July 30th, 2009


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Discussion (51)¬

  1. jassius says:

    Are you OK? That is quite a question. Furthermore. Are you SC?
    Quite an strange interest for SC to have someone destroyed. Specially someone who talks.

    Umm. Destroying the chain is a good idea? Or would that *free* SGV. I would call for council *now*

  2. Sil says:

    Hmm, I’ll have to look back. Is the chain what the lizards were using to pump the heart?

  3. Spizzy says:

    breaking the chain that grounds him? I think we are seeing sweet grass in SC

  4. SongCoyote says:

    I don’t think ShadowChild’s advice is influenced by Sweetgrass Voice; rather, it seems to be informed by what SC learned from devouring SGV’s shadow. It has seen what it believes is the truth of the matter: SGV is now so old and thin that letting the god die by stopping its heart from being pumped (which is what binds it to the terrible undearth in which it is held) will bring about SGV’s death as well. They are bound together, and while early in that process SGV might have been able to escape if the god died, at this point it can no longer sustain itself.

    At least, that’s how I see it. Only time will tell.

    Oh, and as for SC… its current stage of existence is disturbing after seeing it as a child for so long, but it is also rewarding to see it gain so much strength from it. At what cost? We may never know.

    I definitely look forward to finding out, though.

    Light and laughter,

  5. Kayru says:

    I love staying up late just to read these.

    I’m a bit confused about which ancestor it’s referring to, actually. So much backstory… it’s all just lumping together…
    I hate to distrust Shadowchild, but right now I’m wary… jassius is right, but that doesn’t help. XD

  6. Otookee says:

    Yeah, it’s quite the question, isn’t it? If SGV won the fight, and ate Shadowchild, presumably SGV would absorb SC’s memories – maybe enough to do a convincing imitation of SC. So we still don’t know if this is SC or SGV Digger is talking to.

  7. Victor Wren says:

    It’s an interesting question whether SGV is too arrogant to claim being frightened of Digger, even as a ploy to gain her trust.

  8. Gwennan says:

    I think (I hope) this is Shadowchild – though greatly changed.

    And I find myself loving Digger even more. You’ve just been handed the key to resolving this great, world-changing quest you’re on….and you’re more concerned about what’s happened to your friend. That’s the definition of a great heart, in my opinion….

  9. justaguy says:

    Helix is the ancestor… the ghost wombat…

    I don’t fin SC’s interest in killing SGV odd, really. It’s always been interested/open in eating (and thus killing) those shadows with darkness i them and SGV’s shadow has to be full of that. And quite literally He Is’s heart has a deep dark shadow upon it. All that combined with his protective feelings towards Digger and the rather imminent threat posed to her by SGV justifies the focus.

  10. Werrf says:


    “Break the chain”? Isn’t that what Helix told them NOT to do?

    “Was I your friend?” Could be translated as “I am possessing Shadowchild and want to use it to convey misinformation to you, but I want to make sure my understanding of your relationship with it is correct”

    Oh dear…

  11. Yubi Shines says:

    This is more than a little reminiscent of poor Dusty from Irrational Fears… I think this is Shadowchild (though I would not discount the possibility that Sweetgrass implanted fake memories into the extension of him that we saw), just, you know… changed. Caterpillar, butterfly, all that.

  12. Loren says:

    I don’t see any assurance here that SC survived the encounter. In fact, breaking the chain might be the exact wrong thing to do. (Please, B’rer Fox, don’t throw me in that brier patch…)

    I await developments.

  13. DevilStarX says:

    There is one thing you guys are all forgetting to mention…

    Shadowchild was eating/fighting a sock the entire time Helix and company were around. Thus, how would he know what was said? Remember, Shadowchild was innocent and naive…only Sweetgrass would know about the ancestor because HE was THERE when they were chained down.

    I think (but hoping that I am wrong) that Shadowchild lost and is either very injured or barely alive inside SGV. I predict that he will be a hero and kill SGV from the inside…But please let me be wrong…SC is my favorite character.

  14. Mente says:

    It seems to me that Shadow’s first comment regarding Helix is almost hinting towards the notion that, beyond the servants keeping the heart beating, He-Is also being kept alive by the bonds holding him to the earth. They are grounding him and keeping a link to the world, like the physical chains are holding back more than something physical (which in a way I suppose we already knew). He-Is is tied so firmly to this particular realm of existence that while he cannot escape, he also cannot leave it by any other way, even by dying, despite the deathspells woven into the steel.

    But then why would Shadow say “the _shade_ of your ancestor” rather than “your ancestor” if referring to the working of the binding of the god? Since he wasn’t a shade then… but then again Shadow has only come into contact with him as a ghost.

