Saturday, March 22, 2014

Sandman Mystery Theatre #12 (March 1994)

Sandman Mystery Theatre #12: "The Brute" Act Four
Written by Matt Wagner
Art by R.G. Taylor
Colors by David Hornung
Letters by John Costanza
Edited by Shelly Roeberg and Karen Berger
Cover by Gavin Wilson

Curtain up.

The final act of "The Brute" opens after an unspeakable evil occurred.  Not only did Eddie Ramsey have his hand smashed to a bloody pulp by the titular Brute, but he returned to his hideaway to find that his young daughter Emily was raped by the old tramp who had been staying with them.

Mr. Schenck is garbage diving for food scraps under the bridge.  As if we didn't know that Schenck is a monster for molesting a child, he drops the N-bomb so we can really hate him.  And that's when Ramsey catches him.  Schenck vehemently denies whatever Emily said he did to her, but he makes the classic liar's mistake of denying it before he's been accused of it.  Ramsey never said anything about Emily, so the denial is actual confirmation.  And he does a Jason Todd Special on the wicked Mr. Schenck.

Back at the Riesling Estate, the hoods who enforce Arthur Riesling's illicit deeds coax the brutish thing back to the boathouse where it dwells.  The goons treat "her" like a mindless animal, but Riesling's eldest son, Dennis, defends the Brute and sends the men away.

Wesley Dodds, who had snuck away from the illegal fights in Riesling's mansion, sneaks over to the boathouse and spies on Dennis and the she-thing.  He witnesses Dennis feed the woman, give her a doll to comfort her, and generally treat her like a child.  After that, Wesley returns to the mansion and finds Arthur Riesling.  He apologizes for missing the rest of the fights but insinuates he will strongly consider investing in Riesling's business venture.

As Wes leaves the house, however, Dian Belmont arrives.  She has come to solicit a donation for the United Way charity.  By now, all of Riesling's guests have left, as well as most of his servants.  He leads her to his private study... and locks the door behind them.  She's immediately uncomfortable, but tries to be diplomatic and kind, staying focused on business and talking about the charity.  Riesling isn't interested in that, and makes it pretty obvious that he wants something else.

He feels up her legs and takes her resistance as playfulness.

Dian slaps him.  But Arthur Riesling is not a man accustomed to being denied.  He explodes and begins to choke her, calling her names and threatening to rape her.  But ever-resourceful Dian knees him in the groin and then brains him with an ashtray on the table.  Dian leaves the house as Riesling curses her, wallowing in pain.

The scene is witnessed by Riesling's young twin sons, and from the sounds of their dialogue, this isn't the first time they've spied on their father taking advantage of some woman.

Meanwhile, Wesley's nights are filled with dark dreams.

Humphries the butler wakes Wes to let him know that Dian is downstairs.  Wes comes down, apologizing for being late and inattentive, when he sees Dian crying.  She tells him that Riesling tried to force himself on her, but she fought him off.  Wes, normally so guarded and controlled, gives voice to his outrage!

Dian settles him down and Wes comforts her.  They kiss passionately, but Wes breaks it off, not wanting to take advantage of Dian's moment of vulnerability.  She doesn't seem all that vulnerable, though, as she pushes in to kiss him again.  Wes invites her to stay over, but she declines.  She doesn't want to spoil what would be their night of bliss by associating it with the despicable event that sent her to Wes' house and into his arms.

Meanwhile, Eddie Ramsey and his daughter go to a diner to meet a man named Tully.  An associate of Ramsey's, Tully doesn't believe the lies Riesling spread about Ramsey and agrees to help by giving him a gun.  The gun, however, is old, rusted, broken, and looks like it would have trouble firing at all.  Tully asks why Ramsey needs the gun.  Ramsey says for protection.

Back at the Riesling Estate, the Sandman visits the boathouse and fires his sleeping gas gun at the Brute, which he describes as having the mind of a child and the structure of a monster.  Then Dennis Riesling enters with a tray of food for the Brute to discover her tied up unconscious.  The Sandman confronts him, and Dennis reveals that the Brute is a woman named Maria.  She's his sister.

Dennis tells the Sandman that Maria was born very beautiful but that she was an illegitimate child, much like himself, and describes them both as the products of his father's unquenchable lust for women.  His mother was not capable of raising the children adequately.

Another example of the horrors men and women inflict on innocent children.

At the townhouse of the district attorney, Larry Belmont is enjoying a quiet night at home with his daughter, Dian, when he gets a call from the police chief.  The Sandman phoned in a tip drawing the cops to the Riesling Estate.  In no mood to sit around waiting to hear the story recounted later, Dian hails a taxi and follows her father to the scene.

Arthur Riesling hosts gangster Francesco Gamboni for a major drug purchase at his home.  But when one of the mob goons brings the heroin into the room, he is gunned down--by Eddie Ramsey, who has broken into Riesling's home with his daughter.  Ramsey shoots Riesling's servant and then holds his hated enemy and the mob boss at gunpoint.

Then the Sandman appears trying to protect Ramsey from self-destruction.

Ramsey fires two more shots, one that hits Dennis Ramsey in the face, killing him, and one that causes the shoddy weapon to misfire and explode, destroying Ramsey's one good hand.  Unable to defend himself, the wounded Maria grabs Eddie Ramsey and breaks his neck.

Then Maria is shot and killed by Gamboni.

Then Arthur Riesling shoots Gamboni for killing his daughter.

Then the Sandman shoots Riesling... but only with his gas gun.

By the time Dial Belmont arrives in her taxi, the police have swarmed the house.  Riesling is in custody, and just about everyone else is dead.  Except for the Sandman and young Emily Ramsey.  Sandman tells Dian not to go into the house; she'll find only death there.  He puts Emily in Dian's arms and asks her to make sure the child gets the treatment and help she needs.  Then the masked man disappears into the night.

The next day, Wesley Dodds and Dian enjoy a carriage ride in Central Park and she recounts the events of the night to her boyfriend.  She tells him that Riesling was buying heroin from the mob to sell to college campuses on the West Coast.  But when the police arrived, the Sandman had tossed the satchel of drugs into the fireplace and disappeared with the money.

Wes asks if she thinks the Sandman kept all that money and Dian reveals that an "anonymous benefactor" set up a trust fund for Emily Ramsey with the money from the drug deal.

Out of the horror and tragedy that befalls many innocent lives in this story, some goodness shines through and bright.  Despite her violation and the loss of her father, Emily will be well taken care of financially.  And from Dian's near sexual assault, her infatuation with Wesley and flourished into a full on romance.  They almost sleep together in this issue, and seem perfectly happy and flirtatious with each other.

In spite of the darkness of this tale, I really enjoyed "The Brute" storyline.  I think if Guy Davis had drawn this story arc, it might be my favorite of the three arcs so far.  Taylor's art is great, but Davis' art is better.

Come back next week for the first act of a new tale called "The Vamp"...


1 comment:

  1. Forgot about the sort of the Shakespearean ending here with a pile of dead bodies of many of the primary characters all there on the stage.

    This was a very sad ending which made the wink and kiss of the last page seem a little off for me. But otherwise, great story!