There’s a lot to say about this one, and this being my personal favourite issue has little to do with it. From last issue’s cover, we began a departure into a more telling choice in aesthetics. A more poignant flavor to preface the events of each issue. With this issue’s cover, we may well have severed our ties altogether. Yes, this reprisal of Lucifer’s portrait (originally featured in Issue #1 as an alternate cover) is striking, but it is more of an indication of the dual structure in the comic and outside of it.
As told by the writer in his personal Tumblr, the events Lucifer went through in the first arc (The Faust Act: 1-5) are mirrored by Laura in the current arc (Fandemonium: 6-11). We won’t be reaping any symmetry in terms of events with this duality, but we do have a thematic repetition. After all, Laura and Luci were a unit of sorts from the very beginning. Their stories went through different arcs, but both stem from a shot at relevance otherwise unattainable as regular human-beings.
All things considered, we already have a pretty solid idea of what that means for the events to unfold, so let’s get to it.
“No one gets a happy ending”
We start off on a dreary note as Laura stands alone, watching the night pass by at Hilly Fields’ park. She dwells on the past events, especially the awakening of the twelfth god, which essentially kills her chance to become a god. You know what they say, that light shines the strongest when in the dark? Well that’s what’s happening here. With a snap of her fingers, she starts making her way home with poise and resolve. Her inner monologue revolves around the doom that awaits the Pantheon. Although she is not a god herself, she still seeks to be their truest ally. Whether this intention is genuine or just a means to pull herself forward is anyone’s guess.
You know that feeling when don’t hear back when applying for a job? How you’re at a loss for words when you get a call to let you know otherwise? Whether you keep a look of outrage, disappointment, or apathy, it crumbles in an instant. As her reinvigorated mood reaches its peak, a visit from Ananke in her backyard catches Laura off guard. She’s come to discuss something, and we know she’s not one to dwell on trifling matters. Let’s keep in mind that the wheel of the Pantheon is closed now: all seats are taken. Laura has been close to several gods, but the consequences of her involvement are actually pretty small. Godhood doesn’t sound like something you’ll get into by being a simply friend of the club. The pulse quickens as Ananke reveals herself to Laura.
Meanwhile, a party’s going down at Inanna’s place. To be frank, ‘party’ and ‘place’ apply pretty loosly. The ‘place’ vaguely resembles Stoke Newington Unitarian Church, but it’s still far from a regular church. This is literally a Starlit Gospel of Sex (caps very much intended). Before we can start wishing we were there, we ‘d best be aware that so is Baphomet. As in the previous issue, his murderous resolve shrinks in the wake of performance (lame allusion to impotence purely incidental). So Baphomet once again summons his astral enabler to neutralize his unwillingness (or perhaps his conscience). In the end, the fact that Inanna loves what he does pushes Baphomet into doing the dirty, bloody deed. Flaming staff mode: on.
Once more, Baphomet attacks. Although no other god is around to parry his attack, it proves just as ineffective as last issue. He seems to have forgotten that Inanna is a divination god, and he can do all sorts of crazy magnificent things with stardust, as you do. Inanna greets Baphomet amiably, but won’t give him an audience while he’s in such a murder-y mood. Even in the face of death, Inanna’s serene demeanor stands.
Although he’d never been in a fight before, he dodges each of the hellfire god’s attacks with relative ease. Unfortunately, before Inanna can counterattack, Baphomet plays the creepy guile card and binds him with a crucifix hanging on his back.
After a pretty cool action sequence that vaguely reminds us of Baal and Sakhmet vs. Lucifer on Issue #5 (‘cept with more GOTH), Baphomet approaches for the kill. Inanna tries to parley, initially clueless to Baphomet’s motives, but he works them out pretty quickly. At this moment, the divination god takes the fearless, frank tone of one who knows he’s doomed. Innana clearly sees Baphomet’s fear of dying. Although Inanna was aware of death breathing in his own ear, he is happy, so he doesn’t mind dying young. At the same time, even if Baphomet has a few years more on him, he’ll still be afraid. As a consequence, he’ll likely kill again and again to stave off the inevitable.
