769: War

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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They offered to make me a green beret, but I liked my regular one. Although it gets kind of squashed under my helmet.
Title text: They offered to make me a green beret, but I liked my regular one. Although it gets kind of squashed under my helmet.


Today's comic seems to be a parable about the perils of love during wartime. Our protagonist is seen here leaning against his pack behind a low wall, surely a good hiding spot for any gentleman with a rifle and scope. Judging by the letter he's in the midst of writing, he has a complex relationship with Cordelia. On the one hand, she's attractive. On the other hand, she's a hostile combatant, as evidenced by the shots fired mid-missive. Cordelia's fire works against her, though, as her volley of shots has revealed her own position atop the maintenance shed. We can presume that in a matter of minutes, this love affair will go sour as the love letter is wrapped around a live grenade and "delivered," so to speak. War is indeed hell.

As to the title text, the green berets are worn only by Special Forces soldiers. It takes a lot of training to become a green beret, and as evidenced by our protagonist's clever use of decoys to outwit a sniper, he may be qualified for the honor. It sounds, however, as if he didn't understand the proposition, preferring his regular beret instead. Further evidence for his idiocy is given immediately thereafter, as he confesses that he wears a beret under his helmet -- thus revealing our protagonist's true identity (and explaining how he fell in love with an enemy soldier actively trying to kill him): Beret Guy. Then again, he does not have a choice, since he has stapled the beret on his head.

The comic starts off with the commonly known stereotype of a soldier in war writing a letter to his sweetheart (Cordelia), presumably at home. After the gunshots interrupt his writing, we come to know that Cordelia is actually fighting on the opposite side - it is left open whether they are in an actual relationship or the soldier just writes love letters to his enemies. He explains to her that he can now locate her after she shot a decoy set up by him, closing with the phrase "War is hell", often used in the stereotypical situation described above and now having a much darker tint. The title text gives the reader some kind of closure - the soldier is revealed to be Beret Guy, from whom this kind of behavior doesn't seem so weird after all.

"Cordelia" is likely a reference to Cordelia Rosalind—the sniper from the miniature game "Anima: Tactics".


[A soldier is on the ground behind a low wall, writing a letter.]
My Dearest Cordelia,
it has been far too long since I last gazed
upon your lithe and supple body through my
telescopic sights, and I fear you may have
found a superior vantage poin—
—a splendid effort, my love, but your shots
find only a decoy, and reveal your position atop
the maintenance shed.
I pray this missive and my grenades find you well.
War is hell.

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According to title text, this is actually Beret Guy. I kind of like this "style" for transcripts - specifically that each cell is in a "box". In this case, the cadence of the text doesn't seem to be poetic, but in some comics it could be. --B. P. (talk) 20:08, 9 October 2012 (UTC)

The comic talks about "sights" and "superior vantage points" in relation to Cordelia, where one would expect "the enemy" or similar. And this before the shots are fired. Someone needs to read a bit more carefully. Anonymous 00:16, 5 December 2013 (UTC)

Since he qualified as a Green Beret and the gun he has is not a grenade launcher (nor is it deployed) it is fair to assume he realises that Cordelia will be gone in seconds and has already sent the email.
Presumably the person in the picture is a dummy. I used Google News BEFORE it was clickbait (talk) 21:14, 26 January 2015 (UTC)
It can't be email because he was seen with a pencil and notepad writing it down. (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

I always took it as a reference to Lois McMaster Bujold's book "Shards of Honor", which involves a love relationship between Cordelia Naismith and Aral Vorkosigan, when they are fighting on opposites sides of the same war. Lois McMaster Bujold is well above the common class of science fiction author, and it seems entirely reasonable that she should be on Randall's bookshelves. (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Should a reference be made to 101: Laser Scope? It has a similar theme. KingSupernova (talk) 01:59, 13 August 2015 (UTC)

In the grim darkness of xkcd, there is only war. 03:36, 1 October 2015 (UTC)

This comic reminds me of Sniper Wolf from the original Metal Gear Solid. 12:32, 18 October 2016 (UTC)