Sunday, 26 March 2017

Clean Room Book 2: Exile (#7-12) NSFW

NSFW:  Boobs and Pony-man tackle.

"Ugh Earl Grey.  How does she drink this stuff?" - Killian

Time to wrap up this ladies month with a story that stars several lead female characters in a tale of mystery and horror, written by Gail Simone and art by Jon Davis-Hunt.  Now summing up the premise behind Clean Room so far is going to be difficult because were still close to the start of the narrative, things are being put in place that will pay off further down the line so I recommend you check out my post on Book One first.  But in a nutshell we have two main characters, Astrid Mueller who is a writer of horror fiction and since an accident as a child has been able to see monsters preying on other humans.  She has set up her own Scientologyalike cult to figure out what these things are and how to fight them, with the titular Clean Room being used to communicate with and exorcise these beings.  Our other main character is Chloe Pierce who, after attempting suicide in book one greiving the suicide of her boyfriend (a member of Astrid's organisation) who killed himself upon being told the ultimate truth behind Astrid's religion, has found herself being unwillingly groomed by Astrid as a potential ally.  Now she can also see these monstrous beings as well, although her friendship with one who actually saved her from an attack by a third party means things are not as cut-and-dried as it would seem.  So let's continue into the sinister world of the Clean Room.

The story begins with a teenage Astrid visiting a hospitalised girl called Anika Wells.  Anika tells Astrid that she was taken by mysterious beings into a white room, "they ripped me open from above, like I wasn't worthy of their touch".   They felt contempt for her but also liked hurting her.   She also dreamed the same word over and over, "Exoduction".   Astrid looks at the word, "a portmanteau.  How interesting."

Seventeen years later we are back at Astrid's building in Chicago.  She takes a meal into a darkened room.  Inside on hospital bed is Anika, her left side horrifically wasted and withered.   Astrid tells her about Chloe, "tremendous promise. Off the scale."  Anika weakly says Astrid has to let her go, but Astrid says she can't do this without her.

Anika Wells
Back in the past, Anika describes hearing white noise then having her left side peeled open.   Astrid tells her when she was six she was deliberately run over, the driver backed up to do it again.  Since that say, "I've been able to see things others cannot".

Astrid: "I believe these entities... mean to do us harm.  I believe they can hide inside of us.  Do things to our flesh.  And I've been tracking them, Anika.  Starting with my own father."

Then we cut to Chloe Pierce being informally interviewed by Detective Avil Demakos.  He wants to know how much she knew about the death of a man called Michael Parks.  She didn't really know him, just bought him some new socks as he was homeless.  He was found tied in a knot.   She invites him in for tea and asks if she knows of Astrid Mueller. Back with present day Astrid she is getting ready for a private session in the Clean Room.
Chloe and Detective Avil.
We return to Chloe and Avil, he says he knows there have been a rash of suicides linked to her followers.    They chat for a bit and she wonders if she's a suspect.  He says no, he'd checked her whereabouts on the night in question.  Chloe laughs saying "cheeky bastard." Avil smiles and says "That's detective cheeky bastard, if you please."  He wonders why she asked him about Astrid, did she have some to do with the death of her fiancee?  "Not directly, maybe" says Chloe. They contemplate the moon and Chloe refers "horrible things, these shades."

Chloe: "What if we were just in the road when they drove through?  What if we're jaywalkers in a never-ending hit-and-run?  What if we're just...just... road-kill?"

Astrid enters the Clean Room and into a memory of her own, her and her family at church on the day she was hit by the car.  A man in black, comes and sits next to her saying his name is Doctor Potter, "you may know me as the Surgeon".

He tells Astrid he engineered her childhood accident.   They wanted her dead because she would be able to see them, but just ended up unlocking the ability faster.  When Astrid blows him off and makes to leave and this enrages him.   He hands her a bag with a disciples genitals in and says they'll come for her when she is weak, then take all the others who have ever got close to her and with that he leaves.  Astrid shuts off the Clean Room and also leaves gagging for a cup of tea.
The Surgeon and Astrid.
We then cut forwards to Astrid on stage giving her new disciples a talk.  As she does so, her furious lesbian right-hand woman Killian wonders to another employee called Duncan how Astrid gets people hanging on her every word for two grand.  Her head of security a woman called Capone is sweeping the audience when suddenly a man stands up and calls Astrid "Goddamn.  Goddamn daughter of Satan. Goddamn bitch".  Before everyone can react he pulls a gun and shoots Astrid through the torso.
The shooting aftermath.
Capone shoots him in the shoulder as Duncan yells they are going to keep this "in fucking house".  Killian tells Astrid she'll be fine, but Astrid calm scolds her for using "meaningless words of comfort".  She tells to go to her office and follow her instructions there and also bring her Chloe Pierce...

...who is currently out for a meal with Detective Avil, unsure if it's a date or an official interview.  She's told him all about Astrid's goals her organisation and all the weird stuff and wonders why he believes her.  He says that when they untangled the hobo they found he had two right hands.  So yes he believes the weird stuff now. Then Killian phones her and summons her to Chicago.

The injured assassin is being questioned by Capone and he tells her his name is Peter Mueller, Astrid's brother.  A helicopter arrives at Chloe's house where she and Avil had returned to. Her three neighbours, the brothers who keep a look out for her say they are coming too.  Meanwhile Killian uses the threat of losing his "Utopian" status on the best heart surgeon in Illinois to get him to come out to Astrid.  She then goes into Astrid's office alone and starts watching a video Astrid left her if something were to happen to her.

Astrid:  "This next thing might be a bit of a shock. Hell is real and the Devil is coming".

Meanwhile Duncan kisses his male lover and goes outside to deal with the Chicago Police.   When one of the cops starts saying they'll get a warrant for the scene, Duncan whispers that he understands his daughter works in one of their outreach centres in Africa.  And if he doesn't "turn around and leave... you'll never see your daughter again."
Collecting Chloe and friends.
In the helicopter Chloe says she will take one of her neighbours with her before going into the Clean Room.   Everyone else is suited up with Astrid laid out still alive inside the room.  The surgeon says there is nothing he can do.  Upon arriving at the building Avil asks if they'll let him in as a boyfriend rather than a cop and they kiss.  But Chloe brings in Rene Havelin her neighbour, but as she introduces him to Killian she says he actually has someone attached to him.  And we see a monster stuck to the side of Rene's face. "His name is Spark" says Chloe.
Introducing Spark.
While Astrid deteriorates on the table we are introduced to some new characters in Austin Texas, two men running a business called "Perma-seek".   They discuss what has happened to Astrid and one says they must do the "Christian thin" and help her followers, "it's our duty".  In the Clean Room, Killian is holding a gun to Chloe's head for bringing Spark inside.  She pulls back and says she trusted her, Astrid is dying, "everything I care about in the world."

Chloe says she's been seeing monsters everywhere and so is not afraid of Killian's gun.  So Killian uses the Clean Room to make a bigger one.  Astrid stops them arguing and weakly asks why Chloe bought it in.   Chloe explains Spark was "blessed by the church right the fuck out of a young Spanish girl... and he's here now for me." When the Surgeon came for her she survived because of Spark.

Chloe: "I think they gospelled the dark shit right out of him Astrid".

