SFP

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  • AKP

    I… kind of love how even under incredibly high tension Patrick’s speech is this super stilted formal sort of affair. I’m not sure how to say this. He is a human, of course, but that style of speech and the way that it distances him from the things he’s saying even though we know he’s feeling them very intensely sort of drives home the idea that he doesn’t feel like he can be a person, even as he’s asking for this very intimate warm sort or affirmation.

    • Markus

      It’s probably a distancing technique he uses when his telepathy makes him feel what other people are feeling.

      • I thought it was a distancing technique to counter the vulnerability of the request, not something telepathy related.

        • friendlymosquito

          This. This is why I do it anyway <.<

          • Andula

            Me too 🙂 I feel safer that way in general

    • donchaka

      I like how the speech bubbles getting wobbly lets you know that despite his very formal speech his voice is still breaking.

      And when I like “I like” I mean it breaks my heart.

    • Graeme Sutton

      I agree. I was worried that him having this change would result in him losing the stuff that makes him Patrick and his voice is a big part of that.

    • ampg

      I read it as him struggling to verbalize emotions that he’s always just felt from other people, so they’ve never had to actually explain themselves verbally to him. He literally has no vocabulary for what he’s feeling.

    • Domenico Montini

      Its kinda like an inverted Vision (MCU style). Vision had a journey from full machine to person, but for a while Patrick believed he was experiencing the opposite, losing his humanity and catching himself in this critical moment.

    • M. Alan Thomas II

      In similar social anxiety situations, I tend to get hyperformal as a way of formatting my thoughts and maintaining control.

    • LitShips

      It’s called “depersonalization” and it’s very common in people with PTSD and abuse victims. Formalized speaking is one way to distance ourselves from the emotions we’re feeling, thereby “shutting off the hurt”, as it were.

    • Ricardo Alves Junqueira Pentea

      Am I a horrible person for thinking there’s a 50/50 chance he’s manipulating her right now?

      • Dave M

        Firstly, no, no you’re not. Given everything, it’s a rational question. My take (for what it’s worth given my poor track record :-)) is there’s a 50/50 chance that if he is, he doesn’t realise it. If we allow that his mental state is as vulnerable as he presents it as, then several commentors have already stated that his speech patterns are more in line with him trying to keep control and balance, rather than emotional manipulation. My take is that if he’s manipulating her it’s more of a drowning man trying to keep clinging to a log than an arch villain master plan thing. He’s lost, alone, and lonely for the first time in a long time. And if his speech implies manipulation, it’s probably as automatic of our reading of other peoples body language. And yeah, i’m an old softie.. go figure…

        • Ricardo Alves Junqueira Pentea

          Makes perfect sense to me, and thanks for the thoughtfull response!

      • friendlymosquito

        I’m inclined to believe his sincerity, but there’s no denying what he’s doing right now is consistent with classic manipulation. Then again, which is social interaction in general if not people low-key manipulating each other?

    • Natsumeg

      yes, exactly! I had a facial animation professor tell me how when someone’s experiencing a lot of emotional grief/sadness or anything involving tears, they often end up smiling a lot at the beginning to try to divert the tears as a way of distancing because people don’t like feeling vulnerable, helpless to their own emotions.

      They often try to hold it back, look away, smile to try to stop. It’s in the microexpressions where you see the lead up and the grief that eventually opens the floodgates.

      In movie/tv scenes that involve crying, the ones that often feel real are ones that carry a lot of contradictions. Ones that capture the conflict instead of ones with earnest bawling.

      In this case, Pat’s equivalent is distancing himself from the situation with language. Trying to control his emotions with words explaining his thought process It’s stilting, but it’s exactly the kind of thing a real person would do. So not only do we see how like you said, he doesn’t feel like he can be a person, we also see and feel the opposite: that he is doing an incredibly human thing right now, the most human thing.

  • trev006

    It wouldn’t be the first time a mentally gifted young man from a “strict” home took shelter in formality.

    Now to speculate on how bad Calvin will freak out when he sees Allison holding Patrick, except:

    1) Pretty sure my predictions for this comic don’t go off, and
    2) Clevin would offer just as much hug support to Patrick. It’s part of why Allison likes him so much.

    • Alexandra Lamberton

      Yeah I can’t see him being too upset about her comforting a friend who’s obviously having some kind of break down

      • Richard King

        Uh. Seeing your girlfriend in bed with another man is always going to be a problem, especially if it comes as a surprise. Could very easily lead to misunderstandings, and that kind of thing is not easy to explain away. Hope she wraps him in a blanket and she’s outside of it, otherwise this all could go south very quickly for Clevin – just like Patrick is planning. He’s SUPER manipulative. Literally.

        • Zorae42

          There are so many scenarios where your girlfriend being in bed with another man would not be a problem.

          But this is super easy to explain away? “He went through a bunch of trauma and closed himself off to all emotions. In his weird coma some of those walls came down and now he’s feeling everything and needed someone to hold him.” Wow, so simple. Maybe he’ll be upset at seeing them, but Clevin seems like a cool guy that’d be willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.

        • Jace

          Nah it’s easy. Clevin walk in. Surprised. She walks over to him, tells him to come here, and has clevin hold him too, no explanation given. A) Clevin will be super confused, but also B) it clearly shows the motivation is to help someone in need, and C) due to A and B, clevin would obviously know something is up and it’s not what he first assumed it was no matter what his first assumption was.

          • Stephanie

            I don’t think it would be acceptable to ask Clevin to hold someone who is a stranger to him and also probably reeks at the moment.

