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Hello, faithful readers! Your Comics Curmudgeon is back, and will keep on doing that thing he does in 2014, seeing as, against all odds, the print newspaper universe and its ancillary industries, like syndicated comics and bridge columns, have not shut up shop! Let us take this first of the year to give thinks for this triumph of hope over experience and/or analysis of various balance sheets, and to review the comics of the last couple of weeks.

Panel from Apartment 3-G, 12/23/13

As expected, Lu Ann’s inexplicable crush object Cole left for an upstate brain hospital, never to be seen again. Margo is trying to teach her how to use her facial expressions to mask ordinary emotions like sadness and longing, because those mark you out as weak. “Really? That’s the best you can do?” she asks, as she twists her own face into an inhuman horror-rictus.

Panel from Judge Parker, 12/23/13

You probably aren’t surprised to learn that the ultra-pampered mega-rich Parkers live in such a ennui-haze of instant gratification that the only way they can experience even a glimmer of excitement is to be in terrible mortal danger.

Mark Trail, 12/24/13

In Mark Trail, the story of the World’s Stupidest Currently Active Indian Artifact Thieves proceeds apace! It sure was dumb of Mark to turn his back on Jeff. But Jeff just knocking Mark unconscious and leaving him alive in this cabin was probably … infinitely dumber?

Rex Morgan, M.D., 12/24/13

On to Rex Morgan, where young Sarah found her babysitter making out with her boyfriend Niki (who also happens to be Rex’s former “fishing” “buddy”). What did you ask Santa for this Christmas? Was it Sarah Morgan acting like a creepy adult-child, only this time about sex? Well, you got it, by God.

Panel from Spider-Man, 12/25/13

Or maybe you wanted some Mark I Iron Man armor? Newspaper Spider-Man’s narration box seems to think that this is a festive thing, for some reason!

Gil Thorp, 12/25/13

Or maybe you just wanted some Christmas greetings from Coach and Mrs. Coach Thorp. Remember when the annual Thorp Christmas card featured their beloved children? Well, those kids are gone now, never mentioned, presumably removed from the timestream altogether thanks to advanced chrono-science or maybe just sold to a glove factory somewhere, which gives Gil and Mimi lots more free time for drunken Christmas partner-swapping with Coach Kaz and Kelly. Wait, is Coach Kaz’s girlfriend actually named Kelly? Whatever, I’m not bothering to look that up. The point is, they’re all going to swing.

Panel from Luann, 12/25/13

I’m quite sure nobody wanted to see Brad and Toni giving each other “sexy” Christmas gifts, and yet here we are. Why would anyone give or wear a t-shirt that says “this stud taken” on it? Is there … is there supposed to be wordplay involved, somehow?

Mark Trail, 12/25/13

OK, fine, maybe Jeff failed to kill Mark and left him to his own devices, but at least he left him permanently disabled, because he tied him up with rope! There’s no way he can escape from … oh. Oh.

Panel from Mary Worth, 12/26/13

Mary Worth continues to writhe in ecstasy due to her continued exposure to high levels of Ken Kensington’s erotic aura. “How could such a silver-haired fox still be single?” she hisses, bug-eyed, as she crams an entire cracker into her mouth without chewing. “Is it a trap?

Mary Worth, 12/27/13

Yes, Mary, it is! Ken Kensington is a soothsaying wizard like Nostradamus of old! Flee from him now before he brings you to his witch’s coven, to be sacrificed!

Curtis, 12/30/13

You may have noticed that there have been exactly zero strips from Curtis’s insane hallucinatory Kwanzaa storyline in this post. Well, there’s no easy way to tell you this, so I’m just going to come out and say it: Curtis-Kwanzaa (Curwanzaa?) is cancelled this year. Instead, the Wilkins parents are going out on a New Year’s date and Curtis and Barry will be babysat by the most religious woman in th’ world, who will presumably tell them that there’s no mention of any so-called Kwanzaa in the bible and they’ll have to go through an emergency exorcism for even mentioning it.

Funky Winkerbean, 12/30/13

Funky’s son Cory is back from Afghanistan, with his army buddy/fellow comic book aficionado Rocky, with whom he may or may not be romantically involved. When did your dad get so charming, Cory? Probably when he decided he wanted to fuck your girlfriend!

Gil Thorp, 12/30/13

Speaking of unwanted sexual advances, everyone wants to have sex with Wynn Wiley’s sister, who is a very good dancer! That appears to be literally the entire basketball season plot. Should be a fun next couple months!

Mark Trail, 12/31/13

“Mr. Trail, I’m tempted to kill you! I was tempted earlier, during the many, many opportunities I’ve had to do so! Almost as if it would make my life easier, somehow!”

Mark Trail, 1/1/14

But, nope, he’s just going to make Mark carry his canoe for him instead. Say, is that a beehive? We all know about Mark’s special relationship with eusocial insects. Nice knowing you, Jeff!

Apartment 3-G, 1/1/14

What? What could be better? A marriage to an Italian man? A fling with an Italian girl? An explanation as to how the Professor lost fifty pounds and de-aged thirty years? Whatever it is, we’ll all discover it in 2014, together!