SFP

Hey, I have a small content warning for the next part of this chapter – click to see it. It’s slightly spoiler-y so please don’t discuss in the comments.

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  • Who is this strange man who more than likely does not have a real big dad?

    • Whoever he is, I think that he tried to contact Clevin.

  • So she is having flashbacks?

  • Sara Finn

    With the dark hair and the sharp angled cheek bones that goes into the flat chin, is it possible that this is a very very rundown Menace?

    • Kid Chaos

      Nope; not a chance. A new player has appeared… 👿

      • Weatherheight

        I wonder if this is somehow related to the Asian / Chinese consortium with whom Patrick was dealing…

        • Tylikcat

          If so, standards of dress have deteriorated greatly.

          (BTW, they’re my vote for the harmony group, though I realize a lot of people put that elsewhere.)

          • Weatherheight

            I’m praying this is the guy they don’t talk about – the one person in every organization that they really need but really, really wish they didn’t need. 😀

  • Sean Nathaniel Fisk

    Patrick… has seen better days.

    • Walter

      I don’t think this is him. His profile picture has a scar under his eye, right?

      • moolan

        That doesn’t look like a scar in his profile picture; it looks more like his cheekbone. Also, when I compare the last panel on this page to a similar angle of Patrick in Chapter 5, he has a similar facial strucuture, nose, and eyebrows…okay, I’m way too into this, sorry.

        • Walter

          You could be right. It would be much more dramatically appropriate if it was Patrick as opposed to some rando.

      • Carla

        I tweeted at Molly about it and she verified that it is Patrick.

    • SmilingCorpse

      Conspiracy hunting will do that to you.

    • Jovial Contrarian

      Waaaaait, it IS Patrick! I thought it was “Gurwara”. Or even better yet, A TOTAL STRANGER! THE MOST SHOCKING TWIST OF ALL!

  • AdamBombTV

    Really thought Ali was going through Cal’s phone in the second panel, was about to get on my high horse about invasion of privacy and everything… where am I going to aim this self righteous tirade now?

    • Kid Chaos

      She didn’t even go through his phone??? How honorable; stupid, but honorable. 😁

    • Tylikcat

      I was going to say “Clevin doesn’t even lock his phone?”

      …but actually, I can kind of imagine that.

      • I don’t lock my phone either…. entering a passcode every time you have to check email is kinda maddening. Of course I keep my phone on me or in arm’s reach 23-ish hours a day.

        • Tylikcat

          Oh, I hear you. I put it away for sitting (zazen sitting) and bathing, but otherwise, its on or next to me. I joke that if I don’t have teh internets in my pockets, I get twitchy. I do lock my screen, but, I’m like that.

        • Huttj509

          I like my finger scanner. Remembered to put in multiple fingers on each hand for variable convenience (holding phone in left hand? No problem, even if right is my normal supporting hand).

      • Zorae42

        He might, but if you’re spending time with someone a lot it’s not unreasonable to give them the code. Especially if you don’t keep it on you all the time and aren’t there to unlock it for them.

        • Tylikcat

          *blink*

          Okay, that totally does make sense. I tend to lock and encrypt most of my devices, because I’m a bit on the security conscious side.

          And… my ex tended to be intrusive. He threw a fit about not having access to my email. He had access to my home desktop for emergencies, and abused it. Until I realized what he was doing and yanked his account. Keep in mind, he has his own office and own machine. (Hell, when I left him, he threw a fit about not getting a key to my new place.) I’ve tended to habitually lock things down ever since, and I haven’t been in a relationship where it really came up.

          • Zorae42

            That sucks that you were in a relationship like that.

            It’s sometimes convenient for your significant other to be able to access your phone. Like if you’re driving and get an important text, then they can safely answer it for you. Or how I have the number for Chinese takeout and he doesn’t (he moved in with me), so he just uses my phone to place the order if I’m busy. I trust him not to abuse my trust and I don’t go through his phone without permission either.

            Although I completely understand not wanting to give people access after going through something like that.

          • Susan Smith

            I laughed at this sub-thread about locking phones. But one reason to lock was missing! Don’t any of you have small children around? 😉

          • Huttj509

            Actually that’s why a friend of mine specifically doesn’t lock his phone.

            See, it’s required that you always be able to call 911 without unlocking a phone, in case of emergency. His phone model had this as a button on the lock screen.

            He’d rather babby-dial his boss than emergency services.

          • Tylikcat

            Mostly it wasn’t horrific and traumatizing, as much as inexplicable and frustrating, at the time. And… whoa, I just went down the rabbit hole of recollection TL;DR, you know those “10 signs you’re in an abusive relationship” lists? It would’ve been like that, except he was a mostly resistible force, and I’m a fairly immovable object. (But I kept thinking that we could just be reasonable and talk things out. More stubbornness than optimism.)

            I thought the email stuff was a cultural difference – I’d been on email for fifteen years at that point, him for only a few. So I shrugged and said “Nope, that really doesn’t work for me.” I had a lot of email correspondence, and had a lot of other people’s secrets. But I didn’t get mad. He sulked, but that was that. (Well, it wasn’t, but I thought it was at the time.)

          • Trying to imagine a culture in which having routine access to your partner’s email was normal, and failing (well, outside of the NSA/GCHQ, where hack their password probably comes under bedroom games for two).

          • M. Alan Thomas II

            I’m like you on the security-conscious end of things. My wife tells me the passcode to her phone when I need something on it (like one game I like that only runs on iOS), but she knows I’ll forget it because I have to keep asking. 😛 She doesn’t have the long password to mine—which I can still type in just a few seconds by reflex—so she could never be coerced into turning it over to the security state (and it’s got nothing of interest on it anyway).

            I think it’s important for both of us to have private spaces somewhere online, though. Like, sometimes you just have to vent about the other person without wanting to put pressure on them because it’s not about anything serious, or whatever. If we couldn’t trust each other, it wouldn’t be a good relationship.

          • Tylikcat

            And friends who love you both, who can give you sane feedback without it being some kind of taking sides thing 🙂

      • Weatherheight

        I don’t lock mine – nothing at all on there of worth (except my contacts – which every fricking app now seems to access for no fricking reason and never actually asks and is out there already without my actual permission).

        I don’t store any sensitive data (cc#s, passwords, and so on) on the phone.
        My laptop? Yeah, that’s a whole other story.