So the plan is that he rides her flesh and puts her back together again.  She asks Spark to say he'll save her but he says "no."  Astrid goes into Vfib and as she begins to die, Chloe pleads with Spark to help.

Then we get a flashback to Astrid seventeen years ago driving through the desert with a couple of friends.  She gets out the can and sees a huge winged thing hovering close by.  The other two can't see it.   Later Astrid finds a bright white spheroid and shows it to her friends, the same one now inside the Clean Room.
Spark does his thing.
Chloe realises Astrids perfume is putting Spark off so they wash it off.  Chloe then reassures Spark they won't hurt him and he reluctantly starts melding into Astrids flesh.   Killian starts to panic but Chloe has her gun and trains it on her while Spark does his thing.  Meanwhile Capone is interrogating Peter who says he did it because "she murdered our father."

Spark finally heals Astrid, but at great cost to himself as he is very weak.  Astrid thanks Spark, then orders 60,000 volts be run through him which leaves him a smear on the floor of the Clean Room.  Astrid asks for some tea and clothes, "I've decided to go on holiday."

We then return to the old men in Texas.  One of them starts changing into a gimp mask and is naked apart from that and an apron.  Their company started with the "idea of selling healthy products to a nation that didn't know they wanted them".   The reason he is getting pervily dressed up is to deal with a couple whose sales quotas have been missed. They are naked and strung out on a rack as the man, Reston Wenuka, says "welcome to the Dark Room my friends".
Then we cut to Killian watching a TV report about Wenuka offering to help Astrid's flock in their time of need.   Astrid is currently incommunicado and Killian is running things.  Disgusted she tells Duncan to turn it off.  He comments that she is dressing and drinking tea like Astrid.  Duncan asks if Astrid is coming back.  Killian says she has sent someone, because she isn't talking to her.

Up in the mountains of Colarado, Capone gets out of a car and stumbles through the snow finding Astrid sitting outside a lodge quietly contemplating the scenery.   She says to Capone she isn't going back, "I've given quite enough don't you think?"

Astrid:  "Do you know what the worst thing in the entire world is. The worst curse you can inflict on any human being.  The very worst thing?  Seeing the world as it actually is."

Back in Florida Chloe is trying to get ahold of Astrid.  She believes Spark isn't dead and they have him.   She says she never forgive Astrid for caging him in the "shitty room".  She has also been doing some research into Astrid's company and Avil tells her he knows two of the properties and they are empty.

Inside the Clean Room, poor Spark is still alive and being zapped in a laser cage. He is being interrogated, what the nature of his species is, what invasion plans they have.  Spark just whimpers, "Chloe... help Spark."  The interrogators shock him again, "cook this demon piece of shit".

Capone sits with Astrid and asks her how much of the mountain she owns.  Capone goes on to say she lived on a cardboard sheet behind a dumpster.  It was Astrid's message that told her she didn't have to live that life.  She told her taking care of yourself was job one.  She goes on to say, "You never apologise.  You never let anyone else's horsehit stick to you. Where is that woman?"  Astrid says that woman was shot through the heart by her brother and now can't crawl out from behind that dumpster.
Gifts from Astrids organisation.
Chloe is trying to puzzle out why Astrid would own so many empty properties.  Then she hears her car being stolen and she and Avil run outside.  But when they get there a new car awaits, courtesy of Killian who sends her "personal regards".   The unctuous man also hands over an unlimited credit card.  Chloe says she won't forget what they did.  The man says they are gifts not bribes.  He passes on the message that although Killian wants to "fuck you until your legs fall off" there are no obligations attached to the gifts.  She also gets a blue card allowing access to one of their arks, "should the worst occur". The world is going to burn, hell is returning, the card will keep her and one other safe. "Choose wisely".

Killian and Duncan are watching Wenuka on the news, Killian grimly says he's going to worm his way in and destroy everything she built.  What would Astrid do she wonders. Duncan says she'd fight back.

Duncan: "She'd bite and scratch and kick.  She'd hit his groin with a flamethrower.  She'd demolish him Killian".

Killian gives him a hug then sends him home to get some sleep, tommorrow they'll start fighting back.   As Duncan leaves, Killian orders a search into any dirt they can find on Menuka.  Duncan returns home and gets into bed with his boyfriend.

Later Duncan is woken up by the Surgeon.  Duncan says he fed him info once but he won't let him take down Astrid.  But the Surgeon won't take no for an answer and shows him what he did to the last man who rejected him, he turned him into a half human hybrid "Pony man".  He knows he can't get results threatening Duncan directly but his partner, now that's a different story.
More incentivising!
Next day Killian calls Capone for an update on Astrid and also to tell her something about her brother, we don't hear what that is just that it surprises Capone.  Capone then finds Astrid standing on the edge of a cliff, she tells her that her brother has a daughter and "he says she takes after your father."

Killian is rallying a defence against Wenuka.  Duncan is preoccupied but will look into finding out who in Astrid's organisation might be vulnerable to blackmail.  Then Chloe arrives. She comes out and tells Killian her "very dead fiancee... has been showing up at unexpected times"  He's not haunting her but warning her.

Wenuka is chairing a special meeting of Astrid's foundation board members.  He tells them, "if your beloved Ms. Mueller goes psycho, my friends,, who in this group will piss in your followers mouths and tell them it's lemonade?"  One of them saying her taking some time to recover doesn't make her a runaway.  Wenuka says he admires the loyalty, but their ship is sinking "and I don't think any of you boys got the dick to paddle."

Back with Chloe and Killian they are suited up to go into the Clean Room because her dead fiancee has told her bad things are happening in there. Spark is still in there all caged up, Killian sends the others away.  Meanwhile, the news Capone passed onto Astrid has caused her to admit to Capone she was testing her.  One of her "Rooks" has been leaking information, then suddenly Capone pushes Astrid to the ground.
Oh Duncan...
Just outside the Clean Room, Duncan appears and apologetically shoots one of the staff.  Capone had pushed Astrid down because there was a sniper who Capone takes out with her pistol.  Inside the Clean Room, Chloe fusses over Spark, while Duncan follows her and Killian inside. Capone demands to know who sent the sniper as he lies bleeding out.  He says it was Wenuka, he used his wife as blackmail.  Astrid tells him to call him and say he succeeded.  Wenuka announces the tragic news to the board.

Duncan shoots Spark, apologising again saying, "they got me... they'll get you too." Spark tells Chloe he is dying, he tells Chloe she has the power to move the room "anywhere, any-when".  She needs to concentrate on Duncan's pain, Chloe says she can't do it. "Then we all die" says Spark.   Killian and Duncan start fist fighting. Chloe tells Spark they need his darkness back so Spark conjures up a weird bio-mechanical being which slices off Duncan's hand.  Chloe tells Spark to call it off, but Spark grins evilly and says "don't think Spark wants to."

