Dave Davenport Has Come Unstuck in Time: October 27 – November 1, 2003

SPOILERS: They did.

This strip was Andrew’s idea. He asked whether Brain!Helen had little brain personality sprites, so I changed the punchline of this strip at the last minute and pasted in a new final panel. I can’t remember how the last panel originally went.

SPOILER: Helen’s comment in the second panel seems cold and unfair, but she’s repeating something Dave said to her in the past. It’s one of those paradox things.

I wrote this one really early on, and you know what? It still works. Mell’s a simple character and changed very little from the earliest planning stages of Narbonic.

Everybody is dissatisfied with this future. Helen most of all, of course, but Mell’s none too happy either.

Man, the future strips tend to be pretty dark. I like Little Dave’s giant gap-toothed smile in the third panel, though. Now that I think of it, he kind of reminds me of Conan in the manga Case Closed, which I now edit for Viz. I like little kids in giant glasses.

Later on, Lovelace makes comments similar to Dave’s line in the last panel. It’s hard working for a mad scientist.

Being more traditionally, megalomaniacally evil than Helen Beta, Dr. Narbon gets some of the more classical mad-scientist lines. “Don’t feel bad, kid. You’ll die for Science,” is definitely one of them. All things considered, Bill takes being abducted by an evil genius pretty well.

26 thoughts on “Dave Davenport Has Come Unstuck in Time: October 27 – November 1, 2003

  1. Monday:

    And now it’s revealed that the spinal cord isn’t even attached to anything! Does this mean she has WiFi?

    Why, in this shiny metal future, is she just barely a head? There’s no question to it – it’s because Dr. Davenport wants her in there. She broke his mind, he broke her body and put her in a test tube for the rest of her life – they break even.

    But still, Dave shouldn’t take this rebuff all that personally. Helen doesn’t need to help Dave because she remembers that she already did that.

    Silent penultimate panels: …actually, this is one occasion where it really makes for a poignant, timeless moment. (22)

  2. My confusion is this.  If Dave’s decision during his last time wobble was to not smoke, why hasn’t his decision to not smoke wobbled forward into this time window, or are changes he will have made not yet factored in until he’s restabilized.

  3. Makes one wonder what the rest of the sprites would look like … such as “common sense”, “inner child”, and especially “left brain” and “right brain”.  (I’ve got half a mind to draw those myself …)

    (Yes, that was on purpose …)

  4. Something I’ve always wondered: when Helen or Dave say “Not enough” are they saying “It’s not enough that you love me” or “You don’t love me enough”? This has been bugging me for years.

  5. Jack: I think Dave meant it as the former, given context. Helen’s comment here could go either way.

  6. I’ve always thought the brain sprites were incredibly adorable. Weird, I know.

    I also like the much-later call-back to this strip, where Helen and Dave’s lines are switched. It’s this sort of detail and planning that makes Narbonic so amazing.

  7. I’m coming to this late tonight, so no time for a sufficient comment.  I do have to say, though, that this strip is where Narbonic clicks for me.  I mean, this whole arc is the end to the exposition, but this strip is where I finally got that we’re going somewhere more than just gag-a-day, and that it was going to be awesome.  Also set up some pretty high expectations, but that worked out all right.

  8. The point where we realize that Helen is repeating this back to Dave made me really happy at the time. It’s just like Sheridan and Delenn’s first kiss! Except tragic and wrong!

  9. (TUNE: “Through The Fire And Flames”, Dragonforce)

    In the near-distant future,
    Only twenty years from now,
    Disaster sure you’ve got to cure,
    But you just don’t know how!

    Helen’s stuck in a liquid tank,
    She’s a disembodied brain!
    Alone she’s curled up in a world
    Of misery and pain!

    Now she’s mad, ’cause you”ve been so bad,
    And you did some evil stuff!
    You told her that you loved her,
    But she told you, “Not enough.”

    Mell is standing there, and she’ll declare,
    “I hate to say … but no,
    I’ll say it anyway — I told you so!”

    So when this day first began,
    You fell afoul of Helen’s plan!
    Due to her experiment, in time you’re unstuck!
    Lost in time and space, and
    All the world’s a wasteland!
    All thanks to you, the world is truly f***ed!

    For you to save … this future time where countless souls are dead
    From destruction, from fire, and from flame …
    You’ve got to give … the younger Mell a slap upside the head!
    And then go kill yourself …
    Those are the same!

  10. Wednesday:

    Dave’s so rattled that he’s lost all sense of the absurdity of asking someone how to prevent their own present from happening.

    Mell, I imagine, is a bit aggrieved at having to vice-preside over a tiny, scrappy ‘best-of’ segment of humanity – and one comprised of people quantifiably smarter than her. That would be a bugbear that would not be easy to live with.

  11. I still think it’s a poor oversight on Dave’s behalf to not ask, in general, how this all happened.

  12. Well, of course Mell’s dissatisfied.  She has to hire people to carry the weapons, she doesn’t get to use them herself.

  13. there really is nothing I love more in science fiction than a ridiculously convoluted time travel story.

  14. (TUNE: “Yankee Doodle Dandy”, George M. Cohan)

    Glad to see you, Dr. Narbon!
    Glad to see you, Dr. N!
    Now there’s a phrase I never thought I’d say …
    Still, nice to see you again!

    I went blank there for a second;
    Got a short attention span!
    I’m jumping all around between the future, past, and present …
    Wish I could have a black and tan!

  15. (TUNE: “Folsum Prison Blues”, Johnny Cash)

    I’m telling Dr. Narbon
    About the day I’ve had!
    It’s strange that she believes me,
    But then, she’s freakin’ mad!
    And now I’m being kidnapped
    Underneath her arm!
    And very soon she’ll be inflicting
    Such entertaining harm!

    I hear her chuckles softly,
    In that familiar voice!
    I shouldn’t trust the evil,
    But I don’t have a choice!
    And soon I’ll be dissected,
    Soon I’ll meet my doom!
    I know the younger Beta version
    Won’t want me in her room!

  16. Friday:

    The real reason she’s doing this is because she isn’t going to admit her shortcomings in physics, and is instead going to just recontextualise Dave’s condition as a biological abnormality. Weeeeeeak!

  17. And of course, Dave doesn’t even blink at “all the torture”… after all, he’s used to that!

  18. Ah, but Bill has a functioning normalcy filter, unlike Dave.  Thus he doesn’t have a clue what is going on.

  19. (TUNE: “She Blinded Me With Science”, Thomas Dolby)

    It seems I’m being kidnapped,
    And dying’s what I’m gonna do!
    But I already did that,
    And it was all because of you!
    I’m gonna die for Science!
    (“You’re gonna die for Science!”)
    My mom is gonna kill me, too!

  20. So, uh… how do the Dr. Narbon and Not Enough loops even work? Unstuck In Time was the only possible divergence point, since it’s where old!Dave tells young!Dave to refill the pool. But at the same time, it has to have happened in the original timeline too, thanks to the aforementioned loops as well as the fact that the crew knew that young!Dave would show up. So, was there some sort of even more original timeline that the original Dave traveled to in this arc where old!Dave was disillusioned enough not to tell him to fill the pool, but did something else that made Dave care enough to try and change things on the next run-through? Is there some sort of infinite string of Bad Timelines making slight changes until it finally stabilized with the Narbonic timeline?


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