Sacré Bleu

The beginning puts the reader right into a dramatic scene, then there’s what feels like an art history lesson similar to my Elementary school days. In between all this serious intellectual painting knowledge, the reader is taken to the “present” and then to a flashback. (I’m still trying to comprehend the finer details of this story so I’m satisfied by page 34 I finally read something which is old Moore humor by way of pigeons. It’s serious subject matter with snippets of joker-y, which of course Moore has down to a T, but I want more than what I am given. It’s a pattern I’ve developed recently.) It becomes also about lost loves coming back and how art is tightly wound around people’s memories and emotions. Lucien, Van Gogh’s friend is also a painter and working through his painful desertion and the resurfacing of his well-known lost love.

Then, more back story about the Colorman. (I’m reminded of the “color lady” in Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry. There’s even a flashback with Lucien which reminded me of Squee’s Wonderful Big Giant Book of Unspeakable Horrors by Jhonen Vasquez, which the reference in itself should imply some form of strange violence with a comedic dialogue. This is also where I start to concieve the rhythm of Moore humour which spurs the story along.) Little Lucien is a sensitive, spunky lad who is made to believe he is going to have to “conk a grandmother on the head” for pie filling which his father thought was a good joke, similar to first job-hazing rituals. Lucien didn’t take it so well, and promptly goes about making his papa regret his ruse.

I must give kudos on the Oscar (Wilde) drop, as well. After reading everything he’s written I better be able to reap the benefits of catching vague “referend-i”. Now I’m understanding the nuance to this story, I’m able to meander along with it when it dictates. It’s still layered with the right kind of bawdy humor to evenly weigh the “romahnce”. Lucien’s character is also becoming more easily empathized with when he’s met as an adorable witty little urchin. Moore also introduces a couple other main characters who are odd and trying to learn the mysteries of this story along with the reader. They get into funny dirty-minded referenced jokes and all the better, whilst traveling this dark and light-obsessed Parisian set-time.

The story starts to show more heart by chapter 13 when some background on Lucien’s father is related, through his sister Régine when she explains to her husband the strange goings on and her inability to stop any of it. I love this story for it’s mystery, drama, hilarity, strange people populating the city and it’s manipulations and devious plots, it’s what I need. The  speculation as to whether Van Gogh actually killed himself is also twisted upon, which is exciting, as well as meet Van Gogh’s brother who has a touching moment with Lucien in his gallery. Henri becomes much more interesting once more about him is uncovered. Profeseur “Bahstard” makes Henri Toulouse-Lautrec an invention which at first seemed pointless, fleshing out to become something which was tickle-like in description, and being, “…mechanical, steam-farting…”; I appreciated the imagery. Also the scene right after was ridiculously funny as well.

Then it becomes a learning experience once again as a science experiment is explained. Moore loves his random knowledge purges. (I’m not arguing, though; he tends to make me accept it when he rewards with such hilarity.) Another mystery which makes Lucien wonder if the Colorman’s blue paint is poison of some kind is next mentioned, Lucien still bothered by some unanswered and repeatedly avoided questions to Bleu, he visiting Le Profeseur who has news about some cave drawing Lucien air-headedly couldn’t unearth significance. Once the Profeseur explains further, he understands it’s because of the blue pigment in the drawings he wants to test, and extends Lucien and Henri an invitation, if he could be found. The Profeseur becomes similar to “Doc Brown” of Back to the Future since he seems to be a truth-seeker and denies no learning of knowledge; I have adopted the same philosophy. The Profeseur and Lucien meet their guide on the trip there and they prepare to see the paintings. They share theories about the people who drew the pictures when they reach the start of them. They also speculate the reason for the paintings, which isn’t to describe a story, but another more fascinating theory. They reach the spot the Belgian professor guide wrote the Profeseur about the blue. They also notice a pattern in the paintings which brings more scope to the myth of the Colorman. The Belgian Professor gives them an impressive number of years the paintings have been preserved, all speculative of course. Then a horrifying thought occurs to Lucien and the chapter ends.

At one point Henri is dining with Oscar Wilde and sharing with him the tale of the Colorman and I’m already guessing what Wilde would have turned it into, which was easy to figure out. When they leave, Henri sees his Carmen across the street and Wilde continues on his pub crawl alone where the next day his notes of the Colorman’s story confirms my Wilde knowledge; gold star to me. It then goes way back in time to learn about the history of the Painted People. It continues to get better as a war is observed. (Danny Devito would be perfect to play the Colorman, if it isn’t too presumptuous of me to say.) Anyways, he wakes in an uncomfortable, but otherwise healthy condition. His excuses to the concierge of the quarters is what prompted me to think of Devito. It quickly moves back to Juliette updating Lucien and Henri of what getting rid of the Colorman permanently would require. She also continues to supply them with small details which reassure Henri she isn’t all of their female liaisons and Lucien asks more questions until uncovering how Bleu is a slave to the Colorman. Both boys enlist their help to release her from the Colorman’s “chain” on her.

