Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Saga Book 5 (#25-30) NSFW

NSFW: Pregnant sex!

"Cheer up beard of sorrow" - Yuma

Summarising Saga is getting to be a big task as there are so many plot threads and characters in play it defies easy condensing.  But I will try.  The heart of the story is that a planet called Landfall and it's moon Wreath are at war and have been for a very long time.  Wreathian soldier Marko, a horned male gave himself up on becoming a pacifist and was overseen as a P.O.W by female Landfall soldier Alana who has wings.  They fell in love and ran away, having a daughter Hazel at the start of book one.  Both governments want to get a hold of them, Landfall sent Prince Robot IV to chase them down, Wreath hired a bounty hunter called The Will.  While Prince Robot IV was away his wife gave birth to a boy and she was murdered by a lower class Robot janitor called Dengo who took off with the Princeling to serve his revolutionary agenda.  The Will meanwhile is in a coma after being stabbed by the hallucinating girl he saved from a sex slave ring and called Sophie.  She, his pet Lying Cat and Marko's ex-fiance Gwendolyn are seeking a cure for him and have been joined in their quest by The Will's sister The Brand.  There was a two year time skip at some point and Hazel is now a toddler. After hiding out on a planet called Gardenia where Alana got an acting job to keep them, Marko lost his temper with her over her use of drugs. He lashed out at her and although immediately contrite she sent him away.  He returned to the rocketship where they live later only to see it hijacked by Dengo and fly off without him.  Now he and Prince Robot IV have discovered they can use a little alien shepard called Ghus's ability to connect with his herd to track the ship which has one of his animals aboard as Hazel's pet. The future Hazel provides retrospective narration and opinion. Brian K. vaughan provides the words and Fiona Staples gives us the pictures.  Let's continue.
War.  What IS it good for?
Hazel tells us that for centuries the goverments on Landfall had relied on a draft to fight the war with.   Playing up Wreathian atrocities to increase application to gain revenge even as the mounting figures dampened enthusiasm to fight.  The draft was eventually replaced with an all volunteer force those who came to the call came out of many reasons; geuine patriotism, looking for adventure, escaping a bad situation, the only thing in common was they were as "poor as shit".

The war shifted to new fronts, to augment their dwindling forces both sides pretty much press-ganged the local where they were fighting into joining their respective armies.

Hazel: "Before long, almost everyone in the universe had skin in the game."

However the further the fighting was from Landfall and Wreath, the more an uneasy peace developed on those planets.  Civilians could enjoy pursuits other than the more pressing life or death, everyone sitll supported the troops but in an "abstract way".  For the majority back on Landfall the war was something that would never impact their lives.

Hazel: "Lucky them".

We then return to young Hazel being led through the snow by Dengo, who still has the Princeling slung round his front.  We're given a quick introduction to Dengo, the Robot seeking revenge over both sides waging the war, because his people had been dragged into it and they care more about the war than their people. 
Dengo with the Princeling and Hazel.
His son dying of a treatable disease had motivated him to kill the Princess and take the Princeling.  Taking Hazel hostage and escaping in her families wooden rocket hadn't been part of his plan but he grabbed the oportunity Hazel's existence provided with both hands.

Inside the rocket, Alana, still in withdrawal from the drugs she got addicted to in the last book, and Klara her step-mother are surviving being locked up in one of the rockets rooms by milking the giant pet of Hazel, the one Ghüs can detect. 
Alana and Klara.
They've been held like this for three months, and due to the place having three suns that never seem to all setat once, the ghostly Izabel hasn't been able to appear. Klara says they need to fight back and breaks off some wood saying Alana needs to stab Dengo in the neck which is their weak point.

Meanwhile, The Brand, Sophie and Gwendolyn are looking for dragon semen on the planet Demimonde.  They find a dragon and it rears up in front of them.  The Brand says she'll draw it's attention while they aim for it's boy parts. "I don't think they are boy parts" says Sophie and the dragon covers them in a flood of unrine to attract others.  Who quickly appear.
Dragon jizz needed not dragon pee!
Finally we check in on Marko and King Robot IV, with Ghüs and Yuma.  Robot IV and Marko are at each other's throats the whole time.  Yuma tries to break up the fight they are having, but Marko says if it wasn't for Yuma selling his family out they wouldn't be in this mess.  He leaves the bridge saying, "you all disgust me".  Ghüs looks upset, "what did I do?"  Marko goes to his quarters, picks up Hazel's doll and starts weeping.

Hazel: " had been months since dad and I had last seen each other.... and it would be years before the two of us would see each other again."

Years?! YEARS!!!!?!  BKV you're killing me. Back with Alana, Dengo tells her he's enacted his plan B.  Alana says no, you've not bought The Rebellion here?  Dengo says "'Rebellion' is for teenage girls.  I called The Revolution"

On a supply stop Marko comes across a fellow Wreathian robbing the shop. He attacks him and starts beating the guy senseless until Ghüs comes in and asks what he is doing. Marko stops hitting him but Robot IV and Yuma say they should kill him now he's seen Marko.  Marko says he said "no killing".  Robot IV says he still thinks that's "fucking asinine" but whatever.  Yuma steals some drugs off the mans body and says she'll erase the surveillance footage.
The Revolution (will not be televised).
Back with Alana who is hysterical at the thought of The Revolution getting ahold of Hazel.  She says they are terrorists, but Dengo says they pratice asymmetrical warfare because their opponents, Landfall and Wreath are so powerful.

Alana says Dengo cannot trust them. She says she emphathises with him over the loss of his son, and that because he has been good to Hazel she knows he's a decent man.  He says he appreciates her concern, "but the die has already been cast".

The Brand, Gwendolyne and Sophie are having a hard time against the dragons.  But Sophie has an idea, she thinks the size of their brains proves they are intelligent and Gwendolyn should readjust her translation necklace to talk to them.  Gwendolyn does and Sophie yells "Everyone be friendly!"

The dragons stop attacking. Sophie apologises to them and tells them what they are looking for.  The lady dragons say all the bull dragons bar one have beenn hunted to exctinction.  One is left on "Hill Dontgo", the dragons start to leave but as they do so the leader says of the final bull, "...he is very, very unkind."  On a hill, a man with the body of a spider is watching them through a sniper-scope.
Just Say No, Marko!
On the ship with Marko and the others, he is in his quarters brooding when Yuma comes to see him.  She assures him they'll get his family back. He says he wants them safe but doesn't expect him to take him back because he is "sick".  Because of the violence in him that he tries so very hard to repress but ended up with him lashing out at the woman he loves.

Yuma is somewhat high and not really able to give advice.  He wants to know why a Wreathian veteran would be carrying the drug "Fadeaway" she stole.  She says most veterans use it.  Marko asks if she pushed it on Alana, but Yuma says "she leapt with open arms".

Marko: "Why? What is it she wanted to feel so badly?"

Yuma: "Peace".

The Revolution have arrived at the wooden rocketship.  The leader is a snake bodied man called Quain.  When Alana and Klara try to prevent him taking Hazel he is able to put them to sleep with one command. 
"I've made a huge mistake" thinks Dengo.  Probably.
When Quain realises Dengo is the man who assassinated Princess Robot IV and kidnapped the Princeling he gives him a huge hug and says "brother you and I are going to do wonderful things".

Hazel: "This was the moment Dengo began to accept my mom had been right.  How could he have forgotten everything he learned as a father."

