I was meaning to try to reduce the amount of summarising the plot and focus on commentary. But I totally failed. I have however started linking to arc starts so it’s easier to follow along with me.
The museum we start in is in the UK! Yay! The guided tour presentation is pretty silly, but this is EGS, and yeah, it’s a magician who turned into a statue, that’s going to be silly no matter what. The inscription on the base says he will ‘rise only to reap what [he has] sown’ and, given this is apparently hours before Ellen came into being, this suggests this guy is probably the wizard who created the Dewitchery Diamond, and probably wants to kill Ellen or something. Maybe I’m wrong about that.
Sure enough, Beardy McWizard wakes up as soon as Ellen is created, and summons ‘modern clothes’ consisting of a trenchcoat and fedora (yeah uh. may want to work on your ‘modern clothes’ spell there.)
Beardy summons a demon doggy to figure out which one is ‘the abomination’ i.e. Ellen.
Anyway meanwhile Elliot wakes up in a normatively-female body. He manages to change back. Involuntary transformations, huh.
We get a fake-out about Susan going on a date with Catalina, but it’s just her fantasy. She regrets turning Catalina down.
Tedd arrives at school and causes a stir: they’re wearing a vest, which is supposed to be part of the womens’ uniform (but not a skirt). Solidarity with Susan?
Indeed so. Tedd makes a speech challenging everyone for having a go at Susan. It gets a mixed reception but definitely some people are swayed. The idea of the two ‘natures’ of Susan - blonde and affectionate vs. black-dyed-hair and sarcastic - is made literal in an echo of the ‘logic’ vs ‘curiosity’ mini-Susans imagery.
Dan Shive writes:
The former feminist, who I refer to as “Sandi” for now, was not originally going to be Tony’s lady friend. I wanted to do the “if my boyfriend says it’s ok” joke [[2008-05-07|from before]], however, and I wound up liking the idea that the anonymous boyfriend referred to was Tony. I also like having additional people that help show that while Tony can be a big jerk, it is mostly towards Tedd and he can get along with other people. That’s not to say he isn’t a jerk to a lot of people; it’s just that he’s much more of one towards Tedd.
This baffles me, because it seems to imply Tony is a controlling boyfriend who would prevent his girlfriend from doing something she wants to do (in this case, cheerleading). That makes him more of a jerk, not less.
But Tedd got a genuinely great moment - and was, reasonably, terrified during the whole ordeal. Susan gives them a handshake and thanks rather than a hug as affectionate-Susan wanted.
Catalina, on the other hand, does hug Tedd. She says she struggles to be so articulate when she’s angry, and she’s really worried about Susan. Tedd hugs her awkwardly.
Nanase has new spells: one that instantly waps her clothes (cf wardrobifier) with other clothes in other locations, and she can also use it to snatch clothes from other people if they don’t have magic resistance from e.g. Anime-Style Martial Arts training. Her second spell creates a ‘semi-autonomous’ duplicate of herself, that she can control consciously (with difficulty) or subconsciously (with unpredictable results). Ellen encourages her to keep fewer secrets if she wants fewer sneaky spells.
Unfortunately, they then run into the mysterious and creepy English teacher Mr. Raven, who is apparently delighted to discover that Nanase and Ellen are friends.
cw sexual assault, shitty discussion of sex work
There’s a really fucked panel of Raven as a stereotypical ‘pimp’ making the protags wear sexualised outfits for better grades (HA HA RAPE) with this commentary:
There are limits to what I’ll put in EGS, even in fantasy sequences. There are plenty of odd and disturbing things I’d be willing to put in them, such as the sort of things that make shippers glee with delight, but there is a line and this comic almost crossed it.
I really liked the visual of Raven as a pimp. I don’t approve of pimping or prostitution in general, but I find the “stereotypical pimp” look hilarious. However, that on its own doesn’t really fit the “dirty old man” fantasy. Yes, there can be, and sadly probably are, dirty old men who are pimps, but that’s not what I was going for here.
To make the visual work for the context, there needed to be girls included, which was almost a deal breaker. The idea of drawing Ellen and Nanase as hookers, even in a fantasy sequence, sickened me. I almost dropped the “Pimp Raven” panel altogether when I realized I could add a verbal joke to the visual that makes it clear that they’re not hookers. This version remains disturbing, but it’s not so bad that I have a problem showing it as a fantasy sequence.
Granted, one could argue that posing in such a manner for a better grade is a form of prostitution, but that’s arguing semantics. Point is, the fantasy is agreeing to pose, and ONLY pose, for a suggestive photo, and that is within my tolerance levels. Were the scene not a fantasy, that would be a different story.
There is so much wrong with this. First of all, the whole premise of this adult making these two kids perform sexual favours in any context is horribly devoid of humour.