Juliette, when implementing her plan, feigns innocence to shooting the Colorman when he asks, and seemingly succeeds, she also makes him believe Henri and Lucien were memory wiped with the last of the Bleu saving them from being shot which the Colorman was looking forward to doing (buying a “new” gun and all). Somewhere during this time, Lucien and Juliette continue their affair in not-so-close quarters due to some business-related difficulties, but they make it work. Meanwhile, the Colorman seems quite apt to killing a body, but Bleu successfully has stories to save everyone and an idea to pacify the Colorman. Next scene starts with Lucien getting tested with the bread and sticking up for his seniority. Then Lucien gets a reminder of his mother being more than a “mother-shaped storm”, but also a woman, with hips…Ha-ha, when the Colorman walks in and Lucien denies knowing Juliette, and whilst playing innocent the description of what must have been his perverted grin brings the continuing light with dark humor. It makes me want to buy my own copy more passionately.

The Colorman history begins mystically and amusingly, unsurprisingly. Colorman learned early on he could scare ladies with his “large man-tackle.” We also learn his name immediately, which I won’t divulge, tee-hee. He was instantly hated by his clan, but was protected by his shaman mother until her death, then he was promptly kicked out. His mother teaches him all her shaman-knowledge, giving him his magical edge. Colorman retreats to the woods, not knowing much in survival skills, other than how to make a fire (better than most) and protective shaman songs to keep his spirits up when an explosion rocks the area. More fun ensues… He heads towards it, thinking he’d be protected from predators. He locates a stone and hurries away with it. The center of the crater was glowing blue and he decides to make his way back to his cave. He examines his discovery and notices it is also a bright blue color and when he breaks it in two, dust powder comes from the stone which seems significant. Then a village girl who used to look at him with disgust, comes into his cave and has a sparkle in her eye. This is much like having the “smurf-like hooker” in Bloodsucking Fiends gone mystical. When the girl from the village passes out like all the others possessed by Bleu, Colorman also begins his horn-dog habits which he had such trouble stopping himself from performing. Bleu of course doesn’t know about this early on and is perfectly at ease with the Colorman who brings her and the blue powder to the village as a peace offering to allow his return, but he had taken the village girl who already had a partner and was killed by him, the first of many. The Colorman gets his revenge, mostly with the help of Bleu since she goes to retrieve his body. Then begins the start of their journey through villages selling Bleu. The next village is also where he gets his name as the Colorman.

After the enlightening background, Henri and Carmen (Bleu) are having some fun in kimono’s and wigs whilst painting, when Bleu feels the old familiar pull of the Colorman and insists on having to leave with the painting. The Colorman is not amused by her tricks and is starting to realize her insubordination and plans revenge. The Belgian Professor is also revealed to be partially responsible for his resurrection which has to do with the Colorman’s drawings in the cave. The Colorman observes the Juliette body without Bleu, as Bleu walks in as Carmen leading the Colorman to believe she wasn’t trying to kill him, but was waiting for him to make more color, since she had two paintings waiting as proof. She has a plan executed on the Colorman and Henri walks in, surprising perhaps no one and is about to help dispose of certain objects when the Colorman tries a last attempt at redeeming himself.

When describing violent fantasies attached to Bleu, it brings back thoughts of Jody from Bloodsucking Fiends, post-fangs,which I adore of Moore. Also the fact she is quite annoyed by the cumbersome dressing attire of the time and the bodily awkwardness which comes from wearing said attire in warm weather. She determines her last straw of annoyance when the Colorman answers her question of what appointment he and Etienne the donkey could have with a maid, when the answer given is, “Penis.”; a recurring answer for the simple fellow, she points his walking stick at his eye as he continues how he’s saddened his penis no longer has the desired shocking effect as often as it used to with women. Bleu lets it go and reminisces being with Lucien and how it’s affecting her appetite to catch a new painter to seduce into painting portraits.

