Being the adventures of Jack, Hans, Ivan, Cecilia, Wendigo, and Skitterybones, aka The Dirt Cheap Suicide Squad. Click/tap the pictures to read the hilarious captions!
The adventures of the Tiny Suicide Squad were the subject of an Instagram account I ran in 2015 – 2016. The account is gone from Instagram now, but I wanted to share it again in a new way.
The Dirt Cheap Suicide Squad
Jack, Hans, and Ivan pose on the caravan path in the Lesser Bewilderness of Angst. This was five years before the formation of Suicide Squad, when the boys were still in Force Recon. Things had yet to get truly weird. Backdrop: Cover art to Jack Vance’s novel City of the Chasch, by H.R. Van Dongen. DAW 1979
While Jack takes aim, Cecilia whispers blood-soaked limericks in his ear. No one on Suicide Squad rests well when Cecilia is feeling her muse.
Dogs of war. Cecilia and Wendigo race each other around the barracks at Camp Busted Nose.
The Dirt Cheap Suicide Squad poses together at Camp Busted Nose before heading out on their next adventure. This was just after the gamma emitter accident in the mess hall, which likely explains the ethereal radiance of Skitterybones and the ubiquity of man-flies.
Professor Geryon’s Laboratory
This is Professor Geryon.
He likes liquor.
Rico Haircut and Lady Katarina push their way through a mob of Sasquatch paparazzi. The camera flash off their bling is dazzling. Backdrop: The Doré Illustrations for Dante’s Divine Comedy, Plate 43: Paramours and Flatterers. This particular scene is from Professor Geryon’s eleventieth birthday party, when his minions surprised him with a private Rico Haircut concert in the bowels of his subterranean laboratory. How the paparazzi managed to follow Rico and Lady Katarina literally into Hell is a testament to their tenacity. When the asteroid comes it’ll just be them and the cockroaches left standing.
Professor Geryon’s Marvelous Engine of Misfortune. Produces four different shades of ill fortune, reanimates the dead, induces spasm and angst, shoots lasers and makes mediocre espresso.
Purple misfortune is the mildest shade and is of general utility, good for hexing cows, inflaming gout, and increasing the likelihood of stubbed toes, brown outs during the playoffs, and tax audits.
Red misfortune is the most targeted shade, being primarily suited for inflicting victims with poor financial decision making skills. Excessive speculation in junk bonds, obsolete technology, and soon-to-be-condemned properties is a common side effect of exposure to red misfortune. Also causes dental caries.
Green misfortune is a common cause of pratfalls and other physical accidents, particularly the accidental striking of one’s thumb with a hammer while hanging pictures. Also associated with sneezing boogers onto one’s shirt in front of that pretty girl at the cinema ticket booth.
Blue misfortune is the rarest and deadliest shade and must be handled with care. Generally associated with economic collapse, international crises, spontaneous failure of jet fuselages, and sudden violent religious diaspora.
Thus far the man-flies have proven nothing but an annoyance. In the radioactive caverns below his laboratory, Professor Geryon attempts to train the recalcitrant creatures in the use of high-velocity antimuon detectors, but to little avail. Despite the Professor’s clearly issued commands and the extreme amplification of his bullhorn, the man-flies seem incapable of even the least feat of instrument calibration. Anticipating this failure, the Professor has also thought to bring along a high-calibre assault rifle. Backdrop: The Doré Illustrations for Dante’s Divine Comedy, Plate 65: Ephialtes.
Lady Katarina learns the terrible consequences of sampling the Professor’s brandy. Backdrop: The Doré Illustrations for Dante’s Divine Comedy, Plate 60: Forgers.
Editor’s Note: a few readers have written in requesting more formal and thorough introductions to the cast of Tiny Suicide Squad. We humbly apologize for the oversight. Here follows introductions to the principal performers in our little pageant, including some insightful commentary on the players’ biographies and/or juicy bits of scandal as the editors see fit.
Introductions, Part One: Meet Rico Haircut and the Yowling Kittens, the most popular folk-metal band of all time. Rico is a former scientific experiment, lead singer, lead guitar, and denim enthusiast. To his left is Lady Katarina; songwriter, vocals, bass, and part-time dominatrix. Her twin sister Kittyrina plays drums and collects medieval weapons. Here they are posing in front of a billboard advertising their debut roles in the film adaptation of Shaky Kane’s groundbreaking graphic novel Monster Truck. An influential reviewer described the film as “like a blob of mucus scraped from the brain of a zombie cheerleader and spread over the lens of a kaleidoscope.” The band take this as high praise. Backdrop: Monster Truck by Shaky Kane, page 20.
