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Gil Thorp, 7/22/09

You know how sometimes you get wind of the fact that they’re making a sequel to a movie you loved, and you allow yourself to get all excited about it, even though you know, deep in your heart of hearts, that it will probably never live up to the magic of the original? And you go to it and pay good money, hoping that among the Terminator: Salvations and Ghostbuster IIs you’ll have stumbled upon that rare Godfather: Part 2? Well, that’s how I sort of feel about the bubbling storyline here, in which Coach Kaz, P.I., is being urged to reprise his role from the utterly awesome summer of 2007, in which he stopped rock-and-roll legend Gail Martin from being harassed by her Ben Franklin-esque drummer. What Kaz, doesn’t mention, as he and Kelly enjoy their mid-up-scale dinner at Ricoze (called “Rico’s”, back when it was only mid-scale), is that he didn’t crack the Martin case by luck — he cracked it by hiring an actual detective to do the work for him. Perhaps he never admitted this to Gil in all the grandiose tales he told about that fateful summer?

Anyway, if there’s anything that makes me hopeful about a return to ’07-level awesomeness, it’s panel one here, in which Coach Kaz is lounging casually around in his Wayfarers, enjoying summer to its fullest. But remember, back in those heady days, Gil was teaching a kid who had accidentally cut off his own legs to box, and that was only the B-story. It’s going to be a tough act to follow.

Dennis the Menace, 7/22/09

This would be a good time for Mr. Wilson to be portrayed with his archetypical single bead of sweat; instead, his brow is dry and his eyes are thoughtful, if shifty. It’s almost as if he’s broken through years of anxiety and emotional turmoil on the subject of his irritating neighbor, and has reached a place of clarity; now, he’s attempting to apply rationality to the problem, beginning by contemplating the best places to stash the body.

Barney Google and Snuffy Smith, 7/22/09

While the punchline in today’s Snuffy Smith is easy enough to parse — “Ha ha, the residents of Hootin’ Holler are subsistence farmers living in a pre-industrial economy” — I’m not sure what to make of the visual in the second panel, in which we see that the Smifs’ shack is perched at the end of a rocky, isolated outcropping. Are we meant to understand that relying only on local food sources and cutting ourselves off from the larger industrial food chain is like wobbling precariously at the edge of a cliff of starvation? Or that if these simple hill folk can extract sustenance from their boulder-strewn soil, surely we can too?

Judge Parker, 7/22/09

“I’m also concerned that your life vest is inflating! That shouldn’t happen until you’re out of the plane and in the water!”