Secondly: “I don’t approve of pimping or prostitution in general” fuck you Dan Shive, sex workers have every right to earn a living doing the work that they find most appropriate in their circumstances. This moralising just leads to violence.
Thirdly: “I find the “stereotypical pimp” look hilarious” - the “stereotypical pimp” is through and through an anti-Black stereotype. stop it
Fourthly: the idea that a teacher sexually assaulting his students for grades is ‘less disturbing’???
This isn’t funny :(
Susan is recruiting for the feminist society. Elliot and Tedd agreed to join if they are two members short. Susan is actually OK with this, partly because Tedd stood up for her in front of the whole school earlier.
The first recruit is Liz, who has apparently shown up in the comic before. Liz has short green hair, used to wear a hoodie and jeans, and is pretty pissed about the new uniform policy too.
Sandi, a former member, is inspired to rejoin after Tedd’s speech.
Matt Cohen, head of the student council, approaches the table, awkwardly apologetic over his role in the uniform situation coming to be. He asks if there’s anything he can do, and Susan reluctantly tells him to hand out fliers.
Elliot suddenly gets an irresistable urge to transform. He manages to get into a boys’ bathroom first - only to end up transforming in front of two other boys. And not to look like Ellen like he has before, but to a new form resembling Grace, which Dan Shive calls the ‘Gracelyn’ form.
Tedd doesn’t recognise him, and texts Susan to let her know there’s another girl in the boys’ uniform.
There’s a reference to The Wotch in the commentary (and apparently the no-longer-visible title). That’s a comic I should probably read too, I suspect.
Elliot escapes from Susan into the school auditorium (this is a pretty fucking posh school!)
In the commentary, Dan Shive refers to Elliot with ‘she’ pronouns. Contra Dan, I am going to try to keep referring to characters with my best guess as to how they identify, regardless of the shape of their body.
Elliot accidentally blunders into Beardy’s ‘bloodgrem’ dog-monkey-demon-thing, which attacks him despite Beardy’s orders. They fight each other with everyday objects, but Elliot is the clear winner. He transforms back, the bloodgrem realises it doesn’t have a chance and legs it. But Elliot gives it a solid whack, causing it to disappear in a cloud of smoke.
Elliot catches up with his friends and Susan realises immediately that the ‘mysterious girl’ was him. Nobody really minds. Susan has apparently realised there’s some magic shit going on and Elliot has ‘awakened’ as a result of exposure to the crystal, and she’s texting Ellen to warn her the same might have happened to her…
- so Elliot has to transform every so often to prevent involuntary transformations
- Elliot’s powers will involve transformation into a normatively-female body
- Ellen’s powers will relate to her beam.
Beardy shows up, convinced Ellen is going to cause horrible terror. He detects something scary at Moperville South.
More exposition on magic, consolidiating what we’ve covered so far. All the zany shit in the comic unified as being coming from this same source.
Further exposition: Because he was initially nonmagical, Elliot now has to transform every six hours to keep his magic under control. Ellen on the ohter hand, being entirely created by magic, only has to use her beam twice a day.
Final exposition: whether someone is a ‘wizard’ or not is something that’s set from birth, and a ‘wizard’ can copy other peoples’ spells.
Dan Shive got burned out on colour and sensibly switched back to black and white. Respect for good self-care decision.
Susan’s going to be on the news, who came to the school because of the situation with the monsters, but ended up interviewing her about the uniforms. But first, a flashback.
The principal continues to threaten Susan about not wearing uniforms. Susan remains defiant. Catalina informs Susan about a news van, and Susan grabs her and runs outside. She gives a very short interview with little substance - but what do you expect, it’s amazing this is on TV news at all. The interviewer is vaguely supportive.
Afterwards, Susan and Catalina make up a bit. Susan still isn’t willing to be in a romantic relationship, but they agree to go see a movie as friends. aw. (still holding out hope that Susan is willing to come out as gay/bi later though…)
Cut to Mr. Raven, being sinister. And cut away.
Elliot ended up looking like Grace because he was thinking of her when he transformed. So tries out a different form, imagining having blonde hair like Carol the news aldy. He ends up looking like Carol, and his clothes change too. New power!
Apparently the reason he looked like an Elliot-Grace hybrid before is because he was resisting the spell, and his clothes didn’t change then because he wasn’t thinking of changing clothes. Thanks, immortals. Thimmortals.
Chaos is lurking outside the window, unimpressed by Elliot’s magical development.
Beardy is unable to understand why anyone would change their body to alter perceptions of gender. What a noob.
Beardy is hesitant to kill Ellen now he knows she’s human. But he made a very solemn vow, so he decides he’ll murder her anyway.
