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Tales From the Vault-Verse: The Last Book You’ll Ever Read

It seems as if my multidimensional friend neglected to mention that Olivia Kade’s book SATYR may be the root of mass violent hysteria on this Earth. They neglected to fill me in on that little fact until I was already on this Earth because and I quote, “I thought it would be funny to see your reaction. It was worth it.” So now I am sitting in the waiting room to speak with her during her book tour. Journalism is fun, right? It’ll just be nice for once to not have to explain the whole multidimensional traveler thing. Silver linings.

Interview with Olivia Kade

Credit: Cullen Bunn/Leila Leiz/Giada Marchisio/Jim Campbell (Vault Comics)

Dan: Ms. Kade, it is a pleasure to meet you. I like to start all of my interviews with a real heavy hitter…what’s your favorite sandwich?

Olivia: Did you know that it wasn’t that long ago that I was working at a sandwich shop? It’s true. I worked my way through much of college working at a deli, slinging turkey and swiss sandwiches. 

Funny how things change. 

And how rapidly. 

Anyway, in regards to your question, my favorite sandwich was a peanut butter and jelly sandwich that my father made for me when I was five. I remember sitting at the table, watching him work so meticulously to make that sandwich for me. His method of sandwich construction was so different from my mother’s. Mom would mix the peanut butter and jelly in a bowl before slathering it on the bread. Dad put jelly on one slice of the bread so evenly, so smoothly, and peanut butter on the other. He cut it into perfect halves. He cleanly sliced the crust off. 

It was the best sandwich I ever ate, because even at that young age, I appreciated that it was such a fleeting treat.

I knew it wouldn’t last. 

Dan: So SATYR…when did you start writing it?

Olivia: When I finished that sandwich maybe? (laughs)

This book wasn’t my dream. 

No, my dream was to write erotic horror fiction. I have several manuscripts somewhere in my office. They’re full of violence and bloodshed and sex. Most of them are unpublished. A couple of them saw print, but they were quickly forgotten.

I think I was working too hard to follow the “rules” of writing, and it stripped all the vitality from those pages.

Interestingly the unpublished manuscripts, the ones my agent quickly rejected, were much more satisfying. 

I started writing SATYR a couple of years ago. I went on a bit of a sabbatical, a retreat, to try and focus and prepare for my next novel. I secreted myself away at this great little bed and breakfast type place, out in the woods, away from everyone.

The book I planned on starting, though, didn’t come out the way I expected at all. It became, almost from the first word, the book you know as SATYR

It was the dreams, I think, that set me on that path.

The dreams…and the bellowing from the woods. 

Dan: The cover is a lot more tame than one would expect about a book exploring the morality of the human condition. What made you go that route?

Credit: Cullen Bunn/Leila Leiz/Giada Marchisio/Jim Campbell (Vault Comics)

Olivia: “Tame.” That’s an interesting choice of words, isn’t it? We’re all so tame. It’s true, though, I suppose. My publisher put together a number of different cover concepts, many of them far more sensational, even a bit shocking in some cases, but I thought it much more appropriate to start from a position of safety and comfort. The simple icon of a satyr, playing his pipe for all of us to dance to, seems appropriate. 


Dan: I heard you were recently attacked at a signing! I hate to bring it up but it’s my job…what was going through your mind as you were attacked?

Olivia: It’s to be expected, I suppose.

Credit: Cullen Bunn/Leila Leiz/Giada Marchisio/Jim Campbell (Vault Comics)

Dan: It seems as if a lot of attacks are happening and the media is trying to pin those crimes onto your book. How does that feel?

Olivia: You can’t really ask for better publicity, can you?

Certainly, there are times where I am frustrated with how my work is being represented… with how I am being represented as a writer… but I can’t control the message from the media any more than I can really control the message you’ll find in the pages of SATYR.

Now, you might say, “But you’re the author. Don’t you have complete control of the message?”

And that is a naive assumption, just as it is naive—even willfully ignorant—to say that my book is causing this collapse.

The collapse would be here with or without SATYR

I’m just trying to make the transition—the Wilding—a little less painful. 

