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Buck Godot: Zap Gun for Hire is a science-fiction/action/comedy comics series by Phil Foglio, featuring the adventures of private detective/bodyguard-for-hire Buck Godot, operating out of the Lawless planet of New Hong Kong.
The supporting cast include Al, the manager of Buck's favourite bar (who looks like a short green cartoony version of the critter from Alien); and Madame Louisa Dem Five, a pillar of the local *ahem* service industry.
The series started as a string of short pieces in various anthology comics, some of which were collected in the first Buck Godot: Zap Gun for Hire collection. In these stories, Buck protects a woman pursued by fanatical sun-priests, finds a lost heir despite the hindrance of being followed around by a freelance conscience, defends a cargo ship from space pirate attack, and attempts to learn the secret of teleportation from an enigmatic alien (with the fate of worlds hanging in the balance).
There's also a one-off graphic novel, PSmIth. An attempted ongoing comic book folded, due to scheduling and other problems, after a single story arc; but that story arc, The Gallimaufry, is the crowning achievement of the series, the added length allowing new levels of depth and complexity in plot and worldbuilding.
Following the success of Girl Genius, the series was re-released in web-comic form. The last installment of The Gallimaufry went up on June 20th, 2009. The following week saw a reprinting the three-page "True Story of the Winslow". And that appears to be that. (Almost.) One of the original short stories (the one with nudity) is not included at the above site. We're sure you can find it if you look hard, though.
- Alien Invasion: New Hong Kong is invaded in the uncollected short story "Field of Screams"; it goes very badly for the invaders
- Anything That Moves
- Louisa Dem Five
- And yet her employee Sizzlin' Sue manages to make her look like a nun. Especially when she's off her meds and drags a protesting total stranger into her bedroom.
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking
- The fourteen Accepted Signs of Divinity, as listed here, include: "call down the lightning, corrupt the innocent, eat the moon, answer the phone before it rings".
- The Prime Mover's to-do list: start rumors of the Winslow's location, find a new chief of security, evict the Pogs and topple their government, reestablish communication with Gallimaufrey Station, and "finish my bath".
- Artificial Gravity
- Aside Glance: Standard in any Phil Foglio comic.
- Atop a Mountain of Corpses
- Attack Hello: Standard Hoffmannite greeting.
- Baseball Episode: "Field of Screams"
- Batman Gambit: The way Buck resolves his problem at the end of PSmIth has to be seen to be believed. Starts here.
- Boisterous Bruiser: Frakkus Godot and Buck himself. Pretty much any Hoffmanite, at least by reputation.
- Boldly Coming: Louisa Dem Five's preferred approach to inter-species diplomacy.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: The teleporter story
- Brick Joke: Buck's taxes.
- The Cat Came Back: PSmIth in PSmIth, with a twist
- Combat Pragmatist: Buck has been known to use bottles, table tops and even his opponents as weapons.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: The board of X-Tel.
- Cute Monster Girl: Hyraxx D'Mofiti
- Cut His Heart Out with a Spoon: It's actually a really effective threat where he comes from. There is also some related creative use of dental floss.
- Data Crystal: Info Points.
- Deadly Euphemism: Don't accept an invitation to a "New Hong Kong wake". See Due to the Dead below for why.
- The TN messenger at the start of The Gallimaufry.
- And Hyraxx is Quite Determined for a simple creator of an infotainment-like art product.
- Hoffmannite courtship, according to Buck Godot himself, begins with high explosives.
- Buck's matress sports the mention: "SNERTA (Tough enough for a Hoffmannite — but no funny stuff or forget it.)"
- Drunken Master: Buck in the early strips. Later ignored.
- Dude, Where's My Respect?: The conclusion of the Gallimaufry storyline.
- Due to the Dead: A New Hong Kong Wake is a very dark example. You find the murderer, have a chat over their drug-induced confession, and leave them to die.
- Encyclopedia Exposita: The Herodotus Complex, a history of Earth's involvement in galactic affairs; a relevant extract appears at the beginning of each book and each issue of the comic
- Energy Weapon: Starting with zap-guns and working up from there.
- Face Palm: Done by sufficiently advanced alien the Prime Mover after he finds out what triggered the Gallimaufry plot.