We than join Prince Robot IV who is having a sex dream involving his dead wife. He wakes up and restlessly looks for Marko only to come across him lying on the floor foaming at the mouth, "bugger fucking all" he sighs.
Marko and Alana do have Lots of sex don't they?
We then get a flashback to Alana and Marko having sex while she was pregnant.  She asks him to "come on, pull my hair.  Spank that fat ass". He stutters that he can't, "I'm not going to strike the mother of my child."  She says she just wants to feel sexy again.   She says she just wants a little rough trade, so what's the matter?

Marko confesses that he hit a girl once, "it was the worst day of my life."  He was seven years old.  His next door neighbours young girl had been practicing her fire spells on his family's dog.  Seeing someone hurt something so defenceless made something "snap" inside him.  Alana says it's not like he murdered her, but Marko says he may as well have done.  The very worst part was seeing his father's disappointment.

Then Alana turns into a mop headed creature saying "then why did you attack me?"  She say no one is buying his "tortured pacifist routine" and she turns into Hazel's doll as a demon bursts out from inside her. It says "you drove your family away. And they're never coming back!"  The flashback is in fact the tortured dreams the drugged Marko is having.
Prince Robot IV and Ghus find the overdosing Yuma and Marko.
Yuma is in a bad way as well, she manages to say she got a bad batch of Fadeaway and if they aren't rescued from it they'll trapped in their own minds forever. They try calling Poison Control but the line is busy. Ghüs says The Robot Kingdom has the best doctors, they should call them.  Robot IV says he can't because he is on the run, Marko will have to die. But Ghüs says they'll never take on Dengo without Marko's help so reluctantly Robot IV agrees to call.

Marko is trapped in a spiral of memories.  He is a soldier fighting a battle, but a major attack he launches hits a civilian car, killing the father and leaving the son alive next to his dead body.  His memories flash all over the place, fighting, being a kid, being with Alana.  Meanwhile Robot IV calls his private physician and manages to get some confidential advice on what to do.  They need to make them purge and Robot blood is mildly toxic to other species so they can use that.

Marko is now reliving the memory after he hit the girl as a child.  Silently his father Barr pulls off Marko's top then unbuckles his belt and begins beating Marko with it.  With each hit he remembers the war, Alana and finally Hazel.  Then he wakes up. Yuma apologises for his first hit being that way.  "It was perfect" says Marko.  He wouldn't do it again but now he finally gets Alana.

Marko: "And I think I finally understand myself again.  And I know what I have to do now... I'm going to find the man who ripped my family away from me.  And I'm going to cut his fucking head off."

We then join The Brand and Sophie having a fireside chat while Gwendolyn sleeps.  "So yeah. That's what abortion is" says The Brand as we come into a conversation halfway through.  Sophie says it's cool knowing things like that, people don't want to tell her things because she's a kid.  The Brand says people usually ask what it feels like to kill.  "How does it feel?" asks Sophie.
The Brand and Sophie chat.
The Brand says really she hasn't killed that many people.  She is more about intimidation, negociation "and the occasional broken nose."  When she did kill it was "not great".  Sophie says The Will didn't seem to mind killing much.  The Brand says he always was "pretty direct". 

She tells Sophie that when they cure The Will he'll go right back to what he was doing before, "are you sure you're OK with that?" Sophie says that maybe the universe is better off not having certain people in it, and the spider-bodied man comes walking up aiming all his guns at The Brand.  "Halvor" says The Brand.

Back with Alana and co. she, Klara and Hazel are carried, still unconcious, to The Revolution's spaceship.  Alana begs Dengo when they are alone.  He says The Revolution are his allies, Alana says "you stopped believing that the second they opened their mouths".
Alana talks some sense into Dengo.
He mumbles that what can one man do to stop them?  Alana says the snakeman's charm powers don't work on Robots, if he takes him, she and Klara can handle the others.  She swears that they are the only way they'll get him and the Princeling out of this situation alive.

On Marko and Robot IV's ship, Yuma is crying.  When Ghüs comes to give her the news they are in the same system as he felt Hazel's pet "Friendo" in, she says to him "I'm a strung out, backstabbing, useless old cunt."  Ghüs says she makes the ship smell nice with her flowers, she says he's sweet and wouldn't understand.  Ghüs frowns and says "Ghüs has been a lot of things in his day.... but sweet is not one of those things."
The Robot King wants his wayard son back home.
He says she's been doing her best to fix her mistakes, she says she's just made Marko more unstable.  Then the ship goes to red alert.  A ship has appeared from the Robot Kingdom to take Prince Robot IV back, the doctor did rat him out.  The Robots aboard say if he fails to comply, "you will be stripped of all titles... and then sentenced to death for treason against your kingdom".  Robot IV thinks they are bluffing, until they fire on them. "Battle stations" yells Marko.

Back with The Brand, Halvor stands down when Gwendolyn holds him up from behind.  Then he explains he is here on behalf of his dead sister, The Stalk, who was The Will's lover for a while.  He wants Prince Robot IV dead for killing her, they tell him The Will is in a coma and can't do anything right now. 

Halvor hands them a giant eardrum from the skull of the beast that formed part of The Stalk's ship that Prince Robot IV took.  He tells them they need to be round the other side of the moutain to find the male dragon.  He leaves saying revenge is a luxury only those without children to support can indulge in.

We join Alana and her family in a bad situation.  The Revolution have agreed to hand Hazel over the the Wreathians.  Desperately Alana breaks free of her captor and grabs a sword, but Quain says "Be Still" and she freeze in place and as Hazel is taken away she can only move enough for a tear to trickle down her cheek.
Yuma sacrifices herself.
Onboard Marko and Robot IV's ship things also look bad.  There's a warning light that something is wrong in the engine room so Robot IV orders them to go and check it out.  There is a fuel leak, but unfortunately whoever goes in to patch it up won't survive. Ghüs readies himself to go, but Yuma conks him on the head with a fire extinguisher.  She goes into the furnace and as the flames start to cook her, fixes the fuel leak.

Hazel: "So here's to another victim of this Goddamn war, a woman who at least managed to die exactly as she lived.  High as fuck."

The Revolution show the Wreathian high command Hazel and confirm that in return for her a few hundred of their imprisoned bretheren.  The Wreathian high command also order Alana be killed and Klara too, much to her anger and she spits something out in Wreathian.
The Revolution negociate Hazel's fate.
Because she is being held by Dengo, the Wreathian commander notices him for the first time and says "is that  fucking android?!"  Quain speaks up for Dengo, but the commander says they'll never in a million years negociate with those "death machines".  Quain says he is negociating with The Revolution not Dengo.  But the commander says this could scuttle the arrangement.  Coldly Quain says "I'm afraid Mr. Dengo's service will no longer he needed".
Sophie, The Brand and Gwendolyn finally find the cave the male dragon is in.  And boy is he male.  A whole double page spread of maleness and huges gobs of semen everywhere.  They have a brief argument about who is going down there to collect the jizz, The Brand says it's her job, but Sophie looks thoughtful.

Then we're back with Robot IV and Marko trying to evade the Robot Kingdom ship.   Yuma's sacrifice brings the engine back online and after an argument about whether to fight or run, they run, having just enough fuel left for a "hopscotch" and they disappear from view leaving the Robots observing that he isn't a prince anymore. 
Marko, Robot IV and Ghus make planetfall.
When they come out the otherside, Robot IV says he just pointed the ship where Ghüs said it was and jumped there. Ghüs comes up and tells them of Yuma's sacrifice.  Before they can fully process it they hit something and the bridge controls explode.  Leaving them plummeting to the closest planet.

On that planet Alana is begging for once last chance to say goodbye to Hazel before they kill her.  On the bridge one of The Revolution is about to kill Dengo with a zap from her sword when Alana pushes him clear of it. Dengo then blows Quain's head apart as he is immune to his hypnosis.  He tells Hazel and Klara to go back to the treehouse where they'll be safe.

