Strangers In Paradise #27 – Reviews Of Old Comics

blogheaderI really don’t know why I haven’t done an issue of Strangers In Paradise here. Terry Moore’s series is an excellent example of long form storytelling. He also worked in morality lessons along the way of telling a compelling same-sex love story. He had characters develop and grow past their original, one-line descriptions they first appeared with.

I chose this issue for how it followed such an unforeseen event in the comic. David and Katchoo’s plane to New York has crashed near Nashville. For issues, we were under the impression that Katchoo, David and Francine were free from the legacy of Darcy Parker, and this crash seemed that it might be more than a random event. The plane crash would have lasting effects right up until the end of the series. This issue was an emotional punch to the gut from page one, and it went on from there.

Strangers In Paradise #27

September 1999
Abstract Studio

Writer/Artist: Terry Moore
Inker: Paul Ryan
Colorist: Bob Sharen
Letterer: Bill Oakley

Synopsis:

The story is told of a little girl named Patricia that has survived the plane crash. In the future, she will be in therapy for years, develop a drug addiction, and after her grandmother dies, she overdoses watching planes land and take off. Patricia will be referred to as “the little girl who took twelve years to die.”
 
While farmers run into the wreckage to look for survivors, Katchoosees a vision of her dead lover Emma and then begins searching for David. Seeing other victims, she finds David still in his seat, unconscious and stuck in wreckage. As parts of the plane begin to explode, Katchoo struggles to pull David free, and can’t get him loose. Finally, a surge of frustration-fueled adrenaline gives her the strength to wrench the wreckage away from David and carry him away, just before the section of the plane he was in explodes. One of the searchers finds Katchoo cradling David. He thinks David is dead, but Katchoo professes that he’s just sleeping.
 
Back at home, Casey is trying to calm down Francine, who is hysterically crying. She knows something has happened to Katchoo and David. Francine was supposed to go with them. Casey calls the airline and she’s told that the plane made an emergency landing and is given another number for family to call. Casey tries to calm Francine down but the television is broadcasting news of the plane crash, in a horribly insensitive way. Francine calls her mother, who at first thinks Katchoo did something, but immediately cries at the news.
 
Tambi Baker gets a phone call. After watching the news, she asks the caller what she has done. The caller boasts that she eliminated all of their obstacles in one day, now owning Darcy Parker’s share of the Parker fortune. After she hangs up, Tambi swears to kill her.
 
Francine’s mother is at the hospital trying to find out information on Katchoo and David, but no survivors are registered yet. She finds Katchoo lying on a gurney, in shock. Katchoo doesn’t respond until Francine’s mother asks about David. She breaks down crying as Francine’s mother hugs her close to comfort her, telling her she’s with family now.

 

Review:

This one is a heartbreaker. I had forgotten the opening page about Patricia. It might be one of the most heartbreaking pieces of text, and it’s all about a character we only see here. It also foreshadows David’s fate, as he apparently survives the plane crash in the next issue, but eventually dies from brain injuries he sustained in this disaster.

The other heavy bit of writing comes from an example of news media reveling in tragedy. The dialogue of the reporter covering the crash from a news helicopter is almost absurd. This issue is pre-9/11, which should have curbed this desire, but recent coverage of school shootings shows how much of this attitude persists today. It’s completely valid, but after the seriousness of everything before it, I have trouble processing the satiric writing. The fact that it transitions into a very serious scene of Francine’s mom learning of the crash helps, as it’s used as a transition device. It’s a little off-putting, but I see what he was going for, it just jars me out of the emotional heaviness of the book.

Terry Moore’s art is an evolution throughout this series, but this is a clear case of him hitting his stride as an artist. He’s very good here about letting his line quality help tell the emotional story. With a style that evolves into something so naturalistic and representative, his background as a cartoonist really shows through. Adding color cannot improve this artwork. It just works so well on it’s own merits.

Notes:

Terry Moore makes his entire series available in collected forms. Strangers In Paradise is a serialized drama, and it should be read as a giant story. A few issues have been produced that stand alone, but this is not one of them. This issue is available through his shop in the Pocket Book Vol. 3 and the Omnibus.

Final Rating: 9.8 (out of 10)

Why not a 10? The news media portrayal takes away from the larger story, as good a satire as it is.. The emotional punch throughout is effective on its own and devastating to sit through.