I find that most people alive today have trouble understanding how old the Earth is. By the time this riverbank was formed, the dinosaurs had already been dead for forty million years. But even then-- in an age when creatures we've forgotten roamed Earth-- the Ophiocordyceps Lamia was already here. So perfec that it never needed ot evolve. Ophiocordyceps lamia is a survivor. It can sustain itself on any biological matter it happens to come in contact with. And once it gets in, it does something remarkable-- it seems to die off when it kills its host. But it's still there, waiting. Beautiful. There are few perfect things now. We've halted the natural evolution of our planet. When nature kills, something new is born to replace what was taken, but the death we inflict is permanent. And anyone who tries to stop the slaughter is called an extremist, a terrorist, something unwell. So I work alone. Well, not quite alone... because the Lamia mushrooms are still here, surviving. Ensuring that something of the old Earth will remain, returning life to the cycle of death. All the lamia need now are nutrients. I've been feeding the lamia spores into the HVAC and the water system for weeks, just to be sure. I send them chemical signals, coaxing them to grow, telling them what comes next. They are very good listeners. This is the final step. The spores are awake, pumping a delicate balance of toxins into their hosts' bloodstreams, it's a kindness, really. When the end comes, these people won't feel a thing. The building will slowly fill with cas, the employees, pacified by the fungal colony they are becoming, will feel no fear. The boiler switches on, the gas will ignite, the chemical plant will be unsalvageable, all county authorities will close the entire site. Without human interference to stop them... the lamia mushrooms will complete the next stageof their life cycle. They will nourish the soil, the wildlife will return, the riverbank will recover.... that is, if I can keep my nerve. Don't turn around. DON’T. TURN. AROUND. Damn it. If I die because of my own sentimentality, I guess I deserve it. Janet is part of something else now, part of the life cycle of this riverbank. I can't be what she wants me to be, not to her, not to anyone. I tell the spores in her blood to sleep, her body will slowly metabolize them. She will remain something small and ordinary. But part of her will always remember this place, the mud, the river, the creature she almost became. Something almost like me.
GOTHAM CITY VILLAINS ANNIVERSARY GIANT (2021) Story by G. Willow Wilson / art by Emma Rios