2019 addition: Seat belts. Seat belts. Seat belts.
There is an added seat belt around Fred (the father) and the place it is added looks a little like it is part of the steering wheel. Fred has an added seat belt in the first three panels, but no one else does including Michael and Martha in the back seat. When we get to the final panel and see Mike and Martha’s added seat belts, you realize they should have been added for Michael in every panel.
Fred greets Michael in the car, which implies that they drove up and he got in without any sort of meet-and-greet with John or Elly. Fred seems to be aware that Michael is Martha’s boyfriend. I am not sure that Elly knows this, given that in yesterday’s comic strip she referred to this moment only as “a date.” Right away it seems obvious that Martha does something that Michael does not – talk to her parents.
The big takeaway from Fred is his two buck teeth, which is Lynn Johnston’s way of letting us know the guy is an idiot. Or more importantly, Lynn Johnston thinks he is an idiot.
Fred said the reason Mike is on the trip is so they can meet him because they have “heard all about you”. This is the exact opposite of the way Mike informs his parents about Martha. Actually you could make that statement about Mike and his parents on any subject.
Mother Harriet’s glasses were sunglasses in the first panel and now they are not. That’s a little confusing
Fred says the word “courting” and the word “intentions.” Oh, Fred. You don’t understand the situation at all. In the Mike and Martha relationship, Martha has been doing all the courting. In this comic strip, Michael showed the reader what his intentions are and they are not exactly the intentions of a boy courting a girl.
Father Fred is just another man on the long list of people that believe Mike is actually interested in Martha.
Mike is not used to this kind of scrutiny from a parent. A parent who is actually interested in their child’s life? A parent who wants to know with whom his daughter has been spending time? A parent that can make a joke that doesn’t end in a horrible pun? Michael is in completely unfamiliar territory. Naturally Michael wants to throw himself out of the car to get away from that. Unfortunately, they added those seatbelts. 1990 Michael could have done it, but 2019 Michael has no chance.
What can drive Michael to suicidal thoughts? Real parents.