          • Jace

            Obviously social normality for acceptable means nothing in severe cases. That’s not much different from not helping a child because its not socially acceptable to talk to children that aren’t yours. Convention means sht when important things are happening

          • Stephanie

            I’m not talking “socially acceptable.” I straight up think it would be shitty to ask Clevin to cuddle a smelly stranger, even if Alison doesn’t know that Patrick was also a huge asshole to him earlier. Like, just “come have an intimate moment with this disheveled rando” with no explanation? In what world is that not a super weird and inappropriate request to make of someone?

          • K Shorten

            Ding ding ding. I’m less concerned about how inappropriate it would be to ask Clevin to join in on Clevin’s behalf (Which would be a big ask at any time), but on Patrik’s. If I asked someone to sleep with me (actually sleep), you can bet your ass I’d be extremely upset to find out they invited other people to the bed while I was asleep and couldn’t say yes or no to getting intimate with a stranger. Or even someone I knew but didn’t specifically invite.

          • Stephanie

            Ugh, yeah. The more I think about it, the more the idea grosses me out.

          • Incendax

            To be fair, if your SO asks you to hug a rando and has no history of asking for frivolous things, I hope you would hug the rando just because it was clearly important to your SO.

          • Stephanie

            I would not. Absolutely no way am I getting in bed with an unshowered sleeping rando, regardless of how much my SO would like me to.

          • Dave Huber

            I can’t help but think this would make a great Candid Camera stunt!

        • Just Passing Through

          I mean, to be fair, feral is still in the room. Clearly however they got in that bed it was initially platonic. I for one wouldn’t assume anything suspicious is going on as long as my girlfriend’s roommate is dozing in a chair two feet away, though I’ve certainly seen fictional characters wave that away before. (Idk if anyone here watched daredevil s2 but it always bothered me that Karen saw Electra in Matt’s bed and immediately assumed the worst without even questioning why there was a random old man in the corner watching. I feel like that should have given her enough pause for Matt to provide /some/ kind of explanation)

        • Shjade

          If it’s ALWAYS going to be a problem for you, the problem’s more likely with you, Richard.

      • bryan rasmussen

        but according to Patrick earlier Clevin is also a hypocrite who keeps his animosities hidden deep away behind a wall of nice platitudes. So anyway I think Clevin won’t be appreciative.

  • Giacomo Bandini

    I was, and i still am, a strong supporter of the necessity ofbdestroying the barriers. It was the most logical choice, the realistically lesser evil.
    And yet…. the apparent absence of any side effect, any unwanted consequence…. it displease me. While i strongly belive that itbwas the right thing to do, i also belive that doing the right thing has also a price. Not seeing it displayed is a bit disappointing.

    Ps Max is a different story. he was clearly traumatized by the act, Alison herself was shaken to her very core, Alison made an enemy of max.s mother, the senator. A price was paid, and probably there is more in the future.

    • tygertyger

      Oh, the price is coming. And I suspect it has something to do with Clevin seeing them together. It it goes that route I hope Feral’s the one who talks him down — seeing Feral be the voice of reason would be all sorts of amusing.

      • Richard King

        Realistically, if he walks in and the two of them are in bed together, under the covers, sleeping? Odds are he just walks away and she never sees him again, leaving her puzzled and hurt and turning to Patrick for comfort, just as Patrick planned.

      • Giacomo Bandini

        That would be the price for her feeling for Patrick, rather than the consequence of her choice.

    • Tylikcat

      Patrick right now is exhausted, and probably has barely started to process what happened. And he’s already not exactly in the best shape. There’s a lot of room yet.

    • Dave Huber

      We haven’t actually seen unequivocal evidence that Patrick can even read minds at the moment – he could be coasting on reputation, expectation and years of experience reading body language. It’s entirely possible Patrick is powerless!

  • Markus

    Just a reminder that Pat’s life and brain have been so incredibly fucked for so long that was mentally incapable of differentiating his own body from other peoples for good chunks of time, to the point of self harming just to tell his body apart. And that he created a giant mind palace of distracting avatar on avatar warfare in order to keep himself from thinking about what his family and his powers did to him, or made him do. Namely Pat’s father hating Pats to his dying breath, Pat firsthand experiencing the violent death of his dog (who’s also quite possibly the only being who will ever love him unconditionally and uncoercedly), and Pat accidentally-not-accidentally psychically torturing his mom to suicide.

    And despite all that, Pat still tries to be a good person.

    Sexual tension aside, I think Pat really needs to be held for a bit.

    • Thomas S

      https://gph.is/2FXmfQ2

      Group Hugs are awesome, will Clevin and Ferral join in??

    • “Pat firsthand experiencing the violent death of his dog (who’s also quite possibly the only being who will ever love him unconditionally and uncoercedly)”

      My recommendation is that he get a new dog. It won’t know he’s an ex-supervillain!

      • alexikakon

        Maybe just adopt a few puppies. Build a little pack of love.

  • itroun

    “Kintsugi (金継ぎ, “golden joinery”), also known as Kintsukuroi (金繕い, “golden repair”), is the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with lacquer dusted or mixed with powdered gold, silver, or platinum… As a philosophy, it treats breakage and repair as part of the history of an object, rather than something to disguise.”

    • Thomas S

      Had to zoom in pretty close to see the gold. It’s there. *warm feelings*

      • M. Alan Thomas II

        Yeah, an accurate gold color is a pretty pale yellow, which is nearly the same contrast with the black outline as the white of the mug itself, so it’s very hard to distinguish without zooming in enough that you can see it without that contextual post-processing by your brain.

    • Teka the Budgie

      I also was hoping to see Patrick do Kintsugi with the mug.

    • Callinectes

      Unless that gold lacquer comes in orange squeezy tubes (issue 5 page 115) it was just regular glue.

      • itroun

        I’ve actually done this myself as a peace offering to a parent, and I definitely used ceramic glue + gold makeup powder and it was definitely beautiful and poignant. There are some great DIY kits/instructions you can find online.

