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Complete Little Orphan Annie Volume 7:…
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Complete Little Orphan Annie Volume 7: 1936-1938

by Harold Gray

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721,740,095 (4.67)3
Introducing two of the strip's most incredible characters- The Asp - who has sometimes been likened to the Grim Reaper - and Mr. Am - who has been said might be a representation of the Almighty. Harold Gray is at the top of his game as he also introduces the mysterious Shanghai Peg and the frightening villain Boris Sirob, who actually kills both "Daddy" Warbucks and The Asp. "Daddy" dead? Wait until you read this one! Includes all dailies and color Sundays from October 1, 1936 through June 8, 1938.… (more)

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Three interesting and one excellent story. The first one has Annie selling flowers with old Ginger - it's a lot grimmer than most of Annie's stories. Not unusually, she gets mixed up with mobsters running a protection racket - but unusually for Annie, there are two deaths (of named characters). There's also a couple PSAs about the dangers of cars - she sees a man die and a dog be seriously hurt by cars, both entirely by accident. I wonder if something in Gray's life is reflected there? I was expecting it to show up in the story - Annie ducks and someone else gets hit by a car - but it didn't happen. The end is rather coincidental - the mobsters have Annie, decide to make a raid on this weird rich guy's house - and it turns out it's Daddy Warbucks home again, with ten billion in jewels. Sheesh. Oh, the Asp is also introduced at this point. The next story is mostly about said ten billion, which turn out to be a total pain. A villain is hunting them - and comes way too close to winning. The only reason he fails, and gets an appropriate comeuppance, is the intervention of Mr. Am. I don't like Mr. Am - he's just too much. And he may have amazing abilities, but taking care of Annie is beyond him - though he does magic her 'safe' before he disappears. Which protects her very well in the next story, where she's adopted out to a loving 'Mama' and a scheming 'Papa' - shades of the Bleeks, though in this case the woman is oblivious. It's an insurance scam - but Mr. Am's spell keeps Annie alive through several 'foolproof' murder schemes...then fades as unnecessary as she's protected by Mr. Blade and his ghosts. For whatever reason - and I usually don't like smart-alecs, who know everything and say nothing - I like Blade. He's fun. And he and his allies not only save Annie (and Mrs. Brittlewit, to boot), but bring both the villains (and their lawyer as a bonus) to justice. Then a totally random event and Annie's out on her own again - with a woman and a baby to take care of. As usual, the richest man in town is a stone-hearted cheat, while the poorest woman is open-hearted and takes them all in. Annie seems to have given up her earlier tendency to go find work in a shop - here she ends up selling doughnuts to the truckers across the way to support all of them. The boss of the trucking company, Jack, turns out to be an excellent friend to all of them at the Widow Alden's; he and his men, and the town police (who are apparently completely separate from the sheriff's office - ???), forestall Mr. Gudge's (the aforementioned richest man) attempt to foreclose on her mortgage. There are a lot of tough men in this story, and all of them are friends to Annie and, eventually, to one another. One of the toughest shows up at this point, Shanghai Peg. He prevents some rough stuff from Gudge, as well as fixing up the house quite thoroughly. Turns out he knew the widow's husband...and he and Annie get curious about how he died. Plus a romance theme that goes rather awry, between Jack the trucker and the lady with the baby, Rose Chance - it turns out that she still has a husband, though he's gone wandering. Jack's in love, Rose might be but won't allow it because she's loyal to her husband. Then Jack picks up a hitchhiker...who turns out to be Ace Chance, the aforementioned husband...and the book ends! What a cliffhanger. I've ordered the next book - I'm anxious to see how this comes out! ( )
  jjmcgaffey | Jan 25, 2012 |
This collection introduces a near omnipotent (and apparently immortal) being, Mr. Am, who may represent LOA's version of God (and lo and behold, he and Warbucks have the same politics). Mr. Am is too powerful to be really interesting, but it is interesting that this storyline probably represents Gray's characterization of God as backing up Gray's values. The stories have become a bit darker, especially with another death of a sympathetic character at the hands of evil-doers, who had become an important part of Annie's life. The stories are all fine, with the best being "A Rose, Per Chance", which is yet another story in which Annie rescues a young mother and baby from exposure, finds a home for the three of them with an impoverished widow, and overcomes daunting odds and a greedy mortgage holder to help them find security, success and love. Actually, this story is a blending of similar events from prior stories, which Gray has combined anew with a more capable storytelling skill. It is a simple and powerful story which illustrates Gray's homespun and sincerely felt values, and several times brought a lump to my throat. I recognize Gray's limitations of world view, storytelling capabilities and artwork. They just don't diminish my admiration for the world that Gray has created with his strip, and for Gray's sincerely held belief that his world is the best of all possible worlds. ( )
  burnit99 | Sep 5, 2011 |
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