Tuesday, October 24, 2017

In the Forests of the Night (The Black Suit)

TW: Discussions of abuse, rape, and other nasty things.
“This isn’t about love as in caring. This is about property as in ownership.”
-Chuck Palahniuk
I swear, this is the third image I've
used for this post.
This is the beginning, and this is the end. They both happened at the same time, in that December of 1984. Three years before Peter Parker died and brought himself back from the dead. This is the story of the last loose end. Not relevant to the story, just the question of why he’s wearing the costume he wears: a thread of terrible implications.
It began in the pages of a story that detailed a Secret War between the three great houses of the Marvel Universe. The Four, who wished to reform the system by expanding its parameters, the X, who wished to reform the system by restructuring its mechanics, and the A, who wished to keep the system from crashing down. With them, was an assortment of villains, aligned with their fellows (so long as they suited their purposes): The Doctor, archivist of the old; The Philosopher King, master of time and space; The Witch; The Ghost of a Flea; The Working Class Joes; The Mad Scientist; The Robots; and God, destroyer of worlds. In the middle of the war was a Spider, outside of the conflict with an agenda of his own, ones that the Great Houses repress by locking him into their fence.
They were brought together by the Demiurge, the creator, who said unto them “I AM FROM BEYOND! SLAY YOUR ENEMIES AND ALL YOU DESIRE SHALL BE YOURS! NOTHING YOU DREAM OF IS IMPOSSIBLE FOR ME TO ACOMPLISH!” And they said they wouldn’t dream of slaying any of the others, but the X had been spurned by the others, the 4 itch for a good fight, as do the A, and the villains aren’t all bound by the whims of morality.
The events that occurred on December 1984 began with the aligned houses flying off to the Fortress of Doom. They plan to invade this sovereign land to avenge the death of the Wasp (because it had to be her and not, say, Captain America) and slay their foes. For their part, the villains are tending to their wounded, being an alcoholic in a world that gives you whatever you want, and beating up She-Hulk for shits and giggles.
And they fight, and they fight, and they fight, and they fight. One notable fight, for our purposes at least, is between a Spider and the Titanic Woman (a newcomer brought in from Denver, Colorado of all places along the Volcanic Woman and another Spider). The Titanic Woman is a mirror of the Spider she fights: both once were scrawny and bullied by those stronger than her. Once given powers, she used them for her own gain. This Spider was once like that: a bullied bully who wanted to crush those who hurt him (though with the cruel wit of a Steven Moffat protagonist as opposed to with a pillar made of alien metal). He emphasizes with the Titanic Woman. She responds like he would when he was young, and tries to squash the Spider.
The Spider narrowly avoids the pillar and makes an interesting comment: “No one can lay a glove on me-- not the X-Men, not the Absorbing Man, and not you!” Now, within the story, the Spider has indeed had conflicts with the X and one of the Working Class Joes, but he doesn’t remember fighting the X. Their figurehead, The Professor, wiped that from his memory. Could it be that this is a simple subconscious memory, one only accessible when we’re not thinking about it? Or does he remember everything, all the stories that never were and always were? What might he think of what he saw when he died? Questions for another project, but the fight ends with our Spider teaching the Titanic Woman one of the many lessons he learned back in his cruel youth: “…when your losing-- well, that’s when the whining little wimp inside comes out.”
When the battle is over, and the Great Houses victorious, the Spider finds himself with a costume more torn up then he thought it would be. Seeing two of the A’s come out of a room with clothing that isn’t battle damaged, the Spider asks them how this came to be. In perhaps one of their cruelest methods of keeping a Spider down, they tell him of a machine that can create any piece of clothing he could want. They leave out which machine this is (a common failing of an A is assuming people know what they know and punishing them if they don’t [see Spider-Man: Homecoming]).
