Comic Book: Buck Godot: Zap Gun for Hire aka: Buck Godot
Buck Godot: Zap Gun for Hire is a science-fiction/action/comedy comics series by Phil Foglio, featuring the adventures of private detective/bodyguard-for-hire/former-X-Tel-security-chief Buck Godot, operating out of the Lawless planet of New Hong Kong.The supporting cast includes Al, who manages Buck's favourite bar (and who looks like a short green cartoony version of the critter from Alien...his name is short for Alvin), and Madame Louisa Dem Five, who is a pillar of the local *ahem* service industry.The series started as a string of short pieces in various anthology comics, some of which were collected in the first Buck Godot: Zap Gun for Hire collection. In these stories, Buck protects a woman pursued by fanatical sun-priests (who are later expanded upon in The Gallimaufry storyline), finds a lost heir (despite the hindrance of being followed around by a freelance conscience), defends a cargo ship from space pirate attack, and attempts to learn the secret of teleportation from an enigmatic alien with the fate of worlds hanging in the balance.There's also a one-off graphic novel, PSmIth, and an attempted ongoing comic book, which folded after a single story arc due to scheduling and other problems; however, that story arc, The Gallimaufry, is the crowning achievement of the series, with the added length allowing for new levels of depth and complexity in both plot, world-building and characterization, and with Phil's artwork being significantly more advanced by this time.Following the success of Girl Genius, the original series was released online in web-comic form. The last installment of The Gallimaufry went up on June 20th, 2009. The following week saw a reprinting the three-page "True Story of the Winslow". And that appears to be that. (Almost.) One of the original short stories (the one with nudity) is not included at the above site. We're sure you can find it if you look hard, though.
Buck Godot: Zap Gun for Hire provides examples of:
Buck: "All right, I think we're talking about a presentation that will alter the balance of galactic politics, forge new alliances, turn ally upon ally and change the life of every sentient aboard this station."
Kleg: "Glurk. You...you will do this tomorrow?!"
Buck: "Tomorrow? Oh, no, that's next week's presentation. I don't know what we're doing tomorrow."
The main mode of transportation for the Beemahs, since they're small enough to manage it and they can't afford to be seen in public.
Made use of by super ninja cat Martin (of cat-and-dog Rowan & Martin fame): "Am I not a thing of mist and shadows?"
Alien Invasion: New Hong Kong is invaded in the uncollected short story "Field of Screams"; it goes very badly for the invaders
All Crimes Are Equal: Deconstructed with the Law Machines, Nigh Invulnerable robots which summarily cart off lawbreakers to an unknown fate like Ultima Online guards. Surprisingly, this isn't as bad as it sounds. Not only are the laws they enforce still democratically voted on, they are enforced equally - that is, they are applied to government employees to the exact same extent as citizens. Thus, after the Laws summarily wiped out a People's Republic of Tyranny, most humans became quite tolerant (and even admiring) of them. The rest simply move to worlds where fewer of the Laws have been passed.
The fourteen Accepted Signs of Divinity, as listed here, include: "call down the lightning, corrupt the innocent, eat the moon, answer the phone before it rings".
The Prime Mover's to-do list: "start some rumors as to the Winslow's location", "find a new Security Chief", "evict the Pogs and topple their government", "reestablish communication with this station", and "finish my bath".
Art Evolution: Phil's work becomes more very much more streamlined, distinctive and iconic with literally every single installment in the series.
Artificial Gravity: The Gallimaufry Station is equipped with artificial gravity, which can be selectively raised or lowered in individual sections. Security Chief Parahexavoctal is shown using this for crowd control.
Badass: Cat-ninja Martin in The Gallimaufry, who boldly plunges into the tunnels where two Security members of the Human Delegation were not only nearly killed but a Law Machine was utterly destroyed(...!); he actually completes the mission that the others couldn't (and which he assigned himself, as a true Badass does), and emerges fully scathed, battered and shaken: "Am I...am I not a thing of...of mist and shadow?" — but alive, which under the circumstances is quite badass enough.
The Tax Notifier at the beginning of The Gallimaufry. He puts Buck through his paces harder than anyone else has so far in the series, making Buck work hard just to keep from hearing that he's been officially summoned to perform his tax service to the government of New Hong Kong. The man does not give up and Buck isn't in the clear until he's getting on a ship to depart the planet. And then the Notifier gets on the boarding announcement system to deliver the summons to Buck in front of the whole ship.
There's reference to "Priest Queens" towards the end of the comic. It's possible that Pogs, as a reptilian race, are male and female, but due to the lack of Non-Mammal Mammaries they all go by male pronouns among humans, as it's easier for humans to handle.
Boisterous Bruiser: Frakkus Godot and Buck himself. Pretty much any Hoffmanite, at least by reputation.
Due to the Dead: A New Hong Kong Wake is a very dark example. You find the murderer, have a chat with them — getting them to confess to the murder if at all possible, poison or drug them, and leave them to die. Louisa Dem Five demonstrateshere.