The Brand gets ready to collect some dragon spooge, but before she can, Sophie gets down there and scoops some up.  Then the dragon awakes and The Brand rushes down pushing Sophie out of harms way but getting bitten in half for her trouble.  Gwendolyn fires off a powerful magic spell which sends the male shuffling off further into the cave.  Sophie can only look at the bisected The Brand and say "I'm sorry."
And farwell to The Brand too.
Marko, Robot IV and Ghüs pick themselves up out of the wreckage.  Meanwhile, distracted by the sounds of fighting elsewhere on the ship, the two members of The Revolution who were going to kill Alana get distracted and turn their backs on her.  She pulls a grenade out of a bandolier worn by one of them and says she will drop it, because she doesn't care about living if it's not with her child.

They let her go and she locks them in behind her. She bumps into Dengo who says she was right about everything.  He hands her his gun and says he is off to get something important from the engine room.  Klara has Quain's magic staff and is making her way out of the ship with Hazel when they are confronted by more of The Revolution.

Alana is outside now and Dengo comes out with the fuel cell of The Revolution's ship.  Alana is carrying the Princeling now. They kill another member of The Revolution who was outside and Alana realises to her horror this means Klara and Hazel are still on the ship.  They are hostages again and The Revolution's ship suddenly takes off via hopscotch with them still aboard.
And just like that, Hazel is gone.
Dengo says they won't get far without the fuel he took.  Angrily Alana turns on him and points the gun at him and when he asks what she is doing she says:

Alana: "What I've been trying to do ever since you barged into my life.  You gullible retard!"

Dengo says his son was special needs so don't use that word, "fuck your dead kid!" says Alana knocking him to his knees.  Dengo says killing him won't bring Hazel back, Alana says "it's going to feel amazing".  Then she sees Marko coming up over the ridge.  She tells him Hazel is gone, and she wants to kill Dengo.  Marko says he want's to kill him too. "But that's not who we are" says Marko and they embrace.
Alana and Marko together again.
Then Robot IV appears and Dengo starts speaking to him, showing him an image of his dead son and starting to tell the story of how he died.  "Fascinating" says Robot IV drily and blows a hole through Dengo's head.  Then he takes and cradles his son gently, "my boy, my baby boy".

The Will wakes up in hospital.  The elixir worked.  Gwendolyne hands him the package from Halvor then they break the news about The Brand.  The Will has a vicious response, "you selfish little cunt!  Why couldn't you just left me to rot? Get the fuck away from me!  All of you!"  And sadly Gwendolyn, Sophie and Lying Cat depart, leaving a greiving The Will with The Brand's dog Sweet Boy.

Hazel: "Nobody knew exactly what kind of nightmare had been awakened that evening...but in time, my parents would find out."

We end this volume with an insect like teacher going into a classroom of horned kids.  Amongst the children there is Hazel, look about five or six.  "It was time I started my education".
Aaaand cue cliffhanger into Book Six.
Once again, a truly compelling story written to achieve some almost sadistic, end of book cliffhangers.  I was sorry to lose The Brand so soon after she had been introduced she was a pretty cool character.  Those ominous words about The Will's recovery is another future plotline future Hazel is teasing us with.  I don't believe anyone merits death but man, Dengo was such a selfish idiot he really bought it upon himself.  I'll be interested to see if now Robot IV has his son if he'll be accepted as a Prince again or will he be on the run from his own people avoiding charges of treason.  Marko making peace with the violence inside him and realising fear of it doesn't have to drive every decision he makes was a nice bit of character building.  Alana didn't have as much to do this volume than be a hostage, but her words managed to help Dengo see the error of his ways.  Another time-skip, this time of several years, it'll be interesting how the various characters have developed in that time.  The final page shows Hazel is in a class with Wreathian children so her mixed race heritage is going to be tested I'm sure of it. Brian K. Vaughan's writing remains a delight, the easy naturalistic speech helps everything feel more "real" as it were.  Fiona Staple's art reminds me of manga.  Not in how it looks, but how she uses economy of line to create maximum expressiveness.  Sure it means her backgrounds are barely there, but I don't read comics to look at walls now.  Tune in next month for volume six.

Saturday, 23 July 2016

The Movement Book 2: Fighting For The Future (#7-12)

"So are we supposed to be heroes or something equally dumb?" - Katharsis

This is the second and final volume of the cult New 52 comic penned by Gail Simone and drawn by Freddie Williams II.  The first book introduced us to the titular Movement, an team of superpowered individuals in their late teens and early twenties made up  of Virtue, who can ride peoples emotions and use the power she takes offensively and acts as the defacto leader of the group; Tremor who can cause localised earthquakes, Mouse who can speak to and control rats, Katharsis (who was introduced in Simone's Batgirl run) who doesn't have powers but can fly using home made wings and has superior hand-to-hand combat skills, Vengeance Moth who can form a glowing green moth shape around her and use it as a shield and fly when doing so, and Burden whose powers manifest as a demonic style possession.  They are part of a wider social movement in a fictional US city called Coral City, made up of the general underclass who don't feel the police and ruling class are serving their best interests.  In the first volume, after two Coral City cops are caught sexually harrassing a minor on video, they are kidnapped and put on trial by The Movement, they escape through tunnels created by Tremor who thinks the whole thing has got a bit out of control.  Also causing problems is the mysterious "Cornea Killer" who targets the homeless and is the son of crooked mayor of the city and leader of the city council, Mr. Cannon.  He in turn has called in his own team of metahumans called The Graveyard Shift to deal with The Movement and they attack Movement member Mouse on his own, leaving him strung up from a lampost where Tremor and Katharsis find him after they have talked out their differences in a nearby diner.  And it's directly on from that, where Book Two starts.

Mr. Cannon is speaking with his son Terry, the Cornea Killer.  Terry says he didn't harm anyone today much to Mr. Cannon's relief.  He tells his father he wanted to though, "I like it daddy, I really, really like it".  He goes on to say he killed his mother because she caught him "doing something naughty".
Katharsis and Tremor rescue Mouse.
Katharsis and Tremor cut Mouse down from the lampost and calls for an ambulance.  Katharsis calls Virtue who had just done a fake exorcism on Burden to trick him into thinking he was free of his curse.  She leaves Vengeance Moth in charge of their HQ.  The ambulance is going to take an hour to arrive, so Virtue bought Katharsis's wings with her and Katharsis flies Mouse to hospital.

The Graveyard Shift follow the "breadcrumbs" of energy Virtue left behind to track back to Movement HQ.  It was why they left Mouse alive, to lure her out.  In the HQ Burden confesses he is having "sexytime feelings" as Vengeance Moth puts it.  He asks if they can do an exorcism to get rid of those as well.
Vengeance Moth and Burden in The Movement HQ.
The two cops that were captured by The Movement are being patched up.  Whitt says they should get down there and clear "the punk scum right the hell out".  At said HQ, a jamming device has been activated by the Graveyard Shift who approach the entrance through the tunnels.

Katharsis arrives at the hospital with Mouse while The Graveyard Shift arrive at Movement HQ. Vengeance Moth is there to meet them while Burden looks on.  She activates her energy form and blasts them, but one of them "Monster Baby" says she's blind already and punches Vengeance Moth.
Vengeance Moth activates her power.
At the hospital the others are now there and are told Mouse is in bad shape and might not make it.  We then join the cops, one called Yee says he is not going to let Whitt attack The Movement and Whitt threatens him.  At Mouse's bedside, The police captain Meers hands Virtue a folder with information on The Graveyard Shift, who "the shadow council hired to clean you out".

