SFP

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  • Lostman

    I think you need a chill pill Patrick

  • masterofbones

    The best part of this is that he is a masterful actor. This could all just be him messing with Allison, either with good motives or bad. This could be him dropping his charade. This could be him acting for secret spies listening in.

    Of course, that makes predicting what happens next somewhat difficult.

  • Zac Caslar

    Yeah, feeling the Bullshit card is due to be played.
    His arguments about how disposable an individual life is are too shallow to be something he takes seriously -he’s too smart for that and Kudos to Allison for calling him on it at least somewhat.
    Something else is up.
    Previously there was the reveal that everyone’s powers are accelerating in both potency and side effects, and I don’t wonder if that combined with his recent massive data inload aren’t fucking with his sense of alienation.
    Also we’ve got no idea if he’s lying. He knows if Allison is, and there’s exactly nothing guaranteeing anything he says isn’t a deception.
    Yeah.
    I’m keeping that Ace of BS handy.

    • Commenting solely to say “Ace of BS” is pure genius and I wish I could upvote more than once.

    • Markus

      I actually think his argument about meaningful consent is pretty solid. In terms of functionality, privacy, life experience, and knowledge it’d be reasonable to compare him having sex with a regular person to a regular person having sex with an eleven year old they’d been invasively following for several years.

    • Rich McGee

      One thing is easily verifiable – the hospital protester killings. There’s no way the police didn’t get everyone’s ID from that crime scene, so all their identies are known. Alison’s contacts can easily determine if a bunch of people from that crowd died or vanished shortly after that incident.

      If they didn’t, then Patrick is willing to lie to Alison over something he knows she can check – which means he isn’t trustworthy on anything.

      If he did kill them, no matter the motivation, he clearly has not reformed. Killing people (no matter how reprehensible) with your powers is still supervillainy, even on a smaller scale. That’s kind of the point to why she’s chasing Mary, isn’t it?

      Either way, he should be turned over to the authorities, or killed if he can’t be taken in alive. He’s far too dangerous to left loose in these circumstances.
      Unfortunately, I have no confidence in her reasoning that out any more. I’ve seen more realistic worldviews out of the Care Bears cartoon than she managed in today’s strip.

  • Ok, the red background in that second to last panel… Patrick is starting to freak me out but I can’t figure out just why. I’ll come back when it’s not 4:30 am. This is more suspenseful than some movies…

    • Pol Subanajouy

      I think these comment sections are a really interesting keyhole into the mind of the reader because not only is it a place to voice opinions and ideas, but due to the nature of web comics, thoughts that would fly by as one would thumb through the pages of a printed superhero comic are slowed down and expanded her. Sort of stretched out and held still so that examination and discussion can happen at a much more contemplative tempo of days rather than seconds, if that makes sense.

    • Rod

      Good call about the background color. Again, looking back through the last several pages, compare the panels where the background is red to those where it’s not. Indicators of outright deception, or at least of role playing? I think so.

  • Subbak

    4th panel is really weird with the body language. I get that Patrick is intentionally trying to look menacing, towering over Alison and closing the area in front of her, to emphasize his hypothetical.

    But Alison shouldn’t react to it the way she does, insinctinvely moving back. For the pas ~10 years of her life she’s almost never had to worry about being physically restrained or anything similar. The sort of attitude should not get that reaction out of her.

    • Rod

      It’s just a normal human reflex when someone suddenly violates your personal space (which is *precisely* what Patrick wanted her to feel.) Not so much out of fear of injury, but discomfort at the vague idea of someone initiating broad contact, without reason or permission, in a situation where it isn’t appropriate.

      She may be invulnerable, but I’m betting having random people come up and hug her out of the blue would still be unnerving.

      • Mechwarrior

        If anything, she’d have to be even more careful in such situations. World of cardboard and all that.

  • TheGonzoMD .

    This is looking less and less like “Omg he’s still an eeeevil super villain” and more and more him going through internal turmoil about his relationship with other humans and his life choices.

    • Pol Subanajouy

      I mentioned it before, but the second to last panel also shows a visible swing in his emotions before he puts his composed mask/persona again in the last. This is a very unusual way to make me empathize with Patrick, but it’s oddly working.

  • Pol Subanajouy

    Oh boy. Patrick is about to say some stuff they’ll both regret. *clenches in anticipation* Eep!

  • Sabriel

    Men? Patrick has taken men to bed?

