"Going Down...": Sleeping again, the Black Orchid tries to remember her sister - Susan Linden. She dreams Susan's memories, how Susan helped Philip Sylvian chart her own DNA for their shared project. Her husb
- This place isn't a prison. There's no release date. No parole. Some sweaty, over-weight creep asks you to go down on him to prove you're fit to mingle with society... When you're scared enough - or hurt enough - to be quiet, to be "good"... Then they'll let you out. Or maybe they won't. And nobody gives a damn. You want me to help you?
- -- Poison Ivy
Appearing in "Going Down..."
Synopsis for "Going Down..."
Sleeping again, the Black Orchid tries to remember her sister - Susan Linden. She dreams Susan's memories, how Susan helped Philip Sylvian chart her own DNA for their shared project. Her husband Carl's trial had caused her to be subpoenaed, and with annoyance, she had decided to tell them all she knew - if only to get him out of her life for a long time. She had met Carl when she was a croupier in Vegas, and the casino had suspected her of stealing from the house's take. Against the house-rules, she agreed to go to dinner with him after work.
Carl, meanwhile, has returned to get his revenge on Philip for stealing his woman. Philip barely remembers him, having just been beaten over the head with a bottle, and having not seen him for the seven years he was in prison. Philip realizes that his hands are bound, as Carl explains that he loved Susan, before she ran away, kicking Philip in the face. Wincing, Philip reminds Carl that Susan is dead, and that killing him won't bring her back. Laughing and drunk, Carl reveals that he knows Susan is dead, because it was him that killed her.
Carl explains that he is like a wolf, and Philip is like a sheep. While he would kill to get what he wanted, Philip never could. Philip responds with anger that Carl is a rattlesnake, and that he should have been killed long ago. Smirking, Carl explores Philips lab, and begins breaking vials in order to upset him. Philip doesn't respond, so he steals some booze and wanders out into the greenhouse.
There, he is disturbed to see that the greenhouse is full of what he believes are statues; statues of his wife, made out of plants. In his confusion, he grabs a crowbar and starts destroying them and knocking over vats of toxic chemicals. He is further disturbed when he sees that one of these statues is almost childlike. Lunging forward, he intends to wring its neck, when it suddenly comes alive and says hello to him. She flies out of reach, and Carl, in his confusion, decides that it would be best to call Mr. Luthor about what he's found. Despite his disdain for Carl Thorne, Luthor agrees to come and see what he's found.
In her dreams, the Black Orchid begins to sense the pain of her sisters, particularly the fear of a littler one. She calls out to it, and embraces it as it joins her in the tree.
Luthor and his men arrive at Philip's lab, and they discover that Philip has died of both his beating and asphyxiation. In trying to investigate his computer files, they found that they were wiped as soon as they tried to access them. Thorne's reports of "flower women" were confirmed, but his mad attempts to destroy them left Luthor's men with nothing to work with. They are already rotting, and the weed-killer he spilled is doing its job on them. Annoyed, Luthor decides that it would be best if nobody ever saw Carl Thorne again. As Luthor leaves, Black Orchid wakes, and discovers that Phil is dead. She apologizes for her part in his death and says goodbye.
She and the little one fly off, and she soon learns that her new friend has stronger shared memories with Susan than she. Luthor, meanwhile, demands an APB to all staff, searching for these flower women.
Black Orchid watches as Luthor's men throw Carl into the river, and considers letting him drown. Still, too many people have died - including her sisters - and she rescues him, despite knowing that saving him today will only bring more pain. After leaving him to wake up on his own, she and the little one - who insists on being called Suzy - return to Phil's house to learn what they are, and what Phil intended them for. On the way, Suzy asks if she can call her new friend "Mommy", and the Black Orchid agrees.
After taking all they could from Phil's home, they disguise themselves as humans using the wigs and costumes in Susan's old room, and buy two tickets to Gotham City. On the train, she reads through the notes and is drawn to three names: Jason Woodrue, Alec Holland, and Pamela Isley. Woodrue, according to Phil's notes, is in Arkham Asylum.
