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Smithson Thus Far... ·


Artie always walks into this stuff.

I like this strip, although I think it's almost entirely for the sound effects in the last panel. They came out really well. I love putting serifs on sound effects for some reason. It looks so classy.

Man, it's a good thing there's still plenty of room on the floor of this rapidly-contracting oubliette, huh? Oh, well. It's all worth it for Mell beating on Artie.

I like this strip a lot, but I like gags that involve absurdly redundant levels of weaponry, like the line about "exploding poison acid" way back in the class-reunion storyline. I also like the idea of Dr. Narbon painstakingly setting all this up just in case someone breaks into her headquarters and falls in. Because when they try to climb the spikes, only to get a fistful of poison... that's comedy.

In the last panel, both Mell and Artie are 100% correct. Over the course of the rest of Narbonic, I came up with many creative reasons for Man-Artie to lose articles of clothing.

I also like Mell climbing on Artie like he's a piece of furniture. Really, drawing these two together was always a joy.

"You cannot ride there on my shoulder!" was a line in this week of strips, back in the "Doppelganger Gambit" storyline. I probably wrote the two strips at around the same time so I could make them echo each other.

Despite his objection, Mell could ride on Artie's shoulders pretty comfortably. He's even stronger than he looks. Helen designed his human body to perform just a bit past the extreme of human physical capabilities, as she designed his brain to perform just a bit past the extreme of human mental capabilities. It's her way of being overprotective.

Mell and Artie both look pretty hot in this week of strips, if I do say so myself. Good work, me.

I really like the way the first panel came out. Mell just looks so enthused.

Artie gets attached to the idea of wearing clothes very quickly. It's like he's trying to thwart my ongoing efforts to get him into various states of undress. Boo, Artie. Boo.

So It Begins (soitbegins) says: *snicker* His psychology still needs some strengthening at this point.
Leon Arnott (l) says: Monday:

My only complaint is that we have been deprived of what must surely have been a devastating tombstone piledriver passed between the most and least violent characters in the entire webcomic. (I'm not sure whether it would be logically possible to draw, but I trust it would have been well within our host's abilities.)
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

For Mell, the words "pointless" and "violence" are mutually exclusive.

David Harmon (mental_mouse) says: While Alpha watches malignly from above...
Edwin Quantrall (reynard) says:

Gee, Artie, you need to ask?!

Chris (khade) says:

Nah, that's a fern.

Kay Gilbert (kaygilbert) says:

"May we escape pointy death first?"  Such a great, great line.

Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

"Pointy" death?  Oh, oh, oh, oh, we're getting all primitive and simple, eh?  Mad science isn't good enough for us, eh?  Well, when some hypercognitive lunatic comes at ya with a protein destabilizer that'll turn yer flesh to blancmange, don't come cryin' to me!!

Johnn Reynolds (sleepyjohn) says:

Mell keeps switching from hold to hold, regardless of the fact that Artie is putting up no resistance whatsoever.  I guess she wants practice.

Jon Stout (brasswatchman) says: Fortunately, this is one of those dramatic-timing oubliettes. They pause for dramatic revelations. Very key tool for the practicing mad scientist; can you guess the number of heroes Dr. N had squished mid-monologue before she got it installed?
Diane Castle (deecee) says:

I thought the Talking Is A Free Action trope was in effect, so no time passed outside the conversation.

Leon Arnott (l) says: Wednesday:

The lesson, boys, girls and DMs: always make sure your spikes are actually vertical knifeblades. And kill the most paranoid party members first.

Fun fact: even though this is "the oldest trick in the book", not one videogame with spike walls lets you do this to escape. (There are, however, videogames where innocuous items are randomly covered in contact poison.)
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

And for even more redundancy ... as you're lying there, poisoned, with deadly sharp spikes closing in ... hidden speakers start playing "It's A Small World".

(TUNE: "It's A Small World", Sherman & Sherman)

It's a deep dark pit, it's an oubliette,
It's about a deadly as it can get!
With the spikes, sharp as hell!
And they're poisoned as well!
You'll be ground to tiny bits!

You'll be ground to tiny bits,
As your brain goes on the fritz!
Man, this death trap is the pits!
You'll be ground ... to ... bits!

Johnn Reynolds (sleepyjohn) says:

That;s comedy.  Oh, yes, Dr. Narbon is just a spike-lined, poison-coated barrel of giggles.

David Johnson (authorx) says:

I own this strip! At the time, I was limited in my choice, as Narbonic's archives weren't free (and I was, sadly, cheap), but I was glad to get the original art for this one. It's such a great summary of what it's like to have to deal with mad scientists in general, and Dr. Narbon in particular.

