Created/Written: Joss Whedon
Penciller: Karl Moline, Inker: Andy Owens, Colorists: Dave Stewart & Michelle Madsen, Letterer: Michelle Madsen
Ch 4/8: Out of the Past
Page 01: Flashback to Melaka and Harth on a rooftop. In front of them is a bald vampire (who's colored wrong) with a huge tatoo across his head.
As he tells the two kids not to be frightened...
Our POV shifts back to present day. The vampire continues his thought... "It'll only hurt for a minute".
Page 02: Mel stares at this nemesis from the past, but can't seem to react. Icarus mocks her by asking if she doesn't remember her old friend.
The problem is, she does remember. And, though she is aware that she needs to do something, she's paralyzed with inaction, even as Icarus grabs her back the back of the hair and slams her face down onto the street.
Page 03: Back in the flashback, Melaka yells for Harth to go, but he just stands there watching as his sister is raked across the face and set to the ground.
Page 04: Still in the flashback, Mel tries to get Harth to run again, but he just stands there, even after the vampire grabs him by the arm. Mel tries to intervene again, but this time Icarus is able to push her over the edge of the building while thanking her for "dropping off dinner".
Page 05: As Mel falls, Icarus fangs Harth.
In present day, Icarus uppercuts Melaka, lifting her off the ground with the heavy blow.
Commentary: I'll admit on the first read, this sequence annoyed me because Harth was completely useless. It was setting Mel up for a guilt-trip about her lost brother, when really this was his fault for not running, fighting, doing something! He literally stands there playing 'statue' - however, as we'll see things are more than meet the eye. And no, Transformers don't appear - I just mean that this is all explained more than satisfactorily, so my annoyance was misplaced.
Page 06: Icarus seems disappointed that she's being beaten so easily....
Page 07: Meanwhile, in the tav, there is a general brawl going on. Little Loo has chased down Mel, and she now runs back through the chaos of the tavern, where Urkonn sits unperturbed.
Outside on the street, Icarus has Mel all but beat - with her distracting memories of losing Harth getting in the way.
Page 08: With a roar, Urkonn flying tackles Icarus off of Melaka. Little Loo cheers him on, while Mel is holding her middle and willing Urkonn to kill him.
Page 09: Icarus flips Urkonn over his head. He tells Mel they'll meet again and takes a dive into the Hudson.
Mel wants to follow him, but Urkonn says no. She tries to tell him that they have him running, but halfway through her insistence they track him down, she collapses into Urkonn's arms.
Page 10: Flashback to the first time she had encountered Icarus: She's banged up in a hospital bed, a doctor is telling Erin that she's healing incredibly fast. When the sisters are alone, Erin blames Mel for Harth's death for taking him on a grab.
In present time, Mel is seated in her apartment, barely conscious.
Page 11: After a flashback to Erin walking away from Malaka in her hospital room, we flash to the present time. Icarus is complaining to someone that she wasn't able to face him. His mysterious boss (who, really, should not be coming as a shock at this point) tells Icarus that they need her.
Icarus doesn't understand.
At the same time, Urkonn is also having doubts about Fray's alleged Slayerness....
Commentary: I do like the juxtaposition between those trying to help the Slayer for their own ends, and those trying to fight her. I think playing coy with who the Slayer must face is a bit of a disappointment, because I kept expecting it to be a twist that I wouldn't see coming. But, no - the entire story is leading toward her nemesis and it turns out to be exactly the person everything is pointing to.
Page 12: Urkonn is standing on the roof of Fray's apartment and communing with the demon lords of his dimension. After assuring them that he means no disrespect, he also tells them about Fray's short comings as a Slayer. She doensn't have a tie to her heritage and she is afraid of the 'lurks'.
The more intelligent of the pair of demon lords mentions that someone called, "The One Who Will Lead" presents a threat to both worlds. He brings up the suggestion of killing Melaka to activate her replacement if she is too weak to stop his Leader. The drawback is that it could take a fatally long period of time to locate the new Slayer, if this must go this route in stopping the Leader.
Page 13: Urkonn assures his patrons that he will make her ready to fight.
