by Drew Baumgartner
This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!
For nine years, Koresh had relentlessly drilled his followers to prepare for Armageddon, had preached its inevitability, had forecast its imminence. This was the ending that Koresh had prayed for and staked his reputation on — the final battle, the trial by fire. It didn’t matter if the fire came from automatic rifles or a match and a can of kerosene; this was what Koresh had promised. Anything less would have been a monumental betrayal of his claim to be David Koresh, Angel Warrior of the Armageddon. Did anyone really expect the prophet of Ranch Apocalypse to meekly surrender his sheep to the enemy and come out with his hands up?
Gary Cartwright, “The Enemy Within”
What do you know about the Waco siege? I admittedly don’t know a ton — it happened when I was five years old — but as with any event with conflicting stories, “what you know” may matter less than “who you believe.” In light of the beliefs of the Branch Davidians, the events of the eventual raid, and especially the presence of the stockpiled weapons the ATF was originally there to seize, it’s hard for me to imagine the Davidians as anything other than dangerous zealots. That is, the plausible deniability of their threat dissolved under scrutiny — the more light shed on the situation, the crazier they looked. Rowland Tusk has orchestrated a surprisingly similar situation for Kyle, preparing for a siege of his own religious “cult,” but with the truth on Kyle’s side, it sure seems like things are actually stacked in his favor.
I may be making that claim a bit too early — we’re basically at the very beginning of the standoff, where a few law enforcement officers were killed attempting to make the initial arrest. Only, Kyle and his allies didn’t kill the dead police here; Rowland did. Tusk is building a false narrative to make Kyle look exactly like David Koresh. But, you know, Kyle isn’t the leader of a death cult, and doesn’t have access to the kinds of weapons Tusk used on his own men. Perhaps Tusk’s authority over the situation will allow him to control the narrative, but there’s a clear sense that the truth can’t fully be hidden here. Reverend Anderson’s son comes around when he hears the lie about the group having guns in the first place.
It reveals the transparency of Tusk’s lies, but it also delivers a key moment of reconciliation for these two — I’m not sure how long this series could have sustained his “behind enemy lines” story line.
But of course, most of the world doesn’t have his perspective on what’s going on inside the walls of the farm. So Tusk’s lies are holding, at least for now. But his superiors are afraid of the national exposure, and well they should be: the news coverage catches the attention of one (or two) outcasts in Seattle, who seem to also understand what is going on at the farm. They sure look like allies AND force multipliers — both of which Kyle could use right now.
Oh right: Kyle. It’s a testament to the tightness of the rest of the series that Robert Kirkman and Paul Azaceta could wait until issue 36 to reveal what is essentially a new superpower for their hero. Why was he suddenly more powerful, more connected to the other Outcasts? Did they gain another Outcast without knowing it (maybe Allison is pregnant)? Are Amber’s abilities maturing? Or was it just the high emotional stakes of the confrontation? I have no idea, but it makes me excited at the thought of adding some more Outcasts to the mix.
The conversation doesn’t stop there. What do you wanna talk about from this issue?