      • Walter

        He is a beautiful cinnamon role.

    • Arkone Axon

      I don’t care if my partner checks my e-mail or looks at my PMs or whatnot. And that goes both ways. Then again, they’re also my BUSINESS partner, so whatever information we have is extremely important to us both. Also, if I didn’t trust them in the first place, why would I risk falling asleep in their presence?

      (When we first met they were in the tail end of a very bad and abusive relationship. One that involved a great deal of infidelity. I said up front, “I don’t believe in monogamy. But I DO believe in being faithful. I will never lie to you or hide things from you.”)

      • Lisa Izo

        Honestly, I never would do that to a guy I date. Horrible invasion of privacy. I know friends who have done it and it’s just really clingy, distrustful, and annoying to listen to them. Especially if they don’t even have a reason to NOT trust the guy. I dunno. I like thinking the best about someone with whom I’d be in a relationship.

        • Arkone Axon

          Well, in our case our offices are separated by a single wall and we’re constantly going back and forth between them to look at each other’s screens, or to talk, or to bring in something to eat or drink… we’re not doing it because we don’t trust each other, we’re doing it because that’s our established relationship, and we’re doing it openly and without a fuss. No sneaking around about it. The only time we ever had a fight about it was when they changed my phone’s wallpaper to something they thought looked cute, without even bothering to ask first.

          (And yes, they’ve seen me looking at NSFW links. And they have indeed commented – just today they commented: “Shut down some of those tabs, you’re hogging all the bandwidth!” :p )

  • Lysiuj

    Thanks for the content warning Molly! Everyone, you should consider clicking on the link below the page if you didn’t notice it.

    • Bo Lindbergh

      Google Docs not supporting this version of Firefox isn’t much of a spoiler.

      • Lysiuj

        heh

      • That’s weird, I think it’s supposed to? Are you running an old Firefox or something? I use 52.2.0 on Linux and it worked fine…

  • BadExampleMan

    Honestly, I don’t see what’s so spoilery. We’ve always suspected the Duck was the evil mastermind behind everything.

    • Dean

      It was the one-winged duck!!!

    • Weatherheight

      I dunno – the orbital defense lasers kind of caught me off guard.

    • The Duck From issue 6 p.112

      I miss y’all too.

  • ryan almazan

    oh my god Patrick!!!???

    • No, this is Patri—wait, damn, the one time I wanted to use the meme…

  • Blub Blub

    looks a bit like a young arjun gurwara

    • Gurwara’s skin tone (RGB): 175, 143, 120
      Patrick’s skin tone (RGB): 237, 191, 166

      Patrick’s much pinker than Gurwara.

      (Picked from normally lit spots of skin, from this image of Patrick and a random image of Gurwara).

  • Lostman

    Shouldn’t his face be scared to heck?

    • He got hit in the face with a mug, which broke rather than shattering. That pretty much says it was thrown at human velocities, rather than the force Alison could exert if she wanted to. (And even then I’m not sure the mug could effectively deliver that force. It might have broken his cheekbone, or jaw, but any scarring shouldn’t be any worse than being hit by a thrown glass in a bar fight. And we know Patrick was well enough to try glueing the mug back together shortly afterwards.

      OTOH it looks like the psychological damage may be worse.

      OTGH that’s a new development, Patrick was well enough to send her the data on Max.

      • Tylikcat

        If that’s Patrick?

        Though, an increase in sensitivity (along the lines of other people’s powers increasing) might suck all to hell for Patrick.

        • SmilingCorpse

          Tell me about it. If he wasn’t able to tune it in and out as he pleases, being in a highly populated area would be incredibly painful and/or maddening.

          • Tylikcat

            That happens on a couple of levels – there’s the sensitivity itself, and then there’s the brain’s ability to filter out irrelevant information. (Which, y’know, not everyone has.)

          • SmilingCorpse

            Like in that Buffy episode. Where it starts out manageable and possibly beneficial (Like how most of the episodes start), then ramps up to the point where it’s like everyone is screaming in Buffy’s ear all at once (except for the whisper, oddly enough).

          • Sensory hypersensitivity in the Autism Spectrum might be a workable parallel. It can easily make environments intolerable for people, and Patrick’s sensitivity means he can’t escape by fleeing the location/

          • Tylikcat

            I was thinking low latent inhibition, which I think might be more specific.

            Honestly, thinking of some of what Patrick’s pulled off before, and that he’s an involuntary telepath, you could make an argument that this has been the case for him for some time, but that he’s in the class of people who are bright enough to turn this to their advantage. But this might be exceeding even his threshold.

          • Interesting, I’d not come across LLI before. And it would be a particular problem for Patrick, who can’t cut out the stimulus, not even in a darkened, soundproof room.

          • Tylikcat

            Whoa, check my assumptions there. I was first introduced to the concept in a kind of life changing way by Bear back on the Shadow Unit fora. I mean, it only makes sense that not every person read every conversation, just that particular one made such an impression…

            (We were talking about Chaz and his memory in general, and I was bitching about my advisor, who kept insisting that I was eidetic, and dammit, that was ridiculous…! And, um, one thing led to another. Long term, it’s been incredibly useful. Heck, short term it was useful. And I ended up reading a bunch of research I probably wouldn’t have otherwise. But I thought I was there for lighthearted community and entertainment, not major alteration to how I thought of myself.)

          • I can imagine.

            I’m not sure I was there for that conversation, I dropped out of Shadow Unit hard, probably because of gabapentin* amplifying my inability to deal with the stress of the storytelling (it was roughly contemporaneous with losing Trollcatz).

            OTOH gabapentin also seems to have done a number on my memory, which, while not eidetic, looked a lot like it on occasion, so my memory around then may not be reliable.

            OTGH that’s possibly another reason to think I didn”t see it, it sounds like the kind of thing to make me go WELP! and react the way you did, which should have had ongoing impacts that should have superceded what was going on with gabapentin.

            It’s certainly interesting, I’m not sure I fit the pattern precisely, but an intermittently firing variation would explain why I sometimes get swallowed down and down and down into a whirlpool of thought about quite everyday stuff.

            *TLDR version, not my choice, and took me a year to realise what it was doing to me.

        • Looks like Patrick to me, and the narrative works. And yeah, the last thing Patrick needs is stronger powers.

    • JeffH

      You are taking the “Alison is the most horrible person to ever to exist in literature” community of this comment section too seriously.

