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Episode Studies by Clayton Barr
enik1138 at popapostle dot com
V: Alien Conflict V: Alien Conflict V: Alien Conflict "Alien Conflict"
(V #4, pgs. 1-14, 18-21)
(V #5, pgs. 3-4, pg. 7, panel 3-pg. 9, pg. 14, panel 3-pg. 17, panel 4, pg. 22)
(V #6, pgs. 5-6, 12-14, 18)
DC Comics
Written by Cary Bates
Pencils by Tod Smith (#4-5), Carmine Infantino (#6)
Inks by Tony DeZuniga (#4, #6), Alfredo Alcala (#5)
Cover by Eduardo Barreto (#4), Denys Cowan and Rick Magyar (#5), Rich Buckler and Romeo Tanghal (#6)

Tyler and Chris seek revenge on Nathan Bates; Kyle is captured and taken to a prison camp where Visitor scientists perform grotesque experiments on human beings.

Notes from the V chronology

The previous three issues (V #'s 1-3) told two stories at once: the story of Donovan, Julie, Willie, Hart, and Boyce in Sparkling Springs and the story of Tyler and Chris being pursued by Visitor mercenaries hired by Nathan Bates. With the Sparkling Springs story concluded last issue, this issue continues with the Tyler/Chris/Bates story and begins a new story about Julie's scientist friend, Dr. Meagan, and his quest for peace with the Visitors. Because of the monthly frequency of the comic book versus the weekly episodes of the TV series, Cary Bates and Marv Wolfman, the comic's writer and editor respectively, found themselves falling behind the story arc progressing on TV. Issues 1-3 took place squarely within the earlier days of the "open city" phase of the chronology, but as issues 4-6 were being written, the TV series had progressed the chronology to the point where Charles had arrived to lead the invasion. So, attempting to stay relevant to the events in the TV series, Bates and Wolfman included appearances of Charles within the Dr. Meagan story. So we have the Tyler/Chris/Bates story taking place in the pre-Charles days concurrently with the Dr. Meagan "Charles in Charge" days! This is why I have broken these stories out into two separate places in the chronology in the unusual manner of hop-scotching through pages of issues 4-6 (twice). This arc's title of "Alien Conflict" I've taken from the title of V #4 and concludes the Tyler/Chris/Bates story. Later on in the chronology, I present "Shatterday" taken from the title of V #5, which will tell the Dr. Meagan story. (There is, however, a brief introduction to Dr. Meagan within this "Alien Conflict" story which I have left intact since it partly involves Julie taking a call from him at the Club Creole, which will have been destroyed by the time the main part of Dr. Meagan's story takes place.)

Story Summary

Picking up from the end of "Encounter", Lorne delivers the "bodies" of Tyler and Chris to Nathan Bates at the offices of Science Frontiers in the middle of the night. But Tyler and Chris have intimidated Lorne into bringing them in very much alive and they immediately pull guns on Bates. Lorne then tries to make his own move to take the two down, but Tyler kills him. He then turns his attention to Bates. Bates says Tyler can't kill him now..."Not if your resistance ever wants to see the Star Child again!"

On the Friday Face-Off TV program, Dr. Earl Meagan makes a case that Earth may one day be visited by benign extraterrestrials, while his opponent in the argument, Dr. Myron Grasimov contends that only hostile motives, not altruistic ones, would compel an alien race to travel light-years in search of other intelligent life forms. In an empty corridor after the debate, Dr. Grasimov is approached by a fan who wants to shake his hand. But the handshake turns deadly as some kind of energy passes from the "fan" into Dr. Grasimov, killing him, while the killer says, "Diana sends her regards." Not long after, Julie receives a call from Dr. Meagan at Club Creole and it seems she knows him.

Back at Science Frontiers, Bates explains that he has just received information that his son, Kyle, and Elizabeth were driving through the Santa Monica mountains yesterday when they were shot off the road by a Visitor patrol. The patrol recognized Elizabeth from the mark of Zon on her hand and grabbed her. Kyle defended her and, when they started to beat Kyle, Elizabeth used her powers to send the Visitors troopers flying into a heap. The two then escaped into the woods on foot, pursued by the patrol, and haven't been seen since.

