By now, the comic has reached the point where it has truly hit its stride. I consider these strips to be the transition from the early style of the comic to the middle, where characters start getting development and story arcs get longer, and better in quality.

Speaking of story arcs, the forty-seventh strip begins a very important one. It begins with minus in a library1 actually behaving herself for once, and reading a book. Meanwhile, this shifty guy, with a washed-out color scheme, is nearby and asks her what book she is reading. Turns out its a children’s picture book. So the man dismisses minus as just some kid, and when she asks him what he is reading, he says it’s one of those New-Agey books about spirits and stuff. minus asks him about the spirit world, and says that she does not think that an afterlife exists. But… she hangs out with ghosts; how can she not believe in an afterlife? There’s Arbitrary Skepticism, but this is ridiculous. The man obstinately says that there just has to be one, for some reason, so minus invites him on a trip there. …But she just said that she didn’t think the spirit world exists. I am so confused.

The last panel is of minus flying through the air, carrying the bemused man as they look at this bizarre universe that runs on Art Major Physics. I’m talking about houses built on tree branches that are just suspended in the air, as ghosts look on in amazement, and leading into the forty-eighth strip.

It starts off with the man from the library being quite understandably confused and frightened about his surroundings, and a cheerful minus telling him that they are in the spirit world.2 This will be very important later. We get to see the man’s shocked expression as he struggles to take all this in. It’s quite a sight.

So they’re walking along, and who should show up but the red-haired ghost. She says something about how cool it is that minus made this world for them3 and invites her over to play tennis. We now learn that the afterlife is much like real life. Unfortunately for the man from the library, he’s not invited. So, he’s left alone in the spirit world for the next few panels. He walks around in this world that has no respect for the laws of gravity, and encounters an elderly ghost, who asks if he can spare any change for the old veteran. They use money in the afterlife? That’s the sort of thing I was talking about when I said the afterlife is just like real life. The man says he doesn’t have any money, and walks away, leaving the elderly ghost to sadly explain that he lost his legs in the war. Heh, it’s funny because none of the ghosts have legs.

After that experience, minus and the red-haired ghost come back, and the three of them go out to eat. Yes, they eat in the afterlife. After two Beat Panels, the man gets very angry, and explains to minus that this is not what he expected the afterlife to be like at all. minus is honestly surprised to hear that the spirit world should be different from the living world, and somehow, even though they are no longer in the library, starts poring over the books that her tag-along guest had been reading. This goes on for four panels (all the while, with the man wondering what the heck is going on) until minus says that she has it, and in the final panel of the strip, the two of them are in a boat, being ferried across the River Styx by Charon. The man is understandably creeped out, while minus is just smiling without a care in the world. Disturbingly enough, the ghosts from earlier are now submerged in the water. Just when you thought that minus could go a single strip without harming others by accident.

In the next strip, they have made it to the other side of the river, and now approach the gates of hell, which is apparently guarded by a member of the alien species minus met earlier, named Pete. Now, when I said they were at the gates of hell, I meant it. The man is visibly disturbed to see some people suffer the punishment of the lowest circle of Dante’s Inferno. According to minus, they were bad people. One unfortunate is getting eaten by a crocodile, because apparently some people’s greatest ambition in life was to be crocodiles.

They walk down this huge flight of stairs, past the damned souls, and then minus shows the man a candle, which is tied to his life. When it goes out, he dies. The man is perturbed, but minus has such a cheerful expression on her face that one can’t help but laugh. It’s like, hey, look how cool this thing is! You die when the light goes out; isn’t it interesting?4

We get a shot of the gigantic lotus blossoms that minus says make up the spirit world, and Armand is able to draw nice-looking rainbows even with the rest of the panel being mainly of a single color.

Then some ghosts accost minus, saying that they’ve been getting complaints about how the afterlife is run, and they have formed a governmental committee to get minus to change some things. Just before they start, the ghosts finally notice that there’s a living person with them, so minus sends him back to the library alone. As proof that he wasn’t hallucinating the whole thing, he is still holding his life candle, much to his distress. In the final panel, the librarian explains to him that candles are not allowed in the library, leading to his humorously over-the-top response. With that, the story arc is over. We will never see that guy again. Despite being a minor character, he actually had a personality.

The fiftieth strip begins with the brown-haired boy from the tenth strip, alone, looking at the sky. The next panel pans out to show that all of the kids from minus’s class are there. They are all waiting for her, as she arrives back at school by some kind of beanstalk. By this point, the kids are so jaded that they don’t even see how this is at all unusual. One of them (who I think might actually be Clary) demands to know where minus has been this whole time. Before she can say anything else, the next panel is the green-haired girl saying hi to her, which serves the purpose of reintroducing herself to the readers, as well. Clary does not like that, and says that a bunch of crazy stuff’s been going on, namely, all the events of the previous strips.5 See, there is continuity in this comic.

