PVP uses any number of formula-based jokes, and today's strip (Blue Shield) is one that I'm particularly tired of; not only is the punchline predictable, it gets repeated!
In this formula, there's always a happy/naive character (Skull), always an aloof advantage-taker (Brent) and a bystander who sees what is actually going on (Jade). The set up is so transparent that although it's absolutely clear what the joke is by the second panel, you can easily infer it in the first.
Plus, in this case, the punchline is fairly insulting to Skull, which makes it hard to accept the premise. I know he's not the brightest bulb in the forest, and I know insults are often funny, but don't you think even he might figure out what Brent meant when he said "meat shield"?
(What does he mean, by the way? Once Skull gets shot once, he'd have to leave the field, right? Not a very effective shield.)
PLUS, to take this to an annoying extreme, Jade's expression in the last panel doesn't follow the formula. I'm not sure what she's saying here:
She doesn't really seem to be saying anything, when she should be expressing either surprise (at Skull's perfect willingness to play the patsy -- which she seems to be displaying in panel three, actually), fear (knowing what Skull is in for), or, more traditionally, the fourth-wall-breaking sardonic glare at the audience ("Wotta maroon."). I've tried to portray the latter option here, forgive my crap job:
I don't recall much fourth-wall breaking in PVP though, so perhaps one of the first two is more appropriate. I actually really like Skull's grin in the last panel, and either "surprise" or "fear" would have been a much better counterpoint on Jade than "poker face".
FSM Bonus Content: McSweeney's-style alternatives to "meat shield":
-- Bruise Collector
-- Paint Magnet
-- The Walking, Talking, Troll-Shaped Brent Protector