    Cool. You don’t see a lot of bi representation among male characters.

    (Or pan. Or maybe he IDs as straight or ace, who knows.)

    • Pol Subanajouy

      You know, with everything else going on, I read that, processed it, and it took reading your comment before I acknowledge the implications. Haha.

    • Liz

      He doesn’t even identify as a person – I’m not sure he identifies with any sexual orientation either.

      • Sabriel

        Good point! You’re probably right, and he doesn’t.

      • Rich McGee

        I think Patrick identifies as a person. Not so sure about being human in a meaningful sense, though. He really doesn’t have much in common with baselines, or even most other biodynamics.
        As for sexual orientation, I got a ridiculously lengthy post elsewhere today arguing that he’s probably got biological issues that make it a moot point. His anomaly truly sucks in a lot of ways.

    • Mechwarrior

      You do see some bisexual male characters in fiction.

      They’re almost always depraved nutjobs. See here

      • Sabriel

        Yikes. πŸ™

        I probably should have been aware of that trope, being bi myself.

        • Mechwarrior

          Optimistically your lack of awareness of the trope could be a sign that things are improving.

          But mainstream fiction still has issues pigeonholing non-evil male characters as being either straight or gay, with no other possibilities (bi, pan, asexual, etc).

          A particularly egregious instance being the revelation in All New X-Men that Teen Ice Man (and therefore presumably modern Ice Man) is actually gay.

          • Sabriel

            Nah, I just can’t think of many bisexual male characters.

            There’s Harkness from Dr. Who, but I’m not a Whovian so I don’t know much about him. He’s charming?

            There’s also Anders and Zevran from Bioware. Of course neither one of them is exactly stable. πŸ™

            When I think “bisexual representation” I mostly expect to see:
            (1) Women
            (2) Fanservice

            I wonder where the bisexual men are all the time.

          • Mechwarrior

            The best, in terms of emotional stability, bisexual male character I can think of in popular media is Kaidan Alenko in the Mass Effect series (but he’s still not as cool as Garrus!). There’s also the Iron Bull in Dragon Age: Inquisition, who, while he has some serious psychological issues, at least manages to separate them from his sex life.

            Boy, it really says something when trying to think of examples of bisexual male characters who aren’t batshit insane, the first thing pretty much everyone thinks of is Torchwood and Bioware games.

          • Sabriel

            Have you done Kaidan’s male romance? Was it well done? I would do it, but I can’t handle the voice acting. Femshep is the only shep for me.

          • Mechwarrior

            Nope, I’m the same way. Mike Meer’s voice acting was too much of a turn off for me to really enjoy it. I preferred romancing Liara, Garrus, or Traynor.

    • sliz225

      I’m more interested by the “etcetera.” Is he talking about non-binary folks, or are there aliens in the SFP universe? (I’m leaning towards genderqueer.)

      • Sabriel

        Probably NB folks, yeah.

        The “Heroes Rise” universe has a NB third gender called “Zahir” and also a lot of animal-based superheros. I forget what the animal types were called right now, but I remember that there were a lot of animal superheroes who felt that their non-human physiology made it hard to identify with human genders.

        Anyways, he could mean that he’s been with somebody like Brad, who is a lizard-hero or bird-hero and who is non-binary for that reason.

      • Rich McGee

        What would you call a high-powered shapeshifter that can shift between sexes and invent their own embellishments on the basic two? Patrick had lots of biodynamic contacts in his Menace days – if there are any out there, he probably knows them.
        Or on a much squickier level, there’s bestiality. His uncontrolled telepathy might make some animals better sex partners for him than humans. Simpler minds, easier to please, no long term attachment issues for a busy world conqueror to worry about, and it’s debatable if he identifies with being entirely human himself so the taboo factor is lower for him. At least the mental feedback means he’ll be considerate with the poor things, which is more than you can say for the real-world perverts who actually engage in this sort of thing.
        Yeah, ugly concept. You had to go and ask.
        But personally, I think he’s spouting BS and is profoundly sexually dysfunctional due to his anomaly.

    • Rich McGee

      Dumbing of Age looks to be tackling male bi representation in the current story arc about Danny’s sexual identity. If you aren’t already reading it you’ll probably need to plough through at least some of the archives to get an idea what’s going on, though. Thankfully it’s one of those strips that tags strips with the names of the characters featured in them, so navigating around for specific arcs is manageable.
      Although really, you should just read everything from start. Worth the time if you like college coming-of-age stories.

