Writer/Artist: Bill Willingham
Publisher: DC Comics
I thought the covers to Day of Vengeance were pretty poor, but the story turned out better than expected. I thought the cover to Shadowpact #1 was even more plain, and the story was even better. So go figure that when there’s action and excitement on the cover of this issue, the story inside is a bomb. Once this series is cancelled, sometime between issues #12 and #20, Bill Will should stick to nothing but Vertigo. Seriously, did you read his Robin?
The saddest part about this issue is that the cover reveals the entire story. The Pentacle, a group of six sinister magic users, fights the Shadowpact. That’s it. The characters themselves seemed bored by the idea of a series of one-on-one conflicts against each other, which does nothing to inspire reader interest. The evil Strega strives to create a Murder Hole – which sounds like something you’d find in an abortion clinic – and Enchantress pretends to fight her as if she’s Green Lantern. A couple of times the characters comment that, hey, isn’t it ironic that the Pentacle and the Shadowpact each have similarly-powered members, as if it weren’t already shockingly obvious. Unfortunately, we’re never given any indication of why this might be important.
More than an overall flawed design, there’s just an ongoing stream of flawed concepts. All of the villains, despite possessing slightly different personalities, speak with the same level of cleverness and goading to the point that if they didn’t occasionally stop to talk about eating or having a weird name, they’d all be interchangeable. Nightshade’s costume looks ridiculous, but not as ridiculous as Chimp’s, who even comments on its poor design without providing a reason for the change. And besides, what good is Chimp in a superpowers battle anyway? Does he even have any abilities?
The one saving grace about this issue, aside from the decent-yet-unspectacular art, is that if you really really try hard not to think about anything going on – or all the things not going on – that it’s sort of fun to witness an old fashioned superpowers battle taking place, since such a thing has been something of a rarity in comics these days. Still, if this is what they’re going to be like, it’s a good thing the writers’ sensibilities have generally matured.
The people who read Shadowpact want to find out what’s so special about the magic users of the DCU, since that’s its only differentiating factor. So what’s so special? Not much at all.
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