I have long felt that any good online discussion of a comic book series requires at least two active participants... not just two people posting, but two actually reading along... one to provide "play-by-play" and the other "color commentary." Tracy and I have considered leading a "husband and wife" discussion for some time, but we never could get the timing right. I first alluded to it in 2008 (I remember specifically), but I didn't announce the series. At the time it would have been Terry Moore's Strangers in Paradise, but that topic has now expanded to all the titles in the SIP-verse. With 3 issues in volume one, 13 in two and 90 in three (volume three comprising eight parts itself), Strangers in Paradise would be ambitious enough, but we also hope to cover...

Echo - 30 issues

Rachel Rising - 42 issues

Motor Girl - 10 issues

Strangers in Paradise XXV - 10 issues

Five Years - 10 issues

Ever - 1 issue

Serial - 10 issues

We are approaching this with no set structure or timeframe involved. An issue at a time? A volume/series at a time? An issue a day? A volume/series/part a week? We don't know. All we know right now is that we plan to start with SIP v1 (the original three-issue limited series) sometime this weekend. the more people who participate the better the discussion is, so we invite as many of you to participate as possible, whether you read along with us or not. 

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This is a good issue. I hope my summary does it justice.

ISSUE #6: To begin with, I just thought I'd mention how skilled Terry Moore is at setting the scene with drawing of nature. In this case, is a robin sheltering in a tree during a thunderstorm. It's raining through out this issue. the camera pans from the tree to the window of a second floor garage apartment. A woman is lying unconscious (or dead?) and there is a set of golf clubs spilled on the floor. The woman opens her eyes. It is Jenni. She has a wound on her forehead. She looks across the room to a man on the bed. All we can see is his legs and that he is clutching a blonde wig. Book titles are clearly visible on the shelf. I don't recognize and of the titles or authors, and I am reluctant to have them in my browser history.

The scene shifts and we see the man's head is clearly caved in. There is the head of a driver lying on the bed next to him. Jenni picks it up, puts it inside the wig and also collect the broken club and computer. She douses the man's body with aftershave, then squirts a tube of something down his throat. She sets him afire and walks out into the rain with the incriminating evidence. From inside the house on the property, a little deaf girl named Joey watches her leave. An explosion follows.

Joey's mother dials 911 and her husband runs outside to see if there's anything to be done. It is the woman's brother, Ollie, who lived above the garage. the little tomboy watches dispassionately, then she goes to her room and draws a picture of an blande avenging angel with a lightning bolt in her hand. (I should mention that Jenni has a distinctive tattoo on her back which looks like a woman wearing a draping robe with her arms spread wide.) 

Meanwhile, Zoe is sitting in the rain on the cliff at Lookout Point mentally profiling the killer. She concludes that the killer is an amateur not a pro; that she's a psychopath. How does the killer choose her victims? Maybe someone who comes into contact with victims of abuse. She rules out a contract killer or a cop or a doctor or a nurse as a suspect. Who else works with abuse victims? therapists. There are two in town, and one of them has a 2014 white Toyota Camry parked out front.

In side that office, the therapist (not Jenni) is talking to Joey. Joey is not sad about her uncles death. When the therapist asks her how his death makes her feel, she signs, "Free." The therapist ushers Joey into the waiting room and asks to speak to Joey's mother. Joey goes up to the desk, hands the receptionist the picture she drew and signs, "Thank you. You saved me." the receptionist is Jenni, and she has a bandage on her forehead. Just then, Joey's mother comes storming out of the doctor's office. She is incensed by what the therapist suggested, but the therapist is duty bound to report it. Jenni folds the child's drawing and tucks it away.

Now the perverse side of my brain wants to find Serial #5 and #6, just to find out what you're talking about.

ISSUE #7: It is still lightly raining. A spider descend to a fly caught in its web. the fly's head falls to the ground. From the other side of a window, Jenni's mother, Rose, watches. There are now twelve glass "boxes" in her "collection". A framed photo next to them shows Rose as a young woman, a Pan Am flight attendant. When her nurse comes in, Rose looks sadly at the glass blocks and becomes agitated, but she cannot speak. The nurse thinks Rose wants to see the new one and gets it for her. Then she notices that inside is a human thumb.

Outside the therapists office, Zoe surreptitiously slips up to the white Camry and slips some sort of Apple device into the fuel door. Then she goes back to he VW bus to wait. She has a dog named Zeus now, that I feel I should know from somewhere. I checked whether or not it was Carver's (from SiP XXV #3), but his dogs were Dobermans. 