The Spider enters the room and sees the machine that he assumes is the machine they were talking about (interesting note:  the sequence where the Spider finds the machine invokes a nine-panel grid. In many Spider-Man comics, this signifies a massive change within the narrative with implications yet to come [see Man on a RAMPAGE, The Goblin’s Last Stand, and the other comic this post is going to talk about]). It’s not, just another one that houses something terrible. He doesn’t know it yet, but this black creature oozing over his body has cruel intentions towards this Spider we see before us; for it is none other than an abuser, who wishes for the Spider to be his only lover.

This is made abundantly clear in the ending of the Black Suit arc, Amazing Spider-Man #259: the other story that came out in December of 1984. The affair is over, the abuser locked up, and Peter is with Mary Jane. She has taken him to a park so she may open up her heart to him. Mary Jane owes it to him, so she claims, because she’s known his secret for a long time. But she just needs to tell someone about this. Maybe she knows what the Black Suit was far too well…
Peter doesn’t realize who Mary Jane is. None of us do. Despite all the evidence to the contrary, we, like Peter, think she’s flighty, a flake who’ll flee to the next party rather than deal with real world issues. She dissuades us of these fears directly, revealing the artifice behind it all (Spider-Man characters tend to be, on some level, about artifice. Felicia Hardy plays the part of Catwoman [as performed by Julie Newmar], Qliphoth plays the role of Harry Osborn’s memories of Norman Osborn given flesh, and Kraven the Hunter solves the narrative collapse of Kraven’s Last Hunt by playing the part of Spider-Man). The role Mary Jane Watson plays is Mary Jane Watson. A party girl, who could have any man she wants, but prefers less obvious people. In truth, she has experienced trauma of her own. A role is a good way to hide the truth of ones self, as Peter knows too well. But Mary Jane has decided to throw away her masks, with hopes that there’s a human face beneath.
She begins her tale before they knew one another, before she was even born, with her parents. They met in college, young and with dreams of being big. Her mother wanted to be an actress in New York, but her father (who made the mistake of being an English Major) got lucky and had a teaching position. It didn’t matter, so long as they were happy. They got married 18 months later, and gave birth to a beautiful baby girl named Gayle. Mary Jane was born four years after that.
As a professor, Mary Jane’s father was well liked, but he had ambitions of his own: he wanted to write the next great American novel. Sadly, he wasn’t that great of a writer (I’d say about as good as the one writing this blog). Rather than do the long, hard work it takes to be a good writer (or, at the very least, let someone who isn’t as judgmental as the writer of this blog edit his work), he decided to lash out at his family. Despite his popularity, he forced his family to move from college to college, until he found what he was looking for.
Sadly, the things he was looking for came primarily from within: humility to ask for help, a willingness to admit that not everything you write is garbage and the stuff that is usually isn’t the fault of the people around you, and a desire not to resolve your frustration by hitting your wife for daring to ask if you’re alright. To cope, Mary Jane played the role of the clown, if only so someone could see her. Her sister went inward, studying dance. All told, she was rather good at it.
One day, Mary Jane’s father struck Gayle, as he did his wife many times over. For Mary Jane, this was another in a long line of moments she couldn’t handle, so she ran off and made a joke for other people to laugh at. For her mother, this was the breaking point. And so they left while her husband received a “Man of the Year” award (as they tend to do for people like him). During the divorce proceedings, he sued for desertion and the courts were sympathetic towards him (as they tend to be for people like him). They lived with family, moving over and over again, until at last they moved into New York City, as her mother dreamed so long ago, to live with their Aunt Anna, Mary Jane’s Father’s Sister. Anna had a good friend named May Parker, who had a nephew named Peter. A good kid, though a bookworm in young Mary Jane’s eyes.
We return to the present where Peter and Mary Jane reminisce of all the lost time they had avoiding one another in the name of what they perceived to be a rather dull person to be around (Peter, at that age, having a very dismissive attitude towards the possibility that plain looking people might be fine to be around). Elsewhere, the comic makes an interlude to another plotline in the book, the Hobgoblin (need I remind you my thoughts on that plot thread). This is mainly to keep the reader invested in a rather action light tale about a woman (and comic book fans are well known to be fond of those stories).