Dan: Do you feel that your book shares anything similar with other famously controversial novels like Lolita, The Catcher in the Rye, and American Psycho to name a few?

Olivia: Hmm.

I don’t think a comparison to those books is quite right. 

If we’re going to make a comparison to a controversial book responsible for mass violence, maybe THE BIBLE?

Or maybe HOW TO STAY ALIVE IN THE WOODS.

Dan: In the book, you make a claim that people are becoming more feral…do you mean this in a way that we are more animalistic or less conservative with some of our etiquette?

Olivia: The concepts of conservatism and liberalism, moderation and orthodoxy, traditionalism and pliability, are flying out the window, and as the glass shatters, the structures housing those windows are collapsing. It’s not that any one person is becoming more feral. It’s that we’re all heading that way. So etiquette is going the way of the dodo, along with social graces and politeness and expectations and even laws. I mean, do we value those things anyway? We like to say we do. But those are old, self-inflicted wounds and we’re starting to pick the scab away in order to see how our flesh is scarred underneath. 

Credit: Cullen Bunn/Leila Leiz/Giada Marchisio/Vlad Popov/Jim Campbell (Vault Comics)

Dan: Do you think the written word holds the same power today as it once did before the invention of the technology the world relies so heavily on today? And we can keep this one off of the record Ms. Kade but I have to ask for myself, do you think you are going to be okay after all of this? If all of this does link back to you…how will you sleep?

Olivia: Soon enough, the technology of it all won’t matter. You see that, right? We won’t be communicating as we are right now, not using technology, not using the written word, definitely not using them in conjunction with one another. And yet, the written word, translated through technology, doled out in small bites without the safety blankets of intonation, intention, and context, have moved us towards the singularity. Our steadfast determination that our ideas, philosophy, and faith can be conveyed in less than 280 characters…our knee-jerk reactions to those distilled opinions and belief systems… have been gnawing away at the paper-thin skin of civilization for years. 

When the dust settles, I imagine I’ll sleep just fine, along with the rest of the pack, nuzzled up together in a dark, warm den, somewhere deep in the earth. 

I am, after all, right here in the middle of this with everyone else. 

My book isn’t the cause, I mentioned. It’s not even a testimony. It’s more of a survival guide, really. 

The Last Book You’ll Ever Read is on sale now from Vault Comics! Written by Cullen Bunn, art by Leila Leiz, colored by Giada Marchisio and Vlad Popov, and letters by Jim Campbell!

And a thank you to Cullen Bunn for the interview!

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Tales From the Vault-Verse: Money Shot

Listen, this interview is unlike anything I have ever done. I want to be upfront with you right now, when Combo started chirping about my next interview, I wasn’t ready for this. Combo, for those of you who are just joining us because of the promise of naughty talk, is the sentient device that lets me travel to Vault worlds to interview their inhabitants. Sure, I have talked to barbarians, a witch who turned me into a baby, and a family after the end of the world but this is a little…different. 

When I put Combo on my wrist, the first thing they said was, “You either gotta strap-in or strap-on for this one big boy!” so I knew I was in for something a little bit off the beaten path. Well, there was a lot of beatin’ before my interview. Okay getting ahead of myself. I am interviewing a group known as “XXX-Plorers” from a scientific project known as “Money Shot.” They are a group of intergalactic explorers making discoveries that can save their nearly doomed Earth. But I know you’re all waiting for the other ball to drop. 

They also fuck the alien species they meet for their porn site to fund their explorations. Imagine if Onlyfans took Patreon doggy style; funding their science experiments at the Michigan Institute of Technology in Detroit through the sex work they’re doing. It’s really a genius endeavor to get their research funded. They’re truly saving the future through fuckin’, good on them!

I sat down with physicist Dr. Christine Ocamo, the founder of the project, and one other member of the team who introduced himself as “Supermassive Blackhole,” whose real name is Dr. Doug Koch. They had just returned from a “mission” when I arrived in Detroit to speak with them. Turns out a multi-dimensional traveler showing up for an interview doesn’t really shock a group who is fucking near omnipotent jellyfish beings.

