Wednesday, July 18, 2012

#3B: The Eerie Triangle

Book #3:  "The Eerie Triangle"

Release Date:  October 1997

Front Cover:  A boy and a girl (Marshall and... Janet?) sit on a bench in a park.  "Eerie's history..."

Inside Cover:  Zebediah Eeire's statue is surrounded by Grey Martians.  And his eyes appear to be human, for some reason.  "...is an out-of-this-word mystery!"

One-Sentence Synopsis:  Marshall's research into the founding of Eerie uncovers a vast conspiracy involving the U.S. Government and the 1947 Roswell UFO crash.

Summary:
While learning about the Bermuda Triangle in history class, Marshall realizes that he has never heard anything about the history of Eerie.  Aside from a park statue of the town's founder Zebediah Eerie, there has never been any reference to Eerie's past in any class or in any town events.  The boys head to City Hall where the woman at the information desk (named Miss Information) hands them a skimpy pamphlet that covers the "entire" history of Eerie.

According to the pamphlet, Eerie was founded in 1812 by Zebediah, who lent his boots to General Harrison during the battle of Tippecanoe and, as a reward, was given the space that would eventually become Eerie.  Not satisfied with this story, the boys go to the cemetery for more info.  There, the kindly groundskeeper Digger shows them to the mausoleum used to house Eerie's body.  He mentions that a woman named Priscilla Bartlett had also been interested in the grave not too long ago.  Back at home, Marshall brings up Bartlett's name and Syndi recognizes her as a woman who went missing a few months ago.

She lends them the article about her disappearance and they notice that she was researching Eerie's history for her upcoming second book.  The boys decide to check out Bartlett's first book about UFOs at the school library.  Her book discusses the theory that the 1947 crash in Roswell, New Mexico was a government cover-up for an actual alien landing.  Her book includes images of the damaged craft, weird bodies being taken away on stretchers, and a sinister man in a black suit overseeing the operation.  The boys ask the librarian for any additional material about the founding of the town.  She is able to present them with old photographs of City Hall and the original World O' Stuff from 1812.  They notice that the original mayor and store owner look exactly like Mayor Chisel and Mr. Radford.  They also notice the sinister man in black present in a group photo with Zebediah Eerie.  This, combined with the fact that Eerie doesn't appear on any maps until 1947 leads Marshall to believe that Eerie and Roswell are connected.

The boys go back to City Hall at night and break in to the information office for more clues.  There, they notice the phone has a speed dial button for "Zebediah," they push it and a secret passageway opens up.  It leads them to a small holding cell where Priscilla Bartlett is being kept.  She explains that she made the discovery that Eerie was a fake town built to hide the aliens from the Roswell crash.  But she made too much commotion and got locked up by the men in black.  She tells them to contact National Weirdness, a tabloid that occasionally features true tales of weirdness.  They escape the underground lair through a second entrance, Zebediah's grave.  As they leave, they get attacked by a couple men in black but manage to escape.

Finally, Marshall gets in contact with the magazine and they send a reporter out right away to meet with him.  As it turns out, he is part of the conspiracy and working for the sinister man from the photos, named Specter.  Specter explains that the boys know too much, but when Marshall asks if this explains all of Eerie's weirdness, Specter is none the wiser.  In exchange for their release, Marshall agrees to send the government notes on all of the evidence of weirdness he has collected, since they have not managed to find what he has found.  They let him and Simon go, but they erase Ms. Bartlett's memory anyway.

Evidence Locker Item:  Maybe the pamphlet or the "1812" photographs, but most likely it is the textbook Marshall receives the next day in his history class: The History of Eerie: Revised Edition by Mr. Specter

References:
The X-Files - This whole story is basically one big homage to the supernatural TV show that some believe was inspired by Eerie, Indiana.  So EI is giving it's blessing to the show.

Review:
"So the government knows all about Eerie?"

I enjoyed this story a lot as a kid because it promised to answer all of the questions about the show.  Yet, I never seemed to remember what those answers were, and it turns out it's because the ending is quite rushed.  Very quickly we get confirmation that, yes, Eerie was a town made to hide aliens, but no one is sure whether that caused Eerie's weirdness, or if the weirdness attracted the alien conspiracy.  Also, Specter teases Marshall by not answering is question about Chisel and Radford being aliens.  So, it's kind of a big let down overall.

What especially hurts this story is the fact that it is basically an X-Files episode, yet it doesn't try to do anything original with it.  As soon as Roswell enters the story, you know exactly how the rest will follow.  Specter seems like a creepy fellow, but then he loses his mysteriousness as soon as he talks.  And the rest is just padding to get to the inevitable.

And then the ending is really bizarre.  Marshall uses all of his Eerie evidence as leverage and agrees to work for the government by updating them regularly.  That really defeats the whole purpose of the series, doesn't it?  I mean, he is supposed to be saving this evidence so he can bring it to an authority figure and have his suspicions confirmed.  Now he's going to aid the government in keeping everything a secret?  Why?  Don't worry, this plot point never comes up again for the rest of the series, so why even bother?

My other issue is that this story seems to completely ignore the mythology set up in the television series.  Apparently the town was built in 1947, despite episodes such as "The Dead Letter," "Mr. Chaney," and "The Loyal Order of Corn" featuring characters who lived in Eerie since at least the beginning of the 20th century.  It would have been fine if Eerie already existed and was just used as a cover up for all alien visits, not just Roswell.  But by picking one date and claiming that the two are closely interconnected, the story feels forced and not at all what we've come to expect from the show.

It could have worked had they not built up the significance so much.  But as it stands, it is a huge let down.

Random Observations:
- Why does Specter erase Bartlett's memory?  He and Marshall struck a deal.  He basically just threw away all of the information Marshall promised he'd give him.  I liked Specter better when he was creepy and seemed intelligent.  He would have made for a good recurring villain.

- If any story needed Dash X in it, this is the one.  Aliens!  We could have finally received some much needed answers!

- Perhaps the authors of the book series weren't allowed to officially answer any of the mysteries from the series.  That leaves us with these pseudo-mythology stories.  What a bummer.

Conspiracy Theories:
- Eerie was founded by aliens.  Wait, that's already in the book.

- Digger, the friendly groundskeeper, is actually one of the Roswell aliens.  But he either received brain damage or a lobotomy.  Or he is genuinely interested in helping the boys uncover the truth, while the government and the town founders are the mean ones, keeping the aliens oppressed.

Grade:  If you ignore the inconsistencies, the final reveal of Specter, and the damage done to the overall mythology, the story is fairly interesting.  C+

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