Dan Shive says in the commentary this is an anthology-ish continuation of the spirit of 9001% Serious, which - despite my assumption prior to Death Sentence - was actually pretty lighthearted and character focussed all the way through. Which is the way I like it - magical fights are boring, and this comic is much better at character interactions facilitated by zany magic I guess.

We have also reached March 2012, which means it’s probably time to catch up on EGS:NP after we’ve read this arc.

The End of Spring

After a sub-arc about The Gay, it’s time for some het stuff I guess? First Sarah and Elliot have different feelings about travel, then Matt, the Student Council president, tries to ask Susan out. She is completely blindsided by this and leaves in a hurry. So it’s… more discussion about dating norms?

Dan Shive sez:

As a general rule of thumb, I don’t believe people should base their dating habits on sitcoms.

Unless you can somehow figure out how to emulate Jerry on Seinfeld. Granted, his relationships often ended horribly, but he was basically dating a new attractive woman every week. He must have been doing SOMETHING right.

Obviously this is a joke, but eeesh. I’ve never seen it, but isn’t the point of Seinfeld that the characters are all pretty awful people? And isn’t it routinely transmisogynist?

Grace is going to get a summer job in Justin’s comic book shop. At least, I assume she is, since the possibility came up, Chekhov’s gun, etc.

As Susan discusses with them, Dan Shive links back to the original introductions of Sarah’s cast of shoulder angels (Logic, Curiosity, Nature, and Nurture). It’s quite an interesting comparison of how his art style has changed: the up-to-date versions have more realistic proportions, much more detailed and realistic clothing, and hair that hangs more naturally. It’s cool to see.

Anyway when Susan manages to apologise to Matt for freaking out at him but says she still doesn’t feel like dating him, he is decently cool about it, so that’s nice. But that’s not yet the end of this storyline: apparently there’s like, a summer prom or something coming up, and Matt asks if Susan wants to finish school without dating anyone ever. In the commentary, Dan Shive solicits Opinions.

The cultural norms are different in America, I think - while our school had a ‘prom’ it really wasn’t a big deal, and there certainly was none of this ‘you have to have a prom date’ idea that seems really prevalent in America. I’m sure some people did go as couples, but I don’t think that was the case for most of us.

In retrospect the school must have spent a fair bit of money setting that up - there was like, an inflatable laser tag arena, and stuff. Pretty sure some of the students even hired a limo to show up in. (There was a ticket system where each student was entitled to one alcoholic drink. I gave mine away. I’m pretty sure a lot of students found ways to wrangle more drinks.) Nevertheless, socially, it wasn’t remotely as dramatic as these things seem to be in American television.

Anyway Susan is not impressed at the idea she is obliged to date someone.

So nearly every unemployed member of the cast is getting summer jobs now, and of course they are all working at familiar places: Grace is hoping to work at Justin’s comic book shop, Sarah is working for Tedd on scientifically investigating magic in the hopes of getting powers of her own, Elliot asks Susan if the video rental place is hiring. Ellen is not getting a job and just enjoying her first summer of existence.

Power Fantasy

This storyline concerns Sarah going to work for Tedd. So mostly transformation stuff!

Tedd’s developed a new gadget: a watch-like device that does magic (from the wearer’s magic pool) but only if you know what it does, and think a password thought while pressing the button. No doubt there will be more to this than just hair growth.

Indeed there is: Sarah is going to be given a watch that lets her take on the appearance of Tedd, as some kind of bizarre scheme by Tedd to give her a blackmail weapon against them and therefore ‘leverage’ as a display of trust? Sarah is, justifiably, a bit ‘wtf’ about this idea.

Revelation: how long a spell last depends on how long the affected person wants it to last.

Rocks Fall Nobody is Hired

The title refers back to some old DnD webcomic - not sure which one. In it, a frustrated DM ends the game by abruptly declaring ‘rocks fall, everyone dies’. (DnD groups can lead to some odd social situations. Sometimes rather than viewing it as a collaborative storytelling exercise between friends, where the DM could say ‘I’m not really comfortable with the way this is going, could we end it’, players start treating it as an antagonistic thing within the fiction. This always ends badly. IMO it’s absolutely vital to have OOC discussion welcome in any RP context, and if you’re fed up with a player, to discuss it openly rather than try and fight over the fiction.)

So Elliot is going for his job interview. It sounds like the owner of the DVD rental shop (something which is maybe a bit of an anachronism, where VHS/DVD rental has mostly been killed by subscription online video services such as Netflix. Per Wikipedia, Netflix began its streaming service in 2007. And on the shadier side, the warez scene had developed robust standards for HD video in the 2000s, the latest version for x264 video being released in 2011. Torrents have been huge throughout the 2000s and 2010s. With so much online competition, it’s pretty hard for video rental stores - which fundamentally cannot distribute unlimited copies, and require physical goods to be transported - to stay in business I think. e.g. Blockbuster famously went bankrupt in 2010.)

