Through Open Doors (Part Two)
"Through Open Doors (Part Two)" was first published in Astro City #6.
It's been weeks since the Ambassador's arrival over the Gaines River; the giant doors that serve as a portal to his domain now reside right on top of the waves. Thatcher Jerome, a fairly high-ranking mobster who runs Gaines River "business" for the bigger boys, approaches by boat and knocks. The Ambassador answers, and Thatcher does the same as he would to any newcomer wanting to do business in his territory: He tries to give a shake down. The Ambassador does not seem to quite understand, however, and he amiably invites Thatcher inside. Thatcher's philosophy, which has taken him far in life, is that when a door -- an opportunity -- opens, you step through, so that's what he does. Inside, the two make an arrangement: The Ambassador will pay Thatcher to purchase and deliver whatever Earth goods he might need. During the visit, Thatcher catches a glimpse of Ben Pullam, busy at a flashy alien computer display.
Back home, Thatcher gushes to his wife Rachel about how the government will be footing all the Ambassador's bills, which he can easily pad. They get to talking about their two adult children. Thatcher is concerned that Thomas is struggling in his freshman year of college, but Rachel lovingly assures him that things will work out.
Thatcher occasionally accompanies his men on their deliveries to the Ambassador, who likes to ask him questions and learn about his life. During one visit, Thatcher sees an unknown alien object lying around and poaches it. It turns out to be a container holding six egg-shaped objects. He takes one to his brother-in-law, a metallurgist named Andy Wilson, for analysis. However, when Wilson accidentally exposes himself to the substance within, he's transformed into a being of metal and rock, the Ore-Master. With his newfound power, he seeks revenge against Gottfredson Mining, who he feels wronged him in the past. It's nothing to do with Thatcher though, who visits the Ambassador again. The envoy does not suspect, or seems not to at any rate, but he does talk about the capsules and their contents. They turn out to contain sorna, a chemical the Oblati species uses to unleash their inner selves, as part of a coming-of-age tradition.
In time, the Ore-Master's is taken down by Cleopatra, as Thatcher notices in the news. Meanwhile, Thatcher is pondering what to do with the remaining capsules. He could sell them, use one on himself (the Ore-Master seems able to resume human form), create super-powered enforcers, etc. It's a rare opportunity to rise higher in the world. After much time and consideration, Thatcher asks Rachel if she's happy. She tells him, yes, they have a wonderful life together. Deciding he does not need to step through every open door after all, Thatcher stows away the capsules.
- The newspaper date of November 13, 2013 is the same date in which Astro City #6 shipped out. Going by the shipping date of June , 2013, and by happening a few weeks after that. This story takes place from early July until November 13. Going by the cover date, it would take place sometime in September to November 13.
- The events here were teased in the previous issue, in which the Broken Man can be seen holding a newspaper with the headline "Ore-Master Threatens Canadian Refinery," though it's partly blocked from view.
- One of the Ambassador's deliveries is a shipment of products from N.R.Gistics, the company to whom the N-Forcer is affiliated. The company logo we see is very similar to the original one from his first suit of armor.
- The Broken Man can be seen in the background in two separate panels, watching Thatcher ponder what to do with the remaining sorna.