I’m sure Epicus Doomus is happy to not be blogging about old men having boring conversations for the first time in months weeks (tip of the Funky felt-tip to you for your endurance), but neither I (billytheskink, hello there) nor the readers are going to be so lucky. Nope, today’s strip offers a change of venue but not of subject, old men just won’t stop blandly contemplating the decline of themselves and their worlds… and our venue may well shift back to last week’s graveyard by the end of the week if Crazy can’t name that tune in 12 notes.
Yep, Crazy’s a goner. Dang, and I had Frd Fairgood in the death pool.
So we’re now in day two of Young Harry being baffled that a thing such as “comic book store” exists. And we also have Old Harry naming John Howard to someone in the past, which is extra funny because he still hasn’t mentioned having a wife or daughter.
And it’s also just a terrible thing to do if you’ve travelled back in time to the past. I expect tomorrow that he’ll tell his young self about the collapse of the USSR, 9/11 and COVID-19. Who am I kidding, I doubt Harry cares about those or even noticed they happened. This week will probably just end with the two of them hugging and consoling each other about the Death of Superman.
I feel like Batiuk missed a major setup for a Funko Pop related joke, given that one of Harry’s closest friends is named Funky.
“The best news is when you retire you get to keep working! I mean yeah, you’re still close to all your high school friends, and get married and have a kid, but the best part is you get to work for minimum wage and touch comic books all day!”
So after yesterday, when Young Crazy Harry had no problem believing this random old guy he met was himself from the future, today he has no idea at all what a “comic book store” is. It’s one of the most self-explanatory names possible. If you know what a “comic book” and what a “store” is, you should be able to figure out what a “comic book store” is.
I really don’t think this is the first time Batiuk’s had someone be totally baffled by the idea of a comic book store before. I feel like it wasn’t too long ago when Batton Thomas was rambling on about how he still couldn’t believe such things existed. I did some quick Googling, and the first official comic book store was founded in 1968, and their heyday was in the late 70s and 80s, so I find it extremely hard to believe that a teenager would react that way.
It’s also funny how quickly he goes from having no idea what “comic book store” means to wanting to know if you can get rich going it. Maybe it’s just me but it seems a bit weird that the kid who skips school regularly to play arcade games in a pizzeria would be so concerned about getting rich.
Another thing I tried searching for was the phrase Harry is saying in the third panel. I thought maybe it’s a regional thing, but I couldn’t find it. Apparently it’s just rephrasing “you can’t get everything” or “you can’t have it all” for some reason, but it just sounds awkward.
So, apparently when Harry was a teenager, any random old guy could just give him change for a dollar and tell him he was him from the future and he’d believe it, no questions asked. I don’t think “Crazy” is the right adjective to describe him.
This really is reminding me of the Dick Tracy storyline, where he got to use a classic comic character and all he did with him was have him carry boxes. Batiuk is such a big sci-fi fan, but when he finally does a time travel story, all he’s done with it so far is a guy going back into the past to play an arcade game with his past self.
I think that Harry has already managed to top the stupidity of abandoning the helmet that allowed him to travel through time. “I wonder if my past self seeing me will collapse the space-time continuum and destroy all life? What the heck, I’ll do it anyway!” I would have really loved if the third panel was just black, and this was a surprise end to the entire strip.
Harry used to skip school to “play videos” at Montoni’s? It’s possible I’m forgetting something, and Harry watching VHS tapes was a regular thing, but it seems like this is referring to “video games”. I’m not sure if this is a typo or it’s deliberately meant to be shortened like this, but it’s confusing regardless.
I think it speaks to the quality of the storytelling here that the expression “play videos” is what most caught my attention in a time travel story. I do think it says a lot about Harry that his first instinct isn’t to see or talk to his parents or grandparents or other loved ones that aren’t around any more, but just to talk to himself and see Montoni’s.
I really don’t like the third panel. The art is weird to me. I assume it’s going for a dramatic close up, but it’s just kind of strange to me. And the whole “if I meet my past self, will I create a temporal paradox” is a really really tired time travel trope. (And speaking of temporal paradoxes, maybe don’t ramble things out loud to yourself that make it super obvious you’re from the future? Why does Batiuk hate thought balloons so much?) Maybe I’m the only one who feels this way, but it seems like every time Batiuk does a story that could actually be interesting, it does it in the least interesting way possible.
Banana Jr. 6000 December 4, 2021 at 2:02 pm
[Pete and Mindy] getting married or having children makes no sense to me. Their relationship is built around their mutual desire to avoid adulthood. Which is Batiuk is probably going to make it happen.
And which also would qualify them as ideal babysitters for Skyler! Look, I know there’s no point in bitching about the way time passes in the Battyverse, but this kid would just have turned eight years old. He hasn’t changed a lot since we saw him last two Christmases ago. He still hasn’t been introduced to comic books and pizza?
It’s not Wally. (Sobs and takes down the thumbtacks and string)
But who is left?
Darin? Fat chance. The only time Boy Lisa ever risks his life is in his dreams.
But I don’t know if Mason knows Montoni’s layout intimately enough for this stunt… We’ve never seen the action star on the roof, or in the back room.
But then again, who does that leave?
Only one man.
Suspect: ‘Kahn/ Khan’ (Possibly an alias?)
Background: Khan hails from the wild hills of Afghanistan. He was a bandit leader, drug dealer, and gun runner, who held Wally captive for months hoping to sell him to anyone willing to pay, even presumably American enemies, so the buyer could in turn make ransom demands.
Wally charmed Khan with chess and pictures of American women, stalling for enough time to signal allies and escape. Rana’s older sister found Wally and helped to hide him from the desperately searching Khan, and eventually led him to an American airfield.
