Greetings, from Dogpatch (Skin Deep #3)

Image result for greetings from dogpatch skin deep book cover

 

This isn’t a mistake. I wasn’t thinking about whether there would be novels for the first two, so I’m beginning my review with the third, but the fact I’ve read this many should warm anyone else who hasn’t heard of this STELLAR online comic, and I may even perhaps go back eventually and review the first two for funsies. The bugbear Myra, Eustace, a fox spirit, Marshall, the raven spirit, and Gabe, the angel are currently driving into Arkansas in May, this being 2005. Myra is quite annoyed by her passengers and complaining about the reason Gabe is even along for the ride when he could fly, Eustace unable to shed light on his reasons, nor why he took the skull which had been given to a demon by Myra (this all being explained, here). Their next conversation has to do with whether Gabe is male or female, until he/she puts a stop to it, and they continue on their ride to Dogpatch.

When parking, Gabe notes how they had to get down there in an odd fashion, Eustace explaining how a tram used to be lowered down to the theme park when it was still open, a dryad currently keeping the place well hidden, even though it was right off the highway. After Myra points out how a Bigfoot was currently watching their movements, Gabe steps up to get the attention of whoever lived there, wanting to speak to the big kahuna, a chickadee, Hank with a shotgun sporting a trucker hat popping out near his feet. Myra’s had enough and states how Bigfoot let them pass, even though Hank was confused by how the group hadn’t been stopped, she then telling of only being there to pick something up and would be out of there quickly, since the place didn’t seem right. Marshall then steps up to vouch for Gabe being cool and they wanting to speak to Old Ivory about the guards.

Hank takes Gabe’s word when showing him the “nightmare” he was attempting to weed out the owner of, so Hank leads them all to where Old Ivory is, Marshall and Eustace then discussing how they agreed with Myra’s instinct about Dogpatch being out of the ordinary. The two then get into the last time Michelle and crew had run into the nightmare which was then related to the demons which were setting them up (Orientations and the One Eyed Bear being reference, the links, above). Hank then can’t stop himself from gabbing at Gabe due to not having ever been in the presence of an angel before and deciding to relate the communities history of where they traveled and how they picked up their guards. Then, before Hank could get into it, Gabe shuts down any questions he may have on religious topics and so Hank instead goes in to inform Ivory, a woodpecker of his visitors.

Gabe then interrupts to toss the nightmare into Ivory’s hands, he not knowing how the skull could’ve gotten to Missouri, nor how the demons picked it up, they having been searching for “her” for some months. Ivory then states how he’d been training some animals to take over his jobs when he was no longer there, Gabe inquiring into how he’d believed spirit animals were incapable of death, but Ivory’s case was due to most of the specific sort of woodpecker he represented had been dying out, and he was on the verge of being done, so he’d been having the other animals take care of the daily tasks whilst he trained them for the long-term workload, and Ivory didn’t have any hard feelings for humans causing the death of his species due to his long lifespan and curiosity of what came next.

After Ivory calls over the two who had been handling the responsibilities, but only one, Ricky arriving since the other, Obi was taking care of some specific sort of task, he apparently not being responsible for her disappearance, and they figuring she’d run away. Gabe asks a few pressing questions which suggested they hadn’t done much to aid the recovery of the nightmare, but Ricky makes clear how they’d been quite worried, and was annoyed when learning Gabe had found the nightmare a little while ago and hadn’t brought her back sooner, they then hearing a scream, Ricky believing Obi was in trouble and hoping the Howler didn’t have him. When they approach his yells, they see Myra looking pissed and relating how Obidiah was the cause of everything being off, and was getting ready to let the Howler out on them all, they thinking she’d gone crazy, but she adamant of Obi’s intentions being ill and making clear, bugbears were impossible to deceive.

