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Cake Or Death?

So I was talking with a guy at the Andy Bell opening because he was wearing a Great Outdoor Fight shirt. “Nice shirt,” I said. “Thanks,” he replied, “What do you think is going to happen next?”

In truth, I told him, I had no idea. Everything we know, the entire storied legend of the Great Outdoor Fight, has been revealed in little pieces since Mrs Smuckles let slip a choice tidbit over Rib-eye and Chablis less than two months ago. And it’s always dangerous to predict what Chris Onstad is thinking; the only prediction I would make is that he would take the story in a completely unexpected direction. Ergo: The Jeeps. Like every other aspect of the Great Outdoor Fight (too big a fight to be constrained by acronym or abbreviation), this is new to us, but not to Roast Beef.

Ray, in his ignorance, is more than willing to face The Jeeps … or is that the real reason at all? Does he not appreciate the dangers that they face? Hard to believe, since Beef has filled him in; could he possibly be sincere in his defiant bellow:

Man, fuck those guys! The hell they’re gonna say how this Fight is won! BRING ON THE JEEPS, GOD DAMN YOU!

Ray, of all people, is trying to rebel against the system instead of gaming it or weaseling for advantage. He’s taking something like a principled stand here, maybe only because he doesn’t realize the import of The Jeeps. Beef, of all people, might be pushed by sheer terror to putting a major beatdown on Ray rather than face The Jeeps (and to save Ray’s life, but will he recognize that?). Or, given that it’s Achewood and death is malleable (especially where Beef is concerned), and the fact that keys are being passed around, maybe we see two more grave markers southeast of the Acres.

“Why should the Fight get to say how the Fight is won or lost! Become the ruling body, dude!” is no less impressive than “Give me Liberty or give me Death!” “Beat your best friend since small times ’til he can’t crawl, see or cry … or Death” doesn’t have quite the same ring, but it looks like Hobson had nothing on Beef’s Choice.

It is a testament to Onstad’s ability as a writer that someone with no knowledge of the characters or backstories could find the Great Outdoor Fight arc so appealing. Yes, I’m talking about myself. The GOF (you’re right, Gary, that acronym looks really stupid) is the reason I have finally started reading Achewood regularly. Based on recommendations, I tried on at least three previous occasions to get through the archives, but found it to be too much of a slog after the first twenty or so strips. Now I might be motivated to make it all the way. After the current storyline is over, of course.

How could something so simple as pitting 3,000 men against each other in a Great Fight be so … well… Great?

Like one of the image alt tags said a few days ago, this is a “searching for father” story.

Ray won the fight, but he hasn’t earned the win, much less his heritage. Most everything, including his fugue, has been orchestrated by Roast Beef. He did tear off a man’s jaw, but he scared the hell out of himself in doing so.

Rodney Stubbs didn’t win the Fight by trickery or by accident, that’s not the man he is. Rodney Stubbs “was not afraid of any man on earth. He was a force of nature.”

And with the latest comic, Ray too stood up absolutely unafraid, in the face of certain death. It’s the first time in the story he’s taken a stand, alone, with no alliances, just as his father did.

What happens next is anyone’s guess, but now Ray truly is the Son of Stubbs.

For more information on the great history of the GOF, visit Make some additions or correction if you notice any inaccuracies.

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