Mary Jane continues. She sent letters to her abusive father, hoping he’d respond. He never did. We sometimes want the acknowledgement of those who’ve hurt, if only for some level of closure. Mary Jane is smart enough to know that will never come. Meanwhile, the Watsons moved into their mother’s Cousin Frank’s apartment, a stern, unforgiving man. But there was stability to this life, a fairness not based on the whims of chance that always landed on “pain” (then again, we are being told this story from Mary Jane’s perspective, one that would rather hide from a problem than confront it. Maybe she’s leaving out parts of it, parts that she never cared to look at for the sake of her artifice).
Things were coming together for the Watsons. Gayle had found love in the form of a scholar and athlete named Tim and her dancing career was leading towards a scholarship. Mary Jane was able to put her years of pain and artifice to a constructive place by joining a drama club. And, with a few performances, she was able to hone her art beyond the work of Pagliacci.
Trouble arose when Gayle announced that rather than go to college, she and Tim were planning to get married with Tim going into a law program while Gayle worked to pay for it (what happened to those scholarships, I wonder). Rather than deal with this, Mary Jane dived into her artifice. Regardless of her mother’s protestations, they got married and moved out of the house.
Eventually they returned with the news that Gayle was pregnant. She gave birth shortly later, with Mary Jane the sole witness to Tim’s silent desperation. Desperation she can relate to. He artifice, after all, has been to keep her away from the responsibilities of the outside world, a world that seeks to cage her with the issues of reality. True love can’t beat the crushing weight of realizing that you aren’t the greatest.
Another fight scene happens, if only to give Mary Jane a break. This is starting to get too close to home, as Peter can see. But Mary Jane presses on. She doesn’t despise Tim for ditching her sister once she told him she was pregnant again. Mary Jane also wanted to flee the reality that was crushing her. But the world was bursting its way into Mary Jane, and there was no way out. Gayle and Mary Jane’s mother was hospitalized a few months after they moved in with Gayle. To pay for the bills, Mary Jane quit her acting gigs and got a job in retail. All their mother wanted was to live long enough to see her second grandchild.

She didn’t.

At the funeral, Gayle tries to be optimistic; saying once she gives birth it’ll be smooth sailing. She’ll get a full time job so Mary Jane won’t have to work after school, and she’ll get someone to look after the kids and-
Mary Jane isn’t having it. And so, she runs away into a story about party girls dancing in the margins of tales about responsibility, providing the dare to not buy into the pat saying of “with great power, there must also come a great responsibility.” Now, she looks back on it with tears of regret. Peter suggests that she could go back and come to terms with her sister, but Mary Jane doesn’t think that’s possible. Too much time’s passed. She almost ran out on Peter rather than tell him all of this.

Something happened in-between then and now, something at the heart of JM DeMatties’ later Spider-Man work. Perhaps on another day, I’ll reveal that secret. Not today though, for there is one more story that must be told. One also told on December of 1984. A secret story (not typically told with the others) that haunts the others with implications unseen outside this tangled web we weave. It’s time to tell the tale of the Child of Omelas and those who helped her die.

Once upon a time, there was Utopia. That wasn’t what the land was called, but it was what the people believed it to be. For there, technology was free for them to use as they pleased. Love of all kinds was accepted, with only the pretense of artifice. And the people of the land were safe, protected by the corporation who owned the planet they lived on.
Hidden within Utopia, was a dark and cruel secret (as many capitalistic utopias tend to hide). For at its center, there was a Child of Omelas. The child was born from the origins of Utopia. For Utopia was built upon the ruins of a vast and alien culture. And in the ruins, there were technologies of their ancient world, older than humanity itself. And with these technologies, they created life. A nursery to grow Children of Omelas.
They started with impossible creatures: Unicorns, Jabberwockys, and Ohmus; impossible creatures for an impossible world, a cacophony of failures. Much like the great scientist and Philosopher King Davros, these failures were dumped into the wilds of the world. But soon enough, they grew the Children of Omelas. They used their own temples, their own wombs, to birth these children. They had to keep the circle closed, less it be outside their control.