We get another flashback to Astrid twenty-three years ago.   She is in therapy for stabbing her father who is now in a coma.  She tells her therapist she believed her father to be possessed by a demon, who ate his essence, sent him to hell and rides his shell like a toddler rides a bicycle.  Her therapist says they will discuss this more next session.
A monster unleashed.
Back in the present, the monster is running amok in the Clean Room.  Chloe pleads with Spark but he won't stop it.  "It's too late Chloe" he says "Nobody is friends now.  Nobody is friends ever again".  Astrid, Capone and Todd the assassin are back at the lodge. Astrid says he is now under her protection and his wife can come and work for her.  He drops to his knees and thanks her.  Astrid says some people only "shine when they have an opponent" and Mr. Wenuka has provided one.  She has an "invader to decimate" now.

Killian is trying to fend off the bio-mech monster, things are looking bad when Chloe's eyes suddenly roll back and the enviroment inside the room changes.  But they aren't in Duncan's memory, they are in Sparks.  He doesn't want to be here but they go through the church door to where the girl is tied to a bed and being exorcised.
Spark's dark secret.
In Chicago, Wenuka is still convincing Astrid's board that they should join up with his organisation now she's dead. But then the viewscreen flickers on and Astrid appears saying, "I'd like to make a counter proposal."  Inside Sparks memory Chloe is shocked at the state he left the girl in, and worst of all he caused the girl to bite out the throat of her mother.  Killian says they were right to burn Spark, but Chloe asks how many people she killed as she kneels by Duncan's body.

Chloe: "I never believed in sin.  I never believed in repentance.  But Jesus Killian. What if it's all true?"

At the board meeting Weknuka yells at Brother Pete to shut the feed down.  She retaliates by firing the entire board.  She then asks him how a "mediocre little deviant medicine show carnie" got into a postion to challenge her.

She tells him events conspiring to favour him wasn't an accident, and also the loyal soldier at his side isn't what he thinks.  Now that he's failed "they" won't want him to be chatty, and Brother Pete turn into a monster and rips Wenuka's head off. 

Back in the Clean Room the bio-mech is inert.  Killian is about to shoot Spark, but Chloe pleads with him to repair Duncan, "Spark is good boy" he says and does so.   Then the three of them leave, Killian tells security that Duncan was hypnotised by their enemies.  Capone and Astrid discuss what happened.  Capone asked why she didn't take Wenuka out sooner.

Astrid: "The conspiracy you know about is always better than the one you do not".

She then tasks Capone with fetching Todd's wife and to make it look like terrorists got her.  Capone says she'll enjoy that.  Astrid then calls more of her people at her brother's home.  They have found the baby and say it looks normal, but when Astrid looks at it via one one of their smartphones she sees a horrific monster. End of volume two.
Another enjoyable read from Gail Simone who has a Garth Ennis knack for dialogue and characterisation. There are several women in this book all with different personalities; the emotionally distant Astrid, the firey Killian, the sensitive Chloe and the no nonsense Capone.  With plots, counter plots and counter, counter plots going on it can be a confusing read at first but I am confident that plot threads will pay off down the line and that Simone is playing the long game here.  The exact nature of the monsters still remains unclear and giving us a "good" one helps muddy the issue further. The fact they show intelligence in doing such things as propping up Wenuka to get to Astrid shows they are not to be underestimated and of course the mysterious Surgeon and his horrific nature give us another particpant to be wary of as he has not given away what he ultimately wants at all.  The art by Jon Davis-Hunt is gorgeous.  Crisp, clean with some fantasticly grotesque monster designs as well as rendering every character unique and sensible, no gratuitous cheesecake here undermining the female characters authority.  Astrid remains a fascinating character, driven albeit someone who keeps her cards close to her chest but not one who has been out-gambitted so far. Chloe is her polar opposite - open, trusting and not afraid to show her emotions.  Astrid seems to see a potential leader in her and it will be interesting to see how things develop along those lines.  All-in-all a fine comic and I am looking forward to the next trade.

Friday, 17 March 2017

Jessica Jones: Alias Book 2 (#11-15)

"We're two consenting adult peoples..." - Jessica Jones

Time to rejoin the beautiful disaster that is Jessica Jones.  Once she was a superhero called "Jewel" but gave it up as she felt she didn't really fit in with the costumed set and for reasons yet to be elaborated upon too.  She has superstrength and can fly, badly, but now she runs her own private investigations firm called "Alias Investigations" with her as the sole PI employed there.  But she keeps getting jobs that bring her back into the sphere of superhero influence.  In book one she helped foil an attempt to embarrass the President of the US via getting Captain America accused of murder.  She then got caught up in world of a delusional man who believed himself to be Rick Jones.  She is also suffering herself from severe PTSD which viewers of her TV show will know the reason for but readers of the books will have to wait until book four to find out about.  The writer is Brian Michael Bendis, now a controversial figure at Marvel, but back at the start of the noughties his work on street level characters like Jessica Jones and Daredevil gained him a lot of praise.  Michael Gaydos is on art duties, his use of repeating panels to match Bendis's rythmic dialogue give the comic an almost Warhol-like quality.  If you are wondering where issue ten is, it's been moved to the next volume and will be covered then, never fear.  Now for another trip into the dysfunctional world of Jessica Jones.

Jessica is in cheerful mood, driving her car and singing along loudly with the radio.  She passes a huge sign which reads "Rebecca Please Come Home. We Love You" and the road takes her into the small town of Lago, just by New York.  She misses her turning and has to get out to ask directions. She takes in her surroundings as mutters that it's "like I tripped and fell inro 1978". A local policeman spots her and gives her directions knowing who she is and why she is there, they flirt with each other then Jessica goes to the home of Katherine Cross, it her neice Rebecca who has gone missing and Jessica is there to find her.
Jessica meets the sheriff.
She tells Katherine that it was unhelpful telling the local newspaper she was coming to investigate, "I'm your private investigator, 'private' being the operative word." Now the whole town has been alerted to her prescence and her neice's abductor might have got spooked.  Rebecca's mother comes down the stairs and asks Jessica if she'll really be able to find her?

Rebecca's mother then takes her through the last time she saw her.   She left her at home to play bingo at church the might before, when she got home her husband Frank was passed out in his chair and she went to bed without checking on her daughter. Then later that day she got a call from the school pricipal who said Rebecca hadn't shown up for school that day.  So she doesn't know exactly when she went missing.

Jessica asks her if she thinks her husband had something to do with it.  She admits that she doesn't trust him and doesn't even like him anymore, Rebecca's disappearance has opened her eyes to that.  She says he goes to "whores" and that he's seen him leering at Rebecca, "he was such a jackass about it.  Couldn't even pretend not to." Jessica asks if Rebecca said anything about it.  The mother says no, then Jessica asks if Rebecca had any trouble at school.  Her mother says she'd been "mouthing off" at teachers and she knows Rebecca hated the jocks.  Jessica asks for a recent photo and gets one of Rebecca looking pretty Goth.
Rebecca Cross.
Jessica contemplates the photo and says "nothing like this has ever happened here in this town, has it?"  Katherine says no.  Jessica lays out who she is going to see and they negociate her payment then Jessica goes to where Rebecca's father Frank is. He says to Jessica, "come on in, bitch."  He moans about his wife asking Jessica "she tell you I fucked the kid?"  Jessica calmly says she'd like to come in and discuss this civilly.

He goes into a rant, he says he won't help her put him in jail. He says he was proud of his daughter, he had prayed she be better and smarter than everyone, "that she'd be able to go farther than us."  He could see that was happening and that he was "so happy that she was going to make it".   He tells Jessica she is free to search the house and his wife is "evil for using this to punish me".  He wanders off, Jessica tells him not to leave town.  "Where'm I gonna go?" he says bitterly.

