There is a sense of impending doom in this penultimate collection. In the previous book Tommy seemed to recognise this and yet still stubbornly refuses to change his ways and once again those close to him end up paying the price. This volume contains four arcs, two of which - "For Tommorrow" and "The Old Dog" - see Tommy suffering yet more loss in his life and those are the two I shall cover in more depth. It's also notable that this volume has events taking place during the idiotic Batman crossover event "No Mans Land" in which an earthquake hits Gotham City and the US government writes the city off, detonating the bridges leading into the place and leaving the citizens to fend for themselves. There are no actual crossovers with any of the Bat-family books here, but as the comic is set in Gotham City they had to take it into account. Although they only pay lip service to it, it was a very silly idea for an event. Gotham City might be a dump, but cutting it off from the rest of America instead of sending aid seems a mad idea. Ah well.
DEAD MAN'S LAND - This first two-parter introduces a character who'll go on to be very important in the series's final arc, a woman called Maggie Lorenzo. The story begins with Natt visting Tommy, who's been holed up for three weeks wallowing in self pity after the events of "Katie" in the previous book. Tommy decides it's time to move on and comes down to Noonan's. There he, Natt, Ringo and Hacken and have fun little chat about the regularity of yearly crossover events that take place in the DCU. After a friendly target shooting game, Maggie comes to them and asks if they can help find her missing son Michael.
They get through to Baytor who is now the bartender there and luckily he passes the message on. Sean shows up with Ringo, Hacken, Sixpack and others and they blow the vampires away in a hail of bullets then bulldoze their bodies out into the sunlight to kill them for good. The story ends with Tommy going to tell Maggie the bad news about her son.
FOR TOMMORROW - It begins with Ringo performing a hit on a seventeen year old boy. Then we catch up with Tommy who is visiting Tiegel at the zoo she works at now. She's working for free as the whole NO Mans Land thing had the zoo being told to kill all the animals for safety's sake, but she and the other keepers stayed on to take care of them. Tommy confesses that he "might be in love" with Tiegel and this pleases her and they make a date for later.
Tommy: "You know.. everyone in this whole freakin' town thinks you an' me're gonna get into it one day. An' if we ever do I think it'll be a damn shame."
Ringo: "Perhaps. On the other hand I would not want you to die at the hands of an unworthy opponent".
At this Tommy storms out. Ringo goes to collect the money for the hit he performed at the start of the story and finds his contact has been dismembered. The culprit is an ugly, squat little fellow who introduces himself as "the Waterman". He's been hired to seek revenge on behalf of the father of the boy he killed. There is a gun battle between Ringo and the Waterman's hired guns and Ringo manages to escape to Noonan's.
|One of the series's nastiest villains.|
Sean: "An' he said 'I dunno Uncle Sean. I just got the feelin' Tommy's gonna do somethin' special one day'".
And he and Ringo drink to that. Back with Tommy and he's in bed with Tiegel, she asks him to tell her he loves her again and will he consider giving up being a hitman for her. Tommy stammers that he'll think about it. Later Tommy bails on a pool game and in the car Natt asks him what's being going on between him and Ringo and Sean. Natt says getting into it over a girl with Ringo is stupid and he also needs to leave all the Ireland stuff behind him. Tommy agrees and then gets out to go and visit Wendy.
He tries to convince her not to dump Ringo, but she is unimpressed by his character reference. Ringo arrives and seeing Tommy goes for his gun, and Tommy goes for his even while he is yelling at Ringo that they need to stop being stupid. But before it can escalate, the Waterman's goons come crashing through Wendy's window and another gun battle ensues. Ringo tells Tommy to get a hysterical Wendy to safety and she and Tommy escape.
Ringo: "That's the problem with this hotel. They'll let just anyone in."
The Waterman tells them he will torture them both to death, Ringo on camera for the benefit of Sir Richard who's son he killed. And Tommy as a "private indulgence". Then he cuts off one of Tommy's nipples. Back in their cell, Ringo says he heard about creatures like the Waterman in China. Cold blooded vermin who lurk in the dark and prey on the unwary. Tommy asks him if he really believes that, Ringo replies that China is a big country, in remote areas nuclear testing has left many mutated people. He was one of the lucky ones.
|Even killers have a line they won't cross.|
Ringo and Tommy are taken away for more torture. Ringo tries to bait Sir Richard into having him killed quickly but fails. We next see them back in the cell, with Ringo minus an eye and a few ribs. Ringo says he's had access to the CIA's Bloodlines files and knows all about Tommy's capabilities. Then he resumes his story. He came to America by stowing away on a boat and surviving by eating rats. His only relative there, an Uncle put him to work as an enforcer. He killed his Uncle after he was tricked by him into killing an innocent man and went freelance as a hitman.
|RIngo, fresh off the boat, starts his new career.|
Ringo: "So you live for tommorrow. Hoping they'll be something better. Something more than death. But there never is."
