Written by Michael Alan Nelson
We’re joined by new writer Michael Nelson, whose background was mostly horror stories, so he’ll try to get the characters into darker situations. It’s fitting then than his first story focuses on Warblade and Rose, the villains. They arrive in the little town of Hartsville, Colorado, chasing a fellow Ravager, Adam. He’s lost control of his powers and he’s out of control, so he ends up imploding in the middle of town. The radiation released infects everyone except for the Ravagers, whose metahumans status makes them impervious to radiation. Now every normal person there is infected and about to go off as well! Warblade and Rose must quarantine the place, or the explosive epidemic will spread like a plague and destroy the world.
If you’re confused, don’t worry. It does feel like we’re thrown in the middle of the story – for example, we never get any explanations of who Adam was. Anyhow, playing the good guy goes against Warblade’s nature – in fact, he considers the term “good guy” outright offensive. He needs to constantly keep his murderous tendencies in check; were it up to him, he’d “quarantine” the town by killing everyone in it. He handles closing off the city limits, bringing down the mountains on the roads so that no one can drive out.
The people start exploding, so the duo must become even more heroic, even running into a burning house to save kids after an explosion set it on fire. As Warblade gets more and more uncomfortable, the unexpected happens – Rose discovers she’s infected! But that should be impossible! Right at the same time, the book’s main cast arrives into town: Caitlin and the kids. They’re looking for Adam, the guy who exploded at the beginning. No, I still don’t know what was his deal. He’s an entirely off-screen character. Caitlin overpowers Rose, who doesn’t have any fight in her since she discovered she’s marked for death. Warblade and the town’s sheriff try to explain – the Ravagers are the good guys! Now Caitlin and the kids made themselves look like the bad guys.
The sheriff has enough of misunderstandings and delivers orders: Warblade is to take care of the town’s jail, where one of the inmates is infected and about to explode. Caitlin is to take care of rose, and the rest have to go fetch the sheriff’s daughter, who drove off in an attempt to escape town. While Rose’s being given morphine, Caitlin attempts to reason with her: Why is she working under a monster like Harvest? But Rose simply laughs. The monster is Caitlin, who abandoned Superboy and Rose back then. The girls passed the point of making amends long ago.
Meanwhile, Warblade is happy to comply to his orders, since he wanted someone infected to examine; he’s looking for some way to save Rose. He finds that the inmate gained control of the radiation filling him and obtained super-powers, at least until he blows up. A fight lashes out.
At the same time, the kids catch the sheriff’s daughter, right when Thunder starts having an attack. It seems ever since he lost his sister he’s been off, getting sicker by the moment. The girl tells the heroes a secret: Her brother is also a meta-human.
Warblade finds out about this firsthand, as his fight with the inmate gets interrupted by the kid. He creates an air bubble around the inmate’s head, depriving him of oxygen and bringing him to his knees. Warblade takes care of the rest, beheading the criminal. He had what he had come there for, anyway; a sampling of the radiation to study. With it, Warblade manages to figure out how to cure the infection! It seems he’s some kind of scientific genius in this timeline.
Everyone returns to the sheriff, and we get a nice moment where the colourist mixes up Rose with Terra. Poor Terra, she and the colourists have a terrible relationship. Anyway, the sheriff’s daughter catches the radiation, so it’s time for Warblade to test out his cure. Now, how he puts it to practice isn’t clear, but apparently he uses fifteen people as a lightning rod for the explosion to go to, so that it is sent flying to the sky and doesn’t hurt the victim. The town is saved… but the sheriff died during the experiment. Oh, well, Warblade hasn’t actually learned anything from this experience, so he doesn’t care.
In the end, the Ravagers decide to leave without fighting Caitlin and her team, since they’re too weakened, and Rose is still high on morphine. They just hope Harvest doesn’t learn about the mess they caused… problem is, Harvest already knows.
Next: Deathstroke Vol.2 issue 18 and the “present” part of Team 7 Vol.2 issue 5, written by Justin Jordan.