This is one of those pages that serves as a not-so-subtle reminder that ATC is designed to be a couple thousand pages. It’s plotted like it, and it reads like it – which means sometimes a character or characters appear or are mentioned briefly and seemingly without context. In some cases the context arrives later; in other cases the context is a few hundred pages back. This page is both of those cases.

The guys in panel five first “appeared” in June of 2004 and were last mentioned in July of 2013. Beef Knuckleback is technically a “grey,” and is ultimately a stand-in for the other two. Those guys would have had a bit more screen time in The Dualist but sanity cut it from ~600 pages to ~360 so they got to chill out offstage until this scene. The fact they have all-yellow eyes in whatever-Thad’s-doing and have normal eye-shaped eyes now is a visual oddity in that so far we’ve seen these guys exactly twice. There’s story context for contacts and there’s story context for Thad being a frigging loon so it could go either way at this point.

Aleks and Rayne both first appeared in November of 2004. Rayne was last mentioned on water -16- and Rayne and Aleks were mentioned in the closing pages of Earth, wherein Greymalkin foreshadows the hell out of what’s going on here – a box-and-scan of Thad’s South Side apartment, complete with a taped off area of interest.

So the who and the where were very extensively foreshadowed. So much so that not swinging by Pittsburgh to see what’s going on would feel like a possible plot hole or at the very least an omission. The what – the fact that Rayne and Aleks are wearing hazmat suits – may be relevant later on, or it may be visually symptomatic of Templar caution. Whichever it is, the suits are a whole lot of yellow. Quota amounts of yellow. The fact that telepathy is apparently FTL and Aleks has at least a vague idea of where Inga is and who she’s with is the sort of psychic contextualization that’ll save on exposition┬álater.

Panel five is the first chronological painted background in a very long time. Though I cheated by mocking up the basic shapes behind the car before shoopin’ it. THAT’S PROBABLY ALSO SOME KIND OF FORESHADOWING. MAYBE.

Next week: the results!

Cast

  • Rayne Gallahad

    A distant cousin of Thad’s, Rayne is Spinoza’s assistant, and the only Templar who’s been able to figure out the ancient BMRI hardware installed in BMC’s psionics observation ward. Rayne is a POG, preferring...

  • Bartholomew Gant

    A genetically engineered black-ops metahuman similar to Beef Knuckelback and directly related by gene sequencing. Gant is just as taciturn as Beef, though he doesn’t share his chronic life allergy. He also lacks Beef’s...

  • Ornix Khan

    Ornix doesn’t let trivial things like ethics and morality get in the way of his loyalties or sense of reality. A longtime friend of Thad and a fellow “victim” of the Templar Waking God...

  • Phoebus McClintock

    The quietest member of the “grey squad,” a trio of genetically engineered operatives assigned to Thule Garrison for the purposes of jiggling the handle on the Waking God Protocols. Phoebus never gets to do...

  • Aleksis Murnau

    One of several resident psychotherapists at Bethlehem Medical Centre. A trained psionicist with a specialty in stealth spelunking and event recovery, Murnau can poke around the average mind without raising much of a ruckus....

  • Inga Murnau

    The twin sister of fellow Templar Aleksis Murnau, Inga has been assigned to the Castores by way of Kaysoo. While Inga has all of the qualifications required for language work she’s not aboard ship...

Glossary Articles

  • Compartment A3

    Compartment A3 – the rec area – is the living room and kitchen of the Daedalus. The compartment provides access to the bathroom, the spacesuit locker, the cargo transfer lock and the central corridor....

  • Pittsburgh

    Most of Dead City Radio takes place in and around Pittsburgh, the so-called “Paris of Appalachia.” Thad is still living there at the beginning of The Dualist, though most of his friends from art...

  • Templar-Issue Sedan

    The Templar-issue Sedan is just as robust as the Beefmobile, though it trades the siren for seatbelts and the police decals for a more innocuous paint job.