SFP

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  • Mechwarrior

    Kinda laying it on thick in this arc.

    • Olivier Faure

      … yeah, I’m waiting for the other other shoe to drop. Like, this isn’t Patrick’s experience, it’s a patchwork of experiences he lifted from other people; or some twist on the mom’s identity.

      • Gotham

        I’m not saying it’s impossible, but I find it interesting it takes being in direct contact with this stuff (I work in child counseling) to /not/ find it so extremely off-base and unbelievable. Trust me, loser parents whose only source of happiness is the superiority they feel when terrorizing their children is one in two dysfunctional families.

        I don’t know if this is some sort of denial or optimism about society, but it’s a bummer.

        • MrSing

          I’m sure this happens all the time in real life, but that doesn’t make it a compelling story.
          People go to the toilet fairly often in reality, but we accept that the comic doesn’t have to show it happening. People don’t have superpowers in real life, but we can accept that they do have them in the story.
          A supervillain having a tough childhood is an okay background story, but when the childhood involves being tortured by pedo doctors and having his mother kill his dog because he scratched up her stockings, it’s just too much. It’s so dark it becomes absurd and diminishes the story as a whole.
          There is a reason fairy tales end in “Happily ever after” instead of “eventually everyone died and they were forgotten”.

          • Gotham

            Some stories deserve to be told reader’s enjoyment be damned.
            It’s one thing to ride on the reader’s craving for subversion when SFP starts and it counteracts most of the usual superhero narrative, but this kind of unpleasantness up there creates a discomfort that can’t be sanitized by storytelling tricks.

            Regardless, it is vital to confront our intentional cultural blindspots if we want to write stories that matter about those things we know but would rather keep quiet because they bring our mood down.

            I’m not saying the quality of the story isn’t necessarily brought down by it (I agree with you: real life is the least competent storyteller there is) but to me the importance of bringing these things into light vastly overcasts the criticism, and judging the quality of a story by how much enjoyment it brings to its audience is one of the absolute worst.

          • MrSing

            I don’t think a story should be able to hide its flaws behind its subject matter. A story doesn’t have to be happy or give the reader a feeling of well-being to be engaging, heavy subject matters like child abuse can still be told in a competent and engaging way, and they deserve to.

            This isn’t what’s happening in this comic.

          • Gotham

            We’re going to disagree on that. I’ve seen too many exemples of what’s been deemed “competent and engaging” narratives regarding heavy subjects that were just sanitized or worse, exoticized for easier digestion. There are so many “compelling” rape revenge storylines you can tell before it’s painfully obvious none of them actually care about the victims of these crimes.

            At the end of the day, it’s just a story. It’s not worth crying over if it compromises the way it tells itself according to the familiar structure that hits all the good spots in our brains, if the alternative is the genuine damage they can perpetuate otherwise.

          • MrSing

            Can’t we ask for a story that is both knowledgable of the real depths of actual abuse and manages to still tell it in a way that doens’t come off as absurd? That is what I’d want and I don’t think it’s too much to ask for.

            Until we have that I think it is fair to criticise the story if it fails on either front.

          • Gotham

            Not until you acknowledge the reality of the existence of the human bias toward a certain type of narratives clashing with the inherently meaninglessness absurdism of real life which necessarily colors any and all criticism of this nature! 😀

          • MrSing

            I would do that if I were smart enough to understand what you mean.

          • Gotham

            I’m not that smart, I just write complicatedly

          • Incendax

            Bias is omnipresent. Acknowledging it can and should lead to necessary tempering, but there’s nothing to say his perspective has not already been tempered. It’s not an unreasonable position. The pacing could get punched up a bit – I enjoy the comic, but several of my friends do not read it because it’s too slow for them. =P

          • Gotham

            Yeah, tell me about it. First time I pondered “I wondered what that Conspiracy is” I was a virgin, and that is /saying something/

          • GreatWyrmGold

            Have you heard the phrase “truth is stranger than fiction”? That phrase exists because many things seem absurd to those who have no experience with them. To pull a Godwin: Do you think that any reasonable person in the Roaring 20’s would suspect that, within a lifetime, Germany would kill tens of millions of people for being Jewish? I mean, it wasn’t the Dark Ages anymore; people didn’t like Jews, but they weren’t slaughtered en masse in civilized countries.
            Or, more recently, look at how people reacted to 9/11. People familiar with extremist beliefs found it plausible that someone would be willing to kill themselves and hundreds of others for those beliefs, and people familiar with architecture understood that the Towers’ construction lead to them falling a bit differently from most skyscrapers. People who understood neither called conspiracy, because to them that was less absurd than the idea that someone would want to kill themselves and thousands of others just to spite the West.

          • MrSing

            I’m not denying that these things don’t happen in real life. I’m saying they are not presented in a way that makes for a good story.

          • Elaine Lee

            Remember, you’re just getting one page at a time and having to wait for the rest of the story. This isn’t the last word on Patrick. Personally, I think his back story is likely to be horrendous, but you need to see how it plays out, before you decide if the set-up was worth it.

