Previously in Victor LaValle’s Destroyer #4
This story is so rich, so layered, that I had to go back and read issues 1 thru 4 after finishing this one. It has been a fascinating look at grief, the brilliance and madness of science, a mother’s love, and police brutality. The writing is fantastic; LaValle’s dialogue is on point and the plot has unfolded in a way that made guessing what would happen next nearly impossible. (I’m currently reading LaValle’s novel The Changeling and it’s amazing.)
A world of trouble is headed for The Director and the not-dead-at-all Dr. Frankenstein. First, there’s Dr. Baker and Akai, who barely escaped the lab. Following them is The Monster. His motives are unclear, but his mission isn’t: destroy. The Director has a plan for how to deal with him, though.
Sixteen years ago, Dr. Baker improved upon 3D printer technology to create a machine capable of printing 3D organic matter. It could replicate any living thing, but she hadn’t yet perfected how to stop the natural decay of all organic matter. The Director has access to this work, and she and Frankenstein have created a clone they hope will fool The Monster.
Hot on The Monster’s heels is The Bride a.k.a. Pliers a.k.a Dr. Baker’s husband and Akai’s father. He knows his wife has a creation the Director wants, but he know it’s his son. He and Dr. Baker dealt with Akai’s murder in their own ways, but both involved science. More on that in a bit.
The mystery surrounding Akai’s death has been revealed slowly, with small clues along the way. He was walking home from a baseball game carrying his bat, he was shot, he was shot by a police officer who did not face justice for the act.
This is an all too familiar story for Black people in America. Real life cases of excessive force and clear police brutality against unarmed Black citizens is what prompted the current controversial silent and peaceful protests during the playing of the National Anthem. Those who disagree with those protests have tried to paint them as a blatant disrespect to the flag, the song, and the troops who serve in our country’s armed services. All of that is false. It’s about speaking out against the systemic racism that has fueled this country since it’s beginning. It’s about drawing attention to the fact that Black people have painted as inherently menacing, violent, and threatening — even our children.
What happens to Akai is exactly what happened to Tamir Rice in Ohio in 2014. As Akai walked home, someone placed a 911 call to report a Black man with what looks like a rifle. Two seconds after pulling up the scene, one of the officers shot and killed Akai. Two seconds. The amount of time Tamir Rice also lived after police approached him and another child, both holding toy guns.
Against the Director’s orders, Pliers approaches and threatens the officer who saw no jail time for killing his son. Using nanotech, he plants a lifelong reminder of what the cop did inside the man’s body. If he ever so chooses, Pliers can take his life… in less than two seconds. Then, he submits himself to become The Bride.
As Dr. Baker and Akai arrive at their destination, she explains to her son that he will eventually cease to be human completely. She has essentially created a new life form; one that is all machine. She fears how he will be received, but welcomes how history will remember her as the woman who created that which will eventually make humankind obsolete.
The final pages of this issue sets up what is sure to be a dynamic finale. The Monster is only temporarily fooled by the clone and grips up both his creator and The Director and Pliers comes face-to-face with his wife’s creation.