is the next arc! Given the previous arc was called ‘bringing silly back’ and the amount of drama that resulted in, I have no idea how ironic that title is.

One Way Road

Tedd infodumping is pretty adorable. I kind of want to hear the whole spiel - not so much because I’m all that worried about the intricasies of Dan Shive’s magic system, but just because I like it when people excitedly tell me about something? Grace however is getting deeply fed up with science Tedd.

Nanase’s hair is growing back in. She and Ellen get harassed by a nasty lesbophobic goth called C@7hy Br3nn4n Gerald, who is presumably going to be a recurring character given the detail in his design.

So yeah the first arc is a double date featuring Ellen/Nanase and Tedd/Grace. (Ellanase and Trace? Nanasellen and Gredd?). So two lesbian couples.

Since Dan Shive is commenting on art developments - I should say I’ve been really impressed at how far the art has improved over the run of the comic so far. The backgrounds are now routinely very detailed and shown from a variety of angles, characters are posed naturally with clothing and hair moving in believable ways, and the faces can be very expressive in places (though other times Dan Shive falls back on a copy-and-paste ¾ view neutral expression). And at some point cel-shading has come back, which is cool. Some webcomics are criticised for stagnant art styles or cut-and-paste art, and while I don’t think anyone should be obliged to put more uncompensated labour into a free webcomic than they find comfortable and fun, it’s really cool to see a webcomic author learning so much like this?

Aside: I don’t find men fetishising lesbians all that funny…

Nanase’s mother is still taking every opportunity to be nasty and lesbophobic. While believable (ofc), it’s really uncomfortable to read. (I’m also deeply uncomfortable with the only East Asian parent being the one who is controlling and abusive, given stereotypes about East Asian parents.)

Nanase and Ellen have a commendable commitment to gay smooches. I really like these two (shock as canmom likes lesbian couple), and it’s nice to see them get some more screen time.

The thrust of this arc is about Tedd’s feelings about, as they put it, “inadvertently distancing theirself from their friends” by getting too into their special interests. Ellen gives some pretty solid advice I think? What follows is development of Ellen’s uncomfortable relationship with Tedd after all the cloning and memory shenanigans.

Anyway this was a nice little character storyline, the stuff Tedd is struggling with resonates with me as a possibly-maybe-autistic person, and I don’t really have anything to say about the rest.

Oh Tedd seems to have a mysterious Nintendo Power Glove so that’s something that’s clearly going to crop up later.

Legends of Celida

It’s a short bit on Zelda. Notably Susan has gotten quite a lot more adept at controlling her subconsciously operated summonable fairy doll (formerly one of Nanase’s), which is neat. The fairy is called Little Nase, and contains the soul of the main villain through elaborate timeline shenanigans.

So actually this is about Legend of Zelda’s gender shit. All in all it comes across really cissexist, bodies=gender shit. There’s discussion of the genderedness of the character Sheik (an alternate form of Zelda), which I imagine has extensive discourse on it already that I don’t know much about in detail.

Death Sentence [p2,p3,p4,p5]

Character/humour storylines out of the way, I presume it’s time for a villain to show up.

It begins with Rhoda (the girl who appeared on the news with supernatural shit, and found commonality with Justin for it) being menaced by a giant boar which is straight out of Princess Mononoke. Catalina shows up in an aliens reference with her favourite mild swearword (’jackass’).

I’m predicting Dan Shive is setting up a ship with these two characters? Definitely hinting at one.

In any case, it turns out this storyline is about a wild boar hunt. The park ranger, believing it’s not a supernatural boar, plans to exterminate any boars in the area. And Raven of all people volunteers to help save the boar.

New Raven fact: he migrated from outside America but not Russia (the UK, presumably), and Arthur (Tedd’s dad’s successor) tried to deport him to Russia at some point.

Apparently Raven was unfamiliar with Grace. She comes as quite a shock.

From a commentary:

Alignment violation! You are penalized with… um… hm. You know, I’ve read a lot about Dungeons & Dragons, but I have no idea what happens when you violate your alignment and aren’t like a cleric or something. Does the DM have to glare at you or something? How long they have to glare probably varies by edition.

…I don’t like the alignment system at the best of times but this interpretation is really weird. Like, alignments are descriptive, not prescriptive. If your DM figures that your actions don’t fit that alignment, then she might raise with you that a different one might be more appropriate. The closest thing I know is that 3.x ed Paladins have a much more specific code they have to follow or lose their powers. Is this how it worked back in like, AD&D?

As Grace goes out to help Raven rescue the boar, Tedd gets out their power glove, so I guess that’s being dealt with sooner rather than later?

Noah reveals to Raven his suspicion that Grace killed Damien. Proper nouns, proper nouns. Raven is torn between ‘think of the opportunities’ and a vague reference to something going wrong in the past.

I’m pretty uncomfortable with a ‘Grace has no nudity taboo’ joke involving her actual teacher.

Two panels in which Raven is sad that there is 'no place for' the boar and its existence makes people want to kill it.

The obvious interpretation is that Raven sympathises with the boar based on his elfiness, but my interpretation is, lo, a trans metaphor!

Moving on quite a bit - when Raven creates an illusory form for Grace that he tries to make resemble a child he might have, she looks exactly like Susan. What is afoot there?

Reveal: Raven trained Tedd’s parents in magic. He blames himself for whatever drove them apart.

Boar negotiations… go awry! They realise too late that the boar wants to be big and therefore theoretically attractive?

This is the closest I’ve ever gotten to including an uncensored s-bomb into the script. Ultimately, however, I think the comic is better without cracking open that can of worms, 

I find this whole attitude so baffling but whatever.

I’m surprised, actually, that this storyline resulted in the boar’s death, given the usual pattern of villains getting redemption arcs rather than death except in extreme cases like Damien. But it makes sense as an ending to that narrative arc.

Oh but now there’s a solid reveal. Rhoda was actually the one responsible for enlarging the boar, due to a magic mark that she’s clearly not aware of. I guess that makes it clear that Pandora is capable of placing the marks without consent or knowledge of the newly dreaming spellcasters.


The next arc is Summer. There are only two more full arcs after that: The Dawn and Pandora’s Box! The comic also appears to have recently begun a new arc, Sister 3: Catspaws. Summer begins on page 1394, and the last page of Pandora’s Box (not counting the Q&A) is 2191. So we have about 800 pages left, plus whatever gets added while we read that.

This is quite a short update today, but I’m too tired to read any more, so I’ll leave the next arc til tomorrow.