Comics : Spider-Man Newspaper Strip 21 November 2016 - 30 April 2017

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This review was first published on: 4 May 2017.

Background...

Well, what do you know? That last story was shorter and better! So, what happens next?

This story actually started mid-week but I refuse to accept any starting day other than Monday. So far, MJ has told Peter that her Broadway show is on hiatus for theater repairs (again) and Peter has suggested a vacation. You may recall that the Parkers took a cruise last year, real time, because of theater repairs. But if you consider the strip time that passed, it is considerably less than that. Now, there was a period in the middle of the Subby story where a few weeks went by but the Dr. Strange story had to take place right after the end of the Subby story. At least, MJ and Pete are still talking about it in Washington Square Park when Xandu shows up. And that story (if we can believe MJ at the end) takes place in one day! On that same day, JJJ receives the news that the Daily Bugle has a new owner. So, in Spidey-strip time, didn’t Pete and MJ just have a vacation about a month ago?

Oh well, let’s begin.

In Detail...

"Rocket, Ronan, and the Sentry (Westward Ho, the Parkers! Part 1)"
Spider-Man Newspaper Strip 21 November 2016 - 30 April 2017
Nov 2016 : SM Title
Writer:  Stan Lee
Pencils:  Alex Saviuk (Sunday Strip), Larry Leiber (Daily Strips)
Inker:  Joe Sinnott
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Issue
Review

November 21, 2016

In his office at the Daily Bugle, J. Jonah Jameson takes a call from Peter Parker. “I just got the Bugle back – and you’re splitting for Los Angeles, Parker?” he says into the phone. From the phone’s receiver, Peter replies, “MJ’s theater is shuttering for repairs – and she’s needed out there to promote her new movie.”

(MJ's new movie is "Marvella 2" which she filmed in the 2015 strips that just preceded my entrance into reviewing the strip. The first "Marvella" movie was filmed during most of 2006.)

Panel #2 has Peter on the phone. He is winking at MJ who is in the background putting her bra on. (I’m serious. See Panel Image #1.) They have a picture on the wall of some sketchy guy. “Besides, I have it on very good authority that Spider-Man is ‘going Hollywood’ too!” says Pete. Panel #3 has JJJ sulking in his office, with Joe Robertson behind. Jonah tells Peter, “Sometimes, Parker, if it wasn’t such a crazy notion – I’d almost believe you were Spider-Man!” Jeez, Jonah, he completely gave himself away with his camera in the Egghead story. Get with it!

While we're in the earliest of stages, who do you think the villain will be? If the Parkers are going to Hollywood, then Mysterio makes sense...except he was just in the story with Black Widow and the Hobgoblin. The opponents for the last year have been unconventional, as Stan has been spotlighting guest-stars. Spidey's battled Subby then Xandu then Egghead. Will there be another guest-star and another offbeat villain? What do you all think?

November 22, 2016

It’s the 53rd anniversary of the JFK assassination and MJ and Peter can’t stop talking about it!

Kidding. They’re talking about their trip out west. In panel #1, MJ’s head fills up most of the left side while Pete is in the background on the right. MJ is putting on her hoop earrings. I don’t know when she ever took them off because, as we saw on Sunday, she wears them to bed. MJ says, “You got Jameson to let you off for a couple of weeks?” “Hey, I’m a freelancer, not a staffer,” Peter replies. In panel #2, he fills up the left side of the panel while MJ takes the background-right. Pete looks at his phone and says, “Now I’ll see if I can score us some airline tickets…” But MJ says, “Actually, Tiger…” and in panel #3, she throws her arms around him from behind and says, “I was kinda hoping we could drive out to California!” Peter, eyes wide, says “?” which means, “Are you kidding? I can’t drive! Or maybe I can! It depends on which universe I’m in. Can I drive in this universe?”

(After the slightest of research, I can report that Peter stole a car to trail the bank robbers who abducted Aunt May back on February 2, 1980 and he drove for the next week's strips like a professional stunt driver. So, I guess he can drive just fine in the Strip-Verse.)

So, it’s looking like a cross-country trip like one of those old Dennis the Menace comics! Spidey visits the Grand Canyon! Spidey visits the Cadillac Ranch! I can’t wait!

November 23, 2016

A two-shot of Peter and MJ. MJ still has her arms around Peter but now she is in the front. “You want us to drive to L.A.?” asks Pete. “As a couple of New Yorkers, we don’t get much chance to drive,” MJ replies. Panel #2 is all MJ as she says, “Besides, if we rent a car, we can enjoy the scenery.” Off-panel, Pete says, “All the scenery I need, honey, is right here in this room…” He finishes in panel #3 with, “But if you wanna do the ‘Route 66’ thing, count me in!”

(You know the bit, “It goes through Saint Louie, Joplin, Missouri, Oklahoma City is oh so pretty, you’ll see Amarillo, Gallup, New Mexico, Flagstaff, Arizona, don’t forget Winona, Kingman, Barstow, San Bernadino, won’t you get hip to this kindly tip, when you make that California trip, get your kicks on Route 66.” Now, I don’t expect applause or anything but I just typed that from memory. Do you think we should tell Pete that Route 66 is now in such disrepair, you can’t drive its whole length anymore?)

MJ is so excited that she leaps straight into Peter’s arms…only she was already in Peter’s arms so maybe she projects herself forward to try to knock him over. Motion lines show that she is moving forward and Peter’s head is moving back. “Oh Peter,” she says, “It’ll be wonderful!” And then, Stan, that party-poop narrator, shoves a caption at the bottom that says, “Define ‘wonderful’!”

November 24, 2016

And so, “Peter and Mary Jane head west by car…” (according to the opening caption) on Thanksgiving day. They are two little smudgy silhouettes in a car that is across the Hudson from Manhattan in New Jersey. “Good thing we’ve got three days before you’re needed for that movie publicity,” says the smudge in the driver’s seat. “Actually, I told them I couldn’t be there till then,” says the smudge in the passenger seat. Panel #2 moves inside the car where Peter is driving and MJ is the passenger. She hold up her phone and says, “I’ve got the whole trip all mapped out by GPS.” (The whole thing on GPS! What could go wrong?) Peter looks over at her and says, “Honey, you’ve thought of everything.” And our party-poop narrator horns in again with, “Not everything, Peter…!”

November 25, 2016

And now, one day later, they are already on a deserted highway surrounded by mesas and cacti. Again, they are smudgy silhouettes in the car as the driver (still Peter) says, “New Mexico already! This road trip’ll be over before we know it! And what’s great is nobody’s recognized you anyplace we’ve stopped!” (Did they stop? They’re in New Mexico after one day!) MJ is not pleased by the implications of Peter’s comment. In a second panel that is a cutaway inset in the upper right of the first panel, she glares wordlessly to her left (at Peter). Panel #3 is a profile close-up of the two of them. “Honey, maybe I should rephrase that…” says Peter. “Maybe you should just stop while you’re not too far behind,” replies a stern MJ. (So, the whole point of being in a Broadway show is…fame? Unfortunately, a whole lot of people probably think that.)

November 26, 2016

And now a side view of the car amidst the mesas and cacti with those little smudge silhouettes within. One says, “Pull over, Peter! My turn to drive again!” “Oh that’s all right. I’m not tired,” says the other smudge. Panel #2 moves inside the car. MJ says, “But I want to drive. Back in Manhattan, I never get the chance.” “Well…okay…if you really want to,” says Pete. (Nice to see that he’s wearing his seat belt.) So where are they going to pull over to change drivers? There don’t seem to be any shoulders. (Good thing no one else is on this road.) Well, never mind. By panel #3, the deed is already done. With a SKREETCH and a cloud of smoke from the exhaust, MJ gets going. “With MJ at the wheel – it might’ve been more relaxing to take a nice slow plane ride!” thinks the smudge that is Peter. And, not only that, but she’s driving in the left lane of what appears to be a two-way road. (Good thing no one else is on this road.)

November 27, 2016

“Night in New Mexico, on the final leg of the Parkers’ drive west…” according to the opening caption. MJ is driving and Peter is in the passenger seat. The camera is “filming” from the passenger side window so we see Peter in profile, MJ turning toward him, and the mesas and cacti beyond. “The radio said there’s a meteor shower tonight,” says Pete. (A meteor shower is never a good thing in a super-hero comic.) “Great!” replies MJ, “In the city, you can never really see the stars at night!” In panel #2, MJ says, “I’ll pull over so we can really watch for them!” With a SCREEEECH, she pulls over into the sand. (Pulling into sand is never a good idea.) The panel shows the car with dust billowing out behind and motion lines that show that MJ pulled over fast. (I can almost read the license plate number. I think it’s “75 180.”) By panel #3, Peter and MJ have gotten out of the car. Amidst the stars, two meteors streak down. MJ points at them. (Peter smiles, looking like he’s having a wonderful time.) “Look!” she says, “There’s one…and there’s another, and…” Then a huge meteor flies close over their heads in panel #4. It is a silent panel with the meteor lighting their shocked faces (nice coloring job!). They are both still shocked and open mouthed (and still nicely lit with the coloring) in panel #5, as MJ says, “Wh-what was that?” “I don’t know, honey…” replies Pete. “But whatever it was, it came down hard and fast – Not too many miles ahead of us!” he finishes in panel #6, which is shot from behind the car and low to the ground. Peter is visible but MJ and the license plate are not. Ahead of them, smoke rises from a fireball that has hit the ground.

The “Next” caption is, “And so it begins!” and that’s what I’m worried about. A meteor landing in the desert? This has the potential to be very very dumb indeed. Last week’s “Next” was “Westward Ho, the Parkers!” as can be seen in the image at the top of this review and I suppose we can be thankful that it only took a week to get this far.

November 28, 2016

Pretty much a recap of yesterday. First we move back in time a bit so that MJ and Peter are watching the meteor fall. Spider-Sense lines radiate from Peter’s head. The caption tells us, “Peter and MJ watch a nighttime meteor shower above the New Mexico desert…” MJ says, “That wasn’t a meteor, was it?” “I don’t know, honey,” Peter replies. Then panel #2 shows their car speeding toward the spot where the “meteor” fell. By the position of the word balloons, it looks like Peter is driving but by the SKREEETCHH and the smoke, it looks like MJ is driving. “But my tingling spider sense votes we should find out!” says Pete. “I’m with you, Tiger!” says MJ.

So, something that is probably not a meteor falls in the middle of the New Mexico desert and one of the only two people around turns out to be Spider-Man. What are the odds?

November 29, 2016

Panel #1 might as well be a repeat of panel #2 from yesterday. It again shows Pete and MJ’s car racing toward the fireball of the falling “meteor.” The caption tells us, “As Peter and MJ speed toward where they saw a strangely bright ‘meteor’ fall…” From inside the car, either Peter or MJ says, “There was something weird about that ‘shooting star’!” The caption continues in panel #2. “…patrons at a diner a few miles ahead are about to have a close encounter…” And standing there holding his hammer is…the Kree warrior Ronan the Accuser! First Sub-Mariner, then Xandu, then Egghead, now Ronan. Stranger and stranger. Do you feel a Guardians of the Galaxy appearance coming? Ronan tells the diner customers, “This is where I shall begin my quest!” Two elderly diners give him a nervous look but my favorite is the only other diner pictured; a guy in the lower right corner, completely oblivious as he eats his meal.

November 30, 2016

So, here’s Ronan in the diner and two guys at a table (Bikers? Cops? Military?) look back at him. (The old woman from yesterday is also there in the background.) One guy says, “Hey, Sarge – do you see what I see?” and Sarge replies, “If I do, Carlos – then I think we’ve both been spikin’ our coffee!” In panel #2, Ronan looms over the couple from yesterday and says, “Where is it?” “Wh-where is wh-what?” asks the old man.

It’s like Laurence Olivier in Marathon Man. “Is it safe?”

December 1, 2016

Ronan looms over the elderly couple. “I asked you a question, Terrans,” he says, “Where is it?” The man trembles (as seen by the lines around his head) and says, “I’m afraid I have no idea what you’re…” But in panel #2, Ronan smashes their table with his hammer with a SLAMM. This should crush their legs but, apparently, leaves them unharmed. It turns out that Carlos from yesterday is a cop and Sarge is the diner counterman. “Hey!” yells Sarge. Carlos runs toward Ronan and the couple. “I’m on it, Sarge!” he says.

December 2, 2016

The elderly couple starts to sneak away in the background. (How did they get past Ronan?) Carlos, the cop, puts his hand on Ronan’s shoulder and says, “Okay, ‘Thor’ – put down that sledgehammer.” Turning to look at Carlos, Ronan says, “I do not know any Thor.” Panel #2 belongs to Ronan alone as he finally introduces himself. “I am Ronan the Accuser!” he says, “And I accuse this planet…” “…of insubordination,” he finishes in panel #3 as he punches Carlos with his left hand so that Carlos flies back and collides with something with a THWAMM. “Hnnhh,” says Carlos.

December 3, 2016

We move outside of Sarge’s Diner (so says the sign) where the couple is running for it. Ronan has stepped outside and watches them. “That helmeted man – he attacked that policeman,” says the woman. “Let’s get out of here!” says the man. (Anybody else get the feeling that these two know exactly what Ronan is asking about?) “Yes – run Terrans!” says Ronan. And then, suddenly, Ronan is back inside (as are we) as Sarge makes a run at him. “This is my place you’re trashin’, Mac,” says Sarge, “and I’m not running!”

December 4, 2016

The diner is looking kind of trashed and Carlos is unconscious on the floor as Sarge approaches Ronan. The first panel caption says, “An entity called Ronan the Accuser has invaded a New Mexico roadside diner…” Ronan facing Sarge says, “I see I must repeat myself – this time for your benefit. Where is it?” In panel #2, with Carlos in the foreground, Sarge confronts Ronan, saying, “You can ask any stupid question you want, Mac…but that cop you knocked out is a friend of mine.” Panel #3 is a close-up of Ronan, holding his hammer out in front of him, and Sarge, brandishing his fists. “And when you start trashin’ Sarge’s Diner – you gotta deal with Sarge!” says Sarge about Sarge.

Now, in panel #4, with only his hand and hammer in the frame, Ronan says, “You are of no concern to me!” And he either hits Sarge with his hammer or shoots out a bolt of energy from the hammer, knocking Sarge back into a shelf with a KBLAM. “Aaarr,” says Sarge. “At that moment…” says the caption in panel #5 as we move back to Peter and MJ. With MJ behind the wheel, Peter says, “Whatever the ‘meteor’ was that fell to Earth, it’s not glowing anymore – so we’re not likely to find it just by driving along.” In panel #6, they come upon Sarge’s Diner. MJ points out the diner and says, “Maybe somebody in that diner up ahead saw it come down!” “Well, it won’t hurt to stop and ask!” says Peter and the “Next” caption says, “It Actually Might!” which is one of my favorite “Next” captions yet. Last week’s was “And So It Begins!” and I guess it did!

December 5, 2016

The first panel illustration is essentially the same as yesterday’s last panel illustration. Peter and MJ are in the car, pulling up to the diner. This time it is Peter who says, “Maybe somebody in this diner saw where that ‘meteor’ landed…” Panel #2 jumps right into the diner where Ronan stands over Sarge and Carlos; both unconscious. Peter and MJ come through the door, take one look at the situation, and Peter says, “Honey – get back in the car!” Ronan, still on the same toot, looks down at the unconscious men and says, "Where is it?"

December 6, 2016

So, does MJ get back in the car? I suppose so. This strip is strictly Peter and Ronan. In panel #1, Peter confronts Ronan, asking, “Who are you – and what did you do to these guys?” Ronan replies, “Ronan does not answer questions. He asks them.” (Also, Ronan refers to Ronan in the third person.) In panel #2, a close-up of his head, Ronan says, “Tell me now – or face my wrath! Where is it?” Panel #3 gives us Peter and the back of Ronan’s head. Pete jerks a thumb over his shoulder and says, “What’re you looking for? That light that came down in the desert?” And Ronan says, “That light was Ronan – come from a far star!” (I thought Ronan did not answer questions. Okay, Ronan didn’t really answer Pete’s question. We’ll give Ronan a pass.)

December 7, 2016

Peter is so surprised by Ronan’s statement that his head wobbles. He points at Ronan and says, “Did you just say – you’re from another planet?” (Why should this surprise him? Hasn’t he run into hundreds of aliens over the years? Well, maybe he hasn’t in the strip-verse.) Ronan says, “Why waste my time with you? You clearly know no more than the two I struck down, so…” In panel #2, Ronan (only his hand and hammer showing)tries to bop Pete. The hammer swings with a SHOOOSH but Pete, spider-sense lines coming off his head, leaps away. He winds up, in panel #3, clinging to the ceiling. Ronan looks up at him. “What? You evaded the universal weapon?” he says. (That’s right! The universal weapon! It’s been too long since I’ve read Fantastic Four #65, August 1967.) “Not all that hard when you’ve got a spider sense!” says Pete, giving his secret identity away again, even if it is to an alien.

