Hi guys, happy holidays! I’m wrestling with a crazy deadline (75 pages of a graphic novel to draw in 5 weeks, on top of my full time animation job, woof) so we’re going to be taking a short break. The comic will next update on Friday, 12/30. Thanks for understanding!

Also, I’m putting charity commissions in the mail today, so keep an eye out if you ordered one, and thanks again.


Show Comments
  • Dawn Smashington

    Dude totally has a gold tooth. And is that a shit ton of scars all over his face in the last panel? Did I just never notice these things?

    So; gold tooth, face scars, sharp dresser, uses a snake-head cane. I don’t believe he had no idea he’d see Al at the park.

    What the heck is his story?

    • Zac Caslar

      He’s “The Most Interesting Man in the World” is my guess. 😀

      Or perhaps a retired Bond villain.

      • mugasofer

        Retired? He seems to be doing a pretty good job corrupting the world’s most prominent superhero …

        • Dawn Smashington

          Is he corrupting her, or trying to make sure that she doesn’t go all Supreme Ruler on the world?

          • Weatherheight

            Yes. Yes he is.

    • Deliverance

      You just never noticed them; His scars have been there from his first appearance.

      The following are some of the previous suggestions for his story:
      1) Torture victim
      2) Old soldier, freedom fighter, or terrorist
      3) Bond villain

      Not necessarily mutually exclusive.

      Here’s one possible backstory that fits observations and plays off 1) and 2) –

      Coming from a wealthy Indian Sikh family, he was a politically active smartarse who came into conflict with the law on a regular basis during his youth. This culminated with his joining in the defense of the golden temple in Amritsar during operation Blue Star in 1984 when the Indian army attacked the temple, at the conclusion of which he ended up on the wrong side of one of the unofficial torture sessions that officially don’t happen in India’s prisons, which scarred him for life.

      During his recovery he began questioning his principles, and once recovered he determined to study ethics to better understand his past, present, and future motivations. He left India and his old life behind to study at Oxford in the United Kingdom, like so many others had done before him.

      Through his studies he found inner peace, of a sort, and he changed his name to reflect his new purpose in life… thus demonstrating that inner peace is not incompatible with being a smartarse.

      He began teaching philosophy and gained a reputation as a tough teacher able to crack the thickest skulls with his combination of humour, tough love, and examples based on real life experience, but it was his writings on axiology that drew international acclaim.

      Then one day Alison Green began studying philosophy, and the secret A.G. Disaster Prevention Department of the US Government cast about for the best teacher in the world before it was too late: When a weapon of mass destruction starts asking questions like “what’s it all about, really? What are my values? Or is that the wrong question, what do I even mean by values?”, you’d better have an answer.

      Especially when the weapon in question has repeatedly demonstrated a worrying inability to accept the existence of valid viewpoints contrary to its own and the rights of others to have them regardless of perceived validity.

      So the AGDPD approached Gurwara through an intermediary and promised him the opportunity to teach one exceptional student, the toughest challenge of his career, without letting the student know she was singled out for special attention. He accepted and given the substantial donations involved both Oxford and the New School were more than pleased to have him take over the class from professor Karapovsky.

      Studying all available material on Mrs. Green, it was clear that his standard approach of showing students that they shouldn’t rely on initial impressions or intuition – the hip flask, the dragon-headed cane – wouldn’t have the right impact; he’d need something more dramatic to get through to her, and of course he was constrained by the interesting problem of a student who was, essentially, immune to worries about consequences to her actions except insofar as she chose to let them worry her.

      This was going to be neither easy nor quick. But then things worth doing seldom are, and he had carte blanche to teach things his way, whatever the cost.

      And so began the teaching.

      The above has more holes in it than a Swiss cheese, but that shouldn’t disqualify it given the comic.

      Whatever his backstory is, it seems unlikely that his name was chosen at random, though possibly it was chosen as a red herring.

      • Slowloader

        You left out “Descended from the infamous Captain Nemo” 🙂

      • Dawn Smashington

        I’m definitely putting my chips in “hired by the government to teach the most powerful being alive about ethics”

      • Shweta Narayan

        This is the first time I’ve dared read comments about Gurwara when the first theory I got to wasn’t horribly racist n ableist.

