Roughneck #reflection


Ok, this is going to be a bit odd (you already expect that though). See, I have a couple things I want to talk about because they are flitting around in my mind and I am stretching for a connection between the two. I know there is something there, but I haven’t quite put the puzzle piece in place that brings it all together. Or maybe I have. We will have to dig a little deeper to figure out what is going on in my mind.

We start off with the game that has been consuming me over the past week or so. Star Realms (published by White Wizard) is a card game. Essentially you are looking at an updated version of the classic card game War. A quick refresher, two players, one deck, high card wins. Star Realms falls into that with changes to make it interesting a bit more complex.

Now, if you aren’t up on card games now, most of them have become collectible card games where you are searching for rare cards and such. Their inherent value to the publisher is people buy expansion after expansion looking for the hard to find cards. This isn’t Star Realms. Everything you need to play is within the main game and expansions contain all the cards for the expansions within themselves. Strategy wise, it makes it interesting because you can’t really form a play strategy until you sit down to the game. There is also a bit of luck and timing involved that you will get what you need when you need it during the game. Roughneck

But I digress because you don’t really care about all that. This isn’t actually a review of the game (it’s good though and a must buy if you get into such things). I am actually leading up to the main point which will take us to the next bits. See, in the game there are four factions. Each faction has advantages and disadvantages. You have to build your strategies around what you are able to acquire through the course of play.

Anyway, two of the factions within the game are the Star Empire and the Blobs. And yes, they are very generic science fictiony elements. But as I play the connections my mind makes always come back to Starship Troopers. Especially because the Blobs tend toward a bug like race. And so I am having these weird dreams lately where I am building armadas to fight off the Blob invasion. And this isn’t even why I have been writing all this.

It actually all comes back to the connection to Starship Troopers. I picked up a graphic novel recently that has absolutely nothing to do with any of this. (Don’t look at me in that tone of voice). It all comes back to the title, Roughneck (Gallery 13, 2017) from Jeff Lemire. Every time I look at the cover, I think of Rico’s Roughnecks from Starship Troopers. It’s that connection that gets tied up in my brain and so now I am swimming in all sorts of thoughts that have this vague and impossible connection to each other, but they are tied in a knot that won’t let go.

roughneckSo yeah, I had to read the book in the hopes that it would finally break the spell. It hasn’t but the book is still worth reading. To sum that up…

The story is based around this guy Derek. A former pro hockey player that was released from the league because of his extreme aggression. Yeah, he beat another player with his stick severely injuring him. Anyway, the story takes place after he returned to his hometown in northern Canada. The setting reminds me of the stories from Alice Munro (if that is any kind of reference for you). The guy hates life and hates himself and takes it out on anyone who disturbs his personal bubble of self-loathing.

Now we get the story of personal growth and all that. We get to see his journey of change. This is all to be expected. And it’s a good story in how it is laid out. But what I find more striking in this is the artistic choices used to portray the story.

The primary color palette used throughout is blue, black, and white. The times where this changes though, makes for a stark contrast. We find color in memories, and when something is inherently wrong in some way. Like blood, anytime there is blood flying as Derek has gotten into yet another fight, we see the blood. But more than that, it is the memories of growing up and the troubled home his mother had tried to take him and his sister out of, show more color than the drab of his existence now.

As crazy as it is, the timing for reading this one hit me in an odd way. As we are fighting our way into spring, this story is still lost in a Canadian winter. That setting spills over into our outer world. At this point, whether we want it to or not.

Anyway, I am not sure that this purges me of the demons invading my thoughts for the day but maybe it gives you something new to think about. Or you might get an urge to explore some new flights of fancy. What do I know though, I’m just blathering on…


If you enjoy these stories, consider leaving some coffee money in the jar or you could buy a book or two. Either way helps keep the stories flowing.

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