Headscratchers / Gunnerkrigg Court

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    Dispelling illusions 

  • During the power plant sequence where Antimony ends up in Zimmy's Dark World, the "Kat" they've found turns out to be a Doppelgänger when Gamma touches her and she vanishes, just like the other nobodies Antimony dismissed by touching them. The problem with this is that Antimony and "Kat" were embracing and holding hands almost the whole time, so why wasn't she dismissed?
    • My best guess is that Annie's ability to dispel the Nobodies only works when, on a subconscious level, she wants to get rid of them. (Conscious awareness doesn't seem to have anything to do with it, considering how Annie was able to dispel her first Nobody, even though she knew nothing beyond the fact that she was supposed to touch them. The Nobody going "GOP!" took her completely by surprise.)
    • Theory 2: It's a shared mindscape to a degree — note that small crap-free area around Gamma. "Kat" is created by Antimony, that's why she isn't a walking Nightmare Fuel and why Annie's touch won't undo her. And whether Zimmy could do it or not, she never touched "Kat", let alone actively tried to dismiss.
    • Theory 3: She was "real" telepathic avatar just like Antimony, that's why Zimmy said "as real as you allow it to be". Gamma thought there's only three of them, but she failed to notice Jack as well. Real people whose projections are zapped simply disconnect. The whole Crapmare session immediately terminates (for everyone) when Zimmy herself is zapped: it runs on her mind in such a way it can't exist without her inside. Antimony doesn't understand what's going on, even how she zaps "nobodies", and Zimmy isn't going to risk her path-clearer ability in experiment. If Jack does remember and Kat doesn't, it's due to mindset or lack of ability (just like she doesn't see psychopomps), or events, or the way she disconnected (Jack and Annie remained until the "server" was down)... or she accidentally "allowed it to be"... or it's much like a dream which simply may happen to be remembered or not.
    • Word of God (via Formspring) says that Annie couldn't dispel the Kat doppelgänger because it was from her mind rather than Zimmy's.
    • More Word of God said that it was because Annie wasn't strong enough.

    Killing the fairies 

  • When Annie was down by the river, why didn't she kill the fairies? I know at first she was probably weirded out by what they wanted her to do. But then they explained that they had to be killed in order to get new bodies and she still did nothing. It's not like it would have been wrong since she would have been helping them out. I don't really understand it.
    • She's just not like that. At least, as long as it's about something that talks and not just ants.
    • It's stated about then that she has a bit of an issue with people who throw their lives away; not sure if we'll see an explanation for that.
    • Her experience growing up with the psychopomps (and the fact that she needed to guide her mother into the afterlife) probably gives her a strong appreciation for life, such that she has a disdain for someone who would give it up in any manner or circumstance.
    • Even if you believe in an afterlife (like most religions do) where people will live on in a different way, would you feel comfortable doing assisted suicide? Especially if you are still a little girl? (Okay, the thing with her mother when no spirits showed up to guide her was something like that, but as already stated, such an experience would actually make Annie more reluctant.)
    • Having found out about the kill-us-and-we-turn-human thing all of five minutes ago, how could she be sure that it would work? For all she knows, the fairies have accidentally skipped a step, like they're supposed to say some magic word and then get killed. She's not just gonna kill someone when there's the smallest chance she'd be doing it wrong.
    • For all Annie knew at that point, passing the test could easily require not getting themselves killed just because they were told they had to. The faeries who take the rules at face value being the ones who fail the test...permanently.

