Phase 1. After Phase 2 saw Zenith take on a meglomaniac, meet his parents maker, and have a threesome with two of Peyne's more recent experiments, we came to Phase 3. This was a multiversal epic once again taking on the Lloigor as heroes from many universes banded together to defeat them and is probably one of my very favourite stories to run in 2000AD. On the way, they pick up a robotic hero called Archie who returns to Zenith's universe. A thread running through all these volumes was a mysterious plan Cloud Nine keep referring to as the missing ones also return to Zenith's reality. In this book we'll finally see what that plan was and what it meant for the whole of humanity. Words by Grant Morrison, pictures by Steve Yeowell.
We begin with Peyne writing a book called "Seizing The Fire", a book that will remain unpublished because he is the only human left in the world. He supposes that writing it is a way to "somehow wrest order from this present chaos". Each day he rises in darkness, he dresses, he misses music, "they" have music but it is scarcely recognisable as such. "That dreadful unending scream: that I think, is their music".
Peyne: "What have I done? That is the question I must now answer. I have loosed the Tygers upon the world. I have swept away the old order. I have cast down the towers of the cities of men. And laid the foundation stones of the New Jerusalem".
He conteplates the huge black sun that is now in the sky. Then Ruby, now a being of pure energy comes to visit him. She exhorts him to turn around, he says the last time he looked he was sick for a week. But he turns anyway and is OK. Ruby asks why he is working on a book. Peyne says it keeps him busy, organises thoughts. Ruby says they'll be completely abolishing his past, "you're writing on the wind Michael".
|Michael Peyne, last human alive.|
Peyne goes for a walk and sees they've erected a new building, a featureless cube, "to them this bloody eyesore must appear beautiful". Every day he walks down the transformed streets and it seems the world has always been this way.
Peyne: "It must be only a year or two since they killed Zenith and Peter St. John, but it feels like forever".
Each day the city is restructured it's map "redrawn by restless hands". The citizens have hands for faces now and walk but go nowhere. Every so often one of the Lloigor pass overhead and they applaud, "otherwise they remain silent".
Peyne misses conversation, the Lloigor speak to him of course but they are so beyond the merely human he feels like a child. He walks all day but whatever direction he goes in he finds himself back home. His house is one of the few constants in the world. He rises and walks and works and grows younger day by day. So in the time that remains he will tell the story of the end of the world that was.
He ponders the aphorism "be careful what you wish for, it may come true" but for him it did come true and summarises his whole lifes achievement.
Peyne: "I wished for a world uncontaminated by the greed and brutality of man. I wished for a world that was the perfect playground of superhuman minds. And see! It has all come to pass! And here I stand in this dreadful city of endless night. The last man. The last human being, his wishes fulfilled. Watching a black sunset."
We then flashback to July, 1992 so we can find out how things have ended up the way they have. Zenith on the TV being interviewed by Melvyn Bragg on the South Bank Show about his new musical direction, saying it was important to express himself.
||Zenith and manager Eddie.|
They turn over to another channel as one of the superhumans, David "Lux" Cambridge is giving a speech about the problems fascing the world today, they are offering something called "The Labours of Hercules" to give humanity a chance "to drag itself out of the evolutionary mud" as helped by them of the "Horus Project". Zenith dismisses it as "once a hippie, always a hippie" and goes out.
|PM Peter St. John contemplates the Chimera.|
Peter: "A whole tiny universe. A microcosm which duplicates our own, scaled-down infintesimally. Did I tell you I made contact with Chimera? I think we may be able to use it but there are risks involved. That's why I've asked you here Zenith".
Zenith asks him what he plans to do with Lux and Spook and the rest of that lot. Peter says he's invited them over for a chat and asks him to hide the pyramid in his desk. Lux, Ruby and Spook arrive, Peter is surprised they used the door, "they've never shown that kind of courtesy before". And he lets them in.
David says he doesn't want to waste time on small talk, "a new age is dawning" and Peter is wasting his time playing human power games. They think it's time "to start playing God games". They are offering Peter one last chance to join them. Penny says he doesn't owe humanity anything, "why do you have to be so opposed to the plan?"
