Saying good bye to our friend Kinsey
It's been almost ten years of occasional bursts and gaps that I have been reading Kinsey Millhone's adventures. I sped up as she approached Z, but then her author died and I slowed way back down. And now, six years after Sue Grafton's passing, here we are. At the end.
But we'll get to that in a minutes.
Before then, you'll see two pairs of comics that I read together, momentum taking me from book one to book two twice, in two very different genres.
051) More Gross: Cartoons by S. Gross, finished May 9
052) I Am Blind and My Dog Is Dead by S. Gross, finished May 9
I just saw that Sam Gross died and so I sat down and read a couple of his collections off archive.org, from 1981 and 1977. The '81 collection in particular had a number of gags that I don't think he could sell today. We're a bit more respectful of taboos in this moment.
More frustrating however was that the scans caused a few jokes to get lost in the space between pages, sucked into the spine. Boo!
Anyway, Mr Gross. You had a good run. Thanks for the laughs!
as long as it takes to read this many cartoons
053) Batgirls: One Way or Another by Becky Cloonan / Michael W. Conrad / Jorge Corona / Sarah Stein, finished date
It's been years since I read Cass's origin and I don't think I've read any Steph before and haven't seen the walking-again version of Babs, which is to say I'm not reading DC like once I did. But I really dug this collection of the three Batgirls working together. I love seeing how Cass has evolved, I liked Steph, and while I was worried about the new Babs I love her in this mentor role and I'm glad that her past injuries (which should never have happened as they did) are not completely gone and influence her character still.
Diving into the updated mythos was at times headspinning, but at least only a couple times were there missing chunks from other titles. The mix of villains was heady and complex and overlapping in interesting ways. Not everything was developed to a level we'd want in a proper novel or film, but honestly I don't care. To me, the story ultimately was not about the villains or the mysteries or the resolutions—the story was about these three women and their relationships with each other. And that was excellent.
It's funny that the books quoted The Incredibles near the end, because I wanted to talk about capes. And I can't talk about capes without recognizing that the final word on capes came in 2004. That said, Jorge Corona's use of capes in this book is, ah, incredible. It's not about realism. The Batgirls' capes are TERRIBLE IDEAS in terms of "realism" or "practicality" but they are beautiful and they capture important aspects of character. They are a little symbol each Batgirl carries around with her, adding a layer to every image, some other truth that no other detail will express in the same way.
I mean—look at this:
It's not the best example of what I'm talking about, but it's the best shot of all three capes in one panel, and though I've told you nothing about their individual characters, don't you feel something about them, just from this image of them walking away?
two or three days
054) Batgirls: Bat Girl Summer by Becky Cloonan / Michael W. Conrad / Neil Googe / Robbi Rodriguez / Rico Renzi, finished date
Storywise, this one's much cleaner. Largely because the bulk of it is wrapping up the minor storyline from the previous volume.
Lots of different artists worked on this one. At first in particular I missed Corona, but some of the later styles worked better with the characters. I do appreciate that so many different kinds of art are finding home in mainstream comics. That's exciting. It makes me want to read more of them.
The new characters Cloonan and Conrad are writing into the story intrigue as well. This feels like real fertile ground. Sure, old hands like the Penguin, the Riddler, and Killer Moth make appearances, but the barely seen Mr Fun has potential and the normies Kyle and Maps* would be fun to see again as well.
What I like about this series (based on these twelve issues in two volumes) is how fresh and alive and free to innovate it feels. It's tied into DC tradition but doesn't feel fettered by it. That's the best of what these decades-old universes can provide.
055) Y is for Yesterday by Sue Grafton, finished May 12
So that's it. Kinsey Millhone's adventures are over. Part of me was worried that the ongoing stories the author'd been compiling would go unresolved in a big way, but this was a pretty tidy conclusion.
Lotsa spoilers here, but I want to mention the following:
Jonah's finally getting divorced.
Grafton never found a way to reconcile Kinsey with the originally introduced surprised relatives (I suspect Sue lost interest in them the way Charles Schulz lost interest in Shermy), but the much more grating set of relatives from Bakersfield surprised by giving Kinsey just enough family to fill the gap. And it was with the surprisingly sweet person that sure seemed like a monster when she first followed her back to Santa Teresa. Kinsey's even getting a lil nibling and a hint that she could be some sort of Aunt Gin herself in the future.
Lots of good endings for recently introduced minor characters, one of whom gets some sort of girl-power line near the end that almost seems like a thesis statement for the entire series.
Henry made it through all twenty-five books without being murdered or anything! From book one I suspected that would be a fridging deemed necessary somewhere around N. But no: he's as healthy as every—and his pro-person attitude is shown to be correct in a big way.
We'll never get Z is for Zero, but I do hope her notes get published. This book's ending makes me suspect that, as she was writing/finishing it, Sue Grafton knew it would be her last. And I'm glad for Kinsey that her creator, apparently, always intended her to end well.
There is still Kinsey & Me to read (my mom bought be a copy) and I will certainly read it, but the novels strike me as the true canon. I will read it, but I think I may let the ending be the ending for a while, and leave Kinsey is this satisfied spot.
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y
a few weeks