Waiting For the Man
Writer : Jamie Delano
Art : John Ridgway
Cover Artist : Dave McKean
Colors : Lovern Kindzierski
Letters : Anne Halfacree
Editor : Karen Berger
Issue Synopsis : Dusk settles on a silent park somewhere in Liverpool, where ten-year-old Gemma Masters contemplates life in the suburbs. It seems that her parents have become involved with some kind of religious pyramid scheme run by a group called the "Resurrection Crusaders", promising God's guidance and a little money on the side. More than a little money, in fact, because they've earned enough to migrate out into the suburban jungle - leaving behind all of Gemma's friends and family. Glumly, Gemma concludes that "when you're a kid, you just can't win".
Meanwhile in London, John Constantine can't stop winning. After clearing up at a pool game with a "magic" shot, John comes across Chas, who's losing his money to a gambling machine. Chas tells John that that the horse conjob recommended he bet on - "Child Bride" - came in at 40-to-1, earning him a fat pile of cash and a near-kneecapping. As Constantine congratulates his friend, he pops a coin into the machine and hits the jackpot. He leaves an amazed Chas to collect the winnings, and steps out onto the street. After getting in the face of a couple of skinheads, John muses that all he needs to round off his perfect day is an interesting companion for dinner. Once again karma delivers as he finds himself face to face with Zed, the graffiti artist from the first issue. Behind her is a mural of a man standing over a small girl...
Back in Liverpool, Gemma is still complaining about her parents - not only did they take her away from her friends, they took away her television and Madonna tapes too, calling them tools of the devil. She's so wrapped up in her problems that she doesn't even notice that something is creeping up on her - that is, until it speaks. Gemma turns around suddenly, and sees that she's been joined by three girls of the same age. Unsure whether they want a fight or friendship, Gemma plays her cards close to her chest until the girls reveal that they stay in a "boss neat" house where they're allowed to do whatever they want - so long as he says it's alright. Gemma asks who "he" is, and the girls explain that "he" is the owner of their house, and they are his wives. Gemma is incredulous at first - the girls are far too young to be married - but as they describe life in The Man's house, she rapidly changes her mind (apparently due to magical mind control) and asks if she can marry him too. The girls agree and lead Gemma away.
London. Zed is enjoying the last of a mountain of Indian cuisine courtesy of John, who is trying to find out more about her. She evades his questions with a little homsepun philosophy before inviting him back to her place.
Night has fallen by the time the girls get to The Man's house. It's a rickety old heap of a building out in the middle of nowhere, and when Gemma comments on how dirty it is, the girls chastise her, telling her that The Man likes it dirty and that if she's too proud she can go away. Gemma suddenly feels ashamed at her comments and apologises. The girls tell her that once she's married she won't notice the smell any more. Gemma is suddenly overcome with tiredness and the girls offer to sleep with her in The Man's bed, as he won't be back until the following day. Before they go to sleep, however, Gemma notices something odd about one of the girls' necks. The girl opens her collar to reveal a dark contusion around her throat, as though she'd been strangled with a rope. She tells Gemma that she got it during the marriage ceremony. She calls it her "wedding ring"...
John and Zed arrive back at her place, which seems to be some kind of upmarket squat. John notices a series of faces painted onto the wall, and Zed explains that they're all real people that she's 'collected'. John is surprised to see his own face up there, but before he can confront Zed about it, her radio crackles to life. Zed says that it has a loose switch, but John stops her from switching it off when the newsreader mentions Gemma Masters' disappearance, the fourth in Liverpool that month. John recoils in horror and heads for the door, explaining that Gemma is his niece.
Over in Liverpool, John's sister Cheryl is being 'comforted' by her husband Tony, who assures her that the Resurrection Crusaders will find Gemma. With them are three sinister-looking dark suited men, the leader of whom patronisingly tells Cheryl that she should calm down as thousands of Crusaders are already praying for Gemma's safe return. When she remonstrates, he adds that Gemma's sinfulness is the reason for her disappearance and that she needs their faith to fix her. Understandably, Cheryl lashes out and gives him a ringing slap to the face. The Crusader ('Elder Martin') adjusts his glasses and calmly tells Tony to restrain his wife, lest she further disrupt the prayer energy. Tony tries to do as he is told, but Cheryl calls him a traitor and runs upstairs.
Meanwhile, John and Zed are rushing to Liverpool in Chas' old Cortina. Zed comments that Chas wasn't too pleased to loan them his cab, and John explains that it didn't matter how Chas felt - he's in some kind of debt to Constantine. The pair flirt a little until John decides to catch some sleep, leaving Zed to grudgingly act as his chauffeur.
