After the disaster that was the previous strip, the 120th strip, which is another three-for-one deal, opens on a long line of ghosts, waiting to be reunited with their loved ones. Since so many people died at once, it turns out this leaves a bureaucratic nightmare. Who would have thought?

Among the many, many people who are reunited with their departed loved ones are a certain middle-aged couple, who are of no actual significance to the story, but just depicted in order to provide one example of ordinary people. They rejoice at finally getting to see them again, and then the scene cuts to two vaudeville performers. The one in the bowler hat says that somebody should have seen this coming, to which the one in the top hat states that he did; the other just never asked him about it. This just raises further questions. If the vaudeville performers were ghosts, then why didn’t he warn minus about this? And if they were alive, then how did he even know about this in the first place? I think it’s just supposed to be a quick gag.

The scene cuts again to a young family, who just died, but now have a house in the spirit world. The parents look on as their two kids get used to the fact that hey, they can fly now! So their dad says that maybe things won’t be so bad in the spirit world, ignoring the fact that everybody is dead. Unfortunately, the kids stop smiling when they somehow manage to get their wisp tails tangled together, causing their dad to wonder out loud if his children will now remain children forever. This is foreshadowing. I know, we’re so close to the end and yet there is still foreshadowing.

As has been established, the afterlife in minus. is perfectly mundane, and this first part of the strip showed people just getting used to it.

The second part opens with minus hanging around the character who can now once again be called the red-haired ghost, and the ghost’s twin, who are only told apart by a subtle change in hair style. Well, that and the red-haired ghost is laughing profusely over what happened. Wow, everybody gets killed by accident and she thinks it’s amusing. What a jerk.

Her twin points out that she shouldn’t be laughing about so many people’s deaths, but the red-haired ghost brings up a valid point; that it has been established multiple times that the spirit world is practically just like Earth anyway, except that nobody can get hurt or die. And she’s been a ghost for enough time for her twin to have grown up, so she probably knows what she is talking about. See, things aren’t so bad even though everybody got a bridge dropped on them, figuratively speaking.

During the conversation, the red-haired ghost asks minus if she is going to press the Reset Button on this whole deal, and is surprised to hear a “no”, Holy crap everybody, the status quo is going to be changed! That almost never happens in episodic works, which makes it all the better when a work actually has the guts to go through with it. minus explains that the smartest people who have ever lived are all getting together, in order to decide what to do next. Call me cynical, but I am actually pretty surprised that this is what would happen; I’d expect there to be mass confusion as people are terrified at what has gone on.

For some reason, minus starts playing with her hair during this conversation, oblivious to the other two people present. This is further evidence for my theory that she isn’t exactly neurotypical.

Then cut to a large meeting room, literally filled with people, by which I mean that everyone in the background is just an outline. After all, scientists estimate that approximately 100 billion people have been alive since the species evolved, so if they limited membership of “smartest people who ever lived” to the top percentile, that will still be a billion people. Even if they limited it to the top percentile of the top percentile, that would still be 10 million. MENSA has got nothing on this.

Only a few people are drawn in the foreground. One of them, a man dressed in a suit and probably from the 19th or early 20th centuries, is aghast (no pun intended) at the fact that some of the smartest people who ever lived were women, while he is being angrily confronted by two of the aforementioned women. This just reflects the unfortunate fact that even extremely intelligent people are vulnerable to holding prejudiced viewpoints, and Armand does not ignore this fact. It is only used for a gag though, because we don’t get to see their proceedings. It probably would not have been that interesting, which is why Armand did not show it.

Instead, the third part begins with minus1, the green-haired girl, and Sara flying someplace, as it is revealed that Super MENSA2 decided not to revert everything back to normal, which only makes sense considering that the spirit world appears to be better than Earth in every possible way, and that people would have no reason to care about death now that they have proof of an afterlife (which, being eternal, also makes the living world kind of redundant).

So the green-haired girl wonders what will become of Earth, to which Sara speculates that aliens will create some new humans. That could only end badly. This of course takes the green-haired girl for a loop, so Sara explains that she somehow found out (even though this was never mentioned before) that after causing the demise of the dinosaurs, the very same aliens that minus visited were responsible for the creation of humanity after all. And even though they were apparently benevolent guides, they left positively no trace of their existence in historical times. So I have to wonder if Sara isn’t just making this up. The green-haired girl doesn’t believe this either, and asks minus, who says that Super MENSA told her they were converting Earth into an amusement park.

That… is a surprisingly logical course of action, actually. And yet it fits quite seamlessly into the style of this comic.

