Bred In The Bone, Part 2 of 2
Annotations By : Adrian Brown
One of Tim Bradstreet's most didactic covers ! And as usual it's mighty fine.
John plays less of a part this issue and here he is small in his inset box. The two main players are no bigger, but this is John's book. The main components of the story are there - the island and the bodies at the centre of events now and in the flashback. The hazchem symbol is a red herring of course. Or perhaps the whole anthrax thing was invented to hide what was on the island ?
Ghant's preference for astragalomancy explained. Bones are more durable than people.
"You know where you are with bone" turns out to be a key misconception by Ghant in this issue.
Note how the panels show Beth's change in synch with Ghant's thoughts that flesh "slips and slides and resettles like loose scree".
This might have been a nice picture of the transformed children, as we find out one of the mysteries from part one, but something feels wrong with the stylised depiction of the Moon and sky. That part of the answer to the mystery is that they are vampires.
Bentham refers to the hill at the centre of the craggy island as mentioned last issue.
Note the islet in the foreground.
A cairn is a pile of rocks often used in the hills of Scotland and the North of England to mark the way. It can also mark a burial site.
Ghant refers to two bodies, and remember that his abacus has sent him here in search of a piece to complete his set ? When Gemma says "I'm not stupid" she's looking at you.
When Ghant says "I'd have told you wouldn't I ?" do you think he knows that Gemma has read his diary ?
Flashback to John, Ghant and Bentham - further explanation of what went on in 1983.
John refers to Bentham's "weapon" - ooer, missus !
Panel 2 is a nice juxtaposition of Bentham's weapons.
So they are seeking the succubus that murdered his friend (see notes for page 15 of previous issue).
Some say sexual arousal in men renders them incapable of thinking, this is the perceived power of the succubus - based on womanly wiles - how dare a woman take advantage of a man ?
It's interesting to note a slight difference in John's behaviour back then, as he is blindly getting into a bit of monster-fighting.
Ghant's invocation is like a Dennis Wheatley Hammer Horror film.
There are many shifting descriptions of Baphomet.
Aleister Crowley liked the name and you can see a nice depiction of Baphomet in "Nightbreed" the movie adaptation of Clive Barker's "Cabal". However the best description is this, "They say it's as big as four cats, and it's got a retractable leg so that it can leap up at you better. And do you know what Ted, it lights up at night, and em, it's got four ears, two of them are for listening and the other two are kind of back up ears... and it's claws are as big as cups and for some reason it's got a tremendous fear of stamps and Mrs. Doyle was telling me it has a magnets on it's tail so if you are made out of metal it can attach onto you and instead of a mouth it has four arses."
I couldn't find much about Illyriel and Pantogal but they really sound like they're from that Hammer film.
The scene from Doctor No, Ursula Andress emerging from the warm Caribbean Sea in a bikini.
The scene from Hellblazer, Gemma emerging from the icy Minch in jeans.
She'll catch her death of cold.
The blood red sky I can accept, but the Moon just doesn't look right.
We know it's the Moon rather than the setting Sun because Gemma says so.
Paul has Emma's scarf, which she drops on page 2.
Paul is the senior of the children, it's confirmed that they feed on grown ups not children.
This suggests that their mother (see 187, page 15 again) was using her succubus abilities to get her children food.
Emma has the scarf when she transforms to a girl ...
... but Paul has it back as the "bats" fly away.
The grave that Gemma has been sent to visit is Paul's mother. He sees (or smells) something in Gemma that he trusts here enough.
Two bodies bound by the black sheep's skull.
Now, that diary of Ghant's in Gemma's back pocket looks rather prominent.
If he didn't notice it, you'd have to wonder how wet it got when she swam ashore.
Perhaps it's a matter of perspective on page 16 when Gemma wades across as the tide is going out.
Paul says that the children ate their mother alive. Why ?
Bentham panics, John tells him to lock the gun down, but is cut short as he says "they're just kids".
To be fair to Bentham, they are hungry kids that have just eaten their mother.
Pages 11 & 12
As she dies, the vampire child turns back into human form.
A child of a vampire and a succubus might have certain powers once they reached maturity. By electing to kill and eat each other when they come to adulthood, the children may have made their plight worse.
Ghant explains the reason they are still children twenty years later.
In any case, John intends to bind them to the island using the sheep's head that they prepared earlier.
Without their mother, the children resorted to some basic instincts. It's like the Lost Boys meets Lord of the Flies.
You might say that Ghant's diary is bone dry.
The combination of parentage gives the children a bloodlust as they confuse pheromone signals from the adults that they have been able to eat.
Do you know, it doesn't seem right that Ghant would refer to something as "a piece of piss". I had him as a bit more classy. I must re-read his previous appearance.
Anyway, for the non-English amongst us, this means it was "very easy".
Perhaps Bentham was confused by the succubus pheromones coming from the corpse?
"Vallis absens" = absent hollow (or possibly stockade) in other words, a magical force field keeping the children on the island.
Here is the Secret Origin of Ghant's bone abacus.
Surprisingly this seems to suggest that the first bone was part of the sheep, not the succubus.
Ghant's diary tells how he saw the power of the bone in John's spell.
"Uncle John got ... something" there are a couple of theories about this something, not necessarily in conflict with one another. By helping out here, John has gained a couple of favours, he also has found out what happened to his friend Carl. The other aspect is that he is addicted to these sort of thrills and almost can't help getting involved.
Gemma may be starting to get some insight into how little she knows about her Uncle John, but she seems to get the picture here - "He'd want it stopped". She also does not seem as glamourised by the whole scene as she has done previously.
Note that the rock where Ghant and Bentham are waiting seems a lot closer to the island than before.
Gemma gives the bone to Ghant, and observes that Bentham has been leaving clothes for the children - he reveals this is out of a sense of remorse for killing one of them.
Ghant may have known what Gemma was up to, but he wasn't expecting this.
I don't like that first panel at all. It seems too cartoony, not in the style of art, but in the angles of Gemma's body and Ghant catching her hair like that.
On the other hand, I do like the rest of the page. It has a European graphic storytelling sense.
Ghant has spent twenty years putting together his bone abacus.
We know he has angel's bone in there, and now a succubus bone. It is revealed that the power of that first bone comes from the children's pain at killing their mother and being held captive on the island.
As hinted before, the tide is going out, and they are actually on an outcrop of the island - which means that the sheeps bone that dropped to the floor with the others has broken the binding spell.
Low tide ? Or is the "rock" being connected to Gruinard enough ?
The children enter a feeding frenzy. Bentham dies. Ghant fights his way off the island and (no doubt) lives to fight another day, but without his precious bone abacus. He will be annoyed.
Gemma's "Don't touch me" may just be because she can see they are frenzied, but it crosses my mind that the bone abacus is broken so she should be back to her adult self now.
The children know that Gemma has saved them and are grateful, but they were not grateful enough to Bentham for providing them with clothes all these years. He has indirectly become the first of Gemma's "trail of dead" as she starts on her career as a Hellblazer. I wonder if John would be impressed ? He'd certainly be happy to hear her say "for now I've stopped wanting to be (you)".
They are going to leave the island for their mother's old home (Transylvania ? Succubusia ?)
That's quite a promise Gemma has been given. Do you think she'll treat it lightly ?
Only Ghant's hat remains like the Wicked Witch.
John's back from Tasmania.
There is a lovely irony in the beggar asking for fifty pence for the Daily Mail.
It's the UK's moral outrage paper. And its target readers would certainly want to clear the streets of beggars and homeless.
John magicks a cigarette into a fiver and then tells the chap that tomorrow is the end of the world.
Annotations By : Adrian Brown