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Mary Worth, 3/22/10

Ladies and gentlemen, our long national frolic has ended, and just as we’d hoped — with a Charterstone pool party! Mary helpfully excuses Wilbur’s manic episode by reminding us his sensible lady friend Iris was out of town. But what can Mary mean by “returns”? Have her widows’ stocks declared dividends? Is Carlos Alora back on the job as groundskeeper? Dare we hope for Zombie Aldo? More likely, she just needs to get that copy of The Shorter Bartlett’s Quotations back to the library. Those fines add up.

9 Chickweed Lane, 3/22/10

One of the most annoying tendencies of serial strips is to sanctify characters until they lose all capacity for drama or comedy. Judge Parker‘s Sam Driver, Steve Roper, and Funky Winkerbean‘s bandleader Harry Dinkle has each in his turn been neutered, cast in plaster, and set up on a shelf for admiration in lieu of entertainment.

In its current story 9 Chickweed Lane — already in the running for most annoying strip in the history of ever — is going for a twofer. Mean-spirited bully Edna O’Malley (née Ernst) has already been recast as a dewy, chaste, ever-so-talented, misunderstood patriot. And here, in a single panel, her future husband is transformed from a lieutenant busted for a pointless and bungled espionage attempt into a noble set-upon war hero. Could we please have the cat back? I mean, if it’s not off in Africa curing malaria or something.

Herb and Jamaal, 3/21/10

Just when you think Herb and Jamaal has reached the top of its game, it breaks new ground. Generic dialogue? No dialogue at all! Bland characters? Unknown bland characters (Herb and Sarah’s flat-topped son Ezekiel, impy neighbor Willie, and Willie’s dad, um…)! Labored, arbitrary setups? You ain’t seen nothin’ yet! And icing on the cake, a heartwarming Mary Worth-style quotation from Malcolm X. ‘Cause if that man stood for anything, it’s that it’s OK to let yourself be victimized, as long as you can be smug about it.

Gil Thorp, 3/22/10

Underemployed dropout Steve Luhm here puts right his slightly icky will-they-or-won’t-they flirtation with Milford B-baller Cassie Corman. Cassie has a well-established taste for older boys — they don’t even have to be much older, and from the look of Ray Richey there, just about any boy will do. Well, Steve’s having none of it, and oh hey look Milford’s closing in on the point spread and Kinsella’s still on fire. Excuse me, I gotta call my bookie.

— Uncle Lumpy