Hagar the Horrible, 10/14/16
You know I’m fascinated by Hagar strips about the transition from Norse paganism to Christianity, but today’s strip is a particularly unsettling entry it that canon. Traditionally, Scandinavians believed in a sort of vaguely defined afterlife that resembled Greek and Roman versions of the underworld; the idea that there was a distinction between Hel and Valhalla, with only the latter allotted to brave warriors, comes from a late, post-pagan source, and is now widely discredited. So the idea that death might be followed by some kind of divinely ordained reward for virtue — or, in this case, awful, eternal punishment for inadequacy — is a new one, and one that some are apparently embracing with more gusto than others.
Gil Thorp, 10/14/16
Speaking of things that displease the gods: I had been holding out that we hadn’t yet seen the ritualistic season-kickoff bonfire in Gil Thorp because it precedes our heroes’ home opener. But here we are, with Milford playing its first game at Mudlark Field (note: may not be actual name of stadium) without having received the ordained benediction by fire. Already we can see the divine punishment beginning: that pouring rain will not cease until Coaches Gil and Kaz, the entire Mudlark team, and the heretical Milford school board that nixed the bonfire as a cost-cutting and public safety measure are wiped from existence in an awful cleansing flood.
Beetle Bailey, 10/14/16
One of the running bits I did in the early years of this blog was that the secret subtext of Beetle Bailey was that Sarge and Beetle were lovers, which I eventually dropped because, with changing mainstream mores and the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, the idea got a lot less transgressive. It’s good to see that the strip agrees with me and is upping its game when it comes to these two. I’m not sure what exactly is happening here today, but it’s definitely unspeakably perverse.
Superhero comic trufans (of which I am not one, but I hear things) know that each iteration of a long-running beloved character, in different continuities across various media platforms, has slight variations when it comes to the nature of their powers. What, then, can we say about Newspaper Spider-Man when it comes to his famous spider-sense? We know it can’t warn him about some pretty important things he might like to know about, like that he’s about to be hit in the back of the head with a club or a brick. So what is it good for? Well, keep in mind that Newspaper Spider-Man is both a risible dolt and keenly sensitive to anything he might perceive as humiliation (earning less than his wife, a famous actress, for instance). And so, today, it’s finally coming out that Spidey and Ant-Man have been captured because Peter knew Egghead was out to catch Scott, and then went and tracked him down anyway. He knows that everyone’s gonna start yelling at him soon, and he deserves it, and his spider-sense is going nuts.
Gil Thorp, 10/13/16
Traditionally, soap opera strips end on a cliff-hanger every day to keep readers hooked. Unfortunately, it’s harder and harder to work this magic on young people, what with their Snapchats and so forth, so now Gil Thorp is experimenting by ending strips dramatically in mid-sentence.
Pluggers have so many emotions and nobody they feel safe expressing them to :(
This is one of those jokes that works perfectly serviceably as it’s presented here — essentially a verbal joke, describing something after the fact, with Shoe and the Perfesser in the particular setting for color. Can you imagine how vivid it would’ve been if we had seen the whole thing unfold, though? Just think about it: the assembled mourners, each quietly contemplating mortality in their own way, the ceremony unfolding with predictable solemnity, until that first time when the mortician and his aides try, and fail, to lower the casket into the grave. The first time a corner just barely bumps into the freshly disturbed earth to the side of the newly dug pit, the mortician mutters something to his assistants, the casket is lifted up again for another attempt, no one feels like they need to say anything or draw attention to this little gaffe. But then: attempt after attempt to inter the coffin with dignity fails. Maybe the machinery used to lower the coffin sputters and noisily seizes up. Maybe the mortician trips and drops one of the cords, causing the casket to dip precariously. Maybe, somehow, the casket is accidentally lowered into place perpendicular to the direction the grave was dug, causing much squabbling, and not muttered, this time. As the ceremony goes further and further off the rails, some in attendance begin quietly weeping, seeing Ernie’s memorial service transformed into a ghastly farce; others, perhaps those not part of the immediate family or more attuned to the irony of the situation, begin to chuckle under their breath, and remark to each other that Ernie would no doubt get a good laugh out of all this. Still, even these mourners have a hard time holding it together when, without it ever being quite clear why, the coffin tumbles once more onto the ground, this time popping open and revealing the deceased’s mortal remains, no longer arranged in a pose of dignified slumber but now twisted horribly to remind everyone that one day death will come to them and rob them of everything they have, even dignity. Ernie is roughly bundled back into his coffin, which is finally, blessedly, lowered to its final resting place on the seventh try, but it’s too late: the widow, hysterical with grief, has to be physically restrained from assaulting the mortician; lawsuits have been threatened, careers have been ended. In the end, the drama has moved elsewhere, leaving only Shoe and the Perfesser at the gravesite, cracking wise to cover up how completely shell-shocked they are at what they just saw.
Gil Thorp, 9/30/16
Welp, looks like we’ve got our football season A and B plots set: Heather the soccer-player-turned-trainer is going to provide unpaid, unrequested coaching of the kind that helps/undermins Gil and Kaz every three or four storylines, and Kevin Pelwecki, who is an offensive lineman or some similar position that I’m not going to bother looking up, is going to have his dreams of playing quarterback utterly shattered, as today he proves completely inept at the most basic of quarterbacking tasks. I have to admire the strip for managing to deliver a one-panel version of the hilarious failure montage we’d get if this were a TV show or movie. Sad to see that Kevin’s plan to replace his jersey number with a lightning bolt to denote his near-divine superstar status was a bit premature!
Rex Morgan, M.D., 9/30/16
Aww, isn’t that cute! Rex’s nickname for his daughter is “punkin’”! He calls her this because her head roughly the size and shape of a pumpkin.