SFP

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  • JohnTomato

    So Al has a bit of emotional luggage. Not surprising given her past adventures.

    • Kid Chaos

      Hmmm, turning into the fake prof? That’s weird, even for a fever dream. 😜

      • Lysiuj

        She’s probably noticing some similiarities between the two of them. They both used fake identities to achieve their goals, then made dramatic exits which left everyone speechless…

      • Stephanie

        Eh, wouldn’t say it’s that weird. I’ve had a lot of dreams where my identity changes several times within the same “scene.”

        • Kid Chaos

          What about the “showing up for work naked” dream? 😍

          • Tylikcat

            The classic in my circle was the one where it’s the end of the term (mind you’d we’d all been long past undergrad – this was before I went back to research) and you suddenly realized that you forgot to drop a class you’d registered for, and so you haven’t been attending, but today is the final, and you can’t drop now but you can just go take the final and hope for the best? I was amazed how many of us had variations on that one. (Of course, I could have shown up to work in my nightgown, and no one would have cared, so…)

  • rpenner

    Is that a literal slippery slope Alison is dreaming of?

    • Lysiuj

      And she’s dragging herself down it, with all her baggage.

    • Elaine Lee

      Looks more like a weird, reversed Sisyphus story. Wouldn’t a slippery slope be, well… slippery?

      • Retrikaethan

        when you have super strength and invulnerability, everything is slippery.

  • Moderation

    Uh oh. That last panel. That’s Patrick, I do believe we’re seeing his own biodynamic enhancement in play. He’s either in Alllison’s dreams, or “just” her mind (she may not be asleep at all).

    What further implications this has regarding Professor Gurwara remains to be seen. Can Patrick actually control minds? Alter memories? Both?

    Is that what he did to Professor Karapovsky? Keep him locked in some sort of dream loop, while Gurwara did his thing?

    Was Gurwara just a construct Patrick projected into all the students’ minds as well as Allison’s? Both?

    I don’t think the beginning of this new arc is mere dream. Not one bit.

    • All of this is feasible, and intriguing, but there’s still the very real possibility that this is simply Allison’s guilt over causing him harm while ‘defenceless’ finally resurfacing.

      • Tylikcat

        Patrick has been haunting her in a lot of ways, some direct, like the check and dossier (with its very complicated outcomes) from him, some much less so, like the graffiti, and the hard to escape question of whether what’s gone on with Karapovsky has anything to do with him. One could probably make an argument for Patrick’s influence on most of went on in the last chapter – direct or otherwise. Even while I’d personally kind of like to see Patrick’s personal Odyssey of getting his shit together, it’s hard to miss that they have unfinished business. (Or, y’know, he’s just a fan favorite.)

  • dbmag9

    This must be the first time Al has experienced something as physically heavy since she was a young child, right? That briefcase isn’t just leading her down that slope, it’s giving her an insight into the human condition that she probably hasn’t experienced in a very long time.

    Metaphors abound…

    • I think, in some ways, this humanises her. One might not expect a superhuman with such uncanny strength to still empathise with or understand the effort of a normal mortal’s life, but clearly, Al still holds a lot of that old humanity within her subconscious and psyche.

      Of course if that’s her emotional baggage, she feels the weight keenly enough already..

      • Rando

        Disagree. Being stronger, smarter, or more talented than others in no way makes it difficult to empathize with them. Being a bad person does.

        Professional weight lifters are far stronger than I will ever be, and yet have no less understanding of the effort it takes me to move something heavy.

        Professional artists still understand the effort an amateur put into a piece of their work. Even if it is barely better than stick figures.

        Terrible people are terrible people, any gifts they may possess have nothing to do with it.

        • I never implied that it was her talent or strength that seperated her from humanity. Rather it would be her lack of appreciation for the human condition, a common thread in superhuman narratives based on the elevation of humanity to godhood or thereabouts.

          Al has shown every sign of being a better-written Superman analogue – and one of the more cutting narrative points in the Superman franchise, something Batman calls him out for on a regular basis, is whether or not he still truly understands what it is like to be vulnerable or human. Especially seeing as he never quite was human to begin with. Conversely the last couple of pages have demonstrated quite clearly how very human (and Jungian?) our hero’s psyche still is.

          • Mackenzie Dotson

            Having privilege makes someone entirely unaware of that privilege. It’s only when someone points it out to them that they can be aware and therefore empathetic. I think Allison is aware and has empathy but we’ve seen her journey to get there.

          • I agree. I read this as an indication that she hasn’t actually lost her humanity, yet, but it may well also be that Allison has had to unlearn her automatic assumptions about the world based on her lack of vulnerability and to focus in on the vulnerability of others. Whether she has empathy or sympathy or lived experience, in other words. The rooftop party lends itself equally to both scenarios as well – she shows a minor lack of understanding for how her own physical space and assertiveness comes over to other human beings as a direct threat, which could equally be a sign that she’s losing touch with humanity and still doesn’t understand how seperate her experience is yet or a sign of incomplete progress towards getting back in touch again.

        • As for the remainder of your points, actually, it does become harder for someone near the top of their field to remember what it’s actually like to bumble around the bottom. Plenty of people manage to keep in touch with their roots and hold on to the memory of starting out, but almost as many forget how hard it is for everyone else, and start to see the qualities they’ve gained as being innately deserved because they’re somehow better people than those who haven’t had the good fortune to make it (but may have worked just as hard). It’s a tendency that many successful people have actively had to learn to avoid. This lack of empathy or basic comprehension becomes far more likely if you were never really struggling to begin with (Al has always been at the very least athletic). It’s frequently seen in those born to the privileges of wealth and good health and tends to manifest in a mindset that life isn’t all that hard, really, and that everyone else should just “pull their socks up” and get on with it.

          • Stephanie Gertsch

            I sort of get both points here. Being stronger or having more money doesn’t make you a mean person or out of touch with reality, but it can be easy to forget what someone else’s struggle is when it’s not part of your everyday experience.

            This is why I hate jokes about women not being able to open jars or needing help carrying stuff. I just want to yell, “Have you seen my hands????” (On the plus side, I’m an expert at untangling jewelry and reaching stuff that has fallen into weird places.)

  • Strawman

    Oh, that’s her tangible guilt of having maimed Patrick by throwing à mug at his face at light speed.

    • Lostman

      Oh… I think there more in that suitcase then just that. It’s only recently that Alison in her life has realized that actions have consequences, and the now the emotional weight of said actions. Along with her crippling sense of social injustice, are now taking it toll. Like I said last post, I think this is a stresses related dream.

      • Strawman

        Even in the second to last panel she looks the side of her face where he would be seriously injured.

        Plus her injuring Patrick is already a narrative metaphor for her worst fuckups.

        • Zinc

          She isn’t looking at the side of her face, she’s looking at Gurwara’s golden tooth that is now inexplicably inside her own mouth.

          • Lysiuj

            But it also transitions from one to the other.

          • Zinc

            Yes, although it is arguable whether the transition has any significance or meaning on its own. It is the same sort of transition as with the woman in make up in the previous strip – and that one seemed to me to be a non-sequitur to the panels before it.

          • Lysiuj

            I don’t know if the transition itself is significant, but my point is the left cheek area is used for two consecutive parallels, with Arjun and then with Patrick.
            I think it’s a clever move on Molly’s part, to emphasize how in both cases she’s seeing something of the other person in herself.

          • Weatherheight

            There’s a part of me that REALLY wishes he could have been watching the process of this sequence as it was developing between Molly and Brennan.
            Did they deprive themselves of sleep? Were there consciousness altering supplements involved? Did they spend a great deal of time with their family as part of the process?

            Bananas?

          • Arkone Axon
  • zellgato

    Ah.. bit of her own trauma. Mixed in with mind reader. (and my personal pet theory) expanded powers of mind manipulation.

  • Weatherheight

    Baggage so heavy that Alison must drag it…
    Briefly confusing herself with Arjun…
    Paper cutouts with mirrors taped to them for heads…
    Catching a glimpse of herself and seeing a shattered glass with Patrick’s blood and tears…

    ::tap dances gleefully in Jungian delight::

    • Oracle

      Gurwara’s name was Arjun?

      • AshlaBoga

        Assuming he wasn’t lying, yes.

        • Weatherheight

          I’m hoping for a resolution in which he is both telling the truth and lying about his name.:D

          • cphoenix

            Careful – Dumbing of Age just had one of those…

          • Tylikcat

            I saw it first in the cast list. I would hold Brennan and Molly personally responsible!

