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[personal profile] sara_tanaquil
Not sure if this is rushing things, but at one point [livejournal.com profile] mangaroo was hoping to walk 54 and 55 back to the library tomorrow, so I figured I'd better post it. Will see if I can get through 56 this weekend.

Volume 55

[Haha, the title of this volume! Viz went with "A Ray of Hope" - no wonder they had trouble with it. The actual title is ”地獄に仏," "A Buddha in Hell," but the kanji for "Buddha" is glossed "okama." Apparently the phrase is proverbial - to meet Buddha in hell is to be saved when you thought all hope was lost.]

533

[I didn't get a chance to comment on this in the last volume, but it is good to see the other Strawhats, even if it's just doing silly random things with animals.]

As Hancock is being escorted out of the prison, she asks about Ace's execution, and is told it will take place in 29 hours, at 3 pm the following day.

Ace is scheduled to be transferred to Marineford in the morning.

Hancock silently prays for Luffy's safety.

Back on the ship, Momonga learns that there has been a small (!) upheaval - a skirmish has been reported between Red-Hair Shanks and Kaidou in the New World. Apparently Kaidou was planning to try to attack Whitebeard, and Shanks went to stop him.

Momonga shakes his head over the world being in such a state that a war between Emperors (Yonkou) is treated as a "skirmish." The whole world is aware now that war with Whitebeard is all but inevitable, and it's unsettling everything.

"Let's hurry back to Marineford."

Inside, Buggy and Three are once again insisting that they have no intention of going DOWN to Level 4.

Bon: "Leave them, Mugi-chan. Gutless wonders." (丸っきり根性ナッスィンガ共なんて.)
Buggy: "WHO ARE YOU CALLING A BIG-NOSE?" (誰が「丸っ鼻コントみたいダー」だ)
Bon: "How does that even remotely sound like what I said!? Whatever! I'm twirling!"

Luffy notices that the ceiling seems to be getting taller and taller.

Too late, they realize that the platform they were standing on is falling.

They all start arguing about whose special technique made the floor crumble, but finally realize they should be more worried about boiling to death.

Down below, several prisoners are being shoved off a platform into a cauldron of boiling blood.

One prisoner tries to make a break for it, but is knocked off the walkway when he runs into Mr. 1 (Daz Bones).

Magellan, Hannyabal and all the leading guards are gathering on Level 4. They are waiting in front of the door leading to the stairwell.

Sadie complains that they should have just gone directly to Level 3 instead of waiting on Level 4. She doesn't mind, but "these children" are getting restless.

Behind her are the three beast-guards: Mino-Zebra, Mino-Koala, and Mino-Rhinoceros. (And then there's the Mino-Taurus, get it?)

[Oda, what are you smoking, and can I have some?]

An officer comes to report that Luffy has been spotted falling down the central well. (Magellan's chair is shaped like a Porta-Potty. He peeks out of a little window when he wants to talk to someone.)

Magellan thinks that in that case, they'll simply fall into the cauldron of blood and drown, but another officer comes to report that Luffy has now been spotted on Level 4. Apparently he survived the fall.

Furthermore, the Minotaurus has been defeated.

Magellan gives orders for their forces to split into three. Hannyabal is to guard the stairs to the third level. Sadie is to take the Mino-guards and guard the stairs to the fifth level.

[Hannyabal is thinking that if they pass by him, he'll let them escape and blame everything on the Warden.]

The rest are to hunt Luffy down and exterminate him.

Luffy and the others are running through level 4. Suddenly Luffy smells something and dashes off in another direction.

Bon realizes that he's headed for the kitchen, and runs after him. ("I'm starving, too!")

Luffy runs into a bunch of prison guards, but knocks them all out. He's focused on getting to the food, because being well fed will make him a hundred times stronger.

Buggy wants to run after them, but Three stops him. He's figured out from observing what is going on around him that the prison guards plan to block all the access points to Level 4 and trap them there.

