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Strangers in Paradise Pocket Book 5 by Terry…
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W0w. Okay, the “Molly & Poo” story at the end (comprising the last 80 pages of this pocket book) actually gave me the creeps! Big time. Tagging this volume “horror” now . . . but, I’m getting ahead of myself.

First, let me talk about the main SiP storyline in this book.

SPOILERS, SPOILERS, SPOILERS

The book starts off exploring David’s backstory. We see his youth in Japan, with Darcy, as children of the Yakuza. David Qin was originally Yousaka Takashi. One day he beat up a Chinese boy with asthma who wasn’t even part of a gang - just happened to wander into gang territory. The boy died as a result. Yousaka got off because of the Yakuza’s lawyers, but he was wracked with grief to the point where he took the dead boy’s name, became a Christian and wanted no part in the family business.

Then we get to Katchoo and Francine . . . And now we see the big split that does happen between them. :( :( :(

Francine marries Doctor Brad and gets to use his rockstar-brother’s cool boats and stuff. Her mom is reclaiming her identity as “Midnight Mary” and even gets back together with Francine’s father. Throughout it all though, it is obvious that Francine is unhappy. She misses Katchoo, and even gets a white lily tattooed on her breast; the same symbol Darcy made Katchoo wear.

Katchoo’s storyline is a little happier. Although the FBI is trying to get her! An agent goes undercover to get close to her, even becoming a model for some of her paintings.

Katchoo is now serious about making it as an artist, and tries to move on with her life. David comes back to the States and there is a fun storyline in which they go to Vegas to see Casey, who is now working there as a showgirl. While they are in Vegas Katchoo and David have a whirlwind romance and almost get married, but Katchoo comes to some self-realizations and ultimately decides they need to be friends - not lovers.

I was personally very glad to see the David storyline resolved this way - there’s a very lovely page of them sitting together in her new studio in the dark at the end that is just beautiful. I like them as friends.

So . . .

Now let’s talk about the other story!

Molly & Poo - this 80 page horror story is tucked in at the end of the fifth volume of Strangers in Paradise, though it’s not clear how much of a relation it has with SiP. I remember Katchoo did make a tiny reference to Molly’s trial in one of the earlier volumes (3, I think) but it didn’t seem like it really meant anything . . . until now!

Terry Moore blows me away with his ability to take these tiny, seemingly unimportant tidbits and then weave them into these huge parts of the story. I really liked Molly & Poo, but it’s a lot different than SiP.

. . . First I was confused. I wondered if Molly might be like a parallel universe Francine (she’s a bored housewife, who falls for another, more unconventional, woman.) But as the story goes on it just gets darker and darker, and more and more twisted, and you realize it has nothing to do with Francine and Katchoo, but is its own thing.

And it’s really neat. On one hand its a completely engrossing account of an English woman named Molly living in 1908, who is married to a cold and domineering blind doctor and writing letters back and forth with a woman nicknamed “Poo,” whom she met at the theatre and who seems to be rather eccentric. Molly is completely captivated by Poo, who offers her the only solace in a dreary and oppressive life. But there is a strong undercurrent of pain and rage and madness in Molly, too - times when the story takes a sudden plunge into darkness. ”My cries are murdered beneath his folding wings.”(p.320)

We also see that this is a story being written by a woman named Molly living in modern-day New York. Molly wants to be a writer, but keeps being rejected. The horror slowly dawns on us, that she is the mad woman who murdered her husband that Katchoo mentioned briefly way back when. She has been driven mad by a combination of repressed childhood abuse and constant, overwhelming rejection.

This all comes together in bits and pieces, told in non-linear order and intertwined with the Molly & Poo (in 1908) story, which also gets darker, more shocking and more troubling. The final twists - wow.

I wonder if this story will have any effect on the larger SiP universe, or not. Even if not, I really enjoyed reading Molly & Poo. Its a great twisted, dark psychological horror story. ( )
  catfantastic | Sep 12, 2015 |
Yet another Strangers In Paradise Pocket Book...the fifth, and last for now (the final volume has yet to be issued). This is the long swath of the story in which Katchoo and Francine do not meet or speak at all. It's a tribute to Terry Moore's gift for characters that even without leaning on the central relationship of the series, he holds my attention.

Frnacine has married Brad the doctor. Katchoo is doing her best to go on without her, mostly by focusing on her art career. David and Katchoo almost get married, then decide it would never work (Katchoo is entirely gay) and just settle into sharing a house and loving each other. Casey in working as a Las Vegas showgirl. Freddie Femur is still a right-wing sexist blowhard, but he's still impossible to hate, somehow. The usual Parker Girl crime plot rears its head in this volume, but it's quickly resolved...in these pages, Terry Moore takes time to meander and experiment. There's a lot of prose here, a few different art styles, and a detour into the mind of a husband-killer named Molly who has only a tenuous connection to the established cast. The Molly tale is interesting, but very out of place here (especially since it ends the volume)...

Long-running comics (like long-running TV series) struggle to remain compelling as they go on...the sprawling canvas is hard to manage. SiP 5 is full of meandering and reflection; I wouldn't recommend it as a first taste of the series, but for a SiP junkie like me, it's candy.
2 vote subbobmail | Mar 29, 2008 |
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David returns to Katchoo after a year's absence and the two go to Las Vegas to celebrate and possibly get married.

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