    • Johan

      “men, women, ET CETERA”
      And for a brief second, Alison’s mind is like “Go ooon XD”

  • Rod

    I think he’s trying to drive her away. And I think it’s because he’s harboring some dark secret that he would feel ashamed to have her find out… although it looks as if he might be about to reveal it just to get rid of her.

    Look back through the last few pages. His demeanor and tone keep shifting. Alison asks if Moonshadow would try to kill him. He’s stunned by the question, and almost regrets where the conversation has gone, the need to actually have to tell her “No.” He goes from showing glimpses of caring about her, and keeping her image of him from going down CERTAIN paths–probably knowing full well she’d leave if she thought he was that kind of guy–to playing out his supervillain role instead in an attempt to discomfort her, to drive her off, and likely to get her to leave Moonshadow (and the dangerous people backing her) alone.

    He’s bluffing about having killed the people at the hospital. Killing for amusement? No, sorry. Had he not exaggerated like that, and just said “because they deserved it,” I might still be wondering, but no. He’s trying to rattle Alison, plain and simple.

    And I guess we’re about to find out if he’s willing to go far enough to succeed.

    • Rod

      Secondary theory: it’s not about him or any of his secrets at all; it’s purely trying to keep her from going after Moonshadow. But I still think it’s both, together.

    • Mechwarrior

      Patrick is, foremost, a manipulator. If he’s trying to drive Alison away I think it’s likely that it’s because his long game, whatever that is, will work best with Alison away from him right now.

    • Rich McGee

      The hospital protest killings are real, no matter what his motivation for them. It’s far too easy for Alison to check on that – she still has government and superhero contacts that can easily spot a wave of deaths. The minute he puts her in a position where she knows he’s lied to her, he might as well put the Menace outfit back on. Her silence is the only thing keeping the manhunt off him, and that lasts only as long as she trusts him.

      • Insanenoodlyguy

        Considering she was pretty literally ready to kill everybody in that crowd, a precise “killed the people who were responsible” strike might not really be something to put him on the bad guy list in her mind anyway. I mean, maybe if he’d really gone out of his way to, say, put them all in some Texas Chainsaw Massacre end, but Allison might not necessarily approve per se, but probably won’t go after the guy who went after the people who tried to kill her friend all that fast.

        • Ian Osmond

          In addition, Allison actually DID personally kill the flamethrower-wielder. I mean, “person killed was actively involved in using a flamethrower on innocent people” is probably the most blatant example of “justifiable homicide” ever, and “had the people involved in the setup taken out after the whole thing was over” isn’t, but, still, there was already killing going on, and Allison did it.

  • John Hamlet Bujalski

    It seems like Patrick is really conflicted about his ability to stick to almost any frame of ethics due to his abilities – it’s not even that he CAN manipulate people by knowing their every thought and desire, but that he CAN’T AVOID knowing that information and it inevitably influences his behavior in some way, quite possibly unethically.

    I find the idea of mind reading as inherently violating an interesting one, and his point about being unable to truly reach real consent is heartbreaking – the profound isolation of his condition is starting to really crack through his facade of contentment.

  • Rod

    She knows he’s still no saint. But she also knows he’s not as evil as he (and others) keep trying to make him out to be, and she’s confident enough in that to see the signs in this exchange and call him out on his act.

    • Rich McGee

      And she’s basing that opinion solely on faith and a few days worth of limited interaction with him. That flies in the face of masses of evidence from his Menace days, and even more self-confessed criminal action from the rant he’s working through. The guy’s negative behavior is on record. Where’s the positive stuff, outside of Alison’s head? Nowhere to be seen. Absolutely nowhere.
      My respect for Alison has dropped to an all-time low.

      • masterofbones

        Remember, this is a mindreader we are talking about. All her hopes, dreams, and insecurities are there for his perusal and use. Are you really so certain that you wouldn’t trust him if he wanted you to?

  • Quick poll: Does his mind reading make consent an issue, or just make him a better lover?

    I think the latter, but I have no experience in this category.

    • Mechwarrior

      That hinges entirely upon how much consideration he has for his partner. If he’s open with them, he’s a better lover. If he’s lying and manipulating his way into the pants of someone who wouldn’t otherwas want to have sex with him, consent is an issue.

