(From PVP. Click for full-sized relative strength.)
I have to admit, after some early bad signs, I have to begrudgingly praise Scott Kurtz for how he’s handled this storyline.
Not being familiar with the exact reasons why the treatment of Lilah’s miscarriage in Ctrl+Alt+Del pissed so many people off so much (and not necessarily sharing that reaction), I’m not sure whether I should praise or blame Kurtz for the continued use of humor to lighten the situation. But no matter what, there is one area in which Kurtz is far outdoing Tim Buckley, and that is in Brent’s character development.
Now, I haven’t read PVP on a regular basis, for various reasons, but when I reviewed it three years ago, one aspect of the strip that stood out was Brent’s inability to grow up. As with Ctrl+Alt+Del and Ethan, it seemed intentional and the character and strip had every intention not to let him (or the rest of the cast) grow up, but PVP seemed a little more self-conscious about it, to the extent that during his wedding, several supernatural entities told him it was time for him to grow up and let Skull (arguably a symbol of Brent’s, and PVP‘s, continued childhood) go, resulting in the incident that continues to define “PVP/Goats Syndrome” for me: Brent knocking the head off a living statue with a golf club in the middle of his own wedding. Yes, that actually happened, and it wasn’t intended to be a joke.
Well, now Brent is faced with his father in a vulnerable position, and is completely overwhelmed by the gravity of the situation. He’s being expected to take charge of the situation, and he can’t handle the responsibility. He’s being asked to be strong, and all he’s known is leaning on his father for strength, and now his father has none. More than ever happened to Ethan, and more than losing Skull did, Brent is being forced to grow up, very fast.
I’m not sure if Kurtz is going to allow this to lead to any major changes in Brent’s character or general outlook on life. But it’s still telling that this story arc opens the door for more character development for Brent, while Lilah’s miscarriage closed it for Ethan.