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Rex Morgan, M.D., 9/27/05

Today’s Rex Morgan, M.D., is actually a quite lovely chiaroscuro composition; even the sweatshop coloring hacks knew to leave well enough alone, adding only a splash of red to Rex’s tie that’s quite striking in and of itself. The mood is appropriately somber for the subject matter, but the dialogue confirms my growing suspicion that there’s only one competent medical practitioner in the Morgan family, and it isn’t the one who goes around waving some fancy initials around after his name in an overly compensatory fashion. Maybe Rex is distracted by the recent departure of his sexy blond archaeologist buddy, but his comments here give the impression less of “trained doctor” and more of “Catch Me If You Can-style fraud.” First, he seems baffled by the idea that a wounded man coming back from a war zone might have a piece of metal embedded in his body; then he claims ignorance as to why discussing an injured individual might be relevant at a medical practice. I mean, forget med school; anyone who’s seen an episode of M*A*S*H could have faked his way through this conversation better than “Dr.” Morgan.

The war in Iraq is a potentially touchy subject for the comics pages, even for an ostensibly “issue”-oriented strip like Rex Morgan (though the “issues” raised by the Fence Post Frank/Buck plot would be best dealt with by a psychologist and a landscape architect). If this storyline takes a stand more controversial than “Wounded soldiers should have their wounds treated promptly by a skilled medical professional” (which, I can’t emphasize strongly enough to Jack, would in this case be June), Rex Morgan, M.D. might find itself exiled to the Opinions page with the Boondocks and Mallard Fillmore.

Of course, if the strip needs some help in talking about the war without actually, you know, talking about the war, it should take some lessons from the master:

Beetle Bailey, 9/27/05

Soldier, I know it seems like some of the tasks you’re ordered to undertake are small or irrelevant, but each one slowly but surely advances the cause of freedom. And by “cause of freedom,” I mean “some campaign contributor’s stock portfolio.” I’m not sure how the Army gets its martini glasses, but I’m betting it involves a no-bid contract and a Halliburton subsidiary.