    • Lisa Izo

      And a gold tooth

      • Weatherheight

        AND a gold tooth!

        ::does a quick soft donkeyshoe::

    • E S M

      Also, the mirrors and tape together make the “female” symbol.

  • Hopefully this will mollify everyone who was previously annoyed by Al’s apparent ‘lack of impact or consequences’ rising from past actions. I always thought Molly did a great job telegraphing her inner turmoil via her facial expressions, but for those who read it differently it’s now being played out in full technicolor..

    • Lostman

      Just throw this in, but from what we could guess from last chapter. Alison hasn’t slept four days, and through a cycle of regretting and accepting her actions. Only for the end to realize that she been played. Factor in the dread of that “harsh lesson in politics” that coming to give her a good whack. Alison stress level are at all time high.

      • Lisa Izo

        She has slept. Remember that 5-6 weeks apparently somehow passed since her last class 🙂

        • Well, she’s obviously sleeping now.. much good it’s doing her.

          • Tylikcat

            Bwah. Friday night *I* had a weird dream where I crossed someone who used to be a very close friend of mine with the character of Patrick (or, so I eventually realized.) Thank you subconscious, just what I needed. I really shouldn’t have stayed up late writing those posts.

        • Tylikcat

          Time is being weird.

          • Lisa Izo

            Gurwara can manipulate time! Now the weirdness of how one class takes 6 weeks makes sense 🙂

          • Tylikcat

            One class he’s been teaching a couple of weeks that lasted six!

    • pidgey

      I can only speak for myself, but my irritation has mostly stemmed from people who think such consequences would be undeserved, and not from a belief that they were never going to be explored in the comic. I’ve been prophesying consequences for ages.

      But no, I wouldn’t call this enough to mollify me. Bad dreams are a very short step past feeling bad.

      • Lisa Izo

        I so agree

      • There are some commenters who have repeatedly stated that if consequences did not manifest within the next few pages, they’d never be explored, and the comic was therefore automatically badly written hero-worship of a flawed character. I never saw that position as reasonable or tenable – especially for a slowly updating webcomic! Narrative flow demands a recurrence of consequences and outcomes further down the line rather than with immediate effect.

        So, no, this wasn’t directed at you or anyone sharing your perspective, because like me you’ve been expecting them to turn up in time and are hoping for some satisfyingly tangled outcomes.

        But it would serve to prove (to those few who did believe that the matter, if not addressed instantly, would never be addressed at all) that the authors are capable of extending a story arc through multiple issues and that consequences not yet explored may well still be explored later.

        • Herwood

          And not to mention that minds of people in difficult situations protect them from it until they have time to deal with it properly.

        • Arkone Axon

          I think I’m one of the commentators you’re referring to… and I never suggested that the consequences would never be explored (and in fact, I can’t remember anyone suggesting any such thing). Our complaint was with the implication that consequences would be undeserved. Especially the people who kept stating, “seriously, fuck Max.” (Exact quote) And implied that he was a monster and a horrible person and spoiled and selfish and yadda yadda and Alison was being heroically noble for suffering his crap as long as she did before she made him Do The Right Thing. Complete with metaphorical examples of him being able to stop people from being run over by train cars if he would push a button with zero cost to himself.

          We’re waiting for the consequences, and we’re still here because we have high opinions of the creators of this comic. Our complaint is with the people who repeatedly claimed that the imminent consequences are unfair and undeserved.

          • If you didn’t suggest that the consequences would never be explored, you’re not one of the commentators I was referring to..!

            I agree that consequences are best when they’re seen to be somewhat deserved within literary fiction. I don’t think anyone (certainly not myself or most of the people I upvoted) was arguing that Allison was entirely clean, blameless and noble of action and intent throughout. It’s a moral grey area with people landing on all inclinations of the bell curve. What bothered me wasn’t people insisting that Allison deserved consequences – which may or may not actually materialise, based on her particular set of privileges and invulnerabilities, but would be an interesting story point if featured by their absence and the effect of that on her developing character just the same – but the few who kept insisting that she was wholly malicious and yet the comic’s creators were holding her up as some sort of golden poster child so would never allow such consequences to occur.

          • Arkone Axon

            The only person I can think of who came close to that is Izo (now renamed Lisa Izo). She wasn’t so much calling her purely malicious as emphasizing the evil of her actions in opposition to those who called her actions not only justified but virtuous and noble because her victim deserved only scorn. Which is the worst sort of tribalistic thinking, the sort of mindset that keeps conflicts and feuds going on for decades or even centuries.

            And yes, there really were people arguing that Alison was entirely clean, blameless, and noble of action and intent. They were actively villifying Max and calling him a horrible person and… you’d have to go through the archives and check the comments on those pages, but there were some doozies.

      • Herwood

        Sometimes people in stressful/dangerous/urgent situations manage to ignore their own problems and emotions for a long time without breaking down. Heck, if everyone broke down or dealt with their emotions when difficult/traumatic stuff happened then most of the worlds population (especially poor people) would be spending months dealing with themselves and die of starvation.

        I think Allison has’t dealt with everything yet because her life has been too filled to allow her time to really think and get her guard down. Now she seems to finally be getting that time and all the things that her mind has been protecting her from (until there was time to deal with it) are surfacing…

    • Oracle

      Mm… I suppose that really hangs on how and to what extent her inner conflict manifests in the world outside Alison’s head. Angst is the poor man’s substitute for consequence.

      • Nuclear Catsplosion

        Though, emotional suffering is probably more than anyone around her would be able to enforce physically, so – barring a loss of her powers or a stronger individual showing up, this turmoil is probably the worst she’s felt since before she got powers

        • Oracle

          Were this an action-driven comic, I would expect some shadowy government agency to nullify or reverse-engineer Alison’s powers (which still isn’t entirely out of the realm of possibility, but it doesn’t seem like the story’s heading there right now), or the introduction of some new baddie who could fight her to a standstill, or the nuclear option.

          https://strongfemaleprotagonist.com/issue-2/page-48/

          It’s scenes like this, though, that I think do the best at demonstrating the impact of Alison’s actions.

          • Herwood

            I was reading the comic and it seems that for some reason superheroes are going to be a one time thing. People with powers don’t seems to have powered children and nothing similar to the storm has happened. There is literally only one generation of super people.

            Maybe its a metaphor for life? You only get one shot to do the most amount good for the world that you can, before leaving forever…

      • I’d call ongoing mental trauma (potentially illness) a pretty severe consequence. The weight of guilt can be a huge stone around one’s neck. But temporary angst, less so.. it’s all about degrees there. Pretty sure we’re already seeing some consequences manifest in the real world, too, however – how about those very pointed threats from the senator?

        • Arkone Axon

          Cleaver is suffering from ongoing mental trauma as well. He can’t bear the thought of the world being filled with good people, because if it were, “then… then I would have killed… so many…”

          I really do feel horrible for the guy. But… that doesn’t mean he should be allowed to just waltz out of prison. He needs to be confined at the very least, before any attempt at reform can be made.

          (Also, I agree about the consequences. I’m very interested to see what happens with that senator. Things are about to get nasty for Alison – and it’ll be the sort of problem that a lot of us are intimately familiar with, the kind that involves public opinion and whispered words behind the back, and nasty gossip, and an absolute dearth of either punchable targets, or practical solutions…)

          • Yes, absolutely. Mental illness doesn’t equate a free pass, and people with diagnosed mental issues have a responsibility of self-care and moderation to their abilities which should be matched by flexibility and allowances made by those around them – the effort shouldn’t all come from one side.

          • Arkone Axon

            Unfortunately, the American justice system is based on punishment over corrections. We really need to borrow a page from the Scandinavians – they spend less on their prison system, have lower crime rates, and a far lower recidivism rate. Or just read Terry Pratchett’s Discworld books that feature Sam Vimes. “The law was supposed to take criminals and, through whatever rough and ready fashion, make honest citizens out of them.”

  • Rugains Fleuridor

    I’ll just be going to the comments for clues.

  • Mechwarrior

    This is your Alison on drugs.

  • Dwight Williams

    Fear of creeping corruption, of consequences of past actions…

    • Herwood

      Yeah, maybe she thinks she is absorbing other peoples attitudes and it scares her because she used to consider a lot of those attitudes distasteful or wrong before?

  • RobNiner ♫

    I like the Mirror People’s cute feet.

