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Mark Trail, 9/28/09

You know, while Mary Worth was busy pumping ancillary characters full of lead, Mark Trail was offering us the unusual spectacle of Mark experiencing the blunt head trauma-induced unconsciousness he usually dishes out to others. The most exciting aspect of this plot is not any danger to Mark — surely he can punch out any real threats to his person while out cold — but rather the prospect of the feeble Rusty wandering aimlessly around the alligator-lousy swamp with only his own hideousness to protect him. Sadly, we weren’t even given a few hopeful days to imagine that Mark’s deformed ward had been devoured by a vicious reptile before the inevitable discovery that he’s safe and as sound as he ever is. I don’t normally root for stories about children in danger, but I make exceptions for Rusty.

Dick Tracy, 9/28/09

Oh, also, the soulful-eyed clown, who I pegged as the killer pretty much upon his first appearance, then briefly began to doubt the guilt of, turns out to be the killer after all! Thank goodness Dick Tracy isn’t challenging my plot-related expectations in any way, as I don’t think I could handle it.

Really, though, Dick Tracy isn’t particularly interested in the big-picture strokes of the plot at all: it’s not a “mystery” strip as such, as your most base impulses (sinister clown = murderer, in this case) are always likely to be correct. No, it’s more interested in following its own drifting dream logic on the way to its predetermined conclusion. So Ringo was a corporate whistleblower (OK) who was put into the care of the witness protection program (makes sense) and given a job running a circus (wait, what?). And Mr. Pops the clown worked at the company Ringo worked at, or something? And now everybody at the circus also hates Ringo, because … they also were profiting from the corporate malfeasance … or maybe because he’s a bad boss, or bad ringmaster? You might think that Mr. Pops’s accusations will be followed up on in future strips, but trust me, they won’t, not to anybody’s satisfaction, anyway. It’s not so much a “tightly constructive narrative” as one of those nightmares you have where you’re in college or a new job and you haven’t done your homework or learned any of your duties, and everyone is mad at you, and eventually you get eaten by a tiger.

Pluggers, 9/28/09

Kudos to pluggers for allowing their yards to revert to prairie, but why not go all the way? They ought to allow their human-style dwellings to decay, strip off their clothes, and go feral, like the beasts that they are. Of course, they may be devoured by their wild cousins who never experienced the softening effects of domesticity, but that’s a risk I’m willing to take.

Beetle Bailey, 9/28/09

Ha ha, Sarge is closing his eyes and pretending that the only words he hears are “bigger,” “job,” and “harder”! Jesus, I am a fucking twelve-year-old.