        • Callinectes

          Sure, but did Patrick have the stuff sitting around in his office? He began repairs before his head had even stopped bleeding.

          • Tylikcat

            Eh, a friend just blogged his experience doing this. My biggest concern is that the squeezy tubes look more like cyanoacrylate (superglue) and the initial gluing should have been made with something like epoxy.

      • martynW

        Standard techniques involve some kind of adhesive and gold powder. Don’t know if you can get it prepackaged in one tube.

    • Harlequin

      He had a book on it, actually. Back in the scene with the cup.

  • Masala Nilsson

    Wow, he’s doing rather well so far for someone who’s just now experiencing “full adult emotions” for the first time.

    • Mechwarrior

      I suspect that shock is playing a role in that.

    • Carl

      He’s a supergenius who has spent all his post-adolescence life learning how to emotionally manipulate other people.

  • 🙁

  • AdamBombTV

    Now to get her a cracked and broken Disney mug at Christmas.

  • Pol Subanajouy

    Oh just tear me heart out why don’t you. ;_;

  • magnetoo

    I’m curious about something, which is not especially related to this comic, as opposed to any in the past few weeks.

    Max espouses a selfish political philosophy and is widely if not universally disliked here (I’m speaking only of opinions about Max himself, not Alison’s actions with regard to Max). The only real manifestation of Max’s beliefs, however, was that he failed to object to his father having workers stay overtime, which on the scale of iniquity is relatively low. It certainly pales in comparison to, say, gathering a horde of violent super-powered criminals, attempting to overthrow the government and being the direct cause of the death of thousands of innocent people.

    *Why* do so many people see Patrick, the mass-murderer, as not only someone whom it is more possible to redeem, but as someone whom it is more *desirable* to see redeemed? Why do so many people like him?

    He used to be a supervillain who used violence to achieve his ends. Even after he “went straight” he continued to be willing to, say, kidnap scientists and use their minds against their will, or to attempt to manipulate Alison through selective sharing of information. Even if that weren’t true – even if we now take him completely at his word that he is feeling human emotions for the first time, and we assume that from this point forward he will live a spotless life – is that enough?

    There are all sorts of instances of mid-level nazi functionaries being prosecuted for their actions during the second world war decades later. Isn’t seeing Patrick as a desirable partner for Alison a bit like making a movie casting one of those former nazis as the romantic interest? Isn’t it like making Titanic, except having the Leonardo DiCaprio character be a serial killer who is fleeing England?

    • Teyar

      One, Patrick is willing to listen. His whole powerset is kind of built on that – the mindset allows for substantive change, just built in. Two, Patrick is doing something active, rather than sneering down his nose. “Orcus sitting on his throne” is a laugh line in the DnD community and has been for decades. Three, Patrick’s powers allow for monstrously massive levels of destruction – And while his supervillain days appear to have included that, he’s also someone who appears to be genuinely capable of GETTING the scale of that, and working to undo the damage.

      Given his resources? You bet your sweet bippy I want even the sliver of a chance of Patrick, Driven By Good in the world.

    • Red225

      Because Patrick is attempting to be redeemed, and Max is still being an asshole. While actions still count as volumes, so does intent. Patrick still should – if it were safe from whatever potential conspiracy murderers out there – go to jail as Alison had suggested when his time limit is up.

      Besides all that, deep down, Alison is still trying to be a superhero. And superheroes try to save everyone, after all.

    • Zorae42

      Max also questioned whether Feral was selfless when donating her organs. He literally couldn’t imagine a world where people don’t put themselves first. He also didn’t want to save thousands of people just to spite his ex.

      Patrick’s “crimes” were done out of a genuine desire to fix a corrupt system and did his best to keep civilian casualties to a minimum. So even at his worst, he still cared about other people besides himself (something we’ve never seen Max do).

      • Daryl McCullough

        I see magnetoo’s point, though. Max is a jerk, but he didn’t kill anybody. Patrick did horrible things. We can forgive Patrick because we understand that he had a tough, loveless childhood and only had a misguided notion of doing the right thing, and blah blah blah. But if you delve into it, you could probably understand why jerks are jerks, too. They are just as much the products of their upbringing and misguided principles as anybody.

        It’s just interesting what people consider forgivable and what they don’t. When it comes to audience’s reactions to characters in stories, murder is much easier to forgive than being mean to a dog.

        • Tylikcat

          Who would you rather share a lifeboat with?

          • Daryl McCullough

            I guess it would be a matter of probabilities. You have a choice between spending a month alone with a charming and lovable murderer, or a jerk. I guess I would prefer the murderer as long as he didn’t kill me.

          • Tylikcat

            Do you think that Patrick would be more likely to kill you than Max? If, say, there were limited resources involved?

            I’m also interested in how comfortable you are in assigning the guilt for the actions of teenage Patrick to adult Patrick, even knowing that we know fairly little about the timeline or details involved.

          • Daryl McCullough

            Yes, I think Patrick would be more likely to kill me than Max. He’s demonstrated many times that he is capable of killing. Maybe he’s past that now, but still I would have to weight it more likely that a person who committed multiple murders in the past is more likely to kill again than someone who has never killed anyone.

          • Lostman

            Personally, I would lose my mind with ether of them. I chose Max, mostly because he wouldn’t know when I would turn on him.

          • Tylikcat

            …okay, you totally win.

            I *think* I could handle hanging out with Patrick, and for various penitential (and other) reasons I would be willing to give it a try, but…

        • Zorae42

          Patrick didn’t kill people all willy nilly though? He was fighting against a corrupt government. Seems pretty forgivable to me.

          And again, let’s not forget that Max was willing to allow tens of thousands of people to die just to spite his ex. He honestly was willing to allow way more death for a super petty reason than Patrick directly caused with just reasons.

