Well, the masses are empowering me to be a lazy bum and not write my own reviews. Works for me, I guess. This one was submitted by one "anon."
Title: Occulting Telescope; alt-text: Type II Kardashev civilizations eventually completely enclose their planetary system in a Dyson sphere because space is way too big to look at all the time.
Simply put, this strip is just plain stupid. There's nothing insightful or witty about the presented situation. So there's a guy who wants to block stars from being seen with a telescope. Why doesn't he just put a lid on the telescope? No, instead he invents an elaborate system where the telescope inserts small discs between the lens and the stars. How quirky and idiosyncratic!
Now that we are here, why not have a microscope that prevents seeing bacteria? Or a rocket that does not move? Oh, how hilarious that would have been!
This cartoon is like a shaggy dog story except it finishes before getting past the first step and there's no joke. Randall didn't even bother to think how the discs could really block the stars. In fact, it's almost like he didn't understand at all how telescopes work. Unfunny, uninspiring. Clumsy writing, too. "I thought the Point was to image extrasolar planets." […] "He has a Point…". And there's no joke.
The idea suggested in the alt-text, that a planetary civilization might be so advanced that it has blocked others from seeing them, could've been a more amusing scenario. But no, Randall chose to depict the less interesting idea and mention the better one in passing. Although no doubt he would have messed that too.
P.S. from Gamer_2k4
Explain xkcd actually came in handy this time around. It doesn't actually help the fact that the comic is completely retarded, though. As the alt-text demonstrates, the punch line "stars freak me out" is interchangeable with many, many setups. The fact that Randall chose a slow, unnecessarily complicated one just shows what a hack he is (not to mention that "I'm scared of stars" is a really, really lousy joke).
Maybe, with a little comedic timing, this could work. Maybe if it was told in person instead of in a webcomic, the slow buildup to the punchline could have some merit. But, Randall isn't a stand-up comic (thank God). He uses drawings for his humor. And he uses them poorly.