Buck Bedlow visits the Bushkas with a present for Bull: a mock reprint of a sports page reporting a Scapegoats victory in Bull’s final homecoming game over Big Walnut Tech, and the two former jocks head over to the Westview High football field to dig up a clump of turf from the end zone. Before he leaves, Buck reveals to Linda that he has been “diagnosed” with CTE as well.
Les throws a huge hissy fit over restrictions on using the school copier. The Westview Bleat “reporters” barge into the office trying to turn this into an exposé.
High school jokes about cafeteria food and bullying. A Sunday appearance by The Lord of (the) Late.
January 29-February 4
Buck and Bull commiserate over their brain traumas. Bull schleps his VHS tapes of his high school football games to Crazy Harry to convert them to DVD.
Dinkle writes his “Life and Times of Claude Barlow”, Vol. 7.
February 12-April 8
Wealthy comics collector Chester “The Chiseler” Hagglemore shows up at the Komix Korner, asking John for Pete’s contact information. Darin and Jess are planning a trip from California back to Westview to visit the Fairgoods, and invite Pete to come along. Ann and Fred enjoy a rare visit with their grandchild. John tells Pete the story of how Chester amassed his fortune: working in a drugstore as a kid, Chester hoarded unsold Golden Age comics, which he later sold for an incredibly huge sum. Darin and Pete arrive at Chester’s mansion, where he shows them his collection of Batom Comics and memorabilia, before pitching his idea of reviving “the spirit of Batom” by launching “Atomic Comics” with help from the two. Afterwards, over pizza, Darin and Pete ponder returning to Ohio to work for the Chiseler. Later, Pete brings flowers to Mindy, and the two take in a movie at the Valentine. Over more pizza, Pete discusses with Mindy his plan to return to Ohio to work for Chester.
April 9-May 6
Darin and Pete return to Hollywood to give notice at the studio. Their director and producer are so delighted to see them go that they gift them with “Holtron”, the bulky old mainframe computer. After stopping by the Hollywood sign, the boys reunite with Chester at the old building that once housed Batom Comics. Chester has purchased the building to house their new venture, rechristened “Atomik Komix” to avoid trademark issues. He also trots out “Flash Freeman”, Batom’s original head writer, much to Pete and Darin’s awe. The boys waste no time making themselves at home: movers arrive with Holtron and Pete’s “Cosmic Treadmill” replica. While on his treadmill, Pete receives inspiration for Atomik’s first character: the Incredible Pulp, a sentient pile of soggy comic books.
Les’ book tour continues; Pete and Mindy at Montoni’s on Sunday.
Holly and Funky struggle to compose a text message to their son inquiring about his wedding plans; Sunday, Funky visits his Dad at Bedside Manor.
Becky delivers a string of dumb jokes at the Band Banquet.
May 28-June 3
Les and Funky play tennis and Funky bitches about getting old.
Dinkle. Claude Barlow. Sunday: it’s the end of the school year at WHS.
Atomik Komix prepares its follow-ups to the Inedible Pulp. Mindy drags Pete along on another nursing home visit, during which Mort overhears the story of how Crankshaft lost his collection of Bean’s End garden catalogs (Ed’s daughter Pam sold them to young Chester Hagglemore in the previous week’s Crankshaft arc). Mort and fellow BM resident Connie take to Fleabay to purchase the Spring ’52 catalog as a gift for cranky ol’ Ed.
June 25-July 8
Pete and Darin take a coffee break. Jessica has stayed behind in California while Ann Fairgood provides free childcare for Skyler. Darin wakes up his wife with a phone call because he can’t remember that there’s a three hour time difference between Ohio and California. Mindy visits the Atomik Komix studio and is hired on the spot as their colorist.
The Lisa’s Legacy Trilogy is nominated for an Eisner Award; Les and Cayla, Darin and Jess plan their trip to San Diego Comic-Con with Crazy Harry along as their “tour guide.” Les is “fine” when their work inexplicably does not win an award, but Darin is sullen and bitter.
Post Comic-Con, Cindy and Masone host the Moores and Fairgoods (where’s Crazy Harry?) at their beachfront villa, where they are joined by blissful “oldlyweds” Cliff and Vera.
July 30-August 5
Back at Atomik Komix in Ohio, Darin writes and mails a love letter to Jessica in California.
Funky must drive to Florida and back to pick up Holly’s mother for the Alumni Band Reunion. Cory and Rocky are left in charge of Montoni’s. The reunion involves the band alumni rehearsing field drills under the direction of Harry Dinkle. We don’t get to see the actual performance; instead we get a flashback strip detailing how Holly’s prom date was her mother.
Buck Bedlow shows up again at the Bushka house, this time to invite Bull to witness his Scapegoat rushing record broken.
We revisit the story about Bull’s rushing record, this time imagined as a week of “Sophomoric Sightings” strips by Pete and Darin.
Chester and the Atomik Komix staff “brainstorm,” and the result is the company’s flagship character, Atomic Ape, and his sidekick, Charger Chimp.
September 24-October 7
To drum up publicity for Atomik Komix, Chester runs a promotion in which the prizes are 1940’s vintage “Atomic Bomb” rings which actually contain deadly, radioactive polonium.
October 8-November 24
Tony heads back to Florida, Wally heads into his final semester of college. Awkwardness ensues when he is paired up with Adeela, a young Muslim woman. Tension ensues between the pair, and before they can request reassignment from their professor, a loud siren (a test of the campus tornado warning) triggers wartime flashbacks for each. The two talk about the fearful existence both experienced in Afghanistan, before agreeing to set aside their differences and work together after all. Later, at the campus’ “Cultural Cafe,” they encounter another hijab-clad young woman: Rana, Wally’s adopted Afghan daughter. Rana shares that she has returned to Islam, and plans on going back to Afghanistan to teach young girls. Being Muslims, Rana and Adeela somehow already know each other. Wally invites both women to his “Uncle” Funky’s home for Thanksgiving (and explains that while they actually are cousins, Wally teases his older cousin by calling him Uncle). Everyone gathers around the table for a Norman Rockwell-inspired tableau.
November 25-December 2
Funky and his trainer at the gym.
Funky arrives at Bedside Manor to bring Mort home for the holidays. The receptionist informs Funky that “your father is quite the local lothario”, and urges Funky to discuss safe sex with the old man. Back at Funky’s house, Mort is putting the moves on Holly’s mom (who’s apparently living with them since the Band Alumni reunion). Funky suggests a game of Monopoly to prevent the two seniors from sleeping together.
Dinkle continues to hang around the Westview Band Room. Becky prepares for the holiday extravaganza bu working round the clock, including sleeping on a cot in the band room. John visits her to bring her hot chocolate.
Melinda, Holly’s Mom, wonders aloud about staying in Ohio rather than return to Florida.