    Answering Jack 

  • Okay, Annie. I understand why you didn't want to answer Jack's questions when he was cornering you - he was freaking you out. But you know that he went into that terrifying Otherworld and is clearly disturbed. You also saw some weird spectral spider webs on his face. You also know, in general, that he's acting really weird. For god's sake girl, why won't you just tell him what happened!?
    • Annie's in Queslett North. Jack's in Queslett South. They don't get many chances to interact, and every time they do, Jack scares her away.
    • Much as her not even trying to help him out for so many chapters bothers me, I think this is instead an Adults Are Useless/There Are No Therapists situation. When there's a known Eldritch Abomination on campus and somebody gets clearly injured as a result, if Antimony doesn't feel comfortable or dedicated enough to deal with it, there should be some kind of authority to ask for assistance, since all she'd have to confess in a worst-case scenario is violating curfew to see something anybody could from a tall building.
    • As seen in the latest chapter, Jack clearly doesn't want any help from the court, and is trying to avoid it's staff at all costs. So even if Antimony talked to someone about it, it wouldn't have any effect, because they wouldn't be able to reach him (hell, they are already trying to get him, but are failing horribly at it). Also, Antimony doesn't seen to trust the court's staff that much either, and that little video she saw some chapters ago probably didn't improve her views on them.

    Reynardine the Killer 

  • Did Tom forget that Reynardine is a killer or something? I know he's not actually capable of doing much at the moment, but his original characterization seems to have undergone serious Villain Decay with not much explanation.
    • What changed? Sir Eglamore didn't suddenly began to love Renard or vice versa, so now he would give the same "original characterization". Anja bound him at once on their first meeting, last seen together they has something between armed-to-the-teeth neutrality and grudging respect. With those not involved in that incident, well, he's sort of trickster and he's supposed to be—after all, he got into this because he fell for Surma, and that happened because he sought the company of humans. Relationships are much the same, excluding Annie and maybe Kat.
    • Fair enough, but it seems to me that the "I kill people" part of him isn't brought up as much as it should be (we don't keep serial killers, even unintentional ones, as pets in real life after all). Though that may be because he doesn't interact with people much right now beyond Annie and Kat.
    • Reynard isn't a serial killer, though. He killed a couple of people as a side effect of his abilities, and he is kept imprisoned for those murders, and Annie isn't letting him out any time soon.
    • Annie actually reminds Kat of the fact that he's a murderer at least once and also mentions it to Coyote (in a very recent chapter). And Kat's mother and Eglamore both refer to it. Rey was never someone who would kill wantonly or randomly (as far as we know), so having him randomly kill or threaten to kill people wouldn't be in character either.
    • Annie didn't keep Rey as a pet. She kept him because she wanted to know how he knew her mother, and possibly because she felt that Eggers' imprisonment of Rey was excessive for someone who was no longer capable of hurting anyone. Annie only began warming up to Rey after he began sticking his neck out for her. Kat no doubt has difficulty thinking of Rey as a killer because she only knows of the attempted-possession incident second hand—Rey's always been a snarky stuffed toy to Kat.
    • No longer capable of hurting someone? He would've killed her if not for the wolf stuffy.
    • You're confusing "willing" and "capable". Rey is trapped in the wolf doll and magically incapable of disobeying or harming Annie. Regardless of his willingness to hurt Annie, Rey is incapable of posing a threat to her in his current condition—and his condition is not going to change until Annie wills it to. Yes, it is strange that Annie is keeping company with someone who tried to kill her, but physical danger is not the reason why it's strange.
    • Rey was never Ax-Crazy. Even before we knew his back story, we saw that he was willing to kill, but he clearly didn't adhere to Murder Is the Best Solution. Coyote's history lesson revealed that his powers basically involve murder as an inevitable by-product of operation and he's resigned to that, if not thrilled about it.
    • In a recent strip, Rey transformed into a full, terrifying wolf when Jack was dialling up the creepy around Antimony. Violence was certainly on the table, so to speak.
    • Coyote was apparently surprised by the idea that Reynardine would lethally possess Annie, suggesting that there may have been something more to his actions there. Also worth noting is that Reynardine isn't human, and Annie might think it slightly unreasonable to hold him to a human standard of morality (she doesn't exactly begrudge Ysengrin his behavior even when he outright threatens her, and her reaction to Coyote putting her in danger amounts to mild annoyance).
    • Word of god states that Rey regrets the deaths he has caused every minute of every day. He never wanted to kill anybody.
    • Finally clarified and explained in a recent strip. Reynardine loves Annie, and wants the best of her, and would never hurt her. He 100% regrets the deaths he caused, and wants to atone for them every second of his life. When in the dark, he became a good person, despite his (very bad) sins.