Interview with Dr. Christine Ocamo

Thanks for letting me sit down with you, Doctor! I do open all of my interviews with an ice breaker! What’s your favorite sandwich?

CHRIS: Hm. Ha. Let me think….wait, why did you ask about sandwiches? Is this a food thing? Do I look fat? Fuck. I have to film a scene with a rail thin grey alien in like two hours, and that ass-probing waif is gonna make me look like an absolute manatee!

Ahem. Summer sausage. Love some good ol’ fashioned summer sausage.

On Earth, it seems that pornography has gotten to the highest extremes… Do you think that correlates with the condition the planet itself is in?

CHRIS: I think we’re living in an era of information overload. And I mean information in the sense of news and data, but also in arousing stimuli. So, I think people are starting to find it hard to know what to believe so they turn to things that are comforting and don’t challenge their ideals.

But, also, they’ve seen everything, and they’re bored so they’ll definitely watch someone fuck an airwhale in the blowhole.

Where did the idea to fund your own scientific endeavors with…well… fucking aliens?

CHRIS: I read the comments. And, I mean, god…it was the worst. Like, run-screaming-out-a-4th floor-window-the-worst. But, as it turns out, in the face of such cosmic horror, I found inspiration…and that inspiration was even if only weird billionaires care about space travel, there’s a buck or two to be made from goin’ four-on-the-floor with a Klingon.

Do you feel any burden to the human race to be the first contact with some of these species? Do you think your work is going to have a lasting effect throughout the galaxy?

CHRIS: Well, I mean, if humanity wants me to act a certain way, pay me. Personally, I think you could do worse as a diplomat to the stars than my vagina.

I don’t want to get too intrusive, but do you find all of this has affected intimacy in your day-to-day life, as you have to work with this group on excursions and in the lab?

CHRIS: Oh no. Of course not. We’re totally good..we’re…

{Cries. Cries for 6 full minutes}

Ahem.

Professionals.

After seeing so much of what the galaxy has to offer sexually and society wise, do you feel more optimistic or pessimistic about the future of humanity?

CHRIS:  If I’ve learned anything, it’s that humans are flexible. And, like, not just in the “can bend over backwards to perform self analingus” kind of way. Humans can adapt to almost anything the universe can throw at them. We can use that to our advantage, or let ourselves become complacent. If the taste of my own butt is any indication, the future is leaning in our favor.

Interview with Dr. Doug “Supermassive Blackhole” Koch

I asked Dr. Ocamo this, but I’m curious for you as well. This question always throws people off… what’s your favorite sandwich?

DOUG: Well, as a ‘flavor scientist”, I think my answer is probably going to be a little more esoteric than your usual interviewee.  I’ve literally tried almost everything on Earth, AND a decent sample size of the universe.

So, as a gourmet, what I like to do is put Cheetos on my bologna. SOMETIMES even the Flamin’ Hot.

Fuckin’ rocks, bro.

Men in porn are also depicted in a hyper masculine light, do you feel the need to live up to those standards? 

DOUG: Have you seen these guns? Haw, I kid. I think the true measure of a man is his sensitivity, his self-awareness and the girth of his man-wand. And Doug Koch is all meat.

Do you think the Money Shot project has changed your perspectives on your scientific work?

DOUG: Oh absolutely. I’ve seen things no human ever has. Experienced sensations previously unknown to life. How can I not change my approach, right? I mean, did you know that on the alternate Earth of universe b2687, they have Green Chile Flamin’ Hot Cheetos?! THE. FUCK. I mean, you can go ahead and toss out all those years at the Detroit Institute of Technology right there.

Have there ever been situations where you were afraid during this project so far? It doesn’t need to be just in a mortal danger aspect. I want to know if sharing this much of yourself with the universe was scary for you.

DOUG: Fear is for the uniformed. As a scientist, I don’t feel fear. I feel curiosity. Now, look, has intense curiosity ever caused me to shit my pants? Yeah. Once or twice.

What was it like working alongside your president? I don’t want to make any brash judgment, but you seem so kind while your president seems like such an asshole.