December 8, 2016

Peter hangs from the ceiling with one hand. (At least I think that’s what he’s doing.) Ronan looks up at him. “If you could avoid my blast, why did those others not do so?” he asks. “Maybe because they didn’t have a spider-sense,” replies Peter, giving away his secrets again. He leaps down and socks Ronan in the jaw with a THOK. “Let alone spider strength!” says Peter. Unfazed, Ronan says, “My translatron defines the word ‘spider’ for me.” He continues in panel #3, “It is an insignificant creature – to be crushed!” He swings his hammer and clobbers Peter (who, apparently, didn’t have the spider-sense to avoid the hit). “Oooph,” says Pete.

December 9, 2016

Peter gets up on one knee and puts one of his web-shooters on. The back of Ronan’s head says, “You’ve not lost consciousness like the others I laid low. You remind me of ones I fought previously upon this world.” Panel #2 shows Peter approaching Ronan who says, “They were called – the Fantastic Four.” So, now Ronan reveals that he has been on Earth before. Why is he so ignorant about the planet and its people? Peter responds to the FF namedrop, “If you went toe-to-toe with them, I’ve got my work cut out for me.” In panel #3, he webs up Ronan with a FWIP. “So let’s see how you like being webbed up,” he says.

December 10, 2016

Outside, MJ waits by the car. “Peter told me to wait outside while he dealt with that economy-sized stick-up man,” she thinks, “But – what if he needs help?” Her thoughts continue in panel #2 even though the scene moves inside. “Not that I could do much – except maybe try to phone the Avengers,” she thinks, even as Ronan tears apart the webbing with a RRRIIIPT.

December 11, 2016

“An entity called Ronan the Accuser has invaded a New Mexico roadside diner…” says the opening caption. MJ is up at the door, ready to go in. “It’s been too long since Peter went inside to stop that robbery or whatever it was,” she thinks, “I’ve got to see if there’s anything I can…” That thought is interrupted by panel #2 in which Peter comes through the glass door with a KRAASH, shocking MJ. In panel #3, MJ takes Peter’s head in her hands and wiggles it back and forth (if we can believe the wiggle lines). “Peter – are you all right?” she asks. “D-do I look… all…” says Pete. In panel #4, he passes out. “Peter!” cries MJ as, behind her, Ronan’s arm and the universal weapon appear in the window. In panel #5, Ronan says, “Defeating my last victim depleted some of my energy. These foodstuffs will help me replenish it.” And, using his weapon, he draws a pot of coffee, a submarine sandwich, a slice of cake, a bottle of ketchup, a steak, and some other hard-to-identify items toward him. (So, what does he do? Absorb all this? Bleeah!) Then, in panel #6, he busts out through the wall, even though he could have walked through the door through which Peter crashed. “Now I must find that which I seek,” he says, before it is too late!” To the side, MJ looks on, holding the unconscious Peter in her arms.

The “Next” caption is “Ronan on the Move!” because it may be about time that he looked for whatever he is looking for in some other place than Sarge’s Diner. Last week’s was “It Actually Might!” which responded to Peter’s comment of “Well, it won’t hurt to stop and ask!” And the caption was right!

December 12, 2016

We step back in time a few seconds for this strip. The caption says, “As MJ edges nearer the roadside diner…” and there she is as Peter comes through the door with a KRAASSH. “Peter - !?” she says. Panel #2 finishes the caption with, “…Ronan the Accuser exits in his own colorful manner.” MJ holds Peter as Ronan smashes through with a THRAKKK. Ronan says, “With my energy replenished, I must continue my search for the Sentry.” Ah, the Sentry! First seen in Fantastic Four #64, July 1967. So that’s what Ronan is looking for!

December 13, 2016

Ronan has apparently left the scene. MJ hugs Peter and says, “Oh, Peter – Peter – if that big bruiser hurt you -!” Panel #2 is a tight close-up of Pete and MJ as Pete opens his eyes, smiles, and says, “Actually…honey…” He finishes in panel #3 with “…nobody says ‘big bruiser’ anymore…” MJ grins broadly and holds Peter tight.

December 14, 2016

Peter stands up. MJ hangs onto him to keep him steady. “Are you sure you want to try standing right away?” she asks, “I mean – that guy hurled you through the diner’s window!” And, sure enough, there is a broken window behind them. I could have sworn he was thrown through a door. Panel #2 moves in a little closer on Peter and MJ. “He called himself Ronan,” says Pete, “and he’s obviously looking for something…” Seque to the caption of panel #3 where Pete finishes with “…but what?” And the illustration is of Ronan striding across New Mexico. “I can feel his energy coming from this direction,” he says.

December 15, 2016

Back to Peter and MJ in front of the diner. (There’s that broken window behind them again.) Peter cups his chin in his hand and says, “If only I knew what Ronan’s looking for.” “Didn’t you hear what he said when he smashed his way out of the diner?” MJ asks. Panel #2 is all Pete as he says, “If you recall, I was kind of semi-conscious at the time. What did he say?” Panel #3 is back to the twosome as MJ replies, “He said he was after something called – a Sentry!” Peter has obviously never read FF #64 because he says, “?”

December 16, 2016

An abrupt change from yesterday, as Peter is suddenly back in the diner. I’m glad to see that Stan and Larry didn’t forget about Sarge and Carlos, though. In panel #1, Peter talks to Sarge who is sitting in a chair. His place is rubble behind him, with a big crack in the wall and the “Today’s Special: Chili” sign all askew. “Thank heaven you two weren’t hurt badly,” Peter says. Sarge looks up at him and says, “Those bruises – did you get ‘em tangling with Ronan?” (In case you were wondering…yes, Ronan did tell these two guys his name…back on December 2nd.) From off-panel, Carlos says, “Don’t be crazy, Sarge…” He continues in panel #2 which features Carlos, Pete and Sarge. “With what that creep did to you and me, “says Carlos, “if this guy’d tangled with ‘im, there’d be nothin’ left of ‘im!”

December 17, 2016

Whoa! I’m getting whiplash! Suddenly we’re out in front of the diner again. Peter is with MJ while Sarge and Carlos stand by the diner entrance watching the couple walk away. The “Sarge’s Diner” sign is back up and all of the windows seem to be in fine shape. Peter has lost all interest in Carlos and Sarge. “Ronan’s hunting for a ‘Sentry’?” he asks MJ, “What kind of Sentry?” “He didn’t say,” replies MJ. Panel #2 is a close-up of Pete’s face. He says, “Well, whatever it is, we need to find Ronan before he finds it.” Panel #3 shows us Pete and MJ as they approach their car. “Can your spider sense tell you where he went?” MJ asks. “It warns me of danger,” says Pete, “but it’s not much use as a GPS.”

December 18, 2106

Our opening caption: “The aftermath of a battle with a towering space alien…” (Towering, I think, as in prodigious, not tall.) Peter and MJ drive off in their car. Sarge and Carlos stand around on the diner’s stoop. (Carlos is a cop. Shouldn’t he be reporting all this?) There is some rubble alongside the diner but the windows look fine. Peter, behind the wheel, pulls out his phone and says, “Those two are okay, so we can go hunting for Ronan.” “But how’ll we find him,” says MJ, “when we know nothing about him?” Panel #2 moves inside the car as Peter replies, “Maybe we don’t…but I know somebody who just might.” MJ says, “?,” so she doesn’t know what Peter is talking about. In panel #3, Peter calls the Fantastic Four. (How does he have their number?) He gets Mr. Fantastic’s voice on the phone. “Hello, this is Fantastic Four headquarters, New York City…” Peter chimes in, saying, “Uh, hi, Mr. Richards, this is Peter Parker – I’m sort of a friend of Spider-Man’s and…” (Now, I know what you’re wondering. “Does Peter really think he got Mr. Fantastic on the phone so easily?” That’s a good question but I’m wondering why he doesn’t say that he’s Spider-Man, instead of identifying himself as Peter Parker. It’s not like Mr. Fantastic can see him.)

It’s all moot, of course. In panel #4, a close-up of Pete and his phone, the voice of Mr. Fantastic says, “We’re currently in the Negative Zone, but your message is very important to us. At the sound of the tone, please leave a…” Peter hangs up. Panel #5 is back to a two-shot of Pete and MJ. “Maybe you should try the Avengers?” suggests MJ. “No,” says Pete, “We’re on our own out here!” (But why not try the Avengers?) “While, some miles away…” in panel #6, Ronan wanders the desert. “I’m getting closer,” he says, “ever closer! I can feel it…!” Well, Ronan, if you can feel it, then why did you trash Sarge’s Diner asking everyone where it was?

The “Next” caption is “Another arrival from Outer Space!” Last week’s was, “Ronan on the Move” and he certainly is!

December 19, 2016

As they race along the highway, a caption tells us “Peter and MJ are on the trail of the entity called Ronan…” From the car, Peter says, “You say he stomped off in this direction?” and MJ replies, “Generally, but it’s actually more…” Panel #2 is silent and from a weird angle. (Just outside the passenger side window?) We see Peter’s right hand on the steering wheel and MJ’s left hand pointing through the windshield to an apparent meteor crashing to earth. Panel #3 shows us Pete and MJ. MJ is still pointing as she says, “…that way.”

December 20, 2016

We’re outside the car again but, this time, watching from behind as Pete and MJ drive toward the glow of the crashed meteor. Peter says, “I’m betting that was no more a real meteor than the first one was. I’d have you stay here while I went to check it out…” He continues in panel #2, which moves inside the car with the camera pointing at Pete and MJ from the windshield. “But Ronan might come back this way,” he says, “So you’re probably better off sticking with a guy with spider strength!” Panel #3 is a close-up of MJ as she says, “I couldn’t have put it any better myself!”

December 21, 2016

The car is off the highway and driving on the sand but Peter stops it with a SKREECH. There is a cactus to their right and the glowing “meteor” in front. “Well, this is as close to that ‘meteor’ as we can get in the car,” says Pete. “What’re we waiting for?” says MJ, “Let’s take a look…” In panel #2, they both start to get out of the car but Pete looks over at MJ and says, “No, you’re staying here in the car…and that’s final!” Panel #3 is silent as Pete and MJ walk together to the crash site. Pete’s expression is priceless; like he just lost an argument. Yes, I know it’s a tired bit, this panel showing exactly the opposite of what a character has asserted (“and that’s final!”) in the previous panel but it works so well here. A nice laugh moment.

December 22, 2016

The camera shows Peter and MJ from behind as they approach the glow. “The ‘meteor’ must’ve landed just over this ridge,” says Pete, “Funny…this one didn’t land far from where the other one did.” Panel #2 is a wide-eyed MJ close-up. “And since it was surely some kind of spaceship,” she says. “I guess we really should’ve been prepared for this!” she finishes in panel #3 as she and Pete stand on a small rise and look down at a still-smoking, small metal spacecraft.

December 23, 2016

What’s Peter’s reaction to all this? He starts to take off his clothes. As he pulls his shirt over his head, he says, “Stay back, honey, I’m going in for a closer look.” MJ watches him from behind and says, “Okay – but are you planning to do it in your birthday suit?” Now in his underwear, in panel #2, Peter kneels down on the sand and pulls his Spidey suit out of his valise. (Valise? He had a valise? Yeah, he had it with him yesterday and the day before. I didn’t think it was worth mentioning.) MJ looks on and says, “I might’ve known you’d have your costume with you.” “Just in case it turns out there’s an astronaut inside…,” Pete replies. In panel #3 he has his costume on and is putting on his mask. “…No sense blowing my secret identity!” he says, finishing his sentence. So either he got that costume on incredibly fast or he was speaking very very slowly.

December 24, 2016

Spidey stands over the spacecraft as MJ watches in the background. “This may be some junior-size spaceship,” says Spidey, “But it sure wasn’t built by NASA or the Russians.” In panel #2, he decides, “Well - no time like the present to find out who did build it!” He grabs onto the nose cone and yanks on it, loosening it with a SKRRAKK. Really, Spidey? You’re just going to yank on it?!

December 25, 2016

Welcome to Saviuk-world where the spacecraft created much more debris in crashing than it did in Lieber-land. MJ stands up on a cliff, formed by the crater. Spidey crouches down and grabs the nose cone from the side instead of the top. The opening caption is, “Peter and MJ have found a crashed spaceship…” MJ says, “Be careful! It’s still smoking!” which it wasn’t doing in the daily strips. “That’s why I’ve got to get this hatch off,” says Spidey. In panel #2, he pulls the hatch off with a SKRAAKK (as opposed to yesterday’s SKRRAKK) as he says, “…so I can see if anybody’s inside!” In panel #3, Spidey moves into the spaceship. From off-panel, MJ calls out, “But – what if it’s another hostile like Ronan?” “There is somebody in here!” says Spidey, “Let’s get a good look at…” which leads to panel #4, a silent one, as Spidey’s spider-sense comes off his head in lightning bolts. Panel #5 moves us back to MJ. Her shirt, which has gone from low-cut to non-cut is very low-cut here. She calls out, “What’s wrong? Is there another Ronan type crammed in there?” From off-panel, Spidey replies, “No! This space-jockey’s – quite a bit smaller…” Spidey finishes in panel #6 with, “…and a whole lot furrier!” He holds up a raccoon who struggles to break free. “Leggo of me, you walking buncha cobwebs!” says the raccoon.

Merry Christmas! It’s Rocket Raccoon. And I have to say, I’m disappointed. After going through Namor and Dr. Strange and Ant-Man, I was hoping we were going to get a story without a guest-star, particularly one that is a guest-star that takes advantage of the movie franchises. No such luck. Too bad.

Our “Next” caption is, “Rocket Science!” which is a cute bit but tells us nothing. Last week’s was “Another Arrival from Outer Space!” which finally happened just today.

December 26, 2016

And it’s back to Lieber-land where the debris is gone, the cliff has become a hillock, and MJ’s shirt is not as low-cut. We also move back in time a few seconds as Spidey still holds the hatch and looks into the spaceship. (The ship is now too small for Spidey to step into it, as he did yesterday.) A caption tells us, “When Spider-Man yanks the hatch off a fallen spacecraft…” and Spidey says, “There’s somebody in there!” Now to panel #2 as Spidey holds Rocket in one hand and MJ walks down from the hill. “Or rather something!” says Spidey. “Who’re you callin’ a thing, web-face!” says Rocket. MJ says “?” which may mean, “Really? Rocket Raccoon? I thought we were going to get through a storyline without a movie guest-star.”

December 27, 2016

A two-shot of Spidey holding Rocket. “I expected to find a man or a woman inside the ship,” says Spidey, “but not a talking raccoon in a spacesuit!” “A what?” says Rocket. Panel #2 is a two-shot of MJ and Rocket (and Spidey’s hand). MJ leans in and says, “Is – is he really talking?” “Sure I’m talkin’, sister!” says Rocket, “And what I wanna know is…” Panel #3 is a one-shot of a grimacing Rocket as he says, “What in the name’a Betelgeuse is a ‘raccoon’?”

December 28, 2016

Spidey continues to hold Rocket in one hand as Rocket struggles. MJ’s face is down in the lower right corner of the panel. “If you’re not a raccoon, you sure look like one,” says Spidey, “except I never saw one in a spacesuit before.” (Yeah, I didn’t mention the spacesuit.) In panel #2, Rocket breaks free and dives into his spaceship. “Well, take a quick look…” says Rocket. “Hey! He got loose!” says Spidey unnecessarily. In panel #3, Rocket emerges from the ship with a big ray-gun. “…’cause here’s somethin’ else I’ll bet you never saw before! A little guy with a big ray-gun!” he says, unnecessarily.

December 29, 2016

Rocket stands on the top of his ship, brandishing his big ray-gun. MJ and Spidey look on. “Okay, raccoon! Put that gun down!” says Spidey. “Stop calling me that whatever-it-is!” says Rocket. Then, in panel #2, he fires the ray-gun with a ZZRAKKT. “My name’s Rocket!” he yells. “Look out, MJ!” yells Spidey as he grabs her and leaps away.

December 30, 2016

Spidey and MJ watch Rocket from behind a mound as Rocket remains on the top of his ship waving his gun. “What is that creature?” asks MJ. “That’s what I intend to find out,” says Spidey, “Stay here!” In panel #2, Spidey leaps at Rocket and fires his web-shooter. The webbing covers Rocket’s gun with a FWIPP. “Hey! You tryin’ to gum up my gun?” asks Rocket. “Nope,” says Spidey. In panel #3, Spidey yanks the gun out of Rocket’s hands. “I’m tryin’ to take it away from you!” says Spidey. Rocket shakes his fists at Spidey and yells, “You give that back!”

December 31, 2016

As Spidey tosses the webbed-up gun behind him, Rocket gets into a fighting stance, his fists in front of him. “Come out and fight like a man,” he says, “if there is a man under that stupid mask!” In panel #2, Spidey looks back at MJ, who is lying on the ground, peering over the top of the mound. He says, “Keep your head down, honey – just in case that furball’s got another weapon up in his spacesuit!”