The idea the Colorman possibly could have been the Hunchback of Notre Dame and a moment of possible delusion is related. He getting a bit more sordid of a character background when he lures a young lady with an apple who is simpler-than-he in nature, and eventually gets her “roofied” until the next day where he’s trying to communicate to her to take off her clothes, so he can proceed to lather her with the diluted-Sacre’ Bleu paint to incite some rage from Bleu, most likely. Then the bone to which Bleu’s delusional possible relation to holiness is further explained. Bleu is maddened by the Colorman’s covering the simple girl’s body with the paint, as expected, and was also confessed to not only the fact she now inhabited said simple girl’s body, but he also confesses he diddled her before rising her back from the dead after an unfortunate death similar to vampires or witches. Which it is then learned she may be something darker rather than divine. After being risen Bleu gets them to leave Notre Dame due to the town’s ignorance and obsession with evil and religion. After, the Colorman and Bleu compromise an acceptable plan for her to return to Lucien’s but with the blue paint, and the Colorman’s need of her help to make it, but is trying to keep her unaware of its prepared ingredients, the Colorman then confides if she can’t make the boys who are figuring out her ruse forget, she’ll have to, “finish them.”

The Profeseur tries a rudimentary hypnotizing tactic, which only succeeds in him learning the time. Taking every opportunity for an oddity Henri spots a monkey skull to momentarily drink Brandy out of. After, Lucien tries a second time and descends in a hypnotic memory where he recognizes the Colorman appearing twice, in his past. The second mentioned is when Lucien is around 14. The Colorman is selling to Monsieur Monet and there is a girl nearby, but it’s unknown whether it’s Juliette. It turns out to be Margot, the girl M. Renoir had painted. She goes off with the Colorman, and Lucien states he will try to follow them.

The next part shares the first-hand memory from Lucien’s perspective in the Gare-Saint Lazare train Station. Lucien comes off like the little Igor kid in Tim Burton’s “Frankenweenie. Monet gets Lucien started in setting up easels so he can capture the smoke from the engines. The manager even helps by bringing an engine in to steam the station for the artist. Especially since he came in on a whim and basically charmed the man into accepting his presence to paint the area. Lucien recalls Monet being able to paint six paintings in half an hour! Which is contested by Henri when Lucien is brought out of his hypnosis to see Monet and Henri going to Brussels for a showing of his paintings.

The Colorman is then brought back to share his role in making not only the Sacre Bleu, but all the colors, since he likes how it, “frightened the maids.” The Colorman runs into another painter he can try and sell to and another mysterious conversation dealing with the Colorman’s name is shared. Mere Lessard speaks so warmly, it helps me glamorize the French aesthetic, which is not what David Sedaris provides, which is from an autobiographical, satirical, reality-based standpoint. I wish I had the opportunity to meet people like Mrs. Lessard, who are genuinely kind. Lucien goes to meet with Monet who has a garden described in such a way as to wanting to be physically there. For Monet, who seems utterly enchanting, seems to be a slave to his ability to paint with color. Monet’s facial description is piercing and all of this artistic knowledge is giving me the itch to sketch, or at least read more about painters.

Moore kills this book with artistic style. Every time I read a bit, I’m thrust into a thoroughly vivid world, with dreams written in as an engaging way. Etienne’s thoughts as the Colorman talks to him are shown (similar to some of his other minor animal characters from earlier works), and it’s quite funny to imagine Etienne’s emotional indifference to mostly everything the Colorman talks with him about, similar to Eeyore or perhaps Marvin from Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Henri goes to a restaurant which has paid him to paint and asks Lucien to accompany him for opinion-sake. Also Moore was able to get a joke involving a windmill and a lesbian in the same paragraph. I keep warming more to this book!It caters to my brand of humour and brightens the dark, like a dirty beacon of reality in delusion, like life, to bring it back around.

Lucien lets Henri know about how, with the Colorman, there’s a woman dealer to get the paints for the artist from him, in all cases the women become ill first, if they recover at all. They plan to get Carmen in front of Lucien’s painting for the delusional blue and see if it helps her remember anything. Finally the ability behind what Bleu does in a bit more detail is described. Some of her hosts are found in varying “conditions”. Afterwards, following Bleu in another body trying to get a drunk cabbie to drive her somewhere, in his opinion, too far unless given an overpriced fare or a little something else from her 14-year-old Polynesian girl body. If the following entices one, it isn’t what it seems, and is more of a joke than to be taken seriously. Catch the Moore drift?

