Wasteland #3 – Chapter 3

Wasteland #3 (Chapter Three)
“Lotus Blossom”
Writers – John Ostrander & Del Close
Art – George Freeman
Letters – Ron Muns
Colors – Lovern Kindzierski
Edits – Mike Gold

Lotus Blossom, eh?  Hmm… sounds like we might be in for something a little “artsy”, no?  Well… what’s that saying about not judging books by their covers?

Read on…

We open on a… murder scene?  For a moment, I was positive this was going to be revealed as being a scene in a play or some sort of new age performance, but… nope!  It’s an actual moider!  Our “star”, a blonde man in glasses, sits nude among the quartet of corpses he just “facilitated”, and he’s feeling a bit philosophical.  He talks about the feeling that comes with committing such an act… the feeling, of love?  He cradles and thanks his latest victim, before closing her eyes one final time.

He proceeds to get up and wash some of the death off of him.  He takes a shower in his victims’ home.  When finished, he pretties himself up before the bathroom mirror… and takes note of the now-dead family’s toothbrushes.  He picks up the one belonging to the little boy, and admires it.  He reveals that he knew these people… which makes the scene all the more creepily intimate.

He gets dressed, and bids his victims adieu.  On the front stoop, he is greeted by the family cat… and thinks to himself, had the family owned a dog instead, he would have had to kill it too.

We follow our killer to the train station.  There, on the platform, a woman in a fur coat catches his attention.

On the train, he watches her… he thinks about everything that might be going on in her life.  He is absolutely lost in his thoughts about this woman.  She eventually exits the train… and so, our man does too.

He follows her through the terminal, thinking to himself that… one day, he’ll be caught.  The Police will catch up with him.  He just can’t help himself though.  He continues on his way, taking note of many of the familiar faces he sees.  He wonders about them.  He sees these people all the time, but feels no connection to anybody.  His thoughts come back to the connectedness one might feel when they take the life of another.  Quoting the criminal/writer, (Jack) Henry Abbott, from his book In the Belly of the Beast, he compares the “union” a killer has with his victim as more intimate than sex.  Our man buys a single rose at a flower stand.

His thoughts roll on.  He wants this intimate union… with another warm body, but first… he wants to know everything about her.  He compares this “relationship” to the lotus blossom… and we close out with him handing that rose over to a woman (possibly the same one from the train, if she’s ditched her fur coat), who happily takes it.

Here we go!  This issue sure picked up with it’s second and third stories!  This is the kind of envelope-pushing I was hoping for with Wasteland… the kind of stories I could’ve sworn I liked so much my first time through the series!  This brought the exact level of discomfort that I assumed would be with us throughout this little journey.

Now, in a post-Dexter world, a story like this might feel a bit contrived.  Though, I feel like back in ye old 1988, attempts at romanticizing serial murder were probably a bit more novel.  This story hits only a couple of years after Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986), which drew its inspiration (in part) from the killing spree of Henry Lee Lucas of the late-70’s/early-80’s.

Here, our unnamed assailant shares his skewed views on murder with us.  Whereas normal people might view things like love-making and committing as the “peak” of a relationship… our man feels quite a bit differently.  The act of committing murder is fetishized, it’s the absolute closest he can be with another human.  In the most twisted of ways, I mean, I’m not equipped or qualified to argue that.  He’s literally ending people.  In the open, we see the weird euphoria the act brings him… he actually thanks his victims.  It’s very weird… very uncomfortable.  You feel kinda dirty even just analyzing it.

His methodical stalking and plotting is very hard to watch.  He’s also portrayed as something of a charming fellow.  Things like this might make you question just about anyone who crosses your path… and that might just be the point of it all.  Really… can’t say enough good about this one.  It’s not often I feel “creeped out” in reading, but this one brought all the cringes (the good kind of cringes).

Our man quotes a noted prisoner-author, Jack Abbott.  Now, Abbott might not be the sort of fella you wanna adopt your sensibilities from.  He was a real person… and, a real interesting case.  He’d been arrested for something or another, and while in prison, he killed a fellow inmate.  He began a correspondence with, of all people, Norman Mailer… and In the Belly of the Beast was born out of these missives.  Mailer even wrote the foreword to the book!

Check this out though, Abbott was eventually paroled (due, in part, to a whole lot of lobbying).  One month later, he killed again!  Abbott wrote another book in the clink before eventually committed suicide.  So yeah, probably not a dude to model one’s life after.

Overall… I feel like Wasteland #3 knocked it out of the park with it’s latter two chapters.  This one’s worth a look!

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