Introductions, Part Two: Professor Geryon and two of his creations pose in the Hall of Togaed Spectres somewhere in the maze of caverns deep below Castle Hubris. It is a little-known fact that the Professor’s baldness is an affectation intended to emphasize the unusual size of his brain. The Professor manufactures his own depilatory cream, which has the unfortunate side effect of causing uncontrollable salivation. Nevertheless, the payoff is worthwhile. Backdrop: The Doré Illustrations for Dante’s Divine Comedy, Plate 67: Cocytus – Traitors
Introductions, Part Three: Beelzebufa Snark, her cat Fumarole, and a hapless traveler pose outside the witch’s home in Bellbottom Swamp. The water of the Bellbottom, in addition to it’s questionable green hue, has an odd effect on the local flora. Some scholars (those few who survived to publish) speculate that there is in fact no flora in Bellbottom Swamp, only fauna . . .. Beelzebufa’s hobbies include knitting, riding on her broomstick, and foraging the local pitcher plants for half-drowned acid-soaked giant insects to snack on. She occasionally visits her sister Gremoria in the capital, but such expeditions always wind up feeling a little too ‘Country Mouse, City Mouse’ for either sister’s tastes.
Introductions, Part Four: Gremoria, the ninth Countess of Gruel, pauses to chastize her undead minions. The skeletal labor force is currently constructing an addition to the North Wing of the East Wing of her sprawling palace in the heart of Fastidious Gloom, the capital city of Gruel. This will be the ninth time this year Gremoria has raised taxes to finance her ever more elaborate construction. The peasants whose huts she had razed for the construction still clamor outside the gates of the palace, but she is certain they will see the value of their sacrifice when the work is done. Although the workers follow no blueprints, she imagines the finished palace, seen from above, will look something like a spider with a banana clenched in its pedipalps. This pleases her. Backdrop: Cathedral by David Macaulay, page 41.
Introductions, Part Five: Captain Sturgeontrousers and his crew pose inside Squidface’s Nauticall Pavilion of Wonder and Delight, in front of the huge glass wall of the aquarium. The zombie pirate and his crew visit here every time they make landfall; the Captain is particularly partial to the private viewing booths where, for a few pieces-of-eight, the mermaids can be induced to perversity. He is, however, displeased with the daguerreotypist, who he suspects of smirking in an insinuating manner. Backdrop: The Deep-Sea Divers by Martin Handford, from The Great Waldo Search.
Introductions Part Six: Hallux and Pollex, twin brothers and journalists for the Gruel Daily Crier, scour the tangled forests carpeting the slopes of Mount Merkin in search of the elusive Bigfoot. Although they have braved dangers ranging from ticks the size of fava beans to editorial scorn, the brothers are confident that their big breakthrough is hiding just beyond the next fernbrake . . . Backdrop: Art Forms in Nature by Ernst Haeckel. Plate 92: Tree Ferns.
Introductions Part Seven: A rare image of the ice bears who wander the glaciers of Erectnipple Mountain far to the north of Gruel. It is a marvel that this photograph even exists, given that the photographer’s shutter finger froze and broke off not moments before the ice bears hove into view. Backdrop: Astérix Chez Les Pictes by Jean-Yves Ferri and Didier Conrad, page 14.
The Dirt Cheap Suicide Squad battles a Cyclops in the brassica forests that carpet the northern hemisphere of Venus.
It is a little known fact that dragons will sometimes eat vast quantities of silica-rich beach sand, and then poop out marbles. These piles of droppings can be excellent places to ambush other dragons and young dinosaurs attracted by the sparkly glass. In this scene we see Jack, Hans, and Ivan of the Dirt Cheap Suicide Squad capturing a young T-Rex to train as a hunting dog. On Cecilia’s advice they will name him Wendigo. Backdrop: my own painting entitled ‘Measureless Marches’
Many readers have written in requesting to know how Skitterybones, skeletal pirate and part-time concrete flatwork finisher, came to join the Dirt Cheap Suicide Squad. Here, then, is the tale . . .