    • Weatherheight

      I Upvote this both for the cute feet (and hands as well) and because it coins the designation “Mirror People”.
      I now have a new name for doppelgängers in some region of my campaign world.
      Thank you. 😀

      • RobNiner ♫

        Welcome!

  • bryan rasmussen

    huh, so augmented Patrick can put thoughts into people’s heads through accessing dreams.

  • Cattya

    The need to let go of her baggage and see her true self, and the correlation between the two (panel 5) seem to be what is implied here somewhat, but I’m new to commenting here so I can’t be more intellectual than that.

    Or rather, seeing her true self would require or cause her to let go of her baggage. Something like that.

  • martynW

    First question in the mirror image: how does a person with indestructible skin get freckles?

    Took an embarrassingly long time to notice the gold tooth.

    • Lysiuj

      Indestructible doesn’t have to mean unchanging.
      Also she could have gotten her freckles before her powers 😉

    • Zorae42

      She’s indestructible, not invulnerable. I don’t think her powers protect her from the sun/radiation.

    • Weatherheight

      Freckles aren’t only a reaction by melanin to UV light. They can form in the absence of UV radiation (my first nephew had quite dark freckles when he was born, which I will admit was trippy).

      In addition, Alison’s powers kicked in around age 14 – plenty of years for her to develop freckles that then got “locked in” by her anomaly.

      Now, for the best answer, someone needs to review the entirety of the comic and carefully count Alison’s freckles on every panel in which they are prominent.

      Not It!

      • martynW

        Ew. Me either. Don’t want to be “that no-prize guy,” forcing the poor artist to draw a reference freckle model and pin it to the wall. Bad enough the freckles have to be drawn all the time in the first place.

        You can bet Steve Ditko wished more than once that he hadn’t designed web lines all over Spider Man’s costume.

        And yeah, most reasonable answer is “it all happened before the power set in.”

        Superman’s powers, in more recent years, were assumed to have developed fully in his teen years. Actually, one of the better origin revisions. As a kid, with a little brother and sister, I knew full well that a two-year old Superbaby would have killed everyone in the state.

    • Happyroach

      For the same reason a person with indestructible skin doesn’t have unusually pale skin, and a lack of vitamin D. Which would lead to sleep problems, depression and…and…crap.

      Seriously, I think it’s pretty obvious that Alison’s invulnerability allows the “right” forces through- she can tan, she can be touched, and so on.

    • Azmodan

      She isn’t indestructible. She is telekinetic and focuses her power towards protecting and strengthening herself.

      It is why she is now able to fly, and why flying lessens her invulnerability while it is active.

  • Tylikcat

    This is the second post.

    I went over the whole sequence prior to Patrick getting a mug thrown at him when I looked it up for the last post.

    (Starting more or less here: http://strongfemaleprotagonist.com/issue-5/page-103/ )

    A couple things really stood out. One was Patrick being such a tortured “I am doing all of this stuff all alone, with no one to turn to,” anti-villain (or what are you going to call him?) And by the way, going back, I am struck again by how much I love the whole sequence, very much including his comeuppance by Al. This bit is so good.

    But it left me think that Al’s axiom “We got this,” in many ways is almost a reaction to Patrick’s particular breed of fuckwittery, and in particular the whole speech he gives her then. If her’s is that of the tyrant, than his is… well, I suppose he named himself emperor, so maybe I’ll just stick with that. Y’know, a romance might be a cop-out, but I really want a dialect from the two of them. maybe working together, with sufficient headslaps from the rest of the world, they can actually get somewhere.

    And, on to some fraught:

    As I was reading this, I was thinking in a narrative context that Alison hitting Patrick was necessary because it meant that rather than making this a painful but triumphant learning moment for her, it just made it awful for everyone. Which is a lot more interesting reading.

    But in the back of my mind were two thing’s I’d kind of dismissed – Alison’s question “…why couldn’t you just duck?” Which struck me as kind of pointless as the time, until someone else made the observation that Patrick, as a telepath, knew exactly what she was intending to do. I figured anyone could be flatfooted by an impulse decision, and it’s certainly not his fault to be hit…

    …except that happened to be the page I was looking at, and pretty closely. This jumped out at me, and I will draw your attention to, panels four and five:

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

    Remember that Patrick always knows what Alison is thinking (and Alison knows this is the case) but the reverse isn’t true. The suggestion seems to be that Alison is clearly telegraphing her intent, not just in thought but with her actions – so there’s time –

    …and Patrick just bows his head. It’s not huge. Not enough that an angry Alison would think “Oh, he’s totally going to just bow his head and accept what ever I throw at him.” But… yeah. I think he was ashamed (or just horrified by how things were going down, which kind of rings both more true and more awful, I think he’d need more time to work up to shame) and made a choice. And it just makes the whole thing more horrible.

    (For comparison, look at his body language in the first two frames, and how hurt/confused/desperate he looks. And then look at the fifth frame, and remember he could hear her every thought as she prepared to throw.)

    • Nuclear Catsplosion

      I agree that he very likely decided not to duck, and I also think that he probably doesn’t have more than a deep cut from the box itself tearing open. It seems to have just grazed him, rather than hit him straight on. Also, if it was a bad enough cut to maim / badly scar, Patrick probably would be bleeding like crazy. Although it does harken back to the scene where Al tried to fix that playground.

    • Arkone Axon

      Honestly… I’d say his decision not to duck was not a decision at all – because the thing about super strength is that you don’t just turn it off before doing something in a fit of rage. She was angry. She threw with full force. That mug hit hard and FAST. Simply put, he didn’t have time to duck – he’s not a super speedster, or a trained fighter with lightning reflexes, he’s a mind reader who used intermediaries for violent purposes. All he could do was tense up and brace himself when he felt the wave of rage and violent intent coming from her, towards him. No doubt a decidedly unfamiliar sensation for him.

      But her question, “why couldn’t you just duck?” is actually very important for a different reason. Because it’s a rhetorical question she just asked of the victim of her violent assault. And I would note the following points made by those who have rushed to defend Alison’s actions here:

      1: that Patrick knew and wanted it to happen.
      2: that he could have ducked it and chose not to.
      3: that he provoked her and made her angry in the first place.

      Note how those three points are the most common arguments made when blaming victims of spousal abuse? “The bitch was asking for it!” “She could have done something to stop it if she wanted to.” “You shouldn’t make him mad, it’s your fault for pissing him off.” Hell, look at your own post, describing her act of physical violence and aggression as his “comeuppance” at her hands. The moment you swap their genders it becomes far less heroic. “Way to put that bitch in their place!”

      That’s what makes that last chapter so powerful and interesting. We weren’t watching a heroic and morally correct woman nobly struggling to overcome the idiocy of the fools around her. We were watching a violence prone, emotionally stunted, self centered person who went from the school overachiever to a child soldier/celebrity, to a celebrity/bully surrounded by people who idolize and worship her, or fear and resent her depending on their past experiences with her. She went from assaulting her friend of years whom she had a fierce crush on, to assaulting/kidnapping/torturing/terrorizing her ex-boyfriend, and these were logical progressions from previous actions (casually throttling a young man at a party, locking another in a dumpster, threatening to murder people) as she continued to get away with them.

      And this chapter looks to be the one where we see the consequences of her misdeeds. Because make no mistake – if she were to get a pass on everything she’s done in the previous chapters, and have everything be declared officially and canonically justified, then this comic will have turned into a genderswapped “Least I Could Do.” (and if you’ve never read that one… well, don’t bother. Just check the bad webcomics link, it is 100% accurate: http://badwebcomicswiki.shoutwiki.com/wiki/Least_I_Could_Do )

      • Tylikcat

        This *really* isn’t about Alison’s culpability. Even if she threw it expecting him to duck, that’s not an excuse. (I’m a martial artist. This doesn’t mean that randos – or my ex-husband, including when we were married – gets to attack me, and it’s okay just because I can kick their asses. Seriously, fuck that whole line of thinking.) Alison threw it, nothing Patrick does after that point is going to absolve her. The best possible interpretation on her calling out “Why couldn’t you just duck?” is that she said it in despair.

        …but that doesn’t mean I’m not certain the art doesn’t suggest that Patrick chose to let it hit him. I’m not certain that’s what it was, either, but… something really big was going on with him beforehand. That seems like the obvious thing in the context, but we might get more information later.

        • Arkone Axon

          I… find it interesting that in the 8 hours since your post here about how you’re not certain that the bitch – er, that Patrick, didn’t choose to let himself be hurt by the protagonist, two people upvoted your response here.