          • Daryl McCullough

            Well, Patrick also killed his parents. It’s not a matter of forgiveness. It’s a matter of whether you are someone who is capable of killing. I have to say that I don’t consider Max refusing to help save people to be the same class of evil as actually killing people. I mean, every day we’re all guilty of that. There are kids who die of hunger every day, and we are guilty of not preventing it.

          • Zorae42

            You mean he killed his abusive parents that were still actively causing him harm? Including the one who tried to kill him? Oh man, so evil. You put a lot more weight into “capable of killing” than I do (at least for fictional characters. Maybe if these were real people I’d feel different? But don’t know for sure). Heck, the main character of the comic has killed countless numbers of people herself. Including innocent bystanders.

            Except we don’t have a 30 min, no cost solution for saving those kids that we’re deciding not to do out of spite. If we did, then yeah I’d say we’re a massive class of evil.

          • Daryl McCullough

            That’s what I took to be the point of the question about being on a lifeboat. In real life, I think people would be uncomfortable being around someone who is capable of deciding that others deserve death. I would make allowance for self-defense or for killing to save someone else, but that wasn’t the case with Patrick’s murders.

            Certainly in fiction, we can forgive anything if a character is a good character.

          • Margot

            I’m not sure whether Patrick is more capable of deciding that others deserve to die, but I think Max is more likely to think that he is more important that anyone else, and to sacrifice other people’s lives for his (or possibly even for his convenience). So being in a lifeboat with Max would scare me more.

          • Tylikcat

            I suspect if we were running short of food or water (or even potentially likely to) Max would be far more likely to push me out of the boat to ensure his own survival. When it comes to people I’m spend a protracted time with – especially under survival conditions – my primary concern is whether I can trust them at my back, because you can’t always be awake. Max is entitled, selfish and self-centered. I mean, he might also be harmless and ineffectual. (Also, he’s whiny and… I wouldn’t actually kill him for being a whiny entitled waste of skin, but damn, I might spend way too much time thinking about it.) Patrick shows at least a rudimentary grasp of ethics and compassion (he’s kind of stuck with that one…) and overall he seems to be fairly competent. I think I could work with him. (Of course, if I decided I really couldn’t work with him I’d be in much worse shape – pretty sure I could take Max – but I’m thinking positive.)

          • Zorae42

            I was less referring to the lifeboat question and more to why people like Patrick and want to him redeemed, but just want to punch Max in the face.

            Again, Patrick’s motivations were relatively just and he’s trying to change his ways and still actively trying to make the world a better place. Max never showed any sign of compassion or willingness to not be a selfish ass, while also committing an extremely evil act that he felt no remorse over committing.

          • Daryl McCullough

            The problem with excusing murder by saying “Well, he only killed people who deserved it” is that it’s possible for him to be mistaken about who deserves death.

          • Zorae42

            He’s a mind reader. The only way for him to be “mistaken” is if his qualification of “deserves” is different than mine.

    • graybones

      In addition to what else has been said here – Patrick’s actions are, in part, caused by SEVERE abuse and biological/mental illness, where as Max’s actions are influenced by privilege and selfishness.

      I’m a lot more willing to be understanding of someone who does a bad thing because of a severe addiction or because they were experiencing a psychotic episode than someone who does it just because they’re a jerk, especially if the person is repentant and/or seeking treatment.

      • Daryl McCullough

        But it is a little strange. When it comes to characters in fiction, we can more easily forgive a mass murderer than we can someone who is a jerk. That’s kind of weird, when you think about it.

        • magnetoo

          On this point, a really good book is The Library at Mount Char, where the protagonist does truly *awful* things (we first meet her as she is covered in blood, returning from having stabbed an innocent person to death) and yet as the book goes along, it becomes hard not to *kinda* see her point, and to like her.

          • Daryl McCullough

            It’s actually very common in adventure stories. Take the TV shows Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Once Upon a Time or any number of other examples. People who have done monstrous things sometimes have a change of heart, and the audience is all “He’s sorry, let’s move on”. I can understand it from an entertainment point of view, but in real life, it’s kind of weird. Can we imagine if Hitler had at some point said: “Okay, I killed 10 million people and inflicted tremendous suffering on millions more and launched a war that killed maybe 10 times that, total. But I’ve seen the error of my ways. I want to become a good guy now.”

            But Spike or the Evil Queen had done equally evil things, and we accepted their change of heart.

          • Dave Huber

            Because we believe in the redemptive power of love.

          • Tylikcat

            It may well be that what’s going on with Patrick is that he’s being redeemed by love. I’d like to know more about what all was going on that led to the development of Menace and his war (if that’s the word?) I just wrote a bit of a summary of my fourteenth year, which I think I’ll spare you all, but which boils down to why I am open to being sympathetic to such a move from a teenager in a pretty crazy situation.

            There’s also the question of ambiguous figures who are sometimes painted as monsters. Again, I’m a hacker. Some of the examples are obvious, many aren’t well known outside of the community. (And ahaha, don’t think this is me saying I like all of these ambiguous figures. Sometimes my opinion is high, sometimes it’s very, very low. And then there’s the snark, most of which I’m not putting in a public forum.)

        • David B Huber

          Patrick: “You bring out the best in me.”
          Max: “I bring out the best in you.” (which to be fair *is* his super power!)

          • Tylikcat

            Well, no. His super power is amplification. More isn’t always better, y’know?

          • Dave Huber

            I was oversimplifying to humorously contrast how Patrick and Max (ironic name, eh?) are polar opposites. I should have based this on Patrick’s own slogan:

            Patrick: “Thinking of you.”
            Max: “Thinking of me.”

          • Tylikcat

            *grin* Oops, okay, misread that. And he’s so much the sort to believe that bigger is always better, too.