Peter says why don't they just call The Plan the Final Solution? David says he can't believe Peter wants to stand in the way of evolution.
David: "We're not monsters, we're the next stage. We can't afford to be dragged down into the mire by creatures whose time has come and gone."
Peter says he doesn't mind ascending but he doesn't want to kick the ladder away behind them. Ruby then says she can sense some kind of power source and opens Peter's desk to find the Chimera. Peter says it's nothing by an ornament and tells her to put it down. She turns it into dust much to Zenith's horror. Peter says they will stop them somehow, David says "you're welcome to try".
|Ruby destroys the Chimera.|
He remembers very clearly sitting with Shockwave and Blaze watching David saying that politics will become obselete in their new world which will obliterate national boundaries. It was the "last day of the world that was". The girls change channel with their minds to Top of the Pops. Performing tonight is "Yahoo Crew Plus Two Featuring MC Acid Archie". As they sing he recalls how these jingles and tunes engraved themselves on his mind and "these silly poignant memories will die with me."
Suddenly Ruby appears on screen and starts singing and creating a light show. Peyne finds himself regretting the loss of such vulgar music, "what would I give now for just five minutes of Top of the Pops". The DJ says something about Zenith and the two girls blast a single thought about the child.
Zenith backstage says Ruby can't sing to save her life. Eddie his manager is fussing saying people are looking for a new revival and he thinks it'll be Punk next. Zenith picks up his guitar and goes to perform, meanwhile the two girls with Peyne have fetched a small child. When Zenith appears on screen it points and says "Dad! Dad! Dad!"
Peyne: "I still cannot think of the child without shuddering. If only I had known. If I had even suspected what was to happen I would have killed the child. Or so I like to think."
We then cut to Washington DC, the President is asking if the superhumans can be killed. He's told their Shadowmen killed to of them, "all we need is the element of surprise. Just say the word." The President authorises the hit as Peyne thinks back as to what word it was that began the war, "I wonder what word opened the door to hell."
|Trust the Americans to stick their oar in.|
Outside Domino's building are the Shadowmen, they are told to go in through the limbic system, knock out the visuals then proceed into the autonomic nervous system as per training. A man and woman then go inside the building, the man called Cameron is nervous. The woman calls him a wimp.
Domino is alone sorting his CDs when suddenly the Shadowmen attack his mind and render him blind. He retaliates and blasts through the woman's defences and fries her body to a crisp. Cameron warns Domino he's not alone, then David appears behind him and drops the charred remains of his colleagues who were out in the car, "just who did you think you were dealing with, you ridiculous little creature?"
Cameron fearfully blabs that he was just obeying orders and is working for the U.S. government. David says he knows everything and the woman was right to call him a wimp, "are you very afraid now?" Cameron says he is and David squashes him in a wet splat. Domino still can't see and pleads with David for help. David takes his head and says "it's all working out beautifully" and crushes Domino's head.
|David helps kickstart the war.|
They destroyed the Whitehouse, the Pentagon and the Fort Knox gold reserve, "within a very short time, the United States of America as a concept will only exist in the history books".
David: "We are now going to have to take more direct charge of human affairs. You simply cannot be trusted. As of today we are assuming guardianship of the planet. That is our final judgement and we would ask that you refrain from any attempts to resist us. You've seen what we can do."
Inside the House of Commons there is pandemonium with Peter the still centre. The opposition leader demands to know which side he is on. Peter brushes him off then we cut to the superhumans inside their base discussing how the President made it easy for them and now they should begin the next phase. But in walk Peter, Zenith and Archie. Peter says it's time to stop "before this situation goes entirely out of control". Zenith also complains his records are being burned because of them.
Peyne: "The end of the world had arrived. Wearing a quite unexpected face".
We rejoin the now forty year old Peyne running through the ever-changing streets of London. He thinks about how he later discovered the conflict took place in one room and took the form of an exchange of psychic energies between Peter St. John on one side and David Cambridge, Ruby Fox and Penelope Moon on the other.
