Sunday, 31 December 2017

Dragonball Book 8: Taopaipai and Master Karin

"Then there is no choice left but to battle" - Adjutant Black

This is my cut n'paste intro for my end of month indulgence (if I feel like it) as I make my way through all forty-two collected volumes of the enduringly popular and influential manga Dragonball. The series used to be split into the fantasy and whimsy filled Dragonball and the more serious, sci-fi orientated strip it became after sixteen volumes known as Dragonball Z, but now the series is being released under the one "Dragonball" title again; uncut and with a spiffy new translation.  The series first ran in the famous anthology magazine "Shonen Jump" from 1984 to 1995 and was written and drawn by Akira Toriyama (It has been translated here by Mari Morimoto and adapted into English by Gerard Jones, the western publisher is Viz Media) and pretty much set the standard for the similar shonen manga and anime that came after like Bleach and Naruto.  It follows the adventures of the kindly if somewhat sheltered and simple "Son Goku" as he trains, goes on adventures and enters competitions all with the aim of making himself a stronger and better fighter.  Along the way he accrues a colourful cast of friends and rivals in a world where humans live alongside anthropomorphised animals, dinosaurs never died out and tiny capsules can contain vehicles and houses to be easily carried around.

[Note:  This manga is "unflipped" so must be read from right to left]

Previously On Dragonball: Goku is still searching for the four star dragonball, one of seven which when gathered together summons a dragon who will grant a single wish.  Goku doesn't care about that, the four star ball is a memento of his dead grandpa and so using the dragon radar which was invented by teenage girl genius Bulma he is able to locate the balls easily.  However the evil Red Ribbon Army are also searching for the balls and they and Goku have butted heads several times now, including the wicked and closeted gay General Blue.  The last volume ended with Goku arriving on his flying cloud Kinto'un to rescue the child of the Guardian of one of the balls and also the protector of "Karin's Sanctuary" a grove with a thick wooden pole stretching up into the heavens. Back at the Red Ribbon Army base, frustrated with all their failures the leader says it is time to deploy "Taopaipai".  And now the continuation.
Karin's tower. the Guardian and Upa his son.
Goku returns the young boy to the Guardian and sees he has a dragonball.  And joy of joy, it's the "sushinchu" four star ball that his Grandpa had. The Guardian doesn't understand what the significance of the ball is.  Back at Red Ribbon Army HQ General Blue has arrived back there and is bullying the soldiers into respecting him.  Meanwhile Taopaipai has come, his is not part of the army he is a mercenary for hire.  He wants 100 million zeni for each strike. But he's having a half price sale so they can buy him for 50 million zeni.

General Blue then arrives in the meeting room, the commander wants to know how he thinks he can show his face here after losing the dragonballs to Goku.  A suddenly nervous and sweating Blue says he did manage to get the dragon radar, which the Commander admits was a "useful accomplishment".  But unfortunately those who don't bring back dragonballs are to be executed.  But if he fights Taopaipai and wins, his honour will be restored.

The pair square up to each other, Blue boasts of his fighting ability. Taopaipai says he'll just use his tongue to beat Blue.  The fight begins and Blue is completely outclassed and is quickly knocked out , maybe even killed, by Taopaipai's super tongue skills (careful now) leaving him slumped on the floor.

He is then shown a photo of Goku and agrees to kill him and take the four dragonballs he has.  Commander Red tells him to feel free to kill anyone else who gets in the way.   Then Taopaipai breaks a pillar off, hurls it into the sky and jumps on it, flying off in the direction of the Karin Santuary.  There Goku is told that if a person climbs the pole with his bare hands they'll find a hermit living at its summit and they will offer holy water that will multiply a person's strength many-fold.  His clan have guarded the pole for generations.  Goku looks up, contemplating climbing it, then Taopaipai lands.
 He introduces himself as "the world's greatest assassin" and that he only has business with Goku. Goku is baffled as to wwho he is and why he'd want anything with him.  But Taopaipai says he is here on behalf of the Red Ribbon Army and Goku gets annoyed at how stubborn they are.  The Guardian says to Taopaipai that Goku saved his son's life and so if he goes peacefully he won't stand against him.

Goku says it's OK, Taopaipai is his enemy, but the Guardian says the sacred land has been breached so he will fight Taopaipai. He jabs his spear at Taopaipai who just catches it and no matter how much pressure the Gaurdian exerts he can't move it.  Then Taopaipai flips it and sends the Guardian flying off into the air.  He lands, impaled on his side with his own spear which kills him..

This angers Goku who rushes Taopaipai who hits him in the face with a swift knee.   Angry now, Goku fires a kamehameha at him which hits Taopaipai full on.  He stays standing but the energy blast fries most of his clothes off.  This pisses him off and he fires a "dodon-pa" energy blast from his finger which sends Goku flying, blood spurting from his wound.  Taopaipai think he's completed his mission and he picks up the bag with the dragonballs in it.
Goku dead?
Upa, the Guardian's kid throws a stone at him, but Taopaipai blows it back at him and hits him on the head making Upa cry. Taopaipai then picks up his pillar, throws it in the direction of the Red Ribbon Army and leaps aboard.  However the Red Ribbon Army commander notes that Taopaipai only picked up three of the four balls and also that he's stopped off somewhere on the way back.  He's ordering a new outfit, bullying the man into making it ready in three days.  The commander phones him regarding the missing ball and Taopaipai agrees to go back and get it when his clothes are ready.

We then cut to Upa in front on a pile of dirt, he's buried his father.  He approaches Goku prone form and Goku' hand twitches.  He's alive, huzzah!  The dragonball he had stashed in his clothes absorbed some of the damage and saved him.   Goku contemplates the ball thinking that his grandpa saved him.  He then sees the grave and realises that he should now gather the dragonballs to wish Upa's dad back to life.

Upa asks if that can be done and Goku says you can have any wish so it should work. Goku realises Taopaipai will return for the four star ball, but Goku also realises he's too strong for Goku to beat.  Upa suggest Goku climb the pillar or "Karin Tower" as he calls it.   At the top is a medicine that is supposed to make you stronger.   Goku realises he can't use kinto'un to fly up, he has to climb all the way.   Goku tells Upa to hide somewhere and he begins climbing the tower.
It is a VERY tall tower.
He jump-climbs for what seems like forever, resting occasionally by hanging from his tail.   Night falls and suddenly he sees a small house like structure attached to the tower, "Yes!!!! I't' the top!!!!" yells Goku excitedly and he climbs through one of the holes in the bottom of the structure.  There is no one around as Goku pokes around nosily, then suddenly a voice summons him upstairs. 

The hermit is a cat with a wooden walking stick called Karin who congratulates Goku on making it this far.   Goku is surprised to discover he's the hermit master.

Karin: "It's true.  Perhaps I should calll myself a hermit meowster... ho ho ho..."

Karin realise Goku is there for the holy water.  He shows Goku where it is, but also tells him to be quiet so he can read his mind. He discovers Goku must defeat Taopaipai and get the dragonballs to revive Upa's father.

He decides Goku's motives are pure.  Goku goes to where the water is, Karin tells him "I'll be happy to give you some.. but do you think you'll be able to drink it?"  Using his stick Karin knocks Goku away from the water and soon both are fighting.   Karin says to be able to drink the water Goku must first prove himself in combat.  Goku keeps trying to get to the water and  Karin keeps knocking him away until Goku is exhausted.
Goku vs Karin.
Goku says he's only doing this badly because he is starving and worn out from the climb.  Karin tosses him a small bean called a holy "senzu" bean.  This totally refills a persons energy and cures them of any non-fatal injury instantly.  Goku eats it and is amazed at how full up it makes him feel.  Now he goes for the water with much more strength and speed.

But it's not enough, and Goku is soon struggling for breath again.   He asks Karin if he is the first to climb up here but Karin said about 300 years ago there was another who climbed up.  Goku is amazed at how old that makes Karin, "you should respect me!" responds the cat.  Turns out the other person was Kame.  This gobsmacks Goku.   Karin says Goku should call him "Karin-sennin".  Goku asks how long it took Kame to drink the water, when Karin says holds up a paw showing three fingers, Goku thinks he means three minutes but actually it was three years.

Goku says Karin must be joking but Karin shrugs and asks how many years does he think he'll take?   Goku gets angry and uses hims illusion split move but  Karin sees through it and kicks the real Goku.   Thinking to himself though Karin realises Goku is good and this should be an interesting match-up.   Goku wants to know why he keeps getting out of breath so fast and Karin tells him it's the altitude.  He tells Goku he's over exerting his moves and costing himself breath.

He tells Goku that climbing the tower has been good for hims lungs but he needs "a little more conditioning than that."  And he swipes the four star dragonball and tosses it over the edge of the little house.  Goku speedily rushes down the pole after it and picks it up off the ground.   With more speed than before, he races up the pole again and back to Karin's house.
Need moar training Goku!
Crossly he asks why Karin would make him do all that, Karin says he should appreciate the extra training.   They fight some more over the water then night falls and Karin tells Goku they should call it a day for now, he's sleepy. Karin nods off by the water.  Goku wakes up and goes to grab the bottle, then stops.  He thinks to himself he'll do it "fair and square."  Karin who was really awake thiks he's a honest lad, "quite a change from his mentor."

Next day the fight carries on, and during it Karin's stick knocks the water bottle off the house, but Goku catches it anchoring himself with his tail.  And he has the water!  Karin is secretely amazed it only took three days.  Goku drinks it, then says he doesn't feel any different.

Karin: "Of course not. The 'holy water' is just ordinary rainwater.... I didn't trick you.  Your strength has already multiplied manyfold."

Everything was a training exercise, climbing the tower, fighting for the water it was all to make him stronger.  Now he should go back to the world "... and test the fruits of your training".  Goku tells Karin thankyou and sets off down the tower. As Karin watches him go, he thinks Goku's a jolly fellow who has already outstripped his mentor.
Goku manages ro catch the water.
As Upa frets at the bottom of the tower, Taopaipai picks up his new robes.  And like a dick he refuses to pay for them even though the tailor worked non-stop for three days on them.   He does offer to do a hit for free but the tailor doesn't want to kill anyone., so Taopaipai kills him by jabbing a finger through his forehead.

He then arrives via hurled pillar to he bottom of Karin Tower.  Goku still hasn't got back yet and Upa throws a small axe at him saying he must avange his father, which Taopaipai easily avoids.  He picks Upa up and starts squeezing him demanding to know where the other dragonball is, but Upa refuses to say and Taopaipai hurls him aside.
Goku suddenly appears, hurtling down the tower and summons kinto'un to catch Upa.  Taopaipai is shocked to see Goku alive.  Goku tells Upa not to worry and stay on the cloud while he deals with Taopaipai.   He wans to know how Goku survived his "dodon-pa" energy beam attack, Goku tells him it was blocked by the dragonball in his pocket.