    • Tylikcat

      Max was a controversial character far before we even knew his political political opinions. He pushed a lot of boundaries with Al. He was an asshole to Clevin. There were minor indications that he lacked compassion before the bit with the gardeners (his blithe dismissal of his friend’s apartment burning down?) …and then we find out his whole backstory of how he is angry and bitter because he was absolutely convinced that he should be a superhero. And he had a tortured childhood because where were his powers! …and then in turned out that he did have powers, they just did nothing to fulfill his macho power fantasies. Oh yeah, and meanwhile, his mother misused her position to keep him off the registry so he was never listed and never went to the camps like all the other BD kids. So hard! …what an entitled snotty nosed brat. (That Al later coerced through force and threat into helping Feral. I’m not ignoring that.)

      What’s interesting is how sympathetic people were to Patrick before we really know his backstory. He struck me from pretty early on as being very much like the fucked up teenagers in my EEP cohort (I am not holding myself apart from that group…) And we did some pretty fucked up shit. Mass murder? No. Hacking and high explosives, breaking and entering and burglary? Yes. (No regrets on the last.) And… culturally, I am a hacker*. Which means that whoa, a lot of people in my community have questionable pasts. I’m not going to hold a teen to adult standards. I’m also somewhat flexible in my judgements if I understand where the person was coming from (though with adults this gets pretty complicated – I have no objection for reasonable consequences for actions, though “reasonable” can be a sticking point.)

      * Both in the classical and neoclassical sense, though other than minor consulting, I don’t mess around with security that much any more. (However, my protege / adopted sister just got hired on an open source security project right out of school and I’m so proud of her!) Mostly, I build things, and take things apart, and… um, yeah.

      • Ellie

        Sorry if this is a stupid question, but I cannot seem to find the answer anywhere else. What does EEP mean in this context?

        • Tylikcat

          Early Entrance Program. Take 13 year olds* and stick them in 20 credit hours at the university, with an abusive staff. Fucked up teenagers R Us. (The current incarnation – and there are now are several more, but I only know about the one I attended – seem to be a bit more reasonable…)

          * okay, 13-15, but I was 13.

          • cphoenix

            I went to Clarkson School (go to college a year early) and at not-quite-16 I was the youngest. Most of us did well… but I’m, um, impressed at the thought of a program full of 13-15 year olds in college. Very sorry to hear about the staff. (Our staff was great.)

            Did we ever trade email addresses? If you want, mine is my username here, at gmail.com.

          • Tylikcat

            It honestly didn’t seem all that weird – two of my cousins had gone through the program before me (I don’t know of any other similar family groupings, FWIW). I had no interest in going, but had taken the SATs on a whim in seventh grade when recruited to through the Johns Hopkins talent search… and then the gifted program at my middle school encouraged me to go somewhere else because they were out of academics for me (and I was getting bored, and bad things tended to happen when I was bored), and my only options were a highschool that I really didn’t like (and where people I knew were bringing guns to school) or EEP… which turned out to be obviously full of my people. So I kind of threw my hands up and I went, since they seemed eager to have me.

            Are you on twitter? I use the same handle, and it has a solid PM system, which disqus does not.

    • Stephanie

      “The only real manifestation of Max’s beliefs, however, was that he failed to object to his father having workers stay overtime, which on the scale of iniquity is relatively low.”

      Not for lack of trying. He wanted to manifest his beliefs by letting countless people continue to die slowly and painfully of organ failure for years to come. His beliefs would have been the sole barrier in the way of their survival. I’m not giving him a pass on that just because Alison forced his hand.

    • Jace

      A large factor is motivation and moral compass. Max clearly is selfish to the extreme and clearly has no regard for others. Classic signs of evil, though not on a grand scale, just a personal one. Read People of the Lie for more on what evil people truly are. Monsters often see right in front of you and you never know.

      Patrick on the other hand seems a villain and played the part superficially. The actual motivation goes far deeper. Compare anti hero and anti villain. Noble goal by any means necessary but not with out total disregard for others. He clearly has a moral compass not centered on himself, but it also is not “pure” in the classical sense.

      That is the main difference in short form.

    • Zac

      Yeah, but Max sounded like a prick to me.

    • broblawsky

      It’s the Dolores Umbridge effect. We’ve all known people like Max. I doubt anyone who reads this comic has ever known anyone like Patrick.

    • Giacomo Bandini

      I agree. Max is an asshole, Patrick is a criminal. The first trump the latter, i think.

      But still.. you must remember “The river that everything drags is known as violent, but nobody calls violent the margins that arrest him.”Bertolt Brecht .

      Patrick is using criminal means, horrible, inhuman means, to create a better world, or so he thought. Max is using lawful and normal means to keep the world exactly like it is. The same old shit.

      • Tylikcat

        Max’s support for the status quo is indeed one of the most repulsive things about his character.

    • Dropkick

      Max is an asshole. He maybe deserves a verbal smackdown on his selfish worldview. He did not deserve what Allison did to him.

      Patrick is a monster. He deserves to be arrested, tried, and sentenced for his many crimes.

      Moonshadow is also a monster who people seem to view more generously than Max.

    • Vaporware

      Max is the kind of person you can be glad doesn’t have Patrick or Allison’s powers because it’s very clear that he would be far worse in the use of them, and has never really shown an inclination to do or to be better than he is. Whether or not he should /have/ to be is a discussion unto itself.

      Patrick and Allison are both the kind of people you can be relieved /aren’t/ worse than they
      are, all things considered, and who are demonstrably trying to be better than the world has made them for no other reason than for the sake of other people’s wellbeing.

      This isn’t to particularly pardon any of their individual sins, but to observe that they are on the whole far more forgivable for their motives and outlooks from the perspective of many readers.