The Savage Arena – Part One
And now, the editors are pleased to introduce The Savage Arena (or How Skitterybones Gave Up Being a Pirate and Joined the Dirt Cheap Suicide Squad) Part One: The Intractable Cephalith
The entrance to the Savage Arena, guarded by The Intractable Cephalith. Every year ten contestants are invited to brave the labyrinth and confront the reigning champions. Few survive, but the rewards are great. This year the prize is the very lifeblood of the Arena itself – weapons! The winner will walk away with some of the finest weapons magic and technology have ever created. A worthy trophy of the utter savagery of . . . The Savage Arena! Backdrop: my painting entitled ‘The People of the Eye: in which the burglar Red Tom, a worshipper of Terminus, God of Intuition and Prophecy, whose symbol is the Eye, suffers a prophetic dream wherein he walks a golden path across the infinite plane of his god’s holy realm, and is privileged to observe the manners and customs of the People of the Eye.’
A reader going by the unlikely handle of @DarkTalent recently wrote in requesting to know how contestants for The Savage Arena are selected. Although each encounter is unique, many survivors describe a visitation by three specters who deliver the invitation in an eerie whisper. As this scene depicts, the invitation to participate is not always welcome. Participation, however, is mandatory . . . Backdrop: an illustration by P. Craig Russell for the story ‘Ariane and Bluebeard’ by Maurice Maeterlinck. From the collection The P. Craig Russell Library of Opera Adaptations, Volume 2.
And now we return to The Savage Arena Part One: The Intractable Cephalith. Now the contestants begin to gather. From the east comes Captain Sturgeontrousers and his undead crew, hoisting aloft their nefarious implements.
And from the west approaches The Dirt Cheap Suicide Squad. A clash is imminent; the undead crew of the pirate ship Wastrel are no friends of TDCSS. Backdrop: my own painting entitled ‘Dark Tower’
The two crews meet outside the entrance of the Savage Arena.
The editors have received another communication from the mysterious man known to the papers only as @DarkTalent. Our shadowy correspondent has observed the relaxed position adopted by Jack of the DCSS in the previous portrait. He inquires whether the solemn rite of Parley has been invoked during this meeting. Captain Sturgeontrousers assures us that “Parlee is fer them nancy ‘ollywood pirates. Any man says ‘parlee’ t’me, he’ll walk th’ plank!” Enlightening, we are sure. As it happens, Jack is generally just stoned out of his gourd and sometimes forgets he even has a rifle. Backdrop: a bottle of ‘The Kraken’ rum.
As the Dirt Cheap Suicide Squad and the undead crew of the pirate ship Wastrel meet outside the entrance of the Savage Arena, tempers flare. Harsh words are exchanged, among them ‘Arrr!’ and ‘Oorah!’
Editor’s Note: At last the truth is revealed. Our correspondant @DarkTalent, who we thought a well-meaning fan or at worst a hack journalist, has confessed to belonging to that lowest order of Reptilia – the so-called ‘civil servants’ (see artist’s rendition above). This may explain why he has so much free time to pester us with questions. We happen to possess a comprehensive database of the shady personal habits of all such creatures, and normally would simply torpedo his career on general principle. However, he does post some really excellent content (you should go look) and he does say nice things about us. We will refrain from publishing the pictures. For now . . . Backdrop:the design inside the cover of David Foster Wallace’s novel The Pale King.
A Sasquatch journalist is stationed near the entrance of the Savage Arena to interview and photograph the contestants. Survivors can choose to have their photos printed on the side of a commemorative coffee mug; widows of the deceased receive a handsome gilded frame for the photo of their loved one. The boys of Suicide Squad pause to pose in front of the Intractable Cephalith before attempting to enter the Savage Arena. Their smiles are brave but brittle.
Captain Sturgeontrousers has no patience with nancy photographers. However, the pirate’s distaste for the medium does not stop him from claiming the poor shutterbug’s prize camera and his bag of lenses. The most hurtful losses are the bag itself (a gift from his adoptive Yeti parents) and the ‘special’ lens he likes to bring with him for community interest pieces at the local YMCA.
Jack and Captain Sturgeontrousers approach the Intractable Cephalith together. Although the men of the DCSS and the zombies of the pirate ship Wastrel are rivals for the prize of the Savage Arena, the stone statue guarding the entrance is an obstacle in both their paths. As they draw near, the Cephalith awakens. “If you would enter the Arena, O brave contestants, you must each answer a riddle.”
