So, the quick recap of the story (to this point) is this: Ellis (Elle) Petersen, daughter of a (presumably) wealthy family is attacked on a subway platform and as a result, she’s in a coma. No one knows (or is saying) who attacked her, or why she was attacked.
…In fact, we’re not even sure she was meant to be as attacked as she was. I was calling this an “attempted” murder mystery, but after a couple of readings, I’m finally clued into the fact that I was way off base. From Page Five:
VILLAIN: “It’s Done Then?” (‘It’ being…whatever happened to Elle)
ATTACKER: “Not Exactly As Planned…”
ATTACKER: “She reacted less than well. She’s a bit roughed up, but the package was delivered.”
Now…god help me, an honest-to-God English Lit major, for missing this the first two times reading through this, but…whatever happened to Elle was nothing to do with killing her, or even ‘roughing her up’…but, whatever was supposed to happen did happen…and the violent part of the attack was an afterthought.
So what exactly was ‘it’? The event that was supposed to happen, and did happen, with some violent side-effects? Well, we’re not sure, but there may be a really good hint about midway thru the issue (but, we’ll get back to that in a bit…).
Now, along with us not really knowing what happened to Elle, or why, we of course don’t know who did it. But, we do KNOW who did it. Writer Jim McCann explains in a text piece that the attacker has been named in the first issue. Now, the characters named are:
Ellis ‘Elle’ Petersen – our victim and our main character
Jo Wilson – Elle’s best friend
Min Petersen – Elle’s Mother
Carlotta – The Petersen’s Maid
Dr. Gina Geller – an ER doctor at the hospital where Elle is taken
Dr. Hammond – a bastard of a doctor at the hospital where Elle is taken after her attack.
Dane Miller – Elle’s boyfriend, who comes across as very suspicious throughout this first issue
Eddie Petersen – Elle’s douchebag of a younger brother
Mr. (Ed?) Petersen – Elle’s father. He’s not explicitly named, but at one point, Dane calles Eddie ‘Junior’, so it’s probably that Elle’s father’s name is Ed.
Megan Kyle – an ER Nurse working alongside Dr. Hammond and making Geller’s life harder than it needs to be
Harold Crenshaw – a doctor, of some sort, familiar with Elle and some issues she’s been having
Miles – Crenshaw’s assistant
Blake Robert “Bobby” Plangman – a…new ‘friend’ Elle meets in her coma
Now, again, in his text piece, McCann clears Jo and Min of the ‘attack’, but not necessarily being behind the attack. As illustrated in the script snippet above, the person who actually attacked Elle is working under orders from someone else. And at the end of that text piece we’re told …TOLD…”No One Is Innocent!”
I repeat: “No One Is Innocent!” Not “No one is above suspicion!” or “Rule No One Out”. No, No One Is INNOCENT.
Anyway, someone ordered someone else to do something to Elle that, in the process, got her roughed up a bit.
Vague. Very, very vague, when you put it like that.
But, of course, there’s more to it than that. To wit: Elle, in her coma, is still…’somewhere’. And that ‘somewhere’ is referred to as “The Garden” by Elle’s new friend/guide/antagonist within this shared experience (The Garden): Blake Robert “Bobby” Plangman (Bobby, from here on out).
The Garden is something like that ghost ward in the Hospital in “Being Human” and the limbo place in the movie “Insidious”. It’s a nowhere/anywhere you need it to be type of place where disembodied spirits/consciousnesses roam waiting to ‘pass on’ or (presumably) wake up in the real world.
While there, Elle meets Estaban, a middle-aged Hispanic man who comes to tell Bobby goodbye (because he’s ‘moving on’/dying). Elle ends up in Estaban’s hospital room and reaches out to touch his hand, and finds herself sucked into body, waking up, and speaking Spanish (a language that, perhaps, the Korean Elle might know, but not a language we’re told she knows prior to that).
SO! Is this ability to body hop her spirit/consciousness into dying/dead/people in comas a Side-effect of Elle’s attack…or is it the actual intended outcome of the attack?
Confused? Okay, let’s back up…
On page 22, after Nurse Kyle catches Dr. Geller reading Hammond’s private patient files (on Elle) and rats her out to Hammond, Geller and Hammond have a confrontation.
GELLER: “How is it exactly that a patient who is barely a 4 on the Glasgow Scale is registering higher than normal brain activity?”
(The Glasgow Coma Scale is a neurological scale with the purpose of giving doctors an objective way of recording the conscious state of a person. A ‘Less than four’ is BAD, very Bad. A patient with a Glasgow rating less than 8 is severe…Elle being less than 4 is all sorts of bad)
Then on Page 39, Geller is either in her office or at home writing down notes on Elle’s case (presumably from memory) and has written down:
- Stimulus response nil
- Head trauma minimal
- Missing from report: Tox Screen
And is in the process of writing down: “Test for Propo…” when she’s interrupted.