Aboard the mothership, Diana disciplines Devon for failing her in the encounter with the resistance in Sparkling Springs (in "Encounter"), via some kind of energy lance she applies that has him writhing in agony. Finally the discipline ends with Diana disintegrating him.

Reluctantly agreeing to spare Bates in exchange for a device that will detect Elizabeth's high IQ brain waves and allow them to track her down, Tyler and Chris take a Jeep out into the mountain forest. They come upon a Visitor patrol in the woods and, while Chris drives, Tyler uses a flame-thrower to burn the aliens to a crisp. The brainwave device then leads them to a cave where they find an unconscious Elizabeth, surrounded by a self-generated protecting glow. Perhaps sensing the two as friends, the glow allows Tyler to pick her up and they take her back to Science Frontiers for medical care. When Elizabeth finally awakens there, Bates demands to know where Kyle is. She doesn't know, but she can sense he is in terrible trouble.

Elizabeth tells them that she and Kyle had fled into the forest and as the sun went down, they found a cave to spend the night in. She implies they made love and fell asleep in each other's arms. Whatever happened to Kyle happened while she slept. She senses he is in terrible danger and passes out again, mumbling words in her sleep, one of which is an apparently Visitor word, Lakka. Bates informs them that there is a Visitor camp in those same mountains called Camp Lakka, geared toward finding ways of improving humans as a source of nourishment. Elizabeth begins having a sort of seizure and says she is in contact with Kyle; his Visitor keepers at Camp Lakka have just told him he is to be dissected in the morning!

Tyler and Chris get in touch with a fifth column contact and learn of a Visitor van travelling to Camp Lakka that evening. They somehow kidnap Bates himself from his office complex and then hijack the van. Disguising themselves as the Visitor occupants with Bates as their anonymous prisoner, they drive right into Camp Lakka and convince the superintendent to place their prisoner in with Kyle.

That night Tyler and Chris take a peek inside the experimentation building of the camp and discover several grotesquely bloated humans being kept in pods.

Bates is thrown into the cell with Kyle and the two actually seem to share a rare warm moment between them with a hug.

Later, just as guards arrive to take Bates and Kyle in tandem to the experimentation building, Tyler and Chris arrive to knock out the guards. They traced Bates to the correct cell via a small transmitter they planted on him. Tyler orders Kyle and Bates to free the rest of the prisoners while he and Chris keep an appointment with the doctors.

Tyler and Chris surprise the three Visitor doctors who were preparing to dissect Bates and Kyle that morning. They force the doctors to inject some of their own human experimental formulae into themselves. The three doctors begin screaming in pain and are soon deformed or dead from the effects.

Tyler and Chris return to the freed prisoners and they escape the camp in a Visitor hover-truck. Chris presses a button on a remote control device, setting off the charges he and Tyler planted throughout the camp.

"And another Visitor hellhole bites the dust!" he exclaims.

THE END

 

Didja Notice? 

(V #4, pgs. 1-14, 18-21)

Lorne's hovercraft (introduced on the last page of the previous issue) seems to undergo a change in the size of its bed in the course of several panels. Notice how much wider the bed gets when the craft is moving as opposed to when it's parked.
Visitor hovercraft Visitor hovercraft
 
Visitor hovercraft

Tyler seems to be the one to most often use nicknames for the Visitors. On page 4, panel 2 he gives us a new one...Gila-goons.

On page 4, Tyler accuses Bates of cutting secret deals with Diana that allow him and Science Frontiers to make millions of dollars off the invasion. But, though Bates' truce with the Visitors within Los Angeles may be for questionable motives, we haven't seen him deal with Diana for technology or money since the establishment of the open city (though Death Tide does reveal that Bates has had the power sources for Science Frontiers' computers and security systems converted to run on Visitor power packs).

Also on page 4, Tyler accuses Bates of selling the red dust that Science Frontiers manufactures to the rest of the world at a 600% mark-up.

On page 5, Elias makes a reference to the frequent television appearances of Joyce Brothers. Dr. Joyce Brothers is a psychologist, writer, broadcaster, and actress who has been appearing on TV (either guest-appearing or on her own shows) since 1958. Mostly she offers psychological advice to her viewers and was particularly well-known for her advice shows in the 1970's and 80's. 