      Folks have been using terms like “maimed” in the comments to emphasize their assertion of Al’s horribleness, but there little in the comic that justifies that, and some that argues against it (including the fact that he was picking up the pieces of the mug after the impact instead of dialing 911, or that she’s lived most of her life with superpowers and doesn’t have a [shown] history of accidentally maiming people during regular encounters).

      Probably best not to internalize their fan-fiction/imagined scenes and wait for Molly and Brendan to show us what really happens.

      • Lostman

        I meant scars.

        • Tylikcat

          Maybe? I mean, it was even in a box. (But I’m still back at “Is this supposed to be Patrick? Because that doesn’t look like his bone structure, though his face is turned down, so maybe it’s just the angle?)

      • Arkone Axon

        Actually, she has a very long history of accidentally causing traumatic injuries – she had a professor who hated her guts specifically because she killed his husband as collateral damage during a fight against one of Menace’s giant robots. She’s even screamed at Cleaver about how she feels she deserves a medal and a parade every day she doesn’t kill or maim someone by accident – and that she wouldn’t have gotten said parade every day of every year.

        We don’t think she’s “the most horrible person to ever exist in literature,” or (as I think you meant to say) “the most horrible protagonist to ever exist in literature.” I can think of at least a dozen examples of worse protagonists (Anita Blake, Bella from “Twilight,” Christian Grey, that horrible vapid… thing, from “Sex and the City,” the Wonder Woman from the 2011 TV pilot that was so unlikeable…). Of course every single one of those characters was emphatic of how RIGHT they were, how morally correct – to the point that disagreeing with them was a horrible crime in itself.

        By contrast Alison herself has acknowledged that she has done bad things and made huge mistakes. The entire POINT of the comic is that years prior she removed her mask on live television after calling her entire superheroic career into question, and has been struggling for answers ever since. She’s struggled, she’s stumbled, she’s made mistakes. We’re disgusted with some of her behavior not because we don’t like her, but because we know she’s capable of being BETTER than that.

        • JeffH

          Well, I did say, “… during regular encounters,” and I think giant robots probably don’t meet that description.

          Again, from her conversation with Cleaver, we can spin our own stories about horrible things she could conceivably have done, but there isn’t any evidence in the comic, beyond one incident with a mug, of her hurting people with her superpowers in normal, day to day situations.

          I agree that a huge part of SFP’s appeal is that Alison isn’t a Mary Sue, and that her mistakes and struggles are what actually make her a great character. I wish the comments section would be less filled with disgust and contempt for the human imperfections and questionable decisions that make her so interesting.

          • Arkone Axon

            She has regularly shown a lack of regard – a lack of empathy, if you will – for others. Her weakness is in fact one of the worst possible failings anyone can have: a penchant for dismissing those we disagree with as being evil, contemptible, and unworthy of sympathy, compassion, or basic rights and dignity.

            Hell, look at the people commenting here. Even the “fuck Max” crowd who insist that he was a horrible horrible person for not rushing to risk everything to do what Alison demanded are coming from a position of wanting to do the right thing. To them, the important thing is that Max could have helped Feral and thousands of others. I feel that they’re wrong for both wanting to conscript Max’s services and violate his consent, as well as their emulating Alison’s penchant by demonizing Max for not sharing their view on the situation, but the fact remains: they BELIEVE that their position is the right one. Just as I believe that mine is the correct one.

            The reason why I am so vitriolically opposed to their position (and why I was so horrified by Alison’s behavior and how it is a logical progression of her previous actions and statements) is because of that antithesis of tolerance for opposing viewpoints. “You disagree with me and do not wish to support my cause. You are so… so… EVIL! You deserve no mercy and will receive none!”

            Seriously, think about the worst groups plaguing the United States today. And I don’t have to ask what political position you hold – because whether you’re thinking about Antifa attacking anyone they think might have voted for Trump and Richard Dawkins condescendingly attacking religion, or fundamentalists wanting to arrest women who have abortions and white supremacists attacking anyone who looks like they might be Muslim, you’re thinking about groups whose official platform is “we’re morally correct and that gives us the right to do whatever it takes, and you’re wrong and that means you belong in the Monster Manual with the alignment listed as “always Chaotic Evil.”

            Her struggle to overcome that flaw, that lack of empathy for those she disagrees with, is OUR struggle. The one we all need to overcome – because otherwise we’re going to end up like (and I say this while wincing because yes I am going there)… like ISIS. A group that claims that we are morally correct and justified… while doing truly horrible, horrible things in the name of our greater good.

          • Weatherheight

            The hardest trick in life is trying to live up to your own moral standards while simultaneously not requiring others to adhere to those same standards…
            And not feeling superior to those others because of it.

            “Well, isn’t that special?” from Dana Carvey was so on the nose that it was both funny and infuriating at the same time.

          • Xin

            Thank you for an incredibly well-written post for everyone.

            I agree.

          • Xin

            To attempt a slightly more coherent response to this post, I think that “self-esteem” is at the root of it. A dear friend told me this once.

            We all have self-esteem. Some people have physiologically lower empathy… born that way, with smaller amygdalas, or perhaps one’s amygdala has been injured. I’ve been through having less empathy with amygdala affected by brain injury…

            Long story short, across the board, I believe that the world is actually a much better place if we all work to preserve the self-esteem of ourselves and others. Not in a scared way or competitive way, but more in the sense of what is talked about with “genuine self-love”.

            Apologies in advance if this post isn’t well-expressed. I think this whole topic is really interesting and worth of discussion is so many more venues than it’s discussed.

            Once, I joked to a friend about xenophobia, teasing that it seemed that the most difficult thing was to not have xenophobia towards those with xenophobia or perceived as bad/discriminatory/[adjectives they found “bad/wrong.].”

            I think perhaps the world might change more if there were constructive ways to address this.

            From what I’ve learned from speaking to friends who study biology, medicine, and other stuffs concerning being human ( 🙂 ), and just from observation… those who have less empathy often have a lower self-esteem.

            And this is not their fault either. I personally think it shouldn’t be the butt of jokes or a point to attack others upon (“What an asshole,” etc.)

            But at the same time, we try to prevent real, tangible actions from happening which lead to more suffering in the world.

            I think that the effort to describe and maintain ethics around the *effects* of, say, violent actions or abuse, are what lead to “What an asshole” or “What a jerk” or other negative adjectives about others whom one doesn’t like being thrown around.