    • Elaine Lee

      Patrick’s physical appearance and pheromones, plus his partner’s levels of certain neurotransmitters, have more affect on consent than anything Patrick could do or say, based on his ability. Studies have shown that women are more likely to achieve orgasm when the male partner’s features are more symmetrical. Patrick’s financial status also serves him well. If we truly want to dive down the consent hole, almost any trait an individual has that makes him/her more attractive than others affects consent. As the old TV ad used to say, “Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful!” Oh… and mind-reading would make him a better lover, unless he “read” something that turned him off, which would eventually happen in any relationship.

      • good answer. I like how you question how much of consensual sex is conscious vs. instinctual. How much of attraction is governed by our subconscious?

  • Liz

    …yeah, you lost me at “I know deep down that you’re a good person.” Good people don’t kill for lulz, like Patrick admitted to doing a few pages ago.

    Allison, sweetie, you can do SO MUCH BETTER than this jerkbucket.

    • masterofbones

      I have a feeling that a lot of this will make sense when she finally gets around to opening the box.

    • SeveredNed

      Morality is subjective. I think Alison truly believes herself to be a “good” person, and we know from her fight and subsequent conversation with Carver that she enjoys fighting, enjoys destruction, and if she could make the world better, more to her liking, doing it that way she would do so in a heartbeat. She is constantly tempted to lash out with her powers and force her desired results, so she probably view his actions as him just giving to those same desires himself.

      She compared herself to Carver and how she could of easily ended up like him. I think Alison has more of a dark fascination than a romantic attraction towards Patrick, stemming from the fact that, to her at least, he seems to straddle the line between the dichotomies she presented to Carver, a benevolent force for what is “right” and a destructive force seeking its own pleasures.

      • Liz

        Well, to misquote Batman, “It’s not who we are deep down, but what we do that defines us.” Obv there’s some leeway for people who did something everyone thinks is terrible but, were all of the truth revealed, you’d see it actually wasn’t (see: Snape killing Dumbledore), but Patrick doesn’t really seem to be bothered by “spending” lives however he chooses. Allison may fantasize about shoving people into Mason jars, but Patrick’s actually doing it and sees no ethical problems with it. Seriously, this man needs some serious therapy for how fucked in the head he is.

  • MrSing

    Wow. Patrick is chewing so much scenery that the backgroud disappeared.

  • Ian Osmond

    Deep down. Really, really deep down.

    • Sabriel

      6 feet down. Buried. With the bodies.

  • Gah, so good! So many thoughts. All the things.

  • Verdant_Samuel

    Ugh I hope he’s not about to pull a “STAY aWAY frOm me I AM dangERous” cause I can’t handle any more Edward BS from Patrick this month

    • RobNiner

      Has anyone seen him in sunlight, does he sparkle?

      That’s unfair though, Patrick has depth.

  • Markus

    Called shot: Patrick reveals that he’s been having people sleep on killing Allison as a contingency.

  • S.I. Rosenbaum

    try Tumblr.

  • Darkoneko Hellsing

    …I think I really won’t enjoy what he’s about to say in the next panel.

  • Ooh, Allison you just said the wrong thing. Didn’t you just hear his whole monologue about morality, killing people, time travel, etc.? Time for another five-page monologue! Patty, you really need to stop being such a Douchey McNitpick when speaking to people. I know you’ve been wanting to monologue for Lord knows how long, but chill!
    With that second to last panel, now I think Patrick is purposely trying to push her away, or at the very least trying to push her to do something. I cannot tell if he was being sincere throughout this whole convo, but I wouldn’t put it past him if he wasn’t. What are you hiding, little man?

  • Classtoise

    “Do you feel violated by me, Alison?”
    One person ever has legitimately injured her since her powers kicked in. Gonna go with a big fat “No”, genius.

    • Mechwarrior

      Yeah, the fact that his body parts haven’t gotten kind of confused regarding the difference between “internal” and “external” is a pretty strong indication of her thoughts on the subject.

  • Rob Donoghue

    I suspect the kicker is that he knows *she* is a good person (and because he has that basis for comparison, he *knows* he is not). Though that maybe lends credence to the idea that just like he spends time with geniuses to sync his brain up with that level of thinking, he is looking for Alison to rub off on him in a very measurable way. It would be just like Patrick to find an overly clever way to go about trying to “be good”.