Gabe questions further on Obi’s attitudes being odd recently, the critters confirming he’d been acting ill when the nightmare had left, but was working even harder as of lately, Obi agreeing he’d been getting too tired from work and pled to be released from Myra’s grip. Gabe then agrees Obi should be let down, but surprises everyone by bringing out his own weapon, Damien the demon then showing himself and looking pissed. As Gabe attempts to learn more about why Damien was turning up and seemingly trying to get closer to Michelle, Damien’s smart ass answers are getting on Gabe’s nerves, he making him pay for it with more pain. When Damien finally gives him a reason for the “Dark Lord’s” reason for tracking Michelle, Gabe is again thwarted by Damien’s resistance in divulging more. Gabe then tears Damien out of Obi, Gabe turning on the group of creatures to learn whom had figured out their close friend had been infested and no one stepping forward, Gabe properly pissed, and when inquiring if Myra had sensed any other demons about, she confirming there were none.

Then Obi describes how he hadn’t any control over himself and what it had felt like, not recalling much of anything whilst he’d been overtaken. Hank then elaborates about the caves nearby when Gabe considers how quickly the demons seemed to be able to return upon his sending them to hell, and demands Obi show him to this “not much sink” cave. Gabe then explains how hellmouths work and the one in the cave being shut could waylay a demon fairly well. After Obi shows where the cave was, he meekly asks to go, since he didn’t want to tempt another demon with his bod, Gabe agreeing to this, he then divvying out tasks for the other creatures whilst he dealt with what was within the cave, the one for Eustace being hilarious and adorably simple.

Marshall notes his tone to Eustace, but Gabe dismisses him what with not feeling he should have to keep an eye on him for he not being a fighter, Marshall and Myra following him deeper into the cave. Soon they approach an orange oozing mess from their high vantage point, Myra stating of it most likely being part of the cause for the odd senses she’d gotten from the place. Gabe then suggests Myra help him deal with some demons whilst Marshall brought along some buddy birds to draw attention, a view of an oddly shaped hole with what look like teeth coming out of the ground shown, which then reveals why a hellmouth is named as such. Myra is hella happy to do her duty and Gabe encourages her to do so, since some demons were currently taking the opportunity to crawl into the world, Marshall using his birdy friends to distract them as Myra walks up, big bear form ready to do some damage.

As Myra baits one of the creatures, Gabe stabs the other and takes a smoke break, the crows, meanwhile, do their job of flying about, but many also get too close to the teeth and are smushed. Gabe then steps up to attempt another phrase in whatever language which is shown, chopping at the hellmouth head right after another demon comes out, whom apparently was a bunch of other demons’ distractions, but fortunately, Gabe commands Marshall to continue his attack at the mullet demon and Myra informs Gabe of their coming,  so he begins saying some more magic speak. Damien had returned once more, and his buddy Mikhail upon seeing Myra, ditches the crew when one of the others suggest they attack them, but Myra gets up in Mikhail’s face as he explains how he didn’t want to fool around with her or Gabe. As Myra has the demon in a bear hug, another demon is looking irritated about their hellmouth dying, but as Gabe is fighting another, the little demon pushes Gabe into the hellmouth as it makes one last roar of defeat (to be fair, I’m feeling a little badly for the hellmouth, it didn’t do nuffin’ and Gabe takes him out easy as lemon meringue).

This new development pauses Myra and Marshall, but they then see Gabe’s spear pierce through the hellmouth, and when he emerges looking grim, one out of three of the demons have booked it, the other two standing and staring in shock. This definitely doesn’t help the two though, since Gabe lets out his anger and envelops them in holy light, Myra properly impressed. Gabe turns on her and notifies of the demon she’d been cuddling had escaped, Mikhail still sprinting for freedom, and feeling close to success when seeing the outside, but upon climbing the rock face out, realizes his strolling out into the world won’t be so cut and dry. As Gabe, Marshall, and Myra rush off after him, Eustace is looking pleased and gives props for Gabe having thought to give him his coat to hold, this being the item which had recaptured Mikhail (who has a multiple way of spelling his name, apparently), and Eustace not catching the look of surprise on his face. As Mikhail pleads for Gabe to let him stay, the latter gives him the opportunity to make himself useful with the need for information, but Mikhail has none to offer, so Gabe takes him out. He then relates now the hellmouth was closed in the area, the demons would have a more difficult time coming back, and wouldn’t be able to do so anywhere near Dogpatch. Eustace and Marshall also inquire if Michelle was still in danger, Gabe’s answer not a comforting one, and when Myra states she still didn’t understand Gabe, he was cool with it.

Another interesting episode, and onward I go!

 

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