Maria is best character.
I'd hate to have my brother do that for me, especially without asking first... but it's so much more awesome when she does it. XP
You see, long before coming out about my trans-ness, I was (and still am), a HUGE proponent of true gender equality.
One example? Chivalry is dead. For a good reason. Nowadays, a woman is allowed to work, become educated, and even learn to fight for herself. They are more or less equal to men.
One thing I get sick of, is the idea that you're "Not supposed to hit girls." Now don't get me wrong, I in no way enjoy striking females. I don't like hitting men eiather. I just don't believe that a particular set of chromosomes should give you a magical 'shield' against being hit, especially if you provoke it.
This typically just boils down to when a girl is allowed to hit me, even playfully, but when I playfully hit back, suddenly I'm a horrible monster.
I'm not saying feminist attitudes are completly wrong eiather mind you. Discrimination happens to both sides. The issue is that the 'men's side tends to be ignored.
ANYWAYS! When I first announced I was trans, my brother pointed out how I was 'betraying' these notions. Honestly, I don't buy it. <.< How the heck arn't these things compatible?
Seriously though, the confrontation we've all been waiting for has arrived! While some may have been hoping for a physical beatdown, I think a verbal beatdown works even better in this situation. Words can hurt a lot more than fists, after all. After getting told like that by Maria, I get the feeling that Todd's going to be confined to a ball in the corner of his room for the next few weeks. Still, it might be pre-emptive to assume that Rudy's bully problems are gone for good: new bullies might arise, or Todd may return later on. It's awesome to see Maria protecting Rudy like that, though, because she genuinely cares for him (and he, for her). The fact that Maria made it private is even better; it shows that she's not trying to make a big show of it, and is just doing it to protect Rudy, not make herself look good. One of Maria's most awesome moments.
Panel 2 is really cool, with the combination of alternative font and the focus on her eyes. Panel 3 is somewhat experimental, as the words fall to the sides of the panel, rather than in bubbles. I think it really works here, as it affords more space without compromising the identity of the speaker.
This chapter has been wonderful so far, and I have no doubt the rest will be great as well. This page, though, feels like the pinnacle of the chapter, the point of greates drama! An amazing climax for the Todd Bittner arc, and perhaps for the chapter as a whole!
That is more or less my take.