Archive: Bizarro

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Bizarro, 8/6/23

Josh’s dogged (foxxéd?) seventeen-year investigation into the post-animalpocalypse world of Slylock Fox has given us deep insights into the cruel, authoritarian, and relentlessly petty society that replaced human civilization. It’s like a worldwide Home Owners’ Association using a gestapo and tactical nukes to enforce garage setbacks and paint codes.

But what of the Before Times? Alas, we have only fragments, no doubt because the social and technological structures that maintain a historical record were destroyed in humanity’s collapse. We know that Count Weirdly struggled to replace mankind with terrifying genetically-engineered animal-folk who were somehow not pluggers, and that his first attempts went horribly wrong.

Now we see the fruits of Weirdly’s second try: The Age of Cats. This fully realized urban civilization sprang Covid‑like from the Count’s lab and swept across the earth. The Age ended suddenly when the cats invented the Internet and were instantly absorbed into it. Sort of like the Maya, but in the cloud, with adorable memes.

Sally Forth, 8/6/23

Who’s up for a Sally Forth recap? You are? Okay!

The Forths head off for a fun-in-the-sun vacation and rent their house to the Park family for the duration when strange things happen. Young Emma Park joins and tries to boss around Hil’s band, develops a werewolf obsession, starts showing up in Hil’s friends Faye and Nona’s Apartment 3-G‑style flash-forwards, and gets all chummy with Hil’s boyfriend Duncan. Dad Dae Park starts freaking out at the sound of the ice cream truck and launches a campaign to grill the perfect summer burger. Mom Joon Park dives into Sally’s Starlee and the Moonbeams reruns and finds them “glorious.”

Faye and Nona deduce that the house is turning the Parks into the Forths, and likely releasing its hold on the Forths themselves as well. They negotiate with the evil spirit of a doll that’s also haunting the house (yes this is a double haunting, stay with me here) to blackmail the Parks—who by now are so Forthy they believe they have always lived there—into leaving.

Meanwhile the vacationing Forths, released from all agency, responsibility, and idiosyncrasy, are having the time of their lives lolling around a tropical paradise like normal people until the moment the Parks walk out their door back home. The house, Sauron-like, instantly locates and locks on to them, and here we are.

But hey. I understand Sally’s panic at returning to her pinched, neurotic life. I mean who would want to live for even a minute in that lady’s head, amirite? The puzzle is Ted: as the house slips its evil tendrils back into his consciousness, he should be manically nattering “Let’s play Tenet Monopoly” or announcer-voicing “It’s time for the Star Wars Christmas Special.” But instead he deadpans his home maintenance to-do list, as though he and the house have somehow fallen symbiotically into cahoots. What, I wonder, will Ted demand from his house-accomplice in exchange for that sweet coat of fresh blacktop?

Watch out, Sally.

The Phantom, 8/6/23

Josh may want to wrap up the current Phantom Multiverse of Mozz storyline, but I remain all in. Especially since the Sunday strip has become a sort of sidequel to the dailies, and double especially because it features Patrolwoman Hawa Aguda, my #1 non-Savarna Phantom crush object.

But first, my sincere compliments to author Tony DePaul for revisiting the Mina Braun story the past few months of Sundays. Mina is a talented and pretty “scholar/adventurer” who fell in love with the Phantom after a bout of traumatic scholar-adventuring way back in 2005. To erase her trauma and untangle his relationships, the Phantom had Guran dose her with Bandar amnesia powder—the same thing he did to spunky reporter Lara Bell in 2014 to protect the secrets of the Phantom Cave.

In this year’s Sunday strips, we see Mina again, outside the Domain of the Almost Humans (who are somehow not pluggers), and learn that Guran’s dose fucked up her life. Tormented by dreams and half-memories, thought a madwoman, and with her career in ruins, she found her way back to rediscover her past and resume her scientific work alone. Mrs. Phantom Diana Palmer speaks for readers in calling Mina’s treatment—at her husband’s command—”inhumane.” Gracefully done, Mr. DePaul.

In today‘s strip, ex-amnesiac John X (the Phantom) returns to Jungle Patrol HQ after the events at Gravelines Prison covered in the daily strip. But Hawa’s congratulations seem off: it was the Phantom, not John X, who liberated Gravelines. Somebody is having trouble keeping his aliases straight. (“Um, lessee—Walker: sunglasses, fedora, no beard; John X: sunglasses, ball cap, beard; Unknown Commander: secret mailbox, spooky handwriting …”).

Gosh, that’s a long one. Back to wisecracks and cheap shots tomorrow, I promise!

—Uncle Lumpy

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Gil Thorp, 7/26/23

Oh, wow, when I called for a wacky summer storyline, I didn’t expect a dystopian plot where a flamboyantly dressed warden named “Reno Harwood” forces criminal-teens to battle it out in his JailDome, with quadrocopter drone cameras streaming the whole thing out for the entertainment of bloodthirsty Twitch viewers everywhere. Marty Moon will enthusiastically do the play by play, and the stakes are high: the winners will earn their freedom, while the losers are condemned to death. Unfortunately, Gil’s decision to prepare his team for an indoor game by making them practice in the pouring rain may prove counterproductive.

Bizarro, 7/26/23

Like Mickey Mouse, Ronald McDonald is theoretically the most important character in his weird little world but is also the most boring one; why would you spend time thinking about this vaguely off-putting clown when you could be following the adventures of the mayor with a cheeseburger for a head, or a criminal who steals burgers, or a bird who is also Amelia Earhart, or whatever the hell Grimace is? But from now on I’ll spending a lot of energy contemplating Ronald McDonald — specifically, wondering if his partner is a hamurger or if he has latent hamburger DNA or if his partner is a normal human woman who gave birth to a hamburger and just started screaming and screaming while the doctor came out and told Ronald and he was just like “Heh heh, exactly as I expected.”

Rex Morgan, M.D., 7/26/23

“You also keep sending us your bill, and we keep telling you that just because you commandeered one of our rooms and did surgery in it without asking anyone about it doesn’t mean we owe you money.”

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Mary Worth, 6/11/23

Yes, blah blah, Saul breaks down sobbing because his beloved Greta has become bait for for fighting dogs (DO NOT WORRY, THERE IS ZERO CHANCE THAT A DOG IS GOING TO DIE HORRIBLY IN A MARY WORTH PLOT, GRETA WILL BE FINE), but what I want to focus on is that Mary sets this up with “I was reading the paper, and also watching the news on television.” We get it Mary, you have a diverse and varied news diet (made up of sources that were widely known before before 2001 or so).

Bizarro, 6/11/23

I know that the “oh, is there a Mrs. Potato Head?” genre of joke is tempting, but — and I’m sorry to be a killjoy — it would work a lot better if not for the fact that there is a Mrs. Potato Head, and she was introduced as part of the Potato Head extended universe in 1953, just a year after Mr. Potato Head debuted, and she appeared, voiced by Estelle Harris, most famous for playing George’s mother on Seinfeld, in three different Toy Story movies. That said, I appreciate the route this strip took with it, which is to imagine a human woman married to a literal plastic toy, whose eyes sometimes fall out when you’re in bed with it, as you would expect them to.

Family Circus, 6/11/23

Gotta go with Dolly as having the best imagination of the Keane Kids here. She’s dreaming of unleashing some ancient Pharaonic curse onto her family, and frankly I’m rooting for her.