• The Strain: The Fall #9

    Released by: Dark Horse Comics
    Released on: March 19, 2014

    The final entry in The Fall storyline of The Strain, this part would be like your typical end-of-2nd-act in film structure terms: Major characters suffer what seem to be significant setbacks and all hope appears to be lost.

    Nuclear reactors built by the recently-departed Eldritch Palmer’s company are doing their job - namely, they’re all going into meltdown, right above the exact locations of the other remaining Ancients. As this is happening, though, they impart some final wisdom to Setrakian, a clue to the mystery behind the Occido Lumen. They also give him some very specific instructions on what to do with their remains. But beyond that they’re resigned to their fate, not seeing this as defeat but, rather, as the way of things. The only one of their number to survive this is Quinlan, who mysteriously departs…

    Setrakian gives the book to Fet who protests but knows that the professor has a final plan already in motion thanks to the professor’s rapidly-declining health. So Fet heads off to rendevous with Eph and the others while Setrakian, Gus and the Silver Angel head to the newest nuclear reactor in nearby New Jersey, hoping to put one last crink into the Master’s plan. When they arrive they fight off some vampires but then Setrakian sends the others home, knowing his is a one-way ticket. Gus takes off but the Silver Angel stays as he, too, knows his time is about up as well.

    Inside the soon-to-be-destroyed power plant Setrakian finally has the opportunity to confront Eichhorst. The old Nazi taunts the professor a bit but, in the end, it’s Setrakian who’s victorious, who then taunts the Master through Eichhorst’s dying gaze to come turn him himself. The Master appears and is busy thrashing Setrakian about when the Silver Angel appears, determined to fight the vampires to his last - which comes pretty quickly but it allows the professor one last opportunity, his last-ditch effort to take the Master down. The Master does finally infect him, realizing only too late that Setrakian has poisoned his own blood and has now infected the Master with it.

    The plant explodes/melts-down and the Master barely escapes. He finds his protege host, Gabriel Bolivar, and transfers to his healthier body just before his other expires. It is then that the vampire-Kelly Goodweather appears with Zak, offering him up as a gift to the Master. But he has other ideas, instead feeding Zak just a drop of his blood that instantly cures Zak’s asthma. He knows Zak’s value in the fight yet to come…

    The issue ends with Eph’s diary summarizing the ensuing vampire-ideal of nuclear winter and how other countries used it as an excuse for all-out nuclear strikes. But some humanity survives, as Eph, Fet, Nora, Gus and Nora’s mom all meet far underground, grimly determined but thoroughly despondent.

    Another excellent entry in this fantastic series from David Lapham and Mike Huddleston!