“Fine,” Captain Sturgeontrousers growled. “Ga ane wit’ yer daft riddle, ye gurt blockhead!” The Cephalith twirls on it’s axis, revealing a smug face in the place of it’s previous menacing scowl. “When is a sturgeon like a pair of trousers?” it rumbles. Captain Sturgeontrousers stares in disbelief for a moment, and then explodes in wrath. “It’s not even a proper riddle!” The Cephalith retains its insufferable smug smile, and the pirate captain, overcome with fury, kicks his own hat into the nearest tree. “Fine,” The Cepahalith retorts. “If you want a real riddle, try this: ‘Many have heard me, but no one has seen me, and I will not speak back until spoken to. What am I?'” Grumbling into his putrescent beard, Captain Sturgeontrousers sulks away, defeated.
Captain Sturgeontrousers orders his crew deeper into the jungle surrounding the Arena. In the secrecy of the foliage, he repeats the riddle the Cephalith has tasked him to solve. “Ye better wrack yer rotten brains!” he bellows at the zombies and skeletons under his command. “I sure as ‘ell cannae make any sense o’ yon blockhead’s daft riddle!” But Skitterybones, pictured in the foreground, is not listening . . . Backdrop: Dinotopia by James Gurney, page 13.
The editors of @tiny_suicide_squad would like to take this opportunity to remind our audience, particularly this @DarkTalent chap, that the events we chronicle are in fact fiction (see dictionary definition above). Shouting advice, warnings, catcalls, insults, or answers to riddles at the characters is about as effective as trying to teach public servants to make interesting knots in their neckties. We would also like to remind you that shouting the aforementioned at your iPhone is doubly ineffective, as the actors cannot hear you anyway. If there are no further interruptions, we will continue with our story. Backdrop: Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, Tenth Edition.
Skitterybones has never been the sharpest saber in the arms locker. The image above is what we consider a fairly accurate artist’s rendition of the pirate’s mental capacity: namely, a bunch of rattling bones chasing after a butterfly. Unable to focus on his captain’s angry speech, Skitterybones wanders off and approaches the entrance of the Savage Arena . . . Backdrop: From the final page of The Ice King of Oz by Eric Shanower.
The Intractable Cephalith is still laughing over Captain Sturgeontrouser’s hissy fit when Skitterybones approaches. Entranced by the way the statue’s laughter resonates down the narrow entrance of the Arena, Skitterybones calls out ‘Echo! Echo!’ and giggles to himself as his voice bounces back. The Cephalith leaves off its own laughter and twirls on its axis, displaying an angry face. “Outwitted by a walking carcass,” it mutters. With a heavy sigh and a loud grinding of hidden gears, the Cephalith sinks into the floor, leaving the entrance to the Savage Arena open. With no orders from his captain to contradict him, Skitterybones wanders into the labyrinth, chooses a direction at random, and starts walking . . .
When he comes to investigate the noise and sees the entrance to the Savage Arena standing open, Captain Sturgeontrousers wastes no time. “After me, ye gurt bunch o’ louts an’ scum!” he bellows. The undead crew of the Wastrel pour into the Savage Arena and fan out in search of a way through the labyrinth.
Meanwhile the Dirt Cheap Suicide Squad, having withdrawn for the moment to discuss tactics, now advances down the corridor to confront the Intractable Cephalith. The statue has regained its position blocking the entrance of the Savage Arena. The Cephalith watches serenely as the men take up firing positions. “To enter the Arena, you must answer this riddle,” the statue rumbles. “I get bigger when I eat, but die weaker when I drink. What am I?” Jack has no patience with riddles. He turns to the soldiers of the Suicide Squad. “FIRE!” Ignoring the fusillade of bullets, grenades, and bazooka shells, the Intractable Cephalith slides into the floor of the Arena, satisfied that the riddle has been answered. For the second time today, the Savage Arena stands open.
As the Dirt Cheap Suicide Squad moves cautiously into the Savage Arena, that kid whose name no one ever bothered to learn draws near Jack. “Hey, Captain,” he whispers. “What do you think about that riddle, huh?” “Sounded like a bunch of sukiyaki to me, son,” Jack retorts. The kid whose name no one ever bothered to learn looks back in wonder at the place where the Cephalith disappeared into the floor. “I wonder what the answer was,” he whispers.
