Monday, 29 April 2013

FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT! #29



This week's FIGHT is written by James Clayton.


Got a whale of a tale to tell you lads,
A whale of a tale or two,
Bout the slappin’ fish and mermaids I’ve thumped,
On nights like this when the bloodlust pumped,
A whale of a tale and it’s all true,
I swear, covered in grue!”

And after serenading us with that beautiful sea shanty, shipmate Kirk Douglas decides he’d like to disembowel Captain Nemo with a rusty fish hook and hollers, “Hit the high seas!”

Bruce Lee brushes his nose and retorts “High seas don’t hit back”, but we ain’t on Han’s Island with the kung fu dropouts and the dope-whores no more. Nay, lad/ladette/ladetto! (Accept that as a non-gender specific alternative) We’re going to listen to the dapper sailorboy with the dimpled chin for this marine-themed instalment of FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT!

Waves of mutilation! Currents of carnage! Depths of dissolution, devastation, depravity and death!

The ocean is a vast open-arena that eddies and flows with ultraviolent potential.
The seas don’t care for civilised society and its rational standards. The seas don’t care for sophisticated airs and graces.
The seas are merciless, wet, savage and will batter you and swallow you alive in the midst of a capricious moodswing.

We’re a-yearnin’ for fresh sea breezes and fresh sea bruises, me hearties.
We shall have ‘em and we shall have ‘em by the barrel load.
Tonight we grab a hold of two pop cultural maritime posers, float ‘em out far away from the sight of land and force ‘em into life and death combat for our own sick entertainment.

Here comes the catch of the day.
More compelling than Kirk Douglas’ chin, more exhilarating than the release of a Kraken, it’s high time we had a high seas smash-up...


FIGHT #29

 


CAPTAIN HADDOCK
vs
CAPTAIN BIRDSEYE


WHO THEY THEN? 




Captain Haddock is a celebrated salty old sea dog. A big personality with a bushy black beard, Haddock (first name believed to be Archibald) is a former Merchant Marine captain whose recent activity has mainly revolved around freelance adventuring, crime fighting and exploratory expeditions.

Identifiable by his black blazer, blue ribbed jumper and peaked nautical cap, Haddock is a recovering alcoholic who’s never really recovered. Aside from sailing his favourite things in life are swearing, pipe smoking and drinking rum or Loch Lomond whisky. He first appeared in the Hergé comic album The Crab With the Golden Claws and features in all the ensuing stories in The Adventures of Tintin and their subsequent spin-off media.




Captain Birdseye is a celebrated salty old sea dog (generally about 10% of your RDA per 100g serving). A big personality with a bushy white beard, Birdseye (first name believed to be Clarence, also known as Captain Iglo in some foreign territories) is a former Merchant Navy captain whose recent activity has mainly revolved around the usual PR duties expected of a brand mascot.

Identifiable by his smart navy jacket, white ribbed sweater and peaked nautical cap, Birdseye speaks in a stereotypical sailor voice and uses all the conventional lingo as he eagerly shares his long-held love of seafood. Aside from sailing his favourite things in life are crispy golden fishsticks (“I only choose the best for the Captain’s table!”), happy children and the operas of Gilbert and Sullivan. He appears on the packets of the Birds Eye company’s range of frozen fish products and in the subsequent print adverts and television commercials designed to promote said products to consumers. 





THEY PACKING MUCH HEAT?




Haddock is quite capable and comfortable when it comes to handling an array of firearms and is ferocious when he’s got blunt weapons in his grasp. He has a particular enthusiasm and advanced skill with cutlasses and sabres and has undoubtedly inherited some of the sword-fighting ability of his legendary ancestor, Sir Francis Haddock. The seafaring legend’s blood flows through Haddock’s veins and, thus, martial valour and bold heroism are an innate part of his being, written into his DNA and etched into his old bones.

