A lot of creators grow weary of their creations long before any of their fans do. Sometimes they abandon them mid-story or at one or another point in their life without any definite ending. The latest and last Courtney Crumrin series by artist/writer Ted Naifeh manages what is rarely done in serialized fiction, sending his heroine off with a big bang.
Sadly, while the 10-issue series, the longest to date for any of the Crumrin mini-series, though the real finish is just four issues long like always, is rich on plot, its sparse and lacking on characterization. I was drawn into the world because of Courtney’s character, not because of the setting or the plot (though well done most of the time). Young kids learning that there’s a secret magic world are a dime a dozen, but characters like Courtney are rare. Raw, angry, smart, thorny, there was a lot to like about her.
Her attitude remains unchanged, but any agency has left her character. Instead Courtney becomes a tool for her uncle to distribute retribution and for Naifeh to finish his series. It really feels like Naifeh got tired of Courtney and just wanted to get it over with it.
Characters make sudden decisions that feel more informed by plot-necessaries than anything else, the plot feels barely fleshed out, just enough to get all the points across and then move on to the next development. Things happen faster and faster, but none of them feel meaningful at all. Courtney doesn’t really grow or change, she’s just hanging in until her happy ending arrives.
In his haste to reach the finish line, to get his definite ending for Courtney, Naifeh seems to have forgotten how to tell a compelling story and how to write his main character. She’s still there, but feels less like the usual mover and more like a billiard ball driven across the table until everything is solved, neatly put into its hole. The ending is okay, I guess, but to be honest leaves me far less satisfied than I hoped.
Before I read this ending, I would have thought I preferred a definite ending to Courtney’s journey than none at all, but now, I feel like the definite ending, while arguably packing a lot of oomph, feels somehow lacking. Everything is tied up with a neat little bow, leaving nothing to the imagination, nothing to wonder where to go next. Courtney’s world has become decidedly less exiting and her future seems less interesting than her past. Not sure I would call that going out on a high note.