Panel 1: A little while later, we find ourselves out on the street near a silhouette tree and in front of a silhouette house. Mike expresses the idea that he is always broke and all he needs is 5 bucks. Ultimately we are going to find out this date costs Michael $18.65, so this raises a question. Did Michael already have $13.65, so he just needed 5 dollars? If he did already have $13.65, then why does Michael say that he is always broke?
How much money did Michael really need? In 1990, movie ticket prices were running a little less than $5. Looking ahead, we can see that Michael paid for tickets and for two popcorns. If Michael had $13.65, by 1990 ticket pricing standards he is saying that he doesn’t have enough money for the concessions. To be specific, it is so he can buy separate concessions. Maybe he knows that Martha demands a popcorn for herself, but given Mike’s personality, it is more likely that he is the one that does not want to share.
Panel 2: The interesting visual with this panel is that Lynn Johnston has pushed most of the bodies of Michael and Gordon off panel, so the main feature is….the silhouetted house. In other words, this is lazy cartooning and poor storytelling.
Panel 3: The five sits in Gordon’s unextended hand as he reels in Michael “Grabby Hands” Patterson, whose gnarled and misshapen hands make their first and only appearance in the comic strip. Put them back in your pockets, Mike! Those hands are so horribly drawn, it’s painful to look at them!! Bring back the house silhouette!
Panel 4: Mike realizes he has been suckered as Gordon’s hand moves to touch him in the place where Michael doesn’t like anyone to touch – his promise. Michael goes full Farley including even the dandruff jumping out of his ears. Mike being suckered by Gordon is very old school Gordon.
Summary: A Patterson makes a promise for money and then is forced to keep it (the promise, not the money).