Pages 5-7 introduce us to astronomer Dr. Earl Meagan. Both Meagan's name and appearance are an obvious allusion to the real world astronomer and astrophysicist, Dr. Carl Sagan (1934-1996).
Dr. Earl Meagan Dr. Carl Sagan
Dr. Earl Meagan Dr. Carl Sagan
 
On page 6, the scientist opposing Dr. Meagan on the Friday Face-Off news show is called Dr. Myron Grasimov. The name is a reference to Dr. Isaac Asimov (1920-1992), a professor of biochemistry and prolific author of science and science-fiction books (among many other subjects). The depiction of Dr. Grasimov with mutton-chop sideburns is similar to Asimov, but otherwise his appearance and personality do not seem intended to reflect that of Asimov. (Asimov himself appears in the novels East Coast Crisis and Symphony of Terror.)
Dr. Myron Grasimov Dr. Isaac Asimov
Dr. Myron Grasimov Dr. Isaac Asimov

The TV program on which doctors Meagan and Grasimov appear, Friday Face-Off, was not a real TV news show of the time. Likewise, the originating TV station, WRGH does not exist in the real world. The "W" of WRGH indicates the station is in the region of the U.S. east of the Mississippi River; stations to the west of the Mississippi begin with "K". It seems surprising that the Visitors are not jamming broadcasts from the free parts of the world.

After the broadcast of Friday Face-Off, Dr. Grasimov meets a potential fan and says "Well, I'm certainly glad to hear not every member of the general public has been taken in by that 'the Visitors are our friends' nonsense!" As I pointed out in my study of V #1 ("City on the Edge"), the writers of the comic book should not be using that phrase as if it's still valid at this point in the V chronology! The population of Earth is no longer under the illusion that that is true and even the Visitors themselves have stopped using that propaganda line since the end of the first invasion over a year ago in the timeline!

There's a humorous exchange on page 9 between Elias and Donovan as Julie speaks on the phone to Dr. Meagan.
Elias: Beats me what they're talkin' about, Mike...but the lady is definitely into the conversation. Funny...I didn't think Julie went for the brainy type."
Donovan: "Thanks a heap, Elias."

On page 10, Bates calls himself a "liaison" between the Visitors and the City Council. Maybe this is just part of his humanitarian act because it pretty much seems like he's in charge of L.A. after making his deal for the open city with the Visitors in "Dreadnought".

On page 18, Tyler refers to the Visitors as "living luggage."

On page 19, Tyler is torching Visitor troopers with a flame thrower...and seems to be enjoying it.
Tyler: "...the only good lizard is a dead lizard--fried lizard--basted lizard--charcoal-broiled lizard--"
Chris: "Easy, Ham, easy. Trouble with you is you gotta learn to enjoy your work more."

On page 19, we learn that Bates has given Tyler and Chris a device that is allowing them to track the overactive brainwave patterns of Elizabeth. Is it a device Bates somehow obtained from the Visitors? It seems unlikely that Earth technology could produce such a device.

On page 19, Tyler and Chris discover Elizabeth in a cave in the Santa Monica mountains, unconscious and enveloped in a self-generated glow that seems to protect her. Could this cave be the same one in which she underwent her metamorphosis from child to adult? Both caves are described as being in the Santa Monica mountains. The cave exterior looks different than the one depicted in "Liberation Day" and "Dreadnought", but that could be artistic license, as in many other cases in the comic. (Although as Elizabeth tells what happened to her and Kyle, she says, "We found a cave where we could take refuge till morning," implying it was not familiar to her.)

(V #5, pgs. 3-4; pg. 7, panel 3-pg. 9; pg. 14, panel 3-pg. 17, panel 4; pg. 22)

Page 4, panels 1 and 2 imply from Elizabeth's narrative that she and Kyle made love in the cave that night! From what we know of their relationship up to this point, this would seem to be their first sexual coupling together.

On page 7, Elizabeth, in her trance-like state, keeps muttering the Visitor word Lakka. It turns out she is referring to Camp Lakka, where Kyle is being held, a prison camp for humans set up by the Visitors (similar, but more research-based, to the unnamed prison camp we saw in "Breakout", in which Kyle was also imprisoned). We never learn what the "Lakka" in Camp Lakka stands for, whether the camp was named after a person, place, or thing.

On page 8, panel 2, we see that Bates' map of the Santa Monica mountains is marked with a red V to mark the camp's location instead of the traditional X or dot.

