The story so far. Paraplegic Vietnam vet Lazarus Jones ends up in a coma after a car crash. His soul finds it's way to a star system called Abaraxis where a aeons long war is being fought between the forces of Light and Dark. Warriors from Earth's wars find themselves drafted into the battle on the side of the Light and Lazarus finds his old crew, Captain Engle, Huff and Slaw in command of a stone barge and they welcome him back to the fray even though he isn't quite dead. A powerful agent of Darkness called Lord Na attacks and takes control of the planet of Black Gate. Laz and co. manage to get the ruler's daughter Lasha out just in time and she and Laz hook up, realising they have known each other across a thousand different lifetimes of fighting the dark. Lord Na has figured out a way to defeat the Light for good, he has made contact with an arms dealer on Earth called Odom and demands more modern weaponry. To take the weaponry over to the other side, he gets Odom to employ Nikola Tesla's nephew who has created a machine that can link the two dimensions up. Laz's team decide on an all out attack on Lord Na before he can bring the weaponry across but end up going through a dimensional rip and winding up on Earth. There Lord Na's men take control of an attack chopper and shoot the barge causing it to crash into a building, we left it on that cliffhanger and now the conclusion.
Lord Na: "In the beginning oh sons of destruction, there was darkness. In the end also there is darkness. The darkness is real... the darkness is all that is."
As a pitched battle between Lord Na's forces and the lightsiders takes place, Lord Na declaims some more about the "purity of the night".
|The lightsiders beat a retreat from the mortal world.|
There alien engine/communications device, Zip is dying. He manages to pull the ship out of the side of the building and it crashes to the ground. Zip then disintegrates leaving a small book behind that Laz picks up.
Engle: "Fifteen years he fought with us.. and he was built into the ship 200 years before that."
|Zip, the ships navigator and communications enabler, passes on.|
Meanwhile Nikola Tesla is being visited by Leonardo Da Vinci. Leonardo is practically worshipped by the lightside, technology, much to Tesla's disgust, has not been allowed to progress past Leonardo's level. He says that the acquisition of modern weaponry by the deadsiders means that they need Tesla, one of the rulers with him says "the Galaxy must bring forth a new generation of military machines. Can you help?"
|Leonardo ain't too proud tah beg.|
Leonardo Da Vinci: "It is time for everything to change, Mr. Tesla. It is time for the galaxy to make use of your talents... and to honour you as it has honoured me."
Tesla thinks to himself that they came begging when they realised they couldn't stand up to weapons of pure energy. Then we join Lord Na saying that in in honour of his new arsenal he is declaring today a holiday. He orders the attackers on Black Gate wiped out and his slaves worked to death.
Meanwhile back on Earth, the four man crew is refamiliarising themselves with the helicopter controls. It comes easily to them and Engle comments about Vietnam, "God how I loved that war".
Back in with Lord Na, he asks for Nicky, the nephew of Tesla and his psychic girlfriend Delpha to be bought to him. He demands Nicky build him another Tesla machine . Nicky refuses saying he is an American citizen and "my government will have something to say about this". This doesn't bother Lord Na and he orders his second-in-command Fasher to escort Nicky to his quarters with a copy of "The book of the Great Darkness" to read. He has Delpha to himself now and offers to share a glass of wine with her.
|Lord Na tries to seduce Delpha.|
Engle: "I want guns Mister. Lots of 'em. I want ordinance an' I want lasers like ya gave ol' Na. I want some heavy shit!"
Lord Na in the meantime is attempting to seduce Delpha. He says as soon as he saw her he knew she was a "very special person". He says she has great insight and does it tell her how he is "helpless... before your beauty.. and freedom?" She says she'll trust him if he returns her to Earth. Lord Na says by the next day Mangler will have reopened the gate and she can go back if she wishes.
He leaves her alone and she reflects that her connection to the "Vietnam warrior" helped her resist Lord Na's charms. Meanwhile said warrior, Laz and his crew have loaded up with ordinance and fly the Huey back through the dimensional gate but the Huey wasn't built for dimensional travel and nearly shakes apart. They make it though and plan to go back for another supply run.