          I agree that her muttering “why couldn’t you just duck?” is the guilt ridden outcry of someone who began to regret an act of physical abuse the moment they saw the results. But you’re still going back to the idea that he “let it” happen, because he could read her mind (and every time I hear that argument, I’m minded of an old cartoon called “Rusty and the Big Guy,” where a mind reading bad guy is defeated while the Big Guy declares, “sure you can see it coming. You’re psychic. But that doesn’t mean there’s a thing you can do about it!”). He was many things, but he was never a trained fighter. He doesn’t even have any muscle tone – if he can sense hostile intent, he can avoid the situation in the first place. That doesn’t mean he can dodge an attack the instant someone resolves to strike. You’re not the only martial artist here – you KNOW how important it is to train to be able to respond to violence, not just physically but mentally. You know how important it is to train to react effectively and not freeze up or panic.

          Yes, something really big was indeed going on with him. Just as Alison is a confused, emotionally stunted, self centered person who is trying to find a way of saving the world more effective than “find something punchable and punch it,” Patrick is a confused, emotionally stunted, guilt ridden person who is trying to find a way of saving the world more effective than “blow stuff up and commit acts of terrorism.” From his point of view, he was NEVER a supervillain – from his point of view, he was a freedom fighter waging a war against the military industrial complex and the regimes that oppress people across the world. He allied himself with the outcasts, the outsiders, the ones who were rejected – the abused child who transformed and turned on his abusive parents, the anthro rat who merits casual scorn and contempt because of his appearance, etc.

          Now Alison is trying to find a better way. And Alison is trying to come to terms with the negative consequences of her actions – the people killed as collateral damage, the lives shattered. And so is Patrick – telling her (and himself) that he did what he had to, necessary and whatnot, is how he can sleep at night. It’s the same as when Alison was blaming Max for refusing to accede to her wishes, trying to make him the bad guy – to rationalize, to justify her misdeeds. Patrick’s got even more blood on his ledger than she does, and he’s struggling to find a better way and to atone as much as she is.

          As for why he said what he said? Because he can read her mind and not her own. Because he’s a confused young man who could FEEL her attraction, how much his former nemesis was in love with him, and didn’t know how to handle it. He deliberately tried to make her hate him – not smart, not sensible, a purely immature and illogical action made by someone who couldn’t handle her feelings or his own.

          Remember what she hurt him with – the mug he bought for her. The Looney Tunes mug. A young man who had never even seen a cartoon before she showed them to him. If you’re going to extend sympathy towards the physically abusive bully, then how about a modicum for the terrorist?

          • Denimcurtain

            You make it sound like Allison’s actions would be ok if he let it hit him. It wouldn’t and it sounds like the person you’re responding to is explicitly saying that it wouldn’t be ok. Your description of Patrick doesn’t really change that even though I like and agree with it.

            As far as how we judge Allison’s actions in that scene, it doesn’t really matter whether he knew what was coming or not. She’s wrong either way. He could have masterminded the whole thing, knowing exactly what would happen, and it would still be on her to control her temper and her strength. Someone that powerful can’t do things like that.

            That being said, its still interesting to explore whether he knew it was coming because it would give us more insight into Patrick’s character. Is he just the frightened victim? Is he a mastermind who is pulling strings for a later, nefarious purpose? Is he both or something in between? These are interesting questions and while the answers shouldn’t change our view of Allison’s behavior, it is ok if they influence our thoughts on how we feel about Patrick.

          • Arkone Axon

            Not only am I not saying that it would be okay if he had let it hit him, I’m actively condemning the notion that he allowed it to happen as part of some machiavellean scheme. That’s literally the sort of thinking of the sort of misogynistic neckbeard who cries himself to sleep because “bitches” won’t have sex with him because “nice guys finish last.” Seriously, this page (and even other replies to Tylikcat’s original comment) are replete with people suggesting that he deliberately chose to be hit as part of some conspiracy to make her look like the bad guy. Including YOUR post just now. “Is he a mastermind who is pulling strings for a later, nefarious purpose?”

            Imagine that argument being used in court with the genders reversed. A big goomba named Alphonso on the witness stand pointing angrily at his girlfriend Patricia. “She MADE me throw that mug at her, your honor! She’s a conniving witch! She’s trying to make me look bad so she can get more money when she divorces me! You should be locking her up! This is a travesty, I’m the good guy here!”

            And on the sidelines, at least one goomba is nodding their heads and muttering, “That’s just like dem broads, all right. Always trying to play the victim card, setting you up… not saying he wasn’t wrong to hit her, but why’d she push him into throwing that mug?”

          • denimcurtain

            I feel like you skimmed my post. I explained why someone might pontificate on what happened and why it doesn’t impact whether Allison was wrong in this situation. Switching the genders doesn’t change anything. She would be wrong the other way around too. I feel like you make no attempt to understand how others look at the world.

          • Arkone Axon

            No, I read it through in detail. And accusing me of skimming your post doesn’t quite hold water when my previous response was pointing out that you had implied the opposite of my actual statements. And “pontificating on what happened” is a good idea, if you’re pondering Alison’s penchant for casual violence and her serious need to learn better methods of dealing with others. Not so much if you’re pondering whether or not Patrick deliberately goaded her into throwing a ceramic mug at him.

            I have been pondering the fact that people have been rushing to suggest exactly that. Because that sort of thing is called “rationalization.” When someone tries to twist things and come up with alternative theories to reaffirm their established beliefs, and then insist that theory be credited as valid. We have seen nothing about Patrick to imply that he would ever allow himself to be physically harmed as part of a scheme (for one thing, he doesn’t have the courage for a physical confrontation like that).

            Also, the fact that you feel like I make no attempt to understand the viewpoints of others is about as accurate as your feeling that I skimmed your post: specifically, both are equally untrue. In fact, the reason why people have been rushing to upvote your posts but not my own is because I’m doing exactly that. I’m pointing out that Alison’s view of her world is not the only one, that the people she has harmed physically and otherwise have their viewpoints in which she is a violently aggressive self-righteous bully who sees herself as above the law (and that those other viewpoints are actually a bit more valid than her own). And there have been a number of people commenting on these pages who have rushed to dismiss those other characters because everything Alison does is morally correct and justifiable and wonderful. Even when the comic itself has now canonically established that her “morally correct and righteous actions” were neither moral, nor righteous, and are going to result in severe consequences. They don’t like that people like me are refusing to jump on the “Alison is good and everyone she doesn’t like is bad” bandwagon… which is why I continue to post. As long as they know not everyone shares their viewpoint, they can’t rest easy… and that amuses me. ^.^

          • Ark

            But…he literally is a mastermind. Like denim is saying, that doesn’t change the ethics of Al’s actions but it does affect our perception of Patrick. They should be evaluated as two separate entities – not the more right one and the more wrong one. They can both be wrong.

          • Arkone Axon

            He is a “mastermind” in the same sense that Alison is an expert fighter – they’ve both got powers that give them an edge at what they’re doing, but they’re both still a couple of kids who got thrown into the meat grinder.

            How do I know he’s not a true chessmaster and not just a chump that David Xanatos would cover with mustard and eat for lunch? Because he’s having trouble with Paladin. He said it himself: “If you can access all of a person’s thoughts, hopes, and fears, and still can’t get them to do what you want, that says more about you than it does about them.” He can and should have popped in on her a few times, discretely been just a person in the background, skimming her thoughts… then had his lawyers offer her a deal or two, give her what she wants and get her to comply with his own objectives. Instead he’s made an enemy out of the person who built the robots that were the backbone of his military forces. Not to mention that he pissed off Alison – a true manipulative mastermind would have happily seduced her, made her sigh blissfully at the thought of him, and then… gotten her to do whatever he wanted.

            He’s not that cunning, and he’s not that evil. He’s like Alison – a dumb KID who thought he knew everything when he was an adolescent developing superpowers, and now thinks he knows everything as a twenty year old who still can’t legally drink.

            (Which is a recurring theme that the comic has pointed out: Cleaver’s the same age. They’re all just… kids, that have been chewed up and spit out by the system they’re all trying to change)

          • Ark

            I don’t know if you know this, but adults don’t know what they’re doing either. Despite being young(er) they have a hell of a lot more experience doing what they do than most adults. I don’t know what age constitutes a “true” mastermind but 20 seems plenty old enough for someone that can use a power to read minds instead of needing experience and empathy to tell what people are thinking. He is still learning but so are adults, he’s not going to reach an arbitrary age and suddenly *be* a mastermind.

