It’s this kind of thing I really began this comic for in the first place. Every YA fantasy series worth its mustard uses its creatures of the week as metaphors to explore social issues, but on the day I’m writing this, Remembrance Sunday, what should be a solemn commemoration of the losses suffered by soldiers of all nations is often an exercise in who can wear the gauchest, largest poppy to demonstrate how much they love the troops. The World Wars were wars of mass conscription where everyone served and everyone knew someone who’d been lost, but whole generations have grown up experiencing war as a specialist occupation handled by a vanishingly small number of people operating in faraway lands, and the sense I get from Poppy Inflation is a collective shame that they didn’t get to fight and die in the mud, that soldiers must be eulogised and placed on a pedestal for the horrors they go through for our benefit, that we’re soft and we have it easy and that if we went through a tour in Afghanistan like scores of empires across thousands of years have done then maybe we wouldn’t be such limp-wristed modern folk. And that’s not the point, the point is that nobody should have to go through what these soldiers went through, that war is an aberrant and horrific condition that must be avoided at all costs.

The Russian equivalent to the poppy, the St George’s Ribbon (often arranged in a Z shape), has become the official emblem of a colonial war of conquest against Ukraine. Thousands have been mobilised, sent into the freezing steppe with no training and no equipment to be massacred in droves, in the name of recreating the conditions of the Great Patriotic War that made men into real men and destroyed the effete decadence of western culture, with all their gays and their pronouns and their votes actually meaning a damn. It feels like the ultimate apotheosis of poppy worship, that rather than ensure future generations should never experience what these soldiers experienced, everyone should experience what these soldiers experienced, and that we’re lesser people for not experiencing it. That’s not remembrance, that’s a death cult.