Upon their arrival, they discover that Arkham has a no visitors policy and Jason Woodrue is no longer there. With Alec Holland dead and no address for Pamela Isley, they decide to return to Gotham and hope that they can find someone out there who knows something.
Waking, Carl's mind is beginning to crack, and he stumbles his way to Park Street, laughing to himself that today is actually the date of his anniversary with Susan. Approaching a warehouse, he punches in the door combination, which is the date of that anniversary - June 15th, 1977. Laughing to himself, Carl has kept the PLO shipment that he stole from Lex Luthor in this warehouse for years.
Black Orchid leaves Suzy in a tree in Slaughter Swamp while she does more investigating. She notices that the girl's personality has changed significantly in just a few hours. The longer she has been alive, the more the residual memories of Susan's that she had have faded, and she has become more like a real little girl.
After searching for hours around Gotham for Pamela Isley, Black Orchid is accosted in an alley by the Batman, demanding to know what she is doing in his city. Awkwardly, Black Orchid explains that she doesn't know her name - only that it is not Susan, and that Pamela Isley or Jason Woodrue could have helped her find out who - and what - she is. Batman is able to deduce that she is somehow related to the Black Orchid vigilante he had heard of before. He agrees to help her get into Arkham, where Pamela resides now, but warns her to be careful around her.
Suzy, meanwhile, encounters a man named Dan in the swamp, and naively agrees to go and see some kittens with him.
With Batman's vouching for her, Black Orchid is able to gain access to Arkham and make her way to see Poison Ivy. She is led by the Mad Hatter through the asylum's halls until she reaches the woman's cell in the basement. Pamela remembers Philfrom College, and realizes that this visitor must be one of his plant-human hybrids. Though they had known each other, their relationship had only been platonic. She would use her feminine wiles to manipulate him into doing things for her. Woodrue had been their professor, and was working on his doctorate in his spare time. They, Alec Holland, and his wife Linda were all interested in botanical science. Though Alec and Linda had wanted to feed the world with their studies, Pamela had wanted other things. Black Orchid interrupts Pamela's story to ask who and what she is, but the madwoman refuses, reminding her that she is trapped there, and that she would give anything to be out. It is she who needs the help, not this hybrid. Outside the cell, the Hatter explains that Ivy's merely bitter, and not especially grateful. He, on the other hand, believes in helping people. Black Orchid is moved by this, and offers him a gift - an orchid. Gleefully, he rushes off to tell his friends Deever and Dumphrey of his gift.
Dan, meanwhile, sells Suzy to a man in a truck.
In the graveyard, Black Orchid sighs and sits by herself, until Batman appears, to express his hope that she found what she was looking for. She explains that she has no chance of finding what she needed, because Isley wouldn't help, Woodrue's gone, and Holland is dead. Batman stops her, realizing that the Holland she is speaking of is the Swamp Thing. She goes on to explain that she is not the Black Orchid he knows. Susan Linden was killed. She is merely her sister, of a kind; a plant-woman. Still, what she is, and why she is, is a mystery. Understanding, Batman suggests that she see the Swamp Thing in the Louisiana swamps. If he wants her to find him, she will find him.
Black Orchid returns to Slaughter Swamp to find that Suzy is missing, while Lex Luthor prepares his labs for the girl's dissection in 16 hours. Carl, meanwhile, plans to use the PLO shipment - a cache of powerful weapons - to kill Luthor.
Desperately, Black Orchid seeks out Suzy, calling for her. She tries to follow the girl as best she can, but she eventually runs out of energy, and plummets from the sky.
- This issue is reprinted in the Black Orchid trade paperback.
- First professional DC Comics work for British writer Neil Gaiman.
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Links and References
- Black Orchid series index at Comicbookdb.com
- Black Orchid series index at the Unofficial Guide to the DC Universe
- Black Orchid series index at the Grand Comics Database