January 1, 2017

Happy New Year! A brand new year, the same old storyline. (It started on November 21st so there’s probably a good month or two or three or four to go.) But, check it out! No opening caption. Instead we have MJ watching from behind a boulder that didn’t exist in the daily strips. She thinks, “Talk about surreal.” In panel #2, she continues thinking as she watches Rocket facing off with Spidey. “Peter’s moving in for a mano-a-mano – with a raccoon geared up like a refugee from ‘Star Wars’!” Rocket says, “Keep back web-face – I’m warnin’ ya!” Panel #3 is Spidey and Rocket as the web-slinger says “Look, Rocket – if that’s your name – I don’t wanna hurt you…” “Well, now,” says Rocket, who leaps in panel #4 and kicks Spidey right in the jaw with a THUMP! “Ain’t that a relief an’ a half!” says Rocket. In panel #5, Spidey recoils into a pile of debris with a SKRUNNTCH. “Hhnnph!” says Spidey. In panel #6, the web-spinner starts to get up. “On the other hand, maybe I will rough you up – just a little,” says Spidey. “Aw,” says Rocket, “Now you really got me trembling in my anti-gravity boots!”

The “Next” caption is “When Worlds Collide!” Last time, it was “Rocket Science!” which maybe we saw with the big gun.

January 2, 2017

Okay, so, “Spider-Man confronts an apparent raccoon who calls himself Rocket…” according to the caption. He marches toward Rocket, saying, “This little fracas ends now!” (And look! Way in the background! Between Spidey and Rocket! There’s MJ’s head peeking over a mound!) Rocket, his back to us, hands on hips, says, “Suits me. So, will you surrender right away…” In panel #2, Rocket leaps and slams into Spidey’s legs with a SLAMM (which is how I knew he slammed into him). “Or do you plan to wait until your shin heals?” says Rocket. Spidey, with wiggle lines around his back and head and arms, says, “Yeowch!”

January 3, 2017

With Spidey knocked flat on his back, Rocket stands over him and says, “They don’t build ‘em so tough on this backwater planet, do they?” “Maybe we’re…” Spidey begins in panel #1, then shoots webbing over Rocket in panel #2 with a FWIPP. “…Tougher than you think!” he says off-panel (only his hand is shown). “More of that web goop?” says Rocket, “I’ll just…” But in panel #3, with wiggle lines all around him, Rocket cannot break free of the webbing. “Hey! I can’t tear this stuff!” he says. “Finally!” says Spidey, “My last three bad guys tore through it like cotton candy!” (So, who are those three? Ronan, of course. But not Egghead, surely. Is he referring to Xandu and Sub-Mariner? Did Xandu tear through the webbing? I can’t even remember anymore.)

January 4, 2017

Spidey stands over the webbed-up Rocket and says, “Now that you’re all webbed up, we can have a little talk.” “Yeah, you do that,” says Rocket, then, in panel #2, he leaps straight at Spidey’s gut, striking him with a WHOOMP! “…Seeing as I’m so helpless and all,” says Rocket. Spidey, recoiling, says, “Oooph.” Spidey is flat on his back again in panel #3, holding off Rocket as best as he can. “Are you a raccoon – or a wolverine?” he says. “You’re just makin’ up all these nutty names, right?” says Rocket. (Heh. I kind of like that.)

January 5, 2017

Sitting up, Spidey holds Rocket at arm’s length. “Now, short-stuff,” he says, “You wanna tell me what we’re fighting about?” Rocket, webbed up, replies, “You don’t know? Then let me enlighten you…” And panel #2 is a silent close-up of Rocket’s confused face (good facial expression by Larry, in so far as a raccoon can have a good facial expression). In panel #3, as MJ approaches, Rocket says, “Y’know, I’m not too sure either!”

January 6, 2017

Now, Spidey is standing, still holding the webbed-up Rocket at arm’s length. There is one lonely cactus behind him. MJ fills up the right side of the panel as she approaches and says, “Is it okay for me to come out…Spider-Man?” “MJ – I’m not sure,” says Spidey but Rocket chimes in with “Don’t worry, Webbie – I don’t bite…women.” (Sort of like Bela Lugosi as Dracula: “I don’t drink…wine.”) Panel #2 is a twosome of Rocket and MJ. “Y’know, sister,” says Rocket, “You’d give Gamora a run for her money…if you was green.” (You all know Gamora, right? From either the comics or the “Guardians” movie?) Panel #3 is a threesome of Spidey, Rocket, and MJ, from left to right. Spidey still holds Rocket in his outstretched arms. (Don’t think about the perspective here. It’s sure to give you a headache.) “But enough stallin’!” says Rocket, “I wanna know – and I wanna know now – where’s Ronan?” Spidey and MJ both say “!?” which means, “Who? Ronan? Are we still in the Ronan storyline? Didn’t he disappear weeks ago?”

January 7, 2017

The camera moves in on a close two-shot of Spidey and Rocket with Rocket shown from behind. “You came to our world – looking for Ronan?” asks Spidey. “Yeah, you seen ‘im?” Rocket replies. The camera moves around behind Spidey to show Rocket with MJ behind him. “Seven feet tall,” Rocket continues, “carries a mallet – disposition like a saw-toothed rhino-tigrasaurus!” Shaken by this, with wave lines around her head, MJ says, “A what?” (A waste of a Saturday strip, MJ. Let’s get on with it!)

January 8, 2017

The opening caption reads, “Spidey and MJ are conversing with new arrival Rocket, who resembles a raccoon.” Rocket’s ship is behind the trio as Spidey now holds Rocket by webbing that is only stuck to Rocket’s head and back. (What happened to the rest of it?) “Before we talk about Ronan,” says Spidey, “Suppose you tell us who you are and where you come from.” The camera moves a little closer as Rocket struggles, his head yanked by the web. “All you need to know is that my name’s Rocket…owtch! Watch it!” he says, “And I’m the result of a genetic experiment that went south!” In panel #3, MJ leans in and points a finger at Rocket. “How is it that you speak English?” she asks him. Rocket turns and smiles at her. “I’m not, sister,” he says, “I’m talking basic Galactic.”

Panel #4 swings the camera around to face Rocket again. MJ is in the foreground and Spidey is in the background. “My handy little linga-trans does the rest,” says Rocket. “We should’ve known he’d have an app for that!” says Spidey. In panel #5, the camera pulls way back to a crane-shot. Rocket is rid of the webbing (actually, he was rid of it in panel #4) and standing on his own between Spidey and MJ. The spaceship is behind them. “Now, about this Ronan you’re after…” says Spidey, pointing at Rocket. “Actually, I’m not really after Ronan,” says Rocket, “I’m after what Ronan is after…” In panel #6, the camera swings behind Rocket. Spidey and MJ bracket him on either side. “…Namely, an intergalactic Sentry!” says Rocket. Spidey and MJ both say “?” (Each gets his/her own word balloon and his/her own “?”.) Meaning, “An intergalactic whaaaa?”

Our “Next” caption is “The Enemy of my Enemy is my…Something!” which I rather like. Last week’s was “When Worlds Collide!” which…okay…yeah…figuratively…I guess so.

January 9, 2017

“Spidey and MJ meet Rocket Raccoon…” says the caption, calling Rocket what the comics call him but the movie doesn’t. From left to right, we have Rocket’s spacecraft, Rocket (his arms folded in front of him), MJ (leaning down to talk to Rocket) and Spidey (just his head). “Ronan came here lookin’ for an intergalactic Sentry – and so did I!” says Rocket. “We had a run-in with Ronan earlier,” says MJ. “If my spider-strength couldn’t stop him, what makes you think you can?” says Spidey’s head. Panel #2 is a close-up of Rocket who exudes complete disdain (another great raccoon facial expression by Larry) as he says, “No offense, web-face…but I step on spiders!”

January 10, 2017

I got about a week behind with these but that’s okay. Nothing has really happened. In panel #1, headshots of Spidey, Rocket, and MJ, the web-slinger says, “What’s this ‘intergalactic sentry’ Ronan’s searching for?” “A robot built by the Kree to guard their military outposts,” explains Rocket. MJ, who hasn’t read any Marvel Comics, thinks, “Kree?” Panel #2 is all Rocket, unless you count the big word balloon pointing to an off-panel Spider-Man who asks, “Why do these ‘Kree’ consider our world a ‘military outpost’?” Rocket says, “To them, every planet’s a potential military outpost…” Panel #3 reduces Rocket to a small piece of the back of his head in the lower left corner. From there, he finishes his sentence with, “…and a military conquest!” MJ and Spidey, looking at him (and us) both say, “!” Which may be shorthand for “Damn!”

January 11, 2017

Rocket, on top of the ridge with Spidey and MJ (and one lone cactus) below, leans down to pick up his gun and says, “Well, I’ve stood here jawbonin’ with you locals long enough.” (That is the truth.) “High time I tracked down that Sentry.” Spidey, hands on hips, asks, “And just how do you mean to find it?” Panel #2 is Rocket brandishing his gun. “I don’t,” he says, “I’m gonna let Ronan find it.” And panel #3 is a close-up of Rocket, brandishing his teeth, as he says, “All I gotta do is find Ronan!”

January 12, 2017

Rocket returns to the crater with Spidey and MJ. He takes a look at his spaceship and says, “It’ll take ol’ Rack ‘N’ Ruin II here a while to recharge. By then, I should be back here with the Sentry!” (Rocket was the captain of the Rack ‘N’ Ruin spaceship, with first mate Wal Russ, when he was “Guardian of the Keystone Quadrant” back in his days before joining the Guardians of the Galaxy. Do I need to point out that both characters are Beatles-derived? Rocket Raccoon=Rocky Raccoon, Wal Russ=I Am the Walrus. The Keystone Quadrant is not Beatles-derived but riffs off of the old Keystone Cops movie shorts.) Panel #2 gives us Spidey filling up the left side with his profile, looking down on Rocket, who looks back at him as he begins to walk away. “What do you plan to do with that robot?” asks Spidey. “It’s not a case of me doin’ anything with it,” says Rocket. Panel #3 is another close-up of Rocket as he says, “It’s a case of stoppin’ Ronan from usin’ it to conquer this galaxy!”

January 13, 2017

All three characters are seen from behind in panel #1 as Rocket starts to walk away on his own. “Well, I’m off to locate Ronan,” he says. “I’m coming with you!” says Spidey. “So am I!” says MJ. In panel #2, the camera swings around to the front of the three characters as Rocket turns back to say, “How do you two figure that?” “You said Ronan intends to use that Sentry to ‘conquer this galaxy’,” says Spidey. “We just happen to live in this galaxy – so we’re with you!” finishes MJ.

January 14, 2017

The threesome again. MJ to Spidey’s left and Rocket in the background on the right. “Actually, MJ, you’re not coming with Rocket and me,” says Spidey, “Ronan – and the Sentry – are far too dangerous.” Panel #2 is a wonderful silent close-up of MJ glaring at Spidey (though actually glaring right at us). And panel #3 shows Rocket, Spidey, and MJ walking away together. “Are you always that persuasive, web-face?” asks Rocket. (It’s simple but I love it! One of my favorite strips in this story so far.)

January 15, 2017

And here we are on Sunday with Spidey, Rocket, and MJ climbing out of the crater created by the still-smoking Rack ‘N’ Ruin II which is left behind. The caption reads, “Spidey, MJ and the raccoon-like extraterrestrial called Rocket set out to find Ronan…” Spidey asks, “How’d you know Ronan would come here?” and Rocket answers, “We didn’t. For a while we thought he was dead.” (Is this a movie reference? I can’t remember.) Panel #2 moves the camera beside the trio with the spaceship still in the background (it is no longer smoking but there is a plume of smoke crossing in front of Rocket). “Who’s ‘we’?” asks MJ. “Just…some guys and me,” answers Rocket. Panel #3 brings the threesome back to the car. They are in silhouette with a large full moon behind them. (A nice panel by Alex.) “Does your group have a name?” asks Spidey. “Well… yeah,” says the reluctant Rocket. “So…what is it?” asks MJ. Panel #4 moves in on a grimacing Rocket. MJ can still be seen beside him but the camera has moved down too far to see more of Spidey than his torso. “The Guardians of the Galaxy,” Rocket mutters. “What was that?” says MJ, “I couldn’t…” In panel #5, Rocket spreads his arms (still holding his big gun) and yells, “The Guardians of the Galaxy!” so loudly that Spidey and MJ lean back in shock. Panel #6 gives us headshots of Spidey and MJ as Rocket walks on ahead to the car. “Who’re the other guys in the combo? Two rabbits and a squirrel?” asks Spidey. “Keep it up, webbie,” says Rocket, “an’ there’ll be nothin’ left of you but cobwebs!”

This strips doesn’t really get us anywhere but it doesn’t matter. I love Rocket’s hesitation to come out with his group’s high-blown name and I love Spidey’s crack about the “two rabbits and a squirrel.” This story started slowly but has become very entertaining. Can it continue?

The “Next” caption tells us, “Even an Army Needs a Pit Stop!” Last week’s was “The Enemy of my Enemy is my…Something!” which means that Spidey, MJ, and Rocket have now teamed up.

January 16, 2017

“The search for Ronan the Accuser…,” according to the caption. The group is now in the car. Spidey is hunched over the wheel and MJ is riding shotgun. “Watch it, Tiger! You almost ran off the road!” says MJ. “Sorry…,” replies Spidey, “So tired…I can barely keep my eyes open.” (It probably doesn’t help to drive wearing his Spidey mask.) Panel #2 is an MJ/Spidey close-up as she leans over and says, “Maybe I should drive…” “You?” replies Spidey, “You’ve been yawning for the past hour!” Panel #3 shows Rocket in the back seat as he calls out, “Don’t look at me! I just finished flyin’ 2500 light years without a pit stop!”

January 17, 2017

And here is the pit stop Rocket asked for in yesterday’s strip and mentioned in the “Next” caption in Sunday’s strip. The car is now in the parking lot of a motel called “Motel.” No other car is in the lot. (I don’t know, guys. Haven’t you ever seen “Psycho?”) From the car, Spidey says, “Tired as we are, we’d better crash for a while at this motel.” Rocket says, “Wadda you mean, ‘crash’?” MJ says, “It’s just a figure of speech, Rocket.” Panel #2 is a close-up of Spidey in a Loony Tunes spotlight (the first one of this story, I believe) as he starts to take off his mask. “I’d better change clothes before we go in…” he says. In panel #3, the trio is out of the car and, apparently, heading for the motel. But Peter must have backed up before parking because they now have a much longer walk than the one they would have had in panel #1. Pete is now in his civvies. Rocket turns to MJ and whispers “No offense, Red…but he looked better with the mask!” “Is that why you wear one?” asks MJ. (Another nice little bit.)

January 18, 2017

Peter approaches a very bored motel desk clerk. (Bald, stubbled, his fist propped on his chin.) “We’d like a room, please,” says Pete. “Sorry…no pets,” says the clerk. Rocket takes center stage in panel #2, in between MJ and Peter who turn away from us to look at him. (Pete shows us the back of his head in both panels.) “Oh…this isn’t a real raccoon,” says MJ. “It’s just…our son. In a leftover Halloween costume,” says Peter. “In a what?” says Rocket, hands on hips. In panel #3, the clerk speaks off-panel. “Nice costume – a raccoon in a spacesuit,” he says. Rocket spreads his arms out in the universal “huh?” gesture. “I keep askin’ you – what’s a raccoon?” he asks. MJ looks up in the air in exasperation. (Or she’s found something particularly interesting on the ceiling.)

January 19, 2017

Now in the hotel room, MJ seems to be patting the creases out of the bedspread while Rocket sits on an army cot and fiddles with some device. MJ turns to him and asks, “What’re you doing, Rocket?” “Tryin’ to get this trackoscan to work,” he replies, “It could…latch onto Ronan’s heat aura…” Panel #2 is a close-up of Rocket as he yawns and fights to stay awake. “…And lead us…straight to ‘im,” he says, “But…I’m so tired…it’s hard to…” And panel #3 shows Peter and MJ sleeping on the bed (on top of the bedspread) while Rocket sleeps on the cot. All is silent except for Rocket’s “Zzzzzzzzz” and you know how I love those silent panels!

January 20, 2017

I didn’t notice it yesterday but Rocket currently has no clothes on. He may look like a raccoon but he’s a sentient being who wears a spacesuit so I doubt he’d be all that comfortable walking around naked in the company of people from another planet. Anyway, as MJ and Peter sleep on, Rocket wakes up. “People on this boondocks planet must need more than one hour of sleep a night,” he says. In panel #2, he heads for the front door. (You can see this coming, can’t you? Now, let’s see if it comes.) “Well, let ‘em catch some z’s,” he says, “Me, I could use somethin’ to eat.” In panel #3, he puts his hands on his hips and watches a dog rummaging through a garbage can. (One of those old metal silver-colored garbage cans that nobody has anymore.) “Hey four-legs!” he yells at the dog, “Anything in that metallic food locker is mine!” The dog replies, “RRRRR.”

