Writer's commentary by Peter Milligan for issue #5 of Terminal Hero.
Rory wasn't the only one to take the strange and terrible Treatment Q. The issue opens with Mia and Minesh enjoying – if that's the right word – the treatment's dubious pleasures. Minesh offers to spread sacred vibhuti over Mia's wounds. Vibhuti being the sacred ash used in sacred rites in Hinduism. For Minesh to offer to do this is a real sign of his affected. Indeed, Minesh is becoming obsessed with Mia. Mia's obsession is probably directed solely towards Treatment Q.
Quigley is the errant genius responsible for Treatment Q, and so responsible for Mia and Minesh's addiction…and Rory Fletcher's continued life. Here we see how he is still alive. Just. And how he too is in a way a victim of his strange and terrible Treatment Q.
Rory returns to the UK. In many ways this book is about trying to escape. Rory has tried to escape his medical condition. He's tried to escape from the demons that the treatment revealed he hides. He even tried to escape from his body and his old life. But now he is being pulled back home…
On the banks of the Thames in London, this building is head of M16, the British Intelligence Service. I've often wondered what dark machinations take place behind these walls.
One of the things that Rory ran from was Emma, the beautiful girl who under different circumstances he would have been happy to have spent the rest of his life with. Here we see another example of Rory's dark side – and his remarkable new power – as he is unable to control his jealousy when he sees Emma with another man.
After the shocking events with Emma Rory has a kind of fugue state, waking up in hospital. Rory gives Agent Davenport the news that his cancerous tumor has returned. But Davenport seems more interested in forcing Rory to neutralise the troublesome Mia and Minesh. I wanted to give the sense that things are closing in on Rory. He's suffering the consequences of treatment Q–and yet his cancer has returned. This will lead Rory to face a terrible dilemma.
Just as Rory hasn't escaped his cancer, nor has he escaped the horrible personification of his cancer: the tumor kid.
I think Piotr does a great job of drawing the horrible creature known at the Tumor Kid. Here, the Tumor Kid gives Rory a way out: if he kills someone who escaped the Kid's deathly embrace – Rory's cancer will be removed.
I didn't want to suggest that cancer works this way. That by killing someone else or doing a deed you might save yourself. But this is the kind of thinking that – in desperation – we can allow ourselves to embrace in such circumstances. And I wanted to explore this magical kind of thinking that we employ when confronted with such horror, and then see how my character acts when that magical thinking becomes real.
The scenes on PAGE FIFTEEN with Li just hammer home that Rory loves his adopted family, and is basically at heart a good guy. Terminal Hero is about what dark stuff even good guys have lurking in them.
Finally, the three people who've taken Quigley's Treatment Q meet. I didn't want as usual fight scene. I was less interested in who might win this conflict than by what it does to Rory.
And what it does to Rory is mess him up. The word HERO might be in the title but Rory is no hero in the usual sense of the word. Just as Rory is no usual hero, Mia and Minesh – those damaged addicted souls – are no ordinary villains.
I really wanted the offer Mia and Minesh are making to Rory to seem reasonable. Something that someone like Rory, who's been through all he's been through, might very well accept.
For more on Terminal Hero #5, click here.