Vengeance Moth is putting up a fight but is outnumbered.  Burden runs up to help her and is knocked back for his trouble. Vengeance Moth say they need his help, the exorcism was a fake, they need his power, "you are our only hope for those people" she says.  So he transforms into his demon self and begins fighting.
Burden goes full demon.
The police are still arguing, Yee tells Whitt, "you're a bad cop" and Whitt punches him.  At Movement HQ, Vengeance Moth drags herself back into her wheelchair, while Burden takes on all of The Graveyard Shift.  She thinks they might be too much for him as she goes back to the fight.

Virtue, still at the hospital, is on the phone to Rainmaker (an independant female metahuman), saying she'll have to cancel their date.  Rainmaker says she got dressed up, even wore a skirt.  Virtue says she'd "like to see this miracle garment" next time.

At Movement HQ, Burden is beginning to tire, Vengeance Moth sneaks up on the leader "Anguish" and belts her with one of her crutches.  Captain Meers is called to come to where Whitt and Yee are fighting.  Whitt has won, but more police are standing up to him, including Pena his partner who says he, "requested a new partner this morning".
Even wheelchair bound, Moth can beat you down.
Anguish recovers and goes to hit Vengeance Moth with the crutch, but she says while Anguish was temporarily incapacitated, she smashed the jamming device and called the others. Then rocks start to fall from the ceiling because of how intense the fighting has been.  Vengeance Moth thinks back to how she was terrified of being buried alive, "tapehephobia" her shrink called it, and it still frightens her.

At the hospital, Virtue gets Vengeance Moth's call as she, Katharsis and Tremor watch over Mouse.  He mumbles something so Tremor gets closer to hear and he kisses her, "I kissed you and you're a girl.  We're in love now" he says.  Virtue runs in saying it's time to get back to HQ the others are in trouble.

The Graveyard Shift decide to cut their losses and leave before the roof caves in.  Anguish looms over Vengeance Moth saying she wants a "souvenier".  Katharsis appears and punches her away from Vengeance Moth. 
Virtue is scary when she is mad.
The Graveyrd Shift fight back, but Virtue takes Vengeance Moth's fear of being buried alive and fires it at anguish much amplified, causing her to freak out in terror.  Virtue then says:

Virtue: "Leave Coral City, that's the good news.  The bad news is is you ever come back I will bury your soul so deep you'll think hell is a mile higher".

The Graveyard Shift take the hint and leave.  Back with the cops, Captain Meers is finally able to fire Whitt for punching Yee.  Yee baited Whitt deliberately much to Whitt's anger.  He then tells Meers he looked into Virtue and has found out she died six years ago.

Mouse seems to have some kind of enhanced healing ability as he is able to join the rest of them on a roof looking out over the city.

Virtue: "Maybe someday everyone looks up and sees something beautiful".

And this chapter closes on an image of Batgirl in front of the "Welcome to Coral City" sign.  She is in town on the trail of a wannabe superhero who killed some people.  His name is Reese, or "Horizon".  She finds and confronts him and he fires some energy at her and escapes.

At Movement HQ, Katharsis, Virtue and Burden are in the bathroom trying to make Mouse presentable to Tremor.  Virtue asks the cowering Burden if he can help?

Burden: "Me?  That boy is buck nekkid.  I can see his.. I can see his teats.  I shouldn't even be in here!"
They get Mouse under the shower and when he admits he doesn't know how to use shampoo, Virtue gets in with him to give him "the full treatment."
On a lighter note, Mouse hates bathtime.
Batgirl has recovered from the attack and finds herself surrounded by the masked "I.C.U" crowd telling her to leave Reese alone.

Batgirl: "Well this spiralled out of control fast. What in the world is for real going on here?"

She goes looking for Reese, meanwhile Mouse is all dolled up in a suit and even wearing shows.  He goes up to Tremor and reads his declaration of love and offers her a box of chocolates.
Courtship, Mouse style.
Tremor screams at the rat and Katharsis drily remarks "it doesn't sound like that went too well".  Batgirl goes to the one person considered an authority in the area, Pastor Mike.  She tells him she wants to talk with The Movement and she's in luck, Virtue appears right away.

Batgirl tells her she is looking for a criminal called Reese Cahill.  Virtue says they don't go giving people up to the cops.  Batgirl tries to threaten her with blackmail if she doesn't play along.  Virtue thinks, "my first real superhero and she's kind of a bitch to be honest".
Batgirl vs. Katharsis round two.
Then Katharsis appears.  She and Batgirl have history, they fought when Katharsis was a member of a group called "Knightfall" in Gotham.  They get into a punch up and Batgirl manges to disable Katharsis with a kick to the stomach.  They are still in the church and Pastor Mike says:

Pastor Mike: "Church or no church.  This is a terrible way to solve problems".

Then Mouse rides in on his wave of rats who surround Batgirl.  Virtue says they can sort things out over doughnuts and milkshakes so they go to their local diner to talk it out.

Meanwhile captain Meers is digging into Virtue's history and finds out he shot her father who was robbing a bank at the time.  At the diner, Batgirl says Reese tried to stop a mugging but was attacked himself and killed two of his assailants and put the other two in hospital badly burned.
Ice cream and donuts are way better than fighting.
Katharsis points out he did it because he was acting in self defence, then gets up to use the toilet.  Virtue says she can sense there is someone Batgirl hates very much (image of the Joker) and would she kill them if she could?  Batgirl gets annoyed and says to keep out of her way while she looks for Reese.

Then Katharsis cold cocks her from behind and knocks her out. Their plan is to take her back to HQ and photo her unmasked for leverage against her.  The chapter ends with Reese killing two cops saying, "I am a hero can't you see that?  I'm a hero."

They bring the unconcious Batgirl down to their HQ and lay her out.  Tremor thinks what they are doing is a bit skeevy.  Virtue says the photos will just be for them.  Katharsis goes out to look for Reese herself.  They point a camera at Batgirl and start to peel off her mask.
Hey! Not cool Movement, not cool at all.
But she starts to come round and sees an image of the Joker standing over her with a camera (the events of The Killing Joke are partly canon, but she wasn't permanently crippled this time), and she punches Virtue hard.  She disables Tremor too as she imagines herself shot in the gut on the floor of her home.  The approaches Burden who says, "I am a little bit frightened right now ma'am!".

Batgirl starts to help the others up and says they triggered a traumatic memory for her.  One of The Movement's eyes on the street says she's seen Reese.  The location is transmitted to Katharsis who locates him.  He tells her to leave him alone, she replies "you're sort of bringing a ruckus"  They fight while Katharsis compliments him on his good looks.
Katharsis finds Reese.
Elsewhere the Graveyard Shift hand their notice into Mr. Cannon.  He calls them cowards, Anguish says "maybe but we're still alive". Mr. Cannon says to Terry they have to find another solution to their "little Channel M problem".

Batgirl apologises to Virtue for practically breaking her nose.  She looks around the HQ and is told they feeld, clothe, house and protect those society has failed.  Batgirl thinks she may have misjudged them.  Virtue says she has Katharsis dealing with the problem of Reese, "I trust her good judgement".  Cut to Katharis and Reese kissing in the air.

With things a bit quieter  Tremor tries to have a word with Mouse over his infatuation with her.  She says she is flattered but:

Tremor: "Mouse, I'm asexual".

Mouse doesn't understand, ("A sexual what?") and nor does Burden much to Vengeance Moth's amusement.
Superheroing doesn't always result in sexy times, alas.
Virtue tells Batgirl they'll take care of Reese, but Batgirl says that's not happening.  Reese and Katharsis meanwhile have made love. "They are going to kill me" says Reese to her.  But she reassures him she won't allow that.  She flies him to a bridge to explain it doesn't matter what he does, because on one side of the bridge is the 'Tweens.  Every city has them.

