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NERDING DAY

Nerding Day: L.I.F.E. Brigade 2 🌭

In L.I.F.E. Brigade, Issue 1, we met a cast of fascinating characters four times and then watched them hide in caves twice. Writer, maniac, artist, editor, maniac, publisher and maniac Craig Stormon started the indie comic company Blue Comet Press and was the sole driving force behind most of its comics. Being in total control of all of them didn’t stop him from canceling all of them. Most after the first installment, some before it! Several Craig Stormon titles debuted at #0 and were canceled before their first issue. But L.I.F.E. Brigade was Blue Comet’s premier series, meaning it didn’t get canceled… it got canceled twice. Twice the cancellations of every other Craig Stormon title!

It just wouldn’t be a Stormon production without an unhinged editorial section. In the first issue he reviewed a cool party, guilt tripped a fellow artist, and bragged about getting shitcanned. I’m cutting twenty other crazy things for the sake of brevity, a sin Craig Stormon would physically attack me for. In this editorial he’ll talk up his revolutionary art, invent the dumbest word you’ve ever heard, apologize for his terrible art, introduce a hot new artist, get carried away on a lie escalator, and then start a war with Marvel using prosecutable libel.

We’re on page nothing! This is the inside cover, where there would usually be an in-your-face ad for RoboTrucks: The Lost Forever, a Taiwanese shovelware game that’s just a reskinned Puzzle Bobble. But Blue Comet comics have no ads! It’s a moral stance, like 1900HOTDOG, and not because we’re both too fucking crazy for RFPs.

Don’t worry if you forgot the rich story of the first L.I.F.E. Brigade. If there’s one thing Craig Stormon’s great at, it’s recapping what just happened even if that means recapping it while it’s happening. Like the caverns? Remember the caverns? You’ll remember the caverns.

*Remember the caverns!

I’m glad we reminded people about the caves twice in the first panel. There’s no need to rehash why the entire planet is reverse evolving into obliteration, because it’s not anymore. I don’t mean that problem has been fixed, I mean Craig forgot the plot between issues and now the Earth was ravaged by nuclear war.

Think of this as freestyle comic booking, Craig Stormon remembers the important things: The characters. In the first issue we learned that Ray Gun Kid is furious and quick to laser, but we never saw it.

Maybe you were expecting some violent showdown with an alien army, but that’s not the reality of laser ownership: 70% of ray gun fatalities happen in the home, and are telepathic space robots.

You’ve all innately absorbed storytelling rules, like that every scene serves a purpose. Is this setting up a later plot point involving Ray Gun Kid and a tragically ray gunned kid? What was Oracle doing in that cave? He changed the subject awfully fast, didn’t he? Maybe we’re supposed to be suspicious of Oracle now. This isn’t nothing, it can’t be.

You know how they say you should never jump in the water to save a drowning person, because they’ll blindly claw at you until you both drown? That’s what’s happening to your brain right now. The story is drowning and everything you know is saying you have to save it with meaning, but it will only kill you if you try. None of this is ever mentioned again, and the scene ends with radioactive mutants.

I mean the next panel is screaming radioactive mutants.

There, your brain was trying to predict that. That’s what would have happened if you jumped in the story pool to save Craig Stormon.

I maintain that Craig’s drawings are so terrible they loop back around to actual art. Or at least they can fake it. Flash back to college, that showing you went to because you were trying to nail one of the artists. Mentally hang this panel in the gallery – you’d spout some bullshit about subverting 1950s American iconography to impress them, right? Make the right sexy Lichtenstein pun and it would work, too.

Craig discovered a new tool this issue: Editorial notes. Like all new things he discovers, these will be used as confidently as they are incorrectly.

You have to be careful with Blue Comet comics. You can’t just laugh at something and move on. Sure, you caught the first three hilarious things about these panels:

-Craig felt the need to explain radioactive mutants twice like it’s a highbrow concept that might fly over our heads. In his wood-paneled study and smoking jacket, sipping a brandy, tamping his pipe like “the cannibals, you see, are from the radiation.”