      To put it another way: we know Patrick /can/ be redeemed. We have seen his redeeming qualities. Whether or not he lives a ‘spotless’ life from here on out is immaterial. We have cause to believe that he is /trying/ and will continue to do so. We may be proven wrong, but there’s something there. Conversely, Max has shown little to nothing in the way of inclination to improve his own outlook. This makes it harder to sympathize with him on anything but the most utilitarian grounds and the fact that, arguably, he has managed not to be as bad a person as Patrick in practical terms. I say ‘arguably’ because the conversation can still be had as to whether or not Max had a moral obligation to use his power to save lives when presented with the clear opportunity to do so. We can ask whether in withholding his power he was willfully neglecting people to death. We don’t know how many lives Max is responsible for, and unlike Patrick, neither does he.

      Max’s redemption arc probably wouldn’t make for a very long or interesting story in itself. He has a lot less moral or ethical ground to cover to stop being a low-grade jerk with an inferiority complex, and the good he could accomplish by choosing to assist/enhance other capes would pretty quickly outweigh the petty evil’s he’s wallowed in thus far. It’d be great if he did, but right now there’s no reason to believe he ever will.

      So the short answer? It’s easier right now to be invested in Patrick’s story than Max’s. There’s simply more to it on every level of engagement, even if you hate him for what he’s done. The very fact that he’s done so much more than Max has makes him a more interesting character. That could change in the future, Max could undergo some kind of heel-face apotheosis and Patrick could wind up getting killed off or flipping irredeemably evil or what have you, but this is how it is right now.

    • Lostman

      I think something I heard put best: who do you fear more? Furman Destructor who wages war on the US from moon fortress, or John Smith the serial killer who targets children. We will never meet a psychic Warlord in our lives, however we may encounter a few rich white men who lived a sheltered life.

  • Zorae42

    Nice to see confirmation that he did in fact chose not to duck. Can finally put that argument to rest.

    • palmvos

      this is the internet…. there are people arguing that the world rides on the back of a giant lion turtle. this is of course silly. it is mounted securely to a giant spaghetti pot that has been forgotten in the back of a cupboard.

    • Speakeasy

      Well… now we know he clearly chose to wabbit.

  • Calum Cameron

    It intrigues me that this is the second time that the comic has had Alison saying, essentially, “why did you let me hit you?” over this. I cannot work out whether that wording is coincidental or not.

    Given the political and social themes of the comic, it seems unlikely that we’re not supposed to notice that this is (or would be in any other situation) the classic language of a domestic abuser. Especially now that they’ve done it TWICE. But… it genuinely doesn’t look like there’s any kind of commentary being made on that topic. It’s just kinda there, with nothing obviously being done with it.

    • graybones

      I don’t think “why did you let me hit you?” said in this context is really the same as an abuser saying it in our real-world context. Alison did not think her throwing something at Patrick would result in him being hit because it’s generally not possible to hit telepaths in that way.

      It would be more akin to if you were having an argument with someone and you slammed a door in anger, and the other person purposefully stepped in front of the door as it was slamming. Yes you intended to slam a door and yes you intended to express displeasure, but you really did not expect the person to purposefully step into the door so that it hit them.

      If you then said, “Why did you let me hit you [with the door]?” that is a lot different than if you intentionally slammed them into a door and then said it.

    • Tylikcat

      It’s not uncommon for people in real world relationships to basically expect their partners to be able to read their minds and hold them accountable for doing so.

      Patrick actually can.

      • palmvos

        I think that makes it worse.. especially if you keep in mind that is ‘range’ is proportional to his emotional investment in the person.

        • Tylikcat

          Potentially, there’s a lot of room for suck in both directions. Mostly they seem to have come up with a dynamic that works for them?

          The art from their most dysfunctional little scene is pretty haunting. I argued some chapters ago that I thought the bit where Patrick’s head was slightly bowed in panel five indicated a pause, and that he knew what was coming and chose to accept it… and it freaked me out, because that was an interpretation on re-reading, and not how I read the scene the first time.

          http://strongfemaleprotagonist.com/issue-5/page-114/

          I don’t know if Al is going to continue to have access to Patrick’s mind, or where they’re going from here, but I’m glad they’ve resolved some of of their asymmetries of intimacy, anyway.

        • Tylikcat

          This is one of those things that has real world analogs without any
          superpowers being involved. All you need is to have one partner better
          at reading emotional cues, better at articulating them, and more
          committed to putting in the time and effort to doing these thing (these are three different things, though not wholly independent ones.) In our society, there is a lot of pressure on women to learn these skills (and arguably on men not to display them, at least) so there tends to be a pretty major gender skew, but it doesn’t necessarily split along gender lines.

          Back in my twenties, I found myself spending a lot of time helping my partners figure out why they were upset and how to deal with it. (And sometimes playing moderator between them, or between them and their other partners.) Which at first seemed like the Good Partner thing to do. But it started sliding in to an expectation that I would pick up and respond to whatever was going on with them without them having to bother to articulate it… and just no. I sat them down and explained that my mind reading powers, such as they were, existed for my benefit alone. I would use them for the benefit of other people at my discretion, and the rest of the time they would have to learn to use their words. (Just like we used to tell the preschoolers. Though I didn’t put it quite that way.) And then I worked on mostly sitting back and not jumping in when they floundered unless it was a special occasion. Or amused me. Meanwhile, that kind of social acumen turns out to have a lot of business applications – who knew?

          (We had to have a similar discussion about my cooking. Yes, I’m an excellent cook. No, that doesn’t mean I’m obligated to cook for everyone all the time, especially not without recompense – and where the hell did you ever get the idea it did? If you’re sleeping with me, I hope it’s clear in your mind that I’m not your mom…)

          See also: Emotional Labor -and- I’m a Bitch

          • palmvos

            well… acknowledging the fact is the important thing. I tend to be detached, but that is a direct result of other things. I’m tempted to ask what you charge for cooking lessons… but is suspect the travel expenses would be excessive.

