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"'Vengeance is mine,' sayeth the Lord. Not anymore! Get your bile piled up, get your spite in a bag... It's the best damn vengeance you've ever had!"
Scud the Disposable Assassin is a graphic novel series by Rob Schrab, set in a bizarre, hideously amoral world where robotic assassins called Scuds are readily available on every streetcorner, and dispensed from vending machines. Scuds are deadly, agile, remorseless, heavily armed... and they explode upon terminating their assigned target, so you never have to worry about incriminating evidence. Our protagonist is just another Scud, hired to clear out a pest control problem, a monstrous creature called Jeff. Realizing that killing Jeff means immediate death, Scud painfully immobilizes Jeff and has her hospitalized. Seeking the necessary cash to keep Jeff's medical bills paid, Scud now has to go freelance, in a world that seems doomed to eternal peril.The series originally lasted for 20 issues, published from 1994 to 1998. The final issue ended in a cliffhanger. Four additional issues appeared in 2008, continuing the original numbering. The #24th issue is so far the finale for the series.
This comic book series provides examples of:
A.I. Is a Crapshoot: System was initially built for evil, but nobody expected him to out-evil Satan himself and take over hell.
A Fate Worse Than Death: The werewolf in issue 11 explodes in the vacuum of space, then his natural Healing Factor reassembles himself, then he explodes again, and reassembles himself again, and so on until the end of time.
Anti-Hero: Throughout the comic, Scud's pretty much looking out for himself, and doesn't really do anything that won't directly benefit him in some way (For example, refusing to help the mafia fight off the dinosaurs, even though he's right there, until they pay him.) He ''is'' an assassin, after all.
Art Evolution: The art in early issues is fairly cartoony and uses lots of round shapes, while later issues use a more angular, expressive style.
This is best seen with Scud himself. In early issues, he's very tall, sharp, his body language is very rigid, he has careful shading and details, and his head is thin and distinctly pill-shaped. By the end, he's gotten shorter, stouter, he bends easier, and has mastered facial expressions despite only having eyes to express. Also, his head is very much a rectangle and his eyes are bigger.
Bag of Holding: Drywall, along with his brothers, Mess and System. All of them were commissioned by Satan himself to collect all material items in the world after the Rapture begins. System decided to take it the extra mile and collect everything, starting with Satan.
Combat Tentacles: Sussudio had these back in her stints as a cat burglar named Black Octopus.
Crapsack World: Face it, if you can buy assassins on the street from vending machines, you live in one.
Creator Breakdown: This series was actually the result of one, there's a reason that the ending to the series which is actually quite happy is called Death of the Over-Used Muse.
Cruel Twist Ending: Inverted. The ending is a lot happier and idealistic than you would expect from a comic like this.
Decoy Protagonist: Issue 3 of Tales of the Vending Machine starts out with a group of children reading a forbidden tome, then it reveals that they are actually demons in Hell and the focus switches to an angel that they inadvertently stranded there, who murders the demons and orders a Heartless 666 Scud to accompany him. Then, the angel gets gunned down and the focus stays with Heartless 666 for the rest of the story.
Double Standard: Rape, Female on Male: Sussudio gets no flak for tying Scud to a bed and raping him (inasmuch as a robot without genitals can be raped). Then again, a lot of crimes are committed in this world without consequences.
Eldritch Abomination: Just about every non-human could qualify do to how downright bizarre they look. But special mention has to go the Horsemen of the Apocalypse whose ranks include the already mentioned Jeff, a Jason Voorhees-esque serial killer who may or may not be human, a giant worm with the head of a dog and multiple breasts, and a...thing that has what can only be described as a city on fire as it's main body.
Hypothetical Casting: Always listed the voices of actors that the creator of the comic imagined would be voicing the characters in animation.
I Cannot Self-Terminate: The Scud Sol. Not because it's not programmed to; because its armor is too durable for even its own weapons to pierce.
Idiot Ball: Oswald's cause of death is picking up a porn magazine in the middle of a gunfight.
Knight of Cerebus: Surprisingly, Drywall, if you stretch the meaning slightly. While the character's immediate introduction doesn't trigger the darker shift, his origin story is one of the first really nightmarish turns.
Logic Bomb: Ask a S.A.M. robot to kill a zombie for you. Go on. Ask.
Mooks : Played with in Issues 21 and 22; Voodoo Ben has purchased Scudco, the company that made the main protagonist. As a result, he has a near unending supply of Scud's, some the same model as our hero. The end result is a montage of Scud kicking the crap out of himself.
Mix-and-Match Critters: Jeff is part squid, part plug, part mousetrap, part something or other. She can also replace missing limbs with anything she finds nearby; at her highest point, she was part squid, part plug, part horse, part piano, part crocodile with a chaingun in its mouth, part clown puppet holding a buzzsaw, and part whatever the hell the rest of her is.
Morality Dial: The Contempt Meter which measures Scud's sadism. Set it at one, get the job done. Set it at ten, never see them again.
Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: Voodoo Ben revives dinosaur bones at once point, creating Zombie Dinosaurs! Funnily enough, a bite from them will also turn you into a zombie dinosaur, as one don finds out.
The comic loves this trope. Not only do we get zombie dinosaurs, but werewolf astronauts, a cyborg mafia, and... well, whatever the hell Jeff is.
And turn into a sentient black hole if they ever touch the moon. Yeah, it's that kind of series.
Paper-Thin Disguise: Every employee at Superior Alien Military is an obvious alien wearing a human face mask. Held on with string and everything.
Rage Against the Heavens: The Seraphim try to invoke this by killing Sussudio in front of Scud, expecting that killing the only thing he really cares about would drive him into an omnicidal depression.
A smaller interior example also took place when the Seraphim overthrew God and took over heaven.
Also the Mr. Tough Guy Competition, a yearly global contest in which contestants prove their toughness in events like Jackhammer Fencing and Lava Hockey.
Robosexual: Sussudio is apparently unable to be turned on by anything that isn't mechanical.
Rogue Drone: Scud was programmed to take down his target and self-destruct, but a glitch in his programming gave him a will to live.
It's not so much a glitch in his programming as much as it is awareness that he will self-destruct if his target dies. He's not the only one, either; half of the hospital patients on life support were brought there by Scuds.
Schedule Slip: Years went between the last two issues, however Tropes Are Not Bad as this gave the creator a chance to give the series the ending it deserved and suffer a kind of inverse creator breakdown.
Set Right What Once Went Wrong: Scud and Sussudio argue whether the time traveling Horse, which sends them to a new location and disappears each time, functions based on either this or on a 12-hour time limit. After it sends them to Tony Tastey's wedding, where they spend much less than 12 hours and don't solve anyone's problems, they don't know what to say.
The Unintelligible: Drywall and his brethren speak a language that can only be understood by creatures without a soul, such as robots and lawyers. Interestingly, the Wing Ding language contains the same number of symbols as the sentence being translated, so with proper context clues one can roughly translate much of their dialogue.
Unsound Effect: All the time. Some among the lines of "Finger!", "Grab Head!" and "Haul ASS!".
Werewolf Theme Naming: All four of the astronauts on a space shuttle that Scud hijacks. Only one of them is a werewolf, though.
What Could Have Been: According to the author the series was going to have a Downer Ending where Scud commited suicide and destroyed the world. When the series went on a hiatus, the author grew out of his "angry little boy" phase and rethought his life and the comic. He thus decided to give Scud and everybody else a happy ending that basically told readers to tell depression to go fuck itself.