Four people in one room, and the psychic fallout had ordinary people seeing fiery skies, apocalyptic clashes of angels, flying saucers and nightmarish bomber aircraft, "everyone saw his or her own vision of the end of the world."
We join that battle, Zenith says it feels like being on dodgy E. Peter says they are in his hyperthalmus, he needs to increase his serotonin. Zenith says it feels like it's been going on for years, Archie says it's actually been three point two-five seconds. Peter counter-attacks striking all three in their minds. Then Archie declares "mind stuff dull. Archie needs action". Archie then rips the seating up and smashes it over Penelope's head. Then he punches David in the head. He starts trying to crush Ruby's head, but she fights back and blows his head clean off, putting him out of action.
|Archie is taken out.|
Elsewhere Zenith asks Peter what he did. Peter says he shoved them forwards in time or rather he shifted them in space and let time catch up while they were in suspension. Zenith asks how much time has passed, and Peter says "weeks. Perhaps months. I'm afraid it was rather a leap in the dark". Then they look up and see the sun. It is a huge black circle, "oh no" says Zenith "what have they done? What have they done to the sun?" Peter can only recall a premonition he had:
Peter: "(I've been here before) Freezing. Things that used to be human drag themselves in the perpetual shadows, sobbing with shame. A skyful of frozen cinders. A child's doll driven mad by the horrors it has witnessed stares up at me. What have they done? What have they done to the world? I wish the sun would only rise. And then I realise it has risen. And the sun is black."
Zenith snaps him out of his reverie, he asks if the whole world is like this and Peter says it's probably safe to assume the worst. We then return to Peyne and his book of the events, now he's reached his twenties. Now he is backtracking and introducing himself back into the narrative again.
|The Black Sun.|
David: "We made it happen just the way you told us to when we were young. The age of humanity is now a closed chapter in the history books. Except there won't be any history books."
Peyne says he hopes they aren't ready to consign him to history, he has protection. David says he was like a father to them, he doesn't need protection from them.
Then Shockwave, Blaze and their kid cross over to the side of the rest of the superhumans, leaving him feeling like "an abandoned pet. I wanted to cry. The last man in a world no longer human... nothing can describe how it feels when one's heart dies." David is holding Zenith's kid and says it's time they shared something with Peyne.
David: "...We even fought the Lloigor without realising just what they were. Beyond time and space, existing simultaneously at every moment in history. It was us you see. It was us all along. We are. We were. We will be, The Lloigor".
We then return to Zenith and Peter as they fly around seeing how the whole world is now in ruins. They arrive back in London and Zenith wants to hide somewhere. Peter says they'd find them sooner or later, "they've finally done what they intended to do a long time ago". Zenith says maybe it's time he tells him what the plan was.
In the sixties they found the government was trying to sterlise them to prevent them breeding. It was then they formulated the so-called plan. Peyne had instilled in them that they were to be mankinds evolutionary successors, "as far beyond humanity and humanity was beyond the first air-breathing fish. That was his dream and it split us apart". Peter wanted to lift humanity up to their level, he really thought it was possible back then in the sixties.
The others had a more clean slate approach, Zenith parents were to produce the first child, Peter and Ruby Fox the second. But Peter refused to particpate as did Siadwel Rhys. The others said it didn't matter, they told them how they planned to cleanse the planet by wrenching the Earth of it's axis and killing ninety percent of terrestrial life in the process, "a clean slate". Looks like shifting the axis wasn't enough, "now look what they've done."
|Peyne still getting younger.|
He thought that after the superhuman war and rise of the Black Sun the worst was over, but he was completely wrong. He imagined there were still a few people alive in the world and that included Peter and Zenith. They must have heard the shriek filling the world of "terror and triumph and disgust and joy." The others had been incubating in the sun and now they were returning:
Peyne: "The Black Sun wasn't a sun you see. It was a door. It was an egg. It was the physical extrusion of a realm beyond our own. It was a gateway into the world of the Lloigor. The Many-Angled Ones. And on that day, the gateway was finally opened."