    The fact that both ‘heart’ and ‘chain’ are possible to take as either literal or metaphorical is kind of vexing, too. *pouts* A~h, it’s too early to think about stuff like this this early.

  15. Jason says:

    Are we sure “chain” is meant to be taken in the literal sense? Could it not refer to a “Chain of Ancestry” “Chain of circumstances” or “Chain of events”…?

  16. TekServer says:

    Yeah, this definitely muddies the waters.

    I don’t think this is SGV, but given my recent track record, I’m not going to speculate too far … πŸ˜‰

    And, of course, there’s the matter of how He-is’ liver fits into the picture. Given that it wasn’t mentioned, might this be SGV after all? Or (more likely, IMHO) SC was fed (literally) some false (or at least misleading) information by a hurt and retreating SGV. SGV has had thousands of years of practice at being a deceiver, after all, including successfully deceiving a god into attacking his pregnant mate …


  17. Skeptic Tank says:

    SGV doesn’t actually seem that good at manipulation. Or rather, he depends on there being a darkness in one’s heart, and feeding it what it wants to hear. It would not have been difficult to convince Shadowchild if he hadn’t resorted to belligerent bullying, and thus I doubt we’re seeing manipulations -that- subtle out of him now.

    Much more likely that Helix, being a wombat, doesn’t understand the nature of gods as well as Shadow___ does now.

  18. Hawksong says:

    OK just went back through and read the sequence with Helix and Hegi, and deicide…
    They DO say it’s the heart that must be destroyed – which is logical enough since SGV is a “shadow on his heart.” The chain breaking sounds like it’s a bad idea, I agree – but Helix hadn’t gotten around to explaining just how to kill a god anyway. Recall, before they even started to make a battle plan, Helix ran out of mojo and told everyone to get some rest…

    So it’s just about time for the ghosts to come back, *I* think. Unless Sweetgrass ate them! o.O’

    But I agree with Gwennan. Digger’s showing where her priorities lie: With her FRIENDS. Go Digger!

    Now I have to endure until Tuesday…guh!

  19. pelican says:

    I think Victor Wren is onto something … If SGV was possessing Shadow, I think it would handle the situation differently- certainly not starting by saying that Digger was cause for alarm. I mean, really … if SGV now possessed Shadow, why not just eat everyone?

    I think Shadow is telling Digger its’ opinion about what she should do sincerely, as a parting gift, before leaving … I think part of Shadow’s new awareness is calling for it to be elsewhere to continue growing.

  20. MadamAtom says:


    “… if SGV now possessed Shadow, why not just eat everyone?”

    Maybe because SGV WANTS the chain broken. What if that would actually free it? Or what if it’s been trapped for so long that it would rather die than stay any longer? (Unlikely, if the personality we just saw was its true face, but possible.) In either of those cases, it would WANT Digger and company to reach He-Is and start breaking things.

    I’m not saying that’s what’s going onβ€”I don’t KNOW what’s really going on, and hooray for thatβ€”but it could be.

  21. Lica says:

    My first thought was that is SC talking in he first panel, telling Digger to destroy the heart, and that is SGV in the second panel telling her to break the chain instead. I think that perhaps, both SC and SGV exist inside the new SC in conflict, with SC giving Digger the information it gained and SGV trying to mislead her.

  22. TekServer says:

    I think you may be on the right track, Lica.

    I mean, look at the difference in the two panels: the perspective is reversed, for one thing, and the posture and eye shape is totally different; in the second panel it’s classic Shadowchild (though grown up), but in the fourth panel there’s a lot of malice there, it seems to me anyway.

    *stops self*

    I’m NOT going to speculate!
    I’m NOT going to speculate!

    (much … ) πŸ˜‰

  23. Matt says:

    Bottom line: Shadowchild just got some serious XP.

  24. D.G. says:

    How do we even know that Shadow is talking about the shackles? There’s also a chain holding up the heart, and cutting that would probably cause some damage. Even if the heart is not destroyed by the fall, digger could always blow a large enough hole to either damage it beyond repair and/or cause a massive and untreatable hemhorrage that would kill the god in a matter of minutes.

  25. Mishal says:

    Well, at least we know SGV is male now, instead of female as it was being called. The plot, it thickens.

  26. Blob says:

    Well, we know SC HAS some of SGV’s memories, so what one knew and not the other is kind of irrelevant. I think Lica is right. There’s a conflict between SC and SGV, possibly without either of them realizing it. Given that SC absorbed some of SGV’s memories, it might be that those memories have influenced he/she/it in some way. Like TekServer, I think the change in postures is signficant. Ursula’s very good at subtleties, and that posture in the third panel doesn’t look ambiguous or accidental. It looks aggressive.

  27. Gramina says:

    Mishal – “he” was in reference to Descending-Helix; I don’t see any gendered references to SGV.

