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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I don't think it was only the withering glance that sent him away. Tambi's treadmill is programed for a steep incline, 10 miles. Tambi has run 9.8 miles already and her heart rate is 121, blood pressure is 115/79. He doesn't just leave, he leaves discouraged and stunned. 

Jeff of Earth-J said:

ISSUE #6: At the gym, one of those dorky guys with a super-short haircut and an excessively bushy beard sets his sites on Tambi working out. He picks the station next to hers, but all it takes is a single withering glance to send him on his way. 

I've just finished ISSUE #10. Wow! They did wrap that up quickly. I guess their plan to eliminate the 100 or so players who couldn't be trusted with the Psi knowledge worked well enough for the countries to stand down.

What will Stephanie do with the last piece of the scroll? What will Lilith do to Stephanie? Are they working together?

Stephanie was wearing an ankh pendant in the final panel. 

"A hooded person looks over Rachel as she picks her pocket.."

Yes, Babochka killed Rachel as well as (almost) Katchoo.

"I don't think it was only the withering glance that sent him away."

That is true.

"Wow! They did wrap that up quickly."

COVID itself may have brought the series to a premature conclusion.

Still a lot of unanswered questions, though...

UP NEXT: EVER

EVER: THE WAY OUT:

"Ever is a savvy seventeen year old when she meets Timothy, a charming angel, who reveals she will fulfill an ancient prophecy on her next birthday. In shocking detail, Timothy tells Ever what really happened in the garden of Eden and why it's Ever's responsibility to set things right by sacrificing herself to the beast guarding the fallen angels in the Pit of Darkness. Enter Samuel, a mysterious angel who makes a bet with timothy that will change Ever's life forever."

I read this 72-page OGN in 2020 when it first came out but didn't really remember anything about it until I re-read it just now. Basically, Ever (short for "Everly") is Lilith's only surviving child. After Rachel died, Lilith married a wealthy man in Babylon sand they had a daughter. She was abducted by the angels the night before her 18th birthday and, while Lilith's life moved on in 3D time, Every has been repeating the same day over and over in 4D time. Or something. 

The angels have been trying to get her to agree to their plan for quite some time, but she keeps rejecting them. When she turns 18 she will be 216 months, or 6-6-6 as that number is represented in their dimension. If she agrees, tomorrow she will become the combination to unlock the pit of darkness, freeing the angels to love and help mankind again. She refuses, but Samuel approaches Timothy with a deal. If Timothy releases her at midnight and sends her to the pit and he rejects her, the Timothy must agree on behalf of all the angels to leave her alone for the rest of eternity.

This is basically what happens. Timothy releases her from 4D time. She is compelled to seek out a young man named Jalen for shelter. At midnight the angel of death ushers her in front of the beast who does, in fact, reject her. Jalen finds her after that. NOW... at one point in the story she is struck by lightning. One could make the case that the entire story (or most of it) occurred in her mind. The practical upshot of all this is that ever is Lilith's daughter and her friend is Jalen. I can hardly wait to see what Tracy makes of this one.

In Rachel Rising, Moore established that Lilith cannot have children. She and Rachel are barren. Moore says that Lilith is cursed to walk the Earth full of Eve's children.

However, I like Everly and Jalen. 

This was beautifully drawn. I have always loved Moore's style but this artwork was wonderful. 

"In Rachel Rising, Moore established that Lilith cannot have children."

That's a good point, a seeming contradiction. 

We are definitely on the downward slope now! This week being the culmination of tax season, I doubt whether Tracy will be in the mood to read and post until the weekend, but I'm going to go ahead and move to...

SERIAL:

ISSUE #1: 16 year old Kendall and 23 year old Brandon are parked on a cliff overlooking the sea. Brandon is Kendall's manager at the Pizza Plaza and he's supposed to be driving her home, but he's taken her here instead. He makes advances and she protests. She falls out of the car and he follows. After a brief altercation, he slips and finds himself hanging from the edge of the cliff. she calmly watches him fall to his death. Then she wipes down the car and walks into the nearby woods when she has a motorcycle hidden. She drives it to a storage facility where she removes her wig and clothing, which she puts in a plastic bag. She checks the facility's security cam on her cell phone, then leaves the motorcycle but takes a car. 