          • GreatWyrmGold

            Your complaint was that it wasn’t plausible. (Which can be a valid storytelling complaint.) But if it is plausible, then it isn’t implausible. So unless I’m missing something, your logic is missing pieces.

          • MrSing

            My complaint isn’t that the story is implausible, it is that the story is not being told well. Not because superheroes don’t exist or because people can be that awful in real life (they certainly can be), but that too much of what happened to Patrick is being presented in too small a time frame. He got tortured, his doctor was a pedophile that hits him, his mother killed his dog because he ripped up her stockings. Especially if we consider that the art style is clashing with the subject matter. Sorry, but it is starting to sound like an “aristocrats” joke at this point.

          • David Brown

            How would you tell it?

          • MrSing

            I don’t need to be able to produce good quality stories to recognise a bad quality story.

          • David Brown

            From your perspective, maybe not. From mine, it very thoroughly is.

          • GreatWyrmGold

            I’m pretty sure the child abuse isn’t nearly as absurd as you make it out to be. Extreme, yes, but not absurd. The doctor torture is more so, yes, but I’m more than willing to give it a pass because this is either a child’s memory (with all the exaggeration that comes with a child’s inexperienced outlook plus decades of misremembering) or a toxic mixture of multiple other peoples’ memories. You can get away with more exaggeration in a memory, because our memories exaggerate themselves—it’s part of human psychology.
            SFP has flaws, but I don’t think this is one of them.

          • MrSing

            When I said absurd I meant the pedo torture doctor in combination with the mother killing her child’s dog just because he ripped up her stockings.
            Maybe they are both memories that are tainted by Patrick’s personal bias, but as the scenarios that are being presented to the audience they are both so dark they fall on the absurd side of the scale.
            But I admit that is a matter of taste and what I find absurd does not have to be absurd for another person.

          • bryan rasmussen

            well I don’t know, I have some memories that are about as dark. and I’m not an early developing telepath with parents with the financial means to have me researched.

          • Elaine Lee

            “mother killing her child’s dog just because he ripped up her stockings”
            You don’t know that the mother actually did that. She could be controlled by some outside entity. Again, we don’t know.

          • MrSing

            Well, maybe Alison is actually an alien that was send to this planet to consume as much pasta as possible. Who knows? That doesn’t mean we can’t speculate or judge the information we have right now as it is.

          • GreatWyrmGold

            Considering that the two scenes happening at the same time would require little Patrick to be in two places at once and live next to his doctor’s office, and given how…odd the mindscapes tend to be, I expect that this is a mashup of at least two different memories.
            Unless you mean that it’s jarring, ridiculous from a purely Doylist perspective, in which case…I disagree. I don’t find it grimdark so much as trippy, which feels appropriate for a mindscape.

          • MrSing

            Well, I suppose it comes down to a matter of taste then. I feel Patrick’s background is being delivered in a hamfisted way and the art style and the dark subject matter clash too much.

          • LaGrange

            Uh, have you ever seen Harry Potter? Where an orphaned kid lives for years in a broom closet, then when finally at age to join school gets subjected to multiple traumatising events? And that’s a wish fulfilment book, which this comic is very much not.

            [TW: fairly tales and famous stories. There’s going to be blood]

            And “happily ever after” is quite rare, and plenty of fairly tales end with “and then they got eaten. Alive.” Fairly tales are scary, grim and dark, and that’s quite a bit of how they entrance people. Even cheerful happily-ever-after Cinderella involves people cutting their feet. Famous western stories? Um, Hamlet and Romeo and Juliet. Bunch of laughs, those two. And brave knights whose brains leak out through their ears. Greek mythology is just all sorts of violence of various kinds, including flesh-eating shirts. Going back to modern, uh, Batman? Even Superman starts off with his entire planet blasted away, and that’s pretty much as cheerful as it gets (except maybe for Squirrel Girl, but maybe I just don’t know enough about her).

            Yeah, grimdark is totally not compelling _at all_.

          • MrSing

            Everything can be written well, my complaint was that this comic does not handle its subject matter in a compelling or competent way in this case.

          • Marcia Wilson

            Yeah, I thought it was too much too when my ex husband butchered our son’s pet rabbit and left the body in the snow for him to find. This shit happens.

          • Gotham

            Jeez. Compassion.
            But yeah seriously I hope that when you pressed charges the thing he got life for was the irredeemable crime of being most ungentlemanly unsubtle, this is inexcusable

          • Marcia Wilson

            He is currently serving life in prison for murder, plus 3 years. We prefer to think of it as “the zombie clause” so he doesn’t crawl out of his grave.

          • MrSing

            It does, but the way it is told in this story isn’t done well.
            Just because something is realistic does not mean it is well written.

          • Marcia Wilson

            I disagree. There could have been a lot more violence in this scene. Writers and artists don’t take a class on “the best and most proper way” to depict a traumatic incident as the language is psychological and emotional. If you feel you could do better, you can certainly do so yourself.

