Saturday, May 12, 2012

Strangers in Paradise Pocket Book Vol. 4

by Terry Moore, with Jimmy Palmiotti

I think it's time for me to take a little break from Terry Moore's award-winning and famous series for a little while.  I do find myself completely enthralled in the lives and tribulations of Francine, Katchoo, and all their friends, but I'm also finding reading these thick books so close to one another to be a little exhausting.

In the first three volumes, each of which contain some seventeen comics, there have been complete story arcs, which have always involved Katina Choovanski's past rearing up to haunt her, and to drag her and her will-she or won't-she best friend and wannabe lover into a maelstrom of violence.  In this fourth volume, that doesn't really happen.  Instead, Francine gets engaged, becomes pregnant, breaks off her engagement, returns to Katchoo, they fight, Francine goes back to Brad, and the whole cycle keeps repeating itself.

I feel like perhaps,that Moore was starting to cast about for some new ideas to keep the series alive.  We have a number of new characters (a psychiatrist, a rape victim, an FBI Agent digging into Katchoo's past), and old characters gaining new prominence, as Casey becomes close to Katchoo, and Tambi becomes close to David, for a little while at least.  We meet a couple more of the Parker Girls, deadly assassins and former operatives of Darcey Parker, Katchoo's old boss.

Moore also plays around a little more than usual with time, and tries his hand at some metatextuality, such as in the scene where Francine's grown daughter tries to sell the manuscript of her gigantic novel, which is basically a text version of this comic, and which asks some questions about how much of this comic is really taking place.  Actually, I found that kind of annoying, as it was abandoned almost immediately.

Still, strange tricks and circular plotting aside, this is an endlessly engaging and readable comic.  I look forward to reading the next two volumes, but I do need a bit of a break.

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