After some backstory and a few important developments with our heroes, it's time to check in with one of the 'bad guys', by which I mean the ruthless killer hired to murder Alana and Marko. (Spoilers ensue.)

We start back on Sextillion, or Brian K Vaughan's x-rated homage to ST:TNG's planet Risa. Mama Sun and her dildo-bearing thugs are ready to blast The Will to smithereens for coming back to rescue Slave Girl. They have the drop on him, until a fully recuperated The Stalk arrives behind them. She kills all three without breaking a sweat, before joining The Will for a long-awaited kiss.

It's actually rather sweet... until Lying Cat snaps his master/partner/sidekick (I don't know from labels) out of his self-deluded fantasy. The Will wakes up to find Gwendolyn standing over him, looking pissed.

They bring each other up to speed: Gwendolyn's people on Wreath are angry with the Will for abandoning the gig, and he's not going back to it until his personal errand— rescuing Slave Girl— is taken care of. They do so without padding the truth, courtesy of Lying Cat. (Hi, Lying Cat!) Gwendolyn agrees to help The Will out, in exchange for him finishing what he started.

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A short call to Mama Sun— claiming to be with Wreath Homeland Police— gets Slave Girl out of her contract... and more importantly, the magic elixir in her blood keeping her on Sextillion.

An interesting bit of foreshadowing as the trio sets down at the rendezvous point to pick up their charge: Gwen's weirded out by natives of the comet Phang: "They're always talking to themselves like lunatics."

Slave Girl's delivery service arrives— namely three anthropomorphic star-nosed moles brandishing tommy laser guns. (I love this comic.) The moles and The Will get into a dick-measuring contest, before The Will demonstrates he isn't bluffing. To wit, he lances the lead mole through the sternum from fifty feet away.

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Further violence ensues. One of the things I adore about this whole series is the cavalier way it illustrates sex and violence. When bloody deeds are called for, we watch them happen. When consenting adults are in flagrante delicto, we see them enjoying themselves. This comic is for adults, and will never be made into a cartoon, or film (series) because of it. Indeed: Brian K Vaughan set out to make something impossible to adapt. So far, it's working beautifully.

The Will gets in over his head with the last goon, so Gwendolyn resorts to striking him down with a bolt of lighting— a trick she learned from her ex. She's a curious mix of possible contradictions. Post thunderbolt, she's stunned to think she actually killed someone. The goon's not dead yet, so The Will hands her the mole's gun: "Finish what you started." She has a grin on her face as she pulls the trigger.

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Aboard his ship (which honestly, resembles a flying artichoke to me), The Will and Gwendolyn debate what to do with Slave Girl. She wakes from her nap to inform Gwen that her "necklace sounds sad".

The translator pendant was part of a set, including the engagement rings she gave to Marko as a keepsake for his time in the service. Slave Girl can feel the rings, calling out for their lost partner. She might as well be giving The Will a direct bearing on 'em.

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It's a little unsettling, and also dire news: The hunt is back on.

Granted, this issue doesn't feature a naked, obese giant named Fard. I feel it suffers a little for that. But on the whole, after chapter 8's opportunity to catch our breath, it's good to see the action come back to the fore. This is a story about pursuit, and the tension slackens a bit when the hunter's not actively hunting. The Will's got his head back in the game, Gwendolyn's on board to make it personal, and now we have an innocent child in the mix, completing the foil for Alana, Marko, and Hazel.

Chapter 10's gonna be a corker. Hope you'll join me for it.

~

Casey Jones is a writer and voiceover artist, and bears no ill will toward star-nosed moles (nor their humanoid counterparts).