          • atma

            They may END with happily ever after, but getting there is often a complete blood feast, think any of the original Grimm brother stories, you hack of your heals and toes, you leave your children in the woods to die, you get eaten by a wolf but a hunter cuts up its stomach, having your dog killed wouldn’t even make it into their type of horror tales..

          • Insanenoodlyguy

            It it can and does happen in real life, it’s not that abusurd.

          • MrSing

            Life is absurd. Just because it is real, does not mean it isn’t absurd.

        • Olivier Faure

          Oh no, I don’t find it unbelievable. And of course there’s a selection effect since we’re presumably seeing his “strongest” bad memories, from his perspective.

          It’s more like… even when you have bad parents, or bad people, they’re not *just* bad parents. Even abusive parents aren’t just The Embodiment of Child Abuse.

          Which is kind of what we’re seeing. Everything we’re seeing is defined by “Is completely awful and traumatizing to Patrick”; which, again, makes some sense given we’re seeing his worst memories. But it’s a little predictable and one-dimensional, which why I’m saying I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop.

          • Indeed, but these aren’t *just* the accurate past experiences that have led to Patrick’s worst memories, they’re a record of said experiences as seen from the perspective of a traumatised prepubescent child. And because memory changes when it’s accessed, they’ve all likely been filtered several times through his emotional response to those events – the trauma deepening each time, the characteristics of his abuser growing ever more dangerous and fierce and primal.

          • Gotham

            Traumatised? British English? Meaning your geolocal position at this instant is somewhat below 1,500km?
            So… r’you doing anything later

          • British English, but also happily married ;D

          • Gotham

            D’:

      • Zinc

        It seems to me unlikely that these memories are not Patrick’s own; they all feature Patrick’s telepathy quite prominently. Even in this scene, hearing Skip’s thoughts just before and during his death is a pretty crucial part of the memory which wouldn’t have existed if it was merely taken from someone else’s memories of having a pet killed.

        Regarding Pearl’s identity – it seems everyone is assuming that she is Patrick’s mom based on the context we’ve seen – but I don’t think that’s been stated explicitly, yet. Maybe she’s a foster parent, who found herself taking care of Patrick without ever growing emotionally attached to him, before or after his telepathy manifested. Or maybe she doesn’t have any familial relationship to him at all – maybe she is just part of the research institute / government investigating him, and had kidnapped him from his real family for his powers. Kind of hard to explain why she was present for his earliest memory of telepathy – maybe she was also a family “friend” prior to his manifestation, and thus in a position to take advantage and kidnap him? Either would fit in well with the theory that she is Max’s mom, especially considering he never mentioned a brother / twin.

        … but probably Pearl is just Patrick’s mom, though …

      • Incendax

        Yeah. I think it would be extremely interesting if this is a composite of terrible childhood experiences from everyone he has ever been around (or at least been around when he was a child).

        While it would not excuse his actions, experiencing the cumulative trauma of dozens of children could massively influence his learned behavior and make him turn supervillain, perpetuating… dozens of cycles of abuse. At least until he realized that about himself and made a sincere effort to distance himself from it (which is still creeping into his subconscious through the boundaries).

      • AustinC123

        It’s spelled ‘shih tzu,’ not ‘shoe’

    • MelloStello

      MelloStello

      • Gotham

        (Especially considering Alison’s dog Buster passed away and Patrick has to know this)

        I like this theory because if true, it’s amusing how Patrick overdid it, somehow not realizing she would blast away all her objectives and principles as soon as she would lay eyes on smol Patrick casually playing with a dog. Heck, seeing the Sentinel’s form might have been enough already to manipulate her all the ways to Sunday

      • Johnny Awesome

        It’s a stretch, but just out of interest: have we established that Patrick has a photographic memory? Because I clearly remember seeing Santa Claus when I was little and my mom told me last week that I probably didn’t. Patrick remembers it happening like this, but the truth may be different?

        • Guzzyma

          We actually just established that Patrick’s memory isn’t always accurate-in his memory of watching Looney Tunes, he remembers Allison laughing with him, when that wasn’t the case.

          • Johnny Awesome

            hahaha! that was like a week or two ago–we just established that MY memory isn’t accurate!

        • Yes, his memory isn’t reliable. But he’s also a mind reader. Breaking the dog’s neck might have just been a thought that went through her mind, but since it’s the most horrible version of the experience it’s the one he remembers.

          • Nik Gervae

            I’ve actually been wondering why we get a clear presentation of the dog’s thoughts in Patrick’s memories (and the playground kids), but never see those of the adults around him (the doctor, his presumed-mom). We only see him reporting them or reacting to them.

          • Gotham

            Well, we kind of see them at the playground, and there was also that time he draw conceptual art in the air. Clearly the rules are written as it goes here.

      • Ptorq

        Is it uncharitable/body-shaming of me to look at the first panel and think “well, I suppose those ARE the ankles of a person who could break a dog’s neck?”

        • Margot

          yes

        • Gotham

          …………yes?

        • Hiram

          If you distill out the fact that what she’s doing is reprehensible, then the thought itself is just “she looks strong enough to do that”. It’s not like you disapprove of strong, sexy ankles. . . right?

