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Episode Studies by Clayton Barr
enik1138 at popapostle dot com
V: Printer's Devil "Printer's Devil"
V #8 (DC Comics)
Written by Bob Rozakis
Pencils by Carmine Infantino
Inks by Tony DeZuniga
Cover by Jerry Bingham

Tyler, Chris, and Robin take a detour on the way to Chicago.

Story Summary

After leaving Los Angeles at the end of "The Betrayal", Ham, Chris, and Robin drove to St. Louis, Missouri and were to head to Chicago from there before a message from Donovan diverts them to a resistance printing plant in Sparta, Illinois. On the road a big rig truck is ambushed by a skyfighter and the trio steps in by blowing up the skyfighter with a bazooka. The truck and its two occupants, Lewis and Ed, turn out to be hauling a load of paper to the same plant and they all head off together.

The shipment is delivered successfully to the plant, where the trio meet the head of the plant, Ted Skimmer. As the paper is unloaded from the truck, a vial of red dust antitoxin is discovered smuggled in as well, indicating the plant has one or more Visitor infiltrators.

That night, Ham, Chris, and Skimmer wait in the paper storage warehouse to see if anyone comes to find the smuggled vial and, sure enough, they kill a female Visitor in the ambush.

The next morning, a second disguised Visitor keels over in the plant and dies from the red dust in the atmosphere.

Meanwhile, Robin is growing attracted to the truck driver named Lewis and they kiss.

Back at the local motel where Ham, Chris, and Robin are staying, Ham discovers his room ransacked; two Visitors were searching for the vial. Ham kills one but the other escapes unseen through the bathroom window.

That night, the escaped Visitor returns to Ham's darkened room to try again, but Ham is hiding out waiting for him. The Visitor turns out to be Lewis and Ham shoots, leaving him fatally injured. Before he dies he tells them his people still win because there is a bomb hidden in the printing plant that will blow the entire town off the map. Robin enters and sees the dead Visitor she had been attracted to and she begins to sob uncontrollably.

The workers are gathered at the plant to search every nook and cranny until the bomb is found. Ham finally finds it hidden in a spool of paper just as was the vial of antitoxin. He disables the device.

Ham, Chris, and Robin take their leave of Sparta, heading for Chicago. Ham tells Robin, seated in the back of the van, to keep an eye out for Visitors, to which she laments, "How can we be sure I'll recognize them?" 

THE END

 

Notes from the V chronology

The fact that Ham, Chris, and Robin are on the way to Chicago and the newspaper headline of "Los Angeles in Flames" both show that this story takes place during or shortly after the events of "The Rescue" hence this issue number (#8) has been placed before issue #7 in PopApostle's V chronology.

Didja Know?

The title of this story comes from the term "printer's devil", the name given to apprentices in the printing establishment. 

The DC house ads for this issue, seen in DC titles bearing a cover date of August 1985, were kind of amusing, referencing the contemporary TV commercials for V8 vegetable juice which bore the tagline "Wow, I could've had a V8!" while a person who just drank a soda pop or something else unhealthy bops themselves on the head. The kid in the ad below appears to be hitting himself in the head with a rolled-up X-Men comic, Marvel's most popular title at the time. Wow, I could've read V #8!

Didja Notice? 

Page 1 reveals that, after leaving Los Angeles at the end of "The Betrayal", Ham, Chris, and Robin traveled to St. Louis, Missouri and were to head to Chicago from there before Donovan's message diverts them in this story.

When the three are chased by a skyfighter, Robin, on page 2, voices her opinion that they are after her in order to take her back to Diana and force her to have another hybrid baby. Robin has become a bit paranoid due to the events of "The Betrayal" in which it was revealed that resistance member John Langley, with whom she was developing a romantic attachment, was actually a Visitor infiltrator sent by Diana to impregnate the teenager once again.

Page 6 mentions that the Spartan Printing Company featured in this story used to print comic books. Spartan Printing in Sparta, Illinois was a real printhouse that printed most of the titles published by DC Comics at the time this story was published (the plant was closed in the early 1990s).

Page 6 also mentions that the red dust is still potent in Illinois, but apparently stopping the resistance literature is worth the risk to the Visitors in the skyfighter.

On page 7 a vial of red dust antitoxin is discovered smuggled inside a spool of paper. But the capsules shown are red instead of white as depicted in "Liberation Day".

Speaking of the antitoxin, if the Visitors have access to samples of it to send to infiltrators in the north, why aren't they able to study and replicate it en masse? This same conundrum exists in Symphony of Terror.

Page 10 reveals that the Sparta plant prints a newspaper called Resistance News. A plant worker is seen holding what is presumably the most recent issue, with the headline "Los Angeles in Flames".

Writer Bob Rozakis appears to have written himself into the story as the character Ted Skimmer, introduced on page 6. Ted Skimmer is a pseudonym used on occasion by Rozakis. On page 10 Ted also mentions that he used to work for a publisher in New York; this is probably a reference to Rozakis' employment at DC Comics at the time.

On page 22 Ham refers to the Visitors as scales.

After discovering the hidden bomb at the plant, Ham tells the others to back off while he takes it apart. Wouldn't that be a job better handled by Chris? He has been established ever since the miniseries and onward as an explosives expert!

In this story, Robin begins to become romantically involved with Lewis, who works at the printing plant. Later, he turns out to be a Visitor infiltrator, making this the third time Robin has become attracted to a Visitor! But it is not explained whether he was instructed by Diana to seduce her or not. Also left unexplained is how he was able to go about in the daylight without sunglasses!

In a humorous bit on page 23, Ham displays his trademark sensitivity to Robin when she comments, "...every time I feel safe or comfortable with somebody, he turns out to be a Visitor!" and Ham replies, "Yeah, you sure are a magnet for those suckers."

Another ironically amusing exchange occurs in the final two panels of the story as the trio drives off to Chicago. Ham asks Robin to "keep an eye out for lizards back there." And she laments, "How can we be sure I'll recognize them?" 

Notes from V-Mail

Editor Bob Greenberger reveals that the covers of issues 7 and 8 were done by Jerry Bingham.

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