With the popularity of The Comics Curmudgeon, one thing that people have realized is that the traditional “Funny” comic strips you see in newspapers aren’t really that funny at all. For the real wackiness, you actually have to look at the daily “serial strips” that try to tell an ongoing plot.
It seems counter-intuitive, but actually try following one for a few weeks and you’ll more than likely see what I mean. In the past, I’ve discussed Gil Thorp as one such example, but today I’d like to show you another example: The daily version of “The Amazing Spider-Man”. Let’s take a look at the strips for December 18th and 19th, shall we?
First, the strip for Thursday, December 18th.
Let’s start at the second panel and work backwards on this one. The villain, a man calling himself “Big Time” who has an obsessions with clocks (The concept can work–the Batman: The Animated Series version of The Clock King was actually pretty freakin’ cool), says to his fake-Spider-Man accomplice, a guy named “Lefty”, that it’s time to do things the hard way, pulling out a gun as he does so. And what, you ask, was “the easy way” that his Plan B of “Shooting my enemies” is so much harder than?
Did you guess “Trying to drop a giant clock on my ex-wife, the execution of which involves luring said ex-wife (A woman named Maria Lopez, by the way) to the clock and having her stand directly under said clock for about 25 minutes, not taking so much as one step in any direction?” If so, congrats, have a giant clock-shaped cookie.
Yeah. How shooting her would have been harder than an elaborate plan of which your average 1940s movie villain would be proud is beyond me.
So what about Thursday’s first panel? Well, Spider-Man is stopping the aforementioned giant clock from crashing into a wall. Said giant clock has J. Jonah Jameson, Maria’s current lover (And nemesis to Spider-Man) tied up on the back of it. For sheer insanity factor, this pretty much speaks for itself, but if you really want the whole story, go here and click on the entries from the bottom up, starting with “In Which Jonah Gets Punched in the Face“.
Now for Friday, December 19th.
No “man tied to giant rolling clock” antics this time around, sadly, although you’ll note that Spider-Man is just standing around in a heroic pose despite a complete failure to this point to apprehend Big Time (Or even locate him for that matter) in panel 1. Again, though, panel 2 is really the kicker here. Lefty heroically rams into Big Time, causing his shot to go astray. Why? Because he doesn’t want to be an accessory to murder. This would be fine, if he hadn’t already been very close to being an accessory to murder twice over (1. Dropping giant clock on boss’s ex-wife. 2. I’m guessing Jonah was not supposed to survive the fall either), and stood by and did nothing about it. To be fair, in one of the Sunday strips, Lefty/fake Spider Man thought bubbles about how he’s about to become an accessory to murder, but…suffice to say that even earlier than this, Lefty knows perfectly well what’s going on and goes along with it. Others have theorized that the reason for this is that he knew there was no chance of the giant-clock-on-woman gambit actually working, but now that the guns are out, it’s serious. And really, this is about the only thing that even makes sense.
So there you have it. You have to go to the “serious” strips for the real laughs. Remember this.