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Attack on Titan, vol. 8, Hajime Isayama. Grade: B
We're introduced to Nick, a member of the Church of the Wall, a supposed cleric group convinced that praying to the wall will protect them against breaches by the giants. This is followed by Annie Leonhart being assigned to a military squad in Stohess town. The squad leader seems to be the typical lazy drunk, and he tells his squad that they have to go on escort duty. The guy tasked with leading the escort gripes a lot, then they move out to do the mission. As they walk by one alley, Armin gets Annie's attention, and asks her to help him and Mikasa to get Eren out of the city and to freedom (he'd escaped from the vehicle that Annie was to escort). There's a tunnel nearby that runs under the town and Armin wants to use that to get Eren to the wall perimeter. Annie hesitates and Armin pushes her to show her loyalties to the group. She agrees, then balks at going into the tunnel with Eren, Armin and Mikasa. She comments that this part of the town has suddenly become abandoned (except for all the soldiers waiting unseen on the other side of the buildings).
(Toothy bursts from the underground tunnel to fight the female rogue once more, this time knowing that the enemy is his sparring partner, Annie.)
Armin realizes that Annie has seen through his plans, and Mikasa loses her patience and challenges Annie to a fight. Armin fires a smoke signal as Annie uses a hidden blade in her ring to cut her hand to shapeshift into the female rogue. The rogue kills all of the regular soldiers that descend on her, and tries to capture Eren. Eren is hesitating over what to do next, still wanting to give his martial arts sparring partner the benefit of the doubt, and is also torn over the deaths of his Special Corp teammates. He flashes back to a conversation with Levi, who says that you can't predict how a particular plan is going to turn out. You can only do what you think is right and hope for the best. Additionally, Erwin mentioned that Annie was the main suspect for killing Sonny and Bean, having stolen Marco Bodt's harness pack to use along with her own. The main clue was that the rogue fought the same way Annie does. The flashback ends, and Armin and Mikasa rush to opposite ends of the tunnel to distract the rogue. Mikasa leaves, saying that she fights "because this is the world I was born into." Eren agrees and turns into Toothy.
(Mikasa discovers that there's a rogue giant encased within the city walls. The implication is that the walls are FILLED with such giants.)
During the battle between the rogue giants, Nick is leading his congregation in a prayer for the wall will protect them from giants. Annie comes flying in through the air and smashes through the building, killing all the congregants. The fight continues, with Annie reaching a clearing in town, where the soldiers have nothing to grapple to in order to pursue her. She hardens her fingers and toes to punch holds into the wall and starts climbing up it. Mikasa gets to the wall too, and slices Annie's fingers off, ordering her to fall. As she does, Annie flashes back to a scene with her father, who had taught her how to fight. He says that it's ok if the rest of the world becomes her enemy; he will always remain her one trusted ally. All he wants is for her to promise that she'll return to him. With these words, the flashback ends and Annie, in tears, hardens the liquid around her to create an unbreakable shell. Eren pulls her out of the husk of the rogue, but now it's like she's encased in amber. At about this time, Mikasa, still hanging from the wall, notices a large crack in the plaster, behind which is a massive sleeping rogue giant.
(Annie, encased and imprisoned, lower right. Erwin demanding answers from the "church of the wall," lower left.)
Nick orders that the giant be left untouched, and Zoe Hange goes ballistic, demanding to know what's going on. He threatens to drop Nick off the top of the wall, but the cleric would rather accept death than give away any secrets. Erwin confronts the Church of the Wall, but they won't talk, either. He tells the city leaders that Annie has been chained underground, where she will continue to sleep until they can figure out how to remove the shell. In the meantime, Armin speculates that the entire wall, miles and miles of it, contains rogue giants. Then, a sentry runs into the meeting room and announces that Wall Rose has been breached and giants are entering the lands to the south. Members of the 104th are dispatched to a tower outpost to the south, but the new recruits (Reiner, Bertolt, Sasha, Christa and her bodyguard) haven't been allowed to suit up. They have neither jetpacks nor weapons. Reiner considers this suspicious, but can't explain what the reasoning would be. Sasha props her head on a table, then jerks up yelling that she hears approaching footsteps. Then, one of the older army members shouts that a bunch of giants are coming up to the tower from the south.
Summary: Things are starting to get crazy. We know that there's an opposing force of humans siding with the wild giants, although the wild ones often attack the rogues, too, but we don't know why, how many there are (three so far) or what their motivations are. We also don't know what the Church of the Wall is doing or why there are more rogues embedded in the walls. Things are going to get worse in the next volume, bringing with it Carnage.