She goes up to Rebecca's room which is a mess.  She finds some notebooks on her dresser and an empty box where she kept her pot. The flirty cop appears in the doorway, she asks if he knows who the local pot dealer is, but the cop doesn't know.  She asks to take the books back to her hotel, they are full of arty collages. "Might be clues.  Messages. Might be nothing.  Either way... the victim speaks." she tells him.
Searching for clues.
They leave the house and he asks if if she has superpowers which Jessica says yes to.  She asks if that will be a problem and he says "not if you behave yourself".  Then Jessica leaves to speak to someone at her school.  She asks the teacher who meets with her if she knew what cliques she was in or who her friends were.  The teacher doesn't know and opens Rebecca's locker for her.  As Jessica searches a student comes up and tells her she is looking on the wrong side of the door.  Jessica inspects the front and sees a very faint trace of the word "Die." The student goes on to tell her "what do you expect?  She was a mutant."

Jessica questions the girl more closely, "when you say mutant you mean Homo Superior?" She also asks if they ever say Rebecca use her powers, no one did, but Rebecca told several people she was one.  Jessica's patient questioning reveals Rebecca told a football player and cheerleader and the rumour then spread from there and when questioned didn't deny it. "Being a mutant is like being gay or Jewish... you don't want to pretend you are if you're not, right?" says the girl.  Jessica leaves to find Freddy the football player to aks him directly.

She goes to the football field and finds Freddy why the other players letch at her.  Jessica confirms that Rebecca told him she was a mutant but he never saw her use her powers.   He says he asked her out, but she said her mutant powers would kill him if they had sex. He asks if Jessica is the "mutant police" and that it's not illegal to "bang mutants is it?" Jessica rolls her eyes and returns to her car.
No luck with the jock.
Then a woman called Patrice Pugawa catches up with her and says she runs the local newspaper.  Jessica says she isn't going to give her updates on her investigation because she doesn't want whoever has Rebecca to know how she is getting along in her investigation and drives off but not before the reporter hints she might want to go to church on saturday. Later she is reading Rebecca's collage books and having a drink with the cop in the local bar.  Then Rebecca's dad comes in and drunkenly abuses Jessica but the cop calms him down.

Later Jessica and the cop have a tipsy clinch in the carpark, "mmmm you gonna fuck me, sheriff?" says Jessica and climbs on a car bonnet.  Initially he is wary because he thinks he might hurt her, "not unlessh you want me to.." slurs Jessica.  He decides to risk it and they start to have sex.  We then get a two page dream sequence done in a bright "traditional" style with her as Jewel flying past Thor, then she sees Rebecca watching her from a window and wakes up.
Even Jessica's dreams guilt trip her.
She wakes up in a jail cell.  The sheriff put her there to sleep off the booze much to her outrage. "I certainly wasn't going to have you stay in my house" he says letting her out.  She gives him a hearty "fuck you" and leaves.  Remembering what the newspaper woman said, Jessica goes into the church and finds the minister rehearsing a speech.  It's not a very edifying one, it's all about how mutants are an abomination that man not God created they are not in the bible and are not worthy of love.  He notices Jessica and says he can never tell if his voice reaches the back.

Jessica: "I hear you just fine."

The minister said he is doing a topical sermon, that people like to see an immediate parallel to their lives and scripture.   He realises she is the PI and a "super hero person". Jessica says she is not a super hero.  The minister says it's a shame about Rebecca although she has never come to church as far as he knows.

She starts to leave then says she be "pissed at myself for ever if I don't say this".  She tears into him for his prejudiced veiws, he stands by his words, "mutants are quite clearly an abomination bought on by mans greed". He insist nature tells him that it is so even though a pissed Jessica tells him how wrong and irresponsible his words are.  "You're more than welcome to disagree" he responds.

Jessica: "I... I... I... think this thing you're doing here is about the single most disgusting thing I have ever seen in my life... You're preaching hate!  Like some back water shit-kicking hick."

He denies that is the case, but she goes on to say that if she finds out his preaching has contributed the the disappearance of Rebecca Cross... she doesn't finish her thoughts.  The minister asks why would it, Jessica tells him Rebecca was a mutant as she stalks out.
Not a great start to her day.
She goes and tries to compose herself in the diner's bathroom as she is very upset over everything that's occured so far since waking up in a cell, repeating "fuck you" over and over.  She looks around and sees some grafitti that says "Jesus was a mutant".  She walks out and bumps into the sheriff who tries to apologise to her, she walks away as he tries to explain himself to her.  She chews him out then leaves to carry on looking for Rebecca.

Then Scott Lang phones her up saying Carol Danvers gave him Jessica's number.  "Carol you goddamn bitch" thinks Jessica as she listens.  She tells him she is busy on a case right now, he asks where she is.  "In Hell" she responds.  She asks if he is Ant-Man, he says not anymore and "for that story, you're actually going to have to go out with me". 

We then cut to Jessica in the newspaper's office and she talks with Patrice who runs it.  She is sharing some mail which compares mutants to coloureds. "

Jessica: "Coloureds?  What fucking planet am I on?  What year is this?"

Patrice tells her she just wanted to give her an idea of the way people think in the town, mostly good people... she doesn't finish her sentence.  Jessica apologies for blowing her off the day before.  Patrice says she is just trying to help, she wants all this to be over.
More small town bigotry.
Patrice then says she assumes she's visited "our first Unity church of hypocrisy and racism."  Jessica says she has and nearly punched the guy.  Patrice says he's a "fucking asshole" and she's tried to talk to him about his rhetoric to no avail. Sadly the town loves him and the church will be packed tommorrow.  Jessica asks if she thinks he had anything to do with Rebecca's disappearance.  Patrice says not directly but he preaches a bullshit "tabloid version of reality"  He's giving people an excuse to act on their worst instincts.

Patrice tells her that a couple of years ago a kid fell out of a treehouse and by a fluke had no broken bones or cust.  A week later he was found beaten nearly to death with beer bottles.  The family up and left in the night and the kid died alone in hospital.  So "this shit" with Rebecca was bound to happen.

Jessica says Rebecca might be a mutant but Patrice states firmly that she isn't.  All her investigations have lead her to the fact the kids at Rebecca's school are full of shit.  Jessica mulls this over then says Rebecca wasn't a mutant but was telling people she was.  She goes onto say that when she was at school she told people she made out with Simon Le Bon one vacation, "teenage girls."

Then she shows Patrice Rebecca's collage books.  Patrice is impressed by them saying it's almost worse to think of something awful happening to someone with talent, "she definitely had a thing for the dark side of icons."  Jessica says she still needs to talk properly to Rebecca's father.  Patrice notes that half the town thinks he did it. Jessica asks her what she thinks and Patrice says that probably one of her classmates raped her and threw her in the lake because they thought she was a mutant.
Jessica finds Rebecca's dad.
Patrice contemplates the collages some more and wonders if there is a hidden clue to what might have happened to Rebecca in them.   She wishes Rebecca's parents had trusted her more, but Jessica says they probably didn't want to be reminded of what has happened.  "But it's news" says Patrice.  Jessica leaves and goes to Jessica's home to speak with Frank.  She finds him sitting dead in his chair with his throat slashed while the news plays out a plotline which was going on in Bendis's run on Daredevil - a debate on the unmasking of Matt Murdock.  As his body is taken away Jessica watches, smoking pensively.  A kid rides up on a bicycle, she eyeballs him then says "Kid.  Where is she?"