    The girls and the recordings 

  • Why hasn't the Court taken action on Annie, Kat, and Renard after they discovered Diego's recordings? You would think such information would be too valuable to not be leaked to the rest of the Court. When recent chapters revealed that the Court was spying on the students and documenting everything they do, wouldn't they have been reported for knowing too much?
    • As far as I know, the Court doesn't even know that Annie and Kat know. Hard to punish someone for a crime that you didn't know was committed.
    • Given that Diego seems to have created that shrine and those robots as a way of preserving the memory of what happened to Jeanne even after the Court ordered all records of it destroyed, his workshop probably includes some means of resistance to Court surveillance.
    • Not to mention that if Jones is to be believed, the current members of the Court don't know about the origins. Presumably, if anything, they'd just want to grab the robot and watch the video for themselves.
    • There's a difference between "tracking" that can tell you where any given person is right now if you need to find them (and probably set off an alarm if they leave the Court) and Big Brother tracking. They probably don't even have the manpower to keep track of what the students are doing, rather less the inclination.

    Chapter 31 characterization 

  • Chapter 31. Why is everyone acting like such a dick?

    Skull 

  • What the hell was with that freaking skull?
    • Seems to be a coyote skull. Ah, the reason? Probably an artifact image, accidentally caused by Coyote peeking into Annie's dream.

    Kat's symbol 

    Kat and the supernatural 

  • Why is Kat so resistant to the supernatural? You'd think after a year or so of hanging out with Annie she'd be more accepting of the etherical nature of the Court.
    • People can be extremely stubborn when it comes to things they believe in. Kat's behavior regarding etheric sciences is nothing strange, but she eventually grows out of it. By Chapter 32 she's applying her own knowledge of complex structures and machines to Diego's designs regarding golems and channeling etheric energies.

    Movie choices 

  • Also, why on earth would Kat show Princess Mononoke to Annie and Rey? It's be like showing a war movie to some people in the middle of the same kind of war, including some ominous foreshadowing that the white wolf will die and the nature-girl will be separated from the one(s) she loves.
    • It's not quite that extreme. There's no "war" going on between the Wood and the Court. Serious tension, yes, but no active efforts of violence by one side toward the other. And Princess Mononoke isn't even about the conflict between the Wood and the Court; it's a fictional story that touches on vaguely similar themes, but that's it.

    "Fire head girl" 

  • Why is Annie called "fire headed girl" or the like? Her hair is a sort of magenta or fuchsia, not red or orange, right?
    • Coyote seems to have trouble telling humans apart, so rather than calling them by their real names, he may create his own names for them, usually focusing on some physical characteristic that makes them stand out from the average human. He probably calls her "fire headed girl" because fire is a concept widely recognized by humans and animals alike, and although a word like "magenta" would be more accurate, it's more of an artificial concept that the animals may have trouble grasping. Aside from being a reference to her hair color, he may also have chosen this name to hint at that whole issue of being descended from fire elementals, her innate fire magic, or even the temper she inherited from her mother.
    • The actual answer is that Coyote is weird, and trying to figure out his reasons for doing anything is like trying to nail jello to a wall.
    • Annie's hair is much redder in her etheric form. Considering what kind of a creature Coyote is, he probably sees her like that all the time.
    • It's more then that...it's foreshadowing her fire elemental nature, and in latter scenes, she turns her hair into flames. He's...being literal. Her head is fire, to him.

    Jeanne pronunciation 

  • A fairly unimportant question, but how does one pronounce "Jeanne?" In English it'd probably be pronounced "Jean," but she's been shown speaking French, which would imply the French "Zhay-ON" pronunciation (a semi-educated guess, since I don't speak French).
    • I think a closer pronunciation would be "zhAHn" rather than "Zhay-On". There are a number of websites that will give you an audio recording of the pronunciation if you google "How to pronounce Jeanne".