          • Ptorq

            I can’t honestly say I would have used the word “sexy”, but that aside, yes, I was definitely thinking in terms of physical capacity, not mental disposition.

          • Hiram

            Well you should. She’s already done the evil voice. She’ll start smoking a cigarette out of an evil cigarette holder any moment now.

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5cFzABv0xMU

      • Nightsbridge

        I mean, dogs are more fragile than you’d think. Granted, I don’t know that it would be that easy, but they can get lethal spinal trauma when you just DROP them.

    • Jovial Contrarian

      Give it a second, she’s gonna start praising Hitler any second now :^)

  • Bo Lindbergh

    Looking even more similar to Max’s mother now.

    • Zinc

      Comparing to http://strongfemaleprotagonist.com/issue-6/page-133-2/ :

      – Nose / nostril: Similar shape, Maxmom’s seems to be slightly longer / sharper, but could be simply style drift in the time that passed.
      – Hair style: Very similar. Maxmom’s is slightly longer.
      – Lips/Lipstick: Similar. Pearl’s are a bit more pronounced.
      – Both wear very similar pearl necklaces.
      – Both match nail colour to shoes (red for Pearl, white for Maxmom).

      – Both wear green (jacket / dress).

      – Hair color, eye color: Undetermined for Pearl. But note that Maxmom has green eyes, whereas Patrick has brown eyes. On the other hand, it might be that Maxmom=Pearl but is not Patrick’s biological mother. And on the third hand, brown eyes are dominant to green, and Max also has brown eyes (even of a fairly shade similar to Patrick’s).

      Have I missed any points of comparison?

      • Zinc

        One point against:

        As pointed out by Dave Jacke, the woman on the first page of the first page of this chapter seems very likely to be Pearl:
        http://strongfemaleprotagonist.com/issue-7/page-1-7/

        The red lipstick and hair seem to match Pearl’s, though the nose is rather different. More importantly, the text-format on that panel page, as well as the “breaking” of her face and the content of her lines, seem to fit very well with the way Pearl is “censored” from Patrick’s memories. But, the woman on page 1 very clearly has brown eyes, the same as Patrick, so she is almost certainly not Maxmom, who has green eyes.

      • The Distinguished Anarchist

        That profile shot in the second to last panel of the linked page with Max’s mom makes them look almost identical to me. It was that image that got me thinking in the first place.

  • Loranna

    . . . Shadow Mom is shadowy.

    Until Panel 3 of the previous comic, where her sensible red shoes come into detail.

    And then Panel 5 of the same comic, where her hands – and her sensible fingernail polish – come into detail.

    And now in this comic, in Panel 2, where her full, red, lips come into detail.

    And all this on a predominantly green background as well – with Alison Greene nothing more than a spectator, a proverbial fly-on-the-wall.

    Speak not of the visible hand that showed up in the last panel of two comics ago, nor of the skirt hem that shows up in the first panel of this one! I Poo Pah such non-ruddy details. POO PAH, indeed. Skirt hem, hands, these are tinny. Tinny words, I tell you! Now, Fingernail Polish. Lip-Stick. Comfortable SHOES. EROGENOUS ZOOONES. Now THOSE are good WOODY words!

    Yup, hello 2018. The Loranna Art Ramble is back! And even more self-indulgent than before! Mwahaha – wait, who’s this coming at me with a banana!?

    Loranna

    • Gotham

      Oh no during a science experiment gone wrong at midnight on New Year’s Eve Loranna fell into a vat of multicolored chemicals at the exact time lightning struck and now she’s become the Art Rambler, exactly the same as before only unhinged and bananas are her fatal weakness apparently!
      Will she use her powers for good or for mischievous deeds

    • David Brown

      Monty Python for the win. Good reference.

    • Weatherheight

      Ba-Na-Na!

      That said, I noticed the red and green thing as well (Christmas palate?).

      Banana is also a woody word…

      And I alone in hearing the word “Dear” and flinching? Never liked that word, never ever called any of my loved ones “Dear” unless it was preceded by the word “Yes” and intended as a not-so-subtle hint someone was being overly bossy.

  • Gotham

    Does someone else hear the Terminator theme emanating very faintly from this webpage

  • Gotham

    Pearl is the type of person who’s going to ruin her nylons even more from a tiny parquet splinter and blame it on Patrick for making her get down on her knees isn’t she

  • Kate Blackwell

    This has to be some kind of twist where it turns out none of this happened, or didn’t happen the way he remembers it, just earlier we had a scene that shows how memories can be unreliable or outright wrong, not doing anything with that would be failing basic foreshadowing / chekhov’s gun.

  • David Brown

    I’m going to take a guess at Patrick’s library’s knowledge on the ‘conspiracy’- there isn’t one. It’s just that there are a LOT of people that are really evil, who fear absolutely everything that isn’t themselves, which makes them hate (thanks Yoda) and destroy whatever it is.
    Like Patrick’s mother doesn’t love him, just like mine doesn’t love me, and I can say the same for other people I’ve met. Their parent loves THEIR IDEA OF THE PERSON but not the person. Why are so many gays disowned by their family when they come out? Because their family loved their idea of the person, but not the person themselves. The person stepped out of the strict boundaries set before them, because that wasn’t them. Then they were attacked for it. I’ve been there, too.