Meanwhile outside the Savage Arena . . . a whip-wielding catwoman subdues a Dire Squirrel while ceratopsians battle for dominance. In the distance a hungry velociraptor perches atop a Cephalith, watching the contests with interest . . .
The Savage Arena – Part Two
The Savage Arena, Part Two: Into the Labyrinth Once inside the labyrinth of the Savage Arena, with his crew surging ahead to explore, Captain Sturgeontrousers is suddenly reminded of the camera he took from the Sasquatch journalist outside. Although he is not mechanically inclined and his hook is ill-suited for such work, he manages to get the bag of lenses open to examine. One lens in particular catches his eye, and after much struggle he gets it screwed onto the camera body. Peering through the lens, he happens to swivel the camera toward the wall . . . . . . and sees the most astonishing sight!
The lens of the Sasquatch journalist’s camera allows Captain Sturgeontrousers to see through the wall! The adjoining chamber is awash in hellish red light, illuminating a startling scene: famed sexploitation director Jess Franco, dressed all in black leather, prostrating himself to the ministrations of a whip-wielding, glowing-eyed vampire dominatrix! Although Captain Sturgeontrousers did dabble a bit with Le Théâtre du Grand-Guignol in his youth, such lurid imagery no longer sits well with him. Crying out “preverts!” the pirate flings the camera away. It shatters against the wall of the Arena, but not before the reflexive action of Sturgeontrouser’s hand depresses the shutter, capturing the image for posterity. Mumbling under his breath about decaying morality, the zombie pirate limps away on his peg leg, deeper into the Arena.
Meanwhile the Dirt Cheap Suicide Squad fan out and push deeper into the labyrinth, weapons and senses alert for any sign of danger. Ahead of them a lurid light flashes above the walls . . .
“Stay close!” Jack hisses to Hans. The corridors resonate with the sound of machinery, and there is a faint electrical potential in the air that raises the hairs on their necks.
The source of the noise and sound is just around the next corner! The Dirt Cheap Suicide Squad advances silently and slowly, fingers poised over triggers, teeth bared in deadly snarls.
The Savage Arena – Part Three
The Savage Arena, Part Three: the Marvelous Engine of Misfortune! Hans and Wensleydale round the corner just in time to witness a terrible sight! That kid whose name no one ever bothered to learn is locked in the grasp of a huge man-fly. The soldiers open fire on the monster just in time to watch the kid breath his last and collapse in a loose-limbed heap. The Arena has claimed its first victim!
Now the battle is joined in earnest! The men of the Dirt Cheap Suicide Squad pour into the chamber, machine guns chattering wildly. Giant man-flies descend on them from every direction, biting, clawing, and choking with powerful claws. Around them the light flickers in different hellish shades – purple, green, red, blue. Jack, Hans and Ivan, the most experienced of the crew, suddenly realize the danger of the trap they have fallen into. The light suffusing the chamber can only signify one thing – Professor Geryon and his Marvelous Engine of Misfortune!
The battle is not going well for the Dirt Cheap Suicide Squad! That kid whose name no one ever bothered to learn is dead, his throat torn out by a man-fly. Although Jack has killed the man-fly and avenged that kid’s death, Hans and Ivan are having a hard time of things. And the Engine of Misfortune continues bathing the chamber in thoroughly unhelpful radiation!
Wensleydale sights down the barrel of his rifle, taking a careful bead on Professor Geryon’s oversized forehead. He should have aimed for the Engine of Misfortune instead! As the soldier pulls his trigger, the Engine’s rays skew the laws of probability, and the round explodes in the breech, killing Wensleydale immediately. With two of his men down, Jack issues the command to flee the chamber. The dispirited men of the Dirt Cheap Suicide Squad press deeper into the labyrinth, their first taste of the Savage Arena bitter in their mouths.
Meanwhile back in Professor Geryon’s laboratory, the experiments have escaped their cages. They’ve eaten all the foie gras and now they’re getting lit on mutagen and turning themselves into monsters. Backdrop: The Doré Illustrations for Dante’s Divine Comedy, Plate 12: Limbo – Poets and Heroes.