    Art Evolution 

  • I'm assuming that Tom has done the art since the first page (because I haven't been told differently), so I have to wonder where the Art Evolution came from. It's such a striking difference from how the comic was first drawn. Even weirder, there was hardly a "transition period" between the old style and the new style. How'd he change so quickly?
    • Tom is more talented at artwork than the art style immediately lets on. What you're seeing is not so much an improvement as it is Tom figuring out what art style he actually wanted for the comic. The Art Shift came once he became comfortable with the style he wanted and from there we see the incremental improvements.

     3 D Shadow talking 

  • Post 3D-fication, how does Shadow 2 talk? Previously, it was mentioned that he vibrates the surface that he is lying on. Now, without a surface, what does he vibrate? His hoodie? The air around him?
    • Considering people in real life talk by vibrating parts of themselves and the air inside them, why can't Shadow 2 do that?
    • True. I originally assumed that he was simply made of the same stuff as before, just dispersed in a humanoid cloud. If he was indeed full of air (he may be, I don't know), this would work.

    Headmaster authority 

  • Why is the headmaster/the authority of the Court so impotent? There's a lot of complaining about Antimony's Mary Sue-ish qualities, but I always gave it a pass because she's the main character and being a main character means you fit a lot of the criteria. But Annie has been giving the Court's rules the finger for most of the comic, and there's been basically no consequences for her, at all. Even when she might finally lose something because of her attitude, like her not being chosen as the Court medium, there's always someone there to bail her out. What's the headmaster even there for if his position has no power?
    • Headmasters are generally not all that powerful to begin with. It's an administrative position and its holder answers to the schools board of directors. We have no reason to assume that this isn't the case in the Court, like in any other school. But in any case, what do you expect the Headmaster to be able to do with Annie? Since her legal guardian is missing, she can't be expelled. She can't be dragged into detention by force. She can only be failed in her courses if she fails to attend or pass the tests. When you get down to it, there isn't that much that a school can do about a problem-student even under normal circumstances. And on top of that it's often implied that the Court actually approves of breaking the rules for constructive ends because it leads to novel solutions, as long as it's done discreetly. Finally, Annie's heritage is likely to play a part in the matters, since the Court wants to keep extranormal students within its sphere of influence even if they cause trouble, sometimes — see Zimmy, for example.
    • Also, there was a consequence. Recall that the Headmaster overruled Annie's appointment as the court medium — I always assumed that he did so because he knew Annie couldn't be trusted to work within the rules set by the court.
    • Oh, even more consequence. Turns out? They were waiting for the opportune moment. She was going to be expelled ON HER GRADUATION DAY. (For the cheating).
    • There's no reason to assume he truly IS impotent. We've only actually seen him twice in action, both when Coyote and the Court convene - Annie has no relationship with him (he's not like a Dumbledore to Harry Potter for example) and thus we don't really get insight into him. In the first one, he didn't really have to do anything; in the second, he shows himself capable of showing the authority he exerts without having to do all that much except make a decision that would rein her in. Annie only gets away from that one in a good way because she's made allies (which I think is meant to be an important point - remember at the start of that arc, Kat was telling her sometimes she makes it hard to be her friend? If this had happened in the previous year, it's unlikely anyone would have defended her), and he wasn't prepared for that gambit (and it's hardly easy to prepare for Coyote). Almost certainly, Anthony's return was another ploy orchestrated by him and the Court to control her, and possibly him as well. Like the rest of the Court over time, he does the worst of his work behind the scenes.

    Gods and prayer 

  • Gods need prayer badly. So how can Coyote be alive all this time? Nobody prays to him. And where are all the other gods. Do any of you pray to a footprint before you go to sleep, 'cause I don't.
    • It's not literally prayer, it's human imagination. That was Coyote's point about the coyote waiting for the man to die in the desert. The man didn't pray to the coyote, he just anthropomized it, decided it must be some god mocking him, and the power of this belief, mixed with the way the afterlife works, made it so. That's what he thinks, anyway. It hasn't been confirmed.
    • To add to this, the fact that the etheric creatures are brought into existence by human imagination doesn't seem to imply that it has to be there for them to continue to exist. Their existence is somehow extended out into the past prior to the evolution of humanity, and could just as easily be extended into the future in the same way.