Only one of the children showed promise to the aims of these Philosopher Kings: our Child of Omelas. She was young and powerful.  Hair green like the curtain of a play, eyes purple like alchemy, and skin white like clouds. One of the original scientists, who simply wanted to understand the world without dominating it, fled from the Philosopher Kings and their schemes. The leader of the Philosopher Kings saw this, and gave the child her first task: destroy his airplane. To keep the circle closed, he had her destroy six others.
And lo, the child knew this was wrong. She did not want to be a Philosopher King, that wasn’t her business. She didn’t want to rule or conquer anyone. But she knew there was a terrible hatred hiding inside of her. She wouldn’t be able to control it if she stayed here. She understands how the Ohmu felt… The hate takes over and makes him kill. And then he cries. And so, she fled.
At first, she went to her mother’s house: for she was not a Philosopher King, a mere scientist who wished to have a child of her own. Surely she would be safe with her. Alas, that was not meant to be. For the Philosopher King knew this would happen, and sent one of his best men: a machine man with a machine mind and a machine heart. A Terminator of life. He slaughtered the Child of Omelas’ mother. And so, the child fled to the one place she could go, where the Philosopher Kings dare not go: The Forests of the Night.
Unbeknownst to the child, her mother, with her dying breath, sent a message to Heaven (where we will avenge) to send to Utopia their two greatest angels, emanations of the trickster gods of old. And lo, the two angels: identical in many ways, yet their differences highlighted who they were. One was named Kokabiel, a red headed woman with a pixie cut who played many parts in her life, most notably as herself. The other, Uriel, was a dark haired woman who only played one role, yet so well it became a part of herself. They loved each other very much.
And lo, Utopia saw their coming and knew fear. For they had crueler name bestowed upon them, one known throughout the entire universe: The Destroyer of Worlds. There were tales of worlds that merely lost a corporation or two. Entire cities demolished by the angels. They were the lucky ones. One world was lost entirely, land and all, leaving only dust in the angels wake. Another faced catastrophic storms after the angels murdered God. These were worlds of the utmost cruelty, and angels are agents of the universe.
Less talked about by those who see them as agents of the apocalypse, are the tales told by those who see them as the bringers of revolution. Of how they freed men from the slavery of the Military Industrial Complex, of lovers reunited, families healed (or at least allowed to collapse gracefully), of childhoods reclaimed. These are tales of angels who will always save the day (and if you think we can’t, we’ll always find a way). A revolution is just an apocalypse from the perspective of those who have something to gain, as an influence of mine once put it.
Once they arrive in view of the planet, a vision comes to them. And in the vision, they become something entirely new: a fusion of born of their best selves. It was of the Child of Omelas walking on a lake in the Forests of the Night, previously unaware of their presence. She wants to know who they are. What they want with her. And why not, everyone the Child of Omelas ever known has wanted to use her in one form or another (a child to raise, a product to deconstruct, a target to terminate). Seeing this, the angels are determined to help the Child of Omelas, no matter what.

They flew down upon the city at the heart of Utopia and saw wonder. Indeed, Utopia twas a beautiful place to live in, as with many a utopia. The architecture invoked a city simultaneously at one and at odds with nature and the people were free to love whoever they wanted. (Ok breaking character for a bit to expand on this point. This is probably only one of two bits I’m going to do this on [those who have seen the film know why I’m breaking character for the other bit. They damn well know-]. I need to talk about this shot:
In the film, one of the angels describes the disco the angels are walking by with delight, wanting to stop the mission in order to have some fun and meet some cute guys. This is blatantly a gay bar. Note, for example, the couples on the right corner of the shot: visually, the man on the right appears to have his hand around the brown haired woman next to him while the blonde haired woman she’s talking to is with the man slightly out of frame. However, if you look carefully at the way his hand is framed, it’s apparent that he is reaching out to someone rather than holding someone. You could argue that he’s reaching out to the blonde haired woman. Except her focus isn’t on him. It’s on the brown haired woman. Thus the man must be reaching out for the other man. This isn’t the only example. Take the fem presenting androgynous person in blue jeans walking with the lady in the red dress with a pink bow, the lesbian couple in the center, or, in an earlier shot, two men looking into each other’s eyes with loving intent. So no luck with the guys but hey, they are bisexual swingers, so I’m sure they’d have a good time nonetheless. And now, back to your regularly scheduled blog post.)
