Friday, March 16, 2012

Strangers in Paradise Pocket Book 2

by Terry Moore

It's hard to know what to expect with Terry Moore's classic series Strangers In Paradise.  On the surface, it's a light romantic comedy about a love triangle between close friends Francine and Katchoo, and David, the man who is in love with Katchoo.

The girls argue and joke around a lot, and constantly dance around their attraction towards one another.  Well, that's not entirely true, Katchoo is openly gay; it's Francine who can't figure out what she wants.  David has entered the mix, and is seriously interested in Kat, but early on in this second volume (which collects the first seventeen issues of third series), they get into a huge argument that drives David away for good.  Kat decides to follow him to California to apologize, and to bring him back.

That's more or less where the rom-com stuff ends, because David is the brother to Darcey Parker, a powerful mobster who used to be Kat's lover and pimp.  Darcey wants to use Katchoo to help her with an elaborate plan to win control over the White House.  Another one of her girls is positioned to marry the front-runner in the Presidential elections, and to draw heat off of her, she wants Kat to seduce the wife of the Senator who runs an committee investigating organized crime.  Not so funny, now.  Except, it still is.

Moore really found a winning formula with this series.  We all want to see Francine and Kat get together and help heal each other, but it always seems like such a long, dangerous road.  It doesn't much help that there is a framing device used that shows how, in ten or more years, the two women aren't even talking.  Moore sets these things up, and then doesn't return to them for fifteen issues or so - it must have been frustrating to read this comic as a monthly.

We are also given a nice flashback sequence that shows how the girls developed their friendship in high school, and, very oddly, an issue that is more or less a tribute to Xena, Warrior Princess that doesn't fit with the larger narrative at all.

In terms of strong character-driven comics, I can think of very few that can hold a candle to Strangers in Paradise.  Recommended.

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