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  • ZBass

    Makes such a beautiful change to have a superhero with supportive (alive) parents! Thank you for avoiding the orphan or estranged child tropes.

    • Scott

      But not the “anyone who is willing to put on a cape and tights than go around punching people in the face has some kind of psychological damage” trope.

      • Meghan

        I think they subverted that one though. Usually in the trope the psychological damage is what sends them on their quest to become Caped Crusaders. Here, being a Caped Crusader is what psychologically damages them.

      • Well, you don’t have to be crazy. But it helps. And you probably will end up with some sort of trauma by the end of it.

      • Oakreef

        I think you have the cart before the horse there. Being a child soldier is likely to cause some issues for anyone.

  • Lostman

    Doc why would you send her THAT!

    • Mechwarrior

      Intentionally trying to push her over the edge.

    • ampg

      Yeah, I mean, I could understand it as an immediate follow-up to their earlier conversation, but coming right on the heels (based on the timestamp) of her confrontation with Moonshadow, it does seem to be a bit of a dick move.

      • MisterTeatime

        How would she know about the confrontation with Moonshadow? Alison hasn’t told her, Moonshadow almost certainly hasn’t told her, and we know from earlier in this very scene that it’s not public knowledge yet.

        It’s possible that she’s actively working with Mary and/or trying to tear Alison down, but it’s equally possible that she was telling the truth about never working with Mary directly and she’s just following up on their earlier conversation as she offered. I know it takes me a while to remember to email someone sometimes, especially if I wasn’t at a computer when I originally decided to do it.

        • ampg

          She called the doc right before going after Moonshadow, and even though the mainstream media probably doesn’t know exactly what caused the dam to explode, you better believe the government entity assigned to track biodynamics (Dr. Rosenblum’s employer) knows exactly what happened. I’m pretty confident the timing was intentional.

    • Carla

      I don’t think the Doc knows everything that just happened to Allison, and she had mentioned that she would send it along.

  • RobNiner

    Supportive dad is best dad.

  • Joshua Taylor

    Al’s dad is the best.

  • Steele

    Wow, her dad’s grammar is so bad it makes her cry!

  • ∫Clémens×ds

    Ouch, bad, bad move, Maria Rosenblum. There’s hardly anything more triggering on the Internet than the almighty “let me provide you with some data supporting my belief system.”

    To be fair, Alison asked for it, but it was two weeks ago and she was just being nice.

    • Catherine Kehl

      Alison’s a big girl, and big girls get to deal with data. I’m not saying it won’t be hard, but I’m pretty sure she can handle it.

      • tinwatchman

        Also, one might point out that said data is more an argument for women’s shelters and protective custody measures than an invisible stalker going around slitting throats.

    • Who’s Maria Rosenblum? There’s no cast page and the archives here are really hard to navigate.

      • Arthur Frayn

        Her doctor and government case worker who doesn’t see a big problem with the invisible slasher.

        • Happyroach

          And if there is a conspiracy, right now she’s a number one candidate for membership.

      • 3-I

        Dr. Rosenblum’s her state-appointed doctor/therapist/etc.

    • MrSing

      There is lies, big lies, and statistics.

      • Johnathan

        I’m a scientist/statistician and this phrase always bothers me. There are good and bad uses of statistics and statistical methods, sure, but I feel like the phrase just writes off the fact that there is good, useful and truthful stuff in there! In fact, lots of it is, as long as you know what you’re looking at and how to correctly interpret the data. The example in this comic, (a data set, “reviewed” by a doctor who has enough education to be at the forefront of biodynamic research), is probably gonna be a good starting place for information! Likely not at all lies.

        • Mechwarrior

          A doctor with an agenda, though. As a statistician, I’m sure you’re well aware of how biased sources can distort results even when everything they say is true.

        • masterofbones

          I can’t really argue with it super well, because I don’t even know if this study exists. I can’t find it anywhere.

          But I can pretty much guarantee that any study talking about gender issues is going to have MAJOR issues with bias messing with the numbers. At this point gender issues have become so political that the scientific method more and more often goes by the wayside in favor of results that favor one’s political stance.

          • D. Schwartz

            Not at all. This is why when one is approaching the processed data, not a news article, you pay as much attention to the methodology as the information. We then understand the limitations and make it work with that limit understood. This is almost always ignored due to a lack of statistical understanding.

          • masterofbones

            >you pay as much attention to the methodology as the information.

            Which is why I can’t debate the quality of this article very well. I don’t even know if it exists, much less verify the quality of its methodology.

          • D. Schwartz

            Then go looking for it so you can do that.

