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Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Mind-Bending Horror!

This might come as a shock to a few of you, but I'm not a fan of scary movies. I'm a pretty jumpy person by nature, so the shock and surprise of your average slasher flick just comes off as being a lazy scare tactic where I'm concerned.

Me, I prefer the existential dread of an H.P. Lovecraft story, with nameless and unstoppable horrors that the human mind can scarcely comprehend, let alone defeat, always lurking on the edges of darkness and sanity, forever shattering the minds of anyone who dares to learn the Truth.


That is, for the record, The Lyingest Cover In Marvel Comics History.

Not only does Killdozer not have jagged spikes on the end of the shovel or "angry eyebrows" covering its headlights, but it doesn't talk, nobody tries to shoot it with a pistol, and there is not a single woman in this comic book. Apparently, the House of Ideas thought that a piece of construction equipment posessed of a furious bloodlust wasn't enough of a high concept to sell the book without jazzing it up a bit.

Said jazzing is handled in the mildly magnificent Marvel manner by none other than Merry Gerry Conway and Dastardly Dick Ayers, in the comics adaptation of the smash-hit 1974 TV movie written by Theodore Sturgeon, the classic science fiction author who wrote those two really good episodes of Star Trek, both of which involve Spock going bat-shit insane and throwing around bowls of soup.

Unfortunately, they do not involve homicidal tractor hell-bent on revenge.

Our story opens in the fire of a nuclear holocaust obliterating a war between humans and sentient robots that happened a billion years ago, because really, how the hell else are you going to explain what happens next? A quick cut to "a day not long far from tomorrow," and we find a group of hardy construction workers led by Tom Jaeger--who is way more excited about construction work than any right-thinking person should be--essentially abandoned on an island with orders to build... something. The story's not too clear on that.

The only thing that matters is that it requires the use of The D-7, a huge bulldozer nicknamed "Daisy Etta" after the Jaeger-Meister mis-hears scrappy repairman Rivera referring to it as "De Siete." The D-7 does not seem to care for this nickname, and takes the first opportunity to jump up in the air and run Rivera over shortly after demolishing what appears to be an Aztec temple, which, of course, is where billion year-old robotic ghosts go to wait for diesel engines to possess.

Jaeger survives the initial rampge, but Killdozer, with the catlike agility of a six-ton block of metal mounted on tank treads and a cruising speed in excess of five miles per hour, manages to get away, leaving Jaeger to explain exactly what happened.

What follows is the most boring killing spree I have ever read, and despite the fact that in this situation "a magic murderous bulldozer did it!" is actually the most logical explanation for what happens, nobody believes Jaeger when he tells them this every three seconds, until poor Dennis gets turned into a twelve-foot square pancake.

Two murders and an unsuccessful attempt to bribe the magical killing machine later, and Jaeger manages to finally defeat killdozer in an epic battle that lasts all of six panels and essentially amounts to Jaeger and his pal Chub dropping a hair dryer into Killdozer's bathtub.

But hey, at least we've got that cover.

BONUS FEATURE: The Real-Life Killdozer!

From the Wikipedia entry for Killdozer:

"'Killdozer' has been used as a nickname for the armored bulldozer constructed by Marvin Heemeyer and used to demolish a significant portion of Granby, Colorado in the United States of America on June 4, 2004. There is no evidence that Heemeyer ever planned to name his creation, and no one was killed or injured in Heemeyer's rampage."

In 2004, Heemeyer was so angered by a zoning decision by a corrupt city government--which destroyed his business, ruined his property, and cost him $2500 in fines--that he spent six months constructing an armored, impenetrable bulldozer that withstood over 200 gunshots and three explosions, bursting through the walls of his muffler shop and going on a rampage that eventually resulted in the destruction of City Hall and Heemeyer's own suicide.

How the hell had I never heard of this before?

BONUS FEATURE: The Deal of the Century!

Give me two dollars immediately! I must have this power!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember reading about the real life Killdozer at warrenellis.com or diepunyhumans.com, whichever was his newsblog at the time. it was early one morning when I called for my roommate with a shakey voice to show him the video of the 'dozer leveling buildings. It was some kind of glorious evil.

One of the many things for which I owe Ellis a great debt... someday I may be forced to take a bullet for him.

