i’ve registered my preference for flavour of neoliberal misery, let’s get back to this webcomic [retrospective note: it was election day]
anyway yeah there’s a 3x showdown combo. nanase (who can fly with magic) fights vlad (who can fly with wings and greater chimera telekinetics). elliot goes cat mode (guess the transformation’s gotten easier) and fights hedge. ellen and guineas just kind of shrug at each other and settle it by thumb war.
anyway vlad has ~already felt all the pain~ when he tried to go into human mode, so he doesn’t care about being punched and whatever. what a fucking nerd
anyway he does some kind of sonic thing and that takes nanase out
ellen catches nanase, then zaps vlad with the transformation beam (conceding the thumb war? that’s a strategically risky move!). this has an unclear effect but seems to make vlad crash.
ellen threatens to hit everyone else with the GIRL RAY. everyone’s too scared of transgending, so damien figures it’s time to intervene. grace has had enough though, and breaks free in like, the new highest power mode.
so i guess now we find out what’s the deal with the skull thing that’s been haunting Grace. that must be the rockape element?
the result: she has even more things sticking out of her face. now she has horns in addition to furry ears and antennae. also like more tails and stuff.
this is like, the reshiram/zekrom school of design. not a fan
so yeah there’s a big fight. damien shoots fire out of his hands, idk, this is not entertaining to me.
anyway grace kind of pwns damien and overcomes his healing factor so he absconds. nice, grace
she chases him and begs him to surrender so they can all go home. he’s like nah, i’m a god probably, this is a fight to the death. he turns up the fire powers so much that he ends up blowing himself up, trying to take them both out.
at this point, we have run out of commentary from 2015!Dan Shive. just the comic from here on out.
anyway Nioi pops in and rescues Grace with some kind of bubble dealie. She reveals that she’s a ‘voluntary servant’ of Lord Tedd, and informs Grace there’s one more thing to do before some nebulous ‘good guys’ show up.
there’s a massive exposition dump on the effects of the dewitchery diamond. then Nioi does something very nebulous with Ellen’s incorrectly-aged ‘soul’ and buggers off back to Lord Tedd’s dimension.
we find out what happened to Vlad, who has been transformed into a normatively-female human body, and is alive. a soldier shows up. we are introduced to a new character: Command Jaguar, who’s part of a US government cleanup crew. he has blank white eyes. the members of his squad include at least one human and Uryuom.
Grace can now hide her antennae if she wants to.
Vlad is entirely happy with the transformation, and has no wish to transform back. She says she was never a man as far as she was concerned, which seems like a license for a trans headcanon to me.
Now Damien is dead, the Furry Crew are no longer hostile to the protags. Everyone hugs it out. The kids go back home, and we see that Tedd was desperately worried about Elliot and Grace.
Nanase is still feeling the aftereffects of Vlad’s scream. She’s staying in Tedd’s house tonight, and Ellen is looking after her.
Justin has now fully braided Susan’s hair, and we get a joke about her being unrecognisable, which kind of… in this art style, hairstyles are all we have to tell the characters apart, so…
Nanase astrally projects to Elliot/Ellen’s house and gets to see Ellen ask Elliot to do his ‘girly transformation’ which results in cuddling and Nanase experience ‘sensory overload’. Um. OK.
Grace ends up sleeping with Tedd on the sofa. Tedd’s dad, who had previously forbidden Tedd from sharing a bed with Grace, notices, but does not intervene.
We get some author commentary in strip form about Dan Shive’s original plans for the Painted Black story. Originally, it was going to be grimdarker. I’m glad Dan Shive chose not to go that route. From the sounds of things, the story has improved a lot between conception and actually being written. I’m also glad to hear that Dan Shive has no desire to write a similar story, because the DBZ-style battles are not the comic’s strength at all. (Its strengths are being able to do the kind of gender shit that was necessary at the time, slowly improving characterisation, and the endless potential of the transformations theme, I guess.)
We get a couple of weeks’ worth of guest strips. None of them are particularly funny or notable.