            …It’s interesting to try to understand ourselves and each other well enough to really accept what is more difficult to change or what a person may have been born with, without being condescending or defining that person in a way in which they don’t want to be.

            Not discriminating, and empathizing, is probably one of the more difficult human practices we all work towards.

            It’s a bit difficult to write more at the moment (brain injury – relearning aspects of writing, and can be taxing), but I think at another time I could describe the desire to understand and empathize with others seeming fairly universal, even with people who seem like “jerks.” It’s kind of complex, though.

          • Todd

            Please be very careful with what is sounding like skirting with pathologizing.

          • Xin

            Hmm, I deeply apologize if it seemed like I was skirting with pathologizing.

            That was very much the opposite of my intent: I meant to say that we are all different, and have different experiences. If I had one eye or a third arm or couldn’t touch or taste, it wouldn’t make me less of a human being.

            I think that’s the case with smaller amygdalas, and I actually personally feel things like the criminal justice system can horribly mistreat people (e.g. by placing them in solitary confinement) in ways that come from … pathologizing or desires for what is effectively vengeance.

            I truly feel that in some way, we are all equal and deserving of respect.

            My comment was more to point out how one group might interact with another group that doesn’t share the same abilities or senses… that seems to be more of auniversal conversation.

            Again, I deeply apologize if that sounded like pathologizing. *If* it is in fact the case that a large amount of innate empathy is what one is born with, there is still “affective empathy” — how to interact with others — that can be learnt. And not learning it mightn’t be an issue, either, though if one does,k say, murder people perhaps there should be a way to hold them accountable in a way that makes the world better (not just to “punish” or for vengeance).

            And if the pathologizing refers to “genetics” and being born with some things: epigenetics and others things we’ll likely learn about since biology is in its infancy relaly change that. We are able to pass along some epigenetic changes from stressors or events in our lives to children. … and even if we were all somehow “set in stone,” I still think it doesn’t make anyone less of a human being. Maybe some of us suffer more, or maybe that suffering is only perceived as “suffering” by particular people and as something else like “a challenge” or “an opportunity for growing as a human being” by others.

            In any case, I really did not intend to skirt toward pathologizing and will have a re-look at the old post (trying to find it.) I truly find it difficult/complex to discuss these topics without at least sounding like it’s pathologizing.. probably just more work needed to refine clarity of thought. 🙂

            Anyway, I’m rambling in response. Thank you for your comment and the feedback that I might be doing that.

          • Todd

            That’s OK; you don’t need to apologize.

            It just looked like things were (inadvertently) heading off in a direction I didn’t think you really wanted to go . . . .

          • Todd

            “The reason why I am so vitriolically opposed to their position (and why I was so horrified by Alison’s behavior and how it is a logical progression of her previous actions and statements) is because of that antithesis of tolerance for opposing viewpoints.”

            While you, of course, are the soul of magnanimity, charity, and tolerance. These Others simply have no tolerance for opposition of any kind, while you have Good Reason for your nay-saying.

        • Eric Schissel

          “Christian Grey”…
          or Dorian Gray, for that matter. (either magazine or novel version. Or movie, even.)

  • Charles Moore

    That gentleman bears a striking resemblance to Kevin Levin.

    You know what that means…. Ben 10 crossover!

  • JohnTomato

    Clev is a psychiatrist? Perhaps doing some sub rosa observations of supers. Maybe Clev is a veterinarian. So many open ended speculations. So many..

    • Tsapki

      I believe Al is speaking to her government assigned doctor, not Clevin.

      • JohnTomato

        Probably.

        My version is much more dramatic!

    • Zorae42

      How could she be speaking to him if he left his phone?

  • Serena

    So, maybe a little thing, and though the term is what first popped into my mind, I still hesitate to call it “privilege,” (wish it could be “decent human right/universal-experience”) but given my experience almost a year ago of a door opening to reveal (at short-range) a strange gunman out to harm me, instead of the familiar individual I was expecting, this last panel here definitely freaked me a little out. And perhaps just a little subconsciously, I was wondering, “How much will Al freak out like I’m freaking out?”

    Then I realized (consciously), “Oh, Al’s practically impervious, and super strength-y. She’s almost certainly fine and she knows it.” So she’ll probably have the chance to interact with the situation immediately on a host of other levels that I can only access after the panic starts to die down, like “Who is this person? Are they hurt? Do they need help? Did something happen to Clevin? Why is this person at [my? Clevin’s?] door? Were they sent by someone I know?” etc. etc.

    As a bit of a tangent, something that’s become a bit of a pet peeve of mine is the “real” martial arts demonstrations that end with a How To Respond to a Gunman section of: “Get on your knees, hold out your wallet, hands in the air, then wait for the gunman to leave,” as the obvious, reasonable, I suppose “Don’t try to be a macho/hero just to save your wallet, it’s just money” response. I totally get what they’re going for, but it just feels based on some faulty or simplistic assumptions.

    I don’t know if it’s a geographical thing, or maybe an era thing, or possibly a gender thing (I definitely realize that rape/sexual assault happens to men as well as women, but perhaps our cultural consciousness isn’t fully calibrated to reality yet), but when I ran into the gunman, I somehow knew instantly(and ended up right) that he wasn’t there for my wallet. (Might have had something instinctively to do with the short time span between the front door jingling, and running into the person two halls later [well past the front register] around two corners exactly the amount of time it would’ve taken to walk straight toward my office.) When I tried to fight instead of “reasonably submitting until it’s over,” it wasn’t to try to hold on to my wallet; it was to try to prevent the living nightmare of the last year of my life, as well as the multitude of ways things might’ve ended up horrendously worse.

    • Walter

      Alison thought it was Clevin, I think. But, also, like you point out, she’d probably open any door. The only person on the other side who might hurt her would be Cleaver, and that seems unlikely.

      • Serena

        For what it’s worth, I thought the sound of the door opening down the hall was my boss coming in late as well, so I had nothing more than some spreadsheets in my hands when we met. I’m not SUPER effective at forced paper-cuts, though.

    • Tylikcat

      Once upon a time, the advice to people on a plane being hijacked was to cooperate with everything the hijacker wants. Not so much anymore.

