Overview: We get a little more insight into what happened at Sanctuary before the catastrophic events of issue #1.
Synopsis (spoilers ahead): The issue opens with Lagoon Boy, Wally, and Booster Gold starting individual therapy sessions in Sanctuary. The story jumps to Lagoon Boy getting zapped by a laser and Wally ruminating alone in his room.
We then see Booster arriving at Sanctuary for the first time and being greeted by the three hosts. Meanwhile, Lagoon Boy continues to get zapped with lasers while Wally has a session where he uses AI to construct a perfect life with Linda and his children Jai and Iris. The hosts of Sanctuary give Booster a mask, explain the rules of Sanctuary and escort him to his room.
Lagoon Boy continues his outdoor session of being zapped repeatedly; presumably to try and overcome his fear. Wally continues living his perfect life, imagining fighting crime with his children as his sidekicks. Booster talks to the AI and struggles to figure out what help means to him at Sanctuary. Eventually, Booster uses the AI to have a contentious conversation with a fake version of himself.
As Lagoon Boy ends his session, the alarms all over Sanctuary declare that there is an emergency and everyone should proceed to the nearest exit. Wally goes racing through the building. Booster continues fighting the fake version of himself before deciding they should answer the alarm. Lagoon Boy finds the dead bodies of three Sanctuary patients before he is impaled through the midsection by a projectile. Wally finds Roy’s dead body on the steps of Sanctuary before Harley bashes his head in from behind with her mallet.
Booster walks up to Harley on the steps and they have an awkward conversation. The last page is Commander Steel, Gunfire, Tattooed Man, Gnarrk, Red Devil, Protector, Poison Ivy, Solstice and Nemesis introducing themselves and saying how long they’ve been at Sanctuary.
Analysis: As you’ve no doubt surmised from the summary or from reading the issue, the story jumps all over the place in this one. At first, it might seem disconnected, but I think it’s done intentionally to give the reader a more accurate picture of the passage of time. The different scenes also work well together and don’t feel like a jarring shift in any way. While the different scenes flow well together, I haven’t the faintest idea of what is happening in this story anymore. And for a mystery story, that’s not a bad thing. We do see a bit of the day to day operations of Sanctuary, and it’s now confirmed that AI and AR constructs are involved. That means the reader and the characters in the story can’t always trust what they see. There’s bound to be some trickery with all that before this story wraps up.
The different sessions were impactful as usual. Lagoon Boy had a particularly tragic moment where he dies laughing after being impaled which is a call back to what he said in his session. Wally is clearly trying to come to terms with losing his perfect life and Booster’s worst enemy continues to be himself. The art is absolutely wonderful. I’ve become a fan of Lee Weeks through his work in the Batman series and I’ve never seen a page of his that I didn’t like. I could be wrong, but he seems to be utilizing a slightly different style with this book. Although perhaps I’m just seeing a slight difference because it is a different colorist. Speaking of which, Morey continues to deliver phenomenal work. Seriously, this series is comic art at its best. Look no further than the page of Wally lying in bed or the full page shot of Booster with his head in his hands as proof of this.
I said earlier that I have no idea where this story is going, but I would like to take a chance and guess (because where’s the fun in mystery stories without crazy theories?). In the previous issues, Booster and Harley mention that they saw each other killing patients at Sanctuary. What if the emergency was the AI malfunctioning and using the AR constructs to kill people? Or perhaps there is someone else behind the emergency malfunctions? Are some of the new characters introduced on the final page going to be revealed as potential suspects in the next issue? If you have any theories, feel free to sound off in the comments or on our Discord.
Final Thoughts: Top notch art and writing team up to deliver an interesting installment of this mystery story. It may have readers off-balance with their expectations right now, but it also feels as if the bigger picture is just about to start coming into focus.