556: Alternative Energy Revolution
|Alternative Energy Revolution
Title text: The moment their arms spun freely in our air, they were doomed -- for Man has earned his right to hold this planet against all comers, by virtue of occasionally producing someone totally batshit insane.
Megan and Cueball are looking at modern "windmills" (known as wind turbines) harnessing wind energy into electrical energy. They comment that there's something creepy about the windmills. They allude to the book The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells (the Jeff Wayne musical version of The War of the Worlds has paintings of the Martian tripods somewhat like these turbines) and also to John Christopher's Tripods trilogy, a young adult series of books that is also about aliens who ride in walking tripods. Suddenly the windmills' pylons split into three legs, becoming the tripods suggested.
They exclaim that Al Gore has doomed us all. Gore is a former Vice President of the United States of America, known for his environmental activism and promotion of green energy sources, relevant because wind turbines like the ones here are one of the alternative energy sources he supports. In the final frame, the seventeenth-century literary figure Don Quixote arrives. Randall's depiction seems to be inspired by the drawing by Pablo Picasso. In the original story, Don Quixote is a wandering knight of questionable sanity who fights a windmill, which he believes to be a giant. Hence, he is the appropriate person to deal with this threat. Wind turbines also appear in later comics. In 1119: Undoing, Randall still seems to dislike them. In 1378: Turbine, the turbine is alive as it is in this comic, though its talking may simply be anthropomorphism.
The title is a joke on the phrase "Alternative Energy Revolution," which normally refers to replacing of harmful power sources with eco-friendly options. However, in this case, the Alternative Energy sources are literally rising up in a revolution against humanity, while their rotor blades are revolving. The title text is also a reference to The War of the Worlds: "But there are no bacteria in Mars... when I watched them they were irrevocably doomed... By the toll of a billion deaths man has bought his birthright of the earth, and it is his against all comers." Of course, this time we are only saved because we — in spite of having evolved — still produce insane members of our species: some of them occasionally being crazy in a practical way (as Don Quixote's special powers lie in defeating windmills).
- [A field with seven wind turbines is silhouetted against a dusk sky. One of the turbines is much closer than the others. The panel is double height and width of the two next panels to the right.]
- [Cueball standing and Megan sitting on the ground are overlooking the wind turbines.]
- Cueball: I'm all for green energy, but those turbines creep me out. They remind me of War of the Worlds, or the Tripod books.
- [While the two are in the same position but longer to the left in the panel wiggly lines form around the last word to indicate a high rumbling sound.]
- Megan: They are unnerving.
- Cueball: I can't shake the feeling that at any moment they'll—
- [The next line in the comic has five small square panels:]
- [A leg begins to split off one wind turbine.]
- [The leg separates from the body of the wind turbine.]
- [The new leg lands on the ground.]
- [Another leg begins to split off the other side of the wind turbine's body.]
- [The new leg hits the ground, forming a tripod base.]
- [A panel even wider than the first, but the same height as the 2nd and 3rd panel. Four of the wind turbines rampage across the field. Six smoke plumes rise from the ground where there are also nine to ten distinct red fires burning. The turbines move towards towers and buildings to the right.]
- [Cueball and Megan are now both standing. This panel and the last three panels in the last row is all the same size, a third of the total comic in width and the same height as the previous panel.]
- Megan: Oh no.
- Cueball: Al Gore, you've doomed us all.
- Megan: It's coming this way!
- Cueball: Run!
- [One of the enormous tripod wind turbine feet lands right behind the running couple, sending debris flying.]
- [Cueball and Megan run up a small hill (that continue up in the next panel).]
- Megan: What now?
- Cueball: Someone has to stop them.
- Megan: But who could-
- Voice (off panel): Stand aside!
- [A man with a black hat and a beard sits mounted on a horse at the top of the hill, lance at the ready.]
- This is one of the six footer comics featured in the bottom segment of xkcd.com.
- There is a fan-made animated version of this comic on YouTube.
- This comic used to be available as a signed print in the xkcd store before it was shut down.
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