Shade learns the secret of the Madness Vest and his mysterious background, while America's nervous breakdown continues to tear the nation apart.
No longer in Dallas, Shade begins to relive his past on the planet Meta, and recalls his infatuation of a girl named Radhu. He went into her room to look at her and got caught when she screamed for help, the courts decided he was too impulsive and he was made an adult, his youthful madness driven out.
Back in the present, in Troy Grenzer's form, Shade is standing in a few inches of mud while chunks of it appear to rain down on him and he looks through the man-like shape of the two dimensional manikin Kathy is holding in Dealey Plaza. Suddenly this strange, new world spirals out of control and he loses this glimpse of reality. Now alone he asks himself how he is to ever get back when a skeletal figure makes himself known, telling Shade there is no way back. For they are in the Area of Madness, and he, is the American Scream.
In the closest realm to reality, Kathy sits in an interrogation room with the manikin and silently calls out to it, to Shade. Shade remains in the Area of Madness, in a realm where time is absolute and it feels like eternities have gone by, he is going mad. Mr. Stringer (from behind the two-way mirror) asks her who Shade is and what happened to Troy Grenzer. She explains, in a state of delirium, and once again begins to talk to the figure, begging Shade to come back because he's all she has left.
Shade hears her voice this time and it spurs a reaction, a flood of memories from his life on Meta after the surgery had removed his madness. He remembers coming home to find Wizor, a Changemaster, who tells him that his personality profile fits their desired one and for that reason he has been recruited as a Changing Man. For years, Shade is trained, but told very little, for he is told that they'd rather he figure out on his own what it is agents do. The one answer he got is that they are the laser of the surgeon, extracting the madness from the human mind.
He was given the Madness Vest, he was sent to take over Grenzer (since he was set for execution) and it was done. The Scream interrupts, continuing his attempt to break Shade, Shade's distraction is to change into the Scream, make it look at itself and scream. In those few seconds he has he recreates the shape of the manikin, the gateway to Earth and Kathy watches as mud begins to flow into the interrogation room.
Meanwhile, the Scream shows Shade what has become of his body, it is in a state of decay, the Changemasters betrayed him. The American Scream continues to attack Shade, now with mud-like manifestations of Grenzer's victims but Kathy comes onto the scene, her voice bringing Shade back. After he emits a massive burst of energy to disorient the Scream, the two quickly make their escape through the gateway into the middle of a road, two hundred miles west of Phoenix, leaving only dirt for Stringer to ponder at.
Shade and Kathy pose as a married couple at the hotel they happen to have emerged nearby, and Kathy begins to inquire about Shade's history, saying she likes to know about a man she's involved with. He shares some of his past as he takes a shower, and when he emerges clad in a towel, he finds his reddish hair has returned and he now looks like he did before he came to Earth. Kathy asks why he can't just summon up some clothes and he tries, coming up with his trademark long, colorful coat, like something he would have worn awhile back on his own planet.
The issue ends with them sitting on a hillside, watching the Arizona sunset, Shade knowing she thinks he's holding stuff back, but him knowing he has told her all he knows (which just happens to be very little). The sunset reminds him of life on Meta, a memory that almost makes him want to cry.