A Beautiful Gory Display

A Beautiful Gory Display: Scud – Disposable Assassin (Mar 26)

She wasn’t very nice to me. I thought I could change her heart, because I saw something in her… hope. Hope that life was more than just staying alive, and that all this crazy stuff I do would be worth it. Because at the end of this… she’d be with me.”


From 1994 to 1998, Rob Schrab wrote and drew 20 issues of his self-published Scud: Disposable Assassin. It was a minor commercial hit, and drew considerable interest from Oliver Stone. And then, Scud just disappeared in mid-story. The movie languished for years in development before dying a slow death. Schrab didn’t return to comics, but the last several years have been good to him. He wrote the Academy Award-nominated Monster House, and then co-created The Sarah Silverman Program. And now, with his career rolling right along, he’s returned to wrap up the story of Scud.

As the title indicates, Scud is a disposable assassin. A robot bought out of a vending machine who’s supposed to self-destruct upon termination of his target. This particular Scud, hired to kill a freak of science named Jeff, becomes self-aware. Rather than killing Jeff, Scud maims her (Yes, Jeff is apparently a female, but I don’t know how you can tell on a plug-headed monster) and then takes jobs to raise money to keep her on life-support.

From there, it was an insane journey through a world populated by ninjas, werewolves, a satanic Ben Franklin, robotic rabbits, dinosaurs, sadistic angels, and anything else Schrab could fit on a page. When the series abruptly ended, Scud’s girlfriend Sussudio had just been murdered in Heaven. And on that depressing story point, the series returns. The angels who killed Sussudio offer him a deal: He can be reunited with her, but only if he kills Jeff at the center of the Earth, thus self-destructing and causing a chain reaction that destroys the world.

That’s right, the final four issues, the first time we’ve seen Scud in a decade, begin with him planning to combine suicide and genocide. Given the violent, but relatively lighthearted nature of Scud’s previous adventures, it’s quite a jolt. But even with the finality of the story (two of the four issues have been released so far), it’s a kick to see Scud again. He’s an instantly appealing character and Schrab’s lunatic plotting and kinetic art ensure that he’s always doing something interesting.

In the intervening decade, Schrab’s less of a smartass than he used to be. (That’s right, he was more of a smartass before he started writing for Sarah Silverman.) Scud seems a little more developed and less like a mouthpiece for espousing Schrab’s views on pop culture. And his art hasn’t changed a bit. After 10 years away from the drawing board, Scud 21 looks like it came out the month after Scud 20. It’s quite impressive, really. His hyper-stylized art is always fun to look at, although the action scenes can be hard to follow sometimes. Of course, considering part 2 of the story features Scud battling dozens of other vending machine robots, many of whom look exactly like him, that’s to be expected.

I’m actually surprised at how easy it is to follow after all this time. Scud’s bizarre world clearly made an impression on me, because it’s still a comfortable fit ten years later. There’s just enough exposition to remind long-time readers who everybody is and to catch up the newcomers. Sure, somebody who’s seeing Scud for the first time isn’t going to know all the history between crimelords Marvin Spidergod and Voodoo Ben, but there’s enough information to enjoy the story without getting bogged down in continuity. The re-introduction of Scud’s sidekick, Drywall, is particularly impressive. In only a few pages, somebody completely unfamiliar with the character can get the basics as to who he is, how he’s changed, and why those changes make Scud sad. It’s well-done, and particularly welcome in a situation like this where even loyal readers haven’t seen Drywall since the Clinton Administration.

Schrab has said that these four issues will end the series. While it may be the end of Scud, I hope it’s not the end of Scud. I hope my favorite vending-machine robot assassin makes it through this, and gets to ride off into the sunset as a winner.


For long-time Scud fans – 5 beans

For newcomers – 3 and a half beans

(All images copyright Rob Schrab)

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