Page 45 Review by Stephen
There's a sign on the New York subway accentuated, emphasised and made urgent by piercing eyes. It says:
In a pressed white shirt, suit and tie, a smart man on his smart phone is standing. He is sombrely checking for texts or the latest, breaking News Headlines. He would do well to do that. Satisfied, he slips the phone into his overcoat, scowling at the crowd as the carriage doors open. Commuters get on, commuters get off and, once on the open platform, he checks his coat pocket as per habit, pat-pat. It is not well weighted.
"STOP THAT BOY!
The boy and the man are dashing up the escalator, the small boy diving between pedestrians while the smart man is impeded and - shit - there's another kid who's tossed the cell phone sideways in passing! It's nimbly caught in a pre-planned relay race, the brat in the hoodie heading up the stairs at speed, swerving right towards the foyer's crossover before throwing this exceptionally mobile phone clean over the gleaming glass balustrade!
Down below a good-looking woman in her thirties, well dressed for winter in a jacket and loose woollen scarf, calmly and casually removes the SIM card from its casement. As she discards the rest, the detritus unnecessary to her purpose, she glares up at the smart man who's not now feeling very smart at all, looks her victim straight in the eye and she gives him a grimace which he will never forget.
Oh my God! It's --- !
Welcome to Terry Moore's STRANGERS IN PARADISE - or indeed, welcome back! - on this, its 25th Anniversary. You can read our prior reviews if you fancy, but you need know nothing in order to settle straight in to one of the series we have been most phenomenally fond of in all of our years working in comics, for this is a very fresh start.
After surviving all that the world and Katchoo's pitch-black past could throw at them, Katchoo and Francine are now happily - nay, blissfully - married, living out in the dessert with their two delightful daughters in a luxury villa financed by Katchoo's highly successful career in fine art... but probably her previous one too.
Katchoo was a Parker Girl. She "belonged" to Darcy Parker. Darcy Parker was a vicious woman who used other women to infiltrate the government at its highest levels. The Parker Girls were essentially the highest paid prostitutes imaginable, and they never got to leave.
Katchoo left, though I will not say how, and now sits with one of Darcy's former enforcers, the formidable, ever-brooding, stone-faced Tambi, as they watch Francine play, splashing away during the heat of the day, in the extensive garden's swimming pool with one of their beloved daughters.
There is so much laughter!
Katchoo is smiling maternally, lovingly, with all the adoration she has always held in her heart for her now-wife Francine, right from the very first moment we met them. Reciprocation did not come easily and it did not come quickly. STRANGERS IN PARADISE was a very long series: 2,400 pages long! But here they are, and they have arrived!
You'll notice Tambi and Katchoo share a certain look. Darcy Parker liked blondes very much. Tambi is not smiling lovingly and her arms are criss-crossed with scars.
"You know," begins Katchoo, a twinkle in her eye, "I used to think you only had two looks, mean and meaner. Then I saw you hold my babies."
"You fought hard for what you have, Katchoo. Wife, kids, a new life... Nothing came easy for you."
That's very true.
"I don't want to see you lose everything you worked for."
"Why would I lose everything? Tambi?"
I loved the reversal on the first few pages where we came in. Initially I fretted for the smart man with the smart phone (his name's Scott) for we all fear pickpockets and fewer ever say something even if they see something, and fewer still do anything about it. And Terry keeps you going breathlessly for three pages before you discover the phone's final recipient.
Scott's married to a woman called Laura, by the way.
She's called Laura, but that's not her name. Her real name is Stephanie, and she has that certain look too.
Who controls the past controls the future.
Who controls the present controls the past.
- George Orwell
Who controls the future here remains to be seen.
Previously in STRANGERS IN PARADISE (the Omnibus review is ever so slightly expansive):
Katchoo and Francine have endured the vicious repercussions of Katchoos tarnished past which have come back to curtail their present and so threaten their future successfully enough against all adversarial odds, to settle down and carve themselves a blissful, tranquil family life with their two daughters in a really rather swish villa strategically sequestered in the middle of nowhere.
It is idyllic!
Then STRANGERS IN PARADISE XXV vol 1kicks off.
To ensure her familys safety, Katchoo finds herself racing frantically across the globe from the Isle of Skye in Scotland to the remotest jungles of Colombia. Unfortunately, shes left Francine and the girls terrifyingly vulnerable in the supposed sanctuary of their home.
All the weathers are here, both hot and humid and freezing with snow which Moore draws so eye-blindingly well, plus the sort of cliff-leaping, all-out action that youd expect from Raiders Of The Lost Ark.
By now, however, long-term Terry Moore fans will have noticed his various storylines merging, incorporating characters and plot points from previous series MOTOR GIRL, RACHEL RISING and ECHO.
Theyre rekindled here to kick off the next series imminently and ominously in FIVE YEARS #1 and FIVE YEARS #2 which will automatically be distributed to those signed up at Page 45 for SiP.
For, as I say, who controls the future remains to be seen.