The 123rd strip focuses on a grouchy old man at an art studio, while others are visibly painting in the background. A significantly younger painter asks him what he is currently working on, to which he replies that he isn’t doing anything, because he now has no inspiration. Why, do you ask? Because now that everybody will spend an eternity in the afterlife, he can no longer take out his frustration that he will die one day. The painter is taken aback. She’s just working on a portrait of a butterfly because she likes them, but the old man says that she’s a fool. He storms off and tries reading a book, then watching a movie, and lastly listening to music, and then wanders into the darkness. When next we see him, he is showing a new, and rather garish, painting to a crowd, explaining that he created it because he can no longer be inspired by his mortality. Everyone “ooh“s and “aah“s, but it is clear that Armand has no truck with this whole True Art Is Angsty nonsense. Nothing in his whole oeuvre can even remotely be said to be angsty, so this strip is likely him taking out his own frustration that artists are stereotyped as such. Although, it never is explained what happens to people who are tired even of the afterlife.

The 124th strip begins with minus playing matchmaker, just like she did 101 strips earlier. Fortunately, this time is without the arrows. Instead, she ties the wisp tails of two random people together, so the two quickly discover that they cannot be apart. After first being embarrassed, the random couple warm up to one another, but grow sick of each other after a while. They are able to unknot themselves, though, and after they are separated, the strip focuses solely on the man. He is depressed about his breakup, until he sees another woman. As it turns out, his idea of being in a relationship is tying his wisp tail to hers, and the woman’s reaction is not one of laughing it off, to say the least. The strip ends there, making it kind of disturbing. There was no dialogue in this strip.

After that somewhat disturbing way of establishing that ghosts do get involved in romantic relationships, the 125th strip opens with minus at a huge library. It probably holds every book ever written, but minus is just interested in a children’s book, of course. This boy flies up to her, and is astonished to see that minus made the characters in the book move on their own accord. So there are still some people who don’t know about minus’s powers. I guess she wants to remain incognito, since after all, she is a child and probably isn’t able to handle large crowds. minus gives the boy the book, since he was so interested in it, and flies away. No sooner does the boy turn the page, however, then he gets dragged inside the pages by a tentacle. Even though he is in a library, nobody hears his screams. Not even minus.

In the next strip, the boy is able to walk around, as the book’s events play out as normal. Of course the hero beats the villain in the end and saves the day, but when the boy reaches the end of the book and is unable to escape, he decides to have some fun. He goes back to the climactic battle and destroys the hero’s weapon. This is continued on the next strip, where it turns out that the boy has become afflicted with existential despair. He is causing chaos in the book world just for the fun of it, because the book’s world is meaningless to him. He helps the villain take over the world, only to betray him at the last moment, and rescue the hero. Then, he kidnaps the princess, dumps her on the Moon, steals her magic charm, and uses it to destroy the book’s world. Indeed, the last panel is completely blank.

This boy, who never appeared before and doesn’t even have a name, is a foil to minus. He winds up with absolute power over the world he is trapped in, and so acts in a way that makes minus look saintly by comparison. One of the commenters mentioned earlier that minus is probably cavalier with her powers because she thinks that reality is her toy, and she can fix everything that happens with no negative consequences. The boy most likely feels the same way, but with added stress in that, for all he knows, he can never return to his own world, which is, of course, minus’s fault in the first place. This suddenly makes minus’s actions throughout this comic much more understandable.

The 128th strip does not feature minus, or indeed any previous character, at all. The directors of the project to turn Earth into an amusement park (which will be called “mearth.” for some reason) are discussing their progress. All the debris has been cleaned up, so Earth is theoretically inhabitable again, and they can now start to build the attractions. One of the planned attractions is an exhibit of ecosystems from every time in the Earth’s history. The director wants to see this, so the ghosts beam down to Earth… only to find Larry, alive, eating the meat of a dinosaur that he just killed.

Okay… how the HELL did Larry survive that?! Even if he avoided getting crushed by everyone else’s bodies, that much mass added to Earth would have thrown its orbit off-kilter. There is no prior indication that Larry is anything more than a normal human. But this is his second appearance, so I am just glad that Armand did not forget about him entirely.

The next strip begins with this banner: “LARRY IS DOING FINE. The continuing adventures of the last man on Earth” He rides a dinosaur, then goes to the beach and gets into a fight with the sand creatures, whom he defeats easily. Apparently they are still around, but at least they have a good reason for surviving the apocalypse. Then Larry gets an idea.

He puts a bunch of sand creatures into a wheelbarrow, and takes the animated sand to a glass factory, and uses that sand to make glass, which he molds into a woman. But his plan to become a modern Pygmalion and start an Adam and Eve Plot is foiled, as the glass woman still remembers being a sand creature, and chases Larry away. The last panel shows the glass woman buried in sand, trying to return to it. That’s so sad, if you think about it.

The 130th, and last, strip, is a three-for-one deal. This is the last we’ll be seeing of them. Now that Earth is cleared up, minus and the green-haired girl have returned, to visit their town one last time. The green-haired girl thinks that everything is so empty now that nobody lives there anymore. Also, we finally learn that minus is actually doing something responsible for once. Her perpetually off-panel mother is forcing her to go to the meetings, to help convert the planet to an amusement park. And with the green-haired girl and minus looking at their houses one last time, they fly off, the last panel of the first part depicting only buildings. This is actually the last time that either of them appear in this comic.