The next scene makes me relate to said 14-year-old waif, due to her dangerous nature and lack of others knowledge of such. The cabbie continues to try and test her patience as she can barely get him to follow directions due to scorn and stubbornness; he escapes her wrath in a high and dry sort of way, fortunately for him. Lucien discovers his stolen painting and discovers Henri in a whorehouse to notify him and help him locate it. It’s one of the funnier and risque chapters due to the state Henri and a few of the “tarts” are in, when he arrives. There’s also some pretty good jokes involving the confusion between Sisyphus and syphilis. By the end of this chapter, another Van Gogh death is told. Sacre’ Bleu, the color, was described as being beautiful, but the process is not. The Colorman consistently doing the mischievous option so one knows what to look for when coming back to him. I adopt the feeling of annoyance from Bleu, although he is quite funny, he’s also appalling, but he successfully pushes the story forward to the point of circling the drain of why Vincent Van Gogh died; grr. I’m still enjoying reading of other painters and their eccentricity and romanticism. The best chapter end, yet! Something even more violent and entertaining continues to drive the story, we also uncover the Colorman’s procedure on making sacre’ Bleu.

The next bit has Lucien and Henri talking with Gauguin about Van Gogh’s death and whether it was too soon to pay respects to his mother. They realize Gauguin has selfish reasons to call on Van Gogh’s mother, quite despicable! Gauguin becomes a funny slapstick straight-man, essentially, and Moore gives most of his segue’s an end which is wild or funny in some way, but not necessarily over-the-top; which is part of the fun, too. Fortunately, the rest of why Gauguin acted strangely over a letter left to Lucien by way of the little “Tahitian” girl and Mrs. Van Gogh, who gave it to him is mentioned. On a side-note, after reading so many of Moore’s books, this one also makes the ranks of reading like a great movie script, as well. After following the note’s instructions with dramatic results, it’s cut away to Henri “facing-off” with Lucien on the floor when he revives from his blackout and learns it’s due to their being no more Cognac. When they both revive themselves from their stupor’s they follow Lucien’s dream place, to discover Juliette actually there waiting for them, which overwhelms Lucien to tears, in a sweet ro-mahn-tic way.

They have an intimate greeting, shared with as a witness, Henri, who acted graciously surprised to glimpse them as they were. Once they come back to reality Juliette is confronted with what’s been going on with the Colorman. She relents after requesting for a drink, which Henri hilariously had more than once choice of. She admits she knew Lucien would go to the mine when he remembered his first encounter with the Colorman; since she was there as well. She then explains the whole truth. Which to learn, brings us into mind of an interesting mythological being. Also, she encloses Juliette was for Lucien, made for him. So madly, archaically, sweet. The reveal is completely worth the wait since it’s not at the end. By the end of her confession, though, the table turns a bit more to uncover Bleu had no choice but to follow the Colorman, which I won’t describe, wouldn’t want to ruin it. Moore doesn’t leave them in sorrow though. For, it is not the Moore Way. In the end of the scene, Lucien and Henri are grinning uncontrollably with the knowledge they “nailed” a goddess and by the end of the chapter Henri marvels at a goddess cussing.

A description of the Painted People, which begins with a Commander dictating a letter about them and how their force had been “lost” and all this implies is gone over. Although, more interesting is the Painted People worship this new King called the Color Bringer with his warrior woman (who is reminding me of The Sequined Love Nun). Going forth, it ends with a message from the blue painted people which read perfectly, but simply in Latin, what had happened to their Legionnaire commander was an accident which couldn’t be helped, leaving him bodiless and found with a message at the governor’s quarters. It doesn’t bode well for him, unfortunately, but it was entertaining reading about it, unlike Crichton (I was reading Pirate Latitudes at the same time; oy). Then Bleu’s point-of-view of how they found the Picts tribe, a.k.a. Color People is related. The people did “fucking love” them as Bleu put it, when trying to convince the Colorman. They certainly did love her in a goddess-lover way. They loved them both so much, they made the Picts attack and surround the governor’s quarters so quickly as to not be noticed until where we left them with the letter writing. It continues to get better as we’re given a war to observe. Anyways, he wakes in an uncomfortable, but otherwise healthy condition. His excuses to the concierge of the quarters is what prompted me to think of Devito; flippin’ Philly…

A segue to Seurat who’s painting The Circus is shared, which is all set up for a new model to grab his attention and forced into accepting to paint. Moving back to Lucien and the Profeseur being introduced to Henri’s singer lady friend, Jane Avril who awaited his friends arrival so she could go home to sleep off the drinking night. It was all amusingly set up. Henri believed he was “cheating” by eating someone else’s bread, mistakenly in his drunken stupor. Avril tries to match Henri’s drinking binge and does not succeed, of course. They go on to converse about news in Altamira identifying drawings without blue pigment, Henri mentions the Picts painting themselves blue to the surprise of the Profeseur, who returning from Spain to uncover more about the origin of the Colorman and seeing a depiction in Bosch’s The Garden of Earthly Delights. After Lucien catches the Profeseur up on events they learned of the Colorman, the information puts the Profeseur in an existential crisis.