In the meanwhile, Mel is standing in an alleyway, broken water pipe acting as shower. She is considering running - taking the bonus money from Gunther and taking off out of Haddyn (Manhattan), if not out of Noram (North America) completely.
Page 14: Urkonn returns to the apartment and is startled by Fray. He admits to her that he thought she'd be gone. He also notes how fast she has healed. Mel tells him that she's ready to "go to work".
Page 15: But he, rightly, points out that she wasn't even able to beat one vampire - Mel tells him about her previous encounter with Icarus and that she lost her brother, Harth. Seeing him again threw her, but she's ready for round three.
Page 16: It is here, that we get the twist that really makes Mel's story interesting, independent of the Slayer history she remains mostly ignorant of: Urkonn asks after her brother, and finds out that they were twins. He is taken aback, as he's never heard of a Slayer being part of a twin pairing and wonders if he shared in her powers. She poo-poos this, pointing out that Harth not only hadn't had any abnormal strength, but was of slight build. Further, when she was at least fighting against Icarus, he stood there frozen until finally being killed.
Mel also points out to Urkonn that she had never known the name of the lurk who had attacked her and her brother - so how come Icarus knew hers?
Page 17: She insists to Urkonn that Icarus knew her and came specifically for her. He tells her that news that she has been called as the Slayer has spread faster than anticipated. He wants to train her even harder, now, but she tells him to relax and stay put. She has some information to go gather....
Which leads her back to Gunther. As a major figure in the seedy, Mel is sure that he knows where this Icarus might be holing up in town. She plays on their past relationship together as his best grabber.
He remembers that she grabbed the statue from the museum for him, which she quickly agrees to....
And things start feeling a bit wrong. He suddenly apologizes to her....
Page 18: And Mel is shot in the back! Thankfully, it is just with one of those zap-guns, but someone orders her shot again.
The person in charge turns out to be Erin! She places the stunned Mel under arrest for the theft that she had just admitted to....
Page 19: Unfortunately for all of them, as they're carrying Mel's stunned body out of the building, they're set upon by an army of vampires.
Page 20: As the vampires set on the police, including Erin, Mel begins to come out of her stun. She sees Erin get grabbed by a 'lurk' and bitten. Thankfully for Erin, she reacts quickly and the Slayer yanks him off of her before the bite is fatal....
Page 21: Mel tries to get Erin to retreat, which leaves her not watching her back. She takes a huge, heavy pipe to the back of the head and it's lights out.
When she comes around, disoriented, she's in the company of Icarus - and the mysterious Leader he has been speaking to in the past issues.
Page 22: Unsurprisingly, Mel sees her brother, Harth looking down on her....
The Good: I like Mel's complicated family relationship.
I like Icarus as a character.
I like the twist of a Slayer born as a twin, possibly explaining why she doesn't have access to her heritage. Could Harth have the dreams that she never had? If so, that would bring up some interesting questions about "one GIRL in all the world"... especially if Harth DID have Slayer strength. But then, why didn't he fight back? Interesting developments....
I like Urkonn as demonic Watcher - when he tackles Icarus to protect Mel, that was really cool. And, I like how he stands up for her, in his way, when his lords discuss eliminating her for the next one called.
The Bad: I didn't dislike anything.
The Other: I'll admit that there just wasn't a lot to comment on in this issue. It's a middle-of-the-plot issue, so things just sort of happen along. We don't get any great revelations to speak of, until Harth is revealed to be behind the mystical object thefts that Mel has been stealing. I just wish that it came as more of a shock - Joss pretty much set up that he'd be involved by spending so much time on the vampire attack flashbacks. The twist with his being a twin raises possibilities, but his presence wasn't shocking to the reader. Also and yes, the weird purple color chosen for the vampires is still - wrong - if the colorists wanted to go this route, they really should have picked something like a decomposing green to suggest their undead status, or made them 'flesh-color', but given them severe bruising. I don't want to keep harping on it - the purple is just a weird choice.
The Score: There just isn't much to say about this chapter, until the very end: 3.0 / 5