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Area 51, vol. 9, by Masato Hisa. Grade: A
(Talking about Star Jellies.)
H35) It's Gonna Be A Wonderful World
Kishirou suddenly says that he wants to play with McCoy's breasts, so she threatens to kill him. The water at the top of the kappa's head asks if it's still not got this control thing working yet, and explains that it's part of an intergalactic hive mind that has fallen to Earth and wants to get McCoy to help it. The creature, along with its compatriots, had been flicking through space when they got trapped in Earth's gravity well. At some point, it was stuck in a research lab, but then things went black and when it recovered consciousness it was sitting in the kappa's head. McCoy does some footwork and discovers that the creature is a "star jelly". The U.S. Army had located all of the Star Jellies in America, stuffed them in canisters and dumped them in Area 51. Apparently, the one controlling Kishirou had been in a container that was cut open by Prince Charming's invincible sword at the end of the god war after it fell to the ground from Valhalla (McCoy keeps the sword) and the jelly had fallen into a nearby river before being eaten by a fish that was then captured and turned into sushi, which the kappa ate at a sushi bar. McCoy explains everything to Lieutenant Felix, and he has his men round up all the canisters and open them back up. The star jellies return to space. McCoy notices the date on one of the canisters - 7/7/1999 - the date that Nostradamus predicted the world would end because of a "rain from the heavens". Seems that the Army is good for something after all. As a 'thank you', the star jellies return the wishes that children had made to them, thinking they were shooting stars.
(McCoy as a younger woman, learning from her boyfriend that Pike has a history of "protecting loved ones". On the right side: the boyfriend's grandfather.)
H36) Everyone Will Be Happy Tomorrow
Pike has himself a problem. He's a gun, and that means he can't act unless someone pulls his trigger. And at this particular moment, McCoy is about to drown. They'd been chased by a big cockatrice, with Kishirou driving the truck and McCoy sitting out the passenger window, shooting Pike at the big bird. He'd hit it with 3 rounds, but it was tougher than they expected, and got in a wild swing that knocked McCoy out of the truck and down into a river far below the bridge they were on. She's unconscious, and he can't help her. He goes into a flashback, telling part of his origin story. McCoy and her lover had gotten into a shootout with some bad guys, and during the lull her lover decided to relate how he'd gotten this gun. His grandfather was a very professional thief. He'd hit a house, and just take one item to sell on the black market. One day, the target was a very rich man who owned this Colt Government M1911. As the grandfather was preparing to walk out of the house with it, he saw the owner's daughter and fell in love at first sight. He stayed in the house and turned himself over to the owner the next morning. He was arrested and did his time. When he was released from prison, he returned to the house and asked for a job. He was accepted as a gardener, and slowly worked his way closer to the rich guy and his daughter. Unfortunately, the house was targeted by 2 killers, who shot the old man in the head, kidnapped the daughter, and set fire to the house. The grandfather was trapped under some debris, but he was close enough to the glass-framed case that had the M1911 in it to reach it with his free hand. There were 6 rounds in the gun. 4 had been used to shoot his trapped arm off. The other two were for the kidnappers when he caught up with them on the open road. From this point, Pike had been used to protect people, and had been instrumental in getting McCoy and her lover out of the jam in the shoot out. Now, as a Tsukumogami, he's willing the bullets out of the cockatrice one at a time. The first one flies from the body of the cockatrice, smashes through the waters and hits the gun, but in the wrong location. He tries again, and the second round is too weak. The third round slams into the gun just right and triggers the hammer to fire off one more round. The powder flash is enough to show Kishirou where they are in the murky waters, and McCoy is saved. Pike comments that the only reason this had worked is because McCoy had never let go of him when they hit the water.
(If you're a time traveling assassin, and you know you're going to dust a vampire, remember to bring an umbrella.)
H37) Be Careful For the 3:10. Side A.
Bibi the Vampire is back, and he wants revenge. He's broken into McCoy's office, and he and a henchman have chained her to her desk. As Bibi delights over how he's going to torture her because of how she'd disfigured his face so long ago, a weird, big man appears out of nowhere and tells McCoy that he's there at 3:10 PM as promised. He sees the clock and realizes that he's 17 minutes early. Again. Bibi and the henchman get angry at the interruption and try to kill him, leading to a bit of a battle. The guy uses a machine gun, blasting carelessly away, while Bibi turns into bat form and avoids the bullets. The guys says that he'll share three pieces of information: 1) He can read the flow of time. 2) Vampires die if you stake them in the heart. 3) His name is Count of St. Germain. As Bibi is preoccupied with the explanation, McCoy notices that the bullets have all entered the air vent system, and they come out as one big metal stake to nail Bibi to the wall, killing him. St. Germain leaves, with McCoy still chained to the desk, saying that when he comes back at 3:10 he's going to kill someone close to her. Meanwhile, some thugs are chasing Kishirou, who is carrying a big briefcase. He places a phone call to someone saying that he has the goods and will meet the other person as promised at 3:10. He returns to the office, and has to unchain McCoy from the desk. They open the suitcase, and there's an unconscious female wolf-dog of some kind folded up inside. She's got an old bullet wound on her left temple. Keiron reaches the office at 3:09 PM. McCoy remembers the warning just as St. Germain pops back in with his machine gun at the ready. Keiron is walking down the stairs when he hears a gun shot.
(Kishirou and Menudo visit a fortune teller.)
H38) Be Careful For the 3:10. Side B.
