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Mary Worth, 11/21/12

In keeping with its overall M.O., Mary Worth is grappling with its current high drama in a weirdly blunt and concrete way that ignores underlying motivations and issues. To wit: Jim is a profoundly emotionally damaged creep who wants to be “more than friends” with Dawn because she reminds him of his dead sister (gross). He also has an irrational fear of water due to his own tragic boat-themed accident, and refuses to go to the pier because it’s “not safe” (because WHO KNOWS when some ferry is just going to stone cold slam into it, without warning?). Naturally instead of thinking, “Gosh, Jim is profoundly delusional and also creepy and controlling,” Dawn has managed to simplify this into a conflict about whether they should go down to the pier or not. If only some arbitrary compromise could be found to paper over this conflict, Dawn could live happily ever after with the guy who wants to have sex with and/or dictate every move of someone who looks just like his dead sister.

Judge Parker, 11/21/12

So it looks like this Judge Parker storyline is going to end without any chainsaw murder, but with all the newly introduced characters getting what they want — Bea a new business partner and/or boyfriend, Bubba a road out of the precarious marijuana business and into the no-risk, sure-to-succeed solar power industry, and Avery with a financial interest in both, a romantic interest in one, and a fishing hole he can go to whenever he wants to boot. But where is the lucrative financial windfall for our main characters, which is an important part of the resolution of any Judge Parker plot? At first I thought Avery’s back-cast talk was some specialized bit of movie jargon — remember, Sam and Avery’s completely conflict-free negotiations over movie rights to Judge Emeritus Parker’s book set this whole plot in motion — but no, it’s some kind of fishing thing, boring.

Shoe, 11/21/12

Longtime readers know that the patented Shoe Goggle Eyes Of Horror, in which a character reacts to a mildly corny punchline as if they’ve been told they have less than a month to live, are one of my favorite visual tropes in the strip. They’re a particularly funny overreaction when, as here, the character sporting them was the one who set up the joke in the first place. “Look, I just wanted to make a little joke about how the gender-coded cultural constructs of romance inform marketing for Mattel’s Barbie toys, and how that construct contrasts with real-world experience of monogamous, state-sanctioned relationships, but you … you took it too far!”