          • masterofbones

            I have, which is why I am uncertain as to its existence. Only one other site uses those numbers, and they fail to give any citations whatsoever.

            HOWEVER, I was able to find stats related to abuse after separation. Lo and behold, the number 70 was present, but in *slightly* different context. “Over 70% of the women injured in domestic violence cases are injured after separation.” In other words, AT MAX 3x(actually less on account of overlap), not 70x.

            Don’t trust numbers without verification.

          • D. Schwartz

            Two things:

            1) Well yes.

            2) And did you look for primary research on scholar or any other journal site?

          • masterofbones

            Yes. I still remain unable to find any primary sources whatsoever.

        • MrSing

          Basically what Mechwarrior said. I’ve seen more than enough statistics in my days and most of them were abysmal. Especially those of sociological studies.
          The pools of data used and the criteria that are put forward very often undermine or completely alter the drawn conclusion if you know about them. Not to mention that a lot of people have this idea that they have to prove their conclusion instead of looking at the raw data and draw conclusion from it. And don’t forget that some people just outright lie because they are so convinced they are right.
          Even more miserable is when good scientist than base their studies on these false previous studies and use that data. It can basically ruin branches of study.
          Tunnel vision is a very real and very common threat for scientists of any kind.

        • Oren Leifer

          I agree that statistics are as often maligned than misused. Really, it means that more people need to take a basic statistics class to understand what is significant and how to understand what numbers thrown at you mean. And a healthy dose of common sense. (Also, far too few Americans actually bother to understand civics, but that’s neither here nor there.)

        • Arthur Frayn

          Statistics are an informational tool. Tools can be used to create or destroy, to help or to harm. Like firearms, explosives, and technical language, statistics can be used to coerce, undermine, and confuse, as well as perform useful functions.

          • fairportfan

            The individual source of the statistics may easily be the weakest link. Harold Cox tells a story of his life as a young man in India. He quoted some statistics to a Judge, an Englishman, and a very good fellow. His friend said,

            Cox, when you are a bit older, you will not quote Indian statistics with that assurance. The Government are very keen on amassing statistics—they collect them, add them, raise them to the nth power, take the cube root and prepare wonderful diagrams. But what you must never forget is that every one of those figures comes in the first instance from the chowty dar [chowkidar] (village watchman), who just puts down what he damn pleases.

            ATTRIBUTION: JOSIAH STAMP, Some Economic Factors in Modern Life, pp. 258–59 (1929).


            BTW: Are you any relation to the Commander?

  • Mujaki

    “I’m… *sniff* I’m okay. I’m not crying. It’s just eye strain, from all the glare on this computer screen.”

    • 3-I

      “I fixed that problem six years ago, Al. What the hell. BUY A NEW COMPUTER.”

  • Pol Subanajouy

    “…in an even fight between the world and my girl, i put my money on u every time!”

    That is such a wonderfully sweet dad thing to say. <3

    • MrSing

      Also kinda foreboding.

    • Shame the world never plays fair.

      • Mechwarrior

        If you find yourself in a fair fight, your tactics suck.

  • Catherine Kehl

    I’m kind of struck by the symbolic contrast here. In her former life, everything that Al had going for her came from having a pretty awesome upbringing. She really got everything that was good in white middle class suburban values. And in a lot of ways, everything that she sucked at came from the same place – her tendency to see things in black and white terms, her supreme confidence in her own interpretations, etc. Her invulnerability is almost an external representation of her own privilege (really, I don’t think this is particularly subtle 😉 )

    …and now she’s questioning all of that. Look, my feeling is long term that it’s not about rejecting one thing and accepting something else – that would be, among other things, tremendously wasteful, as her family is pretty awesome. But she’s struggling to integrate and understanding of a more darker, more nuanced and complicated world, and she’s questioning a lot of her own values and even her own ability to have relevant values.

    So here she gets this pair of emails. One of them in effect says – yo, your teammate that you tried to shut down? She had a serious point, and maybe she was actually doing something useful even if it wasn’t perfect.* (I’m not saying Dr. Rosenblum was trying to make this point, or that this is the best read, but from where Alison is right now, I suspect this is the read she’s taking.)

    And then she gets email from her father – her dying father – which is corny as fuck and offering her his absolute and uninformed unconditional love.

    I mean, is that not her life, or what? Antithesis, thesis.

    • Pol Subanajouy

      I love this analysis.

      • Catherine Kehl

        Thank you. …even with the dangling footnote. (I have such a terrible case of post-conference brain scramble it’s not even funny.)

    • Lostman

      Your only as good as the information you have.