Taopaipai: "What a lucky fellow you are.  If you'd been hit by that blast you'd be as dead as that dragonball.  But this is where your luck runs out.  Nothing will save you now. You should have stayed in hiding, fool!"

Goku defiantly says he won't hand oner the dragonball or knock him around again either. Taopaipai declares Goku will be dead in three seconds and they begin combat, Goku rolling with the punches and landing hits of his own.
A much fairer fight now.
They break apart for a moment and Taopaipai notes he wasn't this strong three days ago.   Goku tells him he trained at the top of the pole.  Taopaipai still can't believe only three days has seen such improvement.   He guesses that Goku was trained by Karin.  He thinks to himself that he though Karin was a legend until now. He square up for the next phase of their battle.

They fight hard, both taking vicious punches and kicks to themselves.  Once again they break apart to catch their breath.  Taopaipai's face is all bruised.  He rips off his top in anger saying he's holding back because Goku is a child. Then he fires his dodon-pa at Goku who quickly counters it with a kamehama-ha, crashing the two energy waves into each other forcing them backwards.

Completely enraged, Taopaipai uses a capsule to manifest a sword.   He swipes it madly and quickly at Goku, but Upa tosses Goku his nyoibo stick and uses it to snap Taopaipai's sword in half.  Then he tosses the stick  to one side, and grinning says he' going to "beat you bare-handed."

This outrages Taopaipai, Goku says to Upa he will avenge his dad then Taopaipai leaps at him yelling "Tsuach!!!!"  This sends him into a vicious combo of attacks on Goku who doesn't seem to be fighting back.  Taopaipai knocks Goku into the air then smashes him into the ground.  Goku lies still...

.... then he leaps up saying "man! you are good!  That really hurt!"  Taopaipai can only babble that Goku is a "monster." Goku says he's seen all his moves now and knows how to counter them and he slams into Taopaipai's stomach. Before pounding him in the head with several vicious kicks.  Before he can finish Taopaipai to the ground, Taopaipai drops to his knees and begs forviveness.
Taopaipai killed by his own bomb.
Goku is somewhat stymied. But them Taopaipai throws a small bomb at Goku and Upa.  But Goku kicks it up in the air after Taopaipai who was in the process of fleeing and it blows him up instead.   Triumphant, Goku tells Upa he'll be on his way now to collect all the dragonballs and bring Upa's dad back to life.  He boards kinto'un and sets off for Red Ribbon Army HQ.

We cut to the HQ and the female Colonel Violet has returned with another dragonball, Commander Red says gleefully that once Taopaipai returns they'll have six of the seven.   They pass the stolen dragonradar to General Copper so he can locate the final ball.  They note that the four balls Taopaipai took from Goku are moving, so they assume Taopaipai is returning with the loot.

However it is actually Goku and as he flies a small remote control plane starts following him.  It's an invention of Bulma's so she and Kame can see what he's up to.  They note he's heading for the location of the other two balls.  When Lunch tells them it means he's heading to Red Ribbon Army HQ, Bulma send the "recon mech" there ahead of him. When they confirm it, even Kame is surprised "d-don't tell me he's planning to invade that...?!"

Goku arrives, whips out his nyoibo and yells, "Ooo-kay!!  Let's have some fun!!!!"  Back at Kame's, they try and figure out how they can help Goku because they believe assaulting the base alone will be too much for him.   Bulma calls up Yamcha and tells him what Goku is up to.  Yamcha agrees, looking forward for a decent fight for a change.
Goku filled with the love of the battle.
Goku smashes through the helicopter that had been sent to greet Taopaipai and Commander Red is told that it's in fact Goku not Taopaipai who is invading the base.  We then get several awesome pages of Goku kicking, punching and general destroying all the Red Ribbon Army soldiers sent to stop him.  No one can match him and Adjutant Black pleads with Commander Red to evacuate the base.

When Commander Red refuses, Adjutant Black tells him this "brat" was able to beat Taopaipai.  Commander Red just roars "The Red Ribbon Army is an invincible force!!!"  But Goku is closing in on the tower the dragonballs are in and a furious Commander Red drags Adjutant Black with him to confront Goku themselves.  Meanwhile Yamcha, Kame, Bulma, Lunch, Oolong and Puar are heading to the base in a small plane, no Kuririn as he had gone grocery shopping so they go and pick him up. They will arrive at the base in about forty minutes.
Goku is unstoppable.
Inside the tower Commander Red and Adjutant Black are standing guard over the two dragonballs. Goku is busy ascending the tower by smashing his way through the ceilings of each floor because he can't find the stairs.  Enraged Red says he will not be defeated by a boy "who doesn't even know what an elevator is!!"  As Goku continues beating the everloving shit out of every soldier he comes across they decide they don't want to face him and Black laconically notes that the "remaining troops seem to have become a retreat".

Commander Red: "G-G-Grr...!! He's just a brat!!!  Just a stupid little brat!!!"

But Black says they should abandon the two balls and retreat themselves as they massively underestimated Goku.  Commander Red bangs his fists on the table and laments he was so close and that if things had been different he would have been "tall."

This makes Black do a great WTF face, then asks if they were going to all this trouble to gather the balls to wish Red taller?  Red yells that they were and does Black have a problem with that? "I thought we were after world domination!!!" says Black disbelievingly.  Red says they would have gotten to that, but world leaders have to be "charismatic... domineering... impressive... I mean what chick looks twice at a midget?"

Black is still stunned as he says they suffered and made such an effort for something so petty.  Red says that tall people have no idea how short people feel, and rants about suffering ridicule since he was a kid for his lack of height.  Black is angry now saying he slaved and risked his life for one reason only, "to advance the Red Ribbon Army's mission of world conquest."

This sends Red onto an even more apoplectic rant saying he is the commander and what he says goes.  Black asks him about all the soldiers who have sacrificed their lives because he didn't want to be short?  Red says how dare he speak to him like that and people need to shut their mouths and follow their commander's orders.  Suddenly he is cut off courtesy of a bullet right in the centre of his forehead fired by Black, who says to Red's body "you are not competent to be commander."  He declares himself the new leader.
Red is dead, only Black can defeat Goku.
Goku arrives and asks Black if he is the boss. Then Goku tells him he's going to take the two balls.  Black however posits an alliance between them that they should finish gathering the balls and then rule the world together.  Goku says "no way" to that, he's going to revive Upa's dad and that's that. Black persists saying OK he can arrive Upa's father then join him in conquering the world, with their power they can do it without the balls.

Goku: "I told you I don't want to!! I don't even want to be friends with bad guys!!"

Black says then there is no option left but to battle and takes a couple of swings at Goku who dodges easily and thumps Black hard in the stomach.  Realising he is totally outmatched, Black takes out a capsule and manifests a mechsuit and punches Goku in the face actually hurting him.
Black thinks he's won.
As Yamcha and the gang are still travelling to the base, Goku has to face the mech alone, or "battle jacket" as Black calls it.   He fires a laserbeam at Goku who dodges just in time.  He grabs Goku and hurls him against the wall then flies in the air and fires down at the prone Goku which explodes the ground in a cloud of smoke.  Black celebrates his win, but Goku watches him from the spire he jumped to at the last minute.

Goku jumps on the mechsuit's cockpit window much to Black's surprise. Black punches at him but Goku dodges and Black smashes the window and punches himself instead. Goku mocks him and an angry Black sends the mechsuit flying up higher.  The back of the mechsuit opens up and a rocket slides out which he locks onto Goku.  But Goku kicks it away from him and it explodes taking the top of a nearby mountain with it.
But this results in a kaboom as well, and Goku defeated a whole army.
This really frightens Black and he starts to flee but Goku catches up and blasts himself through the mechsuit's body which causes it to explode.  With the entire Red Ribbon Army either dead or on the run, Goku picks up the two balls they had, adds them to the four he had from before and says he has only one more to find as we finish this volume with Goku's friends finally arrving at the base to "save" him.

Just thought I'd slip something confusing in for the end of the year.  As per usual as a western woman in her forties I'm very much the periphery demographic for a 1980's shonen manga.  But damn if I can't get enough of Akira Toriyama's joyful story of a superhuman boy who is something of an accidental hero.  In that he doesn't deliberately try and be a hero, that's just his nature.  Someone who'll think of nothing of training to beat the person who bested him, storming a military base and going on a fetch quest simply to restore the life of a man he only met briefly and whose son he instantly bonds with.  The training session with Karin is the second major power-up he'll recieve as the series progresses.  These come along fairly regularly. Goku will come up against an opponent he can't beat, he'll go away and train harder and come back and win the day.  His commitment to his fighting "craft" is very inspiring.  He never sulks or gives up, even as an adult, he'll just dust himself off, find a sensei who can teach him and returns to save the day.  This also serves to add new characters to the series and other characters reach a ceiling they just can't break through, meaning they tend to end up becoming more background support as newer, more powerful friends and foes are added to the mix.  The whole sequence with Karin is just great with the holy water, I mean what's not to love about a martial arts master who is also a cat?  And it also sees the introduction of an item that will become a staple part of the later series, the magical "senzu beans".  So with the Red Ribbon Army defeated, and just one dragonball left to collect, what will the next big challenge Goku will face?  Well keep reading this blog and you'll find out.  Anyway hope you all have a very good New Year.  Join me in a few days time for more obscure Alan Moore, this time we're going back to his time at Rob Liefeld's company to wrap up the story of Supreme. See you in 2018!

Thursday, 21 December 2017

Constantine The Hellblazer Book 2: The Art Of The Deal (#7-13)

"All the magic in the world, and fooling your audience is stil the greatest trick" - John Constantine

Time to return to that year long period between the New 52 and The DC Rebirth known as the DCYou.  This is the second and final volume of this version of John Constantine, a character with a long history.  He began in the mid eighties as a supporting character in Alan Moore's run on Swamp Thing and was created by Moore and artists Steve Bissette and John Totleben.  He gained his own title in the late eighties called "Hellblazer", moving to the Vertigo label when that debuted and this ran for three hundred issues including an acclaimed run by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon.  His New 52 series, "Constantine" and his membership of the "Justice League Dark" was rather less well received and so a full reboot happened with this series, taking the cockney warlock to New York City and as diversity was one of the selling points of the DCYou it also explores his bisexuality too.  In book one he hit it off with a burly restaurant owner called Oliver and the first book concluded with him inviting Oliver in for the night.  Book 2 picks up the following morning as John reflects on relationships and the trouble they always bring. Written by Ming Doyle and James Tynion IV.  Art by Riley Rossmo, Travel Foreman, Eryk Donovan, Brian Level and Joseph Silver.