January 21, 2017

A naked Rocket, hands still on hips, faces off with the dog that has some strip of something hanging from his mouth. “I’m only gonna ask you once, pal,” says Rocket. In panel #2, he balls his paws into fists and says, “Back away from that food-storage unit!” The dog, the chunk of food still in his mouth, confronts Rocket.

It’s an amusing bit, I must admit, the whole food-storage unit business. It also amuses me to imagine stumbling on the Spider-Man strip for the first time ever on this day and seeing this strip.

January 22, 2017

“While Peter and MJ catch a much-needed forty winks…” says our caption narrator in panel #1, as the Parkers sleep on top of the covers. “…Rocket has a late-night face-to-face with a scavenging coyote…” continues the captionist in panel #2. (Ah, so that’s a coyote! I stand corrected!) Rocket stands with hands on hips as the coyote is back at the garbage can. “I asked you nice, four-paws,” says Rocket, “Anything in that metal food locker belongs to this space-jockey!” The coyote says, “RRRRR.” (Do coyotes say “RRRRR?”) In panel #3, the “RRRRR” becomes a “RAWRRR” as the coyote leaps at Rocket who, in panel #4, knocks the coyote back with a right hand punch that goes “BONK.” In panel #5, Rocket shakes his fist at the coyote who runs away with a “YIP YIP YIP YIP YIP.” “You’re lucky I didn’t have my blaster on me!” yells Rocket. In our concluding panel, Rocket goes for the garbage can but the desk clerk (at least, I think it’s the desk clerk) steps outside with a sandwich he is examining. “Dunno why Rita makes me peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the late shift,” he says, “She knows I like peanut butter and banana!”

The “Next” caption is “A Close Encounter of the Rocket Kind!” which I suspect is on the verge of occurring. Last week’s was “Even an Army Needs a Pit Stop!” which certainly occurred.

This strip was amusing and the two nearly silent panels made it easy to recap, but three days of Rocket versus the coyote seems unnecessary. So, what else is new?

January 23, 2017

Now that we’re back from Alex to Larry, it is clear that the man with the sandwich is, indeed, the desk clerk. (Though he doesn’t have a sandwich anymore.) First, we repeat the coyote’s departure with a “YIPYIPYIPYIPYIP” all strung together. Rocket shakes his fist and yells, “I told you anything in that food-storage unit was mine!” (Not what he said before, of course.) In panel #2, Rocket gets a hold of the chunk of meat that the coyote was eating (even though it was mostly eaten by the end of yesterday’s strip) and takes a bite. “Hmm. This grub’s a bit gamey,” he says, “But after travelin’ 2500 light years on just a ptero-salad sandwich, it’ll do!” The desk clerk, who is no longer examining a sandwich but instead putting out some trash, looks at Rocket and says, “?” which may mean, “What happened to my sandwich?”

January 24, 2017

The desk clerk leans down, points a finger at Rocket and says, “Hey kid – your folks know you’re out here eatin’ garbage from a trash can?” (The usual answer to this question, I assume, would be “no.”) Rocket looks up at him and says, “’Garbage?’ So that’s your name for it? When I ate one on Sirius-12, it was called a Radium Prospector’s Delight!” (Is it worth mentioning that Rocket has a “translatron” that should translate the meaning of the word “garbage” so that he shouldn’t confuse it with a name for food?) In panel #2, the clerk grabs Rocket by the right arm and starts to drag him back to his room. “C’mon!” he says, “Can’t have you runnin’ around at night in that dumb costume!” Rocket yells, “Lemme go!”

January 25, 2017

It sure looked like we were heading to something interesting…like, maybe, Rocket laying out the desk clerk…but no. The clerk drags Rocket to the Parkers’ room. He knocks on the door with a NOK NOK NOK. Rocket resists, yelling, “Turn me loose, you pink anthropoid, or s’help me, I’ll…” while the clerk yells, “Hey, Mr. an’ Mrs. Parker – I got your kid out here, an’…” In panel #2, Peter opens the door and yanks Rocket into the room. (Was the clerk no longer hanging onto him?) He closes the door with a SLAMM (in panel #3). From behind the closed day, Peter says, “Thanks!” The clerk, looking shocked, with wavy lines around his head, says, “You’re welcome?”

I’m not sure what else the clerk expects. It’s the middle of the night. Peter does say “Thanks.” Is he looking for a tip? A long conversation about parenting?

January 26, 2017

Peter and MJ are now both awake. MJ says, “Rocket, if you keep attracting people’s attention…” Peter says, “…the Men in Black’ll show up and toss you into an alien holding cell!” (Isn’t that just like married couples? Finishing each other’s sentences?) Rocket folds his arms in a defiant pose and says, “Hey, a guy’s gotta eat!” In panel #2, he goes rummaging through a pocket in his spacesuit (at least, I think that’s his spacesuit) and says, “Now if you’ll give me some space…” and, in panel #3, he pulls out some doodad and says, “…I’ll finish adjusting my trackoscan to Ronan’s aura!” Off-panel, Peter and MJ share a “?” balloon which probably means, “Are you telling me you’ve had the means to track this guy who might destroy the world and we’ve been hanging around sleeping while you’ve been fighting a coyote for a scrap of meat???”

January 27, 2017

Some time in the last few seconds, since the end of yesterday’s strip, MJ has gone back to bed; still sleeping on top of the covers. Peter watches Rocket, who sits on his cot fiddling with his trackoscan. “That gadget will help you locate that creep Ronan?” asks Peter. “How’d ya think we’re gonna find him?” replies Rocket, “Put a ‘Wanted’ poster in the local news-o-gram?” (You can tell this is Science Fiction because Rocket uses words like “news-o-gram.”) In panel #2, the trackoscan gives off a KLIK and a pencil with a diamond-shaped eraser pops up. (Or maybe it was already there. Who can tell?) “There!” says Rocket. In panel #3, Rocket faces us head-on while Peter takes on the Easter Island head look on the right side of the panel. “As soon as Ronan digs up the Kree Sentry,” says Rocket, “we swoop in and put the electro-manacles on both of ‘em!” (Wouldn’t it be safer to “swoop in” before Ronan digs up the Sentry? Just sayin’.)

January 28, 2017

Panel #1 is from the perspective of someone passed out on the floor. We look up at Peter and Rocket. Peter seems lower than Rocket so perhaps he is sitting on the floor. “This ‘Kree Sentry’ you’re looking for,” he says, “can you give me an idea how big it’ll be?” Rocket, still holding his trackoscan, replies, “Anywhere from 6 feet to 30 feet – by your measurements.” Panel #2 is even odder. It looks down at Peter and Rocket’s feet. Rocket’s head leans in to look at his smaller unshod feet. “Now, if we’re talkin’ about my feet,” he says, “it’d be a lot more of ‘em.” Heh.

January 29, 2017

And, finally, it is “Dawn in the New Mexico desert…” Outside, Peter and MJ head for the car, with Peter carrying a suitcase. “Time to hit the road,” he says. MJ looks back through the still-open door of their room. “Rocket – are you coming?” she asks. Off-panel, still in the room, Rocket says, “Keep your wig on, Red!” Rocket emerges in panel #2, carrying the non-flatscreen TV. “What are you doing with that TV?” asks MJ. “I was watching a movie – but it doesn’t work so good out here!” says Rocket. (So, the space traveler who has crossed 2500 light years does not understand the concept of an electric device having to be plugged in.) From off-panel comes a “Hey!” It is the desk clerk who, in panel #3, steps in and asks, “Why’s your kid hoistin’ the TV from your room?” Peter pulls the TV out of Rocket’s hands and gives it to the clerk. “Just a mistake, sir!” he says, “Here – take it.” In panel #4, the clerk staggers under the weight of the TV. “Hey! This thing’s heavy!” he says, “You two were treatin’ it like it was hollow!” “Uh…my son works out with me,” says Peter. Rocket snarls and flashes his fists. (Does he resent having the TV taken away from him?) In panel #5, the clerk wobbles in the background as he puts the TV back in the room. Peter has his car key out and MJ and Rocket walk side-by-side. (Hey Pete! Don’t you have to check out?) “Pretty impressive!” says MJ to Rocket, “Is raccoon-strength anything like spider-strength?” “Nah! I just used a little anti-grav,” says Rocket. In panel #6, Rocket seems almost amused as he says, “But your better half is gonna need all that strength – when we catch up with Ronan and the Sentry!” (Again, my question from Friday…wouldn’t they be better off tackling Ronan before he digs up the Sentry?) MJ looks at Peter who scowls and has his half-Spidey mask showing with the spider-sense lines emanating off of it…as if the very mention of Ronan sets him off.

The “Next” caption is “The Road to Ronan!” Note that it doesn’t say we’ll get to Ronan; only that we’ll be on the road to him. Last week’s was “A Close Encounter of the Rocket Kind!” which indeed took place.

January 30, 2017

“Morning…and the hunt for Ronan the Accuser continues…” The camera is placed in the back seat of the car where Rocket messes with his trackoscan. Peter looks back from the driver’s seat (keep your eyes on the road, Pete!) while only the back of MJ’s head can be seen. “Any luck with that gizmo, Rocket?” asks Pete. “If you mean my track-o-tron, it – Hey! I’m pickin’ up something!” says Rocket. (Wait a minute! Now the trackoscan is called a “track-o-tron?” Is Rocket making this up as he goes along? Are Stan and Larry?) Panel #2 takes us outside the car as Rocket says, “It’s coming from – off to the right!” just as they pass a sign that reads, “Petroglyph National Monument 3 miles on right.” Note that the sign is set up so that no one driving on the road could read it. It would be straight on for any reader who was standing on the other side of the road, though.

I have never been to Petroglyph National Monument but I will try to keep Stan and Larry as honest as I can with their accuracy. Internet, don’t fail me now!

January 31, 2017

We begin with a strange panel in which Peter is mostly cut out and yet does most of the talking. We only see his hair, right ear, and right shoulder. MJ takes center-panel as she looks at her phone. Rocket is in the back seat. “That sign back there said we’re headed for the Petroglyph National Monument,” says Peter’s right ear. “I just Googled it,” says MJ. Panel #2 is a close up of MJ’s phone, showing two volcanos and one of the petroglyphs; a “star person.” (I can Google too!) “It’s a park that contains five volcanos – and 24,000 images carved by the ancestral Pueblo peoples!” says MJ off-panel (only her hand appears in the panel). Panel #3 makes up for the slight Pete received in panel #1. It is a straight-on close-up of Peter as he says, “When they get a look at Ronan – somebody’s liable to carve a 24,001st!”

February 1, 2017

Again, Peter gets mostly cut out of the panel but at least we see his eyes this time. MJ is again center-panel, looking at her phone. “Says here the carvings are 400 to 700 years old,” she reads, “and that one or two of them have eluded analysis.” From the back seat, Rocket leaps forward to grab the phone. “Lemme see that!” he says. Panel #2 is another odd one. Sort of a Loony Tunes spotlight on Rocket except that he is shoved way into the corner on the right, only his face seen as he looks at the “star person” petroglyph on the phone. (Most of the panel is filled with word balloons.) Here’s the problem. Rocket appeared to grab the phone from MJ but MJ’s hands still hold the phone. (Unless Rocket disguised his hands as MJ’s hands.) So, is Rocket sitting on MJ’s head? That’s what it looks like. The letterer was completely confused by this, apparently failing to notice that the hands holding the phone belong to MJ because he/she put MJ’s word balloon pointing off-panel in the opposite direction from MJ’s hands. Maybe Rocket severed MJ’s hands and left them on the phone? So, the off-panel ventriloquist MJ says, “Anthropologists call that one the “star-person.” Rocket says, “Your anthro-whosis don’t know squat, Red. Behind that face is a four-pointed starship the Kree use to transport Sentries to outlying outposts!” And a two-tailed word balloon, pointing off-panel to Peter and MJ (supposedly) says “!” which means, I think, “Look, MJ’s hands are over there and she’s talking over here!”

February 2, 2017

Now it’s MJ who gets the short shrift. Panel #1 is shot from a camera perched on the left side of the car (if the car had no left side). Peter is at the wheel and Rocket is in the back seat. MJ is next to Pete but all we see is her hair. “A Kree spaceship brought a Sentry here 400-700 years ago?” asks Pete. “Nah,” answers Rocket, “Starlord says it was probably more like 80,000 years.” “Star-Lord?” asks Pete, “What’s a Star-Lord?” Now the camera swings around in panel #2, pointing over Pete’s head so he disappears from the panel. MJ turns to look back at Rocket as he says, “You never heard’a him? He’s my best bud – except for Groot.” “And who’s Groot?” asks MJ. Panel #3 is a close-up of Rocket as he rubs his chin. “Well…he’s sort of a tree,” he says.

February 3, 2017

Back to a profile two-shot of Peter and MJ. “Shelve all that talk about Star-Lord and Groot,” says Peter. “We’ve gotta concentrate on finding Ronan – before he finds the Sentry.” (Then maybe they shouldn’t have spent the night in a motel.) Panel #2 is Rocket with his “track-o-tron.” “Don’t sweat it, Webbie,” he says, “I’ve been keepin’ my digital eye on him every second, and he should be…” And panel #3 is a shot out of the backseat window as Rocket’s paw points out to a volcano. A caption finishes his sentence with, “…right over that ridge!”

February 4, 2017

Panel #1 is a close shot of Rocket looking over MJ’s shoulder as she looks at the “star-person” petroglyph on her phone. “Your world’s artist must’ve sketched a starship during a routine checkup on the Sentry,” he says. Looking back at Rocket, MJ says, “The one that’s been lying dormant for 80,000 years?” Panel #2 features Rocket in a Loony Tunes spotlight. “Yeah,” he says, “But if and when Ronan manages to revive it – the Sentry’ll work like a brand-new killing machine!”

February 5, 2017

It’s “The Petroglyph National Monument, near Albuquerque, New Mexico…” and Peter is driving while MJ looks at her phone and Rocket looks at his track-o-tron. “The track-o-tron says Ronan should be beyond that ridge,” says Rocket. “According to this map, that’s where the ‘Star-Person’ carving is,” says MJ. In panel #2, Peter pulls over to the side of the road (and it doesn’t look like he treats his brakes too kindly while doing it). “This is as close as we can get with the car,” says someone in the car, presumably Pete. “Your podunk planet doesn’t even have hover-mobiles?” says someone else in the car, obviously Rocket. Panel #3 shows MJ, Rocket, and Spidey out of the car. There is a mesa behind them as well as a big full moon…or it is the sun? It should be morning, right? Rocket, with his big gun strapped to his back, sees Spidey and says, “Hey, you made the switch to Spider-Boy fast!” (He sure did!) “I get a lot of practice,” says Spidey. The camera swivels around in panel #4 to show Rocket, who is now holding his gun. Spidey sticks his head and hands in from the right side of the panel to say, “And it’s ‘Spider-Man!’ Or do you want me to go back to referring to you as a raccoon?” In panel #5, Rocket replies, “Okay, whatever. Let’s get cracking!” He heads off to the left side of the panel with MJ and Spidey right behind. “While on the other side of the ridge…” says a caption in panel #6, which shows us Ronan standing by the Star-Person glyph and hefting his universal weapon. “At last!” he says, “I have found the Sentry!” (He’s only been looking since November 29th!)

The “Next” caption reads, “Showdown Amid the Sands!” Last week’s was “The Road to Ronan!” I can’t argue with that.

February 6, 2017

Rocket climbs a sand dune with Spidey and MJ behind him. Spidey turns to look back at MJ and says, “MJ, stay here while we tackle Ronan – and no arguments for once, okay?” MJ replies, “Spider-Man and an alien warrior with a ray-gun…I don’t think I’d add much firepower.” The camera swings around in front of Rocket in panel #2. From behind, MJ calls out, “Just be careful!” “Uh – I was only…” begins Spidey to Rocket but Rocket cuts him off with “Skip it, Webbie. Some situations we got all over the galaxy.”

February 7, 2017

Now it’s back to Ronan. He is holding up a “device” that glows and gives off an “MMMMMMMMM” over two panels. “This device will awaken the Sentry,” says Ronan, “so it can wreak destruction upon the Guardians of the Galaxy….” Panel #2 pulls back to show the Star-Person glyph as well. “…after I test it out by having it ravage this primitive planet!” says Ronan.

February 8, 2017

The device is still doing the “MMMMMMMMMMM” thing over two panels as Ronan poses in profile and says, “Only my genius could have located the Sentry so quickly.” (Hah! He’s been looking since November 29th!) From off-panel, Rocket (apparently) says, “While you’re pinin’ a medal on yourself, Ronan…” In panel #2, Ronan looks over his shoulder to see Rocket and Spidey. “We kinda set a record glommin’ onto you, too!” says Rocket. “You!?” says Ronan.

