We’ve asked this same question on several occasions before. What fault does a child have for the horrible things that occur around them, or for their parents’ shortcomings and society’s? None. That is why home is home, because it’s meant to be a safe place where they can develop strong and wise, regardless of everything else within or without. The nucleus at home is always prone to variations. But a mum, a dad, a grandma, a pet. a babysitter, and a living household sounds ideal. Would that it could last forever.
With all that’s been going on regarding Alana, Marko, and the brewing chaos in the Robot Kingdom, we’ve lost focus on some secondary characters. This comic has repeatedly showed us that nothing is actually trivial. Characters and actions that we’d otherwise dismiss as irrelevant add something vital to the whole picture. And this includes fart humour, which is how Izabel proposes the origin of the universe to amuse little Hazel. Grandma Klara walks in with her accustomed stern-ish demeanour. One would think she may not think fart jokes to be the best way to entertain a little kid, but we don’t really know what she’s saying, as she’s speaking her native Wreath tongue. (Or do we, linguists of the world, care to chance a try?)
It appears that the translator rings worn by Alana and Marko are off-range, so automatic translation is no-go. Considering what we know thus far about their respective activities, this is pretty concerning. Since little Hazel is good at picking up languages (plausible, since kids do tend to learn languages better when young), she understands what granny is saying. She’s worried about her son and her daughter-in-law. She has a lot of right to be.
At work, Zipless and the rest of the troupe are entangled in a slimy situation. As a personal parenthesis, I just love that we don’t get any context to the scenes where Alana is performing. They’re wonderfully absurd that any explanation would kill the charm. Anyway, as we can tell by the change in Alana’s speech bubbles, something is not quite right with her. This is further evident by the absent-minded delivery of her improvised lines. After the curtain fall, Yuma approaches and she doesn’t look happy. Before Alana can ask her for more Fadeaway (RED ALERT), Yuma chews her out on her apparent improvised line. It’s a line from one of Heist’s novels. Say what you will about Yuma’s role in supplying the troupe with narcotics, but she’s clearly concerned about Alana’s situation.
However slight the possibility, she worries someone might make the connection between the character and the actor from that line. This would mean certain end for the cover, and the hunt for her family would thus resume. Alana doesn’t think much of this concern, as D. Oswald Heist was a relatively obscure author. The line was also not overly indicative of the novel’s subversive tone, if at all. However, Yuma also has a lot of right to worry, as somebody did make the connection: Upsher from the Hebdomadal. It feels very plausible that he would know D. Oswald Heist as an author of liberal discourse. This line will certainly come to Gardenia to bite some ass, eventually.
Meanwhile, in the Robot Kingdom, Prince Robot IV has come to mourn his wife. Both his attire and the mental image on his head-screen are in tune with the situation, which is rare. He genuinely loved the Princess, which imbues this paradoxically plausible universe with some more fantasy. Soon enough, we meet King Robot, and he’s what you’d expect. A kingly presence with a massive head-screen to suit the status. PRIV swears to the King that he’ll pursue and kill Dengo and rescue his son, but the King deems his purpose unnecessary, given the failure in his mission to take out Alana and Marko. The Prince protests but the King strikes him and confines him to his chamber. This is a father dismissing his son’s PTSD as trivial and then grounding him. And then the King fucks off.
Enter Special Agent Gale for a word with the Prince. PRIV has every intent of killing him as he did Mama Sun, but Gale has quite the silver tongue. He claims that he can help him find his son. Although Landfall has refused to intervene, Gale is willing to help as the Princess was a good person, with a very filthy mouth. Landfall’s mistrust towards allies such as the Robot Kingdom has resulted in the clandestine installation of tracking devices on every ship in the Prince’s fleet. One could say Gale is committing treason in revealing this information to the Prince, which goes to show that he may be sincere in his intent. The Special Agent warns him about the stakes. In the best case scenario, Dengo’s just fleeing. Worst case scenario, he’s brewing a revolution; considering how bad things are in the Kingdom, this is a real danger.
Back in Gardenia, later that evening, a co-worker gives Alana a ride back home. As another favour, she gives Alana two more doses of Fadeaway. If Hazel’s mum isn’t hooked, she’s standing on the threshold of addiction. As chance would have it, she meets Marko on the way home from groceries’ shopping. Timing can unleash disasters waiting to occur. Marko criticises Alana for this new habit, while Alana calls him out on Ginny. The blame game begins now. He says she’s Hazel’s dance teacher, but Alana reveals that he’s been saying her name in his sleep. Marko acknowledges nothing, and instead shifts the fire towards his wife, asking if she had even been high in front of Hazel. Alana nonchalantly says she may have been, to which her husband reacts by throwing the groceries bag at her.
This is it. The schism. Alana won’t have any apologies. She effectively yells at Marko to leave. And so, Marko leaves. Both Klara and Izabel witness the whole thing from the ship’s window while Hazel sleeps peacefully. Blissfully unaware that things have changed for the definite worse. The world she knew was one where her family was whole and happy. The world she’ll know when waking up will be one where her family is fractured, and all love comes with sorrow.
Later that night at T.O.C. Productions where Alana works, Yuma is talking with the troupe and showrunner. She is very worried that Alana is pulling herself apart from her habit. Someone is quick to point out Yuma’s role in it, which she definitely has, as pusher. Suddenly a stranger walks up to them, wanting access to the Open Circuit. It’s Dengo, and he has a gun. Although he is polite in his demand, he doesn’t hesitate to kill everybody, but Yuma – who bargains for her life by telling him she can get him something more valuable than airtime. It’s unlikely that her Fadeaway will do the trick, so it must be something else… or somebody.
Stay tuned for the immediate aftermath to the disaster.
Writer: Brian K. Vaughan
Artist: Fiona Staples
All images are courtesy of Image Comics