The story is coming to a head. Will Ender be able to help the Pequeninos and restore the Hive Queen? Is Miro going to be alright? Find out after the jump.
SPEAKER FOR THE DEAD #5 of 5
Writer: Aaron Johnston
Artist: Pop Mhan
Colorist: Veronica Gandini
Letterer: Cory Petit
Cover Artist: Giuseppe Camuncoli, Danny Miki, and Brad Anderson
Editor: Jordan D. White
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Previously in Speaker for the Dead: Ender has spoken the life of Marcão causing quite the stir in Milagre. Meanwhile, Starways Congress has found out that Miro and Ouanda have given human technology to the pequeninos and are calling for them to be sent to another planet to be put on trial (just getting there would take 20+ years by the way). The Speaker has met with Bishop Peregrino and Mayor Bosquinha to talk about not sending them away when they are interrupted by one of the piggies telling of Miro’s much failed attempt to cross the fence.
ONE BIG SCENE
The story opens with a number of people coming to help Miro. In order to do so they need to shut down the fence, but if they do that then Starways Congress will declare them rebellious and send in some sort of authority. Ender explains this to Human, one of the piggies, and lets him know in order for anything else to happen he’ll need to speak with the wives (the matrons and controllers of the pequenino tribes). Every one agrees, the fence is shut down, and Miro is brought back to the other side. Ender, Ela, and Ouanda go to meet with the wives and we don’t see or hear from any of the others gathered after this point. All but the last few pages are then devoted to the deal between the humans and the pequeninos. Those last few pages, we’ll get to them in a bit, but it doesn’t have anything to with Miro’s questionable survival or the consequences of defying Starways Congress. In fact, none of that is mentioned past this point.
The majority of the issue is devoted to the council with wives, and rightly so, as it is the big climax of the story. However, instead of devoting itself to the talks between Ender and the wives, most of what we see is the insight into the lifecycle of the piggies and learning how they actually reproduce (a bit more on that in a moment). There are couple bright moments, first when Ender threatens to leave. The wives get angry with him asking questions as wives are the only ones aloud to speak unless spoken to in the birthing place. He comes back when they agree to treat him as an equal. The other moment is shortly before leaving the birthing place (in fact is why they do). Ender asks that piggies never kill humans again. The piggies don’t believe they have killed and are only now told that the ritual bringing them to the third life, that of the tree, does not work on humans and they actually did kill Libo and Pipo. The howl of anguish is almost deafening even in this format.
After they leave, Human brings them a written copy of the covenant (it’s on the back of the copies of The Hive Queen and The Hegemon) and we get the only other good moment in the issue. Ender is the first, last, and only human to do the ritual sending a piggy into the third life in order to complete the covenant. To do this he must eviscerate Human, a creature he sees as his brother. The moment is actually quite touching and very well done. Good enough, in fact, that I don’t believe it could have been handled better.
The final bit is a couple months later as Ender and Olhado search for the perfect spot for the Hive Queen’s cocoon. This scene would have been amazing save for one slight problem. They dig a hole, which Olhado even questions as to why. Ender’s answer “She’s a burrower. She’ll want to dig once she emerges.” The problem, when they leave it is completely uncovered; they left the cocoon in a mini-crater. Someone here is missing the entire point.
MORE PIGGIES THAN YOU CAN SHAKE A STICK AT
Well, I got my wish from the last few issues, there are a ton of piggies here, and the little guys are actually somewhat unique and individualized. The art really does reach the tone of each scene as it progresses and the horrified looks on the piggies’ faces when they realized the true fates of Pipo and Libo was astounding. My few complaints, the clothing was unnecessary for the females, it is stated within the same few panels that they have no external genitalia. If the wives wear clothes, then how does Ela observe this? Also, I would have loved to see the inside of the tree, but alas. For the entire series the art has been consistently good and this issue did not fall on that front at least.
BOTTOM LINE: DISAPPOINTING
Quick aside, when I’d read the first two issues, I’d never read any of the books at all. Between issues 2 and 3 I’d read Ender’s Game. Since then I’ve actually read everything through Speaker of the Dead and a book afterward. Part of my disappointment with this issue is due to that, which I will freely admit. I did miss some of the things from the book that should have been here, most notably a much longer discussion of the actual covenant set up between Ender and the wives. That being said, there is still no excuse to drop the plot lines of Miro’s potential demise and the threat of Starways Congress now that Lusitania is a rebelling colony. Both of these are overlooked and I feel let down because of it. The series could easily have been stretched to one more book and it would have been better for it. Because of this, the final issue receives a very disappointed 2 out of 5 stars.