    Jones' hair 

  • So Jones is completely indestructible, yet her past aliases seem to have different lengths of hair. Does she cut it and it grows after all, or should I just tell myself it's a wig?
    • It's just different hair styles, not actually different lengths of hair. Sometimes it's up, sometimes down.
    • No, Jones definitely has different lengths of hair going on: compare this to this. Her current haircut is very straight-edge and layered, something you can't do without a stylist's chair. We might have to invoke MST3K Mantra here.
    • Can she somehow 'retract' her hair into her scalp?
    • Her past selves are years, sometimes centuries apart. It probably grows normally, yes.
    • She tells Annie her hair cannot be cut or removed. So, I guess that leaves retractable?
    • Maybe she's wearing a wig?

    Surma's spirit 

  • So, what was Surma lacking that other dead people apparently still have?
    • Her spirit/life force. That was gradually passed from Surma to Annie as Annie grew up. Correspondingly, Surma grew gradually weaker and weaker and eventually died when she had none of it left.
    • Then what did Antimony take to the other side?
    • Surma's soul, or mind; the collection of thoughts and memories and feelings that were unique to her. Normally the soul would also have some amount of spirit/etheric force, but Surma had given that to Annie. It's implied this always happens to fire elementals when they have offspring.

    The Chasm 

  • Does anyone know the extent of The Chasm that splits The Court and The Forest? Is the world pretty much split in two, or does The Chasm stop at some point? Basically what I'm wondering is, are there other places aside from The Court and The Forest, and if so how are they divided from them, if at all?
    • I think the chasm stops where the boundary of the Court and the Woods ends, and by that point it's too much of a hassle to go around. It's like Mirkwood in The Hobbit — if you really didn't want to use the bridge you could go around the chasm but it would take weeks just to get to the end. As for other Science Vs Magic places we won't know until Annie knows. Although... if the Chinese Moon Lady is real then other Asian etheric beings are real, and if Anime's taught me anything there's all sorts of secret struggles going on in the dark corners of cities and mountains.

    Annie's makeup 

  • Assuming Annie's makeup is actually her mother's (like literally the same ones she used when she was alive), and assuming she'll only use that/those brand/s and colors, what will she do if they're discontinued? It's been implied Annie needs to stuff to maintain her stoic appearance — after her mom died and dad disappeared she started wearing the makeup and acting stoic; she gets Jones to fetch it from the Court to the elf village despite knowing how "disappointed" Jones is about her behavior and the stares and mockery she gets from the makeup-free elves; in her coma dream it appears as her "mask of calmness" and when she wakes up she applies it at once. In short— if Annie can't have her make up is she gonna have a Freak Out?
    • According to this page, it's... not looking good for Annie.
    • Being forced to confront the world without hiding behind a wall isn't a bad thing. Be Yourself and all that.
    • She currently seems to be ok, going out without makeup.

    Etheric Form 

  • What the heck is Kat's etheric form? I mean literally, what is it? It looks like some kind of armor, but does anyone know the inspiration behind it?
    • I think it's supposed to be a mechanical angel, and a fearsome–looking one at that.
    • I'm going to go with "Future God Kat" if she (or future biomech engineers) succeeds in making robots flesh, granting them the ability to influence the aether like humans and create their own gods and monsters.

