Friday, January 30, 2015

Hooray for Lonnie Loomis!

As a teen she favored striped tops, loved her father and two sisters and was quite fond of cats.  Lonnie Loomis, middle child extraordinaire, caught between the bossy, demanding eldest Stacy and the irrepressible, attention-seeking, somewhat psychotic, baby Michana.  I don't get to read many psychological or psychiatric studies (just the abstracts and second hand articles), but from what I can gather Alfred Adler came up with this idea the order of your birth determines your personality

The first born is special, doted upon, grows up feeling closer to authority figures such as parents, becomes a leader.  In the Loomis family, it's Stacy.  She starts her siblings down the path of vengeance, then burns out.  Literally.  The youngest gets even more attention and sometimes ends up spoiled rotten.  They become class clowns and show-offs.  In Michana's case, they become child assassins for Ursula X.X. Imada, then head teen gangs on multi-planet crime sprees.  What about the middle child?  They make do.  That's how you get a Lonnie Loomis.  In any event, this is the simple version.

Poor Lonnie.  Although her sisters love her, she's the only one among them to doubt their mission.  She adored her father as much as Stacy and Michana ever did, but killing a lot of strangers for the alien weirdo the Merk in exchange for the fusion casting power of Nexus doesn't appeal to her.  She's too compassionate and uncertain.  Her attention wanders because she wants something of a normal life.

Introduced in Nexus #25 (First Comics, 000, 198-) alongside Stacy and Michana, Lonnie mourns the murder of her beloved father, General Loomis.  They later learn his killer was the orginal Nexus, in Nexus #3- (000, 198-), and Lonnie is the one who spits in his face.  Here's the sequence as illustrated by Mike Mignola, with inks by John Nyberg.

Soon, Lonnie begins actively voicing her doubts and opposition to Stacy's leadership as they risk Michana's life and sanity by holding a seance that allows the young girl to host what's apparently a demon in hopes of learning where to gain enough power to kill Nexus.  From this moment on, Lonnie begins to drift from her sisters.

She's still involved enough to accompany them on their visit to the Merk.  They arrive on --- in Nexus #3- (000, 198-), but it's in Next Nexus #1 where they actually confront the whimsical extra-dimensional alien and demand Nexus abilities for themselves.  The gigantic Merk immediately chooses Michana to invest with these powers.  It's a terrifying scene reminiscent of some of the darker elements from the 1971 children's film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory starring Gene Wilder as Wonka.  As we all know, the movie is all about obnoxious kids tempting fate and paying the price.  And as powerful a figure as Willy Wonka is, he's also just a candy-maker.  The Merk is beyond our reckoning.  For a moment, one can only imagine what unspeakable horrors the Merk will visit upon fragile human child Michana.

What he does is casually toss her into one of the strange globular tanks Nexus bathes in to have his dreams and recharge his seemingly unlimited powers.  Lonnie objects and this causes the Merk to punish her and Stacy with intense headaches.  Michana saves her sisters by rebuking the Merk even as he holds her aloft by her ponytail.  Lonnie then attempts to reject the Merk's gift outright, and he reacts by lashing out at her again.  Michana defends Lonnie again, and the Merk transforms them into fusionkasters.

In the Nexus books, "fusionkasting" is the technical name for Nexus' superpowers, and what a Nexus does is kill mass murderers.  This never sits well with Lonnie.  Even series hero Horatio Hellpop himself alternates between acceptance and avoidance of his appointed task, and there's the question-- voiced by Lonnie-- of whether or not an alien such as the Merk has the right to judge humanity.  Michana argues his alien nature makes him more objective and therefore more qualified for this than humans themselves.  Stacy and Michana accept their charge and perform their first killing.  They are in effect assassins in the hire of the Merk, a creature whose behavior is erratic at best, and their new powers corrupt them almost at once.

Lonnie adopts a cat against her sisters' wishes and refuses to join them on their vendetta.  In a chilling scene, the pair confront Lonnie and cajole her into throwing the cat out the window.  At this point, the break between siblings becomes inevitable.  While Lonnie pursues a questionable relationship as a way out, the other two court disaster by confronting Nexus himself.  With this, Lonnie drops from the narrative until ---- (Dark Horse, --- 199-).

Michana, now a murderous teen and gang leader (after having served an apprenticeship as an assassin under the tutelage of arch-villain Ursula X.X. Imada), ends up arrested and it's Lonnie who assumes custody of the wayward girl.  What follows is a hilarious romantic misadventure in which a Tom Cruise lookalike named Tom Zeus (just to make it plain just who Mike Baron and Steve Rude are satirizing) puts some all-too-smooth moves on Lonnie.  Feeling protective of her more na├»ve older sister, the more worldly Michana does her thing. 

Her thing involves dressing like a ninja and using a paralyzing poison on Zeus.

What next for good ol' Lonnie?  As far as I know, she hasn't reappeared in Nexus, which ended a long hiatus to reappear first as an offering from Rude's own Rude Dude Productions and then as a recurring feature in the new Dark Horse Presents ongoing.  Baron and Rude haven't seen fit to update readers on all things Loomis, but it's only a matter of time.  Let's hope she finds some kind of happiness.

But not too much.