Cover Artists: Javier Saltares & Jose Marzan
Tensen and the cab driver, Arnie, stop partway through their trek to Los Angeles at a diner in Oklahoma, where they order meals while going over Tensen's story. Midway through dinner, Tensen suddenly runs out into the middle of the road to stop and confront the passengers in an oncoming car. Those passengers are none other than Hoyt Pittman and Rebecca Chambers, who have followed the cab ever since it left New York City.
Pittman steps from the car and goes to attack Tensen, but is held at bay by Tensen's shields while Becky tries explaining why they have followed him. Eventually after allowing Pittman to settle down, Tensen invites them back to the diner with him, where it is revealed that Arnie tipped off Becky to Tensen's intent. Becky and Tensen have a long conversation apart from the others, during which the warrior transfers the memories of his journey and adventures to the officer by merely touching her forehead. Once Becky understands Justice's intentions better, she convinces Pittman to go along with her, Arnie and Tensen so that they may find some answers from Damon Conquest in Los Angeles.
Shortly after continuing their journey, Tensen and the others are caught unawares as a strange serpentine creature rips out of Pittman's body, killing him instantly -- a creature sent by Conquest. The cab goes flying off a bridge during the ensuing battle, and while Tensen fights valiantly, he is unable to prevent the creature from attaching itself to his sword hand. The creature rends and tears the hand, and Tensen realizes he must get the creature off him, must destroy him. His only answer is to make his sword entend from his shield hand, which he does at great effort and great cost. From the combination of the creature's onslaught and the sword blast, Tensen's right arm is atomized into nothingness. Still in pain, Tensen tells the others he has concluded that the creature which sprung from Pittman must have possessed him in the diner -- and that which made it possess him must still be back there. Becky pulls herself from the wreckage of the car and checks on Arnie, who is critically injured, before following Justice toward the diner for a final confrontation.
Back at the diner, bodies are strewn everywhere. A sound is heard outside, and Tensen runs out just in time to see a red car speed away from the scene. Tensen recognizes the driver as a ninja -- an agent of the Wizards of the Winterlands, his sworn enemies. With this information, Justice is now more than ever convinced that he must capture Damon Conquest. But he is losing more blood by the second, and he lapses into unconsciousness in Becky's arms.
Considering that the first two stories were consistently stronger, it amazed me that I didn't like this story all that well. Maybe it's hindsight upon seeing Justice's transition to not being alien after all, but I think the chief gripe about this story is the fact that Tensen's hand is ripped off by the cliched demon-snake-creature that pops up in the middle of the story (and, additonally, the way that's resolved in the next issue). I'll admit, too, that "alien ninjas" don't exactly strike my fancy either, and the idea of tattoos coming to life is hum-drum. Bottom line: it's all been done before. Still, the storyline Englehart has going isn't too terrible, as Tensen is seeing all different parts of the country on his trek to Los Angeles. Maybe part of the reason I dislike the story so much is that the idea of trekking across the United States could have been developed so much more. The one redeeming quality of this book is seeing Justice forced to use his sword ability out of his shield hand, and even that isn't much. But anyway, my final complaint is once again that the dynamic pencils of Geof Isherwood, a fine talent in his own right, were marred by the worst inker possible, Vince Colletta.
Rating: 2 Bolts (out of 5)
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