Since issue seven the strangeness, in terms of conspiracies, aliens, secret societies and obscure knowledge has been dialed back. So, this issue I’m going with more straightforward analysis and speculation. I hope to get back to more of the conspiratorial type of material, but we’ll see how the next few issues turn out.
Number eight consists of about five sequences. Broken down it’s, Angie and Marlowe’s conversation, the IO analysis, Shen Li-Min’s “healing,” Jenny’s mind, and the hospital scene. Technically the healing/Shen sequence is one long sequence, but I’ve broken it up into three.
The first sequence adds a bit of tension to Angela’s story, and reinforces one of the main themes of the title. Marlowe describes how fleeting, and rare life is, and his journey to Earth but keeps the reason they traveled there a secret from her. Angela will possibly have to confront Marlowe’s lie at a later time. It seems clear that Angela is the center of the story, as she was the catalyst for the events which are unfolding. So, it’s important that Marlowe believes, as he says, she’s dangerous enough to take them all out. Yet, we know that Angela avoided killing the Razors team at Camp Hero, we know she built the suit not as a weapon but to rescue people. We know that Angela is impulsive but selfless. It looks as though Angela’s character arc may be leading toward her shedding her meek, self-critical shell and realizing her potential to really improve the world… unless of course this is a tragedy. The first sequence also reinforces the idea of life in the universe being a fragile thing that must struggle to survive in a harsh unforgiving universe.
Marlowe and the others’ journey through the crumbling remains of civilizations which have either died out, or are on their last leg. Showing us various ruins reinforces the idea that space travel and survival in the universe is extremely difficult. Even so, Marlowe’s and Angela’s goals seem to line up, since both want to improve the world.
So, then what is Marlowe’s motivation for lying to Angela? He fears that she’s capable enough to wipe out the CATs. Although this doesn’t make sense because Angela may be impulsive but she’s also selfless, seeking to protect rather than do harm; what would make her want to harm? More on that toward the end.
We are also shown in one panel the Kheran ship landing in what looks very much like it may be from the UBAID period connecting to the SUMARIAN [sic] EXPEDITIONARY FORCE and CHERUBIM DECEPTION from Jenny’s board.
Moving on to the next sequence, IO, and Jackie’s team of analysts. Jackie in previous issues has already proven to be ahead of the curve. On page six, when we start out with Jackie we get a standard six panel grid, the grid itself doesn’t stand out. However, what does stand out is Jackie’s posture while completely controlling her sphere of influence. (I am not sure if this was meant to be kind of a funny scene, or if it is highlighting Jackie’s power trip over those she’s directing/managing—perhaps a bit of both.) Her posture is very relaxed, she knows she’s in charge and it’s with ease that she makes all of her sharp observations and delegates tasks to her co-workers. The “yo ho” game she is playing might speak to her being bored with general tasks and waiting for a real challenge. In other words we are being shown that Jackie is overqualified for her job. In the next panel layout between Jackie and Miles we see her again being in control but in a different way. In Miles’ office Jackie is the dominant figure. Miles is positioned lower and smaller than Jackie in each panel he appears in. Miles is apprehensive and full of questions, but Jackie has the theories to push their efforts, as well as the plot, forward.
This scene, chiefly Jackie’s linking the unknown CATs at Camp Hero to Skywatch, opens up a whole can of worms, which may or may not play out in the next few issues. Specifically, the fact that Adrianna (Void) was in fact working with Skywatch, but not only this. Searching for the identities of Kenesha could possibly give a lead to IO that there are actual aliens living on Earth. Marlowe stated before that IO learning that they are ETs is something he wants to avoid.
The cleansing sequence. A redditor (ChickenInASuit) pointed out that Shen returning as both a reboot of Swift and the Doctor is “an olive branch to old school fans who were bitter that the universe was rebooted before we got any follow-up to that.” Aside from that we get a sense that this version of the Doctor is tied to the Bleed as a “sacred” place. Even the dose of hallucinogen, the egg-like pills, seems to be formed from a material that resembles the spheres and color of the bleed. The pill popping scene is more reminiscent of a counter-culture, new-age type “expand your mind” with drugs type of get together. While that is in some ways similar to rituals and rites of passage for non-Christian cultures this is not a rite of passage or ritual for people seeking out spirituality, or to connect to their non-Christian roots. In my opinion it’s just bored twenty somethings looking to get high and call it a spiritual experience. Although it’s played straightforward and we are supposed to take it as a “healing.” It does mirror some neo-pagan rituals in which a leader or guide talks the participants through a spiritual journey and reflection, a visualization of spiritual iconography that the audience connects with. However, it’s hard to connect the seemingly random imagery of the bleed and the petals to something that the characters, who are searching for healing, would understand or become healed by. Which is perhaps why we have, in one panel, the act of healing represented by green/light-green backgrounds and an image of Shen reaching into Evi’s heart. This panel reminded me of an actual story of spiritual healing by an anthropologist named Magliocco in her book Witching Culture. It was also pointed out by womenwriteaboutcomics that the character, Shen, may be queer. Queer meaning Shen may have unsettled dynamic ideas about her own gender and sexuality, and could be either lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transexual. This makes sense as the creators have brought in a heavy amount of diversity, with the gender and race bending of several characters. Aside from that, the character of Shen hasn’t revealed all that much to us. We don’t know what her motivations for conducting these healings really is, of course she is the Doctor but what lead her to become the doctor we don’t know. The tattoos on her head and left arm are curious but don’t immediately stand out as something esoteric/occult, and they are a bit hard to see in these panels. I will note that most occult/esoteric symbols aren’t supposed to be tattooed onto the body, so it’s unlikely but not impossible that they are pulled from esoteric/occult symbols.