      (As an aside, it’s not that one is bad advice and the other is good advice, it’s that that each fits a particular situation. There’s a built in assumption that people in the situation can’t tell the difference and need a single clear direction to fall back on. I guess I can see that, in that people are often dumber as groups than as individuals.)

      You sketch your situation only in the most general terms (and that’s fine) but it sounds like you called it really well.

      (Maybe part of what irks me about a lot of the advice is the sense you get from it all that if you get the magic combination you’re supposed to be invulnerable. All that “I’ll make sure my daughter gets martial arts training!” crap. I’m taller and stronger than the average man. I just hit my twenty year mark in my primary art.* …I do okay. So far, nothing too awful has happened in terms of interpersonal violence since I’ve been an adult. Most of that is luck. I am not invulnerable.)

      * I am divided on whether this is “Go me!” or “Gosh I’m getting old.”

      • “The IQ of a group is the IQ of the stupidest person in the group divided by the number of people in the group.”

      • Weatherheight

        Context Matters.
        Nice adjust on the avatar, BTW

      • ClockworkDawn

        “Once upon a time, the advice to people on a plane being hijacked was to cooperate with everything the hijacker wants. Not so much anymore.”

        Ah, the good old days of airway banditry.

      • I am divided on whether this is “Go me!” or “Gosh I’m getting old.”

        Well, on the plus side, I’d say Most of that is luck confirms that with age comes wisdom!

        And I agree with Weatherheight on the new avatar!

    • Arkone Axon

      That wasn’t the wrong thing to do on your part. That was actually the best possible thing to do – the whole “don’t try to be a hero” bullshit goes in tandem with the “don’t carry a weapon, don’t learn to defend yourself, rely on the police (who are not legally obligated to protect you according to the Supreme Court)” crap. (though I’m guessing you had already followed the “don’t carry a weapon or learn to defend yourself” aspects)

      In previous centuries it was in fact considered one’s moral obligation as a good citizen to violently resist criminal assaults – not only were you fighting for yourself, but also any future victims of the assailant (Not to mention that as bad as the economic situation can be for people today, back then it was often quite literally “Die at the hands of the mugger or die of starvation and privation later”). And that’s even when it isn’t a case of “the attacker is specifically there to commit violence and inflict damage.” And yes it does happen to men as well as women.

      As for the terror you experienced… that’s to be expected. Courage isn’t being fearless, courage is doing what you must in spite of the terror. And the pain… yeah. Violence isn’t something to seek out if you can avoid it. I’ve worked with people trying to recover after traumatic injuries, and I hope your recovery will continue… and I very much hope that IF it ever happens again, you will be able to prevent further damages to yourself. (More importantly, I hope it never does happen again… but either way, I pray that you never have to go through what you’ve been going through again)

      (Also, this is why people – especially women and smaller individuals – should carry weapons. Not necessarily a firearm – a weapon you’re not comfortable with using and don’t know how to use is a liability. But a weapon is a tool, a force multiplier to negate disadvantages of size or strength or ability. Which is why criminals carry them. Personally, I’m very much in favor of canes – they can be fashionable and attractive, they’re useful to have in general, and they’re high impact, low lethality – meaning hitting someone with a cane, especially in a limb, is likely to make them want to stop what they’re doing, but unlikely to kill them. And if you’re a decent person, you don’t want to kill someone even in self defense)

      • Eric Meyer

        What I find interesting in the discussion of self-defense is just how much the mere existence of firearms skews the whole thing.

        As you said, “In previous centuries…” one was expected to violently repel violent attackers- kill a killer before they can kill again. However, in previous centuries, attackers couldn’t kill from 20 feet away, with a weapon hidden behind their jacket, that could penetrate a door, table, chair, wall…

        Humans aren’t designed for dealing with instant death-at-a-distance. That’s part, I think, of why PTSD is becoming so common- it’s not only an increase in diagnoses due to better knowledge of the disorder, I believe, but an actual increase in incidence as well. Human brains, minds, cultural coping mechanisms- they’re set up in such a way that face-to-face, teeth gnashing, kill-or-be-killed melees just… don’t really phase us. They’re harsh, there’s the adrenaline crash at the end, but being able to say “I fought back with everything I had” I think goes a long way to helping a person ‘get over it’. Whereas having to say “There was nothing I could do” or having the violence happe-BANG!-n… just like that, sudden, no warning…

        Firearms, in short, make it so that combat isn’t fair. Now, that’s just them doing the job they were designed to do- the point of weapons is to make confrontation as un-fair as possible- but that doesn’t mean that we’re psychologically able to handle it.

        • Arkone Axon

          Actually, in previous centuries attackers could do all of those things – kill from 20 feet away (bows, crossbows, throwing weapons, traps, etc), use concealed weaponry, use weapons that could penetrate doors and walls (depending on the construction), etc.

          The problem isn’t with “death at a distance,” it’s with the fact that humans are not psychologically equipped to kill other humans without considerable effort. For starters, modern military training involves rigorous conditioning to overcome the reluctance to kill. Furthermore, post-combat treatments became highly sophisticated in previous times:

          http://theconversation.com/how-ptsd-treatment-can-learn-from-ancient-warrior-rituals-69589

          The need for rituals to purify, to atone, to mourn for one’s victims, were all considered necessary by most cultures (the exceptions being ones such as Sparta… and Sparta might have looked good in “300,” but they really didn’t accomplish all that much compared to places like Athens).

          As for whether firearms make combat unfair… combat has always been unfair. Weapons are actually an equalizer – a handgun in the hands of a 60 year old grandmother makes her just as deadly as the young males attempting to break into her home.

          http://abc7.com/60-year-old-woman-shoots-kills-suspected-home-invader/2266483/

          I very much approve of using tools to make jobs easier. Firearms and blunt weapons are excellent tools (so are cell phones, illumination sources, vehicles, and defensive techniques – not just techniques such as “how to punch,” but also techniques such as “how to notice that something seems wrong with the situation” or “how to keep from offending someone and getting into a fight”). Technology has ALWAYS been the best friend of the smaller and weaker members of society (the women, the children, the elderly… and for that matter the young men, when they’re going up against wild animals several times their mass and with lots of sharp pointy bits). Unfortunately we are currently in a technological era where most weaponry vastly outperforms the available forms of protective wear… but that too is changing, with new developments in fabrics and synthetic materials. It is quite possible that in the future firearms will no longer be in common usage – simply because they’ll be obsolete and no longer effective.