When next Lucien and Henri are followed, they are tracking the Colorman, detective-style, which according to a cabby, they fail at comparison with Sherlock Holmes. They follow the Colorman to the catacombs where a man stays at the entrance and acts as gatekeeper for the lit part of the area which he closes at dark and charges for, but he rationalizes, he doesn’t go down in them so any dirty business doesn’t include him. Lucien and Henri go in, trailing the Colorman and nervously making their way into the catacombs. They begin feeling guilty by the thought of what they planned on doing and Lucien remembered how his father got him to get over killing rats; more satirical fun. They discover the Colorman in a large chamber, almost getting too close. After handling the situation they look through the stolen paintings. They complete what needs doing according to Bleu. There’s also other mysteries and rumors deflated. By the end, they are celebrating with more cognac provided a la Lautrec in the presence of Carmen and Lucien. He is then promptly conquered by seemingly unknown forces. The fact it was something new convinced Bleu they were at least rid of the Colorman.

Henri is wistful since this means his Carmen won’t technically be available to him, since Bleu is entirely Lucien’s now. Bleu tries to ease his mind by letting him know Carmen will know her beauty because of him. Bleu must erase Carmen’s memory since knowing the extremely unreal occurrences would break her noodle. Bleu sets Henri up for a physical blow to the face by Carmen with the blue paint ending up on both. Successfully rendering them both forgetful. Bleu awaits Carmen in her apartment with the Colorman’s remains in a jar. Lucien then gets more questions answered about the lengthy amount of deaths the Colorman sustained-ish. A similar flavor to “Let the Right One In“. She still needs the sacre bleu made and wants Lucien to do it. He allows himself to be convinced bit by bit when Bleu has it all planned out how he’ll be protected, what would happen with the bakery, etc. Henri takes Lucien leaving in stride and they go on to talk of Henri’s plans. They all meet back at Henri’s for cognac. Then Lucien tries to break the news to his sister of she not being responsible for their sister’s death or of their father’s “infidelity”. Even though she doesn’t buy his story she appreciates his good heart under the layers of stupidity (which makes me continue to wish the family I have had to interact with had the same quality of good-heartedness their stupidity could fall back on, but ce’ la vie). At the end of the scene Regine breaks the news to their mother and it’s taken in stride so Lucien considers it a task well-tried and leaves it.

Then the epilogue thrusts us into 2012 MoMA and get a taste of Juliette and Lucien looking at Picasso’s Starry Night which Bleu takes responsibility for and has a memento which would make anyone laugh and roll their eyes. I’m going to read this again for certain. *Sigh of relief* I can still rely on one thing not to change: Moore taking me away to a laughably insane and fun to imagine, anywhere-better-than-here, place.


Marceline and the Scream Queens

I’m immediately intrigued, The Marceline expressions are sometimes what’s expected, sometimes very Gran, which considering I adore Octopus Pie. I will dismiss my momentary irritated confusion to immerse myself in the cute little escapades the crew experience.

The first story has Princess Bubblegum not liking Marce’s band and Finn and Jake get her to join them to either enjoy the concert unexpectedly or make fun of it. They take their seats and watch the opening band, whom are quite forgettable and possibly from PB’s kingdom, until Marceline’s stage presence entrances all when her introduction to the show begins. From there Marce and PB work it out and bond-sort of. Jake is left to rule in PB’s absence, which makes some subjects disappointed and Finn bids her a tender-ish farewell.

Then a cut-away story of Marceline playing a supposedly genie-infested guitar and to set him free she must play a song, she warning the creature if he’s lying she’ll kill him. She plays, he’s released and is thanking her when she notices his dishonesty and proceeds to unleash hell unlike anything created by the show I can remember. The creature is saved by his owner, what seems to be a boy and tries to repay Marce for her kindness of releasing his pet when she warns him to be careful from then on when punishing his pet since, when the boy got mad and was trying to punish him, he peed on his guitar and surprises Marceline by “mind-greeting” her which she was not open to, but ends up getting a sweet and much-needed boost of positivity with an unexpected visit from a beloved and missed friend. Delightful side-story.