        As a brown person old enough to have had metal crowns, who uses a cane and would love to have one with a snake on it? Thank you.

      • Weatherheight

        I’m hoping he’s not a government plant.
        But you make a very compelling case that he pretty much must be.

      • Seer of Trope

        Wow. Operation Blue Star is a rather very specific point in history, but it actually doesn’t sound implausible. But it’s also weird that it’ll make the name Guwara a bit of a pun of Gurdwara, the name for Sikh temples.

        • Shweta Narayan

          This is like saying “9/11/2001 is a rather very specific point in history”.

          Hell I remember the horror of the massacre, and I’m hindu & was six years old, & living in malaysia.

      • Vaporware

        It occurs to me to wonder if he was ever injured in a cape-fight. We know that Alison herself is responsible for a certain amount of…collateral damage…during her time behind the mask.

    • Voidhawk

      The snake-headed cane makes me think strange things about him… like that he’s this universe’s Sorcerer Supreme, watching over things from the shadows. Magic might not be the most obvious solution to everything, but it explains how he’s in the [ark when it matters most at least.

    • Walter

      Pirate King.

      • Emi

        The pirate king has breasts, not a cane.

    • Arkone Axon

      Honestly, I’m kinda leaning with the simplest possible explanation: he was an innocent bystander caught up in a conflict between superheroes and villains. And DOESN’T blame the heroes, because he understands what they were trying to accomplish. Which would make him the perfect person to be talking to her. “Take it from someone who spent six hours stuck underneath a car you threw at one of Mayhem’s enforcers. You might not be able to fix it completely, but you can patch it enough to get by. Knock on wood.”

  • Dean

    I have to believe that handkerchief is monogrammed. Hand-stitched even.

  • Rhea

    I actually agree with him here.
    Alison needs to talk to someone, for her own sake if nothing else. She needs to be able to admit that she did a really shitty thing for good reasons.
    He’s someone who has already pointed out her fundamental humanity (including the flaws of her anger and determination that she is right). I… honestly think while he might be disappointed that she made that choice, that he’ll understand her reasons, and help her understand her choice and the consequences.
    And yeah, sometimes the good done doesn’t balance out the consequences. But that’s part of living.
    I actually think this conversation will do her a LOT of good.

    • Arkone Axon

      And from there she can move on to dealing with the consequences, with atoning for her actions. She has done wrong, and must make it right if at all possible. She needs to know that A: atonement IS possible, and B: atonement is necessary.

    • scottfree

      I don’t think he’ll necessarily disapprove of her actions, but I definitely think he won’t TELL her she did the right thing.

  • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

    “This park represents everything to me. You can’t imagine why a cranky brazen old man such as myself would come at five every morning when there is nobody out still to come sit on this very bench in a large, large trenchcoat. Speaking of which, I’m going to need my handkerchief back.”

    • Callinectes

      See, this is what happens when you invite Oglaf to do a guest comic.

      • Arkone Axon

        …And that’s when Alison turned into the Mistress. All of her torment of poor Ivan is because he reminds her of Max…

    • Weatherheight

      Could it be Professor Guwara is actually Aqualung (from the Jethro Tull song)?

  • Markus

    The Prof finally has Alison in an emotional state where he can convince her to join his pirate crew. Excellent.

      Now let us discuss the ethics of booty in a world already riven by legalised theft, Miss Green.

    • thebombzen

      You’re going to be my Nakama!

      • shereadstoomuch

        …is that a Hannibal reference? (If not then feel free to ignore this 🙂

        • Aile D’Ciel

          I’m fairly certain it’s One Piece reference. Pirates, the power of friendship and such.

          • thebombzen

            Yes. “Nakama” is the term Luffy uses to refer to his crewmates




      • Lysiuj

        They’re everywhere!

      • Zac Caslar

        “Pirates (also known as Pirates XXX) is a 2005 American pornographic action-adventure film written, produced, and directed by Joone, and produced by Digital Playground and Adam & Eve. The film, starring Jesse Jane, Carmen Luvana, Janine Lindemulder, Devon, Jenaveve Jolie, Teagan Presley, and Evan Stone…”
        Gotcha covered. 😀

      • Pyro


  • cphoenix

    As long as we’re analyzing symbolism, we might note that the Professor is wearing many layers of clothing. Is this a metaphor for his deep nature? A sign that he is well-protected or self-obscured? Tune in 12/30 for more tantalizing clues.

