Hoo-ahh! When our Countdown Commando decides to blow out a ballistic window, he really throws himself into the task! And he’s not just making a point of egress, he’s delivering the means as well. Human Launchable Anchor, coming right up — and look out below!

Yeah, in all likelihood, our hero assumed there was a fair chance that what would be sailing toward the parking structure would be a slab of pelvis with some attached meat and a couple of trailing ropes. But with every weighty object in the building being used to protect the trapped victims and nothing large enough, heavy enough, and teleportable in the lab — hey, if it had to be one life for twenty-two it was still a chance worth taking. But damned if his devoted ghostly guardian didn’t throw up a little last-moment spiritual protection, at least for the necessary second or two!

(Max-the-Artist did a great job on this page, so if you’d like to see it in larger format, click here.)

And give us some tweakage on TWC, if you’d be so kind!

More below!


Fun With Acetylene


One of the things that we’d been kinda dancing around in this story was that acetylene, when mixed in the proper ratio with oxygen, doesn’t just explode (deflagrate) — it detonates. It’s not a “low explosive” like black powder, it’s a “high explosive” like dynamite. A brief flash, an ear-splitting boom, and no smoke at all. It generates a supersonic shock wave that would probably have taken out the entire eighteenth floor and killed everybody in the place. Guys who have been filling trash bags with oxyacetylene for the lulz and the boom have been killed when a static spark set it off by accident.

But all this is true only if the gasses are mixed in the correct stoichiometric ratios. We didn’t want that. So we’d showed the tanks being used earlier in the story as a cutting torch, and the “But…” in Virgil’s dialogue a couple of pages back was supposed to set us up for the information that the oxy tank was low. However, astute readers informed us of the unique internal construction of acetylene tanks, which meant that the instant mix of oxy and acetylene we’d been dreading was not, in fact, going to happen. Instead, we were going to get a much more manageable, fuel-rich “dirty burn” deflagration — still a blast, but exactly what we wanted without having to fudge. So thanks, Balthazar and others!

And under those “dirty burn” circumstances, acetylene looks awesome. The main blast on this page is actually an acetylene explosion. Several of them, in fact. I used calcium carbide mixed with water to generate enough acetylene gas to fill a balloon, and inflated it just a bit more with plain air. Hung the result from the “Squirrel Cable.”


So that when ignited, it went KA-WHOOM like this:


Did this a couple of times (because yeah, lulz) and various frames were used for the effects on this page. (Although I can’t take all the credit; take a good look at those flames in Panel Two.)

But I tossed in some titanium fragments to give some sparks in one of the shots. (hey, there’s got to be some titanium in that building somewhere.)

Along with a hero sailing toward the emergency crews trailing some much-needed line!

Give us a boost, would you?

— Bob out