Portraits in Alienated British Youth Circa 1989-90, Part Nine:

Out Of His Depth

As part five of Garth Ennis and Warren Pleece’s True Faith opens, we find our young protagonist, Nigel Gibson, well and truly out of his depth as lunatic (by most people’s standards, at any rate) toilet products salesman Terry Adair finds that he has not only entered his apartment, but has read his diary, knows of his “mission,” and has even managed to stumble upon his not-terribly-well-concealed private arsenal. Could things get any worse?

Of course they could—and they will—but Nigel has no way of knowing that yet, so when Terry points a shotgun at him and asks “Whatever will I do with you?,” I’d say we can forgive him for feeling that’s probably the scariest thing he’ll ever have to deal with—especially when it’s followed up with “I could give you death.”

It has to be said that Nigel’s not too terribly persuasive in arguing for his continued existence, either, but that’s okay—after railing at the top of his lungs about the righteousness of his cause for a couple of pages (hence this chapter’s title, “The Lawmaker”), Terry takes a look at his unwelcome guest’s ID card, committing his name and address to memory while doing so, and then just lets him go.

What’s that they say about “if something seems too good to be true”again?

Nigel hoofs it the fuck out of there as fast as he can, of course, but damn if there isn’t a church burning to the ground right behind him, and double-damn if he doesn’t bump right into a Bobby walking his beat as the flames lick the sky. Of course, he looks guilty as sin (sorry, couldn’t resist) to the cop, but wait, please, Mr. Officer of the Law! It wasn’t me, guv’nr, I swear it! There’s this bloke who’s out to torch every church in the world and kill God himself and—gosh, what’s that ruckus I hear coming from around the corner?

That ruckus, of course, is Terry, and while what he’s doing is never shown, the end result of the cop’s impromptu investigation is that he ends up dangling by a rope from a fire escape in a back alley. Where was Terry Adair when we needed him in Ferguson, Baltimore, New York, or Cleveland?

Which propels us directly into chapter five, “The Prodigal Son,” wherein Nigel stares Terry down in the alleyway, dead cop behind him, and does the one thing he’s proven to be quite adept at in the series so far: he runs like hell, again.

Not to worry, Mum and Dad are zonked out in front of the TV, with no clue whatsoever that their son had a part—albeit an accidental one—to play in the arson fire they’re hearing about on the nightly news, but Nigel knows he’d better get home quick because his newfound “friend” is all too aware of where he lives and, as we’ve already established, there’s just no telling what he’s capable of.

That question is answered the minute Nigel gets home, though, and finds his parents safe and sound—but the family dog crucified to the front door, in a grotesquely lavish splash page from the hand of Warren Pleece. Seriously, I found a scan of it online, but I’m not gonna post it here just in case kids might be reading this. Suffice to say, the image will stick with you.

Then it’s back to yet another deserted alleyway, as Nigel crumples down, defeated, and Terry, by way of greeting, throws a dead rat down in front of him. Nigel figures—and says—that this is the point at which he might as well just give up, but Terry implores him to do just the opposite—“don’t give up,” he says, but join me instead, he begs of his youthful charge, before referring to him as “my son.”

I think it goes without saying—but I’m saying it anyway, I guess—that Nigel’s station in life is a pretty unsettling one at this point. His own not-so-idle curiosity has led him into a situation from which there damn well appears to be no escape. And while his survival—which was looking to be an iffy proposition at best just hours before—seems a bit more assured now, it’s pretty safe to say that he’s gone from thinking “things can’t get any worse” to “things can only get worse” in pretty short order.

How much worse? Join us here in a handful of days as we find out!

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Ryan Carey maintains a B-movie (with occasional comics-related content) blog at trashfilmguru.wordpress.com, and writes about films and comics for sites such as unobtainium13.com, dailygrindhouse.com, geekyuniverse.com, and now Sequart. You can follow him on Twitter @trashfilmguru.

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