DOUG: I’ll tell you what, as a flavor scientist—did I mention that? —I’m used to enduring things that may not be pleasant. But, even the absolute stalest, soggiest, orange dustless Cheeto on Earth is more pleasant than President Luke Kirk was. On the other hand, we were able to show American Evangelicals the one thing that would shake their affection for that dick-bag. The dude bleaches his butthole. Turns out, and I didn’t know this, that’s a big sin. God loves a brown bung. Ya heard it here first.

Money Shot is on sale now from Vault Comics! Written by Tim Seeley & Sarah Beattie, art by Rebekah Isaacs & Caroline Leigh Layne, Colored by Kurt Michael Russell, and letters by CRANK!

Thank you to Tim for agreeing to let me jump into their world!

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Tales From the Vault-Verse: Witchblood

After I got home from my time on that alternate Earth that was rattled by those waves. I had to take some time off. I needed to spend some time with my family because who knows when the next cataclysmic event hits my Earth? I think Combo, the device which gives me access to the Vault-Verse, sensed I needed some time because it’s been quiet. 

But this morning while I made my coffee before heading to the office to do today’s broadcast, it started to call for me. Normally it just obnoxiously screams until I open my desk drawer but today was different. I could hear the echoes of “Magic Dance” by David Bowie playing from the drawer I stored it in. That little shit knew I couldn’t resist David Bowie and those swea- nevermind. I opened the drawer and for the first time it didn’t have anything insulting to say. It asked if I believed in magic. 

I mean, of course I do, I report on superheroes, demons, and all sorts of things. Combo informed me of an Earth where a group of vampires are tracking down some witches to drink their blood for powers. There was one in particular wrapped up in all of this, her name was Yonna. She was the one who I was set to interview.  At first, I was hesitant to do another but then it said I could wear a bolo tie so that was the end of that. 

Texas is fucking hot. I wasn’t ready for the heat but it was okay.

Interview with Yonna

So before we get started, I just have to let you know I am not from your Earth. I assume you know of the multiverse?

Assumptions are easy to make, sure! 

Would you like to introduce yourself?

Yessir, name is Yonna.

I like to start off with something pretty heavy… What’s your favorite sandwich?

Three eggs real yolky — on top of buttered and salted, slightly toasted texas toast, and a dollop of “country” gravy with extra thick sausage chunks. Additional meat on the side.

I love your outfit, how would you describe your whole style? Like your hair is so vibrant, is that magic or what?

Nothing magic about self-expression, it just comes out naturally so why force it otherwise. You like what you like!

I noticed a pretty sick bike outside that says Ramblin’ Rose. Is that yours? Where’d you get that ride?

I think this one was a gift, or maybe I stole it…? I can’t remember there’s been so many Ramblin’ Roses that at this point it’s the more the idea of it than anything. This rose is certainly my favorite since when they’d die from lack of food. That is to say horses or the like.

So your magic, where does that come from? Do you have spells you cast or is more of a mix a bunch of different bits together for a certain outcome?

Comes from the nature of things! An alchemist is thought to be able to fiddle and tinker with the primordial elements, heat and the lack thereof, ya see! So, with the elemental properties of things I can mix them up, a little boil-boil toil and trouble, if ya’ get me and boom! I’ve got a neat little drink that obtains a variety of inherited properties based on what I was fiddlin’ with — back when I was first learnin’ the ropes it was somewhat of a surprise what I’d get, but now I’ve got a long list of keepers. 

Is this like a profession for you or do you have a day job?

No. I am homeless. Or whatever you call it. 

I know this is probably taboo but would you mind showing me some sort of magic?

Yonna smashes a bottle on the ground, on the front are the words “Tiny Baby” and turns whoever this person is into a temporary baby

You’re a baby now. This was the potion I smashed and it lasts until you make a little baby pee. I will be long gone once that happens though, so you still have the ability to talk and be normal.

This is magic.


Well shit, I’m a baby. This is going to be an issue but lets keep going…I’ve been seeing a lot of whispers about something called a Hex Hunter online, have you had to tango with any of those?