    What replaces the conspiracy is just people being horrible people, and other people being the silent majority (hence enablers). There’s no one in charge of it all, no one directing everything. Maybe various directors directing some stuff, like shadow government agencies and hate groups, but essentially it’s just lots of horrible evil people attacking whatever frightens them, and they go out of the way to be frightened by whatever they see, and go out of their way to see more things.

    That’s why it can’t be stopped. Not even slowed. Why else did Patrick become a supervillain? Because he knows the ONLY way to make it so no one goes through what he went through, is to bring humanity to the smallest genetically stable population and go Big Brother on whoever remains, then keep society that way for enough generations that the obvious traumatic change doesn’t affect the active generation a couple hundred years in the future.

    • Zac Caslar

      Not sure I completely agree about the lack of a conspiracy, but +1 for your family insight.
      Good stuff.

    • AshlaBoga

      “What replaces the conspiracy is just people being horrible
      people, and other people being the silent majority (hence enablers).
      There’s no one in charge of it all, no one directing everything. Maybe
      various directors directing some stuff, like shadow government agencies
      and hate groups, but essentially it’s just lots of horrible evil people
      attacking whatever frightens them, and they go out of the way to be
      frightened by whatever they see, and go out of their way to see more
      things.”

      I’d hope a telepath would have considered all the attacks to be a coincidence, but the fact that only the most powerful were killed and that they were killed so young indicates a common goal between the murderers. At the very least someone was tipping them off.

      • tygertyger

        Point of order… it wasn’t the most powerful who were killed. It was the ones whose abilities would have drastically altered the status quo. The people on top eliminated the threats that would negatively affect their ability to stay on top.

        • Insanenoodlyguy

          You aren’t wrong, but it’s a bit semantic at this point. One could argue the ones who could alter the status quo were the most powerful.

    • Randolph Carter

      If that were so, why would Gurwara be in there stealing the information?
      Gurwara doesn’t seem like one of Patrick’s personal images.

      • David Brown

        Might not be a Guwara- could be a psi-image Patrick made as the spy to get people to tell him things that he for some reason needed… like a focus. Getting too much information and breaking down, he needed people to say things to make other memories easier to steal. The fact that Alison saw him (or thought she did, or thought he was a teacher) could just be Patrick making Alison think that it happened. “Brain in a jar” argument, basically.

    • Insanenoodlyguy

      nah, because we’d see exploitation. ALL the game changing children were killed. Evil people attacking individual powerhouses makes sense, but not all of them being killed. Greed would have ensured at least a few of them were left around to be exploited. Who or whomever didt his was focused.

  • Gotham

    Just noticed the pearl’s necklace around her neck. Two things:
    – Her fanon nickname was absolutely prophetic?
    – I’m going to feel way less sad the twenty million next times they’re going to show me the death of Batman’s parents on screen

    • Weatherheight

      Maybe, but I think it’s more of a “High Class White People who worry obsessively about appearances often wear pearls” stereotype / shorthand sort of a thing…

      Or Molly’s having us on…

  • Bo Lindbergh

    Forget the conspiracy; this is the real reason he wants access to time travel.

  • KatherineMW

    Patrick is a master manipulator and this just seems too extreme for him not to be playing Allison.

    • David Brown

      I don’t think so. I’ve lived most of the aspects of his life shown so far.

  • Weatherheight

    There is a part of me that wants this to be true at some level but heavily modified by Patrick’s 6-year-old point of view, effectively divorcing it from objective reality but nevertheless containing core elements of truth. And by this I mean narratively so. I’d like to see Patrick as someone whose childhood was traumatic and whose childhood impacted what he would later be (and I do mean “what”, not “who”).

    This is feeling over the top at some level to me as well, but I’m kind of hoping this can be pulled together and we get shown why Patrick is as he is and that he regrets not one iota of his response to his childhood – that all of this is an attempt to connect with Alison emotionally but also to help her understand his motivations and actions.

    And, of course, that it’s an attempt to manipulate and compel her to eat the milk and cookies on the oh-so-very-dark table, my young padawan…
    I think Alison would look good with a rat-tail on the side of her head…
    https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=images&cd=&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwjOy_aRrrnYAhWnYt8KHTchArIQjRwIBw&url=http%3A%2F%2Fstarwars.wikia.com%2Fwiki%2FPadawan_braid%2FLegends&psig=AOvVaw0J8MSdC28C_lEj_WQ2QOyW&ust=1514985289897634

  • Gotham

    Sorry I’m multiposting today, but I realized something else:
    Patrick wasn’t just under the table because he needed to isolate himself to cry.
    Patrick is actively hiding from his mother. I think the telltale sign is the hands he keeps on his mouth to mute his shock, which nevertheless alerted Pearl to his presence.