-The phrase “turned to cannibalism with blood-lust, and total insanity!” like the mutants made a careful choice to embrace insane cannibal blood-lust as one might turn to Christ.

-He cuts in with an editorial note to make sure that when he said “death on their minds,” you didn’t forget the last sentence when he told you they were insane blood-lusting cannibals.

You caught all of those, you chuckled sensibly, you moved on to read this paragraph. The obvious escaped you. Craig Stormon is the editor leaving that note, and he’s also the writer. An editorial note is there to clarify something the writer may not have made clear, but without altering their words. They were Craig’s words in the first place! If it occurred to him as an editor that “they have death on their minds” might be confusing phrasing, he as the writer could have just fixed it.

The rambling, the repetition, the typos, the editorial notes to himself – I have this figured out. Craig Stormon doesn’t know about drafts. He legitimately never heard of the concept of a draft and is totally unaware of revision. He believes that once you art, it’s done, and all you can do is watch helplessly as the world tears it apart. That’s the only reason he’d swap plotlines between issues and keep canceling his own comics. He’s frustrated that his art isn’t turning out right, but thinks he’s powerless to do anything about it.

You and Craig might be panicking right now, wondering how our heroes are going to get out of this mess he wrote them into-

They probably don’t appreciate being called “normal people” and “ordinary folks” so hard by a visiting space troupe of psychic exploding lunatics. I come from a small central Oregon cattle town, and then I spent 20 years in Portland with satan-worshipping strippers and amateur cyborgs. If I went back home and started calling everybody “ordinary” you can bet I’d wake up inside a cow. That’s what we did to city slickers in my town, we put them inside cows. Don’t mock our ordinary ways.

You probably get it. These people are normies. Not Chads or Stacys, just Michaels and Rebeccas. The 49%. Cable watchers, landline owners, the turkey sandwich of humanity. Craig worries you don’t get it. They’re real simple folk. These are blue collar irradiated cannibal destroyers. What’s the best way to show that?

It’s so hard to explain all the ways this panel is funny. It’s not just the juxtaposition of a mundane brand on the tailgate of a mutant slaying battlewagon. I mean, it is that. But it’s so much more! You have to know all about Craig’s misfiring brain and his childlike understanding of the world. How he must define normalcy, having only guessed at normalcy’s shape by observing its gravity fluctuations from his mental observatory six billion miles away.

Anyway, let’s meet those normies. Those post apocalyptic accountants. Just shades of living beige, these simple honest hillfolk-

This huge-jawed hunk in a spandex bodysuit and AR goggles with his carefully vague “pal” – an enormous Indian who dresses like a bondage cowboy and calls himself Two-Ton – blasts through a cannibal horde with an armored F-1050 before introducing himself as the Zone Ranger, and Craig Stormon’s best descriptor for him is “normal, ordinary folk.” At the risk of sounding like an oblivious mother welcoming her daughter’s roommate for the 19th consecutive Christmas, I think something else is going on here.

These honest churchgoing workaday Joes take L.I.F.E. Brigade back to their post-apocalyptic party compound, surely smelling of silicone and 100% of the world’s cocaine, where every member of this super tough space mercenary team has a total mental breakdown.

Hold on, this is supposed to be hundreds of years from now – in the first issue we saw Rochel Windraven with her tribe of techno-shamans all practicing psychic meditation. You’re telling me it’s so far in the future Indians have evolved ESP and the American government still keeps them on reservations?

That… oh, that one actually tracks. Sorry.

Let’s get the base tour from The Zone Ranger, who’s wearing 1/3rd of a shirt and not the 1/3rd you’d expect.

He gives a tour like a 5 year old showing off a tree house. Look how many movies we have, and if we clean up we can watch any one we want as long as it’s over before 9 o’clock. Let’s check out the rec room and the fort Two-Ton set up in the closet – it’s got string lights! – before our heroes are shown to their bedrooms. Thrilling! Action!