We begin with a couple canoodling in a park, unfortunately this brings them to the attention of some crazed nymphs who rip the couple to bits leaving their bloody entrails hanging from the trees.  We then cut to John, sitting on the floor in boxers and a shirt observing Oliver sleeping on the bed.  He admits to himself that he might have made a terrible mistake, "but I'm having trouble denying myself here."
Romantic, but foreboding as well.
Oliver wakes up and John says he's brave hanging about, John is dangerous and he should be wary of him.  Oliver says he just wants breakfast.  John says he's the cook, whip something up. "You only want me for my brioche" says Oliver.  John starts listening to a message on his answering machine, which is from someone called "Papa".  Oliver asks if the person is from Trinidad, but John quickly turns the machine off saying it's a wrong number.

Oliver goes for a shower while John thinks that he should be terrified and wanting to run away, "nothing about this adds up."  Then Oliver calls him into the bathroom, there are plant tendrils everywhere.  John tells Oliver to skip the shower while John takes care of this.  But before Oliver can leave, Swamp Thing - the plant elemental, manifests in the bathroom.  He dismisses John's annoyance at his appearance and tells him young people are dying horrible deaths.

Swamp Thing: "Something is upsetting the Green, all the Green in New York.  More than usual.  More than can be suffered.  It is calamitious."

Oliver decides this is his cue to leave.  John says it's for the best but he'll call tonight.   Oliver leaves and Swamp Thing asks if he is interrupting anything?  John says yes, but nevermind. He wants to know the details.

Swamp Thing tells him that in the past month fourteen couples have been found in Central Park, "ripped and rended to the bone."  One person has survived. She claims the trees came to life and thrashed her partner to bits, before returning to being trees as beautiful as before. "They were only trees. But they'd eaten a man" says Swamp Thing.  The Green that connects all plant life on earth is not actively malicious, trees alone do not eat people.

John says he can think of a few ways this could happen but ot would require a place with a lot of raw magic and New York isn't that spot.  Swamp Thing says the Green is closed to him here, in Central Park he feels nothing and cannot enter it.  He wants John to "spread my essence through the park so I can take back control."  John asks if he was Swamp Things first choice as a "go-to gardener".  Swamp Thing admits he wasn't and he wouldn't have come to him if it could have been avoided.  His methods are too unorthodox "and your a bit of an asshole".  He then asks if they had to take the subway as the rest of the people in the carriage take pictures of them.  John says it's good PR.
You meet allsorts on the subway.
They stand just outside Central Park as John pulls buds from Swamp Thing's back.   Swamp Thing says if he was to try and set foot in there right now, he'd wither away.  The buds will reconnect him with the Green once inside.  John sets off while     Swamp Thing waits.  While John wanders round the park with the buds he reflects on his relationship with Swamp Thing, he's an incredibly powerful plant elemental with the personality of a dead human called Alec Holland.  He's the Guardian of the Green now and John admits he's let him down a few times.

After spreading someone out he calls Swamp Thing through one of the buds.  Swamp Thing says he has a tenuous foothold but something is trying to force him out.  He can break through but it will take time, "the creature is close I can feel it."  John then comes across a lesbian couple making out, he says he's the "sex police" and they should get back to art school from whence they came.

The couple run off and a dryad comes out of the shadows.  John tells them he scared her friends off.  Then he sees that she is "tripping high as a kite."  More dryads appear and start growing claws and monstrous faces, John thinks about how human pheromones tends to send the "lovely little buggers into murderous rages".  Once slashs John across the face.  He sees Swamp Thing struggling to grow out of the ground and runs over to him, the dryads in hot pursuit.

Half out of the ground Swamp Thing says he is trying to talk to the Green here but it won't listen.  John tells him to hurry up and find someone they will listen too.  Swamp Thing abandons the half grown body saying he shall return.  To protect himself from the angry nymphs surrounding him, John tosses a lit match onto the ground and some catch fire.  Then Swamp Thing reappears growing up in full, he tells John he found someone they would listen to.
The crazed nypmhs attack
He has summoned the "Great Nypmh Mother" who calms them down.  She tells John and Swamp Thing that it has been a long time since magic was wild and dangerous enough for new nymphs to emerge and the wood to come to life.  With no older nymphs to guide them, they lashed out, but now they will learn peace and she tells John no more of his kind will come to harm.   She says that she can feel it in the air:

Greath Nymph Mother: "This city is rich with powerful energy... some dark force is funneling it in, making it ready for something.  My girls, they are just the beginning.  They are terraforming the city into something new.  If this is your home, you should be gravely concerned."

John just says everyone keeps telling him that.  Is everything OK here?  Swamp Thing says he will commune with the Mother and the young nymphs to make sure they are settled.  He then offers John some advice, "let that human go.  What you're doing is a mistake,  And it will destroy him.  If you care at all, let him go back to his ordinary life."

"That it, then?" asks John, "that's it" says Swamp Thing.  John leaves thinking that he knows Swamp Thing is right much as he hates to hear it.   Every sign he is seeing now points to danger and it seems inevitable that Oliver will get dragged into it.  A world of magic and madness doesn't mix with "a strong, tall drink of normal".  Once home he phones Oliver only to have the phone picked up by Papa Midnight who is holding a sword to Oliver's throat and Oliver is also tied up with occult symbols drawn on him. "I am afraid Oliver is a bit indisposed at the moment.  Might I take a message" he grins evilly.
Oliver, Papa Midnite and Gerald the rooster-snake.
The next chapter begins with a female demon inviting two horned male demons into Club Midnight. She notes their forms flickered for a moment and asks if they are shapeshifters.  One says they have come straight from the City of Dis, thought antlers might impress the "prettiest thing on eight legs up here".   She tells them they should hold their forms for the evening or they'll be thrown out.  One of the antlered men flirts with her which she brushes off with disdain and the two demons carry on into the club.

Inside one tells the other it was easy, but the other grabs him and slams him into the wall and we see now it's Papa Midnite shoving John.  Midnite says John is making a fool of himself and will get them caught. Changing forms as they went through the door was a terrible risk.

John: "First off Papa Midnite, we're playing demons,  Demons are vain.  Did you see the other lot we came in with?  Changed their form about fifteen times in the queue. Second, you give them a flawm something to focus on and they don't see the larger issuem in this case, that two humans just came in wearing intricate glamours."

Midnite tells John not to berate him.  John notes Midnite had done some redecorating, he says a King must take pride in his Kingdom.  John says yeah but thre are new kings about, aren't there?
John and Midnite in disguise.
Johh then thinks back to when he first came to New York years ago.  He was abducted in his sleep by three men with lifeless faces and their mouths sewn shut.  They knocked him out and shoved him in a bag and when he came too he was in a penthouse with Papa Midnite a "deep voice rumbled behind me that everyhing I could see belonged to him".  He told John that for nearly twenty years the magical criminal underworld of New York funneled through this building.  The heart of darkness in New York City all thanks to the man who thought he owned it all. Papa Midnite. But things change.

Two hours ago.  John ha arrived at Oliver's place and is laughing his head off at the fact Papa Midnite has lost everything and is reduced to turning to John for help.  He tells Oliver he'll be alright, Oliver notes that the snake coiled round him has a roosters head.  "Yeah.  It's fun isn't it?" replies John.  Papa Midnite demands John show respect.

But John says that Midnite just told him that he'd wanted to double his money by running his business tax free and his brilliant idea was to trust a "bunch of sketchy businessfolk to run Midnight on paper and now you're surprised they voted you out?"  And that he didn't think for a minute that behind it might be that "ghoulish banker Mr. Rumor" whose been after the building for years.  Midnite has nothing, no power, no nightclub, no money, no army of zombies, "so no I do not resect you.  I am not afraid of you. And I am not going to help you."

Midnite snaps his fingers saying they'll play the game his way then.  The snake/rooster familiar is called Gerald and his bite is extremely venomous, and it bites Oliver hard in the shoulder. The anti-venom exists in the safe in his old penthouse with it is a totem that allows him to regain ful control of his subjects.  John angrily says Oliver is innocent in all this, but Midnite says he made the unwise decision "to believe you are something more than you are." Reluctantly John says he is in, but why is he needed?  Midnite says he needs a man who has broken through defences he often thought unbreakable, so he must do exactly as Midnite says "or you dear little chef friend will die."

Back at Club Midnight, Constantine is doing some gambling to the annoyance of Midnite.  Then a demon-lord called Neron comes in.  Once a minor player after the upheavels in hell of th 80's he negociated and back-stabbed his way to the largest Arch-Dukedom in all of hell.  Popping up on Earth during the the soul trade he quickly became the richest demon around, "he one of the most dangerous beings in existence.  And a real ass hole."

The demon greeter tells him Mr. Rumor is waiting upstairs for him.  Neron uses his fire breath to burn her clean away then says the place needs straightening up if their plan is going to work. John says to Midnite that one of the worst demons in existence owns the club and by helping him he's painting a target on his back the size of the Empire State Building.  Midnite calles him a coward.

John says he can break the rules when he knows the rules and doesn't like no knowing what kind of mess he's walking into.  Why would he want this place he demands to know.  Midnite just says to remember why they are here, there are two roads to the penthouse but the protections he has built are impenetrable.  He launches into a detailed explanation but there is no need to know them because John's plan doesn't require engaging with them.
John's secret way in.
The way that John had broken into Midnite's living quarters seven times in the past five years was that "I took the bloody stairs.  The real ones".  And he slashs open the wall to reveal a set of ordinary stairs that  lead up to the top of the pocket dimension a hundred times larger than what he pays for.  They clamber up, Midnite says these are "base reality? Earth?"  John says yes.  Then he opens the wall where the penthouse is and get straight to the safe.  Midnight tries to stop him, but too late. "What is this?!" scowls John.

They stand before a swirling portal, which Midnite calls a "Hellgate" a portal to the underworld which powers the pocket dimension.   He says he can't let Neron get a hold of it.  John says it's an insanely dangerous item and he can't believe he'd risk everyone's lives with this.  Midnite just tells him they are going through the "pens" and to get his disguise back up.

Back with Oliver and Gerald.  Oliver asks how long he's been a talking rooster thing?  Gerald responds, "how long have you had catastrophic taste in men?"  Oliver says he admits this is a little more than he signed on for.  What kind of man is John?