    I’m uneasy with the use of the word “destroy,” but it may be the most appropriate word. I’d prefer “kill” or “let die.”

    (One thing that has occurred to me is that it may actually not be appropriate for He-Is to die; being suicidal with grief and guilt != being right.)

    I think most of what’s happened is that Shadow is trying to incorporate the memories (and associated emotions) associated with the shadow skin from SGV’s shadow-of-a-shadow the Shadow ate. That’s going to throw you off worse than the hormones of a mammalian adolescence! So some aggressiveness may be predictable.

    And finally, some interesting back-info:
    Per strip # 256 the liver is still intact, as well as the heart.
    Strip # 34-350, after the defeat of the cold servants who came up to chase Digger and Murai, and a very old God I’d forgotten about, and how it died (including ghost/bird).
    Strip # 365 is the beginning of Murai’s story about the Good Man etc.
    And strip # 370 begins Murai’s own part of the story, including the generation of the Black Mother.

  28. Werrf says:

    Got to agree that the change in posture is significant. perhaps what we’re looking at here is some kind of gestalt, called Sweetgrass Shadow, with two halves wrestling for supremacy.

    Of course, Ursula is apparently not disowned, so I am hopeful.

  29. bookwyrm says:

    Actually, yeah! There’s a chain on He-Is’s heart to keep it beating. That must be what SC is referring to, not the shackles. That makes it a lot more plausible that this is indeed SC, and not SGV trying to be tricksssy.

  30. Shadow21 says:

    It looks to me like the shadow of SGV and SC are both in the same body. In panel 2 it seems like SC is talking (I’m basing this off of the eye shapes and how SC/SGV is talking) and is telling Digger to destroy the heart to destroy the god and SGV. And in panel 4 from the way the eyes are slanted and the demanding tone, I’d say that is SGV talking especially since the object to be destroyed went from being the heart to the chain.

  31. mouse says:

    i like the idea that there is a bit of a struggle for shadowchild’s …can one say ‘soul’? with a part of not-quite-digested SGV. as to it’s willingness to destroy – i suspect shadow has learned a whole lot about evil in it’s ingestion of SGV’s memories, and now has a much better understanding of what should and should not be killed.
    and it occurs to me, all this is why shadowchild is essential to their mission – it now has access to the knowledge of SGV, which will be essential to successing…even if it may take a bit of effort on the part of digger et al. to determine how much of what shadow now says can be trusted.

  32. Mazz says:

    The eye shape in the second SC/SGV panel makes me apprehensive.

  33. Veritas says:

    …Maybe one reason Shadow is so… intense… is that destroying He-Is and Sweetgrass Voice might take him with them. Who knows…

    There is certainly merit to the notion that Shadowchild didn’t entirely win that fight.

  34. Joel says:

    Why do I have the feeling that the “them both” SC is referring to is Helix and Hegi, instead of who Digger is thinking SC is referring to?

  35. Kelci says:

    And that’s the million dollar question.

  36. Sorinesti says:

    I am going to stand by an interesting statement, Ursula’s Mom wasn’t horrified by what happened to SC. Therefore, this is still Shadow Child. I have no in story assurances, but that strikes me as a good out of story assurance.

  37. motub says:

    This is a fabulous arc, for a reader.

    But good gravy, these are troublesome times.

    Just when I was thinking it was great that Shadow wasn’t a merged entity like I originally thought, it starts showing signs of possible multiple personality, bringing that concept right back on the table.

    Because even though Shadow seems to have suddenly become more oddly formal (but still seems like Shadow), that “Break the chain” line seems to have a completely different quality of intensity to the formality that doesn’t sound like Shadow at all (now how we can “hear” that in two lines of written text, I have no idea– kudos, Ursula!– but many, if not all of us did, so it seems to be there).

    Kudos to Digger (who, unbenknownst to herself, now seems to have two unreliable half-crazy companions πŸ™ ), who is (of course) more concerned about her friend than the tactical info (we’ll discuss that when everyone is awake), while still managing to compliment her friend (who just hours ago was a child requiring lots of feedback as to the results of its behaviour) on what it “did good”. I would be as well.

    I’m now sort of leaning towards not so much a merged entity, but two entities in the one body, struggling for complete control…. somebody’s going to integrate somebody else, but it could go either way (if I’m correct, which I very well may not be).

    Shadow is the legitimate “owner” of the entity, and therefore has “right of possession” and emotional power behind it (naturally you’re going to fight extra hard to prevent some external force from taking over your own body/being) but it is a child and therefore not in itself so powerful, and not experienced in how to overcome any tactics that the SGV part may have available to it.

