The Phantom, 7/26/15
When we last saw Maurice, he was an unranked minion sleeping through his boss’s crash landing after a botched mission to kill the Phantom. You would expect such a terrible minion to be fired or at least killed, but co-branding agreements with a certain movie franchise have given minions everywhere second chances and promotions. Unfortunately, it hasn’t given Maurice sense enough to know which side of that door you want to be on when it closes.
The “Man who cannot die” has made a lot of enemies in his 479 years. There’s the Singh Brotherhood of Pirates, his Dad’s murderers, who date from before Bangalla moved from South Asia to Africa. And of course Chatu, the Wambesi terrorist who imprisoned Diana and now chills in tribal Supermax between Phantom beat-downs. Eric Sahara (The Nomad!) is subbing for Chatu during the latter’s sabbatical, but it doesn’t seem to be going well.
You know, daily Phantom is standing around spectating at Guran’s win-by-losing triumph in the Chief Derby, and Sunday Phantom is standing around spectating at the Nomad vs. Chatu gunathlon. Seems like the guy’s heart just isn’t in it anymore. Maybe it’s time to retire, let Heloise take her rightful place, and do color commentary.
Barry is an alternate-universe Curtis with the hero/tormentor and other roles subtly reversed. Here, Bizarro Derek and “Onion” deal out rough pool justice to history’s worst brother since Cain. And Ladies and Gentlemen, the hat is off!
Judge Parker, 7/26/15
Judge Parker seems hell-bent on making Neddy the sympathetic character because she was forced — forced — to turn down Mark’s proposal. And she feels terrible about it. What could that bastard have been thinking, to propose just like that for no reason at all!? And then leave in a huff. A goddamn HUFF the son of a bitch!!! Why do these terrible things keep happening to Neddy?
– Uncle Lumpy
Here’s a fun physiology fact: you don’t taste your own saliva because the chemical senses adapt quickly and thoroughly unless the stimuli change. (If you wanted to taste your own saliva, you could, um, “save” some, rinse your tongue with distilled water for five minutes or so, reintroduce the saved saliva, and then sit down and wonder what kind of person does that, and how you became that kind of person).
Anyway, Jeremy and Sara got so close this summer that even long-time androgyne uniteen RichandAmy started calling them by one name. But in parting after months of liplock, Jeremy isn’t tasting all of his own saliva, only the saliva components that are unique to him. He can’t taste the components (like salt) that he shares with Sara — unless their concentration has changed, he’s still adapted.
What will Jeremy experience, tasting his unique “Jeremy flavor” for the first time (unless he did that spit experiment, ew)? Will his tasteworld be an intoxicating Red Bull and Dorito-tinged nirvana that lures him away from Sara toward an independent bliss? Or a fetid, caustic slick of industrial food additives that drives him back between Sara’s lips, there to purge the evidence of his personal corruption? Your future lies ahead, Jeremy — let your tongue point the way!
Curtis gets a lot of mileage repeating story arcs about the First Day of School, Derek and “Onion,” Magical Gunk, and in days gone sadly by, Insane Kwanzaa Folkways. Over the past couple years, it’s introduced Curtis’s Summer Job: Curtis works at nonprofits where he Learns Valuable Lessons but Earns No Money. The stories are sanctimonious and flat, so what humor there is comes from eccentric one-off characters. Last summer we got Dr. Chang of the Improbable Pants, and this summer it’s Miss Dot from the Charles Street Disaster Relief Coalition. Miss Dot is gap-toothed, says “awesome,” “like,” and “totally” to excess, and congratulates Curtis for jokes not in evidence.
I think this year’s Valuable Lesson is “bring back Dr. Chang.”
Judge Parker, 7/22/15
On Sunday Sophie told Sam and Abby that Neddy and Mark had spent a late night together, that they’d been writing to one another ever since, and that she, Sophie, could read between the lines.
The sex lines.
But sex lines have never been written that our Sam can read: “Something happened to give him confidence! What’s your theory — Tony Robbins DVD, energy drink, ginseng? New Testament readings? Motivational poster, winning lottery ticket, found a penny? Rhinoceros horn, visualization exercises, call from Mom? Sunday Mary Worth quote? “Participant” trophy? Think, Abby!”
Abby stares mute as Sam double-knots his robe; she will dream of Mark tonight, his soft words and rough hands.
– Uncle Lumpy
Click the banner to contribute to the Comics Curmudgeon. Details here.
Faithful reader! It’s the Comics Curmudgeon 2015 Spring Fundraiser, featuring logo tote bags and hand-crafted Matt Crowe refrigerator magnets as tokens of thanks for your generous contribution. Won’t you please help out? Thank you!
When you create a character who is as unlikeable as oh, say, Ed Crankshaft, from time to time you have to fake up some appealing qualities or history so the audience doesn’t come to its senses and give up on the strip entirely. So here comes “Backstabbin’ Bedwetter” Barry Wilkins — who can singlehandedly make you feel sorry for his brother Curtis — totin’ Teddy and talkin’ tough, ready for redemption.
There’s no precedent at all for Barry’s altruism — he was just as bored/disgusted by his brother’s romantic aspirations in Tuesday’s strip as he ever was, and nothing changed on Wednesday. There won’t be any consequences, either — Barry will be just as hateful as ever the next time we check in on him. It’s just time for a quick karma rinse-and-run.
I’ll take it all back if Michelle falls hopelessly in love with him.
Mary Worth, 4/23/15
NO NO NO TERRY DON’T DO IT YOU CAN NEVER GO BACK. Aw crud – gave it up, and for nothing.
A small irony here is that Terry Bryson was introduced to the strip as a privacy consultant who helped Toby Cameron understand how to defend herself against intrusions into her confidential personal and financial information, and that people shouldn’t be dopes. Well, Terry, you can kiss your own precious privacy goodbye. Dope.
Oh boy — the long-awaited B.C./Crankshaft crossover.
I know Shoe is sort of the go-to strip for avian reproductive humor, but eww.