And how does Baphomet respond to being read so easily? With a killing blow that destroys everything. Miffed as he may be at the notion, he seems to share such defensiveness in the face of silver tongues with Cass. “Fuck you” is the signature response of the cornered. So long, Inanna. We loved you.
Back at Laura’s, Ananke tells Laura that she’d noticed her. She feels bad for the young lady, yet she’s not the first one to be heartbroken at not becoming a god. The old goddess tries to offer her some solace, and some sober thinking, much like she tried to for Lucifer. Laura knows she has dodged a bullet in not becoming a god. Nonetheless, she still wants it badly. In spite of the death being one of the Pantheon involves, she would still sacrifice her future for a chance to burn bright, even for only two years. The prospect may appear all the better when her life appears grey and unbearably long to her otherwise. She feels stupid over it, but she’s not the only one. Ananke too has some shame in store, that it had taken so long to ‘find’ her.
The verb carries a momentous connotation when Ananke’s eyes glow red. Cue the rite of passage. Those at least moderately read on mythologies and deities will probably figure out who Ananke means as she speaks. Laura is this “child of the sky, betrothed to darkness”, whose mother’s grief shakes the world. However, she also includes a few cryptic words, considerably more than in the other ‘births’ we’ve seen so far in this comic (Lucifer and Urdr). Considering the dual inner structure of the plot so far, Ananke may be alluding of Laura’s role as Lucifer’s reprisal.
And now we welcome Persephone; the look suits her well, the poppies and vines breathe some freshness into the dark. As a favor to yourself, imagine Antonia Thomas like this and tell me if you don’t want a WicDiv adaptation on film or television.
Persephone feels shock at this turn of events, particularly at how she thought there only were twelve gods per Recurrence. Ananke dismisses it as something that simply never happened before. However, the red lights pop for us readers on this side of the diegetic universe. Much about this divine birth strikes with ominous flavor, and as does Laura herself. Let’s think a bit on this.
The number thirteen is always unlucky and that’s the most blatant sign. However, throughout the comic, we’ve seen the 1-2-3-4- motif. This may be a creative allusion to music as a motif (plausible considering the creators’ work in Phonogram), but also a resonance of the number four. This comic doesn’t just reincarnate mythos of the Western tradition, but of the Eastern as well. I may be reading in too deeply, but the number four is considered allusive to death and misfortune in Eastern cultures. The white page that follows with the word ‘Persephone’ also alludes to this duality as the color white represents death and mourning in the East.
It’s something to consider.
Anyway, a pleased-looking Ananke urges Persephone to do the thing she’d waited so long to do. She urges the new god to perform. Laura smiles sweetly, with meek innocence no different than a child’s. She’s scared at first, still dazzled by disbelief, but it doesn’t take long to unwind, to let it out. She utters her first note with a heartfelt tear in her eye. She’s happy, she’s in ecstasy and rapture at herself. She feels free from the shadow that’s plagued her. But she doesn’t see Ananke’s hand approaching behind. We know the position of those fingers, and their only logical conclusion.
Snap. Spoiler alert, Ananke just killed Laura/Persephone, much like she did Lucifer. Maybe this granny is not a good guy after all.
Spattered with Laura’s blood, Ananke looks on her victim’s burning body with an undecipherable feeling. Laura’s parents arrive to see what happened, and they try to run away. This is to no avail. They won’t get to mourn their daughter, as Ananke blows up their house with utter impunity. Now, the mystery behind the judge’s death and the Great Darkness becomes exacerbated. Even Ananke’s information dump during her interview with Cassandra now resonates back with a shroud of doubt, or a sea-ful of salt. Up until this moment, we had a notion of binary antagonism, some dark force to stand against. Alas, those notions of ‘good’ vs. ‘evil’ are now worth squat when spoken by Ananke.
At the beginning and end of each issue, there’s a short phrase surrounded by the Pantheon’s wheel. In issues’ past, these phrases offer some poignancy to the tone and events. I don’t much allude to these since they often don’t strike as hard as this time. It began with “It’s going to be okay.” as an allusion to Laura’s emotional state. Now, at the end, it’s very tempting to agree with the closing words. “It was never going to be okay”. The flavor of hopelessness falls heavy with the newly deceased effigy where Inanna’s was before. And Laura, the thirteenth god, she never even got hers. This issue is truly brutal.
