Archive: Spider-Man

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Spider-Man, 3/23/19

Welp, here it is, folks: the last in the current run of Newspaper Spider-Man! This feature, which began its run in 1977, ends like this: Peter and MJ are going on vacation. And that’s it! They’re not even on vacation, they’re just talking about how much fun vacation is going to be. The only real closure we’re getting is that Peter seem to have finally gotten over his endless macho panic about MJ making more money than him. Congrats, Peter, you and your wife now have a true partnership! She makes the money as a movie star, which gives you the freedom spend your time and energy fighting crime. Oh, what’s that, you’re going to Australia and never coming back to fight crime again? Well, enjoy! Hope your next newspaper incarnation is slightly less dumb and pissy!

Mary Worth, 3/23/19

Mary Worth has been telegraphing “ESTELLE IS BEING CATFISHED” with decreasing subtlety all week, and I think today’s strip really seals it. Not only does “Arthur” not know how to spell his own name, but instead of chatting with Estelle on the balcony of his suite at the Four Seasons Kuala Lumpur, his voice is coming at you from some dark room with a laptop and a dirty table that sports a plebeian can of Pabst Blue Ribbon.

I like the fact that the phone is on speaker, because it implies that there isn’t just one “Arthur,” but rather she’s being catfished by committee, and they all need to hear what she’s saying so they can put their heads together and come up with a suitably romantic response. They started out in it for the money, but now they’ve really come together as a team and are increasingly excited by how good a job they’ve done as Cyranos!

Rex Morgan, M.D., 3/23/19

There’s a classic Mark Trail strip that’s somewhere in my archives that I spent way, way too much time just now trying and failing to dig up, in which a villain pledges to reform his ways and immediately goes off panel and shaves his beard, much to Mark’s approval. (If you can find the link, please email it to me, I love it so much!) Anyway, I guess the Rex Morgan, M.D., equivalent is to discard your garish clothes and swap them for a sensible, muted jacket-and-shirt combo. Not a tie or anything, you’re not putting on airs, but this is a way to show that you’ve been “scared straight” and are ready to rejoin civilization!

(UPDATE: Thanks to faithful reader Rita Lake for finding the strip — it’s here, and it’s spectacular.)

Barney Google and Snuffy Smith, 3/23/19

I think we should definitely listen to Jughaid when it comes to the food that he knows his body needs. Look at his discolored tongue! That’s presumably due to a serious vitamin deficiency.

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Spider-Man, 3/21/19

I am, genuinely, done making fun here. If Newspaper Spider-Man wants to spend its last few days in the media landscape engaged in utterly pointless bait-and-switches over readership expectations vis-à-vis whether or not Peter is or is not wearing his spider-costume under his shirt, then I say go for it. One of the very first sequences I went through that really taught me what this strip was all about came in 2005, in which Peter’s undergarments were or perhaps were not a problem, with the changes having nothing to do with Peter’s own on-panel efforts. My point is that this feature is going out very much on its own terms. We should all be so lucky.

Family Circus, 3/21/19

One of my least favorite Family Circus things — and lord knows there’s a list — is when some semi-universal cultural touchstone unfolds in real life, like the Olympics or the NCAA basketball tournament, and we’re expected to believe that the Keane kids can’t stop pulling catchphrases from it. It took me a second to notice that Dolly is rubbing her arm here, indicating (I assume) that Billy hit her with the ball, or maybe just punched her and then quickly grabbed a ball so that he could say “I didn’t punch her! Both my hands are clearly occupied in holding this ball!”; before I realized that, I thought maybe he had just farted.

Gil Thorp, 3/21/19

I’m not really a “sports guy” so I sometimes I find myself in the position of wondering what it is that’s confusing me about Gil Thorp: the sport content or the trademark choppy narrative. Like, today, I don’t get why the idea of a scrimmage seems so freighted, and I don’t understand half of what Gil is talking about in panel two. But I do sincerely hope that panel three takes place nine days later, that the scrimmage drama was resolved to everyone’s satisfaction, and that the phone call Mimi is wrapping up here is acknowledging that and we never hear anything else about it.

Dick Tracy, 3/21/19

“It’s your case too, Joe. Go ahead, rifle through the drawers and get your fingerprints all over everything. Take a dump in the middle of the floor! Nobody can stop you!”

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The Lockhorns, 3/18/19

OK, so I’m actively angry that, somewhere in the conceptual murk of the Lockhornsverse, Loretta and Leroy went to a rock concert (side note: “rock concert,” lol) and all we got out of it was this dumb joke about how concerts are loud and can affect your hearing in both the short and long term, which could’ve involved any generic set of characters? I have so many questions, about the genesis of this scenario, and specifically how it played out for the characters in this strip who we know and love. Why didn’t we get to see the escalating series of mutual passive-aggressive dares that led Leroy and Loretta, whose cultural consumption generally doesn’t go beyond movies or, very occasionally, the opera, to get outside their comfort zone? Was each of them hoping the other would hate it so they could feel smug about it? Did they see some big-name arena act, or did they go a little club to see some indie band so they could make fun of hipsters together? Deep in my heart, I hope they went and saw The Mountain Goats, and during the double-encore performance of “No Children,” Loretta reached out for Leroy’s hand without looking at him, and Leroy took it.

Spider-Man, 3/18/19

You know, it’s a common sentiment to say that each of us only has a limited time on this earth, and so we should live every moment of it to the fullest; but for me, I think that some of the banal, everyday experiences that many would call a waste of time are the true, quiet core of a life well lived. That’s why I respect that Newspaper Spider-Man, whose creative team presumably got more than a week’s notice that they were being cancelled, is resisting the urge to go out with a big, splashy, dramatic ending; instead, we’re apparently going to get several days of “Peter Parker vs. the TSA,” which is not only boring as shit, but has been done in this strip at least three times already. In one of his previous run-ins with airport security, Peter got bailed out by Obama; I feel like the current administration will be significantly … less forgiving.

Rex Morgan, M.D., 3/18/19

Rex Morgan really is hitting those classic Rex Morgan tropes: first someone gave Rex stuff for free for no good reason, and now he’s just gonna lounge around mostly naked, giving readers the occasional taste of beefcake they’ve come to enjoy. I assume the news report will be about how Annoying Hawaiian Shirt Man, who we last saw getting arrested after he made an abortive attempt to steal the ham radio operator’s jeep, was technically still under sky marshall jurisdiction when he committed his crime and will thus be shipped off to Guantanamo Bay to be held without trial indefinitely. The towel well fall away as Rex becomes aroused when learning about this tough but fair comeuppance; nevertheless, he will not smile.

Mary Worth, 3/18/19

“OK, I’ll go first! You’ve told me all about Libby; what was your first pet named? I loved all the stories about your mother — what’s was her maiden name? What street did you grow up on? What are the last four digits of your Social Security number?”