And in the basement of Professor Geryon’s laboratory, things are getting entirely out of hand. Now the experiments have discovered the Professor’s Brain-Enhancing Ray Emitter and dialed it all the way up. One of the clones will now be blessed with six times the Professor’s intellect and one-eighth the sanity. Will mayhem ensue? We think it likely. Backdrop: The Doré Illustrations for Dante’s Divine Comedy, Plate 53: Thieves
The Savage Arena – Part Four
The Savage Arena Part Four: How the Pirates Fared Ignoring the helpful warnings printed on the floor tiles, the zombies of the pirate ship Wastrel plunge deeper into the labyrinth of the Savage Arena, thrusting aloft their weapons amid boistrous cheers of “Aaargh!” and “Ahoy!” Were their brains not rotten, it might occur to them that such clamor is only likely to attract unwelcome attention . . .
Two of the Wastrel’s skeletal sailors are captured by an ice bear and led away in chains to work in the ice mines far to the north. The jarls of the ice bear tribes demand ever bigger and more elaborate ice palaces, so the demand for slaves to work the glacial mines is constantly on the rise.
Captain Sturgeontrousers has a brief encounter with a wraith in a dark corridor of the Arena. The wraith’s touch has a strange effect on the pirate’s undead flesh. Rather than leaving him drained and aged, the wraith’s touch restores some of his youthful vigor. His skin regains the healthy green shade of his youth, and even his missing eye and hand are restored. His only regret is that the wraith does not linger long enough to restore his missing leg. The experience is transformative; Captain Sturgeontrousers decides to leave the Arena and put his pirate ways aside. He remembers that it was his love of intricate rope work that lured him to the sea, and recalls with fondness his mother’s macramé.
Meanwhile, Captain Sturgeontrouser’s zombie crewmen encounter a pair of ravenous plant monsters surrounded by the indigestible remains of their last meal. Curious readers will be interested to learn that the plant monsters have most recently consumed a trio of interstellar minerals brokers dispatched to Earth in search of valuable resources to ruthlessly exploit. The appetite of the plant monsters very likely saved the entire planet from alien devestation. This knowledge will be of little consolation to the zombies, however, as they are swiftly seized by thorny vines and rendered into fertilizer. Soon their sabers and muskets will join the helmets, tanks of concentrated sulfur dioxide, and mineral detectors littering the ground at the plant monsters’ roots.
Burton T. Squibb here, President and CEO of the Interstellar Coalition of Hamartian Ore Reclamation. Behind me are some of the courageous and hard-working miners of I.C.H.O.R. whose beloved families would be in peril if their livelihoods were taken away. We would like to take this opportunity to remind you (and the lawyers representing @tiny_suicide_squad) that libel is illegal on nearly every planet of the Galactic Hegemony. The previous post contains some serious allegations that should in no way be taken as truth. I.C.H.O.R. takes its responsibility as galactic resource stewards very seriously. Our relocation schemes are among the most humane in the industry, with barely 13% of civilizations collapsing during our off-world transport protocols. And nearly 42% of the planets we harvest are still capable of sustaining life after we are done with them – that’s 12% above regulatory standards! So remember, I.C.H.O.R. is your friend! Keep buying those cheap consumer electronics so China has to keep processing rare earths! And vote yes on fracking! The more you humans do to extract your resources from the crust, the easier it will be for everyone when we come to fulfill our manifest destiny! Burton T. Squibb signing off! Backdrop: a panel from Prophet TP Volume 2: Brothers, by Brandon Graham
On his way out of the Arena, the newly revivified Captain Sturgeontrousers meets a pretty little zombie girl with nice pom-poms. Having no flowers at hand, he offers her his sausage. She is charmed, and the two resolve then and there to set up shop together on the waterfront selling macramé craftwork.
The Savage Arena – Part Five
The Savage Arena, Part Five: Beelzebufa Snark Meanwhile Skitterybones, undaunted by virtue of his illiteracy of the menacing message in the labyrinth passage, pauses to pet a kitty.
The editors of @tiny_suicide_squad have recently uncovered a recent photo of our correspondent @DarkTalent, doubtless taken at some comic convention. Here we see him in his typical daily attire: jeans, ball cap, and an infrequently laundered Star Dreck t-shirt. In one hand he holds a plastic reproduction of the sword wielded by some impossibly muscled barbarian in some inane cartoon that was all the rage in the 80’s; in the other is his George Takei commemorative coffee mug full of Yoo-hoo. If there were a word to encapsulate the delicate gradations of ‘geek’, ‘dork’, and ‘nerd’ simultaneously, we would use it. Honestly, there is only so much eye-rolling we can do before they simply fall out. At least now we understand his intimate familiarity with Mills and Boon. Undoubtedly he’s a virgin and always will be. Very sad.