We ask this question on every recap, but it does weigh heavier this time. There’s a great narrative uncertainty and a touch of violent defiance against the ‘knowledge’ we had been given about the Pantheon’s backstory and purpose. We’re in the dark now. And with Laura gone, what will happen next issue?
All images are courtesy of Image Comics
Saga Issue #11 Credits
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Art / Cover: Jamie McKelvie, Matt Wilson
The Trial of Two Cities Turns the Tone of Green Arrow
Hello, good readers; it’s been quite a while since I’ve done something on Green Arrow for you to all in enjoy. In part, I blame that on DC for changing the series from a bi-monthly release to once a month. Believe you me, I very annoyed about this, because now I have to wait twice as long for the next exciting issue and I am quite impatient. Yet, we can find solace in the fact even if we have to wait an extra two weeks for the next chapter in our favorite story, we know that the quality will not falter. Thirty nine issues in and Green Arrow is still one of the best titles DC has to offer. Not only is the story still as engaging as ever, but Juan Ferreyra has been featured as the artist so much recently that he’s crossing the line from occasional artist to permanent. I really hope that happens because he is one of the best, if not the best that DC has to offer right now, kudos to his talent.
As the new year comes along we are finally getting the end to the arc started last year, The Trial of Two Cities, as well as the sub-arc within the last two issues called The Fall of the Red Arrow. Not only was this part of the series over a year in the making, but it has marked a serious change in tone for the series. Not to say the series itself is depressing in retrospect, but for a while now Oliver has not known more than some major defeats at the hands of the Ninth Circle. Just to list a few things that have befallen Oliver Queen: publicly disgraced and framed for the murder of a secretary (a major plot point for this arc but we’ll get to that later), lost control of Queen Industries to a patsy of the Ninth Circle, failed to save Seattle from becoming Star City, lost friends both literally and figuratively, and strained his relationship with Dinah.
All in all it’s been a great year for us as readers, but definitely not for his character. That’s one of the reasons why the ending issue for this arc was so important. As the old adage goes, Oliver Queen has no where to go but up at this point. That’s not to say he’s seen not seen some victory here and there. The last arc so brilliantly showed that he we ready to join a higher tier of superheroes to the point where even the Justice League added their voices to his cause in a finale so moving, I couldn’t help but be proud for being a part of it for this long. The series needed this win; for once we see Oliver reach the masses with the truth and the strength to overcome his personal demons and discover who his true family is, the ones who will stick with him and us through all the good times and the bad. Now lets look at all the factors leading this to be one of the best arcs in the series and how they changed the future of Green Arrow to something that fans will surely clamor over no matter how long the wait between issues.
The Return of Moira Queen and The Fall of the Red Arrow
This one hit like a ton of bricks but also felt kind of shallow at first glance. Dysfunctional family has always been a major part of Oliver Queen’s life whether it was his actual family or his super hero one. In the previous arc to the Hard Traveling Hero, before Seattle succumbs to the influence of Cyrus Broderick and Mayor Domini we discover that Oliver’s father was a member of the Ninth Circle, be it for whatever moral reason he sold his soul to the devil. It’s only natural that Oliver would revert back to an almost child like sense of hope at the return of his mother. Call it being not the most emotionally healthy reaction on his end, but after all he’s been through with the revelations of his father, it’s hard not to understand how he feels, even if it is misplaced and we know it.
It’s let on pretty early that Moira is trying to get back into the Ninth Circles good side after a massive failure on her end with some destroyed satellites thanks to Ollie and Hal Jordan. In response, Dante (the de facto leader of the Ninth Circles) employs Shado to kill her while Moira brings Cyrus back from the brink after his fiery aftermath with Ollie. Eventually, she convinces Oliver to help recover a lost fortune that went down with the Ninth Circle ship/fortress, the inferno. Typically she betrays and leaves him for dead, yet another betrayal on his list. But at least it leads to Dinah saving him and to one of the best fights in the series so far.