Next, it’s shown how everyone’s handling PB’s management of the band. Marce and some band mates have a late-night red-bender annoys PB since they will not be well-rested for an interview they have in half an hour, which PB made clear, she wouldn’t be mothering them. Marce has her feathers ruffled when the interviewer miss-speaks their band name and Marceline cuts the radio interview due to such an insult. Then a famous producer shows up and  surprises and intrigues Marce. PB takes the opportunity to kill 2 birds, since Marce had asked for lunch and the producer Vandaltine invited them along. So now Marce has an unexpected business meeting whilst the band and manager set up for the show later.

Marceline becomes hungry and starts noticing the producer in more than a business opportunity kind of way. By the end of this chapter we get to impatiently wait the dramatic continuation as we start another side-story. Marce & PB are in the land of Bloooo where everything’s blue and Marce is hungry, so PB helps by introducing her robot-helper whose British affectation is charming as well as BMO’s. Kevin the robot paints everything red, so Marce will have a supply to nourish herself with. Unfortunately for PB, she made Kevin with the ability to learn to feel something from music so when he hears Marce play, he forgets his job and starts painting the colors he feels, by the end. I like the story more with its nice and tidy ending. I’m enjoying these side-stories more as I go along. I don’t usually like diverting my attention from the main one, but comics are notorious for catering to all them loud and proud (or should be) ADHD-ers, ha-ha. With all the good laughs, I suppose at least they don’t disappoint, if not leaving me getting the tug to continue with the main story, this way is like having same themed commercials: cute, but feeling primed for the main course.

Third chapter begins with Marce going to her photo shoot and PB sleeping in and not needing to remind Marce of said shoot and discovers a note left by Marce letting her know her whereabouts. PB gets a hold of a bad review of the band which Marce hadn’t seen yet, but when PB runs into her and she gets the chance, she doesn’t take it well, to PB’s dismay. They’re second corniest band to Corn and the Cobbs (which is an awesome band name). Marce goes to cool off and possible write some bad-ass angry lyrics in rebellion or stubborn-osity (a nod to Rennison.)

Then a segue to PB and Were-boy, where the reader is double-crossed into thinking he’s a were-wolf when he’s a different sort of “were” altogether. PB and Guy have an awkward get-um close moment when they are interrupted by other band members. Marce gets to the show ready to put the verbal smack down on the crowd and after, ditches the rest of the show, to the crowds clapping, after her artistic break goes better than expected, but the band is shocked and left until the fourth chapter. Then a short story of Lemongrab stating of everything he encounters being unacceptable. Easiest concept and simply amusing. Didn’t divert my mind from the main story, finally. Which in itself, is acceptable, along with the only other acceptable happening in the short story, his attempt at lead-singing an UnAcceptable band. O.M….G Weekly has all the TMZ-like gossip out there on Marce and co. to begin the chapter. Marce is in mid-song when she realizes she doesn’t know it and when she’s told, sees a tidal wave behind the audience. PB has concocted a pressure elixir to acclimate everyone to the water pressure.

They meet a new princess which is very welcome. She develops a kinship with rock music due to its resonance among other notes. PB finally makes some time to call Finn and see how Candy Kingdom’s holding up. Which is fairly well with the substitution of a fungeon…exactly what it sounds like. And then Finn lets her know about a Rule Burning Ceremony, among the fact he, along with Jake and kingdom, could very well have gone through a mental break during her sojourn. Marce and PB talk it out and they make it so their bearing of truths fuel Marce’s song make-em-up abilities and she’s back on stage about to start a song when the tide breaks over her a second time. The Princess of the land is satisfied with results of the concert PB and Marce are properly jeebed out and agree to sally forth to the next chapter. The short-story before this, is adorable with L.S.P. getting a visit from Slime Princess and L.S.P. showing off her favorite possessions along with letting Slime Princess try on a rare t-shirt she has and giving her props to the awesomeness of style it gives her. To be fair it is a cute tee., but then a double-short to this chapter is given! Starchy gets duped with a counterfeit ticket.

The second short story has the Ice King being the source of the counterfeits and has a very abrupt, but funny ending. Marce and band’s next gig takes place in the Nightosphere. Marce is clouded by her own insecurity to see how everyone enjoys her music. PB’s feelings get hurt when Marce doesn’t notice. PB leaves and Marce stays angry and upset. Guy confides another secret to PB and has shown to have dedicated his life to rock in a more significant way than most can.