    SGV is desperate (this is its one chance to stop the people who are going to kill it), and naturally knows a lot more about both how to subsume somebody it’s inhabiting/connected to, and about how to “fool” outsiders into not recognizing the situation/him for what it is (until it’s too late to correct the situation).

    But Shadow can be tricky as well, in its ingenuous way, so there is a hope that it can somehow “signal” Digger that something is going on, and it’s not something precisely good or safe.

    The good thing is that Shadow is strong enough (if this internal war really is what’s going on) to prevent SGV from doing anything irreversible with Shadow’s body… like eating the shadows of one or more of its friends while they sleep.

    Oh, man, just when I was starting to relax, now I’m very, very worried again– and we haven’t even got to the god-killing part yet (which is going to mean a fight with the hyena guards and so forth, over and above the techical problems that may ensue). I need a soothing cup of tea.

    At least I can have one… poor Digger is handling all this without even that πŸ™ .

  38. jassius says:

    I’ll go for the dual identity theory until the story proves otherwise. In my opinion it is the more sensible theory to date.

    Well. Lets introduce NeoShadow to Murray. Considering the reaction in the god’s crypt, If the “I see blood” thing starts, we’ll know SGV is there πŸ™‚

    I imagine Digger going back to her town with that story. Like a Bilbo Baggins in a wombatish version “That weird old lady always with her strange stories of magic and gods. Who knows. It might even be true but that’s nothing that will carve rocks for us anyway”

  39. smjjames says:

    Shadow kind of looks like a Kokopelli in the second to last frame there. Whether that is intentional, I don’t know.

  40. D.G. says:

    Why are we assuming a merged entity, and not coinsidering the possiblity that this is “just” Shadow being possed? If that’s the case, then does someone have the the relevant Biship, Chief Rabbi, Imam of the Friday Mosque, Bhramin, Lama, and shrink on speed-dial?

  41. howdoesitsmell says:

    Still, why was the magic mojo there for Digger to dig through in the first place? Was it part of SGV’s plan to get back up? Of He-is’ plan to get dead? Just a consequence of the general mojo of keeping He-is his heart beating?

  42. motub says:

    @howdoesitsmell: Oh, snap! I totally forgot that this is ultimately a ‘set-up’! Good catch! That must have something to do with this situation– what, we don’t yet know, but we may be on the verge of finding out more on that front.

  43. Gramina says:

    On re-reading, btw, I do see that Digger referred to SGV as ‘he,’ but I’m still not sure if Digger’s a reliable narrator for that information — that may be the default-assumption-he that we get so often in English; Digger doesn’t have any direct experience to base it on, and I don’t find any gendered references regarding SGV in Ed’s story.

  44. Hamor says:

    You know… I seem to recall something about “breaking a chain” from the ocular slug… maybe I’m crossing memories though.

    A lot of good theories floating around on this page. I for one definitely got a chill after reading the emphasis put on “break the chain” in the second Shadow panel, especially combined with the eyes and the talk of destroying…

  45. Mikemayday says:

    Technical problem: the NEXT and PREVIOUS buttons aren’t showing up for me- only in Firefox though…

  46. Teragon says:

    We all need to remember SC was an innocent thing before this event, the sudden influx of knowledge may very well sway the entire personality of the little fella. He may not be so kind and friendly anymore …

  47. BunnyRock says:

    archaeologist sense tingling…. I sense a trap, and not the rolling bo9lder type archaeologist cope with in fiction but the “suspiciously useful information extracted too easily” trap they face in real life when encountering written souses.

    Shadowchild learned all this from eating a “shadow skin” of SGV and the part of SGV present, but SGV has not been killed. Right? what if SGV wanted to get the shadow skin eaten to implant false memories into shadowchild? SGV has not died, we have no way of knowing if the loss is even significant to it, and for such an apparently cleaver thing it was very quickly and efficient in provoking Shadowchild on their first meeting. What it SGV is feeding Shadowchild in the hope of making Digger do somthing foolish, like loose the chain.

    then again, chain may not be meant literal in this case, in which case Shadowchild proves one very important point; communicate what you mean carefully and choose the rite words or people can get hurt.

  48. Trogdog says:

    I think sc means break the chain of events, remember, sweet grass was first a famine that was killed by a hedgehog and the ghost of a bird forty thousand years ago. Things of this nature have happened before, and are predestined to happen again.

  49. Tindi says:

    “Yeah yeah, dead god. Whatever. Are YOU okay?” I love Digger.

  50. Elisabeth says:

    Well crap. Of course I hit the oh-my-god-physically-cannot-stop-reading part as I’m about to go to sleep.

    Not sure whether it’s over-exposure to murder mysteries and the like but… I’m not sure I trust the Shadowchild anymore. Not even sure whether it *is* the Shadowchild.