February 9, 2017

Still more “MMMMMMMMMMMM” going over two panels. (Each day gets more “M”s.) Ronan’s head fills up the left side of the panel, in profile, looking like an Easter Island statue, as Spidey and Rocket run to confront him. “Who is this puny, insignificant creature with you?” asks Ronan. Spidey says, “Rocket – I thought you two knew each other.” Panel #2 shows Rocket and Spidey in profile. No Ronan, even though he’s the only one who speaks. From off-panel, he says, “Rocket I know, from previous battles amid the starways. It is you, with the cobweb mask, whom I have never seen before!” Spidey says, “!” which means, “Ooh! Burn!”

February 10, 2017

The “MMMMMMMMMMM” continues (back to eleven “M”s) over two panels, even though today’s strip has three panels. Panel #1 gives us Spidey, Rocket, and Ronan as Rocket says, “We gotta stop him – before that gizmo activates the Sentry!” Ronan says, “Weakling fools! I will destroy you both…” then he demonstrates it in panel #2, knocking Spidey back with a slap that gives off a WHOK sound (“…Whether with hand…” says Ronan) and in panel #3 by shattering Rocket’s gun with a SKRAKT when he throws his universal weapon. (“…Or with hammer!” he says. Waitaminute! We’re just going to call it a hammer now?)

February 11, 2017

You thought the “MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM” was over because it petered out in yesterday’s panel #3, didn’t you? Well, it’s back over two panels and, this time, it has 17 “M”s! Panel #1 gives us Rocket and Spidey, who stop to chat. “That smarts!” says Rocket, “But why didn’t Ronan recognize you?” “I wasn’t wearing this costume when we tangled earlier,” Spidey says. The gizmo that gives off the “M”s is now levitating. (It was doing that yesterday, too. I just didn’t notice.) Ronan has retrieved his hammer. But, having done a number on our two heroes, he now seems content to stand there. They look at each other as Rocket says, “If his sense o’smell didn’t tell him it was the same guy – he’s almost as hopeless as you yokels from this planet!”

February 12, 2017

The sound from the gizmo is down to eight “M”s and only occurs in one panel (“MMMMMMMM”), as Stan’s caption tells us, “Spidey and Rocket are trying to prevent Ronan from reviving a Kree Sentry…” Ronan raises his hammer and says to Spidey and Rocket, “Don’t you two know when you’re beaten?” (Why would they know that? All you did was slap one and throw your hammer at the other. Then you stood around letting them banter. And, by the way, the Star-Person glyph is now surrounded by boulders upon which the three players stand, rather than sand. What is the terrain really like? From the photos, it looks more rock than sand.) In panel #2, Ronan throws his hammer and Spidey leaps over it. “What? Missed!” says Ronan. “You’re so predictable, Ro-baby!” says Rocket as he charges forward. In panel #3, Spidey kicks Ronan in the chest, knocking him backward into his levitating gizmo, which shatters. “And I’m tired of super-villains dissing my spider-strength!” says Spidey. (To whom is he referring? Sub-Mariner?) “You knocked me into the revivor!” says Ronan. (Aha! So the gizmo has a name!) In panel #4, Ronan is flat on his back with Spidey and Rocket looking down at him. “But you’re both too late!” he gloats. A “RRRRRMMMBLLL” wafts across the sun. It continues in panel #5 with a “RRMMBL” as Spidey says, “That sound – what?” and Rocket says, “Something wrong with your ears?” All of which leads us to panel #6 in which Rocket points and says to Spidey, “Don’t you recognize a dormant volcano coming to life when you hear one?” And, yes, in the background, a mountain has blown its top with a “KRACKK.”

This takes us to the “Next” caption, which says, “When Menaces Multiply!” I suspect this means more than the volcano and refers to the arrival of the Sentry. But maybe we need to stretch this out for another month before that happens. Last week’s was “Showdown Amid the Sands!” which took place all right…unless it was a showdown amid the rocks.

February 13, 2017

The volcano continues to RRMMBLL as Ronan stands up and Spidey and Rocket let him. They all look at the volcano that is shaking so much, it has motion lines around it. “Nuts!” says Rocket, “Ronan’s gadget started that dormant volcano rumbling!” Spidey says, “At least, so far, he hasn’t managed to awaken the Sentry.” Panel #2 reduces us to Rocket and the volcano as Rocket points at it and says, “Are you kidding me? Where d’you think the Kree buried their killer robot??”

Okay, so, wait. I thought Ronan had located the Sentry at the Star-Person glyph. But the volcano seems miles away from where they are. So, could he have activated the revivor anywhere? Or did he have to be at the glyph for it to work? Or is this all a snafu that will never be explained?

February 14, 2017

The RRMMMBLLL wafts over the top of the panel as Mary Jane reacts with alarm. “Huh? The ground – it’s shaking!” she thinks, “Wh-what’s happening over the ridge?” In panel #2, Spidey and Rocket look at the erupting volcano. “That sleeping volcano’s about to blow,” says Spidey. (Looks to me like it already has blown.) “And when it does, I’m bettin’ it spits up the Sentry!” says Rocket.

February 15, 2017

The RRMMMBLLL has become a RRACKK as the volcano rains boulders down on our heroes. Spidey and Rocket hit the deck. “Thar she blows!” says Rocket. “But – at least there’s no lava spewing out!” says Spidey. In panel #2, Rocket, off-panel, says, “Yeah – but look what did!” And why is Rocket off-panel? Because the panel is taken up with Ronan and a giant robot rising out of the volcano. “Hail – Sentry 714!” says Ronan.

February 16, 2017

Now, Spidey and Rocket look on from the left side of the panel in the foreground as Ronan looks up at the Sentry on the right side of the panel in the background. Spidey says, “The Kree Sentry was imprisoned in that dormant volcano! It must be 20 feet tall!” (It is certainly much taller than Ronan but maybe not that tall.) “The Kree built ‘em in all sizes,” says Rocket. And panel #2 puts the camera behind Ronan but at about his head level so he (and we) look up at the Sentry. “You are programmed to obey me,” says Ronan to the Sentry, “and I order you – to destroy!”

February 17, 2017

Ronan’s head and shoulders fill up the right foreground of the panel as he looks back at Spidey and Rocket walking up toward him in the left background. “So you’re going to let that robot do all your dirty work, Ronan?” says Spidey, “Well, Rocket and I are ready for it.” “I’ve not ordered the Sentry to destroy you,” replies Ronan. Panel #2 smooshes Ronan’s head down into the lower left as the flying Sentry dominates the panel. “I’m sending it to destroy the nearby city – as a test of its powers. I possess more than enough might to deal with the two of you!” Ronan says.

February 18, 2017

Spidey watches the Sentry soar off toward a couple of clouds. “We’ve gotta stop that big robot from obliterating Albuquerque,” says Spidey. Rocket, who is not looking at the Sentry but (apparently) at Ronan, says, “You’ve got delusions of adequacy, web-mask.” Panel #2 squeezes Rocket into the bottom left corner as he looks up at Ronan who is wielding his hammer. “We’ll be lucky if we can stop Ronan from obliterating us,” Rocket says.

February 19, 2017

It’s Sunday and there’s no opening caption! Instead, Spidey is still looking at the departing Sentry as Rocket looks back (presumably) at Ronan. “Rocket! We can’t let that robot Sentry destroy Albuquerque,” says Spidey. “And we’ll get right after it…” says Rocket. Panel #2 swings the camera around so that we can see that Rocket is indeed looking at Ronan, who is still standing next to the Star-Person glyph. Spidey turns to look as Rocket continues with, “…providin’ we manage to survive Ronan the Accuser!” Ronan, hefting his hammer, says, “Dolts! I have decimated worlds – entire star systems!” (Only in comics does someone call somebody else a dolt.) Panel #3 is a Ronan close-up as he grits his teeth and holds his hammer’s handle in front of him. “Do you think I can be stopped by a mere human and a genetically engineered animal?” he says.

Now the camera moves behind Ronan in panel #4. We see his right hand holding the hammer’s handle. Spidey and Rocket face him (and us). The sun is behind them. (Or is that the moon?) “We ‘mere humans’ have been defying would-be conquerors for a long time, Ronan,” says Spidey, his hands clenched in fists. Rocket also has his fists clenched as he says, “And who are you callin’ an ‘animal,’ round-top?” Panel #5 swings the camera around yet again. Now Ronan charges toward Rocket and Spidey (and us). (The thing is…the sun is still in the background even though the camera has moved.) Rocket runs to meet him. “The name is Rocket – and I’m one of a kind!” he says. Spidey holds back, mostly out of the panel. “Wait for me!” he yells, “He’s way too big for you to take alone!” And panel #6 changes the scene entirely. “While not far away…” says the caption as Mary Jane watches the Sentry fly away. “Peter and Rocket would have stopped that launch if they could!” she says, “I’ve got to find out what’s happened to them!”

The “Next” caption is “What Price Victory?” Victory? Are we coming to an end with this story? Last week’s was “When Menaces Multiply!” which did, indeed, refer to the arrival of the Sentry.

February 20, 2017

MJ climbs a ridge as she watches the Sentry fly off. “That must be the Sentry – flying off toward Albuquerque!” she says. (I am impressed that Pete and MJ, New Yorkers who have never been in New Mexico and are out in the middle of the Petroglyph National Monument, know that the Sentry is flying toward Albuquerque. Without their GPS!) In panel #2, MJ climbs over the rim to see Spidey (who has caught up) and Rocket running toward Ronan who fires a force beam from the top of his hammer with a SZZZZ. “I guess that depends on what I mean by ‘okay’!” she says. Ronan gets his two cents worth in as well. He says, “I will annihilate you both!” (“Both” as in Spidey and Rocket. He doesn’t see MJ.)

February 21, 2017

Rocket leaps at Ronan, jumping over the force beam from the universal weapon, which makes a SZZZZ sound. “Stand still, you accursed quadruped,” says Ronan. (Actually, I think Rocket is only a “quadruped” if you are familiar with Earth raccoons. But his species walks on its legs and has hands and are not raccoons. Ronan, who isn’t familiar with Earth raccoons, I assume, should not refer to Rocket as a “quadruped.”) “I’d deliver a snappy comeback, Ronan,” says Rocket. “But I’m too shocked that you know what a ‘quadruped’ is,” he finishes in panel two ducking below the beam that now gives off a SSZZ. In panel #3, Spidey shoots webbing (with a FWIP) at Ronan’s back as he says, “Way to distract him, buddy – so I could get off some webbing!” but he thinks, “Not that it held him long the last time!”

We have hit the three-month mark with this story, by the way.

February 22, 2017

Ronan easily shakes off the webbing. “If your sole weapon is your webs,” he says, “You might as well stand still and accept your fate!” In panel #2, Ronan fires a beam at Spidey (it makes no sound) as the webslinger leaps away. “If it’s okay with you, I think I’ll delay it a bit longer!” Spidey says but he thinks, “But if one of those cosmic bolts hits me…” Panel #3 shows us the Sentry flying toward a metropolitan area. And Stan tells us, “Meanwhile, the levitating Sentry nears Albuquerque…which it is programmed to destroy!” It doesn’t look good!

February 23, 2017

Spidey and Rocket both run toward the ridge where MJ stands. Ronan’s cosmic bolt strikes between them, kicking up the dirt with a ZZRRATTCH. “Peter, are you two all right?” asks MJ. Spidey says, “MJ…” In panel #2, he leaps and knocks MJ out of the way of a beam that hits the ridge with a ZZAPP. “You – started to say something?” says MJ. “Yeah – ‘duck’!” says Spidey.

February 24, 2017

Spidey, MJ, and Rocket cower on the other side of the ridge while the bolts continue to hit the top of the ridge with a SSZRRAKK. Apparently, Ronan can’t be bothered to walk up the ridge to actually shoot at them. “Well, Rocket?” says Spidey, “Any bright ideas for fighting Ronan?” Bent over with her hands on her knees, MJ says, “You two need a second to catch your breath…” Panel #2 belongs to Rocket as he says, “Breath? Breath---yeah! There was something about breathing!” And in panel #3, Rocket declares, “Oh yeah – now I remember. He can’t breathe your planet’s air –without his helmet!” Spidey and MJ’s heads both wiggle as they both say “?,” meaning “it took you 3 months to remember that?” Ronan, meanwhile, still refuses to budge as his beam hits the top of the ridge with a SSZZZL.

February 25, 2017

More cosmic bolts hit the top of the ridge with s SSZZAK. Ronan is still willing to shoot aimlessly at rocks and dirt. Below, Spidey, MJ, and Rocket confer. “Are you saying Ronan needs his helmet to breathe on our planet?” “Yeah, it changes oxygen into – whatever it is he breathes!” says Rocket. Panel #2 is a Spidey-Rocket twosome as Spidey says, “But you can breathe our air.” Rocket replies with a grin, “Hey, in case you didn’t notice - him and me ain’t exactly twins.”

I know what you’re thinking. Ronan is Kree and the Kree have always been oxygen breathers in the Marvel Universe. But this isn’t the Marvel Universe. This is the Spidey Newspaper-verse.

February 26, 2017

A long Sunday caption this time. “Behind a ridge, Spider-Man, MJ and Rocket evade the deadly blasts of Ronan the Kree Accuser…” and there’s Ronan standing on the top of the ridge, firing a cosmic blast that goes SZZZZ but he still can’t hit our heroes. MJ recoils, Spidey seems to be pushing her out of the way, and Rocket looks up at Ronan but the blast isn’t anywhere near them. “Uh…guys?” says MJ. “Why didn’t you clue me in about Ronan’s helmet earlier?” Spidey asks Rocket. Panel #2 is a Rocket close-up with the left half of Spidey’s mask (and his left shoulder) filling up the left side of the panel. “I didn’t figure it’d help us much that he needs it to breathe your world’s air!” Rocket says. A blast in panel #3 hits with a SZZKATTCH which is enough to send shards into the air so that MJ holds her hand up to protect her face (“Hey, boys…” she says.) but it still isn’t anywhere close to hitting them. The three of them crouch, in panel #4, as another blast hits the top of the ridge. “After all,” says Rocket, “that helmet’s practically a part of him. It’s attached to his battle-suit by electro-magnetism.” Panel #5 is an MJ close-up (sort of) mirroring the panel #2 close-up of Rocket right above it. “Whatever you two plan on doing, you’d better do it fast…” says MJ. “…’Cause Ronan just blasted the top off this ridge,” she adds in panel #6, “completely blowing our cover!” And there’s Ronan still standing at the top of the ridge, firing away with a SZZRRACKK. But not hitting them.

The “Next” caption says, “No Place to Hide!” but I bet that there is, seeing as Ronan is such a bad shot. Last week’s was “What Price Victory?” and I have no idea whose “price” or “victory” it’s talking about.

February 27, 2017

Back in the daily strip, Ronan is nowhere to be seen. Did he retreat from the ridge after blowing the top off of it? Or did he blow the top off of it? It looks pretty secure today. Ronan is still blasting away from a distance, though. A SZZZTT fills the air above the ridge as Spidey starts to climb to the top. “Keep down, MJ,” he says, “Rocket and I are going after Ronan and his helmet!” In panel #2, Spidey and Rocket have cleared the ridge. The SZZRIKK is now at the bottom of the panel but it comes to the same thing; the blast missing Spidey and Rocket. Rocket says, “Hey, I’ve seen robots and ray-guns fail to dent that headgear!” “Well, I’ve got a different approach,” says Spidey. In panel #3, the Sentry lands in…a parking lot? “Meanwhile, the deadly Sentry reaches Albuquerque…” says the caption and the tension builds. Well, sort of.

February 28, 2017

“Albuquerque, New Mexico…” the caption tells us and the Sentry stands motionless as two bystanders look on. “What’s that thing in the street?” asks one. (Aha! He’s in the street! Still looks like a parking lot.) “It’s like something out of a Sci-Fi movie!” says the other. In panel #2, the Sentry fires a bolt from both hands that hits a car with a SHROOM. But no one seems to be in the car. And there only seem to be three people on the street. “Look out! It’s firing at us!” says the guy who thought it was something out of a Sci-Fi movie. He and his buddy run off. A woman looks up at the Sentry. That’s it. Panel #3 switches back to Spidey and Rocket who both appear to be flying, although I suppose they are leaping. A caption says, “As a few miles away…” Spidey says, “Okay, Rocket – it’s showtime!” Rocket says, “Way ahead of ya, web-face!” The cosmic blast that misses them says, “SZZZAK.”

