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Mary Worth, 2/15/06

Mary, Mary, Mary. If I want uninteresting, unattractive characters making boring conversation, I’ll read Judge Parker. If I want a conflict resolved by off-camera deus ex machina, I’ll read Spider-Man. But Mary, I’ve come to expect more from you. This is the strip that brought us Smitty Smedlap, Tommy the Tweaker, Barfin’ Anna Tieg, and Rita “The Cocktail” Begler, after all. But the current plot — which, painfully enough, has dragged on since October — has slowly slid from dull to soporific; now it seems that my hopes for a months-long risible courtroom sequence, in which we’d be treated to day after day of Wilbur Weston squirming and uncontrollably perspiring, finally bursting into tears during an ill-advised attempt to take the stand in his own defense, have now been dashed.

It perhaps says something about my hardened, post-modern inability to feel empathy that Wilbur’s slack-jawed, limb-flailing spasm of joy in panel two inspires me to only vague feelings of disgust. It no doubts marks me out as shallow when I say that his irksome fashion choices (that electric blue cardigan doesn’t really work with the baby blue dress shirt, and the khakis unappealingly bunched at the crotch don’t really work with anything) aren’t helping. Still, I hold out hope that Mary Worth has some more trials — metaphorical if not literal — in store for our portly agony aunt. Will a heavily armed Jane Hand get past Charterstone’s security and launch us into a tense hostage drama? Will even the hint of legal trouble prompt Wilbur’s syndicate to replace him with an unthreatening-advice-generating computer program, forcing him to take on a increasingly degrading series of jobs that require no particular skills but do require a lack of self-respect? Will Wilbur spin around in his office chair for the next twelve strips, giggling like an eight-year-old boy who’s just heard a joke about poop? Only time will tell.