Marce decides whether she should stay home due to the easiness and least pressure it would be for her. PB goes back to Candy Kingdom. The short story after is adoriblah! It has Jake and Lady having a wizard take Lady’s voice. Jake’s expressions are pinch-able, they’re so cute. Lady starts to communicate through song. Jake becomes forgetful about going after the wizard, Lady leaves, Jake runs into Finn and Finn acts strangely and runs off. Then Lump Princess shares with Jake a philosophical story. BMO has some simplistic advice then goes to sleep. Jake goes to bed, but comes up with a plan. He figures out a way of communicating with Lady. This was beautifully drawn and written. Loved it!

Marce plays the show and everyone starts a creepy fanatic chant. It gets to her and she gets overcome by her dark side. PB comes up with a way to get Marce’s attention which would incite more rage in most. PB then helps her calm down after they found out where all the terrible band reviews were coming from. When the music journalist, out of love for the band, agrees to stop, Marce decides it not to be necessary due to a very responsible way at rationalizing reviews of any kind are good for business, as an ego-checker.

PB comes back to the Candy Kingdom and lays down much-needed laws, turning the little nakie “Lord of the Flies” subjects into upstanding citizens once again. PB says her farewell to the band-mates on their way to create more tune-age and Marce discovers PB actually does enjoy and have interest in her music and despite her doubts, is her friend. It ends how Scott Pilgrim would end, everyone rocking out in the air due to pure gusto and awesomeness.

Whoever came up with the opener stage idea for Marce and crew obviously had Spinal Tap in mind. Marce has a nemesis competitor in this Battle of the Bands. Marce is played the fool when she is “tricked” into showing Stag Lee how her Rock Coffin will work on stage, when he slams the door shut on her so she’s trapped inside. (BMO has the chance to act as the hero in this one, whom I have a soft spot for.) BMO locates the band to inform them what’s happened and they go after Marce, but she gets majorly pissed and makes such a scene as to escape and prove to her band-mates at the same time, she’s made it out alright. The cover gallery in the back has many nice portraits of the gang by different artists. I loved reading this installation and will look for more.

Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of N.I.M.H.

It took me a little time to get used to the tone, once I did, I thoroughly enjoyed myself. A much deeper look into the story behind The Secret of NIMH, which I’ve seen plenty of times as a youngster. It’s much better descriptively and has more fluidity didn’t quite carry over to the movie. To me the movie seemed awkward, mostly due to the actress voicing Mrs. Frisby. I was annoyed even as a child over this, but the action and character O’Brien created covers my background memories with a nice haze which makes it much easier to dive into this story with a fresh perspective.

Then Jeremy the Crow makes an appearance when he lets Mrs. Frisby privy to the legendary oldest Owl in the woods who gives advice depending on his whimsy. And when Jeremy offers to fly her to the owl’s tree and back and thinks of her child and how it solidifies her resolve into doing something she fears, she agrees to Jeremy’s offer and is polite about it. (I maintain, this is much better than the movie.)

It’s so exciting and mysterious. Also I believe I’m doing a better job of reading it to myself than the voice actors were in acting out the scene. Grr. Argh. Once she meets the rats of Nimh and is waiting for them to finish their meeting, she’s placed in the library to wait where they also happen to have their plan written out on a board.

It begins to read like Lewis Carroll. Quite nice flow and interesting “mystery”. (Also once getting to Nicodemus’ experience in the maze and tests with the neurologist, it reminds me of pre-Ninja Turtles, Splinter.) Also, we get a closer look at Justin and how heroic he became in his valiant escape attempts whilst being tested along with the other rat prisoners. The book gives a better description of the rats of NIMH, how they lived, the living quarter they expanded and The Plan is told plainly, as well. Which supports the idea of abandoning living like an animal and becoming more civilized due to intelligence. It definitely poses both sides of the human personality and how we debate a situation to death and still not come to a satisfiable-to-both-sides agreement.

When Mrs. Frisby is captured by the boy Farmer’s son, she learns Mr. Fitzgibbon had heard a story which had made him share his rat experience on his farm, which I do not remember being mentioned in the movie, where he now has the government officials coming in to inspect the farm and possibly capture the rats since they couldn’t recover the ones mentioned to him. It opens discussion to the family about the reason for such serious caution, which was thought to be an outbreak of rabies. By the end of the chapter, it’s  discovered if Mrs. Frisby succeeded with the important part of the mission and if she’ll be able to share with Nicodemus the news she overheard.