[Buggy is now calling Three "aibou", partner. These two are seriously kind of adorable, in a dysfunctional way.]

Three is very worried about the possibility that they might have to face the Warden and the "three all-stars" (the Mino-critters).

Luffy and Bon have just run into Magellan.

534

The other prison guards are fleeing in terror. They don't want to be anywhere near when Magellan uses his poison.

Bon tries to warn Luffy not to fight Magellan, because he has the poison-poison fruit.

Magellan summons his "Hydra" attack and goes after Luffy.

Some of his own guards get caught in the crossfire (to Luffy's disgust).

Luffy is able to temporarily remove himself from the range of the Hydra, but then Magellan starts firing poison gas bubbles from his mouth.

The guards hastily don gas masks.

The prisoners in their cells try to protect themselves from the tear gas. Mr. 1 is among them.

Luffy is being severely affected by the tear gas, sneezing violently, eyes running.

Magellan suddenly jumps up to stand next to him.

As Luffy is fighting Magellan, Bon Clay decides to make a run for it. He hates to abandon Luffy, but he knows they haven't got a chance of winning.

Buggy and Three are also watching and trying to calculate their best chance of escape. Three thinks their best chance is to try to get back up to Level 3, before even more guards arrive. They might have a chance against Hannyabal alone.

Facing Magellan, Luffy has decided he'd rather use his fists against Magellan's poison body than go down without fighting. He invokes Gear Two and punches him.

[Luffy, you need to stop that. He's already at the point where he's gasping for breath with every sentence. T__T]

535

Buggy and Three have been defeated in their battle against Hannyabal.

[Hannyabal is exasperated. "I TOLD them I was going to let them pass, why did they have to attack? Idiots!"]

Meanwhile, Mr. 2 is fleeing, but he's crying so hard he can barely see.

Luffy is still fighting Magellan, but his body is rapidly succumbing to the effects of the poison.

Below, Ace is begging the guards to tell him the truth about what is going on above his head. They won't talk.

Magellan has drenched Luffy's entire body with poison.

"This is your death sentence, invader. Suffer agonies for the next 24 hours… and then fall into hell for real."

Magellan tells his men to take Luffy to Level 5 to die.

One of the officers reports that there has been some indication of trouble at the entrance to Level 3, but they're not sure what is happening.

Meanwhile, in some deep-freeze area of the prison, prisoners are half encased in ice.

They see the guards wheeling in a new victim.

This is Level 5, "Freezing Hell."

Above, Magellan arrives at the staircase to Level 3 to discover that Hannyabal and all his soldiers are unconscious.

They report that Mr. 2 broke through using "okama kenpou" and escaped to the third level. Buggy and Three are still tied up nearby.

The riot on level 2 is nearly back under control.

Magellan gives orders for the main forces to pull back to Level 3, and to work on cleaning up the remains of the mess inside the prison as quickly as possible.

Hannyabal orders Three and Buggy to be taken to his office for questioning.

Once the doors are closed, Hannyabal's face melts away to reveal Bon Clay's.

"We must act at once… to save Mugi-chan!"

The others protest that Luffy is already as good as dead, and has been sealed away on Level 5, but Bon is insistent.

He swore to himself, when he left Luffy behind, that he would return after attempting to save the other two.

The others still don't understand, but Bon shouts "Because he's my FRIEND! What other reason do I need?"

536

Disguised as Hannyabal, Bon tries to get an antidote for the poison from the prison doctors, but they insist that there is no way of saving someone who has been exposed to multiple poisons from Magellan. If it were only one type of poison, maybe, but…

When Three says that no miracle can save Luffy now, Bon has an idea. He'll take him to "the Miracle Worker."

Iva-san, the Okama King. They say he can save patients that doctors have given up on and countries on the verge of death. There's no miracle he can't perform!

[Incidentally, the Japanese is inconsistent in its use of titles - it sometimes calls Iva queen (jo-ou), sometimes king (ou). I've tried to mirror the original as much as possible.]

