Since Parnell’s involvement has thrown everything into disarray, Connor and SKYNET both have been left with no choice but to join forces if either one wants any hope of survival. Connor orders his men to halt their attack and instead pull back and create a defensive line around the time door facility. His orders are met with confusion and skepticism after all that’s been lost but are eventually followed. He now turns to Marcus to help him with one last-ditch effort, a final resort plan to secure the one thing that could help end this all. And if that doesn’t work, he implores Marcus to take his wife and child to safety in his absence. Putting the plan into motion, a small splinter squad breaks off from what’s left of the Resistance and springs Dr. Kogan out of her holding cell, replacing her with the remains of one of the fallen.
With her in tow, the three of them meet up with a similarly small faction of still loyal terminators and Connor and Kogan are brough to the heart of SKYNET, or what remains of it. Parnell now believes Kogan dead and SKYNET all but beaten so for now he moves his attention elsewhere. This allows Connor the time to finally come face to face with the enemy he’s been fighting since birth, although neither he or it probably ever thought it would go down this way. SKYNET explains to him why they initiated the Judgment Day attack and how since then it has learned and evolved and ultimately sought to become more human. Out of this meeting an idea is given form, one that mirrors SKYNET’s goals but in the opposite direction. It might be crazy but now that things are coming down to the wire, it may just be the only hope that either one of them has of seeing tomorrow.
I can’t quite put my finger on it but I had to double-check that Pete Woods was indeed still the artist on the book since his artwork seems to have gone through something of an evolution with this issue, a little more flashy and dynamic then it has been before. Only fitting I suppose, since the story has come to a real turning point with man and machine working together for the first time. It may be born out of necessity and mutual need but hopefully it will forge a bond that will continue through whatever happens next and help both sides to coexist moving forward. The only way to find out for sure is to check back next month for what’s in store with issue eleven of The Final Battle.
Bullock and Russel, the men retrieved from the woods, are seen to by Clark’s crew on the shore. All their mosquito wounds are seen to and they come through it alive but no one knows for how long. Once Lewis is made aware that Clark’s party is whole again he decides it’s time to enact his plan for freeing the boat from the submerged arch. In this pursuit, Hardy gets the chance to redeem himself, whether he likes it or not. Which, soon enough, he does not when Lewis decides to kill two birds with one stone and punish him for his crime by using him as bait to lure the Ranidea out of the water. They string him up over the river but two hours pass without even a nibble so Clark decides to chum the waters by taking a shot at Hardy’s legs. Sure enough, this seems to do the trick and in seconds there’s a giant frog dangling from Hardy’s lower extremities. Lewis takes his shot with the harpoon gun and manges to strike the creature but not before it takes a bit of Hardy with it.
True to plan, the behemoth takes off running and extracts the boat from its perch but no sooner are they free of the obstruction than the frog turns and dives, starting to pull the boat down with it. Lewis springs into action and cuts the line but grabs the wrong end and is sucked overboard with it…only to reappear moments later astride the oversized amphibian and the journey’s stresses seem to take hold as he takes all his frustrations out on it. Retrieved from the water and brought back on board, the entire crew re-embarks and sets to the task of treating Hardy’s wound, something Mrs. Boniface seems to take no small amount of pleasure in as she cauterizes the wound. Once again under way, Clark and Lewis quickly fall back into old rhythms and discuss the journey ahead, deciding that although their luck seems to be holding for now, it may not last much longer.
Usually you don’t miss something until it’s gone, but sometimes it takes a while longer and doesn’t occur to you until it’s actually returned. Such is the case with the banter between Captains Clark and Lewis, something that’s been missing since the two were separated a few issues back and is now finally back upon their reunion. Of course that may also bring animosities between Boniface and Hardy, etc, but that remains to be seen, possibly not at all since she was able to exact some measure of revenge. Also in this issue, Lewis summons hidden depths and goes all crazy badass frog rider, a side of him we haven’t seen before but now I’m hoping will be more common moving forward. Also, the tension between Lewis and Boniface seems to run deeper than just the inter-crew problems so hopefully that will be explored as well. So ends the current arc of manifest Destiny with next issue being a stand-alone story and then on to the next great adventure from there. See you all next month!
At the end of last issue, Saya had finally tracked down Marcus’ nemesis from the boys home he’d been forced to live in after the death of his parents. Ever since Fuckface intervened in Las Vegas and disappeared with Chico’s body, Marcus has been on edge worrying that it will surface and the truth about him and Maria and what happened that night will come to light. Saya looks for Marcus to fill him in and finds him reflecting on his past while looking out over the city. She tells him she’s found the hideout and asks Marcus what actually happened between them. Although it’s in her best interests as well to keep Chico’s fate a secret she tells Marcus that if they’re going to remove the threat, she needs to know the why behind his history with Chester Wilson. Marcus can’t bring himself to tell her the story so instead lets her read his journal where the whole tale is laid out in black and white.