Aside from bonus powers passed down through the bloodline the Captain is hailed as one of the greatest oral offenders in comics history and is renowned for sharp sarcasm and his arsenal of remarkable insults. A bigly-built, belligerent icon of inspired invective and brute force, Haddock will happily and confidently grapple with another man either verbally or physically. Add a bottle of Loch Lomond whisky and the results are even more interesting as alcohol has been known to send him into invincible berserker mode. When the Captain’s rampaging, riled and ranting you’re better off positioning yourself in a different panel, ideally on another page.

Haddock’s vessel is the Unicorn - a specially-recreated version of the ship of the same name that was commandeered by Sir Francis Haddock during 17th century skirmishes with the notorious pirate Red Rackham. A totally authentic to-scale replica, the vessel has three masts, well-maintained cannons, plenty of storage space and a sense of antiquated oceanic grandeur that will strike awe into the minds of even the most dull-witted and ignorant landlubbers.

Weaponry and open displays of violence do not sit easily with a child-friendly public persona so Captain Birdseye keeps his own deadliness quite private. The Captain is quite handy with cutlery and industrial cooking devices and may be able to wield, say, fish slices, frying pans and steel spatulas in furious anger if needs be. Swiftly sizing him up he doesn’t appear to be in fighting shape and looks more likely to bearhug attackers to death rather than duff them up.

Nevertheless, you should never judge books by their covers or genial geriatrics by their Santa Claus beards. He could probably really hurt you with his personal twee and has extra natural omega-3 coursing through his veins, so he’s not a total pushover. Many evil deeds can be achieved with fish fingers (anyone who’s seen the kung fu flick Six Shaolin vs. the Death Fish-Finger Style understands this) and the number of sea creatures he’s killed over the years reinforces the stark truth that Birdseye is, at heart, a callous mass murderer.

Birdseye’s vessel is a nameless trawler without any lore attached to it, or even a Wikipedia entry for the writers of this blog to casually paraphrase. Quite frankly, that isn’t good enough and because we want backstory I’m going to write some non-canon fan-fiction and give Birdseye a boat with a background for extra dramatic impact. The good ship HMT Man Friday was built in 1935 in Belfast and after several years in the hands of local fishermen was requisitioned by the Royal Navy at the outbreak of World War II.

During the war the boat aided in the Dunkirk evacuations, delivered some killer blows against the Kriegsmarine in the North Atlantic and ran over some Dutch skinny dippers who refused to leave the ‘No Swimming Zone’ off the Zeeland coast. Post-WWII it was gifted to a mysterious man known only as ‘Big T’ for classified contributions to secret service operations. In 1953 “Big T” lost the Man Friday to Captain Birdseye in a high-stakes game of dominoes and Birdseye quickly spruced up the trawler and took it back into commercial fishing where it’s remained ever since. In addition to all the industry standards and top-of-the-range refrigeration facilities, the Man Friday boasts a games room, a sauna and a private boudoir with a mini-bar and beaver fur upholstery.

With superior brute power and a more attractive, real-fictional boat, Haddock has the edge here.


THEIR BACK: WHO HAS IT?




In spite of his irascibility and odd antisocial antics, Captain Haddock has many comrades who’d happily aide him or adventure alongside him. His fortunes took a turn towards the more favourable as soon as he set his lot in with Tintin, the intrepid boy travel reporter who never appears to age and never appears to actually write anything. Nevertheless, the bequiffed boy wonder, his tenacious pet terrier Snowy and Haddock make up a dynamic trio who triumph over whatever adversity or insurmountable obstacle comes their way.

The Lord of Marlinspike Hall can also depend on his staunchly loyal butler Nestor and on support from other friends such as identical twin detectives Thomson and Thompson, the esteemed polymath Professor Calculus and the opera diva Bianca Castafiore. All the above have considerable personality flaws and it’s true that Haddock most often holds them in contempt. Nevertheless, our cantankerous antihero will always be able to find an ally wherever he is in the world as a result of the goodwill that he and Tintin have generated over their serial capers. He’s got the backing of royals and political leaders, leading lights of the scientific establishment, eccentric millionaires, the Buddhist Grand Abbot and many meek oppressed people who he’s liberated from extreme distress. Not bad for a grouchy badmannered boozehound.

