This book has been a consistently weird, awkward, sometimes scary and spooky story that really hasn’t gone out of it’s way to reveal much of ANYTHING regarding it’s secrets in six issues. To say that Warren Ellis and company are playing this one “Close to the vest” is a grave understatement. We see a lot of the same stunning visuals in this issue, and we have even begun to see who (or what) is out there in opposition to our team. There is still a very unique spin on this story, because of the fixation on food. It is nothing so overt as something like Chew, where the food is the device that drives the whole thing- but more of a small portion (that keeps getting bigger as we delve into the story) where food is so naturally brought up in conversation, and used as a set piece for the storytelling, which I enjoy.
This issue starts off with that beautiful cover, with Vivek Headland (I Have to say the names aloud sometimes to try and commit them to memory, because they often gloss over the character names, which is not the best) standing over an opulent crown roast of lamb (I am assuming animal at this point…) with his carving instruments in hand. It is a beautiful and stoic image, laden with implications. Though, we don’t really see any large amount of “action” in this issue, I do think there is a very high chance for Vivek to inflict quite a lot of damage on someone. The first few pages are mostly silent, as Vivek wakes and readies and dresses himself for his day, where he spends time in a giant 1984-esque room covered in thousands of television screens. He drinks some tea, reads the paper, and remarks how he is “Bored $#1%less” which was a frank statement that I hadn’t expected from such a put together and proper man.
We then get a half page blueprint of Vivek’s apartment, which looks pretty standard for a high-rise penthouse layout- it is big, with lots of rooms; an office, three bathrooms, storage space, and antechamber and something called “the human room”. This bit took me by surprise, maybe because I was looking at it through the lens of a horror story, so that the human room is completely upholstered in human flesh, or that it is a Caligula-esque shrine with bodies piled upon one another in hedonistic heaps of humanity. But it was nothing as over-the-top as all that. It was just a room, as Vivek put it- it was “designed to welcome and comfort a nominal spread of human psyches.” I liked seeing Vivek work, as he dealt with his “client”, mister Mr. Van Der Zee.
I think that there as a lot of weight carried off in this issue by the flashback sequences. The sequence that showed how Vivek and Red met was a gorgeously dark moment I hadn’t expected. We see fields on fire, ashes floating in the air (which is rendered impeccably by Declan Shalvey) but I am still not sure what the Cyclopean Pigdog of Sumatra is, but I would LOVE some more details on THAT particular mission. This is followed up by a current sequence between Red and Vivek’s chef, who is disenchanted with his employer’s less-than-adventurous spirit in sandwich choices (it always comes down to sandwiches in this book- which I LOVE) so he says “F%#$ him. Ham and cheese it is, then.”
While the sandwiches are prepared, Vivek gets the lowdown from Mr. Van Der Zee on why he needs his help. Van Der Zee is a wealthy man, and he had a mistress, and a son who both died close together in time and his mistress had begun haunting him, but she has now disappeared. So Van Der Zee says bluntly he needs Vivek’s aid because “somebody stole the ghost of my mistress”. That was the biggest bomb drop of the issue I was NEVER expecting to see- well, to be honest, I never expected to see those words ANYWHERE. Except maybe while watching Mystery Science Theater 3000, but then it wouldn’t carry the same kind of weight.
We then see that Vivek has some issue with the sandwiches they were served, and he goes on to say that he knows what human meat tastes like because “a full education is crucial to a complete life, chef.” While this is true, I don’t think that involves cannibalism in most cases. We are then treated to a neat (and gross) sequence where Vivek picks the flesh off the human bicep that was passed off as ham for them to eat, to four different ways that Vivek had apparently ingested human meat in the past. We then see some other, more philosophical moments in Vivek’s past that DON’T involve human sandwiches, but one that does allude to an altercation with a bear. We then get some Sherlock Holmes level deduction from Vivek about Mr. Van Der Zee with his wedding ring, clothes, spray tan and the photograph of his mistress- which was interesting.
The very last page was the only thing passing for an “action sequence” in this issue, but I don’t think that the story suffered for it- we got to see a lot of who Vivek is, and what his background (even if only in brief clips) is, and it was a really weird, strange, wild ride that only these creators could pull off like this. This book has been really great to read from issue one, and this issue really keeps things going. I enjoyed this issue’s story a lot, and I liked that we pulled the focus in a bit tighter and just stayed with ONE member of the Injection team this time.