    We (or at least I) thought that she was going under the table to scold him because dog killing barely satiated her bloodlust, but it seems she was actively looking for him beforehand.

    BRRRRR

    • Zinc

      Well, last page she was constantly calling for Honey/Hon, asking if he’s ready, and seemingly getting no replies (at least none shown on the page). I previously assumed she was calling to her husband / Patrick’s father, but maybe she was just calling to and waiting on Patrick, who simply didn’t want to go to the dinner, probably for good reasons?

      Although Honey/Hon is kind of non-standard nickname for a child (I think?), and she did refer to him as “Dear” on this page rather than Honey…

      • Gotham

        It would be curious that she would tell the six year old that she can’t find the tickets like he’s equally as responsible for them, but I like that possibility.

        • Zinc

          It is curious! Here’s a plausible (though unlikely) explanation: Misplacing items is pretty commonplace. Usually, they are at the last place we left them, we just can’t remember where that was, since we weren’t paying enough attention (or forgotten for other reasons). The vague memory of where we left the item probably exists somewhere in our mind, it just isn’t readily accessible to us; however, it’s possible that Patrick would be more capable at accessing such memories at will. So, she might be telling Patrick that she can’t find the tickets, knowing he can literally pick her brain to locate them. Much more useful than the metaphorical brain-picking of “Well, where do you last remember seeing them?”.

          Patrick should really open up a lost-item recovery service.

          • Gotham

            This is /genius/.
            Now I want a black comedy sitcom type thing where two parents on the eternal verge of divorce consistently find new and twisted ways to passive-aggressively use their telepathic child to ruin each other’s day.

          • David Brown

            With humor akin to “What About Bob”?

          • David Brown

            That’s why I check the freezer first, for whatever it is I’ve lost. Why? Because it isn’t there. Now that that’s out of the way, I can actually look where it is.

      • David Brown

        This is an interesting idea, and brings up even more memories. So, when I was put in a mental institute at age 8 (look at Patrick’s age- the place I was put in was called Charter Oak Hospital and it’s now called Aurora Charter Oak Hospital. The school I went to was Cedargrove Elementary. Look them up on Google Earth or something- you’ll see that the mental institute, where the children’s wing used to be, shared a wall with the school playground and yes kids could see me behind the barred windows) I wasn’t told that I was being put away. I was told that we were going to see my grandmother.
        Who is to say that Patrick’s female chromosome donator was saying ‘dinner’ but meaning ‘experimentation laboratory’ and the reason she said ‘dinner’ is to turn Patrick OFF of eating because, he, like I, was told repeatedly that he “isn’t worth feeding”?

    • scottfree

      Can he not read her thoughts?

      • David Brown

        he is reading her thoughts- which is why he’s cowering under the table.

  • bryan rasmussen

    ok, is there going to be a big reveal when we see Pearl’s face and it’s someone we know? Who could it be.

  • David Nuttall

    Remember Alison, these events have already happened. You can’t change them now, as much as you might want to.

  • LatePocketwatch

    The next page might drop all the shadows and show her just administrating a slight spanking rebuke. Best as I recall it’s established Patrick has trouble establishing his perceptions and viewpoints at this time. The contrast between a severe beating he’s directly feeling and the mother’s justified downplaying delusion would definitely explain his cutting behavior to ground himself.

  • Philip Bourque

    Poor little Pity Pat looks so distraught, but what he fails to realize is that he’s already learned and adapted her abusive. Recall that he inflicted grievous physical harm to that boy over some minor emotional discomfort. The cycle is complete as the abused has become the abuser. I wonder how many minions he’s killed over some minor failure, how many people he’s manipulated into self-harm or suicide simply because they displeased him. At this point, I think he’s beyond help; his power would make any attempt at therapy ineffective.

    • Kifre

      Hard disagree that the Patrick in this memory is beyond help. I don’t think we get to call abused 5/6 year olds with the understanding and impulse control of a 5/6 year old “abusers.” Even they whack playground bullies with toy cars (your description of which, btw seems grossly exaggerated to make Patrick’s actions worse than they were).

      Yes. It’s textually supported that Patrick became those things…and that these memories are clearly events which set him on that path. But condemning a suffering, small child as beyond redemption? F that noise.

      • Philip Bourque

        Do recall that the boy that Alison is speaking to is nothing more than a tiny fragment of Patrick’s mind. A fragment that he has walled off from the rest. The condemnation has come and gone and there’s nothing Alison can do because these events have already happened (assuming Patrick’s memory is infallible) The complete entity that is Patrick is a broken mess of a human being who takes peoples words, thoughts and actions and twists those in an effort to either hurt them or manipulate them.

        • Kifre

          The Patrick we are seeing in this strip is a moment trapped in amber. Whatever Patrick is in the “today” of the comic is not the reality of the Patrick as he was in those memories.

          • Although, interestingly, nor is the Patrick within those memories as they currently stand! This is to do with the mutable nature of human recollection; he’s more likely to be current-Patrick’s impression and best recollection of what he thinks the Patrick of that moment-trapped-in-amber used to be like, up to the last point at which these memories were revisited.