Common sense leads you to believe the next letter she’s writing is an ‘f’, and a Google search for ‘Propof’ asks you if you’re meaning to search for ‘Propofol’, which is an intravenously delivered hypnotic agent for mechanically ventilated adults.
So Elle’s barely hurt (remember, the Attacker describes her as ‘roughed up’), but completely unresponsive (Glasgow < 4), and may be on a drug that is a hypnotic agent and delivered intravenously. And “the Package was delivered”…
Aside from all of this is Harold Crenshaw…another doctor (presumably…he mentions ‘appointments’) who knows Elle and has an assistant (Miles) who has enough fears about Elle and has been projecting them enough to make Crenshaw afraid and describe the situation as “potentially highly volatile”. He hears about Elle’s attack (from a blocked call…more on THAT later…), and rushes off to go to “The Lab” and then the Hospital. He’s actually intercepted on his way there by a fake deer (More on THAT later too…), swerves off the road and then when either dead or unconscious (I’m guessing the latter), has the briefcase he was carrying stolen by the hoodie wearing attacker who was on page 5.
Now…phone calls: All the information about the attack is communicated by cellphone or landline. Elle calls Jo as she’s being attacked, Jo calls Dane…SOMEONE calls Min…Carlotta calls Ed and Eddie…and then, again, SOMEONE calls Jo and Dane to tell them what happened to Elle and where she’s at (it’s pretty damn clear it’s not the Peterssen’s…they’re not fans of either)…and then SOMEONE calls Crenshaw.
So…who’s this SOMEONE? Is it the same someone? Presumably, the SOMEONE who calls Crenshaw is trying to hide their identity, because we see his caller ID come back as “Blocked”, rather than “Unavailable” or even “Private Number”…and then he’s intercepted on his way to the hospital.
Now, in this text piece I mentioned way up at the top, McCann dismisses Min from guilt in the attack, but again, NO ONE IS INNOCENT…and it’s interesting that Min gets a call from SOMEONE, and follows that up by calmly telling Carlotta that she already tried calling her son and husband and couldn’t reach them…(already called them?!?).
And in that same vein, McCann really, really wants us to think Dane’s behind this.
The first time you see Dane is when Jo calls him. He pulls his phone and…something else…out of his pocket and throw it on his couch…and it kind of looks like another phone.
…and he’s wearing a hoodie. A dirty, stained hoodie.
…and then we see the attacker, in a hoodie, talking on a cellphone, being told by who I referred to as “The Villain” to wipe Elle’s phone. Meaning the attacker has the phone, not Elle…
…and then Dane shows up at the hospital (who knows how he found out), wearing a hoodie that seems to match the one worn by the attacker…it’s clean now (so was the attacker’s).
He’s there momentarily, longer than Elle’s family, long enough to have a bit of a standoff with Eddie…and while he’s there, he tells Elle:
“Come on Peanut, we can’t end like this. Your Last Memory can’t be…Just kick this thing’s ass. The Rest we can figure out. I Love you. Remember that, okay?”
Now…we know from page 2 that the night before the issue starts, Elle and Dane had a fight. Something that made Elle change Jo’s ringtone on Dane’s phone to “Fuck You” by C-Lo Greene (Which, is weird…why would his girlfriend change her best-friend’s ringtone on her boyfriend’s phone)…but the fight was the night before. Elle was attacked early in the morning. (VERY early, about 4:43 am…oh, and Dane wasn’t home then…he was just walking in when Jo called him)…but would her ‘last’ memory REALLY be that fight?
Or would it be him attacking her…or at least accosting her, and her reacting badly, ending up in her being ‘roughed up’?
There’s also him leaving Elle’s hospital room, telling Jo he needs to go pick some things up at the theater where the three of them work. Jo even points out that it’s a Tuesday, and the theater is ‘dark’ on Tuesday. But Dane sticks with that. And he jets, before Crenshaw is called, leading to his car crash, caused by a fake deer.
A Fake Deer…
…which would be found in a prop department (possibly), at a theater.
Did Dane just tell Jo he was going to the theater to pick things up in order to establish an alibi and give deniability if he were later to be seen with a fake deer?
It ALMOST seems like McCann is making it too easy to point out that Dane is guilty…he’s got to be a complete red herring…unless who actually accosted/attacked Elle isn’t the main antagonist here, and it’s whoever is pulling the attacker’s strings.
So…yeah…WOW, I just wrote 4 + pages on a single (first!) issue of a comic book. And that’s not counting the review of the issue earlier! That has to be a record!
One issue…44 pages…a lot of questions, some theories, and a world of possibilities.
Bring on Issue #2!!!!