The others are waiting on the bridge too.  Katharsis defends Reese, but Virtue tells him he's killed two Coral City cops earlier.  Angered she turns and says to him:

Katharsis: "Dammit.  Did you we just.. just do that when you still had cop blood on your hands?"
Deciding Reese's fate.
Reese looks sad and says he was going to be a hero.  Katharsis gets ready to chop his head off, but Batgirl disarms her.  Virtue says, "there is no good side here... none that I can see."  They decide to let the Coral City cops deal with him which satisfies Batgirl.  Before she leaves she invites Virtue to Gotham, they need some positivity.

Virtue: "We don't always get a choice Batgirl.  We don't always get to choose."

Some days later The Tall Man arrives in Coral City saying he is looking for the devil, "An' I've come to take him home".  Rainmaker and Virtue have managed to have a date, and have a passionate snog at the end of it.
Well sometimes superheroing DOES get you sexytimes!
The Tall Man comes to the soup kitchen Burden and Katharsis are helping at.  Katharsis notes Burden has a real thing about family when one of the homeless calls him "son".  Sadly Burden admits, "they did not think well of me". The Tall Man comes over and says it is because of the blood on his hands and he has come to take Burden home.  He is Jacob, Burden's brother.

Katharsis tries to stop him and Jacob beats her almost unconcious.  Burden hugs her and thanks her and goes without a fight with Jacob before he can hurt anymore people.  Later the rest of the group convene and Virtue tries to follow Jacob's emotional trail but is overwhelmed by the rage and hatred it is made up of, "he is made of hate.  Made of it".
Burden's brother Jacob is a dick.
Katharsis suggest following Burdens emotional trail instead and we get a shot of Jacob flying home carry Burden with him.  They arrive at their religious commune an Elder York says they didn't want Burden back after he killed his father, it is due to Jacob's kindess that he is back "for the dignity of the trials.  Thank him for the merciful scourge you are to receive boy".

Burden is dragged to a cross and tied to it.  He says he admits killing his father but can't recall doing it.  Jacob tells the story of their childhood, but his self aggrandising words are at odds with the images showing the truth.

We see him flying as a child.  He says he was "born of angels and given to a Godly woman".  We then see him telling his parents that the newly born baby is "the devil's own leavings". He says he prayed and prayed for Burden until his knees bled, while we see that actually he tried to drown a young Burden to bring his devil power out.
Burden's unhappy childhood.
Father scourged Burden daily, "but in the end he was too kind, too gentle by half" as we see Burden tied to a bed being whipped across his naked back. One day Jacob woke Burden up and showed him their father's dead body saying Burden did it.  That's when Burden ran away.

He opens his wings and is about to brand Burden with a hot iron, Katharsis appears and punches him, saying "he's not your brother anymore.  He's our brother."  While they fight, Virtue tells the crowd Jacob is lying.  Burden then changes into his demon self and takes Jacob on.

Jacob: "I have the face of an angel and a heart of filth.  While you are my opposite brother.  They will always choose me".
Demons are cooler than angels anyway.
Burden rams Jacob's face into the hot coals, and as he turns back their mother runs to Jacob saying "you hurt my beautiful son.  You monster!  You abomination before God".

Burden and the others leave, but before he goes, Burden turns as says to the crowd, "also?  I like other boys."  And they head home.
Burden triumphant with his new family.
The final issue starts with captain Meers  finding Virtue leaving her place of work.  He asks, "why The Movement?  What was the endgame here?"  She replies that she has a "silly little dream" where they could be part of something better, "where people cared about each other".

She says that they live in the 'Tweens, they'll never join the club that lives on Mount Olympus.  He tells her she's a kid and the world isn't her responsibility.  She tells him when she was younger she manifested her power and her mum made a "terrible decision" and had her declared dead and sent away to live with an aunt with her father none the wiser.

Mr. Cannon meanwhile is contemplating his wife's grave and asks her to forgive him for his weakness. He then asks an assisstant if she has found the cop, she says yes and "he's agreed to you terms."

Down in Movement HQ, Virtue fixes Mouse up with a woman who works in a pet shop and loves rats.  She has even bought him cheese.  Mouse tells Tremor he is with Margaret now, much to Tremor's relief.  Katharsis says Virtue is amazing at this sort of thing.  Burden wonders if their is the perfect guy out there for him as well.
Mr. Cannon needs help.
Then Vengeance Moth detects someone approaching via the tunnels.  It's Mr. Cannon.  One of his aides swipes Mouse's rats and he attacks her, but Mr. Cannon says he is here to negociate not fight.

Virtue carries on telling the story of what happened next.  He wonders why they agreed to work with Mr. cannon, she says she could detect his feelings as a father, it's the nature of her power that she finds "something to hold on to in even the worst of people".  She says the reason she was sent away and declared dead was because she lashed out at her father when he grounded her for seeing a girl she liked and hospitalised him.

Anyway, they agreed to help Mr. Cannon catch the Cornea Killer, and go to the graveyard where he says he'll be.  But Terry fights back, wounding Mouse with a knife to the chest.  Then ex-police officer Whitt fires on them from the bushes.
The death of the Cornea Killer via corrupt ex-cop.
It was a set up to kill The Movement and have Terry take the credit but also die a hero. Whitt's first shot just skims Katharsis.  He gets Virtue in his sights but Terry pushes her away and he gets shot in the head instead.  They leave Mr. Cannon to greive his son's death.

Virtue tells Captain Meers that she hated him for a long time because of him shooting her father, but now she knows he is a good man.  He says he doesn't see much of his own daughter nowadays, so perhaps he could look in on her from time to time.  They hug.

He tells her to be careful, "they'll never change enough fit in with the Justice people".  Virtue responds:

Virtue: "Oh I know.  That was never the plan.  But sooner or later captain, they're going to have to change to fit in with us".
And they all lived happily ever after...
And that brings the whole series to a premature end.  It's a real shame tumblr popularity couldn't be reflected in sales.  It was never going to be a mega seller, but it's a shame it was felt there was no place for a metahuman team of young immigrants of varying sexualities, working at street level to protect the "little people".  The series at least comes to a decent end, and doesn't feel too abrupt.  We were just getting to know the characters thanks to Simone's skillful way with words, the coversations felt authentic and not some embarrassing attempt to be hip.  She was helped immeasurably by Freddie Williams II's down and dirty artwork adept both at showing superheroes fighting or showing one character having to be enticed into a shower.  DC took a risk with The Movement and got exactly the right author writing it, but like future attempts at diversity in the DCYou, the word just didn't get out to the less social media inclined comicbook readership.  I also have this terrible fear that now Gail Simone is gone from DC, the characters will end up expendable cannon fodder in some future "Crisis Crossover" type event.  Don't do that DC, please leave them alone with their happy ending.  Please....

