Wasteland #3 (Chapter Two)
Writer – John Ostrander
Art – David Lloyd
Letters – Steve Craddock
Colors – Lovern Kindzierski
Edits – Mike Gold
Today we’re going to really crank up that “For Mature Readers” suggestion… because, this one’s pretty dark. Consider this little pre-ramble your warning… if you don’t wanna see any depravity, this ain’t the chapter for you!
It’s after-dark in the city… just before 8 PM. A pair of officers prepare for all the “crazies” to come out… and, wouldn’tcha know it, they just happen to run into one of their regulars. This is a (mostly harmless) pickpocket. They do the thing, where they rattle his cage… only this time, dude’s packin’! He pulls a gun on the officers, and gets perforated pretty good.
Before the fella dies, he gurgles something or another about something of a second coming. He claims that, after midnight, only the damned will remain on Earth… and so, he thanks the officers for “saving” him. Ya dig?
Lieutenant (I hate spelling that word!) D’Amano turns to his partner, Stu and asks about all this rapture stuff. Ya see, Stu’s kind of religious… or at the very least, more so than D’Amano. Stu tells him of the second coming… and how there are supposed to be “clear signs” of such a thing coming to pass. Just then… he is struck by a massive coronary. He is pronounced dead at 9:10 PM.
D’Amano is sent home by the doctors, and told to get himself some rest. He declines a ride home, and proceeds to walk… through a rather seedy portion of the city. He happens across a pair of muggers beating the hell out of a fella. D’Amano doesn’t even think about it… he just squeezes off a few rounds down the alley.
He stands over one of the muggers… and asks why they attacked (killed, actually) that man. The mugger says he wanted the dude’s hat… and so, D’Amano blows his brains out!
D’Amano’s walk continues… and, it only gets more depraved from here. We’re about to crank up the “Mature Meter” here… so, here’s your warning.
In the subway, he comes across a man forcing a woman at knife-point to, well, service him… orally. She notices D’Amano and begs him to help her. What he does is… blows her brains out. Ya see, she’s not one of the damned… she deserves to pass before the clock strikes midnight.
Moments later, the clock does strike midnight… and so, Lieutenant D’Amano throws himself in front of a car!
He wakes up hours later… surrounded by Doctors who tell him they saved him! Here’s the thing though… a) he has no arms or legs, and b) the Police Department wants to know all about that dead woman in the subway. Welcome to Hell, pal!
Now this… this, is more like it!
This one kept me riveted throughout…. and actually didn’t fumble the ball with its ending! So many of these Wasteland Chapters have been “almost good”, before getting tackled on the one yard-line.
Let’s take a look at this. We’ve got a pair of officers working the night shift… in a really unpleasant part of the city. You gotta figure this is “old hat”… these two have done this every night for the past many nights. So, what’s so different about this night?
Well, besides the fact that one of ’em dies of a heart attack early in the evening… this night was jump-started via the “power of suggestion”. Lt. D’Amano is hyper-keen on all of the depravity around him. But, why? You gotta assume that this night, on the face of it, is no different from any other night on the beat. There are always going to be bad people… ne’er do wells, creeps, killers, predators, perverts. But tonight… with the slightest possibility of a “second coming” looming, D’Amano seems to be viewing the world through a different sort of prism.
He doesn’t bother arresting anybody… he just kills ’em. Is he just hopeless? Or is he trying to make himself into a “good person” so he doesn’t wind up “left behind” in the post-midnight Hell on Earth? It’s a pretty interesting dichotomy, innit? His “mercy-killing” of the assaulted woman was particularly striking… I actually had to look it over twice to make sure I was seeing it right! I really wasn’t expecting that!
Poor D’Amano winds up, for all his trouble, limbless… and likely about to be incarcerated. I guess no good deed goes unpunished… orrrr, he just overreacted to the passing of his partner, and let the ramblings of a lunatic skew his view… and now he’s paying for it. A wonderfully creepy story. More like this, please!
Tomorrow: A Lotus by any other name…