What’s Going On In Judge Parker? Is Judge Parker Going To Jail? February – May 2019.


Now that I’ve laid out what is known, as of mid-May 2019, about Alan Parker faking Norton’s death I can get back to normal. All my plot recaps, and news, about Francesco Marciuliano and Mike Manley’s Judge Parker should be at this link. If you’re reading this after about August 2019 I’ll probably have a more up-to-date for you plot recap there.

Judge Parker.

17 February – 12 May 2019.

What Happened In The Last Three Months Of Judge Parker?

Marie, longtime housekeeper to the Parkers, was distraught when I last checked in. It wasn’t my fault. It was the fault of her husband. Roy Rodgers disappeared on their honeymoon in Greece. He was caught, drunk, in a bar in Madeira. His home repair company, back home, collapsed following the alleged embezzlement of one and a half million dollars. Everyone’s suspicion: he was trying to fake his death.

The good news is this clears Marie of the suspicion of murdering her husband. She and Sam Driver fly back home to Cavelton. While she’s legally unencumbered, this has wrecked her life. She felt herself defined by her relationship to the Parkers for years, then to her boyfriend-fiancee-husband, and now … what? Mostly she wants everyone to stop trying to comfort her. Except maybe Sophie, who went through her and her band being kidnapped by her mother’s previously-unsuspected evil half-sister. They’re starting to bond over having such identity-shattering experiences. Then her husband calls.

Abbey: 'What I mean is, when Neddy confronted Godiva about their false friendship, it helped her. When Sophie visited her grandfather's grave and confronted their past, it gave her the strength to move on. Maybe confronting Roy will give you the closure you need.' Marie; 'How can I get closure if the prison guards won't let me repeatedly punch him?'
Francesco Marciuliano and Mike Manley’s Judge Parker for the 3rd of March, 2019. Honestly this is mostly what I feel when I hear someone talking about the need for closure after a trauma. I don’t want closure. I want something good and healthy instead. I want my opponent to stand in public and cry out how they were wrong and terrible and are now ashamed and everyone should remind them every day of their life how horrible they were to me, a flawless and boundlessly kind person. And then everyone does so.

Roy begs her to see him. She can’t think of any reason she would. She gets a lot of pressure to hear him out, though. From characters in the strip. Also from comics commentators. I saw a fair number of readers who thought Marie was being terrible, not to mention hypocritical. When Roy went missing got was suspected of murder, vaguely by authorities, certainly in public opinion. And she was wholly innocent. Now she won’t extend to Roy the same benefit of the doubt?

Me, I don’t think ill of Marie for not wanting to hear Roy’s line. She’s correct to feel betrayed by Roy. He literally disappeared on their honeymoon. He faked his death in ways that made her the obvious suspect. The scandal made headlines on two continents. He’d kept secret for years his company failing. And she’s had at most a couple days to deal with learning all this. It would be admirable if she were open, already, to hearing his sad story.

And she does stop to hear his story. Well, she goes to look at him in person and confirm that she’s done and moving on. But he pleads his case fast, and she listens. The company was failing. They needed ready cash. He borrowed money from the mob. His partner — the one who’s turned State’s Evidence — was stealing from the company. He figured he had to leave. He thought he could leave with Marie. He saw one of the mobsters while on their honeymoon. An expensive honeymoon, it’s pointed out, considering money was his problem. He thought he had to flee, even if he didn’t have any idea what to do after running.

Roy: 'Everyone was closing in. I had to leave. I had to leave with you. All I ever wanted was to be with you.' Marie: 'So you married me knowing you would never see me again?' Roy: 'That was never the plan! I hoped we would be together forever! But one night I saw one of the mobsters on the island and I ... I had to leave.' Marie: 'Without thinking what could happen to me. Wow, somehow you're even more despicable than before I got here. Goodbye, Roy.'
Francesco Marciuliano and Mike Manley’s Judge Parker for the 22nd of March, 2019. Me, I’m still stuck on how he got from Greece to Madeira with only what he might have taken from his hotel room the morning he disappeared. Like, I get he could swim (or whatever) to the next island or the mainland but that’s still quite a distance to cover without a passport or any money that he didn’t already have in his pockets.

It’s stupid, yes. But it’s stupid in a way I believe of people. I don’t think I’m misanthropic, not mostly. But I do figure most of us form our idea of how to plan out the world when we’re about eight, and think that other people will obviously go along with us. At worst we’ll have to trick them like we’re Bugs Bunny and they’re Daffy Duck. And that this never works doesn’t really stop us. We just accept that plans never work out but we don’t know how to have better ones.

Anyway, what Roy wants to say: the mob still wants their money, or at least their revenge, and, well, she’s an available target. So, I’m not sure what a good plan in this situation would be. I know he didn’t have one.

Does Marie have one? She was already thinking she needed to leave the Spencer-Driver world before she talked to Roy. Now she also knows she’s probably in danger for her life. Sam Driver claims he knows people who could help and set her up in a safe hiding spot. Marie thinks about it, and then decides against it. Going into hiding would be a surrender of her life. Going into hiding under Sam Driver’s protection would be surrendering her independence. She has to set out wholly on her own.

Here again I can understand her thinking. I think it’s foolish to refuse the eagerly offered protection of a family that’s not just rich, it’s soap opera wealthy rich. I mean, that’s a class of people who can just turn out to have a home in Newport, Rhode Island, that they didn’t think worth mentioning anytime the past 35 years. Granted money can’t fix broken personalities, but it can do a lot in supporting the flesh the personality depends on.

