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Judge Parker, 10/25/09

I know I’ve been kind of missing in action over the past several Judge Parker storylines, as they just haven’t had that classic mixture of ludicrous and emotionally detached that first drew me to this strip. But I have high hopes for the noir-ish plot brewing now. “D’Vito” is a transparent Bernie Madoff stand-in who was gunned down hours after making bail, and “Henry” is one of his victims, an apparent patsy set up for the murder — oh, and also dying of colon cancer.

Anyway, coming events promise to offer lots of opportunities my favorite Judge Parker recurring theme: that the privileged main characters can just barrel ahead and do whatever the hell they want because rules don’t apply to them. Sam, smelling a rat in this case, visited Henry in jail and essentially told him (Henry) to that he (Sam) would be serving as his (Henry’s) defense attorney, a proposition to which Henry never actually agreed pre se. Nevertheless, I’m sure that the police will allow Sam’s law partner to poke around all the potential evidence in Henry’s house. Also, in those first two panels: lying to get evidence from someone who may be a potential witness or co-conspirator? Sure, why not? All that, and soothing a troubled millionaire whose feeling are apparently tender after he assaulted a photographer are all in a day’s work for Sam Driver: Smug Dick at Law! Oh, and as panel three assures us, there will also be breasts.

Slylock Fox, 10/25/09

Is this the cruelest Slylock Fox Sunday mystery ever? One must picture Max Mouse, finally allowed to go work on a case on his own for once, carefully counting off the paces in some rural backwater, digging enormous holes with a shovel three times as long as he his tall, desperately looking for Slick Smitty’s ill-gotten gain — all while the perp himself is just standing there with his girlfriend, laughing. You have to imagine the level of anxiety he must have reached before he finally pulled out his itty-bitty cell phone to call his boss, who will of course never allow him out of the house alone again now that he’s shown his incompetence at basic ratiocination. It’s a sad, sad day for tiny prey mammals.

Dennis the Menace, 10/25/09

I have to kind of admit that I kind of like this Dennis the Menace for the glimpse it offers us into Henry and Alice’s bucolic pre-Dennis lives. I imagine them in college, both of them tall, gangly young people recruited for their skills on the volleyball court. I like the thought of a pair of mirror-image crushes from afar — Henry attending games played by the women’s team, Alice going to the men’s games, each pair of eyes settling on a player that strikes their fancy, with a long physique that looked good in those short volleyball shorts. Then, at a party thrown by members of one or the other team, the two finally work up the nerve to talk to one another, and, over a few cheap keg beers, begin to see the dim but hopeful outlines of a future together. It will be a future dominated by their awful, hated son, of course, but it would be impossible for them to know that, so let’s leave them for the moment in their youthful happiness.

On that note, I also appreciate the fact that the strip has left to our imagination exactly how Dennis has managed to turn a game of volleyball played in an apparently dry yard into some kind of mud-soaked nightmare.

Beetle Bailey, 10/25/09

In light of the many Beetle Bailey strips that depict man-on-tree sex, I find at least one form of camouflage depicted here particularly troubling.