I was impressed by the latest strip (Fire Away); Scott Kurtz is taking the story into relatively unpredicted territory, which is a breath of fresh air.
However... I don't buy it. I'm quickly identifying my biggest gripe with PVP -- the lack of emotional display.
This all started when Brent overheard Cole's remarks about Brent's lack of follow-through. A brief exchange between the two of them followed, and from this Jade and Brent have decided that Cole "must really be hurting."
If a guy's marriage is on the rocks, hell yes he must be hurting. But let's take a look at what Brent saw:
This is the sum total of Cole's "lashing out." Show me the hurt, please. In the second panel above, he rolls his eyes. In the third panel he starts apologizing. This is not a man at the end of his rope.
In today's strip, I think I understand what Kurtz was trying to put forth -- the panel in which Cole steeples his fingers is a portrait of a man seemingly in total control, but then he hits us with a curve ball from left field. But it rings false. Because it hasn't been set up effectively, Cole's statement about his marriage falling apart feels like a non sequitur (typo fixed, thanks), rather than the intended, and creative, plot twist.
We should have been led to this storyline much more gradually -- small screw-ups by Cole that start us wondering; a shouting match with Brent instead of a meek backing down. Maybe even take it so far as to bring the friendship to the brink. At that point Brent can be the bigger man and say, "What the fuck?"
Kurtz obviously takes his characters seriously, so he ought to portray their inner lives with a bit more care. Cole "must be hurting"? Then show us. Cole "lashed out"? We didn't see that. His marriage is on the rocks? This guy should be a wreck.