  • Mechwarrior

    It’s not an issue of whether or not he manipulates people, it’s a matter of how he manipulates them. He’s a guy who could take a normal, emotionally balanced individual and figure out a way to get them to put bleach in the juice at a kindergarten or talk his way into someone’s pants in a manner that’s designed to cause them to slit their own wrists afterword. He’s got a lot of power and it would be very easy to misuse it.

    • masterofbones

      In other words, the sex is entirely irrelevant. If he is intentionally causing them misery, that is the bad thing. Convincing them via mindreading to have sex is completely neutral in that regard.

  • masterofbones

    Rape is about power *and* sex, or else the sex part wouldn’t show up. There are much easier and less socially suicidal methods of exerting power than via rape. Also, *everything* is arguably about power, so using the “its only about power” argument is kinda silly.

  • masterofbones

    He wants her to open his gift, but at a location less watched than his base.

    • Kittenbot Doomypants

      It’s an ear. It’s always an ear.

  • masterofbones

    I like how in your mind disinterest in Allison means he must have sexual problems. Is that because all men must desire all women, or is it because Allison likes him, and therefore only a broken man wouldn’t reciprocate?

    Maybe he just isn’t interested in Allison because she clearly has an unhealthy obsession with him?

  • masterofbones

    Well if he can read animal minds too, he might actually be able to gain consent from them I guess….

  • Johan

    Everyone would benefit from hearing about the good captain πŸ™‚

  • Johan

    “Gosh darnit Alison, I’m dangerous, take me seriously!!!!”
    C’mon Pat, it’s not gonna work on her ^^

  • Elaine Lee

    Sc-Fi writer Alfred Bester had the same idea. His book THE DEMOLISHED MAN, winner of the very first Hugo Award in 1953, was about a guy trying to fool telepaths,so he could commit a crime. From Wikipedia:

    “To further conceal his intentions from telepaths, Reich visits a songwriter, Duffy Wygand (spelled “Wyg&” in the text) who teaches him a deceptively simple jingle —

    Eight, sir; seven, sir;
    Six, sir; five, sir;
    Four, sir; three, sir;
    Two, sir; one!
    Tenser, said the Tensor.
    Tenser, said the Tensor.
    Tension, apprehension,
    And dissension have begun.[3]

    β€”that proves to be an earworm, so persistent and involving that it blocks most Espers from properly peeping into Reich’s mind.”

  • S.I. Rosenbaum

    It must be terrible to know others completely but never be known yourself.

  • Jack Lostthenames Warren

    “Would a good person do THIS?” *takes out sharpie, draws mustache on top scientist, laughs maniacally”

    • MrSing

      “Wanna know why they called me Menace?”

      • Kid Chaos

        “I’m so evil that I’m going to eat this kitten!”

  • Welcome to the club. Well, by now we have our own website, business cards, and membership dues.

  • Kid Chaos

    He knows she’s right, but he won’t admit it. πŸ™‚

  • dbmag9

    Power disparity is an element, which is shared here in some ways. But we also simply don’t believe 11-year-olds to be capable of consent to sex: we consider them psychologically not mature enough to understand what sex is and its possible consequences (the same way we don’t hold young children generally responsible for crimes; not because they are always coerced into committing crimes but because they lack the ability to meaningfully choose to commit a crime the way adults do).

  • Rod

    Clearly Patrick cares enough that the thought of Alison thinking of him as a rapist greatly bothers him. Maybe he has a secret of an equally-intimate nature? Like having inadvertently caused his own mother to kill his family, or something? Something is bothering him when she says “I know deep down that you’re a good person,” and it just seems to me that an actual secret is more plausible than simple frustration at her not falling for his ruse.

    If Moonshadow has dangerous backers, I doubt they’d be the kind who care about rape; rather, they’d want her around doing what she does either for strategic or unrevealed reasons (for example, her excuses for killing the soldiers seemed a bit more complex than just taking out rapists and female abusers. Perhaps it was promised that she would never come under suspicion if she would also take out the occasional target “that also kinda fits your profile?”) Anyhow, that’s just an extrapolation of Patrick wanting to distract/dissuade/whatever Alison. Otherwise, I honestly can’t think of a reason he feels doing so is so important.

  • Kelvandil

    I don’t know if that’s what he’s doing, but that’s a fascinating interpretation.

  • Kelvandil

    Wow, mindreading must be a lot more common than I thought!

  • Mudkipster

    I’m so done with patrick tbh