Still disguised as Hannyabal, Bon escorts Buggy and Three (as "prisoners") down to Level 5.

The strange thing, though, is that Emporio Ivankov's name has been mysteriously crossed off the list of Level 5 prisoners.

[LOL Pandaman is on the list too. What did Pandaman ever do?]

When he asks the other guards about it, they say, "Oh yeah, that was that THING a few years ago. Don't you remember?"

When pressed, they explain that there have been several cases of mysterious "disappearances." They are quite sure the prisoners didn't escape, but they are simply nowhere to be found.

Some people whisper that they were kidnapped by demons, dragged through the gates of the demon world.

All three are already shivering with cold, despite not even having entered the door to Level 5, and despite being wrapped in winter coats. But to their horror, when they arrive at the entrance, the others expect them to leave their coats behind - apparently Hannyabal is in the habit of boasting that he can stand the cold of Level 5 while walking around half naked.

They step into Frozen Hell, and are promptly attacked by wolves.

Three says that these wolves aren't kept on Level 2, because if they were, they would eat the Basilisks and the Sphinx.

Bon Clay is ready to stand and fight the wolves, but Three and Buggy are already running for their lives.

On Level 5, Luffy is writhing in agony.

He remembers the prophetic words of Grandma Nyon, that he would be flicked aside like an ant.

Luffy keeps insisting that he won't die. He's going to save Ace, although he is blind and helpless.

The prisoners who are watching over him mock him. They all know that there is no way to survive inside prison, except for following the rule "every man for himself." No one risks himself to save another.

A half-naked, blood-soaked figure appears through the snow.

"Mugi-chan! I came to save you! In the n-n-name of friendship!"

"Who the hell are you?"

"A FRIEND!" (友達, pronounced だち.)

Bon drags Luffy's body away with him, but everyone he talks to says they have no idea where Iva-san is.

Finally he finds one prisoner who says he's seen a "weird guy" occasionally emerging from a prison guard office that is no longer in use. Maybe he should check it out.

As he walks away, another prisoner says "Isn't that a nest of wolves?"

"Oh, is it? Heh heh heh."

Bon fights his way through herds of attacking wolves. When Bon is almost gone, Luffy actually finds the strength to stand.

"What do you think you're doing to Bon-chan?"

The wolves turn swirly eyed and start backing off.

"GET LOST!"

They all pass out or run yelping.

Luffy faints. Bon is left staring. "What was THAT?"

Bon collapses, too.

A man appears, standing over him. He has a lightning bolt on his forehead, and his hair and clothing is half black and half white. He carries a glass of wine in one hand.

26 hours to Ace's execution.

537

Nami, dressed in prison garb, is mysteriously standing in front of Hannyabal. Hannyabal is smitten. He allows her to pass.

Then he wonders why all the other guards are unconscious. And where did that okama go?

"Nami" invites him to help her remove this nasty, sweaty clothing. He follows her.

Hours later, they still haven't found Hannyabal's bound and naked body, left hanging in a Level 4 storeroom. He is gagged, bound and furious.

The Warden is in the bathroom, dealing with the after-effects of using too much poison.

Saldeath and his guards are cleaning up the mess on Level 2, but they're worried about the fact that they haven't found all the keys yet.

On Level 3, Sadie-chan is still searching for the missing prisoner, Mr. 2.

Meanwhile, Bon awakes to find himself heavily bandaged, in a strange… bar?

The man (woman?) in black and white appears. "Ah, awake, I see. You've been asleep for ten hours."

He/she introduces him/herself as Inazuma (this is the Japanese word for "lightning").

When she (argh, this is confusing) mentions bringing them "both" back, Bon demands to know what happened to Luffy.

Someone steps out on stage.

"My, you slept well, CANDY BOY. Or should I call you Mr. 2? Bon-boy."

He (she?) welcomes Bon to the "paradise" within Impel Down. Here there is food, liquor, entertainment - and FREEDOM.

