All of the chickens come home to roost in this installment, which is primarily a gigantic battle royale between groups of Kings Dominion students, Yakuza thugs sent to retrieve Saya, and local police on the Yakuza payroll. They have all come to Mexico, where Marcus and Maria have reunited, hoping to escape from this madness. There is a flashback providing previously unknown details of Zenzele’s background. Marcus and Viktor have a showdown, then become allies–and there is a major character death, a surprisingly low body count given the massive violence in the arc. In the course of all of the violence there are several refernces comparing it to “a Frank Miller comic,” although I think Remender may have him beat here, at least in terms of scale.
Maika Halfwolf makes it to the neutral city of Pontus, where she hopes to find some refuge from her persuers. But things do not turn out so simply. In exchange for asylum Maika must use her bloodline (and Zinn, the Monstrum that lives inside her) to unlock some of the secrets of her ancestor, the Shaman-Empress. We find out who Master Ren the cat has been serving, and young Kippa the fox turns out to be more important than she appeared. The jail containing the old gods is opened–a threat to everyone in the world–and finally Maika finds a way to close the door. Behind all of this the various political factions are either trying to start a war, or prevent it. I continue to have trouble following the political machinations: the series has a large cast, and it can be hard to keep track, especially when some of the characters only appear occasionally. But Monstress continues to be striking and unique visually, and the action tends to carry things along even when all of the details aren’t in focus.
Royal City, Vol. 2: Sonic Youth
Created, written & illustrated by Jeff Lemire
Image Comics, 2018
After ranging over the entire history of the Pike family in the first volume, this installment takes place in 1993. It focuses on the Pike siblings as Tommy Pike’s last week unfolds. I confess to being a bit confused at first: Tommy manifested in many ways earlier in his family’s memories, often as a young child. So it wasn’t clear to me that he had died as a teenager. In any case, it is clear that the situation was far more complex than the rosy memories portrayed earlier. Tommy was a loner who did not fit in at school; he was dealing with a possibly serious health problem which had been causing intense headaches; and his siblings are looking like they may have been complicit in his accidental drowning. We also see his father having difficulty at work (and starting to collect antique radios); his mother beginning her affair with her old flame; and Tommy having sex with his brother’s ex-girlfriend. Definitely complicated, and a far richer back story than the first volume described.
Everafter: From the Pages of Fables Vol. 1: The Pandora Protocol
Dave Justus & Lilah Sturges, writers; Travis Moore, artist (issues #1-5); Steve Rolston, penciller (issue #6); Ande Parks, inker (issue #6), Michael Wiggam, colorist
Vertigo Comics, 2017
I loved Fables, so I’m surprised it took me so long to get to this sequel. Set in the Mundy world after most of the Fables have departed, it tells the story of the Shadow Players, a group of secret agents tasked with keeping watch on the newly enchanted world and protecting mankind from itself. It seems that magic has become real, and many objects that were once merely symbolic now have real power. The main agents in this arc are Hansel, Bo Peep, Peter Piper and new recruit Connor Wolf (Bigby and Snow White’s son: a shape shifter, very useful in this line of work). The two big cases involve a group gathering Native American artifacts (which unleash ancient warrior spirits that they cannot control) and a very young witch with massive power and little self-control. The comic has the look and feel of a Fables story–Sturges in particular was a co-writer on earlier projects like Jack of Fables–reminiscent especially of the Cinderella miniseries. So it doesn’t quite have the epic feel of the original series, but a fun read nonetheless.