Unlike the camp seen in "Breakout", which was ringed by a sand mote inhabited by crivits, Camp Lakka is surrounded by a typical chain-link fence, topped with barbed wire.

On page 8, we see a Visitor hovercraft similar to the one seen previously, but this one is in Camp Lakka, with a futuristic-looking cage attached to the back instead of the previous flat bed.
Visitor hovercraft and cage

Disguising themselves as Visitors, Tyler and Chris have kidnapped Bates, against his will, to act as their prisoner being transported to Camp Lakka. How did they manage to get Bates out of his Science Frontiers office and past all of his security?

Bates is clad in a short-sleeve t-shirt throughout his internment at the prison camp, so we can easily see that he does not appear to be wearing the pulseometer on his right wrist that was introduced in "Dreadnought". According to that episode, if the device no longer detects his pulse, it is supposed to send a signal to the explosives at Science Frontiers, triggering them and releasing a huge cloud of red dust to smother the Visitors in Los Angeles! So what happened to it? No-Prize time: perhaps he initially agreed to some kind of plan with Tyler and Chris to free Kyle from the camp and wanted to assist since Kyle is his son after all and he temporarily disabled and removed the device for this mission. But then the two ex-spooks may have altered the deal on him, using him as their "prisoner", which is why he is now fighting them on it.

On page 22, at Camp Lakka, Tyler discovers that the Visitors have got fattening-up humans down to a science.
fattened-up humans

(V #6, pgs. 5-6, 12-14, 18)

When Kyle is reunited with his father in the cell at Camp Lakka, they hug, the warmest gesture we've seen between the estranged father and son.

On page 6, Tyler refers to Visitors as two-legged Gila monsters.

Despite having been seemingly put into the role of prisoner against his will, on page 12 Bates seems to be aware of the specifics of Tyler and Chris' plan for getting them all out of the prison camp.

On page 13, for whatever reason, the four Visitor doctors in the camp's operating room have chosen not to wear their human disguises. (Really it's so we, the readers, can see the effects of the experimental injections they are about to be forced into!)

On page 13, panel 1, there appear to be four Visitor doctors in the operating room awaiting the delivery of Bates and Kyle for dissection. But when Tyler and Chris enter there are only three! I suppose we must assume the fourth doctor left off-panel before the two resistance fighters arrived.

When Tyler and Chris force the Visitor doctors to inject themselves with the experimental formulae, they inject it into each other at the base of the skull. Is there any particular reason they would choose that part of their anatomy? Would the same have been true if they'd injected a human?

On page 18, the resistance fighters use a Visitor hover-truck they have loaded the freed prisoners into to escape Camp Lakka. It looks a lot like a futuristic pick-up truck without wheels!
Visitor hover pick-up

On page 18, the doctors' formulae, which was prepared for human physiology, is shown to have wildly unpredictable results on the injected Visitor doctors. One of them appears to be lying dead with his leathery skin turned pink. Another's skin is still green but appears to be melting off his body. The third has grown an extra head on his shoulders and a third arm out of his chest.

Notes from V-Mail

In the V-Mail of issue #4 the editors acknowledge that their stories may be out of synch with the TV series saying, "Please remember that we're working several months ahead, so don't be confused if things are a little out of synch between here and the television series. For example, many of you asked why we used Chris in the first issue while he had not been seen on the series. By now you know he is on the series, just not that often."

Also in the V-Mail of issue #4, actress Faye Grant, who played Juliet Parrish on the series, wrote in to associate editor Bob Greenberger:
Dear Bob,
I can't tell you how thrilled I am with the first issue of DC's
V.
It wouldn't be a bad idea to send forthcoming issues to our writers--they might see some entirely new things!
I hope all is well with you. It was nice bumping into you and chatting for a second in September.
Best,
Faye Grant
Burbank, CA

In the V-Mail of issue #5, a letter writer asks if DC will be doing an adaptation of the V novel East Coast Crisis or consider using the characters from it in a future story. The editors' response is that they will neither be doing an adaptation nor using those characters. But in issues 9 and 10, one of the characters from East Coast Crisis (Allison Stein) does appear!

In the V-Mail of issue #5, associate editor Bob Greenberger refers to Dr. Meagan in the "next issue" paragraph as Dr. Hagen!

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