[It is impossible to convey the excessive use of feminine sentence-endings in this entire section. WA YO!]

This is where all the demon-captured prisoners go. Oh, but it's not the "demon world" (ma-kai). More like o-ka-ma-kai, amirite?

"Welcome… to Impel Down, Level 5.5! The Secret Garden! NEW-KAMA-LAND! Yee-haw!"

Oda-box: Emporio Ivankov, Queen of Kamabakka Kingdom.

Bon is stunned when the crowd starts shouting "Iva-sama!" (For the record: In Japanese, this is "Iwa-sama.")

Ivankov tends to substitute "va" for all his "a" sounds.

"Vanata, vatashi wo shitteru?" ("You know me?")

[On the subject of his strange speech patterns, he also has a really weird tendency to turn all his negative -nai's into "naburu" or "nasshu." I have no idea why, this conveys nothing to me except making him hard to understand. "Vanata" is kind of hilarious though.]

He also has a tendency to say something exaggerated and take it back. (Everyone then responds with "Pull the other one!")

Suddenly a man bursts into the hall.

He says he's been seeking revenge, ever since his father, the king of a certain country, set foot in Kamabakka kingdom 15 years before, and came home as an okama. It destroyed their kingdom, and his son was forced to seek a living as a pirate.

He tries to fire a cannon at Ivankov, but Ivankov uses his "death wink" on it and sends it back to the target.

Ivankov suddenly appears before the man, and uses his "Emporio Hormone" on him.

"Your father wanted to become a woman. So what? Two mothers! One daughter! Go, and learn to get along!"

The man transforms into a woman.

The woman runs away crying.

[I have to say, this is not the poster child for transgender liberation. >.<]

Ivankov proclaims that it is his (her? this is tiring…) mission to erase all the lines of sex and gender discrimination. You can be a man, a woman, an okama, whatever you want.

"We are the new race! The Newkama!" (The kanji read "new human kind.")

Bon Clay kneels before Ivankov, and begs for a favor - that he save Mugi-chan from Magellan's poison.

Ivankov laughs. Does Bon really think that Iva is such a softy that he'd save anyone? Why does he think Ivankov saved him in the first place?

"Because Mugiwara-Boy asked me to, that's why."

He was barely alive, but he begged Ivankov to save Bon-chan's life.

"He was hurt by the wolves saving me. Please! He's my friend!"

Ivankov has already been fighting to save Mugiwara-boy's life for the last ten hours.

For the last ten hours, Luffy has been locked inside a cave, screaming in agony. And the treatment will take another two days to complete.

538

Flashback to Ivankov standing over Luffy, chained to his platform.

Ivankov says that the process will take ten years off his life. But in exchange, he might have a 2, even 3 percent chance of saving him. No guarantees.

Luffy agrees willingly.

It all depends on whether Luffy's will to live is strong enough.

Back in the present, Ivankov and Bon are standing outside the room in which Luffy has been imprisoned. Luffy is screaming inside.

Ivankov says that, within Luffy's body, the forces of life and death are battling it out.

When Bon peeks through a window and sees the agony Luffy is in, he begs Ivankov to put him out of his misery. Ivankov slaps him.

"Do you think it's such an easy thing, to defy death?"

Ivankov says that only people - and countries - who have the will to live can be saved.

"Don't think miracles come cheap!"

Ivankov explains that he ate the "hormone fruit." He can control the operation of hormones within the body.

Bon wonders if, after all, he's only dreaming. How can all this be going on inside the prison?

But Ivankov says that it's not a dream, it's the land of dreams. Haha!

Those who have found their way to this place were all once prisoners, but there were all sorts of hidden access points. They found their way to him in various ways.

The guards outside have no idea they exist, but they themselves can monitor anything that goes on within the prison. They have tapped into the entire den-den mushi network.

All of them have been cheering Luffy and his strange alliance on since he first broke in. They've never seen anything like it in the history of the prison.