          • Danygalw

            A longbow takes years of training, can’t be concealed, can’t be stored strung—a crossbow has to be rewound between shots, and that’s slow—if someone throws a weapon at you, they don’t have it anymore!—traps have to be set up in advance and maintained—
            it’s not the same.

            “A cardiac stab wound is an uncommon and potentially lethal injury. With appropriate treatment, better than 90% of those admitted alive will survive.”
            https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2494362/
            That’s your baseline for human-powered weapons. Guns are different.

          • Lisa Izo

            That’s actually the same for most firearms. I believe that the statistics are that of all gunshot victims, if they make it to the hospital with their heart still beating, there’s a 95 percent chance of surviving, and roughly 84.1 percent of all gunshot victims manage to survive. Mainly because gunshots to approximately 80 percent of places where a person can get shot tend to not be lethal (although depending on the calibre of the bullet, shock and blood loss can obviously change that even when hit in a non-lethal area).

            I only bring that up because you’re pointing out knife attacks in relation to only cardiac stab wounds being uncommon (and it IS uncommon – you’re correct on the statistics – since it’s more difficult to attack with a knife to the center of the chest rather than to the extremities, head, or stomach).

            The main difference I see between guns and knives, in my opinion, from a lethality standpoint (at least when taking all calibres into account, including the smaller ones), is that guns are a good equalizer because they don’t require any significant level of strength to use – just training, while being stronger very much tips the favor into a knife-wielder’s side.

          • Tylikcat

            I suspect the learning curves are different, too. Someone with good training and a knife is a terrifying opponent – knives are really versatile. (I have some training. And I had a housemate who loved knife fighting, years ago.*) But I would far rather deal with an idiot with a knife than an idiot with a gun. (I have dealt with with young idiots with knives, twice, in real life situations. It was not fun, but mostly because of the setting – things I do not want to deal with while I’m responsible for young children, gah. Disarming the idiots wasn’t actually hard. Also, I was younger, myself. Hell, my research students are the age I was. Okay, that thought is alarming.)

            * I seem to have a lot of honored dead friends for being only 44.

          • Lisa Izo

            Even someone with no training with a knife (assuming it’s a man with at least an average amount of strength) can be a terrifying opponent. A knife requires a lot less training to be lethal with than a gun. A gun is a lot better a weapon if there’s some distance, or if the strength disparity is significant (like a woman vs a much larger man).

            That being said, I’d PERSONALLY rather have a gun personally as a 110 lb woman. I do realize that unless I get superpowers in the near future, if I’m up against a guy who outweighs me by 100+ pounds, no amount of self defense or knife training is going to help me for long. In the words of the immortal Bruce Lee:

            “Nowadays you don’t go around on the street kicking people, punching people, because if you do (makes gun shape with his hand), well that’s it…. I don’t care how good you are. Someone brings a gun, I don’t care how good you are, unless you have a gun as well.”

          • Arkone Axon

            Reminds me of the game “Arkham Aslyum,” the first in the series. Playing as Batman, starting off beating up unarmed baddies… then comes the very first time you go up against baddies armed with guns. HUGE wakeup call for any players forgetting that Batman’s supposed to be a regular mortal. Even the second game, with the more free-roaming, open world gameplay, still makes it clear: guns are bad news, even if you’re a top athlete wearing a costume made out of high tech protective materials.

          • Arkone Axon

            When one of my martial arts instructors brought in the top police trainer for San Diego county to teach a seminar to the black belts, he started off by emphasizing, “even a chimpanzee with a scalpel is dangerous.” Then he demonstrated the “mugger” style on some cardboard (i.e. just get up really close and start going stabbity stabbity stabbity).

            Of course, both knives AND guns are dangerous, even in the hands of idiots. I still remember the time I a “peephole” was suddenly put into the ceiling above my head, right before the sheepish, “I thought it was unloaded…” *shudders*

          • Arkone Axon

            Actually, there are far more ways to kill someone with a sharp object than just stabbing them in the chest. A favored target for swords was always the upper leg – that part of the limb is filled with not only arteries that can quickly leak out when cut, but also muscles that are very important for standing up and continuing to fight.

            Furthermore, a longbow or crossbow is actually not all that different from a rifle – as in, extremely lethal, and you DO need training to hit something with it. Which is why all three were used side by side for many centuries (yes, medieval knights and samurai dealt with guns. They even used them personally – a Polish Hussar would go into battle in full plate armor and with lance, sword, and a brace of pistols. Plus some very impressive “wings” on his back that looked awesome when the horse was in full gallop). Weapons have always been nasty things – and modern weaponry is actually a boon to people who are less than martially capable, as with that 60 year old grandmother.

            As for the realities of violence… well, here are links to discussions of mass graves filled after some medieval battles:

            http://www.economist.com/node/17722650

            http://museum-of-artifacts.blogspot.com/2015/11/bloody-medieval-warfare.html

          • shink

            You’re really trying to argue an equivalency between modern and pre-modern weaponry? Have you never studied WWI or the origins of post-modern art? The sheer brutality of WWI out did other wars so throughly it redefined how cultures think about war. It started the movement to stop considering war a romantic endeavor on a mass scale, and inspired an art form so abstracted from reality that it frequently doesn’t have context within the art piece itself.

            Also no, a gun doesn’t “even the playing field” between a 60 year old women and a 20 year old man, it gives the women a distinct and heavy advantage. One shot to anywhere and the man goes into shock, one decently placed shot and he’s crippled or dead. But the grandma doesn’t get just one shot with a modern gun, no she gets several in rapid succession even with just a pistol, let alone if she’s carrying something scarier like a shot gun, an uzi, or a high caliber pistol. A .50 caliber weapon can be a lethal shot almost no matter where you hit someone, and again that’s now handgun sized. The lethality and ease of use of modern weaponry is so much higher in these days.

            You talk about medieval guns being used side by side with other kinds of weapons. This is true, on the other hand medieval guns did not have anything approaching the rate of fire or the accuracy of modern guns. Reloading them was a time consuming chore, and they were single shot to. Furthermore, accuracy fell apart over more then a few dozen yards. Guns with greater accuracy or rate of fire such as gatling guns or cannon were extremely heavy and only viable for use with a crew or onboard a ship. Modern day weaponry gives us things like the AK-47 or shoulder mounted rocket launcher, guns that let one person mimic the effects of these previously prohibitively heavy and unwieldy guns.