    On a more emotional note: WAAH, cliffhanger! I totally understand, and I’m not complaining – I’m just _really_ looking forward to seeing where this guy takes things.

    And more seriously: Does his body language in the first panel vs. third panel seem like rather a large shift? First panel: Looming while simultaneously putting forward his torso rather than his head. “I’ll invade your space while being standoffish.” And his opening line is also quite standoffish (formal, no comment on her weeping) while also invasive (ending in a question). And he’s staring straight at her.

    Third panel: Sitting with rounded shoulders, both hands visible, eyes to the side. “I’m nice, and harmless, and friendly. Look, I’m even offering help!”

    And WTF is up with “The parks of the city were built for weeping”? That’s a pretty bizarre thing to say, if you stop and think about it. I’d almost suspect him of throwing that in as a deliberate distraction, making her mentally off-balance and vulnerable to whatever mind game he wants to play with her this time.

    Oh, and fifth panel: Self-deprecation (“onerous”), acknowledgement that the moment was private for her, implicit denial of responsibility for invading it (“stumbled across”) – if he meant any of that, he could have kept walking. And, a seemingly harmless question – about her feelings. Another invasion of privacy.

    And, of course, I don’t believe for a minute that he visited this park at this time randomly, as he claims.

    While it’s still _possible_ that his intentions are good, opening with this much dishonesty and manipulation makes me really doubt it.

    • As long as we’re analyzing symbolism, we might note that the Professor is wearing many layers of clothing. Is this a metaphor for his deep nature? A sign that he is well-protected or self-obscured?

      Late Autumn in NYC?

    • Ellis Jones

      He means the parks were meant to provide a place away from the city, and the facade that comes with that life.

      • Chani

        I really want him to have good intentions – but I felt the exact same way about a character that turned out very evil (is there a way to do spoiler tags here?). I’m seeing all the same red flags, and still wanting to ignore them. :/

        • Ellis Jones

          I give all characters the benefit of the doubt.

    • ” we might note that the Professor is wearing many layers of clothing. Is this a metaphor for his deep nature?” Nah. It’s more like an Ogre. Like how an onion has layers.

  • Fluffy Dragon

    I just noticed all his scars… This man might have seen more violence than Alison the childsoldier.
    Or he’s really crap at shaving.

    • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

      …his forehead? Is he an undercover yeti?

      • Callinectes

        Emphasis mine: “REALLY CRAP at shaving.”

      • FlashNeko

        Look at those huge eyebrows. He’s probably got to keep those in line daily too.

      • Weatherheight

        Undercover Yeti.
        Great name for a band…

      • Fluffy Dragon

        Thus a legend was born.
        the Yeti walks among us, posing logic-puzzles!

  • Manuel Simone

    Now I’m very curious if Alison will open to him and if she’ll admit everything she did and how he’ll respond her, I’ll be really surprised if he’ll prove to be a very understanding and supportive individual and later even play a surrogate father for her. But I’ll like this way because it will be an interesting twist. Alison needs someone mature and wise enough to talk to and keep her in check from time to time. She’s still a child deep down, at time, or at least, this is my opinion.

    • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

      I’d say it’s narratively appropriate and even pressent time-wise, to have that happen now.
      But wouldn’t be fun and throw a wrench into storytelling conventions if he had planned to bring a listening and compasionate ear to what he expects to be grim revelations, but end up utterly horrified at the scope of it and turncoat right when you were dying for someone to contextualize Alison’s actions and draw conclusions from it?

  • KatherineMW

    Okay, this guy is definitely a biodynamic with the power of convenient timing.

    • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

      Too old.

      • Matt

        Time travel then. he’s running through time trying to get things just right to stop an apocalypse or something

      • Tylikcat

        Theory: twenty years ago, some horrible life changing event had him tortured to the point of death with left him just susceptible enough to the storm to make him slightly clairvoyant or something.

        Or, Patrick.

  • zellgato

    and thus.
    begin the brain washing from the fellow who works with the mind reading fellow

  • Nathanaël François

    Seriously, I know Al is in a bad state emotionally right now, but she should at least maybe question the prof’s story. He didn’t even try to make it plausible!