OK, massive aside about the economics aside, as we’ve seen before, Susan’s boss is the horrible kind of gatekeeping nerd. So Elliot’s in for a nerd-trial (entirely orthogonal to whether he’s qualified for a retail job, of course, and perhaps illegal. Not that that stops people with shitty hiring practices).

The boss is not impressed by Elliot not following the horrible standards of geek consumerism and the bad form of curative fandom. Honestly I think Elliot could very justifiably walk away from this guy even if he got the job - but he doesn’t want to work in a grocery store, so maybe putting up with a really awful nerd would be better in his book.

Still, Susan feeds her boss a line about Cheerleadra, thereby securing Elliot the job. I guess the title was misleading. Elliot’s going to take the job because it’s better than grocery retail, and we’ve set up for a future storyline where the boss meets Cheerleadra.

(The boss does have a name, I just don’t care to remember it.)

Nepotism

So more on the theme of hiring for summer jobs I guess from that title? This time around, Grace.

Justin’s uncle is apparently the owner of the comic book shop. I’d previously assumed it was George, but George is just a coworker I guess.

We learn a bit about Justin’s employment there: it was originally, as the uncle puts it, ‘out of pity’, but he was really determined to do a good job; the strength of his reccomendation is enough to get Grace hired. But, as the comic quickly points out, she’s going to have to put up with the gross misogynistic clients of the shop now.

Hair

Sarah is secretly resentful of Elliot’s apparent attraction to her sister the news reporter. And apparently despite herself still harbours some jealousy towards Nanase.

The bulk of this sub-arc concerns the cause of Nanase’s magic hair growth. Tedd’s theory is that magic can routinely affect the body, and Nanase is building up magic that she can’t use so it’s getting redirected into hair.

I’m uncomfortable with the only depiction of a fat female character so far being in Sarah’s negatively-intended fantasy of Nanase accidentally getting an inflation watch.

The watch backfires because Nanase’s magic block prevents even watch-based spellcasting and the magic buildup goes into growing her hair. Hence: buzzcut Nanase. But then something unexpected happens! The magically grown hair explodes and hits Sarah and Nanase with hair growth.

We learn Tedd has no magic. And there’s a difference between ‘spells’ and ‘enchantments’. A spell is an action and an enchantment is a lasting status effect created by a spell. Spell resistance determines the chance of the spell applying the enchantment, and enchantment resistance determines the duration an applied enchantment. Tedd has zero spell resistance but nonzero enchantment resistance.

Grace is apparently into Disney’s old film The Sword in the Stone, which I haven’t watched (except maybe the transformation duel sequence?) and probably should.

IMO Tedd looks like a cute lesbian when transformed to have short hair, but you know, I’m biased.

Flashback time! Tedd’s mysterious mother basically wants them to be her apprentice and is fed up that Tedd has no such potential. Raven tries to encourage her not to be such a snob. 

By The Numbers

Elliot at work in the store. Told to make recs based on review aggregation, since he’s not familiar with the stuff himself. He does this with aplomb. He also wears sunglasses, which is probably a reference I’m missing.

Catalina shows up! And reveals to Susan that she has a date! Given previous comics, I’m predicting it’s Rhoda.

It is!

ALT TEXT NEEDED!

This will be a handy reaction image/reusable panel I think.

Rhoda does not want a homophobic friend of hers to know she’s dating Catalina.

Susan is sad at potentially becoming the third wheel to Catalina and Rhoda. She calls up Sarah to see a movie with instead of Catalina, but they can’t find a time. She’s pretty far in the dumps.

Someone - presented as a huge asshole - rents a transmisogynistic adam sandler movie with a low critical rating. Elliot gives him an earful about the low rating, it’s a mess. The guy finds the movie does suck but all the same Elliot learns a Valuable Lesson of some kind.

But the result of all that is that Susan asks if Elliot wants to see the film with her. Between this, Susan’s feelings about dating being brought up, and Sarah’s increasing frustrations with Elliot, it looks like we’re moving towards breaking up Sarah/Elliot in favour of Susan/Elliot?

Duel of the Discs

Most likely a reference to the Star Wars soundtrack piece Duel of the Fates from The Phantom Menace.

In this case, it appears to be a storyline about a not-MtG tournament at the comic book shop. While I’m friends with some pretty serious some Magic players (one of them is even a judge!), I don’t play it myself, so a lot of this will likely go over my head. While the parody game they’re playing has a different name, I’m just going to call it Magic.

Naturally, Susan and Elliot’s boss is a hardcore Magic player with Opinions, in the quest to fulfil every nerd stereotype ever. (Not that that’s entirely implausible, ‘geek interests’ tend to come in clusters I guess?)

Well, following that, it abruptly turns into a story about the Star Wars movies, which Grace hasn’t watched. I have gotten vaguely into some parts of the Star Wars canon in the last couple of years, but I really don’t feel like they deserve the extreme reverence they’re given. But I guess that’s the joke.