        • Nik Gervae

          It’s been clearly and pointedly established that Patrick’s memory is fallible.

      • Seconded. At best he’s displaying some concerning behavioural tendencies that could manifest into abuse and enforced power dynamics later.

  • Nik Gervae

    I find it curious that Patrick sees his dog land with a loud THUMP right in front of his horrified little self, and then when mom gets down to confront him, the dog isn’t there….

    • Malcolm Wright

      Could be a memory thing. He remembers seeing the dog fall because it was such a shock, but after that his young mind registered the dog’s death as a “dissapearance” because he was so used to registering the presence of the dog through its thoughts.

      • David Brown

        Good point. Also David Barrack of Grrl Power says he doesn’t draw everyone in every scene because they aren’t focal points, or something like that. Maybe just the dog is there, but wasn’t drawn, so the comic can come out faster, or because Patrick is so terrified he can’t perceive anything else besides the threat coming at him.

    • Gotham

      it’s most likely an authorial choice.
      I’m not keen on seeing a dog’s corpse that much, and I assume I’m not alone.

  • Dave Jacke

    Did anyone else notice the similarity of the mom’s face and hands in these panels to those of the disjointed face and hands in the dream panels at beginning and middle of this chapter? I notice that Molly and Brennan are highlighting the reds….

  • Jshadow

    What’s that trope you call to easily gain the audiences empathy?
    Kick the Dog? Or rather Kill the dog in this case.

    That reminds me, why was the dog even here? Wasn’t Patrick in some sort of high security testing facility? Why did they allow him to bring the dog if he was taken against his will?

    • Gotham

      He’s clearly at home right now. Maybe because the tests are done, or because he gets to go back home from time to time, or because due to a computing errors all vacant rooms happen to be occupied with test subjects already at Aperture Science

      • Jshadow

        Even if he is it still begs the question why kill the dog NOW?
        The whole thing just comes off as convinient.

        • Gotham

          It’s a weird question to ask. It clearly wasn’t planned, and done in the heat of sudden anger after a randomly occurring event.

          • Zinc

            I think (not sure) that Jshadow is asking “Why does *Patrick* kill the dog NOW”, or more precisely “Why is Patrick showing Alison the dog’s death NOW?”. Patrick is the storyteller, currently displaying to Alison (his audience) a series of events that are likely to gain her sympathy. Which might be just a bit too convenient for him; or might just be an unhappy coincidence, as almost all of his major childhood memories could be of the sort that would easily gain sympathy.

          • Gotham

            I’ll grant that question relevance.
            I do hope the answer isn’t simply “this is just how he architected up the place”

  • Herwood

    Why is she being called pearl?

  • TheNobleman

    Is it just me, or is anyone else strongly suspecting that Little Patrick is Menace? Or worse yet, someone bad enough that Menace is considered a better
    option? This story is precisely tailored to be a funhouse mirror version
    of Alison’s childhood. Between the beloved dog (who Alison recently
    lost), defending the weak (exactly as Alison sees herself), and failed
    by both his mother and doctor (remember Alison’s conversation with
    Cleaver?), you could hardly design a better story to engender sympathy
    from Alison and prevent her from asking questions like “Wait, where am
    I?” and “Wait, what was with Gurwara?”

    Because Gurwara was the one person who is mysterious enough that Alison would question and give chase, but also unknowable enough that his sudden appearance wouldn’t cause Alison to stop and question, “Wait, what IS he doing here?” And he disappears as soon as he goes through the portal, which as it so happens takes her straight to Little Patrick, separates her from all her companions, and takes her away from exactly the thing she’s looking for (and won’t leave without).

    Little Patrick did admit that he was first, that he was the one who built the boundaries. Why wouldn’t he naturally be the ruler of the city he built?

    • Gotham

      I posited a few pages ago that it wouldn’t be unimaginable they Menace and smol Patrick were working together. It would be an easier thing to discuss about if we knew their morives, though! Like, Anima seems to be the rebel element of them all (even Record-Keeps was helping Alison and her under duress) but she /adores/ the walls.
      And Menace… too? Or does he want to bring them down?

      A few pages ago my theory was that Anima is all about self-sanity (something Patrick Prime is clearly missing these days) while Menace wanted to sacrifice everything, even Patrick’s health for whatever goal (time travel?) and kiddo Patrick’s role was to convince Alison that time travel was absolutely necessary so she wouldn’t come to interfere (and the plan is definitely working)

      That leaves the questions of what the hell is Gurwara doing here? What the hell is the Conspiracy still? Doesn’t Anima share Patrick Prime’s objectives anyway? And when in god’s name will everyone start making out