Monday, 18 July 2016

Gotham By Midnight Book 2: Rest In Peace (#6-12, Annual #1)

"The city is sick and cannot be cured" - The Spectre

This is the second and final volume of Gotham by Midnight which collects the remaining issues, plus a stand alone annual and the Convergence Sneak peak which reintroduced the concept into the new DCU.  The series was about a department of the Gotham PD, called "The Midnight Shift".  It was run by Lieutenant Weaver, with Sergeants Lisa Drake (a banshee) and Jim Corrigan (the human vessel for The Spectre) serving under him and working alongside them, deputies Doctor Szandor Tarr, the forensic specialist and the nun Sister Justine who was more spiritually inclined.  In the first book which was illustrated by the amazing Ben Templesmith, the spirit of the Native Tribe who the orginal Gothamites killed when starting up their town called Ikkondrid tried to use the Spectre to judge the city himself.  But Justine sacrificed herself and saved everyone at the cost of her life.  Ikkondrid has stopped being a threat for now, but there is still the mystery of the black flowers that appear at sites of supernatural occurences, and the threat to the Midnight Shift of being closed down as they have Internal Affairs led by a Sergeant Rook looking into their methods and results.  Due to events going on the the Batman comic at the time, Commisioner Gordon is running around in armour pretending to be Batman who has lost his memory and therefore is no longer there to protect The Midnight Shift as he has been over the past few years.  Art duties are now by Juan Ferreyra, the writer is still Ray Fawkes.

The Sneak Peak just shows Commissioner Batman ordering them to deal with a supernatural threat.  The real story begins at Sister Jutine's funeral. They are all attending on a gloomy, rainy day.  Corrigan says he hates funerals, he'd rather be "raising a glass to Sister Justine.  That's a ceremony".
Sister Justine's funeral.
Weaver says not now, they have a case, there is something in the design labs of the "Powers Corporation Central Gotham Office."  Drakes surprised someone has called them, usually they go out and find stuff.  Before they leave, Drake wants to know about Corrigan's link to the Spectre.

Corrigan: "The Spectre is what he says he is, Okay? Divine judgement.  Destroyer of sinners.  Remember the story of Sodom and Gommorrah?  That was almost Gotham City last friday".

He says he has no control over him, he just tries to find out what will set him off and fix it before he appears.  They tell him he's carrying a "nuke" and should leave town. Corrigan says he's tried, he just gets bought back to where The Spectre wants him.

Weaver says he know about The Spectre, but Drake has a power as well, her scream.  Corrigan says she is a "Bain Sidhe", the harbinger of death.  When she screams it means someone will die.  He asks if they are all going to freak out and go their seperate ways or can they get back to work?  Weaver wants to know where Szandor is first.
Szandor is upset with God.
He is in the church cursing God as he looks at Christ on the Cross.  He says it was in his name the city was first formed, his name that unleashed The Spectre and his name on Justine lips when she died.

Szandor: "Are you powerless to stop this mayhem?  Or do you tolerate it?  Do you enjoy it?  If you exist... if you even exist at all."

At the Powers Corporation, Corrigan and Drake are being shown round by a Mr. Jenner.  He says they are about to launch a product called the "Powerwatch" that will allow you to link everything up to the internet.

The problem is a ghost that appeared on Saturday and starting haunting the labs.  One of his team leaders was found with a piece of human heart in his throat whichhe was choking on.  It's appeared every night since.  They ask Mr. Jenner if there have been any deaths there recently and Jenner reluctantly admits there was.
The Powers Corp ghost.
At the Midnight Shift Precinct Weaver and Szandor are talking about the lawyer Weaver is bringing in to defend them against the Internal Affairs case.  Szandor is disinterested, and more concerned with examining the black flower which he says has a rudimentary nervous system.  Weaver leaves him saying he thinks Szandor's "mad scientist" bit is all and act.

Back at Power Corp, they are shown a desk where an employee called George died of a stroke. It makes Corrigan's hand glo with Spectre power so something fishy has gone on here.  Drake pokes around and her investigations are alternated with Szandor cutting the tip of a black flower off and it growing back.  She eventually finds a baggie with a mystery powder and her narc sense goes off.

Then the clock starts bleeding and George appears, saying "WE NEED ALL HANDS".  While Corrigan holds The Spectre back, Jenner admits it was the last thing he said to George, who was exhausted from overwork.  He gave George some speed which killed him and he doctored the records so he wouldn't have to pay out to George's family. 
George the Ghost gets his way.
This confession mollifies George's ghost and he lets go of Jenner and departs.  Corrigan and Drake tell Jenner to make insurance payments to George's family or George will be back. Jenner then offers them both jobs as consultants and Corrigan threatens to arrest him.

They leave and in the car they discuss how the Power Corp knew about them.  Corrigan says they are dangerous and word getting out about them could be a problem.  Meanwhile back at Precinct 13, he lawyer Weaver hired - Kate Spencer - says I.A. are building a huge case against them, "someone high up has it in for you".  It could be the police, may be a supervillain, at this point they just don't know.

We get a flashback to Weaver's past as a child where he found his father dead from a self inflicted gunshot wound.  Then we come back to the present, Kate is telling him he should have called her three months ago, "they're hot to shut you down" she says.  Weaver says Gordon always protected them before.  Then Drake comes in saying they have a case.  Five dead at least in the East End.
Drake and Szandor on a new case.
We jump forwards to Drake and Szandor examining the bodies which haven't been moved.  They show no sign of struggle, there is a thing attached to the backs of their head that is growing down through the floor, "this creature is not alive, but it's got a spirit aura" says Szandor.  It's like the victims just stopped what they were doing and lay down and died.

Corrigan is in Sister Justine quarters.  He is experiencing tremendous guilt over her death and sits sadly on her bed and begs "God.. aw God.. have mercy on me please."

Weaver and Kate are talking.  She says he's not the Weaver she knew from five years ago, "everything would be prepared.  We'd be talking about plans of attack".  She asks what exactly is it they do.  They have zero arrests.  Cases are quietly closed.  They have funding but shady expense reports.  Are they just a place for Gordon to bury tough cases?

Weaver: "We're fighting monsters Kate.  We can't arrest them because they aren't human.  We're fighting things that don't make any sense.  Time and again, before they can destroy the whole frickin' city".
We then get a flashback to two years ago. A subdued and traumatised Weaver is in a meeting with Commissoner Gordon who believes that Weaver encountered a monster.  So he is assigning him to Precinct 13.
Gordon gives Weaver his new job.
Back at the house Drake wonders where Corrigan is. Szandor says he is tired and needs to lie down, but Drake yanks him up and pulls out the tentacle that had ensnared him.  Then Corrigan arrives and stomps on it, he starts to glow and says, this is a legit "demon spawn.  Child of Acedia. Motivational Vampire".  He tells them to evacuate the area as The Spectre is coming out to play.

Rook and another I.A. colleague are interviewing a prisoner who says he saw Drake as a narc gun down three men in cold blood while another cop watched and said he'd help cover it up.  He describes Corrigan and says he wants a deal.

In the East End, the Spectre is killing the demon spawn, which had claimed about fifty victims.  When it's finally all gone, The Spectre departs.
The Spectre in action.
Back with Kate and Weaver, she says criminal charges have been added to I.A.s case.  She says someone is "gunning for you guys, someone with power."  She says she'll do what she can but Weaver needs to wake up and defend his people and if the city needs them as badly as he says, "Gotham is screwed".

The next story is the Annual - "The Gentleman Ghost", art by Christian Duce. We begin with a man called CRaddock wooing a rich young woman called Eleanor who says "I would die for you".  He kisses her once, then Drake and Corrigan kick the door down and try to arrest Craddock.

He makes his getaway and can travel through solid objects.  Eleanor is distraught and Corrigan asks if she had a necklace.  Craddock is a "ghost and a thief, he set you up for a robbery" says COrrigan.  Drake corners Craddock and puts hex cuffs on him.  He hands her the necklace and says "you could have me.  If you really wanted me".  Then he disappears.
Gentleman Ghost.
Drake returns to Corrigan to find Eleanor has passed out.  He thinks Craddock poisoned her as the paramedics take her away to hospital.  He takes the necklace to Szandor for analysis.  He says they are "The Tears of Eurydice" and went missing in the 18th Century only to emerge for auction a short while ago.  The jewels are lovely but completely unremarkable.