Diane Castle (deecee) says:

@Ed:  Oh man, this is awesome!  You have reclaimed this song for me.  Now I can hum it and drive *other* people crazy.

David Harmon (mental_mouse) says: Not to be too spoilery, but that "redundantly deadly weaponry" schtick runs right through the strip's climax.
Diane Castle (deecee) says:

Me?  I especially love the way they're discussing Narbonic storylines.  Why isn't this page pointed at on TV Tropes?

So It Begins (soitbegins) says: Heh.
Leon Arnott (l) says: Thursday:

Mell riding on Artie's shoulders. Ladies and gentlemen, the ultimate comeuppance. Figuratively and literally.

Fourth wall dialogue: 65.
Carl Fishman (carlfishman) says:

On the contrary, Mell; Artie spent all the previous storylines wearing a fur coat!

Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

(TUNE: "Climb Every Mountain", from The Sound of Music, Rodgers & Hammerstein)

Climb onto Artie,
Death to avert!
Yes, it's necessary
That he lose his shirt!

Climb onto Artie!
Sarge knows it's true ...
All the female readers
Need fan service, too!

He'll catch ladies' eyes
As he's panting for breath ...
Now they climb for their lives,
To escape pointy death!

Climb onto Artie!
Check out his chest!
Sweaty muscles glisten ...
Beef-cake ... is ... the ... best!

Daibhid Ceannaideach (daibhidc) says:

@Diane Castle It is now!

Sam Ashley (evilmidnightlurker) says:

...So Artie is just a bit more all-round awesome than Captain America? o.O;

Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

(TUNE: "(I've Had) The Time Of My Life", from Dirty Dancing, Previte, deNicola & Markowitz)

In the secret jungle lair,
Dr. Narbon left them there
To be destroyed ...
Now they're running out of room
As this pointy toxic doom
They must avoid!

Artie reminisces fondly
How he liked to be James Bond-y,
Big and strong!
'Cause his days, stuck in the lab,
Are so tedious and drab
And much too long!

Artie feels bolder,
Emotions he can't hide!
But on his shoulder
Mell cannot ride!

Because ...
They now must climb for their lives!
'Cause the poisoned knives are closing in ...
Space is thin ... does Mell need a boost?
But she cannot roost on Artie's head!
They'll be dead ... if they cannot climb
From the oubliette in time!
'Twould be a crime ... should they stumble or slip ...
Then they'd have to end the strip!

Zarathustra's Id (zarathustrasid) says:

See, this is where Mell overlaps too much with Unity: "one thought per day"

Which is only acceptable if Unity is part Mell..

Wayne (wayne) says:

Unity couldn't have part of Mel l because Mell has to become the President, therefore, she must be more or less intact.  UNLESS the universes forked, and we have Narboniverse Prime and Narboniverse B, and freqeuntly the twain shall meet.

John Doe (john_doe) says: Wayne, Unity's brain was cloned, and Helen sold DNA samples of the crew to the military. It's pretty likely that Unity is part Mel. "Years ago some mad scientist had sold the defense department the DNA of a perfect assassin..."
Greg Mosher (noc) says:

If I remember correctly, Helen sold Mell's DNA to a government bioweapons program, and the implication is that Unity's brain is a clone of Mell's.

Which actually makes it a little bit heartbreaking to read Skin Horse, since while Mell has a childlike enthusiasm for violence, she's also demonstrably rather intelligent and has no trouble remaining focused and alert when she actually puts her mind to it. Unity on the other hand has trouble keeping a thought in her head for more than a few moments, and finds her brushes with sanity to be painfully uncomfortable.  It all feels very "River Tam" to me.

I'd be interested too to see some of the Narbonic cast's reactions to Unity, if they ever meet her.  I can easily imagine Artie being horrified and Mell trying to kill her, but I can't picture Helen and Dave's responses at all -- this sort of thing is rather par-the-course for Mad Science, after all.   

Pete (westrider) says:

I've used Mell's last line here, times when I get sort of obsessive about something.

Rex Vivat (sirgarberto) says:

Well, Unity's brain IS a clone of Mell's...

Diane Castle (deecee) says:

[SPOILERIFFIC] UNITY *is* part Mell.  You can get someone's DNA without harming them.

John Campbell (jcampbel) says:

Helen mentions at some point that she sold some samples of Mell's DNA to a government black research program.

U.N.I.T.Y.'s brain was grown in a dish using DNA samples from a "perfect assassin" that her parent government black research program bought from a mad scientist.

I leave it to you to figure out where the connections should be drawn.

John Campbell (jcampbel) says:

I suppose 97 people all saying the same thing because of the lag time in comments appearing is better than spam...

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