  • MedinaSidonia

    Yeah, I’m goin’ with shadow organization. Or heck, not-so-shadowy organization. He might well be in league with the same doctors who have worked with Alison in the past. Given her escalating power level, it would be a stretch *not* to believe that some such force were not in play.

    • bta

      Imagine how shifty the others must look if this is the guy they send to gain the trust of superheroes.

      I mean, gold tooth and creepy cane?

      • Seer of Trope

        On one hand, he could be Mr. Miyagi version of a torture victim who’s out to dispense peaceful wisdom. On the other, he could be Darth Sidious in poor disguise who will tempt Alison to stop resisting and embrace the Dark Side. Only Friday will tell.

  • Lheticus Videre

    “A man as onerous as myself.”

    Well, no one ever said Guwara wasn’t self-aware.

  • Karmik

    I think people are hearing hoofbeats and looking for zebras with the good professor here. There are plenty of plausible reasons he makes the trek out to the park when he doesn’t live that close. Maybe he used to and he prefers this one? Maybe there isn’t a closer one? Maybe this is where he met his now ex-wife (divorced? deceased? take your pick) so it holds special sentimental value to him. He seems to be an older gentleman and those types tend to be pretty set in their routines.

    For some reason he strikes me as the kind of person who places a premium value on his role as a teacher. The fact that he has declared she will fail his class does not absolve him of teaching her when he can, nor her of learning from him. If Alison opens up to him, even if she stays vague about the “whats” and the “whos”, he will not be judgemental. Condemning her accomplishes nothing and its plain for him to see she is already being torn apart by her life right now. She needs someone to talk to that she knows for certain won’t bullshit her or sugar coat his opinion, and at the same time someone she knows that she owes nothing to that she can be honest with.

    • bryan rasmussen

      or he’s time travelling super-mutated patrick.

      • bta

        The eyebrows are a giveaway that no mutation could erase.

    • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

      Maybe the tracker he placed on Alison at birth malfunctioned but on his way to the Evil Council to Rule the World he got lost and suddenly got cravings for a Big Ass burger but the taxi ride he happened to share with Patrick let him on the other side of the closest stand and it all just so happens that he would have not taken this very path be it not for a random phone call from Lisa who actually is his step-daughter and also Cleaver is his middle name and he also was the homeless guy Alison’s father helped in a flashback back in issue 2

      Also he’s the retroactive reincarnation of Buster, Alison’s old dog.
      It’s definitely all plausible

      • Karmik

        Goodness gracious but that was a long trip.

      • Arkone Axon

        Don’t forget that he’s also… her biological father!

        …And also her mother, thanks to inventing a time machine in the future before having a sex change (courtesy of late 21st, “in and out of the hospital in a week” medical technology), going back in time, and seducing himself.

        …Which also led to the rise of the biodynamics… the Drama Button is near to shorting out by now…


    • Weatherheight

      But zebras are so much more interesting than horses.
      Mind you, zebras are not nearly so interesting as donkeys are…
      But then again, what are?

      ::does a little tap dance, grabs his Fancy Hat™ with his teeth from a convenient dimensional pocket, flips the hat into the air and catches it neatly on his head with a dramatical flicker of his tail::

      The Gentleman!

  • JustDucky

    Alison just lived through the trolly problem.

    From Wikipedia: The trolley problem is a thought experiment in ethics. The general form of the problem is this: There is a runaway trolley barreling down the railway tracks. Ahead, on the tracks, there are five people tied up and unable to move. The trolley is headed straight for them. You are standing some distance off in the train yard, next to a lever. If you pull this lever, the trolley will switch to a different set of tracks. However, you notice that there is one person on the side track. You have two options: (1) Do nothing, and the trolley kills the five people on the main track. (2) Pull the lever, diverting the trolley onto the side track where it will kill one person. Which is the most ethical choice?

    Alison pulled the lever. And a majority of philosophy professors would probably support that decision. “A 2009 survey published in a 2013 paper by David Bourget and David Chalmers shows that 68% of professional philosophers would switch (sacrifice the one individual to save five lives) in the case of the trolley problem, 8% would not switch, and the remaining 24% had another view or could not answer.”

