And on that somewhat ominous note, we wrap this episode – just in time for the Holiday Hiatus!

Of course, like last year, there will still be a certain amount of comic-related activity even during the holidays. Max-The-Artist and his wife Julie have been creating a fun and frisky three-page “Marissa’s Christmas” special, chock-full of tease and cookies and double-entendres. And we’ll also be participating in the Collective of Heroes “Secret Santa” art exchange again. So just a little holiday fun coming up for those who want to join in!


And more below!



Huddle Up


The last panel shows the Strike Team instinctively huddling together as they realize that they are now being hunted. The meaning of the pose is fairly clear; humans do tend to cluster together when they are feeling insecure or threatened. From an evolutionary standpoint the instinct is sensible – grouping together has been a logical defense strategy for most of human existence. That’s because for eons the enemy was likely equipped with teeth and claws. Getting separated from the group was a guaranteed way to make yourself a target. Heck, even during the early stages of projectile weapons it still made sense, especially if you had shields that would stop arrows or spears. The Roman legion’s “turtle” formation was famously functional. And even some hundred-fifty years ago American settlers were still “circling the wagons.” Yes, huddling together was a sensible survival instinct.

Until the invention of bombs and rockets.

When I was working as a contractor doing effects for Army training, one of our primary functions was to get soldiers to unlearn a zillion years of evolutionary instinct. In modern warfare, a cluster of soldiers is a juicy target. And we, playing insurgents, could use that huddling instinct to our advantage. We’d be working within an established souk, where there was only one main route with a certain amount of cover. We knew that a squad of soldiers would be coming in to investigate our presence. They knew we were there, and they were supposed to take us out.

But because they knew we were there, they were jumpy as hell. So that gave us an edge. We’d set up a sniper with an AK some distance back into the souk, hidden inside a window at a safe distance (for him.) As the soldiers cautiously approached an area with a burned-out wreck of a car off to the side, he’d open up with his AK. And the soldiers, predictably, would all scramble for the same cover – the burned out car, where they’d instinctively huddle together.

Naturally, that was where we’d planted the IED or RPG effect. BOOM! A huge cloud of fuller’s earth and cork blasting into the air and a lot of soldiers “killed.” If we did it right, they’d all be “dead” and the OC/T (Observer Controller/Trainer) would have to “resurrect” a couple just so they could practice helping the “wounded.” Then the OC/T would give them a lecture about not bunching up and playing into the enemy’s hands. They learned, and by the end of the training we were lucky to get more than one or two, which was considered a waste of a good rocket-propelled grenade.

Of course, just to shake things up a bit, the trainers would occasionally send in some Rangers.

We’d be set up as usual, and waiting for targets. But there wouldn’t be any. We’d wait and wait, and after a while we would get nervous. Finally, there would be a movement – just a fleeting glimpse of a soldier, on a rooftop of the souk where no soldier was supposed to be. It was always too late to remember that if you actually see a Ranger, he intended that you should see him.

Our sniper, excited, would lean out the window trying to get a shot – and the invisible Ranger in the room behind him would shoot him in the head.

We’d react, standing up and yelling into our radios, startled as hell – and instinctively gathering together in our hiding area. Whereupon there would be a burst of gunfire from nowhere and we would all be “dead.” Really made you appreciate the value of a well-trained soldier.

Sure, in the last panel Max’s Ranger instincts may be chafing a bit at the others instinctively gathering around him, but he is the only trained soldier in the room. They can’t help it.

Besides, it’s the Holiday Season! Time for us all to gather together with our loved ones in a spirit of Peace and Joy and Snuggling!

Bring it in, y’all. And Merry Christmas!

— Bob out