I've been reading PVP for a few years now, but only recently did I realize how mediocre it is. I fell into a trap -- It's a web comic! It's popular! It must be great! Unfortunately my logic doesn't hold up: When it comes to traditional comic strips, popularity does not equal hilarity, so why should it be true for web comics?
The writing for PVP is disappointingly sub-par, especially when compared to other popular titles in the gaming comic-sphere. The straw that broke the camel's back came of December 13th of this year, when the punch-line of the strip was a cat hiding in a christmas tree parodying William Shatner's "Kahn!" moment from Star Trek 2:
You see, the cat is a megalomaniac that wants to take over the world. In this arc he has it in his head that if he takes down Santa, he can steal the secret of faster-than-light travel. He accosts Santa in a mall, but LO AND BEHOLD -- Santa is actually super-powerful! The cat/tree fights Kringus, only to defeat him and discover he wasn't the real Santa.
What makes this so weak is:
A. The cliche. The Internets have spawned a new interest in classic geekery, and the Kahn moment has been parodied many many times. This just makes the arc (the climax of the story-line even) feel old and tired. Preface this with the fairly hackneyed conceit of inserting "superhero" styling and dialogue into the story ("In case of emergency... KICK ASS!"), and the whole thing has less impact than Cathy on a Tuesday.
B. The art. While, admittedly, a cat inhabiting a tree for the purpose of battle is unusual, the tree is not drawn in a way that evokes the original movie moment at all. It took me a moment to logic out the intent, and I am wise in the ways of Trek.
Then there's the plot itself -- that a cat would be interested in stealing technology from Santa is not a bad way to start a story. But are we seriously to believe that once the decoy Santa has been tased into submission (I appreciate the lack of a "bro" reference, at least some restraint exists on the part of the author) that the cat would simply give up? An official Santa's Helper would make a great hostage, no? Or are we to believe that he has been killed by the cat?
Killing Santa doesn't seem to be PVP's style, yet the cat clearly seems like he ought to be capable of it. It's just not clear, adding to the weakness of the arc.
Want a stronger story? Kidnap the guy and have the real Claus show up, save his man, and strand the cat on a desert island with Steve Ballmer. Then you might have earned your Kahn.