Suddenly, the Law drives past them in a hurry. They follow, knowing what they’ll find, and see the corpse of the Child of Omelas’ mother being brought to the morgue. Knowing who they are, the Law is ordered to bring the Angels to the Chief. Now, the Chief is neither Scientist nor Philosopher King. And yet, she too knows the secret of the Child of Omelas. It has been a burden on her conscience for years, but she presses on. How else do you survive in this utopia we call capitalism after all, if you don’t ignore the screams of the Child of Omelas?
When they meet, the Chief tries to send the Angels to the Forests of the Night, under the belief that that is where the Child of Omelas is. She claims her upfrontness is to get the Angels and their destructive powers out of the city as soon as possible, but this is a ploy. In truth she knows the other thing never talked about: no matter what, the Angels never fail at whatever they do. They will bring the Child of Omleas back to Utopia.
With nowhere else to go, the Angels fly to the Forests of the Night. But the forests themselves trouble their travel, for they do wish to be invaded by creatures from the outside. The alien life that lives within has found time and again hat the outside is ruled by cruelty and commerce, ideas that see others as things to be subjugated or disposed of. And so they used their magicks to prevent the landing of the Angels. Regardless, the Angels are able to land safely.
They make camp by their wreckage, and search the nearby land. They see the life that lives within the Forests of the Night, strange and new creatures, and also the ship the child used to fly into the forests. It did not crash, for she was more akin to the forests’ creatures than those who lived in Utopia. One such creature, a Unicorn, appears before the Angels. She summons the rain, and drives them back to their shelter. The plants within the Forests of the Night dance with jubilation.
And lo, the Angels dream. There is a tunnel in the mind, one without end. At the center of it all, there lies the angel Kokabiel. She is naked within this unending grave. But she is not alone. For there is blackness made flesh following her: a Goo of ill intent, manifesting the psychic terrors that have befallen the Child of Omelas (for this is another vision sent by the child, to push the angels far from her freedom). And what are those terrors? Why the capitalistic greed that tortures and abuses her made flesh. It wants to dominate and control all those it sees, for profit and personal gain. It sees a naked woman before it, and it wants her. She tries to escape, but its tendrils grasp at her form like a black glove, and proceeds to rape her into submission: to tame her transgressive nature and make her comply with the capitalist world around her. It does this for its own personal gratification, to be seen as the dominant, even if it’s only by her. And it will spread its cruelty onto others, turning everyone into children of Omelas. And they will love it for it, as it happens with all capitalist systems. (Ok, now that that’s out of the way, Fuck This Scene. I love this movie, but this is objectively the worst part of it. It literally only exists to placate the hentai viewership it could have some gratification in seeing a sex scene in this semi-avant-garde film that’s mostly about a pair of bisexual ladies wandering the woods looking for a lost child before destroying the world that wishes to torture her [that, and to set up a later scene, but that could have been done with a different dream than this one]. This is gratuitous beyond belief and should be skipped whenever you watch it. The fact that they went with the angel more seen as being strong willed [i.e. less homely and more tomboyish], implies some rather nasty things about how the filmmakers view gender that really don’t fit within the context of the rest of the film, let alone the rest of the franchise. When the best defense for it is “well, it allows me to write a psychocronographic essay where I connect it to Spider-Man,” you know you’ve fucked up royally. And to add insult to injury, the end credits decide to highlight this scene in the clip show set to the love theme of the movie [along with another scene of mental torture]. Ugh, moving on.) 