The following morning, Gemma awakes to bright sunshine. She steps out of the bed where her new friends are sleeping and walks to the window, unable to remember exactly where she is or how she got there. For a second, the sound of birdsong reminds her of her parents but that memory soon vanishes. Her friends, now awake, bring her a wedding dress and begin to prepare her for the ceremony. They take Gemma to a mirror so that she can admire herself, and assure her that The Man will be home soon. Gemma doesn't notice that she is the only one casting a reflection.
John and Zed finally arrive at the Masters' house. Cheryl answers the door with a tear-stained face, and John promises that he'll try to help Gemma. As Zed comforts Cheryl in the hallway of the house, Constantine finds Tony, Elder Martin and the Crusaders in the living room. Tony tells him that there's nothing he can do, but John suggests that they use divination to locate Gemma. Martin forbids John from using black magic but Constantine tells him to get stuffed and warns him to keep his Ressurection Crusaders out of the way. Up in Gemma's room, John is baffled by the lack of toys or posters, and complains about what the Crusaders have done to their family. Cheryl, however, tells him not to be so harsh on the Resurrection Crusade as it's the only thing that's held them together. On top of Gemma's wardrobe, Zed finds a box containing a collection of nick-nacks, including a little wooden crocodile John brought back as a gift from Senegal. John uses the crocodile as a way of focusing the divination, suspending it by a piece of string over a map of the area. By the time he's got a location, Zed's managed a little automatic drawing, creating a drawing of The Man's house. The pair slip out the back to avoid the police.
The Man is home. Gemma's heart races as he examines her, before finally asking if she wants to become his wife. She agrees and he leads her down into his cellar...
Evening's drawing in and John and Zed still haven't been able to find The Man's house. John complains that Zed's automatic drawing wasn't more helpful, but she reminds him that magic can only carry them so far - after that, it's down to luck. A passing boy asks if they're lost, and says that he recognises the house in Zed's picture. John gives the lad five pounds and the boy leads them through scrubland and broken fences until they reach the building. The boy claims that the house is haunted and refuses to go any further, so Constantine gives him another five pounds and a message for Cheryl. The boy leaves and John and Zed prepare to enter the house.
In the basement, the 'wedding' ceremony is still taking place. Gemma and The Man stand before an altar adorned with candles and a huge upside-down cross topped with a goat's head. The Man speaks in a tongue that Gemma does not understand as he offers up Gemma's soul and body to the Devil. He commands her to kneel, then takes a cord from a communion plate on the altar. Gemma doesn't move as he wraps it around her neck...
John and Zed enter the living room. Zed notes the various ameneties - a microwave, a television - but John is more interested in the smell coming from upstairs. Yhey go upstairs, where they find the bed Gemma was sleeping in that morning. John pulls the covers back, uncovering the rotten corpses of the three missing girls. John suddenly realises that Gemma must be in the cellar and runs off, leaving Zed frozen in shock.
The cord tight around her neck, Gemma begins to slip into unconsciousness. As she feels her soul take leave of her body, John races into the cellar and shouts at The Man to drop her. He does, and John charges him - only to be smashed across the head with the communion plate. Not being much of a fighting sort - especially when faced with a musclebound lunatic like The Man - poor John gets a good kicking. Before The Man can finish him off, however, Constantine is saved by Zed, who rushes up from behind and cracks The Man in the face with a wine bottle. Infuriated by what he'd done to the girls, Zed brings the bottle back down, smashing it over the back of his head, before beating him to a pulp with her fists and feet. John checks Gemma, and is relieved to see that she's still alive. He picks her up and carries her to the steps but before he can leave, Zed says she's got something to show him. In her rage, she'd ripped open The Man's t-shirt, revealing the words "DAMNATION ARMY" burned into his chest. Zed says that she's seen that name before, graffitied onto the wall of an alley near a tramp who had been burned to death. As he carries Gemma out of the house, John feels a familiar sense of foreboding.
John lays Gemma down on the grass as Tony and Cheryl arrive, closely followed by a whole load of Resurrection Crusaders. Zed slips out of sight of the Crusaders, many of whom are carrying baseball bats and wearing t-shirts proclaiming them to be "God's Warriors". It seems that these boys are the muscle behind the Crusade, as proven when they torch The Man's house - with him still inside. Finally, the police arrive and John decides to scarper before he gets into any more trouble.
Over in the motel they've hired for the night, John discusses the events of the day with
Zed. He asks if she's ever heard of God's Warriors before. She tell him that she hasn't,
but John can tell that she's lying. He notes that she doesn't have any scars on her chest,
and muses that he's going to enjoy investigating further.
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