The Dark Clouds Gather
Ellen and Grace arrive at school, and encounter Raven. He cryptically warns them to ‘keep their guard up’ when he has his walking cane.
Nanase shows up. She’s cut her hair very short, and looks cute (and gay) as heck! And she’s wearing new stompy boots. Definitely taking the ‘stop hiding’ suggestion to heart :) She’s not coming out as a lesbian, but she’s dressing how she wants to. Despite her expectations, her mother disapproves only slightly.
Ellen really puts her foot in it, thinking the hairstyle change has something to do with her. Nanase leaves, in a bad mood, getting irritating at small things. Magus is following her, with zero sympathy. He decides to bugger off.
Abruptly Chaos shows up and tells him to follow Ellen around. A new character, with long pointy ears, also arrives on the spiritual plane, and says Ellen will die if he doesn’t. Initially I thought this character was a different form of Chaos. Later, I suspected not and edited this. Later still I changed my mind again.
Talon vs Scythe
Beardy shows up at the school. And Raven is there to meet him… he tells him he’s trespassing.
Raven’s the good guy? Figures I guess. Still a creep. Beardy shut off power and comms, and in response, Raven’s put up barriers over all the rooms to keep the students out of hte halls.
Raven delivers an ultimatum: if Beardy doesn’t surrender, Raven will kill him. Raven stands up for the students of the school, and Beardy reveals explicitly what was pretty obvious from the start: he’s the creator of the Dewitchery Diamond.
Raven makes a Lord of the Rings ref. I guess for all his vampire schtick, he’s a big dork. Those aren’t all that much in contradiction.
Revelation: Raven is the son of an immortal and a human (guess that can happen), which is termed an ‘elf’ (no wonder he likes LotR). Apparently that means Beardy can’t hurt him, but he can’t stop Beardy either.
Beardy refuses to surrender, so Raven almost beheads him just like that. Damn. Unfortunately, Beardy dodges, so it’s swordfighting time.
Nanase, who is unfortunately out in the hallways and observing the fight, attempts to astral-project a message to Ellen. She realises that she has a fairy-doll for every transformed form, but her efforts to reach her friends this way are unsuccessful due to the barriers in the corridors.
The battle between Raven and Beardy (his name’s actually Abraham, but I’m going to call him Beardy still) continues with magic shit. Details aren’t important; Raven gets Beardy on the floor with a sword to his throat and tells him to surrender again, but Beardy takes the opportunity to fireball him instead. This knocks Raven flat…
Nanase’s duplicate form Fox flips out and tries to attack Beardy. Nanase takes the opportunity to abscond.
With Raven out cold, Ellen is able to open the door. She discovers a fallen fairy doll in the hallway, and then Nanase arrives.
Beardy attacks Fox with some kind of orb thing with a spiderweb pattern and a feather and beads hanging on it on a small string. (It reminds me of a dreamcatcher kinda). The result is that it’s basically a sleep grenade.
Dan Shive says:
The orb’s design was inspired by Dreamcatchers, as many have already guessed. I had the grenade like sleep orb planned for a while, but the design was REALLY last minute. I wanted something associated with sleep, but not too overt. I didn’t want to put a bunch of Z’s on it, for example.
So what’s Abe, an English wizard doing with a magic grenade designed after an Ojibwa dream catcher? Darned if I know. Dude’s traveled in his day and met other dudes who have traveled. Get off my back! Sheesh.
so it’s just an arbitrary aesthetic grab. right.
With everyone asleep, Beardy is able to grab Ellen.
Wrath of God
We are now more than 1000 comics in! Compare that to the most recent comic number which is 2206 (though this may not be the exact number of comics).
The mysterious pointy-eared character from earlier turns out to be Raven’s mum, the immortal side of the family. Raven’s first name is Adrian.
The mysterious Magus tries to amplify Beardy’s feelings of guilt as he goes over the story of the Dewitchery Diamond’s creation. It doesn’t stop him.
Someone disguised as Fox slaps Nanase awake and fills her in on the situation. Probably Raven’s mum.
Nanase projects to the fairy doll. Her other new spell (apart from hair transforming) means that as a fairy doll her punches pack some weight. She narrowly prevents Beardy from beheading Ellen.
Beardy takes out the fairy doll, but now she has the location and can send more dolls. Unfortunately, when the dolls are injured or killed, she feels it. Wow, dark.
Nanase spams fairy dolls, and Beardy keeps killing them. This is brutal. And because she’s so self-sacrificing for Ellen, and casting so many spells, she gets a new spell. Which is accompanied by a flashy powerup.
This turns out to be a giant angel form with four wings, that she can astrally project like the fairy dolls.
