Spoiler Warning!

The perfect defense.Candi (by Starline X Hodge) (which is one of those officially awesome names) is one of my favorite comics out there.

It is yet another one of the ones that suprises me when I realize its been around for several years now, and how much plot has developed over time.

Lately the strip has been at absolutely the top of the game, and the county fair storyline (which it has been building up to for over a year) has left me laughing harder than I have in a long while. But despite all the laughs, I’ve got the sense some more intense moments are about to come to the fore.

It’s easy to overlook the more serious plot in Candi. We’re talking about a comic centered around a relatively care-free college student hanging out amidst your typical college crowd, with the occasional flying, intelligent ferret thrown in for good measure.

Now, college being college, that means that one can expect most conflicts to center around drama dealing with relationship, classes, etc.

The current storyline certainly has some, as all manner of badness is cropping up at the same time. Rebecca, who has started dating Jon, has already shown herself to be a bit jealous of Jon’s friends, and threatened when he isn’t devoting his time to her – so she’s off to the fair to make sure he doesn’t enjoy himself without her.

Is there a website devoted to showing cute animals listening to iPods yet? If not, I think this proves their should be.Meanwhile, we’ve got a slightly less down-to-earth plot, as the students’ faithful telepathic ferret Menjou is confronted by the deadly squirrel mafia, and has no one to turn to for aid.

Yeah, I never imagined I’d be writing a sentence like that either.

So we’ve got some pretty ordinary drama going on, and we’ve got some slightly surreal (and certainly silly) plot unfolding at the same time. So far, not too different than what one would expect from most webcomics.

Of course, we’ve also got the sinister reappearance of Andrew, the mildly creepy brother of Jessica. When he first appeared, recently released from a mental hospital, it was easy to give him the benefit of the doubt – he seemed earnest in seeking a second chance. Of course, it was also easy to see why Jessica wanted nothing to do with him… and that nothing good would come of that.

He may well be in collusion with the squirrels, he may well be running around in a ridiculous get-up – but that doesn’t make it any less scary that Jessica is being stalked by her psychotic and disturbed brother. This is a guy who tried to kill her when they were children. That’s not an entirely light subject, now is it?

And there’s the impressive part, the element that has me really excited about the current storyline in Candi. It’s not just that all these different conflicts are interwoven, from the ordinary to the absurd to the downright frightening – it’s that the strip is able to hold all of them at the same level without losing anything of itself.

Each of the different dramas fits equally well into the strip’s atmosphere without missing a beat. I don’t see that often, and unsurprisingly, it impresses me whenever I do. Candi certainly isn’t an exception.

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