Drake is in Eleanor's hospital room reminding herself she has a boyfriend and Craddock was messing with her head same as Eleanor.  Back with Corrigan, Craddock reveals himself to him saying he is not a ghost.  Corrigan notes his knife and gun and says he is not a gentleman either.  He wants to know what Craddock wants with the Tears and what he did to Eleanor.

Craddock: "The first kiss steals the breath.  The second gives it back.  If you hadn't interrupted us..."

He tells Corrigan that he knows a lonely person when he sees one.  How long it's been since he's been with someone.  "Am I waking something up?" he asks as he holds Corrigans face saying that Corrigan is wondering "what would it be like?"  Then he disappears again taking the neclace with him.
Gentleman Ghost tries to seduce Corrigan.
Later Drake and Corrigan track Craddock to a train and using a spell keep him in place.  Craddock says to Drake that what she feels for him "if you want me, it's because you want me". There is a scuffle and Drake tells Craddock she holds the gem to blow him up, "wanna see if I am bluffing?"

Craddock decides to tell them his story.  He was cursed by a witch.  She made a monster of him, "as long as she lived, I was her creature". When she died he thought he'd be free, but he remained undead.  "There is no banishing me, no matter what you think.  There is no cure".

The necklace belonged to the last woman he loved, the witches daughter who arranged to have them both killed.  Then he sprouts spider like leg-claws out of his back and escapes onto the train roof with Drake in hot pursuit.  While she and Craddock fight, Corrigan jumps off the train before he turns into The Spectre.

Craddock looks more monstrous as he fights Drake for the jewels.  Then he changes back and tells her he gave her the necklace because maybe she reminded him of someone he loved.  He kisses her, twice.  Then The Spectre appears, he crushes the jewels and Craddock is disapated in a puff of smoke.

Drake waks Corrigan up saying The Spectre enacted Judgement.  She says she didn't think Craddock deserved to die, but Corrigan says "forget it.  He won't be back."
The Spectre once again, deals with the issue at hand.
We return to the main storyine.  There is a square with a load of Tv screens in the middle of Gotham.  It's broadcasting a political show "Proud Americans, Walker Albright and Brooke Patterson".  As they discuss the news they get more and more argumentative.  Drake is in the crowd and says over the phone to Corrigan, "death is near".  Then fights break out and turns into a full blown riot she gets injured in.

Kate is meeting Rook clandestinely.  Rook says he started chasing financial irregularities, now they have evidence of criminal negligence, conspiracy, brutality, maybe murder.  He calls Corrigan a freak who nearly killed them all, "this goes to the Grand Jury".
Rook meets with Kate.
Drake is in hospital for her injuries.  Her boyfriend Pete Miller has come to be with her and she introduces him to Corrigan.  Corrigan tells him to take care of Drake, "I got this one".

He arrives at the square where the riot broke out and Szandor is already there, saying the screens "almost fried my retinas on the residual energy output".  Corrigan is floored by the psychic action which is coming from the broadcast itself. 

Albright and Patterson's show had recently become very popular, but as they walk through the station to the studio they find everyone dead. Albright and Patterson are still arguing and Corrigan starts to glow. Szandor pushes him into a lift and goes to face the pair alone.

Rook is being overwhelmed by the amount of evidence his partner, Cashmiro is supplying him with against The Midnight Shift.  "It's coming too fast, like it was waiting to happen" he says.  He thinks they are being manipulated, he smells a setup.

Rook: "We gotta be careful here.  We gotta check our motives, make sure we're clear".

Casimiro inists The Midnight Shift are killers as Szandor approaches the two arguing pundits.  A rage overcomes him and he attacks them just as the woman kills the man, they are revealed to be a mess of tentacled flesh below the waist and joined together.  The woman is relieved then quickly dies herself.
If only all pundits were this obviously evil.
Szandor returns to Corrigan who says he smells "hell rot" which only happens when people who sell their souls die.  Szandor reflects on what a world it is that creatures like that can feed on them.  Then he says Corrigan is such a creature, which he denies.

Szandor points out the Black Flowers have bloomed around Corrigan not the monster in the studio.  It is significant because he now realises the blossoms are "a warning, and I am beginning to get the message".

They drive back to Precinct 13 with Corrigan reiterating no one can save Gotham the way they can.  Waiting for them are Rook and Casimiro.  Casimiro serves a warrant on them saying they are going to search the offices and his car and says gleefully to him, "we're going to eat you alive".

Jim Corrigan is put in an interrogation cell and under observation by Casimiro and a cop called Palmer.  They discusss how he was shot one day and declared D.O.A but walked into work the next day "fresh as a daisy" saying God saved him.  He got set up with Gordon's Detailed Task Force and he starts racking up the corpses.  They go in to interview him and Corrigan dissects their interview technique saying "I've been a cop for a while".
The Midnight Shift get interrogated.
At Precinct 13, Drake is gone as well and a search is underway watched over by Rook.  "They saved your life, you son of a - " says Weaver to him.  Drake is also being interviewed, they try and turn her against Corrigan but she says "don't try pulling that divide and conquer crap with me".

Corrigan is quizzed over several deaths, and as they are mentioned Corrigan remembers The Spectre killing them.  He says "none of this was me".  At Precinct 13 Szandor is excitedly talking about the Black Flowers.  They weren't caused by Ikkondrid, they aren't provoking events.  "They are marking them for our benefit.  They are a signal" he says.

We return to Drake who is being asked if she is afraid of Corrigan which she finds hilarious.  Then her mood changes and she says quietly, "get them out.  Get everyone out of here right now. Something terrible is about to happen".  Black flowers start blooming in the interrogations cells.  Szandor says they are a langauge from someone trying to communicate with them
Drake realises someone is gonna die.
Corrigan is being pressed harder and harder over the deaths he's been accused of.  Drake has collapsed on the floor her teeth gritted hard.  The detectives interviewing Corrigan read Rook's report on The Spectre to him.  They want to know why he cares about the cases Corrigan works on.

Casimiro: "The Joker's killed more than two hundred people.  Why doesn't The Spectre judge him?  Why doesn't The Spectre just go to Arkham and clear it out?"

Corrigan says he doesn't know, it's "God's choice".  Casimiro says it's because the cases are personal to him.  He gets the rage and he lets it out.  They want him to confess and he'll be confined to a super-max prison where he can't hurt anyone.  Or they'll prosecute Drake for multiple murder, send Szandor to Arkham and disgrace Weaver.

Drake lets out her banshee scream while Corrigan gets angry about the threats to his colleagues.  The Spectre manifests and the two cops explode in a shower of gore.  Corrigan manages to whisper that they weren't sinners, did God want this?

The Spectre: "You wanted it.  It is you.  I was always you."

And he disappears again, leaving Corrigan alone, soaked in blood while outside people hammer on the door.
This might be hard to explain away.
Corrigan is led out of the blood splattered room, Drake comforts him.  One of the cops pulls a gun on them and tells the others to put cuffs on them.  Corrigan starts turning green again.  Drake pleads with him to stop.

Szandor is outside at the spot where Sister Justine died, he has an "irrational theory" that she is reaching out from beyond the grave using the Black Flowers, "or there is nothing and I only miss my dear friend".  He sees two children carrying candles and singing a song about Black Flowers.  He follows them to a shrine to Sister Justine.

The Nun Of The Narrows.
Back at the police station they stop pressurising Corrigan and he returns to normal.  Drake leads him out and no one stops them.  She puts him in a car and tells him "we're finished as cops".  They'll say she helped him getaway when all she wants is for more people not to die.  Two cops jump in a car and follow them.  They pull alongside saying that they have "Metahuman SWAT" getting ready to come out there.

