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Apartment 3-G, 8/5/09

Gabriella may be a crazed, superstitious ethnic stereotype, but she does exhibit a little bit of her daughter’s unsentimental steeliness when necessary. Specifically, she knows that there’s nothing that wimpy, ineffectual Tommie can do to help anybody, anywhere, at any time. “I know, I’ll have her call the other idiot roommate! That will keep the two of them busy for hours, as Tommie tries to explain that Eric is dead without using the word ‘dead.'”

Speaking of which, have you noticed that nobody is using the word “dead” when referring to Eric? Just “gone.” Maybe it’s because you can’t use the word “dead” on the comics page, or maybe it’s because Eric isn’t really dead at all, and years from now they’ll find his perfectly preserved body at the bottom of a ravine, kept in a state of suspended animation by the Himalayan snows. Like Wally in Funky Winkerbean, he’ll return to find Margo engaged to someone else, except that it will be more confusing because her new fiance will look exactly like Eric, and exactly like the other four fiances she’s had over the intervening years.

Gil Thorp, 8/5/09

Speaking of long-term soap plotting, kudos to Neil Rubin for following up on a story whose seeds were apparently planted seven years ago by previous Gil Thorp writer (and Left Behind series co-author) Jerry Jenkins. (Kudos also to faithful reader AirForbes for digging that factoid up). Back then, Marty told Milford’s trainer that Coach Thorp wanted him to get a cortisone shot — but we never actually saw Gil make this call, and now he’s denying everything.

Could this be related to the fact that today’s strip is a flashback to events that happened between panels one and two of yesterday’s strip, complete with a flashback-within-a-flashback? Is this going to set up a Rashomon-style story of conflicting narratives, except instead of being about rape and murder, the narratives will involve cortisone shots, and accusations of cortisone shots?

Mary Worth, 8/5/09

The quiet aftermath of a successful meddle. Mary sits alone in her apartment, eyes closed, transported to a state of pure bliss by the reinforcement of heteronormative monogamy. Meanwhile, a disconsolate Charley watches South Pacific on his magical floating television set while pounding back another glass of Milk of Magnesia. Will he even bother to take off his socks before he makes a desultory attempt at masturbation?

Spider-Man, 8/5/09

Many Spider-Man fans are no doubt unnerved by this strip’s wholly unexpected descent into actual superpowered adventure, so let me bring you back to your safe place by discussing something goofy and inconsequential: Wolverine’s beard. “What’s the deal with Wolverine’s beard?” many of you have asked throughout the duration of this storyline. “Why does he have blue dots on his chin?” As near as I can tell, the deal is this: Wolverine has resplendent, Martin Van Buren-style muttonchops; he also doesn’t shave very often (despite having razor-sharp claws that would no doubt do a fine job of it) and therefore has a great deal of stubble. Whoever is coloring this strip has decided to color his hair and muttonchops blue, which, fine, it’s far from the most insane possibility. But said colorist apparently also was unable to get his or her head around the idea of “muttonchops.” “What, a beard that grows only on the cheeks, but not upon the chin?” he or she muttered to him or herself, in his or her coloring sweatshop. “Outlandish and absurd! Impossible!” Thus, the colorist has stubbornly annexed Logan’s chin stubble to his beard, making the bristles the same blue color as his muttonchops, and, for reasons even I can’t explain, leaving the expanse of skin between the bristles pure white instead of a fleshy pink. The results are laughable, as you can see, but perhaps not as laughable as tough-guy Wolverine using “blasted” as if it were a swear word.

Mark Trail, 8/5/09

“Of course, Mr. Trail is cheerfully running around the forest right now with his dog trying to apprehend a dangerous armed criminal with only his fists and his inappropriate use of bold font. I’m beginning to think that maybe I shouldn’t put full credence in the deranged nonsense that comes out of his mouth!”