So because of all the exaggerated concern about George Lucas changing the story in the Special Editions, Justin is determined to get Grace the laserdisc versions of the original trilogy. Honestly though, the differences aren’t that huge. All this exaggerated reverence for what is, fundamentally, a series of well-made action movies at best is going to do far more to ruin it.

But anyway we have Justin duelling boss guy in an anything-goes magic game to get copies of the movies. Yawn. Surely there are fan edits available online that undo the storyline changes from the SE footage anyway?

So we get an extended Magic: the Gathering parody game with visuals provided by Grace’s imagination. (I thought about including a Problem Sleuth reference here, which should reveal me to be a terrible hypocrite).

Naturally Justin has a surprise last-minute comeback, and boss… fine, I’ll use his name, Tensaided… invites Grace to join his DnD game because of her imagination. RPGs are fun but I really wouldn’t want to play with that guy?

I’m glad, as Dan Shive discusses, it ends with Grace nitpicking the shit out of Star Wars, not falling in love with it. That reduces the narrative support of the whole undue reverence thing and just makes it into ‘Justin is a huge nerd’.

There Be Whales Here

This is not a familiar reference, but luckily Dan Shive fills it in for us: it’s a Star Trek movie quote. This is going to be quite a long storyline.

So it’s more transformation stuff to start out. In particular, Sarah trying to overcome her fear of furry forms after her earlier non-consensual transformation.

Tedd, meanwhile, is sensing some strange thing represented by fading-out panels. They describe it as ‘being watched’.

Sarah’s getting pretty fed up with Elliot showing so little iniative and not calling her or anything. This is something I guess I’m kind of guilty of too? but my partners and I have comparable difficulties.

There Be Whales Here part 2

And Susan is giving Elliot an education in cinema history. They’ve watched Citizen Kane and Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Elliot has some reasonable criticisms of the way the movie signals “intelligence”, but I think the biggest indictment of Khan is that he somehow assumed space battles take place in a single plane (along with most of the people in the setting).

When this prompts a lot of sales, Tensaided starts encouraging them to start a movie review vlog. Well, it works for a lot of people. And I guess setting up a Youtube channel is free?

With encouragement from Susan, Elliot finally contacts Sarah and arranges to set up a meetup with her and Tedd and him and Susan. So that’s happening.

Tedd, meanwhile, is looking for the mysterious observer in catgirl form. When interrupted, they manage to spontaneously disenchant. Interesting. And some nice camera angles to portray it.

Elliot struggles with decisions on small things - which is something most people I know have in common, me included. I am trying to train myself to be better at picking stuff at random when it’s all equal.

We get some references to those online critics who were popular some time ago; the Nostalgia Critic and Spoony are cited in the comentary. I guess they must be producing stuff, but I haven’t heard those names in a while. I guess the last video-format critic I’ve seen anything by has been MrBTongue, who’s popular enough among a certain kind of nerd that I feel like I want to criticise him even though I don’t actually have anything against him. And partly I suppose, the whole Gamergate thing has made ‘video reviews of videogames’ quite fraught now. But it’s definitely a format that’s still very popular, even if the particular popular names have changed.

(Also… it’s not video format but what is this blog but the same kind of online criticism? albeit liveblog format rather than an edited and focussed video. I guess this blog is more like an ‘x reacts’ video… oh dear…)

They review a gritty adaptation of Sporkman (this comic likes to flipflop between making real references but also comes up with deliberately rubbish sounding fake movies). Susan’s passion for Star Trek is cool. She’d be into FALC I guess.

There Be Whales Here part 3

So we finally get to find out the deal with Tedd’s Nintendo Power Glove. (It hasn’t been identified as a Power Glove in comic, but it looks so much like one that it gets kind of silly!)

Apparently it stores up magical energy produced by Tedd, and when they switch it to Battle Mode, they can use that magical energy. Basically a tech workaround to the lack of ‘natural’ spellcasting.

This causes Tedd’s pupils to become very large and black and fill their entire eyes, similar to Lord Tedd! Probably notable.

So there’s some kind of big monster intruding on Tedd’s room. It looks like something you might see in a cell biology textbook, probably.

It turns out to be a ‘whale’ that eats excess magical energy in the environment. And it’s here to warn Tedd that there’s a fuckton of magical energy in the area, and that’s why their watches are effective. So I guess that’s why so much weird shit happens in Moperville. Only Uryuom descendents are unaffected, so Grace can’t harness ambient magical energy and that’s why the watches don’t work on her.

Tedd is apparently something ‘far more dangerous’ than a spellcaster, but there isn’t time to explain what before the communication ends.

And the storyline ends with a six month time skip, bringing us to the end of Summer (and then some, taking the title literally).

Well, nice foreshadowing, and the whale’s design was neat. I’m quite interesting to see where it’s all building up to.