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You know, this is a pretty well-set-up little plot point. Too bad no one buy Zeta cares about it.

I like this strip a lot, but maybe that's just a me thing. I find the Artie/Zeta relationship weirdly touching, all the more so because it's never a big part of the plot in Narbonic and most happens in the background of other stories.

I do think Artie has pretty boss hair. I also like his continued uncertainty about why Helen turned him human in the first place. To be honest, I'm not 100% sure either.

This is the second strip in a row about hair. I worried about that at the time, but what the hell, the characters do have awesome hair. I'm lazy sometimes.

So, yeah, the androids Dave drove to Winnipeg got cruelly dissembled and turned into admittedly awesome Krang-style walking machines for the hamsters. Sorry, androids.

The design of the hamster-bots was inspired by the Jack Kirby-designed Marvel villain Arnim Zola, whom I adore; he's second in my affections only to MODOK. I managed to work the two of them into one of the Marvel Holiday Special stories I wrote back in the day. Arnim Zola appears in the Captain America movie, but sadly with his head on his shoulders like some boring normal person. Maybe in the sequel.

Artie's dialogue in the second panel is essentially lifted from Jeff's Very Long Fanfic. It was just too perfect a lead-in to the belated official promotion of Artie from cute sidekick to de facto hero of the story (on his good days). I'm sorry, Jeff. The student had become the master.

In other news, that little shuttle thing is adorable.

30 comments:
Eric (erichamion) says:

Is it bad form to post about songs not directly related about today's strip?  It probably is.  I'm sorry.

I just had to point out that the FuMP (the Funny Music Project, http://thefump.com ) currently has no fewer than three songs about mads, villians, and/or the end of the world on the front page.  Some of these could at least be relevant to the current ongoing arc, if not this actual strip.

Dino-Mike's The New Me takes the standard old theme of turning oneself into a cyborg in response to feeling unrequited love, and it adds catchy lyrics and a fun ska backing track.  While listening, it's nearly impossible to avoid singing along with the chorus:

At Cybernetic Prosthetics,
I’ll figure out which body part is causing me pain.
Then I’ll rip it right out and replace it with,
Technology that can’t be explained.

Cybernetic Prosthetics,
For three college credits, I’ll have my Online Degree.
Just two-days a week and a part at a time,
I’ll make myself the new me.

Ookla the Mok's Mwahaha goes beyond even what one would expect from the title and from the band.  The villians and mads quoted are from a wide variety of sources, including Disney and Herman Melville.  The song has an impressive array of diabolical cackles and chuckles, too.

I think I've listened to Lemon Demon's Aurora Borealis enough to nearly grok it now.  It definitely includes the end of the world as we know it, and it has the great portmanteau "apocalove."  I'm still not sure whether the character singing is showing a mad disregard for the end of all human life, or he's actually causing the end of all human life.

 

Hm.  Now I feel all pretentious from using that fancy word in the last paragraph.  Is it bad to use "grok" when that single word is the only thing one remembers from reading Stranger in a Strange Land as a boy?  That's a clear sign of a wannabe geek, isn't it?  Again, I'm sorry.  Not sorry enough to edit the paragraph, though.

David Blake (vivavi) says:

Zeta's probably been wandering around brooding about it for hours. Thank goodness she found Artie to explicate to!

Leon Arnott (l) says: Monday:

"ACKNOWLEDGE MY SHOCKING REVELATION, DAMMIT" is one of my favourite lines in the whole webcomic. There's nothing quite like the blend of surprise, relief and utter embarassment when you finally spit out a serious confession, only to be told "I know". The sheer ego-deflation of discovering that not only that your big secret isn't secret, but it isn't even big in the first place.

Here it is, the climax of Zeta Vincent's arc - an arc that, superfluous though it probably was, is basically Dave's arc writ in miniature. She's arrived. No going back.
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

(TUNE: "Revolution #1", The Beatles)

I'm blurting out a revelation!
Well, you see ...
I'm not quite a human being!
I speak, expecting consternation
There would be ...
But that's not what I am seeing!

   This isn't the way that I figured the scene would go,
   'Cause Artie just looks at me calmly and says, "I know."

