(Strip Number 5117, Original Publication Date, 25 April 1989)
Panel 1: Megan comes from wherever they have been keeping the girls that are not wearing purple (probably with pink Elly) and tries to persuade Martha to apologize to Michael by insulting her. “You were acting kinda dumb.” Yeah, that’s the way to win someone over. Martha turns her back on Megan in what will be the very last time we see Megan. Goodbye Megan. We barely knew you, but we know that by siding with Michael, your time as Martha’s friend is over. Not to worry, your doppelganger Tracey will show up eventually to replace you as Martha’s friend and Gordon’s eventual wife.
Notice the emphasis is placed on the importance of Martha’s relationship with Michael, a boy who has been fighting with Martha almost as much as they have been seeing each other and who spent most of the evening ignoring Martha. Megan is completely unconcerned with Martha’s relationship with Janet, her other best friend, when she should be telling Martha, “Good riddance to Michael. He does nothing but fight with you. But do you really want to lose Janet as a friend? You’ve known each other forever. Sisters before misters!”
Panel 2: Brian and Gordon appear for the first time at this party. The Comics Archive says this is Lawrence and not Brian, but they are wrong and for once the colourist got something right. Gordon is drawn in a fairly attractive manner, and it is throwing me off. What is it with the fashionable 1980s-style suspenders?
Not to worry. The next time we see Gordon at a dance, Michael will be wearing the fashion suspenders and Gordon will have begun his transformation into the most painfully geeky boy in school. Look how awful he appears compared to today.
Michael says, “Oh, right. I’m supposed to go first!” Well he never does go first when it comes to Martha. Let's look at the history:
First fight. Martha told people that Michael kissed her when she actually kissed him.
1988-9-27. Martha comes to Michael.
Second fight. Martha shared Michael’s sacred note with her friends.
1988-12-01. Martha waits by the trophy case for Michael.
1988-12-03. Martha writes a note of apology to Michael.
1988-12-07. Martha tries to apologize a third time and this time it takes.
Third fight. Mike gives Martha a gross-out Valentine’s Day card.
1989-02-11. Martha approaches Michael again when he does not respond to her demands for Valentine’s Day card compensation.
Fourth fight. Dancing with Lawrence and/or Janet at Michael's birthday party.
1990-02-19. In the strip above from February next year, this is the moment when Martha finally makes the first move. It just takes her 10 months and once again, Michael does not go first.
Notice the emphasis is placed on the importance of Michael’s relationship with Martha. Brian and Gordon are completely unconcerned with Michael’s relationship with Lawrence, their other best friend, when they should be telling Michael, “Good riddance to Martha. She does nothing but fight with you. But do you really want to lose Lawrence as a friend? You’ve known each other forever. Bros before hoes!”
Panel 3: Brian points out that if no one makes the first move, they will never be friends again. The amazing part about this, is he points this out with disembodied hands, what used to be a staple of Lynn Johnston artwork. Where did his arms go? The other thing that disappeared from Panel 2 is Michael’s drink. In the process of disappearing are the two popcorn kernels on the table. They appear to be traveling off the table by Panel 4. At least we have one example of true love, even if it is popcorn.
Panel 4: Gordon picks this moment to air his family’s dirty laundry for the punchline, and we get the very first hint that his home life is not great. It comes out of nowhere and we will have to wait years before the topic of his parents comes up again. This shows Lynn Johnston was planning in advance, not that it helped her writing in the case of Gordon.
Summary: Romance is more important than friendship. Suck it, friends!!