How many goodly creatures are there here!
How beautious mankind is.
O brave new world,
that has such people in’t!
The Tempest V.i.
Moore isn’t alluding to Aldous Huxley; he’s going back to the Shakespearian source of the phrase. It suits the story, but one wonders about the wisdom of giving your comic-book the same title as a famous dystopic novel.
Title: Brave New World (Issues #44-45 and 47-48 of the third series)
Author: Terry Moore.
After exploring possible future lives, Francine leaves her fiancé to revisit her relationship with Katchoo. David leaves for Japan, claiming he will not return. He may be correct; when he’s there, Tambi puts a gun to his head. Meanwhile, Freddie seeks Francine, a mysterious woman discusses a past sexual assault, another character discovers a human skull, and someone, somewhere, compiles a dossier on Katchoo.
This trade paperback skips issue #46, which features the second instalment of the Molly & Poo saga. The strange spin-off only tenuously connects to Strangers in Paradise, although the brief appearance of the series regulars helps solve an enigma in the story’s continuity.
Moore created a mystery at the end of the previous issue that drove some fans to near-apoplexy. Some might consider the resolution here a cheat, but it serves the story well, by dramatizing Francine’s take on her life’s possibilities.
The handling of Casey and, to a lesser degree, Freddie, balances their more developed, sympathetic characterizations with their traditional roles as comic relief.1
The final interaction between Katina and David feels too forced, and too much like what we’ve seen before. The characters fly into overwrought rages over relationship issues, which causes one of them to do something seemingly permanent which will move the plot along. I know I’m reading an exaggerated comic-book reflection of real life, but this sort of thing happens too frequently in SiP.
Originality: 4/6 These issues contain a strange mixture of fresh developments and overly familiar material.
Story: 4/6. This episode does not really feature a specific story arc; we’re once again clearly reading a portion of a longer graphic novel.
Characterization: 5/6. The issue features some strong characterization, and #44 finds a novel way to explore Francine. Some people will be understandably concerned by the stereotypical nature of David’s Japanese girlfriend.
Emotional response: 5/6. The techniques are straightforward, but Moore creates curiousity and suspense regarding a number of new developments. Casey’s co-worker, Monica, gives a lift to a man we know to be a rapist. Francine and Katchoo enter a bedroom together. David makes Tambi an unusual offer.
Moore continues to provide mildly clever moments. Freddie and his latest fling experience an awkward sexual moment. The lights are out, so we only hear the dialogue. A phone call interrupts this amusing bit, and Freddie receives some good news. His response suggests an orgasm.
Flow 4/6. This is a bit choppier than the better issues, but the threads slowly weave together
In total, Brave New World receives 32/42.
1. Casey’s actions in #48 are consistent with the person we’ve come to know, but they flatly contradict the brief appearance of her future self in Love Me Tender.
The Timeshredder’s reviews may be found here.