Whoa, hold on. Is Captain Long John Lazer, notorious outer space mouthfreak, really about to get it on with Windy Blaze? Look at those names! Think of the potential for sexy puns!

“Is that John as long as I heard?”

“My favorite’s the Chinook, but I love all hot breezes.”

“Is that permanent smile from disfiguring space herpes, or are you just happy to see me?”

Haha he slammed the door straight in her face.

It’s a hallmark of any Craig Stormon title that our heroes almost consider fucking and then completely don’t, because you write what you know. Why bring up the sexual tension at all if you’re just going to dunk it in the garbage to write a daydream about military skeletons?

This isn’t super relevant. I only included it to establish that Long John Lazer cries through the maskhole, he’s saying his own sound effects in the dialogue bubbles, and I just like the shocked skeleton.

Long John Lazer flashes back to how things got so bad, which should be easy because the first issue told us everything we need to know: Reverse evolution ray. People are becoming triceratopses because of an anti-evolution laser and the very specific ways the American education system failed Craig Stormon.

Here’s what that looks like…

I wasn’t joking, Craig Stormon forgot the entire premise of this comic book in Issue 2. It’s no longer about rad dinosaurs who used to be porn stars (there had to be a few!), now it’s just general societal collapse and nuclear fallout. But nevermind that, there are seven hundred more interesting things we need to talk about in this panel.

Why are the several real brands displayed so prominently? No way Blue Comet showed a racist duck drawing to an ad executive and locked down that Coke placement. This is legally prosecutable. There’s not even an ironic commentary here, all we establish is that Radioactive Robert Smith loves his Porsche battlewagon. Look at Cool Disney Funkmaster. What the fuck is Hipster Lurch doing in those overall pockets? There’s something beautiful about the naive earnestness of FOOD LINE, but no, forget all of that. Throw it in the fire. We have to talk about whatever this fucking thing is:

Is that supposed to be a child? Take in the context: the food lines, the gaunt mother holding him, it’s supposed to be a starving kid, right? Not a Billy Zane homunculus? It’s a bald, hydrocephalic, simultaneously buff and malnourished mini-freak with a huge hog busting out of his polka dot panties – that’s what Craig Stormon thinks children are. It’s a god damn shame that he died before we could do a documentary on his broken brain. He should have a syndrome named after him. I mean, I assume he’s dead, because this world was not built to care for such special maniacs.

You won’t believe this, but we’re already going to beat that panel in the next panel.

Society has descended into apocalyptic chaos and it looks exactly like Double Dragon fan drawings in a 1989 Nintendo Power. Just two radical gym rats fucking up a starvation line, milliseconds away from an argument about collateral dick damage. FOOD TODAY. The sign says. That’s what a stroke victim writes while trying to repair the neural pathways responsible for understanding breakfast. No equivocations this time: This is art.

Let’s check back in on Captain Long John Lazer. When we last left him he was tired from touring hallways and he did not want to fuck. Now he’s-

He’s doing it again. He’s still there. Captain Long John Lazer has entered the Blue Balls Bermuda Triangle, and he’ll never leave. Why is everyone so horny and nobody knows how to fuck? It’s like Craig Stormon is locked into geosynchronous orbit with sex. He’s always stuck right there, never farther away but never any closer. In any other story, those two panels are the surest setup for an action hero bang session. There’s a third panel where she starts to drop the nightie, hard cut out to saxophones and stock footage of the beach.

“OK, guess we will not fuck I really wanted to do that goodbye again for the second time again!” Windy Blaze goes home alone to workout them huge gorilla arms with a prominently branded dildo, while both Long John Lazer and Craig Stormon share the bad ending in this episode of Boner Twilight Zone.

I’m not sure what happens in the finale. But I think maybe the bad guys have captured some civilians and they’re going to kill them?