The Lloigor were finally free to invade the phsycial universe and for Peyne it was infinitely worse because it was his superhumans that were the Lloigor. Time had become meaningless, he thinks on how it would take ages to work out what really happened. "I just can't be bothered" he thinks, "I seem to be forgetting things now."
He doesn't understand the early parts of the book he's been writing, "in fact it's really boring." All he remembers is that it started with a scream and Earth went into spasm. We then see Zenith and Peter getting ready to confront the Lloigor who stand before them as golden energy forms. The one who was David asks if they are really sure they want to face them who have given up flesh and have a conciousness extending across a multitude of dimensions. Peter says they're ready. "Speak for yourself" whispers Zenith.
Peyne remembers he didn't see any of that final battle until it was over. He felt sorry for them, what did they think they were going up against?
Peyne: "And yet, it doesn't seem right, somehow. Peter was never so reckless. He used to think like a chess player. Why did he confront them so directly?"
We see Peter wrestling with the everchanging forms of the Lloigor, he's brain friend and tossed down onto the statue of Maximan, the steel fist going through his chest. Still clinging to life he mentally attacks but ends up being immolated. Now only Zenith is left.
|Peter is killed.|
The boy asks if Zenith remembers him, then suddenly turns into a mouth full of teeth saying "maybe you remember me now. Iok Sokot". Zenith stammers something, but to no avail. A flash and he is a charred skeleton lying on the ground close by where Peter was killed.
|And so is Zenith.|
The now young child Peyne puts down his pencil and goes to sleep on his bed. Ruby comes in to say goodbye and finds him now a baby. She picks him up and holds him saying she wonders what's left of his brilliant mind? She looks inside and sees Peter St. John in there. She tells him to forget about that and takes him onto the balcony. She lets go of him and he floats and regresses back to a foetus then out of phsycial existence.
Ruby: "Look! Look what you made! You're the last of the human race! Your dream has eaten you whole! Look what you made!"
The Lloigor come together and look at Peynes book. They call it "as interesting as ant tracks in the dirt" and destroy it. Then they leave Earth, "the lunatic spires of London catching fire as they ascended."
Their ascent is described by Peyne, he does not feel, he only narrates and has no opinion. They had grown too vast for Earth's horizon to contain them, but before they left "they stamped their mark on the very subsistence of the planet" Then they streamed off into space, past all the planets in the system, "outstripping light as they left the solar system behind".
|The Lloigor leave Earth.|
Peyne: "And I can't wait to see what's there. I can't wait for them to see and finally understand. I can feel them! I can feel the sudden terror as they reach the threshold of being and catch a glimpse there of something vast beyond all imagining. Something greater by far than them. I can feel their shock as they reach that last great uncrossable barrier and realise they're trapped forever. And beyond the prison universe, there's a hand. And I finally see what it's holding"
The hand is Peter St. John, safe in his office, holding the Chimera pyramid which the Lloigor are all now trapped inside. He puts it down and says "Ha" as he walks off.
|The Lloigor, stuck in a universe of their own.|
Peter: "Oh, I don't know Zenith. I rather like Downing Street. And if I move it'll be to... a bigger place".
We cut to couple of weeks later, Zenith and Archie are hanging out driving Zenith's manager Eddie mad. Eddie puts the news on to discover John Smith has died of a heart attack (spookily when he became party leader post 1992 electoral defeat, the real John Smith died of a heart attack in 1994 paving the way for Tony Blair) and his party is disarray this close to the election on July 23rd. Peter gives his condolences but says the election will go ahead as scheduled. Eddie thinks there is something fishy about all this. "Don't look at me, Eddie" says Zenith, "I've never voted for him".
||Zenith considers new possibilities.|
We end this final Zenith story with a reporter at the Tory election celebrations. Peter St. John has been given his first vote of confidence by the British people. He's promising a radical new direction for the party and the country and teh electorate has given him the go ahead. It's been a long road from superhuman flower-power activist to respected member of Thatcher's cabinet. "But one wonders if, in his wildest dreams, he could ever have imagined this?" says the reporter. And we end on a close up of Peter's face, his eyes completely white...
|A superpowered Tory PM. Worrying.|