He is so absorbed in his new friend that he fails to notice the notorious witch Beelzebufa Snark hidden in an alcove nearby!
Beelzebufa Snark’s first instinct is to open a smoldering crack in the earth to swallow the skeletal pirate whole, but watching him pet and caress her cat Fumarole momentarily melts her icy heart. This, plus her displeasure with the management of the Savage Arena for drafting her into their testosterone-fueled farce, sparks a wicked idea in her mind . . .
“Boy!” she cries to the skeleton. “Come here!” As Skitterybones draws near, Beelzebufa Snark looks deeply into his eyes. Satisfied that there is nothing inside his skull but a tarnished £2 coin and a wad of dried chewing gum, she smiles to herself. “How would you like to be the champion of the Savage Arena?” she asks. Skitterybones shrugs. “Okay.” Without another word, she passes him her magical flying broom and whispers instructions in his ear . . .
As Skitterybones flies away on the magic broom, Beelzebufa Snark turns to her cat. “Fumarole, call my bookie!” she cries. “I want £1000 on the skeleton!”
Meanwhile, Hans and Ivan get bogged down in a debate with the ghost of famed economist John Maynard Keynes over economic interventionism and the finer points of the aggregate supply and demand model. Backdrop: A passage from “Selfish Genes and Selfish Memes” by Richard Dawkins, collected in The Mind’s I by Douglas R. Hofstadter and Daniel C. Dennett (page 140).
When Skitterybones rounds the corner on Beelzebufa Snark’s magic broomstick, he flies smack into the same trap that conquered the Dirt Cheap Suicide Squad. Professor Geryon’s Marvelous Engine of Misfortune bathes the chamber in unwholesome radiation which should, at the very least, negatively impact Skittery’s diversified bond fund and/or sperm count. However, the witch’s broom is a creation of pure magic, and as a consequence unusually resistant to the machinations of Science. Within seconds of entering the chamber Skitterybones has already bitch-slapped the first of the man-flies with the bristle end of the broom and turned to engage the second.
The second man-fly proves no more resilient than the first, crumpling under a stout blow to whatever passes for junk on a man-fly. What do fly balls look like anyway? Are they compound like the eyes?
Now Skitterybones is on a roll! While the man-flies are busy groaning over their dented churchbells, Skittery plants a solid blow right in Geryon’s wedding tackle and snatches his potion. The skeletal pirate pauses briefly to rearrange the floor tiles in a more aesthetically pleasing configuration, and then saunters off into the labyrinth having kicked hella ass.
A reader has recently written in with the insinuation that Skitterybones is not a ‘proper’ skeleton; that he is in fact just wearing a skeleton costume. At this point it seems fruitless to remind our readership that this is a work of fiction, and that ALL the actors are wearing costumes. Instead we asked Skitterybones to take his mask off. The result is frankly horrifying. We are sorry our reader ever asked, and sincerely hope he is too.
The Savage Arena – Part Six
The Savage Arena, Part Six: The Die of Fate And now that Captain Sturgeontrousers has found love, the skeletons are off in the ice mines, the zombies are fertilizer, Wensleydale and that kid whose name no one ever bothered to learn are dead, and Hans and Ivan are busy debating with the ghost of John Maynard Keynes over the finer points of macroeconomics, it seems only Jack of the Dirt Cheap Suicide Squad and Skitterybones of the pirate ship Wastrel are left to compete for the prize of . . . The Savage Arena!!! (That was, we admit, a bit of a run-on sentence). The Cephalith guarding the entrance to the Arena slides into the floor, opening the way . . .
Meanwhile in St. Clair, Layzie Bone and Eazy-E kick it at the crib with dat hoe from the cheerleading squad, sipping forties and watching Need for Speed . . . Backdrop: a panel from Quantum and Woody #2 by James Asmus, Tom Fowler, and Jordie Bellaire
. . . while Krayzie and Bizzy tear up a cop car outside. Backdrop: a panel from Quantum and Woody #2 by James Asmus, Tom Fowler, and Jordie Bellaire
. . . and Flesh-N-Bone has become so wealthy from slangin’ and bangin’, he’s decided to have a pyramid built for himself like the ancient Pharoahs. Here he sips wine while watching the workers place the final tiles in the grand portico. Backdrop: A detail from Pyramid by David Macaulay, page 63.
