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Posted on Mar 6, 2005 in Armchair Reading, Front Page Features, TIAOW

The Incorrect Art of War [Episode 04] – Memoirs of Death

By A J Summersgill and Jim H Moreno

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Starring:

Doctor Sinister

Doctor Sinister. An evil Supervillain with an insane lust for power. From his secret island base, the Doctor plans to become future Emperor and Warlord of the planet Earth. Enjoys the company of cats and cloned genetically modified Dinosaurs.

And featuring:


General Menace. Graduated from West Point Military Academy with honours, served for twenty-five years in the US Army, reaching level of 2-star General in command of training facilities before being recruited by Doctor Sinister to command his New Model Army of World Domination. Has a penchant for cigars.

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EPISODE 4 – “Memoirs of Death”

It is a dark and humid night on Sinister Island. With only distant twinkling stars to light his way through the Victory Mountain Range, General Menace nevertheless strides confidently forward, festooned in the gold braid and magnificent ribbons of his full ceremonial uniform.

Ahead of him, the ominous form of an enormous black tower stretching up into the sky blots out the stars. As the General nears, automatic sensors detect his presence and a large section of rockface slides open, illuminating the stark landscape with a sudden brilliance from the floodlights within.

The General steps through the rockface and steps into a gold-plated marble elevator. Very carefully, the General selects the green button, not the mauve one, and begins his ascent as the rockface closes with an echoing thud.

Five minutes later, atop Victory Spire…

Doctor Sinister: Welcome! Come in, make yourself at home. NOT that chair…it leads to one of the chutes and the ill-tempered Dinosaur pit. So what do you think of my luxurious flat?

General Menace: Very impressive my Lord. It’s so spacious up here, I never realised how big the tower was.

It’s a mile high, cast from the rocky remnants of one of the mountains that we blasted from the face of the island.

Incredible. You certainly think big my Lord. Might we be trying to compensate for something, Sir?

(Oblivious to the General’s innuendo) Yes, this is my Sinister Sanctum, my Sinister Fortress of Solitude, my Tower of Sinister Justice. It is from here that I shall rule the world, decide the fate of mankind, forcefully wine and dine the finest that society has to offer, and occasionally have a peek through my binoculars at the nudist beach to the north. It’s a good view…you should come up here during the day sometime.

Aye, Sir, and the place is of course well defended. Missile launchers and howitzers on the roof. Automated Vulcan guns and mortar tubes around the base. And there’s an entire battalion of my finest troopers living in spider holes dug around the entire complex. I see you have been just as busy on the inside, your Excellence. Such exquisite tastes in the decor. Tell me, is that the real Mona Lisa?

Indeed it is – we stole it from the Louvre some years ago. We replaced it with a colour photocopy. Apparently they still haven’t noticed…

No surprise – their security is nothing compared to ours. Is this a genuine Gutenberg Bible?

Well it was, but we tore the old pages out and now the cover just contains copies of Guns and Ammo magazine.

Nevertheless, you have an impressive library my Lord. Books by Homer, Shakespeare and Dickens. One of my favourites, the Art of War by Sun Tzu! A whole shelf of scientific theories by Einstein, Hawking, the collected memoirs of Winston Churchill. Let me see…oh!

Is there a problem General?

Well, it’s full of pictures. And the phrases “Kaboom, Bang, Kersplat, take that Hitler” do not seem like the Churchill I remember…

Good isn’t it?

My Liege, taking a closer look here, I see your entire library consists of…

…graphic novel adaptations – yes! I find written words so tedious sometimes, whereas a good comic strip can really get you to the essence of a classic piece of literature.

(Sigh) I wonder what old Winston would have thought…

Well that’s a very good question. I often ponder how Churchill would react to world situations as they are today.

Well, he was a highly eloquent writer of words. His command of language, both in print and speech, was legendary. You have but to read his memoirs to see this. He was also a fine purveyor of Cigars, especially the fantastic Romeo y Julieta brand.

Ah yes, that reminds me…

(Looks up hopefully) Yes?!

No, it’s gone again. Memory like a sieve.

(Another sigh) Do you mind if I pour myself a Brandy from this very fine looking decanter?

Pour away General, but I think you’ll find that’s Coca-Cola. I don’t drink alcohol.

Really? I assumed you did…and that…was…why…

(Looks at General Menace quizzically) What?

Nothing Master, never mind, we were speaking of Churchill?

Yes, I model myself after him you know. He was a fine world statesman. And not afraid to get stuck in.

Indeed sir, it has often been said that Churchill’s leadership of Britain during World War II saved the western democracies from dictatorship and oppression. Ahem, present company excepted of course…

(Staring into the distance) I intend to be as strong a leader as Churchill – and his memoirs were a magnificent piece of work. Which is why I have today commenced my own autobiography.

Oh bravo Commander, a fabulous idea.

I’m glad you think so. It is my hope that my own tales will one day inspire those who follow me. Did I tell you I once declared war on Germany as a demonstration of my power?

(Jumps to his feet) You did? When? Why? What did they say? Should I mobilise the troops?

Relax General, this happened years ago. As for why – well, because that’s what Churchill did.

Correction Sir, it was his predecessor actually. And only with good reason. Remind me, what were your reasons for going to war with Germany?

Because they invaded Poland.

But that was in 1939. That all got sorted out a long time ago.

Did it? Oh. Anyway, I’m not sure if the Germans took me seriously.

You rang them up?

Yes, I got through to some junior clerk at the German Foreign Ministry. I told him we were officially at war. He professed to have never heard of me and hung up laughing, but I expect the lad was just hysterical with fear, the poor fool.

I see. My Lord, I’m not sure what this comic book – errr – graphic novel – has led you to believe, but Winston Churchill didn’t go around arbitrarily declaring war on people.

Are you sure? Then how did he rise to power? How did he maintain control? How did he gain the respect of his friends and enemies?

Well, first, he was elected to power, and he knew he was accountable to the people. Second, he led by example. When German bombers blitzed Britain’s cities, Churchill would be there, on the ground, giving cheer to his people, telling them they would overcome. Within days of Operation Overlord, Churchill personally attended the beachheads to see for himself what was going on with the invasion. He was a great man, he didn’t need to rule by fear or go around threatening other people.

I don’t believe a word of it – it’s impossible to be a great leader without the occasional random execution or televised torture session.

Sagacity, Winston Churchill never arranged any of those things, he was a true man of the people. He spent decades in public service and he was a great orator. In fact, he spent his whole life fighting against those beliefs.

Well I’ve gone right off him now. I’ll have to find another superhero to worship…

No need for that now, Your Majesty. You see, Churchill was a man of the people, but he was also a great warrior. He personally fought in India, and commanded troops in the field. Not to mention his unwavering resolve in the face of Nazi Germany – he vowed never to surrender and to wage total war against his enemies. There could be a lesson for you there after all…

Yes…yes perhaps you’re right General! Let’s do it! Let’s get started on my memoirs straightaway! You grab a pencil and some paper – are you any good at drawing?

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A J Summersgill and Jim H. Moreno

andrew@armchairgeneral.com

jim@armchairgeneral.com

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Sir Winston Churchill – The Churchill Centre

Guns & Ammo Magazine Online

Louvre Museum Official Website

Cigar Afficionado

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