          • Arkone Axon

            Check the death toll rates (not just the total number killed, but also as a percentage) and you’ll find that things have actually gotten less violent over time – WWI was horrific and no denying it, but look at what the Mongols did to the middle east.

            Going back to the Renaissance period and you’ll read about genocidal campaigns waged against the native Americans – who actually abetted it because they were fighting against each other (the only reason Cortez won is because he became the figurehead of an armed uprising against the Aztecs, who were undeniably vile). And about child soldiers and slave conscripts on sailing vessels (i.e. the typical British Empire’s crew) being killed by those “inaccurate’ cannons (because two cannons firing at the same time, with their cannonballs linked by a chain, means “everything in a broad swath gets ripped apart. Ship masts and people alike).

            Go back further and we see peasants being butchered by the heavily armored knights, where elite and well equipped professional soldiers treated war as a game (because for them it WAS a game. The Battle of Agincourt was a shock to the French not just because they were slaughtered, but because they went in thinking that war with the English was like hunting foxes – fun for them, and who cares if the fox doesn’t like it?). Further yet and you’re in the days of the Roman Empire… AND their Barbarian enemies. Attila the Hun was NOT a nice guy.

            Yes, modern day weaponry allows “one” person to mimic the effects of previous weapons (in fact even rocket launchers and machine guns are generally two-man weapons), but that has to be coupled with training to overcome the resistance to kill – because otherwise the crew-served weaponry is MORE likely to be used (back in the American Civil War, WWI and WWII it was found that most of the soldiers didn’t even fire their weapons; the only units who reliably fired upon the enemy were either being ordered to do so by an officer who was physically present, or a crew operating an artillery or other “group effort” device). Whereas with older weapons, including melee weaponry… those things were actually fairly sophisticated for their time. A sword is a finely engineered tool used for butchering another person with maximum efficiency (yes, they’re essentially big butcher knives – only made to be faster and more responsive; real medieval swords were quick and fast), and when placed in the hands of someone both trained in its use and eager to use it, you essentially have a cuisinart on legs. Not to mention spears, polearms, etc… this is one of the reasons why ancient stories of the “heroes” slaughtering hundreds of common soldiers are merely exaggerations rather than fabrications – a bunch of guys holding spears who don’t even want to be there, versus a bloodthirsty and highly trained athlete with a finely crafted weapon.

            The REAL reason why war used to be seen as “romantic?” Because of the people who were starting the wars were also in control of the media (i.e. town criers, pamphlets, songs, stories, etc). Making it seem like a glorious thing because for them it was fun and profitable. But throughout history we also see surviving accounts by the average soldiers involved, and they make it clear that for them it wasn’t fun, it wasn’t romantic, it was something nasty and dirty and they were killing the poor bastards in front of them because of the evil bastards behind them. The reason why it’s fallen out of favor? Because while the official media STILL pushes a pro-war angle (look at some of the stories coming out of CNN OR Fox News. “A U.S. Navy battleship fired warning shots at an Iranian patrol boat in Iranian waters coming to investigate. We are all on high alert because how dare the Iranians send a skiff with a machine gun on it to investigate an intrusion onto their territory.”), more and more we’re able to hear the other side of things, and see it for ourselves.

          • Sparta might have looked good in “300,”

            Depends on your perspective, Sparta’s culture was just plain nasty if you were a helot.

        • Lisa Izo

          Yes. firearms are so that combat is not fair. When I’m being attacked by a man who outweighs me by 100 pounds and is several times stronger than me, I want something on my person that makes the combat not fair in my favor, since otherwise the combat is not fair AGAINST me. 🙂 I only want combat to be unfair when it helps me, obviously. I like being able to remain alive and unharmed. I’m silly that way.

          That being said, I do agree that people need to be psychologically capable of handling a gun. That’s why training is necessary (and should be required for proper gun safety and possible consequences) when you purchase one. So people don’t have a gun and think it’s going to be like on TV or in the movies.

    • twinstar12

      Have you read The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker? It’s about pretty much exactly what you described-how our subconscious analyzes a threatening situation, picks up the clues, and comes to a conclusion at lightning speed, then gives us the results as ‘a feeling’. He points out that too often we dismiss our feelings of fear (and our intuitions of what to do about that fear) as unfounded or unnecessary, and when we do this we’re actively sabotaging our brain’s best system for keeping us safe. Seriously, this book needs to be required reading.

  • Tsapki

    So Clevin turned into Kevin Levin?

  • llennhoff

    My guess? Patrick has also powered up, and the consequences were dire. This may explain why the mysterious conspiracy didn’t find it necessary to get rid of him at the start.

    • Walter

      Ooh, that’s a very interesting thought. If Patrick tracked down Max and got him to amp up his powers (not necessarily torture, as far as Max knows Menace is Mega Girl’s enemy), he might be in a bad way. His power turned way up might overload his mind.

      Alternately, this could just be the normal course of ‘powers get stronger over time’.

  • Pol Subanajouy

    Hey! It’s…*squints* THIS GUY!

  • JP

    So who wants to bet that Clevin hasn’t existed this entire time, or at least is about to vanish as thoroughly as Gurwara?

  • Mechwarrior

    “I am the viper. I am here to vash and vipe the vindows.”

    • E. Howell

      “Are YOU ready? Vee aRe!”

    • Arkone Axon

      *looks over at the fellow Joes who are prepared for the final confrontation after multiple raids against Cobra targets* “…Boy, are our faces red…”

  • Dee Durward

    i can’t get the comic to show up?

  • Kalirren

    Time-traveling Gurwara confirmed! Look at that nose!

  • Kifre

    Those are neither Patrick’s ears nor jaw line, folks.

    Both are more angular than mystery grunge dude’s, see?: http://strongfemaleprotagonist.com/issue-5/page-101/

    • Alison’s jawline is also a lot more angular on that page. I think it’s him.

    • Missing

      This is where the relatively loose art style hurts. We can see the guy’s face and still question whether it’s an established character or not.

    • Tylikcat

      I tend to agree, but if his face is turned down, I can’t entirely rule it out? (Though good call on the ears.)

    • Fluffy Dragon

      compare the Ali in todays strip with the Ali in that old strip and see some pretty startling differences as well.

