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Spider-Man, 5/30/09

There are so many Spider-Man newspaper strip tropes that irritate me — “Peter Parker whines because Mary Jane makes more money than he does,” “Peter Parker yells at the TV,” “Peter Parker forgets to bring his Spidey costume somewhere he needs it,” “Peter Parker forgets that he has his costume under his clothes and then needs to take his clothes off, for some reason” — but perhaps the most irritating is “Some ancillary character about whom you don’t care suspects that Peter Parker is Spider-Man.” The latest version of this has taken up much of the last week, as Peter was subject to some desultory hallway questioning about his late-night habits from an old lady in his apartment building; rather than making up some plausible explanation (which, I’d like to emphasize, would be remarkably easy to do for anyone with two brain cells to rub together), instead he panicked and refused to enter an elevator with his elderly neighbor, knowing that he’d break and confess everything under the harsh glow of the florescent lights, and fled down the stairs instead.

Normally I’d have passed over this entire episode in disgusted silence, but I note with some amusement that, according to the reliably entertaining Spider-Man narration box, we were supposed to have regarded this sad farce as “fun time.” Now, however, we’re getting to the deadly serious meat of the story, in which a sinister gang of chinbearded druids prepares for their next daring tractor-trailer heist.

Beetle Bailey, 5/30/09

I’m not sure why, exactly, but I find this Beetle Bailey particularly insulting. Look, General Halftrack is hunched over with rage and he’s pouring booze down his throat, OK? And his wife is falling all over herself apologizing for planning some sort of basic interaction with other humans. The General doesn’t want to go. We get it. You don’t have to name them “the Borrings” to emphasize that General Halftrack will, in fact, be bored (borred?) when he has dinner with them. I never thought I’d hold up Blondie as some sort of paragon of efficient, naturalistic narrative in sequential art storytelling, but, well, Blondie managed to pull this off without giving the off-screen hateful family a name that telegraphed their function. (They ended up with a delightfully insane name, the Glamrockers, but that’s another story.)

Oh, also: General Halftrack is a desperate alcoholic who needs to be drunk in order to function socially, ha ha!