This tiny baby is speaking to me, how novel! Hoo hoo boy, I need a better name for a potion like Tiny Baby. I could basically turn anyone I want into a baby, this is maybe too powerful of a potion. I should write down the ingredients of this potion and make sure never to brew another one ever again. It’s just… what if this fell into the wrong hands. 

It would be too powerful of a magic. 

Okay, sorry to interrupt, but the bird…is that a raven… it keeps squawking almost as if at me directly… are they with you?

Bhusunda! My trusty and mischievous familiar! Take these pouches of the freshly brewed Tiny Baby baby potion and drop them off the tallest cliff in West Texas! You must, please! I can’t know where you’ve dropped them otherwise I’d be too tempted to go back and get them and use them to turn people who cross me into tiny babies. 

I would for sure do that, too. Especially if there is no real lasting consequence of my actions.

So I hear tell that you’ve been feuding with Vampires, what are they like here? Are they the only other sort of non-humans here or are there wolf people, or like swamp monsters?

Bhusunda is back, the potions are gone and the day is saved. You should be returning to your regular self shortly, like I said, you have to make a little peep-peep until that happens, so make sure there is an adult around to clean you up or whatever needs to happen for you to be… right with yourself. 

So yeah. Goodbye. I’m sorry I turned you into a baby.

Well thanks for meeting with me, I hope everything goes well for you. Any final remarks?

Try not to sit in the sun! Baby’s have very sensitive skin and you will surely roast alive! Find some shade under a tall tree or a decently sized sign in a field!

Adios baby!

Thank you to Matthew Erman for turning me into a baby, I guess…



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Tales from the Vault-Verse: Resonant

SPOILERS FOR RESONANT FOLLOW

The “Combination” device that gives me access to the Vault-Verse has been quiet for a few weeks but last night, it started chirping. By chirping, I mean this thing was screaming at full volume to be let out of my desk drawer. This thing sure is aggressive. I think this device is a bit too sentient. Combo, as I am calling them, has an opinion on everything. It asks me “Oh, you’re really wearing that? No, No, it’s fine. I just wasn’t sure you would wear that out.” and things like that. I don’t know if it wants to be friends or hates me. Anyway…

It’s given me my next assignment. The next world that we are venturing to is code-named “Resonant”. It seems to be a reference to what Combo is calling waves. They said when a wave hits you either “strap in or strap on” because all of your violent thoughts burst out like a volcano of aggression. It’s like a soundwave that just sweeps the world and makes things bad…really bad. It’s one of those worlds that is either closing in on its finale or about to spring back to life like a phoenix.

This interview is going to be a little different than the last one. The family I am speaking to has been through a lot together in the last few months. From what I understand, the Father of the family, Paxton, went to find medicine for his youngest Stef but a whole series of events kept him from coming back. His 2 other children Ty and Bec held down the home but also separated… everyone is together now. 

Combo opened my rift into the world in front of the church they were all staying at after everything that happened. It’s been a week since the family fought Maw, had their house burned down, and Paxton returned. When I first step foot through the portal, I heard a bark come from inside the church as a dog rushed towards me. I’ll be honest and tell you that I was a bit afraid at first as the dog lunged at me but it was only wanting to be pet. Paxton called “Fern” from inside, the dogs name. I pet Fern to show her that I was not a threat as Paxton came outside to see where she had gone.

Explaining who and just what I was doing there wasn’t simple but Paxton must have assumed that I was a bit mad because he agreed to have the family sit down with me to discuss everything. This interview will be broken into sections because I spent some time chatting with everyone about the events that had transpired.

Family Sit Down

Thank you all for speaking with me today. I wanted to first ask about the waves… What does it feel like when they hit?

PAXTON: That’s a tough thing to describe if you haven’t lived through it. It’s like…a switch flips and…darkness comes out of you. Things that you thought one time years ago, like jumping off a building, or something recent like wanting to hit someone, those things shoot to the front of your mind and you start acting before you know it. You watch yourself do those things, it all seems natural until the Wave stops and reality sets back in. 