SCENE: A Volkswagen microbus parked by the side of a lake. Inside, Zoe is dreaming. In the cartoony dream, she fights off and kills a variety of malefactors: mad scientists, gangsters, cowboys, cavemen, etc. "I always save the clowns for last," she says, as she slaughters her final opponent. She is awakened from he dream by a phone call. A woman named Jill is on the line, accused of Brandon's murder. "Don't say another word to them, Jill," she advises. "I'll be there in twenty minutes!"

ISSUE #2: One thing I should probably point out before Tracy follows along and corrects me is that Brandon almost certainly wasn't 23 years old, he just told "Kendall" that he was 23. (She probably isn't 16, either, come to think of it.) she estimated his age at 30, and his wife, Jill, is 32. She and Zoe were best friends in the fourth grade. In any case, Zoe comes over and takes charge of the situation, getting rid of the police (who don't have a warrant yet are snooping around after having been invited in). After threatening to call "her father, a lawyer," Zoe takes Jill into her bedroom to rest. 

In the time it takes Zoe to make a cup of coffee, Jill's throat has been cut with a pizza slicer. Zoe eyes the open window suspiciously. She goes outside and sees where the grass has been pressed down. She follows the footprints to the street where she notes tire tracks an fluid from a drippy tailpipe. She sees a footprint and compares it to her own shoe size. The house across the street, she notices, has a security camera. Zoe knocks on the door and tells the woman a bogus story and gets her to show her the security footage, of which she takes a picture of the car and a figure entering it.

After she's alone she says, "Somewhere along the way you've made a mistake... and I'm going to find it... and shove it through your heart." Back at the house, the woman says to the baby she's holding, "See how smart she is? When you're her age be just like her, okay? Just like her." Zoe drives to Lookout Point where Brandon's body was found and has a look around.

the police are examining the clothes Brandon was wearing for evidence. They note that a missing button was probably pulled off because the thread is still there. No button was found in the car. Perhaps it was torn off in the fall...?

Elsewhere, a blonde woman works at a glass-blowing kiln. She puts a button inside one block of glass and a wedding ring inside another. Later, on her way home, she is pulled over by a cop who says she has a blinking taillight. His wife has the same model car and suggests its probably a loose connection and asks her to pop the trunk. She complies but, while he's checking, she has a knife at the ready. He says her faulty taillight is working now and that's the end of the incident.

One thing I remember about this series is that, like Dave Lapham's Stray Bullets, even if you "lose" the story it's still possible to follow along because each issue is more-or-less self-contained (until we get closer to the end, anyway). Also, Terry Moore has been incorporating an increasing number of wordless scenes, such as Zoe's investigation of the murder scene in this issue. Very well done!

ISSUE #3: The police forensic team investigates the scene of Jill's death. Impressions on her finger indicate she wore an engagement ring and wedding band. The engagement ring was found on the bed, but the wedding band is missing.

The glassblower, Jenni, goes to visit her mother in a nursing home. Her mom is in a wheelchair, unable to speak, probably suffering from some form of dementia, probably Alzheimer's. Jenni gives her the two glass blacks she made. She puts them on the dresser alonside nine others. Each one has an object inside: a hairpin, an earring, a tooth, etc. Jenni tells her mom,. in detail, about how she killed them and why. It's unclear whether or not her mom understands (probably not), but Jenni pretends to answer a question: "Because she married him! That's why. She should've known better." Then she adds, "Honestly, mother, sometimes I think you've lost your mind." Her mother's attention is attracted by a butterfly fluttering outside the window. Jenni opens the window and snatches it, dropping the crushed form into her mother's hand. "Maybe someday I'll put you in glass."

Zoe is surveilling the Pizza Palace (it was Pizza Plaza in #1, another one of those niggling little details) from the diner across the street. There is a sign on the door, "Closed due to death in the family." A young woman named Laila, an employee it turns out, walks up for her shift. She sees someone inside and knocks, and is met by a female detective who escorts her to the diner for a coffee. Zoe vacates her table so they can sit. their conversation paints a picture of a sexual predator, but also none of the information on "Kendall's" job application checks out. The only thing Laila can add about her that the police didn't already know is that she was interested in glassblowing.