With Cyrus falling victim to Shado her list of allies grows thin, yet almost in the nick of time, her former lover and assassin, Malcolm Merlyn, escapes Diggles’s custody and runs to join her side. In a three-way fight, Malcolm and Moira take on Oliver, Dinah, and Emi, while Shado tries to get a Moira no matter who is in her way. It’s exciting, full of intense action and heart break.
The tides turn when Emi selflessly takes an arrow to the chest that was meant for Oliver as a gift from his dear mother. Shado may not have been the best mother, but seeing the probable death of her only daughter sends her into a rage so fierce that both her and Moira plummet into the unknown, but not before Shado can brand her forehead with an arrow. Granted Emi does survive, but that selfless act on her end broke our hearts and filled our eyes with so many tears. It’s not known whether the two or one of them survived the ordeal but for once we saw Shado give her rage into something pure and I have a much greater respect for the character, whether she lives or dies. I definitely can’t say the same for Moira. Diggle also returns to the fold and saves Dinah from Merlyn, and comes back to team arrow for good.
The Trial of Oliver Queen
The other plot in the center stage for this arc was the trial of Oliver Queen. As stated, and of course known if you read this comic, Oliver Queen was disgraced early on in the series when he was drugged by Shado. She had put him on a boat with one of his secretaries named Wendy Poole. What followed was a smear campaign that left him look like a murderer and a drunk, up until now he thought it best to stay dead to serve Seattle as a full time Green Arrow. Though once he realized what Seattle was to become, he came back to the open as Oliver Queen leading to his arrest for the murder of Wendy Poole. Of course, he did not make things better for himself when he left Seattle again just days before his trial to the dismay of his lawyer. Of course things happened between and during the case that would lead to one of the best wins to date for Oliver.
While he was away earning the respect of the Justice League, Dinah was on the hunt for the section of the Ninth Circle that was still kidnapping the homeless and underprivileged of Seattle. The actual discovery she would make was far more important than she would imagine, Wendy Poole, the supposed dead secretary was still alive though very traumatized and damaged. It was not clear if she would speak to the court on Ollie’s behalf or she could even speak at all. Meanwhile the Ninth Circle did it’s best to try and destroy an sort of defense Oliver had. This is where making friends comes in handy as every single attempt is stunted gloriously by various members of the Justice League.
Now this is exactly moment where everything changes, and I swear I nearly through my comic with tears of victory and glory. Oliver, finally on the stand, almost ends up condemning himself in order to expose the Ninth Circle. He gives his lawyer a gold bar worth enough money to quiet all her troubles she’s had to deal with while defending Oliver. With the world watching, including the Justice League, Ollie finally exposes the enemy eluding him for so long and brings them into the light. With perfect timing, Wendy works up the courage to make herself known.
Between this and Hal Jordan’s digital proof, Oliver is finally free of his bonds and what an amazing victory this was. The arc ends with Oliver finally using his money for great things: a grant for the Seattle PD in the name of Chief Westburg to show the victorious dead will always be remembered, the repair of the intercontinental train to restore unity to the world, new renewable energy projects to save the planet and the natives who were harmed by the pipeline, and finally a new home for the forgotten and unwanted populace of Seattle.
Everything that made Green Arrow and Oliver Queen so special came into clear focus with this wonderful end to an amazing arc. I can’t wait for what is next for all those who enjoy this series. I truly hope that the readers, like Ollie, take a long deep breath to remember all he’s been through and what makes us love him and his family so much, because we all know the next conflict is just around the corner. This time Oliver and we will be ready for it.
Images courtesy of DC Comics
Pointless Flashbacks, Clunky Exposition Equal Another Atrocious Wonder Woman Issue
Gather round my friends for yet another installment of absolute garbage that is masquerading as a Wonder Woman series. Issue #42, part 2 of “Amazons Attacked,” has everything that we’ve come to expect from the talents of James Robinson: extensive focus on every character except Wonder Woman, unnecessary flashbacks to “explain” plot developments that are unconnected to the current story, and exposition & lore that is just staggeringly bad. Truly, this issue has it all.
