When another MetaFilterite did a front-page post about Goats, I had to throw in my two cents. But since new and lapsed readers needed to be brought up to speed on the byzantine plot and umpteen new characters, my two cents was inflated into several dollars:

The Goatfest has certainly become more lately than just the antics of a satanic chicken (although Diablo is now available as a cool action figure).

The story has expanded to the entire multiverse, including our heroes’/anti-heroes’ home dimension, now known as Manhattan 3 (to differentiate itself from all the other Manhattans), the weapons-world of Middle Pangaea, the advanced farming dimension of Topeka Prime, the Mayan underworld, the infinite monkeys dimension and the central but isolated ‘Pub Stub’, home of ‘God’s Bartender’, Alfred.

Some of your old characters have changed: After 5 subjective years trapped in the Pub Stub, Jon and Philip have turned grey – not their hair, everything. Fish now uneasily shares his consciousness with an aggressive artificial intelligence named Fineas. Diablo’s son Oliver has overcome his size issues by taking control of the headless body of a deceased biker called Kahn Junior and has become quite the megalomaniac. And Toothgnip, the original goat of Goats, having been set on fire with a demonic match, is now bright red, heavily bandaged and real spooky. But Diablo is still Diablo, and that’s just fine with me.

Central to the current storyline is the fact that since Jon and Philip ate God (here), the multiverse is being run on a laptop computer by Editor-in-Chief Woody Allen with the help of an infinite number of monkey Assistant Editors (including Steve and Gus, who may be responsible for most of the events in the comic so far). But the laptop’s software was designed by Aztec programmers using the Aztec calendar which ends in December 2012 – and so will everything else. The Topekans kidnapped Philip because he’s a programmer who may be able to fix it; the Pangaeans kidnapped Jon because they thought he was a programmer (he ain’t).

At this moment, Philip, aided by Farmella the Farmer’s Daughter, Farmhand Bean and Brock the ingenious but temperamental giant broccoli, is trying to escape Topeka Prime. Jon has unwittingly sold his soul to the demon One Death via a software license (Always read the entire Terms of Service, kiddies!) and is now back at the Pub Stub with Glock, a Pangaean lizard-man who was supposed to be guarding him, but now seems to have been turned into Rainbow Brite by One Death. And Jon has just been reunited with Diablo and Fish/Fineas who slipped through a hole between dimensions with Carl and Roger, former bodyguards of the late Khan Junior and recently betrayed by Oliver. Oliver is in location unknown with the teleport robot Tarfon as is Toothgnip in the flying saucer of grey aliens Neil and Bob (but not the same location or else we definitely would have heard about it.

I am beginning to suspect that this whole storyline is not going to be resolved until that deadline date in 2012, but there might be something pivotal in time for its 10th Anniversary next April. Well, enjoy the ride anyway, because with all that plot and all those characters, Rosenberg still has a good punchline at the end of each strip. Bravo.

If somebody posts on MetaFilter about Schlock Mercenary, Wapsi Square, Melonpool, Girl Genius or Narbonic, I may have to do this again… Oh dear.