To think, a couple weeks ago I was going to write a post about my concern about the encroachment of robot racism into the comic.

(From Questionable Content. Click for full-sized special requests.)

Part of the reason why I started doing full-fledged webcomic reviews again this spring was to rope in more comics for me to follow and do semi-regular posts on, so I wouldn’t be doing OOTS and Homestuck (and nominally, Ctrl+Alt+Del and Darths and Droids as well) over and over. On that, Gunnerkrigg Court and Questionable Content (forever linked in my mind) fit the bill quite nicely, but the Court in particular has not only been advancing the plot as slowly as I knew it would, but has been particularly mind-screwy in the current chapter. As for QC, being a slice-of-life comic, big events happen less often and aren’t as big as with the others, so I haven’t really felt the need to write a post until recently.

Although the three interns Marten has been tasked to train were initially hinted at and speculated as being new full-fledged additions to the cast, it’s only been in the last few comics that they’ve started to be fleshed out as actual characters, especially in relation to each other, as opposed to mere vehicles for Marten’s torment, though Claire’s attitude was apparent before.

This is largely a result of a weird and somewhat abrupt shift in the relationship between Marten and the interns. Things started out completely uncomfortable between them, with Marten being thrust into a position of responsibility he completely wasn’t prepared for, feeling the interns being in judgment of him and his lack of qualifications. It’s a relationship of subordination, with Marten expected to be teaching the interns knowledge they need to know, and his inability to do so only furthering the gulf between them.

That changed when Marten went to get coffee. I was a little surprised Marten had them come with him at all, rather than wait while he got coffee himself, but it did have the effect of normalizing the relationship between them as Marten, possibly to stall, started asking them questions. I imagine Marten wanted to diffuse the tension between them by trying to have a more relaxed conversation and get to know them better. As such, I don’t have as much of a problem with the shift as I might have otherwise.

I honestly do wonder, though, whether Jeph is trying to turn the Smif College Library into a second social circle for random conversations to be held in the comic, beyond just Marten and Tai (Momo doesn’t count). The Secret Bakery may have been intended for the same purpose, but they’ve been awkward additions to the cast, there haven’t been that many of them (with one of them leaving), and the ones we have seen have been explicitly mirror images of the existing characters. These characters, by contrast, seem like they should mesh into the existing comic better and be more interesting as a whole. As such, they could be welcome additions to a comic I had a number of concerns about when I reviewed it last month.

Although, why is the fat black chick the one that’s received the least characterization thus far?!

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