March 1, 2017

Spidey ducks under another blast (SZZZKK) and says, “I’ve got to get behind Ronan.” He asks Rocket, “Can you draw his fire?” Panel #2 is all Rocket as he leaps over a blast (SSZATTCH) and says, “Does a tigrodon burp in a moon crater?” (Bet you never thought you’d ever see that rhetorical question!) He puts his thumbs in his ears and taunts Ronan with “Nyaah, Kree-boy! You missed!” (Ronan has missed over and over and over. He apparently walked to the top of the ridge and then walked back, never considering getting up nice and close and blasting his opponents. This scenario has gone on and on and on. I am so tired of it, I could scream.) And now, in panel #3, Rocket is leaping over a Ronan blast while Spidey stands way in the background behind them. So what happened here? Did Rocket run all the way from the ridge only to run past Ronan, forcing Ronan to turn and fire at him, leaving Spidey back on the ridge, a mile behind? That’s what it looks like. “He’s turned all his fire on Rocket for the moment,” thinks Spidey (and, of course, “all his fire” misses Rocket). “So it’s now or never!” thinks Spidey. I’ve been waiting for “now” for weeks but I’m starting to think I’d settle for “never.”

March 2, 2017

Rocket has such disdain for Ronan’s blasts that he now somersaults over them. “You big blowhole!” he says, “You couldn’t hit the side of a galaxy-cruiser!” And Ronan, who has missed from near and missed from far, who has missed Spidey and MJ as well as Rocket, who has not bothered to aim as far as I can tell, has the nerve to say, “It’s because you’re such a runt!” (His blast goes SZZRRAKT.) In panel #2, Ronan gets a close-up as he says, “If you were just a bit larger!” And, in panel #3, Spidey catches up and leaps at Ronan from behind. “Am I big enough for you, Accuser?” he asks as he shoots webbing at Ronan’s back with a FWIP. Ronan turns to look. “You!?” he says, like he’s surprised. Yeah, there were three of them, Ronan! Spidey and Rocket and MJ! Remember?

March 3, 2017

So, why did Spidey shoot webbing at Ronan’s back even though Ronan has been able to easily rip his webbing? Because his plan was to web himself to Ronan’s back so that Ronan cannot reach him. This was not clear in yesterday’s final panel and it requires explanation today. It’s all done rather ineptly, as if there was an extra panel we didn’t get to see. Ronan tries to reach behind to grab Spidey. “If I can’t reach you – at least I can hurl you off my back!” he says. “Not with my webbing binding me to you!” says Spidey. “Then I’ll squash you,” says Ronan in panel #2, as he falls upon his back with a WHOMP! Underneath Ronan, Spidey says, “ARRRH!” So, now is Rocket’s chance! Ronan is on his back! Helpless! Rocket can attack or try to remove the helmet or something! But it appears that Rocket used the time Spidey gained to return to MJ! He stands next to her as she peers over the ridge. “Y-you think your significant other coulda survived that, Red? Red…?” (MJ’s response should be, “What the hell are you doing standing next to me? Get out there!”)

March 4, 2017

So, now Rocket and MJ move up to look at Ronan and Spidey. (Unless, Ronan and Spidey teleported over to the ridge.) “Ronan’s down - with web-face under him!” says Rocket. (So, all it took to knock out Ronan was to have him fall on his back?) “And I – I don’t see Peter moving!” says MJ. “While…” says the caption in panel #2. In Albuquerque, the Sentry is blasting buildings with a SHROOOM. There now look to be about 6 bystanders. “Run!” yells one. “The city’s under attack!” yells another. So, we get exposition to tell us stuff we already know like the city is under attack but when it comes to explaining why Ronan is defeated just because he fell on his back….nothing.

March 5, 2017

Stan really wants to make sure we know the Sentry is in Albuquerque. First he gives us this caption…”While the robotic Sentry runs amok in downtown Albuquerque…” Then he has Alex put a building in the background that has “Albuquerque” written on it. Is it a train station? Or does Stan just really enjoy writing “Albuquerque?” The Sentry’s right hand lets out a SHROOOM blast while his left hand emits a truncated SHR blast. Seven people run for it with one saying, “Wh-what is that thing?” Panel #2 finishes the caption with “…Spider-Man has his own problems.” So, let me ask something. Do Alex and Larry communicate with each other? Do the daily writers and Sunday writers communicate with each other? (Assuming it’s not Stan.) Because now Ronan is fully awake, lying among the glyphs with Spidey underneath him and MJ and Rocket are back on the ridge (as we see in panel #3). Ronan says, “Surely I have crushed the life from you, little being! Else you would have tried to wriggle from under me by now.” (Jeez, Ronan! Get with it! Didn’t you hear what he said in panel #1 of March 3rd? “Not with my webbing binding me to you!”) Ronan blathers on in panel #3 with MJ and Rocket looking on. “So it is time to arise,” he says, “and see how my Sentry fares in its test attack on the nearby city.” Panel #4 gives us Rocket and MJ and the sun still rising behind them. “Don’t look Red,” says Rocket, “Webby’s still stuck to him. But he’s not moving. He must be…” “That’s… what I thought, Rocket,” interrupts MJ (who appears to have changed clothes). Panel #5 gives us MJ and Rocket in profile. “But then I realized – Peter wouldn’t try to get out from under the Accuser,” says MJ, “because he’s exactly where he wants to be!” Back to Ronan and Spidey in panel #6. Ronan walks away with Spidey stuck to him. Spidey thinks, “Which probably makes me suicidal,” as if he could actually hear MJ’s comment to Rocket and mentally respond to it. “Well,” he thinks, “here goes nothing!”

Our “Next” caption is “Or Maybe – Something!” which is a response to Spidey’s “Here goes nothing!” But it almost seems like it’s taunting us after weeks of cosmic blasts. MAYBE something. Maybe not. Last week’s was “No Place to Hide!” which would have been true if Ronan hadn’t decided to retreat from the ridge he successfully blasted leaving Spidey, MJ, and Rocket vulnerable.

March 6, 2017

This is pretty much a recap for those not reading the Sunday strip. In panel #1, the Sentry is firing a blast at a building with a SHROOM. The caption tells us, “While the robot Sentry begins his assault on Albuquerque…” Four bystanders appear. One yells, “Run for your lives!” In panel #2, Ronan is on his hands and knees (even though he was standing upright yesterday) with Spidey attached to his back. MJ and Rocket look on. The caption says, “…Ronan rises from the rubble that he himself made.” (Because he is such a bad shot.) MJ says, “Look! Peter’s still alive!” (Though I don’t know what she sees that makes her say that.) Rocket says, “Yeah – but for how long?”

March 7, 2017

Ronan looks up at Spidey, riding on his back, and says, “I can’t believe you survived the impact when I hurled myself backward!” I would hardly call it “hurled.” More like he fell over. “Frankly…I wasn’t sure…I was going to…” says Spidey, hesitantly. In panel #2, he rips free of his webbing and leaps up onto Ronan’s shoulders. “But somehow I did…” he says. Panel #3 is a close-up of Ronan’s head as Spidey’s arms yank on it. “And now,” says Spidey, “I’m right where I wanna be!” “My helmet!” yells Ronan.

March 8, 2017

It’s time once again to waste a day’s strip and what better way to do that than to have characters commenting on things about which we already know? So, panel #1 features MJ and Rocket, as MJ says, “Peter’s got a good grip on Ronan’s helmet!” and Rocket says, “If he can yank it off, the Accuser’s finished…” Panel #2 shows Spidey yanking on the helmet. The strain makes him say, “HNNHH.” Either Spidey has twisted Ronan’s head all the way around or the Accuser is double-jointed because Ronan is sneaking his hammer up around behind to try to whack Spidey. From off-panel, Rocket says, “But it’s held in place by electro-magnetism!” And Ronan says, “You’ll never pull it free – before I turn the universal weapon on you!” See what I mean? Nothing happens. Nothing learned. Ingenious.

March 9, 2017

Panel #1 is a straight-on shot of Spidey riding Ronan’s back. Spidey is still tugging on the helmet. Ronan’s double-jointed arm is still rising up behind them. “I’ve just about got your helmet off, Greensleeves!” says Spidey. “Your strength, multiplied by your determination – might accomplish your task – if you had a few moments more!” says Ronan. Panel #2 is a close-up of that double-jointed arm as it moves the hammer up near Spidey’s leg. “But now – my cosmi-rod is in position – to be activated!” says Ronan as the cosmi-rod gives off a SZZZ. Wait a minute? “Cosmi-rod?” Is that the same thing as the “universal weapon?”

March 10, 2017

Spidey is still on Ronan’s back. Ronan is still positioning his universal weapon. (It makes a SZZZ sound in the lower left of the panel. The sound appears again on the lower right blending into the second panel with a SZZZZZ.) “My weapon will repel you from my helmet!” says Ronan. “It probably would!” says Spidey. Panel #2 is a close-up of Spidey’s right hand as he tugs on Ronan’s right wrist. Spidey says, “…If I hadn’t stopped tugging at your headgear – and pulled your arm at the last second…” Spidey continues off-panel in panel #3, saying, “…so that your mallet blasted the helmet loose!” And, yes, the panel shows a universal weapon force blast hitting Ronan in the side of his helmet with a ZZZAKK. “No!” says Ronan, “Without it – I can’t breathe!”

March 11, 2017

Spidey pulls Ronan’s helmet off his head. It is a strange panel showing Spidey standing on Ronan’s shoulders but the panel cuts him off at the chest. The focus of the panel is Ronan’s newly revealed head and the “shock” lines radiating off of it. “M-my helmet! I need it to breathe the atmosphere of this pesthole of a planet!” Ronan says. In panel #2, Spidey leaps away with the helmet. “If you’re gonna resort to name-calling – I’ll just take your headpiece – and head for home!” he says. Ronan grabs the side of his face like Macaulay Culkin in Home Alone and says, “NNOOOO.”

March 12, 2017

So, here’s Ronan gasping for breath among the glyphs as Spidey walks away with his helmet. (The helmet has little stars flying off of it as if it is gasping as much as Ronan.) The opening caption tells us, “As Ronan gasps for breath – his life-giving helmet just out of reach…” Ronan clutches his throat and yells, “G-give it back!” In panel #2, Ronan collapses at Spidey’s feet (all we see of Spidey are his legs in silhouette). “Maybe after you’ve safely passed out!” says Spidey’s silhouetted legs. Panel #3 changes scene as the caption says, “…the reactivated Kree Sentry is on a mission to destroy the nearby city…” Maybe Stan forgot which city it is. It’s Albuquerque and the Sentry is hovering in the air shooting out force bolts from his hands with a SHROOOM. (American Southwest…shrooms…can this be a coincidence?) Five bystanders flee as the Sentry trashes a car. Two cops, guns drawn, confront him. One says, “Has anybody figured out what that thing is yet?” Panel #4 is a close-up of the two cops. One says, “Negative! But they aren’t getting any readings of life.” (So, the Albuquerque police have life sign detectors?) The other says, “What’re you saying? That it’s some kinda robot?” Panel #5 highlights the Sentry with the two cops below him. “Whatever it is, buddy – it’s our job to stop it,” says one, finishing with “…or die trying!” in panel #6. As the Sentry continues his assault (with two SHROOMs this time), the two cops open fire.

Our next caption is “A Two-Front Battle!” I’m not sure what that’s going to mean. Hasn’t there already been a two-front battle? Last week’s was “Or Maybe – Something!” which referred to Spidey’s thought of “Here goes nothing!” And, yes, there was “something,” that “something” being Ronan gasping for breath on the ground.

March 13, 2017

Ronan gets up on one knee and pleads with Spidey. “Give me back – my helmet!” he says, “Without it – I can’t breathe!” “I’d feel real sorry for you, Ronan,” says Spidey. He continues in panel #2 with “…except that the minute you put it on again – you’d turn right back into public enemy #1!” Ronan collapses with a PLOP! MJ and Rocket come running up. “He’s collapsed!” MJ says.

March 14, 2017

In the foreground, MJ looks admiringly at Spidey. Ronan is unconscious on the ground. Rocket holds center-panel in the background. “You did it, web-face!” says Rocket, “You defeated a Kree Accuser! That hasn’t been done since…” In panel #2, Rocket, in close-up, strokes his chin and says, “Well, actually…it’s never been done before!” Panel #3 is a two-fer with Rocket and Spidey as Spidey says, “But now that he’s down and out – I can’t just let him die!” Rocket says, “?” which means, “Are you out of your f***ing mind?!”

March 15, 2017

Spidey squats down next to Ronan. He holds the helmet out in front of him. “Even if Ronan intended to destroy our world – I still can’t just let him die!” says Spidey. Rocket rushes up to stop him. “Wait! What’re you doing??” he says. Panel #2 has Spidey’s head filling the left side. Rocket and MJ stand farther back on the right. Spidey says, “I’m going to put his helmet back in place - !” MJ cups her hands around her mouth to call out, “But if you do, he’ll kill us – and everybody on the planet!”

March 16, 2017

Rocket starts tugging on the helmet, trying to get it away from Spidey. “Stop, web-face!” says Rocket, “You’re not reattaching Ronan’s helmet!” Spidey tugs back. “Am I supposed to just watch him die?” he says. Panel #2 is all Rocket and his word balloon. “Hey, whadda you think he’d do to you?” Rocket says, “Besides, he doesn’t need that headpiece to survive…” Panel #3 shows Ronan on the ground. Rocket lets go of the helmet and puts his hands on his hips. “…Only to breathe,” he finishes. Spidey, holding the helmet close to his chest, says, “You’d better start making sense, Rocket – or I’m plowing right through you!” Yeah, Spidey! Wipe out Rocket and revive Ronan! That’s thinking!

March 17, 2017

Part of Spidey’s head and part of the helmet fill the left side. On the right, Rocket looks up at him. “You said Ronan needs this helmet to breathe, then without it, he’s a deader, right?” Rocket replies, “Maybe that’s how it works for your species…” Panel #2 shows Rocket, Spidey, MJ and some nice clouds in the background. Rocket finishes, “All lack of ‘air’ does to a Kree is send him into suspended animation.” Which is really convenient. “Then that means…” says Spidey. “That you two can go try to save Albuquerque from the Sentry!” finishes MJ.

March 18, 2017

March 18, 2017

Ronan is still unconscious on the ground and Spidey still holds his helmet. “Before we go after the Sentry – shouldn’t we tie up Ronan or something?” asks Spidey. Rocket approaches him and says, “He’s going nowhere till he gets his helmet on again…” In panel #2, Rocket gets a hold of the helmet and kicks it with a PUNT far over the ridge. “…And that ain’t gonna be anytime soon!” he says.

March 19, 2017

Ronan is unconscious in the foreground. Spidey, Rocket, and MJ confer in the shadows in the background. The sun is behind them. It hasn’t budged for weeks. “We’ll race into town in the car,” Spidey says, “so we can stop that robot from trashing the place!” “I’ll drive,” says MJ. Panel #2 moves the camera around so that MJ, Spidey, and Rocket are in the foreground with Ronan behind. Spidey holds his phone out to MJ and says, “No, honey! You’ve got to stay here – and give us a call if Ronan shows any signs of life.” (Sure hope Spidey has another phone that MJ can call.) Panel #3 is a two-fer of Spidey and MJ as she says, “You know…I really wish that didn’t make so much sense.” She looks away from Spidey as she speaks, as if embarrassed to admit it. In panel #4, Spidey drives away with Rocket in the passenger seat. (Quite a sight.) MJ stays behind, backlit by the sun, which is lower than it was. So…I guess it’s setting? “That’s quite a mate you’ve got there, web-face,” says Rocket. “Yeah!” says Spidey, “I never could understand why so many superheroes stay single!” (Like you in the revamped comic books, Spidey?) Panel #5 shows us Rocket and Spidey in close-up. Rocket looks like he is grimacing or growling. Spidey says, “I just hope we reach the city’s downtown…” Panel #6 shows the car speeding toward Albuquerque. Three of the Sentry’s force bolts can be seen from afar. Spidey finishes his thought from panel #5. “…While it still has a downtown!” he says.

The Next caption is “To Stop a Sentry!” Let’s hope that happens soon. Last week’s was “A Two-Front Battle!” which, I suppose, referred to Spidey and Rocket driving from the defeat of Ronan to Albuquerque, since the two cops who dared attack the Sentry have been completely forgotten.

March 20, 2017

The two cops were not forgotten after all. In panel #1, they take refuge behind a car as the Sentry fires bolts with a SZATCH. “Two cops – against a Kree Sentry,” says the caption. “We’ve drawn that thing’s fire away from civilians, but its next blast might finish us!” says one cop. The other looks to his right and says “Hey, don’t look now…” which leads us to panel two where Spidey webswings in with Rocket on his back. From off-panel, one cop says, “…but backup’s arrived!” and the other says, “Spider-Man – and a raccoon!” Yes, I said “Spidey webswings in.” So, where did they leave the car? I know it’s been since Thanksgiving but don’t forget that it’s a rental!

Yes, I said, "Thanksgiving." We've hit the four-month mark for this story.