Gerald: "The very worst kind.  He's killed or ruined everyone he's ever loved. So I hope what you have is casual, though it doesn't look like it, I'll admit".

He goes on to tell Oliver how he sent a little girl's soul to hell and sacrificed his closest friend to a hunger demon (both incidents chronicled in the first storylines of his solo series). Oliver asks why he did that to a little girl?  Gerald says he was trying to save her from a monster but wound up delivering her into the arms of something worse.  And the oldest friend asks Oliver?   The friend had let a displaced hunger demon loose in New York says Gerald and it wanted to eat the whole city.  John fed it his friend to trap it.  Papa Midnite saw it all go down. "Seems like.. he was trying to do.. some good.  And good is tough to get right" says Oliver.

Back with Johna and Midnite in disguise walking quickly through the human pens. John tells Midnite that Mr. Rumor has been buying up pieces of the city for years, every bit of magic he can get his claws on.  And now he not only has a building with an active Hell Portal, he's working for one of the most dangerous demons of all.  It's serious, this last few weeks all the magic of the city os going haywire "and it's all because of the two of them and whatever they're planning".

Here Neron and Mr. Rumor have demons from every corner of hell, "eating out of their hands."  Suddenly a couple of horned demons note that they are both shape-shifters as they queue to speak with Neron.  John compliments the place and the two horned demons say more establishments like this will crop up.  More reasons to make the trip from hell they say.  Mr. Rumor says what they are doing is a game changer to be sure, "isn't that right, Mister Constantine" and he removes the glamours from John and Midnight. "Oh balls" says John.  "Now what?" panics Midnite. "Now we're definitely going to die" says John.
After a brief intro to the DC Hell, we see John and Midnite both stripped to the waist and lashed to two poles with barbed wire. Thw demon torturing John says he can avoid all this pain and suffering if he just makes a deal with it, "give usss your soul.  Give us everything".  John spits in the demon's face, Midnite pleads with him to stop antagonising their captors.  They say they don't mind, they get to do this all day long.

John: "Well isn't that peachy?  But it looks like my soul is still my soul and you're not going to win this little back and forth.  I promise you that."

Neron appears snorts that it forgets how stupid humans can be.   It asks if John has really contemplated the nature of his predicament yet? And it shoves his hand in John chest and rips his heart out. Neron tells him in a long speech that humans suck, the torture will go on for enternity and that he has an evil plan to do something big to New York.
Neron lays out his evil plan.
He tells John that he's given up every trace of his humanity "while scraping and stealing the barest threads of magic."  But if any loser is willing to pay Neron's exhorbitant price they will be able to have real magic.  Humanity will sell their souls in their thousands to him just for a moment when magic is real and "the mysteries of the world are far deeper than they ever imagined."  He's talking about commodifying magic and bringing it to whoever wants it.  New York will become "the centre of infernal commerce" and he will become the richest entity on Earth and in Hell.

He offers John a deal to join him topside and he'll give him magical power like he's never dreamed of and spent his whole life chasing.  It would be decades before he'd set foot in Hell again. John refuses as does the prideful Midnite who can't forgive Neron for stealing his livelihood instead of coming to him directly.   Neron says oh well and lets them rest for the night before the torture begins again and he leaves them.  Both have been taken down off the poles for now and begin to discuss how to escape.

Midnite doesn't think they stand a chance, John tells him to pull himself together or he'll make him suffer.  Then suddenly a flamboyant demon appears to them.  She's called "Blythe" and known to John.  She hands John and Midnite some clothes and as they dress she says that she and John know each other intimately, although he did then banish her down here.   If they want to get out, it's time to make a deal.
Enter Blythe.
She says all the entrances to Earth are currently blocked, Neron's doing.  But she happens to know of a side-path they can exploit.   Her deal is that she doesn't want their souls, she wants out of Hell.   She can show them the way, but he'll have to pull her through.   Johns says, "well.  How can I refuse?"  And off they go.

John keeps making sarky remarks which incites Midnite to say he'll kick his teeth in and Blythe to say she preferred it when he didn't talk.   She leaps on a small demon guarding the way and rips its throat out.  Midnite compliments her "great prowess and grace."  John says he has terrible taste.

They snea past some more demons then find themselves at a statue of an Angel, although it is a real Angel petrified, turned into public art by Neron. At the bottom is a small pool of water that can make even demons tells the truth.   Suddenly two giant hooded demons appear.  Blythe says "oh... we may die here."  But thinking quickly John splashes them with the truth water and asks if they would prefer to eat each other.  They agree and start fighting, leaving John and co. to carry on.

They reach the exit and find a guard posted there.  Midnite decides to try and "glamour him blind" but before he can, John hurls a brick at the demon and knocks him out.  Blythe then takes some of John's blood to draw a sigil, John says to hurry he still have Oliver to free from "Papa's evil clutches."  Midnite however admits he didn't poison Oliver and John is pissed about be tricked into helping Midnite.

John: "Just one more person treating me as a commodity, a resource to trade around?"

Midnite says they can argue about it topside as Blythe finishes the sigil and opens the door.   John says if he goes through it the portal closes right away correct?   Still angry he tells Midnite and Blythe to "go choke on it" and walks through the door alone.
Constantine breaks his deal with Blythe.
Unfortunately this door didn't lead to Earth, instead he finds himself in the realm of the Faeries.  This is not good. Faerieland is considered worse than Hell. A demon told him Hell is Hell but in Faerieland "you lose every piece of yourself.  You think you're in heaven." You have everything you ever wanted and you feel Godly, it is the home of the "wildest magic.  A place shaped by whim and fancy".

John: "Faeries aren't these pleasant little helper Tinkerbell.  They're corrosive beings of pure emotions, who just want to feel everything amazing constantly and forever and humans are their favourite toys."

As John narrates this we see two punkish looking faeries slit the throat of a pegasus and drink its rainbodw covered blood, kissing as it drips on them then smearing it all over themselves in wild joy.
A faerie at play.
Hiding John observes them and narrates that fairy stories weren't fun stories, they were warnings.   He grumbles that he'd knock Blythe back to Hell fora third time if he knew this was where she was sending them.   He knows what she was thinking though, Hell has a bureaucracy but Faerie has no rules, "the only power here is pleasure as those who wield it best call the shots."

The faeries spot him and he tries to run but the plants catch him.  The faerie leader riding a horse asks who he is, he says he is just a traveller and he's keeping his name to himself.  But one grabs his wallet and reveals what it is.  She says she has a deal with Neron and tells the plants to hold him while she goes get Neron.

John whispers to the faerie guarding him, Flutterbee.   He offers him a deal, if he takes him to Earth he can enjoy more pleasure than he ever thought of.   He knows magic that "will make your mind pulse with orgiastic pleasure." Flutterbee agrees to this deal and zaps him back to New York.  But he says he can't feel the pleasure John promised. John breaks his neck and leaves him, although he'll be up and healed in a short while.

John: "Breaking a pact with a faerie has no consequences... but a deal with a demon?  That's gonna bite me on the ass."

He mulls over whether he'll be able to pay the price as he heads to where Oliver is being held.  He can feel Neron's influence in New York already, soon humans will start falling into his trap, "and I won't be one of them."  Talking of Neron, he's giving his army of demons a pep talk. He promises, "that everyone of you is going to have more squirming, screaming, delicious human souls on your plates than you can eat!"
Oliver back with his daughters.
John arrives at where Oliver is being held.  He begs to himself, "please, just... don't let me have gotten him killed".  He opens the door and finds Oliver alive with Gerald still wrapped round him.   Oliver tells Gerald he told him John would come.  John unwraps the magical held snake-rooster and frees Oliver.   Oliver says they'll have a long talks about this later but first he needs to get back to his daughters.  Oliver bids Gerald farewell and Geralds does the same, warning him about John too. 

John asks Oliver is he has a place to stay outside the city?  Oliver says his daughters mother lives in New Jersey.  John says something bad is going down in New York and they all need to get out.   They arrive at Oliver's house and he hugs his young daughters.  One of them asks John "you're daddy's new boyfriend?"  John can't stick around, he has a weak spot for kids because they are so defenceless.

John: "How could I even think it was OK to know someone like Oliver when I could ruin these other innocent lives?"

And he turns to leave. Oliver tries to stop him, he wants him to come to New Jersey with him.  John says his plans changed and did Oliver just blank on twenty-four hours of chicken constrictor fun? He has kids for gods sake.  Oliver says he won't be letting them face that sort of stuff, "and you're dead wrong if you think I'm letting you face all that crap alone."

John says it's his life, he can handle it and he's only know Oliver three months.  Oliver says John does't get it, he wants to get "serious" about him and he can't let him get killed.   John says he'd be endangring his children over a man he's known for a few months.  He says he's not the man he knew if he'd do that to his family.  Oliver says what kind of a man would he be who gave up on someone clearly hurting. John refuses to back down and walks out the door as they continue arguing.  He has the final word advising Oliver to pack up and leave the city and then he is gone.

As he walks away he mull over the fact that he's had relationships turn out much worse and if Oliver does heed his advice he'll be at least one human saved from New York.   He can already see the demons out on the streets. And he has decided to let it be, R.I.P New York "I'm not Batman and you're not my bloody responsibilty.  No more meddling from me."
Meanwhile Oliver is getting ready to go out and find John, he's hired a baby sitter at short notice although we don't see her face yet.   He hugs his daughters then says he has to go remind his friend that, "running away never fixes anything". He then departs and as his daughters wave him good bye we see the babysitter is Blythe grinning a psychotic grin.

We cut to John in L.A, feeling guilty about abandoning New York while simultaneously trying to justify himself to himself. He thinks the people here are smug, how they have found all the cheat codes to life..  They form groups and pledge themselves to higher powers to meet the right people. who are better than everyone, "it is the city of Angels after all."

He minds controls a bouncer to let him into an exclusive club and says he's "here to talk to the ratty little pigeon in charge of the place."  And an angel manifests in front of him saying he should chill out and have another drink.  They chat somewhat carefully, the angel says the magic here is closely guarded:

Angel: "Can you imagine if the demons got their hands on the film industry?  The way they could twist people minds?"

He's strengthened the border so New York's cast offs can't enter their domain.  He surprised John made across the county line.  John says he can "break all the rules I want".  But others cannot says the angel.
Snooty L.A. angel.
John tells him what Neron in up to in New York, selling magic and evicting the cities magical commnunity who have nowhere else to go.   The angel just says he will not have L.A's magic sullied by lesser beings.  When John asks where he expects them to go the angel says he hears Portland is nice.  He says he's never seen John like this before, John says "I just want a bloody place to live."