When Bon asks, Ivankov explains that the space itself was originally hollowed out with the help of a prisoner who had a devil fruit power. It exists between Levels 5 and 6.

Bon is shocked to hear that Level 6 really exists. Ivankov calls it "Infinite Hell." The worst monsters imaginable are locked up there. Their very existence has been erased by the government.

Among them, he says, is "Shiryuu of the Rain," the former head jailer. He is probably stronger than Magellan himself.

Magellan imprisoned him for killing prisoners indiscriminately.

Among the Level 6 prisoners, too, are the notorious pirates Catharina Devon, and San Juan Wolf, and Vasco Shot.

[Thank goodness for Viz, because these katakana were unintelligible.]

Not to mention Mr. 2's former boss. Hear he's pretty crazy.

"Zero-chan!? Crocodile?"

And, of course, Jinbei and Ace are there, too.

It's already past midnight. Ace's execution is scheduled for less than 15 hours from now. And in the morning, he'll be transferred to Marineford.

Ace will be taken away within seven or eight hours. Meanwhile, it will take two days just to save Mugiwara's life, and probably three days' recovery time after that, in the unlikely event that he lives at all. By the time he wakes up, Ace will be long gone.

Ivankov says Bon should eat well and rest, too, but Bon insists that he will stay with Mugi-chan.

He stands outside the room, and shouts "GANBARE!" over… and over… and over.

[I need an icon for this. *tears of pride*]

The hours pass.

Sadie-chan is beside herself with frustration. Why can't they find ONE okama?

An officer reports to Magellan that Strawhat has disappeared from Level 5.

Someone finally finds Hannyabal tied up in the storage room on Level 4.

Outside Luffy's room, the entire population of Newkamaland is chanting "GANBARE!"

It's past seven am. Down in their cell, Jinbei is trying to convince Ace that Hancock was probably lying.

"You don't understand! Ever since he was a kid, he's been like this. Impossible. Always making me worry! That IDIOT!"

A little past 8 am, Domino reports to Magellan's office to carry out Ace's transfer to Marineford.

Outside Luffy's room, there is silence. Luffy finally stopped screaming.

Ivankov says that that means that the treatment either worked… or…

Blood is trickling out from under the door.

Ivankov is sad. He fought bravely for 20 hours, but…

Someone starts pounding on the door from the inside.

"FOOOOOOOD…!!!"

Ivankov can't believe it. It's been less than a day!

539

The entire population of Newkamaland is shoving food through the door to Luffy's room, as fast as they can carry it.

After devouring food for over half an hour, Luffy finally emerges.

"ALL BETTER!"

Luffy is happy to see that Bon-chan is up and about, too. Bon-chan promptly faints dead away.

Ivankov diagnoses exhaustion. (Everyone is shocked when Luffy addresses him as Iva-chan.)

"Thanks for saving us!"
"Thank Bon-boy here. He's the one who has been keeping watch over you for hours."

Luffy bows his head.

"Bon-chan… thank you! I'll never forget this!"

Inazuma brings Luffy's hat and clothing. He tells him he ought to rest for several days, but Luffy says there's no time for that.

He asks if Ivankov wants to escape. After all, Bon-chan came all this way to save him.

Ivankov is touched, but says it's not his time to leave, yet.

The world has its eyes fixed on the upcoming conflict between Whitebeard and the navy, but… that man isn't ready to move yet.

Revolutionaries throughout the world are waiting for a sign from the Revolutionary Leader, Dragon.

Luffy: "Oh, right, my dad." (俺の父ちゃん, LOL)

"Right, your father. When he leads forth his army, I will rejoin the world, and not before…"

*beat* *beat*

"YOUR FATHER?? You're Dragon's son? Wait, Dragon has a son?"

"Oh right, I wasn't supposed to mention that. Well, that's what granddad told me, anyway. I've never met him or anything."

When Ivankov asks where he comes from, Luffy says he's from the East Blue.

That confirms what Ivankov knew - Dragon once hinted he was from the East Blue.