    But Alison isn’t about to talk to a majority of philosophy professors. She’s about to talk to Professor Gurwara.

    I see no possible way that this won’t be interesting.

    • The Improbable Man

      I’ve been waiting for this (the Alison/Max thing) to come up again, so I could post this relevant SMBC: http://www.smbc-comics.com/comic/the-greatest-possible-superhero (be sure to click the button at the bottom of the comic)

      • Markus

        The Utilitarian is my spirit animal.

    • Steele

      I’d just flip the lever at the right possible moment to send the train careening off the tracks and save all 6 lives (though the safety of the train conductor would be a toss up)

      • Eric Meyer

        I feel like the reason it’s a trolley and not, say, a freight train, is because the thought is that the trolley is full of dozens of innocents- and so nobody is going to do anything that would endanger the trolley and must choose between the other two evils.

        • Steele

          The people on the trolley wouldn’t necessarily die. They’d more likely just get injured. I’ll play the odds against the certainty of people dying vs the probability of people dying.

          • Eric Meyer

            And the person/people on the tracks might not die, either- they might just get injured.

            Just staying, as a thought experiment, it’s not concerned with ‘real world’ physics, just moral absolutes.

          • Izo

            And you just explained yet another flaw with trolley problems. It ignore the real world elements – such as that there can be third and fourth choices, real world physics, and EVERY single choice that leads up to the forced binary choice.

          • Huttj509

            Such as every single “automatic cars would need to be programmed to make this choice!” that ignore other options available to the car.

            Brakes fail. Hit pedestrians, or swerve into a barrier killing the driver and passengers? Um, how about controlling the angle of impact with the barrier to use it to slow the vehicle, and at least maximize the safety of the passengers without careening into an intersection and crosswalk? I mean, the car knows what the car can best handle.

          • Izo

            Yes. It’s almost never a binary choice or ‘kill one person’ or ‘kill another person’ except in contrived, hypothetical and massively oversimplified situations. Which is why the trolley problem has long been a flawed way to excuse horrific things.

          • The_Rippy_One

            Also, you are making the assumption that the flipping trolley won’t hit any of the six potential victims as it’s flipping off the tracks. Your answer is more “taking a bet on killing up to 6 people, on the chance of killing none of them.”

      • Izo

        Okay I have to give a +1 for anyone who says screw you to the trolley problem and goes for a third choice.

        • SJ

          Hey, Kirk beat the Kobayashi Maru by cheating. I feel like we should give the Trolley Problem exactly the same amount of regard as he did with that.

    • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

      This survey paper is so flawed.

      We feeble humans lack the means to be rational. On the long list of things that influence our answers to such questions —organized in order of shamefulness—, I believe “the way it’s framed” is only above “whether or not you’ve been handled a cold object moments before”.
      The just-as-famous way to see how this one doesn’t work is simply to reframe the trolley problem as killing one healthy human just passing by to save five others in needs of organs and observe how everyone suddenly changes their mind.

      Or another fun one: you’re the one on the tracks now among five. Ms. Pamplemouse, your despised fourth grade teacher who it turns out it was definitely the case truly does hate you personally more than anyone else, is playing the lever part.
      Now let’s see how you think things ought to play out.

      • JustDucky

        You realize that your link doesn’t say what you said it says, right?

        “The Trolley Problem has taken on many iterations, usually incredibly thought provoking, or just created to confuse or humor the reader.”

        Also, that it’s just an imgur account?

        Citing an anonymous person who doesn’t really even agree with you is pretty sloppy work.

        • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

          Yes when you come around to the trolley problem with portals you realize this is actually serious my mistake I shot myself so hard in the foot there

          • JustDucky

            Your argument is literally “silly versions of X exist on the Internet. Therefore, X is dumb.”

            I mean, I guess I could write a thoughtful response to that? Or I could go wrap presents.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            I’d say it’s “X is dumb, and here are some examples” rather, because I don’t feel it’s necessary to prove the doubtful credibility of anything that has a Harambe version of itself.

            And in the spirit of the holidays, I’m going to keep illustrating why it’s silly instead, because it’s so much more fun.