Birdseye - a beaming genial gent of bonhomie and bubbling oven-baked affability - has a wide fanbase of half-famished children from across the seven seas. Some of the healthier, more photogenic kids are elevated to prestige shipmate status though child labour laws mean he’s limited in what he can actually achieve with his motley crew of minors.

Aside from the adoration of whippersnappers and the gratitude of negligent, time-poor parents with no kitchen confidence, Birdseye is backed by big industry. The Birds Eye company is just one enterprise in a massive conglomeration of international commercial interests. They’ve got armies of spin doctors and lawyers at their command alongside infrastructure and significant investment capital. If the Captain exploits his corporate connections the outcome could be catastrophic for those who confront him.

Who wins here? We live in a capitalist society heavily skewed in favour of the rich and powerful titans of commerce. Even though Haddock is aligned to exuberant eternal winner Tintin, the sad truth is that the full force of big business is a overwhelming beast that owns your ass and will sell it back to you at an inflated price. Birdseye’s got the bragging rights here.


NUANCES AND WHATNOT




The ocean is utterly indifferent and will not be swayed to side with either combatant no matter how many prayers they offer up to Poseidon. The ocean just is and has no interest in a fight upon a small section of its surface so questions of bias or environmental advantage are invalid.

Alcohol is a chaos element in this battle. As befits a family-friendly figure of wholesomeness Birdseye is clean-living but the pipe-chewin’, heavy drinkin’ Haddock is not so ascetic. As noted above, alcohol may enhance his strength and fighting spirit but it may prove to be a distraction that inebriates him and undermines his efforts. He’s an unpredictable loose cannon and liquor makes him even looser.

The Birds Eye company are just one of the many embroiled in the recent horsemeat scandal (a.k.a. ‘Horseburgergate’) and this may, indeed, be on Clarence’s mind as he goes about fighting for the honour of a tarnished brand that could do with some positive publicity.

It’s also worth noting that Birdseye is a brand figurehead powered by a PR machine. He may, for all his seafarer shtick, be nothing more than a convincing actor playing a role so that he himself can profit and a commercial enterprise can peddle junk food to children.

We have graphic evidence that Haddock has sailed numerous oceans, climbed the Himalayas and wrestled the Yeti, set foot on the Moon, defeated dictatorial regimes, human traffickers and drug cartels and much, much more in a series of genuine adventures. We have no proof that Birdseye has ever actually got in a real boat or even left the studio at all. He may not even eat the company’s products. Gimmicky charlatans constructed entirely out of bluster and bullshit do not often fare well in gladiatorial combat. Even if he’s already sold his soul, Birdseye won’t be able to bluff his way through a game of maritime martial one-upmanship against an authentic hero like Haddock for long.

Furthermore, many brands are having a crisis of confidence in veteran characters like Captain Birdseye as they try to stay competitive in a technologically advanced post-postmodern age of social media and shifting socioeconomic circumstances. Companies keep questioning the value of icons like Tony the Tiger and the Milky Bar Kid and wondering if they are obsolete and need either killing off or radically rebooting to make ‘em ‘cool’ and appealing for the present day

If he loses this fight, expect to see the Captain reborn as a manga character (a 14-year-old female pop star pirate) on Birdseye’s new range of trendy products. (Minute-Cook Microwave Hashtag Browns and Supa-Extreme Sushi Snack Packs coming soon to supermarket freezers near you).