      If I’m a lauded to metaphorical for a moment: is it better to untie the knot or cut? Mary in her methods/actor/superhero age is trying to solve the problem in the simplest way possibly, the question is will it work.

      • Catherine Kehl

        What do you mean by work?

        That’s a serious question. If you are the women and the families, and you feel like you’ve been utterly abandoned and have no where else to turn, I can see that Moonshadow might “work” for where you are. From that standpoint, I think it logically follows that the best critique, maybe the only effective critique, of someone like Moonshadow is going to have to be a better solution – and maybe just an incrementally better one. Words just aren’t going to cut it. So the rallying cry becomes “Stop telling me why it’s bad, and tell me what you’re going to do instead.”

        Having written all of that, it’s not my solution, and even when I’d been at my most despairing and thinking of some pretty awful ideas, they wasn’t quite that. (Would you have like my 2am solutions any better? Really, I’m not sure they weren’t worse, in many ways.)

        • Dartangn

          There’s still a problem there.
          “tell me what you’re going to do instead” is a flawed defense. Something must be done, killing people who violate my sense of justice is something, therefore I’m doing the right thing until something better comes along. That’s the essential reasoning there.

          Particularly considering what she’s doing is pretty extreme by contemporary social standards in every sense, not just in justice. Society, in many respects, is having faith in the fact that that suspicious looking bugger on the far side of the street, won’t paint himself naked and murder you over sheep. Incrementally better in the sense that at least SOME sort of punishment is going on (and obviously nobody wants to see good things happen to bad people), but it’s a massive problem in the sense that she’s hacking at the bedrock of the society she lives in. It’s a petit revolution, with the major problems that go with it.

          Basically, Mary’s just as prone to lazy ‘middle-class’ thinking that Allison is dealing with. There’s people that are a problem. Lets kill the people. Simple. Same method as solving poverty by asking the poor people to earn more.

        • Lostman

          As in ‘going killing peoples throats going to create any long lasting change’. Here the thing; family of the people Mary killed cannot go after her however but if found out about oh lets say the old women daughters or that girl from the beginning… I’m pretty sure the ax would fail on them.

    • Spicier Angel

      Live and learn indeed. I agree wholeheartedly.

      I only wish to add that Alison is having this worldview realignment in the company of a kind–and so far extremely supportive–individual who unironically painted herself as a self-insert replacing the archangel Michael. I love the way Lisa pulls off such grand imagery. Not as a claim of what Lisa is today, but what she wants to become. And it makes Lisa a very interesting companion to guide Alison in this vulnerable period of discovery.

      Also… *shifty eyes* I ship it.

      I’ll be slightly more serious than usual about this. I’ve met a couple people as good as Lisa. Not just righteous, but brilliant and full of fire. They are incredibly rare and precious. If you find such a person, take my earnest recommendation, and do your very best to become a strong, worthy-as-an-equal colleague/companion. You won’t regret it.

      Hence the shipping.

      • Catherine Kehl

        20 year old me would be so crushed out on Lisa it’s not even funny. I just adore her.

        Though it anyone else giggling at her responses to emotional fraughtness. You’re upset? Let’s look at armour! Upset again? Cupcakes! Emotion hard, insert cool stuff!

    • tinwatchman

      … wouldn’t this data be more of an argument for women’s shelters and protective custody than armed vigilantism? Also, how is Moonshadow helping battered women by going after rapists?

      … for that matter, why the hell isn’t Moonshadow using her powers to HIDE victims of domestic abuse?!? That would be PERFECT! And it wouldn’t involve her making that inevitable “mistake” she and Alison were talking about!

      • Silva

        Killing a rapist is a problem permanently solved. (Regardless of whatever problems it causes as a side effect. It is possible for that to be not worth doing, but it does solve the problem in focus.) Hiding someone from an abuser requires continuous effort for arbitrarily long time. And, on the (correct) response of “No abuser will search FOREVER!”, do you know what they’ll do after they stop searching? Get another one. And it’ll be trivial, as long as female culture is what it is right now. (Was some great fraction of it created by men? Yes. Also: doesn’t matter; whatever went inside the heads of men wouldn’t matter that much if women altogether refused to think similarly.)

        There is the “educate people to be civilized” plan, but it works on *children* (not those already committed to treating women as objects, who’ll just look for new methods as soon as current ones start failing), gives results measurable by *generations*, and none of the recurrent characters is especially good at it (the nominally best is Alison herself, in that she studies it, but I’ll argue again her course often teaches the *opposite* of what is needed; and even if I’m wrong on that, she’s no better than anyone with the same major). It is the most important plan, but one that I don’t think will be portrayed here with any thoroughness (because of the medium, not any fault of the author).

