Plot: Our beauty floats around naked in a pool of river water in a subterranean cavern, administered to by a beast, both in different ways held captive by the depraved.
Comments: I've commented that I had no idea where things would go from the shocking finale of the previous issue. In a way, this is the most Lovecraftian issue of this series yet. Amidst all sorts of visual games about arrows pointing at the doomed and lost contact lenses and mirrors and doorways framing villains as they approach, what Moore has been doing in this series is bringing us closer and closer into view of the truly alien. Aided and abetted by the willing and playful art of Burrows. He even achieves a Quitely-esque macabre quality with some characters this issue, and has a nice handle on that deadpan touch of rendering horror believable through small telling details of position and texture.
The first issue was the big picture, the whiffs of altered reality left over from The Courtyard prequel series like so many blips and static bursts disrupting the non-stop verbiage of our main characters. They were mostly clueless over-confident cops profiling a series of murders, blissfully unaware of how in over their heads they were. Well, Agent Brears may have had some inkling, due mostly to her professed past as a recovering sex addict. All the speaking in tongues should have been a clue, though.
The second issue took us towards the cult, dropping fourth-wall bombs about Lovecraft along the way. During their attempt to infiltrate the possible perps while posing as swingers, Brears and Lamper are not so much "made" as chosen to be sacrificial victims a priori to any knowledge of their true agenda.
It was a case of two world views clashing so spectacularly that communication was impossible, as the cultists lived in a world that the agents couldn't have imagined in their worst nightmares. The issue ended with Lamper dead and "Merry" Brears living her worst nightmare of rape. Her survival seemed unlikely and irrelevant.
The last thing I expected of this issue was to find her exactly where we left her, much less adapting to her situation while her fellow agents rush (ineffectually, as they are as she was, not yet privy to her new reality) to her aid. Or that, while engaging in unwilling miscegenation with … well, he's sort of a mer-man I suppose, but of the absolute worst type (if you know what I mean, regarding the distribution of "mer" and "man") … she'd actually find a sanctuary of peace and healing.
That sanctuary is, sadly, R'Lyeh. That's just too trippy and weird, and such a mixed blessing or curse. As her dreamtime visitor Carcosa explains, "R'Lyeh is in you." Well, he says "ith," and can only call himself "Carcotha," because that scarf he wears over his lower face obviously hides something quite disfiguring. He's been the ghost in the machine of both stories, the initiator and judge and guide. I hope Brears keeps listening to what he really says.
Moore's faithful rendering of the worst lisp ever is just one of the language games hinted at by the title, as several other characters, and some narration, speak in Aklo. Which, as those who read The Courtyard know, is something more than a language or a drug.
And Brears seems to understand it. Carcosa at least thinks quite highly of her, and sees her in some manner more discerning than the depraved cultists. Who in this issue have become not masters or servants to a strange demon, but more like abusers of an alien emissary they're too witless to understand. While Merry, in the midst of her pain and violation, manages to communicate with him. Definitely a him. Almost as easily as she does with dream Carcosa.
I won't decode the Aklo, though the lisping was just a minor perceptual adjustment (easy enough to substitute all those esses back in). If I start to understand Mer-demon, though, as Brears seems too, time to lock me up. This time I have more of an idea where next issue might go. Predictably, I still want to see it.
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