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Recap: Penny And Aggie The Best Of Enemies
"Why does life hate me as much as I hate her?"
—Penny

This arc introduces the title characters, toward the end of their high school freshman year. Penny Levac is well-off, fashion-conscious, popular and something of a snob; her rival, Aggie D'Amour, is an eccentric loner, an aspiring progressive activist who resents everything she assumes Penny stands for and shows it with a constant stream of snark and attempts at showing her up in various situations.

As summer vacation begins, a lonely Penny, her few close friends having left town, takes a job at a bookstore, only to find Aggie working there as well. The two of them attempt to outperform each other in customer service, and are both fired for overdoing it. Penny then finds work at a clothing store, where Aggie becomes her customer from hell. Fed up with Aggie's harassment, Penny swears revenge, recalling how she once pranked the former school Alpha Bitch, Meg, and took her place as queen bee.

Knowing next to nothing about Aggie, she insinuates herself into her home so that she can sneak a look at her diary and learn her secrets. Instead, she finds in the bathroom a journal of her impenetrable poetry...just as Aggie gets home. Keeping hidden, Penny overhears Aggie getting upset with her father, Nick, for attempting to throw out her late mother's medical journals she'd been saving as a memento.

Penny is now prepared to get back at Aggie by taunting her about her deceased mom...or is she? Troubled by scruples, she asks her parents if they've ever sought revenge; they both answer that they've resisted the temptation. So the next time Aggie shows up at her workplace, intent on further harassment, Penny acts unexpectedly friendly and kind. When the bewildered Aggie asks why, Penny replies, "We all have our secrets."

Tropes

  • Alpha Bitch vs. Cool Loser: Inverted. In this arc, and in nearly all cases when the lead characters fight while still enemies, it's outsider Aggie who's the instigator, and queen bee Penny the generally undeserving target.
  • Bumbling Dad: Subverted. Penny's initial plan to gain access to Aggie's journal—claiming to have found Aggie's earrings and wishing to surprise her by leaving them in the diary—relies on Nick being this trope, but he's too sharp for that. Also discussed, when Penny thinks, "Why can't he be clueless like every other dad?"
  • Cats Are Superior: Penny's cat Charles, judging from his sole in-continuity line in the comic.
  • Lonely at the Top: Penny.
    The hardest part of being popular is keeping your distance from people.
  • Lovable Alpha Bitch / Spoiled Sweet: Penny is much more ethical and compassionate than she lets on.
  • Missing Mom: Aggie's mother, Melody.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: The iTunes version of the first strip substitutes the fictional "Jeffy Blossoms" for Justin Timberlake, and "his fiancée" for Cameron Diaz. Elsewhere, writer T Campbell commented that he was concerned about dating the comic with too many Real Life pop culture references.
  • Revenge: Subverted. Penny has too much of a conscience to use Aggie's grief against her.
  • Passive-Aggressive Kombat: Aggie, in the early arcs, is a master of this. In contrast, Penny often, as here, fails to keep her cool during their exchanges.
  • The Snark Knight: Aggie toward Penny.
  • Stylistic Suck: Aggie's poetry. (See also under the YMMV tab.)
  • Thought Bubble Speech: Charles, in the fifth strip. This is the only in-continuity line an animal has in the comic.
  • Turn the Other Cheek: A mild example. Penny opts to be kind to Aggie instead of vengeful.
  • Unsatisfiable Customer: Aggie invokes the "picky" version of this trope in order to antagonize Penny at her Cloth Mart job. She then buys $300 worth of merchandise, so as to make Penny look like the bad guy in front of her supervisor.
    Recap/Penny and AggiePenny And Aggie The Mockingbird

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