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Like I said last week, love makes Dave annoying. To be fair, Helen doesn't know for sure that Madblood doesn't employ henchmen, but it does seem out of character for him.

Mell hasn't told anyone at the lab that she's dating Caliban. I don't know why. Maybe she's shy about it. No, really.

For some reason I find it touching when Mell calls Artie "little buddy." SPOILERS: Even more so when he's a foot taller than she is.

More tiny titles. These are a mix of the usual mad-science journals (Journal of Malology and Maniagnosis), more references to the Thackery T. Lambshead guide (the Borges book being one such reference), and, inevitably, "Ellmann."

I like this strip, not in the least because it was very, very easy to draw.

The destruction-of-Dave's-cars running joke has escalated to the point that I'm not even bothering to show it on-panel. Oh dear. Well, I thought it was funny, anyway, although it was a pain fitting in Mell's crucial line about the drive around the docks.

The three-eyed smiley mug made semi-regular appearances early in Narbonic. It gets a rare later cameo in the last panel here.

I wrote this script very early in the planning of Narbonic, back when this storyline was entirely different, and had to revise it several times over the years to match the final order and timing of events. Narbonic time runs at least vaguely parallel to real time, so Dave has now been working for the lab for four years.

30 comments:
Kay Gilbert (kaygilbert) says:

Well, if Mell admits she's in a relationship, that makes her vulnerable.  I don't think that fits her self-image, or her role in the lab hierarchy.  Given Helen's modus operandi, maybe Mell's just trying to protect Caliban.

Viktor Dosk (hugin) says:

If Mell admit's to dating Caliban, HE'S vulnerable. There's no telling what Helen would do, but it likely involves hair curlers. 

 

And I think my guess, given Helen's info at this point, would be that Lovelace is one of the Madblood robots. They exist only to serve Dave and are definitely odd enough to pull this. 

Paul Anderson (pmanderson) says: @Kay: It's not out of character for Madblood; he'd love to have henchmen (look how much he enjoys ordering his moonbase computer to do things). It's out of his budget
Rachel S. (masamage) says:

"I'm sorry but... I'm glad" makes me laugh. It is a very realistic way to be very annoying.

Andy Finkel (andyf) says:

I don't know about anyone else, but back when we were reading the comic the first time through, unless the strip was actually about Mel dating Caliban,  somehow I immediately forgot they were in a relationship.   I'm not sure of the reason (Mel's had a mind control device, maybe ?) but I remember being a little surprised each time it reappeared.  ("oh, yeah, that's right, they're dating).  Anyway, maybe that same factor was in operation for the characters in the strip.  (Even Helen's mom didn't ever take advantage of the relationship, if I remember right)

Sam Daniel (samhdaniel) says:

The real problem would be that there's no room in his Mom's basement for Madblood's henchman to live....

Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

I could have sworn I wrote a filk this morning ... did I forget to hit the "Say It Now" button??  Anyway, here 'tis again.

(TUNE: "Proud Mary", Creedence Clearwater Revival)

Helen's just a bit suspicious!
Dave in love is such an annoying snot!
Dating Madblood's minion!
"Safe" is his opinion!
Just one little thing, though, that he forgot!

Madblood's got no henchmen!
Dave thinks he's such a mensch, man!
Mell an' ... Helen ...
Mell an' Helen jealous!
Mell an' ... Helen ...
Mell an' Helen jealous!

Carl Fishman (carlfishman) says:

Of course, later on in the story Madblood does indeed have a henchman.  As Dave would know if he (like Merlin) were living backwards.  Of course, by then he also has managed to move from his Mother's basement into a much more impressive base, with more room.

David Harmon (mental_mouse) says: Dave's really asking for trouble, both in panels 2 and 3!
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

As long as we're SPOILERing today, how about Helen and Dave bickering like an old married couple?

For some reason, I just got a mental image of the carnivorous algae going to the local all-you-can-eat buffet.  Customers think they're standing on a green floor mat, then realize they're being consumed from the ankles upward.  A big, beefy guy for the main course, and a sweet little old lady for dessert.

William Saunders (scholaroffortune) says:

Panel 4 is the scariest sight in the entire Narbonic run: Mell looking nervous.

So It Begins (soitbegins) says: DUN DUN DUNNNNN.
Leon Arnott (l) says: Wednesday:

There's something quite Peanuts-like in Helen's reaction.
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

@Kay:  Well done, da-da-da-da-done!

Van Boom: what the Mystery Machine did after Scrappy fiddled with the engine.

