Died in a Blogging Accident has lived up to its name and died... in a blogging accident. That is to say it has concluded. You can still re-live the magic by clicking here to start at chapter 1. For genuine criticism of XKCD, please click the top link to the right (XKCD Isn't Funny).

Monday, October 17, 2011

Comic 965: A New Guest Poster Appears!

If it wasn't apparent from the title, today's review is not my own work. It comes from a fellow (a group?) called "sorcfs," which I'm told is an acronym for something horrifying and unnatural. Just kidding!


Anyway, I get a day off, and you get a review that's timely! Everyone wins!

Title: Elements; alt-text: Of all the nations, the armies of the ununoctium-benders are probably the least intimidating. The xenon-benders come close, but their flickery signs are at least effective for propoganda.

Ooh, color. You know what that means: the forumites will be raving over how "beautiful" it is, as is bound to crop up every once in a while. Nevermind all the other comics that use color all the time and have several metric buttloads better art and jokes and aren't goddam scripts with oversized margin doodles.

But hey, pop culture references! yeah! I mean, that makes everything better, right?

No. No it doesn't.

Okay, first off, this joke has been done to death. I’ve seen plenty of things making fun of the fact that ancient cultures thought that nature was made up of 4 or 5 or whatever number of primitive elements as compared to our modern-day periodic table. Just after ten seconds of thinking, I was able to come up with this example from Order of the Stick (a not-terrible stick figure comic). I'm sure there are other places it's been done. But, to give Randall some measure of credit, it's a fairly common sense joke. It's the kind of joke that people make independent of each other over and over again, just like jokes about erections and the underwear of every superhero ever.

So, let's give him the benefit of the doubt on that. And while we're here, let's also say some positive things. The art is at least workable in this comic. It's properly minimalist, with the characters being recognizable to those who can recognize them. So that's an improvement over it just looking lazy.

My beef with this comic is the alt-text. I probably would have just turned my computer off and gone to sleep instead of spending an extra few minutes banging out this review had I not seen the alt-text.No, it's shockingly not Post-Punchline Dialogue this time. Well, maybe PPD. But more importantly, Post Punchline Contradiction. Is there a thing for that yet? Or is it just a subcategory of PPD? Screw it. To get to the point:

Those who want to bother with all those superfluous extra lines of alt-text will notice that the premise of the extra joke is about the scarcity of certain elements. Now, in the Avatar universe, you need some of the element you want to bend before you can actually, you know, bend it (except firebenders. But they were villains, so screw them.) Apply this to the real world, and yeah,it would suck to be a bender. Scarce like, you know, polonium. a quick jump down to Wikipedia (obviously chosen for being an XKCD favorite) shows that polonium is pretty damn rare. As in, poke around in a metric ton of uranium and you'll get something like a hundred micrograms of polonium. Pro fact: uranium ain't that easy to find either. So unless there was randomly a lot of polonium lying around because, I dunno, a zombie ate the guy carrying it, polonium is not a very sensible element to attack the avatar with. And if you're going to make an alt-text joke, make sure it doesn't mess up the joke you set up earlier.

And no, I'm not the only one who saw this. Halfway through writing this I decided to check if any forumites had made the same observation. Lo and behold, 5 posts down we have this.

Oh, wait. The forumites say there was an Avatar marathon on TV yesterday? That's suddenly...unsurprising.


P.S. from Gamer_2k4: The tag "factually wrong" isn't QUITE accurate, but I wanted something besides the new guy's name marking this post. Besides, it's more reusable than "contradictory in a way that shows ignorance of facts."


  1. To be fair, the art in Comic 766 WAS quite a bit better than Randall's usual additions of color.

  2. Hey, Randy! Do a comic where you mock Strunk & White for writing a book called The Elements Of Style! BECAUSE THEY'RE NOT CHEMICAL ELEMENTS LULZ.

  3. Why did Mendeleev murder that guy?

    Also it's pretty damn pedantic to go "um, ACTUALLY there's 118 elements, not four" about a show that has magic and is explicitly said to run on Aristotelian elements. It'd be like doing a Lord of the Rings comic about "pff, you think elves are REAL? Loser."

  4. "Why did Mendeleev murder that guy?"

    Because Randall couldn't figure out anything funny for Mendeleev to do with his bending powers...

    Strangely enough... if you've watched the series you would realize that a Water bender can bend anything with water in it and control heat exchange (freeze or unfreeze water) and use their abilities to heal wounds, an Earth bender can bend pretty much any mineral or metal, a wind bender can pretty much move air like they are telekinetic and therefore control anything by moving the air around it and that a fire bender can create fire or even electricity from nothing... so the Avatar would be a number of orders of magnitude more powerful then Mendeleev in the comic... which was the inspiration for my edit.