BEC: Itchy, they always feel like suddenly your whole body itches then needles explode out through your skin. 

TY: You ever go to sit down and your stupid sister pulls the chair out from underneath you and there is that moment when you thought you would hit the chair and you just drop and your stomach falls? That.

How do you all feel now that you’re back together?

PAXTON: It’s the greatest relief I could imagine. Every day away from my kids was…I just kept imagining the terrible things that might be happening to them. I should have known they could handle it.

STEF: It’s cool! I have a dog now!

BEC: Dad’s been working with me on my mediation. It’s gotten much better, I think all that practice with shooting arrows really helped. I can make it through Waves now without tying myself up!

TY: It’s nice. But Bec still thinks she’s the boss. 

What do you hope the future holds?

PAXTON: Rebuilding the cabin. But bigger and better than before. We have a group now, I learned some things from the Spiral. I think we can teach more people to resist the Waves with mediation, we can extend a little bubble of protection around this area and start…living again. Hope. Hope is what the future holds.

One on One with Ty

After sitting down with the family, I went to speak to everyone one on one for a moment. Ty was outside speaking to one of the other kids around the church as I walked up to speak with him.

I saw you playing with another kid earlier, is she your friend?

TY: Yes? Kinda? She and I…well we got married I guess. I didn’t know…Anyway, she’s nice. Sarah is her name. She’s staying with us now.

Oh right… I wanted to see how you felt with reuniting with Isaac after what he did?

TY: It was weird. I’m glad he came to help us when we were fighting with Maw and that crazy Preacher and his creepy followers. But he’s still just looking out for people who believe what he believes. We offered for him to stay here with us, but he cared more about trying to change what everyone believes in, so he left with some of the Congregation. Sarah’s dad, Noah, and a few stayed with us. It’s nice to have other people around, other kids to play with.

I know all of this must have been traumatizing, do you feel like you learned anything from this whole ordeal?

TY: Oh man, lots! How to shoot a bow, how important taking care of your family is. Most importantly, be careful who you trust.

One on One with Bec

Bec approached me after Ty had run off. She looked very tired after everything that had happened but she was kind enough to speak with me.

When your father first left, what were you thinking would happen?

BEC: I really thought he would be back before we really noticed he was gone. He’s left on other trips before, even overnight. He was so worried before he left, I thought he was being ridiculous. Turns out, my Dad is a pretty smart guy.

Are you afraid Maw will ever surface again? Do you think there was any logic in their beliefs?

BEC: If Maw comes back, I’m ready for him! I’m an even better shot now! Logic? In ripping out eyes and eating people? I mean…I guess I can see how some people like others to make decisions for them. But that was just crazy!

You have been extraordinarily brave from what I understand, do you think now you will have a moment to take a breath and let someone else be the brave one for a while?

BEC: I don’t think bravery is something you can turn on and off. I never thought of myself as brave anyway. You see something that needs to get done, and you do it.

A Quick Question for Miki

Miki didn’t seem to want to speak with me but I got one question in before he walked away.

What does it feel like when you feel the wave coming? Do you sense when it is coming to a close?

MIKI: It’s like a dip in your stomach, like the first fall of a rollercoaster, if it’s a really strong Wave, it can feel like being car sick. It slowly builds as the Wave approaches, I’m pretty aware of it now after all these years. It fades the same way it builds, luckily they usually don’t last too long. 

Campfire with Paxton

After everyone had eaten dinner and found their respective places to sleep for the night, I sat with Paxton by a fire. I could feel the pain radiating off of him as if he had lost so much on his journey to return to his family. My job isn’t to sugar coat things though, my job is to tell their stories.

Paxton, I wanted to start off with talking about the island. If it weren’t for the heinous leader, do you think it would have been a sustainable place to rebuild?

PAX: No. There was no way to grow all the things you needed to survive. Trade with the ‘neighbors’ was out too, they had lost all sense of civility. Honcho was a beast, but he had figured out that violence and thievery was a way to exist out there.

Do you think these people with abilities like yours and Miki, do you think there are more out there?