So Clary is freaking out, and implores minus to do something about it. minus is lost in thought for one panel, and apparently thinks that the best way to solve this problem is to summon a giant octopus to start destroying the city. Truly, she is the mistress of non sequiturs.

Of course, this is continued on the next strip.

Apparently, the octopus is effective at attacking the aliens who got really pissed off at minus and are now attacking the planet. The sight of the octopus staring down on their city also causes those smiling zombies from before to get really angry and stop smiling. It also defeats the animals (who declared war on the human species after that hunter boxed that lion) with a single swoop of its tentacles. After its purpose has been served, the octopus is that captured in a giant net. So amazingly, that actually worked.

…Only for the next panel to depict people in a refugee camp because the octopus destroyed their homes. Geez minus, you could have picked something less destructive. You can do anything you want, can’t you?

Though I must say, that couple of strips was kind of cool. It established that events don’t happen in a vacuum, and reiterates that it would not be fun to actually live in a world where somebody has supernatural powers, especially if that somebody is a child.

In the fifty-second strip, minus is drawing an octopus in sidewalk chalk. Yay for Continuity Nods! The green-haired girl shows up, tells her the octopus was finally defeated, only for the ponytailed girl and the white-haired girl to walk by. Remember them from the tenth strip?

The green-haired girl keeps talking, about how she heard that the “northern capital” was severely damaged, which causes the white-haired girl, who has not had any lines up to this point, halts in surprise, with a exclamation mark hovering over her head to show how surprised she is. She freaks out because her friend Larry lives there. So now we know the names of three characters.

They call Larry on a cell phone, and there is a cut to the ruined city. Larry is walking along, completely unharmed. It turns out that he’s an adult, who looks kind of like a used car salesman, or maybe an old game show host. It really raises the question of how he knows this girl who’s in elementary school. He says he’s doing fine, and that’s the end of the strip.

Now, Armand has said that he originally intended for Larry to feature in several strips, always emerging unharmed from catastrophes. Unfortunately, that’s the only one that ever got drawn, so it’s a Chekhov’s Gun that sadly goes nowhere. The strip isn’t completely pointless though; it develops two more recurring characters.

But we don’t care about that! Onto the fifty-third strip. minus and the green-haired girl are hanging out at that hill from before, blowing bubbles. A bubble that floats by the green-haired girl has a whole world inside of it. Gasp!

The green-haired girl asks minus if the world is inhabited; she says yes. So the green-haired girl thinks for a panel, and asks minus what will happen when the bubble pops. This catches minus off-guard, her surprise visible because her ahoge stands straight up in defiance of gravity. She had never thought about this before, and so, turns it into a snow globe.

So this is a very important strip. It establishes a new dynamic. Before, when minus created that civilization underwater, it was completely destroyed when she pulled the plug, and she didn’t even remember it. But the green-haired girl does realize the consequences of their actions. Therefore, she thinks about what could happen, and gets minus to protect her creations. The two complement each other brilliantly.

The strip is far from over, though. Even though the civilization will not pop, the green-haired girl rolls her eyes at minus and says that the inhabitants would suffocate from lack of air. minus looks genuinely crestfallen when she hears this. So she does care, once stuff is pointed out to her. Interesting. So she makes it into a terrarium after the green-haired girl’s suggestion. The last few panels are of the two decorating it with stickers like the children they are. For once, everything actually turned out okay. The general formula here is that when the green-haired girl is present, minus does something constructive instead of destructive. Either minus is immature even for her age, or the green-haired girl is unusually mature for her age. The first one seems more likely.

The fifty-fourth strip is another nice one. It’s just cute. So, minus is drawing on the sidewalk again, when this older person shows up. She could be either a teenager or a young adult; it’s not clear. The woman compliments minus’s drawing and draws a picture of her own, which the readers get to see. There’s no Stylistic Suck involved here; it’s genuinely good. minus is said, though, because her drawing isn’t as good, so the woman tells her that she is only better because she’s older, and minus can grow up to be an even better artist than she is.

The next part is kind of funny, actually. The woman suggests they get ice cream, and immediately walks off-panel to go get some. Thus, she does not see that minus has already conjured some. Throughout the strip, she never finds out about minus’s powers. She’s just an ordinary person. minus is once again surprised, that someone doesn’t know about that, and so makes her own ice cream disappear so that the woman can get some from an ice cream truck and not suspect anything.

They get their ice cream, but unfortunately, some guy is walking past and does not notice the sidewalk drawing. It’s the woman who freaks out, yelling at the man that he didn’t even notice the “masterpiece” he was about to ruin. When he leaves, the woman talks to minus some more, before heading off. And in the last panel, minus changes her hair color to match the woman’s.

All in all, it was really cute. Nothing macabre-yet-funny happened, and minus acted just like a normal kid. It’s probably the most light-hearted strip in the whole comic. Unfortunately that meant there wasn’t much I could say about it.