Encyclopedia Exposita: The Herodotus Complex, a history of Earth's involvement in galactic affairs; a relevant extract appears at the beginning of each book and each issue of the comic
Foreign Queasine: Numerous examples, including a running gag about poiled slurgs, which some races prize as a delicious foodstuff and others prize as an effective oven cleaner / lubricant.
Friends All Along: In The Gallimaufry, Buck is attacked by another Hoffmanite; when his friends intervene, he explains that it was just a standard Hoffmanite Attack Hello, and the newcomer is actually his Uncle Frakkus.
Hangover Sensitivity: The hive-mind bounty hunter Psmith(s) after having 138 drinks in alphabetical order from Asteroid Al's Bar menu.
Heavyworlder: Buck and the other Hoffmannites — suprisingly, given the rest of the comic is actually fairly high into the "Hard" scale of sci-fi, they're the fantastical "big and portly" types, rather then the scientifically accurate dwarf (i.e. short, squat, and lean) types. (This may be related to the fact that they didn't evolve, but were engineered — by a group of genetic engineers whose other projects included a race of centaurs.)
Hideous Hangover Cure: In the Psmith storyline, there's "Thank Prime", a mixture that we never learn the ingredients for, but it's apparently ultra-effective, instantaneously curing a hivemind-sized hangover with no side-effects... its taste is never brought up.
Later played straight — turns out that while the galaxy as a whole doesn't think much of humans, the really clever aliens know that humans are good at "getting things done", which is why Chief Parahexavoctal, security-chief on a station with literally thousands of different races in habitat, hires a human to investigate one of the biggest mysteries ever — and why, later, the "Destroy-on-Sight" Beemahs choose to throw their lot in with humanity as well.
Beemah:: Have confidence in you. We think humanity will survive. Sneaky. Admire this.
Even the Prime Movers, the Arisian-like superintelligent godlike aliens who, it seems, run the universe, think that humanity is special... apparently because we think the Winslow is annoying.
Humans Need Aliens: In the graphic novel The Gallimaufry, it's revealed that humanity has been under the protection of an uber-powerful Elder Race alien since joining the galactic community.
Human Subspecies: Humans have several subspecies created by genetic engineering to live in specific hostile environments.
Hypercompetent Sidekick: Smith and Wesson are clearly the brains of the Pistol Packin' Polaris Packrat's operation.
Interfaith Smoothie: The Church of Slag-Blah who are "militant agnostics" who celebrate a different religion's holy day every day.
Interspecies Romance: Subverted by Buck/Louisa (Hoffmanites find humans underdeveloped and also "a wee bit... delicate") and Buck/Tal (since she's a reptilean alien, as Buck points out, even if he were inclined to perv he wouldn't know what to look at. Turns out he's lying.)
Ironic Echo: the Prime Mover points out that humanity didn't retire, they quit. Much later, after killing Parahexavoctal, he points out that he didn't retire, he was fired.
Jerk with a Heart of Gold: The Klegdixal. EVERYONE in the galaxy thinks that they're jerks, but they've actually dedicated their vast knowledge of biotech to preventing biowarfare; see also Morality Pet below. This is not to say that they are not, in fact, jerks.
On most human planets, All Crimes Are Equal and are enforced by near-indestructible robots. Technically, this is also the case on New Hong Kong, but on New Hong Kong there is only one written law — which forbids the passing of any more laws — and society runs on unwritten customs instead. The entire planet is patrolled by a single Law Machine, which doesn't have much to do.
The Gallimaufry, being a space station and not a planet, is also outside the Law Machines' jurisdiction; there is one Law Machine situated there, as an observer. At one point, when the humans are trying to explore a booby-trapped secret passage, the Law Machine offers its assistance, on the grounds that while it's forbidden to interfere, there's nothing stopping it going down the passage and observing what's there.
Love Is in the Air: When she chooses, Louisa can become a walking pheromone factory. It's a treatment anyone can acquire, but it requires stringent licensing.
MacGuffin: The Winslow, so very much — he could have been an inert lump of indestructium for all the difference it would have made to the plot. Given a great big Lampshade Hanging, with much discussion of the fact that although everybody knows he's very important, there's no general agreement on exactly why.
Mass Teleportation: In one story, Buck has to gain the trust of a mysterious alien which has the mass teleportation technology needed to evacuate all the people off a planet that's about to be wiped out by a supernova. When he finally manages to explain the situation, the alien casually suggests that it would be just as easy to teleport the entire planet.
Morality Pet: The Beemahs effectively become this for the Klegs. Initially hating and fearing the Klegs, who created the technology with which the Zmouf made the Beemahs as slaves, the Beemahs are as stunned as anyone else to discover that the Klegs had had no idea what the Zmouf intended, were horrified to learn the truth, and have felt guilty about it ever since. The Klegs are overjoyed to have a chance to make amends.