          • These aren’t even parodying the Trolley Problem as much as they parodying overly complicated variants of the Trolley Problem or just parodying philosophical issues in general. Are you going to assert that because one of the parody versions involves the ship of Theseus that isn’t a substantial philosophical issue? Or that another version involves the veil of ignorance makes Rawls’s approach to policy issues fundamentally silly?

            In this case, all these things are being taken and mocked because they are so commonly discussed by philosophers, psychologists, and others, not because they don’t take them seriously. You’ll note for example that you’ll have a lot more trouble finding parodies of say Aquinas’s Five Ways, because many fewer philosophers or people in related disciplines talk about them much at all (excepting a substantial group in philosophy of religion).

            The argument by absurdity is really not a great heuristic http://lesswrong.com/lw/2d/talking_snakes_a_cautionary_tale/

        • Arkone Axon

          I have to agree with Clemens here. The Trolley dilemna reminds me of the big climax of a movie I felt was otherwise rather stupid – “Dark Knight.” Seriously – the actors delivered such an amazing performance that the audience mostly failed to notice how ridiculous the plot is.

          But… the two ferries? One full of civilians, one full of criminals? The whole thing was a flawed experiment from beginning to end. For starters, it WASN’T just criminals on the second ferry – there were also guards who were terrified. For another, the criminals were the ones to reject the entire premise before the civilians did.

          And the BIG reason it was a flawed experiment? The whole thing was set up by Mister “I claim to have no plans or rules, then I come up with ridiculously complicated plots that rely on everyone involved doing what I expect them to.” Deliberately creating a horrible situation and forcing people to make horrific choices isn’t proving they’re flawed, it just proves you’re a sadistic creep. They wouldn’t even have hesitated in the first place if they didn’t have a basic sense of morality… which is why Batman mocks Joker with the fact that he really is the only true monster, he’s all alone.

          So whenever I hear of the Trolley Problem, my first answer is, “I grab the miserable bastard who tied those people to the tracks and use HIM to stop the trolley.”

  • Pol Subanajouy

    Well, one way or another this will be interesting. Let’s see if he turns her over to the authority as a token gesture of follow through.

  • The Improbable Man

    Since this is the last comic we’ll be seeing (and therefore be able to comment on) before then, Merry Christmas, Molly and Brennan!

    • The_Rippy_One

      Agreed! May your holidays be joyous!

  • Dirka

    Hang in there Molly! Thank you for everything, and best of luck with your work.

    But even with everything going on, be sure to take care of yourself anyway.

    Lots of love!

  • Weatherheight

    Enjoy the winter celebration of your choice, everyone, and take time to reflect on the unwarranted and unexpected good things you’ve received this year. Take a moment for hope, as well. I know that there is much to despair on in the world at this time, but, to quote Stephen R. Donaldson, “There is yet love in this world.”

    Festivus! For the rest of us! (Sorry, couldn’t resist…)

    • Lysiuj

      And a lovely winter sostice to all!

  • Weatherheight

    Also, +1 for Guwara for showing some compassion and class here (granted in a rather reserved way – why am I suddenly thinking British-influenced for some reason?).

    • Zac Caslar

      I see that in Guwara’s manners, his very deliberate notes of dress and personal composition, and his choice of accessories.
      This is not someone who appears hurried in the classically American sense. This is someone who has cuff links for every social situation and who can arrange more than the usual Windsor Knot as etiquette demands.
      He is a classic gentleman -or at least appears to be.

      Apparently to some he is also a methodical sadist of the truest stripe. We’ll see.

      • Cokely

        He engaged in bad pedagogy, which is the most unforgivable of crimes.

  • Weatherheight

    Not sure where it was, but someone made a comment about the meaning of Guwara’s name being significant. It hit me again today, so I did a little Google Translate work, and it was interesting.

    Hindi – “Thursday”
    Gujarati – “Thursday”
    Igbo – “Hungry”
    Japanese – “Circle”
    Telugu – “Hullabaloo” (!)
    Urdu – “Tolerated”

    Brennan and Molly, if this was intentional, bravo. If not, you’re still awesome – and lucky. 😀

    • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

      Conversely, the only instance of “Karapousky” sends to the dumb comments I made back then. Interesting.

      In that it’s very much my college experience. One on them only teaches on Thursday. The other doesn’t exist! And the test. Is. On. Monday.
      Sharing Tenure, coming soon.