Only two men come and fetch them this time and Ringo and Tommy manage to take them down, grabbing their guns and a grenade off them. They come out blasting and manage to hit the Waterman several times. They discuss their rivalry behind some cover.
Ringo: "It never mattered Tommy. If it did we'd have killed each other years ago. Who's faster is a question children ask. Not friends."
Tommy tells Sir Richard, the man who ordered the torture that he is a dead man and shoots out the camera. The Waterman appears and zaps the huge pool of blood Tommy is standing in. Then he challenges Ringo to come get him and runs off. Ringo follows, Tommy gasps that it must be a trap, but Ringo says "then let's have an end to it". Ringo is faced by a row of armed men and gunfire is exchanged. Tommy recovers and goes and finds all the men dead, the Waterman gone and Ringo, having been hit several times, just about dead. He asks if Tommy will help him one last time and Tommy agrees.
|Ringo's last stand.|
Ringo: "That's all?"
Death: "Yes. That's a lifetime"
Ringo: "And what comes now?"
Death: "Up to you. You can leave here, move on to where it is you're going. Or you can come and work for me."
Two weeks later, Tommy goes to Hong Kong and kills Sir Richard. Then he returns to Noonan's and he, Natt and Sean drink to Ringo's memory.
THE MORNING AFTER THE NIGHT BEFORE - This is a much more lighthearted one-shot after the emotional rollercoaster of the previous arc. Tommy wakes up in bed with Wendy after they ended up sleeping together commiserating Ringo's death. When Tiegel spots a love bite on Tommy's neck she punches him out. Later Natt and Tommy pull a farcical hit which ends up having them drown the victim in a toilet. The story ends with Tiegel tricking Tommy into taking off all his clothes and leaves him in a room with one of the zoo's lions as punishment for his infidelity.
|Tiegel is awesome.|
THE OLD DOG - The story starts with a voiceover from Tommy saying that he and Sean were up at the cemetary at Pat's grave and Sean told him he wanted the inscription "The Old Dog" on his stone. Then we join Hacken, Sean and Tommy having a drink and Sean tells them about his childhood. He ran away from his abusive father and ended up stowing away on a ship. It was 1940 and the ship was a merchant cruiser called the HMS Jervis, a private vessel commandeered by the British military, outfitted with a few guns and left protecting convoys.
|The HMS Jervis had better days.|
The action then cuts to the pre-wedding of a woman called Isabella. She is the grandaughter of Men's Room Louie, and she wants an elderly assassin called Benito who is her Uncle, to bring her Tommy's head on a spike for a wedding gift. Back with Tommy, he bumps into Tiegel and tries to talk to her but gets kicked in the crotch for his trouble. Three days later he tries again but as they talk, Benito comes up behind Tommy and sticks a knife in his back. Tiegel manages to grab Tommy's gun and fend off Benito for the moment and Tommy says to take him to Noonan's. Sean, with great concern, closes the bar so he can concentrate on patching Tommy up.
Tiegel: "I wanted Sean last night sitting with you 'til dawn and tending your wound, and I saw the fear for you in his eyes. And my God I thought, no father loved his son more."
|Tiegel and Tommy share a moment|
A gun battle erupts and Tommy ends up joining them in defending the bar, saying he's not about to just lie down and let others fight for him to Sean "because that's not how you raised me." Sean then asks Tiegel to piss Benito off a bit so she shoots at him grazing his cheek. Benito then sneaks round the back of the bar with some men. One of them gets swallowed by Baytor, but the rest manage to grab Tommy, before Benito can kill him, Sean kills everyone but Benito.
|Sean gets his badass moment.|
Tragic. The final chapter is an epilogue taking place around fifty years later. Noonan's is still standing and Baytor is still tending bar. Some young men have come to visit it after reading about Tommy's exploits from a book, which has also rather mangled his exploits. After a flashback to a poker game between Tommy, Sean, Ringo, Pat and Hacken an old man drinking at the bar comes and sets the young men straight about a few things.
|Who could this be...?|
Old Man: "All gone now. Alla them. Years an' years ago, swept up by somethin'... somethin' inside them, that made them step into the valley of the shadow, when they coulda got away instead."
He says he never understood until much later, but they were such a brilliant crew. Then he makes to leave, saying it's all ancient history that teaches all the wrong lessons. When one of the young men asks him what his name is, he replies "Hacken" and leaves.
The story ends with a return to Tommy and Sean's conversation about what he wanted on his gravestone. Tommy refused to put "The Old Dog", instead he has it inscribed with "Beloved Father" instead. Oh.. I have something in my eye... I have something in my other eye... I have something in my heart!