          • Arkone Axon

            “I don’t know if you know this, but adults don’t know what they’re doing either. ”

            Oh, I’m well aware of that. The big difference is that adults have been around long enough to KNOW we don’t know what we’re doing, instead of rushing to push buttons and do something just to be doing something. But having spent a few years commanding a terrorist group/resistance movement and then trying to rebuild his financial empire does not make Patrick a machiavellian mastermind anymore than spending a few years as a child soldier and then bullying weaker targets makes Alison a martial artist.

            To be honest, when I hear “Patrick allowed himself to be hit as part of a fiendishly clever scheme,” it makes me think of the 1990s… and the Superpredators. Who looked like adolescent black males – but they weren’t kids, they weren’t even teenagers, they were vicious SUPER predators who needed to be tried as adults and then locked up in for-profit prisons to make the streets safe again! It’s amazing how much more “adult” someone gets when you want to blame the victim.

          • Zinc

            The comic-strip medium is inherently ambiguous. It is not a movie, where the viewer gets to see and hear every second fluidly, but a sequence of still frames. It is usually impossible to tell exactly how many seconds pass between frames, and what happens between those frames. It is also sometimes hard to tell the tone and inflection of a given line of text, and certainly impossible to know exactly what a character was supposed to be thinking (unless a thought bubble is shown). All these factors require the reader to fill in the gaps using their own imagination. This can and will result in different interpretations of a page by different readers. And these interpretations might all be reasonably valid simultaneously, although some might have better support from other pages than others.

            I am consistently amazed at the ferocity with which you defend your own interpretation as The Truth and completely reject others as possibilities – even as the proponents of other interpretations freely admit the possibility of them being wrong and you being correct.

            Before I continue discussing the interpretations, let me clarify two things about my position:
            1) Whether Patrick decided to be hit by the mug, or only acknowledged that he did not have enough time/agility to avoid it, has no relevance to the fact that Alison throwing the gift at him was an abusive and condemnable act. Both cases also do not reflect negatively on Patrick in any way.
            2) Whether Patrick was entirely genuine with Alison, or whether everything he said was a manipulative lie, or whether it was anywhere in between, it is still a fact that Alison is the one who decided to throw the gift, and she still holds ultimate responsibility for the act. In this case, however, IF Patrick did manipulate her into violence intentionally, then that is ALSO condemnable.

            About whether or not Patrick was able to duck and chose not to: The most critical ambiguity here is how much time passed between the four action panels: Alison picking up the gift; Alison getting ready to throw; Patrick bowing his head; and the gift hitting Patrick’s face. Again, the medium simply does not tell this explicitly. It might all have happened in a split second, in which case he wouldn’t have really had time to react; or it might have been as long as 5 or 10 seconds, in which case Patrick would have plenty of time and warning to, say, duck and take cover behind the chair in the room. Other ambiguous points in the strip are the meaning of Patrick’s expression – is it conveying “I know you’re about to hit me and there’s nothing I can do” or “I know you’re about to hit me and accept your judgment”? It can be interpreted either way. A third ambiguity is in how much strength Alison put into the throw, and how much damaged it caused. We only see Patrick hurt in silhouette, and later with a little bit of blood on the back of his hand, so it is currently pretty impossible to say exactly how badly he was hurt. Even this current panel does not shed much light on the extent of the damage, but we might get some more information in the future. I think Alison was holding back some of her strength (since I think a throw with her full strength would have killed him), but even if she used regular-human strength the act is still condemnable.

            I think it is impossible to say with confidence which interpretation is correct. I think Alison’s muttering of “why couldn’t you just duck” implies that she believed Patrick had enough time to react – and theoretically she should have been able to determine this better than either of us, since she actually knows all the relevant details, such as how much time passed, how strong her throw was, etc.; and on the other hand, she might have thought he had enough time to duck and was simply wrong (e.g. due to him having below-average agility, or due to a miscalculation on her part amidst the emotional turmoil); and on the third hand, she might not have given any thought at all to whether or not he actually could have ducked, and was just trying to justify herself. Again, I think all interpretations valid until presented with further evidence.

            Regarding Patrick being a mastermind/Machiavellian villain or just a confused kid: This again seems to me to be entirely up to interpretation and speculation, until shown further evidence. It seems to me that your argument for him being only a confused kid is based mostly on things he himself told Alison, and mostly in their last conversation. And there’s the rub: IF he is a master manipulator, then nothing he said should be given absolute credence. Everything might be a calculated lie designed to disguise his true goals and motivation. The part about him not being able to read his own mind might be simply not true; and so on. And this would be pretty consistent with the strip – although the premise is arguably absurd (e.g. “all biodynamics are actually alien doppelgängers who think they are human” might also be consistent, but it doesn’t mean it is likely). I do not think it’s absurd, though – I think you are significantly downplaying Patrick’s previous stint at manipulation and masterminding. He created a fairly successful super-villain group and industrial empire, using only mind reading and manipulation. He demonstrated his ability and willingness to manipulate Alison in that same conversation just a few minutes earlier. I think it is well established that he has the skills to be such a mastermind; the question is mostly about whether he chooses to be one or not.

          • Arkone Axon

            Wow. A very, very, very long post about ambiguity and how all the interpretations are valid, and how I’m rejecting the positions of others… I’ll respond to that with a few points of my own.

            1: yes, I did in fact read your comment in its entirety. I read very quickly (an exceptional processing speed with textual information, a quirk of my own neurological makeup), and beyond that – your comments do deserve to be fully considered before responding. Just because I disagree doesn’t mean I’m rejecting them – and I’m not going after people who are open to alternatives, I’ve been going after the people who have rushed to defend Alison’s behavior and to condemn her victims. I’m talking about the people who, if you look at comments on previous pages, openly refer to Max as the worst character in the comic, even when people point out that others have committed far worse crimes. Other characters like… Patrick, to name one.

            2: If you look at some of my other comments on this page, I actually do acknowledge the possibility that Patrick chose to let himself be hit out of a sense of self-loathing and misery and confusion, the way a battered spouse might “allow” themselves to be hit rather than try to defend against the anticipated assault. What I’m categorically rejecting is the “blame the victim” crap that has repeatedly been expressed in these comments time and again. They were much worse with Max, but even with Patrick there’s still a sense of “they were asking for it – of course it was still wrong to do it, but they were asking for it” about these arguments.

            3: It is disingenuous to say that “we know nothing about Patrick because what we’ve seen in canon is questionable and there might be other things going on offscreen.” That’s just claiming the right to create concepts and ideas that only exist as an idle fantasy and then argue them as if they were valid and “alternative facts.” If it hasn’t been shown in the comic, it cannot be seriously considered as evidence.

            4: Patrick didn’t create a supervillain group using mind reading and manipulation. He created a supervillain group using mind reading and EMPATHY. He openly stated as much – and the loyalty of his allies (whom he only begrudgingly acknowledges could have been considered “henchmen” on account of how they deferred to his leadership) corroborates his claims. Cleaver certainly never said anything negative about Patrick during Alison’s visits – and she would have had plenty of time to confirm that Patrick was telling the truth about keeping a full medical team on staff to help Cleaver with his chronic conditions. It’s only logical to assume that he was telling the truth – until such time as the comic establishes that he was lying about anything. But as far as we know, he has been completely and totally honest about everything, from the moment Alison first crashed through his window only to be told that Mayhem was quitting. Until his track record of honest statements and truthful information can be seriously questioned, then it only makes sense to assume that he has been telling the truth even about things that contradict certain… theories.

          • Zinc

            I’m extremely tired (different timezone), so for now I’ll be uncharacteristically succint* 🙂

            Re: 1&2, being one person who has argued with you extensively before on these topics, I don’t feel your characterization of the people you are arguing with is completely on point. Your phrasing of “they were asking for it – of course it was still wrong to do it, but they were asking for it” is extremely different than anything I would wish to say or imply, and I think the same would be true for Tylikcat. I think you are choosing to read these comments via “victim-blaming” goggles, and therefore coming to wrong conclusions about the ideas that other posters are trying to convey.

