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Have you ever had an experience where something really weird and awkward happened, and then afterwards you just went about your business like nothing happened at all, never even understanding why it happened to begin with?
That’s how I feel about this QC after the two strips immediately preceding it (not counting yesterday’s filler art). I fully expected Jeph to be trolling his fanbase (who I suspect hate Emily as much as I do), though after he continued the setup for two strips I was fully prepared to renounce QC entirely if it turned out he was sending the comic headfirst into PVP/Goats Syndrome.
What I did not expect was for the succeeding comic not to even reference it at all, but to have the characters go about their business as though there was nothing odd or awkward about their arrival whatsoever, not even getting so much as a suitably crazy explanation out of Emily, her holding the mask in the first panel the only sign that anything happened at all.
The end result is that, if you had that awkward moment with someone else, no matter how you try to gloss over it, it looms over the entire rest of that interaction. I can’t read this comic without thinking about the two prior ones, and I can’t help but wonder whether the start of the sequence is going to hang over it for the duration, seeking a closure that never comes. And yet, if we were given an explanation, wouldn’t the same thing happen in a broader sense, with no one willing to completely trust it?
I’m left utterly numb and wanting to both compliment and castigate Jeph, and not do those things, all at the same time. I don’t even know what reaction I even have other than “What?“