She wakes up in terror. Uriel has also dreamed this nightmare and offers sympathy. She tries to laugh off the horror she has experienced, but to no avail. Instead she simply falls back to sleep. Meanwhile, the Philosopher King has sent the Law into the Forests of the Night. Immediately, they are hostile to the creatures of the land and, unlike the Angels (for whom they viewed with caution and bemusement), they respond in kind.
The Angels walk into the wreckage the next day. They find only death and destruction. This brings Uriel to much distress, and so she passes out. When Kokabiel tries to comfort her, creatures attack her. The forests have had enough with these outsiders and want them dead. The tendrils return from the depths of the sea (OH GOD WHY!) for another round, because the angel owes it to it, so it says. Kokabiel flees with her fallen companion, her partner, her one true love, her Uriel. She tries to fight back, but the never-ending barrage of capitalistic cruelty keeps adapting and healing itself, sustained on nothing save its own cruelty. Kokabiel flies with Uriel, only to discover that the rot inherent to utopia has made its way to her home. A rot that will surely kill the both of them. And so the rot consumes the both of them.
She wakes up in terror. Kokabiel is back home, in Heaven. Angels with no names are restraining her from hurting herself and others. Before her stands Metatron, who sent her and Uriel to Utopia on behalf of the Child of Omelas’ mother and the orders of God. He informs Kokabiel that she has been resting for three days, and was rescued from the Forests of the Night. When she asks where Uriel is, Metatron tilts his head towards her naked body, covered in tendrils (NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NOOOOO!).
She wakes up in terror. Kokabiel is back to where she was when she awoke from her first nightmare: in the shelter with Uriel. She once more offers Kokabiel sympathy for their shared dream. Kokabiel flat out rejects it. Not because she doesn’t want her love’s sympathy, but because she knows this to is a dream. She rejects the reality she finds herself in, of eternal suffering for the whims of a capitalist system that makes monsters of us all. And the Child of Omelas lets her go. Perhaps she realized what she had done to Kokabiel, and regretted it.
She wakes up, calmer and free. Uriel is there, and they are back at the beginning. Surrounded by the death the Law has bestowed upon the Forests of the Night. She is horrified by this and realizes that this is still a dream. Kokabiel fears she is trapped within a never-ending labyrinth of pain and misery, never to escape, never to return to her true love. Uriel is there to help her realize that life isn’t a barrage of pain and misery. Pain and misery exist within life, but there is also love and hold on tight. To communally close their eyes with and make the pain go away. It works for the moment, and it might not work again. But then their love is everlasting.
The Angels return to their shelter and slowly realize the nature of the Forests of the Night. Trapped outside and terrified, the Law is being slaughtered by the rejected Children of the Philosopher Kings. One such child, a unicorn, is fatally wounded. Kokabiel and Uriel follow its trail of blood. On the bloody path, they find the ruins of the ancient civilization. And past that a lake, at the center of which is the Child of Omelas. She helps the Unicorn die and then leaves.
Uriel, realizing the nature of the Child of Omelas, decides to stop trying to capture the child and instead live in the Forests of the Night with Kokabiel (really, this is just their excuse to have a honeymoon on an alien world). Confused, the Child of Omelas tries to frighten them off with the tamer terrors of being in outer space or the apocalypse happening around them. The Angels find this to be quite fun. They’re aware of the artifice (for they live for and in it), and they roll with it.
Meanwhile in Utopia, the Chief receives a phone call from the Philosopher King. He asks if the Angels have completed their task, but the Chief hasn’t heard a thing. The Philosopher King informs her that the Terminator will be sent to the Forests of the Night, much to her chagrin.
Eventually, the Child of Omelas makes herself known to Kokabiel and Uriel. She has seen that they are not the cruel monsters she has grown up with. Who have trapped her, tortured her, treated like cattle. These are kinder monsters, who give monsters nightmares. But because of a slip of the tongue on Kokabiel’s part, the Child of Omelas realizes that they still don’t understand. She realizes that she’ll have to open up her heart to them.
