TL;DR – Prince Robot IV finally catches up with Marko and company as does mercenary The Will and Marko’s ex-fiancée, Gwendolyn. There’ll be casualties and a bloody mess galore.
Summary (warning: spoilers)
Go to my book reviews page to read reviews of previous volumes of this Eisner award winning series.
Volume three sees Marko, Alana and baby Hazel arrive at planet Quietus to meet author, D. Oswald Heist. Accompanying them is Marko’s mother, Klara, and the child ghost, Izabel (now bonded with Hazel). Marko is mourning the loss of his father who sacrificed himself in volume two to save them.
On their trail is Prince Robot IV, who we know arrives on Quietus and confronts Heist at the end of volume two. Volume three rewinds events to show how Marko, Alana and company arrive before Prince Robot IV and end up hiding in Heist’s attic.
Also on their trail are The Will, Gwendolyn, and Sophie who are having spaceship troubles and are lagging behind.
The story jumps between that and a pair of tabloid journalists back on Landfall investigating into the story regarding Marko and Alana’s illicit relationship.
Volume three takes a different route from previous volumes and comes out with mixed results. Sharing the lime light of our fugitive couple, we are introduced to the tabloid press who interview a sergeant involved in a conflict with Marko and Alana.
Upsher is a blue-skinned alien journalist and Doff, his green-skinned photographer. Together they start digging into the forbidden relationship between Marko and Alana and their love child, Hazel. Scenes jump between Marko and Alana and our investigative journos.
The introduction of these two new characters is meant to broaden the scope and impact of Marko and Alana’s relationship, but it felt like filler to me when all I wanted was to find out what will happen when Prince Robot IV finally confronts our fugitives. And as expected the confrontation does not happen until the end of volume three.
What is good about the build up is that Vaughan continues to reveal more of the history and personalities of the main cast. For example, Klara makes it known that she thinks Heist’s novel is complete trash and not some sacred text that is meant to transform the minds of Landfallians and Wreathers that will end the conflict. Her interactions with her son and Alana while being a loving grandmother to Hazel are spot on.
Another example is The Will, who is shown to have more layers than a mere mercenary for hire. Haunted by the murder of The Stalk (his ex-girlfriend) at the hands of Prince Robot IV, he is now out for revenge. However, he can’t go anywhere because his ship needs repairs and he has an epiphany imagining a conversation with The Stalk who advises he should drop his revenge trip and settle down with Gwendolyn and adopt Sophie. It’s these little developments that add extra dimensions to the characters.
Author D. Oswald Heist is also quite the character. His trashy novel “A Night Time Smoke” turns out was written with the intention of having a hidden message surrounding the idea that sex (yes, ‘sex’ not love) can conquer all including a galactic war. He’s also a drunk cyclops who wears slippers and a dressing gown and ends up puking all over Hazel when they first meet. I’m not sure how much of writer Vaughn is reflected in Heist, but I imagine he had fun creating the character.
The ending sees the confrontation between Prince Robot IV and Marko and company unfold but with the added complication of Gwendolyn thrown into the mix. Not everyone makes it out alive. Prince Robot IV becomes seriously damaged and reboots resulting in what one would call ‘robotic amnesia’. Heist gets killed by Gwendolyn, and Gwendolyn gets shot by Alana. The Will is on death’s door due to the unexpected twist of Sophie (high on hallucinogenic fruit) stabbing him in the neck, and Marko’s mother seriously injured.
In the aftermath, Marko and company escape. Gwendolyn manages to get The Will to a hospital and save him. Prince Robot IV wanders off into the fog on Quietus with robotic brain damage, and Heist being the only fatality. The volume concludes with a narrative from Hazel explaining they continue to flee from planet to planet on their wooden rocket ship and showing a passage of time leading to Hazel now a toddler able to walk.
As for our budding tabloid journos, they get silenced by The Brand (The Will’s sister). The Brand breaks in to Upsher and Doff’s home and injects them with a poison that will only activate and kill them if they breathe word of the story regarding Marko and Alana. Like I said… filler. Not as progressive as the first two volumes but gives deeper insight into the war ravaged galaxy Marko and Alana are seeking to raise Hazel in.
3 out of 5.