PAX: I would imagine so. When we talk about my ‘ability’, that has come from training, it’s nothing I was born with. I’ve taught Bec how to do it, Ty is coming along and even a couple of former Congregation members and Miki have started on the path to stillness of the mind. If you stay here I could teach you too. Now Miki’s ability to sense the Waves…that may be more unique. But who knows, maybe that can be taught too. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about how humans and Waves interact, there are possibilities of further…influence on the Waves, I believe.

I debated asking you this but I have to ask. Claire… Did or does she mean something to you? I know it may be painful but I get the sense that she wasn’t just a doctor you needed for Stef.

PAX: Clare…Doc…She means…I don’t have the space in my heart for her. My kids are too important. I hope she finds some level of peace at the Spiral. She was more conflicted than she ever let on. I think doctors, in general, keep their focus outward, on helping other people. I didn’t see how much help she needed. I regret many decisions, but failing to help Claire when she needed it most is that one that will stay with me forever.

Do you think you will ever return to the Spiral?

PAX: I can’t see a path back to the Spiral that doesn’t involve abandoning my children or bloody violence. I’m not walking that road again if I can avoid it.

Before I go, I just want to ask… do you think you’re going to be okay?

PAX: I guess that depends on your definition of ‘okay’. (laughs). I think we’ll survive, we’ll try to make the best life possible for the people we can. And we’ll protect ourselves against anything, or anyone, that threatens to take that life away.

After Paxton answered, Miki rushed out from the church to warn us. I could hear the chirping of bugs locked inside a chest. A wave was coming.. It was my time to leave this family. I wish that I could have stayed, that I could have done more. But I am only an observer of the Vault-Verse… I cannot do things to change it. Or at least that is what Combo keeps telling me. Until next time, this is Dan McMahon from GC52 News Networks. Be strong in all your convictions.

Resonant was written by David Andry, all art in this article was done by Skylar Patride, colors done by Jason Wordie, and lettering by Deron Bennett

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Tales from the Vault-Verse: Barbaric

Prologue

This may be the first time we are meeting or the hundredth but my name is Daniel McMahon. I’m the Lead Anchor on the GC52 News Network. I know most of you are more accustomed to seeing me on your televisions through the Multiverse but this is something different. I am diving back into my journalistic roots after being on the air for so long. But I’m getting ahead of myself, I need to explain what this is first. 

A few weeks ago I was approached by these 2 mysterious bearded brothers only referring to themselves as the Wassels. They told me that there was so much more beyond the worlds of Dark Knights and Super Men. To be honest, I was a little nervous as to how they were waiting for me outside the office but they offered me the keys to what they called “The Vault”. The key is actually a device called “The Combination” which looks like an intricate dial lock but it’s actually a sentient supercomputer (Sort of like the Motherbox from our world). I don’t know who programmed it but it said my wrist was the “thickest” it’s ever been. Still don’t know if that was a jab or if it was hitting on me so I guess we’ll see.

So as any good journalist would, I am making that leap into the unknown regions of the multiverse to travel between these different Vault worlds to meet the people and creatures that inhabit them. So with that… I am heading to some sort of world of swords and sorcery… Have I ever mentioned that I hate Magic? Gives me the willies…

Interview with Owen and…Axe?

When I first arrived on the planet, it was clear I was dreadfully unprepared so I grabbed a cloak from a corpse. Listen, no one ever said journalism was glamorous. Turns out the stack of bodies I was rummaging through was the refuse pile from a sort of coliseum. I found a free seat by the time they introduced someone called “The Barbarian”, which felt a bit dehumanizing. 

But it was quickly clear as day that he was someone I would want to chat with. I don’t know how many gladiatorial battles you have watched but most don’t play out like this one. With the main combatant letting one person get away and killing the person running the show… so I followed this Barbarian from the coliseum and to a nearby watering hole. I heard people whispering about how he was cursed in some sort of way that he can only kill evil-doers so I had to know more.