    • Carla
      • Weatherheight

        There is a part of me of which I am a bit ashamed that is secretly hoping you and Molly are besties and she’s trolling you here.
        Just a bit ashamed. 😀

        ::wiggles his ears mirthfully::

        • Carla

          Dude, I wish!

      • Kifre

        Well, damn. I didn’t think the art style had changed THAT much.

        And I think I’m going back to my comment from a strip or two ago….it might be time to step away for a while. The pacing of two strips for week isn’t and reads so much differently than reading as a complete chapter or arc.

        • Tylikcat

          Reviewing older art, it really isn’t inconsistent with frames where his face is turned down – though in my quick tour, I didn’t see others that were quite this same angle, and there’s something about thae angle that’s still throwing me. But, whatevs – I’ve had actual family members show up after extensive drug use looking at least as weird as this. (la la la, I mostly only talk to the reasonable members of my family these days, and I’m *still* across the continent from the highest concentration of them.)

      • Tylikcat

        …why did I not even look at twitter?! *headdesk*

  • a person

    Is… Is that Patrick? Oh god, I have no idea how I’m going to make it till Tuesday.

    • palmvos

      the same way I do.
      go to bed at a reasonable hour.
      get up when the alarm goes off (or to hungry to sleep)

      repeat 4x

      • a person

        >implying I have an alarm

        • palmvos

          then the alternative- too hungry to sleep. (i’m going out on a limb here and assuming you eat, though there are people….)it is quite likely you have an alarm- you may not use one or you may be one of those lucky people with a built in alarm.

          • a person

            It should be noted that even though I do go to bed at seemingly insane hours (roughly 2-3:30), I’m on summer break, so I wake up roughly 8-10 hours later anyway. I don’t get too hungry to sleep, though. It hasn’t happened in a while.

          • palmvos

            enjoy your youth. adulthood is a lot longer.

    • palmvos

      it is Patrick. see below. at least until Tuesday and we find out molly trolled us. so…
      let the speculation begin again!

  • Callinectes

    PLAYER TWO HAS ENTERED THE GAME

  • Lisa Izo

    Oh good, her drug dealer has arrived. Klevin didn’t need to go to the pharmacy after all.

    • Tylikcat

      And now we know how Al has been managing to sleep!

  • Rando

    *Clev comes back later*
    Clev: I wasn’t sure which brand you liked so I got 6 different types…what’s going on here?
    *Al with an oddly glassy look in her eyes is snuggling under the blanket and eating ice cream with Patrick*
    Al: Oh, I decided to trade up to someone less needy. I am breaking up with you.
    Clev: But I love y…
    Al: You can go, we are done here.
    Clev: But this is my apartment…
    *Patrick does the Xavier pose and makes Clev think he is a dog wherein he curls up in front of the couch.*

    The end.

    • Lisa Izo

      I don’t know why, but visualizing this is hilarious.

  • Cori J.

    ”It’s your KIDS, Al! Something has got to be done about your kids!!!”

    • palmvos

      I’m an engineer. I get the Train! you can have the wallet.

  • Kifre

    So, new question, then…..was Patrick lying about not being able to project telepathically, or is Al learning a new trick.

    • Tylikcat

      I would suspect Patrick increasing in powers, the way everyone else has.

  • Kerlyssa

    i don’t even know why i bother to read the comments any more

    • Danygalw

      Because otherwise I wouldn’t know that was Patrick.

  • Xin

    Hmm, a theory I’ve had since early in the comic (just found out about it and caught up): What if Patrick went back in time and is actually somehow involved with the disappearances/deaths in those who were powerful dynamorphs as children that he found?

    Very curious how he found out about the disappearances/deaths.

    Also… didn’t they manifest as children, in those folders?

    So, not every dynamorph first manifested during that storm in 1991. Is that right? Did that show up earlier in quite a few places in the comic already?

    Theory-crafting-wise, I almost wonder if the storm in 1991 had a lot more effects than thought and different than thought.

    • Arkone Axon

      …That’s… actually a good theory. In which case they wouldn’t be dead – he would have snatched them up and brought them forward in time, when he had the resources to protect them. Then a world takeover would be… pretty much bloodless. All he’d have to do is wave the “limitless clean energy and cure for all diseases” ticket at people, and any government trying to resist would be deposed by their own people (including most of the members of said government. Political power doesn’t mean much when the love of your life, or your kids, is sick and someone has the cure). And that’s just two of the kids he mentioned offhand when hanging up his cape.

      • Arklyte

        Tear gas, rubber bullets, sonic and microwave emitters, bayonetts are also allowed by US laws to be used against riots as well as thousands other beatuiful fun things. Which people deposing their own goverment are you talking about btw? The once who still believe Red Scare propaganda and exporting democracy while being best oil budds with a state where beheading women on the street for wrong clothing is okay? Lol, good one, almost took it serious:D

        • Arkone Axon

          If you’re going to attempt to use sarcasm to show intellectual superiority (hint: it doesn’t, it just makes you sound like an ass), it helps to have a basic command of grammar and punctuation.

          • Arklyte

            well, my point of view is quite different from yours so I’ll be an ass regardless. As for grammar – пожалуйста, давайте обсудим и ее тоже. Только, когда я не буду обязан делать Вам одолжение разговаривая на том языке, который Вы понимаете, мистер “Absolutely Not An Ass Unlike You Which I’ll Mention In My Comment Like My Very Humble Proof Of Intellectual Superiority”←that’s your full name, right? No mistakes this time?:P

    • Weatherheight

      “So, not every dynamorph first manifested during that storm in 1991. Is that right? Did that show up earlier in quite a few places in the comic already?”

      None of them manifested during the storm, insofar as the text has shown us.
      a) Of those who manifested powers, all of them were either born or conceived during the year-long storm.
      b) Of those who manifested powers, none did so in a public fashion much prior to 13/14 years old.
      c) Not everyone born during or within 9-10 months after the storm ended has manifested powers – the text has been remarkably quiet about what percentage of that cohort actually manifests biodynamism or an anomaly (it’s likely very small – not more than 5% of the cohort).

      The noting of the distinction between “disappeared” and “dead” is significant. Taking Patrick at his word (which I refuse to do), they appear synonymous, but your post now makes me wonder: How many actual corpses do we have and how many “No longer appearing in this world” folks do we have?

      Thought provoking, indeed.

  • Xin

    Must be kind of fun holding the readers in suspense ’till Tuesday. 🙂

  • Soqoma

    well, shit