When Wally and Becky returned to Afghanistan with an NGO mine clearing organization, they hired a local liaison to work as their guide and driver, and he turned out to be Khan.
Khan seemed overjoyed to be reunited with Wally, and Wally was pretty gracious to a man who had intended to sell him for cash.
On one of their last days in Afghanistan, Wally stepped on a landmine. Knowing it might trigger when he stepped off, he told Khan to leave him and drive a safe distance away.
Instead Kahn attempted to defuse it,
And when he couldn’t decided that he would bat the mine right out of the air in a stunt more nonsensical and ballsy than anything Crankshaft has ever rigged up with Bean’s End Merchandise and lighter fluid.
They return to the city to find that the Afghan family that’d helped Wally escape from Kahn before had exploded in a car bomb attack, leaving only Rana, the orphan Becky and Wally immediately decided to adopt.
A few months after the family returns to the US, Kahn walks into Montoni’s asking for Wally.
And like anyone who ever walks into Montoni’s, this murderer, drug dealer, and former terrorist is offered a job there on the spot.
Kahn arrived mere moments before the fateful letter that Wally was to be redeployed to Iraq, where he is blown up and captured again.
Post-time skip. Kahn is still working at Montoni’s.
Wally returns home in summer 2009 and takes a job at Montoni’s February the next year, but we get no strips of Wally and Kahn in a panel together because Batiuk is boring and unimaginative and I hate him.
In 2011, we are informed that Kahn has received American citizenship and has opened a Deli next door to Montoni’s
In 2014, Wally and Funky notice a ‘Going out of Business’ sign on the door and go in to talk to Kahn. He says he intends to move back to Afghanistan.
Spelling change why?
And that’s it. That’s the last time we’ve ever seen or heard of Kahn.
1.) Khan is tall, male, slim and, while darker complected than other characters, light skinned enough.
2.) Khan is a former bandit leader who was allowed American citizenship. This implies that he must have turncloaked and aided the Americans enough to receive some significant favors.
3.) Khan was an employee, and manager of Montoni’s for years, he would be very familiar with the building.
4.) Khan once batted a landmine away with a wooden board. The man has no fear.
Why would Khan do this?
To figure this out, I had to archive dive and see what was happening in the Funkyverse, and specifically Montoni’s, in the time leading up to the first appearance of the Pizza Monster. And, in the year before, Wally finished college and was made not only a manager, but seemingly a part owner of Montoni’s.
In his final semester of college, he also befriended Iraqi immigrant Adeela, and reconnected with his adopted Afghan daughter Rana. Rana told him that following graduation she intended go back to Afghanistan to teach in a girl’s school.
And, who may have Rana looked up in Afghanistan to help her get the lay of the land? Mayhaps her old family friend Khan?
So Khan hears that Wally is now in line to inherit the Montoni’s pizza fortune. So what?
So. We know two things about Khan. He admires Wally Winkerbean. And he didn’t think all that highly of Funky.
I think it all boils down to the landmine incident. Wally had every reason in the world not to value Khan’s life, and to hate him. Khan was a murderer who had indirectly killed his friends. And the only comeuppance Wally sees fit to give him is a black eye.
Khan also seems touched and impressed that Becky and Wally would adopt Rana with no reservations.
When they first met, Khan had only seen Wally’s life in terms of how much money he could make. But when his own life is in danger, Wally tells Khan to leave and save himself. Khan makes a daring gamble, puts both their lives on the line, and miraculously they both walk away. But is that enough to make up for the months and months Khan held him captive?
Kahn follows this admirable man to America. When Wally is presumed KIA, Kahn stays working at Montoni’s for years, ragging on Funky for neglecting the restaurant Wally had so loved.
When Wally returns from a traumatic captivity, so similar to what he had already been subjected to, maybe Kahn keeps his distance so as to not remind him? Maybe Khan leaves Montoni’s to make space for Wally’s advancement? Maybe he only leaves Westview once Wally seems stable and secure: newly engaged to Rachel, going back to school etc.
And now, Wally’s daughter tells him that, once Funky retires, Wally will have the whole restaurant. The entire pizza empire of Westview. The only thing standing in the way of his hero is the fat aging blowhard he never respected.
So, Kahn uses his US Citizenship to return to the states, and plans a series of drastically escalating pranks designed to drive Funky crazy and send him into an early retirement.
Still not convinced?
Remember last year, when the Pizza Monster was able to keep Mr. Monster from unmasking him by suggesting he was a woman?
Well, during Wally’s daring escape from Khan, Wally used the exact same ploy. Completely covered in head to toe, and using Khan’s people’s reluctance at revealing the female form to maintain his disguise. Khan had learned from the tricks of his friend.
So, Kahn is the Pizza Monster. Canon.
But why does Rachel look so enamoured with the PBM today? Does he remind her of someone?
It’s been a fun two weeks! Beckoning Chasm takes over tomorrow. Happy Halloween everyone!
All good things must come to an end; so too must all excruciatingly dull things like this week’s reno convo. As Funky Winkerbean has pivoted from “depicting contemporary issues affecting young adults” etc. etc., we see more situations that are likely drawn from what’s been happening in Batiuk’s life the last couple years. Having one’s home renovated actually does hold some comic potential, and this arc got off to a promising start Sunday, where we saw Funky and Holly interacting with the contractor at their house. It might have been kinda fun to see the job actually being done, and maybe have Holly finding ways to continually and inadvertently drive up the price tag, adding to her husband’s consterenation. Instead, the rest of the week’s been taken up with these two commiserating.