Portraits In Alienated British Youth Circa 1989-90, Part Twelve :

Where It All Hits The Fan

There’s no doubt about it — chapter ten of Garth Ennis and Warren Pleece’s True Faith, entitled “False Gods,” is an absolute barn-burner. Or church-burner, I guess, as the case may be. The authorities — depicted, in typical Ennis style, as a half-assed collection of testosterone-fueled incompetents  — have stormed St. Paul’s, and a hail of bullets and  a rain of blood are the order of the evening. But was Jim Morrison right where he famously sang “no one here gets out alive”?

The grunts all seem to be getting disposed of, that’s for sure, but the ever-resourceful (and, more crucially, lucky) trio of Nigel, Terry, and Cornelius manage to beat a hasty retreat to the back of the building that keeps them on planet Earth for at least a little while longer.

As mom, dad, and sis watch events in the main sanctuary of the cathedral unfold on their TV screen at home,  Terry’s having one more good freakout loaded with plumbing-related terminology, Nigel’s muttering “oh shit” to himself repeatedly, and Cornelius  is — well, he’s just talking too damn much.

Major revelation time : after Cornelius lets it slip that he knows about Terry’s wife’s death, the truth comes pouring out in the way it always seems to for bad guys at the end of a story. Let’s hear it, then, exactly how he (or Ennis, if you want to be technical about things) says it : “I killed his wife. Well, I had her killed, to be precise. Got the doctor to balls up the birth. Terry had to lose his faith, you see — if he didn’t lose his faith, he couldn’t be a truth commando, could he?”

When Nigel presses him on the utter evil and, frankly, ridiculousness of what he’s done, Cornelius answers by laying out in plain language the essential , distilled kernel of wisdom that this series (as well as so many others in Garth Ennis’ later career) has been telling us : “ He believed it, didn’t he? They all did! You can get people to believe anything!”

Boy — ain’t that the truth?

If you’re thinking that Terry’s almost certainly bound to completely lose his shit at this point, well — you’re exactly right, of course. One primal scream from the absolute depths of his tortured soul — superbly illustrated by Pleece in a manner that shows every inch of the character’s anguish — later, the former toilet-products salesman has got a gun to his wife’s killer’s head and we get a trademark Ennis ill-timed joke when Terry says “I’ve been mad — I’ve been mad — I’ve been so insane for so long —,” to which Cornelius responds  “Well, how do you think I feel? I’m still insane!” Hearty laughs all around, right?

Terry then pauses for a moment, apparently deciding whether or not he really wants to pull the trigger — but that moment is all it takes. The Special Forces commandos move in and Terry and Cornelius both go down in a blaze of something that’s very far removed from “glory.”

Nigel, for his part, manages to pick up a loose revolver lying on the ground and scamper out the back exit. No one in a position to do anything about it has even seen him yet. His “mission” has come to an abrupt end — but has his conscience, as well? He’s apparently a free man, but come on — is he really? Some things, once seen, can’t be unseen. Some experiences scar you forever. And sometimes shit goes down that forces you to grow up way too fast.

We’ll see how Nigel’s story finally ends in our next segment.

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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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