We then cut to him in Orange County talking with a demon called Bartleby who he has done a favour for and is even now.   Bartleby is one of New York's magical refugees. Bartleby says some have been talking about setting up shop here on the outskirts of L.A. "Maybe spend a hundred years or so proving to thise snobby pricks that we're not going to wreck this party" he grumbles.  John gets up to leave but Bartleby notes he still has a "horse in this race don't you?"  John checks his phone, sees Oliver has left him messages and says he is going where he can get the most alcohol for the least money.

He arrives in a bar and orders a drink.  He flirts with the woman sat next to him, but turns out she is being possessed by a D.C. character called "Deadman", the ghost of murdered circus performer Boston Brand, brought back to life by a pagan goddess and able to take over the body of anyone he wants. Deadman tells him things all out of whack back east and "you gotta stop bummin' around and get back to work."

John says he's working on some angles right now then puts his head on the bar and mumbles, "give me time."  Deadman says what Neron is doing is dark stuff and they can't punch their way through, they need a clever bloke like John to sort things out, so will he come back to the "rotten apple?"  John gets up and starts to leave. He says he didn't make the city ripe for takeover, "this isn't on me."

So Deadman grabs John and surfs out of the woman's body into Johns which he can't take over fully but can do so enough to  get him into a cab, to the airport and onto a plan bound for New York where he finally releases his hold on him and moves into the body of the person sat next to him so they can talk properly.
Deadman in John's body both fighting for control.
Deadman says he can tell John really does want to help, "why you pretendin' you don't care what happens in New York?" John says he doesn't care he's helping himself.

Deadman: "Nah, that ain't it.  You do want to help.  But something's scaring you from facing the problem head on.  That's why you ran away an' hid with the refugees in L.A. You knew the angels were a dead end.  What you are Johnnyboy is a bit of a hero.  I'm just confused as to why you ain't acting like it."

John insists he is no hero and casts a spell that zaps Deadman away.  He arrives back in New York and has to stay for a night as there are no flights back to L.A. until tomorrow.  He thinks he won't be in the city long enough to be sucked into the chaos again.  Then he bumps into a drunken Oliver who pleads desperately with him, "they took them, John.  They took my little girls.  They took them to Hell and you're the only one who can get them back."

John ruminates on the nature of the city, how it's alive with a strange twisted soul.   It's a city that wants people to fight for it and now John is going to make a stand:

John: "Not because I care... that's trite.  Let Neron and the demons tear the world apart.  I'll make my own place But they just had to make it personal.  They had to cut deep."

He gently kisses Oliver and goes to try and get his kids back, blaming himself with every step he takes.  "So all right New York.  If it's a fight you want.. I'll show you an good time" he thinks resolutely.

He barges into Papa Midnite's club which is full of demons and also Midnite, he made a deal with Neron to get out of hell and he has everything back, his riches, his club, his zombies, everything.  John calls him a lapdog, but then Neron appears and invites him to sit down.

Neron tells John he is an "insignificant speck on the wall."  He has nothing to offer Neron while Neron has everything.   In one day he's racked up over one hundred thousand souls, "crackling with potential."  Because people in New York are so lively and ambitious the quality of their souls is very high.  John says he just wants two souls, "the daughters of someone very dear to me."
John being tormented.
Neron shows him the girls wreathed in flames and crying that it hurts.  John runs to them but they disappear.  Blythe appears and gloats saying that John shouldn't have broken the deal with her.  But she's made one with Neron as well.  He owes Blythe a "binding debt" now.  And Blythe tells him that means he is not to move and wrest the city from demonkind, he cannot oppose Neron and he cannot exorcise them from this realm, "there.  You're bound to it now and powerless."  And he can give her nothing more valuable than the horror in his face.  Then Neron tells him to piss off out of his club.

John goes to the bar where Oliver is drinking.  He tells Oliver he tried but his hands have been "metaphysically tied."  Oliver pushes him away saying he had thought John needed a friend and some good in his life, but he's a "black hole" he destroys people and makes them worthless.  He walks out saying he's going to figure out something of his own and stay away from John like he should have done before.

Oliver verbally lashes out at John.
Miserably John carries on drinking for a while.  A woman starts flirting with him asking if he's someone important?  He says he's nothing, just a black hole who swallows up good people. Then suddenly he has an epiphany, "no value" he says to himself, "I know how to beat Neron without breaking the command."  Meanwhile Midnite, Neron and Midnite are discussing how they screwed John over. Midnite thinks they should have killed him.

Midnite: "Constantine just has a way of popping up like an unexpected dagger in the back and he's not done.  Not yet."

Elsewhere the ghostly Deadman, plant elemental Swamp Thing and female magician Zatanna are trying to figure out how to save New York.   Swampy says "there is no hope." But then John appears telling them he has a masterplan to deal with this, "it's irredeemably ill-considered, breaks every bloody rule of magic, and we'll probably perish in extra grisly ways, Who's in?"  They look at him dumbstruck.

We then cut to a naked John covered in sigils sitting in the middle of a pentagram with many candles round him. He tapping into the deep, primal magic that gives every city "a real and palpable personality." In magic circles it's considered profane to meddle with it, the only writings about it warn not to do it.  But he doesn't care, rules are stupid and he begins to cast his spell.
John puts his plan in action.
We then cut to Neron arguing with Midnite who has felt something occur. Then a lesser demon runs in and tells Neron something is happening to his souls.  In a rage Neron appears to John who is exhausted and bloody from the ritual. Neron says he was bound by magical pact not to oppose him.   But John says he just tapped into the deep magic of the city and "I just made New York City the most boring city on the face of the Earth."

No ambition, no curiousity, the place has less personality "than a 20-person farming town."  Neron's souls have no value now, both the ones he has and the ones he is cultivating. He's lost his grip on power and how long before a challenger rises up against him. John looks him in the eye and says:

John: "Remember.  You made this personal.  You brought this on yourself.  If you'd played your cards differently, I'd just have sat back and watched the ship go down.  But you just had to gloat, didn't you?"

Then Lady Alexandriel of the Faerie folk appears saying she wants to do business with him.  She'll take the city and all the souls in it and he can have all the souls she got piling up in her domain that he's paid her for safe passage through her domain in the past.
Neron sells New York to the faeries.
Neron agrees to the offer and leaves, threatening John with retribution later.  John tells Lady Alexandria that New York will be back to its old self in a few hours.  She states that a city will be a "marvellous playground."  John then asks for the souls of Oliver's kids and she agrees, while also ruminating that the city's magic users should be coming back soon.  They won't want to miss the party.

John goes back to the bar to tell Oliver the good news, while patting himself on the back mentally for fooling Neron.  But Oliver is grim.  He already made a deal of his own, he puts his girls first no matter what and they are there standing beside him.  Blythe then appears and John shouts "No!"  He tells Oliver he didn't need to do this. but Oliver just says to get them to their mum and then they'll be through.  John covers the girl's eyes as Blythe burns Oliver dragging him down to Hell.
Oliver sacrifices himself for his kids.
Later after he's dropped them off a depressed John decides he's going to move on to "anywhere but here."  He finds Midnite sitting on a bench.  He laments that he doesn't want to play hero or villain anymore, He's done here.  "And now I just want to be alone" he says.  And as he walk away Midnite says mockingly, "you always will be John. You always will be." The end.

Cue melabcholy theme.. and we're out.
And so this concludes this incarnation of John Constantine and as someone who's been reading his exploits since his first appearence in Swamp Thing I thought these few issues really nailed the character.  He is essentially a very tragic character, lovers and friends have always been casualties of his dealings with taking on the world of magic, demons, faeries and angels.  Oliver was a superb character, I loved how wasn't fazed by Swamp Thing appearing in the shower and how he ended up making friends with his captor Gerald and that he was determined to see the good in John which of course ended up destroying him.  I have to wonder if this series had run longer would Oliver have been spared for a while?  It would have been fun contrasting his down-to-earthness with John's more fantastical existance.  A bit like Nancy in Squirrel Girl.  I'd have loved that.  John still wins out against the forces of evil by always finding the loophole he can exploit and his tricking of Neron by making New York boring (temporarily) was genius.  But as ever he never gets to celebrate his victory because it came at a cost, Oliver's soul.  The art changed from artist to artist fairly smoothly, although my preference is far Riley Rossmo's art in the first few issues and Ming Doyle and James Tynion IV did a fantastic job writing a gripping story of a hellish takeover, using continuity sparingly and really capturing John's "voice" as it were.  Anyway, apologies for the lack of updates this month, blame the cold that would not die.  So Happy Christmas all gentle readers.  There might be a Dragonball post next week if I can tear myself away from my Xbox One!

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Doom Patrol Book 1: Brick by Brick (Young Animal #1-6)

"Friends help you write the fiction you want to looking in you heart and seeing the truth inside" - Casey Brinke

So I should do some DC rebirth stuff right?  Let's check out the new Doom Patrol series.  I have covered Doom Patrol before, here and here.  It was the Keith Giffen run that was cancelled when the New 52 debuted.  Although the Doom Patrol was still in existence during that dark period it didn't have a comic of its own until this one, which is about version six of the team. The Doom Patrol has had a many shifting line-up over its various incarnations since it's inception in the '60s.  This one draws very heavily from the hyper-surreal and much loved Grant Morrison run.  I'll talk more about the old characters as they are reintroduced into this story.  The Doom Patrol has always been an interesting wrinkle in the oh so perfect heroism of the DC Verse.  A group of shunned and screwed up characters, alienated from wider society and also the superhero community and lead by a genius who uses a wheelchair.  And it's not an X-Men ripoff, it actually debuted a few weeks before the first X-Men comic.  Just one of those weird examples of synchronicity life sometimes throws up. The writer is Gerard Way who appears to be in a popular beat combo "My Chemical Romance".  I know nothing about them apart from the fact it's the favourite band of Ebony Dark'ness Dementia Raven Way, erstwhile star of the infamous Harry Potter fanfic "My Immortal."  But I don't think I can blame him for that.  Art is by Nick Derington and Tom Fowler and spoilers, I LOVE it.  I'll gush more in the conclusion as we get underway with DC's new Doom Patrol on the mature readers label, "Young Animal".

We begin with new character Casey Brinke driving an ambulance at high speed while paramedic Samson is in the back reassuring their patient that he won't be dying just yet. After delivering the patient we then enter Casey's thoughts, her name is Casey Brinke "and I only want to do good things".  Her mother told her to be a bright light in a black hole just before she flew into the sun.