- Faking the Dead: The whole human embassy does this for a while.
- Fakin' MacGuffin: An integral part of Buck's Batman Gambit in PSmIth.
- Faster-Than-Light Travel
- Friends All Along
- Foreign Queasine: Numerous examples, including a running gag about poiled slurgs, which some races prize as a delicious foodstuff and others prize as an effective oven cleaner.
- Gender Bender: Word to the wise: don't go drinking from random bottles in the Kleg embassy. Girl-Buck is rather cute, however.
- Genius Loci: Gallimaufry Station
- Girl-On-Girl Is Hot: Louisa's approach to abnormal hormone levels.
- God Guise: Many of the religions that surround the Winslow. He MAY be actually Divine (immortal, indestructible, and showing signs of Obfuscating Stupidity), it is just that everyone thinks he is for the wrong reasons.
- Grievous Harm with a Body: Check.
- Half-Dressed Cartoon Animal: Well, half-dressed cartoon aliens.
- Heavyworlder: Buck and the other Hoffmannites — suprisingly, given the rest of the comic is actually fairly high into the "Hard" scale of sci-fi, they're the fantastical "big and portly" types, rather then the scientifically accurate dwarf (i.e. short, squat, and lean) types. (This may be related to the fact that they didn't evolve, but were engineered — by a group of genetic engineers whose other projects included a race of centaurs.)
- He Knows Too Much: Why Par ultimately decides Godot and the Prime Mover have to die.
- Hive Mind: Psmith
- Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Louisa Dem Five and the Velvet Fist; she even made a cameo in XXXenophile! Has Strong opinions about hookers Without a heart of gold.
- Humans Are Special
- Parodied. Lots of species think we're entertainingly crazy, at best. Mmmm, popsicles.
- Later played straight — turns out that while the galaxy as a whole doesn't think much of humans, the really clever aliens know that humans are good at "getting things done", which is why Chief Parahexavoctal, security-chief on a station with literally thousands of different races in habitat, hires a human to investigate one of the biggest mysteries ever — and why, later, the "Destroy-on-Sight" Beemahs choose to throw their lot in with humanity as well.
Beemah:: Have confidence in you. We think humanity will survive. Sneaky. Admire this.
- Even the Prime Movers, the Arisian-like superintelligent godlike aliens who, it seems, run the universe, think that humanity is special... apparently because we think the Winslow is annoying.
- Human Subspecies: Humans have several subspecies created by genetic engineering to live in specific hostile environments.
- Hypercompetent Sidearms: Smith and Wesson are clearly the brains of the Pistol Packin' Polaris Packrat's operation.
- I Call It Vera: Buck's zap-gun, "Junior". Junior's rifle cousin "Senior" shows up on occasion, but is never used.
- I Did What I Had to Do Par's response to accusations against him of enslavement and genocide.
- Immortal Life Is Cheap
- Info Dump
- Intellectual Animal: Security Specialists Rowan and Martin.
- Interfaith Smoothie: The Church of Slag-Blah who are "militant agnostics" who celebrate a different religion's holy day every day.
- Interspecies Romance: Subverted by Buck/Louisa (Hoffmanites find humans underdeveloped and also "a wee bit... delicate") and Buck/Tal (since she's a reptilean alien, as Buck points out, even if he were inclined to perv he wouldn't know what to look at. Turns out he's lying — or at least he's learned what to make lascivious comments about.)
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: The Klegdixal. EVERYONE in the galaxy thinks that they're jerks, but they've actually dedicated their vast knowledge of biotech to preventing biowarfare; see also Morality Pet below. This is not to say that they are not, in fact, jerks.
- Judge, Jury, and Executioner
- Knight Templar: Security Chief Parahexavoctal is not above opening entire embassies to space to keep order. And that's only the beginning of the lengths he'll go to.
- Love Is in the Air: When she chooses, Louisa can become a walking pheromone factory. It's a treatment anyone can acquire, but it requires stringent licensing.
- MacGuffin: The Winslow, so very much — he could have been an inert lump of indestructium for all the difference it would have made to the plot. Given a great big Lampshade Hanging, with much discussion of the fact that although everybody knows he's very important, there's no general agreement on exactly why.