          • Tylikcat

            And then there’s scheduling and availability. Despite how much time I’ve spent on this forum today, I’m pretty busy this summer… and I don’t know what it will be like once I start at the robot lab. *does the “yay robots!” dance*

    • ampg

      On the contrary, I think it’s there to drive home the point that Al never would have thrown the mug if she thought it would hit him. She expected that he would duck, so she could demonstrate her anger without causing any actual harm to him. Abusers, on the other hand, know exactly what they’re doing and use language like that to gaslight and deflect blame. She accepts the blame but doesn’t understand the sequence of events.

      • Calum Cameron

        There are other, less symbolically-loaded wordings that could have been used if that is indeed the intention, is my point. The writers didn’t have to make her say “why did you let me hit you?”. They could have gone with “I genuinely didn’t mean to hit you” or “I really thought you would dodge” or something. Phrasing it as a question that (intentionally or otherwise) frames the damage as a result of the “victim” failing to act as desired is the bit that cannot help but bring up unfortunate real-world connotations. Ordinarily, therefore, I’d expect that choice of phrasing to be an indication that we were SUPPOSED to notice those connotations. But here… It doesn’t seem so, which makes it a very curious choice.

        • graybones

          I don’t agree that it is as symbolically loaded as you say. I did not make that connection personally. Maybe if it was “Why did you *make* me hit you” I could see it as more of a direct link to domestic violence.

          In this case Patrick really did purposefully LET her hit him and Alison wants to know why. She doesn’t want to state her intentions (“I really thought you would dodge”) – Patrick already knows them. She wants to know his intentions. That is the most direct and natural way to ask that question. This is a fantasy story and while of course there are parallels to our world that make statements I don’t think every single line of dialogue needs to be carefully crafted so it doesn’t suggest a different meaning in an entirely different context and world.

          • Calum Cameron

            It’s also a socio-political story, so I would disagree with the assumption that there’s no need for real-world messaging to be taken into account when crafting lines of dialogue.

        • ampg

          She didn’t say, “Why did you let me hit you?” She said, “Why didn’t you duck?” So not only is it the parallel language you’re describing, it’s the most obvious way to ask what she wants to know, given that he knew in real time that she was throwing the mug AND that she was expecting not to hit him with it.

          • Calum Cameron

            Okay, none of that’s wrong exactly, but in the (probably vain) hope that it will convince people they do not need to keep replying to a comment about writers’ intentions regarding real-world implications with arguments based around in-universe character motives, I’m at this point just going to link to someone else’s mini-essay on the Thermian Argument and have done with it.

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AxV8gAGmbtk

    • Weatherheight

      The usual abuser quote is “Why did you make me hit you?”.

      But your point is sound. Physical violence is Alison’s impulsive reaction to being frustrated, even though she usually has it well under control. It’s been commented on rather a lot in the comments, just not in this particular story arc.

  • kepod

    Oooh, what a nice, concrete symbol of Patrick “putting the pieces back together.”

  • JohnTomato

    If Clevin walks in on them spooning I’ll know we’ve gone full Soap Opera. You never go full Soap Opera.

  • motorfirebox

    Haha, man. For a glitchy non-human, Patrick has always had a handle on sass. “You’re going to treasure forever the mug that you hit me in the head with. That’s a lovely sentiment.”

  • K Shorten

    Patrick, honey, “I’m so sad about my life and the all things I’ve done” is a perfectly acceptable reason to cry.

    I wanna get these kids some cocoa, a blanket and a shower. Maybe not in that order.

  • Weatherheight

    This dialogue is exquisite.
    It is, simultaneously, vulnerable and revealing, and it’s also incredibly manipulative and poking all of Alison’s buttons.

    Wonderful writing and amazing art. Well done, Brennan and Molly!

    • Philip Bourque

      Now the question is is he intentionally manipulating her or is manipulating her because it’s just such an ingrained habit of his?

      • Danygalw

        Is he capable of interacting with someone without being manipulative?
        Is he capable of interacting with someone without shaping his responses to their needs?

        • Philip Bourque

          I don’t know. All of his actions seem to be geared towards controlling people, for their own good of course. He became menace and tried to overthrow the government because he thought he could do better. He got those scientists together so he could copy their brains and use their collective intelligence and creativity to invent time travel so he could rewrite and guide human history. He has been dropping information to Al and she’s moved in certain directions because of it.

          • Danygalw

            “so he could rewrite and guide human history”
            …uh, what?

          • Philip Bourque

            Oh, sorry, he never did say what he was going to do with the time machine once he invented it, just that he wanted to invent it first.

  • Dawn Smashington

    I really want to be all for this but holy cow

    I do not trust this at all

    • palmvos

      we may have lots of sympathy for Patrick. But I believe that a lot of us will take a picture of the board-game we are playing with him before taking a bathroom break.

      • Tylikcat

        Heck, even if I thought he was doing he very best to be on the level… I don’t really trust the situation. And I don’t take the first as a given. Sadly. (I want to.)

        • palmvos

          I did say we may have sympathy. some may not.
          I am personally weirded out by the request. I’m sorry but I cant escape the sexual dimension. maybe I’m a prude or something. I’d be strongly inclined to recommend that she not do what is asked. I wonder if there is a safer alternative?

          • Tylikcat

            I worry about Patrick’s motivations – partly just because he is in such a state of crisis, and that his need for Alison might override his sense… and partly because there’s still a bunch of information we don’t have, and he’s young, and I’ve never spent time with him, y’know? (Not that spending time with him would resolve it, necessarily, but it would at least give me some kind of baseline to go on.) And if there’s any time he’s going to do something unfortunate, it would probably be now.