      • Catherine Kehl

        I do think there are a lot of other ways to go after abuser than just killing them.

        But trying to hide all their victims seems really weird – who should be punished here?

    • tinwatchman

      Also, let’s not forget about the bit where her dad might be *dying.* Important, that.

  • Jonathan Stopek

    i miss the alt text

    • Mujaki

      Not every comic needs an alt-text. But don’t worry, you can count on the comments section to come up with something snarky. =)

    • Emmy

      The alt text usually shows up a day or two after the comic posts, for some reason.

  • crazy j

    All of this tech and still no cure for cancer?!

    I am starting to understand why the general population does not like people with super powers. Think of Moonshaddow for instance. Dead set on ending “rape culture” yet no expressed intrest on traveling to the Middle East and dealing with ISIS or ending slavery in Africa.

    • Mechwarrior

      The ability to construct high-tech armor doesn’t automatically make one skilled at finding cures for melanoma.

      • 3-I

        Well, I mean, unless you want to do a Fantastic Voyage style thing and wear high-tech armor that lets you shrink down and enter someone’s body. But that sounds icky.

        • Matthew Dowd

          you mean pintsize and his ability to move through a body via being tiny like vs cleaver?

          • 3-I

            I did not mean that, but I now retroactively do.

    • Boojum

      I don’t think Moonshadow’s powers would be of much overall benefit either, except as an additional terror weapon, but if bombs that kills dozens of ISIS soldiers or slavers for that matter don’t deter them, one lone invisible assassin wont.
      In fact, she’d be killed by a landmine or other trap within a couple of weeks.

      • Classtoise

        Their point still stands; if your only use for your powers is “help myself make myself more awesome while I remain antisocial”, it’s no wonder no one likes you.

        Alison is actually doing more than many of the heroes guilt tripping her for trying to make the world a better place; she’s a firefighter. She can legitimately run into burning buildings to save lives.

        • MisterTeatime

          This is a strong point that definitely applies to Pintsize, Furnace, and Patrick, but for Moonshadow in particular… Remember the very first scene of this issue*, and panel two here. There are a lot of reasonable criticisms of Moonshadow and what she’s doing, but it’d be hard to argue that she isn’t acting on behalf of others. Maybe not in their best interests long-term, but definitely not disregarding what they want.

          *Note that while Mary does volunteer an opinion for Kaylee in panel two, she deliberately refrains from taking that opinion (or Kaylee’s assessment of her intentions in panel three) as Kaylee’s consent. She could take the easy way to where she was already going (decide for herself that Kaylee approves, and proceed with the murders “on her behalf”) but she stops, even refuses that option when it’s offered, and asks for deliberate consent instead.

    • motorfirebox

      Moonshadow’s strategy has at least a snowball’s chance in Florida of working in the US, because the US is a fairly low-violence environment. If she tried it against ISIS, or in places where people use violence to take and sell slaves, she’d just be another killer in a world of killers. She wouldn’t even be particularly good at it, compared to her competition, since she’s just one person and the people she’s fighting control armies.

      It’s also possible that Lisa already cured cancer… and that Templar is sitting on it.

  • Silva

    Second panel: “Can I touch your hair?”

    • Catherine Kehl

      What is *with* that gesture? I was reading it as more of an abortive pat to the back. (But yours is better.

  • Peter G

    I love Alison’s Dad’s email address.

  • Prodigal

    I’ve been where Al is at the end of this comic more times than I care to recall, where you’re overwhelmed and exhausted, and then someone says something kind and you’re so grateful it hurts.

  • tinwatchman

    Just caught up. This comic is fantastic. I’ve always thought the superhero genre works best as a meditation on how to use power. And that’s exactly what Alison Green is trying to do: figure out how to best use the abilities she’s been given.

    Still trying to figure out where I stand on Moonshadow and why. But that was the whole point, wasn’t it?

    So Patrick is totally planning on killing himself, isn’t he? Or at least that’s the endpoint of whatever plan he’s working.

  • Wikimancer

    Amusingly, one interpretation of this is that Lisa’s like “Don’t cry. Don’t you remember how good the capecakes were?!”

  • Catherine Kehl

    Oh, it’s totally a thing – and it’s a hell of a lot better than just letting women die. But do you think it’s a solution we should be content with as a society, rather than, say, a stop-gap and desperation move?

    Let’s just do nothing at all to deal with the abusers, and focus on protecting a subset of their victims – I hope it’s obvious to you why I think this is super lame. It’s something that could be done when there was very little support for broader social solutions, but it’s limited as fuck.