March 21, 2017

Spidey and Rocket land near the two cops who are behind a car that is pummeled with a ZZRAK from the Sentry’s attack. Spidey points off at nothing and says, “You two establish a perimeter while we tackle that robot. (How do two guys “establish a perimeter?”) Rocket stands next to him, looking at nothing. One cop says, “Are you the real Spider-Man?” The other says, “You saw him swing in on a web, Mac. Move it!” (So, is the other cop’s name “Mac” or does his partner call everyone Mac? And why is he supposed to “move it?”) Panel #2 is a close-up of “Mac” (and his partner’s shoulder). Mac says, “And this is no time to ask who the little guy in the raccoon coat is!” This sounds like something Mac’s partner should say but it is certainly Mac who says it. Best not to linger. Let’s “move it!” to tomorrow.

March 22, 2017

Spidey takes to his webs with a FWIP. Standing below, Rocket calls out, “Keep on swingin’, webbie – so it can’t get a bead on you – or anybody else.” A bolt flashes past Spidey with a SSZZZZZZ that crosses into the second panel, which belongs to Spidey’s head, shoulders, and thought balloon. “But it doesn’t get us any closer to defeating this robot,” he thinks, “We’ll get tired long before it does!” “While miles away…” according to a caption in panel #3. And we return to MJ and the fallen Ronan. “Unnhh…” says Ronan. MJ looks at him and says, “Huh? Ronan wasn’t supposed to wake up!”

March 23, 2017

Ronan tries to get to his feet as MJ looks on. “Must reach…the Sentry…Gasp,” says Ronan. “The condition you’re in – if you did reach him, he’d probably just blow you away, too,” says MJ. Panel #2 is Ronan’s head and word balloon. “Sentry…programmed…Gasp…never to hurt…a K-Kree…Gasp,” he says. And, in panel #3, as MJ watches, he collapses flat on his face with a THUNNK.

Question: Why does Ronan have to reach the Sentry? Isn’t the Sentry doing exactly what Ronan wants him to do?

March 24, 2017

MJ looks down at the fallen Ronan. “Ronan’s lapsed back into suspended animation – lucky for me,” she says, “That brief spurt of energy must’ve been all he had in him.” In panel #2, MJ caresses her chin and considers, “But – something he said – just before he collapsed again…” And in panel #3, a truck drives along the road. MJ rushes out and waves it down. “Hey there – stop! You’ve got to stop!” she says.

Whoa, whoa, whoa! Remember February 5th? “This is as close as we can get with the car?” And “While on the other side of the ridge?” Now, you expect me to believe that the road is right next to the spot where Ronan is? Or did we move ahead to a time where MJ walked all the way back to the road?

March 25, 2017

The truck driver stops to talk to MJ. “Lady, you shouldn’t be hitchhikin’ out here,” he says. MJ points a finger at him and says, “I’m not hitchhiking. There’s an alien spaceman just over that ridge – and we’ve got to get him to Albuquerque fast!” Panel #2 shows the truck from above as it speeds off with a SKREEETCH. (Read from bottom to top as it parallels the truck; a nifty little panel.) In panel #3, MJ watches it go. “Maybe I should try a different approach next time,” she says.

March 26, 2017

The opening caption reads, “While MJ tries to flag down a truck in a New Mexico national park…” as we see MJ raising her arm as a truck speeds past her. “…Her husband and a furry alien are otherwise engaged,” continues the caption in panel #2. Here Spidey evades the Sentry’s blast as Rocket stands on a nearby ledge and 6 bystanders run for their lives. “We can’t keep that Sentry distracted, forever, Rocket!” says Spidey. “Tell me something I don’t know,” replies Rocket. In panel #3, with that sun or full moon behind him, Rocket throws debris at the Sentry’s head. “I was sent here to stop Ronan from bringin’ it back to our corner of the galaxy,” he says, “and usin’ it to wipe out all his enemies!” Panel #4 focuses on Spidey again evading a blast, with Rocket in the background. The panel parallels the panel above as Spidey’s outstretched arm mimics MJ’s arm as she tries to flag down the truck. Spidey’s arm is shooting webbing with a FWIP. The Sentry’s blast makes a SHRAKK. Though he is in the background, it is Rocket who speaks. “So far, we’ve accomplished the first half of my mission,” he says, “by taking care of Ronan.” In panel #5, Spidey evades another blast that shatters a chimney. “Yeah – but how do we stop a rampaging 20-foot robot?” asks Spidey. And panel #6 shows the Sentry’s head looking right at Rocket. “Okay,” says Rocket, “so there’s still a few details we gotta work out.”

Our “Next” caption is “MJ to the Rescue!” which, I guess, means she’s going to flag down a ride. Last week’s was “To Stop a Sentry!” which has not, as yet, happened.

March 27, 2017

MJ watches another truck driving away. “That’s four trucks so far – and not one has stopped for me,” she says, “Guess this calls for desperate measures.” In panel #2, she watches another truck approach. (This road sure gets a lot of truck traffic.) “This one’s gonna stop,” she says. “Or else it’s going to roll right over me,” she finishes in panel #3 as she stands in the middle of the road in front of the truck. The driver’s horrified face can be seen behind his windshield as he hits the brakes with a SKREETCH. (The same sound the truck on March 25th made when it accelerated!)

March 28, 2017

The truck stops and the driver gets out to talk to MJ. There are two guys looking over the railings from the truck bed. “You crazy, girl?” says the trucker, “You could’ve been killed…” MJ reaches down for her wallet and says, “I need your day laborers to load an alien spaceman onto your truck and rush it to the city!” (Oh, his “day laborers.” Who are these guys, really?) In panel #2, the trucker starts to say, “Huh? What kinda nut do you think I…” but stops (and he gets wiggle lines around his head) when he sees the color of MJ’s money. She pulls a wad out of her wallet and says, “What if I buy your truck – and your time?” (Huh? Did Stan forget we’re in the strip-verse and that Peter is a poor struggling photographer and not the CEO of Parker Industries? Is MJ making so much money on Broadway that she carries a huge wad of money with her? Is she actually buying the truck or just the truck’s time? Whatever the answers, it works, as panel #3 shows Ronan lying in the truck’s bed alongside 4 “day laborers” as the truck drives off. We can see Albuquerque in the distance. Good thing MJ flagged a truck with a bunch of guys who could pick up and carry Ronan…how far? Was that road right next to the battle scene of not? Did the men ask any questions about exactly what took place? All of this is conveniently avoided.)

March 29, 2017

Spidey evades another Sentry blast. “Lots of civilians down that street!” he says. (We see two.) “We’ve got to slow the Sentry till they can escape!” In panel #2, Rocket melts the struts on a rooftop water tower with a laser. (Do they have rooftop water towers in Albuquerque?) “Maybe it could use a cold shower,” he says. In panel #3, Spidey clings to a wall and watches as the water tower falls and dumps all its water on the Sentry with a SPLOOSH.

March 30, 2017

Now Rocket clings to the wall next to Spidey as they watch a very wet Sentry rise to its feet. (Bet you didn’t know raccoons could stick to a brick building.) “That deluge delayed the robot – but we’re not making any progress at stopping it!” says Spidey. But someone off-panel yells, “Yo, Spider-Man!” Panel #2 looks down from above Spidey and Rocket to show MJ waving her arms, standing next to the truck with Ronan in it. Four day laborers leap out and run for it. “Down here!” yells MJ. “Mary Jane…?” says Spidey. “She’s not too good at obeying orders to stand and wait, is she, webbie?” says the back of Rocket’s head.

March 31, 2017

Spidey swings down to MJ with Rocket hanging onto his shoulders. Ronan’s feet stick out of the back of the truck, which they were not doing before. (On March 28, you can see that Ronan does not fill up the truck bed. On March 30, he fills up the whole thing. Now his feet are sticking out. Is Ronan growing?) “I’ve brought Ronan,” says MJ. “Even before I ask why,” says Spidey, “how’d you talk that guy into driving his truck here?” Panel #2 shows MJ and the backs of Rocket and Spidey’s heads. “It’s not his truck anymore,” says MJ, “I bought it!” So, she did buy the truck! With cash out of her wallet! Spidey and Rocket both say “!” which means “you bought an entire truck with cash out of your wallet! Dang!”

April 1, 2017

Profiles of Spidey, Rocket, and MJ with Ronan’s feet sticking out of the truck. “Why’d you bring Ronan here?” asks Spidey, “If he manages to reunite with the Sentry –things’ll just get worse.” In panel #2, the Sentry renews his attack, firing at the threesome with a SHROOOM. “Tell me again, Tiger – how they could get any worse!” says MJ. Well, you see, MJ, it would be worse if, instead of just fighting the Sentry, you had to fight the Sentry and Ronan.

April 2, 2017

It’s a rare Sunday without an opening caption. Spidey, Rocket, and MJ duck behind MJ’s truck as the Sentry approaches, blasting parked cars. (Why? I don’t know.) “The Sentry’s practically right on top of us,” says Spidey. “And you brought Ronan here?” he finishes in panel #2; an overhead shot looking down on the truck bed as MJ, Spidey, and Rocket look in. (Ronan has shrunk back down again.) Panel #3 is a two-shot of MJ and Rocket as Rocket turns to MJ and says, “Right now, that Kree kill-bot’s just recklessly marauding. But if it wakes Ronan up, and they join forces…” Panel #4 is a solo for MJ as she says, “Ronan did wake up, back there in the desert…” She finishes in panel #5 (from left to right, MJ, the bottom of Ronan’s right foot, Rocket standing in the truck bed between Ronan’s feet, the bottom of Ronan’s left foot, Spidey, and the Sentry looming up behind), saying, “…just long enough to give me an idea of how to defeat him!” They all flinch in panel #6 as the Sentry fires at them again, with a SHRAACKK. “I vote we listen to her, Rocket,” says Spidey, “before that walking tank gets in range!” (Why isn’t it in range? Did it walk backwards for a while?)

The “Next” caption is “MJ’s Cunning Plan!” which I hope only takes one week to explain. Last week’s was “MJ to the Rescue,” which is true, I guess. She came “to the rescue.” She just didn’t do any rescuing yet.

April 3, 2017

Suddenly, with Larry back on the art duties, the Ronan’s feet stick out of the truck bed again. Also, the Sentry seems to be on a break as Rocket, Spidey, and MJ stand around talking, in no danger whatsoever. Rocket points at MJ and says, “We nearly got killed beating Ronan – now you’ve dragged him here?” “I’m…sure MJ has a reason, Rocket,” says Spidey. “You better believe it!” says MJ. Panel #2 is MJ’s head with a building behind. “He’s gonna help us defeat the Sentry!” she says. From off-panel Spidey and Rocket both say “?,” which may mean, “Hey, where is the Sentry, anyway?”

April 4, 2017

The Sentry is back but he’s busy blasting parked cars. (What is it with the Sentry and parked cars?) He is not even looking at our heroes, who have stepped out from behind the truck. Rocket points at the Sentry and looks back at MJ, as he says, “”Okay, Red – tell us how a comatose Ronan can help us lick that robot before it trashes the city.” In panel #2, a Sentry blast comes sizzling through with a SSZZZZLL. Rocket leaps away and Spidey shoves MJ out of the way. Having sent this blast, the Sentry now stands still in panel #3. Rocket looks up at him. “Not to mention us!” says Rocket.

April 5, 2017

Spidey helps MJ up. “That overgrown toy soldier nearly got us that time,” he says. “But – don’t you see?” says MJ. In panel #2, the Sentry has moved around to the back of the truck. He looks in at Ronan who is back to about March 30th size. MJ points at the Sentry and says, “The Sentry deactivated his ray – right before it would’ve struck Ronan.”

April 6, 2017

An awkward panel mostly taken up with dirt. (Where did all this dirt come from? Aren’t they supposed to be in downtown Albuquerque?) The truck holding Ronan is to the right. Rocket and MJ are down in the bottom left. “So the Sentry’s ray blinked off before it hit his boss-man,” says Rocket, “How’s that help us total it?” “Before Ronan passed out a second time,” says MJ, “I heard him say…” And on to panel #2 to finish that sentence (the panel filled up by MJ’s head). “Sentries are programmed never to hurt a Kree!” she finishes. (And, yep, he did say that, back on March 23rd.)

April 7, 2017

A long panel #1 showing, from left to right, MJ, Spidey, Rocket leaning into the truck bed, and Ronan in the truck bed. “Ronan told you the Sentry’s programming won’t let it harm a member of the Kree race?” Spidey asks. (Hey! Where is the Sentry, anyway?) “Well, actually, he just sorta gasped it – but yeah,” MJ replies, stroking her chin. “Only Ronan’s unconscious – so he can’t help us!” says Rocket. Now, in panel #2, Spidey strokes his chin and says, “Or maybe he can!” MJ, next to him, smiles and says “I knew you’d figure it out, lover!”

April 8, 2017

Hey! A caption! And an awkward panel with the Sentry barely in the lower right corner with his arms looking somewhat out of proportion as they shoot blasts up to a building with a SSZZZRAKK for no good reason. The caption reads “While the revived Sentry rampages through a terrified city…” In panel #2, Ronan’s feet again extend out of the truck bed as Spidey looks at him and says, “Ronan’s our key to defeating that killer robot!” MJ and Rocket look at Spidey and Rocket says, “You’re kidding, right?” No, he’s not kidding. We’ve been told this over and over. Let’s get on with it!

April 9, 2017

“Albuquerque, New Mexico is having a very bad day…” says Stan in the caption and that is because the Sentry is still going around blasting every parked car he can see. Someone off-panel says, “Once that robot gets past us…” Panel #2 reveals the speaker to be one of the two cops who finishes with “…it’ll target civilians.” (Not unless the civilians are parked on the side of the road, as far as I can tell.) The other cop says, “And we don’t have the firepower to stop it!” (This cop turns out to be African-American, which he definitely was not the last time we saw him. Since there only appear to be two cops in Albuquerque and since the other guy still looks like the guy we saw before, this is a little confusing. What, did the last guy’s shift end or something?) “Maybe you don’t…” says someone off-panel. Panel #3 reveals the speaker to be Spidey who finishes with “…but I do!” He swings in, carrying Ronan. “We were wondering where you got to, wall-crawler!” says the old cop. In panel #4, Spidey puts Ronan on the ground as the two cops approach (there is an Acme truck in the background, no doubt delivering packages to Wile E. Coyote). “But what makes you think you can stop something that size?” asks the new cop. Panel #5 features Spidey and the new cop as Spidey says, “I haven’t got time to explain…” “You sure don’t…” says the new cop. Panel #6 shows the Sentry right on top of them. Spidey’s spider-sense goes off. The new cop shoots at the Sentry and says, “…’cause that killer ray is sweepin’ straight toward us!” Don’t worry, guys! Just stay away from the parked cars!

Our “Next” caption is, “Showdown in the Southwest!” which is what we’ve been having for months, isn’t it? Last week’s was “MJ’s Cunning Plan!” which we still have not heard.

April 10, 2017

“A very thin blue line faces the oncoming Sentry…” says the caption. (The “thin blue line” is the police, for those who don’t know.) The Sentry, who must have taken a few steps backwards because he is now farther away than he was yesterday, fires his blasts with both hands. They go SZZZLL. The two cops aim their guns at the Sentry but an off-panel voice says, “You badge-boys get to play hero every day…” (But maybe not in Albuquerque.) Panel #2 shows Spidey (the off-panel speaker) lifting Ronan over his head with both hands, like an Olympic weightlifter, and finishing with “Today it’s my turn!” The two cops look at him and both say, “??” as in, “??”

April 11, 2017

The cops tell us what the picture already reveals. “Spider-Man’s gone nuts – runnin’ right at that robot!” says one. “Its ray-blasts’ll cut ‘im in two!” says the other. In panel #2, the cops are off-panel but they’re still talking. “Wait! All of a sudden, it’s stopped firing!” says one. “But the wall-crawler’s still charging!” says the other, as Spidey runs toward the Sentry holding Ronan over his head.

April 12, 2017

Spidey stops in front of the Sentry and places Ronan in front of him. Let’s look at the proportions of these characters, okay? In this panel, Ronan is about a head taller than Spidey. The Sentry looms over them, making a ZZZT ZZT ZZK sound. In panel #2, Spidey drops Ronan into the Sentry’s arms (he is still making that ZZZT ZZT ZZK sound) but the Sentry doesn’t look much bigger than Ronan. Except in previous appearances, the Sentry has been taller than the Albuquerque buildings.

In panel #1, Spidey says, “You’re programmed not to hurt a Kree – but you’re so eager to blast me to atoms – you’re darn near short-circuiting yourself, aren’t you, robot?” (Is this going to be one of those Captain Kirk-catches-robot-in-a-paradox-that-so-confuses-it-that-it-self-destructs sort of things?) “Well, maybe it’s time I gave you a hand at that!” says Spidey in panel #2, as he drops Ronan into the Sentry’s arms.