      But you're supposed to be ... so shocked!
      Are you not hearing me?  I talked!
      My secrets suddenly ... unlocked!

David Harmon (mental_mouse) says: Given who she's talking to, maybe she should settle for "yes, I know".
David Harmon (mental_mouse) says: BTW, the Skin Horse site is still borked.
Tetra Valent (4_valent) says:

In the Narboniverse, this revelation is not very shocking.

Shaenon Garrity (shaenongarrity) says:

David: I know. Still working on it.
Kay Gilbert (kaygilbert) says:

@Eric: Using "grok" isn't "a clear sign of a wannabe geek," it's a clear sign that you were a geek in the '70s.  Join the club.  Thou art god.

Joe Glow (joe_glow) says:

Anticipating retrospect is tough, Artie.

Leon Arnott (l) says: Tuesday:

It took me awhile to interpret this strip, but she's just noticed a similarity between the names "Arthur" and "Artie", and then put that together with Arthur's little slip from earlier. Small world indeed.
Tiff Hudson (tiff_hudson) says:

I love the Uncle Duke pose in panel 3 :-)

Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

(TUNE: "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother", The Hollies)

Well, it took a while,
But finally, it's sinking in!
That gerbil I in-
-Terviewed once ...
(I'm such a dunce!)

He's the same
Person I'm see-ing now!
Gerbil Artie ... he's my brother!

Chris (khade) says:

The most obvious answer to me is that she turned him human for SCIENCE!!!  Exactly the same reason any other mad scientist would turn a perfectly normal man into a toaster, or a giant lizard man, or a woman.  Or it could be because the fried chicken told her to, or any one of an infinite number of bizarre and amusing reasons.

John Campbell (jcampbel) says:

Artie's got no time to talk about Zeta or explain the situation to her, but when the subject is himself...

Jon W. (kd7sov) says:

I would venture to say that Helen probably isn't entirely sure either.

Marni Rachmiel (marniferous) says:

John C: Word! There's got to be a filk in there, some song that would fit to Artie rushing past Zeta's existential angst with "no time to answer your burning questions about your origin and nature, we must save Helen right now" but then a slow, ponderous chorus in which he self-reflects.... 

Leon Arnott (l) says: Thursday:

Artie already knows that Helen created Zeta, but the sheer unwieldiness of this intolerable situation had pushed that fact out of his mind.
Shaenon Garrity (shaenongarrity) says:

Artie knows. He just didn't know that Zeta knows. Also, once again his clever disguise has failed to work at all.
Kay Gilbert (kaygilbert) says:

Yes, but why do they all have movie cameras for heads?

David Blake (vivavi) says:

They're probably to maintain the robots' wireless network, like Arnim Zola's ESP box!  Also, it shot lasers I think?  I haven't read anything with Arnim Zola since I was a kid.

Dave Van Domelen (dvandom) says: Cameras...or death rays?
Tetra Valent (4_valent) says:

@Kay: This might explain the head replacement.

@David: You may be closer than you realize!

"Zola"? 'Tis a popular name for opponents of long-blond-haired female mad geniuses.

Shane Wegner (shanewegner) says:

That's the SECOND species of sentient silicon life that you've CRUELLY DISEMBOWLED for your plot, Garrity! When the artilects gain sentience, who do you think is going to be first against the Wall! Feel remorse!!

Adam Underfoot (unnatural20) says: I love the SFX in this strip, so, so much. That I suspect they are largely gratuitous makes it all the better.
Leon Arnott (l) says: Saturday:

I really love that the super-science hovercar gets launched by punting it over the edge like a Calvin and Hobbes sled.
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

Today's strip is brought to you by a grant from the Don Martin Memorial Onomatopoetic Society.

Mason Kramer (masonlk) says:

If there was ever any doubt that she's a Narbon....

Tetra Valent (4_valent) says:

Artie is so flustered that he neglects to object to the phrase, "Man up".

Edwin Quantrall (reynard) says:

@ Tetra Valent: Well, to be fair, "gerbil up" just doesn't have quite the same ring to it...

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