IT'S CLOBBERING TIME

This is the point where we run all the above information through our highly sophisticated computer program to establish the victor. The computer has an IQ of 243, is fluent in 73 languages, has a size 36 bust and a 14½inch penis so, in total, is the sexiest thing that modern science has given us. Get down on your knees and drool before its orgasm-inducing power. 



Ahoy! The North Atlantic Ocean! The wind is up and the waters are a bit choppy. It’s the sort of weather that makes sailors say stuff like, “Yaaarrrr! ‘Tis a beautiful day!”

It is a beautiful day. We’re going to have ourselves some nautical gladiatorial combat. Avast ye, gentlemen, gentlewomen and gentlesquids! Battle stations! Commence the combat...

Blowing in on the north wind comes the trawler that is the Man Friday, helmed by happy Captain Birdseye.

From the south sails the great galleon that is the Unicorn, guided by scrappy Captain Haddock.

Two marine captains floating towards each other, destined to engage in life-and-death combat. They both wear an excited and eager grin on their beard. Morale is high on both sides as they singlehandedly steer their vessels towards the clashpoint.

Pre-fight trash talk through a megaphone time: Birdseye blasts, “Ahoy and top o’ the mornin’ fishface! You’re the ugliest haddock I’ve ever seen! If I covered you in Gruyère, the cheese would get up of its own accord and jump onto another plate!” (Yes, Birdseye really isn’t very good at this.)

Haddock’s amplified riposte: “Blistering barnacles, Birdseye you bilious pickled herring! Is that the best you’ve got? I’ve eaten sea gherkins with more wit than you! Bring it on, you vandal white orang-utan you! You odd-toed ungulate! You squawking popinjay raggle taggle ruminant!” (Aww yeah, Haddock is much better at this jive and I like the cut of his jibber jabber.)

Birdseye’s pride is wounded but he recovers his resolve quickly and dashes across deck to a large cargo catapult that’s been specially constructed for this occasion. He pulls the lever and sends a big wooden box over to Haddock’s boat with a shout of “It’s about time you cut your chatter, Haddock-Lips! Here’s somethin’ to shove in your hole that’ll hopefully shut you up for a bit!”

With a bump the large box lands on the Unicorn and Haddock quickly rips at the slats to see what’s inside. On top of many multipacks of cod fish fingers the Captain finds large envelopes stuffed with magazines. He removes them from the brown packaging and discovers to his disgust that they are all smutty publications, some abjectly shameful in their depravity. There’s some real niche kinkiness in the mix - stuff that would blow your mind and make even the most jaded sadomasochist raise their eyebrows and NOTHING ELSE. Birdseye has gotten crafty and stuck photos of Haddock’s face on the bodies of all the nude models on the covers and in the tasteless photo spreads. Some of them are exceptionally vulgar.

Haddock is grossly offended. Stung by the site of himself in see-through lederhosen engaged in an orgy with various versions of himself dressed as an erotic nun, he roars with mighty wrath, “Iconoclast! Purple profiteering jellied eel! I’ll have you, harlequin monster! Miserable guano-gatherer your backside is mine, brigand!”

To the cannons! Haddock lights ‘em up and gives Birdseye’s the full gunpowder show. The HMT Man Friday has no hope against the barrage of cannon balls and it’s soon turned into a smoking holey mess. Surprisingly calm, the Fish Finger King puts on a lifejacket and clings to a floating shard of steel as the rest of the trawler swiftly sinks down to the depths.

Haddock howls happily in triumph. “Take that you fancy dress freebooter!” As a toast to victory he opens up one of the fish finger packets and pulls out a crispy codstick. “Here’s to you, Birdseye, you bashi-bazouk lunatic ignoramus! Cheers!” He chomps heartily but happiness soon gives way to shock horror. He’s ingested an abomination. Haddock wretches as he tastes a tasteless sensation. He looks down at the grub in his hands and realises that beneath the breadcrumbs, Birds Eyes goods are actually genuine bird’s eyes. (Later investigations conducted by the Food Standards Agency confirm that the counterfeit fingers contain 100% seagull eyeball.)