But never fear, for I have finally decided to stop being angry—or even disappointed—over the sheer depths that this series tries to plumb. Instead I’m just going to lean back and let the filth wash over me because, really, what other choice do I have? If I let this comic continue to tear at my psyche there wouldn’t be anything left, and I won’t give it the satisfaction of taking me down with it. It doesn’t deserve my sanity.
Instead I’ll just shake my head and move on, because it’s not worth dwelling on.
Recap We’ll waste some time with Jason and then kick the mythology of the New Gods around a bit
The issue picks up immediately where the last issue left off, with Jason reappearing to Diana and Steve Trevor at A.R.G.U.S. Headquarters. Diana again asks him where he’s been—the comic specifically makes it clear that she’s had to repeat herself—and Jason can’t explain what happened to him or where he got his new armor. All he can do is say that it was “a dream of giants” as his hazy flashback shows him towered over by indistinct, gargantuan figures.
I’ll give the issue this much credit (but no more): the extended panel of minuscule Jason dwarfed by the beings that he can’t comprehend finally gives the series a scale and majesty worthy of the Greek pantheon and the New Gods. The surrounding explanation is vague and meaningless, and Diana’s expressive warmth to have him back makes no sense given that it’s only been a week and in the last issue she wasn’t even sure if she should be concerned at all, but that one panel at least got something right.
Before they can dig more into what this all means, Steve is approached by an A.R.G.U.S. operative who tells him to report immediately since Grail has been located in Bavaria. It will take several hours for Steve and the Oddfellows to get to Germany, but Jason helpfully explains that he now has new powers (that he can’t explain), so he can fly even faster than Wonder Woman and get the two of them to Grail very quickly. He takes off carrying Wonder Woman, and Steve belatedly says that he’ll meet them there.
As they fly, Diana observes that Jason is being very quiet. Jason says that he is reflecting back on everything that has happened, specifically how he first met Grail.
The comic cuts to a flashback of Jason’s encounter with the Deep Six, who had ambushed him on the Aegean back when he was living as a “mere” fisherman. The Six attack him one at a time, each helpfully naming themselves in the third person which Jason mocks in his recap. Jason defeats five of them until the sixth manages to gain the upper hand. That was when Grail appeared from a Boom Tube, saving Jason’s life in what he can now realize was an obvious setup to earn his trust.
Jumping back to the present, Jason finishes his story as they approach Grail’s location after only twelve minutes of flight. Grail has overwhelmed and is about to kill the Wild Huntsman, a German superhero, but Wonder Woman has Jason throw her so that she can reach the scene even faster and knocks Grail aside. As the two of them fight, Jason is swarmed by Parademons, the footsoldiers of Darkseid.
Wonder Woman manages to ensnare Grail in the Lasso of Truth and force her to reveal Darkseid’s plan, which is to collect the various New God relics across the earth and use them to create a connection to the ‘energy’ of the Greek pantheon and Themyscira. As she speaks, though, Grail has been concentrating and preparing herself, and because of her combined Apokolips/Amazon heritage she is able to break the lasso and make her escape.
The issue ends back at the temple of the New Gods in the Amazon jungle with Darkseid planning an attack on A.R.G.U.S. Headquarters to claim the last of the relics and activate his machine.
Review Maybe we can pretend this is some sort of avant-garde art and that’s why it doesn’t make sense
Boy am I glad that I decided to stop caring about this series, because if I did care….whoooo would this issue do a number on me.
First off, there’s the fact that (like every single issue so far) Diana simply isn’t the main character. It is—again—an issue meant to explore the backstory of Jason and talk about how all of this story is about him. He’s re-introduced as now being more powerful than even she is, with explicit dialogue to that effect as Jason talks about how he’s even faster than she is now and how his control of the elements is even more easy and natural than it was before. Two issues ago his story was about how he needs to grow the hell up, and now he’s already coming back as the new Big Power guy in the story.
We also get another flashback to his early life, four pages where Diana is theoretically present in the sense that Jason is telling this story to her, but during which she neither appears on the page nor has any dialogue. In fact, I counted, and Diana only has twenty-seven lines in the entire issue, which doesn’t even average out to two lines per page. Several sequences have her completely dialogue-less, even when she is on-panel. Jason, on the other hand, gets to give multiple speeches, and even Steve Trevor (Who only appears on four pages total) gets to have lines on pages where Diana is completely silent.