    • Deliverance

      Transliterations are funny things, aren’t they? 🙂

      You might also want to consider that his name, Gurwara, is a mere one letter apart from a standard
      latin transliteration of the Sikh place of worship and teaching, where people
      of all faiths and none are welcome, the Gurdwara (lit. the door to the Guru).

      That’s the connotation that together with his looks, English speech patterns, teaching approach, and generally genteel behaviour inspired my tortured Sikh teacher example on earlier in this thread, though of course I don’t know which connotation the author intends. It is just one of several possible.

    • Dean

      Gurwara is The Man Who Was Thursday!

  • Cokely

    Literally Satan, given the serpent-head cane and vaguely red suit. The metaphysics of the setting will become much more complicated.

    In no possible way is the serpent-head cane only a metaphor.

  • Pet hypotheses:

    1) Patrick gave Alison the file on Max because he wanted her to force him to go public–at the very least, to use his powers enhancing another biodynamic–in the hopes that that will draw out the conspiracy that killed biodynamics back in the day. (Seriously, why hasn’t she questioned Max’s motives for sending her that file yet?)
    2) Since the conspirators haven’t killed Max yet, they either do not know about him or know that he’s unwilling to use it in a way that they’d like to prevent. My guess is the former, but Patrick can’t be sure which is the case. Now that Alison forced Max to use his power, if the conspirators know he exists, they will likely try to kill him. So Patrick will be casing Max, in the hopes of reading the minds of agents coming for him. However…
    3) If the conspirators don’t know who Max is, then the person they’ll have to approach is Alison. She’s too powerful to confront directly, so it will take subtler methods. If the conspirators don’t attack Max, we can expect them to try and get the information from her indirectly soon.
    4) If Gurwara is the conspirators’ agent, that means he was assigned to her before she made Max’s power public knowledge, but was nonetheless assigned to her very late in the game. To me that seems unlikely. If this meeting isn’t a coincidence, he may be an agent either of the government or of Max (who may well have known by the beginning of this chapter that he’d send Alison the file and thought Gurwara would push things his way). But, you know, my hypothesis is that he’s not here on behalf of anyone else at all.

    Please note that hypothesis 3 is, in fact, independent of hypotheses 1 and 2. Regardless of Patrick’s motives, if the conspirators currently exist it seems likely that they’ll be interested in Max.

    Other possibilities:
    There are no conspirators and never were. Patrick knew that Alison was getting close and also knew that his plans for world domination weren’t working; if everyone is fighting against you, its hard to bring peace and efficiency to the world. He could rule the world, but he could not do so and still achieve his goals for the world. The conspiracy was a ruse all along to convince Alison to let him escape. Or, to put it differently, there is a conspiracy to destroy biodynamics and Patrick has always been in control of it. Max is not the salient biodynamic he’s concerned about; Alison is. He wants to force her out of the game and the only way to do that is psychological. Like Ozymandias with Dr. Manhattan, he’s trying to get her to opt out. The question, in that case, is this: is Gurwara Patrick’s agent? The gov’t’s? The New School’s (hey, they have interests too, like avoiding another superpowered brawl on campus)? Or is it just him, doing what he thinks needs to be done here?

    • Mechwarrior

      There’s another option for your second issue: the conspirators know about Max but they have information that Alison and possibly Patrick lack and for that reason don’t consider him a threat.

      Also, possibility five: the conspiracy has a different goal than what we’ve been told.

    • palmvos

      “(Seriously, why hasn’t she questioned Max’s motives for sending her that file yet?)”
      because its been three eventful days for Alison. also, Alison has many of superman’s powers but one that’s missing is his intelligence. perhaps her subconscious has finally caught up to that idea and is one of the reasons she’s crying.

      actually…. if she opens up enough to Gurwara for him to know that she was given info on max by someone.. i suspect that will be one of Gurwara’s questions- why did you get this file? did you ever ask yourself this?

      as far as the conspiracy theories go its important to know how the authors feel about them- do they harbor or entertain the idea of them in real life? right now that would be my only clue as to how flipped the conspiracies go.

      all that said- if Gurwara works or has worked for The Postal Service, its going to get really really weird. I’d recommend questioning him closely on that point.

      • Arkone Axon

        ” also, Alison has many of superman’s powers but one that’s missing is his intelligence.”

