(Strip Number 5052, Original Publication Date, 01 December 1988)
Panel 1: We go back to Michael, who is still wearing that Christmas sweater with the star / ornament thing about the neck. Thank goodness the colourist had the good sense to colour it blue this week because all the other characters have changed clothes. The other possibility is that when Elly finds a sweater pattern she likes, she gets multiples of it in different colours, so Michael has a closet full of sweaters with this design in all different shades.
As for the action, this is the moment where any reader on Team Michael may question their choice as they will see that he has decided to spend his time gloating and cackling to himself about how mean he is being to Martha.
If you were wondering whether Lynn Johnston would duplicate the trophies she drew in yesterday’s strip for the trophy case in this strip, the answer is “No. Not even close.” In fact, comparing the two strips we can see that since yesterday either the trophy case has gotten taller or Martha has gotten smaller.
Panel 2: Speaking of someone who is getting smaller, we have Michael Patterson, whose head that has apparently detached itself from his shoulders in order to look over both Michael’s left shoulder and around the wall at the same time. He thinks, “Let her look like a fool for a change. Let her know what it feels like.” I know this is the perspective Lynn Johnston is trying to put across, but she needed to have had at least one strip where Michael actually looked like a fool. Without it, this strip makes it seem like Michael is seeking vengeance for something that only happened in his head.
Panel 3: And now, because Martha is standing by a sports trophy case, we go to the sports metaphors. It’s Michael’s time to “score a point.”
Panel 4: Michael realizes that in this kind of game (the game of cruelty to other people), you feel lost when you’re winning. I would think, “You are losing / a loser when you think you are winning” might be a better way to phrase this. There’s the second sports metaphor and aren’t we all so happy that Lynn put Martha by a sports trophy case so she could make these kinds of jokes.
Summary: When I first read this, I assumed this was Michael showing some remorse for how he has treated Martha and yet our author is not going that way. Instead she is going to show that this moment of cruelty is justified because Martha has learned her lesson and gives into Michael’s wishes.