How much of our day-to-day life is driven by conscious decision-making based on the sum of our life history, and how much by instinct? That is the question the current Phantom amnesiac storyline asks. The Phantom already has assumed many of his old Phantom-habits — crime fighting, journaling — and now he takes on one of the most important: the urge to reproduce himself! Didn’t realize how much the quest for a suitable mate was part of the Phantom mythos, did you? How many of those volumes in the Skull Cave are just full of drawings of various ladies, surrounded by little hearts and “MRS. THE PHANTOM” and “GOOD BREEDING STOCK” written over and over again?
Hey, remember when Chatu kidnapped the Phantom’s wife but let the Phantom believe she was dead, and then the Phantom got all flirty with sexy anti-pirate high seas vigilante Captain Savarna? This strip finds a lot of contrived ways to set up doomed love stories, is what I’m saying.
Ha ha, whoops, looks like Spider-Man’s secret identity has been revealed, revealed by some jerk with a bowl cut who used extremely basic observations of Spider-Man’s day-to-day routine to figure it out, in a way that really anyone who cared probably could’ve years ago. How’s our hero going to get out of this one? Maybe everyone is so distracted by the fact (suddenly very obvious in panel three) that Mysterio’s costume leaves nothing to the imagination that they haven’t been listening to anything he’s said for a while now.
Funky Winkerbean, 3/3/15
A corny play on words? That’s not a well-written comic strip punchline. A corny play on words, followed by another character acknowledging how corny that play on words is, followed by some depressing talk that trails off with an ellipsis? That’s a well-written comic strip punchline!
Rex Morgan, M.D., 2/10/15
Ever since Kelly was given a free funeral car to drive, there’s been a certain amount of ambiguity about exactly what kind of funeral car it was. Was it used to shuttle corpses about, or just beautiful and tasteful floral arrangements? And, more importantly, what’s that smell, exactly? Anyway, Rex, who hasn’t really had much speaking time in his own strip lately, manages to come onstage and fulfill two life goals at once: ruining everyone’s fun and wedging the phrase “the funeral trade” into everyday conversation. This has all led to panel three, probably the greatest facial expression the strip has gifted us with since at least this, which, interestingly enough, also involved the funeral trade.
Mary Worth, 2/10/15
Man, the first half of Mary’s sentence in panel one kind of implies a stronger follow-up than the second half delivers, doesn’t it? “I’ve attended many weddings, but I have to say that yours is definitely one of them! It won’t be as elegant and wonderful as the time I was invited to New York for the surprise wedding of a hunky professional soccer player, but I’m sure signing a dingy register at Santa Royale City Hall will hold a certain charm.”
The Phantom’s amnesia plot continues apace, and like Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, it asks if the sum of our memories make us who we are, or if we’d continue on in our accustomed paths even without them. “John X” has made his own little Skull Cave in the utility room, and his own little Chronicles of the Phantoms Past out of a spare notebook he found lying around! No, I have no idea where you find enormous, spooky candles on a military base.
Apartment 3-G, 2/10/15
I’m not exactly sure what kind of phony scam-artist psychic tries to convince her marks to get married in a stately English country house? One who is secretly employed by the events coordinator of a stately English country house, I guess. Anyway, I love that everyone in this conversation is trying very hard to pretend that they’ve never heard of Downton Abbey, probably because they think the recent seasons have gone off the rails and are embarrassed by how much they posted about it on Facebook in 2011.
Funky Winkerbean, 2/10/15
Meanwhile, love is in the air over at Funky Winkerbean! [ENDLESS PUKING AT HAVING TYPED THAT SENTENCE]
Dick Tracy and Funky Winkerbean, 1/19/15
Welp, I had heard about this before, but had sort of blocked it out because I didn’t want to believe it was true, but here it is, something that’s really happening, in the real world and not one of my terrible fever dreams: a Dick Tracy-Funky Winkerbean crossover. You wouldn’t think these two strips would have much in common, what with Funky Winkerbean being mostly focused on a thin crust of puns and smirking atop an infinitely deep well of misery, and Dick Tracy being dedicated to a rigid and violent code of implacable justice along with, since the strip’s reboot a few years ago, endless and baffling nostalgia for the strip’s past and comics/pop culture history in general. But today the overlap in the Venn diagram becomes apparent, and it’s historic comic books. (This particular set was recovered at the end of another crossover plot involving The Jumbler, a puzzle-focused villain who taunted Dick with vaguely sexual vlogs and was eventually defeated with the help of actual Jumble artist/faithful Comics Curmudgeon reader Jeff Knurek.)
Anyway, I like panel one of Dick Tracy, where Les and Funky’s smug, punchable faces are displayed on retro-futuristic screens, because for a brief moment I though their heads had been impaled on a giant pike. Dick and Sam are clearly heading to Westview hoping to meet its two most nefarious characters, so they’re probably going to be pretty depressed at being stuck with Crazy Harry and Comic Book John.
Gil Thorp, 1/19/15
Despite teasing us with promises of Marty Moon, the Gil Thorp basketball season storyline has mostly been about the poindexter at left here, the basketball manager who years to someday be a coach and also seems to be vaguely on the autistic spectrum somewhere. Anyway, I was totally on board when his shtick was all about improving players’ skills and irritating Coaches Gil and Kaz, but now he’s branching out to blathering at innocent teens about their #brand, so he must be stopped at all costs.
The setup for this joke is clunky and terrible — would any human ever make the abrupt shift in pronoun references necessary to make it work? — but I sincerely appreciate Francis’s exaggerated reaction, as he appears to not just be doing a spit-take but actually bobbling his beverage to comic effect. Also, do you think that’s supposed to be beer? Do you think that Francis is just hanging around his mother’s house while she chats with her friend, getting slightly buzzed and not talking to them even though he’s only sitting about 18 inches away? I hope so!
Meanwhile, in Bangalla, the amnesiac Phantom continues to send all ladies who lay eyes on him into an involuntary lust-frenzy. Is sexual arousal truly nature’s anesthetic? Guess our climber gal is going to find out!