loud, the floor is hard. The man in charge of the music displays uncommonly good taste. Every tune flows effortlessly into the next, leaving no time for breath or pause.

     Doctor Skin is completely unaware of the fine beats. In his ears, all the music sounds like John Lennon is still going through Cold Turkey, twenty years after somebody politely shot him dead. What a world.

     It’s two hours ago and Doctor Skin is buying a dark blue pill from two men who talk too loud and sweat too much. In normal circumstances, the good Doctor would have nothing to do with people like this. Luckily, the Doctor has never been subject to a concept like ‘normal circumstances.’

     Back on the dance floor and the pill is just starting to kick in. Skin laughs as a shock wave of pure splendour courses down his spine, zapping him right in the small of his back.

     "Screw collaboration!" screams Doc at the bright light in the ceiling that refuses to stop shining in his eyes. "I’m in it for kicks!"

     "Darling," purrs Claudia in his ear. "Please calm down or somebody will get upset and we’ll be forced to kill everybody in the room. Self defence might be a good excuse, but the karma will be devastating."

     "Quite right," mumbles Doctor Skin. Claudia has always been able to get through to him, no matter what state he’s in. That’s for the best, right?

     With a tenderness that hides his state, the Doctor pulls Claudia closely and they start waltzing around the room, avoiding the others on the floor with ease and resisting the pull of the beat.



    The creator of this sorry piece of shit is feeling a lot better. His own form of therapy is weaving his magic and his abominable mood is starting to fade.

     It’s still there, though and This is only to be expected. The day started with a hideous betrayal of true trust, an event that the creator finds unforgivable. The incompetence and stupidity of those surrounding him have not made the situation any better.

     But the ever-changing story of Doctor Skin and Claudia help him get through the long, hard day. That, and the fact that lunch is less than an hour away.

     Carry on.


     "Negativity is the bastard cousin of stupidity," whispers Doctor Skin into Claudia’s ear, somehow resisting the urge to nibble on the lobe. "One must have a positive outlook if they’re to make any progress."

     "Balls," replies Claudia, displaying none of the Doctor’s resolve. "The most intelligent people I’ve known have been diabolically cynical."

     "Ah, but you can maintain a healthy attitude while still questioning everything. I’ve been doing so for ever now."

     Claudia bites down hard on Skin’s ear, drawing blood. His ecstasy is matched only by the joy in knowing he has lost the argument.

     And it is in that precise moment that Doctor Skin’s supernatural grace deserts him and he steps on the toes of another dancer. If he was the kind of being to lay blame at the drop of a top hat, Skin might well blame Claudia for distracting him during a particularly tricky pivot. Or he could blame the drug that has unbalanced the proportion of chemicals in his brain. It's undoubtedly his own fault, of course.

     "Oi," cries the victim of Skin’s wayward feet. "Watch where you’re going."

     Doctor Skin turns to confront this other denizen of the dance floor. He’s big and hairy, two things the good Doctor is most assuredly not. A confrontation seems inevitable.

     "Oh, come one," sighs Skin. "Surely this isn’t going to degenerate into a horrible fight? I thought we were above that."

     The hairy brute strides forward, top lip curling up.

     The Doctor sighs again and easily avoids the first clumsy punch aimed right at his chin, stabbing forward with his left hand and hitting his assailant right in the middle of the throat.

     He falls to the ground, gasping for breath. His companions, already knowing they are easily outclassed, drag their friend away, leaving Skin to resume dancing with his muse.

    "Very nice," smiles Claudia. "But I wish you’d let me take care of him. I am a much better fighter. You know that."

     Doctor Skin winks.

     "Possibly, my dear. But if a man can’t defend himself on a dance floor, he forfeits the right to be called such."

     Change of tempo.

     The DJ puts his music away, to be replaced by a band on a small stage above the floor. They’re not very good, but their heart is in the right place. The music is fast and dirty, pure rock and roll.

     Claudia squeals with joy and starts bouncing up and down. The Doctor joins her, suddenly all hands and feet.

     Zoom in again on the figure of the good Doctor, dancing his arse off. Go closer, and see the fabric of his clothes. Go closer and see the atoms that make up his being. Go closer and see the creatures that make up those very atoms.

     They’re still dancing, just like they did at the start of everything. Just like they always have, just like they always will.

     Because at this level, it's all true.

     There is no time.