            Maybe I was wrong in thinking you utterly rejected interpretations such as Patrick choosing to take the hit – I did see the comment you are referring to before writing, but it felt to me to be somewhat “too little, too late”. The reason I felt this way is that whenever this was possibility was raised, you would rush to label it as “victim blaming” and therefore deplorable, ignoring the issue of its possible veracity. IF Patrick did choose to take the hit, then what exactly is the harm in pointing out that he did so? How could pointing out an action Patrick made, without judgment on it and saying that it does not absolve Alison of responsibility, in any way be victim blaming? And if we accept it only as possible rather than certain – than still merely pointing out the possibility would not be victim blaming or deplorable. Since you repeatedly construed these arguments as victim blaming, and haven’t (as far as I’ve seen) acknowledged in previous discussions the possibility that what other people are saying might be a valid interpretation (regardless of whether it is victim-blaming or not), it certainly seemed to me as if you were simply rejecting the possibility.

            Re 3&4: You are right that empathy was his main tool towards his “henchmen”; but this is not the case for the way he treated everyone else. See this page for him saying this almost explicitly:

            http://strongfemaleprotagonist.com/issue-3/page-16-2/

            And there are actually plenty of cases where Patrick lied to Alison (or dishonestly omitted mentioning) about things involved with his retaking of Templar industries and other possibly nefarious enterprises. I don’t have the patience to look them up at the moment. I think most of them are in issue 3, some might be in issue 5. And as mentioned before, Patrick was being explicitly manipulative towards Alison for (at least) a small part of their conversation. So these claims are not completely without basis.

            *I wrote this before writing the rest; obviously, I was wrong…

          • Arkone Axon

            I’m confused… not by your latest post, but by the previous one. It’s awaiting moderation now. I’m not certain why it would be considered potentially inflammatory (at least, more so than comments that drip of misandrist rationalization of anything the protagonist does). That’s… odd. Just letting you know that someone flagged it or something. All I know is that it wasn’t me – I’ve seen genuinely offensive posts, including ones I’m about to mention, your posts have been extremely courteous in comparison.

            And it’s not that I’m reading these through “victim blaming goggles,” it’s that I’ve read numerous comments by others on previous pages where they blame the victim – to the point that they have openly condoned torture when it’s performed by the protagonist for a good cause (i.e. a cause they personally support, and therefore that makes it totally different). And minimized such actions as “a mere arm twist,” and even used incredibly offensive and insulting terminology such as “fee-fees,” which is apparently slang for “the feelings of someone I feel I can justify dehumanizing and demeaning.” (In other words, remember those biodynamics at the convention who were in tears at some points? Imagine pointing at them and laughing and sneering at anyone expecting you to care about their “fee-fees.”) And here I’m seeing more of the same – the insinuation that Patrick allowed himself to be hit with a mug as part of some scheme. It makes me think of the Simpsons episode when Bart dated Reverend Lovejoy’s daughter, and we got this memorable quote: “I guess it’s obvious what’s happened here. Bart Simpson has somehow managed to sneak his bedroom into my house.” Pause while everyone stares at him. “Well, come on! Use your imaginations!”

            As for Patrick and his lies… I have not seen any. At no point have I seen him explicitly lie about a thing. I have seen her confront him with information that he did not disclose to her in advance, at which point he confirmed that the information was correct and then explained why (in the case of the retaking of Templar industries, his motive was to control Paladin’s riskier experiments. Not saying he was justified, not saying he wasn’t stupid for not trying to reach a mutually satisfactory resolution with Paladin, just pointing out that he did have justification in his own mind). But at no point did I ever see him knowingly give her false information. And not telling her everything is not the same thing as lying, especially when she was already vaguely aware that he was rebuilding his financial empire AND using lethal measures to wrest control away from the usurpers.

            My point through all of this has been that Patrick is like Alison – a flawed and thoroughly fleshed out character, someone who is not perfect, someone who has made a lot of mistakes and done a lot of things to regret and repent, but who acted according to their own personal ideology of how to make the world a better place. He’s not a fiendishly manipulative and cleverly cruel imp; if he were, Alison would not have built up a friendship and budding romance over five years after their mutual retirements.

          • Zinc

            Yeah, this “awaiting moderation” thing happened before, I’m sure you recall; some of the comments were even removed completely. I believe you that you have nothing to do with it, although oddly I think it only happens in my replies to you. Might have something to do with the recurring topics of those messages, or maybe it’s someone stalking your comments… Whoever it is, I really wish they would stop. I do spend a large amount of time writing these comments, and it’s extremely annoying to see them removed.

            About the “victim blaming goggles”, I agree that these comments you’re describing now are horrible. But I’ve also seen you call “victim blaming” on comments that were far more tame. For example, someone might think Alison did a good thing in forcing Max, while not claiming that Max is a horrible person, that he deserved to be tortured, or that his feelings are unimportant. I think you might also be judging some comments too harshly based on previous comments by the same people and not only on virtue of their contents; which should be avoided, as those people might have changed their minds about the topics you take umbrage with. I know I’ve changed some of my opinions regarding Alison’s culpability in throwing the gift during the conversation as a result of some of these previous discussions.

            Re: Patrick lying – again, I urge you to reread issue 3. While going on the roadtrip, Patrick saw to some business, and avoided telling Alison, to the point of lying about his whereabouts. I think there were 2-3 instances of this. How big were those lies, and how much weight should be given them, is a matter of interpretation.

          • Arkone Axon

            I know what you mean about the annoyance – my previous comment was the second one typed up; Disqus crapped out on me. Normally I Control-A then Control-C the post before sending it, just in case that happens. It might be because of the sheer LENGTH of the comments, hitting some trigger to guard against trolling (I’ve seen forums in the past that had a problem with people copy/pasting people’s entire posts with a insulting little reply at the bottom, just to be extra troll-ish)? I don’t know.

            Anyway, the victim blaming… I’m not talking about the people who claimed that what Alison did was “regrettable but necessary.” I’m talking about the ones who sneered about “freaking fee-fees.” I’m talking about the ones who called him evil and horrible because he “was willing to murder millions of people just to spite Alison.” I’m talking about the ones who kept restating the primitive and dangerous attitude of “Any cause I personally believe in is worth any price, especially prices paid by others, and if you refuse to help then you are not just mistaken but EVIL and deserve to be stripped of resources and tortured because you are EVIL for not sharing my beliefs!” The ones who couldn’t even reply with a reiteration of said attitude without adding personal insults in their responses, because it was so important to emphasize “you are stupid and evil for disagreeing with me and therefore do not deserve respect, only mockery and contempt.”

            I’ve reread issue three a few times while arguing. And… no, not telling her where he was going was not “lying,” unless she had established herself as his probation officer, keeping an eye on the former supervillain. Which would have been a fairly sensible act on her part – and one she most clearly did not take. They were just friends, and you don’t have to share everything with someone. My question to you now is: Can you provide an example of Patrick making a specific statement in which he presented facts that were later canonically confirmed as being false? Not a lie of omission, not a “Bush lied, men died” example of him restating incorrect information that he himself believed to be true, but an actual example of him saying “I know this information is untrue, but I’m claiming that it is true in order to deceive you?”

          • Zinc

            I reread issue 3 myself now. I had conflated two scenes a bit, there was actually only one instance where he lied to Alison about his activities. We see him here (and on the next page) meeting and doing business between Templar and the Chinese:
            http://strongfemaleprotagonist.com/issue-3/page-36-2/
            About which he tells Alison he was “got trapped in a conference call”:
            http://strongfemaleprotagonist.com/issue-3/page-38-2/
            Which is not an entirely truthful account of what happened. Before attending the meeting, he only told Alison he would go check them into the hotel, and she probably assumed that’s where the conference call took place, not at some shady harbor. The deal was apparently in order to obtain some important information regarding the conspiracy, which probably isn’t nefarious in itself; but we don’t know what Templar provided their partners.

            A second possibly misleading statement was Patrick’s claim for a better way here:
            http://strongfemaleprotagonist.com/issue-3/page-67/
            As we find out in their final conversation in issue 5, what Patrick did with that information was to kill everyone involved in the attack, because it amused him:
            http://strongfemaleprotagonist.com/issue-5/page-107/
            Now, murder was also what was on Alison’s mind at the time, so maybe he really just meant “a better way to kill them all without bad press”, but I think it’s unreasonable to assume that’s what Alison would have understood (and he would know what Alison understood). And anyway she soon changed her mind about killing everyone there, after Feral begged her not to.