Ivankov announces that he's decided to lead Mugiwara-boy down to Level 6. The vivre card is still pointing in that direction, so maybe there's still time.

Luffy: "Wait, six? Not five? Whatever! Yay!"

Ivankov assumes that if Luffy and Ace are brothers, Ace must be Dragon's son, too.

But surely, the government wouldn't be mad enough to challenge Whitebeard and Dragon at the same time? What are they thinking?

Ivankov puts out the word to all of Newkamaland. Those who are willing to risk their lives escaping, it's time to move!

Luffy is full of determination, but he keeps collapsing.

Ivankov gives Luffy another shot of hormones to keep him going - adrenalin, this time.

"You're going to feel like hell later, but you don't mind that, right?"

[Luffy is seriously, seriously going to die young. T___T]

Meanwhile, Hannyabal is looking over the wanted posters of the prisoners who were escorted to Level 5 by his duplicate.

[It kind of cracks me up that he had a spare headdress, only this one has a fox/jackal head on it. Bon stole his original clothes.]

Luffy disappeared from the place where they left him. But the guards say that later, all they found was some bloody clothing (including Hannyabal's original headdress), so they think all four might have been eaten by wolves.

Hannyabal is horrified when they reflect that if the prisoners do escape, both the warden and the vice-warden will probably be fired. ("ME TOO?")

On Level 6, the Warden has finally emerged from his morning, er, activities and they are approaching Ace's cell. Domino is peeved because they have to hand Ace over to the navy at 9 am, sharp.

Outside, the vice-admiral in charge of the pickup (is that Onigumo?) is exhorting his men to be ready for ANYTHING once they take Ace into custody. There are five warships and five vice-admirals there to escort the prisoner to Marineford.

On Level 5, Luffy, Ivankov and Inazuma (does he/she go anywhere without the wineglass, LOL?) are charging through Frozen Hell at top speed.

"Forget being stealthy! Just CHARGE!"

The prisoners on Level 5 are shocked to recognize Ivankov, who was thought to have disappeared years ago.

The wolves don't even slow them down. (Hee, Inazuma takes out several wolves without spilling a drop of wine.)

When they enter the corridor to Level 6, the guards spot them on their cameras. They, too, are stunned to see Ivankov. And how is Strawhat still alive, after taking a full dose of the Warden's poison? The third they recognize as a former Level 5 prisoner, the revolutionary Inazuma of the South Blue.

At this rate, the guards say, they're going to run straight into the Warden and Domino, who are escorting Ace to the surface.

Hannyabal is unusually decisive. "Trigger the traps on Level 6! Notify Sadie-chan to bring the beast-guards from Level 4! And contact the Warden AT ONCE!"

[Guard, surprised by his energy: Could it be another fake? LOLOL]

Luffy and the others are racing down the stairs. "I'm coming! ACE!"

[Definitely not stealthy. Luffy on an adrenaline high is nearly as scary as Luffy on mescaline.]

The Warden is standing outside Ace's cell.

"We're here to escort you to Marineford."

540

[I love everyone watching over sleeping Luffy in this cover image. Strawhats forever! <3]

The traps and guards on Level 6 are entirely failing to stop Luffy and co.

When they arrive at Ace's cell, however, Ace is already gone.

Jinbei immediately recognizes Luffy from his straw hat. (He actually came!)

Jinbei tells them that they just missed Ace - he was just led off to the elevator.

[I love that he calls Luffy omae-san (roughly, "buddy" or "pal"). It's such a middle aged guy thing.]

They race toward the elevator, but it is already being cut off, as are the stairs. The plan is clearly to trap them on Level 6.

The level is filling with sleeping gas.

Meanwhile, the Warden has a struggling Ace pinned down at the top of the lift.

Ace had been hoping against hope that Hancock's report was a lie.

Why did you come here, Luffy!

Down below, Inazuma uses his devil fruit power (the snip-snip fruit - he is a "scissors man") to cut strips off the stone floor and seal the passage against the sleeping gas. Anything that he can cut into strips, he can manipulate like paper.