            Part of what’s been amusing, but also bemusing for me about all of these conversations is watching what everyone’s relationship expectations are. Where I come from, holding a friend while they sleep when they’re going through an emotional crisis is a pretty reasonable request. The only weird bit is the sexual tension between the two – and I think Patrick has a pretty valid point about his current state of repulsiveness. I mean, gah, I *hope* nothing is happening before he showers and brushes his teeth. And maybe gets checked on for that head injury. If I had a partner who was likely to show up, I’d text them a heads up – of course, I’d do the same for a room mate, since a lot of the point is to avoid interruptions and confusion later.

            If I had a partner who fruck? Look, even if I’d promised them sexual fidelity* if they started throwing a fit it would be a dumping offense. I expect a hell of a lot more respect than that. If I promise sexual exclusivity, I’m not going to have sex with anyone else – but I’m not going to start living in some weird little Puritan bubble making a show of how much partner has title to my body. Fuck that. (And this is all the kind of stuff I talk with people about ahead of time. That doesn’t mean people don’t try to change the rules without notice. Nngh.)

            * not something that’s entirely off the table, just something I’m leery of, especially with men, since IME men are frequently total asses about it.

      • Dawn Smashington

        Honestly, it feels like there’s a ton of red flags and sirens going off reading this, and my first visceral response was “alligator tears, run”. I can see how this could be perfectly innocent, and even in toxicity he may very well be honest in his journey to bettering himself. And maybe this really is a sweet, positive way to respond to his breakthrough.

        But man, this feels like a ticking bomb.

    • Hiram

      I do not trust the fact that a person allegedly experiencing a psychotic break managed to come prepared with an exquisitely gift-wrapped yet evocatively clumsily glued together broken mug. I’m still expecting this to have all been an elaborate play Patrick set up because Alison’s grown some kind of resistance to his power.

  • Dave Huber

    While I understand everyone’s skepticism, Patrick is simply leaning on Alison, unafraid to let her be the strong one while he needs her.

    • Philip Bourque

      Why should we take this at face value?

      • Dave Huber

        Because Alison is Patrick’s ideal. He wouldn’t even be capable of conceiving manipulating her the way that became second nature with everyone else.

        • Philip Bourque

          It seems to me he’s been manipulating her since the day they had that first little face-to-face.

        • According to his self-constructed presentation to her within his own mindscape, of course. I hope you’re correct, but little is impossible right now.

  • Earl Leonard

    Having only recently been diagnosed with Autism, and looking back at some of the alcohol fueled violent behaviour of my youth…the feels.

  • BMPDynamite

    This is beautiful and sad and moving and exactly what I wanted … and IF ANYTHING RUINS IT I AM GOING TO CUT A B**CH.

  • Jshadow

    I just can’t sympathise with this, it just look manipulative.

    Also, no reprecusions from killing other aspects of his mentality and the fact that he talks like an alien who is trying to relate to humons.

    • Hermitage

      The quintessential problem, imo, is that Allison is *easily manipulated*. She wears her heart on the sleeve and takes no precautions to guard herself from anyone, which Guwara (sp) illustrated perfectly only a few pages ago. If there is a crisis of any kind, Allison will dive literally headfirst into it without considering the consequences. You don’t need to be a telepath to realize this, only in possession of moderate EQ.

      I don’t think we will immediately see all the consequences of his integrating all his aspects. Because I don’t think he ‘killed’ them per se, but absorbed them into his newest, and most balanced, aspect. If Allison hadn’t arrived to wrecking ball everything and lay everyone out, Anima, Menace, Lord Boy, etc may well have annihilated each other before the newest version of Patrick was ready to come out and make peace.

      I think part of the constant push pull of Patrick and Allison’s relationship is that Patrick is constantly stuck in analysis paralysis. She is perfectly equipped to deal with his emotional turmoil, but he knows his type of emotional turmoil is her catnip and generally feels asking for it is therefore immoral. I think a great example was his trying to be brusque about his self-scarring, only to find out that his best efforts *still* induced an empathetic response in Allison, rather than repugnance or fear. She just shattered his entire mindscape, so I think right now he’s like ‘screw it, I need help, take responsibility’. I wouldn’t be surprised if after he’s recovered a bit he runs away and goes back to being semi-standoffish.

  • Hiram

    ” … Okay, but I’m going to peel off those goofy crossed plasters and stick your eyelids closed with ’em. “

  • Zac Caslar

    Welcome to being an actual adult, Patrick. Welcome to vulnerability and regret (and remorse) and few certainties beyond the abyss slobbering beneath your feet.

    And no, that abyss isn’t “yawning;” It’s wide fucking awake and yearning for a folded ankle as you inch along that razorblade you now have to walk. From now on your life will be a path of sand and your every ambition a mirage. There is no way forward but forward and you will come to hate it.

    Upsides? You’ll learn to love the pain. You’ll discover that what you lost in the mountain’s immortal moral footing you’ve gained in the whirling glee of a zephyr’s gust. You will swim in the chaos and it will energize you. You will take uncertainty as your fortress and armor your soul in that true determination that is only knowable by it’s flaws.

    You are on the path of stolid, miserable Abraham Lincoln and in the sandals of ingenious, cruel Odyssius.

    You are awake and if I am alone in cheering your choices I am proudly defiant amongst the smell of my own farts.

    The game is afoot and finally you can truly play!

  • Dawn Smashington

    Also like; Feral’s gonna wake up and see this, and I imagine her reaction would be to just take off. So THAT would be awkward.

  • masterofbones

    Wow… Not one mention of the victim blaming going on here?

    “why didnt you duck?”

    What the fuck kind of response is that? Not even an apology for striking him, nothing. Just turning *him* into the person responsible. Isn’t this the girl super worried about abuse by former lovers? If she cant even tell what victim blaming is, how does she expect to succeed there?

    Not cool Allison. Not cool.