  • Micklethwait

    Someone said something about the Terminator… what if that’s exactly what Pearl is? A killer robot from the future? Yes, I know it sounds crazy, but hear me out:
    1.) Patrick’s interested in time travel. What if the conspiracy is based in the future, and he suspects that?
    Might explain why he can’t find them.
    2.) As more than one person has pointed out, breaking a dog’s neck isn’t easy… unless “Pearl” has killer robot strength.
    3.) Patrick can’t seem to read her thoughts. Notice the freaky speech bubbles? Maybe that’s the real reason he doesn’t like TV; voices without thoughts behind them reminds him of childhood trauma.
    4.) We already know AI exists, and who has a financial and legal leash on the inventor? Patrick. Maybe there’s another reason for that besides “she’s a loose-cannon idealist”.
    5.)What better way to manipulate a telepath than by replacing his parents with AI? He’ll grow up with exactly the right traumas, fears, and personality to serve the conspiracy’s interests. Grow your own villain, keep the heroes busy, and he can’t do a thing about it because his powers don’t work on robots. He can’t manipulate them, understand them, or gain any useful information out of them. Maybe that’s why they didn’t kill him like the other kids; they needed a tool.
    I could be wrong, but it kind of makes sense, doesn’t it?
    And who is the conspiracy? I don’t know. But who profits? The people who already benefit from the status quo; we know, because the children who were murdered were the ones who could disrupt Things-As-They-Are, so naturally they had to go. Patrick and Alison were useful tools… less so now, though, what with leaving their roles and all. Wonder how the conspiracy will try to compensate; maybe they don’t need to…

    • Zinc

      Love it, especially points 3+4.

      • Micklethwait

        Thank you!

    • Gotham

      I want to upvote you a million times.
      This is amazing. This is why comment sections were made.

      Patrick’s mom is Pearl is Alison from the future is a killer robot also from the future is Max’ mom CONFIRMED

      • Micklethwait

        Thank you! I’ve been thinking about this for a while; seems to me that the Very Best Kind of fiction is the kind that makes you think.
        I’ve been looking back, and another thing occurred to me: it’s being strongly implied that Patrick killed his mother. What better way for the conspiracy to dispose of evidence of their tampering?
        It’s a good “Start of Darkness”. Manipulate young Patrick into “murdering” his mother, he’ll take care of ALL the evidence, and he’ll be able to better understand people like Cleaver.

    • Weatherheight

      There is not one shred of evidence to support this.
      Neither is there evidence to deny it.
      I’d like to say I’m keeping an open mind, but even now I’m now seeing Pearl with Linda Hamilton’s face… or better yet Kristana Loken.
      I want this to be true, so it probably isn’t…

    • Of course, it’s easy enough to time travel into the future. You even get a decent period of planning and preparation while you do so..

    • David Brown

      They’re even better tools now that they’ve left their roles. Why?
      Whether you are biodynamic and fight against the status quo with everything you’ve got, you’ll lose or give up, and do so in a very obvious and public way.
      Whether you go out of your way to champion the status quo, once you start getting too much attention and begin to become recognizeable over the status quo, you’ll back down and let the System take over for you. This is also done in a very obvious and public way.

      Both suits their purposes.

  • friendlymosquito

    I have a question: Is Patrick remembering his mother murdering his dog, or is he remembering his mother imagining killing the dog?

    • Danygalw

      Do you think he knows?

  • zellgato

    I do wonder howaccurate this memory is…
    The doggy corpse disappears. So that supports the thought that, kiling the dog was her mental thought.
    also helps the thought, given what she was talkinga bout before, that he is fairly experimented

    • Kifre

      I don’t know that the dog’s corpse disappearing is so much proof that he wasn’t killed. Baby Patrick is terrified in this strip, the disappearance of the dog could just as easily reflect his attention shifting entirely to the threat that has just found him.

      • Zinc

        Or Pearl could have kicked the corpse away between panels for extra measure. You know, if you’re gonna Kill The Dog, why not Kick It too while you’re at it…

      • zellgato

        Yup. Everything in his head falls heavily under the unreliable narrator purview

  • Alex Hollins

    Shoot. It’s Dr. Rosenblum.

    • Gotham

      Her nose got quite surgered, if true

    • Zinc

      Nah, Dr. Rosenblum has green eyes, while Pearl’s eyes are probably brown (see other threads).

      Obviously, Dr. Rosenblum is Max’s mother.

  • Oracle

    You know what else isn’t nice? Strangling puppies.

    • Darkoneko Hellsing

      Well it looks like he’s next on the list, speaking of which.

  • Leena

    I love this comic and its ability to keep me up thinking about it even when it’s sad. Patrick’s mom is so far one of the more terrifying aspects of it. Allison’s dismay at seeing Patrick terrified by his mom only makes it worse, especially since she’s helpless to help him since it’s a memory. I love the dynamic between her and Patrick and I’m glad that he’s back in the story. I hope that they end up happy.

    • David Brown

      Ah, I hope for your sake that it’s where the story goes, but I can’t see anything happening to Patrick besides his knowledge getting at least mostly passed on to Alison, and then his mind shattering and him dying, never having known love through his whole life, except temporarily from murdered pets.

  • RobNiner ♫

    But it’s all I’ve got.

  • I hope he suddenly discovers that he can fry her brain.

  • Ray Radlein

    where did the puppy go