This page was silent in Phil’s original script. At the last minute, I added some dialogue that built off the last spoken line from page 23. I think that was pretty clearly the right call.

One consequence of the age difference between me and Phil is that I came up during the period of comics fandom when Alan Moore was considered the next best thing to God, and Phil didn’t get there until after Moore’s legacy started looking more complicated. So I don’t think this was true for Phil, but when outlining this chapter and the next, I was certainly all kinds of inspired by Moore’s first major American work, “The Anatomy Lesson” and its lead-in, “Loose Ends,” issues #20 and #21 of 1982’s Saga of the Swamp Thing.

There are some cute (mostly unintentional) parallels and some more meaningful ones. As lead-ins, both “Loose Ends” and this chapter end with the death of a plant-person whose body absorbs way more ammunition than seems necessary at the hands of low-level grunts. More to the point, for both Syr’Nj (and friends) and the Swamp Thing, this apparent death is more than an obvious cliffhanger. It’s the beginning of a new phase in their journey, which is about to blow up the reader’s understanding of who and what they really are.

In that sense at least, the “end Act I” label in the alt text is appropriate. But there’s at least two more candidates for the real “end of Act One” label, and heh, we’ll get there.

Also, the “shrinking blackness” at the end here is a very George Perez bit.