The Captain tries to spit it out and cough it all up but all the vitreous fluids and gooey retinal bits are stuck in his throat and trapped between his teeth. He, of course, curses (“filibuster slubberdegullion! Scoundrel ectoplasm!”) and glugs down several bottles of Loch Lomond whisky. The detestable taste remains in his mouth, however, so he lights up his pipe in a frenzy, recklessly throwing the match aside onto the deck. Tobacco fumes fail to rinse it away so the hysterical Haddock returns to the rum-and-whisky washdown method.

He doesn’t notice the conflagration that’s claiming the Unicorn until it’s way too late. Antique wood burns and the beautiful galleon starts to break up and fold into the Atlantic. Finally aware that his vessel’s ablaze and going down fast he rails against his own lax attitude to the sensible disposal of lit matches on a ship (“Idiot liquorice!”) and drinks some more before realising he needs to abandon ship.

Through the crackle of flames and the cracking up of the boat he hears the sound of Birdseye’s laughter. He spies the man responsible for this calamity afloat in the open ocean and Haddock blood boils. With another swig of Loch Lomond he dives into the ocean and swims dead-straight in front-crawl, dead set on scoring ultraviolent vengeance.

In under 40 seconds he’s reached the makeshift raft. Birdseye whacks at him with a frying pan but the alcofuelled Haddock isn’t bothered by the blows. Splashing salt water in his eyes also does nothing to deter the black-bearded berserker who soon enough has scrambled up, found his footing and got into a fighting stance.

With a bellow of “Antediluvian bulldozer! Now you die you pithecanthropic mountebank!” Haddock unleashes hell.

It’s a hideous spectacle. Parents - please shield your children’s eyes. With a liberal lacing of invective as accompaniment, Haddock beats Birdseye so badly that even his whiskers sting.

After violently rapping his knuckles on all the major organs and erogenous zones, Haddock decides to end it in grand, gruesome style. In retribution, he shoves one of the trick fish fingers in Birdseye’s mouth and makes him chew. He goes through the forceful manipulated mastication process with an entire eight-pack of the ersatz codsticks and then with a mighty roar proceeds to his pièce de résistance.

In a moment of surprising sadism he claws at the fallen brand figurehead’s forehead and rips eyeballs from sockets. “Birdseye’s eyes for the birds, aye!” the drunken sailor laughs as he tosses the ocular organs to some watching seagulls. And that’s it: blinded, broken and disgraced having served up subpar goods for malicious purposes, Birdseye loses the will to live and his hearty harr harr heart stops beating.

Haddock slaps him around a bit for good measure and then drops the body into the ocean. It sinks down to Davy Jones’ locker - another bloated corpse to sleep with and be nibbled upon by the fishes which, when you think about it, is a delightful irony.

Haddock takes a deep breath and recovers himself, emerging out of the raging red mist of battle frenzy. He looks to the skies and espies a small plane piloted by a quiffy young man with a white dog in tow.

Thundering typhoons! It’s Tintin! Hooray!” yelps the jubilant Haddock as his best friend brings the sea plane swooping down to pick him up his best friend and pick up the scoop on a story that’ll one day be reprinted in Belgian comics supplement, Le Petit Vingtième.

Once again old fashioned derring-do and courageous spirit triumphs over adversity and deceptive enemies motivated by avarice. Some adventure, eh Snowy?



AND THE WINNER IS...

  

CAPTAIN HADDOCK




Pop Pirate Princess Birdseye and her Supa-Xtreme Sushi Snack Packs are coming soon to your local supermarket.

FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT! will return in:


"Call Me Ishmael... And I’ll Break Your Peg Leg Into Pieces And Take Great Pleasure In Sticking The Splinters Into Your Various Bodily Orifices"

If you have any suggestions for who you'd like to see square go each other in future FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT! articles, please mention them below.

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