Hazel (VO): My mom once said the hardest part of parenting is knowing when to ask for help.
We get a middle shot of our new parents, with baby Hazel. Marko, Hazel’s father, lies on the ground in a puddle of his own blood. He’s possibly dead, though I’m skeptical. Alana, Hazel’s mother, clutches the baby tightly to her chest as she pleads with the Horrors who have surrounded her in the forest after running off The Stalk, a genuinely frightening freelancer who looks like a human-spider hybrid.
“Please . . .” Alana says, “Please don’t kill me. Please don’t orphan my girl.”
The Horrors are red spectral images of children with oversized ears. All appear to be wounded or mutilated in some way. I think we’re meant to assume that they are ghosts.
Hazel (VO): Even the most independent of new parents will need backup weathering the occasional shitstorm.
The female Horror who seems to be the group’s spokesperson appears young. She’s wearing a slouchy cloth hat and has star-shaped earrings in the lobes of her largish ears. She’s also missing her body below the waist and loops of intestines peek out from under her T-shirt.
This character says, “Relax, your husband’s not dead. Not yet, anyway.”
Hazel (VO): It doesn’t take a village to raise children, it takes a whole galaxy—former friends, random acquaintances, complete strangers . . .
“How do you know?” Alana asks.
“How do you think, lady?”
Hazel (VO): . . .even other children.
The glowing red girl says, “We’re fucking ghosts.”
“No,” Alana says, “You’re . . .you’re Horrors.”
“Is that seriously what you guys call indigenous peoples? That’s kind of racist, don’t you think?”
“You’re monsters,” Alana continues. “Marko said you slaughter innocent men and women.”
“Nah, we can project some nasty stuff into outsiders’ heads, but that’s just an illusion. After us locals die, we get to live on as ‘spiritual defenders of Cleave.‘” The girl makes the air quotes. “But, clearly, that’s a suck-ass evolutionary plan, since your two armies had no problem wiping our people off the map.”
Alana says, “I swear to you, we have nothing to do with this war. We just want to take care of our –”
“hzl . . .” Marko, still lying on the ground, begins to speak, weakly. “. . .how’s . . . hazel . . .?”
Alana kneels down closer to her husband.
“She’s fine. She’s got the only decent man in the universe for a daddy.”
Another of the Horrors, a boy ghost, says, “He looks like the ones who burned our village.”
“But he’s not,” the young hat-wearing leader says. “You heard how sweet he was with his kid, right?”
Another female Horror, missing an eye, says, “Just ’cause we can understand these two doesn’t mean they’re good guys.”
And yet another boy Horror says, “Whatever. I don’t wanna be here when the horned one kicks.”
“They can’t hurt us, you big babies!” the leader says. “We’re intangible. Why are you guys acting like you just died yesterday?”
“so . . . sorry . . . “ Marko says to Alana
“Shut up with that. What about a spell? You said you knew healing spells, right?”
“. . . no . . . only one ingredient . . . for wounds this bad . . .”
“What? What do you need me to get?”
“. . . snow . . .”
“Marko, it’s sweltering out. I, I don’t even know where to find water.”
“I can get you what you need,” says the leader of the Horrors. “For a price.”
“Talk fast,” Alana says.
“You two are trying to find a way off my stupid planet, right? Take me with you.”
“Yeah, sure, welcome to the family . . . now give me my snow.”
“It’s not that simple. I’m connected to Cleave, so I can only leave if I’m bonded to the soul of a living native.”
“So? I wasn’t born here.”
“Wasn’t talking about you,” the girl says. She means Hazel, I bet.
Hazel (VO): Despite what you may have heard, good help isn’t all that hard to find . . . it’s just hard to find cheap.
As this scene comes to an end, so does this Comics Commentary. Join me for our next installment, when we’ll find out what Prince Robot IV is up to, and maybe find out what the ghost girl’s plan is.