We then cut to Rebecca in a New York club speaking to the clientele about the whole Daredevil/Matt Murdock thing that is in the news.  She speaks of her love for him "this beautiful man who clearly defines something undefinable" then she reads out a poem dedicated to him as Jessica looks on.   After the poetry reading Rebecca kisses her cute girlfriend.  Then Jessica intervenes and drags her away as her girlfriend calls her a "cuntwipe".
Rebecca and girlfriend safe in New York.
Jessica kicks the bouncer in the nuts and gets Rebecca into her car. Jessic then goes on a four page unbroken rant about why she left the small town. To sum up she hates the "racist shithellhole" she was living in.  She wanted to get away to a place she could express herself.  She doesn't care about proms or "the fucking mall".  One day it all got too much and she got the bus out of there.

Rebecca: "It was like I was in a coma and now I wasn't.  Because I could kiss whoever I want.  I could talk about whatever I want.  I could express myself without someone making fun of me or asking what's wrong with me."

And once Jessica is gone, she'll leave again because she is in love.  She refuses to "bide her time" until she is eighteen.  Life is too short to live in that town surrounded by "fucking assholes".

Her mother is a lying bitch, her father is a weak man, she doesn't give a shit about what they think.   She's already realises there is "so, so, so much more to life".  She knows her neighbour Kenny, the only person there she cares about, told Jessica where she was.  But she wishes she hadn't told him where she was going so she'd be thought of as dead in a ditch " and I wouldn't have to deal with this drama".  She turns to Jessica and says "you know I'm right".

Then Matt Murdock calls Jessica and asks to see her next morning and this excites Rebecca as they reach the town, driving past the huge sign saying "Rebecca, Please Come Home.  We Love You".  Once they reach her house the find her aunt being arrested for the murder of her father. Jessica pulls up and realises what she's bought Rebecca home to.
Welcome home!
Rebecca steps out of the car and demands to know why her aunt is being arrested.  Her mother slaps her so hard she knocks off Rebecca's shades.  "It's all your fault, you selfish whore!" she shouts at her.  Rebecca starts crying saying to Jessica why didn't she tell her that her dad was dead, Jessica lamely says she thought she might be responsible.  Rebecca runs away and her mother screams after her, "that's right! Run away again! See who you kill next time!"

Jessica finds Rebecca sitting in the church belfry.  She reassures her that she didn't kill her father.  Rebecca asks how she found her, Jessica says she read her diary and knew she liked to get stoned up there.  Jessica then tells her she is really talented and tells her a friend told her "nothing makes a writer... liked a fucked up childhood".

Rebecca: "What the fuck kind of superhero are you?  Why is the world like this?"

Jessica asks her if she wants her to take her back to her girlfriend.  Later the sheriff finds her.  Jessica tells him her girlfriend had come here looking for Rebecca and both have left.  He hands over her cheque.  Jessica is surprised the mother paid her.  The sheriff says he "kinda made her."
Case closed.
He tells her the sister was drunk and when Rebecca's father mouthed off to him she "wigged out and stabbed him".  She's confessed so the rest is paperwork.  Jessica hands over Rebecca's collage books so he can pass them onto her mother.  The sheriff tells her to take care and Jessica wishes him well before driving off. In the car she phones Scott Lang telling him she had a bad day and could she keep him company as she drives home, which he agrees to.  And that brings this arc to a close.

We close out this volume with a one-shot about Jessica Jones relationships with two of the men in her life.  It begins with her and Luke "Power Man" Cage standing guard outside Matt Murdock's office.  Luke flirts with a woman who goes inside and when Jessica queries why he let her in he says it's because she's Black Widow in a disguise.

He then asks Jessica if they are talking now?  She doesn't respond so he demands to know why she took the job if she is so pissed at him.  He then says she fucked him, "you pounced on me, you physically grabbed me..."  Jessica says this is an inappropriate place to have this conversation.  Then mutters she was drunk.  Luke says she fucked him then came by his place and nearly destroyed his life.  And she should have thanked him for being there when she needed him.

Jessica asks who he was with when she came by.  Luke asks if she wants to be his girlfriend. "What? No!" shouts Jessica, and he says it's none of her business then.  Jessica says she wouldn't have hit on him if she knew he was a "cape chaser".  Luke laughs at it, but Jessica says she thinks it's gross.  He responds:

Luke: "If I was a lawyer, I probably would end up fucking a lot of lawyers.  But being in our profession... I am probably going to end up fucking a lot of people... in our profession".

He then says he's trying to be her friend and she apologises.  He says next thing she'll say is he fucked Iron Fist, and does she want to know why they call him that? Jessica says she heard that joke and they both smile.
Jessica and Luke Cage on guard duty.
Jessica then asks Luke is she thinks Matt Murdock really is Daredevil. Luke say definitely.  Jessica says then he likely heard this conversation, then Black Widow comes out muttering to herself.  Luke then invites Jessica to dinner, but she says she already has a date tonight.

We then jump forwards tp the evening where Scott Lang is waiting for her.  She is late and apologises profusely, she says her job is "fucking crazy" body guarding Matt Murdock.  Scott asks if he really is Daredevil, and Jessica asks if it matters because the tabloids have no right to be all up in his business. 

A waitress comes up to take their drink orders. Jessica asks for a double vodka on the rocks, but Scott interuppts and says, "how about you don't."  Taken aback Jessica says, "I'm sorry?" Scott says he was hoping they could not get drunk tonight.  So they order coke and a sprite.  Scott says Carol filled her in on Jessica's tendency to get hammered then be mad at herself afterwards.  He hoped they could stay sober and "have a nice, real, genuine conversation".

Jessica is silent and Scott says she is mad at him, but she says she is just stunned. He apologises for overstepping and says she can drink of she wants.  "No, we can do it your way" she says.  They start chatting and Jessica confesses she checked him out and found out he was in prison.  He says he was young and did something "unspeakably stupid."  But he left a better person and never went back.
Jessica and Scott flirt over soft drinks.
She says she didn't want to put him on the spot, but he says he understands his life has taken detours he never envisioned.  She says she was trying to be an intruiging smartass and it backfired.  He tells her he's also divorced.  She says she likes that, "divorced men are the best boyfriends.  Eager to please.  Tonnes of shit to prove.".   They sit in silence for a moment then Scott wonders why Carol thought they would be a good match.

Jessica says he looks like someone Carol would sleep with.  She goes onto say Carol has specific requirements for a guy n both looks and occupation. If a guy doesn't look the way she has imagined a boyfriend of hers should look, "it's not going to happen".  But Carol didn't asks him out herself because he'd been in prison.  Jessica says she doesn't care that's just what's "rolling around in Carol's head."