Corrigan tells Drake he was shot and killed in the line of duty.

Corrigan: "God spoke to me.  Said I would live again.  Said I would be the vessel of Judgement.  That I would carry The Spectre and he would storm forth."

But The Spectre has been doing what Corrigan wanted.  Drake is appalled, "if what you're saying is true, you really are a monster." He says the Midnight Shift protects the city from monsters.  He's not going to let anybody stop them.  Drake yells what if he's just a "psycho ghost".  Corrigan says she knows what's out there ready to feed on Gotham if they let it.

Szandor is kneeling at the shrine to "The Nun of the Narrows".  He leaves an offering, a Black Flower in a jar.  One of the kids says it's her flower and maybe he'll see her tonight.  He asks to be taken where she has manifested, but when they get there the kid tells him to take his goggles off and have respect and beleive.  And he does so and sees, something...

The police car chase shifts into high speed as Corrigan and Drake argue they plow through the wall of a raised part of the motorway and plunge downwards, as they do so, The Spectre manifests.  The rest of the cops sweep the crash area and can't find anyone and declare "good riddance" to the Midnight Shift.  Then out of Slaughter Swamp rises Ikkondrid.
Ikkondrid returns.
Ikkondrid comes bearing down on Gotham again to the shock of the cops looking for the remains of Corrigan and Drake.  Szandor is in the Narrows, which has seen three thousand and eight murders since the founding of the city, "the first in 1680, the last two months ago". A crack opens in the asphalt "with a sound exactly like a gunshot" and light pours out of the crack he is kneeling at the end of.  Ghosts and animated corpses start rising up all over the city.  "Everyone who died unjustly in Gotham City is joining the army of Ikkondrid the Betrayed".

At Precinct 13, Rook, Weaver and Kate are fending off the walking dead.  Rook wants to know what the hell is going on.

Weaver: "Ten minutes ago you're calling me and my taskforce frauds.  This is what we're here for Rook!"

Elsewhere at Gotham PC the cops are also fighting the dead.  Commissioner Batman arrives on the scene and says "we need Precinct 13.  This is what Corrigan and his people are prepared for." 
Commissioner Batman is not amused.
Maggie Sawyer, who knows it's Gordon in the armour, says that might be hard as Corrigan and his partner were just run off an overpass in a police pursuit.  Gordon shouts, "you were supposed to leave Precinct 13 alone!"  He says they are in real trouble now the experts are dead.

Sawyer: "I don't know.  But being dead didn't stop Corrigan before right?"

And The Spectre comes bursting up through the road like the Wrath of God.  Drake also appears holding Corrigan up.  As the cops pull back and The Spectre starts dealing with the monsters.  Ikkondrid and The Spectre clash, but something is wrong.  The sheer number of unjust deaths in Gotham is overwhelming Corrigan, including his own death and The Spectre starts speaking the "ghost language" of Ikkondrid and starts to lash out indiscriminately.

Drake pleads with  Corrigan saying now he knows he reacts to Corrigan's subconcious he can control him, stop the devastation.  She slaps him hard saying "own it you son of a bitch".  The Spectre looks down at her an seems about to attack her when a huge radiant woman, Sister Justine it seems, rises up and faces down The Spectre and says to him "Stop.  In Heaven's Name."

Justine: "Spectre.  You are not Ikkondrid's creature. Unbind yourself from the monsters will while Gotham lives.  You are not its agent here."

The Spectre starts speaking english again but says the blood of the wicked calls to him, "you shall not stay my hand!"
Justine returns.
Szandor, still in the Narrows is kneeling in a column of light and tells the street kids to join him inside it to keep them safe.  Justine, The Spectre and Ikkondrid loom over Gotham. Drake says to Corrigan that if The Spectre really is doing Corrigan's will not God's then Weaver had the right idea to kill him before and she pulls a gun on him.

Corrigan manages to get her to wait, he and The Spectre are both angry but Justine is doing something.  Ikkondrid is back because a truce was broken.

Corrigan: "We failed.  We didn't keep our end up.  We failed to deliver justice."

He tries to figure out what that justice is.  Drake says that is being killed by their ancestors, Gotham's unjust dead going to make it happy? Up in the sky, The Spectre says to Justine, "I rebuke you!"

Justine: "Your power is my power.  It isn't the wicked who call to us.  It's the suffering like you Jim Corrigan.  I am the Redeemer."

She says The Spectre needed a soul to guide it, but Corrigan's was consumed with guilt, despair, with responsibility but without faith.  Corrigan thinks harder, "Ikkondrid came back because it was unsatisfied". 
The undead set upon Drake.
Drake laughs and say it'll fit right into the city then.  Who isn't burning with secret rage, or disappointed with themselves, who isn't blinded by sadness, who doesn' feel like a fool or a fraud, who isn't wracked with guilt, doubt or shame?

Drake: "The world is unfair Corrigan!  We are stupid and helpless and we hurt each other all the time!  What does it want that we can give it?"

Justine cups The Spectre's face as Ikkondrid watches carefully.  Corrigan starts to cry and says:

Corrigan:  "It wants us to know it... It wants us to care."

The Spectre says the city is sick and can't be cured.  Justine asks him what do you do with the sick? "You comfort them" says The Spectre and places his hand on Ikkondrid.  Corrigan calls to The Spectre, "forgive me!  Forgive us!"  And Justine and The Spectre rise into the air as he says they can't keep going on holding onto the pain and lashing out.
All the supernatural beings come to an agreement.
Ikkondrid bursts into light and into every Gothamite flies a piece of that light as the ghosts and undead disappear as well and as Justine and The Spectre ascend heavenwards to look down on Gotham and say:

The Spectre: "Gotham.  The unjust dead will not be forgotten."

Justine: "And your pain will not be ignored."

The Spectre: "They have been moved into your hearts".

Justine: "You will remember them in your quiet moments"

The Spectre: "You will remember them in your dreams."

Justine: "And you will know that none of you are alone".

The Spectre: "You are not alone."

The Spectre and Justine disapate and The Spectre returns to Corrigan while Justine releases Szandor, who staggers over to meet up with Corrigan and Drake.  Sun rises in Gotham City and Corrigan says, "I think we did some good."
A new days dawns for Gotham City.
And so that brings Gotham By Midnight to an end.  It actually ends pretty satisfactorily with the Ikkondrid plotline wrapped up.  Shame we'll never know who had it in for The Midnight Shift, but given two plotlines to resolve I think Ray Fawkes made the right decision to persue the supernatural one which was in fact what the book was all about.  It's a real pity that this book was one of the first culled when DC decided the DCYou was a failure and it was time to circle the wagons, get back to basics and Rebirth the DCU as the same boring old shit we've been subjected to in the tentpole franchises for the last thousand years.

Juan Ferreyra was an adequate replacement for Ben Templesmith, his painted artwork depicting gruesome monsters, the vengeful Spectre and the ordinary people will consumate skill.  There was so much unrealised potential in this set-up, The X-Files of the Gotham PD that it's hard to forgive it being given the chop.  It used religion with respect and made The Spectre a truly awesome prescence for the first time in an age. It gave us a cast of likeable characters who spoke like normal people and figured things out without rushing in and punching stuff.  It was a grown up take on the Bat-verse that had appeal to readers interested in the Gotham setting but perhaps not as interested in Batman.  I wish it had found it's niche and that DC was willing to accept lower selling titles as the price of offering diversity of choice.  But alas, that's the demise of the DCYou in a nutshell.  For shame.