Craig’s done everything he set out to do: introduced his characters more times than a heartbroken son at a dementia ward, hid them in caves, had them tour an apartment complex, bought delicious Coca-Cola Food., they did not fuck, they never fucked, and they beat the alien reverse-evolution plot by forgetting about it. It’s time to confront the evil Vandanese emperor, who I guess is the bad guy.

Haha, you thought the setup was for some kind of feminist quip, a Return of the King “I don’t need no man, girls get it done” moment, but no: Windraven doesn’t have a clever retort, what she does have is an Indian mindblast that turns alien brains into tapioca.

How did she pull off this perfect strategy – which was showing up, having nothing to say, and psychic blasting an alien politician into gelatin? She, like everyone on the reservation, has a crystal ball full of ancestors! No time to delve into that because there’s something ungodly going on with her breasts. I don’t know if Craig was trying to draw a tight shirt or what, but it looks like eggs undergoing mitosis.

It looks like Batman’s pantyhose don’t fit right. If you squint real hard her tits look like a caricature of a pleasant librarian. Maybe I just figured out why none of Craig Stormon’s characters fuck. Anyway THE END.

Ahh, but the aliens ALSO have wizards who can see the future! None of this had ever been mentioned before, and it probably wouldn’t have come up again if there had been a third issue, which there wasn’t, because Craig Stormon canceled his own comic after two completely insane issues that were mostly about caves and celibacy.

But wait! There’s more! L.I.F.E. Brigade 2 ends with a bonus mini-issue teasing a new title by a different artist. This is Roller Coasters, a rollerskating superhero team whose powers, premise, and plot are never explained in all 12 pages of preview, which is mostly about how badly a roller-contortionist’s ripped amazon girlfriend wants to get on top of him but doesn’t know what the next step is. Then the very last page abruptly jams every ounce of story in at once like it’s Sunday night homework.

If you’re wondering why the art changed but the story is still manic gibberish about mostly but not quite ever fucking, it’s because Craig Stormon insisted on writing it “for consistency.” That’s perhaps the craziest move of all, that he took over writing the guest artist’s comic because he was worried fans would notice inconsistencies in storytelling. An entire planet full of forgotten dino-people shrug in impotent fury, and then blink out of existence.

So this horny bench queen and her rollerskate club stumble on her boyfriend strapped into a cosmic man milking machine (the way she responds says this is not the first time), they completely buy his hasty cover story about a voyeuristic alien who wants to recruit every hot teen that wanders into his space dairy, and their response, every one of them, is “fuck yeah, me too!”

It’s perfect. I’d buy every issue if it existed.

No title at Blue Comet made it very long. Craig Stormon got frustrated and bored after a few issues when he couldn’t figure out how to put the little people in his head outside of his basement apartment and inside of each other. But surely if L.I.F.E. Brigade, the premier title, only made it two issues, then Craig must’ve realized there was nothing to these extremely killable roller-virgins. This was their preview issue and he struggled through nothing for 11 pages only to slap a slashfic story prompt on the end. I’ll strap myself into the man-milker and flip the switch to GLORP if it got even a single issue-

This article was brought to you by our fine sponsor and Hot Dog Supreme: Alpha Scientist Javo, who has overloaded every intergalactic man-milker he’s been strapped into.

14 replies on “Nerding Day: L.I.F.E. Brigade 2 🌭”

Every image of Windy Breeze’s face is a Todd Rundgren album cover, and nothing anyone says could change my mind.

I will spend the rest of my life hating myself for not coming up with your screen name first. Thanks for that😜

As terrible as it is, I really wish there was a lot more LIFE Brigade. It’s just such a window into such a weird mind, it’s flawed in ways that fascinate.

“built-in to a rock cliff” shouldn’t it be “built into a rock cliff”? It seems that some hyphen crime is being committed here.

Are we positively sure that Craig Stormon was one human male and not some sort of alien hive mind?

Also, I can’t help noticing how every woman in this comic looks like Benedict Cumberbatch in drag.

I’m absolutely convinced that the art directors for the Wario Ware series took some inspiration from ol’ Stormon

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