Hey, kids! Officer Bible here! Just wanted to remind you that what you saw in the previous three episodes is not only antisocial, it is suuuuuuper illegal! Gang activity and busting up cop cars is not okay! Stay safe and have fun out there!”
Salutations to the readership of @tiny_suicide_squad! My name is Edward Burnham, and I represent Burnham, Slashem & Brakem, the legal counsel for this publication. There has been some speculation from our readers regarding the likelihood of legal action against @DarkTalent for his misuse of my client’s intellectual property. I fear I must disappoint those legal gorehounds among the readership. Burnham, Slashem & Brakem prefers a ‘give them the rope they need’ approach to litigation. We encourage @DarkTalent to carry on as he pleases. We’ll just be here watching and sharpening our teeth. Backdrop: The Prince, by Niccolo Machiavelli. Chapter XVII: Of Cruelty and Clemency
Jack and Skitterybones enter just in time to see the Sasquatch journalists photographing the past years’ Savage Arena Champions together. These brave warriors will be among the chosen defenders when Jack and Skitterybones draw straws to fight for the prize of the Savage Arena! They are a doughty looking crew – lions, tigers, and bears!
Now Jack, Skitterybones, and the past Champions of the Savage Arena gather around to admire this years’ Grand Prize – a giant pile of weapons! The winner of the Savage Arena will take all these beauties home!
The floor of the Arena shakes and the tiles separate, revealing a smoking chasm below. A platform rises from the chasm, and suddenly amid fountains of flame and flurries of cash, a malevolent figure in a tailored suit appears. Next to him is a large twenty-sided die. “Greetings, Savage Arena challengers!” cries the man in the suit. “I am the Jerk in Charge! Before me lies the Die of Fate! This (I swear) totally impartial instrument will determine the conditions of your combat in the Savage Arena! Step forward and let pure chance decide your fate!”
Having no wit to guide him otherwise, Skitterybones steps forward.
The result is predictable. A natural one! The worst roll ever! “Congratulations!” cries The Jerk in Charge. “You’ve rolled the worst roll ever! Guards! Take away his equipment!” And a lion and a bear come and take away the magic flying broom and the scientific potion Skitterybones won in the labyrinth.
“The Die of Fate has spoken!” cries the Jerk in Charge. “Because you’ve rolled the worst number ever, you will fight a lion! and a tiger! and a bear! Oh my! And you’ll do it with this useless metal stick!”
Except as it turns out, the ‘useless metal stick’ is actually a lightsaber. So much for the Die of Fate.
“Hey, kids! Jedi Master Bennie Volence here! Just wanted to remind you that what Skitterybones did with his lightsaber in the previous episode was not only antisocial, it was suuuuuper dangerous! Remember, don’t point your lightsaber at anyone, don’t talk to strangers, and be safe out there!” Backdrop: The Doré Illustrations for Dante’s Divine Comedy, Plate 132: The Heaven of the Fixed Stars
Jack, however, rolls a much more respectable 13 on the Die of Fate.
For his decent roll on the Die of Fate, Jack is awarded with a Potion of Transmogrification and a pair of Flame Pistols by a pair of smokin’ hot tiger girls who Jack would totally tap if circumstances were, y’know, different.
The Potion of Transmogrification turns him into a werelion. And the Flame Pistols prove predictably effective against his rivals in the Savage Arena – a trio of Ice Bears! Jack is triumphant!
After the corpses have been cleared away, the Jerk in Charge takes the floor again. “Congratulations on surviving your first combats! Now you get to fight each other for the championship!”
Skitterybones, however, seems to really be getting into this lightsaber business. He and Jack eye each other for a moment. “Fuck it,” Jack says. “I could use a good fighter on my crew. What do you say, bone-man? Split the haul with me and join the Dirt Cheap Suicide Squad? We’ll put those weapons to good use.” Skitterybones is silent for a moment, which in anyone else you would assume he’s thinking about Jack’s offer, but knowing Skitterybones he was probably just thinking about kittens. “Okay,” he says.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how Skitterybones joined the Dirt Cheap Suicide Squad.