          • Arkone Axon

            Okay… the “trapped in a conference call” is either a joking euphemism or a “white lie,” and was issued in response to her description of being “locked in mortal combat with the most annoying person in the world.” I do not think that Alison was lying there either – she might not have been in a fight to the death, and her description of the guy is opinionated at best, but she wasn’t exactly trying to hide what she was doing. She was doing her own thing and wanted to meet up with him. He did the same.

            The claim for a better way… no, it’s pretty reasonable to assume that what he was talking about was “a better way to achieve justice for what has just happened here.” Patrick was clearly every bit as pissed about what had just happened as Alison – that bastard terrorist waltzed into a surgery room and murdered a bunch of very intelligent and decent people in an attempted assassination of a penitent retired vigilante who was trying to do some good and make up for her crimes. Alison had just killed the hitman and was ready to commit mass murder of the entire crowd… Patrick offered her a better way. But Alison does NOT ascribe to the “no killing” rule of gold and silver age comic books; she’s killed innocent bystanders (and regrets it), so she has no problems with capital punishment. Her rejection of Moonshadow’s murder-spree was less because “killing is wrong” and more because Moonshadow was clearly not actually doing anything useful – and wasn’t really trying to, either; Mary was simply attempting to justify her actions like any other serial killer.

            In any case… the latter example is a “lie of ommission,” in that he didn’t immediately state “I’m going to track down and murder these people you wanted to murder publicly, which will cause far less problems and be more effective than your own intended methods.” The former isn’t even a lie, more of a silly joke in response to one sent by his friend. Alison is most definitely a very truthful person, and I do not think she was lying there. Neither was Patrick. You still have yet to provide an example of Patrick advancing a blatant falsehood as truth. And unless you can provide an actual example of him declaring “this information is truth” when he knows it to be false, then his integrity stands. And, by extension, his other statements should be assumed to be truthful as well.

            (Kind of like with Lucy from the first book in the “Chronicles of Narnia” series. Where the professor points out that just because they don’t want to believe her statements, doesn’t mean that she’s lying – not if she’s always been the truthful one when compared to her brother)

          • Zinc

            Yeah, I agree that these aren’t amazing examples of lies. I remembered the “conference call” as being a bit bigger than that – I had it mixed up with a scene earlier in the issue, where Alison texts him while he is sitting in some government hearing. I concede that there’s probably no instance of him having told a major lie in the comic (I have a tingling that there might have been in issue 5, outside of their final conversation, but that issue is super long and I don’t want to dig through it right now).

            I disagree that “got trapped in a conference call” is on the same level as “mortal combat with the most annoying person on earth” – the latter is clearly a joke (e.g. because if she really were engaged in mortal combat, she wouldn’t have time to text), the former could well be literal. Nothing in the tone of his reply implies that he is continuing with her tongue-in-cheekiness. Second, Patrick knew exactly where she was regardless of the content of the message – at the hospital, where he left her. Alison had no idea of his whereabouts – as far as she knew, he was at the hotel, and him being in a conference call fits with that assumption. Now, he doesn’t really owe Alison a report of his whereabouts, and Alison never asked him explicitly, so he hadn’t lied forthright. He still hid that from her, and gave her misleading information about his activities – yes, technically one could claim that he participated in something similar to a conference call, but that wouldn’t be what Alison would assume it meant, which is the definition of misleading. This misdirection might be entirely minor (just something he didn’t feel like mentioning but would have told her if she asked) or major (if he really didn’t want her to know that Templar is dealing with the Harmony Council). Though I concede that unless it is ever mentioned again in the comic in the future, it is probably minor.

            About the sign, yes, I agree that “a better way to achieve justice” is a reasonable interpretation. But while Alison is not above killing when necessary or enraged, she still does not usually consider it “justice”, unlike Patrick. And Patrick probably knows that, being intimately familiar with her mind. So, it is still somewhat misleading — Although it is worth mentioning that when Patrick gave Alison his “villain monologue”, she didn’t say anything, good or bad, about him killing those people, so it might not have shocked her that badly – or maybe she had already expected that. It wasn’t really a secret that Patrick sees nothing wrong with killing undesirables, he freely declares it even in issue 3, e.g. in the third panel here:

            http://strongfemaleprotagonist.com/issue-3/649/

          • Arkone Axon

            That sounds like a great deal of nitpicking over how one might possibly construe that his words might possibly have been less than honest. Which goes back to my original point: that Patrick has yet to have been caught in an actual lie, and therefore it is reasonable and fair to assume that he is honest about all his statements until proven otherwise.

            Not saying he hasn’t done some pretty horrible stuff, mind. Just that one thing he hasn’t done is lie.

          • Zorae42

            After being the victim of one too many forum posts/comments being lost after having the page crap out/accidentally reload, I usually type mine up in notepad/word and then copy paste it in when I’m done (and clear/close it when everything goes through).

    • palmvos

      The artist may not have considered this when drawing so I may be over-thinking this. in the panel where the box is shown hitting Patrick, it is still a box. it also does not appear to have changed its trajectory much since striking. both argue for a glancing blow. (that corner strike idea) unfortunately it also argues for significant velocity. probably not supersonic as the box would likely disintegrate from the air impact itself. if the mug shattered on Patrick’s face (this is what would be required for a ‘broken glass’ comparison’)- there should be no box shown beyond him. it would be a fair number of pieces going everywhere. I think the mug shattered on impact with the wall/floor and remained largely in the box. as a lifelong Lego nut who has done crash testing (long story) I can say that if the mug was not contained in the remains of the box- Patrick would have a very hard time finding all the pieces.
      so I would expect something like a single strike on Patrick’s face. I also do not expect jaw shattering, tooth loss, etc. remember that facial cuts bleed profusely relative to the rest of the body. (think about what the mechanism behind blushing is and you’ll see why)
      also, again I may be overthinking this. but if he suffered a wound that required reconstructive surgery and or jaw setting, Patrick would have a very hard time explaining how he got injured. and oh yes he does have to- it was in his office not his home that this happened. replacing the desk he might be able to do without too much trouble but OSHA demands to know about workplace injuries even in an office setting and something that mandated an ambulance show up and major cleanup afterwards would be hard to hide. also, this happened while all those scientists were sleeping in the room. the room they weren’t supposed to be in. does anyone believe that if we had a mug shatter on a wall, floor, or Patrick’s face and not be relatively contained that one or more pieces would not be embedded in one of the other guests in the room? in fact Murphy would require it.

      • Tylikcat

        Whatever happened, Patrick was intact enough to text Alison and be trying to repair the mug* a few minutes later. So I’d be thinking no ambulance. And, especially considering the hour, probably no OSHA report, even if he did go to a hospital (though he’s Patrick, so he probably has a private doctor on staff. Mind you, your OSHA report idea is hilarious.) He was bleeding, but yeah, head wounds generally.**

        (OTOH, people can have stupid priorities after being injured.)

        * badly, using the wrong kind of glue… (but hell, my housemate made that same mistake when he was at least a dozen years older than Patrick.)
        ** So there’s this really funny story about scalp auto-surgery…

      • Arkone Axon

        1: that mug held incredible sentimental value – it was a Looney Tunes mug, bought for the woman who was in love with him and whom he might very well have had similar feelings for. The woman who introduced him to Looney Tunes (and came closer to killing him by doing so than by punching robots; he damn near had a heart attack from laughter and joy). A mug which she then shattered against his face. He’s probably not thinking at his best – “mind reader” and “super genius” are not necessarily the same thing. David Xanatos would have thought circles around this kid.

        2: It was in his office. In a building filled with loyal allies who would do… damn near anything for him. OSHA wouldn’t be hearing about this incident for the same reason that they wouldn’t be hearing about the sleeping scientists.

    • Stephanie Gertsch

      I looked at the page again, and I agree that the art is different in those panels than in any of the other depictions of Allison’s violence up to that point. When we see her throwing him across the room or grabbing him in anger, there is no panel leading up to the action. We just see it happening.

      By contrast, her throwing the cup takes place across three panels. One where she picks the cup up (blue background), one where she decides to throw it (red background), and then one of Patrick’s bowed head. I agree with the reading that he was expecting the blow.

      If anything that makes Allison seem like more of a dick, because she clearly deliberated over whether or not to throw it, and because she was hurting someone who was already beaten.

      But at least Patrick realized in this scene that A) the person who disposed of the biodynamics is unreadable and unfindable to him for some mysterious reason and B) he can’t read his own mind. Whatever he’s doing now is the result of putting two and two together.

      • Tylikcat

        I don’t know about unreadable and unfindable. Or at least unreadable. (I expect there’s a distance limitation to his telepathy.) Realizing what an emotional fuckwit he is is quite enough?

