The fourteenth Strangers in Paradise trade paperback relates the life of David until his appearance in the first issue of the series. This story of crimes by teenage thugs and the quest for redemption constitutes one of the tightest SiP narratives, a welcome change after the meandering of Flower to Flame.
Author: Terry Moore.
This trade paperback also features some sketchwork and facts related to the David Qin character.
After murdering another youth, teenaged gangster Yousaka Takahashi seeks redemption and takes on the dead boy’s identity. His twisted sister, meanwhile, marries a wealthy man and uses her money and influence to carve a unique position for herself in the underworld.
The cinematic, nearly wordless handling of the trial and of Yousaka/David’s conversion demonstrates the power this medium can have. The second page of the trial also could have dispensed with the narration. The images tell these parts of the story effectively.
What, however, is with the Qin family’s bedraggled “pro bono lawyer?” This is a criminal case in the state of California. The Takahashi family would be up against a District Attorney.
Originality: 4/6. This kind of redemption story is old, but it represents a new approach for SiP, and Moore has handled it well.
Artwork: 6/6. David’s Story features excellent, often understated art. It isn’t as quirky as that found in many other issues, and the approach suits this particular story.
Characterization: 5/6. David’s character has been given depth. Moore overplays Darcy, however. I’m thinking less here of her incestuous attraction to her brother than of her obnoxious rich kid routine at the time of her brother’s trial. Her license plate even reads RCH BTCH. It’s a little difficult to reconcile with her subtle political manipulations.
Emotional response: 5/6
Flow 6/6 The story features strong internal unity. It also gels with the entire series and reinforces the idea that Strangers in Paradise could be read as a coherent graphic novel.
Overall: 5/6 We’ve heard a number of contradictory points about David over the years. Some of these Moore intended, while others he acknowledges were errors. Here, he reconciles them in a tale with a conclusion that takes readers back to SiP’s first issue.
In total, David’s Story receives a score of 36/42.