April 13, 2017

The confused Sentry sound has dwindled down to a ZZTT as Spidey climbs onto the robot’s head and starts tearing away at it with a SKATTCH. “Without his helmet, Ronan collapsed from lack of atmosphere,” says Spidey, “I have to hope that ripping off your robot head will finish you!” Who knows why the Sentry is letting him do this. After all, Spidey’s not holding Ronan in front of him anymore. All the Sentry has to do is put Ronan down and blast away.

In panel #2, Spidey has worked his way into the Sentry’s head but “Blast! Couldn’t quite – tear it free!” he says. An off-panel voice says, “Don’t get your web in an uproar! After all…” And in panel #3, Rocket leaps in, saying, “You had to leave something for me to do, right?” Spidey says, “Rocket!?” in case we’ve forgotten who he is.

April 14, 2017

Rocket jumps right into the big hole that Spidey made in the Sentry’s head. (I thought he was trying to tear the head off, not tear a hole in it.) “Well, here goes nothing!” says Rocket. “Rocket – stop!” says Spidey. In panel #2, the Sentry (who has apparently put Ronan down) grabs Spidey by the arms. The perspectives are all way off again. Spidey actually looks bigger than the Sentry in this panel. “Too late!” thinks Spidey, “He’s dived right into the Sentry’s metal interior!” (Since the Sentry is a robot, I would be surprised if his interior wasn’t metal.) “Gotta hope he finds a way to disrupt its power source – before it tears me to pieces!” I sort of suspect that is just what is going to happen.

April 15, 2017

Rocket searches through the Sentry. “Made it into the robot’s innards,” he says, “Now my only problem is figuring out how to turn it off…” His thought continues in a panel #2 caption. “…before web-face goes extinct!” (I doubt Rocket is going to find an “off” switch in there.) Meanwhile, the Sentry hangs on to Spidey who responds with an “ARRRHH” as if he’s in pain. I’m not sure why since it looks like the Sentry is simply holding him. And, yes, the Sentry now does look bigger than Spidey but not by much. What happened to the robot that towered over the buildings?

April 16, 2017

The caption tells us that “MJ Parker races through the city streets..” and, yes, there she is racing through the street amidst wrecked and burning cars and a couple of lost bystanders. “It’s obvious that the Sentry stomped this way,” she says. Panel #2 is MJ close-up, although there are still three (or four) panicked bystanders behind her. (There is also a street sign that says “Oak.” A look at Google Maps reveals that there is, indeed, an Oak Street in Albuquerque.) “But –what if Peter and Rocket can’t stop him?” she wonders. In panel #3, the caption answers her. “They’re definitely trying, MJ…” it reads. The panel shows Spidey still in the Sentry’s grip. “NHHNN,” he says. But the Sentry’s head is tilting forward and there are little jagged light balls coming out of the back of his neck. The caption continues in panel #4 with “…both outside –,” as the panel closes in on Spidey whose spider-sense is blasting (unless those are jagged pain lines) as he says “Can’t – hold out – much longer!” Panel #5’s caption is “- and in!” as we watch Rocket inside the Sentry trying to figure things out. “Got to figure out how to gum up this robot’s works – fast!” he says. Panel #6 moves in on Rocket’s face as he continues, “But – there’s so many parts – and I’ve never seen any of ‘em before!”

The “Next” caption is “Rocket’s Dread Glare!” which is a nice pun but probably doesn’t mean anything. Last week’s was “Showdown in the Southwest” which, as I said last week is what we’ve been having for months.

April 17, 2017

It’s time for a Monday recap strip. Panel #1: Caption: “Outside: Spider-Man is locked in the death grip of the rampaging Sentry…” Spidey still has spider-sense or pain lines coming out of his head. He thinks the exact thing he said in panel #4 yesterday: “Can’t hold out much longer!” Panel #2: Caption: “Inside: the raccoon-like alien named Rocket has problems of his own.” Rocket is still inside the Sentry. “Maybe I shouldn’ta cut that robotics class back in space prison!” he says.

April 18, 2017

It’s time for a Tuesday recap strip! Panel #1: MJ runs up behind the Sentry, who now looks only about twice Spidey’s size. “There’s Peter,” she thinks, “but it looks like that robot’s getting the better of him. And where’s Rocket?” Panel #2: Caption: “Deep within the Sentry:” Rocket is still looking around. “Got to disable this thing from the inside!” he says, “But how? It’s got more parts than Starlord has pop tunes!” Ah! A Guardians of the Galaxy movie reference!

April 19, 2017

“Inside the Kree robot…” reads the caption. Rocket is still there and is still stumped. “If I don’t turn off the Sentry – fast – my web-faced buddy’s history!” he says. “But – with so many parts – how do I find the ‘stop’ button?” In panel #2, he covers his eyes and decides to choose randomly. “Eggs…butter…cheese…” he says. (I’ve heard of “eeny meeny miney moe” but not “eggs butter cheese.” Is this some outer space thing?)

April 20, 2017

Panel #1: Spidey is being pulled apart by the Sentry. “N-no use! I’ve – had it!” he says. MJ comes running up, yelling, “Nnooo.” Panel #2: A caption reading, “And, inside the Sentry…” Rocket covers his eyes and chooses randomly. “What comes after ‘eggs,’ ‘butter’ and ‘cheese’?” he wonders. “Oh, yeah…” Panel #3: “Bread!” says Rocket and pushes something that makes a THAKT.

April 21, 2017

Let’s let MJ tell us. “The robot – it suddenly stopped cold!” she says. Spidey extracts himself from the Sentry’s hands. “Good thing, too!” he says, “I felt like I was a chicken bone and the Sentry was making a wish.” Panel #2 is an MJ close-up as she says, “But – what made it shut down?” An off-panel voice says, “Three guesses, Red…” Panel #3 reveals Rocket emerging from the back of the Sentry’s head. “…and the first two only count on Alpha Centauri,” he says. “Rocket!” says MJ, in case we didn’t know.

So, it looks like we may finally be winding down. Really? Already? It’s only been five months since this story started.

April 22, 2017

Rocket has jumped out of the Sentry and down to the ground, which allows MJ to hug him. “Rocket – you saved Peter’s life!” she says. Rocket replies, “Hey, if he hadn’t ripped the Sentry’s head loose, I’d never have got inside!” Behind them, Spidey jumps down from the immobile Sentry. He joins then in panel #2. He points at MJ and says, “And you figured out how to use Ronan as a weapon against it.” “You mean we’re a team?” says Rocket, “Who’da thunk it?”

April 23, 2017

The Sentry is back to his actual size. (Or close enough, anyway.) Our panel #1 long shot shows the Sentry on the right with Spidey, MJ, and Rocket looking up at him on the left. MJ says, “Looks like Albuquerque’s got itself a new landmark.” Spidey says, “Can we be sure that robot won’t come back to life?” Panel #2 is a Rocket close-up as he says, “This is an old model Sentry – designed 80,000 years ago. Once one of these babies is disabled – it’s furniture!” Which is about as convenient as Ronan going immobile if he breathes our atmosphere. Panel #3 has MJ, Rocket, and Spidey in the foreground and the only two cops Albuquerque has running up in the background. “Peter – here come the police!” says MJ. “Uh-oh,” says Rocket, “What if they try to confiscate Ronan off Red’s truck instead of letting me take him back home?” This is interesting, since the last time we saw Ronan (on April 12th), Spidey had dropped him into the Sentry’s arms. In panel #4, the two cops point their guns at the frozen Sentry as Spidey carries MJ and Rocket and webswings away. “While they’re checking to make sure the Sentry’s finished,” says Spidey to Rocket, “we’ll split for your spaceship.” (Hey, there’s a bookstore below them! Trashed by the Sentry, unfortunately.) To where are they web-swinging? To the truck, right? Except, MJ drove the truck right up next to the Sentry on March 30th. Remember how they hid behind it to protect themselves from the Sentry? Plus, they had to unload Ronan and, apparently, reload him. Oh well. All we get in panel #5 is a caption that reads, “A few minutes later…” and our threesome in the truck with MJ behind the wheel. Spidey says, “I meant to ask, Rocket – when you were inside the Sentry – how’d you make your choice of what to do to try to immobilize it?” Panel #6 is a long shot of the truck with Ronan filling up the truckbed. From inside the cab, Rocket says, “Trust me, web-face…you don’t wanna know!”

The “Next” caption is “Farewell to a Furry Comrade!” just in time for Rocket to appear in the new Guardians of the Galaxy movie. You gotta admire the timing. Last week’s was “Rocket’s Dread Glare!” which, as I suspected, really didn’t mean anything.

April 24, 2017

No Monday recap this time. We’re moving right along. The caption reads, “The New Mexico Desert…” and Rocket is inside his spaceship. “Yep,” he says, “my ship’s all recharged and good to go!” In panel #2, Rocket emerges from his tiny ship. The truck has been pulled up right next to it. Ronan is still in the truckbed. MJ and Spidey stand nearby. “But are you sure you can squeeze Ronan in with you?” asks MJ. (And a look at that ship and at Ronan, the obvious answer is “No way.”) “You got a point, Red,” says Rocket. In panel #3, Spidey and Rocket shove on Ronan who is already about halfway into the spaceship. (Though, really, if he’s as wide as that truckbed, he’s too wide to even begin to fit in that ship.) “C’mon web-face – put your back into it!” says Rocket. “GRUNNNT,” says Spidey.

April 25, 2017

Rocket rubs his hands after getting Ronan in his ship. (Ronan’s feet stick out the back, which I love.) MJ looks like Cousin Itt; we only see the back of her head. Spidey is in profile at the right side of the panel. “There!” says Rocket, “Ronan’s packed in tighter than a heavy isotope in dry ice!” “Whatever that means!” says Cousin Itt MJ. “You sure he won’t wake up while you’re halfway home?” asks Spidey. In panel #2, Rocket turns his back to us and puts his hands on his hips. Ronan’s feet are on the left in the foreground. The perspective is weird here. Is Rocket behind the ship and has the ship gotten bigger? Is he in front of it in an extreme close-up? The proportions have been screwed up for this entire storyline. “I’ve programmed his helmet to feed him just enough of his kind of air,” says Rocket, “to keep him snoring away for 2500 light years.”

April 26, 2017

It’s the return of the Loony Tunes spotlight as MJ leans down to talk to Rocket. Spidey has removed his mask. “Too bad you don’t have time to come to LA with us,” says MJ. (You guys are still going? You started the trip five months ago! Your vacation is over!) “Maybe next time, Red,” says Rocket. “Everybody’d think you were a walking CGI effect,” says Spidey, as Stan riffs off the upcoming Guardians film. That’s not the end of it. In panel #2, Rocket (and Ronan’s feet) appear as Rocket says, “It’s been fun, folks – but I gotta get back. The other Guardians of the Galaxy don’t make a move without me!” which is to say, “The other Guardians of the Galaxy don’t make a movie without me!”

April 27, 2017

And now the movie plugging gets really shameless. MJ stands with her arms crossed and asks, “Who are these ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ you keep talking about?” Rocket looks up at her and says, “Well, there’s Gamora – she’s green – and Drax –big dude – they call him the ‘Destroyer’ – and Groot –he’s sort of a tree…” With each description is a drawing of the character inside a thought balloon. (The Drax drawing is less than successful.) Rocket finishes up in panel #2 with a thought balloon of Starlord. (Inside the balloon, Starlord peers over his shoulder to the left as if looking back at Peter and MJ.) Rocket says, “Oh, and then there’s Starlord. Actually, he’s from your world!” From off-panel, both MJ and Peter say, “?” which, perhaps, means, “Then why didn’t he come here to help?”

April 28, 2017

As Rocket climbs into his rocket, Peter says, “One of the ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ is from Earth?” “I – don’t think Starlord wanted me to mention that part,” says Rocket with wiggle lines around his head. Panel #2 puts Peter and Rocket in a Loony Tunes spotlight. (And Ronan’s feet are there too! Still sticking out of the spaceship!) “Any chance we’ll ever meet him and the others?” asks Peter. “You never know, web-face…” says Rocket. And, in panel #3, he takes off with a SHROOOM (and no Ronan-feet sticking out of the rocket). “Could be!” he says from inside his ship at about 100 feet up. Do you think Peter and MJ could hear him? Especially over the SHROOOM?

April 29, 2017

Peter and MJ watch Rocket’s rocket fly away. “Y’know, Tiger – I’m gonna miss Rocket,” says MJ. “You’re probably just used to guys who wear masks – even if his was natural,” says Peter. In panel #2, Peter smiles (sort of) as he looks up at the skies. “But, yeah,” he says, “I’ll miss him, too.” From behind, MJ looks at Peter lovingly.

Is that…? Could it be? Do I sense an ending? Before I commit to it, let’s see what Sunday’s strip contains.

April 30, 2017

At last, as the caption tells us, “Crossing the Nevada/California state line…” and, to prove it, the Parkers’ car heads for a sign that reads, “Welcome to California, the Golden State.” Yesterday, we were still in New Mexico so, apparently, nothing of note occurred since then. From the car, Peter says, “By now, Rocket Raccoon’s probably halfway back to –whatever part of the galaxy he came from.” We know it’s Peter talking because the word balloon stem points to the driver’s side of the car and, in panel #2, we see that Peter is driving. Also, because, in panel #2, MJ responds with “He’d come after you with his blaster if he heard you call him a ‘raccoon’!” Peter looks at MJ (the panel shows them together in close-up from MJ’s side of the car) and says, “Yeah. I guess he would.” Panel #3 switches around to Peter’s side of the car as he says, “So, honey…did our little adventure put you in the mood for your upcoming publicity gig?” Yeah, it only lasted five months! Is that gig still on? (I think this is the moment, right here between panel #2 and panel #3 where we switch to a new story.) Panel #4 is an even closer close-up of MJ with an interesting looking mesa in the background outside the passenger window. She looks at Peter and says “Actually it made me forget all about it!” Me too! Is that why they were going to California? Let’s check…November 21, 2016: “MJ’s theater is shuttering for repairs – and she’s needed out there to promote her new movie.” Yeah, I guess it is! Panel #5 pulls back to show the car but is close enough so that we can still see Pete and MJ within. (There is a mesa on Pete’s side of the car with a…street lamp? The car’s license number is FP-418. Back on November 27th, I said, “I can almost read the license plate number. I think it’s ‘75 180’.” So, did they change license plates? Did they change cars?) Peter says, “Well, there’s one thing we can be sure of.” “What’s that?” asks MJ. Panel #6 looks at the couple from the back seat (you’ve got to give Alex credit for trying to mix it up) as Peter says, “Nothing we run into in Hollywood can be any weirder than the combo of Rocket, Ronan and the Sentry!” And, look! The Hollywood sign is up ahead on the left and they are still the only car on the road! You’ve gotta love the strip-verse.

The “Next” caption, responding to Peter’s comment is “Define ‘Weirder’!” I look forward to it when they finally do. Last week’s was “Farewell to a Furry Comrade!” And, yes, that happened.

In General...

So, it that it? Yes, I think that's it. The "Westward Ho" trip continues but I think we can tie the first part off between panel #2 and #3 of the April 30th strip where Peter goes from talking about Rocket to talking about MJ's publicity gig. But what to make of it all?

First, it goes without saying that, at 5-plus months, this story seriously wore out its welcome. Stan and Larry and Alex stretched this one out to its limit. Don't forget that it was over a month into the story (on Christmas Day) that Rocket even showed up. Back on January 1, I said, "so there’s probably a good month or two or three or four to go." I didn't really expect it to be "four." though. How long did Rocket, Spidey, and Ronan face off in that crater? How long did Rocket and Spidey hang around Albuquerque trying to deal with the Sentry? I don't even want to know. And within that, distances changed, perspectives changed and proportions changed. Some truly ridiculous things took place such as Rocket's "far too late in the day" reveal that Ronan would conveniently go comatose (but not die) if his helmet was removed or that Albuquerque only has two cops or that moment when MJ used her bankroll to buy the big flatbed truck. (Whatever happened to that truck? Did she buy it and then dump it? Are the Parkers now made of money?)

But through it all, there was a whole lot of fun. The Spidey/Rocket/MJ team-up was delightful as was Rocket's characterization. And while I didn't like the deus ex machina defeat of Ronan, I thought the idea of throwing Ronan into the Sentry's arms was ingenious. I also got a kick out of Rocket guessing which wire to pull to deactivate the robot. It's not anything new but it worked very well within Rocket's character. MJ has this tendency in the strip-verse to often be the brains of the operation and pull Spidey's fat from the fire but having her come up with the plan to defeat the Sentry worked very well here. (But...oh, that truck. Buying that truck!) And those final scenes of Rocket stuffing Ronan into his spaceship with Ronan's feet sticking out tied it all up in a ridiculous satisfying bow.

Overall Rating...

What can I say? I'm a sucker for little furry talking animals. Three webs.

Footnote...

So, the Parkers have finally made it to California in the longest cross-country road trip since Judge Dredd crossed the Cursed Earth. I guess we might as well stick with them and define "weirder."