Third Worlds : The Wild Card
Writer : Mike Carey
Art : Marcelo Frusin
Cover Artist : Tim Bradstreet
Colors : Lee Loughridge
Letters : Clem Robins
Editor : Will Dennis
Assistant Editor : Zachary Rau
Solicitation Text : In "The Wild Card," the first of three linked stories that provide a great jumping-on point
for new readers. John and Angie travel to South America in search of information about the shadow dog. The first stop
is the small town of Juliema, Brazil, where John encounters an old friend and is drawn into a game of poker...a game
with terrifyingly high stakes.
Issue Synopsis : Sitting alone in the Ojardim bar in Juliema, Brazil, Angie Spatchcock ponders the circumstances that have
led her there as well as John Constantine's ability to traverse the globe with neither passport nor plane
ticket to his name. Angie's musings are interrupted by the arrival of a stranger who introduces himself as
Paho Bokhari. Expressing his disappointment at not finding Constantine in Spatchcock's company, Paco hands Angie a
playing card (the Joker) as three more strangers enter the bar. Bokhari leaves with the three newcomers
after one of their number accuses him of having "left the game".
Deep in the Brazilian rain forest, Constantine kneels in a large clearing coated with ash. Towering over the
edge of the clearing is an unusual monument made from foliage that bears an uncanny resemblance to a
certain swamp dweller of John's acquaintance. When the monument lumbers to life and addresses
Constantine, informing him that the ash circle is intended as a memorial to a battle that was fought there in
the past, John deduces that he's standing in the spot where the Parliament Of Trees was destroyed.
Constantine cracks wise, angering the Swamp Thing, causing it to fully posses the monument and lunge
towards the Englishman. John calmly informs the elemental that he has a job for him.
(Click here and here to learn more about Swamp Thing and the fall of the Parliament Of Trees)
Meanwhile, on a balcony overlooking the Ojardim bar, a game of poker is in progress. Paho, still flanked
by the three men, arrives - having apparently fled the game after seeing the hand he was delt. A man
wearing an ornate jewelled belt - who Bokhari addresses as Goterrez - is running the game. Retaking his
seat at the card table, Paho folds. After winning the current hand, Goterrez accuses Bokhari of staring at
his belt before telling him that someone broke into his house three days previously but took nothing -
despite having searched through the closets in his bedroom and ignoring the silver, paintings and first
edition books that they contained. Goterrez notes that he wears his belt at all times.
Back in the ash strewn clearing, Constantine and Swamp Thing share a tense reunion, with the elemental
marvelling over John's ability to anger him with the simplest of quips. Constantine fills swampy in on
recent events - telling him about the three doors and the looming threat of the mysterious shadow Dog. A
reluctant Swamp Thing agrees to do a little investigating of his own in the Green.
Goterrez's winning streak drives two of his three competitors from the poker table. Bokhari tries to cut his
loses but Goterrez will have none of it, revealing that his house is protected by a magical spell that marks
all of those that intrude. Pulling back Paho's shirt to reveal the word "Ladrao" (robber) scrawled across his
chest, an angered Goterrez insists that Bokhari stays for one more hand. Goterrez spices things up a little
by invoking some blood magic, binding both his and Paho's soul to the outcome of the game -
guaranteeing that only one of them will be walking away with their soul when the final hand is played.
Goterrez tells Paho that he played a game with a woman named Elena under the same rules. A woman that Bokhari appears to have had a history with.
Constantine arrives back at the Ojardim bar, much to the irritation of Angie, who lays into John for leaving
her on her lonesome for a good six hours. Constantine makes his apologies, telling her that the Swamp
Thing has agreed to help, musing "that's one down, one to go".
Above, the final hand is dealt...Paho requests three cards... Goterrez just the one.
Angie tells John about Paho Bokhari and hands him the playing card. Studying the joker, Constantine
quips that it could've been worse, "it could have been the ace of...".
Paho exclaims "...spades" and leaps from his chair, howling a string of expletives. Angie looks up from her
seat at the chaos ensuing above her. John decides it's time to make his exit, dismissing the barman who's
just pulled him a pint in perfect Brazillian. Her suspicions raised, Spatchcock gets the bar's bouncers to
Attracted by the shouting below, Goterrez orders the bouncers to bring John up to him. Goterrez surmises
that Paho used a 'borrowing' to switch bodies with Constantine. Now forced to play the game in Bokhari's pace,
John is unable to meet Goterrez stake of twenty thousand dollars. A nonplussed Goterrez suggests that
Constantine could cover his stake by putting his soul on the line. Left with no choice, John agrees...only
for Goterrez to remove his belt and place it on the table. The implication is made that the belt contains a
captured soul, meaning that Constantine needs to put a second soul on the line to meet the stake.
John convinces a less than sure Angie to throw her soul in with his and calls on Goterrez to show his
...three aces and two kings.
Constantine, in Paho's body, turns over his own cards...
...four threes and the two of hearts....four of a kind.
Goterrez is shocked, unable to reconcile Paho's flight with the strength of his hand. Speaking in John's
body, Bokhari reveals that Goterrez has fallen for an elaborate sting. Before he can fully comprehend what
is happening, Goterrez is stabbed by one of his own men - a man who had agreed to work with Paho in
return for being made the manager of the Ojardim bar.
Angie is understandably furious with Constantine for not letting her in on his little plan but John insists that
he had to keep her in the dark in order to make it convincing enough to fool Goterrez. His precious belt
back in his possession, Paho delivers on his end of the bargain he struck with John - telling him that the
Shadow Dog came from Eden.
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Paho gives Angie a card for Constantine.
Some disturbingly familiar foliage.
The Swamp Thing gets reacquainted with John.
Angie adds her soul to the game.
Paho, in Constantine's body, reveals the sting.