Tesla is trying to contact his nephew via a vision, and Delpha is able to channel him so his message gets through. He says to Nicky he has an idea for for a weapon that he needs Nicky's help with. As the lightsiders collect more choppers and weapons from the South African depot, Laz and the others make their final run and bring the Tesla machine with them.
|Taking the machine through the rip unfortunately backfires on Laz.|
Lazarus Jones: "For a single hour I dreamed hope.. rebirth... new legs to carry me into war. The war of dreams...the woman... even love is dead."
Bitterly he reflects that none of it was real, his friends aren't alive/dead and fighting, Lasha doesn't exist. As Chris fusses over him talking about mundane things, he moodily wallows in self pity, "I'm just a legless asshole... doomed".
Then he demands his dope, when Chris says she threw it out in case the police came. He sends her for some emergency stuff he has stashed elsewhere. She leaves and he reaches into his shirt for some matches and finds Zip's book tucked in there. Zip appears in his mind saying he will read the book to Laz who must destroy it when he is done.
|Zip begins his story.|
Back with Nikola Tesla and Leonardo Da Vinci, Tesla is still a little affronted he is being asked to build a powerful modern weapon when his attempts to modernise the society has been looked down on in the past. Practically through gritted teeth, the leaders say that although the council has "great displeasure at your thoughts" they have no quarrel with someone who can "advance the cause of war."
Tesla says there are probably other scientist who have crossed over who have been afraid to speak out, but no matter, he has discovered "a curious physical truth about the galaxy". The atmosphere of the planets are supercharged with voltage and he and his nephew can use this to amass huge charges. Nicky designs something called a "Voelkel gate" to focus the charge and have built the "Tesla Energy Accumulator" which he is now showing the leaders.
|Two Teslas are better than one.|
The leader of the fleet, Lepp is also on its way to Black Gate. Engle pleads with them to wait for a while, that Lord Na's new weapons will destroy them. His advice is shot down as Lepp seems to think weight of numbers will work in their favour. "How many worlds have you captured?" he sneers and cuts the connection. Engle decides to enact a plan using their own captured weaponry, they'll attack full on while blowing up the tunnels underneath the planet. Then Lasha has a vision of Laz, "I see him! he's alive!"
While Zip continues to tell Laz about the Darkness, Lord Na and Delpha speak with each other. Delpha says she has not accepted Lord Na, she and Nicky want to leave immediately. Lord Na says her face says otherwise, why did she put on such a skimpy costume? Delpha says it's because his man took her clothes, "believe me, all I feel towards you is fear."
As Engle slips his ships under the "arc" to get to the palace and the others lay charges in the tunnels underneath, Lord Na purges Laz's influence from Delpha's mind. "I've freed you from his influence.. he was the weak one" he says. When she feels lost without his strength, Lord Na says she has her own strength.
He then sends her on a "Journey into my vastness". She sees images of dead worlds, monstrous beings and war. He says she should pity him, for he is filled with emptiness and an "infinite sadness".
Lord Na: "Sadness beyond all joy in the death of multitudes. Ravaged by a rip in his being.. his wound that has bled for a thousand years. Perhaps Na's wound can be healed... by Earth flesh joined to darkness intangible."
Delpha just responds that his visions are sickening her and his words are making her die. He says that together they both can be healed and she can rule with him. He then thinks to himself that despite herself she is intrigued, but she doesn't realise she is interacting with a projection and we see the back of a being sat in on a throne saying his real face is "broken by an ancient affliction". Will she still lust after him when she sees his real self? She screams at him to stop murdering her, but he embraces her struggling form saying she was his before time began.
|The real Lord Na watches his seduction of Delpha from afar.|
The stone-ship that Lasha is commanding crashes, and it looks like she might be dead. But Delpha sees her, and notes that she too belongs to the warrior Lazarus. She reaches out to her, hoping Lasha can give her strength to escape the dark lord's hunger. As the battle rages outside, Lord Na commands the laser cannon is mounted on his command ship.
