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‘Funky Winkerbean’ Takes On J. Michael Straczynski’s ‘Grounded’ Story Arc. You Are Not Hallucinating This Headline.

As regular ComicsAlliance readers know all too well by now, I have an all-consuming obsession with Tom Batiuk’s Funky Winkerbean, a newspaper comic strip that is usually devoted to chronicling the various miseries of its characters. In last month’s strips, a joke about the announcement of DC’s relaunch raised the question of whether Batiuk was banking his strips a year in advance, and now, we have our answer in the form of one of the sickest burns to ever hit the comics page.

In today’s strip, we finally get Batiuk’s reaction to J. Michael Straczynski abandoning his 12-part “Grounded” story arc in Superman after actually finishing only four issues.Batiuk — a noted superhero fan who has been doing a daily comic strip for the past 40 years and writing another for the past 25 — certainly has room to throw stones at someone who bails after only four issues. If nothing else, he has proven that he’ll stick with things to the bitter end and beyond, no matter how bitter that end may be. Of course, being Tom Batiuk, he chooses to address this issue in one of the most ludicrous ways possible:

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the strip, the characters in that last panel are Pete Roberts, a writer who is perpetually suffering from deadline pressure due to his gig writing Superman comics, and an actual, possibly imaginary super-villain called the Lord of the Late who exists only to inflict said deadlines on the poor freelancer. I probably don’t need to say it, but Pete is the one who doesn’t look like the Time Trapper.

Pete is, of course, standing in for real-life writer Chris Roberson, who was tapped to finish “Grounded.” In a truly bizarre turn of events, it was during his run on Superman that Roberson actually provided expert commentary right here at ComicsAlliance on the last story in which Pete was seen, creating a bizarre ouroboros of commentary on “Grounded” centered on Funky Winkerbean. Pretty sure nobody saw that coming.

As weird and late as it may be, Batiuk’s mic-dropping dis here — and the Comics Curmudgeon reaction to finding out “Grounded” was an actual story arc, “Does DC Comics not know Superman can fly??” — are burns so sick that I can only react to them through animated gifs.

I cannot wait until Batiuk finds out about Before Watchmen.

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