In the Teleporter story, the villain founds an entire inhabited colony world just so it will be in danger in a way that forces Buck to discover the Teleporter's secret for X-Tel. Note: This was done while the villain didn't know where in the universe Buck was, or whether he could be found before said planet met its fate. Nice guys, X-Tel.
Paper-Thin Disguise: Buck's "Pog Disguise." Which is essentially placing a normal Pog on his head, putting on a shirt over that, and pretending to walk around as a pog. Keeping in mind that Buck is an 8-foot tall, quarter-ton Hoffmanite... and Pogs are about the size of a medium-sized dog. Tops.
Humans are basically the popsicle-makers to other species, but otherwise share the general hat of the rambunctious, noisy young species that bursts on the scene and is liable to burn out (or get burned out) sometime soon. The older species have seen this a lot already. On the other hand, the Sufficiently Advanced Aliens find humans to be "people who get things done", and useful for a number of jobs they wouldn't entrust to members of any other race — such as safeguarding or investigating the Winslow.
Pogs are considered largely a species of quiet, useful clerks. Humans, meanwhile, find them the perfect Straight Man to our Wise Guy. Too bad the bulk of them are secretly Fundamentalist Winslow worshippers prepared to go extreme lengths to get their hands on their idol.
Thuxians are the "capitalist aliens," considering even betrayal and attempted assassination forgivable as long as it was just business; they predate the Ferengi by several years. With a sideline in Badassery: a Ferengi assassin is a punchline; a Thuxian bartender is more than capable of fending off an assault by a pissed-off Hive Mind.
Klegdixals are best known for biowarfare. Rather, for combating it — their home world was ravaged by biowarfare, and when they finally got out into the stars they dedicated themselves to preventing it politically and (more importantly) through developing and marketing cures and other preventative measures. It turns out they're actually surly, asocial nerds who quietly bemoan their own failings in private through absorption in bizarre "hobbies" like dust sculpting. Give them a fair chance and a just cause and they will move heaven and earth to do the Right Thing.
Plant Aliens: Almost lampshaded with He-Who-Must-Be-Watered.
Which makes sense. The Gallimaufry station has had it's computer system altered, re-organized & rewritten many times over the known history of the station. So of course any smart entity will have an offline copy that can't be tampred with the next time there is a "re-organization".
The Power of Legacy: Security Chief Parahexavoctal is revealed to have committed several large-scale crimes in pursuit of his assigned duty, including (but not limited to) genocide and the large-scale enslavement of a sentient race. When confronted with his sins, he continues to claim that he just did what he had to do in order to provide thousands of years of peace on the station. The Prime Mover acknowledges this, and decrees that his record shall stand as a shining example to all his successors with no mention of his crimes. Par smiles and thanks him for fulfilling his ultimate wish, even as he is wiped from existence.
Terse Talker: The Beemah spokesman. Lurks in dark. Drops pronouns.
Thirty Gambit Pile Up: The Station Chief's oppression of the Beemahs, which led to the Beemahs interfering in the Pog's plans to infect humanity with a will-sapping virus, which was messed up by the humans giving up the Winslow voluntarily. All of this was because of a very minor gambit of one reporter suggesting Fractal Bombs to locate the (indestructable) Winslow.
Thrown Out the Airlock: Every race's embassy has an airlock for a ROOF. Parahexavoctal has been known to throw entire embassies out the airlock.
Whammy Bid: the seller (who was covertly peddling military secrets using a computerized bid recorder that apparently lacked a "dump last bid" option) does not take it well.
Wretched Hive: New Hong Kong is a Lawless planet where nobody thinks anything of people being shot down in the streets, and a place like Asteroid Al's Bar, which would be a Bad-Guy Bar on most other planets, is just an average local hangout.
The way Buck resolves his problem at the end of PSmIth has to be seen to be believed. Starts here.
Alternatives; If Der Rock had surrendered the device to PSmIth and hidden, PSmIth summons "He-Who-Must-Be-Watered", everything is explained(HWMBW knows Godot and his reputation), Godot is paid after HWMBW leaves again. If PSmIth hadn't attacked Der Rock for the device, Der Rock would have to pay Godot or suffer a blow to his reputation.
And he pulls one even more complex to resolve "The Gallimaufry," offering the Pogs an increasingly ridiculous plan because he knows they'll go along with anything to get the Winslow, and also playing into his expectations of how Par will react (and that the Beemahs can get anywhere they want to, in the nick of time).
No matter what, the Beemahs would deliver the Winslow to the Prime Mover, who already had an agreement with Godot to fix everything if the Winslow was found. Par and/or the Pogs giving up would have just caused less trouble.
Yank the Dog's Chain: Parahexavoctal assisted the Beemahs in rebelling against the Zmouf, then enslaved them himself and issued a "shoot on sight" order for the entire species to ensure their secrecy.
Your Head A Splode: The Prime Mover implies that if Hyraxx even thinks about the revelations in the last part of the story, this is her fate. He suggests a Lobotomy to remove the memories.
Godot Was Here.The Winslow is here. He's everywhere. All hail.HI!