Luffy immediately starts calling him Kani-chan, LOL ("Crab-chan", because his scissor hands look like crab claws).

They are temporarily safe from the gas, but the enemy has still succeeded in sealing them on Level 6. Ivankov knocks out the camera den-den mushi, saying it's the least he can do.

Ivankov says that it's already too late. When Luffy looks at Ace's vivre card, it is no longer pointing straight up, but slightly to the side. Ace is already being handed over to the Marines for transport to Marineford.

(Above, we see that the handoff is taking place on the dock at this moment.)

Ivankov decides that he'll just have to concentrate on getting Luffy and the rest of them safely out of the prison. Nothing can be done for "Ace-boy" now. They'll just have to count on Whitebeard's intervention.

Luffy immediately declares that he's going to head for Marineford.

"SAY WHAT, FOOL?" (ヴァかおっしゃい, LOL, it took me several passes to figure out what Ivankov was even saying.)

"Do you intend to fight a war at the summit (頂点) of this world?"

[Marineford has many informal arc names, but this is one of them: The Summit War. Ironically, this is also the word Ace used when he said, way back when, "Let's meet at the summit of pirates!", although he surely meant the New World when he said that.]

Luffy is obdurate. ("If I give up, I'll have to live with regret (悔いが残る). I'm going.")

Ivankov thinks that he's seen this face many times. It's exactly like dealing with Dragon himself.

Inazuma says they've got to escape Level 6 before they can think about going anywhere.

"You want out of this place, then free me. I can open a hole in the ceiling."

Finally, "Sir Crocodile" is properly revealed.

Luffy reacts at first with fury ("No way! You screwed up Vivi's country!"), but Crocodile says he has no further interest in her kingdom. He wants a shot at taking out Whitebeard.

Ivankov agrees - Crocodile could be helpful to them. Especially if Luffy really intends to go to Marineford.

Crocodile does NOT look happy to see Ivankov.

Ivankov says he knew Crocodile briefly back when he was a rookie. He leers knowingly at him.

"If he tries to betray us, I can handle him. I know his WEAKNESS. But if he plays nice and helps us, I'll keep quiet, yee-haw!"

Oh god, the Crocomom theory. I can't unsee it. >.< PLEASE let it not be true.

Jinbei begs them to take him with them, too. He was locked up in Impel Down because he opposed the war. He wants to save Ace as much as they do.

"Please! Give me a place to die!"

[Love this quiet exchange of looks. Luffy in serious mode can be absolutely eerie.]

"Fine."

Ivankov is alarmed - they don't know the first thing about him! But Luffy's mind is already made up.

LOVE this final chapter frame. Ivankov, Crocodile, Jinbei, Luffy, Inazuma prepare to break out.

Ivankov: "No time to waste! We're busting out of this joint, yee-haw!"
Jinbei to Crocodile: "I'm not letting you lay a hand on the old man (oyaji)!"
Crocodile to Jinbei: "Guess we're going to be killing each other pretty soon, then."
Random prisoners: "Hey, let us out too!"
Inazuma (holding wine glass - where did he put it when he had scissor hands?): "If you count the exes, we have two Warlords on our side now."
Luffy: "Two? Who's the second?" [LOLOL Luffy]

541

[Cover image: Vivi! It's good to see her. Hee, I just noticed not only her Pirate apron, but the camel and her father peeking into the kitchen.]

The guards arrive on Level 6, preparing to take the prisoners into custody, but discover that they have already vanished through a hole in the ceiling.

"Shiryuu of the Rain" (the former head jailer) addresses them from his cell. He tells them that Jinbei and Crocodile have joined with the others (hence the hole in the ceiling).

Obviously they can't manage the prison without him. He offers his "assistance," if they'll let him out.

[Creepy Nazi dude, ugh.]

Hannyabal is shaking in his freakish Egyptian costume boots.