Inside the office, Jenni prepares coffee for herself and her boss, Carly. (I'm glad Moore named her because I'm getting tired of referring to her as "the therapist".) Surprisingly, Jenni comes clean to Carly that she's been going through her patients files and "fixing these problems the right way." Carly drops her coffee to the floor, in shock we think, until the next panel where she starts to drool. By the panel after that, she's foaming at the mouth. Jenni goes on calmly explaining how she wishes someone had killed her abuser. "But no one did. Now he's a big man. Rich. Wife. kids. Dog. Charity fundraisers. He has everything... to lose. It will never make up for what he took from me. But I'll take it."

After work, she leaves the office and Zoe follows. Jenni pulls into a service station and Zoe goes inside. Jenni doesn't need gas, but she has a tool to remove the valve from the stem of one of Zoe's rear tires. When Zoe exits the shop, she is surprised to see the Camry gone and her tire flat. 

Still raining. A mother bird feeds its chicks. On has fallen from the nest onto the ground. A foot steps on it. the foot belongs to Jenni. A little girl named Nora is playing with her dolls on the front porch, sheltered from the rain. she plans to surprise her daddy. Jenni suggests waiting with her and they'll surprise him together. Soon, a car pulls up and a man gets out. "Hi, daddy!" says Nora. "I made a new friend." The woman sitting beside his daughter on the porch swing turns so he can see her face. Hi, daddy," she says. This is a black & white book, but I swear I could see all the color drain from his face. He was surprised all right. 

ISSUE #8: The issue begins with the story of Jenni and Daniel's affair. He was 32 and she was 17 at first, pretty standard stuff. Until he comes home one day to find a poster of them having sex taped to the wall and his wife sitting beneath it with divorce papers in her hands. She stayed for a 51% share in his company. When he went to her college to break it off with Jenni, he ended up hitting her. She hit him back so hard she broke his nose. 

His daughter (now "Emily" rather than "Nora", another niggling little error) breaks him out of his reverie. "Daddy, look--I drew our family and Jenni colored you red! Isn't that funny?" Daniel sends Emily inside while he has a little chat with Jenni. It's a creepy little scene when you think about how utterly in control of this situation she is. It's even creepier when Emily comes back to the door and says, "Daddy, mommy won't wake up." Jenni walks calmly away while Daniel dials 911.

But Jenni is not in control of every situation. At her mother's nursing home. Det. Sanchez and her partner are there with a team and have identified every one of the little glass cubes. Outside, Jenni watches from her car in the rain, then drives away. By this time Zoe has changed her tire and is trailing her through the tacking device. The signal leads her to the storage facility from issue #1. Zoe breaks in to find the car, but Jenni's not there. On the wall are pictures of her victims. Only one left, a Polaroid of a mean-looking woman sitting on a stoop next to a crying toddler. Her mother, Zoe deduces. There is a file for every victim, every "justified execution." Zoe wonders why she left all this incriminating evidence and realizes she's not coming back. Then she sees the motorcycle cover, but no motorcycle. Her mother's file has the address of the nursing home, and Zoe is off!

At the home, Rose slips a serrated steak knife into the sleeve of her robe during dinner. Later, her daughter sneaks inside her room. She removes her wig to reveal a scalp full of scars. She pulls out a pair of scissors and asks, "Remember these?" The holds them to her head and mimics cutting, saying "Bad girl. Bad girl." She dangles the scissors over her mother's chest. Rose has tears in her eyes and is apparently paralyzed with fear. a flash of lightning momentarily illuminates the room, and Jenni sees Zoe standing outside the window. As the thunder peals, Rose lurches toward her daughter with the steak knife!

ISSUE #9: Zoe doesn't care who's right, who's wrong or who's to blame in the conflict between Jenni and her mother; she only want to kill her friend Jill's killer. Rose lunges for Jenni and misses, falls to the floor. Jenni sees Zoe, still at the window, now beckoning to her. "Mother," she say, "I have to go. this is your last chance to apologize before I... mother? Mother!" Jenni realizes that her mother is dead. "Are you kidding me?!" She walks out into the parking lot in the rain. Now it is her turn to have a flat tire. With her head shaved like this, she reminds me of Alpha from The Walking Dead. For that matter, Zoe reminds me of Negan now that I thing about it. 

I don't remember exactly how this story ends, but I do remember this issue: two psychopaths facing off against each other. I could quote some of the things they say to each other, but if I do I'm afraid I'll have to transcribe the the entire issue. Each of them gets some blows in, and both are wounded by the end. Jenni is moving in for the kill, but Zeus has broken out of the bus and is on his way. I couldn't stop reading now if I tried!

I have to say, that of the Moore series that you've reviewed, this is the first one that I could imagine myself actually wanting to read someday. Whether I ever actually will or not is another story.

Really? That kind of surprises me. If you think you may want to read the series you may want to skip this post, then, because here there be spoilers...

