By Robert Larson
In keeping with the revelations from the last issue, we learn a lot from Autumnlands #13, enough to change our perception of this world. Last issue was about the creators of the Autumnlands, who were really nothing more than irresponsible party boys who used the planet as a kind of pleasure resort. The frat bros made a mess, and now somebody’s been sent to clean it up. But for the residents of the Autumnlands, particularly Dusty and Aelbert, a clean-up crew is not going to be a good thing. Warning: I will try and avoid spoiling the whole issue, but some plot details will follow. In the aftermath of the explosion, the unnamed woman from before heads to them while Learoyd and Dusty search for Aelbert. They find him, barely alive, and he reveals that he provoked the Galateans into accidentally destroying the mountain. Learoyd manages to calm the Galateans enough to secure safe passage, but by then the woman has shown up. She’s familiar with this place, though Learoyd’s presence baffles her. No matter: she’s here to “shut down” this outpost, and he’s brought some ominous looking equipment to help her.
There’s a kind of hilarity in the fact that this whole world is the product of a bunch of irresponsible male scientists who kept it around because they turned it into a pleasure resort, and now a woman has come along to clean up their mess. Of course, she’s not exactly a good guy either: it’s hard to imagine that her plan is any better than “kill everybody and wipe it clean,” and she shows distressingly little concern for the lives of others. Indeed, even if she rejects the immaturity of the other scientists, she’s still basically pretending to be a god: the way she dresses, the sense of superiority and entitlement, and the fact that she’s using some kind of technology that forces other people to perceive her as a god.
So, if it explains who she is and what might be in store for the Autumnlands, this still does a good job of leaving other questions unanswered. When she’s scanning, for example, she can’t see Learoyd on her screen. What does that mean? Is he in another dimension simultaneously, or is he not real in some sense? Or, the more pressing question at the moment, why does she want to wipe this planet clean? Was it supposed to be more than a get-away for some power-mad scientists? And what exactly would that be?
I was relieved that Aelbert has made it out (at least for the time being), even if I genuinely assumed he was a fine paste after that explosion. And I walked away from Learoyd’s interaction with the Galateans with a weird amount of respect: he lets them make a choice to spare them rather than command them to do so. And since this is the penultimate issue of the arc, I have to wonder what will come next. Will they be able to deter armageddon, or merely defer it? What happens if more of these pseudo-deities show up? I for one want to see what’s happening back in the cities. Something tells me that if the apocalypse is coming, Sandhorst has made sure that they’re all going to be laughably unprepared for what comes next.
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Autumnlands #13 Writer: Kurt Busiek Artist: Benjamin Dewey and Jordie Bellaire Publisher: Image Comics