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Gil Thorp, 1/15/08

I’m pretty sure this is the most effort ever put into painting some kind of psychological portrait of a Gil Thorp character. Usually these demented cubist weirdoes just do bizarre stuff like cut off their legs or hit themselves in the back of the head with a stick without any obvious motivation, but for some reason we’re getting the full backstory on what makes the A-Train tick. Sure, it’s nothing ground-breaking — oh my God, a star high school athlete is kind of competitive! — but I have to admit to really liking the final flashback panel, where Andrew savagely crumples up his own paper when he discovers that his girlfriend is smarter than he is. His twisted, angry face makes it look like this is the moment when Lex Luthor decided to become a genius supervillain. “I’ll show her who knows more about American history … when I rule America! MOO ha ha!”

Judge Parker, 1/15/08

This is a good example of how having different people writing and illustrating a strip can result in an amusing disconnect. Gloria is Sam’s longtime legal secretary or personal assistant or something non-lawyer-y, and it’s totally possible that the dialog as written is supposed to be taken at face value and Sam really does think of Gloria as his real partner in the lawyerin’ business. But his heavy-lidded smirky expression in the second panel pretty much makes him look like the most condescending citizen of Smugville, U.S.A., and Gloria’s little insert closeup seems to indicate that she isn’t buying it. “OK, he’s a prick, but at least I don’t have to worry about him sexually harassing me,” she seems to be thinking.