The Child of Omelas gives the Angels a waking dream of what has been done to her: of the cruelty, of the pain, of the misery. And they understand completely and are mortified to witness the child gunned down mid vision. The Terminator has come, and he’s brought the Chief with him. The Chief lies to the Angels, and tells them that the Child of Omelas is the true villain of the piece. That she murdered her own mother in cold blood and ran to the Forests of the Night to escape the Law.
They don’t buy it of course, but they have appearances to keep up. Kokabiel plays the part of past self, believing this to still be the never-ending labyrinth of pain and suffering. Where the only escape from the master’s pleasure is a death that will never come. But as a means of hope and comfort this time, as it is to all the others who have been tamed. She pleads with the Chief to reject this reality, under the assumption that the Child of Omelas is a child who would never do such a thing. The Chief refuses, preferring the comforting lies capitalism. Uriel, who played no role in this story, instead hides her furious eyes under the gaze of professionalism. She’s not as good as she believes herself to be and almost gives the game away to the Chief by flat out saying “The Child of Omelas was about to open up her heart to us… And nothing more.”
Fortunately, the Chief has a long history of ignoring obvious red flags, for she is the Philosopher King’s concubine. But the Chief has grown weary of being one of the master’s tools. She doesn’t wish to rebel, merely live her life outside of her master’s grip. But the Philosopher King wants everything, and plans to send the Terminator for her.
Suddenly, the Angels crash into his office and confront him about his cruelty. They are furious and condemn his desire to control life. He laughs at them for their “naïveté”. “What is “good”,” he questions, “Goodness is the desire for power, and everything which boosts that power. Then what is “bad”? Evil is everything that comes from weakness. The weak cause nothing but harm for us. What we should wish for is more power! Not peace, but war! The weak and the failures need to be destroyed! This is our foremost right, as ones who love humanity! We will be the ones to weed out-“ but the Angels know the horseshit believed by all Philosopher Kings. If the right kind of master were to hold the whip, we’d have colonies on the moons of Jupiter. If the fascist dictator with his own Singular Vision were a scientist instead of a soldier, we’d be in Utopia. They refuse this lie, and understand that this man is the black goo that haunted their nightmares.
Meanwhile, the Chief overhears their attack, and goes to defend her master (more out of habit than desire). He rejects her and runs away to start his plans all over again. Uriel chases after him while Kokabiel deals with the Terminator. In the end, as the Terminator is about to lay the killing blow, the Chief fires at him, wounding him enough for the two of them to escape. They head to free the Child of Omelas.
A civil war breaks out in Utopia, between those who stand with their Philosopher King and those who stand with the Chief, with the citizens of Utopia trapped in the middle. In the end, the Chief tells Kokabiel where the Philosopher King would be, while the chains that bind the Child of Omelas are being loosened. She knows what this means and wants the Angel to make sure the Philosopher King doesn’t escape.
Kokabiel once more faces after the Terminator, while Uriel slays the Philosopher King like the dragon he is. Suddenly the world starts to fall apart. The Child of Omelas has awoken, and she will not be chained again. She, and failures of Utopia, will destroy the world and all those upon it. Even those who stood to free them; for they could have done this coup at any time, but chose the luxury her suffering provided them until they were forced to acknowledge her. The only ones who make it out of Utopia alive are the Angels. For she knows they are good within the universe. As for the Chief, she knew what would happen once the child was freed and died anyways. And in their final moments together, the Child of Omelas knows sympathy.
As they fly back to heaven, Kokabiel and Uriel reflect upon what they have seen: of the inevitability of entropy, of philosopher kings, of love, of dreams and nightmares, of Utopia, of the Forests of the Night, and of the Child of Omelas… no. Of Missne of Nolandia.

(Next Time: What Lurks Within the Forests of the Night?)

[Photos: Porky Pig VS. Ryan North by Jason Latour; Spectacular Spider-Man #182, 189, and 200 by JM DeMatteis and Sal Buscema; Dirty Pair-Affair of Nolandia, Directed by Masaharu Okuwaki Script by Kazunori Itō]

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