6/01/2006 4:32 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

All this and no mention of Killdozer - one of my most fav-o-rite post-hardcore/pre-grunge bass heavy groups ever!?!?!

Or even the Killdozer seen in Judge Dredd's epic cross Post-Holocaust America trek the Cursed Earth?

BTW, irony of internet ironies - that Real-Life Killdozer fella now has his own MySpace (but then, who doesn't?)...

Verification word ovlqbrew - a space age beer with egg in it.

6/01/2006 5:26 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah, the good-old Giant Life-Like Karate Practice Dummy...you just know Grant Morrison pull a Flex Mentallo with that thing--it'd be some shambling homonculus with Roman letters springing from its body on wires. Yeah.

Also, the Killdozer cover: "As seen on TV"? I like the implication that Ron Popeil has been saturating the airwaves with ads demonstrating incredibly convenient murderous bulldozers.

6/01/2006 8:36 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

You know not the real life Killdozer.

That other guy? Just another nut with access to a welding shop. If he were a real man, he would have made a bear-fighting suit.

6/01/2006 10:09 AM

Blogger Michael said...

If you can be a master of karate for only 99 cents, and get a practice dummy for another 99 cents, how are you saving money by getting them both for $1.98?

6/01/2006 1:16 PM

Blogger jblackstone said...

Who was Marvin Heemeyer? A lunatic? A vengence-crazed vigilante? Neither. He was the greatest hero in American history. His refusal to take any sh** from municipal government embodies the spirit of rebellion that America was born out of. And the armor-plated bulldozer is just cool.

I suggest his legacy be chronicled in a song by Willie Nelson.

And this Sunday is the 2nd anniversery of his rampage! Honour him.

6/01/2006 1:51 PM

Blogger Unknown said...

I always loved that cover, but never got around to picking up the book.

Now that I know the Killdozer doesn't talk or show its anger through the use of its metallic fenders/eyebrows, I won't bother.

Great cover though.

6/01/2006 2:57 PM

Blogger Mark Kardwell said...

Back in the day, I loved me Killdozer's cover version of "American Pie".

To this day, the only version worth having.

6/01/2006 3:20 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's one of those covers that's begging for a matching story to be written.

6/01/2006 5:43 PM

Blogger Canton said...

Heywood Banks' "If I Had a Bulldozer" is now stuck in my head. Well, the tune, anyway...

6/01/2006 10:55 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Since no one else seems to have mentioned the point, Sturgeon's "Killdozer" was originally a short story (in "Astounding Science Fiction," November 1944). He is credited as co-author of the adaptation, with Ed MacKillop.

The original concerned a civilian construction team, left by the Navy to prepare a base on a previously ignored island in a "safe" rear area, while the war goes on elsewhere. Their immediate concern is meeting the contract-specified deadline, and getting back to (relative) civilization.

Early in their work, they uncover an alien artifact.

It is, inevitably, ancient military equipment, left over from a war in which -- quick, cue the irony! -- Earth was itself a forgotten backwater. Whether it had belonged to the winning side or not, it was never retrieved, or deactivated. (Sound familiar?)

It was designed to take control of "enemy" equipment and use it to kill and destroy, and it considers the construction team's big bulldozer -- the key element in the project -- to be a self-propelled weapon. Tactical thinking and some regeneration capacities come with the package.

The TV adaptation is sometimes reported to have been set in the 1940s, but I seem to have missed any signs that it didn't have a "contemporary" setting.

"Ancient-weapon-reactivates" is now a standard plot device, and probably wasn't a shock to readers when Sturgeon employed it. But the combination with the details of "regular Joes" doing construction work with heavy equipment was handled extremely well.

6/22/2006 4:16 PM

Blogger planet-tom said...

You've read the Killdozer comic book; now play the Killdozer Video Game!

6/13/2008 7:53 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I actually like the older cover better. I'd also like to see Geof Darrow do a Killdozer comic. And that video game: sweet.

12/16/2009 7:43 AM

Blogger Jeen said...

Heavy equipments like boom trucks are helpful machines in construction matters. However in real life it can also accidentally kills one's life if operator loss some care operating earth moving equipments. Nice share!

5/20/2011 11:28 AM

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