E-Merl’s dialogue is almost entirely added by Phil here (all I had was “Yeah” and then him hesitating, unsure how to follow it up). This is a clear improvement.

So I’ve been thinking about Alan Moore again lately.

The last comics script he wrote before his retirement from the field was published a month or so ago, and it’s a solidly middle-of-the-road example of his work, sprightly, entertaining, and playful without being either transcendentally revolutionary (the things Watchmen, Swamp Thing, and From Hell taught the whole field is a debt we can never repay) or unbearably excessive (dude, I’m sorry, but I’ve BEEN to your hometown, and it is just NOT INTERESTING ENOUGH to be worth a 300-page novel, a 1,300-page novel, AND a movie).

The reason I bring him up is that there are a few contradictions in his writing that I think he never fully addressed or resolved. One of them is a clear love for the heroic spirit (transcending his views about super-heroes, which changed several times over the course of his career), set against a sort of hermitic conviction that power must always corrupt and that the only way to live honestly is to avoid power and its structures as much as possible. While there’s something to be said for the latter philosophy, at times it seems to me like an abdication of responsibility, even a romanticization of introversion.

And that seems to me like what Gravedust is at risk of slipping into here. The mystics are dead, the Savasi are lost, and Gravedust is heroic enough to want to put things right, but so uncomfortable is he with politics and power that he thinks there’s some noble way to do that that doesn’t involve “assuming authority.” FLASH FORWARD: Thirty-one chapters later, Gravedust will assume warchief powers over the Savasi, using his fists.

At the end of the series, Rachel will not live to change the world directly as she might have hoped to do, but her indirect influence has a pretty big footprint. Frigg and E-Merl will carry on in her name. And while many life experiences will nudge Gravedust into his ultimate destiny, this conversation is one of them.