- Mass Teleportation: In one story, Buck has to gain the trust of a mysterious alien which has the mass teleportation technology needed to evacuate all the people off a planet that's about to be wiped out by a supernova. When he finally manages to explain the situation, the alien casually suggests that it would be just as easy to teleport the entire planet.
- McNinja: Every species has them, and most are Highly Visible and follow the Inverse Law.
- Ms. Fanservice: Louisa Dem Five — to the characters as well as the readers.
- Morality Pet: The Beemahs effectively become this for the Klegs. Initially hating and fearing the Klegs, who created the technology with which the Zmouf made the Beemahs as slaves, the Beemahs are as stunned as anyone else to discover that the Klegs had had no idea what the Zmouf intended, were horrified to learn the truth, and have felt guilty about it ever since. The Klegs are overjoyed to have a chance to make amends.
- Most Definitely Not a Villain
- Noodle Incident
- The job Buck once did for Lord Thezmothete.
- Also, Martian Charades. And a whole host of other things...
- No Transhumanism Allowed: Subverted. Humans like to tinker.
- Not the Fall That Kills You: The Teleporter incident.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: The Winslow. Maybe.
"No! do not eat own foot! Could not be stupider if you tried!"
- An Offer You Can't Refuse
- In the Teleporter story, the villain founds an entire inhabited colony world just so it will be in danger in a way that forces Buck to discover the Teleporter's secret for X-Tel. Note: This was done while the villain didn't know where in the universe Buck was, or whether he could be found before said planet met its fate. Nice guys, X-Tel.
- Also the Prime Mover's "restraining order" on Hyraax.
- One World Order
- Paparazzi: Hyraxx D'Mofiti
- Pie in the Face
- Plant Aliens
- Porn Stash: Even nigh-omnipotent aliens have them.
- The Power of Legacy: Security Chief Parahexavoctal is revealed to have committed several large-scale crimes in pursuit of his assigned duty, including (but not limited to) genocide and the large-scale enslavement of a sentient race. When confronted with his sins, he continues to claim that he just did what he had to do in order to provide thousands of years of peace on the station. The Prime Mover acknowledges this, and decrees that his record shall stand as a shining example to all his successors with no mention of his crimes. Par smiles and thanks him for fulfilling his ultimate wish, even as he is wiped from existence.
- Pre-Ass-Kicking One-Liner
Der Rock the Destroyer: Do not be lulled by my present condition, PSmith. There are only 35 of you.
- Roofless Renovation
- Running Gag: Poiled Slurgs.
- Science Fiction Kitchen Sink
- Shiny-Looking Spaceships
- Show Some Leg: Louisa Dem Five's strategy for dealing with tax notifiers.
- Smoking Is Cool: Enough to make Pogs look Badass. See attached.
- Space Pirate: The Pistol Packin' Polaris Packrat
- Speech Bubbles: Different speech bubble styles for most alien races.
- Starfish Aliens: So many that it would be easier to list the exceptions. And even the humanoid ones have bizarre alien biology.
- Still Wearing the Old Colors: Buck's usual outfit is, give or take a couple of customisations, his old X-Tel Security uniform. And he objects to being named Worst Dressed Sentient.
Buck: Oort, what is wrong with how I dress?
- Stout Strength: Buck and his relatives.
- Sufficiently Advanced Alien: Lord Thezmothete; the Teleporter; the Prime Mover
- Techno Babble: With Lampshade Hanging on one occasion.
- Teleporters and Transporters: But only the most advanced of the Sufficiently Advanced Aliens have them.
- Thrown Out the Airlock: Every race's embassy has an airlock for a ROOF. Parahexavoctal has been known to throw entire embassies out the airlock.
- Totalitarian Utilitarian
- Tuckerization: Some of the characters in the series are based on friends of the author. Including Buck.
- Unproblematic Prostitution
- Utopia Justifies the Means
- Voice of the Legion
- White-Haired Pretty Girl
- Wretched Hive: New Hong Kong. Mind you, just because it's Lawless, doesn't mean there aren't rules. But there aren't rules about unimportant stuff like shooting people down in the street just because you don't like them.
Godot Was Here. The Winslow is here. He's everywhere. All hail.