Jessica says she's bummed Scott out with the prison thing, she was trying to compliment him. "Well, you should try and do better than that" says Scott. "You're a very patient and curious man" she responds.  He was nice to her on the phone the other day and he's "tolerating" this conversation.  He says he "hypnotised" by this conversation. He has no idea what she'll say next.

Jessica says he has a daughter right? He says she is his "reason for everything". Jessica thinks she might be a good mum.  He then says he's fascinated by her job as a PI, but she says it's not as glamorous as everyone thinks.  Scott worries that everything he is saying to her sounds fake, in their line of work "costumes and adventures" it's hard to meet people to trust.

Jessica says he's the first person in ten years who hasn't asked why she isn't a superhero anymore.  He says she's the first person in ten years who hasn't asked him why he was a superhero.  Then he starts to ask why she isn't a superhere, she interupts him saying "Ha!  I knew you were going to do that!" Then both of them look out of the restaurant window, Spider-man, The Human Torch and Doctor Octopus are fighting.
This happens all the time in Marvel's New York.
Jessica asks if he wants to go help, but Scott says he hasn't bought his Ant-Man stuff. She doesn't want to help and they both consult their menus.  She says she's not mad about the drink anymore.  He laughs saying he knew she was mad about that.  She says it was rude, but "I guess I needed someone to do that for me."  They contemplate their menus somemore as fighting continues outside.  "I don't think our waitress is coming back" says Jessica, and that closes out this second volume.

More excellent stuff from Bendis and Gaydos.  The Rebecca Cross arc really struck a chord with me.  I grew up in a small town and went to school with stupid, boring, ignorant people.  I used to dream of running away, but never did because unlike Rebecca I have a very close relationship with my mum and sisters.  Still, I felt like I didn't belong, that there had to be more to life and when I realised I was gay aged 18 I knew if I could just hold on and get to university life would become so much better, which it very much did. This might also be the first time mutants are used to symbol gay people and not blacks during the civil rights era.  Mind you I always felt comparing mutants to any oppressed people is a bit strange because despite what UKIP might believe us gays don't have the ability to control the weather.  I was really glad when Rebecca was able to leave again with her girlfriend and be free of the stifling conformity of where she grew up.  The date issue is also a nice piece of work, just two people chatting and flirting, building characterisation and setting up Jessica with two eligible men to romance.  Overall we get more insight into just how self destructive Jessica can be when booze and sex intermingle for her and still leaves the reader wondering how she got like this and just why she stopped the superheroics.  Bendis is teasing out a plotline that will pay off in the final volume, so only one more before we get to that, although viewers of her excellent TV series will know the answer already...

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Batwoman Book 3: World's Finest (#12-17, #0)

"We will go to Gotham together.  And when we do find Medusa, she will regret ever leaving the safety of her cell" - Wonder Woman

So my month of comics devoted to the ladies continues. When I did my first of these estrogen soaked months I failed in a big way because I did not pay tribute to the ultimate female superhero - Wonder Woman.  Reader I will now 'fess up I own no Wonder Woman comics. The runs I've been interested in like Gail Simone and Greg Rucka's can be hard to find. But for this month I present the next best thing, Wondy teaming up with lesbian superhero Batwoman.  This is the New 52 incarnation of Batwoman, created by Greg Rucka but now written by JH Williams III and W.Haden Blackman.  I make no bones about it, I am reading this series mostly for Williams's amazingly beautiful art and layouts.  The writing has been average to poor at best mainly tied to the fact they have dragged the first story arc out to an incredible seventeen issues with a lot of extraneous padding along the way.  Batwoman is Kate Kane by day, a socialite who is dating policewoman Maggie Sawyer who is unaware of her secret identity.  Maggie is looking for some missing kids, unbeknownest to her they've been taken by an Occult organisation called Medusa.  Batwoman has been blackmailed into working for the D.E.O - The Department of Extranormal Operations who have kitted her out with all sorts of nifty technology in return for her help.  This volume sees Batwoman working with Wonder Woman to bring down Medusa for good and save the kids.  There is also a zero issue which explores Batwoman's origins but you're better off reading Greg Rucka's single volume reboot of Batwoman that I already covered with art by JH Williams III.  So lets have some World's Finest action.

We start with the narrative switching between Wonder Woman and Batwoman. Batwoman sums up the story so far by thinking that Maro the leader of Medusa has taken the kids they kidnapped through a wormhole and though she has "interrogated" a lot of Medusa agents and has all the resources of the D.E.O at her fingertips, she is no closer to finding them.  Meanwhile Wonder Woman contemplates her nature and how there are many stories about her:

Wonder Woman: "But in this moment, I'm only this flashing sword, impaling an eye the colour of fallen leaves.  I'm only the gleaming shield, blocking my enemy's arrows with the ring of wind chimes.  I'm only this golden cord, coiled and waiting for the truth."

Batwoman has teamed up with her werewolf allies lead by Abbot, to investigate the Bloody Mary legend, because Medusa has been using urban legends to capture children and battle her.  She's catalogued several variations on the legend but they all end in Bloody Mary's death and her being summoned by chanting her name in front of a mirror.
Wonder Woman at work.
As Batwoman summons Bloody Mary, Wonder Woman slices up serpents that have murdered children, as she kills them she thinks that "Clark would be horrified, Batman would be reluctantly impressed, Aquaman would call it defence of the realm".  As Bloody Mary appears to Batwoman, Wonder Woman keeps laying into the serpent monsters.

Batwoman smashes Bloody Mary's mirror and demands to know where Maro took the children.  Mary says Maro abandoned them "and fled to Medusa's lair".   She says Medusa is "not a group.  Medusa is the Queen of Monsters".  She says she can't be stopped and Batwoman crushes the piece of mirror Mary was talking through.

Then we cut to Batwoman as Kate Kane on board a yacht with Chase and Mr. Bones of the D.E.O. Kate tells Chase Maro isn't in Gotham anymore and they are going to need some help so what about Wonder Woman, Medusa is a Greek myth after all.  Mr. Bones agrees but they are going to mike her up so they can get some intel on one of the World's Finest.
Mr. Bones, Kate and Chase.
Meanwhile  the families of the missing children are protesting outside the Gotham police station because it's been months now and the lead detective on the case, Maggie Sawyer is no closer to finding them and they want her replaced.  The media is there as well and even as Maggie assures them they are working hard on finding the kids the TV people record one of the couples saying if it was Maggie's kid missing she wouldn't be satisfied with just updates. Commissioner Gorden brings the press conference to a close after that.

Back at home with Kate and Maggie, Kate says she has to go out tonight. Angrily Maggie says if Kate cared she'd stay with her tonight and not be so selfish.  When Kate says she can't really tell her where she was the night before they made love the first time Maggies shows her the door saying, "don't come back until you can."

We then visit Kate Kane's father who Kate isn't speaking to right now and who is taking care of his neice Bette "Flamebird" Kate who is still recovering from being gutted by one of Medusa's minions in book one.  He promised to teach her how to be a hero who is even better than Kate.  She tells him "I am going to hold you to that promise."