Mrs. Frisby contemplates her position and what her children might think of her late absence. Justin proves her theory was accurate when he arrives to aid her, which I remember being different from what happened in the movie, though it’s been years since my last viewing. Once Justin gets her out and they’re on their way, Mrs. Frisby informs Justin of the news she learned and Justin states how fortunate the rats are to have met her, since the rats plan would’ve been severely damaged if not completely ruined without the information learned. When they reach her home, a friend is there defending her property like a “bohss”. (I appreciate the rats respectful patience toward Mrs. F.’s buddy, too which shows a side of humanity slowly dying in America, as far as I’m aware.) When the description of how they move the home is explained, it calls to mind any of Disney’s fairy-tale cartoons or Merry Melodies. By the end of the chapter, her home is moved and Justin suggests Mrs. F. should put her children to bed whilst they finished minor detailing which is all made to seem to take under 15 minutes or so. Quite impressive and showing the imagined comfort of the start of what was hoped to stay to being “American hospitality”. I imagine Switzerland or Canada being the new or steady and highest hospitable peoples.

Mrs. F. and clan are safe and when she awakens she feels a long overdue sense of safety and peace, but then begins to wonder and have growing concern for the rats and their plight when Brutus comes a-calling. She is requested to attend a meeting being held by Nicodemus so he can ask her more about the conversation between the family she overheard. Mrs. F. for the first time I can recall, sounds “…small in the big room…”, which would be the only reason for the movie version’s voice actress to sound like a squeaky, bumbling, unintelligible protagonist. The meeting goes well for her since she was able to fully remember the conversation verbatim and was able to answer questions given with tact and plainness of speech. Something the writer(s) of the film may have been able to help in the creating of it. As a child, I was baffled by the speech-patterns in the movie. They also cover the title of the newspaper article describing the strange occurrence: Mechanized Rats Invade Hardware Store. Making it seem like the dead rats were suspected of stealing tools besides being next to the motor when they were electrocuted. Nicodemus and others then begin deducing the possibilities of what and if the doctors in town are from NIMH and whether they’ve found Jenner’s H.Q. They continue brainstorming on what they’ll do when the M.D.’s come to the farm and if they could convince them they aren’t “special” rats. Their plan becomes one where 10 rats must stay behind, and all of the strongest and brightest volunteer first before 800 more. O’Brien has made his point concisely and consistently. They stick together and use voting system whilst also being efficient. They really are, undeniably exceptional rats. They don’t leave those chosen helpless, though which is nice.

Meanwhile Mrs. Frisby returns home and is noticed by the children she looks sad. She gives them answers enough to satisfy their curiosity and decides to recount the whole story to them another day. Mrs. Frisby can’t stop thinking about not wanting to watch what happens to the rats, but needing to overlook the area somehow, comes up with a great vantage point helps her watch to see the rats plan, hopefully go smoothly.

The exterminators come to bulldoze and blast the rose bush with cyanide. The rats plan goes smoothly with only 3 MIA’s. The rats then bait the humans in a way like a scene in the Mel Gibson movie, The Patriot. One more rat reappears, unbeknownst to all but Mrs. Frisby. The humans begin to unearth the rats second escape tunnel. They uncover two rats in the main room where the gas came in and take the bodies with them. (When the humans leave, Mrs. Frisby runs to where the now motionless last rat is left lying, showing Mr. Ages trying to move who it turns out to be…I won’t say yet, because I’m feeling evil. I will say Mr. Ages had decided to think ahead as well and prepare an antidote to the poison.) So he’s obviously one lucky rat. When never-said-which rat confesses what he remembers of the moment before and after the cyanide, it’s not only an enlightening perspective, but the rat whom helped him out, sacrificed himself for the one rat left behind, sadly. Last act of obvious heroic behavior.

The Fitzgibbon’s go about starting a veggie garden right next to Mrs. Frisby’s freshly deposited home. Safely hidden, but with the weather being good for growing, it means the family will be loitering in the area so, this is when Mrs. Frisby and clan move to their summer home. An idyllic, less isolated life. After a day of relaxation, Mrs. Frisby decides to share the story with her children since they should know their history and how it’s linked to their father. O’Brien is tidy about leaving all information filled in as needed. The children also speculate who the heroic rat was and wanting to go to Thorn Valley figure out the truth. The only opening he allows is Martin’s excitement in contacting Jeremy so he could try to visit the rats. Mrs. F. allows him the hope in imagining and gets them all to bed. Quite abrupt and peaceful ending. It’s a fine way of completing it, even if Martin’s part isn’t reprised in the sequel, it’s still solid enough since every other possible side-story is cleaned up and the slight mystery which isn’t, is minor.