Casey: "So I stay bright... I stay white hot... I know this inside and out.  I'm new to the unit but I've been doing this as long as I can remember... which I think is a very long time.  I can't tell.. I'm tired but not jaded."

She plays an old Space Invaders type arcade machine while Sam eats a gyro (appears to be a type of wrap).  He notes that she's really into that old machine, as she plays she thinks how you see things on this job "that make you want to put your brain through a car wash.. but I'll still hold your hand." In the ambulance she's everything, in the ambulance "I'm home."
Samson and Casey.
Sam says she should meet his son Lucius, "he's weird like you."  Apparently Casey likes to spin stories like her prom being attacked by phantahawks and her date turned into a pool of lavender membrane.  Sam says he's all Lucius has got, his mother joined a cult four years ago.  He then waxes philosophical about the gyro, a "beautiful, colourful, multilayered spiral."  What's going on in there he wonders, "just a whole world buzzing along... going about its daily rotation.  Time might make no sense if you're living in the gyro."

Casey thinks maybe they are all inside someone else's gyro.  Sam tosses what's left in a bin saying they could be, or it could be nothing at all.  Then we enter the gyro, there a hooded figure fights his way to a control room.  He removes his hood to reveal Cliff Steele, member of the Doom Patrol since day one, a living brain in a robot body.  He smashes his fist on a button labelled "launch" and he comes exploding out on the bin, just as Casey and Sam are called away to a hit and run.

In a derelict building a hobo is checking bricks saying "Danny.  Is that you?  Is that you?  Give me a sign Danny... give me a sign."  He yells out Danny's name then slumps to the floor asking to be left alone.  Then we get a page entitle "What's going on with Niles Caulder".  He's the wheelchair bound genius behind the Doom Patrol.   He's playing on some synthesizers.

Casey and Sam are where they were called too but nothing is there.  Over the radio she hears a new voice saying random stuff and that she can call her "Em".  Her new voice from beyond.  Then they spot Cliff staggering along behind them and he gets hit by a lorry which smashes him to bits.  Casey starts gathering up the parts while Sam wonders what they'll tell dispatch.
The Vectra and the Gloams.
Time for some bad guys. In an executive boardroom are two sets of aliens.  One lot are lumpy humanoids, the other angular, red and black faced ones.  The angular alien says that they are introducing a whole new "mentally healthy meat menu" to all its locations.  It's a big campaign with multi-media tie-ins and charitable proceeds. The lumpy aliens say "fuck charitable proceeds!  People want flavour!  People want the kind of disgusting they can afford!"

The angular alien says they have found an "unending, regenerating supply of stress-free meat?  Basically at no cost."  The lumpy aliens say they better get them the meat.  The angular alien continues saying:

Alien: "Our agents have discovered the existence of a sentient organic generator sprawl.  The sprawl is capable of generating and sustaining life die to some kind of spike in its energy factors.  The plan is to locate, infiltrate, invade, and capture the source, then torture the sprawl into producing product.  We even have a whole ad campaign worked out... we call it Danny Burgers"

Back at Casey's flat which she shares with a grouchy man and a cat called "Lotion", Casey has dumped a boxful of Cliff's parts on the counter.  Then someone knocks on the door, he opens it and it's a woman who does a little song and dance routine which culminates in her wishing Casey a happy birthday and exploding her flatmate.

As bits of him fall from the ceiling, Casey says it's not her birthday.  The woman says that never happened before, but Casey looks like she could use a new flatmate and so she invites herself in.  Then she sees Cliff's head groaning and gets all excited.  She unscrews the top of his head to take a look at his brain, then introduces herself to Casey as "Terry None".
Enter Terry None and a dismantled Cliff Steele.
Out in a crowded street a man is screaming "Where is Larry Trainor?" He ends up getting involved in an argument on the street and is knocked to the ground.  Back at Casey's place and she is dealing with her toothache, she pulls the tooth out and finds a very small roll of paper tucked in the tooth.  She reads it but doesn't tell us what it says.

She enters the living room and finds Terry None has completely rebuilt Cliff Steele. Apart from his brain whch is lying in a bath of nutrients.  Apparently Casey's cat Lotion has got attached to the brain.  Outside Samson is calling for her.  Casey shouts down out of the window that she thought they were off today.  But Sam says he got a call and when he left the house the ambulance was outside.  There is a call which demands they come to the scene of an intoxicated man who has been injured.

Terry None leaves and when Caseys asks what she should do with the Robot Man? "Up to you" Terry says and departs. We then get another single page of what Niles Caulder is up too.   He is in a hot air balloon and flies past his face carved in the rock.  Casey and Sam arrive at the scene and find Larry Trainor writhing on the ground talking mad stuff:

Larry: "I can hear a black dog pissing on a pile of broken glass... the city doesn't want you to knoww it hates our guts... but I'm herem I'm not pretending! I'm am the negative space in a negative world."

Larry Trainor is another orginal Doom Patrol member, his body usually is swathed in bandages due to the power of the Negative Spirit inside him.  Sam kneels by him and asks if he can move as the police leave them to it.

Larry sits up saying he was actually trying to get arrested. He gets Larry's dark glasses off and examines his eyes which are pure black.  He says that's new and asks Larry if he's been doing any drugs. Larry says no "I am a pilot and an upstanding citizen."  Samson invites him to come with them, as the cops want to take him away to dry out.  So Larry shakes his hand and comes with Casey and Sam.

Inside Casey's flat Cliff comes around to find he's tied up by the angular aliens who have put his brain back in his head.  They point guns at him and demands to know where the girl who drives the ambulance is.  Cliff says he knows nothing about that, "but I hope you creeps are hungry because you're going to be eating a lot of my shit."
Cliff has no time for this crap.
The angular alien threatens Cliff by stabbing him in the brain with a screwdriver.  But Cliff suddenly kicks up at one on the guns trained on him and it fires into the head of the alien with the screwdriver, then he breaks his bonds as the two aliens left look on in fear and he smashes them in the head.

While on the way to the hospital with Larry, they hear a call to go to Casey's address and so Casey starts driving there instead.  Samson says that they have a patient with a serious eye infection, they should be going to the E.R.  Larry starts telling Samson he needs to get angry, he needs the negative energy, "it's the only thing that'll make the sick and horrible noise go away!"  Samson says he is almost at angry and Larry vomits up black fluid.

Cliff stands in the wreckage of Casey's flat and starts bonding with Lotion the cat.  Then more armed angular aliens arrive and open fire. Cliff goes flying outside through the hole on the outside facing wall.  Cliff lands on the pavement and Lotion goes running off.  The aliens follow and a big brawl happens and he takes them all out just as Casey arrives.

She stands looking up at the mess of her home and says "my place... my cat!  Where's my cat?!"  Cliff and Larry reunite, Larry embraces Ciff in a manly hug.  He babbles that his head is full of bad vibes and he can't think straight. It's the "Negative Spirit." Cliff says he's going to put some trousers on and tells Larry to come with him.
Cliff and Larry reunited.
We then see a black being flying through what looks like a vortex, "I seek the host.  The one known as Larry Trainor." It is joined with the spirit that is "nothing and we are missing Larry Trainor."  The spirit keeps on flying saying "They don't believe me.  They cannot see me. I am nothing".

Later Samson and Casey are in trouble for diverting the ambulance. They are both suspended pending an investigation. Samson leaves and Casey checks the ambulance finding the door open which she was sure she locked. Suddenly a singing voice rings out from the cab.   Casey shouts "What is going on?"

The voice tells her to simmer down and as she crawls into the cab wondering how she can hear a voice when the radio isn't turned on, the voice says "do you ever wonder if you've already gotten to where you are going?"  Then the ambulane disappears and Casey finds herself in a hotel dining room.  A man wearing only a pair of leopard skin shorts introduces himself as Flex Mentallo, he's from the Grant Morrison era, the man of "Muscle Mystery" based on the old Charles Atlas adverts.

Flex Mentallo leads Casey up to the stage saying everyon here knows who Casey Brinke is, and opens the curtain on a fantasy "Dannyland" with a parade of people holding "Welcome Back Casey" flags.  This place is of course "Danny The Street", also another Grant Morrison era character he's a sentient street that likes to sneak around cities putting himself in various places and attracts weird and wonderful folk who are often down on their luck and cares for them, giving them a place to call home. Obviously he's had a bit of an upgrade now.
Flex Mentallo introduces Casey to Dannyland.
Wide-eyed, Casey asks what this place is.  Flex Mentallow says it's Danny.  All of it is inside the perpetual cabaret and it's all inside the ambulance with is "how Danny likes to get around these days."  She asks about the people, Flex Mentallo says that they are all part of Danny.  Casey says they all seem so happy.

Flex Mentallo: "Everyone is happy in Dannyland.  There's no pain, there's no suffering... there is only joy.  Danny takes care of us all."

Casey asks why Danny exists. Flex Mentallo says they don't know, once Danny was a street, he could teleport to where he needed to go "collecting outsiders as he went. People who didn't fit in."  Flex Mentallo himself came here a shell of his former self after being trapped in the "Tearoom of Despair" by the men from N.O.W.H.E.R.E.  Once day those men came back and tried to destroy Danny but they were stopped by the Doom Patrol. After that Danny became a world and Flex Mentallo lost track of him. 

But now he's been found again, "and now you're helping us find the others... the Doom Patrol." Casey asks if she is part of the Doom Patrol.  Flex Mentallo says "you're part of a lot of things, Casey.."  He tells her to take a ride on that boat close by and wishes her luck as she boards it.

Meanwhile in Casey's apartment Larry shows Cliff what's wrong.  He has three holes on his chest and a black substance comes poking out making different shapes.  Cliff comments "that's not something you seee every day, Larry."  Larry says he doesn't know, he has little bits of memory kicking around in his head, he was with the other Doom Patrol members, and he was wrapped in his special bandages because of the dangerous radiation he emitted.

Then something ripped him from the beach, he was pulled light years away into deepest space, "not fully anything... a different kind of nothing." He awoke in a cylinder which was at the front of what looked like a classroom "then there was pain".  He felt like he was being ripped apart and sewed together at the same time.  He went to sleep, he doesn't know for how long and then woke up on Earth, "myself but not the self I was used to.. and eerie sense that something was after me."

