Writer: Alex de Campi
Artist: Carla Speed McNeil
Cover Price: $3.99
“ENDLESS SUMMER” Part Three
Tiffani can now add “negotiating black-market arms deals” to her summer resumé.
This issue follows Tiffani and DeShawn as they are kept hostage by the Central American drug lord El Indio. Issue 12 opens with the pair huddled on the floor of a cargo truck as they are transported further and further into the Central American jungle. Tiffani bangs on the truck doors for most of the ride, but it is only when her banging knocks captor Ximena’s phone out the window that the truck finally stops. Ximena quickly realizes that DeShawn truly is sick and the captors rush to the nearest hospital in order to save their bargaining chip. It turns out DeShawn’s appendix has burst. El Indio hands the doctor a wad of cash to hurry the operation and at sunset they are off again.
As the truck continues into the darkness Tiffani nods off, periodically waking from nightmares of her dead friend Lily being eaten by flies. The truck finally screeches to a halt and we learn that the caravan has reached the coast. Ximenia scouts the waters with binoculars while men with machetes leave to “clean the beach” of some campers down the way. We soon learn that North Korean tradesmen have come by boat to sell weapons to El Indio, who tells Tiffani to secretly listen to the North Koreans as they speak among themselves. When Tiffani learns that the tradesmen are overcharging she strikes a bargain with El Indio: she will get a discount if El Indio sets her and DeShawn free. Tiffani is good on her word but as we might expect, El Indio is not. The captors stuff Tiffani and Deshawn into what is now a considerably less spacious truck.
The issue leaves Tiffani and DeShawn for a moment and returns to the story of Gina, who is in much better spirits. Gina remarks to her parents that despite leaving Central America with one less eye, she is going to miss watching the tropical birds of Montaguey. Her father urges her to sign papers suing Princeton for the horrors of the trip but Gina refuses, asserting that she just wants to move on. Gina’s father has his sights set on “justice” and demands that she sign the papers.
Meanwhile Tiffani and DeShawn are returned to El Indio’s camp and held in a locked hut. Once the guards are “rockin’ out” to headphones we learn that Tiffani had snagged a phone sometime during the day. DeShawn finally reveals that his dad holds a high rank with the U.S. Navy Seals. The issue closes with DeShawn saying hello to his father.
A defining trait of the “No Mercy” series has been the juxtaposition of jubilance amidst horror. Unlike previous issues, “Endless Summer” part three is dull and gray. It enters the trenches of Central American drug wars which, it turns out, mostly involves driving. While I would like to have seen more from the rest of the characters, dedicating most of the issue to Tiffani and DeShawn really drives in the gravity of their situation. Kept hostage, Tiffani and DeShawn are cut off from the world; kept reading about Tiffani and DeShawn, we are cut off from the world too.
The issue does raise a few questions, though. Where does Tiffani get the phone? Our best guess is that she gets it from the North Koreans. If she bargains for a phone, weapons, and ammunition, what else might she have bargained for, too? We don’t know exactly what Tiffani says to the tradesmen, but artist Carla Speed McNeil does a good job of showing us that Tiffani says a lot—and that the captors don’t know what she’s saying either.
Another question left unanswered is whether Gina goes through with signing papers for the lawsuit. We know that her father demands she sign them, but it’s not clear whether his hanging demand implies that Gina does in fact sign the papers, or whether it’s just foreshadowing. I guess this one’s going to have to wait until next issue.
And what about DeShawn’s dad? DeShawn has been hinting that the captors won’t get a lick of ransom money from his family “on principal.” Previous issues make it sound as if the stern military principals of DeShawn’s family have forsaken him to die. But if his father is as high in the military as DeShawn suggests, we’re now left wondering whether his family’s military principals are going to sweep in and save the day.