In fact, speaking of Steve Trevor and the way this series seems to go out of its way to deliberately sideline Diana, there’s the way that the A.R.G.U.S. operative goes to him at the beginning and tells him about Grail. When Wonder Woman—the SUPERHERO—is standing right next to him.
You might be inclined to say that it’s because Diana isn’t a member of A.R.G.U.S. and so the operative is just sticking to her official chain of command, except that Steve is also not a member of A.R.G.U.S. He works for the Picket, a completely separate government agency, and has neither authority within nor obligation to A.R.G.U.S. James Robinson clearly wants Steve to go back to working for A.R.G.U.S. given the way that it’s the primary agency of the series, but he hasn’t actually written that happening. He’s just stopped mentioning the Picket and hoped that the audience has forgotten about it.
But let’s back up a bit to that flashback again; the original flashback to Jason’s early life and his confrontation with the Deep Six was in issue #35. That’s seven issues ago, enough space for a different (competent) series to have written two full story arcs, or even an event minseries. It was published four months ago, which is time enough for other comics to have already begun publication and subsequently been cancelled. We have moved past that story, and returning to it now makes no sense. Most readers would likely have flat-out forgotten about it, and those who remembered probably just didn’t care.
And if they did care, if for some reason a reader really did want to know just how it was that Grail managed to trick Jason, well they would have been disappointed because this new flashback doesn’t actually answer any questions. We might know how Grail first introduced herself to Jason, but how she convinced him to turn against the father-figure he knew and loved (Hercules) there’s no mention at all. It is literally not even addressed how Grail turned “I saved your life” into “Now help me kill your loved ones” since the flashback just stops after she shows up.
Getting to the issue’s climax, the problem with the ‘reveal’ of what Darkseid’s plan is is that it isn’t a reveal. Diana might be hearing it for the first time, but we aren’t. Since it is literally just a double-page of Grail talking, and talking, and talking without the audience actually getting any new information, it is painfully dull and pointless. When you cap it with Grail somehow breaking the lasso of Truth, I just….I can’t even.
I will just close this review with a clip from Justice League Unlimited, which I linked in an earlier review, and which shows how Darkseid should handle regaining control of Apokolips instead of whatever the hell this plan is supposed to be.
It really should be that dang easy for him.
Images from Wonder Woman #42 Courtesy of DC Comics
A domestic turdstorm brews in Saga
Last Wednesday I managed to finally completely catch up on Spawn, the original Image comic series. I’m talking about (so far) 283 issues, and that’s just the main run. And you can bet that, at several points of this lengthy history, Spawn has exhibited a few failings in the writing department. Todd McFarlane’s pen notwithstanding, we can reasonably expect the story to get a little trite, a little dull; formulaic after so many issues. Some may call it the inevitable drying of the well of ideas. While things are considerably fresher in Saga‘s case, one might occasionally dread this series going the same way. Namely, every time the family reaches a state of peace and solidity.
Drama is the factor of engagement for many genres. We need that bitterness to distinguish the sweet serenity of reunion and the momentary notion that things may end up well. But we cannot expect Alana, Marko and Hazel to be broken up and feel as engaged as in issues past. If the outside threat via Ianthe’s vengeance will be the toughest baddie so far, the inner rift must also be an entirely different beast…
“This story will be the death of us”
As I’ve tastefully described in the title, most of the conflict of this issue develops under the Rocketship’s roof. Therefore, we’ll trim the meat by first looking at what goes on outside. With a naked Will in tow, Ianthe discovers they had just barely missed Marko and his family. Although this is a detriment to her plans, her resolve is not dampened in the least. In fact, she villanously revels in the chaos she will unleash once she reaches our heroes. Interestingly, the main focus of her actions has migrated to this end, whereas the grief for her dead fiance is an aspect exclusive to her hatred for Will. Silver lining in this ominous setting is Will himself, who looks quite a bit healthier.