When I first approached him in the corner he pretty much claimed it as his own, his hand quickly went for his axe. After I offered to buy him drinks to start his night off, he was more inclined to speak with me. (Thank you corpse pile for your endless bounty). I started the interview off with an easy one…

Do you prefer Owen or the flashier title of THE BARBARIAN?

Owen: I prefer you pay my bar tab like you promised. You can call me Sally after that. But only once, because my name is Owen. It rhymes with about as many cool words as “barbarian” does, so good luck writing a song about me. You are a bard, right?

Right?

Before we get into the heavier things, I do have to ask… what’s your favorite sandwich?

Owen: According to this stupid curse of mine, where I HAVE to do the right thing, all the time, I eat evil for lunch. But when I’m not eating that, fried bologna will do just fine.

Right, okay Owen, so how have things been since the whole being cursed thing? 

Owen: I wouldn’t say great. I mean, look: I’m a friggin barbarian. Roaming the lands doing whatever the hell we please is our thing. But now I have rules. And a moral code. And other made-up things that basically say I can never have any damn fun.

I heard a rumor about town that you can only kill the wicked… what’s that like? 

Owen: I guess it’s not all bad. The fact is, if you’re such a piece of shit that you find me and my Axe on your doorstep, odds are not a whole lot of people are going to try and avenge your death. That alone saves me a lot of hassle. Otherwise…eh. It’s fine. Better than no killing at all. And it’s not like there’s so many good people in the world that I’m ever in want of someone to axe.

Well, to be frank, it seems like a real shit deal. Can you at least like sin and stuff still? All the fun stuff in life is probably a sin to some god…

Owen: Don’t even get me started. Used to be a time when a few bits of coin would get me companionship for the night, now–

Axe: It’s not moral. It simply is not. Do we really have to go over this again?

Owen: <mumbles> You can go over it all you like when I dump you into the bottom of a well.

Axe: Excuse me? Something to say, Owen?

Hold the fuck on, did that Axe just speak? I may have had a few drinks before walking over here but they couldn’t have been that strong.

Owen: Did Axe just speak? Try getting him to shut up! All he does is talk. I’m surprised we’ve gone on this long without him yapping his flap.

This has to be the weirdest interview yet… what do I call you.. Axeimas, Axeathan, or like Axey? 

Axe: Don’t get cute, kid. Or maybe I’ll do a little check on your moral background, see if I should put the barbarian to work. 

Well, pleasure to meet you Axe. I guess my usual sandwich question doesn’t work for you… what do you even eat?

Axe: Blood. I feast on human blood, and then I get fucked up. It’s the greatest thing in the world. 

 So you two are a team of sorts?

Owen: Yeah, we’re your classic “cursed barbarian and sentient axe who’s a moral compass” duo.

Axe: Maybe we need a name for a team. I kinda like “Axe and some other guy.”

What’s your working relationship like?

Owen: We’re bound together by dark magic that can never be broken. I’d say we’re a work in progress. 

Axe: But on the bright side, we might both be immortal, so we have plenty of time to work out the kinks. 

Owen: Never have I wanted to die more.

What kind of adventures do you go on?

Owen: We don’t! I do my best to go by undetected so I can avoid adventures and quests and all that other bullshit. But then my good friend over here always has to be sticking his nose–or whatever the hell’s on his face–where it doesn’t belong. 

Axe: <laughing maniacally>

Anything fun on your agendas in the near future?

Axe: I hear some hack named Poreci or Moregreasy or whatever wrote a comic about us, so I guess we’re about to be dealing with newfound fame and glory. 

That’s how comics work, right? 

Hello?


I could tell he was getting a little bit more testy as the interview went on so I had to excuse myself as I heard the shouts from outside about some sort of Witch. One could only assume that someone saw me rooting around in the pile of corpses… Owen seems like a nice fellow with some major issues that he’s going to need to work out.


Barbaric #1 by Michael Moreci, Nathan C. Gooden, Addison Duke, Jim Campbell, and Tim Daniel is out on June 16th from Vault Comics, call your LCS today and add it to your pull! Thank you to Michael Moreci for Owen and Axe’s answers. Thank you to the Wassels for the device and support of playing in your sandbox.