Kishiro and Menudo, one of the streetwalkers, are lined up to consult a famous love psychic. The two of them claim to want to get married, and Menudo, a Chupacabra, wants to know if they're compatible. The psychic is picking up indications that Kishirou is unfaithful, but some of the vibrations are actually from a couple in the middle of a big argument in an apartment across the street. The psychic begs off, saying that he's having a bad day. Outside the office, the chupacabra tells the kappa that there was someone else in the room. She can sense heartbeats and blood, and someone was in a box under the table, possibly feeding the "psychic" with information through a wireless earphone. The guy was a normal human, but the person in the box is probably the real deal. Earlier, Dr. Keiron had approached McCoy with a job. There was a girl, Nemori, who was a Satori. She was a popular street worker, because after spending an hour with a customer, she'd sing for them. Usually, it was a song of great sadness and those customers would never come back to ask for her again. The god Mardock heard about her and arranged for an outdoor concert. There were several hundred people that turned out to listen to her sing, one of whom was a deranged psychotic. Being a Satori, Nemori knew the guy was in the audience and that he was going to shoot her. Her gift to him was that she let him shoot. Keiron had treated her afterward, removing the bullet from her brain, but she disappeared following the surgery. He'd heard rumors that she was still alive, and then suddenly a fortune teller set up shop and became an overnight success. The centaur assumed that the teller had gotten his hands on Nemori somehow. He wants McCoy to recover Nemori that night, but she says that she'll be busy with another job, so Kishirou volunteers to do the work. Keiron adds that he knows someone that can help with this case. That's how Menudo and Kishrou came to visit the psychic. Menudo tells the kappa that there had been three other people, non-humans in the room next door, probably guards. She wishes Kishirou good luck, and adds that she'd be happy to see him again, but only for "professional purposes". Kishirou blushes.
(Nemori singing to the crowd.)
In the office, the psychic is in a rage, kicking the suitcase because he'd lost a sale. The other guys tell him to not damage their money maker, and that they should turn in for the night. They leave and Kishirou breaks in through a window. Unfortunately, Menudo overlooked one more partner, who had been in the toilet. When he emerges, he sees Kishirou and reaches in his jacket for a gun. Kishirou reaches in his own jacket, for Kimaru's withered hand. He guesses where the water pipe is running under the floor, and ejects a water jet out of the toilet to blast the guy out the window. This noise attracts the rest of the gang, so Kishirou rushes out of the building with the suitcase. The gang chases him from the alley just as a semi-truck barrels down the street in front of them. Kishirou throws the suitcase under the truck and launches himself into the cab through the open window, grabbing the driver's bottle of soda and exiting out the other window. On the other side of the truck, he picks up the suitcase and uses the soda to propel himself up to the roof of a building. From there he made his way back to McCoy's office, where he found her chained to the desk, and the air of the room filled with vampire ash. They open the suitcase to reveal Nemori inside just as St. Germain warps in, standing on top of her desk, with his machine gun ready. Keiron is approaching the stairs to the abandoned subway when he hears machine gun fire.
(St. Germain tries to kill Nemori.)
H39) Today 3:10, At The Place, From That Desk
St. Germain gets the drop on McCoy and Kishirou, and fires into the suitcase. But, Nemori is starting to wake up to her full powers as a Satori savant, and uses her fur to block the bullets. She then voices everyone's thoughts, from "I messed up?" to "What's going on here?" and "How do I protect her." McCoy tries to disarm St. Germain, which leads to a brief firefight that ends in a standstill. Keiron shows up and demonstrates that he knows exactly who St. Germain is. The time traveler keeps trying to use underhanded tricks to keep from having to play honestly, and Nemori keeps voicing his thoughts out loud. When he glares at her she throws up another bullet-proof hair barrier (it's very funny). Eventually they go outside to let Nemori rest, and there's an impression that she's apologizing to Keiron for putting him through all this (or that he's apologizing to her). Upstairs, St. Germain says that he can read the flow of time and travel whenever he wants. McCoy comments that he can't travel "where" the same way. What he did was to arrive when the office was empty, climb up on her desk, and then will himself to "3:10 PM" to make it look like he was warping onto the desk out of thin air. That's how he screwed up before, thinking the office was going to be empty when Bibi had McCoy chained up. The problem, there's this "block" in space-time that he can't travel past. He gets to a particular time in the future, and "space" blocks him. He wanted to know what was causing this and isolated it to McCoy's office. The event seems to be the annihilation of Area 51, and that's going to happen tomorrow, starting from McCoy's desk. At about that time, the psychic tracks down Kishirou and grabs him, demanding Nemori back. In the office, a bulge emerges from the bullet scar on Nemori's forehead and turns into a hand reaching up. A few seconds later, the psychic explodes in a large fireball, as St. Germain adds that the cause of the destruction is going to be Nemori.
(No cast of characters on the covers this time, just Charming's sword.)
Summary: The star jelly story is silly, while "Everyone will be Happy" is good because it provides more backstory for both Pike and McCoy. The "3:10" arc is great, but on the etchi side again. Highly recommended, but only if you're not easily offended. It's strange, because I'm being reminded of Geobreeders here. There's no similarity at all in the artwork or story telling, but the overall concept of an "action" manga is very strong for both titles. Maybe it's better to say that Geobreeders influenced Black Lagoon, and Black Lagoon had an impact on Area 51. No idea if that's true or not, though. It just feels that way.