(From Questionable Content. Click for full-sized brotherly love.)
I’ve been reading the Questionable Content strips following the recent revelation guardedly, not because I worry that Jeph won’t handle the topic well (there’s no reason to think he won’t), but because I worry that I won’t be able to handle his handling of it well, for reasons I’ll expand on if those fears prove founded.
It might be a good sign that this comic gives me a reason to post that relates to said revelation only tangentially, but in a way that intrigues me rather than pushing me away. Up to this point, Claire and Clinton have been weird natural foils for one another, almost perfect opposites and yet perfect mirrors at the same time. They’re both incredibly weird, hopeless dweebs and geeks, yet in such ways that perfectly complement each other that they’re clearly embarrassed by and, so it appeared, can’t stand each other. My hunch that they hated each other because of their similarities wound up being shot down in the very next comic, so it seemed that their antagonism was rooted in their polarized differences made even more polarized by their similarities, and that that idea of them as opposite-sex counterparts and foils was the essence of their characters and little else, especially the substantially newer Claire.
The recent revelation, however, suggested that that wasn’t the whole story. Robert A. “Tangents” Howard suggested that one reason for the antagonism between the two might have been the result of Clinton revealing Claire’s secret against her wishes, but subsequent strips, particularly this one, have shown that precisely the opposite is the case: that Clinton is incredibly protective of Claire’s secret, fearful of the exact scenario Howard speculated about, and that for all they may get on each other’s nerves, this shared goal strengthens their sibling bond beyond all of it and ensures that, underneath it all, they will always love each other as brother and sister.
(I really struggled not to put “sister” in quotes. You see some of the problem I have with this topic. If you really can’t wait to see whether or not this drives me away from the comic, you can read my comments to that Tangents piece.)
Howard wonders if the similar bond Claire has created between herself and Marten might lead to them eventually dating, but unlike a number of QC fans I have never seen any of the new interns as potential romantic material for Marten or virtually any other existing character; considering Tai is their boss, any age issues I saw between Dora and Tai would go double for them. This is especially the case for Claire, given both the nature of her secret and that the bond she’s created with Marten seems to be a little more parental in nature. If anything, I could see a rift grow between her and Marten if Marten blabs her secret to his own friends he feels he can trust to be open-minded about it, such as Faye, Dora, Hannelore, and Tai.
Then there’s the implication of this for Clinton’s character development. Up to this point, Clinton has been one of the least sympathetic characters in the entire comic, as pretty much all we knew about him was that he was a weird, creepy nerd with a robot hand that we knew only through his attempts to stalk Hannelore. Now, however, we have not only discovered his soft spot for his sister, but he must now unavoidably become a part of the QC “family”, bound through their shared friendship and unique connection for Claire. While the relationship between Clinton and Marten was still antagonistic with only a reluctant thawing in Wednesday’s comic, I think it’s inevitable that, as it is with Claire and Clinton themselves, the shared protection of Claire’s secret will ultimately lead to Clinton and Marten slowly moving towards something closer to “friends”, and through that, Clinton’s assimilation to Marten’s larger circle.
If so, though, I really hope he doesn’t end up hooking up with Hannelore. We already had Angus send the message that you can start a relationship with an ice queen like Faye by getting in-your-face and antagonizing them. If it happens again with Clinton and Hannelore, it’s going to say some disturbing things about Jeph Jacques’ view of relationships and human nature.