"You're telling me the five of them have all escaped to Level 5? Am I going to get the blame for this?"

The other guards point out that since Magellan is currently escorting Ace, this is pretty much all on Hannyabal.

Hannyabal mobilizes everything they've got to head for Level 4.

"Sadie-chan! Saldeath! If it kills me, I want to be the next Warden. Oops - I mean, if it kills me, let's FIGHT!"

On Level 5, Ivankov is organizing all his followers. He tells them that their only chance of breaking out and commandeering a navy ship is to increase their numbers by freeing everyone they can between here and Level 1.

This is going to be a prison break the likes of which the world has never seen.

"Let's go, Mugiwara-boy!"
Inazuma: "He already left." (LOL)

Bon is with them, in super-hyper-mode (I guess he got the hormone shot too).

Luffy, Crocodile and Jinbei are already charging up the stairs to level 4.

Jinbei says it's not quite 10 am. They have until 3 pm to get to Marineford and stop the execution. And there is no telling when Whitebeard will attack.

Luffy: "They won't kill him until 3? Then there's still time!"

[Haha, this is just the maemuki thing that Buggy hates so much.]

Crocodile easily dissolves the door onto level 4 (quick panel to review his powers for new readers - what, not everyone has memorized Alabasta?).

They come face to face with the forces on Level 4. Crocodile slashes right through them.

[Crocodile was scary enough as an enemy. As a sort-of ally, he's just plain haxx.]

Luffy, Crocodile and Jinbei are plowing their way through. (We get our first glimpse of Jinbei's "fishman karate.")

The guards are terrified ("It's a 300 million beri bounty head and two Warlords!") but determined to hold the line until reinforcements arrive.

Up on Level 2, Buggy and Three are watching as every guard and Blugori is summoned to deal with the crisis on Level 4.

[Manticores, mumbling: "Camisole… thigh gap…"]

They figure this is their chance. They're ready to launch another prison riot (Three has provided all the prisoners with wax keys).

Buggy looks back fondly on their "great adventure" to ascend from Level 5 to Level 2. Now freedom is almost within their grasp.

The monitor room contacts Hannyabal to say that something strange is going on on Level 2.

When Hannyabal asks the guards on level 2 what's going on, they report that they are already on the way to Level 4.

"No! Turn back!"

The great prison riot on Level 2 is back on.

"Our savior! Captain Buggy!"

Down on Level 4, Crocodile tosses a set of keys to Mr. 1. "Care to join me?"

Mr. 1: "Since it's you. I was just starting to get bored."

Reports are flooding in to Hannyabal from all over the prison.

"This is Level 4! Warden, Ivankov and your nemesis Mr. 2 have appeared at the head of an ARMY! It's the missing prisoners who were kidnapped by demons!"

Ivankov's forces join up with Luffy and the others. Bon recognizes Mr. 1.

(Luffy doesn't know who Mr. 1 is, haha. Bon has to explain that "this is the guy that haramaki-chan beat at Alabasta." Apparently the reader needs a picture of Zoro to know who haramaki-chan is?)

Level 2 and Level 4 are both begging for reinforcements. Hannyabal is beside himself.

[I have sneakily huge love for these moments when the authorities of the world are overcome by Luffy's ability to create utter chaos. Reminds of me of Spandam on Enies Lobby, finding out there are five hundred casualties, not five.]

"In more than one sense of the word… these people are OUT OF CONTROL!"

[止まりません, they won't stop. Apparently a reference to the wacky appearance of Ivankov's army as well as their unstoppable momentum. LOL, Viz has "dressed to kill," that's pretty good.]

Frame of the full wrath of Luffy's jailbreak army (I love these insane spreads).

"Let's go! To Marine Headquarters!"

TBC

[Trivia note: the character popularity poll was also in the Japanese volume. Trafalgar Law is in 10th place, not far behind Shanks in 8th and Ace in 5th, holy crap. I didn't realize he got so popular so fast. He ranks above Usopp and Franky!]
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