So yeah Nanase is so gay that she gets awesome powerups. I like this development.
Nanase goes to rescue Ellen in Lesbiangel form, but Beardy is still willing to fight her. I can’t believe Dan Shive thinks he can be seen as a good guy in any way. OK, apaprently he’s still going for the ‘summoned creatures’ hypothesis.
Nanase gets him in a wing-hold and flies him off the ground and yells at him about how Ellen is a person. She manages to convince him to reinterpret his oath - he swore to protect people or whatever. And she manages to get an oath not to harm Ellen. Just in time to avoid smashing both of them into paste.
Nanase doesn’t smash him to paste, of course. She does, however, keep him at swordpoint until the X-files parody FBI agents (Cranium and Wolf) get there. They have magic wands. And they’re unambiguously dating.
Tedd’s dad arrives, furious, and zaps Beardy unconscious, severely injuring him, as Nanase is taken to hospital for severe magic burn out. Magus figures he wasn’t needed after all. But at that point, Raven’s mum (who may be Chaos) shows up, and tells him to amplify Tedd’s dad’s emotions so he kills Beardy.
We find out that Raven’s mum was being extremely disingenuous - she wouldn’t have intervened to save Ellen by waking up Nanase if not for Magus sticking around, and that was the sense in which his presence saved Ellen. She pushes him to kill Beardy for revenge, and suggests the Dewitchery Diamond is necessary to come back. She threatens to withdraw her support if he refuses.
Magus refuses anyway. Raven’s mum shows she is indeed Chaos, and goes moderately cosmic horror to beat the snot out of Magus.
She reveals her name is
Enoby Dark’ness Dementia Raven Way Pandora Chaos Raven. And she is, presumably, the next villain.
Nanase wakes up in hospital, with Ellen at her bedside. Agent Cranium (I think) explains that she’s temporarily burned out her magic with the OP angel spell, resulting in a corresponding hair colour change to black.
Nanase tells Ellen that she loves her without equivocation, and finds newfound resolve to tell her parents everything. Agent Cranium pushes hard until she reluctantly accepts the need for lies. And then we learn… her mum, in fact, knows the full story, and Agent Cranium is helping her hide from Nanase what she knows.
Mr. Raven has also survived, and is in hospital. Someone approaches, him, disguised as Agent Wolf - who is, despite his antics, apparently a very very powerful wizard. And sure enough, it’s Pandora! Raven is deeply pissed that she’d put his students at risk to teach him some bullshit lesson about the dangers of fighting or something. He has long wanted to fight to defend people, but not been allowed to as a half-immortal.
Pandora then declares she’s going to destroy the world and replace it with one where he can fuck around without worrying about responsibility. He’s not exactly cool with that, but dramatic declaration done, she absconds.
Beardy Abe is back in statue mode. His inscription has changed from ‘reap what I have sown’ to ‘atone for my sins’.
Pretending to know nothing, Nanase’s mum walks in with fake tears to see Ellen and Nanase kissing. She seems to be accepting that her daughter is gay - only to say it’s “only a phase” and patronisingly dismiss Nanase’s angry reaction.
fuck you nanase’s mum
The school uniform policy has also been overturned thanks to Susan’s appearance on the news. There’s a cheap and unsatisfying joke that it’s because of some ridiculous laundring-white-shirts reason.
Tedd’s dad is taken off the paranormal investigations division for failing to keep the supernatural shit in Moperville a secret.
And then Pandora makes a brief appearance on live television to stir things up even more.
We’ll tack this discussion on the end of the arc, if there’s anything to say.
- There’s a third staff member at Dr. Germahn’s lab, called Chika, who is a skilled scientist.
- Tedd’s mother is Nanase’s mum’s sister, and they are estranged.
- There’s an amusing thing where everyone’s shrinking.
Panel four is no doubt the most “what the crap?” part of this comic (which, now that I think of it, is saying something). It’s basically my response to arguments against the convenience of transformation in EGS and any calls to make that aspect of it more gritty and realistic. Transformation itself in this comic is absurdly safe and convenient for a reason, and it’s part of the fantasy and fun. The potential trouble comes from what happens after being transformed, not during.
I’m not saying a more “gritty” approach is wrong in general; I speak only of what is appropriate for this comic. The world is full of cynical, gritty and dark comics full of brooding, angst and doom, and while I’m sure many of those comics are good, one of my specific intentions for EGS is for it to not be one of those comics. I don’t want it to be 100% light and fluffy with no conflict, but there are significant limits to how much angst I want it to have.
This is something I’m glad to hear, honestly.
Also Dan Shive says he got some uncharacteristically hostile feedback about a rant about bathroom hygiene which is just weird.
And that’s the arc wrapped up.