Larger Than Life
Writer : Jamie Delano
Breakdowns : Dean Motter
Art : Ron Tiner
Cover Artist : Kent Williams
: Tom Ziuko
Letters : Elitta Fell
: Art Young
: Karen Berger
Issue Synopsis : It's been three weeks since the Pagan Nation stopped the cataclysm in Scotland, and the world is rolling round just the same as it ever did. With the last of his money spent and nowhere else to go, John's hitching down to Northampton to meet up with Jerry O'Flynn, dealer in potions, books and artifacts. As he makes his way to Jerry's, John hears a rhythmical tapping behind him; the sound of a blind man's cane clicking on cobbles. John pretends not to notice and keeps his pace steady, only faltering when he sees a pub sign - the Admiral Benbow - out of the corner of his eye. John notes that the pub wasn't there before, but as he examines the sign he sees that it's actually advertising Amber and Benton, an estate agents. John shakes his head and walks on.
He finally arrives at Jerry O'Flynn's mansion and notes that the tapping has stopped. Assuming that whoever's behind him is a mugger, John shouts through the letterbox for Jerry to opens the door. A clearly terrified Jerry threatens to let loose the hounds but John convinces him that he's alone, the dogs' barking drowning out the tapping noise close behind. Jerry opens the door to let John in, only for the fellow behind John to barge ahead and thrust something into Jerry's hand. The intruder flees, but his blindness leads him into the path of a moving car and he is struck down.
The distraught driver jumps to see if the blind man is alright, but the body has vanished. Constantine convinces him to keep on going and walks back into the house to see if Jerry's okay. Jerry says that he is not, and as John pours himself some gin, Jerry shows him what the blind man was carrying - a folded piece of paper with a black smudge in the centre. He tells John that the Black Spot is the sentence of the pirates' court, and that the man who gave it to him was Blind Pew from Treasure Island. Knowing how prone Jerry is to melodrama and exaggeration John takes the remark with a pinch of salt and gets down to business.
Jerry is addicted to dealing; books, scrolls, swords, drugs - if you want it he can get it, and if you've got it he knows someone who needs it. John's not looking to barter at the moment though; all he wants is cold, hard cash in exchange for a pint of the demon blood that flows through his veins. John notes that it's diluted with some of his own blood, "a standard pharmaceutical solution", and Jerry explodes with rage. He asks John if he's working for them, the writers - "the scribbling, sneaking parasites... They don't even wait until you're dead before stealing your life and opening it to the public gaze." He tosses some books into the fire and continues to complain about the authors who steal his humour and personality, change his identity and put him in their books without even giving him any royalties. John points out that Jerry's insistence on living his life as if he was in a book just encourages writers to use him as inspiration. Jerry concedes this and John asks what pharmaceutical solutions have to do with his outburst. Jerry says that those were the exact words used by the man who tracked him down - the man who told him what was going on. As he pours John a little more gin, he begins his tale...
It was noon when Jerry O'Flynn awoke. The previous night's revels had left him with little desire for an early rise, and even less for visitors - so it was with some frustration that he answered the harsh call of the doorbell. On the doorstep stood a distinguished, if somewhat gaunt, gentleman who asked to purchase some cocaine, claiming that a mutual acquaintance had sent him. O'Flynn's disposition was considerably brightened by the promise of trade and he quickly invited the gentleman into his house.
O'Flynn, ever the gracious host, offered his guest a sample of the substance as proof of its purity. The gaunt gentleman gratefully accepted and further requested some distilled water, explaining that his usual means of administering the cocaine required him to mix up a standard pharmaceutical solution to be injected directly into the vein. This final clue was all that O'Flynn required to ascertain the identity of his guest, and he could scarcely hide his disbelief as he recognised the face of Sherlock Holmes.
Holmes noted his host's astonishment and explained the truth behind his arrival - what he was really seeking was not cocaine, but O'Flynn himself. Lifting two books from his coat pocket, Holmes explained that for too long O'Flynn had been allowing authors to write him into their novels; the laws of of fiction had been broken, and he could not be allowed to inhabit both the fictional and real worlds. O'Flynn protested his innocence but his cries went ignored as Holmes took his leave. He stopped on the doorstep to leave O'Flynn with one last suggestion: "It's better not to resist". He left in the company of another fellow who tried to reassure the hapless trader that "Holmes" was just a harmless obsessive, but this failed to calm O'Flynn's troubled mind...
John notes that the story is crazy, but that the Admiral Benbow, the pub he seen earlier, came straight from Treasure Island... his musings are cut short, however, by the ringing of Jerry's telephone. O'Flynn answers it and swears in horror as a voice growls: "I'll huff and I'll puff and I'll blow your house down!" The shutters clatter open, window panes shatter and winds batter the room. John, Jerry and the dogs are soon bolting out of the front door. Jerry makes it to his garden gates before he falls down laughing at his ludicrous situation - being terrified by a fairy tale. John tells tells him to keep some perspective; his inflated ego has built up a mythic personality, one that's becoming indistinguishable from his portrayal in the novels. The more he slips "into character", the more likely he is to fall victim to the literary characters. With a supreme sense of ironic timing, one of them chooses this moment to manifest; a muscled savage leaps down from the trees and makes short work of O'Flynn's dogs. Whilst the King of the Urban Jungle is distracted, John and Jerry flee, finally making it to the local pub.
They sit down at the bar and pull up a pint. Jerry is distracted by a Danish man who complains about the rotten state of his life, whilst John looks around and notices how odd the other patrons are. He gets Jerry's attention at last, and points out the crazy man in a huge hat on one table, and the crowd of seven muscled midgets by the dart board. The midgets claim that John is making eyes are their girlfriend and go on the offensive, attacking him and Jerry with darts and bottles, whilst a dodgy-looking young lad steals away Jerry's wallet. The pair get to the doorway and make a break for it, not slowing down until they reach the apparent safety of a Chinese restaurant. As the pair eat their meal, John notes that Jerry's slipping more and more into his fictional persona.
O'Flynn reaches into his pocket to foot the bill, but finds it empty. The obviously irritated waitress invites the pair to sit with her father, and draws back the curtain to reveal the sinister Doctor Fu Manchu! The pair are faced with a choice: meet with a psychopath or dive head first through a plate-glass window. They pick the safer option and land on the street in a hail of glass. Having made it safely away from the evil doctor (and after passing a panhandler who offers them the secret of eternal youth), John decides to get a cab away to safety and tells Jerry to come with him. In a strange Twist, however, the cab driver turns out to be a murderer out to pillage the bodies of the unwary. John gets a tip-off from a prostitute, but her act of mercy has dire consequences for her when the cabbie smashes her head open with a tyre iron. Jerry chases the thug, not realising that he's being led by the nose into the local library.
John catches up, but it's too late - poor Jerry is on trial in front of his peers - invisible men, scurrilous sea captains, March hares and all. John moves to interrupt but is stopped by Sherlock Holmes, who tells him that he cannot enter the court yet. He says that should Jerry be found guilty he will be taken down into the realm of forgotten books, where lost characters wait for their copyright period to expire. John notes that Holmes said he could not go in there yet, and Holmes asks him how many writers he knows. John considers this briefly, before getting his last glimpse of Jerry O'Flynn, being dragged away by Winnie the Pooh...
Issue synopsis written by James Wilkinson