[Marie comes to a decision.] Sam: 'This is what you want?' Marie: 'Absolutely. Roy took enough from me. He's not taking my sense of self. Sure, if I go into hiding, under an assumed name, I may be safe. But I'll also spend every day looking over my shoulder, not looking ahead. I can't let that happen. Of course, I can't put this family, my family, in danger. So I'm getting my own place. So I'm starting fresh, standing on my own two feet, not running. And so --- this is the hardest thing I've ever had to say --- I'm ... I'm no longer going to be working here.'
Francesco Marciuliano and Mike Manley’s Judge Parker for the 7th of April, 2019. So this announcement shocked, I saw, many longtime readers of Judge Parker who had stronger connections to Marie than I had. I confess I’ve only been reading closely for the last couple of years, since I started doing these summaries — which has done a lot to make me appreciate the strips more — and this has been her first important story in that time.

Well, I’ve had lesser problems than Marie has. The week of the 8th of April she moves into her new apartment. We then get views of the other characters. Roy getting into fights with the inmates at Cavelton Prison. Neddy and Ronnie trying to make a go of Los Angeles again.

And, oh lord, but April Parker is back in the story. We see her, with her Mom. April left with her mother, whose name I haven’t caught. I’m going with Candice Bergen in the meanwhile. Candice Bergen has been training April in the ways of being a somehow even more super-hyper-ultra-duper secret agent for hire. April’s determined to rescue Norton, her father, from his Super Mega Hyper Duper Extra Special Secret Agent Jail. Candice Bergen insists Norton is dead. April doesn’t believe it. She knows anything about soap operas.

April: 'Mom, I will forever thank you for rescuing me. And for the current odd combination of paramilitary training and meditation. But I can't just hide. I can't just do nothing.' Mom: ''Nothing'? You and Wurst have gone on numerous missions.' April: 'I've gone on *jobs*, Mom. *I* have a mission.'
Francesco Marciuliano and Mike Manley’s Judge Parker for the 24th of April, 2019. That we don’t see Candice Bergen’s lips open does have to be a conscious choice at this point, right? It’s a subtle way to make the character that bit extra weird. It’s going to break my heart if Mike Manley pops in to say oh, no, that’s just how the panels happened to make sense every time he’s drawn her.

(And this is not at all relevant to Judge Parker. But. I caught an advertisement for The Young and the Restless this past week. It started with how, on [ date ] three years ago, [ character ] died, and showed the footage of the building fire. And then, coming this week … and they showed someone declaring “[ character ] is alive”. It was such a wonderful pure moment of what soap operas are for. I kind of regret knowing nothing about The Young and the Restless so I can’t truly appreciate [ character ] not having died in [ incident ]. And how cleverly he [ whatever he did to be not dead ].)

And that leads to the current events. The 27th of April established that Toni Bowen’s memoir was ready for publication. Among the things this Cavelton-to-national-to-Cavelton reporter reveals many things. The biggest is that Judge Alan Parker helped arms-dealer and generally-exhaustingly-bad-guy Norton fake his own death. And worse, it’s all true. Katherine Parker quits her job with the memoir publisher, and realizes that’s what her boss really wanted. I’m not clear why he did want her to quit, but it does explain why he’s involved her in the publication of a book with scandalous news about her husband.

Still, she has the PDF proofs for the memoir. And Judge (retired) Alan Parker has to confirm that yeah, it’s correct, and it’s awful. All he can think to do is go public with the news first. The goal is to convince the public that he was trying to protect his son and daughter-in-law. That daughter-in-law is April Parker. She’s a rogue, disgraced CIA agent who broke out of Mega Ultra Duper Secret Spy Jail and is roaming the world looking for people to kill for money. He calls Sam Driver for advice.

Sam: 'We'll have a press conference before review copies of Toni's book are sent out. You'll admit to what you did. You'll say how you were only trying to protect your family, how you felt you had no other option.' Alan: 'Right, right.' Sam: 'But you have to realize, Alan. There is no grand upside here. We may get them to see things our way, but in the end, you *will* be going to prison.'
Francesco Marciuliano and Mike Manley’s Judge Parker for the 11th of May, 2019. Alan: “But … we can mention how I wrote bestselling novel and soon-to-be-major-motion-picture The Chambers Affair, right?”

Sam’s direct about this. Alan just confessed a crime to him. There’s little to mitigate this. Norton had not threatened Alan or his family when he asked for help faking his death. Alan felt threatened, he says now, and that maybe helps. And yeah, Norton did end up holding Alan hostage and drugging him and bringing crazy and violent people into his life. I know, it’s so weird that inviting CIA people into a life results in physical harm, mental torment, and widespread misery. But there you have it. But all that came later, after the faked death certificate. Sam can’t see a way out of this which doesn’t involve Judge Alan Parker — the original center of this longrunning story comic — going to prison.

So will he? I don’t know. I could imagine circumstances where he doesn’t. He’d — I infer — helped Norton fake his death right after Romanian mobsters launched armed raid on his son’s wedding reception. He could (honestly!) claim he was trying to save a family member from future armed raids. And, well, he is rich and white and was on the bench for decades. I can easily imagine the district attorney going light on him.

But I can also imagine Marciuliano deciding not to. He’s been happy to put characters through the ringer before. He’s had Sophie Driver kidnapped and tortured for months. He’s made Abbey Driver’s father a bigamist with a secret second family. He made Godiva Danube a celebrity drug smuggler before killing her. And he is, really, simply following up the implications that were already in the strip when he took over writing. I think he’s bold enough to do it. I don’t know whether he would. It’s exciting that it’s plausible, though.

Next Week!

In seven six days I look into my first rerun storyline since Gasoline Alley came back. It’s Roy Thomas and Alex Saviuk’s The Amazing Spider-Man Again.

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Author: Joseph Nebus

I was born 198 years to the day after Johnny Appleseed. The differences between us do not end there. He/him.

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