        …I can totally picturing her threatening to punch you for that one. And then maybe, MAYBE, eventually reflecting on how scared people have been getting around her. I mean… seriously, remember when she picked up that one guy she thought might have been taking advantage of the drunk girl? And the immediate, extremely calm “in the presence of a lethally violent threat” voice, “He’s our friend. Please don’t kill him.”

        It occurs to me that Superman NEVER had people respond to the sight of him picking up a person with an immediate “Oh no, he’s going to kill another one…”

  • Graeme Sutton

    “Professor, do you live near here?”
    No, I’m just waiting for the Supervillains R Us to open, it’s the only place with canes in my size.

  • Charles

    Those of you convinced that Gurwara is a sadist, supervillain, or bad teacher are not going to like where this is heading.

    • weedgoku

      But, but he doesn’t approve of Allison! The only logical explanation is that he’s part of the secret supervillain plot to kill all super heroes by making allison feel slightly disquieted and possibly self introspective!

      • Dean

        Who says he doesn’t approve of Alison?

        • weedgoku

          Fair enough, “But he was critical of Allison!” would have been a better choice of wording. I hope he’s not actually a secret villain or something dumb like that. I do hope he asks her more critical questions though. Gurwara is probably the most interesting character in the comic right now.

    • Cokely

      I can’t say much about the rest, but he fits the way unorthodox but good teachers are frequently portrayed in narratives. The fact that narratives have not caught up with proper pedagogical techniques is just one of those things people involved in education get annoyed about, the same way firearms enthusiasts get mad about ridiculous gun tropes in film.

  • Anthony Grubbs

    Anyone else’s internal voice for this guy sound just like Uncle Iroh?

    • Sterling Ericsson

      I don’t think Iroh was ever an outright jerk to other people though. His lessons were never about trying to get the other person in a catch-22.

  • Hiram

    You may think Guwara’s being nice proffering his handkerchief to Alison, but really he’s just collecting her tears. Once distilled from his hanky and recondensed, the tears will be added to his flask for later consumption. Delicious grief bitters.

  • The Distinguished Anarchist

    Why are so many people hung up on the cane? It’s just a walking stick.
    A crosier has snakes on it. So does the caduceus. Snakes aren’t automatically symbolic of all that is evil.


    • Cokely

      That’s just the kind of thing a snake would say. Or somebody who doesn’t like that the comic tends to truck in the most obvious forms of symbolism. Probably both.

    • Weatherheight

      Snakes and Serpents are just about as often Nice Guy Gods™ as they are Sources of All Evil Gods™ (and often somewhere in between). Healing, Wisdom, Lying, Poison, Destruction, Creation.. snakes have an awful lot of different associations.

      Giving a lot of leeway to the writers, narratively speaking…

      • weedgoku

        Also they’re actually really cool animals. Maybe the cane is just a symbol that Guwara’s actually a mutant and secretly has venom glands.

        • Weatherheight

          Or a dragon!

          • weedgoku

            Everyone knows serpents are just incomplete dragons, after all!

    • Darkoneko Hellsing

      and there I assumed it was a golden dragon.

    • weedgoku

      I think you’ll find that it’s actually a phallic symbol of the evil patriarchy which our Strong Female Protagonist seeks to dismantle by her many triumphs over the men in her life and romantic pursuit in the otherwise diminutive Clevin. The serpentine imagery provides a secondary layer of phallic overtones creating a double-patriarchal symbol which the educated professor uses to stand over the vulnerable woman while symbolically implying he is the serpent trying to entice the figurative eve into tasting the apple of eden. Which is to say, the knowledge of his classroom teachings.

      Or maybe it’s just a stick and he’s an old man who thought it looked cool. Merry Christmas everyone, I clicked on the wrong bookmark tab.

      • Izo

        This was a hilarious post 🙂

  • Happy Christmas everyone!

  • Darkoneko Hellsing

    Merry curry.

  • Arklyte

    Still can’t get over the fact what she said to him back at the studies. If not for her powers and everyone’s attempts to minimise damage that would have been the end of her time in university:

  • JohnTomato

    Take care & be well everyone.

  • Robert

    Nothing teaches as thoroughly as failure.

    If you can accept the lessons.