Terry None comes in announcing she has free mushroom pizza.  Larry grabs Cliff saying they have to find the Chief.  CLiff says "no way. He's a dangerous meglomaniac and the one who caused the accidents that made us freaks in the first place." He says Larry should come with him as they look for Rita and Jane and the others.
Time for Larry to be judged.
Cliff tells Terry they were just leaving, but she says they can stay and have they seen the cat?  Suddenly Larry vomits black fluid again.  He needs more negative energy.  Then suddenly he looks out of the hole in the wall and says "oh shit... it found me."  Outside is the negative spirit who says Larry must come and be "judge and joined - to become whole in the negative space, X-minus becomes nothing."

The angular aliens have found the ambulance Danny is now.  They followed Casey's energy to it "does she even know who she is?" one says.  They finally give themselves a name, "the Vectra".

Vectra: "...and we are here to ruin everything. We want you to resist!  We'd love for you to try to keep us out.. but eventually you'll have to open up.. and lets us come inside."

And they start smashing the ambulance up. Inside Dannyland Casey is taking a wild ride. She hops off the boat and memories come back to her, she remembers "screaming... through decades like star beams.  Covered in storm, covered in cosmic rust."  She remembers everything all jetfire and peppermint, twilight and disappointment.  Dancing nervously with a date.  She drops atomics on buildings, "these things happen to me."
Awesome parody of a famous cover!
She stops in front of a huge mouth with a locked door in it.  It asks for the password.  She remembers her tooth and says "good job" which is the correct one and she walks through the door.  It takes her into a comic shop, she approaches the back issues and pulls one out.  On the back it says "only for you" and on the front is an ugly alien face and it's called "Danny Comics" with "New inside! Your answers to everything Casey!" as a cover flash. 

Inside is says that she began life as Casey Brinke, Captain of the St. Michael's Children Hospital Jamboree Fighter Squadron in the pages of Danny Comics.   It was an amusement Danny created and sold at the Mom and Pop Soda Shop when he was simply a teleporting street.  She was so popular he kept her around, the memories of that time are still in her head.

Then something happened, something bad. But now Danny is more powerful than ever.  He used to attract people but now he can create them.

Danny: "But you come from my daydreams, Casey.  You're the first superhero I was able to generate. You're made up.  But you're real.  And I'm so very proud of you."

She is the "Space Case" Captain of the 33rd Novafang Starfighters Brigade "dreaded and feared across the six galaxies."  Her day job was caregiver at the Twilight Sun Intergalactic Home for Elderly Care.  Which is why she was drawn to being a EMT and why Danny took the form of an ambulance to watch over her, protect her and help her hide.  Danny says she can call him Danny or Dad and they need her to help stop the ones who have found them. It's time to join the Doom Patrol. Casey looks annoyed then tosses the comic away saying "That's it... I'm out".  Then suddenly a pink furry creature leaps out through the curtains and hugs her saying "FUGG!"
Casey loses half a leg.
Outside the amubulance is badly damaged.  A small hovering Vectra comes over and starts torturing it to get Danny to open up "we will obtain the meat" it says.  Casey is striding through Dannyland followed by the small creature.  Flex Mentallo says that she has hasn't had her powers come back yet.  She ignores him and goes back to the hotel dining room.  Then her right leg below the knew disappears, "where is my fucking leg?!" she exclaims.  Then she crawls the the ambulance door and is grabbed by a Vectra who have broken in.

She is to be restrained and unharmed while the rest of the Vectra enter to harvest the meat, then they'll relocate the sprawl; ie Dannny, for further extraction.  We then get another page of what Niles Caulder is doing.  He is making a robot man with his face.  He activates it and it punches him in the face and leaves.

Terry None relaxes with a book as the Negative Entity grabs Larry's face saying it's time for him to become nothing. Cliff says that's his friend he's messing with.  The Negative Entity says they must have witnesses to this joining.  Cliff agrees and the Entity zaps both of them away to "the Negative Space."  Unpeturbed, Terry returns to her book.

We begin the next chapter with Samson waking up and going to his son's room because he can hear a chant.  Lucius is sitting cross-legged in a hooded robe in front of a pentacle and lots of candles.  Samson scolds him saying he'll give himself nightmares.  Defiantly Lucius says "I'm fifteen.  I don't have nightmares anymore".  Samson asks why he has to be a sorceror?  Lucius says he's not interested on being like normal kids.  He says he's "bettering myself through metapyshical exploration".  He makes a verbal jab about his dad doing karate again, "we don't talk about my karate!" shouts Samson.

Lucius says they don't talk at all, Samson treats him like he doesn't exist.   He says the other kids at school treat him the same, "I got no one there.  I got no one here!"  He says they are not a family, not even friends.  He carries on sayng his mom is never coming back if they don't... but Samson cuts hom off saying his mother is never coming back, ever.  He asks Lucius if Samuel is in there?  Then he says it doesn't matter and goes to help Lucius's grandmother into bed.
The Negative Space.
Cliff and Larry arrive in The Negative Space. The are hovering high in he air beholding the Negative Entity, "N'Hal".  It orders Larry to touch its face and they are then surrounded by lots of Negative Spirits, Larry is to be judged and then "you will be put to purpose".  We then get a page of Niles Caulder spying somehow on Casey Brinke, now in the Vectra prison with the pink alien.  She finds the lower leg of a Robotman and decides she can use it.

We then return to her properly, the Robotman appears to be the Niles Caulder one which explains how he could be spying on her through it.   She attaches the leg to her stump, then considers the fact she's in "space jail."  The is the bearded hobo in there with her and when she mentions Danny he asks her if she knows where he is.  He introduces himself as Ricardo, he's a old friend of Danny's and wants to find him.

Casey says he's on his own, she has nothing to say to Danny.  Then electricity sparks out of her fingers much to her surprise.  The pink alien has an old school tape deck in his stomach.  It tells her she has discovered her "bio-surge" ability.  She takes out the tape and reads the label which says "Casey Brinke Operating Manual Part 1: Introduction To Powers And Abilites".  She puts the tape back in and continues to listen. Using the instructions she shorts out the panel keeping the jail door shut and she, the pink alien and Ricardo walk out.

Back with Larry Trainor and his Negative Spirit "Keeg Bovo", they are told that by partially merging with and then fragmenting the Negative Spirit they have broken the law of Negative Space.  It is about to pass sentence when Cliff interrupts that it's missed a mess of proceedure like the part where Larry pleads "not guilty!"  N'Hal says says this is a formality and that Larry owes them and enternity of servitude for breaking the firts law of Negative Space.  Cliff asks what that law is and N'Hal says it is "do not intefere with the Negative Space".

N'Hal: "By surpassing the limits of man when breaking through the radioactive field, Captain Trainor ripped open a hole in the Negative Space thereby connecting himself permanently to our fabric, conjoining with a Negative Spirit... thus, becoming an extremely important component in a billion year war against evil."

Larry is more than a vessel, he guides the Negative Spirit to act as an agent of balance and they want him to remain so.   Cliff asks what about what Larry wants?  Maybe he doesn't want to be host to a "radioactive space phantom", maybe he wants to live a normal life.

Larry puts a hand on his shoulder saying "it's okay..." N'Hal says he hadn't thought of that. So it asks Larry if he wants to be "normal?".  Larry says no, he wants to be rejoined with the Negative Spirit.  He wants to be "someone who helps."  If he has to sacrifice his body to save one life or stop one tragedy it's worth it, "to burn against the darkness of this universe, I'd give you everything.  Make me the Negative Man".  

N'Hal says that was very moving.  So they will give him a gift, when he releases the Negative Spirit although his body will remain dormant his consciousness will experience an entire lifetime "you will love, you will learn, you will face hardshi and embrace joy... and as you pass unto death, you shall reawaken, born unto yourself.  Fulfilled. Complete."  Larry asks if that would be a dream or real.  N'Hal responds saying what is a dream?  What is life?  It is the tangible marks they leave?  Or the singular memory you gain? "Welcome home, Captain Trainor."
The sad fate of Danny.
Meanwhile Casey Riccardo and the pink alien are on the run, Casey says she doesn't know where they are going but she is sure she is leading them out of there.   They stop as two Vectra go by saying the won't give the "Gloams" ie: the lumpy aliens, the information about having Danny.  When they are gone Casey zaps another panel and they go into a room which has Danny the Ambulance all beat up and with pipes attached to his inside.

Riccardo is gutted, while an annoyed Casey asks if any more bits of her are going to fall off and how do they get out of this place?   She tells Danny she feels used and manipulaed, "I'm not even sure which thoughts are mine and which ones you made up in a comic book".  She says she is not Danny's "action figure."  But she admits she is part of him.

Danny says he never wanted to be a god, he just missed all the people.  They used to come to him sad and he made them smile.  He gave them a place to belong, "free from judgement.  Free from pain".   But he was always hunted, so he left this world to become his own.  But he was found again and reduced to a single brick.  A friend of his called Jane carried him from the wreckage and took him with her.

After a "brief stint as a cabana" (that's from the Keith Gifford run I covered on this blog before) she took him on a trip to see the universe. He made himself brick sized so she could carry him and they flew through space and "we met such fantabulous people."  But one day they were stranded on a planet where he was use to do "something terrible".  When he came back to his senses afterwards, Jane was gone. But he felt more powerful and as he flew through space alone he thought he'd make his own people, and someone to protect them, that someone was Casey.

He tells her that with her help he can travel back in time to before the Vectra captured them.  So they start pulling all the pipes out of him.   She also finds a uniform which she changes into.  Danny tells her to grab the canister of "psycho-gas" from the cockpit, they'll need it when travelling at "chrono-velocity" so she doesn't go insane.   He tells her this will be like driving the ambulance, "only with the added danger of exploding into stardust."  She asks him if he is ready and he says "aside from slipping into a pair of eight-inch heels, I can't think of anything I'd rather be doing."  Riccardo and the pink alien get in as well and Danny tells her to "floor it" and leaving a rainbow trail, they drive off the prison ship and out into space.
Watching them is some Vectra and a tall purple alien.  The Vectra orders a pursuit, but the purple alien tells them he has his own plans.  The Vectra nearest him gets angry saying they can't risk stopping producing the precious product they were hired to get.  The purple alien stamps on him saying "that's it.  Back the fuck up" as the rest of the Vectra draw away, "Torminox is in charge now!"

Casey and co. arrive outside Samson's house and he is surprised to see them thinking she stole the ambulance.   Casey tells him is name is Danny and he needs Samson to pop inti his cabaret, so he ventures inside with Riccardo and pinky and get transported into Dannyland.

Meanwhile in the Negative Space, Larry and his Negative Spirit Keeg have been rejoined.   He is redressed in the bandages that protect others from the radiation he exudes.  He gets dress up, topping off is ensemble with a pair of dark glasses as he is told he will always retain fragments of people he once shared a form with. "Cool" he says.