Of course, that’s most likely a side product of the abuse he endures at Ianthe’s hands. Nonetheless, he may be yet competent enough to turn the tables on Ianthe if the time comes. As a side note, one of the morsels of emotional abuse Ianthe dishes out is the impression that Will’s actions are inconsequential, playing only to others’ relevance. This assessment is both kind-of-right and wrong. In very loose terms, Saga is indeed the story of Hazel and her parents, but he has definitely and dominantly taken full reins of his region of the narrative. So, if not only for basic comeuppance, we may look forward to Will proving Ianthe wrong in this regard in particular. Or perhaps even a comeback for his former friends.
Now onto the main course proper. This gets a little soap opera-ish.
The general state of things inside the Rocketship has been pretty swell. It would seem the greatest inconvenience is the fact that Marko can occasionally hear Sir Robot and Petrichor having intercourse late at night. But problems beneath the canopy of safety begin to arise from contrasting wants, particularly in two ways. First, Sir Robot is starting to develop feelings for Petri. Given the circumstance, he may either be an impulsive killer or a complete sap, as you do. However, while not confirming nor denying reciprocate feelings, Petri sees their nights of passion as a temporary ride, mostly due to the difference between their races.
Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? The existing taboo by the coupling of Alana and Marko’s races extends to this pair as well, given the Robots’ political alliance to Landfall. There’s also the matter of Sir Robot’s royal lineage, regardless of his denial and discarding. While sad, it appears the most sensible course of action in order to avoid the same kind of persecution Alana and Marko endure on a daily basis. And speaking of which…
Here comes the second contrast in wants: Upsher and Doff vs. Alana and Marko. By now, the journos are in the know about the fugitives’ story, but this was certainly off-the-record. Bringing the topic back up is not the most polite thing to do, so Upsher tries a second time, with an incentive: a source protection program. If they get to tell their story, the newspaper can use powerful magic to “transubtantiate” Alana, Marko and Hazel’s bodies into amphybians in order to protect their identities… and to end their persecution, once and for all. It’s expensive magic, but considering the potential story they’re sitting on, it really looks like a expense the Hebdomadal would be more than happy to afford.
It’s certainly a tasty deal. Hazel’s parents would be right to accept it. But they’d also be right to turn it down, which they do, out regard for Hazel’s biology. Plus, they are skeptical on the impact such an article could have on the war. It may baffle some and force some massive PR gymnastics, but it could ultimately do little in the grand scheme of things. Such is life, such is war. Although disappointed, Upsher and Doff still swear secrecy on the story. However, Sir Robot did overhear their conversation.
In the meantime, Hazel and Squire have a bit of a quarrel. This thing tends to happen between siblings. One accuses the other of taking a beloved toy, things get a little physical. Babysitter Ghûs intervenes to try and cool this down. Things get verbal, and somebody says something truly hurtful — tears ensue. Both tragic and commonplace at the same time, the kids touch each other’s world by something personal, linked to trauma they endured across their lives. For Hazel, it was believing Squire took Ponk Konk, unbeknowest to him, a memento of joy prior to a heartbreaking rift in her family. For Squire, it was Hazel mocking him for not having a mum.
Naturally, Hazel regrets that immediately. The conflict breaks off in the end, with Ghûs ashamed and convinced he could have handled it a lot better.
The issue ends with a conversation between Sir Robot and the Hebdomadal duo. Although it may not be the story they originally set out to get, the disgraced royal offers them a tasty consolation price. A little story he got in a brothel back in Pervious from a Robot sex worker. This lady serviced a Landfallian soldier with a nasty pre-sex guilt streak (awkward). Fella emotionally spills the beans on Phang’s doom, revealing it was an inside job at the hands of the Landfall coalition. It’s dirt all over. Sir Robot had no interest in sharing this information. But then he heard about that source protection program…
Sir Robot looks pretty secure he can convince Petrichor to become an amphibian. And he’s sure his son will do as he’s told. The formal royal looks ready to seal the deal, but we know robots pretty well by now. One thing is to listen to their words. Another is to read their faces, and see what they truly feel, want, and in this case, dread. Despite his apparent security, he is truly hoping they’ll say no.
As of now, the ramifications of such a deal menace to cause major ripples within and without this Rocketship household. Stay tuned for the age of chaos, likely to befall this galaxy.