        But yeah, Alison is being a dick. And… it’s interesting, because she has a perfect chance there to flounce off in possession of the moral high ground – he really is beaten. And she knows it. And she throws the gift at him instead.

        • Arkone Axon

          That’s… actually a good way to look at it. One I hadn’t thought about. The idea that Patrick knew it was coming and was too miserable and conflicted to move his body. And yeah, Alison was horrible there – she took his gift and damaged him with it.

  • Tylikcat

    I’ve held off asking this for a while, because there is so much fraught about the subject it’s hard to ask a straightforward question about it. (I think I’m going to do this as a pair of posts, just to help with the fraught part. If you want to talk about non-practical issues, go to the other, thanks.) Also, since most of my personal sources about long term scarring are from my own experience, there will be no end of facepalm on my part.

    But… are we assuming that Alison was using super power when throwing that mug at Patrick? (As opposed to throwing it ordinarily hard – say, nice hard baseball pitch levels of hard.) Because a mug in a cardboard box, presumably with some about of padding material for protection, isn’t a great missile when it come to actually maiming someone. There is padding on your face*. There is padding around the mug. I have had… well, a heavy hand blown drinking glass thrown at my head, actually.** It became a much more dangerous object after it broken and could be used as shards. (More on that later, actually. I almost wish I could excuse this with alcohol?) I have been hit int he face by other objects of similar weight at similar velocities as that glass, though – just usually in more structured settings. The picture seems to show the package and the mug coming apart after impact, but… Well, the physics strike me weird, even assuming a lot of force, so I will take it as an artistic representation.

    Okay, this gets to the next bit – how hard did it hit, and was what force that was applied more cutting or more bludgeoning? A wrapped box, especially with some padding inside of it isn’t going to break open easily. Even if applied with a lot of force, if Patrick is conscious enough to be texting Alison and trying to mend the mug a few minutes later, I’d expect the broken edge of the mug (if they’re even broken in the initial impact with his head rather than the floor) to be blunted significantly. Corners on the box may well pose a greater threat.

    OMG, I’m such a pedant. (I just deleted a bunch of comparisons about going through windows. My sister has experience in this area.)

    So, um, how badly to other people scar? I know I heal scars well, but I’ve been feeling like maybe I take this a bit for granted. I do incredibly stupid things, I get scars, after a few years, they become invisible. (This probably does not serve a sufficient educational purpose.) The spot from where I broke my cheekbone and got my glasses slammed into my face on one side, which looked vicious at the time, and I though would be quite permanently piratical, was gone in about four years. I branded myself twenty-some years ago*** on each arm, after some years decided to get tattoos around them (the brands were pretty harsh scars, admittedly, as expected)… and now without the tattoos I couldn’t find them. Oh, and the deep scrapes left by the shards of the aforementioned glass healed quickly and completely, and thank heavens, because that would have just been embarrassing. (Look, really, I’m a mild mannered neurobiologist and Chen instructor. Stuff just happens sometimes.) Only the recent surgical scar is still visible, and I have to point it out to folks – I figure a few more years. I have one on my hand from where it was pushed into a scroll saw (back in middle school) and one from a hiking accident on my thigh, those are the only ones you can see that are more than ten years old. (And I am omitting the overwhelming majority of dumbass potentially scarring shit.)

    But I know there’s variance. I have a friend who tends to get keloid scars. My sister scarred after going through that window – mostly from the glass she landed in – and some years later she still had them. (I honestl haven’t had the heart to ask her, it’s a bit of a touchy subject.)

    So… what are folks experiences with facial scarring? This incident with my glasses and cheekbone was probably the most violent thing with my face in recent-ish memory. My instinct is kind of to roll my eyes and shrug, except I also know people who have lasting scars from, well, all kind of things.

    This is not talking about the ethics of the situation, just the actual injury. For the folks who are talking maiming – what exactly do you expect? Scarring? Broken facial bones? Loss of an eye?

    * Maybe not a lot, it depends on the face, but this is important – this is why it’s so much easier to break a glass on a granite counter top than a wood one, or even a stainless steel one. Tiny amounts of give are important. Even living bone has a fair bit of give. Facial sinuses have give.
    ** Unlike Patrick, I ducked, and it shattered on the wall behind me. I really liked that glass, too.
    *** A number of people close to me died that week. It seemed like a good idea at the time?

    • Weatherheight

      I generally heal scars pretty quickly, unless they are very deep – say the scar on my knee (left a divot in that kneecap and required.. 16 stitches, I think), but it’s practically invisible after almost 40 years.

      Then there’s the scar I got in 2002 when I reflexively grabbed the electric planer I had just dropped – that one is still with me, but it’s much smaller than it was and I can now feel things on that index finger.

      Folks, when the electric tool begins to fall, trust me – let it fall.

      • Tylikcat

        Oh dear, I am reminded in my self inflicted lesson in what not to do while blacksmithing. (While I had a burn to a large area of my hand it was astoundingly shallow, as I quickly realized my mistake, dropped the hot piece of metal, and stuck my hand in a bucket. So, really, more of a near miss, and I’ve done worse things in the wood burning brick oven.)

        It seems to be less depth than ugliness? The two I have, one was deep, one shallow (well, there’s just not that much skin there) but in both cases the flesh was really torn up -and in both I have tiny thin straight scars left.

    • cphoenix

      When I was probably about 10, a screwdriver slipped and went into my palm. It wasn’t worth more than a bandaid at the time – but the scar was visible for several decades.

      In my early 20’s a piece of brittle wood that I was breaking rebounded and cut my thumb. It was a simple slice. I probably should have gotten stitches, but didn’t; IIRC the skin was numb “downstream” of the cut for a few months, but it healed cleanly. I can still see the scar, but barely.

      In my early 30’s I cut my other thumb on a piece of glass. Again, I probably should have gotten stitches, but again it healed cleanly; but over a decade later, the scar is still pretty easy to spot.

      I’ve seen pictures of keloids, and these scars don’t look like keloids. They’re just lines in the skin.

      I’ve read that likelihood of keloids is correlated with skin color, so I’ll mention that my ancestry is approximately 3/4 English and 1/4 German.

      • Tylikcat

        Irish / German* / Belgian / Spanish …and them some little bits of English and Italian, that I know of. But knowing recent family history, I don’t trust the more distant genealogy to be accurate to anything other than matriline, either. But hell, of the three of us full siblings who survived to adulthood, I have the darkest hair and most olive skin, my brother is somewhere in the middle, and my sister was born with blond hair, blue eyes and fair skin… and her skin texture is a lot different. (Which, among other things means she’s showing more visible signs of aging, even though she’s seven years younger. For that matter, so is my brother, though in his case there are probably some lifestyle aspects as well. Of course, I have everyone beat on going grey.) Because we’re mutts.

        I think the skin texture is correlated with the scarring?

        * (South-west German, against the French boarder – that side of the family tends strongly towards dark hair, olive skin and distinctive bone structure and eyebrows. They came over in the nineteenth century – fleeing from misdeeds – but they’d suck as Aryans. Though excel as pompous assholes. See? It’s my heritage.)

      • Oddly enough, I almost cut the tip of my finger off with a chisel at 15, right down to and around the bone. The scar was invisible by 23 (at the latest). I suppose that some people simply heal cuts and abrasions faster than others.

        • Tylikcat

          I realized that I forgot my ex-husband very prominent forehead scar, from a car accident in high school. Apparently is started out very narrow, and grew wider over time. It didn’t noticeably fade.

  • Abel Undercity

    Alison shouldn’t have had that rarebit just before bedtime.

  • Oracle

    What’s the significance of the gold tooth?

    Greed? Vanity? A hole in Alison’s invincibility? A sign of something rotting beneath a gilded surface?

    • Mechwarrior

      A sign that she’s not so different from Gurwara .

  • Arklyte

    Well, on those shards we see that his right eye is ok too… yes?

  • Preacher John

    Wait, wait, wait – is Gurwara actually Allison’s Tyler Durden / Jimminy Cricket / Devil-On-The-Shoulder!? Made temporarily flesh through the projection of her subconscious via an as yet consciously unacknowledged power!?

  • Sage Catharsis

    Nope this doesn’t express that the protagonist of this webcomic comic has been over shadowed by a side character with a little wear and tear.
    Still waiting to be rescued by my Princess Charming
    https://nytyly.bandcamp.com/