Within the cleansing/healing sequence we get some shots of Evi traversing the bleed via the drug. It’s a awesome set of panels that carries our eyes and implies motion with the petals created by Shen. The panels put us in Evi’s perspective as she sees into the space between worlds. We also get a glimpse of a fantastic ship, which I’m assuming is a reference to two things, a shift-ship of the kind the old Authority used to have and the Titanic.
Which, to me, again brings up the theme of survival as we see a shift-ship that looks eerily like the doomed ship called the Titanic with its four huge steam pipes, and emaciated passengers looking out hopelessly of the portholes. Then again this could just be some “weird shit” Ellis decided to show us.
The next sequence takes us inside Jenny’s head. A review from womenwriteaboutcomics mentioned, “In the old continuity, 8-year-old Jenny’s realm was introduced by Ed Brubaker and Dustin Nguyen in The Authority: Revolution. It paraded out all the Jennys of the previous centuries, but it came off kind of cheesy. Appropriate maybe for what an 8-year-old would create, but still weird in its effect.” I’ve never read the Brubaker/Nguyen version but the new “Jenny realm” certainly is spooky, populated by faceless Jennys.
The technes there are all female but are they all one continuous person? Or are there many incarnations? Are we looking into her memory? Another dimension, or a dreamscape? We get the impression that Jennys go way back to early human history, as we see a version of Jenny with prehistoric looking clothing and spear inside of a cave. And at the end of the sequence we get Jenny’s birthing chamber, with Daemonites looking over it.
Now it isn’t stated what is actually going on, it’s left for us to wonder about. However, we do know in previous storylines from the old universe that the Daemonites were persecuted by the Kheran, and maybe in this reboot they fled to Earth with some tech they weren’t suppose to have. Nevertheless that idea is still just speculation. In this sequence it’s established that Jenny has a weakness to the bleed pills. Shen noted that the drug she prepared for her audience had a larger than intended effect on Jenny, so this could, in theory, be used to incapacitate her.
The final scene we get to see the Doctor’s realm. The previous doctors here aren’t figures from history, rather they are unfamiliar figures from different eras, possibly 19th century, victorian era, and the elder man with the more colorful attire and hat could be from any era, he looks possibly Mesoamerican? I couldn’t place him. This scene establishes Jenny as a master tactician, and that if Jenny was checking out Shen it would be for a specific reason. Is she gathering or recruiting a team? Looking back at her board she’s definitely plotting something, and is playing a long-game. It will be interesting to see what her first move is. Also, let’s not forget that IO, Skywatch, and even Halo wouldn’t mind having a being like Jenny as a resource, a techne that can presumably craft or jettison technology into a new age. One of the previous doctors also mentions a Jenny called Joan Silver, an alchemist. There are only very few known women alchemists throughout history, that I’m aware of. Most of the alchemists and philosophers that contributed to alchemy were men. The Doctor who claimed to have met her however seems as though she is wearing Victorian era attire, I could be wrong though. That would place Joan at a period well after Alchemy had fallen out of favor, and it wouldn’t be considered an actual science. The Silver aspect of her name is, of course, a metal that is associated with the female sex, and the moon. Her first name Joan, may be a reference to Joan of Arc, but that’s a wild guess.
In closing I wanted to speculate about why Marlowe may have lied to Angela. Keeping in mind that he’s afraid she’s powerful enough to wipe out his CATs, and that Angela while impulsive is not destructive–she doesn’t seem to want to hurt or kill at all. So, then what is Marlowe’s motivation for lying to Angela? And what would make Angela want to harm or kill? We know Marlowe’s got this “main project” which we have no idea about, (if I were to guess I’d say it’s about repairing the ship) but we can say it’s probably having to do with some piece of technology. The whole series is beginning to revolve around tech, and how the people in control of it effects the state of the people of Earth. The strangest bit of tech so far is in the sequence inside Jenny’s mind. In that sequence it seems there’s a suggestion that perhaps the Daemonites crafted her, and not only that. It also seems to suggest that the “techne” was made by the Daemonites before modern human beings walked the Earth. So, take that possibility, along with Marlowe hiding the reason for their journey to Earth and what do you get? The reason they went to Earth of course! Purely speculative, yet, it makes sense that a Kheribum like Marlowe, whose enemies with Daemonites, would travel to a place where—I’m assuming—Daemonites retreated to with some bit of tech they weren’t supposed to have, and created something that ended up influencing, if not indirectly creating the human race. It would only make sense that Marlowe would think Angela would take them out if Marlowe’s main reason for being on Earth was to eliminate the Deaemonites as well as any trace of them and the tech they brought to Earth, the human race being one of those traces.
That’s it for this issue. Let me know if you notice anything I should correct or add. Next issue is out 11/15. I am also tentatively planning on writing an essay on the themes, and characters that covers issues 1-8, tentatively titled “Space Will Fucking Kill You.”