Nicky finds the woken up Delpha who says Lasha is alive and can help them. On cue Lasha appears to lead them out of the palace, but Lord Na and Lasher stop them. He gloats that she has come home to meet her fate. "Are you still looking for your damned father... or is it that legless asshole you want?" And this penultimate chapter ends with Zip commanding Lazarus to "destroy this book".
|Lasha comes to rescue Delpha and Nicky, not entirely successfully.|
Then an apparition of Laz appears and tells Lasha to get out of there with Delpha, but Lord Na stabs through him and hits Delpha. Lasha then grabs a hold of her as Lord Na laments they could have been "the only free ones." He tries to banish Laz's spirit saying he doesn't belong. Then he takes Nicky's lightbody back to the citadel to know "the innocence and purity of absolute might".
|Laz still between dimensions helps Lasha escape.|
Lasha is unable to heal her wounds and as Delpha slips away she says they belong to Lazarus, they are sisters and now she has nowhere else left to go. And she dies. On board Lord Na's command ship he is told the Galactic fleet will be there in an hour, which pleases Lord Na as he wants to strike a decisive blow against them. Once that is done, he'll abandon this planet and make a new beachead on a neighbouring one.
Lord Na: "But just for today Na will cause their blood to rain from the skies."
As the fleet approaches Black Gate, they have Tesla with them and his powerful machine. Then they come under attack. On the planet surface, Lasha is directing the battle against Lord Na. She goes to attend to her own wound and wonders if she'll ever touch Laz again. Then the legless apparition of Laz appears again, he says Zip told him he is made of light and if she puts all her thoughts into bringing him across, he can travel over. She does so but he keeps being pulled back to his mortal body.
Laz then finds himself in a strange place, Zip is there, he has transcended himself, "as must you" he says. He says if Laz wants a new light body he must fall through the "Mentep Gate of Vision". That way he can deal with the self-doubt, the fear that clamps his heart and fall through "Hellworlds made especially for you". Laz enters the gate.
|TMI Lord Na!|
Lord Na: "I am darkness. I am the perfection of death. I am the war that never ends. I am the black mirror of defeat and desolation. I am the dark mind that consumes the warrior's will. I am the hammer of pain. I am the despair of the doomed. I am the sword of judgement."
But before he can continue, Tesla gets his machine started up and obliterates Lord Na (or a least this projection of him). Fasher takes over the attack and the battle continues. Engle, Huff and Slaw managed to escape the destruction of their chopper and hook up with Lasha who says Laz is free, but gone forever.
|Lord Na finally defeated.|
Returning to Lasha, he asks her about Delpha, and Lasha tells him she is dead. Then they activate the bombs and blow the arc to hell and the remainder of Lord Na's fleet is mopped up. We see Lord Na, in his true old and ugly form. Nicky is with him. Lord Na says he could have loved Delpha as Nicky never loved her. But a voice from inside Na says:
Mystery Voice: "Enough! To speak against me is to intiate your own destruction. There can be no punishment for you... no chastisement of any kind. For you there is only nothingness. You have ceased to exist".
And Lord Na dwindles away. Meanwhile Laz now lives in two worlds conciously. He is kissing Chris and Lasha at the same time. He says to Chris she must think he's crazy, she says she knows he's crazy:
Laz: "Crazy like a Light Warrior. Who's pushin' back the Darkness. Forever".
|A girl in each dimension? You lucky dog Laz.|
So, overall, this was a story worth waiting for. Cam Kennedy's artwork is magnificent, and suits the "stone-age sci-fi" aesthetic beautifully. My one complaint is more a case of personal perference for more decompressed work, I'd like to have seen the same material stretched across a couple more issues with some downtime here and there. But I can hardly complain it having so much story crammed into one miniseries. That makes it feel even more like a 2000AD story that found itself being published in the USA by mistake. The general themes of the story, of a Valhalla for Earth's soldiers where they can fight a war where there are no shades of grey and the bad guys are obvious is a fascinating one. And cheekily throwing Nikola Tesla into the mix as a man frustrated by the primitive conditions he knows he can do something about adds a little levity to an otherwise heavy story. The ending is a weirdly happy one, Chris doesn't lose her husband, Lasha doesn't lose her lover, Laz gets to exist in both worlds finding redemption as a light warrior while still being a husband to the woman who has cared for him for two decades. This is a very dense work, and very much a labour of love for Tom Veitch and Cam Kennedy who would go on to work together on an acclaimed comic series set in the Star Wars expanded universe after this. If you're at all interested in the work of either writer or artist this is well worth checking out, and worth it if you're interested in science fiction war stories as well. Cracking stuff.