Wonder Woman has defeated all her enemies.  She washes herself in the sea thinking how she is "more than just my brilliant sword... more than my balanced shield... more than just my nimble rope... more than Amazon... more than demigod.. more than human." Then something rises out of the sea and startles her, it is Batwoman in a small sub.
Batwoman finds Wonder Woman.
After one year, every series that was part of the New52 took a one issue break from their on-going stories and did a prequel issues.  Thing is Batwoman had the perfect prequel story by Greg Rucka that established her origins.  I covered it here and as the issue zero pretty much just summarises it, so I am skipping it and carrying on with the Wonder Woman storyline.

Wonder Woman and Batwoman sit together as the sub takes them to where Medusa is supposed to be.  Batwoman thinks that what she is doing is the only way she can think to help Maggie.  Wonder Woman thinks about what Batwoman might think when she looks at her, "a goddess wrapped in her own nation's flag? Does she see a warrior?  A hero?"  She also ponders Batwoman cloaked in the colours of death and war, one of Batman's loyal soldiers.

They arrive at the prison that holds "mythology's most dangerous villains".  Batwoman says it sounds like "an Amazon Arkham Asylum".  Medusa is supposed to be held in the deepest cell far from the world she wants to destroy. There is no sentry on guard which doesn't bode well as the venture inside.  The place is strewn with dead bodies. They venture further inside:

Wonder Woman: "Be wary.  Any creature worthy of being imprisoned here has been deemed more dangerous than me."

They come across a surviving guard, a minotaur.  Wonder Woman questions him and he says this is the work of "Black hearted Nyx.. Mistress of the night".
Attacked by Nyx.
Then huge black centipedes come after them and start attacking.  They are both quickly overwhelmed and everything goes black. We are then privy to Wonder Woman's thoughts against a black background.  She feels like she has been buried alive as the centipedes wrap tightly round her.

Nyx speaks to her, saying "Medusa has brought you as my morsel" and that she is guarding the gate for her, Medusa is the "mother of all monsters."  Then Batwoman interrupts, tells Wonder Woman to close her eyes and sets off a flash bomb, freeing them.   Then she uses a explosive flare gun to blast open a way out through the wall.  Then they escape the island by hi-jacking Black Manta's flying sub, the D.E.O might be super shady but they do have some wonderful toys.

We take a quick visit to Kate's dad and Bette meditating together. Unfortunately all she can think and brood about is what it felt like to be gutted and how much pain she is still in and how she must try and be stronger than Kate.  Back with Batwoman and Wonder Woman they are in a desert looking for Medusa's other son "Pegasus" the brother of Falchion who was defeated in the last book.  Wonder Woman calls Pegasus out of his lonely home and out he comes.  He has festering wounds showing through to the bone in places.
An ailing Pegasus.
Wonder Woman warns Batwoman to be careful of him, he is still Medusa's son, but Pegasus collapses at their feet saying "only her bastard. But now I am gutted and clipped."  Batwoman kneels by him and checks his wounds and realises it was Falchion who inflicted them.

Pegasus: "Dying. For a thousand years I will die.  If we live forever so too do our wounds.   Mortals will have vanished from the earth before I am whole again."

She says to him that Falchion tortured him, Pegasus says his brother would call it "coercion". He has tried to recruit Pegasus to their mother's cause and Pegasus declined.  Many times over.

Wonder Woman asks him why Falchion wanted his help.  Pegasus says for "horror.  Madness. Death.  A reaping of all mortalkind.  I don't know how..."  Batwoman says does he know where this will happen.  Pegasus says yes, and he will tell them for a price.  Wonder Woman must take his head, "give me a warrior's death."  This shocks Batwoman and Wonder Woman tells him humans have no faith in him now he will not be brought back.  "I do not care" he says sadly.  So Wonder Woman, over Batwoman's protests, agrees.

Pegasus then tells them it's a "city where shadows are deepest and evil is born".  Batwoman realises what that means, "Gotham".  Then Wonder Woman cuts off Pegasus's head. She asks if Batwoman thinks she committed murder.  Batwoman doesn't know and asks if he can come back like Bloody Mary and The Weeping Woman.  "Maybe" says Wonder Woman.  "Then I choose to believe" says Batwoman as she immolates Pegasus's corpse.

Then Batwoman expresses her irritation that she dragged Wonder Woman halfway around the globe when Medusa was in Gotham the whole time.  Wonder Woman says Medusa is a powerful witch who has kept herself concealed for centuries, "but she will come out of hiding to complete her dark ritual." Batwoman asks if Wonder Woman wants to come with her, "or do I smash this bitch in the teeth all by myself?"  Wonder Woman will come.
Medusa in Gotham.
Batwoman thinks to herself how much she wished she had telepathy to warn Maggie to get out of Gotham, but it's already kicking off there.  Killer Croc in his new, even more mutated form is rampaging through the streets as Maggie and Harvey Bullock are fighting him.  Then they come across Medusa herself:

Medusa: "Long have I sat in darkness sharpening  this dream like a blade...My dream is a blade to carve out the heart of this city, bleed its lambs into goblets of gold. A blade to hack off our enemies heads to make the world safe for all my kind".

As she and her minions fight the Gotham PD she thinks about how Falchion failed her, but did at least raise this army for her.   They are the ones who scoured the world and freed her.  Falchion also found Maro who created her supernatural army.  So s/he wasn't totally useless then.

Medusa then tells Killer Croc he can become more powerful, Maro using a blood ritual causes Killer Croc to mutate massively becoming a hydra like creature, "the beast of Babylon" says Medusa.  Backed into a corner by Medusa, things look bad for Maggie and Harvey then suddenly down swoop Batwoman and Wonder Woman to the rescue.
Kick ass.
Trevor McCarthy takes over as artist for the next issue meaning the loss of the lovely layouts of Mr. JH3.  Maggie is stunned and confused by the arrival of her rescuers and a fractured narrative follows showing us the events leading to this moment.   She flashes back to an hour ago as she reviews the missing kids case for the umpteenth time. Then we see her shooting Medusa's soldiers, there are no cries of pain where the bullets hit, the dying call for "Mitera" (Mother).

Everything is confusing out on the streets, "why is a Chinese gangster speaking in ancient Greek?"  She demands to know who "Mother" is from someone she has a hold of.  "She is the end of Gotham.  The end of your world" she is told.  "Zealots in my city" she thinks.  She bumps into Agent Chase of the D.E.O and wants to know why they aren't helping the GCPD on the front lines.  Chase says that is not her orders.

Chase tells her to have the GCPD fall back and the D.E.O will cover them.  Maggie doesn't trust her.  She and Harvey head towards a church where she has been told some people are preparing to become matryrs.  It's a Catholic church and inside are the mainly hispanic parents of the missing children.  They have heard "that these monsters have our children.  Then have our children on chains."
Maggie defuses the mob.
Maggie tells Isabella the leader of the mob that they should let the police handle this. Isabella says "you will just keep failing".  Maggie says the things can't be fought with baseball bats and kitchen knives nor guns either.  Maggie points her gun at the man toting a shotgun telling him to put it down.  When he won't she says:

Maggie: "I'm trying to save your kids. But if you get killed, what will happen to them?  Where will they go?  Who will take care of them?  Foster homes? The street? The church".

She then disarms the shotgun wielder.  But Isabella starts to freak out, her husband Felipe went out there alone looking for their children.  So Maggie goes back out to find and save him.

