What an amazingly done page! I love how this page at once reads as linear and non-linear. You see the progression of this specific night, but also get the distinct impression that this is a constant cycle: each panel a vignette around the central image of Melanie looking very tired of all of this, yet lost as to what to do about it.
I think the saddest part of all this is that, from my impressions, Melanie is really quite alone. Devon (playing on her obvious need to please) has done a good job of alienating her from everyone she could turn to :(
You've crafted out of, what seemed like a background character at first, a very accurately written female archetype. It seems everyone in her life expects something of her (parents, boyfriend, brother) and she can't yet tell anyone "no." She's Everybody Else's Girl :)
Well you certainly have sparked much discussion among all of your readers Mr. Twist. This is a fantastically well written story if it can get your audience so involved and actually make them angry, sad, happy, etc. Though now at the chapters end, I just have nothing left to say about it. Can only repeat my opinion so much :P
It had to happen some day: I find myself forced to disagree with Ms Rori.
I do see something new in the last panel; Melanie's smile looks strained for the first time. So far, she'd come across as a sunshine-bright-cheery-fun person, now she looks sad and failing to hide it. We've seen her hide away to let her sadness out at Christmas and again in panel 5, but that awful false smile in panel 9 - now that's been unseen so far.
So no, it may not exactly be a cycle. (It could be a spiral.)
Oh, and I'm disappointed by this page on at least one count. I had wondered if Devon was any good in bed - which would make for at least one reason for her to stay, and I can't really tell from panel 4 (or another). If anyone can, feel free to comment further.
Who else feels that if panel 7 had been in the old B&W format, Melanie would have looked a lot like Michelle with bleached hair?
One last thing: I noticed the shiner in panel 7 and checked backwards, as I hadn't noticed it before. What do you know - it's been there all along in the previous two pages. The only panel where it doesn't readily show is on this page, panel 1. Which leads me to conclude that Devon kisses her right on it in that same panel. I'm hesitating between outrage - how does he dare? - and emotion - after all, I do kiss my wife's hand when I scratch her by mistake because of my long guitar player's nails.
I dare say you may be reading into panel 9 a bit too much, JD. I think if it was intended to look like a strained smile, it would be made more evident. Nothing in particular stands out to me in the last panel. It's a simple matter of Melanie falling back into her same old self-destructive-insecurities-masked-by-cheery-optimism pattern. I doubt it's intended to be more complicated that that; that's painful enough to watch as it is. Peter's overarching monologue suggests nothing changes in her behavior. "She always made bad choices."
Ludlow, I will soon propose that we agree to disagree on the matter of Melanie's possibly strained smile, but for now allow me to back up my point by proposing you look up page 3 of chapter 1.03 - the Cat in the Box. I'll even provide the link :
I see a world of difference between both attitudes. Though I'll admit she may have had a drop more cheeriness towards friends of her brother's, to me it doesn't account for the whole.
(Also, note in page 4 of same chapter, how gleefully she declines an invitation from Andy, as opposed to how she did the same at the beginning of this chapter. I see an evolution here as well, that may have to do with Peter's presence, or Christo's - apparently he annoys the hell out of Devon, or the fact that at long last Andy and Patrick's band gets some measure of success - which would also irk Devon.)
(And by the way, I like my nickname lowcased. Little quirk of mine.)