ISSUE #10: As usual, the police are a step behind Zoe. Sanchez and her team are at the nursing home and the evidence suggests that Jenni may either still be in the build or has fled on foot. she leaves her partner to secure the building when she grabs a shotgun and heads outside. The ever-present rain is starting to turn to snow. A hooded figure dressed all in black watches her from behind a tree.

Zoe calls for a momentary truce and makes a joke about using "therapists" to find "the rapists". "Get it? Never even occurred to you, did it? *sigh* Fine, whatever. Take your best shot." Some other stuff happens, the Sanchez comes upon the scene just as Jenni is about to deliver the coup de grace. Sanchez fires just as Zeus comes on the scene, ironically saving her from the shotgun blast. He didn't do her any favors, though, because he has her by the neck and starts to shake. ("Snap! Crackle! POP!") He almost literally ripped her head off. When Zoe comes to (she had fainted from a rapid drop in BP due to blood loss) her immediate concern is Zeus. "He's fine," Sanchez assures her. "That's not his blood."

Then Zoe, knowing what happens to dogs who attack people, has something else to worry about. "Zoe, I saw the whole thing," says Sanchez. "The suspect was attacking you when a bear came out of the woods and attacked the suspect. The suspect is dead. I fired at the bear, missed. End of Report." But wait, there's another twist coming. Sanchez takes a call from Lou, her partner, and tells him, "We got her. she's dead," to which Lou responds, "Which one?" It turns out Rose had two daughters, twins, and they were both working together. (I thought that scarred bald head bit kinda came outta left field.) But where is the other one? The last page zooms in on a bus heading out of town. In it rides Jenni, dressed all in black and wearing a hood. 

Other than that bundle deal* Mark mentioned back on the bottom of page 30 of this discussion (and a list of appearances posted March 31), that's the last we;ve heard from Terry Moore since announced the special print for those who pre-ordered the Serial omnibus edition on January 28. I have no idea what series he has in the work next. I liked Serial, but I saw it as something of a detour from all those hints being dropped in the previous series about future plot threads. It annoys me the way Marvel keeps dropping "new number ones" for long-established series, but I approve of the way Terry Moore accomplishes much the same thing. Of course, in his case, the series are truly different, with their own beginnings, middles and ends, and if he wants to take a hiatus between them, that's perfectly all right with me. It's just that these waits between series are excruciating. 

Here we are at (or near) the end of a fairly ambitious (if I do say so myself) project. Tracy still has to do her part (and may not get to it until next weekend) but it's close enough to call, I think. Two months today! Tracy never reads my posts ahead of the discussion but, when she's caught up to the end of Serial, I would like to host another discussion with her. I already have two series in mind (pending her approval, of course). Would anyone else like to see that happen? If so, give her some encouragement. One thing we lack around her is a female perspective. 

*For a limited time you can buy my catalog of books in digital format for $35. That’s all of Strangers In Paradise, Echo, Rachel Rising, Motor Girl and more… over $700 worth of books, for a mere $35. This offer is through Humble Bundle and expires April 28. Details at the site. Anything you choose pay over the $35 goes to Hero Initiative to help the senior comics creators who built this industry and the stories we love. Don’t miss this opportunity, and please pass the news along. I want to get the word out to anyone who has been waiting for the chance to get the entire run of my stories at an affordable price. This is as good as it gets.

I read what you had to say, because I may never actually get around to it, assuming I ever find these books anywhere.  I don't do electronic format comics.

Me neither. 

The Serial omnibus just so happens to ship this week.

When Zoe's friend falls victim to a female serial killer, Zoe vows to find the killer before the police and deliver her own razor-edged justice. But the clever assassin proves to be very hard to find as Zoe follows the trail of bodies and the few clues left behind. Using her own unique set of skills, Zoe eventually closes in on the killer until they come face to face for the final kill. Who will walk away? Find out in Terry Moore's newest suspense thriller featuring the irrepressible Zoe from Rachel Rising! Available in softcover and hardcover editions.

For those that *do* do electronic comics, Humble Bundle is currently bundling a TON of Terry Moore comics. SIP, Echo, Rachel Rising, Motor Girl, Serial, Five Years -- all included, depending on the price.  Details* here.

*Aside from when the offer ends, which I can't seem to find anywhere. 

I was about to let everyone know the same thing. This offer does end on 4/28 at 11:59 PM

Rob Staeger (Grodd Mod) said:

For those that *do* do electronic comics, Humble Bundle is currently bundling a TON of Terry Moore comics. SIP, Echo, Rachel Rising, Motor Girl, Serial, Five Years -- all included, depending on the price.  Details* here.

*Aside from when the offer ends, which I can't seem to find anywhere. 

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