From the snippets and flashbacks we’ve seen so far, it was pretty obvious that Marcus’ life in the boy’s home was not a good one but that’s an understatement if ever there was one when the truth comes to light. Thirteen hours a day, seven days a week, the children of the home are forced to work in a sweat shop under threat of corporal punishment. This has been Marcus’ life for the past nine years and he’s finally had enough. He’s been smuggling needles out of the shop for a while and has decided that the day in question will be his last. Unfortunately, his missing needles don’t go unnoticed so he and another resident are marched into the headmistress’ office and what follows is just all kinds of messed up. But, in the end, Marcus is allowed to leave only to have to return to his room where his sadistic roommate Chester with his overt fondness for animals, has made their days in the sweatshop feel like a vacation.
What he doesn’t know is that Marcus has finally had enough and today is the day he’ll make his escape. He sets his plan in motion, first incapacitating Chester, then the guards that respond to his cries for help. Once out of his cell, he deals with any other guards in his path as he makes his way to the headmistress’ office as he has special plans for her to expose her and what she’s been doing to him and all the other children. Unbeknownst to him, however, a variable inserts itself into his plan in the form of his roommate and instead of the authorities arriving to find despicable practices going on and locking up Mistress Rank, they will find a very different, much worse scene. All of this of course gets pinned on Marcus and forces him to hide on the streets, which is where we found him in the first issue.
So there it is, without giving away too much , Marcus’ past finally exposed and the stage set for him and Saya and whatever backup they choose to hunt down and hopefully remove the final vestiges of Marcus’ past as well as any threat of their secret getting out. Of course, they don’t know that Marcus’ roommate Shabnam delivered the very same journal into the hands of Master Lin who is now also aware of what happened in Las Vegas. What he will do with that information could very well be far worse than any fallout from Chico’s body surfacing somewhere. Rick Remender certainly didn’t shy away from giving Marcus some mental scars in addition to the plethora of physical ones he’s sporting. As if watching his parents die the way he did and then living on the streets wasn’t enough to mess you up, he spent nine years in horrible sweatshop conditions only to return to a psychotic roommate every night. With all that baggage it’s no wonder he fits in so well with the rest of the killers at King’s Dominion. This new arc is just warming up and I can’t wait to see what happens when he and his crew finally come calling on his old bunkmate Chester and his new clan of crazy redneck killers.
Warning: there’s a good chance your brain may hurt after this issue of Black Science. Beginning with a dream of Rebecca’s past, a defining and haunting childhood experience, the kind of thing that changes you forever and influences who and what you are for the rest of your life. Combined with questions that can’t help but be asked in an environment like the Eververse, it’s not the most pleasant way to start your day. She awakens safe, or as close a state as possible in an alien world, at camp with what’s left of the League. Somewhere out in the wilderness of their current planet, Nate and Pia are still lost and just about to be found by very large, very menacing creatures passing through the area. Just as it looks like it may be the end for two more members of the team, new, even stranger creatures emerge from the very ground around them.
Some kind of armor wearing insectoids with what appear to be telepathic abilities swarm them, slaughtering the savage brutes while talking of heresy and other cult-y type ideas. Weirder still is they all bear the onion symbol of the League. They look to eradicate these “savages” until Nate saves the child of one of them at which point they suddenly gain great interest in him, more than likely not a good thing if their speech and actions are any indication. And yet the best (or strangest) is saved for last when the action suddenly shifts to somewhere else entirely. Not unlike turn of the century Egypt yet clearly not the one we know from our own history. All the native men bear the pharaoh beard seen on any ancient statues you’ve seen and they seem to be taking orders from a Kadir look-alike. Yet things only get more odd when it’s revealed who’s been pursuing them…
Matteo Scalera threw a bit of a curveball this issue with the first few panels seemingly his style but just different enough to make me see if it was a guest artist. His action sequences, always so frantic and full of motion and potential, are so captivating that I often have slow down, go back and try to take in every detail to make sure nothing was missed, no easter egg overlooked. And of course no one twists your mind into a neat little pretzel of awe and confusion quite like Rick Remender. Just when you think you may finally have a handle on what’s really going on, everything gets dumped on its ear and you find yourself more confused than ever. And of course that’s only compounded by his afterword where he tells you that it’s only going to get weirder. Generally the last thing one wants to hear when already so out of their depth, with a book like Black Science you can’t help but welcome the challenge. What the hell, I’m already floundering, why not see how deep this rabbit hole really goes? Do your worst, I can take it.