Zoe has left her cell phone hidden in the napkins and has been listening to the entire conversation. When Laila leaves, Zoe goes back to retrieve her phone but it's gone. Over near the restrooms stands the detective with Zoe's phone in an evidence bag. Zoe bolts and the officer gives chase. Zoe leaps into a car with the story she's being chased and gets away, barely.

Outside town, Jenni is having "car trouble." She's wearing a short tennis skirt and the wheel is off the car. A "good Samaritan" drops by to lend a hand. Jenni introduces herself as "Jill" and makes several suggestive comments. she convinces the man, Eric, to crawl beneath the car to retrieve the lug nuts from where they rolled. She asks him if he's married and he replies that it's complicated. "It's not that complicated, Eric," she says. "Katy found out you were having sex with her fourteen year old daughter and kicked you out. Simple as that." Then she kicks out the jack, crushing him to death under the weight of the car. She pops a lens out of his sun glasses and walks away. 

ISSUE #4: The female detective, Sanchez, is interviewing the woman who showed Zoe the security footage in #2. She immediately realizes it's the same girl who bugged the table at the diner and who bluffed the other cops away from the Healey house, also in #2. Zoe has been a step ahead of the police the whole time, and to prove it, she's in the library right now and has identified Jenni's car as a white 2014 Toyota Camry. The police are going to find that out, too, of course, but the point is, Zoe's a step ahead. She profiles the killer and realizes Brandon wasn't selected at random. As she leaves the library to drive back to her campsite by the lake, she is followed by another sexual predator who did select her at random. He doesn't get very far before Zoe knocks him unconscious. We'll return to him later, but where's Rachel? Why is Zoe alone, living out of her van?

Elsewhere. Jenni finishes at the kiln and leaves to drive home. In the parking lot, she sees a grown woman making out with a teenage boy. On the way home she practices fake smiling in her rear view mirror. the issue begins with a quotation from The Mask of Sanity Revealed: Psychopathic Traits and Affective Mimicry: "It's difficult to spot a psychopath; in fact, they can look actually like they're more genuine than other people. Part of it is that most people don't have to fake emotions all the time, so they don't have to practice at it. But someone who doesn't feel these emotions will have to practice at faking them, so they will probably be better at it." She gets home and undergoes a complete transformation: clothes, make-up, glasses, wig. She chooses a thin knife and conceals it in the waistband of her pants. This is as chilling a portrait of a serial killer as I have seen in any movie.

Meanwhile, back at the lake, Zoe's predator awakens stripped to the waist and tied to a tree. He claims to be a case worker for child services and was worried about her welfare. But she's looking through his phone and finds out that he's really a machinist. She also finds a lot of child bondage porn which he claims is research for a book. the more damning evidence she finds, the more desperate he becomes. Zoe has a battery-powered drill and several bits a folding table in front of her. Without dragging these scene on too long, she ends up drilling him, once, through the stomach.

"You're not a child," he whimpers. "Who are you?"

"I'm just a little girl you followed into the woods, mister. I don't know how many times you've done that--but I know this... tonight's the last time."

As an old soul in a young body, Zoe sounds as though she could almost be an evil Time Lord.  

ISSUE #5: Jenni is sitting at a hotel bar, dressed to kill (literally). she's wearing a black bra and a sheer blouse. She is approached by Mason, whose friends call him Max. She calls him Mason. He'd offer to buy her a drink, but she already has one. She drains it and points out that it appears to be empty. "Bartender!"

Back in the woods, Zoe cuts the sexual predator down. He's still alive, but he now has multiple drill hole in his torso. She gets angry when he squirts her with blood as his body hits the ground. Her plan had been to leave him for the bears, but now she's got his "blood bait" all over her. "Now I have to make sure the bear knows one of us is an entree and the other is a dirty napkin," so she slices him open and announces, "Dinner is served."

Meanwhile back at the hotel bar, Mason has four empty glasses in front of him and "Dabria" is still working on hers. He is becoming increasingly open about his marriage and she is becoming increasingly suggestive until finally, inevitably, she invites him up to her room. The interior of the hotel is open to the ground and, when they get to the 18th floor, she tosses him off the balcony.

There is a section in the middle of this book I am not going to relate. In fact, I'm going to get some paper clips to clip those pages together and strongly suggest that Tracy not read it, either. In comparison to a scene in which one man is tortured with an electric drill and another is defenestrated from an 18 story balcony, how bad can this scene be? It's bad. 

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