I saw some comments on yesterday’s page to the effect that Hollister and Clair should’ve adopted a “We’re made of rubber, you’re made of glue” strategy and hucked the Ultimate Engine’s missile right back at it. I agree that such a move would be ideal, assuming they had the mojo to pull it off…but they didn’t. A magickal funnel or slingshot or whatever would’ve shattered like their shield did, only a few seconds sooner. The payload was too big and fast for any portal tricks—plus, all the other portals we’ve shown sky elves making have been anchored on solid ground. Partly blocking the weapon’s power was literally the most they could do. And having done it, Hollister will never do anything again.

We weren’t quite sure of that fact, at the time we wrote and drew this. The script for panel 3 included the description, Clair is yelling Hollister’s name as loudly as she can, but he is out cold. Possibly in a bad way. So we hadn’t quite committed to his fate at this point. If the story had called for it, he might’ve turned up in Chapter 50 with a scar or cough or something. “They thought I was dead, and (koffkoff) so did I! I guess that means I’m a real adventurer now, eh?” Ultimately, though, a war story doesn’t seem complete without some sacrifice. And that sacrifice doesn’t register unless it’s a character we’ve already come to know.

The effects this will have on Clair will be measured but noticeable. The loss of her home and the berserker-related tragedies she witnessed had already tempered her somewhat. But this moment is the death of the last of her innocence. 

FB: Taro thinks of “friendly fire” more or less as just “getting a head start on next year’s insurrectionists.”