    The Chasm 2: Electric Boogaloo 

  • So, Jeanne's the guardian of the Annan, killing everyone who tries to cross without the bridge or even come down there, even psychopomps. Jones is an unkillable being that predates just about every known living thing. And indestructible. Why don't they just have Parley flash Jones down there and have Jones distract Jeanne? Annie may feel Adults Are Useless, but she's outright stated she trusts Jones out of all the adults, and Jones herself has essentially said that while she's in the Court, she is not part of it, and she may even be willing to help.
    • The only flaw Jones has that we know of is that she can't use a Blinker Stone, which implies a blindness to the Ether. It's quite possible that Jeanne would neither notice her nor care. Besides, they have the bridge, so getting across is easy enough. The problem is rescuing Jeanne herself; a distraction wouldn't really help with that.
    • I honestly think she's totally indestructible, but I'd note that we have no word on her resistance to etheric damage. Jeanne is a ghost, who cuts her opponent's spirit rather than their body. We've never seen Jones face that kind of attack.
    • Jones is a stone, except indestructible. She probably doesn't have any etheric component to her being. Thus, unstoppable force (Jeanne) meets immovable object (Jones), and, like in the physics thought experiment, they fail to interact.

    Returning Renard 
  • Would Anthony have given Renard back on request from the start, or was that a product of his talk with Donald?
    • I'd say it was Coyote's words that made Anthony reconsider dictating Annie's life.
    • Might be more than that. Chapter 53 gives reason to believe Anthony resents being in his position, and regrets his treatment of Annie. But he doesn't have the strength to rebel, partly because he doesn't know how to deal with her - he sounded like a very distant father in the first place, and being gone for so long, he doesn't even know her, so he treats her how he usually treats people he doesn't know. Being a broken man, as Coyote puts it, makes him easy to control. Annie fighting him allows him a sliver of an avenue for his own rebellion, of which returning Renard is one small step that can go under the radar (letting her go to the forest was another, but Annie had less to do with that than Coyote; note, though, that his objection was for Annie's safety, not for her actually being outside the Court or anything like that). It's entirely possible that the direction this is taking will eventually lead to Annie becoming stronger and restoring the fight in her father - perhaps, references to reforging will be made.

    William and Janet 
  • Why is their relationship a secret? Why doesn't anyone believe them when they openly confess it multiple times? And why are they suddenly so bound and determined to keep it a secret?
    • Janet's dad being headmaster probably has something to do with them keeping mum (Bud says he'd have a fit if he knew), plus the fact that they started dating and having secret make-out sessions when they were preteens would make any parent nervous.
    • Their behavior is so confusing and over-the-top — rivalry-style relationship, Sarcastic Confession, three-hour marriage play — no one knows what to make of it.
    • As for why they want to keep their relationship secret it's still a mystery: they're both humans from Gunnerkrigg (as far as we know), old enough to date, aren't believed to be with anyone else (which got Willy caught up in Kat's idea that he liked Annie in the first place and why he couldn't refuse being pushed into asking her out) and don't have to worry about LGBTQ-phobia or destroying the world if they break up (lord help us if Gamma gets tired of putting up with Zimmy's issues).
    • It's kind of amazing/ironic Annie accepted their choice to remain a secret considering how tone-deaf she can be about emotions and relationships and how infuriated she got when Ysengrin didn't recognize how important her problems were to her.
    • Someone posted the original poem where Janet and Willy get their names from, wherein Janet's father's about to hang her for consorting with William but stops once he sees how fine William's clothes are — he's clearly a man of means and worthy of his daughter. That combined with an earlier idea I had gives me this: secret preteen makeouts aside Janet's dad would reject Willy simply because he isn't special enough for Janet. Janet is a supernaturally good at aiming sports (Double Strike!) and very well-read in classic literature; compared to the other boys in this series he's just average: he's not a tech-wizard like Jack and Donald, a knight like James, a doctor like Anthony or a musician like John. The only notable thing he's done is being sympathetic to Annie after making fun of her when she first appeared at Gunnerkrigg: sending her a "get well" card (of sorts) and constantly worrying about her according to Kat. Maybe he'll be the Peeta to Janet's Katniss.
    • This troper got the sense that the secrecy was part of the appeal for them. They enjoy inhabiting the role of star-crossed lovers, so they don't go out of their way to see that their friends would be fine with it.


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