Kay Gilbert (kaygilbert) says:

Oh, poo!  I just realized that I wrote "Van Boom" rather than "Von Boom," which, of course, is a much funnier name.  I'm reposting in the name of humorical accuracy.
tune: "Life could be a dream (sh-boom sh-boom)," The Crew-Cuts (1954)

Von Boom Von Boom ya-da-da-da-da-da-ya-da-da-da-da
Von Boom Von Boom ya-da-da-da-da-da-ya-da-da-da-da

Oh, this Symposium (Von Boom)
Has the potential to be quite a lot of fun (Von Boom)
If I can only meet a sweetie called Lovelace
Look her in the face and say
Hello, hello (Von Boom) I'm glad we finally met
Von Boom Von Boom ya-da-da-da-da-da-ya-da-da-da-da

Oh, Madblood will be there (Von Boom)
To get a big award, which isn't really fair (Von Boom)
You're the mad scientist for whom Von Boom was meant
Not just an experiment
Von Boom Von Boom ya-da-da-da-da-da-ya-da-da-da-da

Now if you'd read the Lovelace files
You would not be surprised (dat-dat-dat-dat-dat-duh)
To know that Lupin won, but
Horror is in your eyes

Oh, we'll go anyway (Von Boom)
Your presentation's bound to blow them all away (Von Boom)
Show the committee that you're madder than the rest
Helen, you're the best of all

Von Boom Von Boom ya-da-da-da-da-da-ya-da-da-da-da
Von Boom Von Boom ya-da-da-da-da-da-ya-da-da-da-da

John Campbell (jcampbel) says:

So who is the off-panel character speaking in the last panel? Can't be Dave. I'm leaning towards Artie on grounds of tinyness, the theory being that if it were Mell, she could toss the rubber duckie in herself and not have to involve Dave. (Though rubber duckies are usually lighter than EEG machines. Unless it's some kind of ur-duckie.)

On the other hand, maybe the rubber duckie is just a pretext that Helen's using to get Dave involved while she happens to be naked and wet and possibly radioactive (no she's not jealous and also shut up).

On the gripping hand, possibly anything that Mell throws spontaneously transmogrifies into a hand grenade.

Leon Arnott (l) says: Thursday:

Notice that whoever-it-is says that the reactor is filled with bubble bath, but doesn't say that it's also filled with water. This is truly The Only Way To Bathe.
So It Begins (soitbegins) says: Awwwww.
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

(TUNE: "Rubber Duckie", Jeff Moss)

Rubber duckie, you're so neat!
What you hear, you won't repeat!
Rubber duckie, I'm griping about Love-lace!
(Gripe-gripey-gripe!)

Rubber duckie, in my bath,
On your butt I'll vent my wrath!
Rubber duckie, I'm punching you in the face!

    Not too thrilled,
    So I ... went and filled
    The reactor!
    (Darn Lovelace!)
    If I could,
    Then I  ... think I would
    Have attacked her!
    (With a lawn tractor!)

Rubber duckie, I'm so mad!
If they want "Van Boom" so bad,
Rubber duckie, I'll blow them to outer space!

Michael Taub (otakuloki) says:

Personally, I am disappointed to see that Narbonic labs uses one of the inferior BWR designs.  Everyone knows that PWRs are much better!  

 

 

(Yes, once a Navy nuc, always a Navy nuc.)

Norman Thallheimer (normanrt) says:

@Michael:  I will bow to your expertise and accept that PWR is much better for most purposes, but BWR is clearly superior for taking bubble baths.

How could the bubbles form properly under pressure, after all?

Norman Thallheimer (normanrt) says:

(after further wiki research)

Perhaps it's actually a pool-type reactor?  That would make more sense for bathing, but not if they used it for power...

Andrew Cole (andy4hire) says:

OK, I keep seeing it misspelled by various people in the comments section, so now I'm finally going to say it: "Von Boom", with an "o". I can understand confusing the handwritten "o" for a handwritten "a" in the strip itself, and "van" serves more or less the same function in Dutch as "von" does in German, but Sarge even typed it with an "o" in her comment on the October 30, 2004 strip. Ergo, "Von Boom". (Sorry, sometimes things like that get to me a little more than they probably would if I were a normal human being.)

Also, I agree that Artie is the most likely off-panel character with whom Helen is talking in the fourth panel, since he's the only sentient person in the lab who can't toss in the duckie himself.

John Lindsay (l_aine) says:

This reactor is probably a bio-reactor vessel used for culturing carniverous algae and plague germs, not the nuclear type.  Helen is a Mad Biologist, not a Mad Physicist. Hope she scrubbed all the algae out before adding the bubble bath.

Leon Arnott (l) says: Friday:

Extinguished cars: 5. It's kind of sad that they let Mell drive under the influence of adrenaline and berserker rage. Which is to say, at all. But at least science benefited from this tragedy. We now know it's impossible, no matter how thoroughly you try, to run over a seagull in mid-flight.
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

What would Artie have to pack?  No clothes, so just his laptop.  Oh, and his toiletries: shampoo, conditioner, brush, tail brush, ear curler, whisker polish ...

Maybe some alfalfa jerky, if he needs a midnight snack.

Joe Glow (joe_glow) says:

I never realized that Dave was continuing to replace cars and have them destroyed off-panel.  Until now I thought all the jokes were about the last car we actually saw.

So It Begins (soitbegins) says: So does that mean Dave could be elected Lap President?
So It Begins (soitbegins) says: Er, LAB President! LAB President!
Norman Thallheimer (normanrt) says:

Unfortunately, I think Helen runs a Malevolent Dictatorship, not a Democracy.

At least, she tries for Malevolent.

She could appoint Dave as Lap President, I suppose, but that would mean moving their relationship forward much faster. ^_^

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The education bestowed on Shaenon K. Garrity by her parents had been expensive, athletic and prolonged. ... full profile