The second part begins with nature slowly reclaiming those buildings, but, before the scene can become completely melancholy, cuts to a class of ghosts on a field trip to Earth. Among the children is an alien, of a completely different species to the aliens we’ve seen before. This one looks vaguely like Cthulhu, all things considered. Their teacher, who looks like an older green-haired girl but isn’t, tells them that they will see a preserved city.

In the third and final part, the teacher explains to the students that people did not always live in the spirit world, and that most humans never saw or interacted with aliens. The kids are naturally surprised to hear about this, and one of them asks the teacher if she was around before the apocalypse. She wasn’t, which confirms that she is not the green-haired girl all grown up. The fact that she and the kids were born in the spirit world also confirms that new ghosts are being created and those who were children when the world ended are able to grow up.

The teacher shows the kids that the preserved city has automatons that resemble humans. Or rather, I think that they’re only automatons because this is an amusement park; the last panel makes this kind of ambiguous. The kids are surprised to see that living humans have legs, and the teacher also thinks that having legs is silly, because it is so much better to be able to fly around wherever one wants. So the teacher and the students look down on the scene, smiling, and the final panel of this entire webcomic shows a scene of (living) humans at a park. There are drawn such that I am not sure if they are actually automatons or if minus created some humans just to inhabit the new Amusement Park Earth. They’re very happy, and it’s a nice scene. I actually like this ending a lot. When you have a comic with an omnipotent viewpoint character, there are only a few ways to end it in such a way that it has closure, which this does, while at the same time allowing life to go on. It’s really nice that Armand was able to pull this off.

And with that, the comic ends.3 However, this is not the end of my review, as Armand drew some extra strips, which I will review in one final part.

Footnotes

1 Who is carrying her puppy with her.

2 Not actually called that, but you know what I mean…

3 And Armand’s commentary on this final strip? “Thanks for reading.” To which I say, “you’re welcome”, because that was a great comic.

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Comment

  1. Royal_Terror on 14 November 2013, 02:49 said:

    And thank you for your commentary on the strip.

    One more article to go, huh…

  2. Brendan Rizzo on 14 November 2013, 11:40 said:

    Yep. It’s gonna be really disconnected, though, because it’s reviewing extra strips that don’t really have a point. I’m just gonna do it for the sake of completeness.

  3. Rachel on 14 November 2013, 13:28 said:

    It was an interesting finale, in my opinion. It did give some form of closure, and for some reason I really like the last scene. It’s like Armand is pointing out that life goes on, even after disaster strikes. Some time later, somehow, mankind will heal and we’ll move on.

    I have to wonder, though: Did minus continue using her powers after everyone on Earth died? The answer seems to be no, and I tend to conclude that she was traumatized by seeing the damage she caused. Thus, she decided to stop using her powers (or at least, not use them as extensively as she did before) and just allow the world to go on without her intervention.

    As a side note, the story about the aliens and the octopus has got to be the strangest origin-of-life story I’ve seen yet. I still can’t decide exactly how tongue-in-cheek it was meant to be.

  4. Forest Purple on 14 November 2013, 23:37 said:

    I’ve got to say, the ending seemed particularly melancholy for me. All this stuff about it being alright/uplifting makes me think it’s the kind of ending where you project yourself onto it, sort of, or you decide what it means.

    Particularly that last panel; it’s like, “here is the essence of humanity,” and there are people just doing their stuff and being people. And the ghosts laugh.

    I don’t know, maybe it’s just me being weird.

  5. Brendan Rizzo on 15 November 2013, 09:30 said:

    Okay, since I got two comments, I’ll respond to both of them. First, to Rachel:

    As a side note, the story about the aliens and the octopus has got to be the strangest origin-of-life story I’ve seen yet. I still can’t decide exactly how tongue-in-cheek it was meant to be.

    Personally, I’m of the opinion that it’s not supposed to be true in-universe, and Sara was just making stuff up, simply because it doesn’t make any sense with the rest of the story’s timeline. Remember, this is the character who thought that something that is clearly a dandelion was some form of alien spacecraft. Perhaps when she found out about events on Earth, she shoehorned them into her idea of what happened. It wouldn’t be the first time.

    And now to Forest Purple:

    I’ve got to say, the ending seemed particularly melancholy for me. All this stuff about it being alright/uplifting makes me think it’s the kind of ending where you project yourself onto it, sort of, or you decide what it means.

    When did I say that I thought the ending was uplifting? I said I liked it; that’s not the same thing. In fact, the sense of melancholy is actually one of the reasons I liked it; it’s a Bittersweet Ending. Or maybe I’m just weird.

    Particularly that last panel; it’s like, “here is the essence of humanity,” and there are people just doing their stuff and being people. And the ghosts laugh.

    Funnily enough, that’s actually the panel that made me like the ending. The final strip wouldn’t have sold it to me without it.

    So anyway, I am not entirely sure what you’re trying to say. Thanks for reading, though!