Comics We Love: ‘Scud: The Disposable Assassin’ by Rob Schrab [25-Page Preview]
Image Comics recently released a new edition of the entire Scud: The Disposable Assassin series called The Whole Shebang. If you were a fan of alternative comics in the 1990s, you probably already picked up a copy of the glorious black and white book. If, however, you're unfamiliar with this somewhat obscure character, now is absolutely the right time to get acquainted with the world of cartoonist and filmmaker Rob Schrab (The Sarah Silverman Program, Children's Hospital) and his little robot who just didn't want to explode.
To discover just how *#^$%&@! awesome this comic is, keep reading after the jump.
SPOILER ALERT: In keeping with the anarchic tone of Scud, this article contains, for some reason, spoilers for the end of Preacher. You have been warned.
Started in 1993 but unfinished for 13 years, Scud: The Disposable Assassin is a tongue-in-check adventure through a world that appears to have been created by a hyperactive 13-year-old boy who was given free reign to quote movies, indulge in some light cursing and glorify cartoon women through an insane plot rooted in zany violence and the theme of true love. In a word, the book is wonderful.
Scud is a kind of robot that can be purchased out of vending machines. His function is to terminate his target and then self-destruct. Fortunately for Scud, a chance encounter with a reflective surface reveals his own warning label, and he resolves not to die. To that end, Scud tracks down his prey and, by way of some horribly violent means, ensures their mutual survival.
Like all great art about exploding robots, Scud was born out of something all-too-familiar to many of us comic book geeks, boy or girl - romantic rejection. The story goes that Schrab started making the character of Scud, who wears a none-too-subtle broken heart emblem on his chest, after being dumped. Apparently, the thought was that a comic book, out of all other possible things a man could do for a woman, would impress Schrab's wayward lover so much that she'd return to the talented creator.
Needless to say, this did not work, as the laws of human sexuality at Comic-Con do not transfer into the real world. The series, however, consumed Schrab's time to the point that he eventually forgot about his original muse and began to be involved with another woman who, again, broke his heart - at which point the entire Scud story stopped, mid-cliffhanger, for years.
It's hard to say how much of this behind-the-scenes tale, put forth in the book's introduction, is fact and how much is nostalgic pandering, but since this entire review is nothing but nostalgic pandering, let's take the case as presented. Without giving too much away (because, believe me, you'll want to explore the oddity of Scud on your own), there comes a point in the book where the love of Scud's life has been ripped limb from limb by a pact of rogue angels who want to destroy God. For about ten years, that's where the series ended.
Schrab left comics to purse other projects, among them the failed pilot Heat Vision and Jack that would have starred Ben Stiller, Jack Black and Owen Wilson; a music video for the band Death Cab for Cutie; and finally The Sarah Silverman Program for Comedy Central, which was unfortunately cancelled last year due to budget issues.
(I've always though the production value on The Sarah Silverman Program was usually high for a cable show. For an example, watch the barbecue death scene where a demon-possessed robot baby tries to defend its gay fathers from a S.W.A.T. team backyard invasion. That there was some quality television.)
If you're a ravenous comic reader, and I have to imagine you are if you're reading this, then you're probably thinking, "Wait a minute . . . rogue angels, guns, God . . . Hey! Isn't that the final plot to Preacher?!"
Yes. Yes, it is. But Scud was technically first to the finish line since it took almost two more years for Jess Custer and the Saint of Killers to make their way up to the Pearly Gates. Besides, the books are completely different in tone, and furthermore, who really cares - both are great.
If you were to casually flip though Scud, you may have questions like, "Why does Scud have a werewolf arm attached to his robot body?" or "Why is Benjamin Franklin flying on a mini-glider wearing a grass skirt?" or "Why is the thing with the talking knees look like a squid's head?"
The answer is always: because it's cool.
If you fondly remember the days of when Savage Dragon, The Tick, Bloodshot, Lobo, Ren & Stimpy, and The Animaniacs were the flavor of entertainment, then you need to get a copy of Scud: The Disposable Assassin: The Whole Shebang Trust me, you will love this book.