The beings of the Negative Space "all hail the Negative Ace... Captain Trainor!  Now go forth and fight".  Then suddenly Danny crashes in and Casey tells Cliff and Larry to get inside, both are surprised to realise it's Danny.   Larry bids N'Hal a thankyou and goodbye and then climbs inside along with Cliff.  Riccardo who is also inside Dannyland reports on the carnage there, even Flex Mentallo is dead.   They are tended to the wounded, there are few survivors, but no Vectra yet.

Shocked at Flex Mentallo's death, Cliff asks what the hell is going on. Casey gives him the rundown of what Danny can do now and what the Vectra did to him, but now they can go back in time and prevent in.  Who are you Cliff asks?

Casey: "I'm Casey Brinke, and I drive the motherfucking ambulance."

They get ready to go back in time to the mobile slaughter unit as far back as they can go.  Cliff asks how she is holding up. "I miss my cat" she replies.

This cuts us to a page where a person in an astronaut suit finds Lotion the cat and pours out what looks like dry cat food for him.  The cat nibbles it then transforms into a humanoid form, but still furry with a tale and cat head.  It staggers away.
Lotion the cat-person.
Casey and co. arrive back at the mobile slaughter unit before they started on Danny, but the Vectra were waiting for them and hold them at gunpoint.  Casey asks how they knew they were coming and Terminox appears saying "because of me."  Casey regonises him.  Terminox says that he's also from the pages of Danny's comic, he's Casey's "dad".  The Vectra tortured Danny so much that they broke him and he produced him.  Once he was loosed in the universe there was no stopping what he could create and so he made a replica of Danny to travel in space and a clone Casey to drive it through time.

Clone Casey: "I'm every bad feeling and every single fear Danny has about what you could become out in the real world - unprotected, uncontrolled."

Casey says Terminox is not her dad, they are all fictions Danny made up.  But Terminox says that deep down she wants him cured of the Terminox virus that made me what I am, "as your mother failed to do."  Casey looks angrily at him.

Then Cliff punches Terminox saying "screw this."  Danny tells Casey she needs to enter Dannyland and burn down the comic shop.  She says if she does that he'll cease to exist. But he says that he'll also destroy Terminox, fake Casey and the whole "Vectra Khazi" in the process.   She says that her past self will die and that means she will cease to exist and they won't be able to rescue everyone in Dannyland.

He says she'll be OK, she must go into past Danny with Riccardo and Sam, have them bring everyone to his present self, trigger the self destruct and then get back to his driving seat.   Cliff and Terminox trade blows and more Vectra summoned while Casey brings Riccardo and Sam to past Danny.  The Negative Spirit is unleashed while his body sleeps.  And fake Casey tries to bring him down unsuccessfully.

We are given a one page look at Larry's innermost lifetime. He's an old man on his deathbed as his family say how much the love him and all the happy years they have had.  Then Niles Caulder appears and asks Larry if he can talk to him about something called the Doom Patrol.
Torminox beats Cliff down.
Larry and Terminox keep fighting, Terminox gets the upper hand telling Cliff that a body can't work in harmony with the mind if the body is made of metal.   He starts to crush Cliff's head when the Negative Spirit smashes into him.  Fake Casey holds a gun to Larry's body saying if she kills it the Negative Spirit will go.   Then suddenly out of Danny walks a woman, who says the divorce seems to be causing him some distress.  Surprised, Terminox says "Gloria...?!"  And she says "it's good to see you Dick."

In past Dannyland, Flex Mentallo is unconcious but still alive. Riccardo reaches into the pink alien's front port and gets out some slime, which he then coats his fingers with and plants on Flex's chest.  Inside the comic shop, past-Danny says he is very proud of Casey and she says "I know.  It's why I keep burning bright."  She then tosses a match on the comic rack and runs from the resulting explosion.

Outside Gloria tells Terminox that he can stop all this, they are stronger than the Terminox virus and the antidote is such a simple thing.  Then Fake Casey blows a hole through her stomach.  Then her gun vibrates and explodes in her face.   All the rescued people from past Dannyland climb into present Dannyland.  Casey spots Terminox cradling Gloria who Casey calls "mom".  Gloria manages to force out that she has grown to be an amazing individual and doesn't need them anymore.  And both of them disappear in a flash of light, saying they be watching from a black hole, "waiting for your light to reach us. Not a star, but a sun."
Casey's parents reunited.
We finish this chapter in a black void.  A woman called Valerie is stammering about things she can remember, that she was married and has a son who'd be about fifteen now.  Which means this is most likely Samson's wife.  There is something coming tomorrow which is going to make her something bigger, "the dominant identity.  The Divine Component".  Tomorrow her name will be "Jane". And we then see long time Doom Patrol member "crazy" Jane saying "tomorrow we will all be Jane" as she hovers beside a bomb.

Everyone piles in to present Danny as past Danny explodes in a mess of burning flesh.  The Negative Spirit returns to Larry and he and Cliff get in as Casey gets ready to get out of there.   They blast out of the ship again and crash into another ambulance out there. Casey wrestles with the controls as the prison ship explodes behind them thanks to the hull breach.  They end up crashing somewhere in New Mexico.

They are outside a compound with a sign up saying it is "Janestown.  Church Of The Multiform."  Sam says he's not sure he's ready for this, but Cliff drags open a hope in the fence and goes in first.  Jane is floating in front of her cult members.  She says they have liberated themselves from the encumberance of familial bonds, "today yourselves... from yourselves... and join me in magnificent oneness."  They were all lost when she first met them but now they are scientist and engineers.

The "Gene Bomb" (something used in the crossover "Invasion" which screwed with everyone who had the metagene, Crazy Jane had multiple personality disorder and every personality she had, had different powers) they have made which gave her all her powers will now give those powers to them  and "join in the one true identity."

Cliff barges in and realises it's Jane, and that he took out her bodyguards to get in side.  Casey and Larry follow. Jane however doesn't recognise Cliff and surprised he knows her.   Cliff then realises she is leading a cult.  This makes her manifest a blue forcefield which sends him reeling.

Jane: "I am the Multi-Mother, the All-Jane.  If you don't leave this instant of your own free will.. then I will make you."

They have individuality which is everything they've tried to get away from so leave now.  Larry then puts a finger on both Cliff and Jane's foreheads and zaps them both.  This sends Cliff into Jane's psyche where he has been before and which is laid out like the London Underground.  A train stops and an arm grabs Cliff and drags him inside.
Cliff is sent into Jane's mind.
Outside the cultist arene't happy about this, but Larry says breaking the link suddenly could make them brain dead. Casey zaps a couple, and then Samson walks in saying not to hurt his friend.  Then he recognises Valerie. He begs her to come home, but she tells him they they are getting a gene bomb dropped on them and will receive the gift of "oneness".  Alarmed Sam calls Riccardo and a recovered Flex in the Danny ambulance and tells them they need to stop the bomb. 

Inside Jane's mind, Cliff talks to Jane apologising for leaving her.  She says that's sweet but he really needs to get out.  An annoucement says that they will be making evasive manouvres.  Jane says the personality in charge right now is Dr. Harrison, she emerged from the trauma of seeing a superhuman god murdered and exposure to his blood.  Along came Dr. Harrison with the powers of mind control and powerful suggestion.

She calls herself Jane because she knows that people will like Jane and she needs to connect with people to get what she wants.   And what she wants is to "cure" Jane.  She plans on separating all her personalities into the members of the cult she started.  Cliff asks of that isn't a postitive thing?

But she plans on killing all sixty-three cult members once the deed is done and as for her, "healing is a collaborative act, not a relationship of control."  She accepted that there might be no proper cure for her condition and lives with it anyway.  Can Cliff accept that?  He can.

The other personalities banded together with her to try and spite Dr. Harrison.  Eventually the fooled her into thinking that they had a photographic memory and had seen the blueprints of the gene bomb used by the Dominators during "Invasion".  But it's not that, it's biologically coded to kill the dominent identity, "Cliff you cannot stop that bomb" she says even as Flex and Riccardo are trying to do just that.
The Negative Spirit stops Flex Mentallo destroying the bomb.
In Jane's head, Dr. Harrison finds them and smashes into the train carriage.  Danny starts to fly up to the bomb as Larry separates Dr. Harrison and Cliff who tells Larry they must not stop the bomb.  So the Negative Spirit races out of him and knocks Flex off the bomb as it falls.  It explodes and Dr. Harrison is destroyed and the cult start to come back to its senses.   Samson tends to his wife, while Jane is back in control of her body and Cliff says "I'm glad you're with us Jane."

Outside Danny manifests the words "Welcome Back, Jane Love." All the cultists pile into Dannyland and Sam says that can be their new home if they don't have one anymore and Casey sits in the driving seat ready for new adventures.  We conclude with Terry None demonstrating what looks like she fed to Lotion the cat which transformed him to a couple of executives who are impressed with the fact it's a zero-cholesterol, non-transfat, gluten-free, hypo-allergenic, vegan, all-natural food additive.  They love the stuff and want to get it on the shelves as soon as possible.  "Great. Wait until you hear what it's called..."  And that brings this volume to an end.
Jane is back to "normal" and another member rejoins the Doom Patrol.
I actually think I haven't dones this story justice.  Summarised like this is feels a bit random for random's sake.  but a combination of skillful writing and superb, colourful art makes the weird events flow in a natural sense as the major players of the Doom Patrol are brought back together, along with a great new character in Casey Brinke.  It's genuinely funny in places, as well as containing many interesting hooks for further exploration of various backstories and also future tales like what has happened to Lotion the cat-man and what Terry None's game really is. The art is a delight, as I said it's colourful and the cartoony style fits the weirdness of the Doom Patrol perfectly.  It's definitely the best art I have ever seen on any Doom Patrol run.  Gerard Way does a good job of emulating some of the surrealism of Morrison's run without losing the characters in endless postmodern navel gaing that made the latter Morrison run a turgid read.  I was a tad dubious when I found out he was member of a band that he could handle such a complex title, but the bloke done good, it's a fantastic read.  It's interesting that this has been launched on a new imprint as a mature readers title, hence all the "fucks."  I wonder if that means it'll be self contained and separate from the main DCU.  I'll definitely be keeping an eye out for more stuff bearing the Young Animal label.  Hopefully this will run and run, though I seem to be the kiss of death to titles so the next volume will probably have me complaining it's been cancelled.  Yes, my opinion of DC is that low.  But i'll give them credit for now for publishing this series so far.  The DCU needs more fun, literate and I'll say it a third time, colourful comics in their stable of titles.  Check this out, it's good stuff.