He is outside shooting down Medusa minions until he runs out of bullets.  Maggie and Harvey find him, but then water coutesy of the Weeping Woman sweeps over them.  Felipe kneels before her and when she tells him she will "free" the whole place he forgives her and she fades.  Maggie comes over and comforts the distraught man and when he says of his kids "I miss the so much" she hugs him.  And she worries maybe she'll never be able to bring them home.
Maggie comforts Felipe.
She returns Felipe to Isabella at the church then she and Harvey venture out through the rubble of Gotham's streets. Then we arrive at the moment when BatwMoman and Wonder Woman arrive, and as they do so Maggie thinks "God loves me enough. To keep Kate out of this madness. And bring her home safe."

JH Williams III is back on art for the rest of the book now.  Batwoman drops down to where Maggie is in the middle of all the chaos.  But Maggie yells at Batwoman to forget about her an Harvey and take out what Killer Croc has turned into before it destroys the city.   She starts to fight her way to it, horrified that it is breaking her "building... my base.. home... everything". Wonder Woman meanwhile is also fighting and feeling oddly responsible for Medusa, and now her senses are "dulled by shame, guilt, rage".

As Batwoman head towards the Hydra, Wonder Woman stops her saying she is not capable of taking it on. Batwoman says she's lost her home, her pictures of her sister, her mother's journals... she tails off.   Wonder Woman promises to kill the Hydra, but Batwoman needs to concentrate on getting back the children.

Medusa is waiting for Ceto, the mother of all monsters to appear from the sea.  She will rise, devour all mortals and make a world safe for the monsters.  Then Mr. Bones appears pointing a gun at her.  Medusa says he should be an ally what with him being a skeleton and all.   She tries to uses her petrifying eyes on him but fails. 
Flamebird back in action.
Then the hook handed creature attacks Chase, she fires on him but he shrugs it off and advances on her, but then Bette Kane as Flamebird appears ready to extract revenge on the being that so badly injured her. Her inner monologue has her as terrified, but she punches him and keeps punching him but he manages to grab a hold of her and she wishes that if he guts her again she wants to die.

Medusa stands at the sea's edge with the children and Maro.  The children ask if they are going to be killed.  Medusa says Ceto needs "your souls to bind her to this world".  Right now Ceto is a "dream. A ghost. A myth" says Maro, but once she was feared throughout the world.

We then get a quick history lesson on her. She became Goddess of the Oceans, she fell in love with Phorcys, Mystery of the Deep.   Many wonders were born from their union. Those wonders brought awe and adventure to the world. "We gave their frail lives meaning".  They were killed by mortals who wanted to prove they had mastery over all the primordial forces putting them and their followers to the torch and spear.  Ceto was brought to Mt. Olympus and judged.  "Zeus claimed there was no room for both mortals and monsters on Earth". He banished her, stripped her of her beauty and power reduced to the one cruel epithet, "The Mother of all Monsters".  So that's what she will be "and the mortal world the gods love will suffer for it".

Batwoman is fighting her way to Medusa and fighting the urge to go back to Maggie.  Also Abbot and his werewolf coven are also helping her despite how mean she usually has been to him in prior volumes.  Wonder Woman is taking on the hydra.  She discovers that whipping her sword fast enough makes it hot enought to cauterise the neck and stop another head growing.
Wonder Woman takes on the Hydra.
Batwoman and Abbot arrive at where Medusa, Maro and the children are.  Medusa calls the Weeping Woman again, but Batwoman shouts "what if they were your children, Maria?!" And Maria pauses remembering the two that were.  She attacks Maro who killed them saying "you are my grief" and melts Maro's face. Medusa says the Batwoman it doesn't matter now, "My mother is coming."

Batwoman can't process what she sees next,  "it's a tear in the fabric of reality.  As if it's something we can just stitch up". A huge squirming, many tentacled thing has appeared.  She realises there are somethings you can never unsee and never fix. Wonder Woman jumps down saying "please tell me you know what the hell this is, Batwoman".  Batwoman can only tell her Medusa and Maro performed a ritual and summoned the Mother of all Monsters.
The Mother of All Monsters is summoned.
Wonder Woman says "Ceto".  Batwoman says so she knows her name but does she know how to stop her.  "Haven't a clue" replies Wonder Woman. So Batwoman decides they should start by kicking Medusa's ass. We return to the hook-handed monster holding Flamebird by the throat.  Flamebird using arm mounted flame throwers (!) blasts the hook-man in the face then as he kneels holding his bubbling face she attaches a bomb to his hook and blows it off his arm then tosses it in the sea where it fastens onto a crab.  Catharsis!

Maro makes it to shore, but her twin who inhabited the same body is dead now.  On land an almight ruckus is taking place.  Batwoman, Wonder Woman and the werewolves versus Medusa's minions.  Abott gets turned to stone by Medusa and as she kneels by him, Flamebird appears and helps her up.  They quickly formulate a plan, they shatter Bloody Mary and use a piece of her mirror to reflect Medusa's glare back on her and she turns to stone.  Batwoman then smashes the statue for good measure.
Medusa defeated.
They look out to sea and there is no monster, just some rainbow smoke. Wonder Woman thinks "we broke the spell somehow."  The Weeping Woman holds Medusa's head and says she was as Medusa made her, but actually she wants to erase all the stories ever told about her.  Wonder Woman is about to kill her saying her stories always end in death but Batwoman stops her.  And Wonder Woman helps her up saying she keep her safe instead.

Flamebird points out the D.E.O is about to arrive so she makes herself scarce telling Batwoman her new name is "Hawkfire".  Wonder Woman says she too has no wish to meet the D.E.O.  Before she leaves Batwoman gives her the recordings she's made of her the past few days.  Wonder Woman crushes them and says, "if you ever need me again, just ask."

Chase catches up with them and is pissed about the loss of intel on Wonder Woman.  She then takes the children to a park close by where Maggie is moodily sitting on a swing. When she realises Batwoman has bought them all back and has called her "Mags" she realises who she really is:

Batwoman: "Marry me Mags".

The book then ends with Mr Bones interviewing Alice, the crazed supervillain sister of Batwoman and he says "oh I know who you are.  You have our sister's eyes."
And that was the end of the series and they both lived in marital bliss and lalalalala can't hear you DC editorial!

Once again it's the art that sells me this series, with stunning layouts and gorgeous renditions of everything from eldritch abominations to caped crimefighters.  His depiction of Wonder Woman is superb, she fit and athletic looking rather than skinny and top heavy. She looks like a woman who gets shit done as does the bustier fetish clad Kate Kane.   But I keep circulating round to my major problems with the series so far, this arc went on far too long, the dialogue is often stilted and unnatural which suits the narration of the mythological aspects of the story but not the voices of the characters. Also the happy ending is somewhat soured by knowledge of what happened next which was DC vetoing the marriage. In their sort of defence I don't think that was homophobia at work, DC simply didn't want any of their New 52 characters to be happy.  Seriously, that was an editorial edict.  This then resulted in Blackman and Williams III quitting the title and DC spiking their final issues.  I haven't read any further Batwoman after this one mainly for those reasons, while the series had flaws it had potential and this just felt like the straw that broke the camels back regarding DC's overbearing editorial attitudes during this period. Still, curiosity might compel me to check out the next volumes and If I do I'll cover it here.