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Episode Studies by Clayton Barr
enik1138 at popapostle dot com
V: The Deadly Rites of Spring "The Deadly Rites of Spring"
V #10 (DC Comics)
Written by Cary Bates
Pencils by Carmine Infantino
Inks by Tony DeZuniga
Cover by Jerry Bingham
November 1985

The Fifth Column enlists the Resistance in a plan to stop the Visitors' imminent invasion of New York.

Story Summary

As the issue opens, the gigantic Visitor Walter gets a human makeover and heads to New York City to kill Donovan.

In New York, Donovan, Julie, Willie, Kyle, and Elizabeth are coaching new resistance recruits in fighting the invaders. Kyle catches Mayor Alison Stein spying on the class and she reveals she is not the real Mayor Stein, but a Visitor triple-agent! She reveals that Diana captured Mayor Stein and then killed her for an affront during interrogation. Then she, the imposter, concocted a scheme with other fifth columnists to protect New York from Diana's plan to invade the city. The resistance members sign on to the imposter's plan.

While the rest of his crew moves forward with enacting the plan, Donovan is ambushed by Walter and finds himself in the fight of his life. But during the brawl, Donovan finally gets a hold of Walter's own bio-blaster weapon and kills him, Walter's last word being the name of his beloved Diana.

At Gracie Mansion, Diana, having learned of her imposter mayor's defection, kills her. Soon after, Diana is enraged to find that the imposter's plot to extend the New York winter, thus preventing the red dust's recession, has come to fruition.

With New York safe for the time being, our west coast resistance crew heads home.



Didja Know?

This is a rather weak story. The depiction of the red dust bacteria's vulnerability against heat is extremely oversimplified here. Apparently, the first day of Spring will cause the bacteria to die off! In fact, in "The Swordmaster", it is stated that it's not so much the heat that kills it, but the lack of a rejuvenating period of cold winter. In our current story, New York's winter is just ending, so the bacteria should be nice and revivified and ready to survive another summer. Even if artificially extending winter was the answer to keeping the Visitors out, does it justify the ecological consequences to not only the northeastern seaboard, but other parts of the world which are now experiencing more heat and less precipitation because so much of it has been diverted to the northeastern U.S.?

Didja Notice? 

On the cover, Lydia is drawn so that she is leaning against the painted V and her left foot is resting on the UPC bar code box!

Page 1 suggests that even though the northeastern part of the U.S. is protected by the red dust, Visitor vessels are still a common site in a solely observatory capacity.

Page 1, panel 1 shows the Statue of Liberty cocooned in a lattice of steel girders. In 1985, when this issue was published, the statue was undergoing renovation and looked very much like this. In the background are what appear to be the twin towers of the World Trade Center.

Page 1, panel 2 reveals a new portable exo-adapter which allows Visitors to quickly don a human disguise.

The image of Walter's human face looks rather like Marlon Brando!
Visitor Brando

Page 2 reveals that David Bates' townhouse is in New York's famed Greenwich Village. This is an upper middle class residential neighborhood in lower Manhattan.

On pages 3-4, Julie seems to contradict herself from one page to the next. On page 3 she says the red dust is effective "...except in temperate climates, where the warmer temperatures render the red dust harmless after a time." This is a fairly accurate representation of the red dust as discussed on the TV series. But on page 4 she says, "...your city has been relatively safe up till now, thanks to this year's unusually long winter..." and goes on to say "...once the warmer temperatures set in--the red dust which has been protecting the northeast will dissipate!" The key point is in her earlier statement that warm temps render the dust ineffective after a time. So the first pangs of Spring should not be nearly enough to cause the red dust bacteria to die off.

Also on page 4, Julie says that the Visitors have only a small amount of the red dust antidote; just enough to allow a few Visitor infiltrators in the protected regions. This goes somewhat in hand with the statements in the novel Symphony of Terror. However, we still get no explanation why they can't study a sample of the antidote they've obtained to learn how to manufacture more!

In the V universe, there was apparently a long summer in 1984 and a long winter season of 1984-85. The long, Indian Summer is mentioned in the novels The Texas Run and The New England Resistance. And this issue of the comic book reveals a long winter, so, though the winter started late, it must also have lasted unusually long.

On page 5 the concerned New York citizens who've met with Julie, Donovan, Kyle, and Elizabeth ask who they can turn to for help because the "...commando team from the first invasion hasn't reappeared." Presumably they are talking about White Christmas, the group who put a crimp in the Visitors' plans for New York in East Coast Crisis. But why would they "reappear"? There hasn't been a significant public threat to New York by the Visitors since then. Secondly, our L.A. crew is quite familiar with the White Christmas members from their interactions in East Coast Crisis, Death Tide and Path to Conquest. Why don't they reassure the assemblage that White Christmas is still ready to spring into action if necessary? I suppose you could argue that it's better to keep White Christmas' continued existence quiet in case of spies and also to encourage this new assemblage to prepare to fight for themselves. 

Page 6, panel 2 indicates from the street sign that David Bates' townhouse may be located at 4th and Charles in Greenwich Village. A search on Google Maps shows a similar neighborhood there, though not the same exact structure as the Bates townhouse.
4th and Charles in V-verse 4th and Charles in Greenwich Village
Notice the buildings and street lamps are similar

On page 6, panel 3, the ersatz Mayor Stein uses the word "sulk" when, most likely, she means "skulk". This could have been a clue to the assembled resistance members that she wasn't human; she misused an English word in a manner similar to how Willie does!

Page 7 seems to suggest that the L.A. mothership has been hovering over New York instead of L.A. the past several days, in preparation for an invasion. Seems like a good way to give away your plans, not to mention the risk of exposure to the red dust bacteria if any were to get past the ship's air filters.

As Diana and Lydia engage in their practice stun-bar session on page 8, Lydia is brought to her knees and surrenders, commenting, "We are now even in our physical encounters...a final match will have me the victor." She must be referring to their earlier "death-match" in "The Champion" in which she bested Diana. Perhaps that defeat has prompted Diana to step up her own combat training regimen as seen here?

On page 9, Philip seems to give a hint of the Leader's bid for peace with Earth as seen in the upcoming final TV episode "The Return".

On page 11, the Mayor Stein imposter, Marla, reveals that the real Alison Stein was captured by the Visitors and then killed by Diana in a staged escape attempt.

Also on page 11, the ersatz mayor refers to her human face as a bio-mask.

On page 12, the ersatz mayor describes a plan to install a device on the spire of the Empire State Building which will alter the weather of the northeastern seaboard and prolong winter to keep the red dust bacteria active. The weather alteration plan, referred to as Operation Cold Snap, is somewhat similar to Diana's own, more global, weather altering plan in Path to Conquest, referred to as Project Icewind.

On page 14, Donovan mentions Columbus Circle. Columbus Circle is a landmark near Central Park in New York City with a monument statue of Christopher Columbus atop a column.

Page 17 reveals that Julie knows how to pilot a helicopter. Maybe Donovan taught her?

On page 18, one Visitor calls another Kuju. I assume that's a Visitor name, not an Earth one.

On page 19, Walter uses a Visitor weapon we've not seen before, a neutronic grenade.

On page 20, Donovan uses a Visitor weapon he took off of Walter's belt. It's a square-shaped device which Walter calls a bio-blaster. I'm not sure what is different about it from a normal Visitor blaster other than it's shape. Donovan fires it at Walter and a beam strikes the Visitor, killing him.

I guess Diana has taken a dose of the red dust antidote, because she appears at Gracie Mansion to kill Marla without any ill effect on herself. 

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