The fifty-fifth strip has minus, Clary, and the green-haired girl working together on a school project. I have no idea why Clary is willingly associating with her. But anyway, Clary says that maybe they would finish their project sooner if they divided the work into sections. The green-haired girl agrees with that, but minus says she wants to play, and hits her head against the table. Clary scolds her like she were her mom or something, and is even drawn to look a bit older than minus. (But that’s just an artistic effect.)

Clary looks at her paper, only for an exclamation mark to appear over her head. She is not happy. Because suddenly, the correct answers appeared on all of their worksheets! minus tries to act like she has no idea what is going on, but Clary is not fooled. She makes a display of the fact that she is erasing the answers without looking at them, points out that it would be cheating for minus to just magically give them the answers, and then gives minus a Death Glare6 while telling her to get back to work.

See, that’s the thing. Clary does not like minus at all. The other kids at least tolerate her, but in her three appearances so far, Clary has been 1) upstaged by minus because the latter cheated, 2) yelling at minus to solve a problem that minus caused, and 3) saying that they can’t just use magic to solve all their problems. She would probably fit right in with those three kids from the thirteenth strip. And, since Armand is a good writer, the readers end up liking her immensely, even though she comes off as manic-depressive, as opposed to most antagonists of this type who are just annoying sticks in the mud,7 thus providing some depth to this comic.

But no sooner have they resumed their work then minus’s ahoge picks up a radio signal. She says it’s the Shining Beacon and has to go, giving her an excuse to leave. Clary looks to the green-haired girl for answers, but the latter has none. After all, she’s just minus’s friend; she doesn’t know anything about the inner workings of her friend’s mind.

The following panel is reminiscent of those eyecatches on Super Robot shows, describing the “Shining Beacon”. The last panel shows two gigantic Transformers-esque robots duking it out in the middle of the city, that was only recently rebuilt after that giant octopus attacked it. Won’t someone please think of those refugees? minus isn’t— she came up with this just to get out of doing schoolwork!

The fifty-sixth strip starts with minus relaxing on a beanbag chair, reading a book. Then, her mother yells at her from off-panel to do the dishes, right now. Now, minus could easily just snap her fingers and have them done, so what does she do? She astral-projects herself so that she can read her book while a copy of her does the dishes. Presumably as a visual aid, her copy is tinted blue. Her copy cleans the dishes in about a second, and then, just for fun, assembles all the dishes into a humanoid being, and gets into a fencing match with it. This goes horribly wrong. At first there’s some classic Hollywood movie-style Flynning going on, but then, minus’s copy gets run through by the dish man’s sword. The copy actually dies, while the dish man leaves, not caring that he killed somebody with household implements.

The fifty-seventh strip is a three-for-one deal, as Armand uploaded three strips on the same page. The first one has no dialogue at all and is just the dish man mastering martial arts. The second one starts off with an action shot of the dish man brutally defeating his opponents in matches. He now has a smiley face drawn on himself, to express how he is feeling. He is always happy beating the crap out of people, and worse, is pretty much invincible. What was minus’s copy thinking?8

The dish man has attracted the attention of the sports world, such that minus is watching a TV special about him, narrated by two sportscasters who call him “Dishface”. So that’s his name. Huh. Now, minus did not make Dishface; her copy did. So she realizes that something is amiss, and conjures up a sword, then leaves her house, clearly pissed off. We then cut to Dishface building a sculpture out of the martial arts signs he has won from dojos. Things are looking up to a confrontation, don’t you think?

The third and final part to this saga opens with Dishface, now dressed in normal clothes, being wished luck by a fan as he gets his mail. Apparently he has a house now. Dishface turns around to get his mail, but notices something, and swiftly turns out to catch an arrow that was only seconds away from penetrating his head. He crushes it with his immense strength and goes to the source. The next panel is of minus and Dishface going at it like in those samurai movies, against the light of the Moon. We never see the details, but since the next day’s news is about Dishface’s disappearance, I think we can guess what happened.

Cut to minus and the green-haired girl watching this on TV. The green-haired girl wonders why they’re watching it and offers to change the channel. I’m a bit surprised that she doesn’t suspect minus’s involvement with the whole thing. Of course, the final panel shows a dish with two cookies on it, suggesting eyes.

So apparently, Dishface was causing so much trouble that minus felt she had to get rid of him. Interesting how she’s only willing to fix the problems her copies cause on her own initiative.

Well, I’ll stop here again, because there is another story arc coming up. But as you can see, this is the point where Armand decided to start developing his characters, making the comic more interesting.


1 Whose walls are strangely pastel-colored

2 No, this does not mean that they’re dead.

3 OH. So that explains how the ghosts could have existed earlier. It all makes sense now.

4 Speaking of interesting things, I have noticed that Armand has had a slight Art Shift since the beginning of the comic, most notable in minus’s hairstyle. But that’s beside the point.

5 Not to mention world hunger, as the football hero points out.

6 That actually makes the girl recoil

7 Yes, Clary is all those things, but she’s so over-the-top it’s funny.

8 Wait, don’t answer that. We all know she wasn’t thinking at all.

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